Dire animal

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Dire animal
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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.

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.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977).


  1. Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  2. 2.0 2.1 The 3.5 Edition Monster Manual
  3. [1] D20SRD.org page about dire animals
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Dungeons & Dragons Masters of the Wild
  5. 5.0 5.1 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

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