Today, we begin our dive into one of the longest sections of the entire Monster Manual: Demons. Hope you guys enjoy the denizens of hell because we’ll likely be here until the new Doom game comes out! And that’s all before we talk about the Devils!
Normally, I’d break down each monster on its own. But before I do that, I need to talk about the lore surrounding all Demons. Unfortunately, that gives me no time to talk about an individual monster today, as the lore about Demons is over a whole page long! And it is far from brief!
Let’s stop beating around the bush, shall we? What are Demons all about?
Lore: Embodiments of Chaos and Evil
Need a good drinking game? Take a sip of beer every time the words Demon or Abyss show up in this article. You will be drunk by the end of the hour, trust me.
Demons are spawned in the Infinite Layers of the Abyss, where pure evil is put into a physical form. These creatures feel no kindness, empathy, or mercy. They exist for one purpose: to destroy.
This is because Demons are extensions of the Abyss itself, formed from filth and carnage. Some of these creatures are unique,while others are born from a strain of creatures that are all identical. All of them are so hideous that they are unmistakable.
Demons only respect one thing: power. Lesser demons will follow greater ones simply because they have the strength to wipe out its followers, should it be given reason to. The more blood it spills, the greater its status becomes. Should a Demon shed enough blood, it could become a beast so powerful that even other greater Demons would fear it.
They may even evolve like a Pokemon! Like a terrifying, blood-thirsty Pokemon!
Whenever a Demon wanders across the abyss, it will try to find portals that can lead it to other planes. They want nothing more than to escape their dark home and spread their influence across the multiverse, tearing down the work of the gods and drowning all planes into darkness. The Demons that do escape are often the centerpieces of the darkest legends of the mortal realm. Because of their dark reputation, even countries at war will set their differences aside to defeat an oncoming demonic threat.
As Demons carry the Abyss’s corruption within them, their mere presence makes a mark on the world around them as they pass. Plants wither and die, animals flee and avoid them at all costs, and the air is permeated by an eternal stench. Whether they be burning hot or freezing cold, it is almost impossible to miss a demonic infestation.
Death is a minor nuisance that no Demon is afraid of. Normal weapons cannot slay them, and even some of the most potent spells cannot harm them. Should the demon somehow be slain, the demon dissolves into a foul ichor and returns to the Abyss. To truly kill a Demon, one needs to travel to the Abyss and kill it there, stopping it from ever being reborn.
However, a Demon can take measures to protect its essence, keeping it from death. It can seal its form in an amulet, where its being is stored should the body be destroyed in either the mortal or Abyssal realm. Those who have these amulets can tap into their power, demanding favors from the Demon within. But it is an extremely dangerous enterprise, one that may not be worth taking.
Naturally, despite the risks, there are many demonic cults in the multiverse. Demon Lords will manipulate these mortals, giving them power in exchange for furthering their chaotic aims. The mortals are seen only as tools, which will be discarded as soon as they are no longer needed.
Summoning a Demon is possibly the most dangerous thing one could do. Even those who freely work with Devils fear summoning the dwellers of the Abyss. Those who do summon one gain no gratitude from the Demon, and often serve as the creature’s first meal in the mortal realm. Should they be imprisoned, they will do all in their power to escape.
However, manipulating a Demon isn’t entirely impossible. With enough preparation, the Demon can be left with no other choice to obey. It will not do anything that can be described as ‘good’. But should you need to do evil, these monsters are the perfect servants.
For more information on demonic matters, one can seek out the books The Book of VIle Darkness, the Black Scrolls of Ahm, and the Demonomicon of Iggwilv. These tomes are the perfect guides towards trapping a demonic essence on the Material Plane, placing it within an object and preventing its return to the Abyss. However, these items must be specifically prepared, or they won’t be able to hold the creature’s power for long.
Still, no matter how powerful the seal, a Demon can always escape. Should it do so, it will likely take on a mortal form as a host body to hide among the masses. So long as it remains in the host, the host’s soul is in danger of being dragged into the Abyss with the Demon should they be destroyed. Only powerful magic can drive a Demon out of the host body.
The book goes on to describe Demon Lords, but that’s mostly just repetition of what we already know on them from earlier. They’re powerful Demons capable of manipulating lesser Demons and mortals, as well as the Abyss itself. They are some of the most dangerous creatures in the entirety of D&D.
There is far from a shortage of possibilities with these monsters! Whether you want to write a sidequest or a whole campaign, these guys have you covered! Every single bit of their flavor text is more than enough to take your players on a journey!
And given the stats these things have, it will likely be a difficult one. But that’s for next week.