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:

Week 3 Update - First Look: Tracking | New Tier!
almost 2 years 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.


---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.


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!!


Max (and Mo and Jess) x

$1.1m goal — New Goal: MORE RACES!?
almost 2 years ago – Mon, Jun 21, 2021 at 09:10:48 PM

That's 14 goals down!!

Surfzilla approves. The dire rabbit hard enamel pin (with delicious silk screen print overlays - you don't get that on many pins!) will be available to everyone at the heavily discounted price of $5! Thanks folks :)

Next New Goal - $1.2m: 5 MORE new Races

If we hit $1.2 million (wtf!) we''ll add 5 more new races to the roster. The Pangolan has a natural armour, and the Opteran - a race based on moths (Lepidoptera) begins life as a caterpillar-esque creature before moulting at level 5 (ish) to get a (pretty slow) flying speed! Here's some of Jess' early art :)

Opteran and Pangolan

Project We Love - Grio's Guide to the Wildlands

Grio's is shaping up to be an excellent companion book for Heliana's Guide! It catalogues an assortment of natural hazards within its 200 pages, including new backgrounds and nature-focussed proficiencies. What I like is that it has different tiers of success in for its checks, and options to make each hazard more or less dangerous (for different power parties). Here's an excerpt.

Click to see more!

The campaign has finished but you can still grab the book (or PDF) on the pre-order store for the next few weeks. Click here for the store, or here to see the Kickstarter page.

That's all for now!


Max (and Mo and Jess!)

$1m — Much Humble. Very Wow. —The Dire Bunny of Caergannob | New Goal | Fantasy Grounds
almost 2 years ago – Thu, Jun 17, 2021 at 01:53:00 AM


First, a message from our sponsor, Heliana:

"Is... is it on?"

"Yeah, you just speak and it'll make it into words."

"Ah. Is this L'Arsène's magic?... of course. ...

ADVENTURERS. We are almost 10,000 strong and ready to face the most evil, most terrible beast I've ever encountered. The direwolf in goat's clothing.  The beast of the barrow. The Dire. Bunny. of Caergannob."

"Many of you will die, many more will suffer debilitating psychological trauma, but a select few will go down in the an- ann- 

(Peeper, is this right?... Oh!)

ANNALS of history! I'll pen my knowledge of this fearsome foe in this guide, but it is up to you to spread the word far and wide. Share the tale of this momentous quest! Onwards, to glory!

How... how was that, Peeper?"



We thought we'd reaffirmed our grip on reality, but y'all threw one million banana skins in our path and we slipped again. But in a good way. Seriously folks - thank you! We'll be adding a whole new adventure to the book,  a tongue in cheek parody of the Holy Grail, with a new boss, new lair actions, and lots of other original paraphernalia. 

Here's a sneak peak:


If we hit $1.1m we'll make a dire bunny pin. This pin will be available as an addon (and maybe in a future as-yet unannounced tier...). As a thank you to you all we're knocking 60% off our expected MSRP as a Kickstarter-Exclusive offer — it'll be just $5. It'll come with a tarot card depicting the dire bunny familiar and it's associated skills. 

Dire bunny pin

Fantasy Grounds Incoming!

We've been in touch with Fantasy Grounds, and they've given us the go-ahead to pre-sell our book on their VTT! If you add the VTT Adventure Bundle as an addon, you'll be able to choose from Fantasy Grounds, Foundry, Shard, or Roll20 when we get to Backerkit.

Project(s) We Love - The Oracle Story Generator 

Our friends at Nord Games (the folks who are Kickstarter fulfilment specialists!) have just launched their next Kickstarter - The Oracle Story Generator. This deck of beautifully illustrated cards is a simple tool for game masters, world builders, and writers to create fantastical adventures.

Click to see more!

The decks have different card types, Actors are the main character of the story. Actions are what that character will do. Subjects are who or what the main character's action will have an impact on. Intents are what the main character intends to accomplish through their actions. Developments are extra elements of the story that add intrigue. Each card has 4 options to help that seed of idea germinate into a BBEG, historical event, or mystical occurrence that has yet come to pass! Check it out here :)

Project(s) We Love - Asian Monsters 

From world building, to world populating, there's another project we want to tell you about - Asian Monsters. This Quickstarter (it's ready to go as soon as the campaign ends). It's only $15 for the PDF and comes with 90 creatures replete with delicious illustrations, and has options for full VTT support for Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and Shard.

Click to see more!

Asia is steeped in brilliant folklore and we're so happy to see the topic addressed in this killer bestiary. For those not in the know, Legendary games are partners in Paizo's conversion of Kingmaker. They seriously know what they're doing! Check it out here :)



Thanks! We're blown away. Keep sharing so we can make more cool stuff! We've been kicking around even more stretch goal ideas and they're looking pretty tasty.


Max (and Mo and Jess!)

Week 2 Update - First Look: Harvesting!
almost 2 years ago – Thu, Jun 17, 2021 at 01:40:42 AM

  • Two weeks.
  • $978k.
  • 12 stretch goals.
  • 3 new creators commissioned.
  • 1453 core boxes.
  • 1668 deluxe boxes.
  • 6968 books.
Very Nice!

It's kind of hit us, but not really. More on our relationship with reality next week.

Harvesting First Look

I'd wager that you've all had a similar post-dragon-slaying experience: you tell your GM that you wana chop off some dragon scales, you observe the slight look of panic as they quickly make up a rule, and then you roll the inevitable Wisdom (Survival) check. It's good! It's simple, it works, and it keeps the game moving. But sometimes you want just a little more choice. What about a dragon's heart? What about its breath sac? What about the nerve-rending risk of a misplaced cut causing the whole thing to explode in your face? We've gotcha' covered.

We're gonna take a look at our design goals for the harvesting mechanic, a harvesting example, and a short delve into one of the extra rule options available.

Design Goals

Mo and I spent hours discussing the best way to design a harvesting system. We narrowed it down to these key goals:

  • Streamlined
  • Modular
  • Involves All Players
  • Familiar
  • Balanced

Streamlined. We wanted to create a system that you can tack onto the end of your fight, and that takes no more than 5 minutes to conclude.  So we created the laws of arcanodynamics.

The third law of arcanodynamics states that a system without a soul or magical artifice loses its magical potency rapidly after death.

After 1 minute a corpse loses its magical potency, so your players have to move quickly! This means they can't harvest an entire battlefield; they must choose, at most, one corpse per party member.  1 corpse, 2 checks, done.

Modular. There are as many ways to play RPGs as there are players who play them. One size rarely fits all, perfectly. To address this, our harvesting and crafting systems have optional rules so you control how simple or granular your game is! Some optional rules you can add are:

  • Volatile Components (a dragon's breath sac should explode, right?)
  • Hazardous Harvesting (a scorpions sting still has venom!)
  • Metatags (more on this below)
  • Price Calculation mechanics (have a set price for quick shopping or modify price based on settlement size!)

Involve All Players. We want players with all sorts of different skills to be able to contribute to the post-skirmish harvesting so different creature types require different skills. A cleric with proficiency in religion might have an easier time carving up a celestial than a dexterous rogue will! Players not involved making the checks can still add a passive bonus if they help.

Familiar. No, not the cute friends. Our system uses established skills, there's nothing new to add to your character sheet.

Balanced. Giving your players the means to craft their own items removes some control you as a GM have over the balance of the game. We don't want you to be worrying about this, so we introduced 'essence', a harvestable component that is limited by creature CR. Your level 3 party can never make a rare item if they don't harvest the essence of a CR 11 creature!

Harvesting Example

So — how does it work!? Well each creature type (of which there are 14) has a harvest table, detailing what components are available and what their component DC is. Here's a summary of how you go from that table, to loot:

  •  Step 0 — Players kill the creature

GM: You have slain the mighty beast! What do you do next?

Player, Gurf: Chop it up, please.

 Step 1: Description — GM reads the harvest table for that creature type and tells the players which components can be harvested. Boss monsters have unique harvest tables, different to the creature type harvest tables.

GM: In addition to the many phials’-worth of mucous, you could harvest three eyes, five tentacles, a pouch-worth of teeth, and, of course, its rubbery hide. Because this creature is particularly potent, you can also try to extract it’s essence, a difficult process...

N.B. Each boss monsters has its own harvesting table, different to the normal creature type table.
  •  Step 2: Harvest List  — Players must quickly decide which of those components they wish to harvest as well as in what order (I like to impose a limit of 2 minutes real time to add tension).

Player, Gurf: I want the eyeses. And all the teef!

Player, Mizzard: Very well, Gurf, but let’s not forget the hide we came here for! And we’ll need essence to be able to make the more powerful ‘rare’ versions of the items. We’ll take the three eyes, a pouch of teeth, the hide, and then the essence.

  •  Step 3: Harvest DC — GM writes these down and adds together the component DCs.
The party chooses to harvest 3 eyes, a pouch of teeth, the hide, and the broodmother's essence
  •  Step 4: Harvest Check — The players elect harvester(s) to make two ability checks; one Intelligence check (to assess) and one Dexterity check (to carve it up). This can be the same person or a different one. Because the broodmother is an Aberration, the players can add their proficiency bonus to the check if they have proficiency in Arcana. The results of the two checks are added together.

GM: Okay. Mizzard, as the assessing harvester, you need to make an Intelligence (Arcana) check and Gurf, as the carving harvester, you need to make a Dexterity (Arcana) check.

Mizzard: Okay… that’s a 12 plus 5. 17!

Gurf: What’s Dexterity (Arcana)? It’s not on my sheet.

GM: Make a Dexterity check—roll a d20 and add your Dexterity modifier—then add your proficiency bonus if you’re proficient in Arcana.

Gurf: Okay that’s a… 16 plus 4. 20!

GM: Great; 17 plus 20 — that’s a total of 37.

  •  Step 5: Loot —Using the handy list you made in step 3, you can see which of the Harvest DCs the Harvest check result met or surpassed. A 37 means that everything except the hide and essence were acquired.

GM: The three eyes come out, plop plop plop, as do the teeth. Unfortunately, the hide is too tough and you can’t harvest it before its magic seeps away and it becomes a mundane bit of fat. You never even get started on the essence.

Gurf: Yay! Teef and eyez!

Mizzard: Blast—I wanted that hide...

Nom nom nom.

 Modular System Example - Metatags 

From the veteran GM who wants to add a detailed system to their rich and vibrant world, to the newbie who just wants a quick way to satiate their murderhobos' quest to flay every enemy they kill, we've got options for the gamut of players and GMs. Our modular rule system gives you the power to make your game as ultra-simple, or ultra-detailed as you like. One example of how we achieved this is with the components themselves and the metatags optional rule. Let's take harvesting a goat (a medium beast) and a rhino (a large beast) as an example.

At it's simplest,  you could harvest a beast horn from both the goat and the rhino.  With the simple crafting rules (which work in tandem with the simple harvesting rules),  you canmake any of the silver, brass, or bronze horns of valhalla with this beast horn. The simple version keeps way your inventory from overflowing with different types of components.

One detailed rule for harvesting is metatags. These modify the names of the components you harvest to create smaller categories. So, in the goat and rhino example, you would acquire a beast horn (Medium, goat) and a beast horn (Large, rhino) respectively. The detailed crafting rules require a beast horn (Medium) for a silver horn and a beast horn (Large) for a brass one. For the bronze horn, though, you specifically need a beast horn (mammoth). Good luck finding that!

Okay - that's the first look done.  There's so much more to show you guys from harvesting supplies to ruining components to all the different harvesting tables. Limiting this update to what you see here has been a herculean effort, I assure!

Project We Love — Story Engine: Deck of Worlds 

The Story Engine: Deck of Worlds is a set of 240 cards for creating imagined lands, local lore, and story-driven world maps. It contains hundreds of open-ended worldbuilding prompts, the deck is ideal for worldbuilders, writers, loremasters, storytellers, DMs, teachers, and RPG groups of all kinds.

Click to see more!

If you've ever seen an improv comedy show, you'll know that every game needs a nugget of inspiration. This tool lets you make that little nugget, and keep adding to it with a random assortment of ideas.

I'm getting the OG story engine and the deck of worlds. As a writing tool, prompts are great, and in a pinch, I can throw a few of these together and let the fates decide what my party will encounter.  I think that the Deck of Worlds is an ideal companion for the open-world nature of Heliana's Guide.  Check it out here :) 


That's week 2 from us done - thanks for reading!

Max (and Mo and Jess!)

P.s. We're working on another tier. It accidently got posted early. Don't worry, it will come back in its final form.

$900k - This looks familiar! Quintuply familiar! New Clues
almost 2 years ago – Mon, Jun 14, 2021 at 04:12:47 AM

Jess is super excited about this one! We'll be putting 5 more familiars in the book (and PDF).  These critters will have some unique abilities and can also be trained by a monster tamer to gain more powerful thematic features! Plus you might have seen some before in Jess' pokemon fusion videos!


Here's a sneak peak - the Couatling, Slaghund, and Tatzelwurm! The other two will be revealed on one of Jess' streams :)

Left to Right: Slaghund, Couatling, Tatzelwurm

We don't have plans to make these familiars into pins yet (that sort of thing takes a while), but the current plan is to have card pack #3 contain the reference cards for these guys (card packs #1 and #2 contain reference cards for the first 10, FYI. See the enamel pins pack to know which ones are in which card pack).


Congrats to Nathan Levi who correctly guessed the name of the secret $1m stretch goal adventure: The Dire Bunny of Caerbannog!

Don't be deceived!!

Prepare to encounter The Dark-Grey Knight, Jim The Enchanter, and the Knights Who Say "Mi!" in this entirely original adventure. Holy hand grenades not included. If we hit this goal, we'll add a whole new adventure, monster(s), craftable items, and ANOTHER familiar. Item card pack 3 will have the relevant cards!

Thanks again!

Max (and Mo and Jess!)