Dinosaurs, played straight, annoy me. Something about the dissonance of them existing alongside rust monsters and bulettes. If a module calls for a dinosaur, I intend to reskin them with this.

In rough order of increasing weirdness (adjust die size accordingly)

1. Too many horns
2. Big, sharp, scissor-like beak
3. Mouth too wide, splitting down the neck or torso
4. Proboscis tongue, flicks out with startling speed and range, injects strange toxins
5. Head like a giant reptilian claw
6. Moth-like antennae, communicates with static sounds, limited intelligence
7. Big faceted gem-like eyes that shoot frickin' laser beams
8. Articulated exoskeleton, can fold up into egg like shape for protection like a crab
9. Elongated body, 1d4 exploding extra sets of limbs
10. It never evolved limbs, remove them
11. Thick, gummy, rubbery skin and meat, cartilaginous skeleton, lower damage but higher HP, lose weapons in it
12. Encrusted in crystals, longest on the back where they don't get broken off
13. Fed by the heat of a radioactive heart-stone, exposed to the air through the ribcage for thermal regulation
14. Glow-in-the-dark skin, with that gross pale translucent quality in normal light, absorbs magic
15. Still mostly a fish; replace limbs with fins, somehow gets along on land
16. Saurotaur - replace head with an intelligent humanoid upper body
17. Take the 1-4: front, 5-6: back half of it, jam 2d4 of them together like a starfish
18. Crudely simple skeletal structure and body plan, too few joints, like a children's drawing, viscerally unsettling
19. Badly made; mouth sealed shut, webbed digits and limbs indistinct from trunk, seam-like lines, eyes seem painted directly on flesh
20. God's plaything; composed of glazed porcelain with gold embellishments, moving in clay-motion, cracking, flowing, re-firing itself as it moves

Youtube video "11 worst dinosaurs in my collection"

Conceptual Status: Warning - Untested but Play-Ready


I tried to add things that might give these creatures a slightly-to-highly gonzo charm, reminiscent of that of the original D&D monsters, which Gygax based a number of on knock-off toy "dinosaurs".

Speaking of that brand of charm, I don't think I've seen a monster resource that comes closer to reproducing it than Roger GS's Varlets & Vermin (and that includes the Creature Compendium). It's straight-up D&D canon, in my book! And free. Print it. Put it on the table.

I encourage you to comment below, rather than elsewhere.

Long live the Blogosphere!


  1. I highly recommend checking out the book All Yesterdays. It's an art book with speculative reconstructions of dinosaurs that deliberately tries to avoid artistic cliches.

    It also has a section at the end called All Todays, with innacurate reconstructions of modern animals. Plenty of inspiration for gonzo critters there.

    If you can't find that, there's also a 'sequel' full of art submitted by other people. The editor, C. M. Koseman, has a link on his website to the pdf. It's notable in that it contains a few examples of wild speculation which were later discovered to be correct.

    Anyways, here are some dinosaur modifications inspired by these books:

    21. Huge fatty deposits, like a camel's humps. Or maybe it's just incredibly fat all over. Like a whale or bloated hippo.
    22. Camouflage. When holding still, it looks like a log. Or coral. Or a pile of hay.
    23. Inflatable sack on its neck.
    24. It lives almost exclusively in the trees. It's not smaller, and it doesn't have thumbs. It looks exactly like a stereotypical dino. Just, higher up.
    25. Bright spots on its belly. When it wants to signal to another creature, it stands on its hind legs, and waggles its arms around like semaphore flags.
    26. Ludicrous plummage. Not just little tufts of feathers. Huge mounds of feathers like a Bird Of Paradise
    27. Has a symbiotic nest of (Roll d4: spiders, cleaner birds, bats, tarsiers) living amongst its horns.
    28. Defensive bioluminescent quills.
    29. Standard dinosaur body plan, but covered in fluffy hair like a mammal. Possibly has nipples too.
    30. It filter feeds in the air somehow. Huge feathery feeding tendrils droop from its face.

    1. I have heard of and flipped through All Yesterdays but totally forgot about it; sounds perfect for this purpose.

      Awesome contributions!

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