Fiend (Dungeons & Dragons)
Fiend is a term used in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game to refer to any malicious otherworldly creatures within the Dungeons & Dragons universe. These include various races of demons and devils that are of an evil alignment and hail from the Lower Planes. All fiends are extraplanar outsiders.
- 1 The most common types
- 2 Other fiends
- 3 Controversy and related changes between editions
- 4 Blood War
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
The most common types
The most widespread race of fiends are the demons, a chaotic evil race native to the Abyss; they are rapacious, cruel and arbitrary. The dominant race of demons is the tanar'ri //. The Abyss and its population are both theoretically infinite in size. "True" tanar'ri such as the balors (originally called Balrogs) and the six-armed serpentine mariliths push other weaker tanar'ri around and organise them into makeshift armies for battle. Demon lords and demon princes such as Orcus, Demogorgon, Zuggtmoy, Graz'zt and countless others rule over the demons of their individual layers of the Abyss, in as much as the chaotic demons can be ruled over.
The devils, of which the ruling type are called baatezu //, are lawful evil natives of the Nine Hells of Baator; they subjugate the weak and rule tyrannically over their domains. Pit fiends are the most powerful baatezu, though even the strongest pit fiends are surpassed by the Lords of the Nine, or Archdevils, whose ranks include Baalzebul, Mephistopheles, and Asmodeus. Unlike the demons, the devils arranged themselves through a strict hierarchy. Like the demons, the devils are scheming backstabbers; while a demon only keeps its words when it is convenient for it, a devil keeps its word all too well; though being used to exploiting repressive bureaucratic machinations to the fullest, always knows all ways around the letter of a contract to begin with. The tanar'ri and the baatezu hold an eternal enmity for one another and wage the Blood War against one another.
The yugoloths (called daemons in 1st edition D&D) are neutral evil natives of the Bleak Eternity of Gehenna and the Gray Wastes of Hades; they are neutral to the affairs of the other fiendish races, interfering only when they see a situation that may be profitable or a potential for the advancement of their own schemes. The yugoloths are manipulative, secretive, and mercenary by nature, often acting as soldiers for deities in their own private wars, or even at times aiding both sides of the Blood War. In 4th Edition, the yugoloths are considered to be demons, and their previously standard naming convention of "loth" is replaced by "demon" (Ex. the Mezzoloth is the 4e Mezzodemon). In fifth edition, yugoloths are listed as neutral evil fiends under their original names.
The demodands are race of evil fiends that live on the plane of Carceri (Tarterus in 1st edition D&D). Demodands were introduced in the 1st edition supplement Monster Manual II, renamed as Gehreleths in the 2nd edition Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix, and reintroduced as demodands in the 3rd edition sourcebook Fiend Folio. In 1st edition D&D, the three types of demodands from weakest to strongest were tarry, slime, and shaggy. In 2nd and 3rd editions, the three types are farastu, kelubar, and shator.
The hordlings are fiends that form the hordes of the Gray Waste of Hades. They first appeared in the 1st edition supplement Monster Manual II. Hordlings wander the Gray Waste preying upon everything they come across, even other hordlings. Hordlings vary greatly in appearance. It is said that Hordlings evolved from Larvae whose hatred was so unique, their souls became individual. The hordlings can be summoned using an artifact known as the Bringer of Doom, which was created around the time of the Invoked Devastation of Greyhawk. Hordlings are the most common inhabitants of the Gray Waste. They also occasionally roam the other Lower Planes as well.
The kythons (not to be confused with kytons, which are chain devils Baatezu) are distinct from the other fiends in that they did not originate on any of the lower planes. When a group of fiends (the Galchutt, from Monte Cook's Chaositech and Ptolus) were trapped on the Material Plane, they tried creating more of their own kind through magical means. The results were eyeless reptilian creatures with insectoid traits and neutral evil traits. As the kythons matured, they took on varied forms. None of them were loyal to the fiends that created them. Because kythons originated on the Material Plane instead of the Abyss (or another lower plane), they are also called earth-bound demons. Kythons are only interested in eating and breeding. They have spread rapidly across the Material Plane. The current hierarchy of kythons, from the weakest to the strongest is: broodlings, juveniles, adults, impalers, slaymasters, and slaughterkings. Eventually, with more time, kythons will grow into newer and more powerful forms. Kythons closely resemble xenomorphs. They were originally created for Monte Cook's Ptolus campaign, based on some gaming miniatures he had bought, and were added by him to the Book of Vile Darkness absent the context of the Galchutt, who wouldn't appear until later on in Chaositech.
Monte Cook originally planned on perhaps renaming them so their name was not quite so similar to kytons, or chain devils, as well as other episodes of Monte Cook's Ptolus campaign to see how they were originally used.
Night hags are fiends from the Gray Wastes of Hades that traffic in the souls of mortals.
In the 4th Edition game, Slaadi are Chaotic Evil and originate out of the Elemental Chaos. This is markedly different from the portrayal of Slaadi in all prior editions of the game, when they were Chaotic Neutral natives of Limbo and thus not fiends.
Half-fiends and fiendish creatures
The cambions (whose name comes from a different kind of mythological, demonic creature) are simply half-fiends; hybrids of fiends and non-fiendish creatures, often humans or other humanoids. Cambions are typically created through fiends raping mortals or seducing them after shape-shifting, although some of the most depraved beings actually participate willingly. Those cambions that actually survive birth typically look like grotesque, hellish variants of their mortal progenitors, having wings, claws, fangs and often many other features that reveal their fiendish origins. Cambions are usually outcast, being feared and hated in mortal societies for their fiendish origins and being derided by pure-blooded fiends for their impure heritage. A variant of cambion called durzagon is described in Monster Manual II and is the hybrid of a devil and an unsuspecting duergar. The fiendish creatures are simply fiendish versions of other species in Dungeons & Dragons. They typically look like fearsome travesties of beings from the material plane. Most fiendish species are divided into a number of variants, usually in a hierarchy of increasing power and cunning.
Other fiends not associated with a specific group
- Abominations – (Chichimec, phane, infernal, dream larva, phaethon, xixecal, hecatoncheires) – the unwanted offspring of deities.
- Abyssal Drake – the result of an ancient breeding program that combines the nastiest elements of demons, wyverns, and red dragons. From the Abyss plane.
- Achaierai – Massive evil, clever, and predatory flightless birds with a distinct taste for torture. Of the Acheron plane.
- Avari – man-sized, batlike fiends that are the chief rivals of yugoloths for territory. Unfortunately, they are neither as powerful or as numerous as the fiends and have lost much over time. Long ago, avari dwelt in a large central community, but their many wars shattered their unity, forcing them to live in isolated clan in desolate areas of the planes. They dwell there in dank caverns filled with bats, and inhabit similar environs when found on the Material Plane. Of the Gehenna plane.
- Ba'atun – vicious, white-winged primate-like creatures that find death and destruction as their constant companions. Their origin is surrounded in mystery – perhaps they were demons made from snow, perhaps they are exiles from a frozen realm, or perhaps they have always been here, lurking. Their home plane is unknown.
- Barghest – lupine fiend that resembles a goblin-wolf hybrid with terrible jaws and sharp claws, feeds on blood and souls to grow stronger. Of the Gehenna plane.
- Broodfiend – almost headless, grotesque mix of worm, lizard, bat, and ape, created by avolakias to serve Kyuss.
- Daelkyr – Fiends from the plane of Xoriat in the Eberron Campaign Setting.
- Diakk (Carcene and Varath) – evil flightless birds of the Carceri plane.
- Diurge – Gray-skinned, red-eyed denizens of a nightmare realm known as Darkrealm, a nightmarishly twisted version of a Material Plane world. Diurges live to serve the evil lords of Darkrealm, but are occasionally ordered to travel to the Material Plane to spread chaos. These beings are extremely sadistic, hating everything that lives, and willing to manipulate anyone in the process of achieving their goals. They are horrible conquerors, subjugating other life forms ruthlessly, and causing pain wherever they go. Their lack of individual greed enables them to better work together towards this common goal.
- Dune Stalker – fiends summoned to Material Plane to kill targets or carry out other quests. Of the Gray Waste of Hades plane.
- Ebon Aspect – an abomination to not only all that is true and just in the world, but also to the traditional faith of the worshipers of Erythnul, Hextor, and Venca. Appear in the lands haunted by the Ebon Triad.
- Hassitor – extinct exemplar race of Acheron Plane.
- Hellchain Weaver – eight-legged mass of chains made entirely of cruel hooks, barbed chains, and jagged iron. Of the Nine Hells of Baator plane.
- Maelephant – elephant-headed fiends originally created by powerful baatezu lords to serve as guardians, many run free since their lords were deposed.
- Mapmaker – humanoid lizardkin with weaselish features. Of the Pandemonium plane.
- Marrashi – disease spreader that resembles a winged gnoll.
- Nightmare (includes Cauchemar and Lesser) – proud equine creatures with hearts as black and evil as the dark abysses from which they come. Of the Gray Waste plane.
- Nimicri – a unique vast creature that mimics a town that can duplicate creatures if a single drop of their blood touches it. Of the Gehenna plane.
- Shadowlands Oni
- Sugo – flattish brown disks with suckered tentacles. Of the Acheron plane.
- Tener – spindly, bipedal arachnoid; greed incarnate. Of the Pandemonium plane.
- Utukku – lion-headed scaled fiends that kill all outsiders who pass through their territory, including others of their kind. Their lairs in the great ash deserts of Carceri always include impressive defenses, as each utukku must defend itself from all competitors. Utukku want no part of the intrigues of other fiends, and prey on any demons and devils they meet.
- Vaath – a creature of pure sadism that delights in both physical and emotional pain. Of the Carceri plane.
- Vaporighu – petty, sadistic, and voracious blobs of hideous, bloated, waddling hairy flesh. Of the Gehenna plane.
- Viltch – resembles a dirty gray, three-legged mandrill; destroys beauty and order. Of the Pandemonium plane.
- Vorr – a hateful canine of the Abyss.
- Wirchler – a disembodied mouth with two arms. Of the Gehenna plane.
- Yeth Hound – fearsome flying hounds with a frightening bay. Of the Gray Waste.
The inclusion of demons and devils proved controversial among critics of Dungeons & Dragons. TSR eliminated most references to occult symbols, demons, and devils from the second edition of the game. When the creatures were reintroduced in the Monstrous Compendium supplement MC8: The Outer Planes, the terms "baatezu", "tanar'ri", "yugoloth", and "gehreleth" were introduced and were used exclusively in place of the terms "devil", "demon", "daemon", and "demodand", respectively.
Following a more relaxed attitude towards the hobby, Wizards of the Coast reinserted many of these excised references in the third edition of the game. They kept intact the terms they had been replaced with, using both when applicable to appeal both to older players and those who played in subsequent editions of the game. While the 1st edition of AD&D used the term "Daemon", all subsequent editions beginning with 2nd edition have used the term "yugoloth" for the same creatures.
The Blood War concept was introduced as part of the new background for the outer planes in 1991's Monstrous Compendium Volume Outer Planes Appendix. The conflict is depicted as a bitter war of annihilation between the baatezu race and the tanar'ri; an absolute, all encompassing, and virtually eternal struggle. Trenton Webb of Arcane magazine wrote, "the fate of all the planes hangs on its outcome". The Blood War was thoroughly detailed in various books throughout the Planescape setting, particularly the 1996 boxed set Hellbound: The Blood War. The 4th edition of D&D's Manual of the Planes updated the Blood War into a smoldering cold war that was formerly an all-out war.
The Blood War has been given various causes across different game books. Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss attributes it to an offshoot of the primordial battles between law and chaos, continued out of violent and sadistic stubbornness. Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells depicts Asmodeus as a formerly angelic being tasked with fighting an eternal war against the demons. When he and his followers take on demonic traits to better combat their foes, these angels, now deemed devils, are either exiled to or granted (depending on perspective) their own plane, where they fight the Blood War without disturbing the primordial lords of order. This is depicted as possibly being self-serving historical revisionism. The Guide to Hell instead portrays the Blood War as a distraction by Asmodeus to hide his true goal of usurping divine power and reshaping the multiverse. Later official materials claim Asmodeus possesses a piece of the pure elemental chaos Tharizdun used to create the Abyss. The demons are drawn to this and seek to reclaim it.
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