D&D General What Would Happen if Fiends Came to Fill the "Low CR Monsters" Niche?

Weren't gnolls originally not fiends? Were they mortals turned into fiends then or mortals brainwashed to work for fiends or actual fiends? Are there still some non-evil ones?
Technically, gnolls first started as a gnome/troll hybrid, but that was temporary and quickly abadoned.

IIRC, gnolls originally were said to have been created by an evil god of hunting named Gorellik, with Yeenoghu (the demon lord now said to be the creator of gnolls) originally having more of a connection to evil giants. At some point it was stated that Yeenoghu killed Gorellik and took over patronage of the gnolls. 4E initially repeated this (again, IIRC, I think Yeenoghu's flail was at one point said to be crafted from Gorellik's spine), but later for whatever reason said that Yeenoghu created the gnolls, but there were some good ones that rejected his influencd (PC rules for playing a gnoll were eventually published, in fact, giving roleplaying advice such as gnolls finding the concept of politeness silly and coming across as blunt and rude even if they aren't trying to be mean).

For whatever reason, 5E decided both to dispense with Gorellik from the beginning and state that gnolls not only were created by Yeenoghu, but were essentially extensions of his demonic hunger clothed in the flesh of ritualistically desecrated hyenas.
 

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Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
I'm playing Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus and I've been happily surprised by the variety of fiends we've faced. Also - and I think this is the adventure itself, not my DM, but not 100% sure - we have faced fiendish stuff where they seem to have literally just taken a beast or monstrosity and changed the creature type to fiend - fiendish giant crab, fiendish giant scorpion, fiendish minotaur, etc. These are particularly good low-CR opponents for players who are not thrilled with killing real-world animals.
 

4E, BTW, also had a thing for making non-evil minotaurs relatively prominent in its default setting even before making them a PC race in that edition's Player's Handbook 3. The Nentir Vale region was once the site of an advanced minotaur civilization called Saruun Khel that was devoted to Lawful gods such as Bahamut and Moradin. The adventure Thunderspire Labyrinth is set in the ruins of a section of Saruun Khel, and later in Madness at Gardmore Abbey a tomb of minotaur Bahamut worshipers from the days of Saruun Khel (where Bahamut was depicted as a minotaur) can be found. Baphomet himself was more of a corrupting influence instead of their racial god, trying to influence evil minotaurs to destroy everything their non-evil kin have accomplished.
 

I'm playing Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus and I've been happily surprised by the variety of fiends we've faced. Also - and I think this is the adventure itself, not my DM, but not 100% sure - we have faced fiendish stuff where they seem to have literally just taken a beast or monstrosity and changed the creature type to fiend - fiendish giant crab, fiendish giant scorpion, fiendish minotaur, etc. These are particularly good low-CR opponents for players who are not thrilled with killing real-world animals.
Oh yeah, I really like that new fiendish hellsboar enemy they introduced in one of the newer patches. It was a surprise to see a fiendish pig appear alongside imps and such in an area of the game I've been through several times already.

hellsboar_enemies_baldurs_gate3_guide_300px.jpg


I want a miniature of this.
 


Oofta

Legend
The vast majority of imaginary people in your imaginary world do not appear in the game. And that doesn't matter, the point is to break the link between race and morality. It doesn't matter if your good goblin is Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Adventure, so long as they exist somewhere in the world.
I could. I don't. I don't think it would add anything to my game and there's already too much lore for most of my players to truly absorb. Why do you feel the need to tell me I'm running my game wrong? Why does this always come back to some people proselytizing their one true way? I explained what I do and why. I don't think it's better, I'm certainly not going to ask you why you don't make X always evil.

But thanks for proving my point that no matter what we do someone will let us know we're doing it wrong.
 


Scribe

Hero
Why does this always come back to some people proselytizing their one true way? I explained what I do and why. I don't think it's better, I'm certainly not going to ask you why you don't make X always evil.

But thanks for proving my point that no matter what we do someone will let us know we're doing it wrong.
Bingo.

Between this example, the "I like to stomp Goblins" thread, and any number of other examples over the last few months, its really become obnoxious around here.
 



Cadence

Legend
Supporter
If fiends filled the low CR niche, what would fill the high CR niche?

If the answer is "more fiends," wouldn't that get kind of monotonous?
There are 666 levels of variety to play with. And that's just in one plane of them.

Plenty of shades of grade villains and evil individuals to round it out. Are the worst monsters possibly still the human ones in many respects?
 

Scribe

Hero
If fiends filled the low CR niche, what would fill the high CR niche?

If the answer is "more fiends," wouldn't that get kind of monotonous?
Yes and no? There is plenty of variety among fiends.

But this leads to the question under neither all of this.

If people want interesting, and diverse, it requires world building.
If someone performs world building (official, like from Wizards) someone is going to be offended by it.

If 'oh they are all evil, pure CE, made of Chaos' then...why bother with the world building.

People want their interesting, other people want to just kill stuff, and other people want to deconstruct the genre.

There's no 1 solution.
 


Bluebell

Explorer
Honestly I do dig the idea, and I appreciate all the suggestions in this thread on how to reskin other creatures to simply make them fiendish. I don't think every enemy needs to be mindlessly evil, but I think it actually adds more creative opportunity to think about how and why the fiends got there and how they're affecting the world around them.
 

J-H

Hero
I tend to avoid demons and devils in most of my games. I don't want to go there most of the time due to the religious implications and associations.
Hard pass from me.
 

Voadam

Legend
Gnolls are in OD&D "GNOLLS: A cross between Gnomes and Trolls (. . . perhaps, Lord Dunsany did not really make it all that clear) with +2 morale. Otherwise they are similar to Hobgoblins, although the Gnoll king and his bodyguard of from 1–4 will fight as Trolls but lack regenerative power."

Next came the 1e MM which had Yeenoghu as the Demon Lord of Gnolls but did not specify about gnoll origins.

Later (1981) came Moldvay B/X with again the possible gnomes and trolls origin pops up, this time as a rumor and a magic user is involved. "Gnolls are rumored to be the result of a magical combination of a gnome and a troll by an evil magic-user."

Dragon 63 had an article by Roger Moore on "The Humanoids" including a section on gnolls. It said "Gnoll shamans worship only Yeenoghu (see the AD&D Monster Manual), the demon prince who gave them life."

Gorellik was introduced in 2e Monster Mythology as a god of gnolls who was displaced by Yeenoghu. "Gorellik is a god in decline. In pre-history, the deity was a least a lesser god, but his atavistic cult has remorselessly declined, originally due to gnolls turning to giantish gods and late due to the rise of Yeenoghu and the power of his priests compared with Gorellik's shamans (who have no witch-doctor abilities). Even early gnoll myths do not tell of a creation of their race, so this role was not one the god could hold on to his worshipers with; they simply revered force and power."
 

Bluebell

Explorer
I tend to avoid demons and devils in most of my games. I don't want to go there most of the time due to the religious implications and associations.
Hard pass from me.
I think that's a totally fair complaint. For me personally, I've been playing a lot of video games that use non-western mythology, such as Okami and Raji, and both use demons as their villains (albeit demons with very specific cultural designs and origins). Detaching demons from any specific religion as a catchall "evil entity" works for me, but I understand it doesn't work for everybody.

If anything, I feel like undead have more specific religious connotations, but maybe that's just because the whole "prayer and holy water" aspect of the horror genre is built into cleric mechanics.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Thoughts?
It's not a bad idea at all.

You could conceive a fantasy setting (or just a particular campaign) where a scourge of fiends from hell is in fact the basic premise and main stock of adversaries, like in Diablo games.

Buy yeah do not immediately allow them as player characters or they will lose their "alterity". I am not but perhaps the current re-evaluation of orcs and goblins might have something to do with having had almost 2 decades of famous games (WoW) where they are playable characters.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
From what I understand, the idea behind using predominately evil orcs and goblins and kobolds and whatever in D&D was to have enemies that PCs could kill without moral quandary, whereas human opponents could lead to questions over whether killing them was right or not.

Now that killing orcs and goblins and kobolds and whatever is being questioned anyway, might as well shift the "okay to kill without moral quandary" role to demons, which lack the things that caused people to question the morality of portraying the traditional D&D monstrous humanoids as always evil. I'm talking about qualities such as the occassional good individual, being natives to a region, having children, etc. Fiends don't have all that baggage.
I mean, yes, this is an option if you want a race of “ok to kill without moral quandary” creatures, demons, devils, undead, and probably aberrations can fill that role. I think you’ll run into a few problems though:

1. Not everyone wants a race of “ok to kill without moral quandary” creatures.

2. Making demons, devils, undead, and aberrations common low-level threats sets some very strong setting implications that not everyone wants.

So, yeah, it’s a fine option for those who want it, but many just won’t want it.
 

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