Monster Manual A-Z: Demons – Part 2

Monster Manual A-Z is a series of quick looks at each and every monster presented in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. New monsters go up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in alphabetical order, touching on lore, mechanics, and ways to use them in your campaign. To search for all Monster Manual A-Z articles, search MMAZ in the search bar as we’ve excluded them from our Roleplaying Games tag to keep things tidy.

Demon - Marilith

Marilith

Whew, that was a lot of demons in part one! Now we have seven more of these fiends, all vying for power via force or serving stronger demons in specialized roles. Today we have the Manes, Marilith, Nalfeshnee, Quasit, Shadow Demon, Vrock, and the ooey-gooey Yochlol. Same format as last time, one paragraph per demon- let’s get rolling!

So, first up today is the Manes, which is the actual lowest ranked demon. Typically the souls of creatures that descend to or are trapped in the Abyss become a Manes, where they are often fed upon and destroyed entirely. In stature, they resemble short, decaying, misshapen humanoids. They are extremely slow, very weak, and don’t pack much of a punch- assuming they can even catch up to you. In fact, the only redeeming quality is in their immunities and resistances to certain damages and conditions; the same ones that every demon has, making the Manes entirely unremarkable. If you need a filler demon to take a hit or make it seem like the party will get overwhelmed, Manes are the way to go.

One of the most badass of all demons is the Marilith; with the lower body of a giant snake and the upper body of a six-armed snake lady, these demons are just as likely to lead a demonic horde with their sharp battle tactics as they are to slice you up with six blades at once. Mariliths find themselves only below the Balor and Goristro on the list of demons, so it’s no big surprise to see that they are quite the tough foe. Hard to hit and harder to kill thanks to a surplus of hit points, immunities, and resistances, they are as defensive as they are deadly. Thanks to their multitude of hands they can take one reaction every turn of combat, make seven attacks at a time (one with the tail), are great at parrying, and can teleport at will a great distance, closing the gap on any who think they may get away. Either as a captain of a horde, aspiring to lead their own army of demons, or a lone wolf slaying foes with ease, you can’t go wrong with the Marilith as a challenge for your higher level party.

Taking a step down, the next lowest demon is the Nalfeshnee, which is a disgusting juxtaposition of ape and boar, standing tall with tiny wings that make it seem like a dumb, hulking brute. In truth, a Nalfashnee is extremely intelligent, and can fly just fine despite the tiny size of their wings. Just as defensive as the Marilith in hit point, armor class, resistances, and immunities, the Nalfeshnee distinguishes itself with its Horror Nimbus ability, in which scintillating lights emit and those who look upon are frightened. I like the Nalfeshnee, as they feed on fear but crave human flesh- but they’re fancy, and use (rusted) cutlery when they dine. I can see this opening up a potential fun encounter where the party works that angle of the demon’s personality to get out of a jam, or trick it long enough for them to gain the upper hand.

The Quasit is the final minor demon on the list, but it is far from uninteresting. Primarily use as spies and messengers thanks to their tricks, a Quasit is lucky to be employed in one of these roles rather than eaten and pulled apart for fun by greater demons. The Quasit is expectedly weak, but have a number of great tricks such as the ability to shape change, turn invisible at will, and attempt to frighten others once per day. Their claws are also poisonous, making their attacks a little more potent if you’re unlucky enough to get hit. I think the Quasit has some fun possibilities; maybe the party catches one and has to interrogate it for information. Or maybe it was the familiar of a wizard and is really the one pulling the strings behind the scenes. Lots of fun potential with these mischievous little cretins!

Next up is the Shadow Demon, a demon whose body is insubstantial to feed on fears, memories, and doubts of those who find themselves in their presence. They won’t cause too much trouble, but also shouldn’t be presented to fresh-faced adventurers. Surprisingly easy to hit (though mostly resistant and immune to damage), they are able to escape harm by flying through solid objects thanks to their ghost-like forms. Their claws are also able to produce psychic damage, working off of the idea idea that they can touch your fears and doubts. I want to use the Shadow Demon like a ghost; have it set up shop in a town in the Material Plane, pick a house, and taste the fear of all who enter. You could even mislead the party by having everyone call it ghost while it is really a demon!

After that we have the Vrock, which are dull, vulture-like humanoid that love to consume flesh. They are equipped with toxic spores and an ear-piercing shriek and love to abscond with cheap, shiny objects such as gems and stones. Able to fly quickly, decently defensive with a good vitality, the Vrock employs multiple offensive actions. They can shoot out poisonous spores around itself and shriek once per day that can stun their foes, making easy work with their beak and talons. Literally as dumb as a vulture, use Vrocks as scavenging fiends, trying to take off with some treasure that the adventurers need for their quests.

And lastly, we end this entry by talking about the Yochlol, which appears as a column of yellow slime with a large eye and tendrils. Yochlol serve Lolth and are direct extensions of her will. They act as spies and agents, and are unique in that they only form within the Demonweb and only serve their queen. On the material plane, they can appear as a female drow or a large spider to conceal their identity, making it easier to traverse the Material Plane. Surprisingly, for a pillar of slime, they can move and are decently hard to hit and able to take a hit at that. In addition to their shapechanging, they can walk up walls and cast spells to detect thoughts and cast a web about an area. Beyond that they can use their tendrils to slam enemies, and can turn into a fine mist to either escape through small crevices, or they can surround opponents, and poison them to make them fall unconscious. Well, using a Yochlol is pretty straightforward- you need some drow or a plot involving Lolth for them to make much sense, but once this is established using them shapechanged as a spider or drow just to turn into a pillar of slime will be worth the joy you get from seeing the expression on your party’s face!

Whew- that’s it! We made it through all fourteen demons, so now you are better prepared to survive against or employ them in your game. One last overarching fun fact- the only way to kill a demon for good is to kill it in the Abyss; killing it on the Material Plane, for example, will cause it to reform in the Abyss, angry, and likely seeking vengeance. Have fun with that tidbit, and make your players’ choices come back to haunt them!


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