Hamund’s Harvesting Handbook

I often joke that adventurers in D&D should eat what they kill. Or, at the very least, donate what they can’t. Hear me out here. According to the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, a 1,200-pound steer yields 750 pounds of usable meat. If we consider a 4-ounce hamburger that’s 3,000 burgers from one cow! According to Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons, a large red dragon weighs 2,700 pounds. I know the wings are probably gristly and sinewy but keeping the ratio of 62.5% yielded meat, we can infer that we’d get 1,687.5 pounds of ground dragon from one carcass—assuming the wizard didn’t finish it off with Disintegrate or some shit! That’s 6,750 quarter-pounders. Enough for a small city in Faerûn to feed every citizen dinner. What is my rambling point? I think Hamund’s Harvesting Handbook is a good step towards the sensible stewardship of enterprising adventurers the world over.

I want to be clear though, this is not a book on sourcing protein for hungry travelers or starving villagers. It is so much more!

Hamund's Harvesting Handbook
Hamund’s Harvesting Handbook: A Guide to Harvesting & Crafting in D&D 5E

Hamund’s Harvesting Handbook: A Guide to Harvesting & Crafting in D&D 5E

Writer: Drifters Game Workshop (Jeffrey Yang…@DriftersGameWorkshop)
Publisher: DMs Guild
Cost: $9.99
Product Length: 149 pages

More than feeding hungry citizens and greedy politicians, author Jeffrey Yang (Drifters Game Workshop) covers using the whole…monster for uses beyond just food. Nose to tail…hoof to horn…no piece is forsaken. But it should be emphasized that the paladin’s paltry tithe is a pittance next to the food she could provide by harvesting her enemies for food. Yeah, the meat may spoil before she can transport it but, that’s another problem.

Dragonburger
A dragonburger with all the fixings. Don’t let your players be so thoughtless as to waste a perfectly good dead body! Just use caution with Melf’s Acid Arrow. Don’t put that shit on anything!

Originality

Hamund’s is not the first attempt at creating a guide to monster harvesting that I’ve seen. However, to date, it’s the most thoughtful and engaging one I’ve come across. Dragon wings are useful for creating Cloaks of Dragonflight and a duergar’s brainstem is a key component in Potions of Growth and Potions of Invisibility. Plus, who isn’t interested in figuring out what you may be able to craft from an ice devil’s carapace?

Writing

As with this author’s previous work, Captains & Cannons, there is a lot of information to convey in this accessory. But it is a surprisingly engaging read. One of the great things you’ll find about this is that you don’t have to read all 149 pages to get a lot out of it. Jeffrey covers every unique monster from the Monster Manual without getting repetitive or superfluous. You’ll likely read chapters 1 through 3, then skim the harvest tables (paying close attention to your favorite entries), and then resume close reading with chapters 4 and 5.

Production

What can I say other than “professional”? Drifters Game Workshop takes production seriously and it shows. This is not some product with a fancy cover that teases top quality and then lets you down once you get reading. This is something that I’d love in a hardcover to sit alongside the rest of my collection. If you read my reviews regularly, you know I appreciate an aesthetic AND functional layout. This has it all. Hyperlinked table of contents, for starters. Even in the printer-friendly version.

Design

I alluded to this in the writing section but I’ll bring it up again. This guide covers every unique monster from the MM but treats each monster uniquely. Some harvested items are worth only a handful of coppers while others are worth tens of thousands of gold pieces. This guide also implements good ability checks and DCs. You can’t just say, “I harvest the remorhaz’s antennae,” and expect to walk away with some in-tact trophies. That’s DC15 Dexterity check.

Additionally, you get an entire chapter devoted to crafting (and built upon the rules from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything), the second half of this accessory’s subtitle. There are also six crafter types: alchemist, artificer, blacksmith, leatherworker, tinker, and thaumaturge. One could make a comfortable living crafting things for sensible stewards, no?

The most astute among you probably probably wondered about that Cloak of Dragonflight I mentioned earlier. Maybe you rushed off to search DND Beyond to find it in the Homebrew section. Don’t worry. It’s all here in the Handbook, along with over 200 other craftable items.

Couple this all with a new background, proficiency, feat, and special tools and you realize that the design is thorough and creates a lot of opportunity for an enriched game involving harvesting and crafting.

Hamund's Crafting
Hamund’s Crafting

Final Thoughts

I’m sure that by now there is little need to wrap up my thoughts. But, in summary, Hamund’s Harvesting Handbook is a wonderful addition to your collection. Between its approach to appraising and harvesting, the harvest tables, crafting rules, craftable items (including a reference to already published items), and the character options, this Handbook is the definitive resource on harvesting and crafting in 5E. Be sure you check this one out! I only regret that there is no print-on-demand copy for this book.

 

Hamund's Harvesting Handbook
Hamund’s Harvesting Handbook is available on DMs Guild

Thanks, Drifters Game Workshop, for the review copy of Hamund’s Harvesting Handbook.


Author: Patrick

Board gamer, role-player, father, blogger.

140 thoughts on “Hamund’s Harvesting Handbook

  1. While I do wonder how different playgroups would react to a character getting very involved in crafting and spending in game time with it., I do value the expansive information and would love the ability to mix this into the game I’m currently involved it. Especially since we have some npcs who could help out. Thanks for the review!

    1. I could see them making the appropriate checks after a battle similar to how you might loot the body (heh…literally now) and perhaps do the crafting in between sessions or if there is other downtime where it might be appropriate without bogging down the story. Great feedback, Mike!

  2. #dragonsarefriendsnotfood

    I’m not thrilled about this Dragon eating propaganda being thrown around here. These poor defenseless creatures should not be eaten.

    1. Like the idea, but DMs should be careful in how they use it so players feel that they are each getting fair treatment.

      1. I think the potential for misusing this product is minimal. It’s incredibly well-balanced and thoughtful. Thanks for reading, Benjamin!

  3. I love this book. Adds so much more complexity but fun complexity to create within the world.

    Great article too!

  4. I remember a book like this back in the Palladium days, and I always loved it!!! This book brings that part of the game to life where one wants to go above and beyond just the boring everyday hack & slash!

  5. Why would anyone let that delicious dragon burgers go to waste? Love the idea of this book, not above trying my hand at binding my own hardcover

    1. It’s wasteful and irresponsible to leave it to rot. I mean…sure, bugs and microorganisms gotta eat too. But they can still have a feast even after you’ve harvested the best bits. Thanks for reading, Rob!

  6. So, coming from someone who is new to the game, (literally haven’t even played my first campaign yet) this article was extremely insightful. Great work!

  7. I love the content and the impetus. My own campaign has had to deal with some of these topics from time to time. “What CAN I do with this dead troll” “Shouldn’t pixie wings be good for something?” “What are the components I’ll need to track down to build my death staff?”

    I’m am only sad that, as mentioned, there is no print-on-demand option. Perhaps we could encourage one?

    1. Jeffrey reads these comments so hearing that there is interest in a POD version lets him know there is interest. Ultimately, it isn’t his call though. DMs Guild decides those candidates. However, creators and reviewers can encourage the Guild to consider print versions through valuable feedback such as yours. Thanks, CesiumKitty!

  8. My players have been keen to pull apart all the things they run into and I’m keen to add this to my collection! Would love a copy of it.

    1. You could easily allow that desire to weave into your campaign and be consequential. An NPC could have a need for a particular crafted item. Thanks, Nick!

  9. I love this idea and wish my DM gave more downtime for this kind of thing. I love content like this keep up the good work.

    1. Anthony, would your DM allow harvest checks after a battle and then allow you to crafting in between sessions? Or if you ever play solo you could make use of this. Thanks for reading!

    1. Awesome, Nicky! I’m eager to hear back from people who have used it. Hopefully you’ll come back and share how it goes. Thanks for reading!

    1. I love to hear it, Violet! Please come back and share how it works out. I’m interested in hearing how others are using it. Thanks for reading!

    1. It certainly will, Alicia! My grandmother taught me once that “just because” gifts can be some of the most appreciated. It’s not a special occasion…just a thoughtful gift. 😉

      Thanks for reading!

  10. Oh man, I have a member of my party who needs this so bad! He’s is currently storing a ton of frozen bodies in the basement of his horror-themed tavern in Waterdeep, The Benign Horror. This might actually get him to do something with them before they go bad! There are some beholder zombie and bugbear corpses in there that I’d hate to see go to waste.

  11. I think this is going to be a great resource. I can see this being useful for weaving great storytelling and plot hooks into the game. I also can see my players getting into harvesting their foes for food and useful parts.

    1. Yep! Now they will literally loot the bodies:

      “okay, you find 17 silver pieces and a curious looking brooch.”
      “Uh-huh. How about it’s heart? I’d like to loot that too.”

      Thanks for reading, Peter!

  12. Incredibly useful, my friends and I always have a habit of saying after a fight, do they have anything useful on them, and there’s always that funny moment where we can see the DM has just not thought about that specific detail! Great little treat for him and I look forward to seeing how it can help improve our games!

  13. Why has no one done this already? This is a superb idea, how many video games include animal parts for crafting better equipment, or specific animal based ingredients for NPC’s to make something for a quest? Absolutlety brilliant idea

  14. This is amazing! I really want a hard cover version. This is just the spice every one of my campaigns needed.

    1. A hardcover option would be wonderful! If you are on Twitter, send a Tweet to @DriftersGameWorkshop to let him know you’re interested. I mentioned it previously that it’s not his call but hearing the feedback from people like us may help the Guild give it serious consideration. Thanks for reading, Sarah!

  15. Looks like a fantastic resource for DMs and players who have characters that are eager to disect, harvest and create

  16. I had my DM on multiple occasions make things up on the fly for a character quirk of mine that wouldn’t pass up turning anything slay into food. Going over this, i could resurrect that character/quirk and use this effectively and productively. Love the review. cold use as a DM and player.

    1. You certainly could, Michael! Quick note: the part about making burgers was some tongue-in-cheek stuff I added for fun. This handbook focuses on harvesting things that are valuable and for crafting useful items more than it does food.

      Thanks for reading!

  17. My main concern with something like this is always balance – does the extra ‘loot’ of harvesting a corpse upset the natural progression of item power in the game? I know 5e is designed for you to be able to not have any magic items at all, but on the flipside if everyone has dragonhide making them immune to an energy type, and a sword with the poison glands of 13 different types of venomous monster attached, etc, then it just makes me not want to throw those mosnters at PCs because I as DSM now have my choice limited by what will make them too powerful

    1. Hey there, original writer of the book here: Balance was a key design point when writing this book. Item rarities and abilities were regularly compared to benchmark magical items from the DMG, and the rules for crafting magical items from harvested parts were heavily inspired by those in XGtE. I had this big spreadsheet of calculations in order to keep the value of monster parts in line with the loot value of that monster’s CR.

      I also believed in a system of “DM moderated balancing,” that is if the DM deemed something too powerful, it was very easy for them to just veto the item out or rebalance it without the players noticing they did that.

    2. Great feedback, William and legitimate concerns! I think Jeffrey answered it far better than I could have hoped for so I’ll just leave it there. Hope you’ll consider using the Handbook, it’s really good resource.

      Thanks for reading!

  18. I really love the extent and the amount of detail this seems to have, would be awesome for a druid or ranger that wants to focus on gathering up monster parts!

  19. I have been looking for an exact book like this. I look forward to being able to get my hands on it.

  20. This is so cool! I’m a new DM and I’m fascinated with ways to make the story deeper, ways to give my players options. Eee!

    1. Jeffrey really filled a void with this Handbook. Like I’ve mentioned, there are other options out there and some of them are good. This one is great. Thanks for reading, Taf!

  21. This looks really cool. My players are always looking for downtime activities and I’m always looking for ways to expand my repertoire.

  22. I enjoy the little thing of telling how much food would be in a dnd creature, and this would definitely be a welcomed addition to my baby collection.

    1. Thanks, Austin! I took a bit of liberty with that part. This handbook isn’t exactly a guide to cooking monsters. Thanks for reading.

  23. I’ve had this “saved” on DriverThroughRPg for a while now. Keeps demanding I buy it. Saving my coppers. Congrats on the amazing book.

  24. Where, oh where has this been all my life? This takes the guesswork out of figuring how much T-Rex Tartar my players could get to serve in their tavern after a trip to the Isle of Dread. I can’t wait to pick this up and add it to my collection.

    1. Hahaha! Thanks for reading, Doug! Please understand, the bit about harvesting for food was my nerdy mathing. This book focuses on more useful crafting and harvesting than just feeding the hungry masses.

  25. It sounds like an amazing resource. Even for groups that don’t want to mess around with crafting, being able to loot the corpse, literally, and sell it off appeals to most everyone. Nice review.

  26. I have been looking for a guide to crafting i didn’t have to make myself forever, thank the gods that this is finally on its way!

  27. I’ve got a question and it has to do with red dragons, in other D&D source books, the flesh of red dragons is spicy to the point of lethality, only becoming edible after a period of curing in the sun, would similar rules apply in this book?

  28. My DM does downtime activities between sessions and quests. This is a phenomenal idea. I think she could really integrate it into our campaign.

  29. Love the idea, been compiling a list for monster loot myself for months. I’d love to give it a look 😀
    Does it include monsters from Volo’s and Mordenkainen’s?

  30. I am pretty hesitant to use homebrew and third party content in my games, and it has been awhile since I’ve seen a piece of homebrew content that I was excited to try. I can see myself loving this as a DM and as a player. Thanks for this thorough and entertaining review!

  31. This looks good and the guy looks like a voice says after reading the title of the book, “ He is also the Most Interesting Man in the World.”

  32. I am running my group through Dragon Heist and they were brainstorming of what they could sell in the tavern that would be unique. This book might just be what I need to help give them more ideas.

  33. Thanks for the review — what a great idea. Especially for my party, chock full of gluttonous halflings and tieflings. They eat anything.

    1. We had a halfling who was a multi-class vegan Druid and a meat-eating barbarian (multiple personality type of thing) that could’ve had a field day with this! Thanks, David!

  34. Wow this would be an excellent collectable. I have been running d&d for a few decades now and there is always a player or two that wants to harvest parts from creatures for magic purposes. I encourage crafting in all if my games and having a system that would help define that would be really nice.

  35. I really loved this book. For years I’ve always wanted something to help with harvesting the exotic monsters of D&D. This has filled that void. Thank you for making this.

    PS. A PC of my group is centering his lizardfolk druid with this book. Took the skills and feat.

  36. This is a comprehensive review and leads me to believe that this could be one of the few non wotc d&d books I buy this year.

  37. This seems like a super solid idea. I’ve had to come up with some homebrew crafting stuff for my campaign because I have a couple players who like the hunting down of materials to make things. I’ll be looking forward to this!

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