Heliana's Guide to Monster Hunting - A 5e Supplement

Created by Loot Tavern

Level up your game with epic monster hunts, harvesting, and crafting.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

June Update - Manufacture Photos
about 2 months ago – Sun, Jun 19, 2022 at 01:32:44 AM

Hey friends, happy June!

This month we're talking manufacturing progress,  projected dates for the final PDF,  VTT timelines, and tokens.


Manufacturing

We have some cool manufacturing photos to share with you! Our peripheral products are in various stages of completion; some are being 3D modelled, we’ve received samples of others, and production has been completed on a few products. Getting samples is essential, but adds to production time. It’s definitely worth it as we’ve spotted some mistakes both in design and in manufacturing which we’ve been able to remedy before mass production.


DICE

First off, our dice production—both resin and gemstone—is almost complete. The indian agate is super variable meaning each person's dice set is going to look unique. Check them out:

Close up of raw gemstone d10s and d20s (1/2)
Close up of raw gemstone d10s and d20s (2/2)
Inked gemstone dice in protective packaging

A few months ago, Jess received the gelatinous ooze resin dice. We had a couple of inking options but went with the gold, as seen in the product mockups.

Inked resin dice
Close up of resin dice set

Jess also undertook a 1001-roll balance test of the d20 to see if the skull upset the design’s rollability. The average of a d20s roll is 10.5. The control resin dice had an average score of 10.414 after 1001 rolls, while our gelatinous ooze resin d20 had a result of 10.482. Both results are within the margin of error expected for this number of rolls. Here’s a graph of result (X) vs frequency (Y). If you spot anything in this data, let us know!

Jess' Distribution of Results

P.S. The resin we’re using for these dice is too dense for a saltwater test. I’m told that that test only works on cheaper, less dense resin.


HANDOUTS & PAPER GOODS

We received a sample of Heliana’s Handouts, which you can see below, and have requested some alterations (details below picture).

Heliana’s Handouts: Wanted poster, clues (changes incoming, read below), monster art print (with anatomy sketch on reverse)

We’re happy with the wanted posters and mostly happy with the monster art print (although we’re workshopping the watercolour stain that sits behind the monster). The clue handouts are having the biggest alterations: they will have a sepia-parchment background on craft paper and will be perforated so that they can be handed out piecemeal throughout a hunt. Of course, if you’d rather not tear along the perforations, you’re always welcome to cut up a photocopy! Photocopying is permitted for personal use :)


We also received white copies (uninked samples) of the book, L’Arsène’s catalogue, the tarot item cards, the envelope (which will store the handouts), and the map. Without further ado, here’s a bunch of images of white paper:

The book, folded map, and (far too small) GM screen
The book (right, only 360 pages) and L’Arsène’s Catalogue (left)
Envelope to hold Heliana’s Handouts

As you can see, we’re glad we got the GM screen white paper sample - it was half the size it was supposed to be! In addition, the final page count is coming to 600 pages. This has necessitated a re-design of the box moulds; a taller plastic shell to hold the thicker book and double-thickness cardboard to cope with the extra weight. Our pre-proof copy of the book is already being printed by manufacturers and we should be receiving a sample at the end of June.


PINS

We have the pins! The test batch had a few errors, which we managed to catch (see example below), and the manufacturer came back to us with the mistakes fixed.

Error on Pygmy Rakshasa pin; buit in circle should be dark green not pink
Fixed Pygmy Rakshasa pin

It’s also been a really cool process to work with manufacturers on creating the packaging for our products. Here’s a step by step example for the packaging for one of the pin sets:

CAD pin packaging mockup draft
Pin tray mould
Pins in their tray
Pins all boxed up in white paper sample (awaiting final print design)

WALL HANGING

Mo has received samples of glossy and matte finish versions of the wall hanging. We didn’t really like the glare on the glossy hanging, so we’ve chosen matte. Production is in full swing.

Matte (top) and glossy (bottom) wall hangings
Glossy (left) and matte (right) wall hangings
A hung wall hanging!

PDF Release Dates

A quick recap on the phases of writing Heliana's Guide:

Ideation -> Draft 1 -> Alpha Test -> Draft 2 -> Technical Edit -> Beta Test -> Playtest Feedback Edit -> Draft 3 -> Proofing -> Final Draft


  • Everything, bar the Dire Bunny adventure, has been written
  • 250 pages are through the final proofing step
  • 40 pages are with proofers
  • The remaining 310 pages are having player feedback implemented and being written into draft 3

The playtest feedback is currently being processed and is progressing a little slower than expected! We have over 1100 detailed feedback submissions and some of them can take as long as 20 minutes to dissect and implement.


All that being said, I’m hopeful that I can get everything to the proofers by the end of June.


STRETCH GOAL CONTENT

We are at our absolute limit on page count and some of the bonus stretch goal content we were looking at including in the physical book will be delivered via alternate means.

Dire Bunny Hunt. The bonus hunt, along with items and unique familiar, will be delivered as a PDF. It will be available as both a full-resolution and a printer-friendly versions, accessible through Backerkit and a URL/QR code in the book itself.

7 Extra Familiars. The 7 additional familiars will similarly be delivered as a PDF, also available on Backerkit and through a URL/QR code. However, rumour has it that Humperdink might have got wind of unused pages in L’Arsène’s Crafting Catalogue and, in a carefully crafted prank, will be inserting his latest unique familiar creations into this book.

VTTs

Virtual tabletop packages will begin production as soon as the PDF is finalised. When the whole VTT package is ready to go, we’ll be releasing codes which you’ll be able to redeem on the various platforms. Folks who subscribed to the Loot Tavern patreon and participated in beta testing of the Foundry VTT packages will have those modules updated as and when the final version of each hunt is completed.


Tokens

Some of you will have already noticed that Backerkit has been updated with the top-down tokens! One of our first stretch goals was that everyone who backed to receive a PDF or book also got the top-down tokens for all our original monsters! You can download those by logging into backerkit and going to digital rewards. The file you’re looking for is “Digital Top-Down Tokens v1”. If you struggle to find them, join the Discord and ask away!

We've also sourced SRD (standard 5e) monster tokens from the talented Venatus Maps. Anyone that got one of VTT bundles or the digital asset bundle will also receive the SRD tokens.



Okay, that's all for now.


If you've any questions, you can respond here on Kickstarter (which we check weekly), or get a direct line on the Discord!


Thanks,


Max (and Mo and Jess!)

May Update - Book Size; Tracking; Manufacture
3 months ago – Mon, May 09, 2022 at 04:08:40 PM

Hey friends!

Long time no update! We've been busy... This update's gonna talk about book size, the tracking system (our biggest chapter yet!),what’s left to do, and the production timeline!


Book Size

So, our preliminary page count looks to be a whopping 560 pages! This is truly a tremendous tome. We promised you a bludgeoning weapon, and that's what we'll deliver.

But seriously... will this be the biggest book for 5th-edition? Let us know!

The question is... is there a bigger DnD book out there?


Tracking

Our biggest chapter yet! The book contains 15 encounters (8 narrative and 7 hostile) for each of the 11 biomes:  arctic, coastal, desert, forest, grassland, hill, jungle, mountain, swamp, The Low, and urban. That's 165 encounters. In addition, each biome has 2 additional narrative and hostile encounters so you can replace ones you use. Those will be hosted on the Loot Tavern website and accessible by a QR code in the book.


Synopsis. Here's how Tracking works. Firstly, you (the GM) decide how many Tracking checks a party must make, and how many of them must be successful in order to find their quarry.  More equals harder. Next, your players tell you how they want to go about tracking. You work with them to decide on the most appropriate ability and skill to use for the check. Finally, you choose a DC based on how likely their suggestion is to succeed.


On a failed check, the party has a hostile encounter. On a successful one, they have a narrative encounter, or no encounter at all (GM’s choice). You can use the random encounter tables to help randomly select the encounters. When the characters have made both the requisite number of checks and successes, they reach their destination. Donezo!


Art by Daniel Comerci

Mechanics. How many Tracking checks and how many successes are two different parameters. The number of checks is a measure of distance and encounter density, while the number of successes measures how hard something is to find.


Travelling for 30 days across a vast and lifeless desert might require only one check as there's nothing going on. Conversely, In a densely packed urban chase scene, a single Tracking check might take only 1 minute! An illusionist's tower might require 3 successes to find, while a roaring and obvious waterfall might need none!


Checks. Get creative! Of course, you can follow a giant's footprints across a muddy field using Wisdom (Survival), but you could also cast the speak with animals spell and make a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check, mimic a creature's call using (Charisma (Performance), or make a canoe to navigate a waterway using Dexterity (woodcarver's tools).  Collectively create cool stories with your players by getting inventive with skill use.

Art by Daniel Comerci

The PDF with this chapter will be available shortly on Backerkit.


What’s Left To Do

Fine Tuning.We’ve been busy fine tuning the arrangement of pictures, untypo-ing the typos y’all have found, and creating new typos as we take your feedback on board to refine all the juicy content. That should be finished in the next couple of weeks, after which we’ll submit the book for a preliminary print test.


Accessories. After that, we’ve still to pull the finalised content from the book into the GM screen and item cards. The pins, dice, and wall hangings are in or finished production. The handouts and posters are almost ready to be submitted for printing. The box inserts are being modified for the THICCer book. The other peripheral products are all in motion! It’s coming together!


VTT & Digital. We’ll start on the VTT conversion once the book is finalised. Any digital content—including the PDF and VTTs—will be released when it’s ready, even if that’s before the book comes out. We don’t want to make you wait!


Art by Sam Jumisko

Timeline

Here are the cold, hard facts.

  • We aim to have all the designs submitted in the next 6 weeks.
  • Our production partners are currently in COVID lockdown. Their timeline is up to 4-5 months to finish production.
  • International freight shipping is also impacted; several ports are closed due to COVID and timelines for shipping are up to 2-3 months.

All told, fulfilment is hoped for late Autumn.


Changing Address. Until we ship the goods, you can change your address. We have unlocked all addresses so, if you need to change it, log in to Backerkit and follow this guidance. Note, if you change your shipping zone (i.e. country/state), there may be a change in shipping cost.


Adding Items. We’re still able to increase the number of units we’re ordering. So if you want to add items, please contact Backerkit support. We’ll order some extras, but they’ll mostly be for replacing things damaged in transit - don’t count on there being stock after the KS fulfils!


------------------------


Okay friends, that’s all for this month. Any questions, hit up the comments below (which we aim to swing by and answer once a week) or, for more direct communication, contact us on Discord.


Thank you all for supporting us, we appreciate you :)

Max (and Mo and Jess!)

Mid March Update - Early Access PDF #4: Loot Tavern, Cooking, Dread & Breakfast
5 months ago – Mon, Mar 21, 2022 at 10:39:04 PM

Hey again! It's us.


We have another installment of Heliana's for you. This early-access release brings you the Loot Tavern itself, floating through the astral plane, details on the cooking mechanics (with updated harvesting tables for edible components), and a hunt for the Tavern Mimic: Dread & Breakfast. It does not bring you the tracking mechanics and random encounters - those are still being written and refined! There's a lot.

Cooking has been added to crafting!

What's Inside?

  • Chapter 2: The Loot Tavern*
  • Chapter 4.1: Expanding Harvesting tables
  • Chapter 5b: Cooking
  • Chapter 11: Dread and Breakfast (Hunt)
  • Chapter 21: Appendix B - Spells

[*This section is missing the 'hunt synopsis' flowchart]

And the following have been updated with the content for the new hunt:

  • Chapter 20: Appendix A—Magic Items
  • Chapter 22: Appendix C—Creatures

Yep - the spells are pretty much finalised. If I recall correctly, there are close to 70! Way more than we promised. Please, try them and give us feedback!


Stop by for a drink

The Loot Tavern 

"A tavern? Floating through the Astral Plane? Well... I can't imagine they get much foot traffic."
 

Pscyhe - they do. After downing a glass of port ale, every tavern door in every plane becomes a portal to the Loot Tavern. Don't worry, there's also a virgin version for the teetoallers.
 

 Services. Once in the Tavern, a patron has access to all of the tenant's services:
 

  • Heliana can welcome back a party of adventurers and help with the harvesting of their preserved corpse (see the new spell!) or cook up a magical meal to prepare them for their next foray.
  • Humperdink can spawn unique familiars, sell dangerous new biomancy spells, and charm the pants off your party.
  •  L'Arsène, the master craftsman, can craft exciting new magic items.
  • Peeper helps the party research their next quarry
  • Lutecia the landlady can craft a 'teleportation flight'. This array of cocktails helps specify the location the party gets teleported to when they leave the Loot Tavern. For a fee, of course.

Cooking

Nom! Cooking is a sub-category of crafting. There are lots of recipes that require different components harvested from monsters. For example, the Gobbois gras requires fat and liver, while the Offally good stew calls for brain, heart, and liver. Depending on where these ingredients are from gives the finished meal different properties. A brain from an aberration gives you telepathy while one from a fiend gives a bonus to Charisma checks.

Quirks. Instead of the Manufacturing or Enchanting checks you make for crafting items, you simply make a Constitution (Cook's Utensils) check.  Just like in crafting, the better your check, the more beneficial boons your meal might have. Conversely, failing the check gives your meal flaws, like 'Tongue Tied' which makes you only able to speak in a language associated with one of the components with which the meal was made.

Boss Recipes. The stretch goal we hit was boss recipes. These are additional recipes which, if you craft with the ingredients from the boss monsters, have more effects in addition to the ones from the components. The tongue twister tart, crafted from a tavern mimic's tongue, lets you transform into a piece of furniture for the duration of the meal!

Feedback

As always, we need the thousands of you downloading these PDFs to give us feedback! We have two super easy to use forms to report small things (like typos) or give us more detailed feedback when you've read a chapter! We're already beefing up the bespoke familars for the Tamer as they can't keep up with the creatures you tame at higher levels. Have your say, today!


How Do I Submit Feedback? Simple! Choose one of the following forms. Typos is for short errors (N.B. the book is written in British English).

Here's the typo report form

Here's the detailed feedback form


Timelines

We still need to finish the chapter on Tracking. After that, it's improving information communication (for example, we're adding flow charts to the harvesting and crafting charts to help you visual learners!), going through your feedback (seriously, give us this),  and fine-tuning the balance of the hunts, classes, items, and spells.


With this being said, we're going to do one more early access release (Tracking and the final familiars) and then get to work making the finished PDF.  We're aiming to do a good job, not a fast job, so we're hesitant to give an exact date, but would love to get it to y'all in April!


Physical Shipping. Between our delays in finishing the book and the noises from our manufacturer about supply lines, it's hard to have an exact date for when our distribution warehouses will receive the product from our manufacturers. We'd love to hit summer, but it could be later. You'll know when we know!

We've got all the accessories that don't require the book to be finished in process (dice, pins, posters, wall hangings, physical box etc.). Once the book is finalised we'll put the finishing touches to the files for other accessories that rely on the book, like the GM screen, item cards, and clue handouts. There will be a bit of back and forth as they send us prototypes and then, when the trigger is pulled, we'll have a more exact date. We'll keep you updated throughout.


Project We Love - The Griffon's Saddlebag 

You know him, we love him, Griff's back with a brand new track. The Griffon's Saddlebag is renowned for its library of magic items for Fifth Edition, and this second compendium of the series is massive, coming in at over 400 pages (almost as big as ours... heh). It includes:

  • Over 500 illustrated, game-ready magic items!
  • Item indexes and random treasure tables!
  •  12 flavorful, playtested subclasses!
  •  2 playable races: ooze-covered skeletons and Border Ethereal natives — the geleton and etherean!
  •  14 ready-to-use settings! 
  • Almost 100 new creature stat blocks!
Click to see more!

Free Stuff. Griff's giving out a free, seventeen-page sample of 56 of the book's items here, and a forty-nine page one of 3 of the book's example setting options here!


Check it out here!



Okay,

That's all for now. Any questions, hit up the comments to this update or, even better, join the Discord - we check that every day!


Love you guys,

Max (and Mo and Jess)

Late Feb Update! Early Access PDF #2
5 months ago – Tue, Mar 01, 2022 at 03:17:51 AM

Hey folks!


It's the end of February! We have the next installment for you guys. It's a little different to what we said we'd deliver based on what bits got finished in time!


What's Inside?

3.5 more chapters! Three point five!? Yes! We have the classes (including the monster tamer!); the familiars (which can be trained and improved by the monster tamer); a new hunt, Tarchaeology; and the point five chapter - the GM's Item Design Workshop

  • Chapter 5c: GM's Item Design Workshop
  • Chapter 7: Classes
  • Chapter 8: Familiars
  • Chapter 17: Tarchaeology (Hunt)

I still need to get the bits in the appendices so that'll get updated and released separately later this week. I just wanted to get something out by the end of Feb! So expect a separate document with these later this week:

  • Chapter 20: Appendix A—Magic Items*
  • Chapter 21: Appendix B—Spells*
  • Chapter 22: Appendix C—Creatures*
Awesome chapter art by our own Jess Jackdaw

The Tamer & Familiars

We introduce the new class - the Monster Tamer (known as a 'Tamer'). In addition to being able to catch creatures out in the wild, you can craft some new creatures from the components of the fallen boss monsters. These can act as slightly-more-powerful familiars (which you can summon with the find familiar spell) or, if trained by a tamer, can become powerful creatures in their own right. Each one has a tech tree!

This update releases the 10 fmiliars from the first 10 hunts. The rest will be refined based on the feedback we receive and released in the final PDF. We can't give you everything now, can we!

Seem... familiar? Art by Jess!

Typos and Feedback

Continuing stellar work from you all! We've had a lot of feedback on Harvesting and Crafting and will be condensing the rules down into an easier to understand format before we go into depth with examples and optional rules. I'm envisioning flow charts. Lots of flow charts.


We'll be incorporating feedback from all these sections before we get to the final PDF, but ahven't done so yet!


Calibrating the Item Design Workshop. The points weve allocated to the different abilities in the Item Design Workshop are not set in stone. Based on your feedback, we can adapt them. Specifically, we need some help rating the power of all the SRD items using the Crafting points system we've developed. If you'd like to be involved, contact Humperdink The Warlock on the Loot Tavern Discord server.


How Do I Submit Feedback? Simple! Choose one of the following forms. Typos is for short errors (N.B. the book is written in British English).

Here's the typo report form

Here's the detailed feedback form

The Tar-rasque - a combination of tarrasque skeleton and elemental tar! Art by Ognjen

What's Coming?

March:

  • Chapter 2: Loot Tavern
  • Chapter 3: Tracking
  • Chapter 5b: Cooking
  • Chapter 11: Tavern of Terrors (Hunt)

Final Release

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 23: Index

Beyond

  • Ch 19: The Dire Bunny of Kaergannob (Hunt).


Okay friends, that's all!

More soon!


Love,

Max (and Mo and Jess)

Early Feb Update! Early Access PDF #2; FREE Crucible PDF
6 months ago – Tue, Feb 15, 2022 at 10:04:43 PM

Hey friends!


Happy Tuesday.  We're here with the next early access release and an additional free PDF from our friends at Crucible (see bottom). The eagle-eyed among you might've noticed that we released the second early-access PDF a couple of days ago. If you didn't grab it yet, log into your Backerkit account (see previous update for details), and go to Digital Downloads.


So, What’s Inside This Time?

Four more chapters! Excitingly, we have all the races ready for you to play, as well as several more hunts. 

  • Chapter 6: Races
  • Chapter 9: Polyhedrooze (Ooze Hunt)
  • Chapter 16: A Tale of Two Tails (Rakshasa Hunt)
  • Chapter 17: Mecha Koboldzilla (Construct Hunt)
  • Chapter 20: Appendix A—Magic Items*
  • Chapter 21: Appendix B—Spells*
  • Chapter 22: Appendix C—Creatures*

*The appendices have been updated with the items, spells, and creatures from the new hunts. However,  none of the typos/feedback submitted has been incorporated, yet. More on this below:

... Get it? Rolled up? Like a character? But also in a gargantuan icosahedron made of Biomantic Ooze

Typos and Feedback

Thank you so much for all your input so far! From finding errant apostrophes, to missed bold formatting, to helping us identify that the page number font was truly terrible and all the 0s looked like 8s - thank you. Special mention to Jessic for the monumental volume of quality feedback submitted (they're responsible for almost 40% of all the typos reported!)

More beautiful chapter covers designed by our very own Jess Jackdaw. Poster add-on is still available on Backerkit :)

What's Our Process? Our current plan is to release playtested material to you all following the timeline in update #36. We want feedback from you, as well as catching typos. Once we have feedback from the early March release, we'll set about rejiggling the book. Then we'll send it to proofers we have lined up for a final polish pass before releasing it to you guys.


How Do I Submit Feedback? Simple! Choose one of the following forms. Typos is for short errors (N.B. the book is written in British English).

Here's the typo report form

Here's the detailed feedback form

Clue Handouts for the Mecha Koboldzilla

What’s To Come?

Late Feb:

  • Chapter 3: Tracking
  • [Chapter 5 Crafting Workshop*]
  • Chapter 7: Classes
  • Chapter 8: Familiars

Early March

  • Chapter 2: The Loot Tavern
  • [Chapter 5 Cooking*]
  • Chapter 11: Tavern of Terrors (Hunt)
  • Chapter 18: Tar-rasque (Hunt)

*Switched because the food art won't be ready in time!


Final Release

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 23: Index

Beyond

  • Ch 19: The Dire Bunny of Kaergannob (Hunt).

Why is the dire bunny separate, now? Well... long story short, this book is looking like it's gona be REALLY big. At least 400 pages.  Turns out, being too big can actually be a problem. As such, we're looking at making the dire bunny it's own standalone softback book with its own hunt, familiar, items, and monsters, to be included in the package of everyone who gets a book.

What Do You Think? We're still working out the details, but is that something y'all would be interested in? Are there any issues you foresee? Would you like more standlone hunts? Let us know what you think, we're keen to engage you all on this idea!

Branton Quark - Definitely a Dragonborn

A Project We Love - Crucible 

Okay. Remember the Shadow of the Broodmother map? The MAD Cartographer did that. They've also done the map for the Loot Tavern, which I can tell you looks amazing. You'll get to see it soon. I love Humperdink's laboratory. AND, like me, Alex is also from the North of England, so you know he's a decent bloke. Anyway, his Kickstarter—CRUCIBLE MAGAZINE—is live!


Look at all these goodies!

Thrilling New Content for 5E. Crucible is a monthly magazine packed with over 80 pages of fifth edition content like adventures, subclasses, magic items, a four page comic, interviews, and more! Today is the first day to hop on the Kickstarter at https://www.CrucibleMag.com (sign up required) where you can get a FREE copy of their launch issue!


I'm actually really impressed with how accessible this is. It's both physical, digital, AND is ready to play on Foundry VTT.  

All the platforms!

They even made this extremely bespoke video, just for backers of Heliana's Guide:

Check it out here.



Alright folks, we'll catch you in a couple more weeks. Lots to do!


Thanks,


Max (and Mo and Jess!)