Dagon (pronounced: /ˈdeɪgɒn/ Day-gon), also called the Prince of the Depths, was a primordial, an obyrith, and a demon lord. His realm was the Shadowsea, the 89th layer of the Abyss.[note 1]
There once was an isle dead west of the sunset,
A place where the sun's rays danced carefree and bright.
Its shores all a'sparkle in white shining beaches,
And jungles aplenty with game day and night.
They say that the people who dwelt there were happy,
They say that they lived their lives simple and fair,
Yet one day a bitter wind rose from the ocean
And took the poor folk by surprise unaware.
For ruin had risen in thunderous fury,
A ravenous shadow fell over the shore.
And when Father Dagon's black gullet gaped open
The waves ran with blood and the isle was no more.
Dagon's form was a mixture of both octopus and fish. Dagon sprouted countless tentacles and was covered in black, rubbery skin that was punctuated with many red, unblinking eyes. Fish scales shielded his flesh, and row upon row of long fangs jutted from his maw. He stood more than 40 feet (12 meters) tall and was considered one of the most fearsome of the demon lords.
In ancient myth, when the first primordials arrived in the Abyss, Dagon was already there, lurking in the depths. When Demogorgon went to claim the shard of evil, Dagon rose out of the Blood Sea to challenge him for control. Though they fought a titanic battle, the shard was claimed instead by Obox-ob. In later times, Dagon was the only one of the demon lords to be known openly as an obyrith.
Dagon's history on Toril lay below the surface of the Sea of Fallen Stars and the waters in the west of Maztica. He and his minions lurked for a long time in the Trench of Lopok and were only known as "Those who Sleep Below". They infested the dreams of those who swam in the Sea of Fallen Stars with nightmares. The most ambitious of the demons was Prince Dagon, who planned to overcome a pantheon of sea creatures and achieve their divine powers. To reach this goal he brought the depths of the Sea of Fallen Stars under the control of his servants and their forces. The next step was made with long-forgotten eldritch magic. He restricted the influence of the deities of the shalarin in the Sea of Corynactis, on the west of Maztica.
The next step was the creation of five "wild tides" to sweep large numbers of shalarin into the Sea of Fallen Stars, where his minions could slaughter them. The first wild tide began in −1509 DR with the opening of the Wildtide Portals connecting the two ocean realms. Many shalarin were swept into the Sea of Fallen Stars, where roughly 70% died under the attacks of Dagon's servants. The rest were only rescued by the intervention of enemies of Dagon, like merfolk.
Dagon repeated this tactic every 720 years and the last wild tide was in the Year of the Unstrung Harp, 1371 DR. This time, the portal stayed and became permanent. The shalarin of Faerûn kept the portal a secret, fearing that others could use it for their own ends. But another fact was more disturbing for them. Between the fourth and fifth tide, the shalarin of their homelands near Maztica had all but abandoned their gods because they had grown silent. Instead of the gods, they began to venerate the demon Dagon and his cult became the dominant religion in the Sea of Corynactis. The shalarin of the Sea of Fallen Stars cut off the travel between their communities. But it was too late and the cult of Dagon had already taken root among their ranks and grew in secret.
Cult of Dagon
Dagon also seems to have had heroic, "good" progeny in Faerûn, one for certain in the form of Captain Aulruick Thoster, one of the heroes attempting to stop the eladrin Malyanna from opening the Far Manifold with the Key of Stars in the Year of the Secret, 1396 DR. Thoster's heritage manifested itself in increments periodically during his quest; originally, he believed it to be of kuo-toa origin, but eventually it was revealed to him (via an extremely painful transformation) that he was in actuality a 'demon scion' and a direct descendant of Dagon.
The Outcast Dagon
The demon lord Dagon should not be confused with the exiled devil of the same name, who dwelled on Avernus, first layer of the Nine Hells. Originally known as Jaqon, Asmodeus forcibly changed Jaqon's name to "Dagon" to thwart attempts to summon the offender.
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- Demonomicon implies (but does not explicitly state) Dagon is a primordial on pages 7 and 8, by referring to "the mighty primordials clashing in a battle", which is presumed to include Dagon. However, it declares Dagon officially an obyrith on page 17. It is possible that instead Dagon attacked these primordials or is a primordial who became an obyrith.
Outside of the Dungeons & Dragons universe, the name 'Dagon' was originally that of an ancient Mesopotamian and Canaanite fertility god, named Dagon or Dagan, who was mistakenly interpreted as a fish-god. Dagon, mainly the fish-god version, appears often in popular culture, most notably H.P. Lovecraft's influential horror short story "Dagon". This appears to be the basis for the D&D Dagon.
Dagon is first mentioned in the 1st-edition Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook Monster Manual II, where it is said in passing that he rules a liquid layer dominated by marine dretches, hezrous, krakens, and horrible fish-monsters.
- Ed Greenwood (November 1984). “Nine Hells revisited”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #91 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 18–34.
- Gary Gygax (August 1983). Monster Manual II 1st edition. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-88038-031-4.
- James Jacobs (November 2006). “The Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Dagon: Prince of Darkened Depths”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #349 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 30–45.
- Eric L. Boyd and Ed Greenwood (May 2007). “Volo's Guide: Demon Cults of the Realms”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #355 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 70–73.
- James Jacobs, Erik Mona, and Ed Stark (2006). Fiendish Codex I: The Lost Annals. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2015-04-11.
- Bruce R. Cordell (September 2010). Key of Stars. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786956289.
- The Throne of Bloodstone
- Ed Stark, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (June 13, 2006). Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 59–61. ISBN 0-7869-3919-2.
- James Jacobs (November 2006). “The Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Dagon: Prince of Darkened Depths”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #349 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 31.
- James Jacobs (November 2006). “The Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Dagon: Prince of Darkened Depths”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #349 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 30.
- Mike Mearls, Brian R. James, Steve Townshend (July 2010). Demonomicon. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 7–8. ISBN 978-0786954926.
- Rob Heinsoo, Stephen Schubert (May 19, 2009). Monster Manual 2 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 45. ISBN 0786995101.
- Robert Adducci (2018). Cauldron of Sapphire (DDAL07-17) (PDF). D&D Adventurers League: Tomb of Annihilation (Wizards of the Coast), p. 3.
- Mike Mearls, Brian R. James, Steve Townshend (July 2010). Demonomicon. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 17. ISBN 978-0786954926.
- Eric L. Boyd and Ed Greenwood (May 2007). “Volo's Guide: Demon Cults of the Realms”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #355 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 71.
- Bruce R. Cordell (September 2010). Key of Stars. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 300. ISBN 978-0786956289.
- Ed Greenwood (November 1984). “Nine Hells revisited”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #91 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 21–22.