3.5 Converting Prehistoric Creatures

Cleon

Adventurer
I happen to be going through my Monstrous Compendia as one does and I noticed that the Titanothere from the "Prehistoric Animals" entry of MC3 and MCA2 lacks an official 3E conversion.

Since the old Converting prehistoric animals thread got displaced after the Great Website Hiccup of a few years back I opted to start a new thread of the same title.

So shall we bother converting this beastie?

It shouldn't take long. Mechanically it's a bigger version of a Rhinoceros with a charge & trample attack.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Titanothere Original stats

The Titanothere appears in both the AD&D and BECMI versions of D&D with slightly different stats.

2E AD&D
Here's the 2E AD&D version from the "Pleistocene Animal" entry of the Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Two (1995):


Titanothere
CLIMATE/TERRAIN:
FREQUENCY:
ORGANIZATION:
ACTIVITY CYCLE:
DIET:
INTELLIGENCE:
TREASURE:
ALIGNMENT:
NO. APPEARING:
ARMOR CLASS:
MOVEMENT:
HIT DICE:
THAC0:
NO. OF ATTACKS:
DAMAGE/ATTACK:
SPECIAL ATTACKS:
SPECIAL DEFENSES:
MAGIC RESISTANCE:
SIZE:
MORALE:
XP VALUE:
Plains
Unc.
Herd
Day
Herb.
Animal
Nil
Neutral
1–12
6
12
12
9
1
2d8
Trample
Nil
Nil
H (16′)
A (8-10)
2,000

The titanothere, also known as the brontotherium, is a rhino-like animal. The adult measure eight feet at the shoulder and 16 from nose to rump and weighs up to 8,000 pounds.

It is a huge and fearless herbivore armed with a yoke-shaped horn on its nose. The horn can be used to ram an opponent for 2d8 points of damage. Opponents of man-sized or smaller are also tossed up to 20 feet in the air by the force of the blow. It can trample man-sized or smaller victims with its forelegs, inflicting 2d4 points of damage with each foot.

If any creature threatens the herd, the bulls charge. If the charge strikes home, horn and trample damage is doubled.

If more than six titanotheres are encountered, there are 1d4 calves. The calves are 10% to 80% grown. They do not attack. If threatened, they head for their mothers and try to hide underneath or behind them.

The titanothere’s hide is worth 20-70 gp. It is extremely thick and well-suited for making leather armor, especially for larger humanoids or other armor-wearing beings.


There's an earlier 2E version in Monstrous Compendium Volume Three (1989) which is basically identical except it has a different SPECIAL ATTACKS line:

Titanothere
SPECIAL ATTACKS:Charge & trample


1E AD&D
Here's the version from the original Monster Manual (1977):


TITANOTHERE
FREQUENCY: Uncommon
NO. APPEARING: 1-12
ARMOR CLASS: 6
MOVE: 12″
HIT DICE: 12
% IN LAIR: Nil
TREASURE TYPE: Nil
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2-16
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Charge & trample
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
INTELLIGENCE: Animal
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: L (8′)
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil/Nil


These huge and fearless plant-eaters roam the temperate plains of the Pleistocene era in herds. If more than 6 are encountered 1-4 of those numbering over one-half the possible total will be young, from 10% to 80% grown.

If any creature threatens the herd, the largest animals (males) will charge. If the charge strikes home, damage inflicted is double the amount shown on the dice (4-32). Titanotheres will trample (2-12 per foot) any opponent low enough for them to step upon.

There’s also a 1E AD&D article entitled Into the Age of Mammals article by David Howery in Dragon Magazine #137 (1988) that has this to say:

Titanotheres were part of a lengthy line of creatures that died out in the Oligocene. As they evolved, the titanotheres grew steadily larger. Brontotherium was the largest and the last; this is the titanothere described in the Monster Manual. Earlier titanotheres can be treated as hornless rhinoceroses.


BECMI
Here's the BECMI version from the Arnerson/Gygax Expert Set Rules (1981):


Titanothere
Armor Class:5No. Appearing:0 (1-6)
Hit Dice:12Save As:Fighter: 6
Move:120’ (40’)Morale:7
Attacks:butt or trampleTreasure Type:Nil
Damage:2-12/3-24Alignment:Neutral

The prehistoric titanothere resembles a huge blunt-horned rhino, 12’ tall at the shoulder. They are generally peaceful if left alone, preferring to graze grass and eat leaves off trees. They will not hesitate to defend themselves, however, and in combat, they butt or trample their opponents. Small herds of these creatures are found in the grasslands of “lost world” areas.


There's also a BECMI version in the AC9 Creature Catalog (1986) which adds an Intelligence Score of 1 and misnames it as a "dinosaur":

DINOSAUR
Titanothere
Armour Class: 5
Hit Dice: 12
Move: 120′ (40′)
Attacks: 1 butt or trample
Damage: 2-12 or 3-24
No. Appearing: 0 (1-6)
Save As: F6
Morale: 7
Treasure Type: Nil
Intelligence: 1
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 1250
Titanothere: This herbivorous dinosaur resembles a huge, blunt-horned rhino, and stands 12 feet tall at the shoulder. Titanotheres are generally peaceful if left alone, preferring to graze grass and eat leaves off trees. They will not hesitate to defend themselves, however, and in combat, they butt or trample their opponents. Small herds of these creatures are found in the grasslands of “lost world” areas.



CONCLUSION
That’s pretty much it for their D&D publication history.

In what we like to think of as the “real world”, official taxonomy gives the Titanotheres the genus of Megacerops. We should probably use that name for the conversion.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Megacerops it is!

I guess the first question I have is if we want to keep them to the SRD dino standard or improve them a bit (like the SRD dinos should be).

Looks like a gore (?) and trample SA. And maybe some kind of SA to increase damage or threat range during a charge.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Megacerops it is!

I guess the first question I have is if we want to keep them to the SRD dino standard or improve them a bit (like the SRD dinos should be).

Looks like a gore (?) and trample SA. And maybe some kind of SA to increase damage or threat range during a charge.
I'd pretty much follow the original idea:

It shouldn't take long. Mechanically it's a bigger version of a Rhinoceros with a charge & trample attack.
So take the SRD Rhinoceros with its Powerful Charge SA and bolt on a standard Trample attack. Increase the HD to 12 and tweak the Strength up a bit - maybe to 28 or 30?

I'd probably make them Huge as well, since these beasties are "elephant sized". That'd help the Trample attack.

The Titanothere's Megacerops damage is higher in both BECMI (2d6 gore & 3d8 trample vs. the Rhino's 2d4 & 2d8 in BECMI) and AD&D (2d8 gore & 2d6/2d6 trample vs 2d6 or 2d4 gore & 2d4/2d4 trample*). That difference is accounted for if we give it a size upgrade, although I'd be happy to give it a 2d8 gore like the original too.

*In AD&D the 9 HD "two-horned rhino" has a 2-12 gore and the 8 HD "one-horned rhino" has 2-8.

That'd probably do. The AC and Move already match the standard AD&D/BECMI Rhinoceros so I wouldn't fuss around much with those beyond maybe adding a point of natural armour to balance out the size penalty of upsizing a Rhino to Huge.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Megacerops Working Draft

Megacerops (Thunder Beast)

Huge Animal
Hit Dice: 12d8+72 (126 hp)
Initiative: +0
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 15 (–2 size, +7 natural), touch 8, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple: +9/+27
Attack: Gore +17 melee (2d8+15)
Full Attack: Gore +17 melee (2d8+15)
Space/Reach: 15 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Powerful charge, trample 2d8+15
Special Qualities: Dire animal, low-light vision, scent
Saves: Fort +14, Ref +8, Will +9
Abilities: Str 30, Dex 10, Con 23, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 2
Skills: Listen +14, Spot +10
Feats: Alertness, Endurance, Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Listen)
Environment: Warm plains or forests
Organization: Solitary, family (2–5) or herd (6–24)
Challenge Rating: 6
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 13–24 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment:

A massive animal that resembles a rhinoceros the size of an elephant. It has a blunt, flattened nose-horn shaped like the letter 'Y'.

These prehistoric herbivores are browsers who eat leaves, soft stems and fruit. They live in lush, humid areas with plenty of vegetation such as subtropical forests or overgrown river valleys and are unable to eat tough vegetation such as grass or coniferous plants. They belong to a group of animals some scholars call titanotheres or brontotheres, which means "titan beasts" or "thunder beasts".

Megacerops are the largest and most formidable species of titanothere, standing about 8 feet high at the shoulder and weighing 7,000 pounds or more. Males are considerably larger than females. Its lesser relatives have the statistics of a standard rhinoceros, which can also represent a small or young megacerops.

Combat
A megacerops will fearlessly attack creatures it thinks pose a danger to its life or its herd, although it may snort or stamp a warning first. They prefer to use their powerful charge attack, but will trample instead if faced with many smaller enemies.

Dire Animal: A megacerops is a dire animal so has all good saves.

Powerful Charge (Ex): When a megacerops charges, its gore attack deals 4d8+20 points of damage.

Trample (Ex): Reflex half DC 26. The save DC is Strength-based.

Note: Originally called "Titanothere." Renamed to match current taxonomy.

Originally appeared in Monster Manual (1977).

Skill Breakdown: Listen 8 ranks, Spot 7 ranks
 
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freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
We must have lost this thread even before the forum software upgrade. I would have posted to it by now, even as behind as I am.

A Huge rhino would have Str 34, Dex 8, Con 25, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 2. But I'm ok with bumping Str a bit more, too. And maybe decreasing Int to 1 since it's a dino. 2d8 gore is ok, though maybe 3d6 is more fun. :p A Huge rhino would have NA +10, but again I don't mind bumping that another +1 or +2.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
We must have lost this thread even before the forum software upgrade. I would have posted to it by now, even as behind as I am.
Yes, I almost forgot about this one too.

A Huge rhino would have Str 34, Dex 8, Con 25, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 2. But I'm ok with bumping Str a bit more, too.
Well it's not an SRD Rhino advanced to Huge size but it's own creature, so I'd rather not use the bumped-up stats.

I'd be happy to make the Strength 30 like a standard elephant since the largest Megacerops were roughly elephant-sized. Might even be willing to tweak it to Str 32 if you want to make them mightier for some reason.

Dexterity I'd rather keep to 10 like the SRD Rhino & Elephant.

Constitution I'd be happy having at 23 - the next rung up from a 3E Rhino's 21.

It's only one source that misidentifies them as a "Dinosaur", the rest properly recognize it as a Prehistoric Pleistocene Mammal. Intelligence 2 would be my preference.

2d8 gore is ok, though maybe 3d6 is more fun. :p
I am preferring 2d8 since it matches the original's damage and the SRD Elephant's gore attack.

A Huge rhino would have NA +10, but again I don't mind bumping that another +1 or +2.
The original is AC 5 in BECMI or AC 6 in AD&D.

That's the same as a "Normal Elephant" in those editions so I'd be disinclined to give it a natural armor very far from the SRD Elephant's +7.

Indeed, I was expecting to just give it +7 NA.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Do we make it a "Dire Animal" like the Elasmotherium "Wooly Rhinoceros" in Frostburn or just a regular animal with the standard poor Will Save?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Do we make it a "Dire Animal" like the Elasmotherium "Wooly Rhinoceros" in Frostburn or just a regular animal with the standard poor Will Save?
By the way, I checked Frostburn and it does not have stats for Woolly Rhinos - it just says to use the stats of the 3E Fiend Folio Dire Rhinoceros.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Come to think of it, I should put a post in the CC somewhere that this stray conversion's been updated.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
No, I didn't forget, but the "Displaced Creatures" thread kept getting bumped to the top of the forum, so I never caught up to it!

All your suggestions look good, and I prefer making it a dire animal as well. Is it done, then?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
No, I didn't forget, but the "Displaced Creatures" thread kept getting bumped to the top of the forum, so I never caught up to it!

All your suggestions look good, and I prefer making it a dire animal as well. Is it done, then?
Yes it's finished.
 

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