Dire creatures are large, feral-looking animals. They are not just bigger versions of normal animals, however. On the whole, dire creatures are bigger, stronger, faster, and more aggressive than their normal counterparts.
No one is certain what causes a dire creature to be born. Some druids maintain that Nature creates dire creatures as a direct response to some environmental threat, or as an adaptation to the magic and monsters that share the world with her creations. Others insist that, rather than an evolutionary step forward, dire creatures are a regression to more savage and prehistoric days. The majority of druids are not in the habit of questioning or explaining Nature’s motives, however, and simply state that dire creatures exist and that is all that need be known.
“Dire” is an inherited template that can be added to any animal that is not already dire (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A dire creature retains all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here. Some dire creatures were not created using this template and may be the exception to the rules presented here having predated the creation of this monster template.
CR: Same as the base creature +2.
Size and Type: If the base creature is Tiny or smaller, increase its size to Small. Otherwise, increase its size by one size category. The dire creature does not gain the benefits or penalties to ability scores that arise from increased size.
Hit Dice: If the dire creature is Small, it has a number of Hit Dice equal to the base creature +1 (minimum of 2 HD). If the dire creature is Medium, it has a number of Hit Dice equal to the base creature +3 (minimum of 4 HD). If the dire creature is Large or larger it has a number of Hit Dice equal to double the base creature (minimum of 6 HD). Recalculate base attack bonus and base saves according to the dire creature’s new Hit Dice total (base attack bonus equals 3/4 Hit Dice, Fort and Ref equal 1/2 Hit Dice +2, Will equals 1/3 Hit Dice).
Speed: Same as the base creature +10 ft.
Special Attacks: Increase the damage dice for any special attacks to its new size (usually by on step).
Feats: Same as base creature, with additional feats gained through the usual means from the increase in HD. If the base animal has Weapon Finesse and the feat would become useless after its increase in Strength, then it may trade Weapon Finesse for Weapon Focus with one of its natural attacks.
Skills: A dire creature gains skill points equal to 2 + Intelligence modifier (minimum 1) for each HD it gained. Its class skills are unchanged.