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: A Guide to Harvesting & Crafting in D&D 5E
Writer: Drifters Game Workshop (Jeffrey Yang…@DriftersGameWorkshop)
Publisher: DMs Guild
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.