Friday, June 9, 2017

Creature Loot: Intro and index

Sometimes you can get the loot before killing the creature. But they usually take offense at that.
I've really been enjoying writing these Friday posts. I like taking a single concept and breaking it down. Or writing super-long lists and posting them a little bit at a time. This next series is definitely going to be the latter.

Whenever I get the chance to play D&D, I think a lot about how my character changes between sessions, and over the course of the campaign. This probably comes from my beginnings as a story gamer - it was expected that you would have some sort of character development over the course of our 6-8 month campaigns.

But there's more than just updating character traits. I like the idea that the appearance of a character changes drastically over the course of their adventures. For magic users, it's fairly obvious. Wizards get zanier, warlocks get corrupted, druids get more plant- or animal-esque, and clerics become more eminently divine. But I think martial characters should change as well, aside from just getting more scars and injuries.

I love the idea of a character who picks the useful bits from the bodies of his fallen foes. Maybe they have a shield crafted from a Bulette shell and a sword that is an Ankheg leg after their fight with the Cult of Elemental Earth. Maybe a cleric gives up their holy symbol when they get the chance to use angel feathers as their magic focus instead.

Cracking open Marcellus Wallace's treasure chest
So, my goal is to create a massive loot table, based on all the monsters in the 5e Monster Manual. These posts might get pretty long, but I am still expecting this series to last a good 3-4 months. If you don't enjoy cool loot, sorry! Check out the sidebar for some other cool blogs to keep your attention in the meantime.

I'll be going in the order in the monster manual, which is mostly alphabetical but breaks things down in some places: devils and demons are under their own headings, more common beasts and NPCs are listed in the back. My plan is to post one or two letters worth of material a week, but some (such as the dreaded D - devils/demons/dragons/dinosaurs) will be broken up into multiple weeks.

As for creating the items themselves, I have a few goals while writing the items:
  1. Number of items found on a creature should approximately equal CR. 1d4 small items can count as a single items, and tattered equipment (see below) doesn't count.
  2. Make tool proficiencies more useful. Some items can't be used until they are crafted into a workable item by someone trained with the proper equipment.
  3. Make basic balance considerations - lower CR creatures should give items about equivalent to adventuring gear (PHB pg. 150), while higher CR creatures can give items that are equivalent to or craftable into magic items.

That said, here are the basic rules for gathering loot from the body of a creature.

Basic Rules for Gathering Loot from the Body of a Creature

Or near/around/inside said creature
If a creature dies naturally or its body was found hours or days after death, it is up to the DM what items remain. Some items may have been already stolen, not remain on the creature after death, or have rotted beyond use.

If the players were fighting the creature and killed it in combat, they must make the appropriate check in order to claim the loot.
  • Beast/Dragon/Monstrosity/Plant: Nature check
  • Giant/Humanoid: Survival check
  • Celestial/Fey/Fiend/Undead: Religion check
  • Aberration/Construct/Elemental/Ooze: Arcana check

This represents the type of knowledge required to successfully identify the valuable loot on the body.
CR           DC to get all items            DC to get half items  
<5           10                                        5
6-10        15                                        10
11-15      20                                        15
>16         25                                        20

This represents the PCs ability to gather the items without harming them or hurting themselves. It might be difficult to harvest a demon heart when their blood is like acid and you just stabbed the fell beast a dozen times.
He's just asking to be looted, lying there all dead like that
Beasts, Dragons, and Plants also provide a certain amount of rations:

Size                        Days of Rations (for 1 person)
Tiny                        1
Small                      1d4
Medium                  1d6
Large                      2d6
Huge                      4d6
Gargantuan            10d6
Some items are not usable until they have been crafted into a usable form. The following terms are used throughout the list:
  • Crafted: a PC or NPC must spend a number of hours equal to the creature's CR using the listed tools to create the new object. The crafter must be proficient in the listed tools. NPCs may charge gold for their services.
  • Carefully Crafted: a PC or NPC must spend a number of hours equal to two times the creature's CR using the listed tools to create the new object. The crafter must be proficient in the listed tools or be a wizard studying the listed school of magic. NPCs may charge gold for their services.
  • Mastercraft: must be created by a PC or NPC who has dedicated themselves to the use of a particular tool or school of magic. For tool proficiencies, this means the PC must have expertise in the tool. For Wizard PCs, this means at least level 11. This is unlikely to be a PC, meaning they may have to carry the loot into a city to get it crafted. The crafter must spend a number of hours equal to 6-10 times the creature's CR using the listed tools to create the new object. NPCs may charge gold for their services.

A CR 0 creature's crafting can be completed in 1 minute, or multiple minutes for careful/master crafting. Another note about a specific crafting style:
  • Certain items require Alchemist's Supplies to craft. If the item has a beneficial effect OR if the item is from a plant creature, it can also be crafted with proficiency in a Herbalism Kit. If the item has a malignant effect, it can also be crafted with proficiency in a Poisoner's Kit.

Some modifiers that will be applied to certain pieces of loot:
  • Tattered: this item has been damaged as a result of its owner’s death. You will need to spend gold to repair it, equal to half the cost of a brand-new version of the item. (e.g. a tattered shield would cost 5GP to repair, since a new shield costs 10GP)
  • Vial: Any item described as a vial must be collected using a flask, vial, bottle, waterskin, or other liquid container. If a container is used to collect multiple different types of liquids, refer to the "Mixing Potions" table (DMG pg. 140)
  • Treasure Hoard: roll on the listed Treasure Hoard table (DMG pg. 137-139)
  • In Lair: these items only appear if the creature is in its lair when it is fought, and the PCs have the time to search the lair after the fight. Depending on the type of lair, the DM may call for additional checks to find this treasure.

I'm very excited to get this series going, as it has taken a lot of time to put together. Next week: the letter A!

You know there's going to be one monster on this table without any treasure...
Thanks for reading! As I post these, I'll link them here. The entire series in PDF form is linked here.

C and starting D
D is for Demons (and Devils)
D is for Dragons (and a few others) Part 1
D is for Dragons (and a few others) Part 2
E & F
G Part 1
G Part 2
I & J & K
L & M
N & O
P & Q
T & U & V
W & X & Y & Z
Miscellaneous Creatures
Crafting Index
Volo's A - C
Volo's D
Volo's E - G
Volo's H - L
Volo's M
Volo's N - S
Volo's T - Z - Miscellaneous Creatures
Volo's NPCs Part 1
Volo's NPCs Part 2
Tomb of Annihilation A - J
Tomb of Annihilation K - Z
Mordenkainen's A - C
Mordenkainen's Deathlocks and Demons
Mordenkainen's Demon Lords
Mordenkainen's Derro and Devils
Mordenkainen's Archdevils
Mordenkainen's The Rest of the D's
Mordenkainen's E - F
Mordenkainen's G - L
Mordenkainen's M - Q
Mordenkainen's R & S Part 1
Mordenkainen's S Part 2
Mordenkainen's T - Z


  1. Excellent choice of blog series!

    This subject is VERY appreciated!

  2. I'm such a fan of this series, that I added a loot line to a creature write up I just did.

    1. Looks great! I do love me some Magic: the Gathering crossovers.

  3. Really happy to have found this series of blog posts! I'm hoping to utilize them for my party (one of whom is currently obsessed with Monster Hunter and another who asked to harvest a Giant Spider's poison gland after her very first combat).

    I did notice, however, that while you did note that a check is necessary to identify the useful bits of the creature, you didn't have any guidelines for what the DC of that check should be. (Or perhaps I just missed it.) Are there any guidelines for this? Being a newer DM, I;m happy to experiment, but I was just wondering if there was already something established.

    Thank you

    1. It's up there in the article, I made a little table that lists the DC to get all the items and the DC to get half the items. I'm happy to hear your players will be getting some use out of this!

  4. This is by far my favorite homebrew. I've used your system in creating profiles for monsters for my homebrew Dragonlance campaign as well as Curse of Strahd. Awesome work!

  5. This is awesome. Thank you so much!

  6. This is an really awesome work! Words can't describe the admiration I have for this. I've been looking for something like this so long, and to think it was nearby all along! I'm currently building a big item list that has all the items possible, filterable by categories. Would you have a list of all lootable parts? I've compiled a list out of the Volo's Creature List PDF Index, but the others PDF don't have an Index. This would be very useful for adding loot to shops, and thus adding them to the world in an organic way.