In worlds with dinosaurs, why limit mount possibilities to horses? But don’t just have a copy/paste dinosaur. Give it some personality, qualities, and flaws unique to it.
This provides ten personality traits, physical distinctions, penalties, and bonuses that you can apply to a dinosaur. Each of the ten physical distinctions, penalties, and bonuses corresponds with the same number on each list, though you can mix them up if you wish. You can roll 1d10, apply the personality trait of the number rolled, then roll 3d10 and apply the features from each list. Alternatively, you can roll 1d10 for each list, giving you a random choice for each.
The mechanics are based on Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, but can easily be adapted to other systems. Suggested dinosaurs: allosaurus, ankylosaurus, deinonychus, hadrosaurus, stegosaurus, & triceratops.
Personality traits (1d10):
This dinosaur is peculiar, perhaps even odd.
- Is aggressive toward other dinosaurs.
- Instantly tries to get attention and pets from anyone it doesn’t view as a threat.
- Absolutely loves to chew on things, even if it cannot eat whatever it is.
- Loves to learn and perform tricks that have no practical purpose (roll over, play dead, shake hands, etc.).
- Will always eat or try to eat something when not tasked with something else.
- Is quick to strong emotional responses (fear, excitement, sadness, etc.)
- Shows off to new people and creatures, making eye contact with them before and after doing something it believes is impressive.
- Stomps its foot to the rhythm of music it hears. If the mood strikes it, it will sing along with odd roars and chirps.
- Likes to mimic the mannerisms of its favorite player character
- Is excessively cute and exploits that knowledge
Physical Distinctions (1d10):
Something makes this dinosaur visually different from others.
- Runt: It looks much smaller than its kin, almost as if it were a whole size smaller.
- Presenting: Its scales or feathers are brightly colored.
- Wicked Teeth: Its teeth are comically oversized.
- Soft: Their scales never quite hardened properly or their feathers are very thin and pleasant to the touch.
- Cackles: The dinosaur makes sounds unlike most others of its species, releasing a cackle-like laugh rather than a roar or call.
- Spiked: Its body is more spiny, making riding it more difficult.
- Lumbering: It has a wide, bowlegged stance. Whether its moving quick or slow, it has trouble controlling its massive body.
- Stubby Tail: Its tail is extremely short, either from being cut off or from a deformity.
- Oversized: While still healthy, it has noticeably larger proportions than most others of its species.
- Mortal Wound: It suffered a severe injury at a young age. While healed, the bones never set right, and the scars are obvious.
This dinosaur is special, excelling in a particular area.
- Its frame makes it more agile, and it has +2 to dexterity.
- It knows how to goad other dinosaurs into reacting how it wants. It has advantage when interacting with other dinosaurs.
- Its teeth are more vicious than normal dinosaurs of its species. +1 to bite damage
- Fighting isn’t its first defense. It has advantage on charisma checks.
- Constant aggression against it has caused it to continually be aware, granting it advantage on sight-based wisdom (perception) checks.
- This dinosaur has either spiky scales or quill-like feathers, making it difficult for the rider. The dinosaur gains +1 natural armor.
- This dinosaur is incredibly stable, giving it advantage on checks made to move it against its will.
- It is lighter than it should be, allowing it to carry 1/4 more weight than others of its species.
- Its hearty body allows it to have advantage on constitution saves.
- This dinosaur proved to be resilient and resourceful despite a malady on its body. It receives one of the following:
- They learned to think smarter, giving them +2 intelligence.
- They are hearty and resilient, +1 HP per hit dice.
- They are trusting and clever, the rider can immediately teach them a trick.
- They are distinct and appear either frightful or strange. They receive +2 to charisma.
Something specific keeps it from being like most the others of its species.
- It weighs 1/4th less. It suffers -2 to strength
- It is horrible at hiding, giving it disadvantage on stealth checks
- Its odd or misshapen teeth give it -1 to bite attacks
- Its underdeveloped scales or feathers give it 1 less natural armor than others of its species.
- Something about it makes other dinosaurs uneasy. It has disadvantage to charisma checks when dealing with other dinosaurs.
- This dinosaur has either spiky scales or quill-like feathers, making it difficult to ride. In order to ride it and not take damage, the rider must have an exotic saddle made specifically for it.
- It lacks some of the limberness most of its kin possesses. It takes an extra 5 ft. of movement to make a 90-degree turn.
- Something is wrong with its tail. Since it cannot balance on its tail, it is considered one size category smaller for determining how high it can reach. It also receives a -2 on dexterity saves.
- It weighs 1/4 more than a normal member of its species. If it is bipedal, it can carry 1/4 less weight. If it is a quadruped, each day, it must spend one hour doing nothing but eating or suffer one level of exhaustion.
- This dinosaur suffered a severe wound somewhere on its body that still affects it:
- Head: -1 damage to bite attack, or -2 to wisdom
- Leg/wing: -5 ft. to movement speed
- Arm: -1 damage on claw attack, -2 to any dexterity checks
- Torso: While fully healed, they are missing a portion of their body and have damaged organs beneath it. They receive -1 hit point per hit die.
For more ideas for mounts, see:
- Steal [Our] Idea: More Than Hairy Motorcycles: Horse Breeds, Personality Traits, Visual Distinctions, and How They all Matter
- Quit Horsing Around: 5 D&D 5e Vermin Mounts [Steal [Our] Idea]