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Old Hat Monsters: Give Them Monster Bits

Old Hat Monsters: Give Them Monster Bits

The combat is over. The beast the party was commissioned to slay lies dead. Awaiting the brave player characters are rewards of gratitude and gold. Although this sort of quest reward is a long-standing staple of GMs everywhere, I have always felt there was something much more tempting and exciting to offer players. A monster slayer deserves a different sort of compensation.

Join me after the jump for what I call the monster bit system. Inspired by the 2nd Edition D&D Monster Manual’s ecology entries, this system utilizes notable monster parts that have a function when extracted. From fire beetle glow glands to the hide of the tarrasque, many monsters gave more than experience points to the characters upon their deaths. What follows here is a re-imagined and revitalized version of that honored tradition.

There are just a few hard and fast rules that you should follow to easily determine what is and is not a monster bit, and they should also help you figure out what the powers of that bit are. Rule one after the jump!

Rule One: Magic is not used in the creation of monster bit items, and the items themselves do not radiate any sort of enchantment and are not affected by antimagic fields, and so on.

Rule Two: Crafting a monster bit item uses the appropriate crafting skill for the base item being created. Additionally the DC of the check is modified by an amount equal to twice the Hit Die of the creature, at a max of 10 HD or less.

Rule Three: The effects of a monster bit item are always derived from a natural attack, natural resistance, special quality, special attack, or other ability possessed by the monster. Spells and spell-like abilities are not included.

The mechanics of monster bit items are very similar to those of special materials. The main difference is that monster bits must be harvested from a freshly killed creature of the correct type and are not automatically considered masterwork as many items crafted from the existing special materials are. The masterwork property can be added to monster bit items at the normal cost. The cost of monster bit items changes as follows: weapons triple normal cost, armor quadruple normal cost, and all other items are +100 gold per pound of the item.

Most monster bits can be used only to create one or two specific items of value to PCs, and even then only specific parts of certain creatures have what it takes to be crafted into a monster bit item. Not every fang and scale will qualify, and not every excretion of a creeping horror will be workable into an amazing new form. Monster bits are meant to be a special reward for PCs as well as a direct reminder of their deeds. Essentially monster bits are useful trophies for practical adventures.

Other sources of monster bit information include the 2nd Edition D&D Monstrous Manual and supplemental compendiums.

Heavy Armors



Armor/Shield Bonus

Maximum Dex Bonus

Armor Check Penalty

Arcane Spell Failure Chance



Craft DC

30 ft.

20 ft.

Ankheg Chitin Full Plate Mail

6,000 gp





30 ft.

20 ft.

25 lbs.

 DC 25 (armor smith)

Simple Weapons

Unarmed Attacks


Dmg (S)

Dmg (M)






Craft DC

Reef Claw Gauntlet

6 gp




1 lb.

P, B


DC 14 (weapon smith)

Martial Weapons

One-Handed Melee Weapons


Dmg (S)

Dmg (M)






Craft DC

Sword Spider Longsword

60 gp



19-20 ×3

2 lbs.


DC 20 (weapon smith)






Craft DC

Displacer Beast Pelt Cloak

5% Concealment

150 gp

2 lbs.

DC 27 (tailor)

14 thoughts on “Old Hat Monsters: Give Them Monster Bits”

  1. I’m a fan of the reef claw gauntlet in particular… I’ll be the 1st to ask for more crunch here, bring it!

  2. I love this kind of stuff. I have great memories of 1st and 2nd ed fashioning armor from dragon scales or bullet hide. It was a fun part of the game. I also loved finding and selling/raising griffon or dragon eggs, etc. You don’t see this kind of stuff much anymore.

    One thing I would like would be to see something special attached to for example the ankheg armor. Could it have resist acid 1 or something like that to reflect the ankheg’s spit acid special attack?

    Good job with this!

  3. These can also go back to the fetish rules presented in this blog a while back. I’d been kicking around the idea for a while. Players love taking trophies!

  4. Jeffery Harris

    Alright here goes, Mike I appreciate the feedback, and you raise a good point. While I personally think the ankheg armor is fine the way it is, due to its many special benefits, I say go for it with acid resist, add a bit to the craft DC and cost, and bam, even better ankheg plate. Do what you like I say, as creativity is part of the monster bit deal. Ben, thanks for pointing out additional material that folks can check out, and Curt, as you were the fourth poster, you get your wish.

    Phase Spider Silk Armor
    Cost 400 gp AC +4 Check Penalty 0 Max Dex +8 Weight 3 Special +5 stealth Craft DC 24 (armor smith)

  5. I, too, have fond memories of monster-sourced equipment from games of the past. I think it makes a much better roleplaying impact to describe a man “in leather armor the color of ash and cinder shot through with veins of molten red” rather than simply saying “in a finely crafted suit of leather armor.” The first depiction might hint at armor crafted from a hell hound or nightmare pelt, while the second is nondescript and lacking any individuality. Whether or not the armor possesses some small amount of fire resistance or other magical quality is up to the DM, but the character will cherish his/her distinctive armor as a great trophy.

    I look forward to see what other examples you might come up with!

    Carry on,

  6. Very cool. This reminds me of some of the Dark Sun weapons and armor that is scavenged from various monsters, since metal is so rare.

  7. This is fantastic. I’m totally stealing this. Credited of course, but we’re using this as part of our craft system. Brilliant! I demand more! Well… request more. I humbly request more in the guise of a demand!

  8. Who am I to deny the wishes of our kind posters, thus here comes another bit.

    Giant Hair Bow String damage bonus weight craft DC (bowyer/fletcher)
    Cost 110 gp (Hill Giant) +1 damage 1 DC 25
    210 gp (Frost Giant) +2 damage 1 DC 29
    310 gp (Fire Giant) +3 damage 1 DC 30

    The effect of a giant hair bow string is to make a bow mighty even if it currently does not have that property, or if added to an already strength modified bow, it adds to the total damage plus. When added to a non mighty bow, the user need posses a strength modifier of the appropriate plus in order to use the weapon without penalty.
    Also please note due the high hit die of giants, this particular item does break the 10 hit die or less guideline. Because of such for this item I have added the hit die of the creature to the craft DC, rather than doubling them.

  9. I loved this stuff in old D&D, and it just brings so much flavor.

    Even if it’s non-magical with no bonuses, which would you rather have?

    Hide armour, or Crocodile-hide armour with the head worn as a helm/mask?

    A dagger made of steel or a demon’s shin-bone?

  10. It would seem many of my fellow games also miss the flare, style, and general awesomeness of monster bits as well. I’m glad to see the tradition has not been forgotten, long live wielding and wearing your dire foes! Thank you all for your comments and feedback, keep it coming, because the big list of bits has barely been scratched, also, I want to see some of your favorite bits on this article.

  11. I really like the Displacer Beast cloak. My Halfling thief has one back in AD&D, and I’ve wanted to bring in something similar to my 3.5/Pathfinder campaigns. I’ve always thought that some of the innate special qualities of certain creatures should still exist and be allowed to be harvested by players.

  12. These kinds of ideas are always good to see. Sometimes harder to work in, but fun for the DM and players to work into the game.

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