Dino Templates

September 25th, 2017

Joshua Zaback

Exotic Encounters Archive

Dinosaurs are portrayed in all sorts of ways in movies and TV, from mindless pieces of the setting, to horrific monsters, to loveable pets. In looking to kick off Dinosaur Week, I wanted to try to capture all those different things in one monster… but I couldn’t quite do it. Instead, I decided to produce a few templates you can slap onto your favorite dinosaurs to get exactly what you want. Note that while the templates presented in this week’s article are intended for dinosaurs, they could easily be adapted to other animals.


Domestic Dinosaur

Domestic dinosaurs are dinosaurs that live in close contact with intelligent humanoids and attend to their needs, integrated as a part of their community. Domestic dinosaurs are less fearsome and more docile than others of their kind, making them ideal for all sorts of work within the community.

Creating a Domestic Dinosaur

“Domestic dinosaur” is an inherited template that can be applied to any animal of Medium size or larger.

CR: Same as the base creature.

Type: The creature’s type remains unchanged.

Weaknesses: A domestic dinosaur has the following weaknesses.

Easily Cowed (Ex): A domestic dinosaur suffers a –2 penalty on all saving throws against fear effects. This penalty is doubled when there are no humanoid creatures within 30 feet.

Shrink Back (Ex): A domestic dinosaur suffers a –4 penalty to AC against attacks made by humanoids.

Special Attacks: A domestic dinosaur gains the following special attack.

Guardian Beast: A domestic dinosaur gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls when it is within 30 feet of a humanoid.

Special Qualities: A domestic dinosaur has the following special qualities.

Beast of Burden (Ex): A domestic dinosaur is accustomed to carrying heavy loads and never has its movement speed reduced due to armor or encumbrance.

Easy Rider (Ex): A domestic dinosaur is easier to handle than other animals of its kind. The DCs for Handle Animal and Ride checks made to control a domestic dinosaur or to teach it new tricks are reduced by 5.


Domestic dinosaurs serve as beasts of burden, guards, and even pets in communities of humanoids that exist near dinosaur populations. Typically, domestic dinosaurs are reared over the generations, in time becoming an extension of the community they belong to. Domestic dinosaurs get along well with humanoids, and are usually indifferent or friendly to even unfamiliar humanoids.


Ferocious Predator

Some dinosaurs are cunning and dangerous predators, delivering particularly deadly attacks with their sharp teeth and claws. These ferocious predators usually hunt in packs, appearing unexpectedly and surrounding their foes before they even recognize the threat to them. Occasionally, a single apex predator will become a ferocious predator to augment its already impressive combat abilities.

Creating a Ferocious Predator

“Ferocious predator” is an inherited template which can be applied to any animal with a bite attack and two claw attacks, or any animal of Gargantuan size or larger that has a bite attack.

CR: Same as the base creature +1.

Type: The creature’s type remains unchanged.

Senses: A ferocious predator gains the scent special quality and has the following special ability.

Blood Scent (Ex): A ferocious predator can attempt to locate the direction of a living creature as a swift action rather than as a move action, and can automatically pinpoint the locations of creatures using scent, as long as the target is within 10 feet of it.

Special Attacks: The ferocious predator has the following special attacks.

Bleeding Attack (Ex): A ferocious predator’s natural attacks deal an additional amount of bleed damage equal to 1d6 plus 1d6 for every 2 size categories it is larger than Medium.

Rip Flesh (Ex): Whenever a ferocious beast confirms a critical hit with its bite attack, it deals an additional 1d4 points of Constitution damage as it rips a portion of the target’s flesh free from its body.

Ability Scores: Change from the base creature as follows: Dexterity +2, Wisdom –2, Charisma –2.


Ferocious predators are carnivorous dinosaurs that are especially well adapted for brutal and short combats. Often employing pack tactics to isolate their prey, they then begin systematically rendering their victims lifeless with unrelenting brutality. Known for inflicting bleeding wounds and for ripping flesh from the bones of their foes, they often leave creatures begging for death in the brief moments they have left after encountering one of these murderous dinosaurs.


Thunder Lizard

Towering above the trees and shaking the very ground with their footfalls, these truly impressive creatures are the thunder lizards. Immense dinosaurs that live up to their namesake, each of these terrible beasts inspires awe through sheer size and unbelievable power.

Creating a Thunder Lizard

“Thunder lizard” is an inherited template than can be applied to any animal of Gargantuan size or larger.

CR: Same as the base creature +2.

Type: The creature’s type remains unchanged.

Special Defenses: A thunder lizard retains all the special defenses of the base creature and gains the following ability.

Immense Size: Due to its sheer size and bulk, it is unrealistic to inflict damage to a thunder lizard’s vitals with conventional weaponry, granting it immunity to critical hits from weapons of Large size or smaller. Siege weapons and other massive tools of war ignore this defensive ability.

DR: A thunder lizard gains DR 10/— due to its incredible bulk.

Special Attacks: The thunder lizard gains the following special attacks.

Thundering Blows: The thunder lizard deals an additional 2d6 points of damage with its slam and tail strike attacks. This damage is multiplied in the case of a critical hit. Additionally, whenever a thunder lizard successful confirms a critical hit with its slam or tail slap attack, the attack deals the maximum amount of damage, as though all dice had rolled their maximum amount.

Trample: A thunder lizard gains the trample special attack, if it did not already possess it. A thunder lizard’s trample attack deals 6d8 damage, or deals damage as normal for a creature of its size and type, whichever is higher. If the thunder lizard already possessed the trample special attack, the damage it deals with this attack is increased by an additional 2d8.

Ability Scores: Increase from the base creature as follows: Strength +4, Dexterity –2, + Constitution +8.


Thunder lizards are the very largest and most domineering of dinosaurs. Only the biggest creatures can be called a thunder lizard, and they nearly always inspire fear and awe when encountered. With few exceptions, thunder lizards are herbivores, though this does not make them any less dangerous, as these behemoths are likely to crush humanoids without ever noticing their presence.