It is late at night and the party is still moving through the woods. They have just killed a powerful necromancer, and now they are returning to safety in the town.
They are bleeding, bruised and almost out of spells and items. Just as they think they are safe, they hear howls and a large wolf emerges from the woods. Take initiative!
Direwolves are larger and more dangerous than normal grey wolves. They are formidable and can knock out most adventurers. They are often the only ones fighting.
What makes the DnD monster so dangerous? They are everywhere. How do you defeat them? This is our guide to the terrible wolf!
What is a Dire Wolf?
A Dire Wolf is an ancient grey wolf and is much larger than regular wolves. They average about 9 feet in length and weigh around 800 pounds. They can be aggressive and work alone or with 3-5 other wolves.
They have an AC of 14, average 37 hitpoints, 50 feet of speed, and these abilities.
Keen Hearing and Smell Wisdom (Perception) checks that depend on hearing or smell have an advantage for the wolf.
Pack tactics. If at least one of the wolf’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature, and the ally hasn’t become incapacitated, the wolf has an advantage in an attack roll against it.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack : +5 to hit. Reach 5ft., one target. Hit: (2d6 + 3) piercing damage. If the target creature is a creature it must make a DC 13 Strength saving throw to succeed or it will be knocked unconscious.
These rules are broken down so that the wolf can hear or smell someone entering their territory. They are also good at working in groups, so if they are near an ally and both attack the same target, they will have an advantage.
The wolf also has a large bite attack that isn’t very dangerous. However, if they are attempting to bite a creature (and this includes humanoids), they must roll a 13 on a strength check. The wolf will gain an advantage on their attack rolls if they fall, as they crush their victim.
Dire Wolf Tactics
A pack of three to five dire wolves will work together to take down the weakest member of the group. They will flank, get close to each other, try to pull the target down with powerful jaws and generally seek to gain as much advantage as possible.
They can also hit and run, using their speed to seperate the party before returning around for another attack. They can often detect or hear the party members long before they are visible and will use their stealth skills to sneak up on them in order to set themselves up for an ambush.
These wolves are aggressive and designed to kill. If you are caught in a fight with them, they will likely fight to the end. This is unlike other wolves, who may only fight for their territory or hunt. They will run if they are hurt or prey leaves the area.
They are also very sensitive to blood and gore, just like regular wolves. Dire wolves can be aggressive if your party has been injured or bloodied in a previous fight.
All wolves understand that blood indicates that the target has been injured or is weak. Weakness means that they can be eaten, making it easier to bring them down.
Fighting Wolves In A Pack
Although dire wolves are more comfortable fighting alone than in a pack, it’s not impossible for them to have alpha wolfed their own way to the top of any normal pack. They can also fight with a pack of weaker Wolves, which causes a change in their tactics.
Wolf packs are always moving and will try to seperate the party to get to the weakest member.
They will then run into the enemy and bite them. If they succeed in biting, normal wolves will position themselves around the enemy to make it easier for other wolves to exploit the pack tactics. The Dire Wolf will behave the same.
In the real world, wolves know how to hunt prey and avoid getting in their way. Instead, they will chase their prey and run towards them, trying to get the party to follow them.
After eating a few bites, it will be time for the real attack. The wolves will rush in in greater numbers and circling the party, while others rush to attack the weakest members of the party.
They attack in pairs and try to gain an advantage over one another.
This will often continue until the party is defeated or approximately a quarter to half of the party has been injured or killed. They will run away if they become hurt.
How can you fight against the evil wolves?
Your players must be able to fight direwolves whether they are working with their own pack or with regular wolves.
Their tactics of running and hitting can prove to be frustrating for melee players.
The best thing the heavily armored melee player can do is to back up, form a wall around their weakest members, so that the wolves have to pass through them before attacking their friends.
Because they don’t have the greatest AC, magic-casting characters are able to easily target dire wolves. Some AoE spells can help reduce the damage done to a lot of the pack. This strategy works as long as the direwolves don’t attack them and then bring them down with their powerful bite.
The Dire Wolves are immune to all damage types. You can hit them with anything and they will take full damage. Some DM’s play into the animal’s natural fear for fire and force wolves take a will-save or panic when they encounter a fire spell.
Variants of Dire Wolves
Some dire wolves are great for making the fight more exciting if your party travels in the woods often.
They might hear of a gargantuan dire wolf with higher stats than traditional dire wolves and a pelt that resists magic. They can teleport according to legends.
The runebound direwolves are another magical dire wolf, and have runes covering their bodies. They can draw on those runes for abilities. Others have made agreements with werewolves or other magical creatures to call upon their help and empower their brethren with a howl full of terror and bloodlust.
The endless walking through the woods can be made more exciting by fighting a few wolves, which could lead to epic and memorable battles.
Do Enemies Use Dire Wolves?
Some goblin tribes have used regular wolves to mount their animals, while orcs and bandits are known to have used wolves to attack and guard their members. However, dire wolves can be difficult to tell.
When compared to the large number of grey wolves around the world, dire wolves are quite rare. Their natural aggression makes it difficult to train them.
Perhaps an enemy druid, sorcerer, has one of these rare wolves as their pet or a ranger who keeps one as a companion.
These will not be the norm, however, so you won’t see too many direwolves alongside the enemy armies marching on your villages and towns.
Dire Wolf 5e Guide: FAQs
Question – Can a Dire Wolf be my Ally?
Answer – You have many options if you need to summon a familiar to assist you in battles or other situations. You have many options: bats, owls, mice and snakes.
It depends on whether you wish to become a direwolf. Although the dire wolf is not allowed to be listed as a familiar under the official rules, there are no restrictions on a player being allowed to have a celestial dire wolf if permitted by the DM.
Rangers can have a direwolf as an animal companion. However, the problem is that a direwolf is more intelligent than a regular Wolf. Your ranger will have an advantage if the direwolf is used for some purpose.
It might not be a game-breaker if the DM and player are aware of it and the player does not gain too much from the intelligence boost. It is not allowed in the official rules.
Druids may wonder if they are able to transform into a direwolf by taking on wild form. They can. This is possible at levels 1-5, thanks to the low CR of dire wolves. Unless your DM is willing and able to homebrew, this is the only way to have a dire wolf as a friend.
Question – Can Dire Wolves Use their Claws?
Answer – The main weapon of the direwolf is its powerful jaw. Other four-legged creatures also have claw attacks. You could also add a claw attack to dire wolves to make them more dangerous than other wolves.
To balance the extra attack, make it weaker then the bite attack, and condition it.
Wolfes will bite their prey and drag them down. They will also use their claws to traction and run. Prey will be held in place by their claws, rather than being attacked. Perhaps the wolf will try to bite its prey with a bit attack. Then they can use their claws to grapple with it.
Prey must make sure they don’t try to climb out of the cage and then wrestle the wolf off their claws. This would be more realistic than the real world. However, if you prefer to play fantasy games and less like the real world, you can give the Wolf very weak claw attacks.
Question – Do Dire Wolves Fight to the Death?
Answer: Regular wolves will flee when the pack is too hurt or their prey is more difficult than they think. What about hyper-aggressive dire wolves?
They are strong and focussed on killing and battle, making it a DM decision. They might become too obsessed with killing to sustain their survival instincts. You could make them flee at 1/3 of their Hit points in order to show their toughness.
They will be a formidable foe that your party will never forget!