Demons are born of the raw essence of chaos, and their wide range of features and powers reflects this chaos. Although individual demons of the same type resemble each other, this chaotic nature can manifest in differences between them. Likewise, creatures tainted by demonic power can adopt a dizzying array of new abilities and twisted forms.
The demonic themes presented in Demonomicon provide a DM with tools to customize demons, creating variations on the standard creatures presented in the Monster Manual and other supplements. These themes can also be used to give fiendish qualities to non-demons, reflecting the way in which the Abyss warps all life that dwells there.
Applying a monster theme allows you to customize an existing monster’s role and powers. The process is like applying a template, but it is much simpler and does not require rebuilding a monster’s statistics block. You can run the monster with only a few notes jotted in the margin to detail its additional features.
Step 1: Choose a Theme
The themes presented in this section allow you to grant a specific flavor to the servants of a particular demon lord. For example, vrocks that serve Dagon can feel and act different from vrocks bound to Pazuzu. Specialized themes can also be used to customize mortal demon cultists or spellcasters who bind demons to their service.
Step 2: Choose a Monster
After you’ve selected the monster theme, choose the monster you want to modify. You might select a monster appropriate for the theme or choose one that best fits a specific encounter or adventure.
Some themes work better with particular types of creatures or monster roles. Each theme describes the roles it fits best. You can modify creatures of other roles with one of those powers, but the modified monster takes on some of the feel of the role described with the power. This doesn’t change the monster so much that its original role changes.
Some powers grant a monster the leader role, as noted in the text. Powers that do not reference a specific role are suitable for all creatures.
Step 3: Choose Story Changes
A theme is more than a menu of new powers. It’s also a story template that you can use to turn a mundane creature into a unique opponent. It’s easy to forget description and story elements when assembling a monster’s statistics and powers, but story plays an important role in how a monster functions in a game. A monster without a good story is just a collection of numbers and can result in forgettable encounters.
When adding a theme to a monster, take note of any changes to its appearance or behavior. These changes should reflect both the monster’s altered powers and its new allegiance to a specific demon lord.
Choosing story changes can take place after choosing new powers if that works better for you. In fact, some powers might suggest particular story changes and vice versa, so jump back and forth between Step 3 and Step 4 as you need to.
Step 4: Choose Powers
Each theme adds a number of powers to the monster you’ve chosen to rework.
Choose one attack power and one utility power from the theme and add them to the monster’s statistics block. You can also apply the theme’s skill modifications, though this is optional.
Avoid the temptation to pile on new powers. Adding more than two new powers to a monster not only makes it more complicated to run (potentially slowing down combat), it risks increasing the creature’s effectiveness in combat beyond its normal level.
Most powers use the level of the creature they are applied to for calculating attack rolls and damage rolls. Melee attack powers marked “melee reach” use the reach of the base creature’s melee basic attack.
Attack Powers: Each theme includes a number of different attack powers. Some give a monster a new attack or the ability to impose some debilitating effect on its foes. Others powers provide enhancements to a monster’s existing attack powers. Each power is written in the style of a normal monster power entry, with a header noting which part of a monster’s statistics block it is added to. This is accompanied by a description of the most appropriate roles for the power, along with optional story hooks.
Utility Powers: In addition to attack powers, a theme might include options such as auras, healing powers, special movement, and situational benefits. In most cases, adding a utility power doesn’t alter a monster’s core identity or tactics as drastically as adding a new attack power. Possible exceptions are noted in the option’s text.
Theme: Pazuzu's Dread Flock
A corruptor and a destroyer of innocence, Pazuzu ranks among the demon lords second only to Graz’zt in cunning and treachery. His servants closely follow his example, spreading a subtle and insidious destruction across the mortal world. They earn their victims’ trust with gifts and honeyed words, then turn that trust to betrayal and death.
Monday: Pitiless and cruel, a bonegouge assassin is wholly focused on its assignment. It lusts after nothing and follows the orders of its master without question.