Hey, you might have seen our free one page adventure, The Hunt. If you haven’t, it’s going to be coming out really soon. I’d been making a lot of stone age type weapons and magic items lately and wanted to create an adventure that was set in a fantasy version of the era. It’s a clan vs clan revenge story, but with a very important element: The PCs ride around on dinosaurs.
Yeah yeah, Forgotten Realms did it first. Do I care? I do not. No one is betting on these dinosaur races.
So at the climax of the adventure, it turns into a dinosaur fight. The PCs are riding dinosaurs, the enemy are riding dinosaurs, dinosaurs everywhere… you know, the good stuff. I thought about throwing in some monster trucks, but thought that might be over the line. I did want to go over some mechanics to run the encounter, or just some dinosaur fights in general. First, let’s look at what rules are already provided for us.
Mounting and Dismounting
This is an easy one. You have to be within 5 ft of a creature you wish to mount. To do so, you spend half your speed. Want to dismount? Spend half your speed. It’s just like standing up from being prone. Easy peasy.
If something moves your mount against its will (a spell pushes it or pulls it or what have you), you must make a DC 10 Dexterity save or fall off, landing prone next to it. Same thing if you are knocked prone while riding by some effect.
If your mount is knocked prone, you can use your reaction to dismount it and land on your feet. Don’t have a reaction? You fall prone within 5ft of it.
Controlling a Mount
There are rules for this, but I don’t think they fit the type of situation I’m trying to create here. We’re going to take some liberties with this and mix things up a bit. What we’re going to keep: the mount acts on your turn in the initiative order. This starts the moment you mount it, unless it has independently already used its action this turn. You jump on, and the dinosaur takes off under your command.
According to rules as written (borrrrrrring), the mount can take three actions: Dash, Disengage, and Dodge. I’m trying to have a dinosaur fight here. As such, the creature can take any of the actions listed in its stat block, certainly including it’s attacks. I want Pteranodons dive bombing Allosauruses, claws, teeth, and beaks slashing out in fury. Basically, the mount just becomes a player controlled monster, taking a full turn on the player’s turn. This doesn’t interfere with the action economy of the PC; they still have actions, reactions, bonus actions, etc.
Next, let’s flesh it out a bit with some new rules.
The mount doesn’t become a mindless follower. It’ll help its rider up to a point. The Dinosaurs are going to get real skittish once half their HP is gone. After this happens, we’re going to treat it like concentration for spells. If a Dinosaur mount that has lost half its hitpoints takes damage, the rider may spend their reaction to make an Animal Handling check, the DC equal to 10+ the damage the mount has taken. Success means the rider has kept control. If the check is failed (or not made), roll a d4 on the chart below. These effects happen at the beginning on the rider’s next turn. The rider may use their reaction to repeat the Animal Handling Check at the end of each of their turns to regain control of the mount.
Flying and Falling
The PCs will be riding Pteranodons into this battle, because the only thing cooler than riding dinosaurs is riding flying dinosaurs. This comes with its own risks, however. If the Pteranodon’s speed is somehow reduced to zero (maybe grappled by ropes from below?), or it’s knocked unconscious, it falls, which means the PC also falls. They can fall 580 ft in a round, so chances are they are hitting the ground if this happens. The damage is 1d6 for every 10 feet, for a maximum of 20d6.
If you personally are feeling kind, maybe let the PC use their reaction on the way down to attempt to grab onto something to stop their fall: another flying dinosaur, a vine in a tree, an outcropping of rock. This might cause some damage as they swing and slam into something else, but that has gotta be better than 20d6, right?
The Pteranodons should also be diving from above, right? If a Pteranodon starts its turn at least 10 ft above it’s target and takes its full movement before attacking, it gets advantage on the attack roll. The PC is also protected by the Pteranodon’s flyby ability.
“The pteranodon doesn’t provoke an opportunity attack when it flies out of an enemy’s reach.”
There is nothing stopping the enemy from holding their actions for when the Pteranodon and PC are within reach, however.
Taking another mount
In this adventure, two of the enemies are riding Allosauruses. If the riders are taken out of commission, perhaps the PCs would like a mount that isn’t going to fall out of the sky. They can take control of a riderless Allosaurus, but they must use their action to make an Animal Handling Check with a DC of 10 to calm the beast enough to mount and control it. If the Allosaurus has lost half its hit points or more, it becomes a trickier proposition. The DC to calm the beast rises to 15, as the dinosaur is now more interested in getting far away from this mess.
That’s it. That’s your dinosaur fight. Use this in The Hunt or whatever campaign you might be running. Have ideas? Things I missed? Stuff that would be cool? Leave a comment! I like to think of this more as a beginning than an ending.