GURPS Dinosaurs by Stephen Dedman (1996)

GurpsDinosCover blurb

Tyrant Kings!

Giganotosaurus, the largest carnivore ever to walk the Earth . . . Packs of Deinonychus, the “terrible claws” . . . Triceratops, armed with shield and spears . . . 65-ton Brachiosaurus, tall as a four-story building . . . Ankylosaurus, the living tank . . . the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex . . . cunning Troodons . . . the deadly Utahraptor . . .

Their fossil bones inspired myths of dragons and other monsters. Their images still terrify us today. Visit their world — or have them visit yours.

GURPS Dinosaurs includes:

  • A detailed bestiary of the world before human history, with more than 100 dinosaurs, plus pterosaurs, sea monsters, other reptiles, and prehistoric birds and mammals.
  • A chronology of life on Earth, from the Cambrian explosion to the Ice Ages.
  • Character creation and detailed roleplaying information for early hominids and humans, from Australopithecus to Cro-Magnon, including advantages, disadvantages and skills.
    Maps and background material for the world of the dinosaurs.
  • Plot and adventure ideas for Time Travel, Supers, Horror, Cliffhangers, Atomic Horror, Space, Survivors, Fantasy, Cyberpunk, and even caveman slapstick campaigns!

* Cover and blurb from publisher’s website.

My thoughts

I admittedly don’t play roleplaying games that much. Most of my experience with RPGs comes through computer games. I’m vaguely familiar with the GURPS mechanics, but the nice thing about GURPS is you don’t need to know how to play it to enjoy its source books. They’re some of the best in the business, meticulously researched and well-written. GURPS Dinosaurs is no exception.

The book is basically a bestiary of more than 100 different animals from Earth’s history. A large number of them are dinosaurs, but substantial sections of the book are dedicated to the creatures that came before and after the terrible lizards. There are even several stats for modern animals and a lengthy chapter on human evolution. No matter what game system you play, you’re likely to find this book useful in your campaign setting. You could plop a few mammoths down in your fantasy world, for example. Or you could stage a time-traveling safari and go gunning for dinosaurs.

One shortcoming of the book is there is little discussion about building campaigns around prehistoric animals. Some more detail about what skills and abilities characters need to roleplay dinosaur encounters, as well as more discussion about plot devices used to resurrect extinct beasts, would have been nice. Another shortcoming is there is no template provided to allow players to build creatures not on the list, although I suspect most GURPS regulars will know how to do that on their own.

Still, it’s a good book and probably the best RPG supplement people will find about dinosaurs and other animals. The book is currently available as a $7.95 download on the publisher’s Web site.

Trivia

  • The “Dinosaur Society” featured prominently on the book’s cover no longer exists. (I used to be a member when I was a kid.) However, it does seem to have a British offshoot that is alive and well.
  • Paleontologist Jack Horner wrote the book’s forward.

Reviews

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