Demon (Dungeons & Dragons)
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In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, demons are the most widespread race of fiends. The demons are chaotic evil by nature, and are native to the Abyss. Demons have no true rulers, though powerful demon lords are able to gain enough power and influence to gain control over sizable armies of demonic creatures.
- 1 Publication history
- 1.1 Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)
- 1.2 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
- 1.3 Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)
- 1.4 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
- 1.5 Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
- 1.6 Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)
- 1.7 Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)
- 2 Demons in Dungeons and Dragons
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 Additional reading
Demons were among the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game.
Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)
Demons were among the first monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement (1976). This booklet introduced the type I demon, the type II demon, the type III demon, the type IV demon, the succubus, the type V demon, and the type VI demon, as well as two of their lords, Orcus and Demogorgon.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
Demons appear in the first edition Monster Manual (1977), which includes the manes (sub-demon), the succubus, the type I demon (vrock), the type II demon (hezrou), the type III demon (glabrezu), the type IV demon (nalfeshnee, etc.), the type V demon (marilith, etc.), the type VI demon (balor, etc.), and demon lords Demogorgon (Prince of Demons), Juiblex (The Faceless Lord), Orcus (Prince of the Undead), and Yeenoghu (Demon Lord of Gnolls). The quasit, a frequent servant of demons, also first appeared in the original Monster Manual.
Several new demons debuted in the module Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (1982), including the alu-demon (demi-demon), the bar-lgura (minor demon), the chasme, the dretch, and the rutterkin (minor demon), and new demon lords Baphomet, Fraz-Urb'luu (Prince of Deception), Graz'zt (demon prince), and Kostchtchie (demon lord). The alu-demon (semi-demon), babau (minor demon), bar-lgura (minor demon), cambion baron/marquis and cambion major (semi-demon), chasme (minor demon), dretch (minor demon), nabassu (major demon), and rutterkin (minor demon) appeared in the first edition Monster Manual II (1983), along with demon lords Baphomet (demon lord), Fraz-Urb'luu (Prince of Deception), Graz'zt (demon prince), Kostchtchie (demon lord), and Pazuzu (Prince of the Lower Aerial Kingdoms).
The goristro (major demon) first appeared in Dragon #91 (November 1984); the article's author, Gary Gygax, explained that he had intended to put the creature into Monster Manual II along with the other demons.
The demoness Zuggtmoy first appeared and played a major role in the Temple of Elemental Evil module (1985). Orcus was a central antagonist for The Throne of Bloodstone series of adventures, appearing in The Throne of Bloodstone (1988), along with Baphomet, the Dire Whiner, Klavikus the type IV demon guardian, and Glyphimor, Lord of Orcusgate.
Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)
This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the demons. The croaking demon, the groaning demon, the hissing demon, the howling demon, the roaring demon, the sceaming demon, and the whispering demon, as well as two unique demons, Orcus and Demogorgon, appeared in the Immortal Rules set, in the DM's Guide to Immortals (1986). The croaking lesser fiend, the groaning lesser fiend, the hissing lesser fiend, the howling lesser fiend, the roaring lesser fiend, the screaming lesser fiend, and the whispering lesser fiend appeared in the Wrath of the Immortals set, in "Book One: Codex of the Immortals" (1992).
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
The babau (greater tanar'ri), the chasme (greater tanar'ri), the nabassu (greater tanar'ri), the molydeus (guardian tanar'ri), the dretch (least tanar'ri), the manes (least tanar'ri), the rutterkin (least tanar'ri), the alu-fiend (lesser tanar'ri), the bar-lgura (lesser tanar'ri), the cambion baron/marquis and cambion major (lesser tanar'ri), the succubus (lesser tanar'ri), the balor (true tanar'ri), the glabrezu (true tanar'ri), the hezrou (true tanar'ri), the marilith (true tanar'ri), the nalfeshnee (true tanar'ri), and the vrock (true tanar'ri) appear in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Outer Planes Appendix (1991). The balor (tanar'ri) and the marilith (tanar'ri) next appear in the Monstrous Manual (1993).
The Planescape campaign setting utilized demons, known exclusively as tanar'ri under 2nd edition rules, extensively. The alu-fiend (lesser tanar'ri), the babau (greater tanar'ri), the balor (true tanar'ri), the bar-lgura (lesser tanar'ri), the cambion (lesser tanar'ri), the chasme (greater tanar'ri), the dretch (least tanar'ri), the glabrezu (true tanar'ri), the hezrou (true tanar'ri), the manes (least tanar'ri), the marilith (true tanar'ri), the molydeus (guardian tanar'ri), the nabassu (greater tanar'ri), the nalfeshnee (true tanar'ri), the rutterkin (least tanar'ri), the succubus (lesser tanar'ri), the vrock (true tanar'ri), and the wastrilith greater tanar'ri are detailed in the first Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix (1994). The armanite (lesser tanar'ri), the goristro (greater tanar'ri), and the Abyssal lords Graz'zt and Pazrael appear in the Planes of Chaos boxed set (1994). The alkilith (true tanar'ri), the bulezau (lesser tanar'ri), the maurezhi (lesser tanar'ri), and the yochlol (lesser tanar'ri) appeared in Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix II (1995). In a review of Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix II for Arcane magazine, the reviewer cites the culture of the tanar'ri as helping "give the Planes a solid base of peoples". Monstrous Compendium Annual Three (1996) featured the armanite and the goristro again.
The Rod of Seven Parts boxed set (1996), in "Book IV: Monsters", featured statistics for Miska the Wolf-Spider and the Queen of Chaos, along with the spyder-fiends: the kakkuu, the lycosidilith, the phisarazu, the raklupis, and the spithriku. The spyder-fiends later appeared in Monstrous Compendium Annual Four (1998), along with the uridezu (rat-fiend) lesser tanar'ri.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
Demons appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000), including the balor (tanar'ri), the bebilith, the dretch (tanar'ri), the glabrezu (tanar'ri), the hezrou (tanar'ri), the marilith (tanar'ri), the nalfeshnee (tanar'ri), the quasit, the retriever, the succubus (tanar'ri), and the vrock (tanar'ri).
The cerebrilith appeared in the Psionics Handbook (2001). The uridezu (tanar'ri), the armanite (tanar'ri), and the goristro (tanar'ri) appear in this edition's Manual of the Planes (2001). The mane (tanar'ri), the rutterkin (tanar'ri), the bar-lgura (tanar'ri), the babau (tanar'ri), the shadow demon, and the chasme (tanar'ri), as well as the demon lords Demogorgon, Prince of Demons; Graz'zt, the Dark Prince; Juiblex, the Faceless Lord; Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead; and Yeenoghu, Demon Prince of Gnolls appear in the Book of Vile Darkness (2002). The abyssal maw, the abyssal skulker, the abyssal ravager, the jovoc (tanar'ri), the palrethee (tanar'ri), the zovvut, the jariltih (tanar'ri), and the kelvezu (tanar'ri) appear in this edition's Monster Manual II (2002). The alkilith (tanar'ri), the blood fiend, the klurichir (tanar'ri), the maurezhi (tanar'ri), the myrmyxicus (tanar'ri), the skulvyn, and the wastrilith appear in this edition's Fiend Folio (2003).
Savage Species (2003) presented the succubus/incubus and the vrock both as races and as playable classes.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)
Demons appear in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003), including the babau, the balor, the bebelith, the dretch, the glabrezu, the hezrou, the marilith, the nalfeshnee, the quasit, the retriever, the succubus, and the vrock.
The "Demonomicon of Iggwilv" features in Dragon each presented a highly detailed description of a single demon lord, as well as at least one new type of demon associated with that demon lord. Pazuzu, Prince of the Lower Aerial Kingdoms and the anzu appear in Dragon #329 (March 2005). Fraz-Urb’luu, Prince of Deception and the skurchur appear in Dragon #333 (July 2005). Zuggtmoy, Queen of Fungi and the vathugu appear in Dragon #337 (November 2005). Baphomet, Prince of Beasts and the ankshar and the bulezau appear in Dragon #341 (March 2006). Kostchtchie, Prince of Wrath and the mavawhan appear in Dragon #345 (July 2006). Dagon, Prince of the Darkened Depths and the uzollru appear in Dragon #349 (November 2006). Malcanthet, Queen of the Succubi and the incubus appear in Dragon #353 (March 2007). Demogorgon, Prince of Demons and the verakia appear in Dragon #357 (July 2007). The demon lords Ardat, the Unavowed, Dwiergus, the Chrysalis Prince, Lascer, Lord of the Shadow Shoal, Shaktari, Queen of the Mariliths, and Ugudenk the Squirming King, and the manitou appear in Dragon #359 (September 2007). Graz'zt and the caligrosto appeared in Dragon #360 (October 2007), in the magazine's first online edition.
Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (2006) includes new content for demons and inhabitants of the Abyss, including the armanite, the bar-lgura, the broodswarm, the bulezau, the chasme, the dybbuk, the ekolid, the goristro, the guecubu, the lilitu, the mane, the molydeus, the juvenile nabassu and the mature nabassu, the rutterkin, the sibriex, and the yochlol. The book also contains statistics for 14 demon lords, including Baphomet, Dagon, Demogorgon, Fraz-Urb'luu, Graz'zt, Juiblex, Kostchtchie, Malcanthet, Obox-ob, Orcus, Pale Night, Pazuzu, Yeenoghu, and Zuggtmoy.
The Lolth-touched bebilith, the deathdrinker demon, the nashrou demon, the kastighur, and the whisper demon appeared in Monster Manual IV (2006). The carnage demon, the dradnu, the adaru, the gadacro, and the solamith appeared in Monster Manual V (2007).
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)
Demons appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), including the balor, the barlgura, the evistro (carnage demon), the glabrezu, the goristro, the hezrou, the immolith, the marilith, the mezzodemon, and the vrock. Orcus is the only demon lord detailed in the Monster Manual. A thematic change to demons in this edition is that many demons were originally elementals of some sort, warped and corrupted by the Abyss. All demons have the "elemental" creature origin, as the Abyss is located within the Elemental Chaos.
Yeenoghu is fully detailed in the online version of Dragon, in issue #364 (June 2008) in the "Demonomicon of Iggwilv" feature, which includes his exarch Nezrebe, gnoll pack leader Zaiden, and the crocotta.
Baphomet and Graz'zt appear in the 4th edition Manual of the Planes (2009).
The dretch and several other demons appeared in the fourth edition Monster Manual 2, which also featured Demogorgon and Dagon (2009).
The Demonomicon supplement, released in 2010, includes the armanite, bulezau, ferrolith, incubus (succubi are devils in this edition), nabassu, piscodemon, sibiriex, and many others. The demon lords Kostchtchie, Oublivae, Pazuzu, Phraxas and Zuggtmoy are also covered in detail.
Demons in Dungeons and Dragons
Original Dungeons & Dragons
Demons (and their lords Orcus and Demogorgon) first appeared in the game's Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry in 1976. Some types of demons were not given species names, but were rather referred to as "Type I" through "Type VI" demons, although the succubus was named.
In First Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the naming convention of "Type I" through "Type VI" was retained, although in the First Edition Monster Manual example names of specific demons of that type were given, being Vrocks, Hezrou, Glabrezu, Nalfeshnee, Mariliths, and Balors, respectively.
The term "tanar'ri" (pronounced tah-NAHR-ree) originated with the 2nd Edition AD&D rules, when the words "devil" and "demon" were dropped by TSR from all the rulebooks. The names previously given as suggestions in the previous edition's Monster Manual now became each type of demon's official name.
The terms "devil" and "demon" were restored with the release of Dungeons and Dragons' 3rd Edition ruleset. The term "tanar'ri" was also retained, but applied specifically to the predominant subset of demons.
In Third Edition there were three known subtypes of demon:
The obyriths are so ancient that they predate mortal life, and even the gods. They rarely have a humanoid shape, and some say that just looking at an obyrith can drive a mortal insane. Their great age and apparent ability to instill insanity at a glance are strong hints at some relation with the Great Old Ones created by H. P. Lovecraft. A few types of remaining obyriths are draudnu, ekolids, laghathti, sibriexes, & uzollru. Some obyrith lords have evolved over time to take on more recognizable shapes, such as Pazuzu or Pale Night. Other known obyrith demon lords include Obox-ob, Dagon, the Queen of Chaos, the Malgoth, Ugudenk, Bechard, Vroth-Khun, Ubothar, and Cabiri (imprisoned in the Wells of Darkness). Asima and numerous other obyrith lords whose names were lost to time have been destroyed, either slain by each other, or slaughtered by the Tanar'ri. Several others were slain by the Queen of Chaos for refusing to join her army when she attempted genocide against the Wind Dukes of Aaqa.
- Ekolid: At first, ekolids resemble the union of an ant, a scorpion and a spider, but their real fiendish shape cannot be compared to any other creature. Ekolids are driven by the need to reproduce. During any battle, using their supernatural speed, they constantly try to implant eggs in their enemies. Ekolids are rarely found in groups, except on Zionyn (663rd layer of the Abyss), where they live at the service of Obox-ob.
- Laghathti: Laghathti resemble oily black octopi.
- Uzollru: Uzollru resemble massive aquatic centipedes, with fins rather than legs, and a head sporting a single red eye ringed by feeding tentacles. They primarily serve the demon prince Dagon in his realm of Shadowsea.
In 4th Edition, the role of the Obyriths is changed a great deal. According to the Demonomicon, the Obyriths lived in a different reality, one destroyed by their evil. With their realm in ruins, the surviving Obyriths created a shard of pure evil and pushed it through the fabric of reality, where it was ultimately found by the god Tharizdun. He plunged it into the Elemental Chaos, creating the Abyss, and a great war erupted between the primordials, Tharizdun, and the Obyriths. Many of the Obyriths died in the ensuing war, and after Tharizdun's imprisonment and the assumption of the title Prince of Demons by Demogorgon, the Obyriths went into the Abyss and hid their true natures. There are 12 Obyriths remaining in existence, each one a demon lord ruling their own layer. They are secretly allied with each other, but they continue to war with each other constantly to disguise their true natures and their alliance. Of the 12, there are only a few known Obyriths, although only the most ancient, powerful, and knowledgeable demon lords truly understand what the title actually means. The only demon lord openly acknowledged as an Obyrith is Dagon, the abyssal lord allied with Demogorgon. Their leader is the Queen of Chaos, who led them eons ago before being defeated and retreating to her realm, the Steaming Fens, 14th layer of the Abyss. She has not been seen since by any other demon lord, although the Obyriths are said to meet secretly at the start of each millennial cycle with her in the Great Ziggurat of Oth-Magurloth on the Plane of a Thousand Portals, the first layer of the Abyss. Their choice of a meeting location lead many to suspect (correctly) that Pazuzu, who rules that layer, is also an Obyrith. It is said that the tower holds within it the Well of Entropy, the only portal to the ruins of the former realm of the Obyriths.
Deep within the Abyss lies the Tumulus of Abhorrence, burial mound of the dead demon lord known as Asima the Unanticipated. The mound is protected by powerful demons and nothing has ever breached the outer walls. It is said that if anybody is able to fight their way into the burial chamber, they will find not only great treasure, but a mosaic revealing the identities of the 12 Obyriths.
The tanar'ri are a race of numerous demons originally created by the obyriths as slaves. The tanar'ri eventually revolted against the obyriths, killing most of them, and taking over as the dominant race of demons in the Abyss. Most known demon lords are tanar'ri, with the exceptions being listed above.
The tanar'ri are essentially "classic" demons; reflections of cruelty, evil and sin. Although there are several exceptions, they usually have a basic humanoid form.
There are many known types of tanar'ri, including: Adaru, alkilith, alu-fiend, anzu, armanite, arrow demon, babau, balor, bar-lgura, bulezau, cambion, cerebrilith, chasme, dretch, gadacro, glabrezu, goristro, hezrou, jarilith, jovoc, kastighur, kelvezu, klurichir, mane, marilith, maurezhi, molydeus, myrmyxicus, nabassu, nalfeshnee, orlath, palrethee, rutterkin, skurchur, solamith, sorrowsworn, succubus, turagathshnee, uridezu, vathugu, vrock, and yochlol.
- Alkilith: Even among demons there are those that disgust and terrify; the alkilith is one of these. A shapeless horror used by demon lords for missions in regions most other demons would hesitate to venture into, the alkilith is despised and feared by most other demons. Alkiliths thrive in the foulest and most inhospitable places in the Abyss. They are pollution and corruption made sentient and hatefully alive. Many alkiliths serve the demon lord Juiblex.
- Armanite: Armanites compose the heavy cavalry of the army of The Abyss. They resemble fiendish centaurs covered by a full plate armor. They are fierce enemies in battle and their charges are deeply feared. On the layers of the Abyss they usually wander in groups guided by a chief called knecht or pathwarden. Because of their unusual discipline, they are often employed by powerful abyssal lords as mercenaries. Most armanites come from the Plains of Gallenshu (377th layer of the Abyss); on this layer there are 24 cities of armanites, each ruled by an armanite called konsul.
- Myrmyxicus: Massive, eel-like monstrosities, Myrmyxicuses are among the most powerful of the Tanar'ri. They rule vast regions of the Abyssal oceans from floating citadels made of millions of tons of fish skeletons and razor-sharp shells and coral. Many myrmyxicuses spend ages looking for ways to transport their floating citadels into the seas of other Abyssal layers or even other planes to expand their enslaved empires.
The loumara are a relatively new demonic race, much younger than the tanar'ri. They are still centuries old, but this is still recent in a place like the Abyss, where time doesn't mean the same thing it does on the Material Plane. As a result, no loumara has become powerful enough to be recognized as a demon lord.
Loumara are usually immaterial or invisible demons that are more like ghosts or undead than demons. All loumara can possess living creatures.
Known types of loumara include:
- A Dybbuk resembles a jellyfish with a simply sketched human face. Dybbuks are incorporeal creatures and so they do not have a specific physical form. Dybbuks can possess and control dead bodies, so they spend a lot of time looking for a 'perfect' host body to animate – one that died without violence or major injury, and preferably one that is handsome or beautiful. After taking the control of a 'perfect' body, dybbuks try to insert themselves into the society of the victim, plunging into depravity and hedonism until their possessed body is broken down and ruined. When a 'perfect' body is not available, a dybbuk will take a less desirable body and continue to search for a better host. Dybbuks are lonely creatures, and can be found in groups only where there are many corpses to possess, such as on a recent battlefield. They tend to avoid undead, because already-animated bodies are of no use to them.
- A Guecubu resembles a mass of vapor, and is born from dreamstuff tainted by evil. Guecubus can possess and control the body of sleeping humanoids. Once they are in control, they 'ride' silently, letting their victim go about his or her business. At some point they take control and lash out, trying to spread death and murder – particularly on the victim's family and friends. Sometimes the guecubu will conceal its actions even from the victim, letting them believe that they are cursed or jinxed. Guecubus believe that killings form some sort of pattern, and enough spilled blood will eventually reveal the meaning of creation in this pattern. They rarely form groups with other guecubus, preferring to remain hidden and anonymous. However, many of them can be found in the Dreaming Gulf (230th layer of the Abyss), where they are created spontaneously from the raw, churning chaos of dreams.
Not all known demons fit into one of the above races. Such non-typed demons include:
Abyssal eviscerator, abyssal maw, abyssal ravager, abyssal skulker, ankashar, artaaglith, bebilith, blood fiend, carnage demon, deathdrinker, ghour, lilitu, nashrou, ostego ("death demon"), quasit, retriever, shadow demon, skulvyn, soul demon, wastrilith, whisper demon, and zovvut.
Elemental demons also exist, beings spawned from the broken souls of Blood War casualties and resembling the elemental material that spawned them. Known types include: air, ash, earth, fire, ice, and water.
In the Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Roleplaying Game, the Monster Manual describes demons as completely chaotic forces bent on destruction. They are described as "living engines of destruction" and said to have no desire for structure or order (unlike Devils who live a very ordered, though evil, existence). Demons harbor no secret goals and have no need for subterfuge. They live for the express purpose of destroying everything, until they die and are reborn once again in The Abyss, a maelstrom of elemental evil harbored deep within the Elemental Chaos.
Demons seem to be the evil antithesis of devils. Where devils are endlessly ambitious, sneaky, and set in a highly structured hierarchy of the Nine Hells, demons care for nothing but destruction of the entire universe and live in a chaotic realm known as The Abyss. All demons are classified as elementals, albeit ones corrupted by The Abyss. Many of the demon lords were formerly god-like elementals known as primordials.
The obyriths were introduced into Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition in the Demonomicon supplement as refugees from a reality that they themselves brought to an end. They are twelve in number, and only the demon lords Obox-Ob, Dagon, and the Queen of Chaos are explicitly stated as being obyriths. Other demon lords are mentioned as possibly being among their number, including Pazuzu.
Birth of the Abyss
The Abyss was created by the god Tharizdun as he sought a source of great power. What he found was a small shard of pure evil. Touching the shard drove him mad and he planted it in the deepest reaches of the Elemental Chaos where it warped into a realm of malevolence that separates it from the normally untamed Elemental Chaos.
The Demonomicon supplement greatly expands upon this story, revealing that the twelve obyriths were the ones who created the shard that Tharizdun found. They used the shard to create a portal from their doomed reality to the newly formed Abyss. Once there, the obyriths fought the new demon lords born along with The Abyss for possession of the shard. This battle took place in the first layer of The Abyss, the Plain of a Thousand Portals, but during the battle a massive fissure appeared in the ground. The shard eventually fell into this fissure, called the Blood Rift, and began its work of creating the endless layers of The Abyss as the Rift grows perpetually deeper.
Types of Demons
These are the types of Demons listed in the 4th Edition Monster Manual.
- Balor: Balors are powerful demons. They answer only to Demon Lords or other creature with tremendous power and only ally themselves with creatures equal to their own power. This means they rarely team up with other demons, or even other Balors.
- Barlgura: Barlguras are vicious, blood thirsty Demons that like to fight with the hand, ripping their victims apart. Balgura are also favored by The Demon Prince, Demogorgon.
- Evistro: Evistros band together in hordes and rampage across worlds leaving nothing but devastation.
- Glabrezu: Glabrezus are huge, magic wielding demons. If a Glabrezu lingers in the world too long, it will begin to disease and corrupt the land around it.
- Goristro: Goristros are huge Demons described as "living siege engines". They are also the favored servitors of the Demon Lord Baphomet, The Horned Lord.
- Hezrou: Hezrous are obedient demons who are eager to serve more powerful demons and summoners.
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