Converting Prehistoric Creatures

Cleon

Adventurer
This is a revival of the Converting Prehistoric Animals threads (see Converting Prehistoric Animals (Part One), Part Two and Part Three), which was briefly revived as Converting Prehistoric Creatures before all became Displaced Creature Catalog Threads.

The Creature Catalog (Download Version) contains all of the Creature Catalog conversions from that thread.

All of my Homebrews from that old thread are in Cleon Specials – Prehistoric Beasts! together with a few new ones.

Once a creature is completed here, Creature Catalog 3E Conversions will be added to Completed Creatures Index & Current Conversions, and 5E Monsters will be added to the Completed Fifth Edition Creatures Index.
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
Right then, what about one from the carboniferous.....a Giant Trigonotarbid! (like a spiny spider that can do some reactions with its spines...trying to incorporate a shield rush type reaction....

Here's the first draft you posted:

trigonotarbid1-png.147333
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Okay, on to the comments.

That AC and Dexterity seem a bit high. Presumably it's one of the "heavily armored with spines and tubercles" species as mentioned on Wikipedia's Trigonotarbida, but still I think they should be less agile than a Spider.

I'd go for maybe AC 15 and either Dex 13 (+1) like a Giant Scorpion (similarly body type, Large size and decent chitin armor, although it's faster) or at most Dex 15 (+2) like a Giant Crab (which has the same 30 ft. speed but is Medium).

Would be willing to accept AC 16 like the recent Giant Solifugid conversion.

Compared to a Giant Solifugid or Scorpion, this critter is a lot slower but has a thicker shell, so it could have the same AC but it's more due to thick chitin than reflexes.

The Bite should have "Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3)" - presumably the +3 got left out when calculating its average damage.

Apart from that, the "Body Rush" is the only bit I have major issue with.

For a start, to me "Rush" implies it, well, rushes towards a target and runs into them. That doesn't appear to be the case here. Maybe change that to "Slam?"

Don't much care for the phrase "spiny rear" either - I'd prefer "abdomen" to "rear", and it could presumably kick them with a spiny leg instead. Maybe mention both? Actually, that implies it could do piercing or bludgeoning damage, depending on whether the slam was with a spiky bit of its body. Come to think of it, I like the ring of "tubercles" and might work them into the description too.

As a Reaction, the mechanical explanation should start with a triggering condition.

Also, "Melee Reaction" doesn't appear to be a 5E rule term, it should have a "Melee Weapon Attack" in there somewhere instead.

I'd think the damage should include its Strength bonus - it is whacking the enemy after all.

It also needs to say what kind of check that "DC 10 or fall over" is made against - I'd guess Strength, like the Bite action of a 5E Wolf?

Actually, it is basically a Reaction version of a wolf's bite attack.

Putting that together:

Reactions

Body-Slam. If the trigonotarbid has a target at its flank or rear, it can use its reaction to strike that target with its tubercle-covered abdomen or a spiny leg. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) bludgeoning damage or 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 12 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

[EDIT]refined the Body-Slam wording with "target" instead of "enemy" in the trigger. Polished the Armour Class musings.[ENDEDIT]
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
Body-Slam. If the trigonotarbid has a target at its flank or rear, it can use its reaction to strike that target with its tubercle-covered abdomen or a spiny leg. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) bludgeoning damage or 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 12 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Come to think of it, a "Slam" is already an attack type that specifically does bludgeoning damage, so maybe give it a different name.

Also, this version can use a leg as well as part of its body, so it shouldn't have Body in the name either.

Hmm…

I know!

Spiky Reflexes. If the trigonotarbid has a target at its flank or rear, it can use its reaction to strike that target with its tubercle-covered abdomen or a spiny leg. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) bludgeoning damage or 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 12 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
 


Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Whoops, missed this...incorporated changes (all worthwhile - was musing on a AC 17 as thought it should have something more differentiating it from giant scorpion...?
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
Whoops, missed this...incorporated changes (all worthwhile - was musing on a AC 17 as thought it should have something more differentiating it from giant scorpion...?

Yes, unfortunately with straightforward monsters like this the stats often end up a bit samey. "A giant bug's an giant bug" as far as adventurers are concerned. Real life arthropods can be like that, with the only difference between species being fine-tuned adaptations for a particular habitat, which can be quite minor.

I'll transcribe this version to an Enworld Post and see if I can spot any subtle errors while I do so.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Giant Trigonotarbid
Large beast, unaligned
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 34 (4d10 + 12)
Speed 30 ft.

STR​
DEX​
CON​
INT​
WIS​
CHA​
14 (+2)​
13 (+1)​
16 (+3)​
1 (−5)​
11 (+1)​
4 (−3)​

Senses blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages
Challenge 1 (200 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Actions

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit 10 (2d6 + 3) piercing damage.

Reactions

Spiky Reflexes. If the trigonotarbid has a target at its flank or rear, it can use its reaction to strike that target with its tubercle-covered abdomen or a spiny leg. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) bludgeoning damage or 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 12 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Body Spines. Anyone attempting to grapple or strike the trigonotarbid with claws, fist or other body part must make a DC 12 Dex roll to avoid inadvertently striking spines for 1d4 piercing damage.

Description

Giant trigonotarbids are large arachnids related to spiders and scorpions. Unlike their kin, they do not spin webs and are not venomous, and much of their bodies are covered with thick spiny armored plates. Predatory by nature, they make up for their poor vision with their keen tactile pedipalps and other senses. They inhabit forests and the underdark, where they hunt any animal smaller than themselves as potential prey.
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
Okay, couldn't find any errors while transcribing the above.

Mechanics look fine, nothing wrong with the numbers.

Would likely have phrased the Description differently if I were doing the conversion (probably far more wordily than it needed to be!) but the only salient comment I can think of is that the first line uses the British & Commonwealth spelling "armoured" rather than the US spelling "armored."

I tend to use UK spellings in my posts except for the D&D monster writeups, when I switch to US spellings for the sake of consistency. The 3E conversions in the Creature Catalog used US spellings long before I started contributing to them, since it started on Eric Noah's D&D News website, which is now long defunct.

That's more a matter of personal preference, the giant trigonotarbid using "armoured" is fine by me.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
I tend to use UK spellings in my posts except for the D&D monster writeups, when I switch to US spellings for the sake of consistency. The 3E conversions in the Creature Catalog used US spellings long before I started contributing to them, since it started on Eric Noah's D&D News website, which is now long defunct.

Further on that, Enworld used to have a copy of Scott Greene's original Creature Catalog website on creaturecatalog.enworld.org that we posted completed monsters on once they were finished, but unfortunately it went the way of the dodo years ago.

That's why Freyar and I switched to the Download Version of the CC.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Right, I'll go with "armored" for consistency. Changed description to:

"Giant trigonotarbids are large arachnids related to spiders and scorpions. Unlike their kin, they do not spin webs and are not venomous, and much of their bodies are covered with thick spiny armored plates. Predatory by nature, they make up for their poor vision with their keen sensory pedipalps and other senses. They inhabit forests and the underdark, where they hunt any animal smaller than themselves as potential prey."
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Right, I'll go with "armored" for consistency. Changed description to:

"Giant trigonotarbids are large arachnids related to spiders and scorpions. Unlike their kin, they do not spin webs and are not venomous, and much of their bodies are covered with thick spiny armored plates. Predatory by nature, they make up for their poor vision with their keen sensory pedipalps and other senses. They inhabit forests and the underdark, where they hunt any animal smaller than themselves as potential prey."

That's a good improvement. I'll swap it into the Giant Trigonotarbid to replace the former version of the Description (see below).

Maybe remove the "their" in "their keen sensory pedipals" and use "creature" instead of "animal"? Also, it they're hunting something isn't it already prey? so either the "potential prey" or the "hunt" seems redundant.

So you could use either:

"Giant trigonotarbids are large arachnids related to spiders and scorpions. Unlike their kin, they do not spin webs and are not venomous, and much of their bodies are covered with thick spiny armored plates. Predatory by nature, they make up for their poor vision with keen sensory pedipalps and other senses. They inhabit forests and the underdark, where they hunt any creature smaller than themselves."

or:

"Giant trigonotarbids are large arachnids related to spiders and scorpions. Unlike their kin, they do not spin webs and are not venomous, and much of their bodies are covered with thick spiny armored plates. Predatory by nature, they make up for their poor vision with keen sensory pedipalps and other senses. They inhabit forests and the underdark, where any creature smaller than themselves is potential prey."

I like the second one a little better myself.

What do you think?

Description

Giant trigonotarbids resemble giant spiders with thick spiny armoured plates across their bodies. Unlike spiders they don't spin webs and are not venomous. Predatory, they make up for their poor vision with their keen sensory pedipalps and other senses. They inhabit forests and the underdark, where they hunt smaller arthropods as prey.
 


Cleon

Adventurer
Yeah...going with number two.....

aaand posted here

Upon reflective, "tactile pedipalps" might be better than "sensory pedipalps", since (a) pedipalps are touch-sensitive so it's specifying the sense, and (b) having "and other senses" immediately afterwards seems a little more clunky.

That'd make it:

Giant trigonotarbids are large arachnids related to spiders and scorpions. Unlike their kin, they do not spin webs and are not venomous, and much of their bodies are covered with thick spiny armored plates. Predatory by nature, they make up for their poor vision with keen tactile pedipalps and other senses. They inhabit forests and the underdark, where any creature smaller than themselves is potential prey.​

The D&D Beyond Version you posted has a stray double quote at the start of the Description (i.e., the " in "Giant trigonotarbids are large arachnids should be removed).

If you're going to edit that out you could make the pedipalps tactile at the same time, assuming you prefer that phrasing. It does work fine with "sensory pedipalps".
 




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