The dire animal: a larger, often more "prehistoric"-looking version of a normal animal. Popular in fantasy works. After all, watching your hero fight a rat the size of ... well, a rat
is hardly impressive, but make it the size of a small dog
, now that is amazing. And a wolf is threatening, but a sabre-toothed wolf the size of a bear... Well, that's even more impressive.
Often how such animals came to be never is elaborated upon. Why do normal wolves and dire wolves often coexist and share ecosystem without one driving the other to extinction by killing one another or driving out prey is also never elaborated upon.
Nonetheless, Dire Animals have become a staple of fantasy works, often serving as early game enemies (with Dire Rats ideal for a Rat Stomp
). Dire version of more impressive animals can still pose a challenge later in the story (Dire Bears the size of elephants, Dire Tyrannosaurus Rex
) but most often these form one of the earliest challenge heroes must face.
Dire Animals may fit into various subtropes depending on what animals they are: Rodents of Unusual Size
, Big, Badass Wolf
, Panthera Awesome
, Scary Scorpions
, Giant Enemy Crab
, Creepy Centipedes
Invariably causes Animals Not to Scale
. Related to Whateversaurus
- In A Game of Thrones, the Dire Wolf is the symbol of house Stark. At adulthood, if the TV show is any indication, they grow to the size of a horse. Everyone of Ned Stark's children is given a Dire Wolf pup as a companion early in the
- Dungeons & Dragons
- This game is likely the Trope Codifier: Dire Animals are numerous, and Dire Rats, Badgers, Wolves and Bears are staples of the game and many adaptation, but more creative examples include Dire Crocodiles and Dire Sharks. Basically any animal you can think of often has a dire version. Dire animals are distinguished by their size and being covered in spikes.
- In 3.5, even Dire Animals had their own "more dire" counterpart in the form of "Legendary" beasts and "Paragon" beasts.
- Savage Worlds includes numerous dire beasties in its core rulebook's list of pre-generated foes.
- Dire creatures appear in Final Fantasy XII. Dire Rats and Dire Flans.
- Dire wolves appear in RuneScape's forest of Isafdar as larger-sized versions of their cousins, guarding the entrance to the Elven city of Lletya.
- Dire wolves are a pain in the ass in Age of Empires II, due to their propensity to violently murder your villagers.
- Dire Wolves appear in The Battle for Middle-Earth. They did not appear in the books however (instead there were Wargs).
- World of Warcraft has a ton of dire animals: Dire Wolves, Dire Boars, Dire Bats, Dire Apes, Dire Condors and Dire Lions.
- In the Diablo franchise, there are often large, mean versions of common animals, especially spiders. Justified in the cosmology since all animals were originally based on demons, and are easily corrupted.