Sunday, December 27, 2020

Reviewing AD&D's Monsters Part 3

Now we arrive at the part which is gonna be a real pain in the butt; the D section of the Monster Manual. I've decided to split this up into two parts, starting with demons and devils and then doing everything else in another post for the sake of my sanity. But before that, I wanted to plug some people who have been inspired by these posts to make their own reviews!

Both Marsworms of Save Vs. Worm and Phineas of the Cosmic Orrery have started their own reviews of the Fiend Folio, which can be found here and here.

Meanwhile, Locheil of The Nothic's Eye has begun work on reviewing the Planescape Appendix, and his first review can be found here.

But, without further ado, here is my review of all the demons and devils in the 1st edition Monster Manual!

Demogorgon (Prince of Demons)

Demon lords are great, I love demon lords. They function well as unspeakable evils which you can't really slay but can temporarily stop, similar to Cthulhu. My campaigns are always low level, but its easy enough to lower their stats, or to argue that you are facing an "avatar" of the creature. Demogorgon in particular is great, and I've always thought he was cool ever since I got the Monster Manual 2 for 4th edition D&D. He is incredibly powerful, as befits a demon lord, and he gives off a slight air of Lovecraftian horror, which I appreciate. The design of an enormous, tentacled scaly being with a forked tail and two mandrill heads is jut so unique, and he is truly an iconic D&D monster.

Juiblex (The Faceless Lord)

As with Demogorgon, Juiblex is also Lovecraftian to me, though to a much greater extent than Demogorgon. A horrible shapeless blob of green and black filth with bulging red eyes that is shunned by all creatures except slimes is just incredible. I really ought to try to use him in a campaign sometime, and just me thinking that is the hallmark of a good monster.


Manes are the souls of the dead who get sent to the abyss, transformed into "sub-demons". They're unintelligent monstrous humanoids and are apparently sometimes turned into shadows or ghasts (which I thought must have been a typo for ghosts with the reprint monster manual, but after checking the original it is completely accurate). Their illustration is alright, and I find it neat that they turn into vapor and reform if "killed", but other than that they're just sort of average, so I'm gonna give them 4 out of 5 stars, mainly because I would probably use these in a dungeon.

Orcus (Prince of the Undead)

Gonna be honest here and say Orcus isn't one of my favorite of the demon lords, since he's honestly not that distinctive, just being an obese satyr-like creature with a venomous tail and wings, but he is among the most useful of the demon lords. The undead are a common enemy from the very beginning of most D&D games, so having a creature centered around them with god-like power is interesting. I also like that he is apparently the nemesis of Demogorgon, which could lead to interesting infighting between their cults.


I don't honestly think I'd ever have any use for these creatures in my campaigns, as I run very very non-horny games. They're also to blame for the whole trope of "sexy demon ladies" in RPG related media, which depending on who you ask is a good or a bad thing. Still, they're solid enough monsters, so I'll give them a 3 out of 5.

Type I Demon (Vrock)

These demons are functional enough, and I like that they're birdlike, it calls to mind the works of Hieronymous Bosch. I find it odd that their description says they like precious metals and stones and then also immediately states that they aren't likely to accept bribes because they're too stupid.

Type II Demon (Hezrou)

Frog monsters are good and this is a demonic frog monster. I also really like that they apparently will take any excuse to beat the shit out of Vrocks. Also their illustration kind of looks like a bad old daikaiju suit, which I really like.

Type III Demon (Glabrezu)

Legitimately my favorite of the lesser demons for their design alone. A dog faced humanoid with 4 arms, 2 of which end in crab claws? These guys rule.

Type IV Demon (Nalfleshnee, etc.)

I can't help but like these guys' design, I mean they're corpulent ape-boars with tiny wings! I do like the information about how you can bargain with them if you know their name, that's just so interesting to me. 

Type V Demon (Marilith, etc.)

I appreciate that these demons incorporate the design of a naked woman without being overtly sexualized, instead basically being described as capable warriors. The detail about them desiring the sacrifice of great warriors is neat to me, and the 6 limbs reminds me of the scene in the Golden Voyage of Sinbad where Koura animates a statue of Kali to fight against Sinbad (Admittedly the film is Quite Racist, especially with all of the whitewashing and the treatment of Hinduism as some sort of bizarre demon cult, but it does have some nice visuals at times).

"In the trees... The demon! Its coming! Aaauughhh!"

Type VI Demon (Balor, etc.)

This is obviously meant to be the balrog of Middle Earth, and I find it neat that Balor is specified as being the name of a specific Type VI Demon, which implies that Nalfleshnee and Marilith are also specific names. I quite like that only 6 are known to exist. The illustration reminds me of the film Night of the Demon, which I watch every Halloween, further cementing my appreciation for them. 

Yeenoghu (Demon Lord of Gnolls)

Yeenoghu is my least favorite of the Monster Manual demon lords, primarily just because he isn't that interesting. He is a big, emaciated gnoll that can summon gnolls and ghouls, and he wields a big flail. The most interesting thing about him to me is that he receives homage from the "King of Ghouls" who I personally would love to hear more about. Is this possibly a reference to Richard Upton Pickman, who if I recall correctly was described as the King of Ghouls in an edition of Dragon magazine?

Asmodeus (Arch-devil)

I'm gonna be honest, I don't like devils in D&D, they seem superfluous when you also have demons. Asmodeus himself is also quite dull, being just a very tall fellow with a goatee and horns, the archetypical Satan. I give him a 2/5 because I know that some folks will want there to be a handsome Satan person in their games, so it makes sense for him to exist.

Baalzebul (Arch-devil)

I do like the illustration, and that is all that saves this poor bastard from getting 1/5 stars. He receives so little information in his description and just seems dull and boring.

Barbed Devil (Lesser devil)

Like a lot of the devils, they're not bad per se, just quite boring. The illustration is decent but they don't have much personality to me.

Bone Devil (Lesser devil)

I like these guy actually, they're nasty torture skeletons and their illustration is just gleefully evil. If they just had a little bit more description and interesting quirks I'd give them 5/5 stars.

Dispater (Arch-devil)

I was initially going to give this guy 1 star because he seems to just be a smaller, weaker Asmodeus, but reading his description and finding out he lives in a city full of zombies and that only his left foot is cloven saved him from that. He also looks a little bit like the Roger Delgado Master from Doctor Who.

Her face here kind of looks like a Speed Racer screenshot

Erinyes (Lesser devil)

These are interesting enough, being winged devil women sent to collect more souls for Hell and to tempt the innocent into sin. They also aren't nearly as horny seeming as succubi, which is nice. I also just like the concept of devils pursuing specific targets. 

Geryon (Arch-devil)

Like so many arch-evils, he is just (pardon the pun) damn boring. At least he looks like something interesting instead of just a dude with horns.

Horned Devil (Malebranche, Greater devil)

I'm a sucker for these guys because they're just so enthusiastically classic in their design and attitude. They fear and hate more powerful devils but obey them, they have bat wings and 2 tined forks or whips, and they can have names like "Dogretch" or "Bent Wing". They're a little generic but they're still just great. 

Ice Devil (Greater devil)

These guys are weird. I can appreciate humanoid insect monsters, and even monsters based around ice and snow, but combining those two and making them a devil makes my brain feel odd? Still, they have a fairly unique design if nothing else 


These are unironically my favorite kind of devil. Blobby masses of flesh that were once the souls of the damned? Hell yeah! That is just awesome, and its cool that they're used to create wraiths and spectres. Honestly I don't have much more to say about these guys, they're just wonderful.

Pit Fiends

Very boring description, I would have given them a 2 out of 5 if not for how much they look like Chernobog from Fantasia.

Next up: Dragons!


  1. It's Nalfeshnee, not Nalfleshnee. (Full disclosure: back in the day I thought it was Jubilex, not Juiblex, and I noticed I'd been wrong only when I started reading D&D blogs in recent years.)