D&D 5e Monsters for a Prehistoric Encounter

Have your adventurers found themselves lost in a land before time? Were your adventurers asked to visit an island zoo filled with dinosaurs? Are you interested in running a campaign set in prehistoric times? Maybe you are just wondering how you can fit dinosaurs into a fantasy setting.

Here are some ideas to get you started with our list of Monsters for a Prehistoric Encounter from the D&D 5th Edition Monster Manual.

Adding dinosaurs (also called behemoths) and other prehistoric flavored creatures to an adventure can provide a fun challenge for lower level and mid level PCs. The monsters in this article have challenge ratings in the single digits, so you would have to re-purpose a dragon, Tarrasque or other larger monster to provide a challenge for a party of high level PCs. Another way to increase the challenge of prehistoric monsters would be to put them under the control of tougher NPCs with magic abilities such as a tribal shaman.

  • Allosaurus

    Challenge Rating: 2 | page 79
    This dinosaur is a large predator with good perception (passive 15) and speed (60′). Using its speed, the Allosaurus can run down adventurers crossing open ground and then knock them prone with its Pounce ability. The Allosaurus is a great way to terrify your players with a predator, without having to use the higher challenge T-Rex. For lower level PCs give them a way to escape after encountering an Allosaurus on open ground.

  • Ankylosaurus

    Challenge Rating: 3 | page 79
    This plant eating dinosaur is covered in thick armor plating, which it uses to defend itself against predators. Its knobbed tail delivers devastating bludgeoning damage or it could be spiked to deliver piercing damage instead. An Ankylosaurus will defend itself and its young fiercely if it feels threatened. Have your players encounter this dinosaur before a predator, so it could be used as part of a plan to help them escape from a predator. Plus, watching two dinosaurs fight would be awesome!

  • “Caveman”

    Challenge Rating: 1/8 | page 350 (Tribal Warrior)
    Repurpose the Tribal Warrior to provide the stats you need for a prehistoric tribal warrior with spear. These prehistoric people could have the same stats (or you can lower intelligence and raise strength for example). For communication, it might be fun if they don’t speak Common, creating the chance for interesting social encounters using hand signals and body language to communicate (when they are not throwing spears at your players). You could also use Commoner, Priest, Scout or any other NPC for the base of a primitive person. You could even have your players be members of a tribe of primitive warriors and have them adjust their starting weapons and armor.

  • Dragonborn

    Challenge Rating: ?
    Create a bunch of Dragonborn NPCs to act as a dinosaur people. They could be prehistoric, barbaric or civilized. Perhaps your players are the primitives and the dinosaurs people are the civilized ones in your world. Lizardfolk might be even easier to use (see below).

  • Giant Ape

    Challenge Rating: 7 | page 323
    What is a land of the lost without King Kong? Send out this huge beast for an awesome solo battle. For an encounter to remember, give your giant ape somewhere to use its climbing ability (climb 40′) and athletics (+9).

  • Lizardfolk

    Challenge Rating: 1/2 to 4 | pages 204-5
    These primitive reptilian humanoids are usually found lurking in the swamps and jungles. Lizardfolk can be used as dinosaur people (like Dragonborn) or they can be left as themselves to create a primitive tribe to battle. With their ability to use magic, they can provide a threat that is more than just physical. They often worship dragons, so they could worship predatory dinosaurs, even feeding captives to a hungry T-Rex. With stats for three types of Lizardfolk, they can easily be used as the primary threat in a primitive world.

  • Mammoth

    Challenge Rating: 6 | page 332
    This elephantine creature has thick fur, long tusks and is usually extinct by the time people figure out swords. With its Trampling Charge, Gore and Stomp, one or more of these should be a tough battle. If you are running a prehistoric campaign, provide your cave heroes with ways to use tactics such as driving mammoths over a cliff or isolating a member of the herd. If you want to reduce the challenge, use the Elephant (page 322) stats to create a lesser Mammoth with a lower challenge rating of 4.

  • Plesiosaurus

    Challenge Rating: 2 | pages 79-80
    Need an aquatic threat, the predatory plesiosaurus is a marine dinosaur who will attack any creature it encounters. Plesio’s long and flexible neck lets it twist in any direction to deliver a powerful bite. This monster could show up in any campaign if the adventurers find themselves near deep water.

  • Pteranodon

    Challenge Rating: 1/4 | pages 79-80
    Pteranodons are flying reptiles with wingspans of 15 to 20 feet. They are opportunists and will attack any creature that look tasty, but are usually found along the coast. A pteranodon has no teeth and will attack with its beak anything it can’t swallow whole. Have your players encounter some of these dinos when they are closer to the sea or you want to punish them for forgetting to check the skies for trouble.

  • Saber-Toothed Tiger

    Challenge Rating: 2 | page 336
    With its speed (40′), keen smell and pounce, these beasts could be a tough challenge for lower level PCs. Have just one of these solitary hunters attack the group, which could be more than enough to kill and drag off one of your players.

  • Triceratops

    Challenge Rating: 5 | page 79-80
    This aggressive plant eating dinosaur, has giant horns and a skull that flares out to form a protective plate of bone which it uses to defend itself against predators. Triceratops use their great horns and formidable speed (50′) to gore and trample anything they see as a threat. To make it even tougher, they should be encountered as a group defending their young they have circled around. Not enough? For even more fun, turn this dino into a mount and enjoy watching your PCs, bad guys or both charge into battle.

  • Tyrannosaurus Rex

    Challenge Rating: 8 | page 79-80
    Much tougher than the Allosaurus, this enormous predator it a truly terrible lizard and king of its territory. T-Rex isĀ  fast (speed 50′) and will chase anything it thinks it can eat, devouring it whole. These dinosaurs will also eat carrion or smaller creatures that try to steal its food. The T-Rex is a tough battle with its Multiattack of bite and tail. The T-Rex hits hard and can grapple with its teeth, so only unleash it on those PCs who can survive taking damage of 50 or more hit points in an attack.

  • Velociraptor

    Challenge Rating: 1 | D&D Wiki Homebrew
    Whether you like them feathered or not, this “clever girl” has been a iconic dinosaur since popularized by the movie Jurassic Park. Raptors are man sized dinosaurs and savage predators. They travel in packs to bring down much larger and stronger prey, using their sickle-shaped claws to shear through flesh. This homebrew velociraptor is quick (120′ speed), will pounce to knock foes prone and employs pack tactics to gain advantage.


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Shawn Ellsworth

Shawn is an author and co-founder of Tribality.com. He first got into tabletop RPGs through ninjas and then by playing a Kender in Dragonlance. Years later, he can be found running games in the Nentir Vale and his own Seas of Vodari campaign setting.