# How can we kill Demogorgon with a single fireball in 1st ed. AD&D?

So I saw this on Twitter this morning, apparently in reference to the TV show STRANGER THINGS:

### Something that completely ruined my suspension of disbelief

(scifi.StrangerThings) submitted 14 days ago by tonker

There is no ****ing way, that you would be able to kill Demogorgon with a single Fireball spell.

(Original Reddit thread)

I haven't seen the show, but I thought this was a little extreme. So I broke out the manuals, figuring there would be three problems to deal with: magic resistance, saving throws, and total hit points.

First, magic resistance. The Monster Manual gives Demogorgon a 95%, even before saving throws; that sounds like bad odds, but it's no worse than (in fact it's the same as) rolling a natural 20. And when you read the fine print, you find that the 95% figure is for a level 11 magic user; it goes down by 5% per level above 11. So it seems plausible that the PCs might get lucky and beat that, especially PCs high enough level to get into this mess in the first place. Let's be generous in this case and say our caster is level 14 (the high end of the range for Dungeon Module Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits, the classic example of adventurers going somewhere they really don't belong and taking on an opponent they have no business taking on). That knocks the magic resistance down to 80%, giving the spell a 20% chance.

Next, saving throws. Saving throws for monsters are based on hit dice, but Demogorgon doesn't have hit dice, just a flat figure of 200 HP. I'm sure I've seen a rule for converting the flat figures to dice, but I couldn't find it. A quick Google suggested dividing by 4.5, which gives us 44 hit dice; other results suggested using cross-referencing the THAC0 figure in the Dungeon Master's Guide with the attack tables, in which case a THAC0 of 7 would put Demogorgon in the HD 16-17 column. (Luckily the saving throw tables flatten out at the top end, so the distinction's less important than it looks.)

Most monsters save as fighters, except … those with abilities of other character classes gain the benefit of the most favorable saving throw score.

If we want to err on the side of badass we can say that Demogorgon's spell-like abilities put him on the magic-user table at level 21+, which saves vs. spells at 4 or greater — a 15% chance for Demogorgon to fail the save.

15% of 20% gives our fireball a 3% chance of taking effect — worse than the chance of rolling a natural 20, but still not totally out of reach.

(Update: ucbpaladin points out that per Deities and Demigods, Demogorgon is a lesser god and saves at 2, which gets us down to 2%.)

We then come to damage. And here's where I have to admit Tonker might be on to something. Fireball does 1d6 damage per caster level, so for our 14th-level magic user we're looking at 14-84 points of damage, with a median of 49 points.

This is a colossal amount of damage by 1st Edition standards, and Demogorgon's going to feel it, but it's a long way short of 200.

My question, then: are there ways, within the 1st Edition rules, to amplify the damage of a fireball by 3x-4x, to get us within striking distance of 200 HP?

• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Aug 1, 2016 at 22:59

## 6 Answers

The only way to do it, with the rules as written, is to be about 100th level. AD&D1e theoretically allows this, since the experience tables are open-ended, although it was never something that was common. And, frankly, any group who kept on playing the same characters long enough would have developed some spells of their own that would be more effective

At 100th level, a Delayed Blast Fireball will do an average of about 450 points of damage, and our target's magic resistance will have disappeared entirely. Demons take half damage from fire (Monster Manual, p16), so if Demogorgon fails his saving throw, he takes 225 points of damage and croaks. If he makes his save, he takes about 113 points, and bugs out if he has any sense. The same approach will not work on Asmodeus, because devils are entirely immune to fire.

AD&D1e (and 2e) just does not have the kinds of tricks that 3e and later provide, via feats, which might let you enhance your fireball damage high enough while still being a sane level.

A spell that would let you do the job at somewhat lower level that I'm fond of is Double Fireball, which was invented by a friend who'd been reading the spell research rules in the 1e DMG carefully, and spotted the rule (DMG p. 115) on combining spells: a spell that combines the effect of two existing spells has a level of 1 plus the sum of the two spells' levels. So if you combine Fireball with Fireball, you get a seventh level spell that gives you two independently targetable fireballs, each doing 1d6/level. The commonest way to use it is to put the centres about a foot apart, thus making sure your target is in both of them, and gets two chances to fail a saving throw. This has real stopping power, and may be a bit too good for a seventh level spell, but DMs in the circles where it's used have not seen fit to ban it, since it doesn't get used often.

That lets you do seven points of fire damage per level of caster, so you only need to be about 65th level to blow Demogorgon away. I'm sure that's much more reasonable ;)

• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Aug 2, 2016 at 18:38

So, this scene doesn't make sense in terms of 1st ed D&D. They are using some serious homebrewed rules at best but more likely the producers are just playing really fast and loose and using the buzz words without worrying about if they are actually following the rules.

Additionally, there wasn't a need for a wizard to roll anything to cast a spell. If there was some weird thing going on that required it then simply "rolling 13" wouldn't do squat as they would still need to roll damage and saving throws. Clerics had spell failure but wizards only had to worry about "learning the spell" when they initially tried to learn it. After that, it was just a simple thing to cast it.

Of note, the dialog doesn't say that the 13 will kill the demogorgon, only that he needs it to in order to…something. Maybe just to hurt it at all? But yeah… saves, damage rolls, spell resistance — as you mentioned — will all come into play after that 13 has come and gone, for whatever reason it is there.

Dialog from the scene… I may not have the dialog attributed to the right people perfectly, but it should give you all the context you need:

DM: Something is coming. Something hungry for blood. A shadow grows on the wall behind you, swallowing you in darkness. It is almost here.
kid1: What is it? What if it's the Demogorgon? Oh, *****, we're so screwed if it's the Demogorgon.
kid2: It's not the Demogorgon.
DM: An army of troglodytes charge into the chamber!
kid1: Troglodytes?
kid2: Told ya.
Will: Wait a minute.
kid1: Did you hear that? That sound?
DM: Boom boom boom!
kid2: That didn't come from the troglodytes.
kid1: No, that came from something else.
kid1 and 2: The Demogorgon!
kid2: We're in deep ****.
DM: Will, your action!
Will: I don't know!
kid1: Fireball him!
Will: I'd have to roll a 13 or higher! Too risky.
kid2: Cast a protection spell.
kid1: Don't be a *****. Fireball him!
kid2: Cast Protection.
DM: The Demogorgon is tired of your silly human bickering! It stomps towards you. Boom!
kid1: Fireball him!
DM: Another stomp, boom!
kid2: Cast Protection.
DM: He roars in anger!
Will: Fireball! (rolls dice which falls off the table)
All randomly: Oh, ****! … Where'd it go? … Where is it? … I don't know! … Is it a 13? … I don't know! … Where is it? … Oh, my God!
Mom: Mike!
kid2: Oh, my God! Oh, my God!
Mom: Mike!
DM: Can you find it yet?
Will: No, I can't find it!
Mom: Mike!
kid2: Oh, my God! Oh, my God!
Will: Mom, we're in the middle of a campaign!
Mom: You mean the end? Fifteen after.

Side note: I have to chuckle at poor tonker "losing his suspension of disbelief" because they weren't playing D&D "correctly" in a sci-fi series that is more like modern-day fantasy than it is like science fiction. All four of the kids were having a blast and were completely immersed. If they got the rules wrong, who cares? They were having a ball and doing the kind of adventure that they will talk to each other about decades later. If you are having fun with friends and making memories, you are doing it right, no matter what the rule books or Internet says. :-)

• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Aug 31, 2016 at 22:20

## Set it up with Time Stop

### Wish is Gouda Nuff for me

Foreward

This response is presented despite the fact that I never, in all the years I played AD&D 1e and OD&D, played in a party with a Magic User hgher than 14th level except for once; that was with a 22d lvl Wizard who started in a campaign in 1974 which I joined some years later (1977-78). (K.C., are you still out there?). Mordenkainen, Gary Gygax' infamous wizard, got to 22d level IIRC. To me that's a very high level Wizard. The 1e PHB has a table with details up to 29th level, so higher level wizards (the name level) can happen.

The Swiss Cheese

(Source is 1e PHB; Unearthed Arcana not included). This "one-shot Demogorgon with a fireball" could work for a 22d - 25th level Wizard, depending on a few of the DM's calls on how spells and wishes work, and the details of how to implement time stop2.
Caveat: how many segments it takes to cast/say a wish is "special" so this is wide open to a DM ruling, as is anything to do with a wish.

Casting time is the actual number of seconds- at six per segment - to phrase the limited wish. (PHB p. 88)

If the DM establishes a far longer casting time for wish then this probably doesn't work. The level requirement may be as high as 30th level Wizard depending on what the DM will let you pack into one wish spell.

The Limburger Cheese

If the Wizard has in his possession an artifact with a major power from Table V, specifically item CC -- time stop of twice normal duration, once per week (p. 165 DMG) -- some of the problems described below can be overcome since the time stop duration will extend beyond 30 segments, which is in excess of 3 rounds, which makes the spell casting sequence less of a problem. Fighting Demogorgon would qualify as a time to use this "special occasions only" power.

### Recipe For Roasted Demon Prince

Be within 30' of Demogorgon and then:

1. Time Stop (9 segments to cast) (Hopefully the other party members engage from range to try and get his attention, rather than running for their lives and the safety of their souls. If they are trapped in the time stop sphere they get cooked)
2. Limited Wish (or Wish) (1 to 2 segments to cast, see contents below)
3. Fireball (3 segments to cast) (Aim for 10-15' behind Demogorgon, MU must be ~29' away from the demon prince)
4. Fireball (3 segments to cast) (Aim for 10-15' behind Demogorgon, MU be ~29' away from the demon prince) This is the fireball everyone else sees, since the other one is cast within the duration of Time Stop.
Note: you'd only need to cast one fireball if you used a "Double Fireball" as described in @JohnDallman's answer).

Sequence of casting:

1. Time Stop: Duration is based on level (11-12.5) segments + 8 (assume max roll) = 19-20.5 segments

2. Limited Wish or Wish ("I wish that Demogorgon fails in all resistances and saves versus my next two fireballs and they do maximum possible damage"1) Note 1: it may take a second wish or limited wish to get the max damage wish folded in there, thus requiring a 30th level Wizard for a long enough time stop).

3. Fireball 25d6 maxed is 150 (3 segments) (132 for 22d level) (180 for 30th level Wizard)
4. Fireball 25d6 maxed is 150 (3 segments) (132 for 22d level) (180 for 30th level Wizard)

How time stop makes this work. With 20.5 segments worth of time stop, you get two rounds, which allows for a wish and the first fireball to be within the time stop. When time stop expires, all anyone else sees is the second fireball. With 19 segments, you'd have to cram all of the preconditions into one wish. (Is the 1e DM really going to put up with that?) With that in mind, you'd need to have 23 segments of time stop to get wish (failed saves/res) then wish (max damage on next two fireballs) then first fireball inside the time stop. That puts the Wizard level requirement at 30 (15 + 8 segments = 23 segments needed for three spells). The first fireball goes off during time stop as it only takes the first three segments. If you used that double fireball from @JohnDallman's answer, you'd be able to get in two wishes (resistance and save fail, max damage) and then coup d' grace with that double fireball.

All of the above considered, all resistances and saves being failed, 300 damage (or 264 or 360) taken versus 200 life. (Per the question's and p.16 of the MM Demogorgon's HP). That's enough to cover Demogorgon having a few extra hit points, and provides a few segments left over to light the cigar. :) A double fireball, per above, does that much with only one casting.

It could work. It also might not work if the DM finds some holes in your wishes, or time stop ends early.

A possible result is that some other party members get hit with fireball(s) (Sorry, my brave companion. Luckily, at this level we have a cleric who can raise you). Demogorgon will be done, to about medium well.

Any debuffs or holds or psionic combat by another party member versus Demogorgon, to keep his attention off of the Magic User in question ... "so much the better."

1 It might take a combination of three wishes/limited wishes, but there are plenty of 7th level spells available at that level. That creates problems with segments and rounds, and what the DM is willing to put up with. @JohnDallman gets a nod for pointing out the round/segment issue.

Rules page citations from 1e PHB:
Magic user spells per level page 26
22d MU 3d level 5; 7th level 4; 9th level 3
25th MU 3d level 5; 7th level 5; 9th level 5
Fireball: p. 73
Limited Wish: p. 88
Time Stop: p. 93
Wish: p. 94

2 About time stop:
Do "rounds" still apply during time stop inside the sphere? I've seen it argued both ways back in the day, based on the spell description.

Upon casting a time stop spell, the magic-user causes the flow of time to stop in the area of effect, and outside this area the sphere simply seems to shimmer for on instant. During the period of spell duration, the magic-user can move and act freely within the area where time is stopped, but all other creatures there are frozen in their actions, for they are literally between ticks of the time clock, and the spell duration is subjective to the caster. No creature can enter the area of effect without being stopped in time also, and if the magic-user leaves it, he or she immediately negates the spell. When spell duration ceases, the magic­ user will again be operating in normal time.

The case I saw made was that inside that sphere, since time stops, rounds and time elapsed have no meaning. The freedom of action that the Magic User has is only confined by how many segments of action is available to him (which is based on his level). That interpretation allows the magic user to chain a series of spells together until he/she runs out of segments of casting time. All then resumes.

The more conventional interpretation of time stop is that the DM still has to keep the round/segment clock ticking for any and everything outside of that, so that you still only get to cast one spell per round (per ten segments).

• Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Jun 16, 2017 at 5:07

## The "Timing is Everything" Approach

Thanks to @HeyICanChan's question about delayed blast fireball, a seventh level spell, this approach is for a 36th level Magic User (and some henchmen and a few party allies).

The critical magical item needed for this to work: any artifact with a specific power (Table V, Power CC, page 163 of DMG, Time stop of twice normal duration once per week).
Spells Required:
Wish or Limited Wish (you have enough of either)
Delayed Blast Fireball
Time Stop

Note: In AD&D 1e "RAW" wasn't the concept it has become since 3.0 showed up. DM's were expected to make rulings. With that in mind, wish is a spell that DM's wrestled with quite a bit. How many segments it takes to cast or speak a wish is "special," but it is usually tied to how long it takes you (the player) to say what you mean without leaving a lot of loopholes. While the wishes in this answer are simple, it is still wish and that leaves this solution exposed to a DM ruling, as is anything to do with a wish and for that matter all of AD&D 1e.

With that considered, here is how to blow up Demogorgon "with one fireball" as a 36th level Wizard.

1. Be just within 30' of Demogorgon and then:
2. Cast Time Stop. (9th level spell; 9 segments to cast. This will be easier if the other party members engage from range and otherwise try and get Demogorgon's attention.) This spell will last for about 4 rounds. (36/2 segments +1d8 segments for an average 4.5, round down, doubled (your artifact) == 44 segments. All you have to roll on that 1d8 is a 3 or better and it will work for 40 segments which is 4 rounds.
3. Cast 2. Wish (or Limited Wish) (1 to 3 segments to cast -- "Casting time is the actual number of seconds- at six per segment - to phrase the limited wish." PHB p. 88)
4. (c) Cast 3. Limited Wish (or Wish)
5. (d) Cast 4. Delayed blast fireball. (d6 + 1) x 36 max damage. You get one extra HP per die on delayed blast fireball. (Casting time is 7 segments, trigger between from 1-50 segments later ... for 252 HP raw max damage).

At 36th level you have more 9th level spells available than you need (you have at least 6) but you could use a Limited Wish for one of the castings at 7th level, depending on what the DM will put up with a wish achieving. These wishes are pretty modest in scope, but we'll hedge our bets and go with the 9th level wish spell. You don't get to one shot a demon prince every day. (Actually, as a 36th level wizard, maybe you do.)

• Round 1 (first ten segments of time stop)
Wish#1: "I wish that Demogorgon will fail all resistance and save versus my delayed blast fireball."
• Round 2 (Second ten segments of time stop)
Wish#2: "I wish that my delayed blast fireball will inflict the maximum possible damage to Demogorgon."
• Round 3
Delayed Blast Fireball cast at 36th level

Note 1: there is no particular save versus wish, but save is listed as "special" which means DM rules. So it goes: it's AD&D 1e.

Note 2: Trigger the delayed blast fireball right before time stop wears out, or as soon after you cast it as you can. Do not trigger the delayed blast fireball after time stop wears out, lest Demogorgon use Dimension Door or otherwise move away.

With magic resistances and saves being failed, 256 damage well overcomes the problem statement of 200 HP life, and a little extra in case he's feeling pretty buff that day.

### It's AD&D 1e

It could work. It also might not work. The extended Time Stop is the key to giving you the time you need to cast the spells. If you need three wishes, (one for fail resist and one for fail save) you'd still have 40 segments, and thus time enough for casting 4 spells with a nearly immediate trigger of the delayed blast before time stop expires.

Any debuffs or holds by another party member versus Demogorgon is a bonus to catching him in a Time Stop.

You could do it in reverse, and possibly only use Limited wish. This might be an easier sell on the DM granting Limited Wish based on the spell language:

It will fulfill literally, but only partially or for a limited duration, the utterance of the spell caster. Thus, the actuality of the past, present or future might be altered (but possibly only for the magic-user unless the wording of the limited wish is most carefully stated) in some limited manner. ... It can reduce opponent hit probabilities or damage, it can increase duration of some magical effect, it con cause a creature to be favorably disposed to the spell caster, and so on (cf. wish).

Casting Order for the Post Hoc method.

Time stop. (4 rounds worth of free segments inside the time stop sphere)
1. Delayed Blast Fireball
2. Wish "I wish Demogorgon did NOT save versus the delayed blast fireball that I just cast"
3. Wish "I wish Demogorgon did NOT resist the delayed blast fire ball that I most recently cast"
4. Wish "I wish that the delayed blast fireball that I most recently cast had done maximum possible damage"

Limited wish can work in the limited future or the limited past. KISS principle suggests the TS/W/W/W/DBF ... but the reverse might work too. Some DM's appreciate the players being clever.

Rules page citations from 1e PHB:
Magic user spells per level page 26
29th level MU: 7th level spells =6; 9th level spells = 6 (36th will have at least that many)
Delayted Blast Fireball: p. 87
Limited Wish: p. 88
Time Stop: p. 93
Wish: p. 94

## But these kids aren't playing AD&D - they're playing Basic/Expert/Companion/Master/Immortal D&D

However, this just makes the situation more implausible!

Demogorgan is described in the Immortal rules which you can buy here. It has 660hp and can choose to make its saving throw whatever it likes from 2 up; fortunately there is no magic resistance in this version of D&D. However, as a demon, all damage spells do minimum damage unless cast be an immortal caster: a mortal would need to be 1320 level to be sure of killing it or 660 if it rolls a 1 on its saving throw. An immortal caster has it much easier: they still need to be the same levels to be sure but they can be much lower (like only several hundred levels) if they are willing to rely on luck.

• Dale, I hate to break it to you , but the I part of BECMI was not published until 1986, and the show is set in 1983 and Immortal wasn't published until 1986-per your link-, which means that Demogorgon was not in BECM at that point, so Demogorgon isn't available. But I still like your answer, so I am leaving the +1. Jun 17, 2017 at 19:39
• @KorvinStarmast seriously, I TV show with anachronisms? I never heard of such a thing :-) Jun 17, 2017 at 22:59
• Yeah, I isn't a documentary, but the linked article didn't (IMO) geek out quite enough. Your point on the absurdity is IMO well made. Jun 18, 2017 at 11:52
• Magic resistance does exist in BECMI, it's just called "Anti-Magic" and immortals are some of the only entities that have it. It's actually more significant in this edition, since it doesn't diminish as the caster level increases, unlike in 1st ed AD&D. Dec 28, 2017 at 0:01

Not without an absurdly* high level wizard.

Demogorgon has 200 hitpoints. As John Dallman pointed out, Demogorgon being a demon cuts the potential damage in half right off the bat, making the threshold 400 points of raw damage needed out the fireball. 400 / 6 = 67th level minimum, if you rolled all 6's. The odds of that are infinitesmal, so really you're looking at a 115th level caster. If you accept Delayed Blast Fireball and custom spells with the word "fireball" in the name, you could trim that slightly, but IMHO we're not really talking about a fireball at that point. That also assumes Demogorgon fails its save: per Deities & Demigods, Demogorgon is treated as a lesser god, so all saving throws are 2's. At the caster level required, magic resistance is long gone.

If psionics rules are in play, Demogorgon could have an additional defense, as it appears to have type II (deity) psionics (not clear based on differences between the MM vs. D&D handling of psionics), which might give Demogorgon the Energy Control science. One die per strength point times 300 strength points would mean potentially 300 dice (or 300 spell levels, the text isn't completely clear) of energy absorption.

* As an illustration, H4 Throne of Bloodstone has sample characters of 100th level, with a note to the effect that the authors considered this ridiculous.

• This answer, now that it's edited, would be improved with page citations. I find psionic ability scores for lesser gods to range from III to VI. (That is from high to low). Did you pick II due to his psionic score from MM of 300? Aug 4, 2016 at 0:55
• Yeah, I thought II was the most reasonable, given the Psionic Strength ranges given. The MM isn't very clear on the intended implications of "each head" having 150 PSPs. BTW, there are class II lesser gods: Hastsezini, pg. 13. Aug 8, 2016 at 23:12