D&D 5E [Let's Read] Dr. Dhrolin's Dictionary of Dinosaurs


If you're on a Mac, you can just use Preview.

Here is a list for Windows – https://www.lifewire.com/best-free-pdf-editors-4147622

I was able to find out a way to do it just with Adobe Acrobat, but I still appreciate you giving a helping hand!

Dinosaurs.... My domain. Love this work, incidentally.

Which never ends, incidentally. The artist for this book, Mark Witton, even had a lovely meme up about how things were. There's a reason We don't talk about spino was an immediate hit in the paleo-meme sphere and that is this lovely dinosaur causes nothing but trouble

Stomatosuchus is just a crocodile. Well, not 'crocodile' specifically but its in the croc-line, not the dino line. Outside of modern crocodiles, but still close enough to them that if it was here today we'd basically call it one

Hatzegopteryx is notably a dense pterosaur, to the point when its bone were first discovered they were thought of as dinosaur bones instead. So could be a way to represent the fact this thing is just tough? Best to play them as horrifying just events that occur, of course, because that's basically what we thought Hatzegs were. Just Events that sometimes happened. They are the Pterosaur Overlord of Transylvania for a reason.

Thank you for sharing all of this! It was quite interesting to read and watch.

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I admit to having made some miscalculations in my understanding of the Polymorph spell. I presumed that the caster's potential Beast forms could be half the target's Challenge Rating or level when in reality it is equal to or lower. This will make me rethink some of the Player-Facing options, particularly the higher-CR dinosaurs.


Thank you for sharing all of this! It was quite interesting to read and watch.
Its what I do. Dinosaurs are my jam

Tetrapodophis is a snake-like creature so small it has its own size category of Miniscule at 8 inches in length
Ubirajara is about as much of a mess as Tetrapodophis is. By which I mean the exact same person was involved in both and, honestly, Tetrapodophis should probably be withdrawn for much the same reasons (except its fossil is in private hands so not as easy to fix the whole "This fossil was smuggled out of Brazil" issue). So much drama for such a small critter

Centrosaurus is a horned dinosaur that is a smaller relative of the triceratops, and exclusively herbivorous in feeding off of ferns and branch leaves.
Remember Monoclonius from back in the older monster manuals? This is it. By which I mean Monoclonius was just a juvinile Centrosaurus, because they looked kind of different when young

Deinocheirus is the largest example of its various families (gallimimus, ornithomimus, and struthiomimus), being around 36 feet long when fully grown. Its fused spines form a hump or sail running along its back, and combined with likely having feathers all over its body would’ve given it quite the distinctive appearance.
Deinocheirus is the anti-spinosaurus, by which I mean it got its massive re-description about the same time Spino did in 2014, but it didn't have the sheer drama spino did. It being feathered or not is one of those up in the air things as its family absolutely were feathered, but Deinocheirus is so different to the lot and huge it may not have been. Regardless, here's the requisitite Prehistoric Planet clip.


Note: While I plan to edit the prior posts, I did want to address the Player-Facing options for dinosaurs I thought were too high CR to use for Polymorph. The Yutyrannus, Paralititan, Hatzegopteryx, and Deinosuchus. As there are no Beasts in the official rules that go above CR 8, these dinosaurs have no equivalent comparisons. Their inclusion in the rules helps make Polymorph a viable option at Tier 3 and higher levels: the Yutyrannus is a beefier T-Rex that can multiattack and take quite a bit of damage along with having immunity to a rather common energy type, the Paralititan makes for a great living siege engine that can deal a lot of single-target damage with the right set-up, the Hatzegopteryx is a decent flying option that is faster than most creatures, and the Deinosuchus can deal a lot of damage against large creatures while having a huge amount of hit points. All in all, they’re pretty nice options to have.


Erythrosuchus was an apex predator during the Middle Triassic period in South Africa. Its head was disproportionately larger than the rest of its body, which was otherwise similar to many other four-legged reptiles. It is believed to have primarily fed on various kinds of animals in a semi-arid region, but there isn’t much other research regarding its behavior and living conditions at this point in time. It is believed that it ambushed prey rather than trying to outrun them due to its bulky form.

Erythrosuchus is a Large CR 8 dinosaur that primarily fights with a grappling bite it can attack with twice via Multiattack, 20 feet darkvision, and it has advantage on attacks vs Medium and Large creatures but disadvantage vs all other size categories. It can make a single bite attack as a bonus action if it dashes, and has one use each of Legendary Resistance and Legendary Action, the latter of which can be done to thrash a grappled creature to do more damage or to automatically move and carry a grappled target with it. Its Optional Magical Rule ups its CR to 8, where anyone bitten by it must make a Wisdom save or go mad for 1 minute, having their Intelligence reduced to 3, their Proficiency Bonus reduced to 0, and cannot communicate.

Player-Facing: The erythrosuchus shares its CR with the T-Rex of the core rules and the Huge Giant Crab and Sperm Whale of other published adventures. In comparison to the T-Rex this dinosaur has the same number of hit points but has a better AC (16 vs rex’s 13), albeit with a slower speed of 25 feet. It deals much less damage with its multiattack. While the erythrosuchus’ thrash legendary action can help close the gap in damage, as a Polymorphed option a character cannot make use of it. Its Optional Magical Rule gives its bite a great debuff: even when fighting a creature that doesn’t make use of language or Intelligence, the Proficiency Bonus reduction is downright amazing. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Falcatakely is a small bird-like dinosaur that is believed to have mostly subsisted on fruits with the occasional insect and small animal. It lived in wet areas of northern Madagascar, notably rivers and floodplains, and lived in mated pairs. It is a Tiny CR 0 creature, its chirp can be heard up to 300 feet away, and when PCs first find one it will reveal nearby fruit food sources that are the equivalent of 4 days worth of rations. Its Optional Magical Rule doesn’t alter its CR, where druidic magic present in the animal causes plants in a region to double the amount of fruit they grow provided it stays in an area for a week, and it can be obtained as a familiar. If it’s acquired as a familiar its lush growth only activates once each time it is summoned in a new area.

Player-Facing: An encounter with this creature is basically one that only has upsides, as it more or less gives the party some free food when found. It feels strongly geared towards wilderness survival types of adventures with a built-in reward. The Optional Magical Rule is more of a gimmick for people with Find Familiar; increased food yields aren’t so important in typical adventures. It is too smart to be affected by Animal Friendship.


Garjainia is an erythosuchid, a carnivore which the Erythrosuchus also belongs to and are thus relatives. It too lived during the Triassic period and had a huge head with a powerful bite, and was likely an ambush predator. Although it shared territory with larger animals, it was strong enough to get into fights with them when the need arose.

It is a Small CR 1 dinosaur that can Dash as a bonus action as a rechargeable ability, its bite attack has a d3 table of random effects while grasping onto it such as halved speed from a bitten leg to disadvantage, and instead of a straightforward grapple its Lock Jaw lets it automatically grasp onto a creature. This lets its random effect persist, and the bitten creature must make contested Strength checks to move that round and requires a separate Strength check to remove the Garjainia. Its Optional Magical Rule doesn’t alter its CR, where its bite has a random chance to make a target lose a spell slot, and 4-5 Garjainia can swarm together to create a new stat block which is basically a much tougher CR 6 version with Swarm traits and Multiattack.

Player-Facing: As a CR 1 beast, it has to be compared to a Dire Wolf. While the Garjainia has slightly more hit points at 38, it has a much slower speed and its bonus action Dash is too unpredictable to rely on. Its Over-Sized Bite is a good means of imposing debuffs on enemies and holding them in place, which helps save the creature a bit. The Optional Magical Rule can make it a good anti-mage option, and while Conjure Animals can only summon up to 2 CR 1 beasts, I can see some optimizers having 2 characters cast this spell and using the 4 Garjainia to combine into a much tougher Swarm. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Giraffatitan is yet another big long-necked sauropod, likely being 85 feet long at adulthood and lived part-time in coniferous forests and tidal flats. Like other sauropods it is a slow-moving herbivore most predators don’t bother with, but its young are another story.

It is a CR 9 Gargantuan or Colossal dinosaur, with resistance to non-magical damage. As its AC is 12 and hit points are 246, it is going to get hit a lot, but can take a lot of hits. It has advantage on sight-based Perception checks due to being able to survey vast distances as well as saves vs the prone and paralyzed conditions, but auto-fails Dexterity saves. The giraffatitan multiattacks with a neck sweep that can hit up to three targets that can knock them prone, and a single-target chomp attack. Its Optional Magical Rule increases its CR to 11 and lets it gain a new Minor Mutation (or increases its reach by 5 feet as an alternative) for 1 hour whenever it’s hit by an attack or fails a save.

Player-Facing: Much like the Paralititan, this Polymorph/shapechange option is for when the caster wants to soak up a bunch of damage and get multi-target melee attacks. Its vast size plus reach lets it affect quite the number of squares, albeit its slow movement at 15 feet means that it should only be polymorphed into once the caster is near the creatures it wants to harm. The Optional Magical Rules can grant various neat mutations, but as that’s a random table you aren’t guaranteed to get exactly what you need. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Iguanodon was the second dinosaur to be discovered, and thus is one of the most famous ones in the popular consciousness. It was most likely a herbivore that fed on a wide variety of plants, and it has distinctive spikes on each forelimb’s digit. As their fossils were found in large numbers in one spot, it’s believed that they moved in herds.

The iguanodon is a Huge CR 4 creature, with a base 30 foot speed that increases to 40 feet when it Dashes, has advantage on Strength saves, and as a bonus action it can release a warning bellow that lets all other creatures of its type know that it’s in danger. It can attack up to three times, with two thumb spikes and a tackle, the latter of which can knock prone struck targets but if the iguanodon misses it risks ending up prone itself. Its Optional Magical Rule includes two abilities: one that’s cosmetic where its thumb spikes are replaced with a single nasal horn, and another where the iguanodon has an implanted explosive as the consequence of two rival paleontologists attempting to sabotage each other’s research. In this latter case, the iguanodon’s bomb triggers upon death after 2 rounds during which it makes a noticeable ticking sound, dealing bludgeoning and fire damage in an AoE.

Player-Facing: The Iguanodon is roughly equivalent to an elephant in terms of defense, but in terms of damage and offense the elephant can deal more. However, effects that can stack damage can help the Iguanodon win out as it can attack three times by default rather than the elephant which doesn’t have multiattack but can potentially attack twice with a prone-causing gore and stomp. Its Optional Magical Rule is too situational and likely wouldn’t make narrative sense to be of use: did the bomb just come out of nowhere with a Polymorph casting? It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Juravenator is a Tiny or Small dinosaur whose only found fossil at this point is a juvenile specimen, so its true size at adulthood is unknown. Its sharp teeth point towards a carnivorous diet, and its skin had a thin covering of feathers. The scales were similar to those of crocodiles, indicating it lived near bodies of water.

It is a CR 0 creature that is pretty sturdy for its size and CR, having 4 hit points. Its darkvision is an amazing 120 feet due to its nocturnal lifestyle, and has resistance to cold damage due to fat deposits and advantage on attacks against smaller submerged targets. It has advantage on Dexterity saves and checks and can Dash as a bonus action, which combined with its +4 Stealth makes it pretty good at sneaking around. The juravenator’s Optional Magical Rule increases its CR to ⅛, where it has an Adult form that doubles various stats such as to-hit bonuses and hit points, becomes Small, and gains resistance to bludgeoning damage. Its juvenile form can be summoned as a familiar.

Player-Facing: Once again, it is a poor shapechanging option in general, and despite indicating a semi-aquatic lifestyle it has no swim speed. The only potential upside is its extreme darkvision, but that’s too situational for most campaigns. It could be good as a familiar to scout ahead, though. It is too smart to be affected by Animal Friendship.


Kentrosaurus is a smaller relative of the stegosaurus, with defensive plates to supplement its many spikes for natural defenses. Like the stegosaurus it’s an herbivore, and its diet was different enough from other such creatures nearby to have to worry about competing for resources. It is unknown to what extent its spikes were used primarily for combat vs social displays, although its tail made for an effective weapon.

The kentrosaurus is a Large CR 3 dinosaur, with a decent 60 hit points but a sturdy 16 AC. It can multiattack with either two Thagomise* attacks that can hit one target each, or a less damaging tailsweep that can hit three targets at once and knock prone targets. It has great defenses, such as a reaction-based Thagomise against a melee attacker that can also impose the Frightened condition on a failed Charisma save, and creatures don’t gain advantage on attacks for outnumbering or flanking the kentrosaurus. In practical terms, this more or less negates Pack Tactics and similar abilities. Its Optional Magical Rule draws from Kentish folklore where it can magically disguise itself as a horse, and those who try to touch or mount it take piercing damage.

*Fun Fact: “Thagomizer,” a made-up word in a Far Side cartoon strip, eventually entered the informal lingo of paleontologists.

Player-Facing: Once again, the ankylosaurus serves as a close comparison. The kentrosaurus has less hit points but a better AC, but it can do more damage and versus multiple targets. The ability to do a Frighten-based counterattack makes it a good tank option. The horse disguise is too gimmicky to be of use in most campaigns. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Klobiodon is a Small pterosaur that primarily lived on coasts, feeding on various animals by snatching them up with its maw and trapping them within a “cage” of teeth. It gathered in groups and likely swarmed when fighting intruders to their territory and other threats. It is a Small CR ⅛ dinosaur and ignores opportunity attacks providing that it is flying. Its bite attack isn’t anything to write home about in terms of damage, but it can automatically grasp onto creatures, moving with them automatically whenever the creature moves and can be dislodged via a Strength check. While so lodged, the Klobiodon deals automatic damage and reduces the creature’s movement speed; the effects are cumulative, so more klobiodons reduces speed even further while doing more damage. Its Optional Magical Rule lets it become invisible as long as it doesn’t move, and its bite attack deals double damage in the first round of combat if it’s so invisible.

Player-Facing: A weak shapechanging option, the best use I can see for this dinosaur is to summon a flock of them with Conjure Animals and reduce enemy speed by having them grasp onto a single target. It is too smart to be affected by Animal Friendship.


Kulindadromeus is a Small bipedal dinosaur whose fossils were discovered in a lake near a volcano, and it was an herbivore that ate ferns but could have possibly eaten insects as well. There isn’t much known about how it lived, but the writers assume it acted like most small herbivores: constantly alert to flee from danger and probably lived with others of its kind.

The kulindadromeus is a CR ⅛ dinosaur with 40 foot darkvision, advantage on Stealth checks in foliage, reduces cold damage by 1d4 and ignores difficult terrain from mud, and has great Perception and Survival at +6 in spite of its 7 Wisdom. Its Optional Magical Rule doesn’t change its CR but makes other Ornithischia herbivores (iguanodons, kentrosauruses, and some other creatures in this book) friendly to it and will defend them with their lives.

Player-Facing: The unique abilities of the kulindadromeus are too situational to be of much use for shapechanging and summoning purposes. It is too smart to be affected by Animal Friendship.


Leptonectes is an aquatic dinosaur that specialized in hunting soft prey such as squid and jellyfish, primarily hunting at night. Much of the research discovered was found via unborn embryos, where due to the volume found it is believed that mothers formed maternal pods and lived closely with their children.

They are a Large CR 4 dinosaur, with 60 foot darkvision, and while in water it cannot be grappled by smaller sized creatures and is immune to the Tidal Wave spell and similar effects while in water. The leptonectes is resistant to cold and thunder damage and primarily attacks with either a snout skewer that deals more damage when it charges or a giant paddle slap that is an adjacent-range AoE aura that deals bludgeoning and thunder damage to those who fail a Constitution save. Its Optional Magical Rule increases its CR to 5, letting it generate an aura that can impose the incapacitated condition for 1 turn and has a Legendary Action to swim 5 feet and make a snout skewer attack.

Player-Facing: There aren’t any core CR 4 Beasts that have a swim speed, so it doesn’t have much competition in terms of forms. However, the Giant Walrus from Rime of the Frostmaiden does, and while the leptonectes doesn’t deal as much damage as the walrus it can multihit via its paddle slap and has a faster swim speed at 60 feet vs the walrus’ 40. The dinosaur still has to hold its breath like a dolphin or whale, but at 2 hours that can last for quite a while. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Mastodonsaurus is an amphibian from the Middle Triassic period, looking like a frog-crocodile hybrid. As can be expected it is a carnivore, and probably ambushed prey from below in the muddy freshwater rivers and swamps. While it could move (slowly at 10 feet) on land, it spent as much time in water as possible.

The mastodonsaurus is a Large CR 4 dinosaur, where it can breathe both air and water but gains enhanced abilities in water such as +3 bonus on Dexterity saves (-1 normally) and its blindsight increases from 5 to 30 feet. It can blend in perfectly with sediment in water while motionless, and should initiative be rolled it will act first, gaining advantage on its first attack and deal 1d10 bonus piercing damage with its tusked bite. The bite can also grapple struck targets. Its Optional Magical Rule increases its CR to 5 and deals a bonus 1d8 randomly determined elemental damage drawn from a table. The dinosaur gains immunity to that damage type until its next turn, albeit the book doesn’t say if it’s until the start or end of its next turn.

Player-Facing: Another CR 4 aquatic creature, the mastodonsaurus has more hit points than a walrus, at 90 vs 85, and a better AC at 12 vs the walrus’ 9. The blindsight and ambush bonuses are begging to use this monster before combat begins, albeit it is of limited scouting ability as its 8 Dexterity makes it poor at Stealth checks. Blindsight can be good when fighting creatures one can’t see underwater, but that’s rather situational. As we just covered the leptonectes of the same CR, that dinosaur is better for straightforward combat or with ample room to charge when an ambush cannot be guaranteed. The mastodonsaurus can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Megalosaurus is one of the most famous dinosaurs due to it being the first formally described taxon. Like other theropods it is a large carnivorous animal with powerful legs and sharp teeth, and its fossils were found near lagoons that hosted a variety of prey for it. It likely ambushed thirsty animals, but could’ve also scavenged carcasses.

The megalosaurus is a Large CR 4 dinosaur which is basically a smaller, stealther t-rex, being proficient in Perception, Stealth, and Survival, and has advantage on attacks versus creatures that are the same size category as itself.* It has a limited multiattack where its bite can be used twice but each time must be against a different target, and it can use either bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage. In the real world it was called “scrotum humanum” by a physician in comparing its appearance to testicles, which in game terms translates to the dinosaur taking triple damage against the Vicious Mockery cantrip. Last but not least, the megalosaurus has one use of Legendary Action where it can either Disengage up to 10 feet or chooses a single creature which will be knocked prone (no chance to resist) should the dinosaur hit it with its next attack. Its Optional Magical Rules increase its CR to 5, where it affects any humanoid within 60 feet who sees it for the first time with a random d4 curse table of forced actions or inactions, such as attempting to feed or heal it on their next turn.

*The wording means that it can gain advantage on other size categories if affected by Enlarge/Reduce and similar effects.

Player-Facing: At 106 hit points and 14 AC, the megalosaurus is a very beefy option for shapechangers of its CR, and its situational advantage on attack rolls makes it a good offensive option against certain monsters. Its proficiency in Perception and Stealth make it a passable scout albeit it will likely outshone by the party Rogue), and its multi-target bite attack helps spread out the damage. The magical curse table can be useful in making enemies act inefficiently in combat. However, it doesn’t do much damage for CR 4 or 5 creatures, being upshone by the stegosaurus and triceratops. It is too smart to be affected by Animal Friendship.


Mnyamawamtuka is another big long-necked sauropod, but as the only fossil discovered is a juvenile it’s unknown how large it can grow. There isn’t much new to cover that I haven’t already discussed for other sauropods in terms of diet and behavior.

It is a Huge or Gargantuan CR 5 creature, having higher AC than other sauropods at 15 due to its scale and osteoderm placements, and each time it is encountered the DM rolls on the Minor Mutation table reflecting its diverse evolutionary patterns. It has +5 and advantage on saves to avoid being knocked prone, but suffers a total -5 modifier and disadvantage on Dexterity saves. It can multiattack, attacking once with a bite that can force a target to drop an item on a failed Strength save and two whips with its tail. In spite of its size these aren’t very strong attacks, being 1d8+2 and 1d6+2 respectively. Its Optional Magical Rule bumps its CR to 6, granting it a Heart-Shaped Soul where anyone hit by the mnyamawamtuka’s attack is charmed by it for 1 minute if they fail a Charisma save. The charm’s effect involves the creature fetching food for the dinosaur.

Player-Facing: As a shapechanging option the mnyamawamtuka is a big bag of hit points with a rather pitiful damage-dealing capability, easily shone up by a Brontosaurus or Giant Crocodile. And the brontosaurus has a faster movement speed (30 feet vs this one’s 20) and a better to-hit and damage bonus. Overall a poor option. The mnyamawamtuka can be affected by Animal Friendship.

Thoughts So Far: We see a continued trend of this bestiary’s dinosaurs being less damaging than official Beasts but have better defenses and more special abilities. The sauropods are a bit too similar in roles and abilities, and I wish there was a bit more diversity that didn’t require Optional Magical Rules. Darkvision is starting to become a more common sense type, too, as is the use of bite attacks as a form of movement and battlefield control which is pretty cool. In terms of favorites I like the kentrosaurus’ defensive-minded fighting tactics and the megalosaurus in being a “roguish T-Rex.”

Join us next time as we finish up the Rest of the Alphabet!


Erythrosuchus was an apex predator during the Middle Triassic period in South Africa.
In a blog post these were described as being the equivilent of sticking a howitzer on a golf cart and calling it a tank. Lovely we get two of them showing up as they're incredibly obscure critters who people are most likely not to know about

Despite us thinking of the Mesozoic as the age of the dinosaurs, they didn't really get going until the mid to late Triassic. Before that, things were a lot crazier. This lead to a lot of absolute weirdos, like these guys. Thankfully something else grabbed D otherwise we might have to talk about Drepanosaurs and we are not ready for me to go off about a bird-headed weirdo trying its best to be a silky anteater and a chameleon all at once (and that's before we get to the ones that might have glided)

Giraffatitan is yet another big long-necked sauropod, likely being 85 feet long at adulthood
Fun fact: Basically every single Brachiosaurus reconstruction you've seen is probably based on Giraffatitan instead. It was split, ala Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus, and Girrafatitan was the name we've gone with
*Fun Fact: “Thagomizer,” a made-up word in a Far Side cartoon strip, eventually entered the informal lingo of paleontologists.
I think its actually become the official word at this point. Not so much informal lingo at this point as "Yeah, that's just. What we call stegosaur/ankylosaur/sauropod tail weapons"
Leptonectes is an aquatic dinosaur that specialized in hunting soft prey such as squid and jellyfish, primarily hunting at night.
Leptonectes is an ichthyosaur, not a dinosaur. Ichthyosaurs were.... Well. Its been debated for basically forever. The current position is they're somewhere in an extended group of non-standard reptiles that includes turtles, dinosaurs and crocodiles, but that's a massive 'somewhere' which is basically just saying "more related to them rather than lizards, snakes and the tuatara" so, y'know. A bit of a wide group. The current theory is the three weirdo marine reptile groups, the 'inevitably compared to dolphins or whales' Ichthyosaurs, Sauropterygia (A grab-bag of various aquatic ones like the "This is just trying to be a turtle" Henodus, the "This is a reptile trying to be a seal" Nothosaurs, and the long-necked plesiosaurs and their various short-necked relatives) and the far more obscure Thalattosaurs, are each other's closest relatives as just a weird reptile sub-branch that went in on returning to the water and were dang good at it

Notably absent from the 'weirdo marine reptiles' are the famous mosasaurs. This is because mosasaurs are basically the sister family to snakes, so we at least know where they sit.


We’re in the home stretch! After this post we only have 6 more dinosaurs commissioned by KickStarter pledgers. After that we’ll be done with roughly 2/3rds of this book, being mostly player-facing options such as new races and subclasses.


Mosasaurus is an oceanic aquatic predator that was an air-breather yet could hold its breath for a long time. It was an apex carnivore that fed on a variety of marine life including others of its kind, and the book suggests that it is highly territorial and prone to attack any besides its own offspring as intruders in its territories. It would even attack boats which it can mistake for prey.

The creature is Huge and CR 11, operating exclusively in water with a 40 foot swim speed. It has resistance to quite a bit of energy types: cold, lightning, and thunder damage, a great 120 foot darkvision, and its primary means of offense are a multiattack bite that can deal additional damage if a target fails a Strength save combined with a concussive splash dealing thunder damage. Furthermore, the mosasaurus’ bite grants advantage on creatures native to the oceans. Its Optional Magical Rules increase its CR to 12 and lets it summon a storm as a bonus action, where it then gains a rechargeable ability to cast Tidal Wave up to four times per day and is personally immune to its effects

Player-Facing: Not only does it have a good melee bite, the dinosaur has another attack that uses the second least-resisted energy type in the game. It is proficient in Perception and Stealth, which combined with its Darkvision gives it a good chance of ambushing foes underwater. As it has no official monsters of its CR to compare, it must be placed against other dinosaurs in this book. Even then, the Deinosuchus still wins out for sheer staying power. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Nothosaurus is a Middle Triassic-era semi-aquatic carnivore whose fossils have been found in various oceans. Its teeth indicate that it was best suited for hunting soft-bodied prey and preferred to swim near sandy bottoms to find such food. It could move on land, primarily to rest and likely for mating.

It is a Medium or Large CR 3 creature that is also an air-breather, has resistance to cold and thunder damage, gains immunity to cold for an hour if it basks in the sun for 10 minutes, darkvision 60 feet, and can attack three times: twice with a bite and a third time with whacking its neck. It also has a single Legendary Action it can only use to swim up to 15 feet. Optional Magical Rules increase its CR to 4, granting it immunity to lightning damage as well as the ability to spit lightning as a ranged attack and a rechargeable short-range AoE dealing the same energy type.

Player-Facing: The killer whale is the only aquatic CR 3 monster. The orca has more hit points (90 vs 15 55) but a slightly worse AC (12 vs 13). The killer whale can swim much faster at 60 feet vs the nothosaurus’ 35, and while it can only attack once its singular bite deals slightly more average damage than the dinosaur’s triple attack. Overall the nothosaurus is a pretty average option, save perhaps for gaining a decent-ranged lightning attack at CR 4. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Nyctosaurus is a Small pterosaur whose wings were incredibly lengthy in comparison to the rest of its body, and its only known habitation was a shallow stretch of sea in the Late Cretaceous-era Niobrara Formation. Its primary diet was most likely fish which it dived to snatch from the air. Thus, the book suggests that it be played much like modern sea birds such as the albatross.

The nyctosaurus is a CR ⅛ dinosaur, capable of flying for up to a week without needing to stop and can sleep while flying albeit only in a straight line and at a reduced speed. It has a renamed Flyby Attack, Snatch Feeder, and its two attacks include a peck and a charge as it crashes into a target. Its Optional Magical Rule increases its CR to ¼, granting it the ability to cast Darkness twice per day (autofails concentration checks when taking damage), gains blindsight 60 feet, and non-magical versions within 100 feet gain 10 feet of blindsight for 1 minute.

Player-Facing: As a CR ⅛ flyer, the nyctosaurus is comparable to a blood hawk, with slightly more hit points at 10 but a slightly lower fly speed at 50 feet. It doesn’t have Pack Tactics which makes it less offensively-minded. However, its magical version has a very useful spell which combined with blindsight can be a great means of battlefield control when summoned with Conjure Animals. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Oviraptor is named and thus famous for its supposed egg-stealing ways, primarily living in deserts but could also be found in wetlands. It fed on small animals and vegetation growing from the ground. The book recommends playing it as a social animal that lives in packs.

Oviraptor is a Small CR 1 dinosaur, gaining the equivalent of a Barbarian Rage in terms of “attacks for and against it have advantage” when defending its nest, has a bonus action where it can gain advantage on Charisma checks and saves for a minute by filling its crest with blood, and as a reaction can either reduce bludgeoning damage by 1d4 or falling damage by 2d10. It multiattacks with a beak and scratch attack. Its Optional Magical Rules grant it advantage on Stealth checks when stealing offspring, stealing live young as well but instead of eating them raise them as one of their own.

Player-Facing: The oviraptor is really weak for its Challenge Rating. While it makes good use of action economy, the bonus action and reaction abilities are situational, as are its means of gaining advantage on attack rolls. Dire wolves and deinonychus are much better options. It cannot be affected by Animal Friendship.


Pterodaustro is quite predictably, a pterosaur whose most notable feature is its thousand-plus teeth lining its jaws. The teeth were incredibly thin yet tightly packed, making it a filter-feeder animal. It has been compared to flamingos due to the shape of its legs and feet which would’ve allowed it to wade in shallow water.

Pterodaustro is a Medium CR ¼ creature with a slow land speed (15 feet) but a decent fly speed (40 feet). It can “quad launch” into the air, knocking adjacent creatures prone much like the hatzegopteryx albeit it doesn’t require the use of this ability to fly. It is immune to poison from contaminated food and water, primarily fights with wing slams, and in groups of three or more it has a group sentinel with advantage on Perception checks. As it has a passive Perception of 16, this would make it quite the alert animal. Its Optional Magical Rule adds a swallowed gemstone worth 50 gp as treasure, causing it to glow a certain color from a random table which also determines the damage type of its attacks.

Player-Facing: By the time a character can Wild Shape or Polymorph into this dinosaur, there are better options for flying Beasts. It could theoretically be useful in summoning a swarm via Conjure Animals to take advantage of its amazing passive Perception, as some rule that advantage on that skill grants +5 to this value. One could also argue in using the magical variant for energy attacks a creature may be vulnerable against, but as this generates gemstones a DM will be very wary of an “infinite money glitch.” It cannot be affected by Animal Friendship.


Quetzalcoatlus is one of the largest known flying animals, with the book mentioning “it stood tall enough to look a Tyrannosaurus in the eye.” It lived in a floodplain surrounded by subtropical forests, and its ability to fly long distances means it could’ve lived in many different areas. Not much is known about the quetzalcoatlus, and it’s theorized to be a mostly solitary animal who spent much of the time walking on land in search of prey, using its flight to journey to different feeding spots.

It is a Huge CR 9 creature with a swift 100 foot fly speed, and its 35 foot land speed ain’t too shabby either. Like some other pterosaurs in this book it has an AoE prone-inducing Quad Launch activated as a bonus action, has advantage on Stealth checks when flying or walking in a forest, and advantage on Perception checks involving sight. Its primary means of offense include a rechargeable AoE Thunderous Flap dealing thunder and bludgeoning damage on failed Constitution saves, or a triple-attack colossal peck that can knock Medium and Small targets prone and which deals more damage if it began its turn flying and then landed. Its Optional Magical Rules grant it a variety of abilities, such as the ability to let multiple Medium or smaller creatures mount it but reducing its fly speed, the ability to reduce the weight of objects and creatures it comes into contact with to dramatically increase its carrying capacity, and the ability to pick up and drop objects as a special attack.

Player-Facing: This is a great Polymorph option all around. Fly speed, advantage on two useful skills under a broad variety of circumstances, and multi-target and multi-attack abilities. As the Optional Magical Rules don’t change its CR, shapechangers are most likely going to use the Quetzalcoatlus form as a long-duration aerial transport, making it easy for ranged PCs to kite enemies while keeping out of reach. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Rhamphorhynchus is a very small pterosaur whose fossils have been found in abundance across various famous sites, making it one of the more well-known creatures of its type. Its teeth were formed to act as a “fish trap” for feeding, and primarily lived among tropical coasts to hunt creatures near the shore. It’s believed that they congregated in groups, but the parents moved on shortly after their young hatched.

Rhamphorhynchus is a Tiny or Small CR ⅛ dinosaur, where it can use its reaction to increase its AC by 3 against opportunity attacks or gain advantage on Dexterity saving throws. Upon death it violently vomits up the contents of its stomach to deal acid damage to adjacent targets who fail a Dexterity save. Its meager offense is a bite attack, and its Optional Magical Rule lets it swallow a small item on a target’s person whenever it hits with a bite attack, with a Dexterity save to resist. Magical items swallowed may alter its damage type based on DM discretion, and items that can heal provide it temporary hit points. There’s also another stat block for a Swarm of them, being CR 1 and generally stronger, but have disadvantage on Wisdom saves and it can activate its acid-dealing vomit attack multiple times based on its current hit points.

Player-Facing: Like so many other low-CR creatures with a flying speed, there are better options available. It’s not very useful as a swarm option with Conjure Animals, being upshone by other such dinosaurs in this book with more useful unique abilities. It cannot be affected by Animal Friendship.


Scelidosaurus is an armored dinosaur related to ankylosaurs and stegosaurs, protected by dense layers of osteoderms. It is an herbivore who likely protected itself from predators with its natural defenses and bladed tail, although it’s believed that said tail was used to also fight others of its kind. The book suggests that they could be easily domesticated herd animals, won over by offers of food.

Scelidosaurus is a CR 1 Medium dinosaur, and it has incredibly high defenses: 18 Armor Class and resistance to non-magical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. Furthermore, any creature who attacks it in melee takes 1d6 slashing damage automatically, and the dinosaur can spend a reaction to change the damage dice to 2d4 instead. Its hit points are quite sturdy at 31, and its tail is a decent but not too strong 1d6+3 slashing damage. Its main weakness is its slow speed at 25 feet, its -2 modifier on Dexterity saves, and the fact it automatically fails Intelligence saving throws. Its Optional Magical Rule doesn’t alter its CR, and is more of a role-play thing where those who feed it regularly for 1d4+1 days can earn its friendship.

Player-Facing: This is an amazing option for Wild Shape. Its Armor Class is equivalent to plate mail, it has a built-in free counterattack for melee, and it has effective double hit points against non-magical damage sources. This makes the tanky potential of a Moon Druid even better. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Sharovipteryx is a Tiny dinosaur with an extremely long tail and a gliding membrane connected to its hindlimbs. No other vertebrates are known to have such membranes in this location, which resulted in a lot of speculation as to the effectiveness of its gliding capabilities. As its fossil was damaged during removal, some of its anatomy remains unknown but there is a popular consensus that it had a “stabilizing membrane” on its forelimbs to control its flight. Sharovipteryx lived in forests, darting between trees and likely feeding on insects.

It is a CR 0 dinosaur, and its sole offensive feature is a gliding snap it can only use while descending or flying for its magical variant. Its gliding membrane lets it glide, grants immunity to falling damage, and lets it avoid opportunity attacks when moving in such a manner. Its Optional Magical Rule lets it be chosen as a familiar, and once per day as an action it can transform into a Damselfly Popteryx* for 1 minute, reducing its size to Miniscule but granting it a fly speed and 17 AC (12 default).

Presumably it’s this animal? A Google search doesn’t turn up any exact word matches.

Player-Facing: The fact that it cannot actually fly (it does have a climbing speed) means it can be taken as a Wild Shape option as soon as the Druid gains such a class feature. It has a decent Perception and Stealth, which combined with its climbing speed and glide makes it quite mobile. The Sharovipteryx is a decent choice for a non-offensive wildshape at low levels. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Tanystropheus is a dinosaur known for having one of the disproportionately-longest necks relative to the rest of its body…and it’s not a sauropod, but protorosaurian! While its teeth have the classic “fish trap” makeup, how it lived and survived is still under debate, and its strong hind limbs indicated it could swim like a frog.

Tanystropheus is a Medium CR ½ dinosaur, being able to hold its breath for 5 minutes and has advantage on attacks against creatures submerged in water…provided the dinosaur itself isn’t in water. It is fond of striking while in hiding, using the reach of its neck to get prey from hiding spots, which grants its first attack bonus damage when it strikes while hidden. Its main method of offense is a Multiattack bite and a neck strike that can knock a creature prone. Oddly it doesn’t have a swim speed. Tanystropheus’ Optional Magical Rule increases its CR to 2, its hit points from 18 to 58, and like a hydra it can grow an additional head (and thus attack) beyond its base 2 to a maximum of 6 each time it takes damage.

Player-Facing: When it comes to CR ½ animals, the Tanystropheus is competing with crocodiles and apes. The dinosaur’s hit points and Armor Class are 1 less at 18 and 11, and it deals slightly less damage than the ape even should it manage to strike while hidden. It is slightly faster than the crocodile while on land (25 feet) but slower than the ape at 30 feet. Due to this, the tanystropheus is an unattractive middleman, passed up by either of those better options. The CR 2 version is much better, particularly when combined with damage-stacking buffs such as Enlarge. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.


Utahraptor is a dromaeosaurid, sharing the same genus as the world-famous velociraptor. The utahraptor is possibly the largest known creature of this type, and its fossils are notable for having nine examples of various ages found in a single block of sandstone. It was likely that they died from quicksand, possibly in a familial group or when trying to catch prey similarly trapped. Due to this, it is believed that utahraptors were pack hunters in large family groups, but the book notes this could be a coincidence such as the fossils being buried in a flash flood.

The utahraptor is a CR 4 Large dinosaur, being a highly-mobile predator who can jump up to 30 feet (doesn’t mention if this is a long jump, high jump, or both) and takes half damage from falling, and it can Multiattack with a bite and clawed kick attack, the latter of which automatically grapples smaller creatures it hits and same or larger sizes if it hits twice with such a kick. It gains buffs when attacking while hidden, mostly increased to-hit, damage, and knocking prone Medium and smaller opponents. It also has darkvision of 60 feet and grants advantage on Perception and Survival checks to all utahraptors of its pack if they’re hunting the same creature, making them excellent hunters. Their Optional Magical Rule doesn’t change their CR but lets them imitate any sound it’s heard like a parrot.

Player-Facing: The utahraptor is a sturdy CR 4 monster, with 15 AC and 88 hit points. While it doesn’t hit as hard as a mammoth or stegosaurus, it can deal comparable damage to the latter if it strikes from stealth along with the ability to impose the grappled or prone conditions. Its ability to leap vast distances along with a faster movement speed at 50 feet makes it able to keep up with quite the number of creatures. Sadly its skill advantages only work with other utahraptors, limiting its ability to be used by party members unless multiple people have Polymorph or are Moon Druids. It cannot be affected by Animal Friendship.


Velociraptor is one of the most well-known dinosaurs thanks in part to Hollywood blockbusters like Jurassic Park. Although its fossils are well-preserved, its pop culture interpretations differ widely from how the dinosaur actually looked and lived. For one, it had feathers, was smaller than a human at Small size, and while not necessarily solitary it didn’t hunt in packs by default. The book does note that the conception of the dinosaur in Jurassic Park was due to the science at the time considering Velociraptors to be possibly Deinonychus, which the writer of the original Jurassic Park book presumed to be the case and wrote them as such.

The velociraptor, as Dr. Dhrolin’s Dictionary of Dinosaurs portrays it, is a predator hunter that pins prey and bites at them, causing death by eventual blood loss as opposed to ripping out chunks of flesh with teeth and claws. The dinosaur most likely hunted alone or in pairs, and its wings were probably used to communicate with each other and also spread out to hide dead prey from other predators.

It is a Small CR ½ creature, capable of leaping 15 feet from a standing position while also being immune to fall damage unless incapacitated, in which case it would take half damage instead. It attacks twice with a bite and clawed kick attack, and it can grasp onto targets the same size or larger than itself when it hits with a kick, similar to the Garjainia. The velociraptor also has great scouting skills, with 60 foot darkvision and Perception, Stealth, and Survival each at +6 and automatically succeeds on any Stealth checks relying entirely upon sound. Its Optional Magical Rules don’t change its CR, where a related family unit has distinct dazzling feathers unique to that family, and as an action can target an enemy within 30 feet who must make a Dexterity save or take psychic damage. Other damage types are possible based on DM discretion.

Player-Facing: The velociraptor is a bit weak in terms of hit points for a CR ½ creature, sitting at 15. Its two attacks can potentially deal 13 damage together, albeit its to-hit bonus is surprisingly low at +4 to hit in spite of its high Dexterity. It does make for a good scout on account of its situational auto-success for Stealth, and for Conjure Animals their ability to grasp onto creatures and reduce their movement speed is a pretty good means of battlefield control.


Young Tyrannosaurus is not a new unique dinosaur, but a juvenile version of perhaps the most famous one out there. The reason it has its own stat block is that fossils indicate that the T-Rex underwent drastic changes through its life stages, with the book comparing the differences between a tadpole and fully-grown frog. As tyrannosaurs aged, they underwent changes in appearance such as growing horns and frills, elaborate feathers, and bones fusing together among many other differences. One such fossil discovered was initially believed to be a new dinosaur, and was built to be more elongated with a thinner build. Juvenile T-Rexes were likely lone hunters, focusing more on speed and grace vs sheer strength in taking down prey. In comparison to adults, they would’ve hunted different food and thus didn’t have to compete with each other as much for sustenance.

The Young Tyrannosaurus is a Large CR 5 dinosaur, which primarily fights with a bite attack that can grapple Medium or smaller targets. It can also Dash or make a tail attack as a bonus action, the latter of which cannot target a creature it is grappling. Due to being young it has a total -3 modifier to Wisdom saves. Its Optional Magical Rule doesn’t alter its CR but the book notes it does add more powerful creatures, where once reduced to 0 hit points it lets out a cry, summoning two adult Tyrannosaurus Rexes one minute later which are preceded by loud roars. The adults focus on attacking whoever knocked out or killed the juvenile. They will not be summoned if at least one adult is already present in the encounter.

Player-Facing: The young t-rex is competing with the brontosaurus, giant crocodile, and triceratops for options of its Challenge Rating. It has more hit points than the latter two at 107, but its AC is 13 and puts it below the brontosaurus in that regard. It is faster than any of the others on account of its 50 foot movement speed plus bonus action Dash. While it cannot attack the same target with it, the t-rex’s bite and tail can do a total of 40 damage together, slightly more than the giant croc’s 35 or brontosaurus’ 32, albeit the triceratops can do 46 with a gore and stomp combo. The magical variant strongly implies the summoned t-rexes to be its parents, so it’s unlikely that a DM will approve it for a Wild Shape or Polymorphed PC to say nothing of balance issues. Overall I’d say that it’s a decent option. It cannot be affected by Animal Friendship.


Zuul is a relative of the Ankylosaurus and is actually named after a monster in Ghostbusters. Much like the ankylosaurus it is a slow-moving herbivore, protected by osteoderms and has a clubbed tail which it can use to attack. It lived in forests, and the discovery of a preserved larynx in another ankylosaur (pinacosaurus) indicates that the group has more in common with modern birds. This likely means that they were capable of producing high-pitched, even melodic, sounds. Zuul are not aggressive animals and will try to scare off possible attackers by slamming the ground loudly with its tail.

Zuul is a Large CR 5 dinosaur, and has the best Armor Class in the book at 20. It also has resistance to non-magical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage along with advantage on Strength and Constitution saves. This comes at the expense of mobility, where it has disadvantage on Dexterity saves and a massive -10 modifier to Acrobatics and -8 to Athletics, all but guaranteeing it losing opposed shove and grapple attempts along with general mobility calling for such checks. It uses its clubbed tail to attack, which in addition to damage can knock a creature prone, and such prone creatures must make a Constitution save or have their movement reduced by 10 feet due to a “shattering blow.” Such blows are healed by long rests or lesser restoration or greater healing magic, and are cumulative in terms of speed reduction. Its Optional Magical Rule increases its CR to 7, granting it an increased reach of 15 feet (5 feet base) for its tail attack that instead deals necrotic damage. Additionally once per day it can summon an interdimensional portal as an action which has a d20 table of random effects ranging from an AoE aura dealing necrotic damage automatically, dealing less damage but can be triggered as a bonus action or imposes vulnerability to necrotic damage. The portal can either close or stabilize for a limited time should the zuul perish, potentially granting passage to another plane of existence.

Player-Facing: At 20 AC and with non-magical damage resistance, the Zuul is perhaps the hardiest CR 5 option for shapechangers, and its default 72 hit points is pretty good even for those who can overcome such resistance. The cumulative speed reduction can be a potential means of reducing enemy movement as a means of battlefield control, although the creature’s slow speed plus the ease at which it can be grappled or shoved mean that enemies will have an easy time locking it down. Otherwise the tail isn’t particularly damaging in comparison to other options. As for the CR 7 version, an AoE necrotic energy attack can be nifty, but being only used once per day makes the zuul a rather weak and situational option. It can be affected by Animal Friendship.

Thoughts So Far: I’m quite fond of a lot of these later dinosaurs, both in concept and special abilities. There’s quite a number of creatures with interesting mobility or battlefield control such as the nyctosaurus’ magical darkness, the quetzalcoatlus’ mundane prone-inducing effects plus the ability to lift and drop objects with gravity magic, the rhamphorhynchus’ vomit explosions, the velociraptor’s grasp, and the zuul’s shattering blows. A few of the options are quite potent for shapechanging and summoning, particularly the scelidosaurus which any optimizer worth their salt is going to prioritize, but they’re not necessarily the norm in this section.

Join us next time as we cover Pledger’s Custom Dinosaurs and Mesozoic Reptiles In Your Worlds!
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I'm in awe of the art alone. When I was little I learned to read harder words by practicing with dinosaur names. I've always, always been just fascinated by these beasts. I gotta get this book.


Also one of the last paragraph mentions vomit explosions. I'll use that creature all the time with that ability, lol. Yes I am 5 years old inside.


Mosasaurus is an oceanic aquatic predator that was an air-breather yet could hold its breath for a long time.
Like every single TV show has them just. Jumping out of the water. Its a bit of a meme. So people went silly with the meme.

Nyctosaurus is a Small pterosaur whose wings were incredibly lengthy in comparison to the rest of its body, and its only known habitation was a shallow stretch of sea in the Late Cretaceous-era Niobrara Formation.
One of the closest relatives of pteranadon. Also notably one of the very few pterosaurs who just, don't have hands. Just, completely lost all of the hand except for the little finger, which serves for the wing. Unlike Quetzal or Hatzeg, Nyctosaurus would have been pretty useless on the ground

We don't have a Prehistoric Planet scene with Nycto, but its close relative Barbaridactylus got a showing

Quetzalcoatlus is one of the largest known flying animals, with the book mentioning “it stood tall enough to look a Tyrannosaurus in the eye.”
Quetzy is huge. Like, the height of a giraffe height for one of the species. Taller than Tyrannosaurus tall.

Sharovipteryx is a Tiny dinosaur with an extremely long tail and a gliding membrane connected to its hindlimbs.
Another of those weirdos, Sharovipteryx and Tanystropheus aren't dinosaurs but they're both random archosaurs, making them equally either as close to crocs or dinosaurs. Basically split off after lizards and turtles went their own way, but before dinosaurs and crocodiles. Other possible weirdos in their side family are the Drepanosaurs and possibly everyone's favourite nonsense reptile Longisquama, just this. Tiny nonsense creature we have enough fossil to give us some ideas but not enough

Anyway basically all three of them are the favourites of people who insist that birds aren't dinosaurs so any time they come up, drama magnets

Young Tyrannosaurus is not a new unique dinosaur, but a juvenile version of perhaps the most famous one out there.
This is what happened to Nanotyrannus if you've ever heard of that one. There's still a few holdouts insisting that its a seperate species, but most folks agree that it was a young rex still growing to its adult proportions. Which has interesting questions about rex's lifestyle as its implied they fulfilled different predatory niches throughout their life



I’ve been taking it slow on Christmas and the upcoming New Year’s, so this post may be shorter than others. But progress is progress!

This chapter covers dinosaurs created or requested by people who backed a certain Kickstarter tier. Four out of six are real dinosaurs, while two are unique spinosauruses altered by magical energy.


Ancient Tyrannosaurus is a hypothesized maximum size to which a t-rex can grow based on recent studies challenging prior understandings of the largest sizes for land carnivores. Since only a miniscule amount of total life forms have been preserved as fossils, there could be all sorts of animals that existed with features otherwise thought impossible for their biology and ecology. The book brings up an example of Meraxes, a dinosaur that lived a lot longer than other predators at the time, and how predators larger than the tyrannosaurus such as the giganotosaurus were recently discovered in the 1990s.

Ancient Tyrannosaurus Rex is a CR 13 Huge or Gargantuan dinosaur, which is basically like the base monster but more powerful across the board. It has additional special abilities such as advantage on attacks with its bite against Huge and Gargantuan creatures, imposing the frightened condition on non-Tyrannosaurus beasts (no save, others have to make a save once per minute), and Legendary Resistance and a Legendary Action which can be used to make a Lunging Head Bash attack. Ancient T-Rex primarily fights with a multiattack Strongest Bite that deals piercing as well as force damage while also grappling, and an AoE-based tail slam that can knock creatures prone. Finally it has an AoE bellow that deals psychic damage and imposes the Frightened condition. Its Optional Magical Rules don’t alter its CR and are more for flavor, such as granting it sapience, can speak languages, and also has advantage on Wisdom save.

Player-Facing: I’m of two minds when it comes to this entry. It reads much more like a unique creature, so in that case it wouldn’t be a viable Polymorph option. But as a CR 13 option, it can thus only be compared to other dinosaurs in this book. Ironically it is perhaps one of the most mentally resilient dinosaurs with a Wisdom save of +8. Its bite attack dealing force damage is great because it’s guaranteed to ignore resistance and immunity on that front in all but a few edge cases. The ability to knock prone and then grapple a target via a tail and bite multiattack is a great means of immobilizing enemies: prone requires half movement to stand up, and your speed is 0 while grappled. It is rather slow at 35 feet so one would have to be close to enemies in order to use the form. Ironically the Deinosuchus is much more sturdy given its universal damage resistance, albeit the Ancient T-Rex can potentially deal more damage per round if its multiattacks all hit.


Big Al is a unique subadult allosaurus whose fossils were found in Wyoming. Examination revealed her to have lived with a variety of debilitating conditions, from various broken bones to infected body parts. Although she was able to live on for some time, she was likely in pain much of her life.

Big Al is a Large CR 4 dinosaur, and is in fact stronger than the default allosaurus stat block found in the core rules. Comparatively speaking she has more hit points (90 vs 51), and cannot Pounce but she can multiattack with bite and claws which deal less average damage than a regular allosaurus. Big Al’s sorry state gives her several unique abilities such as resistance to necrotic damage, risks knocking herself prone and dealing damage each time she moves per round,* and the first Animal Handling check made against her each day auto-succeeds if food is offered as part of the attempt. Optional Magical Rules causes orchestral music to play while in combat or each time she awakens each day and only the PCs can hear it, and she doesn’t take lethal damage from any source besides her own tripping clumsiness. The book suggests removing the clumsy and subadult abilities (lower Wisdom and disadvantage on checks and saves for that stat) if Big Al becomes a recurring character in the campaign.

*I presume that this is only in combat, because otherwise she would’ve died long ago due to how probability works.


Carnotaurus bears a pair of horns on its brow, much like a bull. Like a cheetah its anatomy was optimized for short bursts of high speeds, and is believed to have hunted mostly in the forests or open plains. Its horns were primarily meant to be used against other carnoturuses rather than against prey.

The dinosaur is a Large or Huge CR 4 creature, with an average +2 Perception bonus that jumps to a massive +12 modifier for checks pertaining to smell, can Dash as a bonus action the first round in combat, has advantage on Survival checks to hunt prey, and multiattacks with two bites and a horn gore that can knock a creature prone. All carnotaurs treat others of their species as allies, and its Optional Magical Rules don’t alter its CR and are more for flavor: local people approach sleeping carnotauruses when they’re sleeping and adorn them with headdresses often adorned with expensive gemstones and silks. The dinosaur is unable to remove this offering due to its stubby arms, and those who steal the headwear from it can be automatically tracked by the dinosaur.

Player-Facing: With 110 hit points, 14 AC, and a 50 foot movement speed, the carnotaurus is sturdy for a CR 4 creature. Its offensive capabilities are quite pitiful, however. The most use one can use for it as a shapechanging option is taking advantage of its supersmell and tracking others, or for PCs to mount the character as they charge into combat. But since there are other spells and abilities that can do similar tactics, this is kind of a gimmick option.


Dilophosaurus is a theropod that was originally believed to be a weak scavenger, but recent research points to it as a predator whose strong legs and bite helped it tackle and overcome prey. It lived in arid environments and fed on a wide variety of animals. In the Jurassic Park series the dilophosaurus has been portrayed as having a frill and spitting venom while also being small and delicate, all of which is entirely fictional.

The dilophosaurus is a Large CR 3 dinosaur with a speedy 60 foot movement and an equally graceful advantage on all Dexterity saves. The first time it would be reduced to 0 hit points, it is reduced to 1 hit point instead. As a bonus action it can grant itself advantage on Intimidation checks for 1 minute by flushing its crests with blood or grappling a target. It can either multiattack with a bite that can disarm foes along with claws it can’t use while grappling, or make a single AoE cone neck sweep. Its Optional Magical Feature increases its CR to 4, reflecting its inborn hatred for beings who believe that it spits venom. This grants it immunity to poison and acid damage, and all ranged attacks against it suffer disadvantage.

Player-Facing: The dilophosaurus is both large and fast enough to effectively act as a horse or mount. It can deal roughly equivalent damage as an ankylosaurus if both of its multiattacks hit, and disarming a foe of their held item can be good in the right situation. Even beyond its 78 hit points and 14 AC, the once per day ability to not drop unconscious at 0 hit points is very useful. Overall a pretty good shapechanging option.


Wretchglow, the Last Light may sound like the name for a Dark Souls boss, but it is in fact a spinosaurus whose form was warped by magic and has various undersea creatures infesting its body, turning it into a hybrid animal that lives in deep water caverns. So not far off from a Dark Souls boss.

Wretchglow is a Huge CR 10 dinosaur, and being far more intelligent than the typical animal it is capable of adopting advanced tactics. It is fast both on water and on land and has exceptional senses like 120 foot darkvision, 18 passive Perception, and 10 foot blindsight when in water. Its primary means of offense includes a multiattack grappling bite and claw attack that can move opponents much like a regular spinosaurus, but it also has a rechargeable attack where it emits a flashing light as an AoE that can blind foes for 2 rounds if they fail Dexterity saves. Finally, it can take 2 Legendary Actions each turn, choosing from a strobe light that can impose disadvantage on attack rolls and possibly the stunned condition, can detect up to 4 creatures in the water within 60 feet, or create a visual illusion taking a form designed to trick and lure people.


Xu’thul, the Prismatic Terror is our second unique spinosaurus whose magical alteration comes from accidentally ingesting minerals from eating fish found in underground bodies of water. The crystals grew through its body in a most painful manner, some sticking out of its flesh and causing Xu’thul to remain in a state of perpetual ill-temperedness.

Xu’thul is a Huge CR 12 dinosaur, having the bite and claw of a spinosaurus but the former deals some additional force damage. Its rechargeable ability is an AoE blast that deals lightning and force damage, and as a reaction it can gain immunity to one damage type from a broad list of non-physical types. At the start of its turn it can surge, choosing from one of four abilities such as advantage on Strength checks and saves or a short-range AoE lightning blast. It can take 2 Legendary Actions each turn, choosing from an AoE breath weapon of slashing crystals, gaining immunity to one damage type on top of its reaction-based ability, and can create an aura of bright light that deals radiant damage to those close to it.


This chapter contains 5 new sections for enhancing the bestiary options in one’s campaign. The first section is Behavior, covering random attitudes for carnivores and herbivores (omnivores let the DM pick either table). As most animals, dinosaurs included, won’t fight to the death in most circumstances and have various means of dealing with threats, Behavior is meant to provide options to let dinosaurs act in a more realistic manner when in combat.

Mutation Tables is the next section, covering mundane and magical alterations to a creature’s physiology. Minor and Major Mutations are respective d100 and d20 tables that grant a single ability along with a common physical description in how the creature differs from others of its kind. As such additions are more an art than a science, the book recommends changing the CR of such a creature anywhere from 0 to 1 for Minor Mutations and 2 to 3 for Major Mutations if the options would make it more dangerous than it usually would be in the given circumstances. The tables also provide the environments in which such mutations would most likely occur. We have a lot of possibilities, with the Minor Mutations ranging from a stem cell reservoir (recover up to ⅓ total hit points once per day as an action), scales fused into a horn (bonus action horn attack when moving at least 20 feet), gelatinous saliva (attacks involving the mouth reduce a target’s movement speed by 10 feet), symbiotic spores (creatures within 10 feet take necrotic damage at the start of the mutated creature’s turn), and seismic organs (gains 30 foot tremorsense). The Major Mutations include such options as being an evolutionary pinnacle (add proficiency bonus to all saving throws, including ones they’re already proficient), draconic evolution (gain a rechargeable fire breath weapon), enhanced senses (advantage on Perception and gains +4 to passive Perception*), chameleonic skin (cast invisibility on self a number of times per day equal to proficiency bonus), and elemental immunity (immune to one of the common elemental damage types and adds +2d4 of that type to its attacks).

*Shouldn’t that be +5?

Creature Naming Tables is a list of tables for generating prefixes, suffixes, and verbs to provide alternative names for animals. This is to reflect the fact that many fantasy worlds have more descriptive or flowery terms for monsters, and the Latin-sounding mouthfuls of real-world dinosaur names may not be appropriate for all campaigns.

One could get some rather creative results, such as the Whip Stomached Charger, the Blade Ringed Reaper, or the Screaming Crested Roamer. Personally speaking these combinations become a bit too predictable while also not being entirely appropriate for the dinosaur in question. I do like what Eberron and Planegea does for dinosaurs, just coming up with evocative descriptors that are two words like Swordtooth Titan for a tyrannosaurus in Eberron or the Tentwing for a pterodactyl in Planegea. Both of these names are short, to the point, and make perfect sense for the dinosaurs chosen for the titles rather than being randomly generated.

Taming and Domestication is a new short sub-system. Basically each Beast has a Taming Score, and wild creatures start at 0 and need to have it increased in order to be tamed. The Beast must first be restricted in movement in some manner, such as being tied to a post or put in a cage or enclosure. A character can attempt a contested Animal Handling vs the Beast’s Survival check once per day, and the tamer requires food based on both the Beast’s size category and diet. Success increases the Taming Score by 1, but failure decreases it and causes the Beast to make a single attack at disadvantage against the Tamer. When a Taming Score exceeds the Beast’s Challenge Rating or Proficiency Bonus (whichever is higher), it is tamed. Tamed creatures become loyal to its tamer(s). Beyond Animal Handling there are other means of increasing a Taming Score, such as using enchantment magic and Speak with Animals to impose advantage/disadvantage/auto-success on checks.

Domestication is a far more involved process and is more or less worldbuilding-based DM Fiat. It is a multi-generational process of human involvement in the development and breeding of animals to serve particular niches. The book talks about using this for the dinosaurs in the book and applications to game worlds. For example, microraptors may have been used for pest control much like cats were, while paralititans may have served mounted cavalry like war elephants. The book notes that domesticated animals tend to have visually distinct differences from wild animals and aren’t as dangerous in combat (barring ones trained for it), and to not use the Behavior table as those are appropriate for wild animals.

Howdahs are the final section, a new type of equipment for dinosaurs and other extremely large creatures in fantasy worlds. The book mentions that sauropods in particular are useful for such a device. Generally speaking, a howdah is a mobile platform whose cost and build time depends on the size category of the creature meant to carry it, whether they are pre-built or customized, and how many Amenities they have. Howdahs can have Amenities added to it based on size (2-4) which are basically unique accessories granting various benefits. We have 12 such choices, such as a Watchtower Crown (sauropod only) that lets a humanoid perched up there see up to many miles away; a Mounted Harpoon Launcher that is basically a siege weapon that can damage a creature, reduce its speed, and reel it in; Secure Storage consisting of various locked crates and chests with DC 20 checks to pick at minimum; or a Portal Nexus that lets one cast the Sending Spell an unlimited number of times with anyone else with a similar device, and once per day can create a portal to another nexus but requires expensive magical components of at least 250 gold.

Thoughts So Far: Of the pledge-based dinosaurs, my favorite was the Ancient T-Rex and Wretchglow. What can I say, I’m a sucker for big “boss monster” style dinosaurs. The others were fine, although I would’ve preferred more variety between Wretchglow and Xu’Thul in that they’re both magically-altered spinosauruses. But as these were personal requests by pledgers, I can’t fault the authors for this.

As for the world-building tools, I already have more than enough random tables in my RPG collection, so I gravitate more towards the taming and howdah rules. The taming rules are brief and rather subjective based on the needs of a campaign: larger creatures need a lot of food to tame, and as it’s consumed even on a failed check this can make the sub-system more of a risk with sacrifice if in a campaign where survival is paramount like Dark Sun or Planegea. Additionally, spellcasters of certain kinds are all but guaranteed to win over animals in this subsystem: Goodberries should be able to feed most herbivores up to Large size,* and anyone with Dominate Beast and enough food is going to tame a beast eventually barring some outside disaster. As the checks are done daily, campaigns which make use of downtime between (or during) adventures can be an easy means of letting a PC amass a small army of loyal beasts offscreen, while campaigns that are faster-paced will making taming a much weightier option in that valuable time is being sacrificed that the PCs can use doing other activities.

*The book to its credit alters the requirements based on size over time, so you can’t just say you dump a million berries down a sauropod’s throat or something like that.

As for the howdahs, I like the idea and as they’re quite pricey they give PCs something significant to spend their money on. However, some Amenities are more for flavor like a shrine that is just a place of worship, while something like a Mounted Harpoon Launcher or Portal Nexus has immediate and obvious benefits to a party.

Join us next time as we explore new playable races and NPC stat blocks in Sapient Species and Societies!

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