Dinosaur (Dungeons & Dragons)

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First appearanceMonster Manual (1977)
Based onhistorical

In numerous campaign settings of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game, dinosaurs, based upon the actual-life reptiles of prehistoric ages, are present. Some of the dinosaurs used in D&D, such as Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Ankylosaurus, are real ones which used to exist on earth. Others, such as the Bloodstriker, Fleshraker, and Swindlespitter from the Monster Manual III, though labeled as dinosaurs, are made up, and as such are likely better regarded as monsters. Most D&D settings have a location where dinosaurs are known to dwell, and seeing as they coexist with intelligent races, they are sometimes depicted as tamed, with armored tyrannosaurs being used in battle and raptors used as mounts.

Publication history[edit]

Dinosaurs have existed in each edition of the Monster Manual,[1][2][3][4] and have played a significant role in D&D since nearly the very beginning. In 1981, dinosaurs were a major antagonist in the module The Isle of Dread (which was exceptionally widely distributed as it was included with the Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set).[5][6] Also in The Bane of Llywelyn, an early first edition D&D's module featured amazons on Pterosaur-like dinosaurs.

In 1990, the Hollow World Campaign Set for the Hollow World campaign setting was introduced. It "... takes all the best elements of the fantastic adventure fiction of the '30s and '40s (dinosaurs, savage men, lost empires) and marries them to the tropes of D&D (elves, dwarves, Vance-style magic)".[7]

Dinosaurs continue to play a major role in a number of more recent published adventures and campaign settings. In the 2002 Eberron campaign setting, dinosaurs play a major role,[8] and are the primary food source, work animal and mount of the Talenta Halflings.[9] In 2006, the first part of the Savage Tide Adventure Path was published. These adventures return to the "dinosaur-ridden" Isle of Dread.[10]

In the fourth and fifth edition of D&D, dinosaurs are referred to as behemoths and given alternate names. The basic dinosaurs in the Monster Manual of the 5th edition are the following:

  • Allosaurus
  • Ankylosaurus
  • Plesiosaurus
  • Pteranodon
  • Triceratops
  • Tyrannosaurus rex


The dinosaurs appeared on Geek.com's list of "The most underrated monsters of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons", and juged them to be interesting adverseries for player characters, being "a creature as large and fearsome as a dragon, but without all the hype".[6]

Dinosaurs were considered among the "standard repertoire of "Monsters"" in the game by Fabian Perlini-Pfister.[11]


  1. Gygax, Gary (1977). Monster Manual. TSR, Inc. ISBN 0-935696-00-8. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. Easley, Jeff (1994). Monstrous Compendium Annual (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition). Renton, Wash: Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 1-56076-838-X. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. Tweet, Jonathan; Williams, Skip; Monte Cook (2000). Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual: Core Rulebook III. Renton, Wash: Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1552-8. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. Tweet, Jonathan; Williams, Skip; Cook, Monte; Baker, Rich (July 2003). Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual: core rulebook III (v.3.5 ed.). Renton, Wash: Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1552-8. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. "D&D Clones". White Dwarf. 24. April–May 1981.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The most underrated monsters of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons". June 27, 2016.
  7. "Hollow World at Wayne's World of books". Archived from the original on 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2008-01-22. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. Sivils, Dan. "GenCon2003: The New D&D Campaign Setting is…". Archived from the original on 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2008-01-28. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. Baker, Keith. Shadows of the Last War (Eberron Campaign Setting (D&D): Adventures). Renton, Wash: Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3276-7. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  10. "The Savage Tide Adventure Path". Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  11. Bornet, Philippe (2011). Religions in play: games, rituals, and virtual worlds. Theologischer Verlag Zürich. p. 282-283. ISBN 978-3-290-22010-5. Retrieved 5 December 2019. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png

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