Lords of the Abyss
Demons are evil creatures that originally came from another reality. These demons were known as obyriths and are eldritch creatures of terrifying appearance that can even bend reality to their will. The Obyriths created the Tanar’ri, twisting the forms of mortals that entered the Abyss into these despicable beings, the first of these being Demogorgon.
At some point however, the tanar’ri demons rose up against their obyrith overlords and defeated them, slaughtering most obyriths making them very rare now, though some did survive. The Abyss is now ruled over by the tanar’ri and their demon lords with the current Prince of Demons (the greatest of the demon lords) being Demogorgon.
What are Demon Lords?
If demons are creatures of pure evil, the demon lords are the demons with the power to enact their evil will. Demon lords take upon themselves the title when they become very powerful, raising up armies of lesser demons in their servitude. Such demons are constantly scheming, usually for 3 things; gaining greater power over each other, gaining more souls of mortals to fill their demonic ranks and seeking ways to defeat their enemies (usually devils, often celestials but also any other creatures they take a disliking to).
Demon Lords are extremely difficult to kill and when they are, if they are killed outside of the Abyss, they are sent back to the Abyss rather than permanently killed. This is different to ordinary demons who risk being reborn as a weaker form of demon when sent back to the Abyss. For this reason, attacks on the mortal plane and other planes hold little threat for demon lords, though they can be imprisoned outside of the Abyss, and this has happened, most notably, to Demogorgon. Such excursions do hold great potential for the Demon Lords though as not only can they bring misery upon mortals, but can also add the slaughtered mortals to their abyssal ranks.
Who are the Demon Lords?
Below is a list of all the known demon lords. There have been other demon lords previously, for example, Obox-ob was the first Prince of Demons before it was claimed by Miska the wolf-spider. This title has since been claimed and retained by Demogorgon who remains the most fearsome demon lord of all, though this title is hotly contested by Orcus and Graz’zt.
The Abyss is vast and is rumoured to have 666 or more layers, each of which may host innumerable numbers of demons and potentially more demon lords. Below are the known demon lords to currently be active in the Abyss though others likely exist in the potentially endless depths of the Abyss. Many of these demon lords are Tanar’ri demons having broken the shackles from their obyrith overlords ages ago but some obyrith demon lords do remain:
A master of the undead and often challenger to Demogorgon’s position as Prince of Demons, Orcus rules his layer of Thanatos.
A Demon Lord of pain, beauty and desire, Graz’zt is proof that not all things of beauty are good. He rules from the Abyssal layer of Azzatar.
Baphomet is a savage Demon Lord who is also known as the Horned King. He rules from the Abyssal layer known as the Endless Maze.
The Prince of Lies is exceptionally cunning using every trick known to deceive his enemies. Fraz-Urb’luu rules from the Abyssal layer of Hollow’s Heart.
Known as the Oozing Hunger, Juiblex is a faceless monster of ooze and slime. He rules from an Abyssal layer called Shedaklah (also known as the Slime Pits).
Scarred from many battles, Yeenoghu is the Beast of Butchery, worshipped by many gnolls and whipping them up into a bloodthirsty frenzy. Yeenoghu rules from the Abyssal layer known as the Death Dells.
The Queen of Fungi has only one desire; to infect the living with her decaying spores. Like Juiblex, she rules from the Abyssal Layer of Shedaklah.
Although they’ve been overthrown by the tanar’ri demons, the Abyss is a big place (infinite, possibly) and easy to hide in. While some licked their wounds, defending their Abyssal layers, others allied themselves with the tanar’ri like Dagon, ensuring their survival. Some of these remaining obyrith demon lords include:
Known as the Prince of the Depths, Dagon is an ancient and cunning Demon Lord who has often acted as an adviser of sorts to the tanar’ri (and Demogorgon in particular). He is a great leviathan who lurks beneath the seas, preferring to be left to his own devices despite his incredible and ancient power. Dagon tends to remain distant from the machinations of most of the demons in his realm of the Shadowsea.
Dwiergus, the Chrysalis Prince, is a riving mass of limbs and bodyparts. He is a foul being who’s primary desire is to transform all life into demons. He plants in the minds of others, wicked impressions of corrupted body parts in order to entice his victims to mutilate themselves. Dwiergus is the ruler of a layer of the Abyss known as The Fleshforges.
Obox-ob is the original Prince of Demons before that title was forced from him by Demogorgon. He was also the first obyrith to rise from the primordial matter of the Abyss. Following the rebellion of the tanar’ri, while he is one of the survivors of the obyrith, he has been relegated to the Abyssal realm of Zionyn and as a patron of poison and plague spreading vermin.
While a motherly figure might normally be considered a good and wholesome thing, the unspeakable things birthed from Pale Night are anything but wholesome. As the mother of demons, she is responsible for birthing abominations that plague the planes of existence. It is said that her countenance is so terrible that reality itself attempts to hide her from view.
Pazuzu has declared all the skies of the Abyss as his own and few are powerful enough or care enough to oppose him in this claim. While still an obyrith, Pazuzu has evolved into something a little more like a tanar’ri over time. He is often looked to byevil creatures of the air for power and aid, though will more often bring deception and manipulation disguised as aid.
The Queen of Chaos
The Queen of Chaos’ true name has been lost to history. It is she that led the obyriths in their war against the rest of reality and it is also believed that she was behind the fall of Obox-ob from his lofty position. Following the rebellion of the tanar’ri, however, the Queen of Chaos fled to her Abyssal realm, the Steaming Fen where she hasn’t been seen since. Many obyriths hope that she will return to lead them again but little has been seen of her since the rebellion.
Known as the Squirming King, Ugudenk is a gigantic, burrowing, worm-like obyrith who digs through his Writhing Realm. He brings fear of all that is beneath the earth and brings with him the dread that at any moment, an unseen creature might burst from the ground and devour all in his way. Some have wondered if his gigantic body is itself an Abyssal layer.
In the Abyss, power is everything and the most powerful and fearsome demons will become the leaders of swathes of lesser demons. Demogorgon sits above them all as the Prince of Demons and the most powerful demon of all though Graz’zt and Orcus (and to a lesser extent, other demon lords) vie for that honour and regularly attempt to undermine one another.
Other demons will evolve over time with no demon appearing the same as another, though they often share common traits. One variation of a demon might have multiple heads while another might have a corrosive touch, each is formed uniquely. Among these lesser demons though, are certain forms and individuals who attain to greater or lesser might and influence. Demons like mariliths and balors often operate as generals and lieutenants among the abyssal hosts while the pitiful dretches and rutterkin are so weak that they’re viewed primarily as cannon fodder. But with the evolution of demonic bodies, all demons can aspire to increasingly powerful forms and even attain to becoming a demon lord some day.