Thursday, September 17, 2009

Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry part 11

Today I'm tackling the debut of everyone's favourite denizens of the Lower Planes, the Demons. Demons have been mentioned in D&D before, most notably in Gygax's alignment article from The Strategic Review, in which we learned that they live in the Abyss and are the epitome of Chaotic Evil. But this is the first time we get anything approaching detail – and while it's a good chunk of detail, it seems pretty sparse from a modern perspective.

The section begons with a note that there are demons of various types, as well as the Demon Princes Orcus and Demogorgon. Huzzah, long-standing canon! All demons can see in the dark, teleport without error, cause darkness, and use the Gate spell to summon other demons. So, yikes, already. Also, every demon type has magic resistance, meaning a percentage chance to totally shrug off any spell.

Again it's reiterated that Demons are Chaotic Evil, and the stronger types rule over the weaker. Demons range from Type I to Type VI, and any demon over Type V is not slain when killed in combat but forced back to its home plane for 100 years.

Demons don't serve anyone willingly and in general try to kill their masters whenever possible. Unless they take a liking to someone – then they only carry them off to be a slave (much better!). For added fun, if anyone speaks the name of a powerful demon, there's a chance the demon will hear and turn his attentions upon them – meaning a swift death to the weak, of course. The chance is quite high as well, much to my delight.

Type I: A sort of human-vulture hybrid, with weaker abilities than the other demons – it can even be hit by normal weapons!

Type II: A disgusting frog demon. Again they can be hit by normal weapons, but they can also cause fear and levitate.

Type III: These guys are huge, with goat heads, pincer hands, and a seemingly useless set of regular human arms. Once more, surprisingly, they can be hit by normal weapons. I was certain all demons required magic to hit, but I suppose that's the later editions talking to me. Besides the regular demon abilities, they can polymorph self, but it seems more useful for trickery than combat when your natural form is that of a four-armed demon.

Type IV: Ah, now we're talking. These winged ape-boar demons have a whole host of nasty abilities, and they can only be hit by magical weapons. Most potent among their arsenal are the symbols of fear and discord, and the ability to gate in demons up to Type VI.

Succubus: Taking a detour from the regular demon types, we find the classic demonic temptress. In addition to high magic resistance and an immunity to normal weapons, their kiss causes level drain, and they get a number of abilities related to disguise and mind control. For ultimate fun, their Gate even has a slim chance of summoning one of the Demon Princes – I guess they help out the hot chicks more than the weird ape-boar things, huh?

Type V: A demon with a snake's body, and the torso of a six-armed female. As before, high magic resistance and immunity to normal weapons. They can use a weapon in each hand, and like the succubus they get a chance to Gate in a Demon Prince.

Type VI: Hmmm. Not sure what's going on here, but my entry seems to be incomplete here. All we get is the note that they are 12' tall, highly intelligent, and that they have more powerful versions of the abilities already gifted to other demons. If we go back to the stats, it's noted that they roll a 10-sided die for hit points, rather than the usual 8. Going back even further to the Table for Attack and Damage Type, it seems that this monster is a replacement for the Balrog. Interesting. It would be nice to have the complete entry, though.

It's surprising to me the lack of real detail we get here. So far, the demons are all just a physical description and a bunch of special abilities. Admittedly that's not much more than we get for the other monsters in OD&D, but I was expecting a little more. Perhaps a bit more of the lore will become apparent when I get into the Demon Princes next time.

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