Table of Contents
The unfathomable and tumultuous power of the Abyss serves as a crucible that forges demons of unparalleled ruthlessness and cunning into unique entities of malevolent force, elevating them to the status of demon lords. These singular fiends possess a dark aura and extraordinary abilities that allow them to challenge even the divine pantheon. Commanding their dominions with a blend of strategic intelligence and raw brutality, these demon lords harbor grand ambitions to ultimately seize absolute dominion over the chaotic abyssal realm.
While the majority of these formidable demon lords rise through the ranks by clawing their way out from the teeming, indescribable hordes of lesser demons that wreak havoc across the Abyss, the plane is not averse to outsiders earning their titles. Intriguingly, the Abyss extends its corrupting blessings even to entities from other planes who manage to conquer any of its infinite, malevolent layers.
Take, for instance, the elven goddess Lolth. Once a prominent figure in the elven pantheon, she was cast into the Abyss by Corellon Larethian as punishment for her betrayal against her own kind. In the unforgiving depths of the Abyss, Lolth underwent a malefic transformation, emerging as a formidable demon lord. Similarly, the enigmatic Dark Prince Graz’zt is said to have originated from a different plane altogether. He usurped his abyssal lordship from a now-obliterated, long-forgotten demon lord, according to arcane scholars and sages.
Thus, the Abyss stands as a realm of endless possibility and ceaseless peril, where only the most cunning and brutal can hope to ascend to the echelons of near-divine power.
Power and Control
The most unmistakable indicator of a demon lord’s unparalleled might is the capacity to morph an entire layer of the Abyss according to their own malevolent whims and desires. A realm governed by a demon lord undergoes a sinister transformation, becoming a grotesque mirror that reflects the unique and twisted facets of the fiend’s own dark psyche. Rarely do demon lords venture beyond the confines of their dominions, for they harbor a deeply ingrained dread of leaving their realms vulnerable to invasion and transformation by rival entities.
In line with the nature of demonic existence, a demon lord that perishes on a plane other than the Abyss isn’t annihilated outright. Instead, its essence embarks on an inevitable journey back to its abyssal home, where it undergoes a process of reformation, coalescing into a new physical form. However, the stakes are unimaginably higher for those that meet their demise within the Abyss itself. A demon lord that suffers the ignominy of death within its own realm faces the grim prospect of permanent destruction, a fate viewed as the ultimate failure among these malevolent beings.
As a safeguard against such an unthinkable outcome, most demon lords adopt elaborate contingencies. They often sequester fragments of their own essence in well-guarded, obscure locations within their realms or even in other planes of existence. This cunning precaution serves as a form of insurance, allowing them a chance to rise once again, even if the worst should befall them. This further underscores the immense ingenuity and calculated caution that demon lords exercise in the unending, cutthroat struggle for power within the dark and chaotic corridors of the Abyss.
The demon lord Baphomet, also known as the Horned King and the Prince of Beasts, rules over minotaurs and other savage creatures. If he had his way, civilization would crumble and all races would embrace their base animal savagery.
The Prince of Beasts appears as a huge, black-furred minotaur with iron horns, red eyes, and a blood-soaked mouth. His iron crown is topped with the rotting heads of his enemies, while his dark armor is set with spikes and skull-like serrations. He carries a huge glaive named Heartcleaver, but often hurls it into the fray so as to face his enemies with horns and hooves.
The Sibilant Beast and the self-styled Prince of Demons, Demogorgon yearns for nothing less than undoing the order of the multiverse. An insane assemblage of features and drives, the Prince of Demons inspires fear and hatred among other demons and demon lords.
Demogorgon towers three times the height of a human, his body as sinuous as a snake’s and as powerful as a great ape’s. Suckered tentacles take the place of his arms. His saurian lower torso ends in webbed and clawed feet, and a forked tail whose whip-like tips are armed with cruel blades. The Prince of Demons has two baleful baboon heads, both of them mad. It is only the conflict between the two halves of his dual nature that keeps the demon lord’s ambitions in check.
The demon lord Graz’zt appears as a darkly handsome figure nearly nine feet tall. Those who refer to the Dark Prince as the most humanoid of the demon lords vastly underestimate the capacity for evil in his scheming heart.
Graz’zt is a striking physical specimen, whose demonic nature shows in his ebon skin, pointed ears, yellow fangs, crown of horns, and six-fingered hands. He delights in finery, pageantry, and sating his decadent desires with subjects and consorts alike, among whom incubi and succubi are often his favorites.
The demon lord of slimes and oozes, Juiblex is a stew of noxious fluids that lurks in the abyssal depths. The wretched Faceless Lord cares nothing for cultists or mortal servants, and its sole desire is to turn all creatures into formless copies of its horrid self.
In its resting state, Juiblex spreads out in a noxious mass, bubbling and filling the air with a profound stench. On the rare occasions when creatures confront the demon lord, Juiblex draws itself up into a shuddering cone of slime striated with veins of black and green. Baleful red eyes swim within its gelatinous body, while dripping pseudopods of ooze lash out hungrily at any creature they can reach.
The Demon Queen of Spiders is the evil matron of the drow. Her every thought is touched by malice, and the depth of her viciousness can surprise even her most faithful priestesses. She directs her faithful while she weaves plots across the worlds of the Material Plane, looking forward to the time when her drow followers bring those worlds under her control.
Lolth appears as a lithe, imperious drow matriarch when she manifests to her followers in the mortal realm, which she does with unusual frequency. When battle breaks out-or if she has a reason to remind her followers to fear her—Lolth’s lower body transforms into that of a huge demonic spider, whose spike—tipped legs and mandibles tear foes apart.
Known as the Demon Prince of Undeath and the Blood Lord, the demon lord Orcus is worshiped by the undead and by living creatures that channel the power of undeath. A brooding and nihilistic entity, Orcus yearns to make the multiverse a place of death and darkness, forever unchanging except by his will.
The Demon Prince of Undeath is a foul and corpulent creature, with a humanoid torso, powerful goat legs, and the desiccated head of a ram. His sore-ridden body stinks of disease, but his decaying head and glowing red eyes are as a creature already dead. Great black bat wings sprout from his back, stirring reeking air as he moves.
Orcus wields a malevolent artifact known as the Wand of Orcus, a mace-like rod of obsidian topped by a humanoid skull. He surrounds himself with undead, and living creatures not under his control are anathema to him.
Known as the Gnoll Lord and the Beast of Butchery, the demon lord Yeenoghu hungers for slaughter and senseless destruction. Gnolls are his mortal instruments, and he drives them to ever-greater atrocities in his name. Delighting in sorrow and hopelessness, the Gnoll Lord yearns to turn the world into a wasteland in which the last surviving gnolls tear each other apart for the right to feast upon the dead.
Yeenoghu appears as a huge, scarred gnoll with a spiky crest of black spines, and eyes that burn with emerald flame. His armor is a patchwork of shields and breastplates claimed from fallen foes, and decorated by those foes’ flayed skins. Yeenoghu can summon a triple flail he calls the Butcher, which he wields to deadly effect or wills to fly independently into battle as he tears foes apart with teeth and claws.
Other Demon Lords
No one knows the full number of demon lords that rage in the Abyss. Given the infinite depths of that plane, powerful demons constantly rise to become demon lords, then fall almost as quickly. Among the demon lords whose power has endured long enough for demonologists to name them are Fraz-Urb’luu, the Prince of Deception; Kostchtchie, the Prince of Wrath; Pazuzu, Prince of the Lower Aerial Kingdoms; and Zuggtmoy, Lady of Fungi.
But you can read the History of the Abyss.