Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Reviewing D&D Monsters - 5E Monster Manual, Demons & Devils

Demons (4E)
So in any given edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the "D" page is always ginormously large, and that is solely due to the fact that "Demons", "Devils", "Dragons" and, in earlier editions, "Daemons" (renamed Yugoloths in later editions) will take up multiple pages all on their own. Collectively known as 'fiends', there's a whole lot of these hell-dwelling motherfuckers. Looking at the sheer amount of detail that went into the world-building of the planes and princes of hell, it's not hardto see why those silly parents ended up going on a bit of a moral "oh my word this promotes satanic worship" bend. D&D really loves their spooky underworld creatures, we've got a whole ton of creatures to work through with just the Demons and Devils segment of the Monster Manual... and, trust me, this is certainly just merely scratching the surface of the amount of spooky monsters from fantasy-hell that you can meet in D&D. In previous editions, we've got a lot of variations, but there tend to be a handful of around a dozen or so that show up pretty consistently in every edition.

3e
Devils (3E)
There are three main flavours of fiends, each of them representing one of the 'evil' alignments, with demons being chaotic evil; devils being lawful evil and yugoloths being neutral evil. They all vie for territory in the Lower Planes, and basically represent a different flavour of evil, and in addition to fighting each other in a millennia-long "Blood War", they also tend to pop up in the Material Plane to fuck with us mortals.

Oh, and by the way, for a while, thanks to the whole "D&D = Satanism" hullabaloo, the publishers are obligated to rename the demons, devils and daemons had into Tanar'ri, Baathezu and Yugoloth respectively. 3rd Edition restored their original names, although the yugoloths get to keep their new names because... well, 'demon' and 'daemon'. Come on.

Click here for the previous part, covering Carrion Crawlers to Demiliches.
Click here for the next part, covering Dragons to Driders.
Click here for the index.

DEMONS
3e
Demogorgon
Demons (a.k.a. the Tanar'ri), as noted, hail from the Infinite Layers of the Abyss, and basically, they're monstrous evil chaos-bringers that only respect power. As the representatives of chaotic evil, they tend to exemplify all the worst parts of that alignment. They're destructive, they want to bring the most amount of death and devastation when they are summoned to the material plane, and they want to grow stronger and mutate into even more powerful demons.

The Monster Manual goes into several pages' worth of neat, flowery text on detailing a generalization of these monsters, but ultimately the demons are divided into multiple sub-types, each with their own personality... and as we'll see, not every single one of them fit in the 'chaotic evil, always destructive' generalization. Essentially, most demons are destructive and resent being under the control of anyone else, and even will willingly laugh and attack their own worshipers...  although some have enough restraint to go through some duplicity and manipulation before going with all the slaughter.

One thing that's common to demons, devils and a bunch of extra-planar entities (celestials, elementals, et cetera) is that they don't permanently die when you kill them on the Material Plane, but rather, all slain demons reform back in the Abyss, with a massive demonic grudge to pick with you. Depending on your DM, this might be a non-factor, and the demon reforming might end up taking decades or centuries, or the demon might not be able to find another convenient portal to pop up next to you. Conversely, this might lead to a different side-quest of your adventuring party going off to a demon-encroached hell to find the specific demon that you pissed off and kill them on their home turf, which is the only way to permanently end them.

Queen of the Demonweb Pits
Lolth
Either way... demons (and devils) are bad news, particularly the higher-ranking ones. There's a whole lot of ways the Monster Manual suggest you incorporate them into your adventures. Maybe they're the boss of a certain dungeon. Maybe a cult managed to summon them. Maybe they're already here, and they're possessing and/or masquerading as an important NPC. Other adventure hooks given by the Monster Manual is the concept of demons and devils having a 'true name' that allows a mortal some degree of control over them. As well as a "Demon Amulet", which basically does the same thing.

I'm not going to go too deep into discussing generic demons, since we have the actual subtypes to go through, but one last thing is that... the demons shown here are merely the rank-and-file of the massive demon legion. The true masterminds and villains of D&D, literally the final boss of any campaign, are the Demon Lords. They're the most powerful of the demons, the sort of apocalyptic end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it main villains of a campaign. The Monster Manual merely lists them and gives us a brief description of them, and we won't actually get 5E versions of their stats until one of the supplementary material, but a large amount of these are essentially recurring villains that showed up in every edition since 1E, and they're, again, basically the Big Bads of D&D. There are many of these Demon Lords, but the most prominent ones are Orcus (he's all about the undead), Demogorgon (two-headed baboon, smart-but-crazy, and now a household name), Graz'zt (a handsome devil-man who's all about desire and debauchery), Lolth (spider-queen goddess of the Drow), Baphomet (a big angry minotaur), Yeenoghu (a big angry gnoll) and Juiblex (a big slime boy), to name a few. They all have their legions of demons, and fight each other for territory in addition to fighting the devils/ We'll properly go through them when we get to Volo's, but I'll be mentioning a couple of these as we go through the actual demon subtypes. It'd take too long to go through the Demon Lords and the demons, after all.

In-universe, the demonologists in D&D-land classify the demons into six categories, or 'classes', which is apparently a homage to the very first printing of the Monster Manual, where the demons are just listed as "Type 1 Demon", "Type 2 Demon", and so on, before they all received actual proper names. I'm going to list the demons not by alphabetical order, but from the strongest to the weakest based on this in-universe classification.

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Demons: Balor
3eThe original "Type 6 Demon" and basically as powerful as you can get without fighting a demon lord is the Balor. Is it obvious that the Balor is a trademarks-filed-off version of Tolkien's Balrog? And, surprisingly, despite the many decades since the first edition's release and a lot of the Tolkien-inspired parts of D&D taking a new identity of their own, Balors are still basically the same huge muscle-bound demon man with bat wings and horns and a flaming whip. And there's nothing wrong with that! It's a pretty neat and classic design, even if it's admittedly a bit samey to anyone who's played more than two or three fantasy-themed video games with demons in it. Balors are impressive for sure, but they're also something that I've seen a billion times in other fantasy franchises, so it's not the most exciting thing out there. They are pretty impressively terrifying as an in-game enemy, though, particularly if you're unprepared.

They don't really have a lot of lore to them in the Monster Manual, which basically just repeats the same old "very destructive, very chaotic, will fuck mortals the hell up" bit that it did when describing the demons as a whole. I suppose it's appropriate that the most powerful non-Lord demon embodies all of the chaotic evilness of the demon race as a whole. I really don't have much to say, Balors are pretty neat as a display piece and as an archetypal giant horned-and-winged muscle man.


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Demons: Goristro
The only other Demon in 5E's Monster Manual to be classified as a Type-6 demon are the Goristro, which are giant minotaurs! Something that isn't illustrated by the 5th edition illustration is that these fuckers are gigantic. Just look at that 3rd edition artwork! These Goristros are titan-sized minotaurs that apparently function as the demonic legions' walking siege engines, and apparently, they even sometimes carry palaquins to have their own little personal army that they can deploy. I always felt that Goristros are honestly kind of boring, although the 5th Edition's face is particularly nasty-looking. The Goristro is noted to be particularly odd among the greater demons in that they have no supernatural abilities other than their strength and size. They're just big dumb bull-men, and... honestly, kind of boring? They make for neat set-pieces, though, I suppose.

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Demons: Marilith
Looking at that 1st edition art, it's obvious that the Marilith is based on the multi-armed figures in Hindu mythology, yeah? I'm not sure if the specific combination of six arms and a snake-like lower body is specific to any deity, but eh. The Marilith remained relatively unchanged throughout all five editions, other than being finally covering up with a metal breastplate in 5th edition... which, okay, the mariliths aren't meant to be seductress demons, so I guess it's appropriate. Also, while not as large as the Balor or Goristro, the Marilith is still considered a 'large' creature, so she's significantly larger than a regular humanoid! I've always liked the general visual look of a person with a snake-like lower body, so I'm definitely a fan of the Marilith. I also find it pretty interesting that the honestly pretty mundane-looking Marilith (in comparison to the other demons we'll meet) is still classified as one of the demonic army's heavy hitters. She's a Type 5 demon (and the original one from 1E) and in addition to being pretty powerful opponents in their own right, they're apparently the military commanders among the demons. 

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Demons: Nalfeshnee
Nalafashnee? Nafleshenee? Nalalafeshni? Felnashnee? My gaming group's GM used one of these motherfuckers once and not a single person is able to properly pronounce it that we just ended up calling them the "Flying Gorilla". That's not quite accurate, though! The 1E one was a bit more ambiguous, but the 3E throughout 5E versions was more of a combination of gorilla, tusked boar, bird wings, and cloven goat feet. Plus a mohawk for some reason. And finally, we get a slightly more imaginative demon! It's pretty hideous looking, a hodgepodge of weird real-life animals that just straight-up looks unnatural. From the massive flabby gut and tits, to the bizarre layout of his face's tusks, to the tiny wings that can't possibly support such a chunky body, the Nalfeshnee is a pretty interesting design that just ends up looking not quite right. It's not mundane at all!

These fat fuckers are particularly motivated to feast. They feast on hatred and despair (and, what luck, they have a fear-generating light show ability) but most of all, on humanoid flesh. They will keep their larders filled with humanoids they abduct from the material plane, and eat them alive in hideous feasts... all the while thinking themselves as refined and cultured. The 2E artwork really ends up selling this gluttony-demon part pretty damn well. Subsequent editions kept the dad bod, but made them a lot less comically-rotund. They're the original Type 4 Demon from 1E, and can still put up a decent fight.

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Demons: Glabrezu
1eHere is one of my personal favourites from design standpoint, the original Type 3 demon, the Glabrezu. While its original 1E form was this bizarre dog-headed man with bat-ear-wings and a bizarre mixture of arms that grow out of odd places, subsequent depictions basically took the same concept and made some really awesomely grisly monsters out of it. Check out that 4E and 5E versions of the Glabrezu! The dog-head looks straight-up demonic, the extra spikes are pretty cool as shoulder armour, and the added carapace-like structure on the crab claws really end up making the Glabrezu look pretty terrifying... while also maintaining part of the goofy charm that the original creature had. Honestly, I do really like that this demon-man is essentially a muscular lobster-man with two tiny human arms and a huge dog-head. I'm not sure what's going on in that 4E artwork, to, does it have a tiny extra head on its pectorals? Sure, there are a lot of 'purists' out there who don't like the goofier aspects of D&D, but, shit, I enjoy it, and I enjoy it the most when we combine the whimsical and the serious. The Glaberzu's tiny human fists shaking in the air redundantly below the giant crab arms might be silly, but it's still a dinosaur-sized lobster-man that can slice your character in half with its pincers.

Also, the Glabrezu are one of the demons that isn't going to straight-up rampage in towns screaming "Hail Orcus", because despite being a giant four-armed crabman, the Glabrezu's favoured method of evil is to tempt their victims and slowly corrupt them and drive them to ruin, specializing in temptation and trying to capitalize on their desire. Not all of the classic Seven Sins have a corresponding devil or demon, but the Glabrezu is basically 'greed'. And... well, if its enticements or deceptions fail, it's still got massive fuck-off crab claws to go back to the demon standby of "murder everything".

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Demons: Yochlol
Another one of my favourites is the Yochlol, who just has such a fun name! Specifically noted as handmaidens to the Spider Queen Lolth, the Yochlol have appeared in every single edition of the game and are such weird creatures. See, they're shapeshifters that are able to transform into a drow (Lolth's favoured race) or a giant spider. So far it's pretty thematic to the whole theme of Lolth and her drow children, these sexy dark-skinned underground-dwelling elves... but their true form is neither elven nor spidery, but rather... well, that. Look at the contrast between their fake elven form and their true form, which is a towering column of goop with tentacles and a single random eyeball floating in the middle. And most editions tend to really have fun with the artwork of this thing. The original 1E focuses more on making it weirdly phallic and also like a generic slime monster from a Golden Age comic book. The 3E creature looks sort of like a turd, but I do love the chaotic stringly tentacles and the blood-red eye at the center of the thing. The 4E and 5E versions opt for something that sort of resembles a cross between a melted candle and a rotting tree-trunk, with a delightfully disgusting earwax colouration and, well, still a creepy eyeball in the midst of it all.


Yochlol transforming
And, well, fitting with Lolth's role as the Spider Queen of deceit and manipulation, her Yochlol servants mostly operate similarly. They hide in their disguised forms, wandering around mortals to infiltrate and spy, and even come off as straight-up friendly as they manipulate the world's politics to suit their dread queen's will. And whether Lolth's Drow minions explicitly know if the Yochlol walk among them or not is going to definitely be an interesting adventure hook. I do really find it interesting that the servitors of a giant spider goddess ends up having the true form of a big pile of ooze. Sure, it's a pile of ooze that can create and climb webs, but it's still kind of a surprising but very welcome subversion! Definitely one of my favourite fiends. This creature was originally conceived as being a creature sort of independent from other demons, being specifically tied to Lolth, and considering how much it deviates from the other demons by actually feeling like a unique entity, I can totally see that! Ultimately, it's more of an adversary that I feel works best as something along the lines of a 'hidden enemy' bit than a straight-up video game boss, although it would probably work best in campaigns where the Drow are friendly or at least not trying to murder your adventuring party outright. Pretty cool goop monster!

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Demons: Chasme
Heeyyy it's a demon that's just literally a giant bug! 5E's Chasme isn't the most interesting bug-man, actually, with its static artwork and its honestly relatively mundane look as far as fantasy monsters go. It's just a mosquito-man, and that random smattering of balding-man-hair is more hilarious than unsettling or impressive. It's such a shame, because the previous iterations of the Chasme look so much neater! 1E gives the Chasme a screaming old man head with muscular hands, looking truly unsettling. 2E goes for a different sort of unsettling, making it look somewhat more pathetic and explicitly mosquito-like. 4E Chasme is my absolute favourite, merging the non-buggy features with the mosquito stinger, turning the Chasme's head into this neatly grisly shark-like head, and giving a general silhouette of a demon-bug that will really zoom in and fuck you up. It's honestly what I think of when I read about 'Chasme', honestly, and kind of surprising since I tend to appreciate anatomically-accurate arthropod monsters. But when the choice is between a boring mutant mosquito and actually awesome-looking mosquito demons, y'know, it's kind of obvious.

2e
2E Chasme

The Chasme are ranked as type 2 demons, and this sort of means that they've sort of entered the phase of being not quite harmless, but still end up feeling kind of less of a 'oh shit a demon is manipulating events' and more just a fancy roadblock. It's terrifying to think that a brutal Balor or a seething Marilith is looking for a way to return from hell to exact vengeance upon you, but a giant mosquito? Not particularly impressive. The Chasme do get a fair bit of personality from their bio, though. They're the Abyss's interrogators and taskmasters, delighting in torture and spotting traitors among the demons. Also, for some reason, they can emit a loud drone that causes everyone to get tired? Okay, why not.  Older editions detail that the Chasme basically have an insect-like cycle of laying eggs in corpses, as well as them being kind of detested by other demons for their role in hunting deserters of the Blood War.

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Demons: Hezrou
Another type 2 demon is the Hezrou, which went through several different phases of looking like a muppet, like a giant frog-man, like a giant muscle-bound scary demon, and eventually 5E's version which basically settled on making it a giant, spiny muscle-bound demon with a fanged toad-face. While its design have changed a lot, the Hezrou's function are relatively static. They're foot soldiers. They're destructive but dumber than a brick. Not a whole lot to say here, I feel like the Hezrou are just here to give context to the other demons. Like, they're dangerous if you're at low level and a bunch of foolish acolytes manage to summon one, or if that Glabrezu you are fighting suddenly opens a portal to call upon his four Hezrou bodyguards, but it's one of those D&D monsters that feel more like accessories instead of something that could conceivably carry questlines on their own. Which is all right, I suppose. They're smelly, muscular toad-demons. Neato.

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Demons: Barlgura
Thanks to their pretty impressive-looking 5E artwork, I keep thinking that the Barlgura is far more impressive than it actually is. And... y'know, it's still pretty terrifying, since it's a rabid monster gorilla, but in practice the Barlgura is basically not all that much different than the big ape that it's based on. It just has the potluck of resistances that demons come with, as well as the whole 'will return from hell' deal going on. Honestly, perhaps the most dangerous thing about the Barlgura isn't just its immense size and ferocity, but the fact that these giant demon-king-kongs gather in packs. The Barlgura are also known as Leaping Demons, due to their ability to leap through long distances. And for some goddamn reason, the 5E version is able to be invisible, so have fun fighting giant invisible ape demons! They're big monkey monsters with huge tusks, and, again, not a whole ton to say here. They're neat, and I do like the fact that we have a bunch of different portrayals to pick from. The 1E version look hauntingly sinister, the 5E version looks like a rampaging beast, and the 3E version makes it a funky ape.

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Demons: Vrock
Another type 1 demon like the Barlgura (and the very first original Type I demon), the Vrock is also conceptually relatively simple, although it manages to look pretty damn cool! As a simple 'vulture demon', the Vrock's limbs from 3E onwards has been so gloriously gangly and demonic, and there's just something about an avian face that's so easy to twist into something far, far more sinister with the simple addition of some extra spikes. Like most stereotypical demons, the Vrocks are relatively simple, dumb monsters that live for pain and carnage. They can fly, they can do the Black Canary sonic scream... and for some reason, unleash toxic spores from their wings. Also, they're huge. It's the sort of "well, sure, they have this ability, they're demons that happen to look like birds". Vrocks, like crows, will be drawn to anything shiny, often fighting among their own to lay their claim even to cheap jewelry. Honestly, a lot of these lower-ranking demons are kinda just there, huh?

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Demons: Shadow Demon
The Shadow Demon doesn't doesn't get a fancy species name like the others, because Shadow Demons are less of their own type of demon and more of a 'temporary' state. See, when a demon's body is destroyed, but the fiend can't reform in the Abyss for some reason, their essence coalesces together into a shadowy form called a Shadow Demon. They're basically working off of the same 'incorporeal' rules, but other than the neat concept of tying into the whole "demons get reincarnated in their home plane" thing, they feel kind of tacked on and not particularly unique. I like the 2E and 5E artwork, they're pretty impressive.  

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Demons: Dretch
1eAnd these last three demons aren't classified among the types 1 through 6, and are basically known as minor or lesser demons. They're sort of not as threatening as their brethren, and really, the only time they're dangerous is in numbers, when other demons summon them in large numbers. The Dretches are the among the weakest demons, basically a munch of repulsive, self-loathing creatures that basically exist to mull about and be disposable fodder for the greater demons and for adventurers to slay. They really don't accomplish anything and most of what they do is "voice their displeasure as an unsettling din of hoots, snarls and grunts". The whole point of the Dretch is that they're basically that nasty, smelly co-worker that keeps complaining about everything and everyone, but are just barely competent enough that the office doesn't fire them, y'know? The 1E Dretch looks like an obese, wretched hobo and the 5E Dretch looks like a decayed muppet face transplanted onto an ape's body, but look at that insanely pathetic looking 4E Dretch! From the flies around his body, to the massive hunchback, to the deformed, gigantic knuckle-arms and especially that face... the 4E Dretch has a pretty awesome artwork. It's kind of a pretty neat theme to have the lowest of the low (or, well, almost) among the demons be pretty pathetic looking.

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Demons: Quasit
The Quasit is essentially the demonic counterpart to the more iconic Imp (which is a Devil). And they're tiny little horned gremlin-demons, basically pretty non-threatening. They're utilized by more powerful demons as spies and messengers, but also equally likely to be used as food or as entertainment. They're not completely helpless, though, able to become invisible, inject poison, and shapeshift into forms resembling beasts. Actually... with Quasits and their opposite number, the Imps, being noted as 'shapeshifters', I'm surprised not more demons and devils are able to do so, with only the Yochlol being straight-up identified as a proper shapeshifter outside these tiny little shits. Huh.

The most interesting thing about Quasits is that they can apparently be used as familiars by mortals... but the Monster Manual makes it clear that while the Quasit will play the obsequious servant role very well, they'll also drive the master towards acts of evil, and they can terminate the contract and abandon their master at any point in time. Also, look at that 4E Quasit artwork, which looks insanely threatening with those buff shoulders, gangly arms and positively nightmarish face! Like, seriously, if not for the skull next to it, I'd think it'd be human-sized and ready to tear my face off! In comparison, 5E's Quasit looks like an adorable gremlin-monkeys.

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Demons: Manes
The varying editions are a bit inconsistent whether the singular form of this creature is a "Mane" or a "Manes", but since we're following 5E's Monster Manual, we'll call this a Manes. And hoo boy, what a nasty-looking creature! It's this corpulent corpse, and 5E's artwork really makes the rotting flesh seen beneath its skin and particularly that half-decayed mouth look particularly nasty. 3E, meanwhile, goes for a different sort of nasty with that downright nightmare-inducing face. The Manes are not technically demons spawned by the Abyss or by Demon Lords, unlike the others, but rather, are the souls of evil creatures that descend into the lower planes and are transformed into what's basically the lowest form of demonkind. This pathetic, shambling, fat corpse-like thing. They only really have a single 'claw' attack, other demons feed on them, and they're honestly barely more threatening than a housecat in D&D terms. Older editions would, I remember, emphasize just how utterly stupid these things are. The Dretches at least still understood basic orders. I remembered that a 3.5E sourcebook even noted that the Manes were even used as something akin as 'soul currency' among demons and sorcerers. Poor Manes!

That's it for demons, click under the break for devils, because the damn article's too long as it is!


Devils
3e
Asmoedus (3E)
Devils now! Also known as the Baatezu, the devils personify tyranny and end up coming off as a more organized evil empire that draw more from tyrannical, despotic rulers. They desire position in addition to power, in contrast to the more uniform destruction of the demons. They're lawful evil, y'know? Sure, they're evil and they want to corrupt the soul of every single mortal soul in the multiverse, but the Nine Hells isn't disorganized. There's a company-esque hierarchy going on, with the Archdevil Asmodeus being the super-big boss that rules over every other lesser devil. The devils' main modus operandi is to corrupt, tempt and make deals with the mortals, condemning their souls into the property of the Seven Hells when they die and bolstering the ranks of the devils. It's an entire race full of Emperor Palpatines that go around striking bargains, getting souls, and, of course, in true Faustine fashion, the deals and contracts they sell tend to have a catch or some small print or might not be what the foolish mortals specifically want. And even if they do help out... I mean, the mortals that sign their souls away to a devil might live to a ripe old age, but the devils are immortal and patient. All they want, after all, is the soul. Again, just like how the demons aren't all angry rage-monsters, not all devils are suave deal-brokers, but we'll note the exceptions when we get to them.

Dispater
Dispater
Basically a lot of the flavour of the devils are pretty similar to demons. They reform when they die; they have a true name; they have a huge amount of random resistances... the biggest difference, though, is that while the devils will attempt to backstab their fellow devils for a higher rank or position (in other words, exactly like a mega-corporation), they acknowledge their position and the necessity of a well-oiled machine, and are so lawful that they won't technically betray their devil brethren. They'll make their superiors look bad, sure, maybe make one of those deals-with-small-print that benefits them, maybe report someone's failure to a different superior... but they'll never actually engage in outright treachery like those barbaric demons. Hell, they won't even betray the mortals they make deals with! Sure, try to get them to sign a duplicitous deal, or corrupt their immortal soul when they're working together, but never betray the written word of a deal or a contract. That's anathema to lawful evil.

The mega-corporation that is the Nine Hells is divided into, well, nine layers. The details vary as we go from edition to edition, but in 5E, the nine lords of the nine levels, in order, are Zariel, Dispater, Mammon, Belial and Fierna (they share a plane), Levistus, Glasya, Baal'zebul, Mephistopheles and Asmodeus. In a neat showcase of the devils' organization, each layer has a specific name and a specific population of devil sub-types. Other recurring Archdevils from previous edition, Bel, Geryon, Moloch, Malagard, plus the dragon-queen Tiamat, used to rule some of the planes of the Nine Hells, but are ousted by these new successors. Each active Archdevil has their own little court with arch-dukes, arch-duchesses, then dukes and duchesses, then the Greater Devils (Pit Fiends, Erinyes, plus Ice and Horned devils), then the Lesser Devils (Bone, Chain, Barbed, Bearded and Spined devils), then the Imps, then the lowest of the low, the Lemure. And like any mega-corporation, you can get promoted or demoted depending on your merit and how much profit (in the currency of souls) you are bringing to the company (in the form of an Archdevil's court).

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Devils: Pit Fiend
As with the Demons segment, we're going on from the strongest of the devils to the weakest, starting off from the Pit Fiend. The devils' answer to the Balor is the gigantic Pit Fiend, which is... well, essentially the same design, except a lot less fiery and with a bunch less clothes. He's just a huge muscle-bound devil-man with massive horns, bat wings, a whip-like tail and generally looking like your archetypal devil from religious depictions. Which is a neat little symmetry to the demons, but while the Pit Fiend's kind of iconic now, I kinda wished that the most powerful devil embodied the lawful evil theme a bit better, y'know? Something more akin to the named Archdevils as devil-men and devil-women in cultured robes and armour, or something? Hell, the Pit Fiends themselves are even noted to be pretty destructive and bloodthirsty, although at least they still engage in the devil bit of doing a whole lot of aristocratic backstabbing and politicking in addition to bashing people to a pulp with their maces.

Simultaneously impressive and underwhelming, honestly. 1E Pit Fiend has massive tarantula fangs for some reason. 2E Pit Fiend also has the same fangs, but apparently has been going to the same buffets that the Nalfeshnee goes to and gained like five tons of weight. From 3E onwards the Pit Fiend got a far more muscular form, and drops the giant tarantula fangs, although they keep the poisonous bite from previous editions.


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Devils: Ice Devil (Gelugon)
Also known as the "Gelugon", the Ice Devils are surprisingly listed as one of the Greater Devils... and I was definitely surprised the first time I read through a list of the devils in the 3.5E sourcebook, and realizing that the mighty "Ice Devil" is a goddamn bug-creature! With a massive reptilian tail and a vaguely humanoid body, the Gelugon's head, arms and legs are unmistakably based on that of an ant or some sort of a bug, especially in the 2nd Edition onwards. Pretty surprising that one of the stronger devils, is a giant ant-man, and given the very unconventional theme of ice... not something you normally associate with insects! I also like that each of the "X Devil" has a far more impressive made-up name, because... well, honestly, something like 'ice devil', 'horn devil' and 'barbed devil' doesn't quite sound as impressive as Gelugon, Malebranche or Hamatula.

The Gelugons serve as the commanders and the strategists of the Devils, tormenting the lesser devils because they're dicks, all the while working up towards their promotions. Apparently, not all Gelugons carry the fancy spear that their artworks show them with. Presumably it's for higher-ranked members, then? Overall, the poor Gelugon is a bit of a bizarre mish-mash of themes. Ice powers, buggy bodies, taskmaster jobs... but it is kind of a shame that none of it is truly really reflected in any meaningful way in the lore or the mechanics particularly well.

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Devils: Erinyes
Based on the alternate names for the Greco-Roman deities called the Furies, the Erinyes are next in line in the Devils' heirarchy. And like the Marilith, they get progressively more censored as times go on. At least they didn't censor the succubi and incubi, the actual seduction demons, too much? I mean, I guess the Erinyes are meant to be warrior-women, and admittedly, the 2E one with the lingerie is a bit too much. Kind of a shame that we sort of dropped some of the monstrous aspects of 4E Erinyes, though, because she's back to just being an evil angel-lady in armour, and that's... not the most interesting design. Hilariously, the 5E Manual acknowledges this by noting that Erinyes apparently know full well their feathered angel-wings makes them look angelic, and will sometimes just pretend to be angels when dealing with mortals. Some versions of the Erinyes' backstory also note that they used to be straight-up fallen angels that fell from the Upper Planes because of temptation or misdeed. In some versions of D&D, they're also characterized as the masters and pimps handlers of the succubi, a different breed of devil.. but basically had all of these scrubbed off in favour of just simply making them straight-up warriors. And... honestly, kinda boring? I liked the whole angel-impersonating bit, though.

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Devils: Horned Devil (Cornugon / Malebranche)
Horned Devils are next up in line, and... their alternate name has wafted back and forth between "Malebranche" and "Cornugon", and sometimes the names get swapped between a "Horned Devil" and a "War Devil". Click here for the explanation. Basically, the 5th Edition has merged all of them into a single "Horned Devil", or a Malebranche. Okay then! The Horned Devil is basically another version of the archetypal visual devilish archetype. Vat-winged, huge ram horns, pointed tail... and, of course, he's got a pitchfork! Basically, the only thing that makes him different than the balor or the pit fiend is that he isn't quite as swole. Not the most creative devil out there, but I can't begrudge a 'classic' look. Apparently these Horned Devils are lazy as shit, and are reluctant to put themselves in harm's way, and won't really fight until provoked. They're also pretty tall, standing as tall as ogres, and are basically the flying infantry of the devils. Not much to say here, if we're being honest... they're there.


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Devils: Bone Devil (Osyluth)
Next up are the Bone Devils, or the Osyluth! And... and hoo boy, they got extra-badass over the versions! Originally they are clearly just meant to be these funny skeleton-men with a giant scorpion tail jutting out their bum, but the 5th Edition basically made the Osyluths extra badass by basically going full-on Aliens on this thing. The basic gaunt body shape of a skeletal monster is still there, but the addition of those massive tattered insect wings, the changing of the tail from a more obvious scorpion one into one that looks more organic as an extension of the spine, plus those gigantic rows of spiky bone protrusions on his back and face... yeah, the 5th edition Osyluth just looks so much more cooler, yeah? Honestly, if you showed me the pictures of the 5E devils without context, I'd even probably rank the Osyluth above the Ice Devil and Erinyes. It looks goddamn badass!

The Bone Devils are apparently driven by hate, envy and lust... and I'm not sure how a being made entirely out of bone is meant to have any libido, but okay. The Osyluths are assholes who enjoy seeing those that defy them get demoted, while vying for promotion. Despite the 5E art, Osyluths can't actually fly... shame. Still, overall, probably one of my favourite devil designs. 

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Devils: Chain Devil (Kyton)
Oh, this is another one that I like a lot, for the simple reason that the Kytons (insert your own Michael Kyton joke here) just look insanely metal. Like, this is the sort of glorious awesome-but-slightly-goofy design from the 90's, y'know? A dude that's just covered up his entire body with nothing but chains that end with spikes, blades and hooks, and then uses them to attack the enemy as a chaotic mass of Ghost Rider style chain-whips? It's just so stupidly over-the-top. I love it. Absolutely love that 3E artwork with the chains dangling off of his body, particularly the ones around his head and face that forms some kind of fucked-up Viking beard of chains, and that 1E version just looks so goddamn happy that he's a dude covered in chains and spikes. 1E Kyton gets off on this, you know that. Look at that goofy-ass grin. In addition to attacking with the chains and animating the chains both on its body and random inanimate chains around it, the Chain Devil's also able to drive lesser adventurers to panic because the Chain Devil can cask illusions of the adventurer's enemies or loved ones. Of course, the Kytons are jailers and torturers among the Devils. It's obvious, yeah?

Some editions note that the Kyton is a 'devil, but not a barbazu', but I do appreciate that later editions really just severely cut down on random fiends that are all 'demons, but not really, but also yes'.


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Devils: Barbed Devil (Hamatula)
The Barbed Devils are next up, and they're just these nasty-looking tall goblin-like dudes with spikes all over their body and their tail. They're simple minions, really. Barbed Devils are also pretty greedy, basically waiting for any opportunity to steal valuables that it might claim for itself. Not the most exciting design here, honestly. They're neat as being part of a set and being on the lower end of the devil Mega-Corporation totem pole, but as individual creatures they're boring.


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Devils: Bearded Devil (Barbazu)
Look at this thing. It's the bearded devil, but its beard is made up of tentacles that end in spiky stabby thorns! I love this thing. Like, the rest of him is a pretty neat, generic demon-man. Fangs, spiky nails, purple skin, demonic tail, bloody glaive... then that beard also joins in the fight, stabbing and lashing and poisoning the enemy. Lore-wise they're simple battle-hungry shock-troopers... just with particularly nasty beards. Basically, the first time this dude was described to my gaming party by our GM, we sort of burst out laughing collectively, and the session ended up becoming one facial hair pun after another. The 1E and 2E one are, respectively, a decrepit old man and an orc-looking dude with a spiky beard, but the idea of those wispy tufts of actual hair coming into combat like the 4E and 5E Barbazu is honestly a lot more hilarious. Memorable for perhaps all the wrong reasons, but hey, I like him.

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Devils: Spined Devil (Spinagon)
Yeah, "Spinagon" the Spined Devil. They really didn't bother thinking about this dude's alternate name, yeah? The Spinagon is a small critter that's just a bunch of messengers and spies, not particularly threatening but is actually treated with respect by other fiends for the simple fact that they sort of work as a massive intelligence network for their bosses. Shit, they're Human Resources! They fight by launching spines that burst into flames, and basically make use of their abilities to fly to its advantage. I do really like the progression of the Spined Devil's artwork from just being a generic devil-man with wings in 1E/2E to that awesome jumping lanky creature covered with spines with a nasty reptilian face, to the more toned-down but still awesome looking spiky gargoyle in 5E. A perfectly neat sort of air minion for the devils' forces!

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Devils: Imp
And now we reach the lowest of the proper devils, the tiny, humble little imp. Based on the little helpers of the devil from actual European mythology, the imps are basically, well, little devils. Humanoid, lanky, with tattered wings and a scorpion tail, the imps are basically the gofers of the Devil army, spying on rivals, misleading mortals and waylaying them. Unlike every other devil above it, the imp will proudly serve any evil master, fiendish or mortal, but it's not the most efficient of minions. They're also able to shapeshift into small animals, and can become invisible, but isn't the most reliable of fighters, being... y'know, tiny.

Of course, imps aren't actually meant to fight. They're there to be a little plot hook and a sign that devils are involved in a storyline, being a innocuous creature hiding and delivering devil-whispers to a king or wizard or something, Wormtongue-style, telling them information about powerful spells and artifacts while subtly nudging them to maybe give a call to a more powerful ally, like, hey, sign your soul to the Archdevil Baal-zebub, it'll be just like our partnership but a million times better, honest! They're like, passive-aggressive pyramid scheme telemarketers. Overall, a pretty neat tiny little devil -- the concept and flavour of a little Impish minion is something that shows up everywhere from Warcraft to Magic to Warhammer, and is probably one of the most common depictions of demons or devils in fantasy in general. Hey, you gotta have the little ones before you meet the big ones, right? That's basic game design.

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Devils: Lemure
And here we have the Lemure (borrowing its name from the restless spirits of the dead in Greek myths), the weakest and most shittiest of the devils, a mortal soul twisted by evil (either with or without a devil's influence) and banished to the Nine Hells, going through torture and entering into a state of glob-like shapelessness and being tormented by the other devils until they get promoted into a higher form of devil... usually an imp! They kinda look like doo-doo or sludge, but the Monster Manual sort of makes it clear that they're actually masses of flesh with barely-human features. The 5E artwork actually makes it look like something a bit more threatening, sort of like Clayface from DC comics, but the most appropriate artwork for the Lemure has to be the absolutely wretched looking "leave me alone boo-hoo" 3E version. That artist certainly had fun designing what a tormented blob of flesh with a human face and arms could look! These things babble a lot even though they can't actually speak, and, man, gotta really suck to be promised ultimate power, and then reduced to a blob with a face that can't do anything, just sort of blobbing around being useless until some higher-ranking devil decides they need an extra imp to spy, or an extra barbed devil to stand guard, that some lucky Lemure will end up being promoted.

I'd rather be a hyalopterous lemure, y'know? (That's a Magic joke.)

And... that's it for demons and devils, but ttust me when I say that this is merely scratching the surface of D&D fiends. You could make an entire folio out of it! This is going to be where we leave off for now, because in the next part we'll be talking about one half of the title... dragons!

A quick list of the creatures that are covered in the 5E Monster Manual here:
  • Balor: Huge fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 19
  • Barlgura: Large fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 5
  • Chasme: Large fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 6
  • Dretch: Small fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 1/4
  • Glabrezu: Large fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 9
  • Goristro: Huge fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 17
  • Hezrou: Large fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 8
  • Manes: Small fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 1/8
  • Marilith: Large fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 16
  • Nalfeshnee: Large fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 13
  • Quasit: Tiny fiend - demon shapechanger; chaotic evil; CR 1
  • Shadow Demon: Medium fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 4
  • Vrock: Large fiend - demon; chaotic evil; CR 6
  • Yochlol: Medium fiend - demon shapechanger; chaotic evil; CR 10
  • Barbed Devil: Medium fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 5
  • Bearded Devil: Medium fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 3
  • Bone Devil: Large fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 9
  • Chain Devil: Medium fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 8
  • Erinyes: Medium fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 12
  • Horned Devil: Large fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 11
  • Ice Devil: Large fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 14
  • Imp: Tiny fiend - devil shapechanger; lawful evil; CR 1
  • Lemure: Medium fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 0
  • Pit Fiend: Large fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 20
  • Spined Devil: Small fiend - devil; lawful evil; CR 2

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