Thursday, December 8, 2011

Magical Prehistory Tour

Dinosaurs. Awesome, right? Lots of them, though – hard to keep track, especially when scientists keep changing their darn minds about them (they’re brontosauruses because that name is cooler, and triceratops are so a species of dinosaurs, so shut up scientist man). Here’s a handy dandy guide to basic forms and a few handy “mutations” to keep your players guessing.


Not scientific, but just a quick batch of stats for some basic dino types. And yes - I already know it doesn’t cover everything, just the stuff that pops up most often in old dinosaur movies and the Flintstones.

These are the fellows with the lovely head fringes and horns, like triceratops. Assume the basic ceratopsian is about 30 feet long.

CERATOPSIAN: HD 15; AC 0 [19] front, 5 [14] back; Atk 1 gore (4d8); Move 12; Save 3; CL/XP 15/2900; Special: None.

Technically not dinosaurs, but if they’re on the Flintstones, they’re close enough for me. These are the flyers. The basic pterosaur has a wingspan of about 15 feet and a length of about 5 feet.

PTEROSAUR: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (2d8); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: None.

The big boys – quadrupeds with long necks who make little tremors when they walk. Assume that the basic sauropod is around 150 feet long.

SAUROPOD: HD 25; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 stomp (4d10); Move 9; Save 3; CL/XP 25/5900; Special: None.

The therapods cover the bipedal carnivores, of which the T-Rex and Velociraptor are now the most famous. Assume that the basic therapod is huge in size (i.e. around 30 feet long). When a therapod bites prey, it grabs the victim in its jaws, shaking and chewing for automatic damage in subsequent rounds. Only victims with shells, bone frills, or spines can avoid the horrendous tearing damage.

THERAPOD: HD 18; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 bite (4d8); Move 18; Save 3; CL/XP 19/2400; Special: Chews and tears.

These are the quadruped armored or spiked dinosaurs, like stegosaurus and ankylosaurus. Assume that the basic thyreopheran is about 20 feet long.

THYREOPHERAN: HD 15; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 bite (1d8), 1 tail (4d6); Move 9; Save 3; CL/XP 15/2900; Special: None.

No more humdrum dinos for us, my friend. Let’s make them fabulous!

1-2 Small and quick – reduce HD by half (and modify saving throws accordingly) and double their speed. In addition, they get a bonus to initiative (how much depends on what you roll, +1 if d6, +2 if d10, +3 if d20; if you roll d8, you’re weird and I just can’t help you). Decrease damage by one dice size.

3 Big and beefy – increase HD by 50%, cut movement in half and if they are at least 60 feet in length they can cause an earthquake (as the spell) once per day in a 100-ft radius. Increase damage by one dice size.

4 Red scales – dinosaur is immune to fire.

5 Blue scales – dinosaur is immune to lightning.

6 White scales – dinosaur is immune to cold.

7 Gold scales – dinosaur is immune to non-magic weapons and +2 to save vs. magic.

8 Black scales – dinosaur surprises on 3 in 6 at night, has darkvision.

9 Woolly – dinosaur has fur. This gives it a +1 bonus to AC and resistance (50%) to cold.

10 Massive Brain – dinosaur has high intelligence and can use a psychic blast (30-ft cone, save or stunned for 1d4 rounds) three times per day.

11 Draconic – as small and quick, plus dinosaur has dragon wings and the flight speed and breath weapon of a random dragon; 1 = Black; 2 = Blue; 3 = Gold; 4 = Green; 5 = Red; 6 = White. Dino-dragons can never speak or cast magic spells.

12 Spitter – can spit poison (30-ft range; save or blinded and 1d6 damage) or belch acid (10-ft cone, 2d6 damage).

13 Leaper - can leap up to 20 feet forward or 10 feet backward. When leaping to attack, treat as a charge.

14 Gorgonoid – has metallic scales as a gorgon; increase AC by +4.

15-16 Horns – has two horns or two extra horns; gains an additional gore attack for 2d6 damage.

17 Manticoroid – has tail spikes that can be fired like those of a manticore for 1d6 points of damage.

18 Displacement – per the mirror image spell (4 additional images), can be used three times per day.

19 Blink – per the blink dog.

20-21 Camouflage – surprises on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6.

22 Stone Cold Awesome – has a petrifying bite, per the cockatrice. Dinosaur can swallow and ingest the stone if a carnivore.

23 Laser eyes – can fire searing beams from eyes three times per day. Range of 60 feet, 3d6 points of damage, ranged attack required.

24 Scream – per the shout spell, usable three times per day.

25 Rider – dinosaur is ridden by a caveman bounty hunter (per dwarf fighter level 1d4+4). Rider wears the equivalent of leather armor and carries a club and three throwing spears.

26 Trill – dinosaur can trill as a remorhaz.

27 Song – dinosaur produces a vibration that causes sleep (as the spell). Usable three times per day.

28 Song – dinosaur produces a vibration that causes a charm monster effect. Usable three times per day.

29 Song – dinosaur produces a vibration that causes a hold monster effect. Usable three times per day.

30 Construct – dinosaur is made of metal and gears. Increase AC by +5. There is a 5% chance it can change its shape to that of a stone giant (also made of metal and gears, AC +5). Constructs are immune to mind effecting spells, poison and disease and take half damage from fire and lightning.

Have any other ideas? Put them in the comments – let’s take this table to 100!


Image from Golden Age Comic Book Stories, by the great Charles Knight.


  1. "8 Black scales – dinosaur surprises on 3 in 6 at night, has darkvision.

    20-21 Camouflage – surprises on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6."

    Stealthosaurus or Ninjasaurus?

  2. Frog Tongue- can capture smaller prey up to half it's body length away.

    Mace Tail- tail can attack for 1d6+ 1(per 2 HD)

    Constricting Tail- tail can entangle and capture smaller targets, causing 1d4 damage a turn and holding them mostly helpless.

    Double Headed- the dinosaur has two heads. Twice the bite attacks.

    Blinding Spit- the dinosaur can spit at a target up to 40' away and may blind them 2-7 rounds with sticky caustic goo.

  3. Well done sir. I just thought of one I'd left out ...

    Radioactive Breath: 3 times per day, cone 60-ft long and 20-ft wide at base. Does 6d6 points of damage and the victim must save or lose 1d6 points of constitution to radiation poisoning.

  4. Frotis Frill- the dinosaur has a head frill or back-sail that may illuminate and change colors. Those failing a save vs the light show are mesmerized and held in place for 1-4 rounds (Plenty of time to be dino chow or for a herbivore to flee).

    Sonar Squeak- the dinosaur is able to navigate in the dark thanks to a sonar-like ability. Invisible attackers (and prey) can also be readily identified. These dinosaurs react to vision little enough they save vs all visual illusions at +4.

    Gliding Gecko- The dinosaur is able to glide thanks to membranes not entirely dismillar to those of a flying squirrel. (larger dinosaurs will not get much benefit from this)

  5. Cyclopsaur- One big eye. Roll d6, on a 6 it head is an eye. Mechanical effect of this is left to the DM's discretion.

  6. JD - No, but a bronto gliding down from a cliff would make a spectacular entrance.

    A couple more I thought of ...

    Ferocity - fights into negative hit points, or 1d6 rounds after being "killed", at a +2 bonus to hit and damage

    Opposable Digits - Dinosaur can grapple opponents; 5% chance it is intelligent enough to use crude weapons

    Blood Drain - dinosaur can latch on and drain blood like a giant weasel

    Silver Age - Dinosaur is a silver age superhero who has been polymorphed and sent into another dimension by his or her arch-nemesis ... okay, maybe this one goes too far ...

  7. Combined with Mystery Man, it doesn't.

    Acidic Blood - upon killing the dinosaur, everyone within 20' (depending on its size) receives 2d6 damage as they get covered in its acidic blood

    Vorpal Claws - depends on what vorpal weapons are capable of in your campaign

  8. Zombie factory - dinosaur can swallow people whole - one round later, they disgorge a zombie clone of the swallowed individual, who continues to reside in the dino's gullet suffering 2d6 points of damage each round. The zombie has the normal stats for a zombie, but is not undead and cannot be "resurrected" as the swallowed character

  9. Sad, that I have more comments on my own post than the readers, but what the hey!

    Stinky - per troglodyte ability

    Sticky - skin is covered in a sticky ooze. Blunt weapons and open hand attacks have a 3 in 6 chance per hit of sticking; blades a 1 in 6 chance. To hold on to a stuck weapon, one must make an open doors check each round, and to remove it they must do the same on their turn. Stuck people must make an open doors check to remove themselves, otherwise suffer 2d6 points of damage per turn from being whipped around and trod upon by dino, but cannot be attacked.

    Slick - scales covered in sheen of oil; half damage from blunt attacks and cannot be grappled or entangled; looks really young for its age.

    Lycanthrope - can change into a caveman, hill giant or mountain giant, depending on size - all normal lycanthrope abilities apply.

    Erudite - high intelligence and smokes a meerscheim pipe (how it was obtained, stuffed and lit may never be known); 10% chance of casting spells as a 1d6 level magic-user

    Fraudulent - actually an ogre or two in a rubber suit; trying to scare those meddling adventurers away from the "haunted" ruins before they discover their smuggling operation

  10. Dang, one more ...

    Cheshirsaurus - can turn ethereal (in whole or part) at will.


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