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Friday, June 30, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to Cambions

In older editions of D&D, cambions were demons. In 4th edition, they were devils. What’s the deal? I have no idea. I figured I'd read up on everything I could find on cambions and explore what turns out to be a very under-used creature in D&D.

I'm going to through each product and pull the information that I think is most relevant. I'll also detail every official cambion NPC that I can find.

I even found a cambion link to the villain of the upcoming 5e adventure, the Tomb of Annihilation.

This stuff can be a little confusing. Remember:
  • Devils are lawful and they live in the Nine Hells.
  • Demons are chaotic and they live in the Abyss.
AD&D Monster Manual 2

Always Male: When a human female mates with a demon, the offspring is always a cambion male.  Cambions, also known as "semi-demons", are chaotic evil.

Appearance: They range from 6 - 7.5 feet in height. They have an odd-colored complexion, scaly skin, misshapen ears, fangs, small horns. They are varied in appearance.

There are two types of cambions: major cambions and baron/marquis cambions.

Powers and Traits:
  • They can let out an awe effect at will.
  • They can speak with demons
  • Unharmed by silver, harmed by iron
Baron or marquis cambions have 1-4 of these abilities:
  1. Cause fear
  2. Detect magic
  3. Levitate,
  4. Polymorph self
This information stay roughly the same up until 4th edition.

Dungeon Magazine #13 - Ruins of Nol-Daer


MacDaer is a weird name for a demon, right? I don't really get that.

Ships Passing in the Night: MacDaer is the son of Demara the Enchantress, an evil sorceress who had "a passing fling with a conjured demonic friend".

Foster Demon: The sorceress was 18th level and she had two pet black dragons, so she's a pretty big deal. She put MacDaer under the care of a "local baron" of an Abyssal layer named Arzial. MacDaer became a thief/spellcaster.

After 100 years, he went home and saw the castle in ruins and his mother gone. He didn't realize that time passed differently in that layer of the Abyss. For him, only 46 years had passed.

MacDaer's Crew: MacDaer claimed the castle and got himself a posse of spriggan minions. He was looking for the secret library, deep underground. Apparently it was buried under rock. He abducted some dwarven miners and forced them to dig a tunnel.

That's where the heroes come in. We gotta rescue those dwarves!

Fecal Aroma: So.. MacDaer's quarters is filled with the "pungent odor of fresh manure" so strong that it might make your eyes water. MacDaer says the smell reminds him of home.

MacDaer has a new magic item called the Amulet of the Abyss:
  • Worn by honored guests traveling through certain layers of the Abyss.
  • The amulet bears the image of a longsword grasped by a tentacle.
  • Can summon demons twice a day - manes or dretches.
  • This is linked to Arzial, the demon baron who serves under Graz'zt!
  • You can use the amulet to communicate with Arzial directly.
Throne of Bloodstone

There is an epic section in this adventure where it describes many different abyssal layers. One of them is home to cambions.

Lair of the Semi-Demons: Yes, it is the lair of the semi-demons. It is an abyssal layer that looks like a Material Plane world. There's small towns spread throughout. Feared by humans and despised by demons, the cambions and alu-fiends live in small villages and war on each other constantly.

Alu-Demons and Cambions: It says in here that the offspring of human females and demons are cambions. Alu-demons are the offspring of human males and succubi.

No Children: "They are sterile, so there are no children."

AD&D 2e - Outer Planes Appendix

Origin of Major Cambions: If a lesser or greater demon mates with a human female, the kid is a major cambion

Origins of Barons/Marquis: Barons and marquis are the offspring of true demons. "In either case, the mother does not survive the birth."

  • Cambions are ugly and terrifying (?). Ugly?
  • They have pitch black skin, scaly, pointed ears, and sickly fangs.
  • Most of them have magic weapons and armor.
  • They are very stealthy
Cambions and alu-fiends are freaks and outcasts and thus, they're bitter and hateful toward all things.
They are often personal bodyguards or servants of balors. Evil cambions serve in the blood war as assassins.

Some are Nice: A small percent of cambions are neutral or good. These wretched creatures are doomed to an existence of misery

Well of Worlds
This is a great book! Tons of fun adventures.

The Arch-Lector: In one adventure, there is a cambion known as the Arch-Lector, Byrri Tarmoril.

Lots o' details:
  • Ruler: He runs a planar gate-town (a town right on the border of a plane) called Plague-Mort.
  • Demented Scheme: The arch-lector wanted the town to get sucked into the plane it borders - the Abyss. To do so, he needs to sow chaos. 
  • Betrayal: His balor masters decide the best way to sow chaos is to kill him. 
  • Apparently it works.. in later editions, Plague-Mort is in the first layer of the Abyss.
  • Brutal Pleasures! He has a private chapel to Umberlee where he enjoys "brutal pleasures." 
  • Mood Rooms: He has dens to suit his moods. The ones he uses the most are Anger, jealousy and spite. 
  • Resurrectable: When it's all over.. the Arch-Lector gets raised from the dead.
Marquis Fearson: He's the one assigned to kill the Arch-Lector. He is capable and he works closely with his balor father

Mortai: A major cambion, Mortai is Fearson's brother on his mother's side. He worships Fearson, unaware that Fearson wants him dead.


In the biggest adventure in this boxed set, there is an encounter with two cambions and an alu-fiend.
  • Faare: Alu-fiend.
  • Hinvar: Suave cambion with magic weapon.
  • Veridis: Looks a little odd.
They got on Graz'zt's Bad Side: These rapscallions stole a magical a sword named blackshield. Whoever named that sword needs to go back to sword-naming school. They stole it from the demon lord, Graz'zt! They try to trick the heroes into taking it, so that when the magical defender of the sword appears, they can steal it back from the adventurers and run.

Blackshield: Blackshield is intelligent, speaks three languages and it can cast spells including heal, invisibility and lightning bolt.

Harbinger House 

Crimjack: This cambion is 7 feet tall, has black skin and wears spiked armor. He's basically a flunky of a scheming succubus named Nari. At one point, he commands a group of manes in an attack.

Factol's Manifesto

Ely Cromlich: This cambion has a mother from the plane of Elysium. He is a high-ranking member of the doomguard, a faction that makes weapons. He may or may not be doing it with the leader of the doomguard, Factol Pentar.

Ely is in charge of the Armory. In Faction War, when things get crazy, he starts giving out free weapons to anyone who will attack the Mercykillers (who are more or less the police of the city of Sigil).

Uncaged: Faces of Sigil

Rule-of-Three: This is probably one of the most prominent cambions out there. Rule-of-Three takes on the guise of a githzerai sage, but that's an illusion. In truth, he is a cambion. A son of Graz'zt the demon lord!

His true secret mission is to get the devils and the demons to stop fighting and cooperate, so that they can take over all of the other planes (under the rule of Graz'zt, obviously).

Roleplaying Challenge: Any time you ask this guy a question, he gives three answers. My players love to troll me by asking him a lot of questions so I have to come up with all these answers on the spot.

Planewalkers Handbook

Thrau: This cambion sneaks around in the plane of Acheron, looking for magical weapons.Supposedly he sells a lot of magic items he's acquired in the realm, including odd magic weapons like garrotes, blowguns and arquebuses.
Faces of Evil

Ollistaar: A poet who wrote Into the Dread Styx, a moving testament to loyalty, betrayal and loss.

Zaxarus: Apparently, this cambion's treachery caused the downfall of an abyssal fortress called Malevolus.

Planes of Conflict

Rgillyrg: A cambion sorcerer who tried to use an ESP spell to figure out what a phiuhl was. He went crazy, but before he did so, he blurted out things like "undead lords of brass" and "spirits of long-dead wind dukes."

A phiuhl is a monster resembling a tall column of malevolent steam that can drain the life right out of you.

Dungeon Magazine #55 - Umbra

This is one of my favorite Chris Perkins adventures, set in Planescape.

Dirngrin: "A slender elfin man decked out in tight-fitting black leather armor with spiked metal shoulder plates and knee-high, studded-leather boots. His skin is dark his ears pointed."

He uttered one of my groups favorite quotes of all time: "The Cage ain't a place for the clueless, cutter. It'll make a basher go barmy before you can say, 'Pike it, primescum!'"

Dirngrin switches alliances and ends up helping a succubus try to sell her daughter to a demon lord.

Doom Dagger: Dirgrin has a doom dagger. It's infused with negative energy. When he rolls a natural 20 to hit, he drains a level from the victim!

Iuz the Evil

Iuz is a major villain of Greyhawk. He's a demi-god and the son of Iggwilv and Graz'zt. 

Dragon Magazine #292

Drath: Drath was a cambion who wielded a magic sickle called Gravetongue. He was killed by his treacherous lieutenants. Minions of Vecna ended up getting their hands on the sickle.

D&D 3rd Edition - Expedition to the Demonweb Pits
Cambions didn't get a lot of airtime in 3rd edition. They didn't appear in a book until nearly the end!  We get stats to make 3rd edition cambion characters.

Here's what we learn:
  • They are native to the Abyss.
  • Their eyes burn with a hellish light.
  • "A true cambion springs from a union between a powerful tanar'ri father and a planetouched mother -- usually a tiefling."
  • The higher-ranking marquis and baron cambions result from the unions of demon lords with female humanoid half-fiends.
  • No Longer Sterile: "Cambions rarely mate with their own kind, but when they do, the cambion line breeds true."
  • "When making babies with other races, they come out as tieflings." 
  • Shapechange: They can assume an alternate form A specific humanoid, usually a human, drow, elf, aasimar, tiefling, githyanki, githzerai, hnoll etc. It can remain in this form as long as it wants. 
  • They can communicate telepathically.
  • They can cast charm person at will. 
  • Meatarians: They become physically sick if they eat any food other than meat.  
  • Stinky: Their bodies exude a ripe, predatory stench (what's the deal with cambions and odor?)
Dragon Magazine #360

The Razor Legion: The Razor Legion is a force of cambion rangers that serves the demon lord, Graz'zt. They wield swords possessed by strange demons known as caligrostos.When the wielder dies, the Caligrosto manifests a spirit form that takes the sword and continues fighting.

D&D 4th Edition - Monster Manual

4th edition.. now we're getting wacky.

"Cambions are the offspring of devils and depraved, unwitting mortals, inheriting the worst traits of each parent." Also... it looks like there's female cambions now. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

There are few types of cambion:
  • Cambion Hellsword: Perhaps unsurpisingly, these cambions wield a hellsword. They can charge and attack all within reach at the end of the charge.
  • Cambion Hellfire Magus: They have a mantle of soul energy that protects them. They fire off hellfire rays.
Some are born to succubi or other devils and are reared in the Nine Hells.

Monster Manual 3

Infernal parents dote on them. They spend their lives in homage to Asmodeus. The rulers of the 4th layer of Hell, Fierna and Belial, are often accompanied by cambions.

We get a few new types of cambion:
  • Cambion Wrathborn: Plots to attain power. They can assume the guise of a specific humanoid.
  • Chained Cambion: wrapped in chains, its body is bound and unmoving. it bindings hold it aloft. It's linked to Stygia, the 5th layer of Hell.
  • Cambion Infernal Scion: Ambitious conquerers.
Brimstone Angels

In the Brimstone Angels novels, a cambion named Lorcan is one of the main characters. He's a warlock patron and he's very difficult to deal with. He has the best intro text of all time.

Dungeon #168 - A Tyranny of Souls

Scaramandar: A crime lord and information broker who dwells in the Astral Plane.
He can provide fake documentation to get into the githyanki city of Tu'Narath
  • Goal: He wants a seat on the Society of Seven Diamonds, some kind of merchant body in the Astral Plane.
  • Flunkies: He has rakhasa agents.
  • Inappropriate Robes: He has crimson skin, black horns and long, oiled black haie. He wears brilliant robes of uncertain hues embroidered with "obscene images."
  • He has a power called Shackles of Phlegethos, a fire spell that does damage when you move.
Dungeon #218 - Legacy of Ghere Thau

The main bad guy of this adventure is a cambion named Trask. The story goes like this:
  • Cambion mercenaries seized a fortress called Ghere Thau. 
  • Trask is their leader. He is looking to control the desert around Ghere Thau.
  • The heroes show up to eradicate the bad guys. 
  • Due to a big backstory involving a necromancer, every time a creature is slain, it immediately rises up as a wight and attacks! 
  • Main Ally of Trask: Aricanthros, an earthquake dragon.
  • Trask's Sister: His sister is undead. Skaela died a few days ago and she is trying to fight off the undead effect of this place (called the Soulmerge). She's becoming a wight and has been locks in a room. Pretty cool, right?
Fun Fact: Ghere Thau has a temple of Vecna in it.

D&D 5th Edition - Monster Manual

They actually put out the cambion page of the Monster Manual as a free preview.
  • "A cambion is the spawn of a fiend (usually a succubus or incubus) and a humanoid (usually a human)."
    Sense of Entitlement: They think they should be overlords of mortals. They orchestrates uprisings in towns and cities. 
  • Cambions in the Nine Hells serve as soldiers and attendants.
  • Graz'zt's Cambions: Graz'zt is fond of procreating with mortals. his cambion children have charcoal-black skin, cloven hooves, six-fingered hands and unearthly beauty.
Fun Fact: there seems to be no consensus on the gender depicted in the Monster Manual.

Tomb of Annihilation

This adventure isn't out as of this writing, but I learned some stuff about the probable villain of that adventure.

Acererak: Acererak is best known as the demilich (floating skull with gems on it that can suck your soul) who created the mega-deadly tomb of horrors.

It turns out that, when he was a mortal, Acererak was a cambion!

Balor Dad: He is the result of an ancient balor named Tarnhem being summoned by a conjurer who couldn't control him.

Hood Justice: His mother tried to raise him in a normal human village, but a mob came for the demon kid. Guess who rescued him? Vecna! Vecna would go on to become the god of secrets. Acererak becomes his apprentice.

Stuff Happens: Long story short, Acererak wanted to fuse himself with the negative material plane to control all undead. He failed and became nothing more than a vestige (in the 3e Tome of Magic).

But! It turns out that a simulacrum (a magic clone) of Acererak survived and was able to use a device called the soul machine to transform into a complete being.

So, apparently, there are two Acereraks out there. One is a vestige, one is the guy on the cover of the Dungeon Master's Guide.


DMs Guild 5e Cambion Race
DMs Guild Sorcerous Origin - Cambion Born
Cambion Tactics - Really in-depth info on running a cambion.
List of the Forgotten Realms Cambions
The Pathfinder Cambions


Unknown said...

Just one Acererak, unless the one in Tomb of Annihilation is one too. The simulacrum was destroyed by adventurers in the 3.5 Prisoner of Castle Perilous adventure. In the 4e super adventure, the vestige reformed (only Vecna knows how) and noticed the device the simulacrum had used. After conversing with the Raven Queen for a while about dead gods, Acererak made a copy of the soul engine that he placed in three different planes and harnessed the power of dead gods in order to become a "god golem." With his devices destroyed and his new "body" smashed, Acererak fled across the planes with his enemies in pursuit until a final showdown occurred in the room of pillars in his old tomb. It was thought he was destroyed then and there, but we all know that to be false now that he's got this Soul Monger active in Chult.

Anonymous said...

What about Iuz? Wasn't he supposed to be a cambion?

Sean said...

Nykademos: Prisoner of Castle Perilous? I have never heard of that, I will definitely check that out. I definitely need to read that 4e adventure, it sounds awesome. Thanks for the info!!

Nono: You're right! I forgot about him. I'll squeak him in. Thanks!

Jon: Thanks for the heads up! I'll add it.

Anonymous said...

Khaanyr Vhok, the sceptred one. Master of the scoured legion. No mention?