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Rutterkins (or rutterkin singular and plural[1][4]) were a warped breed of deformed tanar'ri and among the weakest of demons.[3][1] In a sense, they were true representatives of chaos, for the pathetic mutants were held in utter contempt by all others and completely unbound by masters, societies or causes.[4]

They are hateful. Vicious. Bad-tasting.
— Xanxost, the blue slaad researcher[7]


Rutterkins were 5‒7 ft (1.5‒2.1 m) tall, disfigured demons[8] that resembled hideous humans,[5] and were considered ugly even by demonic standards.[2] Their skin was mottled green and blue-violet, and if not completely hairless had only the occasional patch or two of uncomfortable-looking wiry bristles.[8][3] They had backward-pointing ears[5] on either side of their pointed, elongated skulls, and tiny, red eyes swollen with vicious hatred.[8][3]

Every rutterkin was deformed in its own unique way,[8] their misshapen limbs and bodies[5] making them universally asymmetrical. Most were hunched and frequently howled in pain as their bodies continued to warp and contort at random. Sometimes (about 10% of the time), they'd be so badly mangled that an arm would no longer function or their already staggered or limping gait would get even worse.[8][3]


Rutterkins were wild, undisciplined savages, crude and rough members of demonkind that respected only brute force and destroyed anything weaker than themselves with savage delight.[3] The vicious creatures were known for being cruel and bullying whenever the opportunity presented itself.[8][5] Whether they actually believed in the superiority they acclaimed over certain other demons or if they only did so due to an inferiority complex was unclear but irrelevant;[5] they felt trapped in a life on ceaseless pain and weren't happy unless they were making someone else suffer.[8]

Though they were feral and monstrous creatures, they weren't exactly stupid, most having average human intellect and relatively high cunning, and at least some of them being intelligent enough to understand concepts like treasure, value, and trade.[3][5][9]


As a whole, rutterkins were utterly incompetent,[7] unwilling to attack with their natural armaments (claws or fists) since doing so caused them physical pain akin to punching with a sprained wrist.[4] As far as demons went, they had few magical abilities; they were limited to the creation of small areas of darkness, flight, telekinesis and, once per day, teleportation.[8][5][4]

They could also generate fear, either by touch or by emitting a wave of crippling terror when several of them grouped together, although their fear didn't cause others to run away, but stand rooted in place.[1][5] Like other tanar'ri, they could summon more of their kind, but were limited to summoning other rutterkin, least demons like manes and dretches or, on rare occasions, chasmes.[8][5][4]


A rutterkin wields its axe next to a mane and a bar-lgura.

Rutterkins lacked creativity in combat, rarely using the few abilities at their disposal to interesting effect.[8] When they spotted enemies, they gathered together in an overwhelming mob and descended upon them.[1] Though they had some sense of self-preservation,[7] many felt the only recourse to dealing with their pain was destruction and would kill anything in their path or end their miserable lives trying.[2]

Though only a few donned armor, they had a preference for wielding weapons,[8] and they were well-known for the exotic, often masterwork, arms they employed.[3] When forced, rutterkins wielded longswords or battleaxes, but even these weapons were strange for their type and rarely seen anywhere outside of grotesque, rutterkin hands.[8][3][4]

Their serrated broadswords were known as flatchets and were especially effective against the unarmored and usually wielded alongside shields or other weapons. Their most frequently wielded weapons were the axes, similar to those of orc double axes but with crescent-shaped blades.[8][4] Rather than a battleaxe however, many rutterkins wielded a snap-tong, a polearm ending in a sharp spike with one or more crescent-shaped pincers on the end that allowed the wielder to ensnare and continue to injure their enemies. For ranged fighting, they wielded about five tri-blades, 1 ft (0.3 m) wide, three-bladed wedges flung from sling-like deviced called atlatls.[3][8][5]

Two rutterkins


Even by the standards of the chaotic evil "society" of the Abyss, the rutterkin were total outcasts, exiles among the deranged ranks of the tanar'ri.[8][4][7] They were utterly despised by all demons, regarded as pitiful weaklings by and granted lower status than even the actually weaker dretches.[7][10] So deeply did the rutterkins hate their position that they wandered the Abyss as loners,[4][7] rampaging in areas of the Abyss unclaimed by more powerful demons.[3]

There were only a few exceptions to this general rule. Chasmes that tried to carve out territories as minor lords took on rutterkin servants, but even then the fly demons only treated them as allies because they found rutterkins easy to dominate and rule over, and they otherwise ignored them.[8][4][5][7] Armanites, despite their general hatred of least tanar'ri, infrequently took them on as servants, smithies, groomers, and auxiliary riders.[11]

Even in matters of warfare, the rutterkins were treated as lesser beings. While many Abyssal armies used the rutterkin as basic foot soldiers,[3][10] putting them under the bullying control of bulezau or armanite captains,[2] they weren't even granted the "privilege" of being drafted into the Blood War to die in droves as cannon fodder,[4][10] although this was debatable.[12]

However, despite hating their kin, the rutterkin unwittingly ended up serving them as guards for their home plane against non-demons. They were constantly searching the Abyss looking for those that they could prey upon and viciously savaged any unwelcome intruders, and though usually far too weak to stop these beings, they typically tried to summon reinforcements, thus alerting other demons of the presence of trespassers.[1][4][10]

When not gathered into a standing army, the rutterkins most often grouped together in gangs of at least three and at most twelve.[3][5] By no means did they do this searching for compassion or to offer sympathy; they heckled, belittled and beat up each other as well. The rutterkins recognized they were near the bottom of the pecking order,[3] and ganging up allowed them to return the favor for their abuse on beings stronger than themselves, such as lone vrocks or hezrous.[8][5] They only restricted themselves to manes and dretches normally out of self-preservation, but any feeble or greatly wounded tanar'ri they believed couldn't hurt them back too badly was fair game to them.[4][7]


Rutterkins came into being when the foul, chaotic energies of the Abyss mutated other creatures. The process was similar to the effects of a disease known as warp touch, where raw chaos and dissolution caused the afflicted being to mutate with results ranging from useful or benign to dangerous or deadly.[8][4] They were also known to spontaneously emerge from the corpses of dead manes.[2]

Like those infected with a horrible disease, rutterkins could spread the plague of their cancerous existence by bite. Those that succumbed to this Warping Plague underwent an excruciating process as their bodies contorted, until they were mere abyssal wretches, bereft of their former identities and left to join the rest of their kind following the wake or rutterkin destruction.[1]

Like manes and dretches, chaotic evil mortals occasionally reincarnated into rutterkins after dying in Thanatos, one of the layers of the Abyss.[6]

Outside of some form of magical intervention, there was a way of rutterkins to claw their way out of their wretched state. By expressing their anguish through distinguishing brutality and a thirst for destruction that rose above the norm, rutterkins could tap into the chaotic essence of the Abyss and transform into a new, more powerful kind of demon.[2]


Demon lords had rutterkins formed from raw manes in a process so unholy and disgusting that blindness could be considered a positive alternative, doing so with intent to create a slightly more powerful breed of soldier that could be easily kept under control. They also used it against powerful demons as a method of demotion in situations where killing the subjects could be considered merciful.[3]

Sibriexes, obyriths that could channel Abyssal power to create demons from other creatures, could create entire armies of rutterkins within a few days,[13] and nalfeshnees made them from the souls of the evil but incompetent and arrogant to teach them humility through humiliation.[7][4] Another way of becoming a rutterkin was to start as a dretch and then rise above the others in the pack.[7]

Regardless of how they got that way, becoming a rutterkin didn't stop being painful just because the transformation was complete, for indeed it never truly ended. Their corrupted forms continued to mutate without warning leaving them in constant, shrieking pain.[8][3] Even if they managed to become a different kind of demon afterwards, one that became a rutterkin never truly recovered, and would resort to anything to keep their grip on power.[2]


In 1370 DR, rutterkins along with other tanar'ri were found in the Dungeon of Death on its Habitat Level, where they were subservient to the adolescent nabassu Visceris.[14]

In the 14th century DR, Vheod Runechild read of an ancient tower and wished to find out more. He gifted a rutterkin a hefty amount of gold and a magical cloak to determine the tower's location.[9]

Rumors and Legends[]

Xanxost has heard that the original rutterkin were humans who came from the Prime to the Abyss, but Xanxost knows better to know that no one knows.
— Xanxost[7]

Ancient stories told of a race of humans that, from the corners of the Prime Material Plane, experimented with planar travel. On their journey throughout planes, they discovered the tanar'ri in the Abyss, who enslaved and abused the, to them, alien creatures, and turned them into the first rutterkin.[4]



The Dungeon of DeathDungeon #54: "The Fiends of Tethyr"
Referenced only
The Glass Prison
Organized Play & Licensed Adventures
Faces of Fortune

Further Reading[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 136. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Mike Mearls, Brian R. James, Steve Townshend (July 2010). Demonomicon. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 141. ISBN 978-0786954926.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 Ed Stark, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (June 13, 2006). Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 51–52. ISBN 0-7869-3919-2.
  4. 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 Allen Varney, ed. (June 1994). Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix. (TSR, Inc.), p. 108. ISBN 978-1560768623.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 Gary Gygax (August 1983). Monster Manual II 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), pp. 41–42. ISBN 0-88038-031-4.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ed Stark, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (June 13, 2006). Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 127. ISBN 0-7869-3919-2.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 Colin McComb (September 1997). Faces of Evil: The Fiends. Edited by Ray Vallese. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 44. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 8.17 8.18 Monte Cook (October 2002). Book of Vile Darkness. Edited by David Noonan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 170–171. ISBN 0-7869-3136-1.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Monte Cook (April 1999). The Glass Prison. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 9. ISBN 978-0786913435.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Colin McComb, Monte Cook (July 1996). “The Dark of the War”. In Ray Vallese ed. Hellbound: The Blood War (TSR, Inc.), p. 22. ISBN 0-7869-0407-0.
  11. Wolfgang Baur and Lester Smith (1994-07-01). “Monstrous Supplement”. In Michele Carter ed. Planes of Chaos (TSR, Inc), pp. 24–25. ISBN 1560768746.
  12. Ed Stark, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (2006-06-20). Fiendish Codex I, Part 2: The Lost Annals: The Woeful Escarand. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2014-02-18. Retrieved on 2017-09-15.
  13. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 138. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  14. Jason Carl (May 2000). The Dungeon of Death. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16. ISBN 978-1560761327.