Dire animal

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Dire animal
Characteristics
Type Animal
Image Wizards.com image
Stats Open Game License stats

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game, dire animals are larger, tougher, meaner versions of regular animals. They fairly closely resemble their normal counterparts, only are slightly larger and more powerful, and with a feral, prehistoric and even demonic countenance. Sharp, ugly, bony ridges protrude from their spines, limbs and head. Some say they are creatures that have been exposed to demonic energy or cursed by the gods, while others say they are regular creatures who have been experimented on by mad wizards. Dire animals cannot speak, are of animal intelligence and carry no equipment.

Contents

Publication history[edit]

The third edition Monster Manual introduces twelve dire animals, specific descriptions of which are listed below: dire ape, dire badger, dire bat, dire bear, dire boar, dire lion, dire rat, dire shark, dire tiger, dire weasel, dire wolf, and dire wolverine.[1] The same dire animals are presented again in the version 3.5 Monster Manual.[2][3] Each of these twelve creatures is described in its own section below.

Masters of the Wild introduces 6 new dire animals.[4] The animals are listed below: dire elephant, dire elk, dire horse, dire hawk, dire snake, and dire toad.[4] The Monster Manual II features six updated dire animals,[5] updated versions of the monsters published in Masters of the Wild.[4] The monsters are listed here: dire elephant, dire elk, dire horse, dire hawk, dire snake, and dire toad.[5] The third edition Fiend Folio introduced one new dire animal, the dire rhinoceros.[6]

Races of Stone introduced the dire eagle.[7] Frostburn introduces numerous dire animals more suited to cold environments. Many of them are not named 'dire [animal name]' but are still counted as dire animals. They are listed here: dire polar bear, megaloceros, glyptodon, sabretoothed tiger, wooly mammoth, and zeuglodon.[8] Libris Mortis does not technically introduce any dire animals, however, the dire maggot is named 'dire', despite the fact that it is of the vermin type;[9] it is more usual to describe giant versions of real life vermin as Monstrous, not Dire, which is generally reserved for animals.[2]

Races of the Wild featured the dire hawk.[10] Sandstorm introduced several new dire animals suited to a warmer environment. These were: dire hippopotamus, dire jackal, dire puma, dire tortoise, and dire vulture.[11] Stormwrack introduced two new dire animals, both designed to be well suited to an aquatic environment. They were the dire barracuda and the dire eel.[12] The book Dragon Magic introduces the dire phynxkin.[13]

Creative origins[edit]

Dire animals are intended to represent fantasy prehistoric animals. Many dire animals have real world megafauna counterparts, such as the woolly mammoth, the megaloceros, and the zeuglodon. Many others, however, with their protruding bony ridges and spikes, are simply fanciful inventions.

The word 'dire' is sometimes used to describe some real-life prehistoric animals, such as the dire wolf.

The idea of large versions of ordinary animals as adversaries to heroes was likely inspired by tales from myth and legend, such as the Nemean Lion, the giant rat or the roc. Such creatures have also been featured numerous times in literature, such as The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Dire ape[edit]

A dire ape is a dire version of an ape, or, more specifically, a gorilla. They are found in warm forests and warm mountains, and encountered either individually, or in companies of 5-8 animals.[14]

Physical description[edit]

Dire apes look like very large gorillas. They have long, ivory claws, and very sharp teeth. They stand around 8 feet tall, and weigh between 600 and 1,000 lbs. They have a good sense of smell, and are capable climbers.

Combat[edit]

Dire apes will attack anything that enters its territory. It attacks by biting and clawing, and also has the ability to tear opponents apart, if it manages to strike the opponent with both claws at the same time. Generally, if the ape finds its attacks ineffective due to the opponents armour, it will grapple the opponent and pin it to the floor, before attacking further.[2]

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Druids can summon dire apes as animal companions.
  • Certain characters can turn into dire apes.
  • Dire apes in various forms can be summoned by certain spells, such as Summon Nature’s Ally IV.[15]

In other publications and media[edit]

A single official dire ape miniature has been released by Wizards of the Coast, called Dire Ape.[16]

Dire badger[edit]

A dire badger is a dire version of a badger. They are found in temperate forests, hills, plains and underground. They are encountered solitarily or in cetes of between 2 and 5 animals.[17]

Physical description[edit]

Dire badgers look like regular badgers, reaching lengths of 7 feet. They can weigh up to 500 lbs. They have a very good sense of smell, and are capable burrowers.

Combat[edit]

Dire badgers attack with their claws and teeth. When a dire badger is injured in combat, it flies into a dangerous rage, making it stronger and tougher, but with the drawback of being significantly easier to hit. It cannot end its rage volutarily, and the rage will end only if it, or its opponent, is killed.

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Gnomes have the ability to cast Speak with animals daily, but it applies only to burrowing mammals. Therefore, they often make use of dire badgers as combat animals. A band of gnomes typically includes 30-50 gnomes, plus 1 sergeant per 20 adults, 5 lieutenants, 3 captains, and 2-5 dire badgers.[2]
  • Druids and rangers can summon dire badgers as animal companions.
  • Certain characters can turn into dire badgers.
  • Dire badgers can be summoned in various forms by numerous spells, including Summon Nature’s Ally II[15]

In other publications and media[edit]

One official miniature of a dire badger has been released by Wizards of the Coast, called Celestial Dire Badger.[16]

Dire bat[edit]

A dire bat is a dire version of a bat. They are found in temperate and warm deserts, hills, forests, plains and underground. They are encountered either on their own, or in colonies of between 5 and 8 animals.[18]

Physical description[edit]

Dire bats look like very large bats, and have a wingspan of between 8 and 9 feet. They have Blindsight, allowing them to 'see' in the dark. Because of this, their vision is effectively better than a humans. They also have keen ears, to make use of their ability. They can see regularly, but their normal vision is extremely weak.

Combat[edit]

Dire bats are nocturnal hunters that swoop down on prey from above. They attack by biting.[2]

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Dire bat fur is a material component for the arcane spell Arcane Eye.
  • Druids and Rangers can summon dire bats as animal companions.
  • Dire bats can be summoned by various spells, such as Summon Nature’s Ally II.
  • Certain characters can turn into dire bats.[15]
  • Vampires can turn into dire bats.[2]

In other publications and media[edit]

Wizards of the Coast has released one official dire bat miniature, named Dire Bat.[16]

Dire bear[edit]

A dire bear is a dire version of a bear. They live on their own, or in pairs, and can be found in cold forests.[19]

Physical description[edit]

Dire bears are as much as 20 feet long, and can weigh up to 6,000 lbs. They have a strong sense of smell.

Combat[edit]

Dire bears attack primarily with their claws, but they can also bite. It also has the ability to Rend opponents- if it manages to catch hold with both of its claw attacks, then it can pull the creature that has been hit wide open, doing great amounts of damage to it.

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Dire bears are often kept by stone giants, a type of giant. A typical tribe of stone giants consists of 21-30 giants, plus 35% noncombatants and 1-3 elders, with 3-6 dire bears.[2]
  • Dire bears can be summoned in various forms by various spells, such as Summon Monster VIII.
  • Certain characters can turn into dire bears.
  • Dire bears can become animal companions for various characters.[15]
  • High level bear warriors, a prestiege class found in Complete Warrior, can turn into dire bears.[20]

In other publications and media[edit]

There has been one dire bear miniature released, called Dire Bear.[16]

Dire boar[edit]

A dire boar is a dire version of a wild boar. They are encountered individually, or in herds of between five and eight creatures. They are found in temperate and warm forests.[21]

Physical description[edit]

A dire boar looks like a regular boar, but can grow up to sixteen feet long. It weighs up to 2,000 pounds, and has a strong sense of smell.

Combat[edit]

Dire boars fight by biting and attempting to rip apart the opponent using its tusks. They also have the Ferocity special attack. This means that the creature will continue to fight, even while dying or disabled, rather that falling unconscious, or being significantly weakened.[2]

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Dire boars can become animal companions to druids and other character.
  • Dire boars can be summoned with various spells, such as Summon Nature’s Ally IV.
  • Druids and other characters can turn into dire boars.[15]

In other publications and media[edit]

There is one model of a dire boar that is, as of yet, unreleased. It is called Thundertusk Cavalry and consists of an armoured dwarf atop an armoured dire boar.[22] There is also a model, called Dire Boar, that has already been released.[16]

Dire lion[edit]

The dire lion is a dire version of a lion. They are encountered individually, in pairs, or in prides of between six and ten animals. They are found in forests of any temperature, on plains, hills and mountains of any temperature, and underground.[23]

Physical description[edit]

Dire lions look like regular lions. They grow up to 20 feet long, and weigh up to 3,500 pounds. They have a strong sense of smell. They are particularly apt at hiding and moving quietly, and even more so in areas of long grass or heavy undergrowth.

Combat[edit]

A dire lion's attacking tactics are more complex than many other dire animals'. It runs at whatever it intends to attack, usually prey, and pounces towards it, clawing and biting it while it rakes with its hind legs. It is only able to attack with its hind legs if it manages to bite hold of its opponent.

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Druids and other characters can turn into dire lions.
  • Dire lions can be summoned by various spells.
  • Druids and other characters can have dire lions as animal companions.
  • Cloud giants, a type of giant, often keep dire lions. A typical cloud giant family has 2-4 giants, plus 35% noncombatants and 1 sorcerer or cleric with 2-5 griffons or 2-8 dire lions. A typical cloud giant band consists of 6-9 giants plus 1 sorcerer or cleric with 2-5 griffons or 2-8 dire lions.
  • The Storm Lord class can summon a black Dire Lion called a Shadow Lion as a mount, similar to the divine ability of a paladin.[24]

In other publications and media[edit]

One dire lion miniature, called Dire Lion, has been released.[16]

Dire rat[edit]

A 'dire rat' is a dire version of a rat. They can be found on any land or underground, and are either encountered individually, or in packs of 11-20 individual creatures.[25]

Physical description[edit]

Dire rats look basically the same as a normal rat, but they can grow up to 3 feet long and weigh over 60 pounds (27 kilograms). They are adept swimmers and climbers, relying on their dexterity ability score rather than their strength for these skills. They also have better vision and scent than humans.

Combat[edit]

Dire rats attack in packs. Their only weapon is their dangerous bite, which, as well as physically injuring the recipient, can pass on the disease carried by dire rats, known as filth fever.[2] This is an ability that dire rats share only with otyughs, although it can also be caught by anyone who is injured in a dirty environment. The disease temporarily lowers the ill creature's constition and dexterity ability scores, therefore weakening their immune system and physical toughness, as well as slowing their reflexes, lessening their flexibility and lessening their accuracy.[26]

Relation with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Wererats, a type of lycanthrope, are dire rats in their animal form.
  • Vampires can summon forth a swarm of dire rats as part of their Children of the Night ability.[2]
  • Low level druids can choose to have a dire rat as an animal companion, as can mid-level rangers.
  • Certain characters can turn into dire rats.
  • Dire rats can be summoned in various forms with numerous spells, including Summon Natures Ally I.[15]
  • Dire rats can be summoned as a blackguard's Fiendish Servant.[26]

In other publications and media[edit]

Dire rats have appeared in numerous other publications, including many Dungeons & Dragons novels. They have also appeared in official released adventures and adventure paths, such as The Sunless Citadel.[27] Wizards of the Coast has also released two dire rat models in their new batch of official ranges- the 'Dire Rat' from the Giants of Legend range and the 'Diseased Dire Rat' from the War of the Dragon Queen range.[16]

Dire shark[edit]

A dire shark is a dire version of a shark. They are encountered individually, or in schools of between two and five creatures. They are only found in cold aquatic environments.[28]

Physical description[edit]

Dire sharks are the largest of the dire animals found in the Monster Manual. They can grow to 50 feet in length, and weigh more than 20,000 pounds. They have an extremely strong sense of smell, even more so than other dire animals.

Combat[edit]

Dire sharks typically attack anything that they perceive to be edible, and this can include larger creatures. Their only form of attack is to bite with their large, powerful jaws. If it successfully bites an opponent, it can take hold of the creature or object in its jaw, and swallow it whole. The shark is only able to do this to a creature that is smaller than itself.[2]

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Certain spells can summon dire sharks.
  • Dire sharks can become animal companions to certain characters.
  • Certain characters can turn into dire sharks.[15]

In other publications and media[edit]

The dire shark does not have any miniatures made of it.[16]

Dire tiger[edit]

A dire tiger is a dire version of a tiger. They are encountered solitarily, or in pairs, and can be found in any non-aquatic environment, with the exception of deserts.[29]

Physical description[edit]

Dire tigers are the largest of the land dwelling dire animals, that are found in the Monster Manual. They grow up to 35 feet in length, and can weigh up to 6,000 pounds.

Combat[edit]

Dire tigers fight with exactly the same tactics as dire lions. Once the tiger has chosen a target, it runs at whatever it intends to attack, usually prey, and pounces towards it, clawing and biting it while it rakes with its hind legs. It is only able to attack with its hind legs if it manages to bite hold of its opponent.[2]

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Druids and other characters can turn into dire tigers.
  • Dire tigers can be summoned by various spells.
  • Druids and other characters can have dire tigers as animal companions.[15]

In other publications and media[edit]

There has been one miniature of a dire tiger released.[16]

Dire weasel[edit]

A dire weasel is a dire version of a weasel. They are encountered individually or in pairs, and are found in temperate hills.[30]

Physical description[edit]

Dire weasels are basically weasels that can grow to a length of 6 feet, and weigh up to 400 pounds.

Combat[edit]

Dire weasels are aggressive creatures, and they fight by stalking their prey, usually in the dark, and leaping upon them, biting and clawing at the creature. If a weasel successfully bites an opponent, then it attaches itself to the creature, and slowly drains its blood.[2]

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Druids and other characters can turn into dire weasels
  • Dire weasels can be summoned by various spells.
  • Druids and other characters can have dire weasels as animal companions.[15]
  • Kobolds often keep dire weasels. A warband of kobolds typically consists of 10-24 kobolds plus 2-4 dire weasels. A tribe of kobolds typically consists of 40-400 kobolds, plus 1 sergeant per 20 adults, 1 or 2 lieutenants, 1 leader, and 5-8 dire weasels.[2][31]

In other publications and media[edit]

There has been one model of a dire weasel released, called Fiendish Dire Weasel.[16]

Dire wolf[edit]

A dire wolf is a dire version of a grey wolf. They are encountered individually, or in packs of between 5 and 8 creatures. They are found in any non-aquatic or non-desert environment.[32]

Physical description[edit]

Grey or black in colour, dire wolves are about eight feet long, and weigh around 700 pounds. They have a good sense of smell. They also are good listeners, and their bodies have adapted to be easily hidden and quiet. Their eyes are slightly stronger than those of humans.

Combat[edit]

Dire wolves fight in packs, surrounding a foe, and flanking it to gain the upper hand. Their only attack is their bite, but they are quite capable of pulling enemies to the floor once they have bitten hold of them.[2]

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Certain spells can summon dire wolves.
  • Dire wolves can become animal companions to certain characters.
  • Certain characters can turn into dire wolves.[15]
  • Greater barghests can turn into dire wolves.
  • Vampires can turn into dire wolves.[2]

In other publications and media[edit]

There has been one dire wolf miniature released, called Dire Wolf.[16]

Dire wolverine[edit]

A dire wolverine is a dire version of a wolverine. They are encountered solitarily or in pairs, and can be found on any land (other than deserts), as long as it is of temperate temperature, and underground.[33]

Physical description[edit]

Dire wolverines can grow to 12 feet in length, and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds.

Combat[edit]

Dire wolverines fear no other animal, and attack other creatures randomly. They attack with the sharp claws on both their front paws, and by biting. If a dire wolverine is wounded in combat, it enters a rage identical to that of the dire badger.[2]

Relations with other monsters and characters[edit]

  • Certain spells can summon dire wolverines.
  • Dire wolverines can become animal companions to certain characters.
  • Certain characters can turn into dire wolverines.[15]

In other publications and media[edit]

There has been one model of a dire wolverine released, called Fiendish Dire Wolverine.[16]

Additional reading[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q The 3.5 Edition Monster Manual
  3. ^ [1] D20SRD.org page about dire animals
  4. ^ a b c Dungeons & Dragons Masters of the Wild
  5. ^ a b Bonny, Ed, Jeff Grubb, Rich Redman, Skip Williams, Steve Winter. Monster Manual II, Wizards of the Coast, 2002
  6. ^ Cagle, Eric, Jesse Decker, James Jacobs, Erik Mona, Matt Sernett, Chris Thomasson, and James Wyatt. Fiend Folio (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  7. ^ Dungeons & Dragons Races of Stone
  8. ^ Baur, Wolfgang, James Jacobs, and George Strayton. Frostburn. (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
  9. ^ Dungeons & Dragons Libris Mortis
  10. ^ Dungeons & Dragons Races of the Wild
  11. ^ Cordell, Bruce, Jennifer Clarke-Wilkes, and JD Wiker. Sandstorm (Wizards of the Coast, 2005)
  12. ^ Dungeons & Dragons Stormwrack
  13. ^ Dungeons & Dragons Dragon Magic
  14. ^ [2] D20SRD.org page about dire apes
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The 3.5 Edition Player's Handbook
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l [3] A list of all models released by Wizards of the Coast in their new ranges.
  17. ^ [4] D20SRD.org page about dire badgers
  18. ^ [5] D20SRD.org page about dire bats
  19. ^ [6] D20SRD.org page about dire bears
  20. ^ Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition Complete Warrior
  21. ^ [7] D20SRD.org page about dire boars
  22. ^ [8] Preview of the Blood War miniatures
  23. ^ [9] D20SRD.org page about dire lions
  24. ^ Player's Guide to Arcanis, by Paradim Concepts
  25. ^ [10] D20SRD.org page about dire rats
  26. ^ a b The 3.5 Edition Dungeon Master's Guide
  27. ^ [11] A review of 'The Sunless Citadel' from epinions.com
  28. ^ [12] D20SRD.org page about dire sharks
  29. ^ [13] D20SRD.org page about dire tigers
  30. ^ [14] D20SRD.org page about dire weasels
  31. ^ [15] D20SRD.org page about Kobolds
  32. ^ [16] D20SRD.org page about dire wolves
  33. ^ [17] D20SRD.org page about dire wolverines