Friday, 8 March 2013

Adventurer, Conqueror, King……Farmer?

Whilst checking out the stats for Owlbears in the Monster Manual during the most recent Team Adventure session, I noticed that in the third paragraph, there is the following information

“Eggs are worth 2,000gp, young under 50% grown are worth 5,000 on the open market”

The passage also tell us that there will be a 25% chance of  1-6 eggs or young (40% to 70% grown). That’s an average of 3.5 eggs (7,000gp) or young, about a third of which (let’s say 1) will be marketable – 5,000gp.

That’s a nice haul if you’re playing the females and young rules (which I’m not). But let’s take that information to the next step. Let’s suppose that a party, with its perspicacity, manages to capture but not kill the owlbears. Presuming that they’ve got at least one male and one female, they could technically breed them in captivity.   The gestation period for an owl is 4 to 5 weeks, that of a bear 215 days (grizzly). I guess an average of the two would be used for owlbears;  we’ll call it 125 days. If you work it right, you can get three clutches of 3.5 eggs per year from one breeding pair. Sell the eggs, you’ll get 21,000gp but wait until the young are hatched and then sell them before they’re 50% grown and you’re looking at 52,500gp per annum.

And that’s from just one breeding pair. A party with vision and secure breeding facilities is going to be rolling in gold.

But the owlbear is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to farming magical livestock. Let’s flick through the pages of the Monster Manual and see what else suggests itself.

The pelt of the badger is worth 10-30gp

Giant beaver pelts fetch 500-2,000 gold pieces each. Kits of under 8hp can be captured, subdued and sold at market for 100 to 200gp per hit point.

Blink dog pups (and good luck catching those!) fetch 1,000-2,000gp

The plates behind a bulette’s head are of course highly prized by dwarf craftsmen. They can turn them into +1 to +3 shields. That’s anywhere between 2,500 and 8,000gp – assuming that the dwarves’ creations count as magical items. Even if they don’t, just count those back plates – at least eight and possibly ten by my count, gives you at least 41,000gp – of course, you have to factor in the payment to the dwarves but half should do, which leaves you with 20,000gp per bulette.

Let us not forget that subdued dragons are worth 100-800g per hit point.  A very rough average of the hit dice of all dragons gives 8.5 hit dice, and at 4.5 hit points per die, that’s an average hit point total of 38.25.  This makes the average subdued dragon worth 17,212 gold pieces. That’s after you’ve looted its haul, of course.

Giant eagle eggs sell for 500-800gp each.

Elephant tusks have a value of 100-600gp each.

If you fancy a challenge, try capturing a pair of griffons and breeding them. The rewards are plentiful – fledglings sell for 5,000gp, eggs for 2,000gp.

The hippogriff fledglings are slightly less valuable at 2,000-3,000gp. Their eggs fetch 1,000gp.

The skin of the ki-rin is worth 25,000 gp if it can be obtained perfectly intact. I don’t recommend that you try it because ki-rin are lethal.

The eggs of the fire lizard are worth 5,000gp each, and you’ve got a 10% chance that the lair will contain 1-4 eggs. That’s not very high, but create your own lairs and you can probably up those odds.

Giant otter pelts sell for 1,000-4,000 gp.

The eggs of giant owls sell for 1,000gp, the young for 2,000gp.

Although it might seem hard to believe, pegasi lay eggs. Yes, that’s what it says on page 78 of the Monster Manual so it must be true. They’re worth 3,000gp each but if you wait till they hatch, the young are worth 5,000gp.

Remorhaz eggs (25% chance of there being 1-2 eggs in the lair) fetch 5,000gp if you can sell them.

Another creature that has a valuable pelt is the giant weasel – these go for 1,000-6,000gp each.

Following the weasel in the Monster Manual, we have the whale.  Never mind the tiny chance of coins being found in its stomach. What you’re looking for, o party on the make, is the sick whale. This type produces ambergris, which, so the book tells us, is “a stinking mess which is worth 1,000-20,000 gold pieces in a large city”. Yes, that’s right. One sick whale can get you on average 10,500gp. The whale carcass can bring in at the very least 5,400gp and the really big specimens will net you 16,200gp. Time to get a bigger boat.

The winter wolf is, the book says, “a horrid carnivore”, which is going to freeze your ass if you don’t finish it off first. When you do, make sure that you don’t damage the pelt as it’s worth 5,000gp. Alternatively, wrap up warm and capture yourself a breeding pair.

So, as can be seen, there are a good few monsters out there that can bring in cash in the thousands for those who don’t mind attracting the attention of PETMA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Magical Animals – they’ve probably got tough druids and rangers on their side, so beware).  And in many cases, breeding them in captivity means they’re the gift that keeps on giving.

CAVEAT ONE - the foregoing will probably only be of interest to parties if their DM allows XP for GP earned in such a manner.

CAVEAT TWO - none of the foregoing should indicate authorial approval for fur-farming in the real world. 


  1. The value of monster pelts, carcasses, eggs, young and other extracts is the subject of a dedicated line in each entry of Hackmaster's Hacklopedia of Beasts. Obviously they took their old-school lessons to heart.

  2. My ACKS players captured both ankheg and rust monster eggs, hired exotic animal trainers, and started working on turning them into cavalry mounts (since several members of the party had rolled "Unable to ride normal mounts" on the Tampering with Mortality table).

  3. "Yes, that’s what it says on page 78 of the Monster Manual so it must be true." Awesome line. xD
    Anyway, you somehow managed to make a farming campaign sound epic. Congratulations.

  4. Hm.... a Willard Price style D&D campaign would be a lot of fun!

  5. *sigh* Monster farming..... the adventurer's retirement plan...