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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

RMA: T-Rex

Okay, be honest, outside of X1: Isle of Dread, who has ever used a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a D&D adventure? Or any dinosaur, for that matter? Maybe this puts me in the minority, but I honestly cannot recall a single time, myself.

There are probably two main reasons for this: One, in a world with dragons, it sort of seems superfluous to include these ancient reptiles, and the "Lost World" motif just hasn't come up (my players have never made it to the Hollow World in Mystara). Secondly, dinosaurs in general –and T Rex in particular– are UNBELIEVABLY NASTY! Check these stats out:

Tyrannosaurus Rex (LL/Cook)
No. Enc.: 0
Alignment: N
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 20
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 6d6
Save: F10
Morale: 11

(Do I really even need to break this down?) 20 hit dice! Twenty! That's 2-0! Easily into triple digit hit points. AC 3: That's plate w/no shield. Saves as a TENTH level fighter! 6-36 damage! And it outruns a typical armored adventurer-type. At an 11 morale, it's not running away any time soon either (would you??). 

The T-Rex's main weaknesses (if any) are

A) There's only one of them at a time (small mercies)
B) Halflings. Yes, hobbitses are T-Rex kryptonite.

Well, maybe not quite kryptonite, but a T-Rex BtB (by the book), ignores halfling-sized prey or smaller. Couple that with the little guy's hiding ability, excellent missile proficiency, and general combat studliness (uses Fighter to hits) means he can potentially whittle this monstrosity down a bit without becoming a primary target. Now, if Brodo decides to stand toe-to-toe with ol' Rex and swing away, Mr. Scaly may sit up and take notice, deciding upon a furry-footed appetizer. 

Beyond X1 or a lost world game, I see the chances to use such a creature as being somewhat limited. I can think of a few evil ways to spring one on the PCs, though. For example:
  • A tribe of lizardfolk have bred these things as warbeasts (like their version of oliphaunts).
  • The bones of one are found and delivered to some school or library. An unscrupulous fella concocts some way to resurrect the remains and enslave it.
Frankly, a party running across one of these is probably a party that needs to ask itself, "How badly did we REALLY need to go this way??"

And hamstring one of the pack mules before fleeing.


  1. I have used lots of dinosaurs!

  2. I always skipped over the dinosaur sections of the old Monster Manuals back in the day, probably for the same reasons you mention.

    Having said that, I've long harbored a desire to create a sort of mythic antediluvian game world where people use dinosaurs as mounts and warbeasts, and maybe even some of them are intelligent...a little like Dinotopia, but much bloodier.

  3. I've used dinosaurs occasionally in other locations, but usually we encountered them on the Isle of Dread. Of course, we always seemed to find new reasons to keep going back there.

    And you forgot one of the other down-sides of facing off with a T-Rex in Classic D&D - no treasure! At least facing a dragon, you're assured of a decent payoff if you win.

    1. Good point! Though *technically* T-Rex has loot. TT V (x3) in Cook Expert. Granted, that's a pretty wimpy listing, even at 'times three'. I'm guessing it's a "Slice open its gullet and see what its last meal was carrying." kinda thing.

    2. Yeah, I didn't crack open my Mentzer Expert book to check, but it probably has that same treasure type. But it's not much, especially compared to that 6HD white dragon sitting on a Type H hoard!