D&D Creature Type: Fiends in 5e, Photo Sketch of a Winged Devil Looming Over a Woman

Your Guide to 5e’s Fiend Creature Type

Fiends are a classic example of pure evil monsters in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. They’re brutal, manipulative, and usually only seek to benefit themselves.

But, Fiends in 5e have quite a lot of variation and they differ pretty wildly from each other once you get into the details.

This post covers what fiends in D&D 5e are, what they can do, and how to use them in your game.

Let’s start things off with going over what Fiends in 5e are.

What is a Fiend in 5e?

Fiend 5e, Photo Sketch of a Fiendish Woman
Fiend is one of D&D 5e’s many creature types, it consists of demons, devils, & other like monsters

Fiend is one of D&D 5e’s 14 creature types. It defines infernal monsters that exist as embodiments of evil and includes the likes of demons, devils, yugoloths, and other miscellaneous creatures.

This creature type basically covers your classic monsters most people would call "demons". But, not all fiends are demons as that is its own sub-category of fiend.

That said, creature born from evil planes with horns, wings, spines, or just generally malevolent features all fall under the fiend monster type.

Because of their wide variations and sub-classifications, fiends share only a few traits with each other. Even within their sub-types do fiends vary greatly from each other with some being snake-like or mounds of flesh or even partially frozen.

But, as with all creature types, fiends do share some similar features, traits, and stats with each other.

D&D Fiend Stats

Stats for fiends vary wildly since the fiend creature type isn’t restricted to one specific classification.

What do I mean by this?

Well basically, fiends don’t have one specific designation. For example, elementals in 5e all follow vague rules; while they represent a specific element that differ greatly from each other, you can pretty much guess what each type does. Since fiends vary so greatly (even within their own type), they don’t share that many stats.

You have fiends that are small and quick, big and powerful, intelligent, feral, lithe, burly, and so on.

That said, fiends do share some common traits and characteristics.

Most fiends resist or ignore cold, fire, and lightning damage. And, pretty much every fiend (with a couple exceptions) have immunity against poison damage. Furthermore, many fiends have additional resistances to damage from non-magical or non-silvered mundane weapons.

Also, most fiends don’t suffer from the Poisoned condition. They’re immune to poison damage, so it only makes sense that they can’t be poisoned, after all.

Fiends also almost always (because there’s always room to tweak alignments) embody the Evil alignment. Now, the full alignment varies depending on the type of fiend. But, they’re all Evil with a capital "E".

Some fiends also share the neat little ability that when they die outside of their home plane, they just regenerate back in the place of their birth.

One last thing fiends all share is a weakness in their true names. As a fiend becomes more powerful, they

Aside from that, each fiend has a unique set of stats, traits, and abilities that set it apart from the others. But, the different types of fiend do share a few more traits between them.

Types of D&D Fiends

Photo Sketch of a Demon in Front of a Portcullis
The Fiend creature type breaks down into four categories: demons, devils, yugoloths, & miscellaneous

The fiend creature types further breaks out into four rough categorizations; demons, devils, yugoloths, and others that don’t fall in with the rest.

Each fiend subtype comes with its own lore that shows the differences between the others. And, they all have different behaviors that represent their natural alignment.

This further segmentation of the fiend monster type also helps align the varying traits and features of different types.

Without further ado, let’s go over each of the types of fiends in D&D 5e starting with demons.

5e Fiends: Demons

Demons are Chaotic Evil fiends. They’re brutal, feral, and yearn only for destruction.

This fiend type represents the unceasing hunger for destruction of some of the most evil beings in creation. A demon, regardless of their intelligence, strives to spread pain, death, and despair wherever they travel.

Demons only follow the orders of stronger demons up to and including the frighteningly powerful Demon Lords. That said, they do have a rough structure to their ranks as it becomes survival of the fittest within a demon horde.

This is further evidenced as a lesser demon grows in strength with each kill is accumulates. In a sort of perverse evolution, a demon transforms from the lowest Manes (the weakest possible demon) and could progress up to a much more powerful creature like a Balor or Goristro so long as it keeps killing.

Demons also fall into a typing system from the most powerful Type 6 demons to the lowest Type 1. Now, Demon Lords and lesser demons exist outside of this typing system as the former consists of beings more powerful than Type 6 and the latter being too weak to bother categorizing (Manes fall into the "lesser demon" category).

A demon incursion in the world leaves a scar on the surrounding landscape as demonic energy flows from the Abyss and from any demons themselves.

Demons often only resist cold, fire, and lightning damage as well as damage from non-magical weapons. Some of the more powerful demons, like the Balor, have additional immunities, but they’re relatively few in number.

5e Fiends: Devils

Devils are a more organized fiend and usually have the Lawful Evil alignment. They’re brutal and ruthless, but devils follow a set of rules that make them masters of manipulation and corruption.

These fiends are manipulators and corrupters. They trade in mortal souls, so they need to ensure a soul ends up in their hands before seeking out their destruction.

Being of a comparatively structured society, devils often fall into the service of more powerful (both physically and socially) beings. For example, a lowly Imp may serve a Bone Devil in the hopes of some day killing their master by proving their worth.

Devils follow a relatively strict order of progression from Lemures up to the Archdevils. The order looks like this with the strongest at the top:

  1. Archdevils
  2. Greater Devils
  3. Lesser Devils
  4. Lemures

Greater Devils have the ability to promote lower devils up in rank. They do this mostly out of necessity as creating more powerful devils only increases the competition for souls and prestige. But, if a lower devil continuously proves itself to its master, it may become a Greater Devil in time.

Being a relatively ordered selection of monsters, devils strive to corrupt mortals. This usually takes the form of some sort of deal, contract, or other pact made between a devil and mortal. And, as you’d expect, the mortal usually gives up their soul in exchange for whatever the devil has to offer.

Pretty much all devils have an immunity to fire damage in addition to poison. Aside from that, they vary fairly widely but follow a pretty straight escalation of power from Lemure up to Greater Devil.

5e Fiends: Yugoloths

Yugoloths are Neutral Evil fiends that exist only to serve themselves. They exist in a sort of middle ground between demons and devils; they may be reasoned with, but are rarely contract-bound.

If you’re following base D&D lore, yugoloths were born as a third-party fiend type. The Archdevil Asmodeus basically commissioned a race of fiends that weren’t bound to the Nine Hells. This led to the creation of the yugoloths. But, the ability to control the yugoloths vanished as the hags hired to create them fought and bickered.

At the end of the day, yugoloths work as fiendish mercenaries. They’ll work for whoever has the best offer for them. But, if someone offer them something better, they’ll quickly change sides.

There aren’t many yugoloths. But, each one has different conditions for buying their services. For example, Arcanaloths trade for esoteric knowledge or powerful magic items while Ultroloths want nothing more than power and control.

So, you can reason, trade with, and even forge working relationships with yugoloths. But, if you cross them or someone "outbuys" you, so to speak, they won’t bear any true loyalty towards you.

Yugoloths share the same poison immunity with other fiends as well as the usual cold, fire, lightning, and non-magical weapon damages. But, they also can’t take acid damage.

5e Fiends: Others

Some fiends exist outside of the typical classifications. But, these creatures usually share some sort of tie with the other types.

Not all fiends fit into the three typical categories. These creatures may have a connection to one of the other creature types. But, they exist almost as a separate classification on their own.

These fiends include creatures like the Nightmare, Succubus, and Hell Hound among others.

Now, since these fiends exist outside of the usual classifications they don’t share a ton of features or traits. They usually still have a damage resistance or immunity but it varies from creature to creature.

That said, they still count as fiends for the purposes of different class features and spells.

Where Fiends Come From in 5e

Photo Sketch of a Devil Woman and a Sentient Tree
Fiends usually come from one of three planes: The Abyss, the Nine Hells, or Gehenna

Generally speaking, each of the types of fiends come from a specific plane of existence. Rather than being just flavor though, a fiend’s home plane actually serves as a regeneration site. When a demon, devil, or yugoloth dies on a plane other than their home, they regenerate back on their home plane.

So, each fiend (except the miscellaneous ones) have a home plane they use as a rebirth grounds.

The Abyss

The Infinite Layers of the Abyss, or "The Abyss" for short, is the home to demons in D&D 5e. It’s a realm of pure evil and chaos as it spirals into deeper and more perverse depths.

The Abyss is a plane of near infinite corruption. Entering the Abyss is dangerous for non-demons even going so far as imposing new personality traits on a character if they spend too long there.

This realm consists of multiple layers. But, it has a few important ones that serve as the homes of the Demon Lords.

These layers include:

  • The Gaping Maw
  • Thanatos
  • The Demonweb
  • The Endless Maze
  • The Triple Realm
  • Death Dells

The Nine Hells

The Nine Hells are home to devils in 5e. This plane consists of nine layers with each one serving as the home to one of the Archdevils.

This plane of existence exudes the evil nature of devils. So, any creature who spends too long within The Nine Hells may have their alignment change to Lawful Evil.

Each layer of the Nine Hells represents a different aspect of depravity. And, they all also have their own Archdevil ruling over them.

The layers of The Nine Hells are:

  • Avernus
  • Dis
  • Minauros
  • Phlegethos
  • Stygia
  • Malbolge
  • Maladomini
  • Cania
  • Nessus

Gehenna

Gehenna is the home plane of yugoloths. It’s a plane of greed and self-centeredness. So, helping other creatures while on this plane becomes harder.

Reflecting the selfish nature of yugoloths, Gehenna actually makes it harder to assist other creatures through magic. Any spell with a beneficial effect like boosting the chances of succeeding an ability check or healing hit points subjects the caster to a Charisma save. If they fail, the spell doesn’t work but the spell slot still gets used.

Gehenna’s topography is interesting as the entire plane wraps around a massive volcano. So, almost everywhere you go, the ground slants at a steep angle that makes travel more difficult.

Like other fiends, when a yugoloth dies outside of Gehenna, they get reborn back on this plane almost as if nothing happened.

Fiend Leaders

Photo Sketch of a Demonic Man with Long Horns
Demons & devils have their own special classification of leaders: Demon Lords & Archdevils, respectively

Since fiends all respect or fear power, they actually have a fairly structured hierarchy. At the top of the ladder, so to speak, are fiends so powerful they almost border on godlike. For demons, you have the Demon Lords, and for devils, the Archdevils.

Now, this structure pretty much only applies to demons and devils. Yugoloths actually lack any sort of specific classification for the most powerful among them. Possibly due to their mercenary-like nature or simply because they were originally created to serve Asmodeus.

So, we’ll focus primarily on the two classifications of fiendish leaders for demons and devils; Demon Lords and Archdevils.

Demon Lords

Demon Lords in D&D 5e are some of the most destructive and evil beings in existence. Many of them exist only to serve themselves or with the sole purpose of destroying all of creation.

These powerful demons rule over their hordes and layers of the Abyss with iron fists. And, each one brings a different level of brutality with them.

Demons don’t really have a "structure" in the strictest of terms. Any sort of hierarchy results from a simple rule of the strong rule over the weak. And, the Demon Lords sit at the top of their respective pillars.

Each Demon Lord has some sort of theme that goes along with them. For example, Lolth has a heavy spider theme, Orcus rules over the undead, Baphomet lords over wicked beast, Juiblex is basically the ooze god, and so on. So, featuring a Demon Lord in your game means committing to a specific brand of evil.

The Demons Lords in D&D 5e are:

  • Baphomet, the Prince of Beasts
  • Demogorgon, the Prince of Demons
  • Graz’zt, the Dark Prince
  • Juiblex, the Faceless Lord
  • Lolth, the Demon Queen of Spiders
  • Orcus, the Demon Prince of Undeath
  • Yeenoghu, the Gnoll Lord
  • Fraz-Urb’luu, the Prince of Deception
  • Kostchtchie, the Prince of Wrath
  • Pazuzu, the Prince of the Lower Aerial Kingdoms
  • Zuggtmoy, Lady of Fungi

Now, due to the infinite nature of the Abyss, there are nearly a limitless number of Demon Lords that could possibly exist. But, this list includes the most prominent ones often featured in D&D 5e.

Archdevils

Being the more structured of the fiends, devils of course have a fairly strict hierarchy with the Archdevils ruling over the Greater and lower categories.

Archdevils are basically extremely powerful devils or near-deific creatures that fell from grace. Each one embodies the evil and ordered nature of devils in their own ways.

Each Archdevil claims domain over a specific layer of the Nine Hells. They rule their layer with complete power with the only power capable of overriding them being Asmodeus.

Asmodeus sits at the lowest of the Nine Hells and rules over the rest of the Archdevils as the Lord of Nessus. All other devils, including the Archdevils, serve Asmodeus and usually obey him as their ruler.

The Archdevils and their layer in the Nine Hells in D&D 5e are:

  • Zariel – Avernus
  • Dispater – Dis
  • Mammon – Minauros
  • Belial and Fierna – Phlegethos
  • Levistus – Stygia
  • Glasya – Malbolge
  • Baalzebul – Maladomini
  • Mephistopheles – Cania
  • Asmodeus – Nessus

Yugoloth Leaders

Yugoloths don’t have any specific leaders.

While demons and devils have specific individuals heading up their ranks, the for-hire yugoloths don’t have any established leadership.

Which makes sense when you think about it. Yugoloths are only loyal (and not in the strictest sense of the word) to whoever pays them the best. So, of course they wouldn’t have one singular or even a pantheon of super-powerful creatures ruling over them.

That said, Ultroloths are generally the strongest of the yugoloths. So, they often take up leadership over weaker fiends.


D&D Fiend Patrons

Photo Sketch of a Warlock with Magic Circling His Hand
Fiends are one of the classic Otherworldy Patrons for Warlocks in 5e

Fiends stand as one of the basic options for Warlock patrons in D&D 5e. Being denizens of the Nine Hells, Abyss, or Gehenna, any fiend may serve as a Warlock’s patron. But, the stronger among them, including the Demon Lords and Archdevils, typically seek out mortals to serve as agents in the mortal world.

The Fiend patron is one of the classic Warlock subclasses.

Now typically, devils make for the best Fiend Warlock patrons. Because of their more organized nature and propensity for drawing up contracts, devils fit nicely in with the idea of forging a pact with an otherworldly entity.

Archdevils often forge contracts with mortals to have an agent on the mortal plane and to later gain control of that Warlock’s soul once they die. After all, mortal souls have great value in the Nine Hells.

Demons can stand as Warlock patrons. But, since they lack much of the same strict organization of devils, they’ll mostly use a Warlock as a tool of chaos and destruction away from the Abyss. Not to say they can’t or won’t forge more detailed contracts. For example, the Demon Lord Graz’zt, who was one a devil, is just as bloodthirsty for destruction but follows an extravagant lifestyle with all the theatrics that come with it.

Yugoloths probably typically wouldn’t forge many Warlock contracts simply because they’re the ones usually hired out to perform some task. But, the more powerful of the yugoloths, like the Ultroloths, might form a pact with Warlocks for the simple reason of extending their power and reach.

Using Fiends in Your D&D Game

Photo Sketch of a Demonic Woman with a Pentagram Behind Her
You’ll most likely use Fiends in your 5e game as villains or minor enemies

Due to their inherently evil nature, fiends in 5e make great villains and nemeses. As such, you’ll mostly use fiends in your game as the end-villain or as hostile enemies over the course of the party’s adventures.

Fiends are one of the most iconic forces of evil in any piece of fiction. So, it’s only natural for them to stand as hostile creatures, villains, and general nuisances to your D&D party.

And, thanks to their varying levels of strength, you can use fiends in your D&D game at almost any level. From 1st level adventures focusing on a small flock of imps to a grand battle against the demonic horde of a Balor.

All this means is fiends work as both random encounters, side quests, and end-game villains.

Portals to any of the fiendish planes can open almost anywhere either with help from evil mortals or naturally due to some magical circumstance. So, lower level fiends make for great random combat encounters for a wide range of games.

Also, thanks due to the similar permeability of fiends, you can use them as side quests to your campaign’s greater story. If you want to give your players some options in their adventure, drop a side quest to go stop a cult from opening a portal to the Abyss or maybe stop a group of bandits headed by a Cambion.

Finally, using a fiend of almost any level as your game’s end-villain is as easy as it gets. Whether you go with a powerful demon who only wants to destroy the mortal world or a scheming devil who seeks to garner more power to eventually ascend as an Archdevil, you can use powerful fiends as your game’s big bad evil guy pretty easily.

That’s not to mention putting your player characters up against a Demon Lord or an Archdevil. What’s more iconic than marching into the Hells to challenge a lord of darkness?

All this said, there’s something to be said about using fiends as allies to even good-aligned parties.

Devils and yugoloths especially make for relatively easy but tenuous allies. Since they both uphold some level of integrity (in the absolute loosest of terms), these fiends could provide information or assistance to the party. Maybe the fiend was banished for an attempted coup over their superior or they’re in it purely for their own self-interest.

Demons are a bit harder to play off as allies for heroic parties. But, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. A situation when a demon would ally themself with mortals would probably in an attempt to overthrow a more powerful demon or maybe some bizarre magical switch of their base instincts.

But, if you use a fiend as an ally for your party, make sure there’s tension in every interaction.

A good-aligned party should never be 100% sure their fiendish friend will stay loyal or is secretly plotting against them. That’s just good drama.

List of Fiends in 5e by CR

Photo Sketch of a Demonic Creature Roaring
D&D 5e has a lot of Fiends spanning the full spectrum of the Challenge Rating system

Since demons and devils are some of the most classic evil creatures out there, of course D&D has a load of them to add to your game. Even the Basic Rules include a good number of them. But, if you want access to the full breadth of fiends, you’ll need to grab the Monster Manual, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, and other sourcebooks.

Here’s a list of the fiends in 5e’s Basic Rules sorted by CR. For a full list of the fiends in D&D 5e, visit DnD Beyond’s Monsters page.

  1. CR 0
    • Lemure
  2. CR 1/4
    • Dretch
  3. CR 1
    • Imp
    • Quasit
  4. CR 3
    • Bearded Devil
    • Hell Hound
    • Nightmare
  5. CR 4
    • Incubus/Succubus
  6. CR 5
    • Barbed Devil
    • Night Hag
  7. CR 6
    • Vrock
  8. CR 8
    • Chain Devil
    • Hezrou
  9. CR 9
    • Bone Devil
    • Glabrezu
  10. CR 11
    • Horned Devil
  11. CR 12
    • Erinyes
  12. CR 13
    • Nalfeshnee
    • Rakshasa
  13. CR 14
    • Ice Devil
  14. CR 16
    • Marilith
  15. CR 19
    • Balor
  16. CR 20
    • Pit Fiend

D&D Fiend FAQ

Photo Sketch of a Horned Demon Woman

What Language Do Fiends Speak?

Fiends speak either Infernal (Devils), Abyssal (Demons), or both (Yugoloths). They also often have Telepathy so any creature may communicate with them.

Are Tieflings Fiends?

No. Rules as written, tieflings are not fiends. They count as humanoids.

Can Fiends Be Frightened?

Generally speaking, yes fiends can suffer the Frightened condition. Some fiends can not become Frightened, like the Ultroloth, but most fiends have no special immunity to this condition.

What is the Strongest Fiend in 5e?

The strongest Fiend in 5e is Tiamat from The Rise of Tiamat with a Challenge Rating of 30.

 

Summary of Fiends in 5e

That about wraps up this guide to Fiends in 5e.

Fiend is one of 5e’s creature types and includes the sub-classifications; demons, devils, and yugoloths along with miscellaneous other monsters. They vary pretty widely so they share only a few traits including most having an immunity to poison damage and all belonging to one of the evil alignments. And, most games probably use Fiends as enemy encounters or as the end-goal villain of a campaign. But, you can use fiends as allies with a little creativity.

Have you used Fiends in your game? What’s your favorite Fiend to put up against your players? Leave a comment below to share your stories.

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