Demon lords and princes
List of demon rulers
|Powerful cold attack; wands of fire and cold
|Arcane monster spells; disease attacks
|Arcane monster spells
|Engulfing disease attack
|Arcane monster spells; wand of death
|Confusion attack; magic resistance
All demon lords and princes are covetous, and will warp to you when they detect you, and to the up stairs to flee and heal. They will pick up the Amulet of Yendor if they can, and attack any monster carrying it other than the high priest of Moloch and the Wizard of Yendor. Orcus additionally covets the Book of the Dead.
Like their lesser brethren, the unique demons have fire resistance, poison resistance, drain resistance, and resistance to death magic including rays from the wand or spell; they also nominally respect Elbereth, although it has no power in their native Gehennom.
The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.
Elbereth no longer affects unique monsters.Any level in Gehennom where a demon lord or prince is present is considered a non-teleport level for you and any monster that isn't a demon lord or prince.
A demon's rank has no effect on its combat prowess, but does affect some other aspects of the game:
- Demon gating will summon a demon at most one rank over the original one, so major demons can't summon princes. Princes are more likely than lords to summon other unique demons. Demon gating by a polyself can't summon lords or princes.
- Same-race sacrifice will summon a lord, or a major demon if both lords have been generated. It will never summon a prince.
Lawful demon princes are generated peaceful. When one detects you, it will warp to you and demand some portion of your carried gold. If you pay it off, it will vanish from the game; if you refuse, or have no gold, it will turn hostile. You may shortchange it up to 39 gold with a chance of success. If the demon has the Amulet, the bribe will always be more than you have, so that the demon and Amulet aren't removed from the game.
If you are polymorphed into any & major demon, the prince won't ask for a bribe, but will remain on the map, peaceful, until you deal with it.
Wielding Excalibur causes lawful princes to be generated hostile, so they won't ask for a bribe. They will turn hostile if you wield Excalibur when they would demand a bribe, or if fooled by your displacement.
Chaotic demons are always generated hostile (except when summoned by a chaotic character's same-race sacrifice), and will attack on sight.
Four of the demons have their own lairs in Gehennom. All four lairs are guaranteed to be generated, which means you're almost certain to see all four demons if your character gets that far. However, all four lairs can also leave bones, so it's possible for a demon not to appear in its own lair if it was previously dispatched or led away. As each of them are unique, they will also be absent if generated by other means (e.g. sacrifice or other demons).
Although demon lords and princes are statistically some of the most powerful monsters by the numbers, many of them are not guaranteed encounters, and most players have had plenty of time to prepare for the rest by the point that they first encounter any. Asmodeus is nearly impotent against a fire- and cold-resistant character, for example, and Baalzebub's gaze won't penetrate a blindfold or towel. At the other end of the spectrum, Orcus' spells can cause trouble for even magic-resistant characters, and Demogorgon can kill almost anyone should he appear. Players who lack good AC or essential resistances may have more difficulty.
Those playing for a speed ascension will generally elect to bribe Asmodeus and Beelzebub, and with a unicorn horn or other cure for illness Juiblex can be disposed of easily (with a wand of digging expediting the process), leaving Orcus as the most difficult remaining ruler to face. Pacifists generally have trouble finding pets willing to attack such high-level creatures, especially since all demons are drain-resistant, and generally have to resort to bribery for similar reasons. A blessed figurine of an Archon is usually a go-to pacifist wish for this among many other reasons: they can reach level 28 with little effort, become immune to conflict at level 25, and can also be given a powerful kit and potions of gain level in order to deal with demon lords and princes, as well as other higher-level monsters like the Wizard of Yendor.