Orcus: Demon Lord of Thanatos

Demon Prince of the Undead

Orcus is the demon lord of the 113th layer of the Abyss, Thanatos. A frigid, frozen landscape filled with undead. Orcus is himself a master of the undead, with incredible abilities to raise creatures into undeath. His realm is mostly inhabited by the undead and his demonic minions. In fact, Orcus’ primary goal is to rid the realms of all life that he might be the only living creature alive, manipulating his undead servants to his will.


Orcus is a goat-headed demon with incredibly large, bat-like wings, a huge body and a tail. He often wields a skull-topped wand known as the Wand of Orcus that instantly kills any living thing it touches. It’s obviously a highly coveted weapon in the Abyss. He also wields the orcusword, a weapon he used when he was a balor.

Orcus Stat Block

Orcus is a hugely powerful Demon Lord and a master necromancer. He also wields a powerful magical wand known as the Orcus Wand. Both his magical and physical prowess make him a powerful foe as is represented in the stat block below.

  • Huge fiend (demon), chaotic evil
  • Armour Class: 17 (natural armour), 20 with the Wand of Orcus
  • Hit Points: 405 (30d12 + 210)
  • Speed: 40ft., fly 40ft.

27 (+8)14 (+2)25 (+7)20 (+5)20 (+5)25 (+7)

  • Saving Throws: Dex +10, Con +15, Wis +13
  • Skills: Arcana +12, Perception +12
  • Damage Resistances: cold, fire, lightning
  • Damage Immunities: necrotic, poison; bludgeoning, piercing and slashing that is nomagical
  • Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned
  • Senses: truesight 120 ft., passive perception 22
  • Languages: all, telepathy 120ft
  • Challenge: 26 (90,000 XP)

Wand of Orcus: The wand has 7 charges, and any of its properties that require a saving throw have a DC of 18. While holding it, Orcus can use an action to cast animate dead, blight, or speak with dead. Alternatively, he can expend 1 or more of the wand’s charges to cast one of the following spells from it: circle of death (1 charge), finger of death (1 charge), or power word kill (2 charges). The wand regains 1d4+3 charges daily at dawn.

While holding the wand, Orcus can use an action to conjure undead creatures whose ccombined average hit points don’t exceed 500. These undead magically rise up from the ground or otherwise form in unoccupied spaces within 300 feet of Orcus and obey his commands until they are destroyed or until he dismisses them as an action. Once this property of the wand is used, the property can’t be used again until the next dawn.

Innate Spellcasting: Orcus’s spellcasting ability is charisma (spell save DC 23, +15 to hit with spell attacks). He can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

  • At will: chilltouch (17th level), detect magic
  • 3/day each: create undead, dispel magic
  • 1/day: time stop

Legendary Resistance (3/Day): If Orcus fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.

Magic Resistance: Orcus has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Magic weapons: Orcus’s weapon attacks are magical

Master of Undeath: When Orcus casts animate dead or create undead, he chooses the level at which the spell is cast, and the creatures created by the spells remain under his control indefinitely. Additionally, he can cast create undead even when it isn’t night.


Multiattack: Orcus makes 2 wand of Orcus attacks.

Wand of Orcus: Melee Weapon Attack: +19 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 21 (3d8+8) bludgeoning damage, plus 13 (2d12) necrotic damage.

Tail: Melee Weapon Attack: +16 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 21 (3d8+8) piercing damage plus 9 (2d8) poison damage.

Legendary Actions

Orcus can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time, and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Orcus regains spent legendary actions at the start of his turn.

Tail: Orcus makes one tail attack.

A Taste of Undeath: Orcus casts chill touch (17th level).

Creeping Death: Orcus chooses a point on the ground that he can see within 100 feet of him. A cylinder of swirling necrotic energy 60 feet tall and with a 10-foot radius rises from that point and lasts until the end of Orcus’s next turn. Creatures in that areas have vulnerability to necrotic damage.

Lair Actions

On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), Orcus can take a lair action to cause on of the following effects; he can’t use the same effect 2 rounds in a row:

  • Orcus’s voice booms throughout the lair. His utterance causes one creature of his choice to be subjected to power word kill. Orcus needn’t see the creature, but he must be aware that the individual is in his lair.
  • Orcus causes up to 6 corpses within the lair to rise as skeletons, zombies, or ghouls. These undead obey his telepathic commands, which can reach anywhere in the lair.
  • Orcus causes skeletal arms to rise from an area on the ground in a 20-foot square that he can see. They last until the next initiative count 20. Each creature in that area when the arms appear must succeed on a DC 23 Strength saving throw or be restrained until the arms disappear or until Orcus releases them (no action required).


Orcus was not originally created as a demon; like many of the Tanar’ri, he began life as a mortal priest to some dark deity. As most wicked, chaotic individuals do, upon his death, he was thrust down to the Abyss. He was judged and transformed into a demonic larva.

Over the next several thousand years, Orcus rose through the demonic ranks, transforming into a mane, a dretch and eventually rising to more prominent forms like a glabrezu, a nalfeshnee and finally a balor. As a balor, he continued to gain in prominence and influence, eventually becoming a demon lord gaining the much coveted title of Prince of the Undead. He wanted to attain to the title of Prince of Demons, making him an archenemy of the current incumbent, demogorgon, and his other rival for the title, Graz’zt.

As a demon lord, Orcus is lord of the 113th layer of the Abyss, Thanatos, a frozen wasteland filled with Orcus’ undead. His realm has several cities ruled by the more powerful minions of Orcus including Quah-Nomag. Orcus rules from the Palace of Everlost in the bone-meal desert of Oblivion’s End.

Orcus fathered 5 sons, 4 of whom were sacrificed to him, a tradition initiated by the mothers of the Darakah line. His oldest son, Jesthren, was the only one that survived. Jesthren killed the son of the demon lord Graz’zt to ascend to the throne of Narfell.

Orcus was eventually killed by the drow demi-goddess, Kiaransalee. She took over the realm of Tharantos and locked away Orcus’ wand in the last layer of pandemonium, removing all reference of Orcus from the realm.

Following his death, Orcus was revived as an undead demon lord known as Tenebrous. In this state, Orcus learnt the Last Word, an utterance so powerful, it could kill gods, but would also kill the user if they weren’t a god themself. In his ambition to kill the gods, he endeavoured to gain his divinity so that he could use the Last Word, killing several gods in the process including Primus and Maanzecorian. He was eventually stopped by a group of adventurers and destroyed by the power of the Last Word itself. It was Orcus’ efforts to use the Last Word against the gods that led to a group of gods nullifying the powers of the Last Word.

Orcus was then resurrected by chief high priest, Quah Nomag in a blasphemous ritual on the Astral Plane. He took back his original title and kingdom upon his resurrection, becoming a demon prince again.

On occassion, a powerful enough summoning will bring Orcus to the mortal realm. Perhaps the most destructive of these summonings was when the archmage Maganus called upon Orcus to help him destroy Zhentil Keep and the Zhentarim there against whom he sought vengeance. Orcus mustered his demon army including his lieutenants, Quah Nomag, the vampire lord Kauvra and the lich Harthoon. The attack eventually failed with Maganus being captured and tortured and Orcus being held off by the hero of Daggerford, Beirmoura, Lyressa and Sharalyn Lockleaf. At the conclusion of the battle, Orcus and his armies were driven back to the Abyss.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.