What Is The Demogorgon In DND?

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The Abyss is the infinite realm of Demons in Dungeons & Dragons, where all manner of creatures reside. Demons don’t only come in the reddish, horned type; they have all kinds of shapes and sizes, from raging fire to tentacles deep underwater.


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What ties Demons together is their chaotic nature, and how much of them are born from emotions of mortal souls, mostly fear and hatred. The Demogorgon was likely born this way, but he’s no mere Demon: He’s the self-proclaimed Prince of Demons, and while many may challenge that claim, none have defeated him to take the title.


Description

The Demon Prince Demogorgon In A White Background
Demogorgon by Richard Whitters

The Demogorgon’s unusual physique is what sets him apart from his Demonic brethren. He’s a huge creature, towering over most mortals at 5.5 meters (18 feet) tall. He has the torso of an ape, the legs of a large lizard, arms that end in two large tentacles, and a long spiked tail.

While the series Stranger Things has a creature called Demogorgon, it has basically nothing to do with the Dungeons & Dragons incarnation of the character.

Yet his most defining feature is his two heads, both shaped like baboons. These two heads each have their own name, and the title Demogorgon is referring to the entity as a whole. This duality is key in understanding not only his realm, but the cults based around the Demon Lord as well.

The left head is called Aameul, a charismatic figure that values deception and subterfuge. It yearns to be rid of its other half, constantly plotting to be rid of it. That other half is Hethradiah, the right head, an impulsive and feral creature that lived to destroy, and wanted to remain whole with his other half.

When the two heads work in unison, there’s little that can stand in their way. This is when they truly become Demogorgon, like when they claimed the title of Prince of Demons from Orcus, but their constant infighting prevents them from always reaching their potential.

Among his other physical characteristics, Demogorgon’s tail can drain the life from his foes, transferring it to him. His arm tentacles also have special properties, like rotting away anything they touch.

His threatening abilities also include magic, since he can cast spells with ease like dispel magic or telekinesis. He’s also able to plane shift, something most Demons can’t do.

Origin And History

Demogorgon ape with two heads in cavern
Out of the Abyss Cover Art via Wizards of the Coast

The Demogorgon has two different origin tales, each from different editions of Dungeons & Dragons. While an adventure module already has him as a prominent figure in the 5th edition, there’s yet to be any confirmation of which story is the one used for the Prince of Demons.

In the third edition, Demogorgon was one of the many creations of the Queen of Chaos, a Demon from a race older than the gods themselves. She discarded Demogorgon as a failed attempt, naming him a deformity, and creating Orcus as an example of a true Demon. This would be the spark that started the rivalry between Orcus and Demogorgon.

In fourth edition, Demogorgon was originally a Primordial, becoming a Demon after arriving at the Abyss. In this origin, Demogorgon had a single head, until it was split in two during a battle against Amoth, a now-dead god of justice. His rivalry with Orcus remains, this time it being a fight for the title of Prince of Demons.

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Regardless of origin, Demogorgon makes his home in the 88th layer of the Abyss, called the Gaping Maw. The realm reflects Demogorgon’s duality, with a raging sea eating landmasses whole, and quiet jungles where danger prowls in the darkness.

Within this realm, Demogorgon lives in Abysm, his fortress in the middle of the sea. It consists of two towers, their tops shaped like skulls. This fortress lies mostly underwater, with interconnected caves that would drive most mad.

While Demogorgon has allies, few can be considered of mutual benefit; most simply fear the Prince of Demons. The one being he truly listens to is Dagon, lord of the 89th layer of the Abyss. Dagon advises both heads separately, pushing them to further their goals without stepping on each other’s toes.

During Demogorgon’s absence, many expected Dagon to claim the Prince’s realm as his own, yet he didn’t.

This is the biggest proof of the mutual respect the creatures have for one another.

In more recent eras, Demogorgon ended up being imprisoned in the Underdark, in the Prime Material Plane where most Dungeons & Dragons adventures take place. He was sealed for hundreds of years until those very seals stopped taking hold, and he was able to go back to his realm.

This marked the beginning of a link between the Underdark and Demogorgon, since many stories and adventures have him influencing the area. He was pushed back by the Drow Drizzt Do’Urden in the book Maestro, and a cult of Demogorgon worshipers are at the center of Out of the Abyss, an adventure module for the 5th edition. Both tales happen mostly in the Underdark.

Cults Of Demogorgon

Dungeons & Dragons Arcane Gate Entrance In The Underdark
Dungeon Master Screen By Greg Rutkowski

Even when not considered a true deity, Demogorgon still has plenty of influence in the mortal realms, and power to use it. Cults dedicated to the Prince relished chaos above all, and thanks to their master’s duality, they were unpredictable. Even their temples were divided in two, each following the ideas of one of the heads.

Demogorgon’s power was enough to give strength to his followers in many ways, and he could even be a patron for Warlocks. The madness of the Prince gave these Warlocks mastery over mind-bending effects, like charms and disorientation.

Cultists could even summon aspects of Demogorgon, although these aspects never showed the true duality of the Demon. They were often balanced more towards one head than the other, with some being masters of deception while others were simply mindless beasts.

Using Demogorgon In A Campaign

Dungeons And Dragons - Yon Arena
Yon By Julian Kok, via Wizards of the Coast

On the surface level, Demogorgon is not that different from other Demon Lords, particularly in the early levels. The duality of the creature lets you have his cultist do whatever you want, from bloodthirsty raids to political manipulations.

If you want the Prince of Demons as the main antagonist, then the locales you’ll be mostly using are caves, jungles, and areas underwater. His realm is one of natural dangers, impossible creatures lurking in the dark and areas where it’s easy to get lost.

Remember that Demogorgon’s main weakness is his infighting, so you can use that even if the players never face the Demon himself; you can have his cult have their own infighting problems, and players could make use of that for their benefit.

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