Which of the Demon Lords put up a good fight?


Which (if any) of the published Demon Lords have you used in your game?
Which ones made for a memorable experience? Were any of them especially tough, or easily overcome?
What would you change about them / their stats if you were to use them again?

If you used the 'battle royale' option in OotA, how did it come out?

Current sources: Out of the Abyss, Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus


Kobold Enthusiast
I've run Orcus. He runs reasonably well out of the box as long as he has his lair actions and his wand.

I amped up his hitpoints quite a bit though. You do need to adjust that for the output of your party if they've gotten lucky on equipment, etc. It is more important to stress the party in these kinds of fights than run it "by the book."


Any can be a fight if they have their minions around them. Kind of like a king would never travel without his knights, and personal bodyguard. He would have his casters and assassins around as well to hamper or scry and such. A demon lord that has fought off hundreds of attempts on his life should have a few plans up his sleeve.


Kobold Enthusiast
Any can be a fight if they have their minions around them. Kind of like a king would never travel without his knights, and personal bodyguard. He would have his casters and assassins around as well to hamper or scry and such. A demon lord that has fought off hundreds of attempts on his life should have a few plans up his sleeve.
Yes -- Orcus makes his own minions during the fight. It worked like a charm.


Pazuzu was not friendly when he sicced demonic harpies upon the party that excreted toxic bodily waste on the paladins's armors. Not only did it stink and cause nausea it also worked like a rust monster's attack and dissolved the holy plates, turning them into so much slag.


I used Grazzt as written in ad&d monster manual 2. He was a very effective 2 weapon fighting the party with 4 attacks and his special abilities
When I ran Out of the Abyss, Demogorgon was a long, tough fight. But Zuggtmoy prior ended up being a fight where he party nearly went down. Where I could see the players' faces start to show fear and anxiety.

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Ran OotA

They ran into Graz'zt about halfway though, with some good rolling on sneak attacks and Paladin crits they had him down to < 100 HP when they had to flee. They were 6-7th level and would have died but I was shocked at how hard they were hammering him.

They ran into Yeenoghu later on, around 9th level, and they were smoked. I rolled very well and they didn't makes some saves and 5 out of 6 party members were slain. The party rolled horribly and it was a debacle.

The fight with Demogorgon. I had Demo with max HP rather than average, something I did with all the demon lords. The party was 10-11th level. I think it took 3 rounds and it was a slaughter. Demogorgon went down hard. Paladin smite crits and great rolls by the rogue tore though his HP and they made their saves. Was a very anti-climactic fight as the prince of demons was far less threatening than the Beholder they had to fight not too long before.

Crits on attacks with a lot of bonus dice are brutal and make the fights crazy "swingy" IMO.


I ran Demogorgon against my party as written. Because two players were leaving overseas for school/work and I wanted to give the campaign some conclusion we had a time skip where the characters went to level 11 (from 7 I believe) and I gave each PC a tailored, powerful magic item. We had also originally generated the characters using 4d6 drop lowest and most characters were above what a standard point buy could get you. Feats and multiclassing was allowed. Pretty much any character option from official sources was allowed.

So Demogorgon alone vs 6 well equipped, level 11 PCs plus their followers (two 5th level fighters and a couatl summoned via the cleric's magic item). They defeated him but there were moments when it was scary. I did also play him rather dumb, spreading out attacks instead of focusing characters down. Mostly because I wanted to get through the epilogues in the same session after the fight, but I am also a bit of a softy DM.

Some notes:
-Because of the huge discrepancy of CR basically every attack from Demogorgon hit. It was rare for any of the PCs to make any of the saves.
-A round of tentacle attacks could easily bring a PC from full less than half, often near death.
-Opening with Feeblemind on the cleric genuinely terrified some of the players. Just not the player of the cleric as they knew their couatl summon could reverse it via greater restoration.

Overall I was satisfied with how the encounter played out. There was tension and fear but the way I played it nobody died and everyone got their own nice conclusion to the campaign. So overall I'd say bounded accuracy works pretty well if a party of lvl 11 PCs can take out a CR 26 creature with favourable conditions.
We ran a demon melee, with each of us players given one of the demon lords.

Orcus was by far the most trouble. He summoned a number of death knights which (at CR 17) killed two of the other demon lords (Baphomet and, I think, Yenoghu) without Orcus taking a single point of damage.

Demogorgon and Orcus then had a scrap, with a bit of damage supplied by Grazz't. Demogorgon won, but not by much, so when the PCs arrived they finished him off.

I –ing hate death knights.


< BLAH HA Ha ha >
I had an Illigger of Orcus (LE Paladin) in 2e who was sent to Greyhawk to help his brother Iuz in his war with st.cuthbert.

He ended up mentoring a knight of st.cuthbert, saved the life of the high priestess of iuz from ultimate imprisonment/death when the knight wanted to kill the unarmed/defenseless priestess and instead had her surrender to the knight's care/honor so she could be charged and judged. Later the knight died trying to protect his captive returned the dead body of said knight to the order of st.cuthbert and hailed as a hero for having stopped a war and returning the body of the dead knight. After refusing to enter the temple (still covered with road dust and battle blood/sweat), was shown to the side of the temple where the living quarters were and awarded "Friendship of the Order..." and full/unfretted access to the complex.

Needless to say, when the invasion happened the priestess of iuz entered the temple with my Illrigger showing her the way....

* * ***

On a more direct involvement, we had an assassin (1e) who would bug the DM endlessly for over a month to get an assignment from his guild.

The DM finally gave in, and a contract to kill a local tax collector was offered. This old human male lived in a mansion at the edge of the city. What the assassin did not know until it was too late that the tax collector was Geryon in disguise.

Surprise back stab attempt and many magical weapons (critical miss, damaged/destroyed weapons) later, and down to 2 or 3 hit point, the assassin grabbed its last weapon, a vorpol blade and score a natural 20 to hit!

After that, the player was OK for a week before wanting another contract. He enjoyed it too much. Sure it cost him all but his last magical item.

So the DM, in the next session and before they group had a chance to get any replacement weapons, the group was in the wilderness and we had to camp for the night. A thick mist entered, obscurring all. We all awoke to the smell of smoke and brimstone. The party left their tents to discover they were now on a tall and wide stone wall, and the assassin's tent was not here.

As the smoke lifted we discovered we were actually in what would be called the royal box of an arena and the assassin (and his tent) was twenty yards away in the middle of the arena.

The assassin (and the group) were confused as to what was going on.

As more of the smoke lifted, we saw demons and devils filled all the sits in the arena.

A huge horn sounded and thru the only gate into the arena a fully pissed off Geryon entered.

"So little man, you were able to kill my avatar in the prime plane with that weapon of yours. How lucky do you feel for a rematch... on my HOME PLANE of hell!"

While the players all laughted out loud, the player/assassin groaned. "Oh shi t".

After that session, no player decided to bug any DM about such quest(s) that is only for their PC to do.


I ran Out of the Abyss with the battle royale option, letting each player control a demon lord and giving an RP script for which demon lords would seek one another out (e.g. Baphomet and Yeenoghu) and never cut deals with.

I buffed all the demon lords because, as written, they're pitifully weak for eons old near-demigods with worshippers and having fought and survived endless wars. A party of 14th level characters could easily wipe the floor with any of them as written in the books. One of the demon lords should be a match for 20th level characters, not a joke. As it stands, they avoided premature combat with any of them during the campaign.

  • Max hit points
  • Immunity to nonmagical weapons, resistance to anything but +3 weapons or another demon lord's weapon/natural attacks
  • Added some spells from their AD&D counterparts (back when they were a bit more scary)
  • Should've added (see below) Rakshasa's limited magic immunity (maybe not 6th, but something)
The battle royale was a bit crazy. Players had 15 minutes to review their demon lord, ask questions. In the forums, people posted that Orcus could be amazingly powerful if using his wand to summon undead. However, I reasoned that Orcus would've already expended his wand's powers to summon undead because he's building an army and would need special bodyguards/generals. He'd have no reason to "save" it on the off-chance he might be ripped away by an uber-powerful ritual.

The toughest part of the battle royale was handling legendary actions. This meant players were all taking actions during one another's turns, and that required me, as the DM, to navigate and help players keep track. Still, was a blast. One of my gamers created some unique drow city terrain for the occasion, and we used a combination of existing minis and printed + painted some 3-D demon lords.

In the end, Orcus was obliterated by Demogorgon (I drew him as the DM)(no one would cut a deal with Orcus because he was universally despised). Yeenoghu and Baphomet fought to the death (Yeenoghu is a beast). Graz'zt was nastier than expected with his sword and was the wild card, holding back and popping a handful of spells, not risking himself until he had too. Demogorgon went for him next as Yeenoghu finished his battle and came for them both. The damage Graz'zt did to Demogorgon was too much for him to stand up to Yeenoghu.

From there, the 14th level party took on a weakened, but still nasty, Yeenoghu with around 150hp left. Doesn't seem like much, but with the above boosts, he'd last awhile and was capable in 2, maybe 3 rounds, of dropping a PC if he focused his attacks. I considered fully restoring him, and maybe I should have, but the grand finale was really a prolonged demon lord fight on the drow streets. The party went through a lot to make their job a "mop up" of a heavily weakened demon lord, so it didn't make sense to restore him. The players promised to "try to win" when playing their lords, and they did. Even weakened, he managed to drop one PC and had a solid AC, but out of all things to bring down this demon lord, it was a measly Wand of Magic Missiles. He had no defense against it. In the old days, when magic resistance was a percent to ignore a spell completely, he might have laughed, but in 5E, he has no resistances to force magic. In retrospect, I might have given all demon lords the Rakshasa limited magic immunity.