Orcus vs. Demogorgon

How does poor Demogorgon, Prince of Demons, stand a chance against his rival Orcus?

That question is rhetorical. The real question is how can Demogorgon’s stat block have any reasonable chance of putting up a fight against Orcus’s stat block on a flat featureless plane?

The implicit statement is that I think Demogorgon’s stat block should have a chance.

The hope is that someone can demonstrate where my interpretations of stat block 1 vs. stat block 2 are mistaken, and Demogorgon does have at least a 40% chance of victory.

Here’s how I see it. (I’m assuming both demons are completely familiar with their adversaries capabilities.)

Orcus can fly, and Demogorgon can’t, so Demogorgon can’t just get into a brawl with him (which is about the only way Demogorgon can deal damage). Demogorgon has a decent way of getting Orcus out of the sky…except that Orcus doesn’t need to give him a real chance to use it.

Demogorgon can potentially use Beguiling Gaze to get Orcus out of the sky. Orcus even has fair chance of failing the save (though he does get advantage). However, in order to be subject to that save, Orcus has to get within 120’ and choose not to avert his gaze from Demogorgon. The only reason to do that would be if he needed to use some sort of hostile action within that range that required him to look at Demogorgon.

He has no such need. And even if he did have such a need (such as to swoop in for a power word kill once he was sure it would work), his Legendary Resistance gives him 3 free successes.

The only way Demogorgon gets Orcus out of the sky is the unlikely even that he gets Orcus to keep looking at him long enough to use up his Legendary Resistance and fail a save. And unless Orcus was within about 60’ horizontally, Demogorgon will have to use his entire turn moving up to him, not getting any attacks on him until the end of another creature’s turn. And that is best case scenario of assuming Demogorgon stunned him with a Legendary Action and is able to move up on him before Orcus gets a turn and flies away.

And of course, after all that, Orcus probably just takes an opportunity attack and flies away.

But Orcus has no reason to get within the 120’ range of Demogorgon’s oh so easily avoided gaze, because he can conjure 500 hp of undead at a 300’ range. Any undead. Think about that. (Let’s just say that he can’t summon liches, because Mellifleur says no.) He can custom pick whatever undead he wants in whatever quantities fit within those generous hit point totals, and send them shambling, screaming, and cavorting off to tangle with Demogorgon. The right 500 hp worth of undead will probably win outright. But if he wants to be really sure, he will pop off three create undeads, and then start casting unlimited animate deads to send an endless stream of zombies moving Demogorgon’s way. Yeah, that’ll do it!

And what’s worse, I’m not even sure Demogorgon would win in a stand up brawl. Assuming they both just trade blows, Orcus does more damage (Demogorgon has no resistance to necrotic, while Orcus ignores it). He also has a better attack bonus for his primary attack. Demogorgon has better AC. His best chance is probably to use Legendary Actions to try to stun Orcus and wail on him with his multiattack (and spare Legendary Action when he gets him on the first try that round—if needed, assume there are a couple demons duking out in the distance so the lords can get all their Legendary Actions). Demogorgon probably has a decent chance here. It would take math I’m not interested in doing, but it at least looks like it would be close, so that would be acceptable…

…if it weren’t for the fact that it means that in the best case scenario (that would be unlikely to actually come about) Demogorgon has an even chance.

Please, somebody tell me there is something in the stat blocks themselves (of course Demogorgon won’t let himself get into this situation) that fixes this problem.
 

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Dausuul

Legend
...Yeah, I'm not seeing how Demogorgon wins this fight either. Even in a straight-up melee brawl, Orcus has the edge. I thought at first that Demogorgon could tilt the scales by using his gaze attack to make Orcus fight blind; but their attack bonuses are so high relative to their ACs that this has far less impact than it normally would. With Demogorgon using a legendary action on gaze attacks, Orcus can make up the difference by using his legendary action to smash face.

Edit: I just figured out how Demogorgon wins. Cast telekinesis... and target Orcus's Wand. Telekinesis is an ability contest, not a saving throw, so Orcus doesn't benefit from Legendary Resistance or Magic Resistance here. It's basically a coin flip whether it works, and Demogorgon can flip that coin three times before he runs out of castings. Orcus is massively, cripplingly dependent on the Wand; without it, Demogorgon whips his sorry bloated butt all over the Abyss.
 
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CTurbo

Explorer
Orcus's 500hp undead is his most OP feature

Pretty sure neither of them want a piece of my Halfing Frenzy Barb with a Light Hammer though lol
 

I should add that for Tome of Foes Demogorgon was nerfed. For example he lost like 90 hp. His damage was lowered he lost a d12 off his tentacles and 4d10 off his tail. Orcus meanwhile was not changed at all.


I made my own version of Demogorgon off the chassis of the OUt of the Abyss one.
First off he gained two bite attacks. (Have no idea why he did not have them to start with.) They are pretty weak, but they are extra damage, (2d6 + 1d6 fire.) I also edited his multiattack so that he will actually use his gaze at times

Multiattack. Demogorgon makes two tentacle attacks and two bite attacks, or he uses his gaze and makes two tentacle attacks.

I added some Regen.

Regeneration. Demogorgon regains 10 hit points at the start of his turn if he has at least 1 hit point.

I gave him a 500 foot teleport as an action. (Though not as a legendary action. I also gave this to all the Demon Lords.) Along with adding Fly to his at will innate spells.

Finally I bumped his strength up by 1 to 30 as a felt he should be at the top pure strength wise and increased his size to gargantuan. When Mords Tome of Foes came out I edited his hit die to match the one there. Which resulted in his hp being 518 (28d20+224)

I did CR calculating and got him coming out at CR 27. Only one more then he used to be yet he feels much stronger.
 

So, I agree that Demogorgon's stat block is a bit weak for the Prince of Demons. (I'm particularly irked that he doesn't get two turns in a round, like he used to in some prior editions.) And the whole "summon 500 hp of undead once/day" thing throws everything out of whack.

However, if Demogorgon can deal with those undead--perhaps with a horde of his own--things aren't so heavily weighted toward Orcus as it looks. There's very little he can do to Demogorgon without getting inside Demo's range. Any time he tries to make hit and run attacks, Demogorgon can ready actions to strike when Orcus is near.

And if it comes down to trading blows? Orcus is screwed.

He either looks at Demogorgon, in which case Demo's going to hit him with a gaze attack every round--probably multiple ones--to burn through that Legendary Resistance; or he doesn't, in which case he has disadvantage on every attack he makes, while granting Demogorgon advantage. (Fighting a foe you can't see is rough.)

Now, yes, Demogorgon is taking damage every round. Some of those attacks are going to land even with disadvantage, and Orcus has a few nasty legendary options. But he's hitting a lot more often, too, because he has advantage as long as Orcus can't see him. He's thus likely doing a lot more damage.

And if Orcus does look at him, if Demogorgon can goad Orcus into burning all of his Legendary Resistance, that's probably game over.

Because feeblemind is an Int save. One of the saves Orcus is not proficient in. Even with advantage, a +5 save against a DC 23 spell ain't good odds.

And even if he does make that, Demogorgon can keep hitting him with gaze attacks every round, or keep fighting with advantage while Orcus has disadvantage. There are simply no good options for Orcus here.

I'm not saying it'll be easy. I'm not saying Orcus has no chance; it could still go either way. And of course, I've handwaved Orcus's single biggest weapon, because that changes the entire encounter on a fundamental level.

But that "look at me and make saves, or look away and suffer disadvantage while I have advantage" dilemma is a doozy. And I think, if things do come down to one-on-one, it makes Demogorgon the safer bet.
 

Nevvur

Explorer
How does poor Demogorgon, Prince of Demons, stand a chance against his rival Orcus?
...
Please, somebody tell me there is something in the stat blocks themselves (of course Demogorgon won’t let himself get into this situation) that fixes this problem.

It's fun to speculate on these sort of white room match-ups, but I wouldn't really call it a problem. The demon lords (along with literally every character in every RPG) should be more than the sum of their stat blocks, and while I agree Orcus has the white room advantage, I'm satisfied with narrative explanations for Demogorgon's lasting dominance among the demon lords.
 

neogod22

Explorer
The problem with looking purely at the start block of 5e monsters, is that they were created to simplify combat between players and to give them a chance to win, not display ALL of a monster's abilities. A closer fight would have to be looking at their 3e (or 3.5e) stat blocks, where it list all of their abilities. Things that make Demogorgon so dangerous is, his ability to take control of any demon near him, the ability to heal himself just by killing creatures. These are abilities demonstrated in past books (including the book you're using) and gives reason why Orcus or Grazzt could never defeat him. The tactic of summoning demons just so he can tear them apart and heal himself is an ingenious strategy.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
If the Demon Lord's stat block does not fill two pages of small print (a la the 3.x era mega-NPCs), then you are only fighting an avatar of the Demon Lord. :p

Demogorgon will be mad to lose, but he now knows where Orcus is paying his full attention and can pull off some clever stunt at Orcus' expense elsewhere.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Now, yes, Demogorgon is taking damage every round. Some of those attacks are going to land even with disadvantage, and Orcus has a few nasty legendary options. But he's hitting a lot more often, too, because he has advantage as long as Orcus can't see him.
That was what I thought too, at first, but then I realized their attack bonuses are so high that it makes far less difference than it normally would. Demogorgon hits on a roll of 2 or better; Orcus hits on a 3 or better.

At these extremes, neither advantage nor disadvantage has a big impact. Demogorgon's hit rate goes from 95% to 99% and Orcus's goes from 90% to 81%. Demogorgon's crit rate goes to 9.75% while Orcus's goes to 0.25%. All that ain't nothing, but it's also not insurmountable; and it requires Demogorgon to burn his Legendary Action each round on a gaze attack. Since Orcus does not need to do that, he can use his Legendary Action to attack with his tail, which makes up the difference in hit rates.

It all comes down to the Wand. With the Wand, Orcus has the edge even without his 500 hit points of liches. If Demogorgon can get the Wand away from him, however, he's boned (heh).
 
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That was what I thought too, at first, but then I realized their attack bonuses are so high that it makes far less difference than it normally would. Demogorgon hits on a roll of 2 or better; Orcus hits on a 3 or better.

Well. That's... certainly a hole in my logic, and something I shouldn't have missed. Argle.

I mean, Demogorgon isn't burning legendary actions on his gaze if Orcus is looking away that round, obviously, so he's getting another attack in, but... You're absolutely right that at those bonuses, advantage and disadvantage become pretty unimportant.
 

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