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Greyhawk creature
Demons emerge from the Abyssal ooze, as depicted in Fiendish Codex I (2006). Art by Ted Pendergraft.
Alignment Chaotic evil
Type Outsider
Subtype Evil, Chaos (sometimes tanar'ri, obyrith, or loumara)
First appearance

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.

Types of demons

In First Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, some types of demons were not given species names, but were rather referred to as "Type I" through "Type VI" demons. In subsequent editions, Types I-VI were instead known as Vrocks, Hezrou, Glabrezu, Nalfeshnee, Mariliths, and Balors, respectively. Some of these names were originally given in the First Edition Monster Manual as example names of specific demons of that type, so (for instance) Marilith was the originally the name of an individual Type V demon.

There are currently three known subtypes of demon:


The obyriths are so ancient that they predate mortal life and even the gods, with their origins deep within the Age before Ages. 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 ekolids, laghathti, Sybriexes, & 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.


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.

Note: The term "tanar'ri" originated with the 2nd Edition AD&D rules, when the words "devil" and "demon" were dropped by TSR from all the rulebooks. This was due to a shift in TSR policy which aimed to minimize the criticism from religious fundamentalists who perceived the game as being Satanic in nature. Both terms were restored with the release of 3rd Edition ruleset. The term "tanar'ri" was also retained, but applied specifically to the predominant subset of demons.


The loumaras 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, few loumaras have yet become powerful enough to be recognized as demon lords; Sifkhu, who has been captured by the succubus queen Malcanthet, is perhaps the only one.

Loumaras are usually immaterial or invisible demons that are more like ghosts or undead than demons. Most of them possess living creatures or objects in order to more effectively work their evil.

The loumara race resulted from the Abyss's attempts to digest the dreams and memories of a pantheon of dead gods. This pantheon, a territorial bunch, was killed eons ago by the Abyss itself, when Demogorgon baited them into destroying the layer of one of his rivals; as the angry gods ripped an entire layer free from the Abyss, the Abyss lashed back, slaying them all so that only their thoughts remained. The Demonomicon of Iggwilv speculates that each breed of loumara evolved from the dreams of a different dead god, and that their natures are a corruption of that god's portfolio. The dybbuk is believed to have been born from the dreams or nightmares of a dead goddess of love and art, the guecubus from those of a god of law and peace, and the dreams of a goddess of nature and fertility formed the manitous.

Known types of loumara include:

A dybbuk resembles a jellyfish with a simply sketched human face. 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.

A caligrosto is a particularly sadistic loumara which, instead of possessing living creatures, prefers to possess a slashing weapon of some sort. In combat situations, a caligrosto will often manifest itself as a shade, mimicking whatever creature was most recently attacked by it's chosen weapon. Caligrostos often try to manipulate adventurers, imbuing weapons with powerful magic properties so that adventurers will be more inclined to wield them, in the hopes of being carried into battle, before breaking free of their master's grip at the first oppurtunity.

A manitou manifests, in its true form, as a tangle of ghostly vines, each tipped with a fanged maw. Manitous can possess any animal, plant, or fey. In their incorporeal form, they can literally tear apart the natural world with the invisible forces at their command.

Other demons

Not all known demons fit into one of the above races. Such non-typed demons include:

Abyssal drake, abyssal eviscerator, abyssal maw, abyssal ravager, abyssal skulker, ankashar, artaaglith, bebelith, blood fiend, broodswarm, 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.

See also


  • Bonny, Ed, Jeff Grubb, Rich Redman, Skip Williams, and Steve Winter. Monster Manual II. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2002.
  • Burlew, Rich, et al. Monster Manual III. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast,, 2004.
  • Cagle, Eric, et al. Fiend Folio. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.
  • Cordell, Bruce R. Expanded Psionics Handbook. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004. ISBN 0-7869-3301-1
  • Grubb, Jeff. Manual of the Planes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1987. ISBN 0-7869-1850-0
  • Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1977.
  • -----. Monster Manual II. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1983. ISBN 0-7869-2873-5
  • Jacobs, James. "The Demonimicon of Iggwilv: Baphomet." Dragon #341. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2006.
  • -----. "The Demonimicon of Iggwilv: Dagon." Dragon #349. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2006.
  • -----. "The Demonimicon of Iggwilv: Fraz-Urb’luu." Dragon #333. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2005.
  • -----. "The Demonimicon of Iggwilv: Kostchtchie." Dragon #345. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2006.
  • -----. "The Demonimicon of Iggwilv: Pazuzu." Dragon #329. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2005.
  • -----. "The Demonimicon of Iggwilv: Zuggtmoy." Dragon #337. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2005.
  • Kestrel, Gwendolyn F.M. Monster Manual IV. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2006.
  • Larme, John. Dangerous Games? Censorship and "Child Protection" [1] (2000).
  • Marmell, Ari. "The Ebon Maw: Beware the Waking Hunger." Dragon #312. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2003.
  • McArtor, Mike, ed. Dragon Compendium, Volume 1. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2005.
  • McComb, Colin. Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1997. ISBN 0-7869-0684-7
  • Smith, Lester W, and Wolfgang Baur. Planes of Chaos. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.
  • Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.
  • Turnbull, Don, ed. Fiend Folio. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1981.
  • Wyatt, James and Rob Heinsoo. Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2001.