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:

$1.4m Goal Smushed - New Goal!
4 months ago – Fri, Jul 02, 2021 at 07:17:34 PM

Whoop! We have munchies! 11 more munchies - one for each boss :)

Ready? Say aaaaaaaaaarrghhhOMGI'mShootingALaserAndHeliana'sIsOnIt'sLastStretchGoalaaaaaaarghh

We're not even at the 48 hour bump and I'm already struggling to keep up with the updates! In the words of Hamilton, you've "blown us all away". This is stretch goal #17!!! This next goal will be our final one.... maybe... Can we hit it?


New Goal: $1.5m - Book 2 Alpha

It's looking pretty likely we'll be making a book 2 at some point in the future. We're not sure what it'll be, yet. Perhaps Granny Weathertax's Guide to Monster Taming. Or Humperdink's Biomancy Handbook. Or maybe L'Arsenes Heists, Hijinxes, and Heroic Happenings. Probably none of those!

If we hit $1.5m then, when we start making playtest material for book 2, we'll send you it to try out first!

Project We Love: Dungeon Craft Terrain Books 

Dungeon Craft is a series of 2d terrain made for D&D and other Role Playing Games. Each book contains hundreds of reversible terrain pieces for you to build custom maps in endless scenarios. All you need to do is cut out the pieces and lay them on any of the base maps to build a unique encounter in minutes.

Click Me!

As some of you know, the only battlemap sized for physical minis that we're providing with this campaign is the Loot Tavern one. These modular map bundles (they have 7 total across a variety of terrains) from 1985 games can be co-opted for the boss fights, or used as the settings for the plethora of random encounters we provide! Check it out here.


Another update on crafting coming later today!


Thanks,


Max (and Mo and Jess!)

Week 4 Update - First Look: Crafting
4 months ago – Fri, Jul 02, 2021 at 07:17:32 PM

  • Four weeks
  • $1.42 million 
  • 13439 backers
  • 17 stretch goals
  • 4 creators commissioned
  • 2080 core boxes
  • 2491 deluxe boxes
  • 9556 books
A tamer's companion upon hearing it would be created, probably.

We had some excellent questions on the live QA, you can watch the VOD right here. Thanks to Johnn Four for hosting, Smood Jadd (a.k.a. Kevin) for compiling questions, and Sally and Ethen for troubleshooting tech stuff with me. Speaking of Johnn...


Free PDF - Enhance Your Monster Hunts

Johnn is the author of roleplayingtips.com and creator of the '5 Room Dungeon Method'. He's kindly written up a guide for enhancing your approach to monster hunts using that 5-room method, namely: Guardian, Puzzle, Setback, Conflict, and Revelation. It'll be sent to all backers once we get Backerkit up and running (and have access to your email addresses, which reminds me...)


Ensure the email address you use for Kickstarter is not a JUNK address. We'll be using that email address to send you digital content, the backerkit survey, and updates. You can update your email address in your Kickstarter account settings.



Crafting First Look

From Skyrim to WoW,  Minecraft to Eve Online, there are hundreds of crafting systems out there. Some require recipes (WoW) while others make you guess what to smush together (Minecraft). Crafting systems can hide higher-level items behind experience levels, or simply require high-level components that only the toughest cookies can acquire.

In this first look, I'll dive into our design goals and outline how we've set out to achieve each of those goals. We'll also touch on cooking and cooked foods. Any questions? Hit up the comments below or jump on over to the discord. We'll have an open playtest for Harvesting and Crafting in the next month and the discord will be where you access it :)


---Design Goals---

This system is the last to be written of the three new ones (harvesting and tracking being the other two) and still has the most potential wiggle-room. That being said, it shares a few goals with the Harvesting system, namely:

  • Streamlined
  • Modular
  • Familiar

In addition, we wanted to make it:

  • Safe for GMs (no risk of a level 5 player getting a legendary weapon).
  • Cover both magical and mundane crafting.
  • Able to give each item a unique flavour.
  • Not favour any one class or skill proficiency.
  • Give tools a use.

Safe for GMs. If you read week 2's update, you'll know that in order to craft magical items, you need to extract 'monster essence' of the right level. This monster essence can only be extracted from creatures whose CR is high enough. For example, frail essence (for uncommon items) requires a creature of CR 6 — 10, while mythic essence (for legendary items) needs to be harvested from a creature of CR 22 or higher. In addition, whether or not you let your players discover the recipes for a specific magic item is up to you! Don't want a certain magic item in the game? No-one knows the recipe. 


Magical and Mundane. Mundane (non-magical) items become pretty redundant beyond the low levels of 5th-edition. That being said, you can't create a flame tongue longsword, without first creating a sword. We've covered all the bases by offering ways to craft both mundane and magical items. You can even combine the two systems to jump straight from iron ore to a fiery, overpowered flame tongue. This process of both manufacturing and enchanting together is called 'forging'.

To help delineate the two, we refer to mundane crafting as 'manufacturing', and magical crafting as 'enchanting'. Here's an example of how these work with a longsword, and a flame tongue weapon.

  • Longsword (Manufacturing). Mundane crafting is 'from scratch'. You first acquire the iron ore and coke, find a forge and smith's tools, and then make a Strength check using your proficiency in smith's tools (or pay someone to do it). If you pass the DC (of which there are multiple - see Unique Flavour below), you craft the sword. If you fail, you produce a worse item, or no item at all!
  • Flame Tongue (Enchantment). Once you've got a longsword, you're ready to make it magical. With your magical component - a dragon's breath sac - in tow and an enchanting station, you can make either an Intelligence check, or a check using your spellcasting ability modifier.

    Remember how, in harvesting, you use different skills depending on the creature type? Well, the same applies here. Because you use proficiency in Survival to harvest a dragon, you also add your proficiency in Survival to the crafting check that uses a dragon's components. This represents your ability to correctly harness the magic of that component.
  • Flame Tongue (Forge (Manufacturing and Enchantment)). The bonus of going straight from the raw materials to the final magical product is that you can work the magic in as you craft the item. Instead of using one of your mental abilities (Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma), you can use the ability associated with the tool proficiency required. For example, to craft flame tongue from scratch, a fighter would make a Strength (smith's tools) check for the mundane crafting, and a Strength (Survival) check for the magical portion.
You'll also be able to upgrade items once made. Is that a frying pan?

Unique Flavour. IRL, crafting can result in sub-par results. Trust me, I tried pottery once. To represent this we're making a table of minor bonuses and penalties that you can apply to your magic items. For example, if you exceed the DC by a big margin, you might increase the item's save DCs by 1, or grant it the ability to cast a cantrip. Conversely,  a low result could leave you with a leather jacket that always smells a bit, giving disadvantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks or even worse, be cursed.

The exact bonuses and penalties are still being workshopped. If you have ideas of what these could be, join this discord channel.


No Favourites. As mentioned, magical crafting uses the same skill proficiency as the creature's component type skill used to harvest the creature's component. A holy avenger, which requires the component of a celestial, uses Religion to craft it, while the broodmother's embrace, crafted from the hide of an aberration, the aboleth broodmother (which you can play right here), uses Arcana. All spellcasters can use their spellcasting ability to enchant existing mundane items, while martial classes can use Strength or Dexterity to craft them from raw materials.


This book is watching youuuu.

Tool Proficiencies.  The types of items that you can manufacture depends on the tools at your disposal.  For example, crafting a weapon made of metal or metal armour require's smith's tools, while engineering a fiddly wondrous item might require proficiency in tinker's tools. If something falls into multiple categories, like a helm of telepathy (which is both a metal helmet and a wondrous item), you can use either tool to craft it. This, of course, is all at the GM's discretion; you're not going to make the folding boat wondrous item with glassblower's tools, unless you can somehow justify a folding glass boat. Actually… that’s a pretty cool idea.


Here's how we've lined up the tools, abilities, and item types. Note, the associated ability score is the one you can use if you're making something from the raw ingredients, rather than enchanting an existing item (see Magical vs Mundane, above):

  • Alchemist's supplies - Intelligence - Potions
  • Brewer's supplies - Constitution (it involves more sampling than alchemy) - Potions
  • Calligrapher's supplies - Dexterity - Scrolls
  • Carpenter's tools - Dexterity or Strength - Wooden Weapons, Arrows, Bolts, Staves, Rods, and Wands
  • Cobbler's tools - Dexterity - Boots
  • Cook's utensils - Constitution -  Food (a new item type!)
  • Glassblower's tools - Dexterity - Wondrous items
  • Jeweler's tools - Dexterity - Wondrous items
  • Leatherworker's tools - Dexterity - Light armour, hide armour
  • Mason's tools - Strength - Weapons and armour amde of stone (e.g. obsidian)
  • Painter's supplies - Dexterity - Scrolls
  • Potter's tools - Dexterity - ...?
  • Smith's tools - Strength - Metal weapons, heavy armour, medium armour (except hide)
  • Tinker's tools - Dexterity - Wondrous items, firearms
  • Weaver's tools - Dexterity - Cloaks, robes, and clothing
  • Woodcarver's tools - Dexterity or Strength - Wooden weapons, arrows, bolts, staves, rods, and wands

If you don't have a tool or tool proficiency, you can always find an NPC who does. Finding the NPC can be a quest in itself, and can act as a sneaky way of delaying the level at which level your players get a magic item.


---Worked Example---

GM: Okay you're back at your base, what do you do next?

Mizzard: I will enchant these beads with a potent magic to elicit incredible feats of incendiary amplification.

GM: So... a necklace of fireballs?

Mizzard: ...Yes.

Gurf: An' I want to make a flame tongue!

GM: Okay! You'll both need a red or gold dragon's breath sac. Mizzard, your item is rare so you'll need a fair or stronger essence as well, and Gurf, flame tongue is very rare so requires a potent or stronger essence.

Gurf: I thought it was rare, not very rare?

GM: I'm using Heliana's Guide which revises item rarities to make them balanced. Now, Mizzard, you said you were enchanting. Give me an Intelligence (Survival) check please, and then roll 1d6 + 3 to see how many beads you create.

Mizzard: Very well! That's... oh. 1 plus 5. 6. Damn. And I've made... 2 plus 3 equals 5 beads.

GM: Interesting... [notes down that item is cursed and could explode if damaged]. Looks alright to you! Gurf, how're you going about this?

Gurf: I've got the ore, coke, my smiffing toolsies, and all the magic stuffs. I'm gona make them hot and hit 'em!

GM: Okay, you're going to forge the item from scratch. Give me a Strength (smith's tools) check and a Strength (Survival) check.

Gurf: That's a 17 and a 26.

GM: Great. After many hours at the forge, you craft a fine blade, and achieve an amazing meld of magical properties into it. The blade is finely made, suffering no defects, and the enchantment is so strong that you gain a +1 bonus to your attack rolls in addition to flame tongue's normal enchantments. Mizzard, you leave your enchanting station with several new blackened holes in your robe and a... perfectly normal necklace of fireballs with 5 beads.


---Cooking---

Cooking is a subcategory of crafting and food is a new magic item type. Food is similar to potions, but has a longer consumption time and longer-lasting effects:

  • It takes 10 minutes to consume,
  • The effects last for 8 hours (most of the time),
  • You can only benefit from one food's bonus at a time.

Foods tend to be in the common/uncommon level of power. Unlike crafting other magic items, you don't NEED monster essence, but using it adds a flat bonus to your crafting check (that scales with the rarity of the essence). With a high enough result on the check there is a chance of a critical success, producing the higher rarity version of that food.


Aboleth Ramen.

LIVESTREAM HAPPENING NOW (12:00 EDT, 29th June 2021)

Jess and Mo are gona be answering Qs and doodling over on Jess' YouTube Channel in 20 minutes! That's midday EDT. It'll be going for an hour or two and will be recorded if you're busy working! Or gaming. Or sleeping.


Hope you enjoyed this first look at crafting!


Thanks,


Max (and Mo and Jess!)

We're doing a live Q&A (or two)
4 months ago – Mon, Jun 28, 2021 at 03:34:15 AM

Hey guys,

Just a mini update to let you know I (Max) will be doing a live Q&A tomorrow morning (US-time), or afternoon (UK-time). We're still ironing out a start time but it'll be either 9am MDT or 9.30 am MDT.  So you Americans (whole continent, not just USA) can watch it in bed and we Europeans can watch it with our afternoon tea.


  • 08:00 PDT -> 9:00am MDT -> 11:00am EDT ->16:00 BST
  • 08:30 PDT -> 9:30am MDT -> 11:30am EDT ->16:30 BST

It'll be a video stream on the Loot Tavern discord (<- click that link to get taken there). Johnn Four - creator of the five room dungeon method - will be hosting it and our server mod, Smood Jadd, will be picking user-submitted questions. We'll try and record it, but tech can be tricky, and there will likely be some delay in getting a vid up.


If you can't make it tomorrow, Jess Jackdaw will be doing another livestream on Tuesday midday (12 noon EDT) and I'll be appearing on there to answer some Qs. Subscribe to his YouTube channel here.


This Discord will be my first stream so... please be nice :)


That's all!


Thanks,


Max (and Mo and Jess!)

$1.2m goal - New Goal: Necromancer Tamer
4 months ago – Sun, Jun 27, 2021 at 07:17:41 PM

And, just when I'm ready to stop for the day, we hit another goal xD You guys are the best!

Breaking goals like Godzilla breaks this insect

So, we've hit $1.2m which means 5 more races! Stay tuned to Jess Jackdaws YouTube channel for reveals :)


Next New Goal - $1.3m: Necromancer Tamer Subclass

I don't think I'm alone in saying that the wizarding school of necromancy is a little disappointing for crafting an undead army. If we hit $1.3m, we'll add another subclass to the Tamer class that lets you reduce, reuse, and recycle the bodies of your foes in a more permanent fashion. Or semi-permanent, if you're reckless.  This subclass will be focused on using the life force of its undead companion to heal itself and damage the enemy, with little respect for its actual companion's wellbeing (unless you really like your pet deathshroud). Here's some of Jess' concept art:

Project We Love - Traveller's Guide to the Soddenweald 

This is a ridiculously cute project. 

The Soddenweald is a vast swathe of mystical swampland, bubbling with strange and unpredictable wild magic. To traverse it safely, you'll need a copy of the Traveller's Guide...Brimming with inspiringly magical swamp-themed flora, fauna, food, and potion recipes, this guide contains a compelling combination of marshland lore designed to bring this magic swamp and its many curiosities to life!

Click to see their page!

If you like making food, finding plants in the wild, or adorable illustrations, then check out this guy. It's smashed its humble goal and I'd love to see its final days explode!


Thanks,


We love you


Max (and Mo and Jess!)


P.s. We couldn't decide between the two bard subclass ideas we had  (College of Flesh Weaving and College of Cuisine), so it looks like we'll have both, and a second necromancer-esque idea.

Week 3 Update - First Look: Tracking | New Tier!
4 months ago – Sun, Jun 27, 2021 at 02:12:40 AM

  • Three weeks
  • $1.16 million 
  • 11212 backers
  • 14 stretch goals
  • 4 creators commissioned
  • 1739 core boxes
  • 1962 deluxe boxes
  • 8390 books

     
Bonafide, unedited image of Owen Wowlson seeing this campaign

Reality still elusive. More next week.


Tracking First Look

Tracking can be so much more than following footprints! Tracking could involve investigating a trail of counterfeit coins through a city to find a forger's mint, mimicking a creature's call to elicit a response from it, or using your woodcarver's tools to craft a canoe and navigate a flooding river. In this first look I'll take you through the design goals, how we met those goals, and a couple of the optional tracking rules.

Tracking.

---Design Goals---

So often in RPGs, the onus of storytelling falls to the GM. We've created a  tracking system that bucks that trend, encourages the player to be creative, and even allows them to become the primary story teller for a short time. This gives the GM a well-earned chance to relax and lets the player flex their creative muscles. Our goals were to:

  • Represent differing degress of difficulty
  • Encourage player creativity.
  • Not cater to any one class (e.g. Ranger).
  • Offer differing rewards for success and failure.
  • Be familiar (use only existing skills).

Synopsis. Before we delve into how we achieved those goals, here's how this tracking system works.

  • Firstly, you (the GM) decide how many ability checks a party must make, and how many of them must be successful in order to find their quarry. More equals harder.
  • Then 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 much sense their suggestion makes and how difficult the action is.
  • On a failed check, the party has a hostile encounter.
  • On a successful one, they have a narrative encounter. 
  • When the characters have made both the requisite number of checks and successes, they reach their destination.

---Goals Achieved---

Degrees of Difficulty.  There are two mways to manipulate difficulty: the number of checks the party makes and the number of successes required. The total number of checks represents the distance the party has to traverse, with a greater distance requiring more checks. The number of successes represents how difficult it is for a creature or location to be found, or for terrain to be safely traversed.


Both of these criteria must be fulfilled to arrive at the location. So even if the location is nearby (requiring 1 check), it might be difficult to find (requiring 3 successes). Hence it really requires a minimum of 3 check, but you don't have to worry about that. You just choose two numbers based on the tables in the book and wait until the party has achieved both!


Examples. An enormous giant's castle might be super easy to find, but it's over 100 miles away so requires 6 tracking checks, but only 1 success. A necromancer's lair hidden with a warren-like city might be close enough to require only a single check, however 3 successes are need to find it, thus the party must keep making checks until they acquire the requisite number of successes.


Player Creativity. This is my favourite bit: throwing the choice of check back to the players. As GM, you ask the party how they’re going about the tracking process. They describe what they wish to do, and you work with them to choose an ability and skill for the tracking check. Then you decide (secretly) an appropriate DC for the check based on how much sense the player’s proposition makes. Keep reading for examples of how this works.

This could work, right?

No Class Favouritism. This system uses the NSACs (non-standard ability checks) variant rule. This is where combine abilities (like Strength) with skills that they're not paired with (like Intimidation). Any combination is possible, given the right circumstance.

For example, Athletics is usually a Strength check. However, if a character states that they chase a wolf pack across 10 miles of snowy terrain, you might ask for a Constitution (Athletics) check. All this requires the player to do is make a Constitution check and, if they have proficiency in Athletics, add their proficiency bonus to the result.


DCs. We've provided a much longer list of examples in the book, but here's a brief synopsis:

Common Sense Checks (DC 6). These checks are easily achievable by the common person.

  • Pursuing the footprints of a giant across mud — Wisdom (Survival).

Skilled Checks (DC 11). These checks are achievable by a person that has undergone basic training, such as a woodsman or acolyte.

  • Estimating the likely location of a creature based on its nature — Intelligence (Arcana, Nature, or Religion depending on the creature’s type).

Expert Checks (DC 16). These checks are beyond the skills of a trained commoner. Individuals able to regularly succeed on such checks have dedicated their life to mastery of a skill, such as a big-game hunter, professor of zoology, or archmage.

  • Mimicking a creature’s call to provoke a response from it — Charisma (Performance).

Outlandish Checks (DC 21+). There’s always a chance this could work, right?” These checks always involve a degree of luck. The more outlandish, the more luck required, and the higher the DC.

  • Using brute force to hack through the underbrush and find a hidden trail — Strength (Athletics).

Success and Failure. Success or failure, it enriches your world if you narrate the result of the party’s actions. On a success, the party has a narrative encounter. These are non-combat encounters that can describe unique locations, non-hostile NPCs, or simply illustrate a remarkable environmental occurrence. On a failure, the party encounters baddies! Whether or not the party surprises the baddies depends on the exact scenario, and whether the party were travelling stealthily or not.

The random encounters provided with the book are divided into these two categories (narrative and hostile). Every hostile encounter has guidance to make it work for a party of any level.

In the basic rules - there are no 'failures'. Just hostile or narrative encounters.

---Optional Rules---

Here we'll copy and paste a few of the optional rules so you can get a taste of how to make this system your own!

Optional Rule: Critical Success. Sometimes, an especially observant or lucky tracker might find a clue allowing the party to find a lair more quickly. Surpassing the DC by 10 or more is a critical success and can count as two successes, while surpassing it by 20 or more counts as three successes.

For example, perhaps your tracker, who, with the help of expertise and guidance, gets a 35 on their DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check, finds the imprint of a dropped stone tablet in the mud that details the exact way to disable the necromancer’s illusory protection and counts as 3 successes.

Optional Rule: Critical Failure. It’s possible for trackers to be given a false scent by a particularly devious enemy, or simply to royally mess up. In these cases, the tracking experience gets more difficult. A natural 1 on the d20, or missing the tracking check DC by 10 or more, is a critical failure. Not only does a critically failed check not count towards the total number of tracking checks the party must make, It also adds 1 to the number of successes required to find the location.


Optional Rule: Varied Checks. To keep things from getting stale, players can’t repeat the same tracking check until two others have been attempted.



---Example---

Introducing Gurf  the Barbarian and Mizzard the lizard wizzard. Below is an example of how tracking checks might play out.


GM: So, how are you going about finding the aboleth?

Mizzard: I use my knowledge of swamp creatures to assess where a huge creature might reside.
 GM: Okay — that sounds like you should make an Intelligence (Nature) check [notes DC of 11].

Mizzard: ...two plus four… six.

[GM notes one check, one failure, and rolls a d6 to determine the hostile encounter].

GM: As you search the waterways, eliminating many possibilities, you hear a rustling [rolls creature’s Dexterity (Stealth) check], but it’s too late. Roll initiative. You’re surprised!

[Hostile Encounter]


Gurf: Okay my turn! I chop the bushes to see more and move quicker.

Mizzard: Don’t be silly - that won’t work!

Gurf: Might do.

GM: Give me a Strength (Athletics) check [notes DC of 21].

Gurf: Fifteen plus eight… that’s… a lot.

[GM notes two checks, one failure, one success, and rolls a d10 to determine the narrative encounter]

GM: Clearing away the underbrush, you stumble across a hidden trail leading deeper into the swamp. Desperately trying to pull itself from a pit of quicksand is the bearded madman from the river bank you spotted two days ago. What do you do?

[Narrative Encounter]



New Tier - All-In

Alright folks, we've been listening and have made a new tier. It has everything. You get a deluxe box, a VTT of your choice,  plus the gelatinous ooze dice AND the dire rabbit enamel pin AND two new products


New Product 1: Hunt Chapter Movie Posters. We'll be making 'movie-style' posters of the chapter art of each hunt. The size is yet to be confirmed (our goal is to make it slightly smaller than the footprint of the box so it can be shipped flat), but there'll be 11 of them! Here's the aboleth broodmother and magnetite dragon designs:

11 total posters, each around ledger/A3 size.

New Product 2: Canvas Wall Hanging. Measuring approx. 18" by 50" (yep - over 4 feet long!) is this beautiful wall-mountable canvas print. It features an adapated version of Jess' GM screen art; the 10 core monsters in a pseudo-japanese style.

Both of these products will also be available as addons.

This tier comes in at $350, a saving of $289 on its unbundled price! We won't be selling this tier after the kickstarter concludes! These new products are also be available as addons :)


Project We Love - Orbidice 

You'd be forgiven for thinking that we'd reached the pinnacle of dice technology. But you'd also be wrong. Orbidice have crafted spherical dice that work like perfectly-balanced normal dice! Check out their video to see how it works!

Click the pic to visit their KS page!

Orbidice have their insides specially shaped allowing a metal ball to move freely inside as the dice rolls, before being caught by one of the special grooves, making the die stop within an incredibly short distance. Then you read the number that is on the top like you would from normal dice!

They also have options for painted and unpainted, plus paints, so you can make these dice your own! Check out their campaign here.



Ok , that's all from us this week. More next Tuesday as we enter the final 3 days and dive into the Crafting system!!


Thanks,


Max (and Mo and Jess) x