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


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.

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

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

The book talked about both of these things, but I didn't include them for reasons of space and choosing what to highlight. Got to leave some things for the readers to find on their own, after all!

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The book talked about both of these things, but I didn't include them for reasons of space and choosing what to highlight. Got to leave some things for the readers to find on their own, after all!
Completely fair! But, one very relevant video needs to be dropped about a certain someone...

Carnotaurus bears a pair of horns on its brow, much like a bull.
Carnotaurus is pretty famous. Showed up in Jurassic World, showed up in Disney's Dinosaur, pretty regular showing

But it was the carno's appearance in Prehistoric Planet that won our hearts.



This chapter creates a variety of humanoid dinosauroid creatures who have achieved sapience, using what the authors refer to as speculative biology to map out what processes dinosaurs would go through in order to attain a human-like anatomy. This section includes a new language known as Archosauric, which all of the races in this chapter speak and is considered the root language of Draconic and whatever languages bird-like creatures might speak in the setting.

One peculiar aspect that all races share are Tasha-like options to assign ability score increases to abilities of one’s choice. By default, some even have +3 to a single ability score rather than the +2/+1 that is the standard. They also have the option to trade in most of their racial abilities for a feat, which is presented as an optional rule. As they still retain some racial abilities when doing this, this more or less makes them better Variant Humans which is a pretty powerful to begin with.

Pluvenn are humanoid raptor-like people covered in feathers. They live in Bristlebush Vale, a region full of rural communities which resemble Edwardian-era Britain, and much of their daily living is spent doing idyllic “small town” activities. They are carnivores, so any plants they grow are done for purposes other than consumption. An important aspect of Pluvenn culture is embarking on hunts once or twice per month, where they unleash a much more violent side of themselves as they hunt and trap prey in such a way that horrifies many non-Pluvenn people.

Pluvenn mechanics include being either Small or Medium size, having +3 Dexterity, a natural bite attack, advantage on grapple and climbing checks, the ability to do damage to a grappled target as a bonus action, resistance to falling damage, Darkvision 60 feet, and only need 4 hours to complete a long rest.

Thoughts: Pluvenns have a massive bonus to one of the most valuable ability scores, and their natural weapon and grappling advantage strongly pushes them towards melee builds. They don’t have any abilities that would be useful for spellcasters or non-Dexterity characters in general, making them a bit limited in that regard.

The Manyhorn is a collective name for various ceratopsian humanoids who are part of a singular greater culture. Manyhorn economy and culture revolves around guilds which cover every aspect of society, and the guilds themselves are effectively extended family units whose members marry outside the guild to encourage genetic diversity. Un Grazook is a Manyhorn metropolis ruled by such guilds, which are arranged into neighborhoods and monopolize various aspects of trade. Un Grazook used to be a small village that housed people of different cultures, and clans fought against each other divided on racial lines. The younger generation eventually overthrew their elders after tiring of generations of war, giving rise to the guild system and bringing them all together under a single culture.

Manyhorn mechanics include being either Small or Medium size, +1 each to Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom, count as one size larger for carrying capacity, roll a d4 each time they enter a new town to gain a minor social benefit due to guild influence, are proficient in Intimidation and can use a bonus action to gain advantage on such checks for 1 minute, and when an enemy misses them in melee they can spend a reaction to counterattack with their horns that count as an unarmed attack but have a higher base damage die and add proficiency bonus to damage with them from level 10 onwards.

Thoughts: Manyhorn abilities are geared towards social builds and melee, although not gaining a bonus to Charisma feels a bit off for the former. Their natural weapon cannot be used by default and has to be triggered as a reaction, which prevents them from using it as a primary weapon like the Pluvenn or other races. Advantage on Intimidation is unlimited-use, which is a pretty powerful ability, and while the guild connection ability is nice it’s nothing too drastic.

Jeholrak are small, stout dinosaurs covered in fur-like feathers. Their ancestral homeland is Mount Karao’kr which has a large city carved into its side. They live in a Machiavellian society where one’s status is fluid and dependent on wealth, which can rapidly change via complicated games of extortion, assassination, and sabotage. Their culture places high emphasis on passing oneself off as a wealthy, cultured individual, and they eagerly create and fund scholarly and artistic pursuits.

Their racial mechanics have them at Small size, gain +2 Charisma and +1 Dexterity, can Charm Person once per long rest that is actually hypnotic pheromones (and also cast Suggestion at 5th level this way), have advantage on Sleight of Hand and Animal Handling checks, can hide a small weapon or item on their person as a bonus action that needs to be found via Investigation, and can cast Animal Friendship a number of times per long rest equal to their Proficiency Bonus.

Thoughts: Charm Person and Suggestion are very useful spells, and while Animal Handling and Sleight of Hand are rather build-specific skills, having advantage on them is a pretty decent boost. In fact, a lot about the Jeholrak race is highly situational on specific character types rather than being useful on their own. They’d be most useful in campaigns that place higher emphasis on social intrigue, and wouldn’t be such an attractive option in others.

Ankylier are basically humanoid ankylosauruses who are your typical Proud Warrior Race who love metal and building things. They originate from Blazestone Gully, where they lend their services as mercenaries to the highest bidder and have an open-minded policy where any deity that favors war and martial might (and ones with domains complementary to these) is allowed to be worshiped.

As a race they are Medium, gain either +3 Constitution or +2 Constitution and +1 Strength, have a slow 25 foot walking speed, count as one size greater for carrying capacity, have a clubbed tail as a natural weapon that adds proficiency bonus to damage from level 10 onwards, are proficient in light and medium armor and smiths’ tools, can forego the benefits of a long rest to get a short rest instead and create any single weapon or medium armor if they have the resources to build one. Finally they can choose to either have +3 AC but can’t benefit from a Dexterity bonus to AC, or have an unarmoured AC of 17 that also doesn’t add Dexterity to it.

Thoughts: +3 AC alone makes this race optimal for most armored melee builds. Even one starting out with chainmail and a shield has a 21 base AC. Their clubbed tail doesn’t specify it as being unarmed like the earlier race’s natural weapon, so I don’t know if that’s an oversight or an intentional limitation. Their ability to build one piece of non-heavy armor for free can end up causing an “infinite money glitch” if abused, but can be a great way for an ankylier PC to start play with half plate. Sadly, they are kind of locked into being an armored melee character, as their abilities aren’t good for much else.

Limukin are small speedy dinosauric humanoids who live in tribal societies alongside rivers. Their belief systems incorporate honoring the land and worshiping their ancestors, and their governments have it so the eldest members of a tribe make decisions via a council.

As a race they are Small or Medium, gain +2 Dexterity and +1 Constitution, have advantage on Stealth and Survival checks in forested areas, can forage twice as much food in such areas in which they’re familiar, can once per long rest apply secreted toxins from their bodies onto a weapon which deals bonus poison damage and the poisoned condition, 60 foot darkvision, and resistance and advantage to poison damage and the poisoned condition.

Thoughts: Although limited-use, the ability to naturally create poison is a good means of getting a powerful condition to add onto attacks. The bonus damage isn’t anything to write home about (1d4 to 3d4 based on level), so the condition is more important. Being able to better resist such a common condition and damage type is also good, although their bonuses when in forests is a very situational ability. They are geared towards Dexterity and “sneaky” builds, but they’re easily shone up by other races.

Children of Seth are humanoid pterosaurs who live in nomadic clans and can travel far due to their natural flight speed. They tend towards occupations taking advantage of their mobility such as trading, and they have great memories which let them accumulate knowledge about the many places and people they visit on their travels. Clans gather together every few decades to hold long parties where they feast and share stories. In spite of their great memories they don’t have history in a formal sense, instead having series of tales that are meant more to impose some kind of lesson or commentary rather than a factual recounting of events.

As a race they are Medium, gain +2 Wisdom and +1 Strength, have a fly speed of 30 feet or 20 if they wear medium or heavy armor, are proficient in Athletics and always know the direction of north if they can see the sky, always know the value of any trade good just by looking at it, and are either proficient in two of the following or have expertise in one instead: Arcana, History, or Religion. Unlike the other races they have 2 bonus languages on top of Common and Archosauric (Manyhorn have only one such bonus language).

Thoughts: Flying is the most powerful racial ability one can have, and unlike the flying of core races they can still fly when wearing armor heavier than light. This makes the Children of Seth a strong option for just about any build, including oddly melee characters given their Strength bonus and Athletics proficiency. Otherwise the rest of their abilities are more situational, albeit the skill proficiencies/expertise can make the PC a scholar in certain fields.


NPCs include new stat blocks for each of the new races, reflecting common societal roles. For example, the Pluvenn include Villager (basically a commoner that is good at grappling and have some skill proficiencies), Flowertender (low-level druid), and Huntleader (Ranger with a Hunter’s Mark like effective and a wrist-bound crossbow or grappling hook as ranged weapons). Some of the more interesting NPCs include the Manyhorn Guild Elder (Bard spells plus the ability to grant allies an additional additional action and movement), Jeholrak Politician (Charisma skill focused NPC who can use Mass Suggestion on top of the innate racial spells), Ankylier Enchanter (Cleric style spellcaster whose abilities are themed around noncombatat stuff like enchanting weapons or armor with either +1d6 damage or resistance to one damage type respectively),* Limukin Champion (heavy-armored melee fighter who exudes an AoE poisonous aura, can use a grappling rope for three-dimensional movement and as a weapon, and resistance to non-magical physical damage while in combat), and a Child of Seth Trader (have one magic item they wish to sell, advantage on Persuasion when haggling, and cause coins to scatter on the ground whenever they attack in melee).

*an enchantment can be made permanent but only one such permanent buff can exist for the Enchanter at any one time.

Thoughts: I really don’t have much to say about the NPCs. They are nifty stat blocks reflective of important roles within the cultures of the new races, and are quite simple and geared towards one set of tactics or style.


The final chapter of this book provides us with new subclasses, backgrounds, and feats.

Big Game Hunter Ranger is our first such subclass, specialized in not fighting specific creature types so much as creature sizes. They’re unique among subclasses in that taking it imposes restrictions as well as additions: they lose proficiency with all melee weapons and gain proficiency with all ranged weapons, including ones like improvised thrown weapons and firearms. They also replace their Favored Enemy progression covering Large, Huge, and then Gargantuan creatures and can learn one language associated with creatures of those sizes they have slain up to a maximum of three times.

Okay, so what do they gain initially at 3rd level? Well a number of times per short or long rest equal to their proficiency bonus they can turn any successful ranged attack against a Large or larger creature into a bolas attack, reducing their speed to 0 instead of dealing damage and basically imposes the Restrained condition that requires a Strength check made as a bonus action to escape.* At 5th level the Big Game Hunter gains Special Shots which are also proficiency bonus based for determining total uses, albeit recharge at a long rest. They can either add +5 to an attack roll, reduce the cover of a target, or instead deal max damage if they hit. At 7th level they gain temporary hit points whenever they kill a Favored Enemy, and add double their proficiency bonus to the DC of those escaping their Bolas. At 11th they can attack three times total with Extra Attack and add double their proficiency bonus to Special Shot uses. At 15th level they have advantage on attacks against favored enemies, know how many hit points they have, and while tracking them they don’t need to eat or sleep. Their 17th level capstone lets them once per long rest choose a Favored Enemy that is basically Power Word Kill but requires a ranged attack roll and for the hunter to say a quip or one-liner in order to work.

*As such actions aren’t universal, this isn’t such a drawback or sacrifice in action economy for a lot of big monsters.

Thoughts: First off, you might notice that the per-level subclass gains don’t match up with those of a typical Ranger, gaining features at 5th and 17th levels as well. As for its overall viability as a subclass, it’s heavily reliant on what monsters the PCs encounter in a campaign. The bolas ability is pretty useful in imposing a powerful condition albeit relatively easy to escape, and doubling proficiency bonus for DC is good on account that some big monsters have very impressive Strength modifiers. The Big Game Hunter’s ability to spend a Special Shot to deal maximum damage on a ranged attack can open them up to some interesting builds. As the text states that this is with a ranged attack and not a ranged weapon attack, this can work nicely with some multiclass builds making use of powerful ranged spells. Hello Eldritch Blast!

Bonesculptor Artificers are magical craftspeople who build items from the bodies of dead creatures. At 3rd level they gain proficiency in heavy armor, leatherworker’s tools, smith’s tools, advantage on Medicine checks, learn the Spare the Dying cantrip, and gain bonus spells of a necrotic nature as they level up such as Gentle Repose and Death Ward. We get one table each for determining resources gained from dead bodies as well as what items can be built with those resources. At 4th level they gain proficiency with one weapon of their choice and can substitute their Intelligence modifier for attack and damage rolls with weapons they personally built. At 5th level items they build benefit from a +1 enhancement bonus (+2 at 9th and +3 at 15th), and during a long rest can spend resources to build an undead companion known as a Construct of Flesh. The Construct has one of five special abilities, such as being sturdy with higher AC and more hit points, a flying speed, or darkvision and advantage on Stealth and Perception checks. Their default attack type is also variable with four options, such as a spit attack that deals acid and necrotic damage or a gore attack that can knock a target prone. At 9th level they gain another weapon proficiency and can choose two abilities for their Construct which can also now Multiattack. Their 15th level capstone lets them physically meld a weapon they crafted into their body and cannot be removed against their will, and their Construct gains additional stat increases along with a second attack.

Thoughts: As the harvesting and crafting table only involves common non-magical stuff like bones, chitin, and skin as opposed to rare magical resources, the Bonesculptor doesn’t have to worry about having their class features gated behind some MacGuffin. As they can effectively craft magic weapons and armor with enhancement bonuses, they can really increase the effectiveness of parties in which they’re a part. And once again, their ability to make functional gear from corpses can be a good generation of gold as well as the ability to get them good armor for cheap.

As for their Construct companion, it has to be compared to the Battle Smith’s Steel Defender. The Bonesculptor’s construct starts out with a lot more hit points (30 plus twice their level) but peters off in comparison to the Steel Defender’s (2 + Intelligence modifier + 5 times artificer level) around middle levels before exceeding it by leaps and bounds again by 15th level. As it only specifies “level” and not class level, this makes the Bonesculptor good for multiclass dips. The Construct is suitable for a wider variety of things, such as gaining other movement modes like flight which can be useful for scouting. Artificers with this subclass aren’t as good physical fighters as Battle Smiths due to their lack of Extra Attack, and their Intelligence substitute only works with personally-crafted weapons vs all weapons. Once again this subclass grants additional features beyond the typical subclass levels, being at 4th.


Circle of Cycles Druid represents druids who pay homage to time as a natural force, looking towards the seasons and heavens in order to discern the past and future. At 2nd level they learn the Guidance cantrip, can add from a list of features to add to their Wild Shape forms representing evolutionary changes (can select 2 to 3 additional features at higher levels), can change the damage type of their melee attacks to necrotic, and age at half the normal rate which stacks with Timeless Body at 18th level. At 3rd and higher levels their bonus spells focus heavily on divination such as Augury, Tongues, and Legend Lore. However, they also learn a new 2nd level spell known as Evolution/Devolution, a buff/debuff spell that is touch range and concentration for up to 10 minutes, granting a change to a creature’s stat block (Wisdom save resists) from a list of features such as altering movement speed up to 20 feet, gaining/losing darkvision by 60 foot increments, or changing an attack’s damage type. At 5th level the druid can spend an action once per long rest to cause heavenly events to transpire in the sky, ranging from a list of battlefield control and zodiac-sign style buffs such as letting allies within 15 feet reroll a natural one for certain attack rolls once per turn, or shrouding an outside area up to 10 miles in non-magical darkness (or provide natural light for the same area) for 10 minutes. At 6th level they can go into hibernation which is basically a state of suspended animation making them immune to a bunch of things for a minimum of 24 hours, while also having advantage on Dexterity saves persistently and can spend reaction to grant an ally they can see advantage on such a save. At 10th level they have a very DM Fiat power where during hibernation they can learn details about the past provided said details were common knowledge at some point in time, and can also learn about the future in the same way if they and their party were absent for the rest of their lifetimes. At 14th level their Evolution/Devolution changes become permanent until the next long rest or are cast again, provided they concentrate on the spell for 10 minutes. Their 17th level capstone grants them advantage on all attacks while attacks against the druid have disadvantage, provided they’re not incapacitated.

Thoughts: The new Evolution/Devolution spell is a jack of all trades. Other spells of equivalent or lower level, such as Enlarge/Reduce, Entangle, or Darkvision can mimic this spell’s traits albeit with more benefits or longer duration. Evolution/Devolution’s real boon is that it can grant multiple traits at the same time when cast at higher levels, but traits cannot be picked more than once. Its most obvious use I can see is reducing the movement speed of a flying creature and possibly causing them to fall, or letting a monk deal energy damage with their unarmed strikes. But as there are other ways to do these things in 5e, it isn’t all that amazing. The Celestial Alignment abilities are also widely variable in quality: one such options grants allies proficiency in all saving throws to allies within 15 feet, which feels a lot more useful than rerolling natural 1s for certain attack types. The ability to basically fast-forward an area to day or night time has great uses for certain things, like Darkvision parties sneaking around or dealing with a pesky pack of vampire spawn. The evolutionary traits for wildshape aren’t so hot, as they’re still shone up by Moon Druids. As the druid’s a primary caster they have the spell slots to make good use of bonus divination spells, and the broadness of the 10th level past/future learning is really good and open-ended. Overall this is a very strong subclass.

Backgrounds Provide three new backgrounds. Time-Lost is someone who ended up traveling from a prehistoric time period to the modern day. They are proficient in Nature, Survival, Leatherworker’s tools, a new Survivalist’s kit that gives someone expertise in Medicine checks, and the Archosauric language. They aren’t slowed down by difficult terrain based on one of 8 environmental types, chosen based on the terrain in which they were born and raised.

Geologist is a background for those who study rocks and the earth. They are proficient in History, Nature, the Primordial language, and four different tool types: Cartographer’s and Mason’s along with two new ones. Excavator’s Tools lets one harvest gemstones and fossils to be more valuable than their base price, and Analysis Tools grant +2 to any skill checks for examining objects that can fit in one’s hand. They get some nice starting equipment such as a reinforced backpack that increases their carrying capacity, and they gain 2 features: one lets them tunnel through rock at a speed of 5 feet, and the other lets them identify any rocks or gemstones by sight and know their value.

Paleontologist studies ancient life forms and their environments. They are proficient in Animal Handling, Nature, Cartographer's and Mason’s Tools plus Research Scrolls (grants temporary proficient in a non-Investigation Intelligence skill for the next six hours or expertise if already proficient), and one language of their choice. They get advantage on History checks pertaining to animals and the natural world, which sounds weird because I’d think that Nature covers that, and they have proficiency on saving throws against geological hazards such as landslides. They also get an additional Feature depending on their Specialization, such as Taphonomy letting them find out how long a corpse has been dead or Cladistics that can tell if a Beast has been unnaturally altered or behaving in a way contrary to its nature.

Thoughts: These backgrounds vary widely in balance. The Geologist’s ability to tunnel through rock is perhaps the most useful for dungeon-crawling, while I can guarantee any DM who introduces Research Scrolls into their campaign is going to have PCs buying them at the earliest convenience. Compare this to the meager Time-Lost, who gets…expertise in Medicine with the right tool kit and can ignore one type of difficult terrain. Wow.

Feats provides us with 8 new feats themed around geology and paleontology. Most have been intentionally designed to be more powerful than other options, so the authors gated them behind level-based and ability score minimum prerequisites. They tend to vary in general usefulness and are tightly themed, such as Stone-Whisperer (4th level) lets you cast Stone Shape a number of times per day based on level (unlimited at 20th) without material components while also giving Tremorsense of 10 feet; or Crocodile Wrangler (8th level) which grants +1 Strength or Constitution, advantage on Animal Handling and grapple checks vs Beasts, and Beasts of Small to Large size you grapple cannot select you as a target for their attacks. The only feat I can say has a broad use for most character types is Arcane Enchanter (12th level, must be a spellcaster) that lets you enchant one item at a time as an action: the enchantments you can choose from let one deal +1d6 bonus damage with a weapon (add proficiency bonus at 16th level), gain a resistance to one damage type for armor (two types at 16th), and advantage on saving throws and checks vs a certain condition for all other item types (two conditions at 16th). Although the enchantment lasts for 1 minute, the amount of times you can enchant are unlimited, meaning that a PC with this feat can safely use it when preparing for an ambush or other battle they know is coming.

Thoughts: Most of these feats are situational and really of use in campaigns using the material in this book. As a lot involve animals and natural features they’re of best use for druid and ranger types. Arcane Enchanter blows the rest of them out of the water.


Items provides us with 30 new magic items themed around dinosaurs and prehistoric times. For reasons of length I won’t cover them all, but a few of the more interesting ones include Raptor Feather Leathers (+1 or +2 enhancement, resistance to falling damage when attuned, spend reaction to gain immunity), Pterosaur Wingbow (any +2 bow, can turn into a hang glider as a bonus action to let the wielder glide), Protoceratops Quillbow (crossbow whose bolts explode into spikes dealing 1d4 piercing damage to all those adjacent to target), Ancient Horn (bardic spell focus that once per day can emit a sound silent to all but bearer and allies whose range is unlimited and across planes), Volunite Shard (consumable item that grants a single random Minor Mutation for 1 hour, if you use more than 5 shards on the same creature within an hour they polymorph into a tiny crab), and Dice of the Dinosaur (d6 who when rolled summons a hostile dinosaur within 1 mile that if slain turns into valuable amber gemstones; dice can only be rolled 6 times with each side disappearing to prevent infinite money glitch)

Thoughts: Quite a bit of these items are pretty cool, and from my initial read I don’t see any that have any game-breaking exploits. Well, the raptor feathers armor may be useful for a PC to spend a reaction to safely “dive-bomb” enemies by falling on them, but otherwise that’s the one that most immediately comes to mind.

Thoughts So Far: The PC-friendly options vary from “eh” to “cool!” for me. A lot of them differ widely in balance or have some abusable features such as the Bonesculptor’s free expensive gear, some of the races having +3 ability score increases, or the Circle of Cycles druid having some very potent open-ended abilities. The new magic items were perhaps my favorite, as they included quite a bit of options that could more easily be gated by a Dungeon Master and had less obviously abusable abilities.

Final Thoughts: Dr. Dhrolin’s Dictionary of Dinosaurs gives exactly what it says on the tin and then some. It’s a bit of a niche product in that not all campaigns may find it of use, but for gamers in love with dinosaurs or just want to have viable Polymorph options past 8th level, this is one of the best 5e products on the market. Not only that, it’s also a decent educational tool, providing cited sources and interesting facts about its contents written from the perspectives of professionals in their field. The addition of new rules and material for PCs makes it useful beyond being just a bestiary, albeit quite a bit of said material varies in balance.

Overall I’d recommend this product. And since I’m still feeling the prehistoric rhythm, the next product I review is going to be the Planegea Campaign Setting!


Co-Author: Dr Dhrolin's Dictionary of Dinosaurs

I'm Michael O'Sullivan, one of the authors of the book and I'd just like to say I've had a wonderful time reading through this run through of the book. Lots of really good insights and critiques. Really great work, thanks for taking the time!


Co-Author: Dr Dhrolin's Dictionary of Dinosaurs


Sudden thread resurrection!

I've always enjoyed Tv Tropes so had a look and since there's plenty of pages for 3rd party sourcebooks I put one together.

If you're into this sorta thing I freely encourage you to add to the tropes!


Co-Author: Dr Dhrolin's Dictionary of Dinosaurs

It's all about phrasing in terms of how artificer can be applied within the OGL. We've phrased things in the book specifically to avoid breaking OGL so if you look at the subclass section you'll notice the Bonesculpter uses slightly different terminology to the other subclasses

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