So you bring home you 4th edition Monster Manual from the store and eagerly tear into it to find what they’ve done to favourite beast. So you flip to A for Aranea, nope, Athatch, nope? Ack has D&D been completely de-Mystara’d while you been sleeping, so you flip hurriedly to D for dinosaurs anxious to see if you can still populate the Isle of Dread and wham no Dinosaurs and at that point I’m too terrified to hope that phanatons made it in. Using keen sense and clear thinking you stumble out onto the internet to vent your outrage. Then, you read that dinosaurs are behemoths so it’s back to B to try again. What! A stegosaurus and an ankylosaurus? That’s it! Er a bloodspike behemoth and a macetail behemoth (I mean really), my wife points out that they could have put a bellowing trampler in the book and said it was carnivorous but if it looks like a cow then it’s a cow. So you put the MM aside and hope for the onslaught of 3PP to save you…yet…all is quiet for quite a while.
At the start of this month our call for more dinosaurs was answered by author Aeryn Rudel (aka Blackdirge) and publishers Goodman Games (who once had as product called Dinosaurs that Never Were). This PDF supplement is 26 pages, is published under the GSL and provides twenty-six or so new dinosaurs and prehistoric beasts for your 4th edition game (both with 4e name styles and actual names). The dinosaurs range in level from one to twenty four with the majority of them being skirmishers, soldiers and brutes. There are no minions, a single lurker and no controllers. If Goodman/Blackdirge do convert the dinosaurs that never were supplement, the “Stone Dropper” from the earlier book could make a nice controller.
In 4e, I find monsters seem to be identifying themselves to me by their attacks so when I look at a new monster book it’s the unique attacks that keep my attention the most. Some of the new attacks that I like most include the sideswipe charge of the styracosaurus (spikefrill behemoth) which allows this horned dinosaur to take swipes at adjacent enemies as it charges it main target or death roll of the sarcosuchus (titanslayer crocodile) which allows it to roll around when its bitten you smashing you into the ground, over and over and over again or the blood in the water/blood frenzy powers of the megalodon (megatooth shark) which is adaptable to so many other shark-like predators. Some of the elite opponents such as the spikeshell kraken and earthshaker behemoth have devastating attacks that allow them to strike at everything within in 3 areas or deal multiple attacks with large ongoing damage. A number of the larger dinos also have charges or bites that grab opponents with follow-up abilities to grind them into paste. Unlike the MM, all creatures have descriptive text blocks as well as being fully illustrated.
The product is bookmarked, crisp-looking and illustrated throughout. If you are dino-friendly, play in Eberron or are planning on sending your PCs back to the Isle of Dread, then I think at $4.99, this is probably a must buy.