Resembling a huge and enraged gorilla, it was a huge feral-looking ape with a barrel-shaped chest, thick black fur, long arms ending in clawed hands, and a wide muzzle with big teeth. It was some 9 feet (2.7 meters) in height when standing upright and 800 to 1,200 pounds (360 to 540 kilograms) in weight; it was roughly the size of an ogre but much more muscular.
They were encountered as solitary specimens or in companies of five to eight members. Highly territorial, a dire ape would attack anyone or anything that trespassed in its territory, including other dire apes.
These creatures were talented climbers and had a keen sense of scent.
A dire ape attacked first with its claws and teeth. If this failed, such as if the opponent was armored, it then tried to grab and hold them down. Either way, its claws dug in and tore through flesh, inflicting terrific injuries.
In the planes, dire apes dwelled within the Screaming Jungle of the Gaping Maw, which was the domain of Demogorgon. They fought over territory with bar-lguras and dinosaurs. Meanwhile, Shadow dire apes might be found in the Plane of Shadow.
In the Crypt of Orbakh in Myth Drannor, numerous dire apes and other creatures were spawned by the deepspawn Beautiful Flower, from samples of flesh fed to it by its "father" Famras. They fought endlessly over food, water, and territory with the other spawn creatures in the crypt.
- A dire ape ally could be summoned with the spell summon nature's ally IV, while a fiendish dire ape could be summoned with summon monster V.
- The tundra yeti of Narfell were sometimes misidentified as dire apes adapted to cold climates.[note 1]
- By saying "Narfell is home to tundra yeti (dire apes)", the 3rd-edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting page 108 appears to suggest that tundra yeti are dire apes or else that dire apes may be used as stand-ins for yeti prior to the publication of stats for the yeti in 3rd edition. However, as yeti and dire apes are very different in many areas in each edition, this article presumes the latter case and considers them as misidentified.
- Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor
- Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 62. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- Sean K. Reynolds (2000). Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor. Edited by Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 43–47, 91. ISBN 0-7869-1710-5.
- Thomas Reid (October 2004). Shining South. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 81, 84, 90, 96. ISBN 0-7869-3492-1.
- Ed Stark, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (June 13, 2006). Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 141. ISBN 0-7869-3919-2.
- Richard Baker, John Rogers, Robert J. Schwalb, James Wyatt (December 2008). Manual of the Planes 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 79. ISBN 978-0-7869-5002-7.
- Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan (September 2001). Manual of the Planes 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 64. ISBN 0-7869-1850-8.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 36. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 288. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
- Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 287. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 108. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.