Dire Animal

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"They're like wolves but they're dire" - South Park , Stick of Truth.

Dire Animals are a concept introduced in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, and one of the most prolifically-used templates in that edition (To be clear, there was never a creature template made). The basic idea is that Dire Animals represent an "uber form" of a given animal - an animal that isn't so much magical as just insanely huge and badass beyond the limits of its normal kinsfolk. Like, you remember the wave of giant killer animal movies kickstarted by Jaws? Or the "giant prehistoric animals" common of Sword & Sorcery? That's basically what Dire Animals are in a nutshell.

Plus it doesn't hurt that they give druids and rangers the ability to stay relevant at higher levels, when "command a brown bear" just doesn't cut it anymore, because you're fighting things like dragonspawn on a regular basis.

Dire animals in 3e are typically portrayed as bigger and "more primal", which usually tends to boil down "stick lots of bony spikes on it and exaggerate the fangs/claws/teeth/horns". They have sometimes been suggested as a stand-in for primeval megafauna - the beasties of the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene epochs - which used to appear alongside dinosaurs in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but other books have explicitly statted various examples of such megafauna as completely separate entities from the Dire Animal template.

For what it's worth, in the Monster Manual #1, the Dire Animal template's entire fluff boils down to this: Dire animals are larger, tougher, meaner versions of ordinary animals. Each kind tends to have a feral, prehistoric, or even demonic appearance.

List of Dire Animals[edit]

Monster Manual 1[edit]

  • Dire Ape
  • Dire Badger
  • Dire Bat
  • Dire Bear
  • Dire Boar
  • Dire Lion
  • Dire Rat
  • Dire Shark
  • Dire Tiger
  • Dire Weasel
  • Dire Wolf
  • Dire Wolverine

Monster Manual 2[edit]

  • Dire Toad
  • Dire Hawk
  • Dire Snake
  • Dire Horse
  • Dire Elk
  • Dire Elephant

Frostburn[edit]

  • Dire Polar Bear

Sandstorm[edit]

  • Dire Hippopootamus
  • Dire Jackal
  • Dire Puma
  • Dire Tortoise
  • Dire Vulture

Stormwrack[edit]

  • Dire Barracuda
  • Dire Eel

Fiend Folio[edit]

  • Dire Rhinoceros

Races of Stone[edit]

  • Dire Eagle

Official Art Gallery[edit]