This article is part of a series! Click here to see the other entries.
This is the third and final post covering the huge Demogorgon entry in the Monster Manual 2. As you might have guessed from what was said back in part 1, it covers not one but two multiversal big shots: the titular Demogorgon and his buddy Dagon.
Demogorgon has existed in D&D since at least the days of AD&D 1st Edition. As I might have mentioned his name got really popular due to the Stranger Things TV show, though I understand the monster there is a different creature from the two-headed mandrill found in the actual game.
Demogorgon claims the title of Prince of Demons, which is quite the bold claim even among demon lords. His personality and motivations make him the demon lord’s demon lord. He’s not obsessed with a specific aspect of evil, like Orcus is with undeath. He’s not overly committed to a single modus operandi like Graz’zt is with his sexy manipulations. He doesn’t limit his influence to a single people like Yeenoghu does with gnolls or Baphomet with minotaurs.
No, Demogorgon’s goals are to become the most powerful thing in the multiverse and destroy anyone who causes him anger or jealousy (i.e, almost everyone). His wordly cults, as we saw, are focused on wanton destruction and have this theme of outward madness that hides powerful mysteries. He and his agents are also quite capable of deception and will use that to achieve their goals just as readily. You can find servants of Demogorgon anywhere in the universe, and they can belong to any people. His domain in the Abyss is covered in tropical jungle but also includes seas and vast brine flats, and he is at home in all of these environments.
Demogorgon’s main enemies are Orcus and Graz’zt, but though these other two are very powerful, Demogorgon is more. The books emphasize that he has never lost a fight - that duel with the god Amoth that nearly split him in two? He won that one, killed Amoth, killed Storralk right after it, and then got better. Though to Amoth’s credit, he was the only entity to ever scar the demon lord: he used to only have one head before the duel, and that remained split afterwards, healing into the current two heads.
Each of Demogorgon’s heads has its own name, mind and personality: Aameul is the one that prefers deception, and Hethradiah is the one that prefers destruction. They detest each other and their plans are frequently at odds, which is probably the main obstacle preventing the demon lord from conquering the universe. Still, sometimes those competing plans end up synergizing into something that advances his goals.
This split nature is reflected all the way down his cult hierarchies. The layout of his temples is split down the middle with each half dedicated to one of the heads. The most powerful cults are led by pairs of twins, each dedicated to a head. And as we already say even individual cultists have a “dual nature” thing going on, starting fights as cold and calculating combatants and devolving into frothing berserkers when they’re wounded.
The most powerful among his cultists might know the ritual to summon an Aspect of Demogorgon, a living echo of his power. Like the Aspects of Orcus, they share the personality and a fraction of the power of their originator, but their existence is independent. An aspect doesn’t know what the original is thinking, and vice-versa. They’re a bit like avatars from previous editions.
Demogorgon himself is a Garguantuan Elemental Humanoid and a Level 34 Solo Controller with the Aquatic and Demon keywords. This is literally the highest-level monster we saw so far in the entire Let’s Read - Orcus, the former holder of the title, was level 33. His HP total is 1260.
He has trained Perception and Darkvision, Variable Resistance 30 switchable 3x/encounter, ground and swim speeds of 8, and a teleport speed of 10. Remember, a teleport speed means he can teleport at will.
He also has the two traits previously seen on ettins. Double Actions means he rolls initiative twice at the start of combat, once for each head, and takes two full turns each round. His immediate actions refresh before each action. You have to specify which turn belongs to which head, though - that head can’t use the other’s special power. Dual Brain allows him to automatically save against the Dazed and Stunned conditions and against any charm effects at the end of one of his turns.
In combat, Demogorgon fights with his copious tentacles and with psychic powers: the basic attack is a Tentacle Strike (Reach 5 vs. AC), but he has many more interesting options.
Tentacle Blast (Close Blast 5 vs. Fortitude) does almost the same damage and deals ongoing 15 damage (save ends). If it hits a target that was already taking ongoing damage, that damage is increased by 5. Forked Tail (Ranged 5 vs. Reflex) deals necrotic damage and weakens (save ends).
Those are the physical attacks; now for the magic ones!
Any enemy who starts their turn within 10 squares of Demogorgon is subject to the Gaze of Abyssal Might (vs. Will; free action), which dazes until the end of the target’s turn. He can let his enemies take a peek inside his minds with Dual Aspects of Demogorgon (close blast 10 vs. Will; recharge 6) which deals heavy psychic damage and knocks the targets unconscious (save ends) on a hit. That’s a potential TPK right there.
As mentioned before, each head has a special power that can be used in its assigned turn. These are minor actions, so they’ll happen alongside one of the other attacks. They’re both Close Blast 5 vs. Will. Aameul’s Gaze does psychic damage and dazes (save ends). If the target was already dazed, for example by the Gaze of Abyssal Might, they are dominated instead (save ends). Hethradiah’s Gaze does a bit less psychic damage but forces the target to use an at-will attack power against a target of Demogorgon’s choice.
Running away from all this is also quite hard: Inescapable Grasp is a Ranged 50 power that targets Will and teleports the target to a square within tentacle reach of Demogorgon.
We also get a stat block for the Aspect of Demogorgon, which is very similar but smaller in all ways. It’s “only” Huge, and a Level 25 Elite Controller with 476 HP. It uses Forked Tail as its basic attack and replaces the named gazes with a Dominating Glare that deals psychic damage and dominates. It has all the other attacks, including the Double Actions and Dual Brain traits.
Dagon is inspired by the Lovecraftian entity of the same name, but is not quite the same creature. He’s been in the game since the days of AD&D.
The first primordials who entered the Abyss shortly after it had formed found Dagon already lurking in its depths. He is the first and most ancient Demon Lord. His presence poses a disturbing question: did Tharizdun create the Abyss, or merely open a passage to it?
(I think this gets answered in the Demonomicon, but it’s still cool even if left as a mystery).
Dagon is remarkably secretive for a demon lord, and he sits on an endless trove of blasphemous knowledge and terrible cosmic secrets. He allied himself with Demogorgon shortly after the latter became a demon lord, and the two have cooperated ever since. Their cults often work together, and though Dagon’s cultists are a minority in these joint efforts, access to their master’s knowledge makes them very effective leaders.
Dagon shares some of his knowledge with Demogorgon to further both of their goals, but ever since the the “split” he has taken to whispering different bits of lore to each head, which ends up making Aameul and Hethradiah antagonize each other even more.
Dagon is a Gargantuan Elemental Magical Beast with the Aquatic and Demon keywords, and a Level 32 Solo Soldier with 1184 HP. He has the usual Darkvision and Variable Resistance (10, 3x/encounter). His ground speed is only 4, which doesn’t matter because you’re definitely fighting him underwater. He also has swim and teleport speeds of 8. Dagon also has an Eye of the Abyss aura (10) that pulls any enemies who start their turns inside 5 squares.
Dagon might begin the fight at range, using his control over Abyssal Tides to attack the PCs. This is an Area Burst 3 within 20 vs. Reflex, doing force damage and immobilizing the targets on a hit (save ends). As an effect, Dagon can also teleport 5 squares.
Once the PCs are in reach, it’s Tentacle Town. Dagon can uses his tentacles either for a basic Tentacle Strike (Reach 5 vs. AC) or a Tentacle Blast (Close Blast 5 vs. AC), both of which damage and slide the targets 2 squares on a hit. They also act on their own with Grasping Tentacles (Reach 5 vs. AC), an interrupt that triggers when an enemy in reach attacks Dagon. This does a little less damage than the basic attack and grabs the target. The escape DC is something like 44 or 46 depending on the skill you use, which will be tricky for a non-specialist even if they’re level 30. And of course these Reach 5 tentacles have Threatening Reach as well.
It’s not all tentacles either! Dagon’s repertoire includes a hefty dose of pure madness. Doom Drone (close burst 10 vs. Will; minor action; recharge 5-6) targets enemies and does psychic damage. It also pulls them 5 squares and stuns them on a hit (save ends). Form of Madness is similar but slides and dazes instead of pulling and stunning. If several enemies manage to get in close Dagon can use Claws of the Abyss (close burst 1 vs. Reflex) to deal heavy physical damage with his non-tentacle appendages. Note he can use the claws and both mental attacks in a turn.
The tactics paragraph makes a reference to a power named Wrath of the Deep, though that’s not in the stat block. One of them is wrong. In either case Dagon’s goal should be to keep all the PCs, particularly the squishies, well inside the tentacled killing zone surrounding him.
Sample Encounters and Final Impressions
Of the big bosses, only Demogorgon features in a sample encounter here: Level 35, him and two balors.
These two make nice final bosses for an epic campaign, though probably not at the same time. Demogorgon’s Dual Brain gives him a decent amount of control resistance. Dagon is a bit less strong in that area, but both of them can output an incredible amount of control themselves.
I imagine that a campaign that ends with the defeat of Demogorgon is one where Dagon never shows up in person at all - he’d be too clever to stick around in that case. The reverse is harder to predict. Demogorgon values the alliance but is probably too selfish to try and help Dagon if a party of epic demigods knocks at his briny door. He might however, try to exact revenge on them later, so he could end up being the “final final” boss in a Dagon-focused campaign. Or perhaps he does things on a long enough timescale that he ends up being the boss of the next campaign.