Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Demon

"Demon" is a term used to describe a wide variety of intelligent, Chaotic beings native to the otherworldly dimension generally called "the Void" or "the Abyss." Unlike most other beings, who are believed by Men to have been created by one or more gods, demons have no such divine origin, although their exact relationship to the gods and to Creation itself is a matter of debate among sages and priests. One popular theory holds that demons are spontaneously generated by Chaos itself, while another suggests that demons are the inadvertent consequence of the gods' attempts to bring order out of Chaos. For their part, demons explicitly deny both such theories, for they also deny the existence of the gods themselves, claiming them to be merely the fancies of Men.

Regardless of the truth, demons are potent agents of Chaos, possessing a wide range of powers and abilities, from the lowliest dretch to the mightiest lord. Despite this, no demon can enter the material world unbidden, which is why they rely heavily on a network of cults and secret societies to provide them with the means to do so. Demons are renowned deal-makers, offering mortal beings power in exchange for service. Of course, some mortals, most notably the Eld, believe themselves superior to demons and dare to employ dark sorceries to command rather than serve them. Though possible, such a path is risky and many a would-be black magician found himself destroyed rather than aggrandized by his actions.

Demons amid no hierarchy among their own kind except that of power. Greater demons rule over lesser types through strength alone, with even more powerful demons -- called variously "lords" or "princes" -- ruling over them all. A few of the most well-known and influential of these demon lords are the following:
  • Furfur: Lord of Secrets
  • Orcus: Lord of the Undead
  • Tsath-Dagon: Lord of Aquatic and Amphibian Beings
  • Yan-Gant-Y-Tan: Lord of Thieves
Demons are also known for their ability to twist and shape living things according to their whims, a talent the Eld learned from them and put to good use in the creation of beastmen and similar abominations. Many monsters found in the material world are in fact demonic hybrids or the result of demonic experimentation upon existing creatures.


  1. No Devils? Where's the love? Demons get all the good press. :)

  2. Forgive my ignorance, but is that an original Orcus illustration, or a pic from a TSR product I've never seen? I like that he's pot-bellied, an attribute that contributed to the genuine creepiness of Sutherland's MM pic. I've seen some awful later-era pics of Orcus where he's, like, totally ripped, man.

    Also, what Gath said about Devils. Do they exist in your campaign at all?

  3. I realize that Furfur is this antlered horror-thing that could totally disembowel me with his eyes, but I get the giggles whenever I think of someone saying, "Greetings, my dread lord Furfur... eh, heh... hee hee heee .... OW!!!"

  4. @Guy Hoyle: cf. Lord Fawful from Super Mario. I can only assume it's part of some demoniacal plan - the greatest trick and so on.

    Orcus and Furfur are both humanoids (more or less) with the heads of farm or hunting animals. Likewise the minotaur. I wonder if that means something (beside the horny obvious). If they're prone to warping creatures in our world, what does it mean that they appear as similar warped creatures?

  5. richard said...
    If they're prone to warping creatures in our world, what does it mean that they appear as similar warped creatures?

    Sounds kind of Greeky, i.e. Zeus & the Titans. Were Orcus & Furfur created by powerful Demons that existed before them? Did they rebel against their "parents" too?

  6. A little thing, but I like how the Greater Lords' names appear to follow no rhyme, reason, or pattern.
    Go Chaos!!

  7. Have I mentioned (lately) how much I love that Todd Lockwood Orcus illustration?


  8. That picture always creeps me out.

  9. "That picture always creeps me out."

    Yeah, that's what happens when man-boobs emerge fully formed from Chaos Itself.

  10. When I read "Furfur: Lord of Secrets", I immediately thought of this...


  11. D&D fans never go with anything interesting like Orcus, Lord of the Underworld. We are talking about a God who basically just doesnt like the living because of how they mistreat the Dead. As far as I'm concerned thats extreemly Lawful Good.

  12. Jubilex is, by far, the creepiest of the AD&D Demon Lords.

  13. I re-read the last module of the Bloodstone trilogy adventures. In it, it talks how any player keeping the Wand of Orcus goes CE, moves to his own layer on the abyss and becomes a demon lord.

    Got me thinking of Stormbringer, how the chaotic sword was actually a demon. What if the real demons were weapons, like the Wand of Orcus, formed by chaos itself. And demon lords were all just regular adventurers. A whole new outlook on demons.

  14. Psst..Ed, if that's the first thing you thought of, you might just fit the stereotype even more than I do, and I happen to be a furry, because I didn't even notice the scantily clad female at first, I was too busy enjoying the fact that it's not your typical 'ripped and cut' mino, he actually looks the way i've always imagined them looking, especially the demon ones. You're a demon? Jazzercise is just gonna lose you demon cred.

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  16. Zidders:

    It wasn't the picture of Orcus that made me think of furry sex. It was the phrase "Furfur: Lord of Secrets".

    I mean, c'mon... Furfur? Lord of Secrets? It may not be as unintentionally funny as "Glory Hole Dwarven Mine" is now, but it's still pretty dang amusing.

    Personally, I would've gone with the alternate spelling of "Furtur". That would've almost completely eliminated the problem.


  17. I am almost constantly thinking about an elegant way to import elements related to psychic abilities in the 40k universe (magic is manipulating the Warp, crazy side-effects, etc) - actually Mighty Veil's post of demonic artifats reminded me of this.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this post and that of beastmen - I hope forthcoming ones are that cool, too.

  18. Also, what Gath said about Devils. Do they exist in your campaign at all?

    In the Dwimmermount setting, there are no devils, only demons. That's partly because OD&D itself has no devils and partly because, in my mind, I tend to think of devils as fallen servants of gods, whereas I think of demons as qlippothic entities. Since the existence or non-existence of the gods is one of the setting's big enigmas, I decided against including devils to maintain the mystery.

  19. "OD&D itself has no devils"--James Maliszewski

    I wonder if that's because, with OD&D's one-dimensional alignment system, there's no meaningful enough way to distinguish devils from demons? Without AD&D's two-dimensional alignment system, Lawful Evil isn't even a possibility.

    "I tend to think of devils as fallen servants of gods, whereas I think of demons as qlippothic entities."--James Maliszewski

    That's a very interesting distinction that I'm probably going to steal some time.

    It makes me wonder if the reason why all the ex-servants of gods are Lawful is because all their gods are (or at least were) Lawful? They rejected their gods' goodness or neutrality, but stayed organized.

    Or, alternatively, if the reason why all the entities that rebelled against their gods are Lawful Evil is because all their gods are (or at least were) Chaotic Good. That could be very interesting too.