Tuesday, October 19, 2010

AD&D Monster Manual part 7

Demons: We kick off the letter D with a bang, rolling right into the section on Demons. I’ve always been a big fan of these guys, much more so than the Devils. I can’t exactly say why, because Devils are pretty awesome in their own right. But come on, Orcus and Demogorgon? Those guys are the best. Demons first appeared in Supplement III. All the ones that appeared there are here as well, with the addition of two Demon Lords, and the lowly Manes.

The section kicks off with some general information that is common to all demons. Much of it is reproduced from Supplement III. The first new bit of information we get is how far they can travel from their home plane of the Abyss. They can freely travel into Tarterus, Hades or Pandemonium, and they can also roam the Astral Plane. They can’t get into the Prime Material Plane without some sort of magical aid.

There’s a line stating that demons can never be subdued, which raises the question of what exactly can be. The rules for subdual are only ever used in reference to dragons, so it wouldn’t be out of line to limit it to them. But if demons are specifically called out as not being subduable, then I suppose the rule does apply to everyone not explicitly excluded.

Also, it is said that demons are able to divide their attacks amongst two or even three opponents at a time. This is how I’ve always played monsters with multiple attacks. Should I be making them use all their attacks on a single target? I’ll need to look out for this once I reach the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Controlling demons is still a difficult affair, but we now get the information that a thaumaturgic circle will keep the lesser demons at bay, while a special pentacle is required for the more powerful types. Nothing further is described, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this shows up in the DMG.

Demon amulets are the same as they were in Supplement III, granting anyone who gets hold of one temporary power over one particular demon. The only addition is that the amulets now allow the demon use of the magic jar ability.

Demons here are given the ability to converse telepathically with any type of creature. I’m pretty sure that is new.

There’s also a list of attack types, and how much effect they have on demons. Cold, lightning, fire, and poison gas all do half damage to demons. Iron weapons are also listed as doing full damage, which I assume means they can affect those demons only hit by magical weapons.  Again, I think that all of this is new.

Demogorgon: Demogorgon is a demon prince, with tentacles for arms and two baboon heads on long necks. He mostly has the same stats he did in Supplement III, but a few tweaks have been made. For starters, Demogorgon used to have 12 hit dice. Now he just gets a flat total of 200 hit points, which is much more impressive. However, despite retaining an impressive suite of spell-like abilities, he can no longer use time stop or shape change, which lowers his power significantly.

Juiblex (The Faceless Lord): Juiblex, described as a festering mass of slime and ooze, is brand spanking new. As a Demon Lord he’s very powerful, but just a step below Demogorgon and Orcus. Juiblex surrounds himself with all kinds of monstrous oozes, and many of his abilities relate to disease and decay. One of his major attacks is to spew forth a slime that combines the effects of ochre jelly and green slime, both of which can be fairly deadly to unprepared characters. He has a gate ability like all other demons, and I like that he uses it to summon the frog-like Type II demons – it seems thematically appropriate. Poor old Juiblex is shunned by other demons, though, being too disgusting even for them.

Manes: Manes are also new to the Monster Manual. They are the spirits of those dead who go to the Abyss. It is said that the most evil are confined in Gehenna, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me based on what we’ve learned already in previous products. Gehenna is much closer to Hell than it is to the Abyss, and it’s not listed above in the planes that demons can roam freely. I’m not sure what to make of it.

Manes are fairly weak, actually, with just 1 hit dice and low damage. Demon Lords and Princes can feed on them, turn them into shadows or ghasts, or send them forth to exist on the material plane for a day. I suppose they’re a handy monster to have if you want to send low level PCs up against demon worshippers.

Orcus: Much like Demogorgon, Orcus now has a flat total of 120 hit points instead of 12 hit dice. A bunch of Orcus’s physical attacks are given damage ranges now, whereas before he was expected to use a weapon. And even with a weapon he now deals more damage. Funnily enough, while Demogorgon lost the abilities of time stop and shape change, Orcus has kept both. But his ability to summon the undead has been spectacularly nerfed – whereas before he was summoning wights, wraiths, spectres and vampires, now it’s weaksauce like skeletons, zombies, and shadows (but he gets to keep vampires). Otherwise, he hasn’t changed from Supplement III.

Succubus: These female demons have only changed in one aspect from Supplement III – their Armor Class has improved from AC 9 to AC 0. AC 9 was a ridiculous number for a monster of their level, and perhaps AC 0 is an overcompensation, but I like it much better.

Type I: These vulture-like demons haven’t changed at all from Supplement III, but they do get named as Vrocks for the first time.

Type II: These frog-demons are named as Hezrou for the first time, and it is said that they will fight with Type I demons for absolutely any reason at all.

Type III: There are just a few minor statistical tweaks to these monsters: their movement has improved from 6” to 9”, and they can no longer gate in demons of Type IV. They are also named as Glabrezu for the first time.

Type IV: The AC of these demons has improved from 4 to -1. They can no longer gate in demons of Types V or VI. The name they are given is shown as (Nalfeshnee, etc.), which implies more than one name. In fact, there is a new bit about using the demon’s name to get it to perform a service. I wonder if Nalfeshnee is intended as the name for this type of demon, or if it is an example of the true name of a specific Type IV demon. I suspect the latter, but I believe it becomes the former once we get into AD&D 2e.

Type V: Obviously the AC numbers were screwed up in Supplement III (or my PDF was screwed up), because Type V demons in that book had an AC of 7. Here they are listed as -7/-5. Which of those applies to the human torso and which applies to the snake tail is anyone’s guess. Otherwise they are statistically the same as they were in Supplement III. They are given the name of Marilith for the first time, but as above it’s got an etc. after it, so it may just be an example name for a specific demon). We also learn that other lesser demons fear Type V demons for their cruelty, and that they desire the sacrifice of strong warriors.

Type VI: Their AC improves from 2 to -2. Otherwise there’s no statistical change. We do learn that there are only six of these guys known to exist, and that one of them is called Balor. We also learn that they’re more organised than the other types of demons, which makes them unpopular with the Demon Lords and Princes.

Yeenoghu: The Demon Lord of Gnolls! I love this guy. He’s the major reason that I play gnolls as bloodthirsty demon cultists. He’s usually surrounded by gnolls, and if not he can summon them anyway. He’s also worshipped by the King of Ghouls, and there’s an evocative image that’s slipped past me until this point. There’s a King of Ghouls? I’ve generally played ghouls like the ‘fast zombies’ of modern film, but if they have a king I need to rethink them completely. And now I wonder if they have a connection to gnolls, or if their mutual worship of Yeenoghu is a coincidence.

Yeenoghu has a ‘dreaded flail’, with three balls, each of which has a different power (damage, paralysation, or confusion). Among his many spell-like abilities is the magic missile spell, noted as being +2 to hit – it looks like magic missiles still need to roll to hit at this point.

4 comments:

KenHR said...

Still loving this series!

The names of the other Type IV, V and VI demons are given in the DMG's monster recap.

Justin said...

Funny you mention it, I am the opposite, I always liked the devils more than the demons.

Nathan P. Mahney said...

I can't explain it. But keep in mind that my intro to demons and devils was during 2e, probably the Outer Planes Monstrous Compendium. Perhaps the demons just had cooler drawings?

Zeframsee said...

Here is a quick question: Since all of the demon lords have flat HP and not hit die, how do you calculate their thac0 value?