Tanar'ri are the chaotic evil supernatural badguys, in 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. After TSR got their new CEO Lorraine Williams and Gary Gygax left in disgust, Williams said "no more demons, or any of that junk". In 3e they wisely decided to use "demon" again, but kept the term "tanar'ri" as a subtype of demon. Since TSR bothered to register "tanar'ri" as a trademark, you will not find this demon subtype in Open Gaming License materials like the D20SRD.
They are the archetypical chaotic evil outsiders, seeking to destroy all order and plunge creation into mad, violent chaos in different ways. They are one of the two major factions in the ideological Blood War, the other being their lawful evil counterparts, the baatezu, or devils.
Fiendish Codex II - Tyrants Of The Nine Hells states that Devils call all demons Tanar'ri for short, which is strange considering that in the same book it says that in the devils' language "only one correct way exists to construct any given statement in Infernal." and "Devils, except when in disguise, they find the urge to correct errors in spoken or written Infernal nearly impossible to resist." This may be a hint as to the origin of Lorraine Williams, since she also insisted on using the term "tanar'ri" instead of "demon."
Types of Tanar'ri
There are many types of Tanar'ri, one more terrible than the next. There is something of a degree of power that seperates the various demons, but this is not absolute. There are five categories that divide them however, and each group is more powerful than the ones below it.
Tanar'ri can ascend to a new form if they believe they have what it takes to do so (mainly based on how deadly it is) and can prove this to those around them. While ascending step by step though the ranks is the most common way to do this, particularly powerful or intelligent Tanar'ri can skip one or more forms.
Note that some of the demons in this list have not been officially classified and so we are just guessing which group they belong to.
- Manes: The lowest of the Tanar'ri and barely worth the name, Manes are a source of food and cannon fodder, herded at the enemy to tire them before the main forces strike. This is what a mortal becomes if they end up in the Abyss when they die, or depending on edition, the first form they take upon being promoted from Maggots, which are the forms that all petitioners take in the Lower Planes.
- Dretches: Barely above the Manes, the Dretches are real Tanar'ri, albeit the lowest in rank. They suck up to the more powerful members of their race (pretty much all of them), and are treated as such in reply.
- Rutterkin: Vicious and despised by all other Tanar'ri, the Rutterkin are the preferred targets of higher-ranking demons for harassment, torture and murder. In return a Rutterkin will attack anything that they think they can kill without much risk to them.
- Gadacro: A small sneaky demon that likes to blind enemies.
- Alu-fiends: The female child of a Succubus and a mortal, Alu-fiends can only be born into their rank. They are not physically powerful but they are powerful spellcasters and physically attractive, which makes them useful to the high-ups in the Abyss.
- Cambions: The opposite of their Alu-fiend sisters, Cambions are the children of a Tanar'ri and a female mortal. A major Cambion is born when the father is a Lesser or Greater Tanar'ri, while a True Tanar'ri sires a Baron or Marquise Cambion, who are significanlty more powerful than their lesser kin.
- Armanites: The centaurs and bariaurs of the Abyss. They band together as mercenary groups and hire themselves out to whoever pays the most.
- Maurezhi: These Tanar'ri have the strange ability to gain the memories and experiences of whoever they eat. They can only be created by Abyssal Lords for specific missions, but can grow to new forms as usual.
- Barlgura (also spelled Bar-Lgura): Gorilla-like (Orangutan-like in AD&D) Tanar'ri trained in guerilla warfare, they are brutish, dumb, slow of mind and can casually rip your arm off. They get very annoyed when you call them "bar-igura", so please don't refer to them with sans-serif font.
- Bulezau: Rocking a traditional Satan-esque look, the Bulezau are powerful, elite soldiers who want nothing less than murder all their enemies within sight.
- Jovoc: A small black humanoid with red three-fingered claws. Whenever one of them is damaged, non-Tanar'ri creatures within 30 feet also take damage, and they also heal from their injuries very quickly.
- Solamith: A large obese demon with a transparent stomach filled with the faces of the other demons and petitioners it has eaten. Their flesh is explosive, and they fight by tearing off pieces of their flesh and throwing them like bombs.
- Uridezu: Cowardly rat people with a paralyzing bite, command over rats, and the ability to teleport between planes, but not during combat. They enjoy serving under a master, but because other demons abuse them they often are found serving mortal masters on the material plane.
- Nabassu: Gargoyle-shaped things serving as the heralds of the Abyss, seducing humanoids to the service of the Abyss.
- Chasme: Huge fly-like things that seek out deserters of the Blood War. They mostly stay out of the affairs of others to carry out their duties.
- Babau: The recruiters for the Blood War. Or rather than recruiting they press-gang other demons to fight. If they don't meet their quotas however they have to fight themselves.
- Goristroi: 20' bullmen that serve as living siege engines to topple walls and crush enemies below their feet. Mentioned in the second Monster Manual which forgot to write them up, so they had to be written up in Dragon instead.
- Palrethee: Demons who attempted to become balors and failed become palrethees as punishiment. To further the humiliation, they often end up as subordinates to balors. They are emaciated humanoids with bony wings whose bodies are constantly on fire.
- Arrow Demon: A grey skinned humanoid with four arms that can wield two longbows at the same time.
- Cerebrilith: A large hunchbacked demon with an oversized protruding spine which its brain visibly extends into. They have psionic abilities.
- Adaru: A millipede with a man's face that is able to charm other tanar'ri and constantly produces a cloud around itself that is poisonous to non-evil creatures and strengthens evil creatures
- Lilitu: A promoted form of a Succubus that infiltrates and corrupts churches by pretending to be clerics. They lose their wings but gain four tentacles with poison stingers. They have several of the abilities as a cleric. They are vulnerable to divine magic, but good spells and good magic items treat them as if they were good. By hugging a humanoid, they can place a magical tattoo on them for 24 hours that charges them with chaotic energy and allows the lilitu to communicate with and observe them.
- Kastighur: Huge demons that act as the hunters and jailors of the abyss.
- Vrock: Humanoid vultures that serve as elite soldiers in the Blood War. Not sure why they are listed as true tanar'ri, as they are actually weaker than several of the demons in both the lesser and greater classes.
- Hezrou: Frog-shaped Tanar'ri possess a cool, sharp intellect that allows them to perform their duties in the Blood War with precision and dedication.
- Glabrezu: The primary summoning material, they are skilled at tempting their summoners and giving them plenty of gifts of power, only to withdraw said power at the worst possible moment to get them killed and pulled into the Abyss.
- Alkilith: The Type III.5 Demon, if you will. Oozes that can corrupt anything and anyone with a mere touch. They don't fight in the Blood War, mainly for practical reasons on account of them being oozes. If they stretch themselves around a doorway or window, they can create a portal to the Abyss.
- Nalfeshnee: The pig-ape judges of the Abyss. All petitioners that enter the Abyss pass by a Nalfeshnee who judges them based on their lives and appoints them a new form. At least sometimes: other times they hand out forms at random. They also determine who gets to be in charge of the armies and who gets to be promoted, demoted or removed from (as in: destroyed) its ranks.
- Marilith: Attractive women with the lower body of a snake and six arms, they are the tacticians of the Abyss. They have keen minds, anticipate what the forces of Law are going to do and act upon it, much to the rage of the Baatezu who cannot understand the plots of the Marilith.
- Balor: The dreaded kings of the Abyss, Balors are the most powerful of the Tanar'ri aside from Demon Princes and the rarely seen Klurichirs and Myrmyxicuses, serving as lords, generals and leaders, inspiring and threatening others into fighting for the cause. A mix of passion and reason, they are as intelligent and sharp as they are evil and chaotic. These are exactly the same as the Bloodthirster of Warhammer, right down to the flaming whips and being literally made evil and chaos (or Chaos) with the sole difference being that they use swords instead of axes. They like to eat doggies and beat up Pit Fiends in their spare time.
- Klurichir: The most powerful type of Tanar'ri besides Demon Princes. All other tanar'ri including balors are terrified of them. They have skin the color of a frostbitten corpse, four arms, black spines covering their neck and back, red wings, a face like a cross between a orc and a mule, and a giant second mouth with a huge pair of extremely sharp mandibles on their abdomen. They are the elite generals of the most powerful Demon Princes and they usually only appear when their master wants to be absolutely sure that an important mission will be completed.
- Myrmyxicus: Another Tanar'ri that beats the Balor in power. They rule over the oceans of the Abyss. It looks like an giant eel with a reptile skull for a face, six goat horns, four arms, six tentacles around its waist, and a lamprey-mouth on the end of its tail.
- Jarilith: Demonic lions that like to hunt other demons.
- Kelvezu: The infiltrators and assassins of the abyss. Aside from the pink skin and poisonous fingernails, they appear almost exactly like a short human.
- Sorrowsworn: Demons that appear in places where many people have suffered loss. They have an aura that causes feelings of loss in those around them. They read the minds of their enemies and use that to determine the best way to torment them by reminding them of things that cause them to feel more loss. A sorrowsworn demon is a large but skinny grey-skinned humanoid with black wings and a constantly frowning face. 4th Edition retconned their fluff, making them natives of the Shadowfell and not demons.
- Molydeus: The only Tanar'ri within this rank, a Molydeus stands outside of the ranks of the other Tanar'ri, making sure that their kind stays true to the ideals of the Blood War. While they report to the Balors, a Molydeus will not hesitate to turn on their leader if they are not showing sufficient zeal. So in essence they are axe-wielding, dog-faced Commissars with a snake growing out of the back of their heads.
- Shadow Fiend: The Fiend Folio Shadow Demon was summarily taken off the Tanar'ri list because TSR were too lazy to give it a made up name like "Penumbrilith", and "shadow tanar'ri" just sounded too gay. It slunk back by way of Ravenloft, MC Appendix; then Planescape of course. It was still Chaotic Evil, and still hung out at the Abyss.
- Blood Fiend: A demon that became a vampire-like undead.
Generic and Unclassified Demons
During second edition, demons were renamed Tanar'ri. When third edition was released, it was retconned so only some demons are considered Tanar'ri, with the rest being Loumara or Obyrith plus a few random demons that don't fit into any of the three. Dragon Magazine Issue #359 groups some of these demons into Servitors, demons created by gods like the yochlol, The Created, demons artificially created by less powerful beings like the quasit (even if the abyss has started forming them spontaneously like other demons), and Beasts, the abyss's equivalent of animals like the skulvyn. Additionally, during fourth and fifth edition several new demons were added and were never categorized. This list does not include monsters that were only demons in 4th edition, such as the various types of Yugoloths. We will list these demons here because we don't have anywhere else to put them. This list is probably incomplete.
- Abyssal Drake: A failed attempt to create flying mounts for demon lords by breeding demons with dragons and wyverns. Their breath deals fire and unholy damage at the same time.
- Abyssal Eviscerator: Dumb four armed demons that fight by grabbing enemies and tearing their guts open.
- Abyssal Maw: A demon consisting of a giant vertical mouth with three eyes and several short clawed arms. In 5th edition it is said that their mouth leads directly to the belly of Yeenoghu.
- Abyssal Scavenger: A quadrupedal demon with a vertical mouth. These demons are individually very weak, but they are extremely dangerous to summon because they can multiply extremely fast if there are no other demons keeping their numbers in check, and they can form portals to the abyss when a large number of them are gathered in one place.
- Abyssal Skulker: Sneaky but weak demons. Looks very similar to the Abyssal Scavenger, probably because the scavenger recycled the design.
- Abyssal Ravager: A demonic hyena with a scorpion tail. In fifth edition this demon was combined with the Shoosuva.
- Abyssal Rotfiend: Undead demons with psychic powers made of demon and devil flesh stitched together.
- Abyssal Wretch: A victim killed by a Rutterkin or a Sybriex in 5th edition may rise as an abyssal wretch.
- Abyssal Wurm: Two-headed half-centipede half-dragons born from Tiamat screwing a demon lord called Kothok. They are used for guarding portals in and out of the abyss.
- Ash-Wrought Soulburner Fiery demons that once were Efreeti. They suck the heat out of living creatures.
- Bebilith: Giant spiders that hunt other demons.
- Blood Demon: Not to be confused with the blood fiend. These mysterious demons are oozes made of blood that randomly appear in the abyss in swarms before vanishing again. One theory is that they are the remains of an Obyrith lord killed by Tharizdun that are are trying to reform.
- Bloodseep Demon: Another four armed demon. They can spray blood from their body that heals other demons and is poisonous to other creatures.
- Bonegouge Assassin: Shadowy skeletons with big claws. These demons are believed to have been created by Orcus by transforming mortal assassins.
- Clockwork Horror: Demonic constructs, usually resembling spiders. And they can multiply. They killed the demon lord that created them and swarmed across the abyss before the demon lord Haagenti managed to get control over them. They likely would have wiped out all organic life if he hadn't.
- Consumptive Parasite: Small demons that attack in massive swarms. They were once Slaad tadpoles corrupted by the abyss.
- Deathdrinker: Extremely arrogant demons with an aura that harms the living and heals undead.
- Demon Spawn: The taint of the abyss sometimes causes mortals to give birth to demons. Evil spellcasters and Hags can also create them on purpose with dark magic. They resemble their humanoid parents but with scary deformities.
- Dust Demon Dust demons are formed from tribes of Djinni who were transformed by the abyss into insane masses of living wind and debris. A single dust demon is actually made up of many smaller dust wisps which are each the corrupted soul of a Djinn. Theoretically it might be possible to transform a Dust Demon back into the Djinni it used to be by capturing a single wisp from it and healing it of its madness, then allowing it to return to the dust demon.
- Evanissu (City Corruptor): These demon appear in corrupt cities and work to make them even worse them though a campaign of murder and terror, leading a gang of criminals and other urban monsters.
- Evistro (Carnage Demon): Muscular demons with bright red skin. They become stronger when groups of them are close together, but they also have a tendency to attack their allies during combat.
- Ferrolith: A Succubus that fell into a pool of molten iron. They gained iron-hard skin but lost their beauty.
- Fire Demon Skeletal demons who are constantly on fire. Comes in lesser and standard forms.
- Guardian Demon: These tentacled monstrosities get their name from the fact that they are easy to magically bind into service as a guardians. They come in two varieties, the weaker Abominations, and the powerful Soul Drinkers.
- Ghour: Another Minotaur-like demon engineered by Baphomet. Weaker than goristros but still powerful.
- Gnaw Demon: Small annoying demons that are always eating and can teleport.
- Haures: Undead demons with the upper body of a minotaur and the lower body of a giant spider, created by Orcus from the bodies of fallen Goristros.
- Immolith: An undead demon skeleton that is also on fire.
- Jarrlak: Icy horrors who kidnap people and encase them in ice while keeping them alive so they slowly die over decades in an icy torment.
- Malgodemon: A large and scary looking but not very smart demon that serves smarter creatures as thugs. They are extremely greedy and can be easily bribed into turning on their current master. Oddly, this creature is named similarly to the other demons that were Yugoloths or daemons in editions other than 4th, and it is associated with Raavasta, which is 4th edition's version of the arcanaloth, but there doesn't seem to be a yugoloth or daemon version of the malgodemon in other editions, unless it is in an obscure source.
- Mahataa: Blind but very powerful demons made of mud.
- Mavawhan: Icy demons whose claws contain a venom that turns victims into ice.
- Nashrou: Alien-looking demons with four legs and six arms, but no head, just a cluster of eyes where their twisted limbs all connect. They are surprisingly weak and can be instantly killed by hitting them in the right place.
- Needle Demon: Spiky demons that mind control people into thinking their allies have betrayed them.
- Neldrazu: Yet another four armed demon. At least these ones look a little different. They have pincers on all four arms instead of hands and four eyes and a single tentacle on the back of their head. They ambush enemies while they are in combat with other demons and teleport away with the enemy to separate them from their group.
Neldrazu, Needle Demon and Nycademon/Nycaloth. The artist apparently made a mistake because the Neldrazu should be the same size as the Needle demon, not the Nycaloth.
- Kazrith: A powerful eel-like aquatic demon. They can also rapidly travel underground using acid to melt through the ground.
- Pod Demon: A large green slimy hulk that produces smaller minions from the pimples on its body that it uses as living weapons.
- Quarrak: These small goblin-like demons are actually very powerful for their size. All quarraks have a twin they are constantly fighting with when they are not fighting together against other creatures. If one dies the other will die a few days later.
- Retriever: Technically not a demon, but actually a powerful construct resembling a giant spider created by demons. In 5th edition they are creations of Drow instead of demons.
- Ruin Demon: Demon-shaped swarms of flies with human faces that consume all other organic creatures except for plants.
- Runespiral Demon: A demon that wears a rune covered shell on its back like a hermit crab. Their are multiple types of Runespiral demon but the most common ones shoot lightning.
- Rupture Demon: Tentacled blobs of darkness that sacrifice themselves to restrain enemies so stronger demons can kill them. When a rupture demon dies they also release an explosion of goo and tentacles that heals and boosts the power of another demon.
- Shoosuva: An obscure undead hyena monster that only appeared in magazines until it got to a appear in a book for the first time in 5th edition. Now instead of an undead, it is a demon hyena that serves Yeenoghu, given only to gnolls who have earned his favor. Looks like a giant hyena with a scorpion's tail.
- Scion of Zuggtmoy: Fungus-infested skeletal demons made of demons and mortals transformed by being buried alive in Zuggtmoy's Gardens of Rot, or by being infected with the spores of another Scion.
- Seszrath: An undead demon formed from many corpses fused together. It is a huge hulking creature with octopuses for hands, the feet of an elephant, a huge lamprey mouth on its belly, and a small head.
- Shaadee: An undead demon formed from the soul of a mortal spellcaster who swore themselves to a demon lord in life and their master forced them to continue serving in death.
- Skulvyn: A lesser aquatic demon with an aura that slows down other creatures around it, resembling a lizard with webbed feet and four tails.
- Spawn of Juiblex: These ooze demons are formed from pieces of Juiblex and so they resemble smaller copies of him.
- Tomb Demon: A serpentine demon with a pair of bony arms. The first Tomb demons spawned from the battlefield where Orcus and his army battled and defeated the demon lord Sylbarax and his army who used to be servants of the snake god Zehir.
- Voracalith: The most gluttonous of all demon. They resemble humanoids with four long tentacles with stingers on the ends growing from their back.
- Whisper Demon: Ghostly demons who try to drive mortals into comiting suicide. They could turn those who died around them into Allips under their control.
- Wastrilith: Another eel-like aquatic demon.
- Wendigo: A demon that possesses a person who has committed the sin of Cannibalism and transforms them into a monster.
- Yochlol: The handmaidens of Lolth, the Yochlol are shapeshifters who can freely change between their drow form, a spider form or that of a great mass of yellow ooze with a single staring eye. They enjoy Lolth's protection from other demons and act like it, but they'll get brutally murdered if another demon thinks it can get away with it.
- Zovvut: Muscular demons with massive claws, feathered wings, and three eyes. Probably created by Orcus. It can heal itself by draining life from those who look into its eyes. Victims who are killed this way rise as wights. In 4th edition, Zovvuts were redesigned to be prettier and they were retconned into being fallen angels of Tharizdun.
- Zythar: Powerful demons resembling a humanoid flame wearing armor.
The first amongst the demons, the lords of the Tanar'ri (more commonly known as Demon Lords) are some of the most powerful, dangerous, cunning and deadly beings in existence. They attained their position by strength of arms and cleverness (mostly the former) to rule over their servants. Those who wish to challenge their lords are quickly struck down as an example and to keep the other minions in line. The most powerful of the demon lords are the Demon Princes.
|The inhabitants of the Planes of Planescape|
|Upper Planes:||Aasimon - Angel - Animal Lord - Archon |
Asura - Eladrin - Guardinals - Lillend
|Middle Planes:||Formians - Githzerai - Inevitable - Marut |
Modron - Rilmani - Slaadi - Kamerel
|Lower Planes:||Alu-Fiend - Baatezu - Bladeling - Cambion |
Demodand - Erinyes - Hag - Hordling
Imp - Kyton - Loumara - Marilith - Obyrith
Succubus - Tanar'ri - Yugoloth
|Transitive Planes:||Astral Dreadnought - Githyanki|
|Inner Planes:||Azer - Elemental - Genie - Grue - Mephit |
Salamander - Sylph
|Sigil:||Dabus - Cranium Rat|
|High-ups:||Archangel - Archdevil - Archfey |
Archomental - Demon Prince