Does the animal companion wolf advance into Dire wolf when advanced as an animal companion?

Furthermore does a Dire wolf gets the normal dire wolf + Druid level -6 (animal companion addons) in stats? Lastly Dire wolf has an ability "Trip" that gives it +11 to trip attempts, does that stays regardless of the Dire wolf's level?


Wolves and dire wolves are separate creatures

Dire animals are born as such; you might be able to breed dire animals from their non-dire counterparts, carefully selecting the desired traits generation after generation, but no individual is ever going to make the transition, whether it is an animal companion or not.

Oddly enough, druids are pretty free to change animal companions; unlike familiars, there is no XP penalty for losing or dismissing an animal companion. So a druid could relatively easily “upgrade” by dismissing the wolf and finding a dire wolf to replace it with. But it is not the same individual animal, it does not happen automatically, and the druid would have to find the dire wolf in the first place.

Dire wolves and other “powerful” creatures adjust effective druid levels for animal companion bonuses

To get a dire wolf animal companion, a druid must have at least 7 class levels. If he selects one, the druid is treated as a 1st-level druid for the purposes of the improvements that the animal companion class feature makes to the dire wolf.

That means that, where a Druid 7 with wolf animal companion would give that wolf 4 bonus HD, +4 natural armor, +2 Strength and Dexterity, 3 bonus tricks, and the Link, Share Spells, Evasion, and Devotion features, a Druid 7 with a dire wolf animal companion would only give 1 bonus trick along with Link and Share Spells to the dire wolf.

As the druid with the dire wolf levels up, his “effective” level remains 6 less than his actual level for the purposes of the dire wolf. Thus, he would have to be a Druid 9 (9−6=3) to give the dire wolf 2 bonus HD, +1 Strength and Dexterity, another bonus trick, and Evasion.

Lupine tripping

Dire wolves do not get some +11 bonus to trips; their total trip modifier (that is, the thing they add to the d20 roll when making a trip) is +11. That comes from the dire wolf’s +4 size modifier for being Large and its +7 Strength bonus. As the dire wolf increases its hit dice (for instance, because it is an animal companion to a druid who has leveled up), it may improve its Strength (+1 to one ability every HD that’s a multiple of 4), increasing the trip check. (Animal Companions do not increase in size from bonus HD, so the +4 bonus is fixed barring magic to increase its size temporarily.)

Animal companions also gain feats (for every HD that is a multiple of 3, same as for any other character), so it could take, for instance, Improved Trip for another +4 (or, at least, could if it could find a way around the Int 13 requirement on Combat Expterise).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, very informative and answered my question well. I assume large is not in the calculation beacuse it only affects creatures smaller then large. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Apr 28 '15 at 22:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Simon is correct. The size modifiers for the opposed trip checks are constants based on the creatures' sizes (and not based on relative sizes), and the opposed trip checks don't involve either creature's base attack bonuses at all. I mean, unless it's still too early, and I'm totally reading that wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 2 '16 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Nope, completely right. Where’d I get that from? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 2 '16 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Washunka is to whom I meant to address the original comment, who pointed out the error in a now-deleted answer addressing only this concern. Welcome to the site. Take the tour. Thanks for your input. Get some rep so your comments can effect even more change. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 2 '16 at 17:00

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