Dragon Encounters

Making dnd combat fun, finding monsters that fit together, monster tactics and strategies, and other ways of using the monsters of dungeons and dragons

TRICERATOPS: Charge of the Triceratops


Combat rating 7


1 Triceratops (CR 5)

2-3 Perytons (CR 2)


Combat rating 8


1 Triceratops (CR 5)

1 Otyugh (CR 5)


Combat rating 9


1 Triceratops (CR 5)

1 Giant constrictor snake (CR 2)

1 Giant crocodile (CR 5)

1 Swarm of poisonous snakes (CR 2)


Combat rating 11


2 Triceratopses (CR 5)

2-3 Ankhegs (CR 2)

2 Lizardfolk shamans (CR 2)

1 Lizard king/queen (CR 5)

1 Water weird (CR 3)

How to Use – Combat Encounter 1: Shrubbery (difficulty 6)

Have the players enter a clearing, ringed about by dead thorns, possibly as high as their waists, possibly higher than their heads. Bushes or other shrubbery should work fine also.

The triceratops sees them and objects to their presence. After charging them, he turns and retreats into the shrubbery, only to comes out a round or two later and charge them again. And again. And again.

Logically, the shrubbery should pose more of an obstruction to the PCs than to the triceratops. It’s bigger than they are, and they don’t have its thick hide. I could make an argument that the area shouldn’t be considered difficult terrain for it, or that it should only cost it five extra feet of movement every ten feet, instead of five, and/or that some of it be considered very difficult terrain for the PCs, [meaning every five feet of movement costs them twenty], but only be considered difficult for the triceratops. (All of these are technically homebrew, though.)

Even if you don’t want to go with that, the cost of attacks of opportunity are less than the costs of normal attacks. They don’t get extra attacks when making attacks of opportunity, nor do all of them necessarily get to attack. Also, there are spells and special abilities that might not translate well to attacks of opportunity.

If the triceratops doesn’t attack every turn, they might hesitate to ready actions, as that will cost them their action for something that might not happen. I’m not certain how a readied action will translate to being rammed by a triceratops, in any case, as once they get rammed they’re prone, and it’s hard to imagine them being able to hit the triceratops as it’s charging them. (It’s moving pretty fast, and they’ll be hitting it on the strongest part of its body, on its horns.)

If you want, you could throw a few Pteranodons into the encounter, to swoop down and attack them occasionally, and to make them hesitate to use their actions to prepare for the triceratops, but I don’t think it’s really necessary.

You probably don’t need to worry about your players retreating, Players rarely leave the site of a battle without winning, and even if they do the triceratops can always pursue them. If you are worried about that, you can always place a buried treasure, or trapdoor, or place more potion ingredient plants in the clearing for them to need to collect.

Combat Encounter 2: Treetops (difficulty 5)

You could arrange to get them into trees before the triceratops come. The triceratops will notice them, probably by smell, and start ramming the trees, causing the PCs in them to fall if they don’t manage a DEX save. I would think that it should get to make its stomp attack as a bonus action if it knocks them out, but this is technically homebrew. (I’m arguing because it makes logical sense, not because it fits into the rules. It doesn’t.)

The other effect of it ramming the trees would be that it knocks over the tree. That would automatically cause all the PCs to fall out, and even give a possibility of one or more of them getting pinned to the ground with the trunk on top of them, and needing a STR check to get out.

How to get them into the trees: You could have them gathering potion ingredients from the treetops, of course. They could also have to climb the trees to avoid a flood, or to discover a clue if they’re hunting a treasure. A more interesting idea might be if they’re fighting enemies that live in the trees, perhaps on platforms set among the treetops. They’re just finished clearing out the treetops when the triceratops arrives, and takes exception to the smell of strangers.

If you’re using this idea, have the initial charge dislodge one or two of the bridges between platforms, and you’ll end up with the PCs separated, unable to rejoin without either climbing down to the ground and back up, or trying to jump, which will obviously bring them down to the ground if they fail.

Combat Encounter 3: Canyon (difficulty 7)

They have to pass through a narrow canyon, and there is a triceratops blocking the passage. Every turn, the triceratops will charge them, backing up if necessary, and then retreat, assuming he has movement left and won’t incur an attack of opportunity in doing so.

The canyon itself is probably only wide enough for two PCs to stand next to each other, and they’ll be blocking the sight of any PCs who use ranged attacks and are standing behind them.

To make this encounter both interesting and challenging, have an enemy behind them that they are trying to escape from. The allosaurus pack mentioned under allosaurus should do. The narrow walls of the canyon will limit how many can come against them at once, but they’ll keep coming until the players escape, which they can only do by getting past the triceratops. [You might have killing the first pair cause the other to hang back for a round or two, just so that dealing damage isn’t weaker than imposing conditions.]

 Alternatively, provide an urgent need for the players to get past the triceratops. If using villains, perhaps they are working to flood the canyon, or to dig up a treasure and escape. If the players can’t get past within a few rounds, they will succeed.

It is important to note that they don’t have to kill the triceratops to succeed. In the scenarios involving villains, they don’t even have to get all the PCs to the other side. They just have to bring enough PCs to stop the villains. In the allosaurus option, bringing some of them to the other side will let them fight the triceratops from both directions, and will limit/eliminate its ability to charge, but will make it harder for the ones behind to survive the allosauruses.

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About Me

I have been a DM for several years, and I was designing home RPG games since my young childhood. I have been a fan of many different types of games (computer, board, RPG, and more) and have designed several for my own entertainment. This is my first attempt to produce game content for a wider audience.