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:

August Update - Penultimate Pre-PDF Update!
8 months ago – Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 01:16:56 AM

Hey friends!

This update will cover the progress of design and manufacture, fan art, and a new tamer subclass. Before that - a word on updates!


Sorry we didn’t get an update out to you in July. We’re SO CLOSE to having the PDF done that I just wanted to push through and give it to you. Alas, with each chapter whose proofing notes we gothrough, we discover more inconsistencies in formatting, wording, and layout that we wanted to get right. That meant going back through every chapter that had been done,  and implementing an ever-growing list of find-and-replace terms.

This should be the last update before the PDF is released. Which I hope will be next week! We will, of course, post an update to let y’all know :)

Design Progress

The Book. Feedback has been implemented for everything. That includes playtest balance, technical edit, detailed feedback, and first round proof notes. Everything is through second (and final) round proofing, and we’re just going through those with a find-toothed comb. When we release the PDF next week, you will all have one week to submit any final typos to us before it goes to print.

GM Screen. We’ve collated everything submitted in the GM Screen Discord channel. If you’ve anything you really want to be included, go to that channel, check the pins, and if it’s not there. Leave a comment. We’ll be getting that finalised in the week’s downtime after the PDF is released.

Additional PDFs. As we discussed before, there’s more content than we can fit in the physical book (see Manufacture Progress, below for more on this). Hyperlinked within the book (and with custom QR codes and simplified URLs) are the following five documents:

  •  Hare Raising (the bonus adventure in which you hunt a ‘Dire Rabbit’)
  •  Weathertax’s Weird and Wonderful World (an additional 44 random encounters)
  •  L’Arsène’s Crafting Catalogue (extracted harvesting and crafting rules for your players)
  •  Humperdink’s Flock of Familiars (an additional 7 bespoke familiars)
  •  The GM’s Crafting Workshop (a beta-test version of a how-to-design your own items)

These hyperlinks will not function by the time you receive the PDF. As these are digital products, we’ll be finishing those last so we can get all the physical stuff finalised first.

Animated Familiar Cards. Jess is wrapping these up, and they look EXCELLENT!

Cuties! Art by JessJackdaw

Manufacture Progress

We received the print test of the book in early July!


The colours were great. Pinks and purples can be particularly hard to make vibrant, but we’re happy with the quality.

Cnidaran hunt domain cleric, Suneater owlbear, and a lovely lotol

A book this big needs some seriously strong binding, and this iteration just wasn’t up to scratch!

After one month at home and a weekend at Gen Con!

We immediately contacted our manufacturer and asked for some upgrades. Not only is the binding significantly stronger, but we’ve opted for a curved spine.

A stronger binding and a curved spine - this book is so much more robust. Pictured is the faux leather.

All told, this allows the book to open totally flat, even on only a few pages, a significant improvement on the first iteration (I had to hold the first print test open!).

First iteration of core book - won't stay open
Reinforced, half-moon spine book - opens flat. Pictured is the faux leather cover.

We also caught a finish that we weren’t happy with (the cover being made of two printed pages, overlapping, instead of a single sheet). We’ve asked for this to be a single sheet and will update you on the next print test.

Two-page cover easily bends - manufacturer is changing design.

Box. The box designs have been finalised. You can see in the following graphics how the core box will be arranged. The book is on the bottom as it weighs 5.5lbs and would crush everything. We did promise a bludgeoning weapon…

Points to whomever identifies which die is missing from the mockup.

Cards & Other Products. The item card print tests are in progress and we’ll share those as soon as we get them, hopefully with the GM screen and other paper products!

Fan Art

Recognise this guy!? It's the Opteran caterpillar, lovingly crocheted by the talented Jessica

What shall we name them?... Gandalf the Green?

Project We Love - Steinhardt’s Guide to the Eldritch Hunt 

Do you like games like Dark Souls? Bloodborne? Are you a fan of Lovecraftian Horror? Then check out Steinhardt’s Guide. We helped our friend, the Monkey DM, get in touch with the right people to make this truly terrifying kickstarter. This thing is so edgy it should come with a sharp instrument warning. They’ve smashed it out of the park and might even beat Heliana’s!

Click to see more!

Entrance your players as they unravel the mystery of the ravaged First Hunters and giggle maniacally as they descend into an otherworldly insanity. We're also collaborating to make this book fully compatible with our harvesting and crafting systems!

New Tamer Subclass: Eldermancer. We're working with the Monkey DM to write a new tamer subclass to inhabit the aberration filled dystopia of Luyarnha! The class will be available in Steinhardt's for sure, and potentially in a future Heliana publication.

We're still ideating how it's gonna look (and won't actually write it until Heliana's is done), but it will be a warlocky-subclass, where the tamer taps infuses the blood of aberrations with eldritch power of the old ones to enhance their companions. Maybe. This is all still in brainstorm form. Either way, we got Ognjen to make some killer art!

What features could this blood infuser have? Art by Ognjen.

From the Discord:

Courtesy of Eldritch_Whispers, on the Loot Tavern Discord

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!


Max (and Mo and Jess!)

June Update - Manufacture Photos
10 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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.


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.


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!


Max (and Mo and Jess!)

May Update - Book Size; Tracking; Manufacture
11 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?


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


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
about 1 year 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.


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!


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


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!


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
about 1 year 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?


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

Final Release

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 23: Index


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

Okay friends, that's all!

More soon!


Max (and Mo and Jess)