Dhergoloths(pronounced: /ˈdɜːrgoʊloʊθz/ DUR-goh-lothz), often called dergholoths, derghodemons, or derghodaemons were brutish yugoloths one step above the mezzoloths in the daemon hierarchy. Like their inferiors, they were insectoid soldiers that worked within mercenary armies, but had more limbs and greater strength at the cost of a lesser intellect.
|“||A dhergoloth's head doesn't turn along with its furiously spinning torso, and its torso can spin a different direction from its dancing legs. I'd like to vivisect one at one point and find out how this could be.||”|
Dhergoloths had a confusing and alien anatomy, standing between 8 feet (2.4 meters) and 10 feet (3 meters) tall on a tripod of legs. Their squat, muscular bodies were round and barrel-like in structure, mottled grayish green, encircled by five arms that each ended in stumpy, four-clawed hands. Their heads were a strange combination of mantis and reptile, with faceted, burning eyes, and a pair of incessantly clicking mandibles. The three sections of their bodies, the head, torso, and legs, could rapidly swivel in any direction a full 360 degrees independently of the others, allowing them to change direction at will with staggering speed.
Dhergoloths were both stupid and stubborn, only fighting when compelled to by a more powerful being or promised a chance to slaughter in the near future. They were too dense to understand complex missions, the nature of war, or the gains that other creatures made from their fighting, nor did they care. They were incredibly sadistic, laughing maniacally when spilling blood and driven by an instinct to cause pain. When not wandering the Lower Planes looking for weaker beings to kill, they had a tendency to congregate in large mobs of up to 500 members. This was likely due to a programmed instinct within their race that spared more powerful yugoloths the tiresome task of gathering them all in one place. Despite being brutes without appreciation for wealth or knowledge of magic, they understood that other beings placed valued on these things, causing them to collect them.
A dhergoloth's swiftly rotating body parts, combined with their multiple limbs and compound eyes, made them virtually impossible to flank. Even those that did not wield weapons, allowing them to easily parry incoming blows, were armed with deadly claws that flailed in every direction along with their spinning torsos. Because of their insectoid body structure, they were known to be capable tunnelers, but were just as likely to try and teleport.
If needed, they could summon aid in the form of a small group of mezzoloths, and could make use of spell-like abilities resembling darkness and fear at will, as well as sleep once a day. Once per day, through the rapid clicking of their pincers, dhergoloths could create a noise with a similar effect to the feeblemind spell, causing non-yugoloths nearby to be particularly susceptible to their rampaging. Most confusing of their powers was their ability to reform, but not in the way typical to most fiends. While normally outsiders could only truly die on their native planes, the backwards dhergoloths had the opposite ability, reforming within 1–-3 days when killed within one of the neutral evil planes, but perishing permanently anywhere else.
Dhergoloths were normally used as shock troopers, barreling into combat against formations of smaller foes and making use of their claws and weapons, often attempting to grab them with their free hands. Since being surrounded was rarely problematic, they were free to indulge their bloodlust, but when pressed they would activate their chattering ability. Despite their love of combat, when in command of mezzoloths they would abusively intimidate their minions into fighting for them, only risking combat once it was clear they could not handle the situation by themselves. When they did engage in combat, their aggression could reach suicidal levels, fighting to the death even when vastly outnumbered.
Dhergoloths received near constant abuse from all yugoloths above them, which in turn led them to exact petty cruelty on those below them. As rank-and-file soldiers, the only beings they were given dominion over were their direct inferiors, the mezzoloths, and punishment-class yugoloths such as the skeroloths and canoloths. If allowed to, dhergoloths normally wandered the Gray Wastes looking for weaker beings to torment, or gathering in their instinctual mob formations waiting for a fight to come to them. Dhergoloths had a taste for soul larvae, a habit that made them an annoyance to any being of the Lower Planes wishing to trade them, especially night hags. They were tolerated to a certain degree by such groups in order to prevent large-scale conflict with the rest of the yugoloths.
Dhergoloths scavenged various styles, types, and crafts of weapons from the dead and dying of a battlefield. Although they might find magical weaponry, this was often confiscated by their superiors, with the best of their weapons normally being cold iron or silver. When they found gemstones and other trinkets, they made a habit of swallowing them in order to aid digestion and regurgitate them later when trying to impress or appease their superiors. This tactic was somewhat risky as their superiors were not above gutting them in order to extract any remaining treasures, a trick that enough denizens of the Lower Planes realized that at some point looting a dhergoloth's corpse became somewhat standard practice.
Although capable of crude speech, they would rather communicate telepathically. Among mortals, derghodemons were rather easily persuaded into accepting contracts that did not benefit them and possibly made them worse off. Bargains made by individual dhergoloths were normally tilted in their summoner's favor, a fact they often did not care about so long as a constant supply of enemies to kill was provided. They were often employed to serve as brute assassins or raiders, hired to wipe out rebels, spies, and angry mobs. Despite their willingness to comply with most contracts, demonologists had to be wary when calling upon a dhergoloth. Tasks that required complex thinking or had long wait times in between killings were either forgotten or ignored, such as murdering those they were assigned to guard when no new victims arrived.
Despite one of their main purposes being to fight in the Blood War, they could not comprehend why they were fighting it, only that they were being given a chance to fight. When the Blood War entered its colder state, some derghodemons took up residence in the Blood Rift and Elemental Chaos, as well as elemental mountain ranges. Although they were native to Hades, they could be found in the Lower Planes of Tarterus and Gehenna like many yugoloths, but more so than most. Dhergoloths were rarely encountered on other planes as they could be truly killed there. Contrary to most fiends, dhergoloths would resurrect within three days if killed on one of their aligned planes but not anywhere else, a strange fact thought to be a result of their constant fighting in the Blood War. 
The reason for the existence of dhergoloths was confusing to most, and they were speculated to be one of the punishment castes of yugoloths. Stripping a planar denizen of their experiences was akin to destroying them to most. In truth, the dhergoloths were the second stage in a yugoloth's metamorphosis, and a necessary stage in order to advance. The special lesson required to reach this form was for a mezzoloth to realize that, despite growing in physical power, that dhergoloths were weaker than them in certain ways, and that raw power was not enough to command. Dhergoloths in turn had to learn that advancement did not always mean an increase in power, even though their piscoloth superiors were more powerful than them. In order to become a piscoloth, dhergoloths had to learn that even when one loses power, they do not always lose influence in turn, which was an essential lesson in manipulation. Those that managed to learn this underwent a drowning ceremony in the River Styx and became piscoloths.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Allen Varney, ed. (June 1994). Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix. (TSR, Inc.), p. 121. ISBN 978-1560768623.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 248. ISBN 978-0786966240.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Mike Mearls, Brian R. James, Steve Townshend (July 2010). Demonomicon. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 111. ISBN 978-0786954926.
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 Todd Stewart (September 2007). “Campaign Workbook: Wandering Monster - Dhergoloth”. In James Jacobs ed. Dungeon #150 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 124–125.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Gary Gygax (August 1983). Monster Manual II 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 29. ISBN 0-88038-031-4.
- ↑ J. Paul LaFountain (1991). Monstrous Compendium: Outer Planes Appendix. Edited by Timothy B. Brown. (TSR, Inc.), p. 5. ISBN 1-56076-055-9.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Colin McComb (September 1997). Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Edited by Ray Vallese. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 70–72. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
- ↑ Colin McComb (December 1995). “Liber Malevolentiae”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Conflict (TSR, Inc.), pp. 29–30. ISBN 0-7869-0309-0.
- ↑ Colin McComb and Monte Cook (July 1996). Hellbound: The Blood War. Edited by Ray Vallese. (TSR, Inc), p. Cannot cite page numbers from this product. ISBN 0-7869-0407-0.