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Dire Pangolin

Dire Pangolins are native from Friac’seoue. These large beasts are known to most people as Talarak halflings' trusted mounts. While other races have attempted to master riding these animals, few individuals have succeeded on their own. Talaraks find it particularly amusing when larger races use Dire Pangolins as mounts. They may even purposefully tell their Dire Pangolins to curl up if mounted by a large race! Catfolk, humans, and other large races are too long; they stick out of the sides of a Dire Pangolin when they roll up in a ball, making this move utterly unusable by these races.

Basic Information


Dire Pangolins are about the height of a rhinoceros but are three times as wide. An adult Dire Pangolin stands 150 –190 cm high at the shoulder and is 3 – 3.5 m in length not including the tail. The tail alone is 2.5 – 3 m long.

One of the most striking aspects of Dire Pangolins to those not native to Friac’seoue is the fact that almost their whole body is covered by tough scales. Those tough scales are sought after in both Tiel and Oceasile, as they make magnificent armour.
I pity the fool that travels into Friac’seoue wearing a Dire Pangolin armour...
— Duline, a catfolk traveller in Tiel

Ecology and Habitats

Within Friac’seoue, wild Dire Pangolins are found in tropical moist forests and in savanna/forest patchy areas. Outside of Friac’seoue, Dire Pangolins may be found where large enough populations of halflings have settled in. Dire Pangolins, however, do not do well in mountainous terrains and in cold environments; some say it may be the reason why Talaraks have never settled in those environments.

Dietary Needs and Habits

They have a much more varied diet than non-dire pangolins: while they eat insects like their smaller counterparts, dire pangolins also eat small animals like reptiles, frogs, and mammals, as well as eggs.   To the dismay of their owners, dire pangolins also love eating snails. Halflings prefer to save their shells, but the pangolins eat them shells and all. The shells are valuable for trading with the vanaras, who seek shells for their favourite game.

Additional Information


Most Dire Pangolins being used as mounts were born into captivity, and it is extremely uncommon to capture Dire Pangolins in the wild. Rather, if halflings seek to diversify their Dire Pangolin stock, they will release some already domesticated female Dire Pangolins into an area where wild Dire Pangolins live. About a month later, those same mounts are looked for and retrieved, hoping that at least some of them have bred with the wild local Dire Pangolins.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Dire Pangolins most widespread use is as mounts of Talarak halflings. Dire Pangolins in the wild are nocturnal, so aside from Talaraks, most people only know the domesticated version of this species.

Talarak halflings use Dire Pangolins for both travel and combat. Their cavalry units are famous all throughout Friac’seoue, and even those combatants who do not specialise in mounted combat tend to own their own Dire Pangolin.

Talaraks have trained Dire Pangolins to curl up and form a protective ball on command. In this way, when they receive the command, or when they sense that their rider is unconscious, Dire Pangolins form a protective ball that protects both the rider and themselves. As long as their riders belong to the winner side of the battle, both rider and mount are typically able to be helped and healed back to full health.
35 years
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
While the scales of Dire Pangolins are earthy in colour, their scales are sometimes painted by halflings, particularly at the beginning of a journey or during certain festivities.
There have been several Dire Pangolin mounts who have become famous throughout the ages. Probably every halfling in Friac’seoue knows of Talal, the Dire Pangolin who knocked down the four enemies that had surrounded her while curled up and then managed to run away while the attackers recovered, taking her unconscious rider back to the safety of their village.

Nowadays, however, Kiran and her rider, Irlana, feature in every halfling's bard stories. Kiran and Irlana Morningborn were chosen for the quest of the century: to accompany Metku'ha in his journey to discover what is causing the plague and how to stop it. Irlana received a message from the king and the queen themselves, asking her to present herself at the capital immediately.
Irlana Morningborn by Toñi Gil

The Talarak Waaraqi were elated that one of their own had been chosen for this quest, and everyone helped out with the preparations. While there was no time for a party, given that she wanted to leave the same day she received the message, the Waaraqi somehow managed to each give Irlana a little something or help with the ceremonial painting of Kiran, and at the same time prepare one great feast!
Fierce Kiran, prepared to leave for the quest of their lives by Key Feathers

Cover image: Cute pangolin by Laser Lluis
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Author's Notes

The original version of this article was created as an entry for World Anvil's flagship Summer Camp 2019 event, specifically for prompt #8:
"Write about a creature that is used as a beast of burden or transport animal."
  You can view my other entries from the competition here, or check out all past World Anvil competitions here.   This article and the world I am writing about have been created using Pathfinder as a base. This is a homebrew setting, inspired by Paizo's wonderful lore and creations. This creature uses trademarks and/or copyrights owned by Paizo Inc., which are used under Paizo's Community Use Policy. We are expressly prohibited from charging you to use or access this content. This creature is not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by Paizo Inc. For more information about Paizo's Community Use Policy, please visit For more information about Paizo Inc. and Paizo products, please visit

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Jul 9, 2019 10:45

Very interesting article! I like the thought you put into it and the artwork you used. You mentioned the halflings like to diversify their stock, aside from being domesticated are there differences between wild Dire Pangolins and domesticated? Or are there differences between the tropical Dire Pangolins and the savannah Dire Pangolins? Like, do they have different color scales or different behaviors or biology?

Jul 9, 2019 11:32

To be honest, I hadn't thought about that issue that much. I could write something quickly, but I rather have a more thorough thought about it. Thanks for your input.

Jul 9, 2019 11:09

Why do other races have issues using these as mounts? According to your height description a standard sized human should be able to ride one of these with relative ease if its the size of a rhino.   You also mention that the tough scales make magnificent armor. Can they be harvested naturally or does the poor thing have to be killed in order to obtain them?

Jul 9, 2019 11:27

Good catch. I added a sentence to explain the issue with "large" races (Catfolk, humans, and other large races are too long; they stick out of the sides of a Dire Pangolin when they roll up in a ball, making this move utterly unusable by these races.)   In regards to the making of armour, it's a sentimental issue. Just like many people would consider eating horses or dogs a horrible thing, so do the halfling consider a horrible thing to wear the armour made of a Dire Pangolin. Also, while they don't need to be killed specifically for it, they most likely were, as halflings do not harvest the bodies of the domesticated animals. Thus, halflings assume, if you are wearing that armour you either killed this beautiful animal in the wild, or worst, you desecrated a body of a domesticated one.

Jul 9, 2019 21:40

Ohhhh, ok that makes sense. I like it!

Jul 9, 2019 13:04 by Dryant Feywright

This is amazing! I've never seen anyone do an article on pangolins before so I was already interested when I saw the subject matter. As for the other comments, I would totally want to explore more of the Dire Pangolins' biology. I think it's a mostly solid article and I haven't much to ask about it, but Pangolins are like the animal version of Tomatoes; a mystery between fruit or vegetable but instead between mammal and reptile.