Monster Manual A-Z is a series of quick looks at each and every monster presented in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. New monsters go up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in alphabetical order, touching on lore, mechanics, and ways to use them in your campaign. To search for all Monster Manual A-Z articles, search MMAZ in the search bar as we’ve excluded them from our Roleplaying Games tag to keep things tidy.
Ok, I don’t know what you’re expecting from today’s entry. We’re talking dinosaurs, and if you were ever a little kid (you were… I hope?) you went through a dinosaur phase like everyone else. They’re big and scary, or small and quick, all with sharp claws, crushing jaws, and no laws; it’s a dino eat dino world for these oversized lizards. I like that they are also referred to as ‘behemoths’, as to lower the silliness of having dinosaurs in your game a little bit. We’re presented with six of them here: Allosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Plesiosaurus, Pteranodon, Triceratops, and of course, Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Luckily for us, most of the Dinosaurs share similar themes. All of them have similar natural army, most are pretty hard, all of them bite, claw, stomp, or tail attack you, and all of them have a very low intelligence. So let’s see what sets them apart. The Allosaurus is a big boy, but also a very quick one, too. They are able to charge and pounce at a creatures, clawing at them and knocking them prone, potentially opening them up to a devastating bite attack- what a combo! The Anklyosaurus is more heavily armored than it’s prehistoric friends, making it hard to engage in close combat, if also not for their club-like tails. The Plesiosaurus is our underwater variant in the group, possessing a good swim speed and ability to hold its breath for an hour, making it a dangerous foe in the depths of whatever ocean you put it. In the sky is the Pteranodon, physically the weakest and smallest of the group but able to fly in and out of combat quickly and without fear of getting attacked back when they fly away. Triceratops aim to gore and stomp their opponents, with a charge similar to the Allosaurus pounce, giving the Triceratops a gore attack that knocks prone, followed by a vicious stomp! And lastly, we have the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Full of vitality, a bludgeoning tail attack and a fatal bite attack that grapples and restrains, the T-Rex is lives up to the behemoth moniker.
Let me level with you- if you want an amazing way to use Dinosaurs, get your hands on Tomb of Annihilation and race some dinosaurs. Short of that, I think the best way to use Dinosaurs in your game is to not call them Dinosaurs. Describe them as great and weird beasts- behemoths, and let your players form their own idea on what they are. Change up some details that would give it away, use a mini that isn’t an actual dinosaur. I think the stats on these scaly beasts are great- but the idea of using Dinosaurs outside of Tomb of Annihilation has never been big for me. Alternatively, time travel is always an option where it will make sense and you can call them for what they are!
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