I loved playing a skinner and leatherworker in WoW. I’d run around with my Tauren in the Barrens and skin Kodos for their hide until the wee hours of the morning (or until I remembered I needed to be a responsible contributor to the human race). And I remembered my skinner days when I was reading the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and came across a section that described the Ostever family of butchers, who were known for having the “choicest cuts of meat in Longsaddle.”
Putting two and two together, I wondered what it would be like if someone apprenticed early with a butcher, in a slaughtering house, or even with a mortician perhaps, then later on decided to become an adventurer? That D&D character would have an eye for “harvesting” the choicest cuts off a fallen foe, and not just for a Grade A USDA Tenderloin, but also alchemical reagents, Wizard spell components, armor materials, and more.
I present to you: The Harvester.
A D&D 5e Background – The Harvester
You spent your early career in slaughter houses or butcher shops. Perhaps you even spent a little time apprenticing with a mortician, bloodletter, or chirurgeon. The point is that you have a background in dissecting a wide variety of anatomy, and you’ve also learned how to identify and gather various organ, tissue, and fluid samples.
Work with your DM to identify the scope of the creatures that will be agreeable for you to harvest from (read: loot). Also, work with your DM to see if the following harvesting rules will be allowed in your game.
Gross? Yes. But it also supplies many of the organic materials needed through the Forgotten Realms.
Skill Proficiencies: Nature, Investigation
Tool Proficiencies: Harvester’s Kit*
Languages: One of Your Choosing
Equipment: A small knife, a Harvester’s Kit*, an extra component pouch, and a belt pouch containing 35 gold pieces.
Harvesters are driven by their desire to “use the whole buffalo” and they are very adept at gathering value from a fallen life form. They are very knowledgeable companions under the right circumstances and possess a surprisingly useful skill set, able to pull value from seeming waste. Their flaw might be an underlying greed that drives them to gather too much, or a dangerous loss of respect for life in general.
Access to the Harvesters Guild, a secretive group with the purpose of collecting, cataloging, studying and sometimes reselling of fluids, tissues, and hides of magical beasts.
The Harvesters Guild solicits and collects news and rumors of possible high value items for harvest. Creatures of great interest to the Harvesters Guild might mean a pooling of their resources to fund a full fledged expedition to its last known sighting, with the purpose to harvest from that creature. But often there is not enough interest in a particular creature to fund an expedition, and adventurers can benefit from this by accepting it as an open assignment, harvesting on their own.
The Harvesters Guild may supply minor magical items to aid in harvesting, such as specialized tools. Items purchased through the guild are 20% cheaper for you than they would be for other non guild members, with the agreement being that you sell your “harvest” exclusively through the guild.
*Harvester’s Kit: New item. Contains a set of slender fillet knives, vials, salt, twine, wax coated paper, burlap wrapping fabric.
- I would stop to examine a fallen creature before I would save my friends.
- I go on long diatribes about the internal anatomy of various creatures with everyone I meet, whether they want to hear it or not.
- I can become so obsessed with harvesting the fluid and tissue or certain magical creatures that I can become obsessed with falling one, often at the expense of the mission at hand.
- I am meticulously detailed, every sample must be accounted for.
- I will kill someone for needlessly destroying a potential harvest.
- I am paranoid that someone else might swoop in and claim what I feel is mine.
- Nothing can shake my optimism that we should gather from death so that it might not go to waste, but contribute to the life of others.
- Others find me so morbid that I have trouble fitting in.
- Pragmatism. One creature’s waste can be another’s gain. (Any)
- Stewardship. I will use materials wisely, lest there be waste. (Neutral)
- Charity. I will find a proper and secure place for the materials I find, as I can serve the common good through finding a useful purpose for them. (Good)
- Curiosity. I have no hesitation in dissecting creatures in order to discover new items to harvest. (Chaotic)
- Blood Lust. I have no respect for life and will take it if gives me what I want. (Evil)
- Honor. I will only harvest after I’ve shown proper respect for the life that was lost. (Lawful)
- I seek vengence against the creature that killed someone close to me.
- I seek new materials that might bring solutions to some of the problems that plague us.
- I have an unfinished creature sketch that I believe leads to a great discovery of magic.
- I lost a companion while searching for a particular tissue sample and it still haunts me.
- I work to preserve a specific technique of magical reagent collection.
- I work to share my knowledge and materials with my fellow guild members.
- When I hear about a potential creature to harvest, I obsess over it to the point of being blind to the risks.
- Harvesting internal tissue and fluid is worth the loss of a few lives, however unfortunate.
- I have little respect for anyone that is squeamish around blood or death.
- I am obsessed with money and will constantly bog down a group in order to sell what I’ve collected.
- I will dabble with the spell components myself, even though I have no idea of their usage and should really just sell them to someone who can properly put them to use.
- I smell always of blood and death.
New Creature Harvesting Rules for D&D 5e
Optional new harvesting rules for D&D 5e. Check for your DM to see if they are allowable in your home games.
To Harvest: Roll a d12 for every CR of the monster. Discard one die from your dice pool if the killing blow was with a slashing weapon. Discard two dice if the killing blow was the result of destruction magic (like a fireball, for example).
Use the following based on each die roll:
- Ruined (bad technique)
- Ruined (bad technique)
- You harvest something of alchemical interest.
- You harvest a trophy piece (maybe it’s just a lucky rabbit’s foot…).
- You harvest fur, feathers, or hide (depending on monster type).
- You harvest bone or carapace (depending on monster type).
- You harvest teeth, claws, or horns (depending on monster type).
- You harvest usable meat that may be added to your rations.
- You harvest something of magical interest, perhaps a reagent or spell component.
- You harvest a gland, secretion, or organ (brain, heart, eyeball) that requires further study into any potential usefulness.
- Your harvest results in something in which transport would be an unassailable burden, so it’s best left behind.
- Roll two more times, taking those results.
Price for the harvest is calculated by CR x 5 GP. Harvest can be sold to sausage makers, artisans, wizards, alchemists, tanners, etc.), but you can only sell in a largish town (population 500 or more).