View Full Version : Dinos! or "The Terrible Thunder Lizards"

2009-02-07, 06:24 AM
Newly married, my wife's oldest son (13) asked me to teach him how to play. I assembled a crew of my more jovial, less metagaming friends and started plotting out an introduction style of adventure aimed to teach familiarity with the rules and gameplay styles. The old dogs all were excellant sports, sticking to core classes from the PHB and avoiding builds that were too confusing to follow easily. Basically we all accepted that these were throwaway characters that we had no interest in maintaining beyond my boy's initiation. We joshingly have discussed the idea of ensuring that at least one of them is killed so that he can have a good example set of how to be a good sport even when the adventure hits a snag.

So I asked the players if there was anything in particular they'd like to do for this throwaway and I was surprised. One of them made the specific request of dinosaurs. A quick discussion yeilded that, while we remembered their MM entries clear back to 2E, none of us had ever fought one. An entire section of monsters and we'd never used a single one. My mind boggled. Quickly the entire player base was adamant that they wanted to fight some form of dinosaur.

I prepared an entertaining twist of the Noah story, the players all being sailors hired by a "crazy old religous nutjob" cleric and his wife who had a large sailing vessel. He had recieved a "vision" that a certain island would sink into the ocean and he needed to retrieve one male and one female of a species that only lived on that island. It was the Raptor dinosaur and the players were only permitted to subdue, not slay. As an added twist, it turned out this guy had been doing this for some time and he was actually the one destroying these islands, trying to leave the players behind while making the statement "My wife and I are setting sail, and we only need 2 of each species". Fun adventure. A PC was killed. A great time was had by all.

Anyways, my question though is, in light of my discovery of the lack of dinosaur use, has anyone else ever actually used them?

2009-02-07, 06:28 AM
I've had to fight a T-Rex once!

Thank god for those...stomach...grub...things...in Complete Scoundrel. My battle plan was to get eaten, go inside, break the jar inside of it, and go to town.

It's not exactly a winner, but I came out of it barely alive and triumphant.

2009-02-07, 06:33 AM
Dinos are way too easy to kill for thier CRs.

2009-02-07, 08:14 AM
Do the Half Dragon / Half T-Rexes in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil count?

Cause I DM'd that.

2009-02-07, 08:58 AM
There was a drake-like thing once, of the ones I can remember. Everyone called it a dinosaur so I quess it counts.
It destroyed an entire village and maimed the PCs pretty good. Fun times.

2009-02-07, 10:52 AM
No, but I've always wanted to do an "Island of the Lost" kind of adventure with the island being full of dinos and giant bugs and King Kong and all that kind of stuff. Probably put some ancient temple or something in the mix, too.

Or just have dinosaurs be as common as normal animals, and nobody thinks there's anything weird about it.

2009-02-07, 11:45 AM
I LOVE dinosaurs, and I've used them or have SEEN them used several times.

One of my friends decided to try his hand at DMing, and our first "mission" as newly-arrived adventurers in this outpost town was to HUNT A T-REX. Yeah, we were 3rd level, with a Bard, a Cleric, a Monk, and Sorcerer. :smalleek: In several Eberron games I've either played a character with a dinosaur mount/companion (which inspired the first PrC I homebrewed) or had a DM use dino-riders as NPCs. I also used them in my [ISLE] contest entry (see my homebrew compendium, but don't post - it'd be necromancy), and even though I didn't win anything I still would like to use some of the stuff from it should I DM 3.x again.

2009-02-07, 05:33 PM
I love using Dinos as big bruisers. They really cater to characters with power attack. Stick a bandaid behind them and watch the blood fly.

2009-02-07, 05:44 PM
On a tangent, one thing I don't like about dinos is how they became part of the default ecosystem in 3E. I always liked having them as a new creature type the DM could keep for time travel scenarios, or for Land of the Lost or Savage Land type areas of his campaign. Of course, the DM is free to rule on this, but it heavily effects things like a Druids AC choices and the various Summon Nature's Ally spells...

2009-02-07, 05:57 PM
I was planning a long session, to start my new campaign, but only myself and two others could show up. We played a lot of Halo while we tried to decide what to do, and eventually I just told them to make 12th level characters... P1 made a Barbarian and P2 made a Druid. Something like an hour later, they were done and I had statted out a Fiendish T-Rex to go along with P2's brand new Huge-sized mini. There wasn't enough time left in the night to establish much of a plot or anything, I just told them they were traveling together through the woods looking for their fellow party members when, all of a sudden, SPOT CHECKS.

The ensuing battle was quite long and rewarding... the Druid was swallowed whole, then managed to succeed at an arbitrary concentration check I made... he wild-shaped into a Dire Shark inside the wounded T-Rex and then the big ol' lizard exploded... it was probably the most rewarding fight I've ever been involved in.

But that was the only time I've ever seen them used. There was talk about a Stone Age campaign setting where all the enemies were dinos... talk for about four seconds, then we decided we really REALLY liked swords more than that.

Dark Knight Renee
2009-02-07, 08:56 PM
I've never used dinos in D&D. Dinosaurs are kinda a pet peeve of mine, the result of a few too many B-movie cliches involving dinos and humans existing in the same time frame without explanation. FR has them in the south somewhere, but we never went to an area where I couldn't pretend otherwise.

That said, they could be cool in the right circumstances. I just haven't had these circumstances occur.

(Also, although completely lacking an explanation, and not D&D, the T-Rex you fight in Tomb Raider 1 was awesome. (The fight in the Anniversary remake, not so much.))

2009-02-07, 09:19 PM
I had a druid who was obsessed with megaraptors (probably because their name was mega + raptor). She wildshaped into them, chose them as an animal companion, and purchased a trained one.

I used Digesters a lot. They seem to be an interesting little creature, but of course they aren't real. Dinosaurs can be much more interesting with templates as well:

2009-02-07, 09:36 PM

YES. Celestial Pterodactyl! Vampiric Tricerotops! Zombified Raptor! HALF DRAGON BRONTASAURUS.

Now I want to make every Dinosaur into a half dragon and make those 'the new dragons', SO awesome.

2009-02-07, 09:52 PM
HALF DRAGON BRONTASAURUS. Nuh Uh! You can't stack the half-dragon and half-camarasaur templates!

If you want to advance an apatosaur, you'll have to pick one and stick with it. Otherwise the math doesn't work.

[edit:] Man, I'm always surprised what sticks in my brain. Sometimes I forget I was five.

2009-02-07, 10:21 PM

2009-02-07, 10:35 PM

Its because a "brontosaurus" doesn't actually exist. What we used to call brontosaurus was actually an apatosaurus skeleton with the head of a camarasaurus.

What's ridiculous here is that the spell check, out of those three dinos, is only recognizing brontosaurus as a word.

What do digesters have to do with dinosaurs? Yrthak's might even be more dinosaurlike. At least they have the proper amount of limbs.

2009-02-08, 07:17 AM
Dinosaurs make everything better. :smallbiggrin:

Brace for nerdgasms:

re: the dinosaurs + cavemen paradox: how can you not love the ahistorical mash-up of "Land that Time Forgot" (dinosaurs + U-boats), "The Lost World" (dinosaurs + Lord John Roxton), "Dinotopia" (dinosaurs + ecotopian Ren Faire), or PJ's "King Kong" (dinosaurs + monstrous apes + lost cities). Riding around on giant predatory lizards is what D&D is all about. :smallbiggrin:

2009-02-08, 07:20 AM
yes- even though the line was short lived, the toys were still sold, only without the riders, in Natural History Museum series.

2009-02-08, 12:18 PM
Dinosaurs make everything better. :smallbiggrin:

Indeed. Take a look at THIS (http://io9.com/5084491/the-alternate-history-theme-park-where-dinosaurs-fought-the-civil-war) article for another example. Here's a little teaser:


And I'm going there at some point in March or April - it's gonna be awesome!

2009-02-08, 12:25 PM
dinosaurs + U-boats

Now that's something I can really sink my teeth into!


I think I feel a Worldbook coming on!

Bonecrusher Doc
2009-02-08, 12:48 PM
A juicy tidbit from Wikipedia you may want to incorporate into your adventure:

An article that appeared in the November 1997 issue of Discover Magazine reported research into the mechanics of Apatosaurus tails by Nathan Myhrvold, a computer scientist from Microsoft. Myhrvold carried out a computer simulation of the tail, which in diplodocids like Apatosaurus was a very long, tapering structure resembling a bullwhip. This computer modeling suggested that sauropods were capable of producing a whip-like cracking sound of over 200 decibels, comparable to the volume of a cannon.

2009-02-08, 12:49 PM
My PCs had to fight a halfling outrider with a T-Rex mount once. It was awesome, because it was this nice polite little halfling (named "Patsy Longbottoms," which is about the most perfect halfling name you can get), and he rode around on a terrifying dinosaur. The party slaughtered him pretty bad, but one PC made the mistake of standing under the dinosaur when it was knocked unconscious.

2009-02-08, 02:14 PM
I think that since then, studies suggested it would damage its tail in the process, so they probably didn't do it, even if they could do it once.

2009-02-08, 02:53 PM
Someone on these boards played a Swordsage Velociraptor.

2009-02-08, 03:46 PM
Someone on these boards played a Swordsage Velociraptor.

I would expect nothing less.

2009-02-08, 05:08 PM
I would expect nothing less.

Yeah, you can't really picture it as a monk can you. Dinos are too savy to fall for that one.:smallwink:

2009-02-08, 06:00 PM
I would expect nothing less.

Yeah, you can't really picture it as a monk can you. Dinos are too savy to fall for that one.:smallwink:

2009-02-08, 07:56 PM
Actually, I would have gone with Barbarian, PrC into Frenzied Berserker... :smallbiggrin:

2009-02-09, 12:40 AM
I just threw a couple Deinonychus and a T-Rex at my party for a one-shot campaign (themed as being many centuries prior to the current campaign in the same setting). The Raptors were pretty easy, as I had the party start at level 8, so 3 CR 3 were pretty easy to handle. The Rex was kinda awesome, though, as he ate the Swashbuckler and nearly killed the Unicorn companion of the Healer before he remembered he could dismiss it as a free action, thus avoiding the penalties for a dying companion. I also sort of fudged the rules, as I allowed him to dismiss and re-summon the unicorn in the same turn.

Ultimately, while the encounter was funny since he ate someone, the Rex was a little dissappointing. He's Huge, so he's relatively easy to hit, and ultimately, Dragons are just cooler than dinos.


2009-02-09, 03:32 AM
Oh, yes, I have used dinosaurs. Believe me, I have. In fact, after an encounter with a hunting party of slightly advanced Deinonychus, my party's approach to jungles started to be "burn a fifty feet wide way across it". High speed, high Hide checks (in a party where the Gnome Rogue was the only one with Spot), and rather cunning predatory tactics made them a nightmare until they got out of their territory.

2009-02-09, 04:37 AM
Dinosaurs make everything better. :smallbiggrin:

Brace for nerdgasms:


I used to be so frustrated with that show when I was a kid, because I never seemed to catch it on Saturday mornings. I had a few of those toys as well.

Anyway, I had a campaign (that died just recently) that involved a Zhentarim invasion of Cormyr (Forgotten Realms). The siege of the capital city was supposed to include several Fiendish Battletitans (Genetically-Modified Magical Beast T-Rex) charging the hapless defenders. The Battletitan (Monster Manual 3) is probably the closest you get to Dino Riders in D&D.

Okay, put some Shifter or Kobold artificers with wands of fireball on it and you're done.

2009-02-09, 09:13 AM
It happened to us. Level 2, I think.

"Okay, everyone make spot checks. Who got above 20?"
A couple of hands go up.
"You see some squirrels in a nearby tree. They're dancing."
Naturally, this sets of our adventurer paranoia, and we're just plotting to kill the squirrels, when
"Everyone else sees the T Rex charging towards you."

2009-02-09, 11:06 PM
Ah, what a coincidence. I'm using dinosaurs right now in my 2E game. The party (all halflings, levels 2-3) encountered a T. Rex the other night. They (wisely) hid until it passed by, but I'm pretty sure I scared the pee out of most of them.

My players have, in previous campaigns, faced dragons, beholders, mind-flayers, and demons...but for some reason, the idea of a mundane T. Rex sent them into a blind panic. :smallbiggrin:

2009-02-10, 09:24 AM
I think the attraction to dinosaurs goes back to our childhood. I know that I was obsessed when I was five or six with them, even correcting my teacher in kindergarten as to the enunciation of some of their names. I still have the enduring image of a Triceratops charging a hungry Rex in defense of it's own life burned into my own brain as well as the idea of having a hunter-themed Druid with a Deinonychus/Fleshraker at my side.

As far as the challenge factor, they may be a little weak, but, used intelligently, I have no doubt that everyone will have a good time running from them, killing them, and parading around that dagger made from a T. Rex tooth. I know I'd enjoy it.

2009-02-10, 08:49 PM
Heh, once played a kobold archmage hierophant or somesuch (somewhat of a gestalt wizard/druid from Races of the Wild) with a deinychous familiar/animal companion/mount named Atta. Unsurprsingly, I don't remember what the kobold's name was...

Atta had been given a maximized jump check, which meant that even if she couldn't fly she could come pretty close, which generally meant doom for her enemies. Though she did have a bad habit of forgetting the rather squishy lizard man on her back...

2009-02-10, 09:11 PM
Dragons are just cooler than dinos.


Who ever says this has never had the awesome picture of being in battle with a juvenile black dragon who's about to deal the death blow to the party when a T-Rex who had snuck close under the sound of battle burst from the swampy jungle foliage and tackle the dragon to the ground with it's jaws locked around the screaming dragon's neck.

An epic battle ensued though we wisely fled once the T-rex won and came looking for seconds.

Ovaltine Patrol
2009-02-12, 10:05 AM
My players once did battle with a clan of inbred, bayou-dwelling dinosaur riders, including an ogre mounted on a triceratops.

2009-02-12, 10:42 AM
There are places in my campaigns with dinosaurs. Are like Lustria in Warhammer Fantasy.

Once, my players encountered a BIIIIIIG group of triceratops nervous near to a stampede in a tight zone. With dead magic.

The girl with the druid PC was actually swearing in real during the wild empathy check.

Such an interpretation performance. :smallbiggrin:

2009-02-13, 08:33 PM
hehe.... *watches raptor island again*

(what? I have it on tivo.)