This assumes that you use Summon greater demon (Xanathar's Guide to Everything, p. 166), and command it to attack your enemies. This summoned Barlgura succeeds in killing all enemies you ordered it to, but during this time, you were drawn away from the demon and haven't been able to issue it a new verbal command. Keep in mind, it hasn't succeeded in breaking the spell via its CHA saves.

Would a Demon be able to act on its own accord if it hasn't been given any new commands and has no creatures to attack that "attacked it during the last turn"?


Probably not much, ask your DM.

The spell has this to say about failing to issue a command to the demon:

If you issue no command, it spends its turn attacking any creature within reach that has attacked it.

Beyond this, nothing is said - it doesn't tell us what happens if it kills everything there is to kill.

So it is entirely up to the DM.

I would rule that the demon assumes a defensive posture until it passes the save.

I would rule that the demon takes the dodge action on each of its turns, until it passes its save and goes berserk on everyone else around it. This seems to make sense - it is still under your control, but hasn't been ordered to kill anything, so it waits, ready to defend against anything that would attack it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm the DM in this game, and I'm trying to figure out how summoning a demon would behave differently than summoning other creatures. If Demons had a more chaotic nature after they are summoned. I'm still trying to decide is the other summoning spells, such as summon celestial/fey says "If you don’t issue any, it takes the Dodge action and uses its move to avoid danger." b.c. the only additional behavior mentioned in the spell mentions attacking creatures, I wondered if it might attack other members of the party/NPCs if the caster weren't there to command it. \$\endgroup\$ – Dexter Jan 8 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ It quite clearly specifies that it only attacks creatures that have attacked it when given no command while under your control. It seems to contradict that if you have attacking creatures that havent attacked it. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jan 8 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ That makes sense that it wouldn't attack creatures unless they have attacked it. My last thought would be about "it spends its turn attacking any creature within reach that has attacked it." Would that just be its immediate reach? If an archer attacks, would this uncommanded demon move to attack it? \$\endgroup\$ – Dexter Jan 8 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dexter That actually seems like a good question to ask in its own post. Let me see if its been asked before \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jan 8 at 21:26

D&D lore suggests that the demon usually hates who summoned them\$^1\$, this is confirmed in Demon Summoning paragraph in MM (page 51), emphasis mine:

Demon Summoning. Few acts are as dangerous as summoning a demon, and even mages who bargain freely with devils fear the fiends of the Abyss. Though demons yearn to sow chaos on the Material Plane, they show no gratitude when brought there, raging against their prisons and demanding release. Those who would risk summoning a demon might do so to wrest information from it, press it into service, or send it on a mission that only a creature of absolute evil can complete. Preparation is key, and experienced summoners know the specific spells and magic items that can force a demon to bend to another's will. If a single mistake is made, a demon that breaks free shows no mercy as it makes its summoner the first victim of its wrath.

In the situation described (there are no more enemies and the CHA saving throw is successful), if the summoner has not attacked the demon then the latter can not directly attack the summoner due to the spell description

If you issue no command, it spends its turn attacking any creature within reach that has attacked it.

but they may try to gain some advantage on them, waiting to break the spell and then be ready to kill them.

If the demon breaks free and the summoner is unprotected (outside of the protection circle drawn for the casting, for example) the quoted paragraph from the MM says that the demon will firstly attack its summoner.

\$^1\$ See for example when Cadderly Bonaduce summoned an Imp or the Balor Errtu in the novel Passage to dawn.


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