What are mariliths?
Mariliths are half snake, half humanoid female demons with 6 arms. They are driven by logic and reason, using cold hard facts to determine the best way forward. In this sense, they are fairly unique among demon kind with most demonic beings favouring a more chaotic and less calculated approach to destruction.
Of course, mariliths still want to sow chaos and destruction in their wake, as other demons do, they’re simply more considered in their approach. This, alongside their powerful combat abilities, makes them ideal generals for the demonic hosts.
Mariliths make great BBEGs due to their cruelty and their tactical nature, especially if a party isn’t ready to face a demon lord. Mariliths are often more intelligent (if not as powerful) as a demon lord, though are excellent warriors in their own right.
The following is the official stat block for a marilith as detailed in the Monster Manual and the SRD 5.1.
Large fiend (demon), chaotic evil
Armor Class 18 (natural armor)
Hit Points 189 (18d10 + 90)
Speed 40 ft.
|18 (+4)||20 (+5)||20 (+5)||18 (+4)||16 (+3)||20 (+5)|
Saving Throws Str +9, Con +10, Wis +8, Cha +10
Damage Resistances cold, fire, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Abyssal, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 16 (15,000 XP)
Magic Resistance. The marilith has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Magic Weapons. The marilith’s weapon attacks are magical.
Reactive. The marilith can take one reaction on every turn in a combat.
Multiattack. The marilith makes seven attacks: six with its longswords and one with its tail.
Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) slashing damage.
Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 15 (2d10 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is Medium or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 19). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, the marilith can automatically hit the target with its tail, and the marilith can’t make tail attacks against other targets.
Teleport. The marilith magically teleports, along with any equipment it is wearing or carrying, up to 120 feet to an unoccupied space it can see.
Parry. The marilith adds 5 to its AC against one melee attack that would hit it. To do so, the marilith must see the attacker and be wielding a melee weapon.
Playing as a marilith
Cold, calculated and exceptionally cruel. If you’re using a marilith in your campaign, you’ll want to lean into these personality traits. Mariliths want others to suffer, but they’re quite prepared to strategise the most effective way to do so. This is different from most demons who tend to be more chaotic in their cruelty.
Though you may want to use more cunning tactics when playing a marilith, they are also extremely capable warriors, fighting with finesse and tactics. As high ranking demons, they often have minions at their disposal as well.
If you’re fighting with a marilith, I’d recommend the following tactics:
- Close combat specialists: Mariliths are only dangerous in close quarters so make sure you get in close to your enemies. A marilith’s parry ability can be used as a reaction every turn (or they can make an attack of opportunity) rather than just once a round, but you’ll need to be in the thick of combat to make the most of these abilities.
- Teleport: Mariliths are fairly quick, but if you can’t reach your enemies, make sure you teleport in close. It’ll use your action but you’ll be able to get some parries or attacks of opportunity off. Even if your enemies attempt to get away, at 40ft movement, you’re faster than most characters.
- Damage resistances: Mariliths are resistant to a lot of types of damage but magic items will affect them. Avoid magic attacks and weapons when you can and nullify those threats as quickly as possible.
Fighting a marilith
If you happen to be unlucky enough to be fighting a marilith, I’d recommend the following tactics:
- Ranged combat: As much as possible, fight mariliths at range. They have no ranged abilities and can parry melee attacks making them very difficult to hit.
- Split up: Try to spread out the party allowing the marilith to only target one character at a time and only hold one character in combat at once. mariliths are quick and have teleport so won’t have a problem occupying individual characters in combat
- Use magic: Mariliths are resistant to a lot of things, but not magic or magical weapons. Make sure you’re prepared with magical weapons for the party. Be aware that they’re immune to poison a damage and have a resistances to some types of damage spells will cause. Also be aware that while magical damage is effective, mariliths do have advantage on saving throws against magical effects so focus on spell attacks.
|Weight||About 4,000 pounds|
At 7-9 feet tall (or 20ft from head to tail), mariliths are tall, appearing as a 6 armed, attractive, human woman on top. Their lower half is that of a serpent meaning they slither rather than walk when they move. They tend to adorn themselves in jewellery and also favour fancy looking weaponry as well.
Mariliths love to dominate other creatures and their cold, ruthless nature means that their malice is often exceptionally cruel. However, their wickedness is generally not as chaotic as that of most demons. They tend to exhibit shrewdness and cunning in their cruelty. Their exceptional ability to cause pain and punishment means that they are highly adept at disciplining the demons in their command, enabling them to keep lesser demons in line and organise their troops.
Mariliths take great pride in their combat abilities and as such, find subtler methods such as temptation and sneakiness inferior to true warfare. This often leads to conflicts between themselves and the more devious demons of a similar station. They often keep the weapons of defeated foes as trophies to remind them of past successes. Perhaps for this reason, if their weapon is taken, they’ll be furious and will go to exceptional lengths to get their weapon back.
In demonic society, balors act as the leaders of several hordes of demons with mariliths under them, each commanding a single horde. Mariliths resent the position of balors, viewing themselves both as the superior combatants and tacticians with balors seemingly only in their position because of their raw power. While mariliths harbour intense resentment towards balors, they rarely act on such frustrations for fear of failure.
Looking for another creature to use in your campaign? See our guides guides about the various monsters of the D&D universe: