What Are Yugoloths In DnD?

There are several types of Fiends in Dungeons & Dragons, the most well-known being the chaotic Demons and the contract-signing Devils. There’s a third type, however, the neutral Evil Yugoloths, the greediest of the three and the most unpredictable, even when compared to their Abyssal brethren.


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Yugoloths change sides at a whim, doing anything they feel would improve their status or position, or even a small leg up on their opponents. They can be as vicious as a Demon, and as cunning as a Devil, making them often the most dangerous out of the three.


True Evil

Swamp With Moving Hut
Dungeons & Dragons Curse Of Strahd Illustration By Jedd Chevrier

Yugoloths don’t consider themselves as neutral Evil, but true Evil, feeling superior in every way to their Fiend counterparts, seeing their extremes as their weaknesses. They can cause as much destruction as any Demon, while still outsmarting their opponents, and they make contracts with mortals just like Devils, but they aren’t bound by them.

While they can be as smart and as strong as any other Fiend, they value schemes and bluffs over all else, making their leaders not the strongest but someone that pretends to be. Still, there’s truth to some of their lies, otherwise their whole system would fall apart.

Yugoloth Castes

Dungeons & Dragons collage showing a Nycaloth, Arcanaloth and Ultroloth

Yugoloths are divided into castes, and the only way to move up to a higher caste is to be allowed to by your superiors. To move up in their society is to undertake a painful transformation, making each caste look so different to one another that they don’t seem the same species, but within the same caste everyone looks roughly the same.

There are plenty of castes, but we’ll focus on the top of the food chain to understand how their society works:

  • Nycaloths are often military commanders, mostly seen in the Blood War. They tend to look like your typical Fiend, with wings and horns, meaning that you could easily confuse them with a Demon or Devil.
  • Arcanaloths are record keepers and contract makers, holding great magical power and reputation among their species. They look like anthropomorphic foxes, making them stand out greatly among other Yugoloths, and they were often as high as anyone could get among the castes.
  • Ultroloths are the leaders of all the Yugoloths, and becoming one is complicated since there’s always a limited number of them, meaning that you’d have to kill one to become one. They looked almost featureless, with green skin and a face made of only two big yellow eyes.
  • The Oinoloth is the supreme leader of the Yugoloths, with the Ultroloths below it constantly fighting for the position. Having a single leader makes Yugoloths seem more like Devils, but while Asmodeus has held dominion over the Hells for countless millennia, the title of Oinoloth isn’t as stable. The Oinoloth looks like a rotting humanoid with horns.

It’s worth mentioning that not all Yugoloths look to enter the next caste, since it might be better to be the best in your current tier rather than the lowest in the next. Plenty of Ultroloths, for example, are more than happy to let someone else take the mantle of Oinoloth, so they can influence them from the shadows.

Hades, Home Of The Yugoloths

Dungeons & Dragons image showing adventurers nearing the raven queen castle

Via: Dungeon Masters Guild

The home realm of the Yugoloths is Hades, the lowest of the planes, devoid of color and emotion, where apathy and despair are what most mortals feel while in the realm. It’s divided into three layers or Glooms, and they’re not only connected to each other in Hades, but also to the bottom of other realms of the cosmos.

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Oinos

The first layer of Hades has the river Styx flowing through it, connecting it to the other Fiendish realms and the Blood War. It’s a land of absolute disease, made up of a barren wasteland, its featureless horizon only broken up by the tower Khin Oin.

That tower is where the seat of power of the Yugoloth lies, and where the Oinoloth rules over all Yugoloths. From there, the Oinoloth can create countless diseases and send them to other realms to harvest their pain.

Niflheim

The middle layer of Hades is far more hospitable than the top, but in no way does that make it safe. It’s made up of a dense pine forest, thick fog blocking the view, and a connection to Yggdrasil lies within it.

Pluton

The bottom layer of Hades, connecting to the lower areas of Mount Olympus. Here the Blood War can’t reach, but the countless Yugoloths that make the realm their home make it just as dangerous as the other two layers.

Yugoloths And The Blood War

Dungeons & Dragons Asmodeus comanding his forces in the Blood War
Via Wizards of the Coast

While the Blood War between Demons and Devils does reach Hades, Yugoloths don’t have a stake in who wins it; in fact, they are one of the factions making sure the War never ends, since that way they can get an infinite amount of income from it.

Yugoloths can only be permanently slain within Hades, so most of their schemes are done in either the Abyss or the Hells, where permanent risks are lessened. There, they offer their services to both sides, and they often betray them if someone else can offer them a bigger paycheck.

There’s also a special kind of Yugoloth, the Merrenoloth, who are experts at navigating the river Styx. No other creatures, not even other Yugoloths, know the secrets of these boat drivers, making their service a real prestige in the fights of the Blood War.

Using Yugoloths In A Campaign

Dungeons & Dragons: In You Find a Cursed Idol by Sidharth Chaturvedi, adventurers argue in front of cursed statue
You Find a Cursed Idol by Sidharth Chaturvedi 

The three kinds of Fiends serve different purposes, so which will be best for your campaign depends on what you need. Initially, the best part of Yugoloths is that they allow for a lot of improvisation, since they’re less predictable than their counterparts.

Compared to Demons, Yugoloths can still be used as mindless destroyers, but they can also be bargained with. And since not all Yugoloths are masterminds, it means that they could be brutes that you can trick; Demons are just brutes that kill whatever’s in front of them.

Compared to Devils, Yugoloths aren’t bound by their word, since they will lie and cheat their way to victory, no loophole required, making them far more dangerous than the Devil you know. Be wary, however, since a lot of players prefer a cleaner game of D&D, and being backstabbed three times per session is anything but.

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