Demons are one of the most revered types of fiends in Dungeons and Dragons. From the great demon lords to abyssal chickens, players can expect a good fight and some chaos to ensue.
While the main difference between demons and devils is the chaotic nature of demons, they are not without order. There exists a hierarchy, which is helmed by the fearsome demon lords, and it’s through this hierarchy that armies are led and evil goals are accomplished.
As anyone who’s ever led a group of D&D players knows, chaos is not something easily guided into action. It takes a strong lead to get people to work for a common goal, or I don’t know, show up to a regularly scheduled session.
For demon lords like Baphomet, that order is easier maintained with the help of molydeus demons, one of the most powerful and feared demons in all the Forgotten Realms.
Huge fiend (demon), chaotic evil
AC 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 316 (16d12 + 112)
Speed 40 ft.
Saving Throws: Str +16, Con +14, Wis +14, Cha +14
Skills: Perception +21
Damage Resistances: cold, fire, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities: poison
Condition Immunities: blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, poisoned, stunned
Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 31
Languages Abyssal, telepathy 120ft
Challenge Rating 21 (33,000 XP)
Innate Spellcasting. Molydeus can cast the following spells using Charisma as it’s spellcasting ability:
- At will: dispel magic, polymorph, telekinesis, teleport
- 3/day: lightning bolt
- 1/day: imprisonment
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the molydeus fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.
Magic Resistance. The molydeus has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Magic Weapons. Molydeus’s weapon attacks are magical.
Multiattack. The molydeus makes three attacks: one with its weapon, one with its wolf bite, and one with its snakebite.
Demonic Weapon Melee Weapon Attack: +16 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (2d10 + 9) slashing damage. If the molydeus rolls a 20 on the attack roll, the target is decapitated. A target is immune to this effect if it takes none of the damage, has legendary actions, or is Huge or larger. Such a creature takes an extra 6d8 slashing damage from the hit.
Wolf Bite Melee Weapon Attack: +16 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d6 + 9) piercing damage.
Snakebite Melee Weapon Attack: +16 to hit, reach 15 ft., one creature. Hit: 12 (1d6 + 9) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 22 CON save or have it’s HP max reduced by the damage. This reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target transforms into a manes if this reduces its hit point maximum to 0 and can only be turned back by a wish spell.
The molydeus can take one legendary action at a time at the end of another creature’s turns, for a maximum of 3. The molydeus regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
- Attack The molydeus makes one attack, but not with the wolf bite.
- Move The molydeus moves without provoking opportunity attacks.
- Cast a Spell The molydeus casts one spell.
What is a Molydeus?
Molydeus are the chief enforcers of a demon lord’s will, the most feared of all the common demon types. They are huge humanoid demons, standing at around 12 feet tall with blood-red skin.
Perhaps one of their most fearsome qualities is their head, or heads. They have one main head, that of a wolf, and a second demonic snake head. Naturally, it uses both of these to make vicious attacks capable of easily killing any lesser adventurers.
The snake head’s venom even retains the ability to turn creatures into manes, a type of miserable demon.
That’s not all the snake head is capable of either. As the enforcers and intermediaries of their respective demon lords, their snake head serves to literally carry the voice of their lord to all the subservient demons.
A molydeus is not simply born, they are created. When a demon falls into the favor of its lord, for some great deed or act of devotion, the lord may turn them into a molydeus. If there was any sort of honor to be had amongst demons, this would be the highest.
With this reward comes a vast portfolio of responsibilities for prospective molydeus-to-bes. Some of these vicious fiends lead armies, while others survey the vast Abyss eliminating any threats to their lord. Still others are trusted with guarding the possessions of their demonic leaders.
A demon lord’s most prized possession, their amulet which allows them to leave the Abyss, is among the items guarded by a molydeus. If this amulet were to fall into the hands of another, or be destroyed, it would mean the end of a demon lord, or worse, servitude.
In order to carry out all of these many tasks, a molydeus is given a special demonic weapon, on top of their many other fearsome abilities. This weapon is formed from a portion of the demon’s essence and appears in a form that matches their respective lord.
How to Defeat a Molydeus
A quick look at the stat block above will show you that going into a fight with a molydeus is not something to take lightly.
With the ability to decapitate on critical hits, take a slew of legendary actions, and even turn a creature into a demon, this fight is one that even most 20th level parties will need to prepare wisely for.
With any creature, we need to be aware of their weaknesses, and what they can throw at us. While it’s stats are out of this world and it has a full stock of resistances and condition immunities, there are still plenty of things that we can do to get the best of this demon.
We don’t want to use any nonmagical weapons, or use anything that’s going to force it to make a saving throw. Not only does it have advantage on four out of the six saving throws, but it’s legendary resistances are going to be used wisely on whichever three attempts we make.
So, we want magical damage that is sure to hit, or at least depends on us to make that damage. Magical weapons with bonus damage that isn’t cold, fire, lightning, or poison are going to be excellent for any melee attackers.
Our casters will want to make ranged spell attacks, staying far away from the bites and relying on a strong spellcasting ability to hit.
With a natural armor AC of only 19, adventurers going up against a molydeus should have no problem making their attacks. Of course, creating advantage as much as possible is always going to be your best bet.
Something like an upcasted Guiding Bolt could deal up to 12d6 of radiant damage and provide advantage on the next attack roll made against it.
Follow that up with an upcasted divine smite using a magical weapon, perhaps a Holy Avenger greatsword and you’ve dealt a good 85 damage (on average, max of 115) between two of your party members’ attacks.
Dealing the damage isn’t really the hard part, you just have to know how to do it. It’s watching out for the damage dealt to you that really matters. A molydeus has an incredible 40ft movement speed for its size, and 3 attacks to make as a part of it’s multiattack.
Staying out of it’s way and keeping your allies ACs and saving throws boosted is going to be essential.
Anyone that’s going to fail a DC 22 CON save should never be within 55 feet of a molydeus at the end of their turn. Having a lowered hit point maximum is horrible enough, made even worse by the fate that awaits you at 0 maximum hp.
Come to think of it, stay 95 feet away so that it doesn’t use one of it’s legendary actions to move closer to you and bridge the gap.
The legendary actions are where we really need to be worried. Between its ability to move on another creature’s turn, cast one of it’s innate spells, or just make an attack, it’s basically an unstoppable force.
Of course, it is limited to three legendary actions. Your goal should be to kill it as quickly as possible, so an excellent way to do that is to deal more damage between it’s turns.
A molydeus is basically a demon general, and it’s sure to show up with a small battalion at its side. If your party has time to prepare (which I’m assuming they do, otherwise you wouldn’t be here), you should amass a crew of your own. Hire some soldiers, underlings, recruit your allies, and charge into battle.
If you can do this, or even if you can’t, focus all of your firepower on the molydeus until it’s dropped. Any lesser demons it has with it will still be a challenge, but without leadership they may even scurry off.
Let’s say you have a party of five, and four or five more allies at your side. Even if you’re only averaging 30 damage each, and you better be higher than that, you can kill it in one round of combat, limiting it to only 6 total attacks (multiattack on it’s turn and 3 on others’).
All in all, the molydeus doesn’t have to be as scary as it is. You’re not going up against a CR 21 at anything before 17th level, so you should be able to deal plenty of damage and defeat as quickly as possible if you don’t lose your focus or make rookie mistakes.
Becoming a Molydeus
As a DM, your goal isn’t necessarily to “win” but you should be putting up the best fight for your players. With something as ferocious as a molydeus, that should mean throwing everything in your arsenal at the players.
As CR 21, a molydeus on its own is a deadly encounter for anything less than a party of four 17th level players. Realistically, it should be showing up with a small entourage of (slightly) lesser demons at its side, since it commands the demon lord’s forces.
Putting it with even one of just about any other demon (maybe besides a chicken) means that your encounter is likely deadly, even if your whole party is level 20. So, play it as such.
I’m not sure what your characters have done to incur the second-hand wrath of a demon lord, but they should know they barely made it out alive if they do.
A molydeus is incredibly smart, not to mention all the other accolades it has going for it. It will strategize for victory until the moment it falls or is victorious. And it definitely won’t back away, lest it face the cost of retreat.
While it has some wonderful spells, they are secondary to its melee prowess. On its turn, it will get up close and personal with anything it thinks it can defeat. Likely, it will pour out all of its attacks on one unlucky victim.
It will also command it’s underlings to take care of any threats or provide strategic advantage. Having another demon cast darkness so that it has advantage on its attacks means it’s that much more likely to decapitate someone, which is probably the biggest threat your players face.
If it does manage to reduce a PCs hit point maximum with it’s snake bite, it will hone in on that character. It will seize any chance it can to add a new demon to its side.
When it comes to the spells, those will mostly be used reactionary for the best results. Dispel Magic will allow it to cancel out any buffs or debuffs that your players have started up, and it will do so on a legendary action unless absolutely necessary on its turn.
Losing out on a multiattack is not a decision a molydeus will make lightly.
Telekinesis and Teleport are both going to be used to gain an advantageous position. One allows it to move an easy target closer, the other allows it to get closer to one.
Then we have the limited Lightning Bolt access, which it will only use if it knows it will kill a creature or if they were stupid enough to line up for it. Granted, it might teleport as one legendary action to get the right lineup if it’s paying attention (which it should be).
Imprisonment is a spell that it will use outside of combat, something to hold for the grueling end of a battle when the party is all but defeated.
Summoning Demons Variant Rule
For those familiar with Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, the molydeus and a few other demons have the variant option to summon other demons. This takes an action and has a 50% chance of success.
If the molydeus succeeds it can summon 1d6 babaus (CR 4), 1d4 chasmes (CR 6), or one marilith (CR 16). Each of these demons has their own slew of fun abilities and tactics in battle, but they will all be subservient to the molydeus.
Deciding whether or not to summon extra demons is tough. On one hand, you get to introduce a new exciting element to the battle that your players might not be expecting. On the other, you’re going to greatly change the difficulty of the encounter.
My basic suggestion is to avoid calling an audible. If you want your molydeus to have a crew of chashme with it, then set up the encounter that way. If you want him to have reinforcements come in at a certain point from some summoning, plan a point to bring them.
Using a health threshold for your molydeus to summon reinforcements is a smart idea, and then you can just count the summoning as an automatic success. Not everything needs to be rolled for. At that point, the molydeus using its action to save its hide makes perfect sense.
A fight against the second in command of a demon army is sure to be a riveting battle whether you’re on the side of the fiends or you’re an adventurer looking to save the day.
Plan accordingly and you can easily be successful, it just depends on your definition of success.
As always, happy adventuring.