One great advantage to the Brute type of demon is that they can serve as a great indicator of just how far the party has come. A Brute can serve as a boss or captain of a horde of fodder and then just as easily become fodder for a much stronger Brute that the party faces. This progression from struggling to defeat a singular Brute to then being capable of battling through hordes of them can make for a great show of growth and accomplishment for the party, making them feel quite badass.
Tanarukk (CR 5) are a beautiful marriage of the savagery of Demons and Orcs. Spawned by many years of forced cross-breeding from enslaved Orcs in the abyss, they eventually became their own species of creature. A funny side-effect to their creation is that, due to their breeding being overseen by the female Demon race known as Mariliths, they actually treat the females of their society much better than traditional Orcs do. Their demonic origins granted them resistance to fire and magic, improved physical prowess, as well as the ability to manipulate flames. Eventually they were reintroduced to the material plane to wreak havoc on its populace. Combining the ‘best’ traits of orcs and demons, they are unrelentingly savage combatants with no sense of self preservation.
Somehow even less intelligent than Orcs, their strategies in combat boil down to overwhelming assaults until one side dies and…. that’s pretty much it. That said, they are brutally efficient at said strategy and make up for their lack of intelligence with a surplus in strength and battle prowess. A single Tanarukk may be keeping a strike force of weaker Demons in line or several may be hired on as bodyguards to another Demon, but their lack of intelligence guarantees they are never behind any big plans.
Draegloth (CR 7) are akin to Tanarukk in origins, being the offspring of a Drow high-priestess and a Glabrezu. The result is an 8 foot tall monstrosity with a pair of normal hands that it can use for delicate tasks and a pair of massive claws that is used for less delicate tasks, like evisceration. Bloodthirsty creatures housing immense strength, yet possessing the grace of a dancer and the ability to create magical darkness at will, they make for a strangely enticing foe in battle. Male Draegloths have a more monstrous appearance and approach combat with a simplicity and focus; ripping their opponents to shreds with their massive claws with no fear of foe or death. Female Draegloth look much more like their drow mothers. Just as tall as males, they are much more cunning and intelligent with a gift for magic. Taking advantage of most enemies’ tactics to try and rush down enemy spellcasters, they often use clever tactics to lure in and isolate enemies with careful positioning and powerful magic before ripping them to shreds with their impressive physique.
Whilst male Draegloth can be treated as more effective Tanarukk with a proclivity towards Drow society, females are another story entirely. Fittingly similar to their Glabrezu fathers, they are capable of fulfilling roles of both Brutes and Masterminds. Regardless of gender or desired usage, it is important to understand and remember that Draegloth are deeply rooted in Drow society and are thus much more likely to work alongside Drow than Demons. I highly encourage you to create an alliance in your campaign between a demonic faction and a Drow faction if you wish to get the full value of these demons. Perhaps I’ll cover Drow in a future Fabulous Foes, but in the meantime I can provide a brief summary of them: Drow are evil Elves with a cutthroat, nobility focused matriarchal society that lives in the Underdark. Every other race is considered their enemy, and they make frequent raids on the surface. Thus, their desire to destroy the other sentient races can quite easily align with a group of Demons seeking to disrupt or destroy a large part of human society.
Wastrilith (CR 13) are an odd bunch and one of my personal favorites. Undisputed masters of water (even nicknamed water lords), they pose a unique and terrifying threat to the civilized world whenever they appear. Their mere presence corrupts the water around them, turning a once beautiful lake into a putrescent stain. Water corrupted by a Wastrilith is incredibly poisonous and those who survive drinking instead go insane. For Demons, this water is a powerful restorative, making Wastriliths a powerful tactical option for Masterminds to take advantage of. Absolutely unmatched in aquatic settings they are capable of controlling the currents of the water they inhabit, corrupting its inhabitants into obeying their will, ripping opponents to shreds with powerful fangs and claws, spewing boiling water at foes, and casting numerous powerful spells at will. Despite all these abilities they tend to have an arrogant isolationist personality, preferring to let their numerous ‘subjects’ do all the fighting for them. Believing themselves to be the strongest creature in the waters, a surefire way to end up an enemy of a Wastrilith is to challenge their perceived dominance, intentionally or otherwise.
Their ability to turn such an important resource as clean drinking water into a horrible poison that doubles as a healing for Demons makes them an invaluable asset to any Demon aiming to assault the material plane. They can easily be bribed with the promise of a vast expanse of water and a large underwater castle. A Wastrilith in charge of protecting an important aquatic location for the demonic operations, like a research facility on an island, will be a brutally efficient bodyguard that even veteran heroes will struggle to deal with. Sharks, sentient aquatic races, sea serpents, dragon turtles and even pirates can all serve a Wastrilith and attack the party as they try to advance; exhausting their resources long before it ever feels the need to show itself.
Marilith (CR 16) are six-armed female Demons with a long snake body, infamous for wielding six blades at a time and slicing foes to ribbons. Fitting of their snake-like bodies, they are great at manipulating others into acting how they want and take great joy in the pain of others. They take trophies of particularly strong opponents, typically their weapons and hordes them almost like a dragon. Second in command to Balors, they have a long and strained relation with them. Believing that the superior understanding of tactics and grace is better suited for leading armies, thinking that the only reason Balors are above them is because they possess more power than them. Ultimately believing Balors are unnecessary, they don’t dare speak up about this fact out of fear, but a clever party can take advantage of this to sow the seeds of mutiny.
Marilith are shrewd tacticians on the field of battle that specialize in army tactics. The Marilith are uniquely capable of garnering cooperation from large groups of various Demons, a task notably impossible without fear or power due to the chaotic nature of demon-kind. While they’re extremely intelligent and can devise clever tactics, they view it as a child’s game compared to the grandeur of warfare and conquest. In combat, they take a measured but eager approach, leaping into the fray as soon as possible but assessing the situation and taking advantage of terrain and weaknesses in enemy formations. Wielding six blades at once makes them great at carving through hoards of foes whilst parrying any attempts to harm them. Some advanced Mariliths have learned to use magic with two of their hands whilst fighting with four, allowing them to greatly increase their options during tactical assessment(s).
Balor (CR 19) are the big papas of the abyss. Aside from Demon Lords, these are the top of the chain of command, commanding the armies of hell and even holding fiefdoms. No creature better exemplifies the primal fury and bloodlust of Demons than a Balor. Seeking to increase their power and prestige at every possible turn, their desire to surpass others and hatred of weakness has them caught in an endless struggle. Even at their highest of highs they are never satisfied and at their lowest of lows their hatred towards themselves pushes them even further. They seek emotions and relief that they are ultimately physically incapable of experiencing, leading them to spiral ever deeper into rage and violence with each passing moment. This fury is not all encompassing, as they do possess great intelligence and are capable schemers in their own rights. Their absolute power and charisma affords them a near limitless supply of demonic minions to see their plans come to fruition.
Despite their rage and bloodlust, they prefer to do battle from a distance, letting their schemes and magics win battles for them from afar. While they feel great satisfaction in crushing their enemies under their heels, their plans succeeding and creating unquestionable and overwhelming victories over their foes is an even bigger high of emotions for them; leaving it as the closest they ever get to that itch they seek to scratch. Their bodies emit enough heat to ignite flesh, they prefer to dual wield a massive flaming whip and a blade wreathed in lightning. When they fight, they focus down one foe with single-minded focus, swinging until they kill their victim or die themselves. Even in death they explode in a massive area around them in a last spiteful act to destroy everything they hate. Every time a Balor shows up, its presence should be felt by all around it. It should deliver on every threat it makes, accept no impertinence, and punish any perceived wrongdoings swiftly and harshly. A party surviving an early encounter with a Balor can set great expectations for just how far they have to go and just how terrible the monsters of the Abyss truly can be.
And… that’s a wrap! Next week we will wrap up our discussion on Demons by covering some of the Demon Lords and giving you sample campaign outlines you can use as a quick start for your game! Much like how these guides are intended to help you grow your knowledge, writing them has also ended up increasing mine. I feel confident in saying my articles are constantly improving, as does my understanding of what and how much content should go into each. I want to give you enough to reward you for your time spent reading this without jamming so much information in that it feels like a task to get through it all. It is never my intention to lie to my cherished readers when I tell you what to expect next only to not include everything, but rather a side-effect of my desire to keep these a healthy length. I hope you understand and enjoyed this, and stay tuned for a special announcement! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it, and until next time, stay haughty!