A Plague of Onces
Birth of the Abyss
The Abyss was created by the elder god Tharizdun during the beginning of the Blood War between order and chaos. He planted a mote of his power in the deepest reaches of the Elemental Chaos where it warped into a realm of malevolence that separates it from the normally untamed Elemental Chaos.
Tharzidun initially filled this realm with twelve obyrith. Once there, the obyriths fought the forces of order, creating in turn a new race of soldiers to fight with them – the Tanar’ri who have now become the new demon lords. Numerous battles in the Blood War took place on the first layer of The Abyss, the Plain of a Thousand Portals, and it has been a battlefield ever since. Demon legends say that when the first battles took place there, a large rift opened (known as the Blood Rift) into which tumbled a shard containing the mote of Therzidun’s power. The myth suggests that the the shard still tumbled through the void below the Abyss, creating the endless layers of The Abyss as the Rift grows perpetually deeper.
The obyriths are so ancient that they predate mortal life, having a lifespan third in creation after the Great Old Ones and Elder Gods. Today, very few obyliths still exist. They rarely have a humanoid shape, and some say that just looking at an obyrith can drive a mortal insane. Their great age and apparent ability to instill insanity at a glance are strong hints at some relation (if a physical relation can even be expressed) with the Great Old Ones. A few types of remaining obyriths are draudnu, ekolids, laghathti, sibriexes, and uzollru. Some obyrith lords have evolved over time to take on more recognizable shapes, such as Pazuzu or Pale Night. Other known obyrith demon lords include Obox-ob, Dagon, the Queen of Chaos, the Malgoth, Ugudenk, Bechard, Vroth-Khun, Ubothar, and Cabiri (imprisoned in the Wells of Darkness). Asima and numerous other obyrith lords whose names were lost to time have been destroyed, either slain by each other, or slaughtered by the Tanar’ri. Several others were slain by the Queen of Chaos for refusing to join her army when she attempted genocide against the Wind Dukes of Aaqa.
- Ekolid: At first, ekolids resemble the union of an ant, a scorpion and a spider, but their real fiendish shape cannot be compared to any other creature. Ekolids are driven by the need to reproduce. During any battle, using their supernatural speed, they constantly try to implant eggs in their enemies. Ekolids are rarely found in groups, except on Zionyn (663rd layer of the Abyss), where they live at the service of Obox-ob.
- Laghathti: Laghathti resemble oily black octopi.
- Uzollru: Uzollru resemble massive aquatic centipedes, with fins rather than legs, and a head sporting a single red eye ringed by feeding tentacles. They primarily serve the demon prince Dagon in his realm of Shadowsea.
Many of the Obyriths died in the ensuing war with The Primordials and several more in the Blood War at the hands of their creations the Tanar-ri. The latter finally culminated in the assumption of the title Prince of Demons by Demogorgon. There are 12 Obyriths remaining in existence, each one a demon lord ruling their own layer. They are secretly allied with each other, but they continue to war with each other constantly to disguise their true natures and their alliance. Of the 12, there are only a few known Obyriths, although only the most ancient, powerful, and knowledgeable demon lords truly understand what the title actually means. The only demon lord openly acknowledged as an Obyrith is Dagon, the abyssal lord allied with Demogorgon. Their leader is the Queen of Chaos, who led them eons ago before being defeated and retreating to her realm, the Steaming Fens, 14th layer of the Abyss. She has not been seen since by any other demon lord, although the Obyriths are said to meet secretly at the start of each millennial cycle with her in the Great Ziggurat of Oth-Magurloth on the Plane of a Thousand Portals, the first layer of the Abyss. Their choice of a meeting location lead many to suspect (correctly) that Pazuzu, who rules that layer, is also an Obyrith. It is said that the tower holds within it the Well of Entropy, a portal of extraordinary power.
Deep within the Abyss lies the Tumulus of Abhorrence, burial mound of the dead demon lord known as Asima the Unanticipated. The mound is protected by powerful demons and nothing has ever breached the outer walls. It is said that if anybody is able to fight their way into the burial chamber, they will find not only great treasure, but a mosaic revealing the identities of the 12 Obyriths.
The tanar’ri are a race of numerous demons originally created by the obyriths as slaves. The tanar’ri eventually revolted against the obyriths, killing most of them, and taking over as the dominant race of demons in the Abyss. Most known demon lords are tanar’ri, with the exceptions being listed above.
The tanar’ri are essentially “classic” demons; reflections of cruelty, evil and sin. Although there are several exceptions, they usually have a basic humanoid form.
There are many known types of tanar’ri, including: Adaru, alkilith, alu-fiend, anzu, armanite, arrow demon, babau, balor, bar-lgura, bulezau, cambion, cerebrilith, chasme, dretch, gadacro, glabrezu, goristro, hezrou, incubus, jarilith, jovoc, kastighur, kelvezu, klurichir, mane, marilith, maurezhi, molydeus, myrmyxicus, nabassu, nalfeshnee, orlath, palrethee, rutterkin, skurchur, solamith, sorrowsworn, succubus, turagathshnee, uridezu, vathugu, vrock, and yochlol.
- Alkilith: Even among demons there are those that disgust and terrify; the alkilith is one of these. A shapeless horror used by demon lords for missions in regions most other demons would hesitate to venture into, the alkilith is despised and feared by most other demons. Alkiliths thrive in the foulest and most inhospitable places in the Abyss. They are pollution and corruption made sentient and hatefully alive. Many alkiliths serve the demon lord Juiblex.
- Armanite: Armanites compose the heavy cavalry of the army of The Abyss. They resemble fiendish centaurs covered by a full plate armor. They are fierce enemies in battle and their charges are deeply feared. On the layers of the Abyss they usually wander in groups guided by a chief called knecht or pathwarden. Because of their unusual discipline, they are often employed by powerful abyssal lords as mercenaries. Most armanites come from the Plains of Gallenshu (377th layer of the Abyss); on this layer there are 24 cities of armanites, each ruled by an armanite called konsul.
- Myrmyxicus: Massive, eel-like monstrosities, Myrmyxicuses are among the most powerful of the Tanar’ri. They rule vast regions of the Abyssal oceans from floating citadels made of millions of tons of fish skeletons and razor-sharp shells and coral. Many myrmyxicuses spend ages looking for ways to transport their floating citadels into the seas of other Abyssal layers or even other planes to expand their enslaved empires.
- Rutterkin: Rutterkin are deformed demons created by the union of manes. Disdained by other demons, they serve as infantry in the armies of the Abyss. When not on active service, they usually wander in groups on the infinite layers of the Abyss, bullying any weaker creatures they encounter.
The loumara are a relatively new demonic race, much younger than the tanar’ri. They are still centuries old, but this is still recent in a place like the Abyss, where time doesn’t mean the same thing it does on the Material Plane. As a result, no loumara has become powerful enough to be recognized as a demon lord.
Loumara are usually immaterial or invisible demons that are more like ghosts or undead than demons. All loumara can possess living creatures.
Known types of loumara include:
- A Dybbuk resembles a jellyfish with a simply sketched human face. Dybbuks are incorporeal creatures and so they do not have a specific physical form. Dybbuks can possess and control dead bodies, so they spend a lot of time looking for a ‘perfect’ host body to animate – one that died without violence or major injury, and preferably one that is handsome or beautiful. After taking the control of a ‘perfect’ body, dybbuks try to insert themselves into the society of the victim, plunging into depravity and hedonism until their possessed body is broken down and ruined. When a ‘perfect’ body is not available, a dybbuk will take a less desirable body and continue to search for a better host. Dybbuks are lonely creatures, and can be found in groups only where there are many corpses to possess, such as on a recent battlefield. They tend to avoid undead, because already-animated bodies are of no use to them.
- A Guecubu resembles a mass of vapor, and is born from dreamstuff tainted by evil. Guecubus can possess and control the body of sleeping humanoids. Once they are in control, they ‘ride’ silently, letting their victim go about his or her business. At some point they take control and lash out, trying to spread death and murder – particularly on the victim’s family and friends. Sometimes the guecubu will conceal its actions even from the victim, letting them believe that they are cursed or jinxed. Guecubus believe that killings form some sort of pattern, and enough spilled blood will eventually reveal the meaning of creation in this pattern. They rarely form groups with other guecubus, preferring to remain hidden and anonymous. However, many of them can be found in the Dreaming Gulf (230th layer of the Abyss), where they are created spontaneously from the raw, churning chaos of dreams.
Not all known demons fit into one of the above races. Such non-typed demons include:
Abyssal eviscerator, abyssal maw, abyssal ravager, abyssal skulker, ankashar, artaaglith, bebilith, blood fiend, carnage demon, deathdrinker, ghour, lilitu, nashrou, ostego (“death demon”), quasit, retriever, shadow demon, skulvyn, soul demon, wastrilith, whisper demon, and zovvut.
Elemental demons also exist, beings spawned from the broken souls of Blood War casualties and resembling the elemental material that spawned them. Known types include: air, ash, earth, fire, ice, and water.
Demons are completely chaotic forces bent on destruction. They are described as “living engines of destruction” and said to have no desire for structure or order (unlike Devils who live a very ordered, though evil, existence). Demons harbor no secret goals and have no need for subterfuge. They live for the express purpose of destroying everything, until they die and are reborn once again in The Abyss, a maelstrom of elemental evil harbored deep within the Elemental Chaos.]
Demons seem to be the evil antithesis of devils. Where devils are endlessly ambitious, sneaky, and set in a highly structured hierarchy of the Nine Hells, demons care for nothing but destruction of the entire universe and live in a chaotic realm known as The Abyss.
Types of Demons
- Balor: Balors are powerful demons. They answer only to Demon Lords or other creature with tremendous power and only ally themselves with creatures equal to their own power. This means they rarely team up with other demons, or even other Balors.
- Barlgura: Barlguras are vicious, blood thirsty Demons that like to fight with the hand, ripping their victims apart. Balgura are also favored by The Demon Prince, Demogorgon.
- Evistro: Evistros band together in hordes and rampage across worlds leaving nothing but devastation.
- Glabrezu: Glabrezus are huge, magic wielding demons. If a Glabrezu lingers in the world too long, it will begin to disease and corrupt the land around it.
- Goristro: Goristros are huge Demons described as “living siege engines”. They are also the favored servitors of the Demon Lord Baphomet, The Horned Lord.
- Hezrou: Hezrous are obedient demons who are eager to serve more powerful demons and summoners.