In Dungeons and Dragons, the Dire Wolf is one of four kinds of wolf commonly described. The others are the basic wolf, the worg or warg, and the winter wolf. When dire wolves originally appeared in basic D&D, I assumed they were there to stand in for the wargs in the same way that halflings had to stand in for hobbits after TSR's happy little run-in with the Tolkien estate. However, when I moved up to AD&D, I found the above four species. Dire wolves are the big, stupid ones. Wargs are much smarter, and are the ones that are the allies, rather than the pets, of orcs and goblins. Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition introduces a wider range of dire animals including dire rats, dire lions, and the dreaded dire weasels.