Abyssal lords

ripvanwormer's picture

Abyssal lords are the rulers of the myriad layers of the Abyss. They are considered quasi-deities - beings far above mortals or even true+tanar'ri, but without the full range of powers a true deity enjoys. Of course, some Abyssal lords are, thanks to their mortal cults, true deities as well, including Demogorgon, Yeenoghu, Juiblex, Kostchtchie, Baphomet, and Sess'innek.

The lords exist in a symbiotic relationship with the layers they rule. Abyssal layers are dimly sentient and very hungry, but they depend on the will of powerful lords to allow them to maintain their individuality - a layer that goes without a lord for too many centuries will gradually be reabsorbed by the layer that spawned it. If there were no lords of the Abyss at all, eventually all layers would become one with the primary layer of the Abyss, the Plain of Infinite Portals.

'Course, being a lord of a chaotic evil plane ain't easy. The layers will devour lords whose will is too weak to resist them; the relationship is something like restling a bear, where the lord must constantly prove its strength and worthiness. Many layers remain lordless because they keep devouring those who try to master them, gaining more and more power each time they do so. Sure, if no one were to try for millennia they would become weak again, but for now they're doing fine, screw you for asking.

The reward for lords who succeed, however, is great. Abyssal lords command an infinite layer of existence and can, if they concentrate on nothing else, see everything that goes on in that layer at once. They are beings with few peers in the planes, and even gods fear their power and influence. If they weren't constantly fighting one another, the multiverse might really have reason to quaver.

Not all Abyssal lords are Tanar'ri - anyone who can master an Abyssal layer can be called a lord of the Abyss. Gods like Beshaba and Kali are considered Abyssal lords for this reason.

Some texts distinguish between demon princes and demon lords. According to Prime scholars, "princes" are those Abyssal lords who rule one or more layers of the Abyss, while "lords" are those mighty Tanar'ri who rule part of a layer, but have not yet mastered it. The blue slaad Xanxost says princes are those (like Red Shroud) who rule fortresses in the Plain of Infinite Portals, and calls all the others lords. But should you really trust a Barmy Slaad, even over the Clueless?

Faces of Evil: The Fiends
Planes of Chaos
Monster Manual II
Book of Vile Darkness
Planescape, Dungeons & Dragons, their logos, Wizards of the Coast, and the Wizards of the Coast logo are ©2008, Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. and used with permission.