Yugoloth

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Greyhawk creature
Yugoloth
Alignment Always neutral evil
Type Outsider
Subtype Yugoloth
First appearance Vault of the Drow (1978)

Yugoloths (also known as daemons and nicknamed 'loths) are a race of fiend associated with the neutral evil alignment.

Ecology

Yugoloths are all hermaphroditic, capable of either siring or bearing young, although individual 'loths may identify with one gender or the other. All of them can breed, though they do so only with members of their own caste. The greater yugoloths (nycaloths, arcanaloths, and ultroloths) spawn more greater ultroloths, with nycaloths producing more nycaloths and both arcanaloths and ultroloths giving birth to immature arcanaloths. It is impossible to become an ultroloth without earning that status through centuries of effort. Lesser yugoloths always give birth to mezzoloths.

Yugoloths, as a rule, prefer not to mate or breed. The leaders of the race believe that only centuries of slowly climbing up the ranks ensures that the best and brightest become greater yugoloths. Except when they are far away from the great towers of their race, mating is generally unnecessary to ensure the continuity of their species: every time a yugoloth dies, a new mezzoloth is automatically born from the energies of Gehenna or the Gray Waste, springing forth from the bowels beneath the Tower Arcane or Khin-Oin.

Yugoloths are carnivores, though not in the way that natural animals are carnivores. Eating meat for them is a symbolic gesture of contempt toward all life. As immortal natives of the Outer Planes, they do not require food to survive, but they savor the taste of fear and despair in freshly killed sentients, and devour flesh in order to make their arrogant disdain for lesser beings known. Greater yugoloths, who have purged much of their earlier emotions, care less about the emotions of their prey and grow less picky about what they consume. Nycaloths prefer rotted and decayed carrion, feeding on the decay itself and all it symbolizes as much as the protein. Arcanaloths suck marrow from bones, representing how they corrupt and devour from within. Ultroloths devour everything, consuming all emotions, positive and negative, and leaving nothing at all, not even bones.

Environment

Yugoloths dwell on the three lowest Outer Planes: Carceri, Hades, and Gehenna. Greater yugoloths cannot be permanently destroyed unless they are killed on one of these planes. Arcanaloths can only be killed in Gehenna, where their great tower is based; upon their deaths, their memories fly to the tower's archives to be recorded for posterity.

The yugoloth race originated in the Gray Waste of Hades, but at some point in the distant past the majority of them moved to Gehenna, perhaps because the apathy of the Waste was preventing them from fully advancing their plans and schemes. While many still dwell in Hades, Gehenna has become the capital of the yugoloth race, where the greatest of them all, the General of Gehenna, holds court in his Crawling City. The leader of the yugoloths of the Gray Waste is the Oinoloth, who rules from the Wasting Tower of Khin-Oin.

In the Tarterian Depths of Carceri, a third great tower is under construction, as it has been for several millennia. Forged from the agonized living bodies of petitioners and cloaked in the skin of a dead god, the Tower of Incarnate Pain, when complete, supposedly will form a mystic triangle with the other two towers and somehow give them domination over the Lower Planes. It is only the eternal rivalry between the yugoloths and demodands of Carceri that has so far prevented the tower's completion. Whenever the project is nearly finished, hordes of farastu, kelubar, and shator demodands swarm the tower and tear it into screaming pieces, forcing the yugoloths to begin again.

Typical physical characteristics

Hierarchy

Lesser yugoloths
  • Mezzoloth: Mezzoloths make up the vast bulk of yugoloth armies and represent the baseline of their race's hierarchy. Mezzoloths form directly from the raw essence of the Gray Waste and Gehenna, either naturally or artificially drawn up from the plane by the engines and spawned pools beneath the Wasting Tower of Khin-Oin, the Tower Arcane, and eventually from the Reflective Chasm in Carceri's Tower of Incarnate Pain. These bipedal, beetle-like fiends wield huge tridents, stand seven feet tall and have four insect-like arms.
  • Dergholoth: Promoted Mezzoloths may attain this status.
  • Piscoloth: Above dergholoths, these lobster-like yugoloths are cruel, hateful bullies who "keep order in the armies, a task well suited to their petty and tyrannical demeanor."
  • Hydroloth: The froglike hydroloths inhabit the River Styx.
  • Yagnoloth: These petty rulers are given political authority by the ultroloths.
  • Marraenoloth: The boatmen of the River Styx, promoted yagnoloths are situated upon the cusp of becoming Greater Yugoloths.
Greater yugoloths
  • Nycaloth: These arrogant commanders of the yugoloth armies have green skin, four muscular arms, a doglike head and a pair of large bat-like wings.
  • Arcanaloth: These jackal or dog-headed fiends dress in fine robes and resemble individual manifestations of a gestalt of the concept of twisted sorcerery. Some of the greatest wielders of arcane magic in the multiverse, they mass within Gehenna's Tower Arcane under the leadership of Helekanalaith, the "Keeper of the Tower," where they record the progress of the Blood War, craft contracts with mortals and fiends alike, and endlessly study the intricacies of abstract evil.
  • Ultroloth: The highest, most pure of the greater yugoloths and the undisputed rulers of the yugoloth race, the ultroloths, look like gray skinned humanoids, with enlarged, glowing eyes flickering with malignant color. Their blank faces are devoid of emotion, and their attitude is one of cold, sterile, distant evil. They constantly backstab and betray one another, and are renowned throughout the multiverse for their unbridled cruelty and malice.
Battleloths

A subgroup of yugoloths are known as battleloths. These creatures take the shapes of various weapons.

  • Arrow Battleloth: The weakest of the battleloths; often serve as spies.
  • Axe Battleloth: Recklessly brave combatants.
  • Crossbow Battleloth: The most sought-after battleloths due to their versatility.
  • Pick Battleloth: Vicious, predatory yugoloths that feed on the blood of living creatures.
  • Spiked Chain Battleloth: Aggressive hunters that hunt down other battleloths for sport.
  • Sword Battleloth: Independent and wily, and hard bargainers, they demand conquests, glory, and loot.
Other creatures
  • Baernoloth: Sometimes classified as greater yugoloths, baernoloths are actually the primal champions of evil who created the yugoloth and demodand races.
  • Canoloth: When a yugoloth angers its superiors, whether through acts of betrayal or desertion, it is punished in a way so terrifying that prospect of such a fate keeps most yugoloths in line. Criminals are transformed into canoloths, the blind war hounds of the yugoloth armies. Forever wracked with pain, the canoloths sense their surroundings by means of a long, thorny tongue. They hate all things and relish the chance to maim and destroy.
  • Corruptor of Fate: Stealthy and cunning manipulators of luck, they often become assassins.
  • Echinoloth: Rear echelons of the yugoloth armies, these fiends combine features of a starfish and squid into an unlovely whole.
  • Gelugon: Also known as ice devils, gelugons are actually yugoloths enslaved to Mephistopheles long ago.
  • Guardian daemons: These creatures were created by the yugoloths as lesser servants for their mortal allies, and to serve in their stead when powerful wizards call upon them for favors. They are found in least, lesser, and greater varieties.
  • Gacholoth: Ebony-skinned, four-legged infiltrators and saboteurs.
  • Skeroloth: Skeroloths are formed from demoted mezzoloths, who make up the chaff and fodder for yugoloth armies, acting as spies, thieves, and interlopers. They serve because they must, fawning over the nearest powerful yugoloth and betraying former masters whenever given a glimpse of richer rewards.
  • Voor: Tentacled, hulking brutes used as guardians, protectors, bodyguards, and enforcers. Greater versions are known as dreadful lashers.
Yugoloth lords (including altraloths)
  • Anthraxus. The former Oinoloth, recently usurped by Mydianchlarus.
  • Bubonix. A former arcanaloth, now master of the Tower of Incarnate Pain.
  • Charon. The ruler of the marraenoloths, ferryman of the River Styx.
  • Cholerix. Bubonix's second in command.
  • Diptherius. One of the chief beings challenging for the position of Oinoloth.
  • The General of Gehenna, said to be the first ultroloth and the secret master of the Blood War.
  • Malkizid: Formerly a solar serving the Seldarine, Malkizid is now both an exiled archdevil and a lord of yugoloths.
  • Mydianchlarus, the current Oinoloth.
  • Taba. One of the greatest spies and thieves in the Fiendish Planes, Taba can appear as any sort of fiend. She uses her abilities primarily to acquire wealth.
  • Typhus. Resembling a hunch-backed mezzoloth, Typhus is a powerful general who commands an army known as the Infernal Front.
  • Xengahra: An outcast yugoloth who has become a living personification of hopelessness. He superficially resembles a solar.

Alignment

The yugoloths are not simply evil, they are Evil incarnate, undistracted (for the most part) by thoughts of law or chaos, dedicated above all other things to dragging the rest of the multiverse screaming toward the pole of Evil. They use any and all means to achieve this goal - bullying, flattery, temptation, manipulating the other fiendish races and one another like puppets on a string.

Though they understand emotion, as they rise through their ranks, the yugoloths learn to cast it out of themselves, evolving to become utterly unfeeling, "purified," with no love, hate, anger, or jealousy to turn them from their dedication to the realization of their wicked goals. Some 'loths have managed to do this better than others, of course; Anthraxus seems to have learned to truly hate Mydianchlarus for driving him from his throne.

Society

Religion

For the most part, yugoloths do not serve deities, although they maintain an alliance with Pyremius, who uses the head of a yagnoloth as his symbol. The Wasting Tower of Khin-Oin, where their Oinoloth rules, is thought to have been created from the titanic spine of a deity the yugoloths killed long ago.

In the novel Artifact of Evil by Gary Gygax, Nerull rides a great winged daemon named Putriptoq.

Language

The yugoloth language, generally known as Yugoloth, is a complex tongue that reminds listeners of the stench of decaying roses and the whisper of wind blowing across the sand. Nearly every word in this language carries two or more meanings, and when yugoloths speak, at least two messages are contained in each phrase. Naturally, less intelligent 'loths, like mezzoloths and dergholoths, have little facility with this.

The language grows in complexity with each caste. While the language spoken by ultroloths is the same as that spoken by piscoloths, ultroloth speech is so much more complex that it sounds entirely different to the casual observer. No mortal in known history has mastered Yugoloth beyond the level of nycaloth, and legend has it that if one did, the language would be so potent that it would transform the speaker into a yugoloth as well.

History

Yugoloths are said to have been spawned in the glooms of the Gray Waste in the Age before Ages, near the banks of the River Styx, on the present site of their Wasting Tower, Khin-Oin, though this happened so long ago that even yugoloth histories are only collections of fragmented myths. They are believed to have been created by an older race of fiends known today as the baernaloths, beings spawned by the primal force of Evil itself before the formation of the present planes of existence. After spending millennia rising from barbarism to civilization, the 'loths decided that for perfection to be achieved, they had to expunge all traces of both law and chaos from their spirits. Accordingly, an ultroloth created a gem called the Heart of Darkness, which it used to "purify" its race and infuse the evil-tainted law and chaos that it extracted into the bodies of nearby larvae, which were hearded into the Abyss and Baator and evolved into the first demons and devils, respectively. The ultroloth who created the Heart of Darkness became known as the General of Gehenna, and still guides the yugoloth race to this day.

It's said that around the same time that the baernaloths were creating the first yugoloths, a rogue baernaloth known as Apomps created its own race, which would become the demodands. Because Apomps' creations were flawed and tainted with chaos, Apomps and its servants were exiled to Carceri, where they live in eternal hatred of the yugoloths and all they make.

During the Horned Society's conquest of the Shield Lands, yugoloths served as mercenaries in the Horned Society's armies.

Relatively recently, the being who had held the position of Oinoloth for centuries, Anthraxus, was driven from his throne by the ambitious ultroloth Mydianchlarus; some say that Mydianchlarus tricked Anthraxus with a seductive lie or secret, and pulled off his coup without spilling a drop of blood.

Rary's summoned yugoloth servants constructed his fortress in the Brass Hills almost overnight.

Publication history

Known as daemons in Vault of the Drow and subsequent publications in 1st edition AD&D, this race was renamed "yugoloths" in the Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix (1991). This name was retained until the 4th edition of the game, when they are simply called "demons," given a chaotic evil alignment, and for the most part assumed to dwell in the Abyss with other demonic races.

Bibliography

  • Bonny, Ed. "Pox of the Planes." Dragon Annual #2. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1997.
  • Cagle, Eric, et al. Fiend Folio. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.
  • Finch, Andrew, Gwendolyn Kestrel, and Chris Perkins. Monster Manual III. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004.
  • Kestral, Gwendolyn. Monster Manual IV. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2007.
  • LaFountain, J. Paul. Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1991.
  • McComb, Colin. Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1997.
  • Turnbull, Don, ed. Fiend Folio. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1981.
  • Varney, Allen, ed. Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.