What are balors?
Balors are some of the most powerful demons in existence. With a huge frame and terrifying combat ability, they make powerful soldiers. But beyond their combat ability, balors are also intelligent and tactical masters, hence their natural position as generals of the Abyss.
Balors are based on the Balrog from Lord of the Rings, with powerful wings, a fiery body and a sword and whip as weapons. All of this makes them excellent villains for any campaign, particularly as they’re quite happy to meddle in the affairs of mortals and sow chaos in the mortal plane.
The following is the official stat block for a balor as detailed in the Monster Manual and the SRD 5.1.
Huge fiend (demon), chaotic evil
Armor Class 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 262 (21d12 + 126)
Speed 40 ft., fly 80 ft.
|26 (+8)||15 (+2)||22 (+6)||20 (+5)||16 (+3)||22 (+6)|
Saving Throws Str +14, Con +12, Wis +9, Cha +12
Damage Resistances cold, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities fire, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Abyssal, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 19 (22,000 XP)
Death Throes. When the balor dies, it explodes, and each creature within 30 feet of it must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw, taking 70 (20d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The explosion ignites flammable objects in that area that aren’t being worn or carried, and it destroys the balor’s weapons.
Fire Aura. At the start of each of the balor’s turns, each creature within 5 feet of it takes 10 (3d6) fire damage, and flammable objects in the aura that aren’t being worn or carried ignite. A creature that touches the balor or hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it takes 10 (3d6) fire damage.
Magic Resistance. The balor has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Magic Weapons. The balor’s weapon attacks are magical.
Multiattack. The balor makes two attacks: one with its longsword and one with its whip.
Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 21 (3d8 + 8) slashing damage plus 13 (3d8) lightning damage. If the balor scores a critical hit, it rolls damage dice three times, instead of twice.
Whip. Melee Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 30 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d6 + 8) slashing damage plus 10 (3d6) fire damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 20 Strength saving throw or be pulled up to 25 feet toward the balor.
Teleport. The balor magically teleports, along with any equipment it is wearing or carrying, up to 120 feet to an unoccupied space it can see.
|Weight||About 4,500 pounds|
Humanoid in appearance but about twice the height and weighing in at 4,500lb, balors are imposing figures. They have large, bat-like wings that further enlarge their appearance and also allow swift movement around the battlefield, despite their large, muscular frame. Their teeth drip with venom and their claws are huge, but, despite these natural weapons, balors prefer to wield a lightning sword and a flame whip. Their red skin is covered in flames, but are also shrouded in a partial darkness.
Balors are not cold, calculated killers, but are passionate in their cause for chaos, destruction and domination. They constantly scheme and wage war with their enemies, including against the Demon Lords of the Abyss in a desire to become a Demon Lord themselves (in fact, some balors might even be classified this way). They are inspiring generals whose passion can whip up their hordes into a frenzied bloodlust. But they are not just beings of raw fury. Balors are also intellectual beings capable of subtler forms of evil if it better suits their desires to corrupt the innocent.
Some believe there to be only 24 balors in existence but this isn’t true. This is just the number counted at one time. Knowing the actual number of balors is incredibly difficult, not only because the Abyss is such a vast and chaotic place, but because balors are often on the move, drumming up support for their latest campaign.
Most demons are afraid of balors due to their incredible strength, however, glabrezus respect their like-mindedness while nalfeshnee and mariliths tend to resent their superiors, considering themselves to be the more worthy and intelligent commanders. They are also distrusted by demon lords who see them as a threat to their rule due to their power, but also their ability to charismatically build an army and support.
Of course, balors are also very useful, wading at the heart of the blood wars. This means that demon princes will generally keep tabs on balors with similarly powerful demons such as molydei or klurichirs that are more loyal and can report balors that seek to undermine a demon prince.
Balors do differ from most demons in one specific way in that they recognise the gains to be had in the blood war by it being waged not just between the realms of the Abyss and Hell, but also across the mortal planes as well. For this reason, balors tend to be more receptive towards helping mortals and being summoned by them. That is if there is personal gain to be had, of course. Often they’re involved with powerful individuals or cults that can support the blood war with some balors even remaining hidden within the mortal realm.
Playing as a balor
Balors are wicked creatures, obsessed with sowing chaos and destruction. While generals of great tactical ability, they are not just calculated killers, but passion-filled monsters with unrivalled ambition.
If you’re playing as a balor, you’ll likely want to play a proactive role in combatting your enemies. Use plans, traps and tactics to cause problems for the party. You’ll also have many minions available at your beck and call as one of the most senior commanders in the hierarchy of the Abyss.
If playing as a balor, I’d recommend using some of the following tactics:
- Get in close: While you do have a whip with 30ft range, that’s the extent of your ranged combat. You can also only make 1 whip attack per turn so your damage will be limited if you’re not in melee range of an enemy. On top of this, your fire aura causes constant aura damage to enemies in melee range. If enemies do want to avoid this, it’ll mean using an action/bonus action to safely move away or incur an opportunity attack (which is likely to be more harmful than the fire aura).
- Suicide bomber: Another advantage to being in melee range is that if you do die, you explode causing damage to creatures within 30ft of you. Basically, the closer you are, the more damage you deal.
- Quick movement: If you do find yourself far from enemies, you can travel far. While trickier in small spaces, your flight gives you 80ft movement while you can also teleport up to 120ft. If you can simply fly to your enemies, this is best as it preserves your action for attacking, but if you are further than 80ft from an enemy, you can use teleport for the extra distance ready for your next turn.
- Minions: Balors are generals of abyssal armies so naturally have many minions at their disposal. Consider using weaker allies to engage enemies in combat or whittle away at their health. Of course, you do need to be careful as your fire aura will harm allies too, though you possibly do not care particularly much if it gives you a tactical advantage.
- Magic weapons and resistance: Your weapons are magical so cause magic damage, this helps against some resistances. On top of this, your own magical resistance makes you more resistant to magical effects. Be aware though that spellcasters can still cause you a lot of problems, especially as they attack from range.
Fighting a balor
Balors are demonic generals with considerable combat experience and the capabilities to match. They’re no walk walk in the park.
If you know you’re going to be fighting a balor, there are a few tactics worth employing:
- Split up: Balors have a fire aura that deals damage in a small radius around them. But they’re also quick meaning staying out of range and firing at them generally isn’t an option, and magical effects to keep them at distance are unlikely to work due to their magic resistance. Instead, engaging in hand to hand combat with a single, tanky character or a summoned creature, at least means you fight on your terms. Consider giving this individual some kind of fire resistance. While your sacrifice soaks up damage, blast the balor at range with your other characters.
- Damage resistances: Balors are immune to fire and poison damage so don’t bother with these damage types (unfortunately they are common, but easy enough to work around). They’re also resistant to cold, lightning and normal weapon attacks. Make sure you’re using magical weapons and are equipped with other damage types like necrotic, radiant etc or it’ll take you a long time to whittle down its health.
- Damage protection: Balors cause fire, lightning and slashing damage, so anything you can do to become resistant to these damage types will be hugely beneficial. Also, their criticals are even more powerful. Consider a spell like silvery barbs to make them reroll any criticals. They’ll probably still hit, but it won’t be as devastating.
Looking for another creature to use in your campaign? See our guides guides about the various monsters of the D&D universe: