I’m trying to nail down exactly how cunning and intelligent demon lords are - Demogorgon in particular. It mostly relates to the Chaotic Evil alignment and the sort of hierarchy of Demons.

I understand that some demon lords - Zuggtmoy and Orcus, for example - seem to be portrayed as at least significantly intelligent, with Orcus even capable of spell casting and utilizing his wand. Demogorgon, however, seems to have little intelligence other than simply madness and desiring suffering.

In Out of the Abyss, Demogorgon itself arrives on the mortal plane to terrorize the underdark. In said campaign, would Demogorgon be capable of devising any sort of strategy? Would it be able to command demons who are loyal, or at the very least subjugated? Would it be able to construct intricate battle plans? Or would Demogorgon simply go around smashing everything and eliminating any potential threats? I’d appreciate a concrete answer on exactly how intelligent Demogorgon - and to an extent, the other demon lords - are.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Everyone answering this (and reading the answers) should note that D&D routinely publishes contradictory stats for major powers like demon lords, with previous publications being hand-waved as avatars or the like. The stats are always tailored to the needs of the publication first, and not any kind of “canon.” Thus, it is rarely helpful to compare them across separate publications. Comparison to player characters is also dubious. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 20, 2021 at 4:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Given Kryan's comment above, are you interested in previous edition lore or would you prefer a focus on 5e? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Aug 20, 2021 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Wicked smart, obviously. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 21, 2021 at 23:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does my answer solve your problem well enough for a green check? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30, 2021 at 12:47

4 Answers 4


Demogorgon “is capable of devising and enacting the most clever strategies” and the mere sight of him compels demons to obey his command.

Demogorgon has 20 intelligence. 20 is as high as an ability score can get for player characters without very powerful magical items. So think of the smartest wizards in all the land. Demogorgon is about that smart.

Demogorgon is described in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes:

The result is an entity that is capable of devising and enacting the most clever strategies, paranoid at all times about threats to his rule (which certainly exist in the chaos of the Abyss), and possessed of immense physical power.

So yes, Demogorgon is very strategic. But can he command demons?

Demons comprise the majority of Demogorgon’s cultists, since he commands unmatched power in the Abyss. The mere sight of him anywhere in that realm can transfix lesser demons and instantly compel them to do his bidding.

The mere sight of Demogorgon commands obedience from lesser demons throughout the Abyss.

As for the rest of the demon lords, the dumbest of the bunch is Yeenoghu at a respectable 16 INT1, with the most intelligent being Fraz-Urb’luu at 26 INT.

1 The printed edition of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes lists Yeenoghu’s INT as 15, but lists the INT modifier as +3.

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    \$\begingroup\$ He (they?) also “contemplate the mysteries of the arcane”, so he deeply understands magic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Aug 19, 2021 at 20:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ MToF generally notes of demon lords that "the lord’s presence overwhelms the minds of other beings to keep them from resisting, and the lord’s power enables it to command the other demons already present in the world" when describing what happens when demon lords arrive on the material plane. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Aug 19, 2021 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Marq Demogorgon is consistently referred to as male and singular in the text, despite his whole two-headed situation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Aug 19, 2021 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Definitely hims. The text refers to the entity singularly, though each head is his own individual person. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19, 2021 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ To help visualize what this looks like, I think that the Joker is a good example of an intensely chaotic and evil character, who is also very intelligent and able to command large groups of underlings. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 23, 2021 at 2:19

All demon lords are highly intelligent.

The demon lords statted in Mordenkainens Tome of Foes are all (at least) highly intelligent with incredibly high Wisdom and/or Charisma stats as well:

Baphomet: Int 18, Wis 24, Cha 16

Demogorgon: Int 20, Wis 17, Cha 25

Fraz-Urb’luu: Int 26, Wis 24, Cha 26

Graz’zt: Int 23, Wis 21, Cha 26

Jubilex: Int 20, Wis 20, Cha 16

Orcus: Int 20, Wis 20, Cha 25

Yeenoghu: Int 15 or 16, Wis 24, Cha 15

Zuggtmoy: Int 20, Wis 19, Cha 24

  • \$\begingroup\$ DNDBeyond has a typo, Yeenoghu’s INT should be 15. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19, 2021 at 21:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually the book has a typo, it lists 15 INT but a modifier of +3. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19, 2021 at 21:23

Demogorgon is of superhuman genius and supreme power.

Demogorgon is explored in D&D 3rd edition sources. The general sense is that one of his two heads is more intelligent than the other, while the other is more feral, with this dual mindset resulting in something resembling insanity. However, he is still the most powerful demon prince, although the demons do not recognize a strict hierarchy beyond who is most powerful at any given moment.

According to the adventure "Prince of Demons", Dungeon Magazine #150 (2007) p.62, Demogorgon is indeed capable of enacting complex long-term plans on a massive scale:

Countless times before, Demogorgon's plans have failed as his personalities, each considering themselves the true architect, unknowingly sabotage the other's work. Without this hidden disadvantage, there's no telling what Demogorgon could have accomplished.

[...] All he needed was a savage tide large enough to drive millions mad. His solution: seed dozens of Material Plane cities with shadow pearls and then trigger them simultaneously through a master pearl kept safe on the shores of the Brine Flats—a primeval temple to the Prince of the Darkened Depths known as Wat Dagon.

He is intelligent enough to speak eloquently, as on p.91:

"Fools! At last you reveal yourselves to my wrath. The audacity of your ridiculous plan is almost enough to convince me to simply destroy you. But here I find you at this, the heart of my savage tide. Know that even as my minions crush the last of your pathetic invasion, your own deaths will be neither quick nor painless. They will be works of wonder, tortures to inspire the ages. You will, at my touch, become legends!"

On p.92, he is depicted as having an Intelligence score of 30 and Charisma of 32, and while these statistics vary between third edition sourcebooks, he is always depicted as having superhumanly high Intelligence and Charisma. He is also described as having an ability called Aura of Demonic Command, which allows him to prevent any demon within 120 feet of him from taking any action he does not permit.

On p.70, the loyalty of Demogorgon's massive number of troops is attested:

The demons fight to the death, so devoted to (and frightened of) Demogorgon that they avoid the standard trick of teleporting away when brought to low hit points. The price of failure is much worse than death on the battlefield to Demogorgon's army.

Demogorgon is also described in Book of Vile Darkness (2001) p.125, and Bastion of Broken Souls (2002), which generally concur with this. They describe how Demogorgon has retained his position as the most powerful demon prince despite facing other genius-level demon lords as his opponents, and he commands huge armies of demons, including countless unique demons and species of demons of his own creation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Strictly speaking, Wizards of the Coast recently announced that pre-5e content is not part of the body of canon used with 5e, although in practice they routinely respect the lore of earlier editions unless there is a reason to change it. Particularly in the Forgotten Realms, there's an explicit continuity of canon through editions. In that regard, I do think third edition lore is a valuable resource for background information that hasn't been fully expounded upon in any 5e work. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 20, 2021 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ <comments removed> Please evaluate answers on the back of their helpfulness to the question, not the question's tags. If there's confusion around what tags a question should have, look at its body and ask comments there. Tags are for describing and cataloguing the question, not dictate answers. If there's further confusion around that, I'll suggest opening a meta (or reading up on the existing ones). Oh, and a gentle reminder to be friendly and to try to understand each other. It sure looks like some wires got crossed here to ill effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 20, 2021 at 17:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's maybe an unintended implication in this answer that 5e material (which appear the main lens of the question) doesn't cover the Demogorgon, which doesn't appear accurate (based on the other answers). You may wish to get that in the clear, which might be as simple as saying it is "further explored in D&D 3e sources" and making a note of the overlap in depictions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 20, 2021 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, while interesting, OP has not requested info from previous editions. Given the disparity of stats and info between editions, I do not think this answer is relevant as it is an answer for a different edition. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Aug 20, 2021 at 18:28

There's some uncertainty about whether the current question admits to looking at sources prior to the current edition. In any case, this answer is meant as an adjunct to others -- looking at the very earliest appearances, which I think is at least of some historical interest.

Demons in general, and Demogorgon in particular, first appeared in the (original) Dungeons & Dragons Supplement III, Eldritch Wizardry, by Gary Gygax & Brian Blume (with thanks to others), in 1976.

Of demons in general it's written (p. 29):

Demons are chaotic and evil; the smarter and stronger rule those of their kind who are weaker and less intelligent.

So it's inherent in being at the top of the demon hierarchy that a demon lord must be smarter than most others. Of Demogorgon in particular it's stated (p. 37):

Demogorgon is highly intelligent; he is susceptible only to magical weapons of +2 or greater enchantment; he is 95% magic resistant.

Note that this product is of an era before explicit numerical player-like ability scores were given to monsters, demons, or deities. For the first clue to that, we can look at Demogorgon's next appearance, in the Advanced D&D Monster Manual one year later, in 1977. The entry for Demogorgon there includes this line:

INTELLIGENCE: Supra-genius

Looking at the explanatory notes from the start of the book (p. 6), there's a table that indicates the numerical Intelligence score for a Supra-Genius creature is in the range of 19-20 points.

Note that the 1977 text is still consistent with the most recent publication in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes in 2018, which also gave Demogorgon an Intelligence score of 20.


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