The chaotic power of the Abyss rewards demons of particular ruthlessness and ingenuity with a dark blessing, transforming them into unique fiends whose power can rival the gods. These demon lords rule through cunning or brute force, hoping to one day claim the prize of absolute control over all the Abyss.
Although most demon lords rise up from the vast and uncountable mobs of demons rampaging across the Abyss, the plane also rewards outsiders that conquer any of its infinite layers. The elven goddess Lolth became a demon lord after Corellon Larethian cast her into the Abyss for betraying elvenkind. Sages claim that the Dark Prince Graz’zt originated on some other plane before stealing his abyssal title from another long-forgotten demon lord.
Power and Control
The greatest sign of a demon lord’s power is its ability to reshape an abyssal realm. A layer of the Abyss controlled by a demon lord becomes a twisted reflection of that fiend’s vile personality, and demon lords seldom leave their realms for fear of allowing another creature to reshape and seize it.
As with other demons, a demon lord that dies on another plane has its essence return to the Abyss, where it reforms into a new body. Likewise, a demon lord that dies in the Abyss is permanently destroyed. Most demon lords keep a portion of their essence safely stored away to prevent such a fate.
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.