In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, Demogorgon is a powerful demon prince. He is known as the Prince of Demons, a self-proclaimed title, but one that is acknowledged by mortals and even his fellow demons because of his power and influence. Demogorgon was also named as one of the greatest villains in D&D history by the final print issue of Dragon.
Myths and Legends
Demogorgon is based on the supposed pagan god or demon Demogorgon. Although there probably was no such mythological being, by the late Middle Ages, the idea of Demogorgon as a primordial being whose very name was taboo to the ancient pagans had become fixed in the European imagination. In the Renaissance and beyond, he was often named as a major demon of Hell, as in John Milton's Paradise Lost, Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Spenser's The fairyrie Queene and Percy Bysshe Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, although the D&D Demogorgon's appearance and history may not be based on any of these sources.
Demogorgon appears as an 18-foot-tall (5.5 m), reptilian (or amphibious) hermaphroditic tanar'ri with a somewhat humanoid form. Two mandrill heads sprout from his twin snake-like necks, and his arms end in long tentacles. His two heads have individual minds, called Aameul (the left head) and Hethradiah (the right head). One of Demogorgon's best-kept secrets, even from his cultists and minions, is that his two personas strive to dominate (and even kill) each other, but are unable to because they are aspects of one another. Despite this duality, many of Demogorgon's plots revolve around either permanently separating or uniting these two personas. According to kopru legends, Demogorgon has two mothers, which account for his twin personas. His blue-green skin is plated with snake-like scales, his body and legs are those of a giant lizard, and his thick tail is forked. His appearance testifies to his command of cold-blooded things such as serpents, reptiles, and octopodes.
Demogorgon can charm enemies or drive enemies insane with his gaze, depending on which head's eyes are met; if both heads lock their gazes on a single target simultaneously, Demogorgon can hypnotize foes. His whip-like tail has the ability to drain the life energy right out of a living foe. His tentacles cause living creatures to rot away, as if by some sort of rapid leprosy. Because each head is a separate personality that each controls his body, Demogorgon may act twice as often during combat as he should be able to.
His title as Prince of Demons is contested and somewhat misleading in that in the chaos of the Abyss there are no official titles and positions. He holds this title through sheer power and the fact no other demon has been able to prove themselves his superior and wrest the name from him. Demogorgon is also known as Lord of All That Swims in Darkness.
The hatred between Orcus and Demogorgon is legendary. He is also a dedicated foe of both Graz'zt and Fraz-Urb'luu. Some of his allies include the Succubus Queen Malcanthet; the currently imprisoned Shami-Amourae was his former consort. In Gary Gygax's Gord the Rogue series, he is the brother of another demon lord called "Mandrillagon". He is served by the minor demon lord Abraxas that controls the 17th layer (Death's Reward) and was allied with the demon lord Ilsidahur who controls the 90th layer, near Demogorgon's realm.
One of Demogorgon's spawn with Malcanthet is the monstrous Arendagrost. According to WG7 he has a son with a mortal woman, the cambion Drumorg.
Demogorgon and the ancient and powerful obyrith Dagon have a sort of alliance. Demogorgon often travels to the domain of the elder demon lord to speak to him and try to gain knowledge and secrets from him or seek his vast wisdom for counsel. Dagon, in turn, always whispers his secrets to one head at a time (never both at once), thus playing a major role in the tension between Demogorgon's heads.
Demogorgon lives on the 88th layer of the Abyss, known as Abysm, the Brine Flats, or Gaping Maw. This is a layer consisting of a great sea of briny water broken by tall, sharp, ugly, rocky prominences rising out of the endless murky water into a sky of yellow mist. Demogorgon's palace is two twin towers shaped very roughly like tightly coiled serpents that are covered with sharp, ugly fin-like features and spines, and crowned at the top with skull-shaped minarets. The two towers are linked by a bridge near the top. Beneath the fortress are reefs and caverns where aboleths, kraken and ixitxachitl dwell, constantly warring with each other and worshipping Demogorgon in his palace above. His towers are said to extend so far beneath the sea that they connect to the layer beneath him where he speaks with the obyrith lord Dagon.
Numerous isles dot the layer, but they all resemble Demogorgon's palace: twin rookeries rising straight out of the sea and into the sky. The only significant landmass of the layer is a vast jungle-covered continent. Here, Demogorgon's capital city of Lemoriax is located.
Demogorgon's cult is small compared to those of "true" deities, but much larger than those of most fiends. He is worshiped not only by evil humans, but also by the intelligent rays known as ixitxachitl. Cultists of Demogorgon who are not already demons are often among the most mentally disturbed members of their races.
The following beings are some of Demogorgon's most infamous servants:
- Belcheresk, a potent balor and Demogorgon's right hand
- Major Enderan, a demon in command of a company of stone giant juju zombies
- Ghorvash, a glabrezu demon who serves Demogorgon as a spymaster
- War Secretary-General Gromsfed the Drowned, a huge klurichir 4th warchief who is the chief tactician of Demogorgon
- Saint Kargoth the Betrayer, the first death knight and one of Demogorgon's top generals
- Kazuul, the exarch of Demogorgon
- Archpriest Nulonga, an ancient worshiper of Demogorgon
- Rozvankee, a female lich pirate and one of the best monster creators in the service of Demogorgon
- Severik, a potent balor who commands the elite mariliths of Demogorgon's bodyguard squad
- Tharak, an ettin clone of Demogorgon and one of his best monster creations
- Ulu-Thurg, a bar-igura demon chief assassin of Demogorgon
- Bagromar and Tetradarian, twin generals of Demogorgon who are clones of the demon lord: Bagromar, clone of the Hethradiah head and Tetradarian clone of the Aameul head
D&D Publication history
- Dungeons & Dragons (1974–1976) - Demogorgon first appeared in the D&D game in Eldritch Wizardry (1976).
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition - Demogorgon appeared in the original Monster Manual (1977).
- Demogorgon appeared in the basic system in the D&D Immortal Rules set (1986).
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition - Demogorgon was detailed as a deity in Monster Mythology (1992).
- 3rd edition - Demogorgon appeared again as a demon lord in Book of Vile Darkness (2002). Demogorgon was the antagonist of the 2002 adventure, Bastion of Broken Souls. He also appeared in Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (2006). He was featured in the Demonomicon of Iggwilv column in Dragon #357 (2007). He was also featured in the Savage Tide adventure path.
- 4th edition - Demogorgon is one of the few demon lords mentioned in the 4th edition Monster Manual (2008). He appears on the cover of the Monster Manual 2 (2009) and is included within.
- 5th edition - Demogorgon appears as an antagonist in the adventure Out of the Abyss (2015).
- Demogorgon appears in R.A. Salvatore's novel Archmage, the first novel in the "Homecoming" series. Archmage Gromph Baenre is deceived into summoning Demogorgon into Menzoberranzan. Demogorgon appears in the second novel in the series, Maestro. Demogorgon is slain and banished back to the abyss by Drizzt Do'Urden with the aid of Lolth and the City of Menzoberranzan.
In various campaign settings
- In Dragonlance - Demogorgon made an early appearance in the Dragonlance campaign setting in Dragon #85, in the short story "A Stone's Throw Away" by Roger E Moore. The story describes Tasselhoff Burrfoot inadvertently defeating an evil wizard who had temporarily placed Demogorgon under his power.
- In Greyhawk - In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting, Demogorgon sometimes goes by the ancient name "Ahmon-Ibor", or "the Sibilant Beast". He is responsible for corrupting the paladin Sir Kargoth and transforming him and thirteen of his fellow Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom into Oerth's first death knights.
- In Mystara - Demogorgon is described as female in the 1986 Dungeons & Dragons Immortals Rules.
- Baldur's Gate - In the role-playing video game Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, it is possible to make a sacrifice to Demogorgon, thus summoning a number of hostile demons. In the expansion pack Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, an avatar of Demogorgon appears imprisoned in the dungeon known as Watcher's Keep. The player's standard quest is to seal the dungeon in order to keep Demogorgon imprisoned, but the player can also destroy Demogorgon's avatar, sending him back to the Abyss.
- NetHack - In the game NetHack, Demogorgon wields a combination of stunning, poisoning, disease, and damage attacks. He is infamously the most powerful monster in the game. However, he does not have a fixed place in the game, and is generally only seen when other major demons summon him (a small probability per turn).
Film and television
- In the Netflix series Stranger Things, the antagonistic creature which attacks from the other dimension (the Upside Down), is referred to as the Demogorgon by Mike and his friends, following the inclusion of the demon in their Dungeons & Dragons campaign in the beginning of the first season.