Dungeons & Dragons Online

Homebrew Paleontology Mechanic for D&D

I am a relatively new DM working on a homebrew paleontology mechanic to implement into my campaign. As such, I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions about what I could improve or rework.

The mechanic itself would first revolve around 3 ability/skill checks: Perception to notice the fossil, Strength to excavate the fossil, and Nature to identify the fossil and what it came from.

The Perception check would be based on the DC for the surroundings, specifically how much the player gets over the DC. In addition, since the Perception check provides details about how exposed the fossil is, the Strength check for excavation is likewise tied to the check.

Perception over DCResultStrength Check to Excavate
3Notice a small difference in the color of a rockDC 25
5Notice small fragments of something standing out in the surroundingsDC 20
7Notice a semi-exposed fossilDC 15
9+Notice a nearly completely exposed fossilDC 10

For the Nature check, I wanted to use it both as a means for the players to determine the specific fossil as well as what it belongs to. As such, I've included an example of what could be gleaned based off of the DC tiers.

Nature DCResultExample
5ID down to kingdomAnimalia
10General description about fossil, ID down to phylumLong bone, Chordata
12Vague ideas about the fossil, ID down to class/similar cladeLimb bone, Archosauria
15Some certainty about where the fossil is from, ID down to order/similar cladeArm bone, Dinosauria (specifically Theropoda)
18Good guess about the fossil, ID down to family/similar cladeEither a radius or an ulna, Oviraptoridae
20Specific fossil identified, organism ID down to genusRadius, Oviraptor
25+Specific fossil identified, organism ID down to species/subspeciesRadius, Oviraptor philoceratops

In addition to these checks, I've created a chart that breaks down the specific geologic time periods and assigns them to a d20 roll. Each of these time periods will then have their own tables that determine which fossils the players can find, as well as the information given to them by the Nature check.

RollTime Period
2Proterozoic (minus Ediacaran)
8Carboniferous (Mississippian)
9Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian)

I also have an idea to include a table to determine the specific bone/bones the players find that is influenced by the Perception check. If the check exceeded the DC by 5, then this table is rolled on twice, with an extra roll added every 2 over the DC before 25. At a Perception check of 25 or over, the table can be ignored.

4Left Arm
5Right Arm
6Left Leg
7Right Leg


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