Denizens of Dinosaur Island: Octyrannopus and Rocketceratops

Octyrannopus

New Monster: Octyrannopus

Stats: as Tyrannosaurus, except with tentacles and a central beak.

Attacks (in addition to stomp and tail-swipe):

  • Tentacles: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., 2 targets. Hit: 15 (2d8+6) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the Octyrannopus has advantage to attack with its beak.
  • Beak: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., 1 target. Hit: 17 (2d10+6) piercing damage.

The Octyrannopus is a hunter and scavenger of the Haunted Jungle. At some point in the past a normal tyrannosaur either ate or mated with some Cthulhoid horror from beyond space and time, and now there are octyrannopods running around, being all disturbing with their slick wet tentacles and disturbingly blank giant squid eyes. They’re more cunning and more cruel than garden-variety tyrannosaurs (INT+5), and expert at attacking from ambush.

My party encountered their first Octyrannopus when they came out of their most recent dungeon. As they’d been killing guards on the way in, they’d dragged the bodies out and stashed them in the jungle so roving patrols inside the dungeon wouldn’t find their dead comrades lying around. Eventually they penetrated the inner sanctum, had a big fight with the boss monster, and solved the puzzle that was the focus and raison d’etre of the dungeon. Wounded, wealthy, and happy, they staggered out of the dungeon and BAM!, there’s ole Octyrannopus gorging itself on the dead bodies they’d hid in the woods. Thereby illustrating the Smithian principle that it’s not just where you are geographically that generates story-fuel, it’s where you are in a chain of consequences.

Rocketceratops

New Monster: Rocketceratops

Stats: as Triceratops, but with 2d6 rockets where the horns should be.

Attack (in addition to charge and trample):

  • Rockets: +3 to hit at 0-30 meters, +0 to hit at 30-100 meters, -3 to hit at 100-300 meters, fires 1d4 per turn. Hit: everyone in 15-foot radius from point of impact makes a DC 12 DEX save, taking 4d6 explosive damage on a failed save or half as much on a success. Alternatively, rockets may be used to deliver biological or chemical weapons (hallucinogens, poisons, spores, etc.).

The rockets are ignited by bio-electrical pulses. If a Rocketceratops takes more than 10 electricity or lightning damage in a single turn, roll 1d6 and consult this table:

  1. No effect.
  2. Half the remaining rockets had their ignition systems fried, and will fail to launch when triggered. (For more fun, wait until the Rocketceratops tries to launch them and then roll one at a time see if they work.)
  3. One rocket launches immediately on a random trajectory.  Roll 1d12 to determine heading (like a clock face, Rocketceratops facing 12:00) and 1d20 x 15 to determine the range in meters.
  4. Half the remaining rockets launch immediately on random trajectories. Roll heading and range for each rocket.
  5. All remaining rockets launch immediately on random trajectories. Roll heading and range for each rocket.
  6. All remaining rockets detonate immediately, dealing their normal damage to the Rocketceratops and to any creatures within the blast radius.

Unlike the Octyrannopus, which is a(n un)naturally-occurring consequence of trans-dimensional biological mingling, the Rocketceratops is a product of deliberate alchemical experimentation and genetic engineering. The horns develop normally, with hollow bony cores covered by a thick layer of keratin. Once the horns have attained full size, highly energetic compounds are deposited in the hollow spaces inside, until the horns are completely packed with what amounts to biologically-produced rocket fuel. The bony connection between each horn and the rest of the skull breaks down, and a cluster of massively enlarged neurons develops at the base of each horn. The neural clusters beneath each horn are under voluntary control – the Rocketceratops can deliberately trigger these neurons to deliver a powerful electrical pulse that ignites the rocket fuel and launches the horn. Aiming is fairly haphazard since the rockets are unguided. Rocketceratops brigades are therefore useless for pinpoint bombardments but they are effective against massed enemy formations, fortifications, and cities.

It is not uncommon to see a Rocketceratops fairly bristling with long metal pikes. Canny dino warriors know about the rockets’ vulnerability to electrical damage. They use the pikes, in conjunction with one or more chains dragging on the ground, as lightning rods to draw and dissipate bolts of electricity hurled by enemy sorcerors. For every pike sticking out from a Rocketceratops, jump up one die before rolling on the table above (i.e., 1 pike, roll d8 instead of d6, 2 pikes = d10, 3 pikes = d12, etc.), and ignore any results higher than 6.

Trying to remove a rocket horn from a live Rocketceratops is just asking to get shot in the face, but the horns can be cut away from the heads of dead animals with very little effort. The potential for PCs who steal Rocketceratops horns to accidentally set them off or detonate them is up to the DM.

– – – – – – – – – –

Gigantelopes

One third of the inspiration for the Rocketceratops came from the Mutant Dinosaur Generator at Goblin Punch, one third came from Jeff Rients and his NecroDinoMechaLaser Squad, and the final third came from the Rundihorn from Dougal Dixon’s book After Man: A Zoology of the Future – I always thought it looked like a rhino crossed with an antiaircraft battery. The font in the pictures is the Vornheim alphabet by Zak S.

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13 Responses to Denizens of Dinosaur Island: Octyrannopus and Rocketceratops

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    “The Octyrannopus is a hunter and scavenger of the Haunted Jungle.”

    There are those who would argue it is an obligate scavenger.

    Mind you, those same people would probably also claim that Octyrannopus is merely an ontogenetic morph of regular-ass Tyrannosaurus.

  2. Matt Wedel says:

    Normally I’m against even suggesting that non-avian theropods (or their mutated kin) scavenged, not because they didn’t but because the whole predator-vs-scavenger thing got so ridiculous, with so much speculation thrown around with complete disregard for basic biology and ecology. But in this case, I think it’s good for players to be reminded that if they start leaving dead bodies all over the place, something is going to take notice.

  3. Mike Taylor says:

    What do you suggest? That they carry a portable acid-bath around with them?

    In any case — surely if Octyrannopus was happily scavenging away on several freely available and fresh carcasses, it would have no reason to get into a fight with the PCs?

  4. Matt Wedel says:

    What do you suggest? That they carry a portable acid-bath around with them?

    No. Nor do I see any problem with D&D adventures that consist largely of killin’ and lootin’. I just think that the killin’ and lootin’ should have some consequences. If those consequences make life harder for the PCs, that’s a feature, not a bug.

    In any case — surely if Octyrannopus was happily scavenging away on several freely available and fresh carcasses, it would have no reason to get into a fight with the PCs?

    If I feed our box turtles one pill-bug at a time, they’ll kill and eat each one completely. But if I give them a whole bunch of pill-bugs at once, they’ll often go around killing as many as possible before they start eating. I think it’s because animals don’t know where their next meal is coming from and a few extra calories today may get them through a few rough days ahead – whether those rough days are actually coming or not. Animals have to act as if everything is going to go tits up an hour from now.That’s basically the scenario here, with the Octyrannopus playing the box turtle and the PCs playing the pill bugs. The Octyrannopus had probably never encountered a humanoid that was a threat to it before, so it didn’t know that the PCs were going to be a problem until it was too late. It wasn’t a cakewalk for the PCs, either – my fighter almost died after getting chomped on.

    I often do include in my adventures monsters that are just going about their own business and that will ignore the PCs unless attacked, or that can be negotiated with or bought off. And we have had some brutal fights where the PCs decided to take on threats that should have been left alone. But in this case, the behavior of the Octyrannopus was based on things I’ve seen real animals do many times.

  5. Mike Taylor says:

    Interesting. You’ll recall that Jim Farlow calculated an endothermic, tachymetabolic, jurophagous T. rex would need to eat roughly one 80kg lawyer per day. I think we can assume that that Octyranopus had comparable metabolism. You don’t say how many guard corpses your guys left lying around, but the casual way you talked about it suggests to me something on the order of half a dozen. So we’re talking about a week’s food. I’m inclined to think that would be enough the big guy to hunker down happily and concentrating on some good eatin’. That at least would parallel the usual behaviour of lions that have killed a zebra — which I think is a better parallel that a (relatively huge) turtle killing (tiny) pill-bugs.

    So, yeah, your guys should have just walked right on past that bad boy.

  6. Matt Wedel says:

    You’ll recall that Jim Farlow calculated an endothermic, tachymetabolic, jurophagous T. rex would need to eat roughly one 80kg lawyer per day.

    Sure. On average. But in real life, T. rex probably did not eat every day, and when it did eat, it probably didn’t stop at 80kg.

    That at least would parallel the usual behaviour of lions that have killed a zebra — which I think is a better parallel that a (relatively huge) turtle killing (tiny) pill-bugs.

    Riiiight. According to Wikipedia, female lions (which do most of the hunting) weigh about 270 lbs on average. Zebras weight anywhere from 530-820 lbs, so they’re 2 to 3 times larger than a single lion. In this case, the relatively huge predator killing the tiny prey definitely favors the Octyrannopus : box turtle :: humanoids : pill bugs comparison.

  7. Mike Taylor says:

    As you well know, zebras are not killed by a lion, but by concerted action of a pride of perhaps 10-20 active adults. So the biomass of lion that needs to be fed from a zebra is 2700 lb, not 270. So the hunter:prey weight ratio is 4:1. For the tyrannosaur, it’s (say) 4800 kg to 80 kg, which yields 60:1. The turtle weighs about a pound — 454 g. The mass of a pillbug is surprisingly hard to find, but I image it’s on the order of 1/10 g, so we’re looking at a predator:prey mass ratio of about 5000:1. Which makes it a much worse tyrannosaur-lawyer analogy than the lion-zebra one is.

  8. Matt Wedel says:

    Right, but a zebra still poses a threat to the lion(s) that take it down, whereas pill-bugs do not pose a threat to box turtles. Just like normal, not-leveled-up, no-magic-weapon-having regular-ass humanoids pose no threat to a tyrannosaur.

    I can’t help but note that we’ve now had a long exchange about how my imaginary monster ought to naturally behave. Not that I don’t enjoy it! But seriously, you should win an iPod shuffle for this.

  9. Mike Taylor says:

    Good point on the threat or otherwise that prey offers to predator. Could an unarmed human hurt a tyrannosaur in any meaningful way? Probably not. I’m struggling to think how it could be done, anyway. But maybe that’s a whole new thread.

    This would not be the first time I’ve won an iPod Shuffle for being needlessly argumentative.

  10. Matt Wedel says:

    Could an unarmed human hurt a tyrannosaur in any meaningful way? Probably not. I’m struggling to think how it could be done, anyway. But maybe that’s a whole new thread.

    Nah, it’s the second phase of this one.

    If it’s an unarmed human, no way. Not if the tyrannosaur is conscious and not paralyzed. Heck, I think most unarmed humans would have a hard time hurting a cow without getting their asses stomped.

    Even an armed human would have a hard time against a tyrannosaur, unless she had access to an elephant gun, a full-auto machine gun, or something powerful and explosive. Scaring one off might not require more than a smoke grenade or banging some pots and pans together (I know a guy who survived a grizzly encounter that way), but to hurt one? I mean, where do you start? The place where a major vessel is closest to the surface is the throat, and even there the carotids were probably buried in muscles the size of the ones in your thigh for much of their course. Maybe a lucky shot with a sword or axe to the windpipe, although that is awfully close to the business end.

    That said, our ancestors killed mammoths with spears, and there was a big-game hunter from Texas (where else?) who killed an African elephant with a bow and arrow, and I reckon that pissed-off elephants are not a whole lot less dangerous than tyrannosaurs. But now we’re verging into Carnivora Forum territory – I’ll bet that “elephant vs tyrannosaur” was among the first ten threads there.

    Anyway, the comparative helplessness of humanoids vs tyrannosaurs is the mother of invention for roleplayers. Stand-up fights are for chumps.

    This would not be the first time I’ve won an iPod Shuffle for being needlessly argumentative.

    Oh, I remember. I just wanted to make sure that your previous experience hadn’t served as some kind of one-shot Pavlovian conditioning, and now you think that if you just argue long enough you’ll get some small piece of consumer electronics.

  11. Mike Taylor says:

    All good points, but I’m talking about hurting the tyrannosaur, not injuring it. To take the cow example, I imagine most adults could land a lucky punch on a cow’s nose hard enough to make the cow want to be somewhere else — probably enough to discourage an attack.

    And then of course you have aberrant stories like that of Harry Wolhuter who was attacked by two lions, killed one with a knife, and survived the encounter. But for our present purposes, using a knife is cheating. Same goes for our spear-wielding ancestors, Texans with bows and arrows, etc.

    Surely (to take the easier problem first) we could hurt an unconscious and paralysed tyrannosaur by the old thumbs-in-the-eyeballs routine. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to generalise this solution to the case of an awake, active tyrannosaur.

  12. Matt Wedel says:

    I leave it as an exercise for the reader to generalise this solution to the case of an awake, active tyrannosaur.

    Um, hope you get lucky before it bites you in half?

  13. Mike Taylor says:

    Dammit, that was going to be my suggestion.

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