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Nalfeshnees (pronounced: /nɑːlˈfɛʃniznal-FESH-neez[6]) or type IV demons were tanar'ri that acted as the ruling authority for many beings within the Abyss.[1] They were the slothful and gluttonous creatures that acted as the nobility of the Abyss, bickering amongst each other for control of small fiefdoms with pretensions of being refined rulers.[1][2]


Nalfeshnees were repulsive demons that towered over most other demonic entities, standing at least 10 feet (3 meters) tall.[5] Most, however, stood over 20 feet (6.1 meters) tall and weighed a gargantuan 8,000 pounds (3,600 kilograms), with some being even more massive. Among the most hideous of demonic powers, their bodies were most generously described as corpulent, combining the most abysmal features of a boar and ape into a bipedal monstrosity. They had small, feathered wings, greatly undersized compared to their rotund figures, that despite their flimsy appearance, enabled nalfeshnees to fly.[3] Nalfeshnees did not so much walk as waddle, when they were not simply flying.[2][3] Their glowing red eyes looked hungrily at most mortals they came across.[4]


Behind their swinish exterior, both in appearance and behavior, nalfeshnees possessed a dangerous intellect.[1] Other beings were placed within three categories by nalfeshnees: "fit to eat", "fit to use", and "fit to serve". Creatures a nalfeshnee would consume included animals, lesser demons, and most humanoid races. They did not conduct negotiations with these beings, the same as most people would not converse with their food. Among a nalfeshnee's preferred foods were halflings and terrified beings.[2]

The second group consisted of beings that had more worth outside a nalfeshnee's stomach than within it. Powerful humanoids, certain demons, gnomes, immortals, insects (including arachnids), and elemental creatures were in this category. Some entities within this category were of no use to a nalfeshnee, they were here because they were simply inedible.[2]

Beings worthy of a nalfeshnee's servitude would have to be far greater than the nalfeshnee itself, a position reserved for demon lords, balors, primordials, and powerful elementals. The true spinelessness of a nalfeshnee was only revealed when in contact with one of these entities. Normally nalfeshnees employed cutlery, regardless of condition, in an attempt to appear dignified and renounced combat as being underneath them. In the presence of a more powerful being, this facade melted away into a whinging, sycophantic wretch that bowed and scraped to its masters without shame.[2]

Although their intellects often rivaled those of balors, causing them to view themselves as superior, nalfeshnees obeyed them in recognition of their greater strength. When their masters were not present, nalfeshnees would not hesitate to secretly foil their plans or embarrass them. Nalfeshnees carried no great regard for the Blood War and would sabotage their balor masters even if it worsened the side of demons overall.[4]


With claws and teeth, nalfeshnees were capable of brutality in the heat of battle. Like other tanar'ri, they could summon fellow tanar'ri to aid them when needed. These could be demons as powerful as glabrezus, hezrous, or even another nalfeshnee if need be. Despite their bloated bodies, they could easily, if clumsily, navigate the battlefield with their wings, if not their teleportation powers. Their truesight pierced illusions or other means of deception. A small array of spells were in their possession. Another ability most commonly used by nalfeshnees was their specialized ability to smite those around them with unholy light. Those struck by this light were dazed, surrounded by visions of their worst fears.[3]


A fearsome nalfeshnee in battle.

Although they put on airs of being above brawling, nalfeshnees were demons with a near irresistible bloodlust. When they deemed it acceptable they would engage in battle, smiting their foes with their nightmarish nimbus ability before ruthlessly savaging them while they were dazed. While physically dangerous they were more likely to be found on the battlefield soaring above the masses to target more easily defeated foes. When in the middle of combat they used their telepathic abilities to bark orders at their inferiors, all the while terrifying their enemies.[1]


You — manes.
You — rutterkin.
You — dretch.
You — dinner.
— The nalfeshnee lord, Magistrate Oozewart, judging petitioners[7]

Nalfeshnees were best known for their roles as the judges of the Abyss, processing damned souls from the Mountain of Woe them as appropriate, a task they loved to perform.[3][7] From atop their flaming thrones, they were the ones responsible for turning the newly deceased of the Abyss into manes, or other lesser demons depending on whether food, slaves, or slave food was most needed.[7]

The rulers of the plane, aptly titled the Lords of Woe, claimed knowledge over the quality of the petitioners brought before them and the ability to properly assess the best demon they would make. Such claims were likely complete fabrications, as despite having guidelines, nalfeshnees were ultimately beings of chaos which would whimsically promote those before them into whatever form they desired.[7] Although lesser demons were more common transformations, nalfeshnees could turn petitioners into demons such as chasme immediately.[8]

Gabberslug, a nalfeshnee judge in Sigil's Court of Woe.

The intended procedures for the promotion of petitioners typically had manes made from the spirits of those without sufficient malevolence and malleability and dretches made from those that did. Rutterkin were made from the especially prideful so as to teach them humility through humiliation. Nalfeshnees did not normally function as commanders but were said to decide the makeup of Abyssal armies, with some claims even being that they could promote and demote demonic generals, thus altering the path of the Blood War.[7]

Nalfeshnees, despite their love of food, possessed reasonable self-control. They often obtained food from the Prime Material Plane and stored it within their pantries rather than simply eating it immediately. This food was later consumed in elaborate feasts with other nalfeshnee.[1]


When nalfeshnees trained to become wizards, they typically focused their studies on necromancy so as to create undead minions to protect their strongholds.[9]


The process by which nalfeshnees created demons was a horrific one that befitted their voracious nature. Nalfeshnees devoured not only flesh, but negative emotions such as misery, fear and rage out of those they saw. Feelings like these were consumed in tandem with life force through their hungry eyes, leaving the husks of the former victims left full of empty thoughts. Victims that weren't killed by the process were left in a dazed state for potentially weeks, incapable of fighting, sleeping or even thinking properly. Afterwards, the drained shells were transformed into tanar'ri in torturous ceremonies.[4][10]


A nalfeshnee in graceful flight.

The fact that soul larva typically arrived at the Woeful Escarand was not a coincidence. The demons of the Abyss had intentionally subverted the system millennia ago so that such souls could be judged and promoted at the discretion of the Lords of Woe.[11]

The lich Acererak trapped a nalfeshnee in a black obelisk outside his Tomb of the Nine Gods, as a guard against those would topple the obelisk.[12]

There was a statue of a nalfeshnee on the Dungeon Level of Undermountain.[13]

The archmage Arcturia kept a nalfeshnee in a nalfeshnee shaped pedestal, as a guard for her phylactery in the layer of Arcturiadoom in Undermountain.[14]

Notable Nalfeshnees[]

  • A nalfeshnee skull, decorated.

    Nalfeshnee, the strongest nalfeshnee for which the race was named.[15][5]
  • Zerevimeel, summoned by Quenthel Baenre in 1373 DR.[16]
  • Orcus was rumored to have once have been a nalfeshnee.[17]
  • Judge Gabberslug was a massive nalfeshnee thought by scholars to be a former Lord of Woe before his misuse of his position to prank the balor generals got him exiled. He eventually found work for the Dustmen of Sigil, operating from his court of corpses in the Negative Energy Plane as a fickle and openly disgusting arbiter of justice.[10]
  • Gardener was a nalfeshnee that protected the vast expanse of the Drooling Jungle from interference by outside forces, like a farmer protecting his land from vermin.[18]
  • Slaughtertusk was a nalfeshnee sent by Baphomet to guard the Maze Engine in the Labyrinth area of Undermountain.[19]
  • Trantolox was a nalfeshnee sent by Yeenoghu to break into the Bleeding Citadel to claim the Sword of Zariel.[20]


See Also[]


Out of the AbyssTomb of AnnihilationWaterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad MageBaldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus
Video Games
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms
Card Games
Magic: The Gathering (CLB)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 54, 62. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Mike Mearls, Greg Bilsland and Robert J. Schwalb (June 15, 2010). Monster Manual 3 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 44–45. ISBN 0786954902.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 40.45–46. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Allen Varney, ed. (June 1994). Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix. (TSR, Inc.), p. 107. ISBN 978-1560768623.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-935696-00-8.
  6. Frank Mentzer (January 1985). “Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #93 (TSR, Inc.), p. 28.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Colin McComb (September 1997). Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Edited by Ray Vallese. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 42–43.47. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
  8. Colin McComb (September 1997). Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Edited by Ray Vallese. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 60. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
  9. Colin McComb, Monte Cook (July 1996). “The Dark of the War”. In Ray Vallese ed. Hellbound: The Blood War (TSR, Inc.), p. 49. ISBN 0-7869-0407-0.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Ray Vallese (1996). Uncaged: Faces of Sigil. Edited by Michele Carter. (TSR, Inc), pp. 38–41. ISBN 0786903856.
  11. Ed Stark, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (June 13, 2006). Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 108. ISBN 0-7869-3919-2.
  12. Christopher Perkins, Will Doyle, Steve Winter (September 19, 2017). Tomb of Annihilation. Edited by Michele Carter, Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 131. ISBN 978-0-7869-6610-3.
  13. Christopher Perkins (November 2018). Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage. Edited by Jeremy Crawford. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7869-6626-4.
  14. Christopher Perkins (November 2018). Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage. Edited by Jeremy Crawford. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 192. ISBN 978-0-7869-6626-4.
  15. R.A. Salvatore (September 2015). Archmage (Hardcover). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 259. ISBN 0-7869-6575-4.
  16. Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 185–186. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  17. Ed Stark, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (June 13, 2006). Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3919-2.
  18. Ed Stark, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (June 13, 2006). Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3919-2.
  19. Christopher Perkins, Adam Lee, Richard Whitters (September 1, 2015). Out of the Abyss. Edited by Jeremy Crawford. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 187. ISBN 978-0-7869-6581-6.
  20. Adam Lee, et al. (September 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. Edited by Michele Carter, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7869-6687-5.