Which do you prefer- dragons or demons?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Just curious....what do you prefer to throw at your players (or vice versa, prefer to fight?)These are my two top favorite beasties to throw at a party. Just curious what everyone else thinks?

Me.........hmmmmmm,,,,not sure really- both have their strengths and can be equally painful.


Both rank pretty low for me in general, but I'd go with demons. Maybe an esoteric dragon if it's thematically appropriate.


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To me, they serve completely different purposes. The presence of demons tends to imply either a) an active demon-summoner or b) an active portal to the abyss--in either case, it's probably the source of the demons that's important, with the demons themselves playing a weird combination of "speed-bump on the way to the actual threat" and possibly "the threat behind the actual threat". They also tend to come in numbers, though you'll occasionally have a solo demon.

A dragon, on the other hand, almost demands being the final, ultimate enemy of a story arc. Except for the youngest of dragons, they're not minions, and they're not going to be found in groups (though they likely had minions that they're mad about you killing). At least for me, any encounter with a dragon should be the end result of a long build-up, and it should have teeth, even in the event it ends without battle.

So, to actually answer the question... it depends on what fits with the story.


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Devils.

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I find demons to be 1-dimensional and just not very interesting foes. They're all about destruction and chaos for the sake of chaos. As a GM there is little nuance there to play off of.

Devils are much more fun to use because they're neck deep in weaving plots and have a vested interest in dragging souls down to their sinful depths.

If I'm picking between dragons and demons, dragons will win every time. I'm a fan of classic themes and the grace, majesty, and strength of dragons have always been a staple in my games. Even off camera they're fun to have around - such as the snow-covered peak in the background of the party's adventure village being renown for the ancient white dragon who hasn't woken in over a century.


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I love both for different reasons, but use demons much more often unless the campaign is specifically dragon themed

Silver Crusade

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Depends on the situation. Demons are more common for me to throw at parties, because dragons are a serious event. I treat dragons as a Big Deal™


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Same. I don't GM home campaigns, but Dragons have this mythical quality. They're something you should be scared of. Well, the same could be said of demons, but Dragons are supposed to be the epitome of fantasy monsters. I always get a little sad when I encounter a dragon and we defeat it.

Early Reign of Winter:
Reign of Winter has an encounter with a very minor dragon as like the second or third encounter in the book. You're not supposed to even see dragons until they're at least Large, damn it. Fighting them so soon robs them of their epicness.


Dragons. There's something to be said about simplicity.

Demons tend to have "rafts" of spell-like abilities. I vastly prefer 4e demons to, well, any other type of D&D demons. They get a role, then tools to follow that role.

Dragons work well in either 3e, 4e or Pathfinder. They get multiple attacks, lots of hit points, decent AC, a powerful breath weapon...


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Kimera757 wrote:

Dragons. There's something to be said about simplicity.

Demons tend to have "rafts" of spell-like abilities. I vastly prefer 4e demons to, well, any other type of D&D demons. They get a role, then tools to follow that role.

Dragons work well in either 3e, 4e or Pathfinder. They get multiple attacks, lots of hit points, decent AC, a powerful breath weapon...

How is "raft of spell-like abilities" more complex than "You have to stat up their whole spell list since they're spellcasters"?

Silver Crusade

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Milo v3 wrote:
Kimera757 wrote:

Dragons. There's something to be said about simplicity.

Demons tend to have "rafts" of spell-like abilities. I vastly prefer 4e demons to, well, any other type of D&D demons. They get a role, then tools to follow that role.

Dragons work well in either 3e, 4e or Pathfinder. They get multiple attacks, lots of hit points, decent AC, a powerful breath weapon...

How is "raft of spell-like abilities" more complex than "You have to stat up their whole spell list since they're spellcasters"?

Yeah, most demons are pretty straightforward: they have SLAs, their stat block tells you what they have and how many times they can use it. Dragons have all sorts of abilities that vary in number and frequency based on their age and are sorcerers on top of that, so have a whole boat worth of spells to deal with. Also they tend to hoard stuff, so they probably have a ton of magic gear to account for as well.


Isonaroc wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Kimera757 wrote:

Dragons. There's something to be said about simplicity.

Demons tend to have "rafts" of spell-like abilities. I vastly prefer 4e demons to, well, any other type of D&D demons. They get a role, then tools to follow that role.

Dragons work well in either 3e, 4e or Pathfinder. They get multiple attacks, lots of hit points, decent AC, a powerful breath weapon...

How is "raft of spell-like abilities" more complex than "You have to stat up their whole spell list since they're spellcasters"?
Yeah, most demons are pretty straightforward: they have SLAs, their stat block tells you what they have and how many times they can use it. Dragons have all sorts of abilities that vary in number and frequency based on their age and are sorcerers on top of that, so have a whole boat worth of spells to deal with. Also they tend to hoard stuff, so they probably have a ton of magic gear to account for as well.

As DM I can pick the dragon's spells, so I just pick ones that suit the dragon's personality and my own tactical strengths and weaknesses. For instance, I doubt I'll ever give a dragon an illusion spell unless, like Displacement, it's directly combat-relevant, since I suck at using spells like that.

The demon gets a set of spell-like abilities, many of which I'll never use (too weak for CR, too low save DC, too confusing, etc), so they're just so much wasted space. Sometimes that can bend the other way; a lot of higher-powered demons can cast Symbol spells once per week or more, so any encounter at a demon's lair has a nigh infinite number of "symbol" traps that didn't cost material components to use.

(Dragons sometimes have some useless spell-like abilities, but they don't get rafts full of them. Detect treasure is flavorful, even though it's only behind-the-scenes flavor text. It's not like it gives the dragon extra treasure.)

When it comes to treasure, that's random, and often stuff the dragon can't use. Demons get treasure too (if less) and they're more likely to be able to use it.


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Kimera757 wrote:

<snip>

(Dragons sometimes have some useless spell-like abilities, but they don't get rafts full of them. Detect treasure is flavorful, even though it's only behind-the-scenes flavor text. It's not like it gives the dragon extra treasure.)

Maybe if the dragon's choice of target is relatively equal, it will attack the opponent with the most treasure?

As to the original question (as has already been mentioned), I see demons more as minions and dragons as antagonist.


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I tend to use demons more, they're easier to fit into the shadowy places of the world that your players might stumble into. I've never actually used a dragon in combat, they've always been more of a set piece. A symbol of power that humbles the players and reminds them of their place in the gameworld, and their potential for growth.

Demon, on the other hand, to me just means "Being from another plane who is either objectively evil, or whose intentions are so alien that they can only be perceived as evil." and as such are a much more versatile creature. But I can see how they seem stale to those who stick to the Pathfinder lore and cosmology.


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Demons

I like the idea that they represent the dark side and danger inherent in freedom. They essentially fulfill Crowley's pronouncement of "Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." combined with the LeVayan "If it feels good, do it."

Dragons, on the other hand, tend to feel stodgy and formal to me. I have a much more difficult time putting a dragon into most setups than a demon.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Of these two, Dragons. Vastly more style (in my opinion), and generally more nuanced goals.

But really, Devils. Demons have always struck me as a distinct second fiddle to the ranks of Devilkind.


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To me demons are a hard encounter while dragons are a life or death encounter.


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I use Demons more often, but only because I reflavoured them in my games and they don't require as much work since you don't need to stat each up uniquely.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

i prefer liches or gods.


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Bandw2 wrote:
i prefer liches or gods.

well ofcourse you prefer gods mister black and white 2


Dragons of course, I really don't use demons.


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I think I'm at least borderline infamous for using Plants and Undead. I use Demons quite a lot too though. I probably run them a little more than Devils, especially since the Succubus is a Demon in Pathfinder (though I think she got moved to the Devil team in 4e, not sure about 5e)

A pretty typical monster for me might be a myconid grown in demon dung and transformed to Evil or a variant Yellow Musk Zombie which keeps its original class and abilities more like a Juju Zombie. Treants corrupted by Evil extra-planar fungus are popular too. Dr. Moreau style "manimals" and other hybrid creatures created by experiments show up too. If owlbears didn't already exist I'd probably create them. I also like to run adventures in and around water including lots of maritime stuff, so aquatic monsters feature strongly too.

I like Dragons, but I rarely use them in games I run. Perhaps keeping them rare makes them seem more special. They can certainly be tough foes relative to their CR, especially if you play them to their strengths and or the party lacks Resist Energy or similar spells. I like it when a campaign features dragons in remote areas who you hear about long before you'd ever encounter them. It is particularly cool if the dragon is on the map, perhaps as a red dragon on top of a mountain or with an arrow labeled with "Beyond to the lair of Dragotha, the undead dragon, where fabulous riches and hideous death await".


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Dragons, naturally! Even a Balor Lord would be very afraid of an Ancient Wyrm White Dragon. One solid hit by the breath weapon, and the Balor Lord would probably die instantly. Plus, Dragon hoards are infinitely cooler.


I prefer undead. I can only think of a couple campaigns where it was dragon-centric or demon-centric. For the most part, maybe 2/3rds of my games undead are front and center as the force of evil.


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Demons because they fill more roles and can be used in far more different kinds of stories, including evil cults, summoned wizard minions, otherworldly invasions, or left over guardians of lost cities or tombs.

Dragons feel like they should be final bosses or at least high ranking minions, and just feel a bit cheap if not used as such.


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Make them fight demons until they figure out the plot of a dragon behind it.


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Dragon are apex predators. They should be used sparingly, and when they appear they should dominate a situation. The battleground should be one of their design, and their tactics should be brutal, efficient, and intelligent.

Demons are much, much more common and can be slaughtered by the dozens.

So yeah. They both have their places.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

By dragons, do you mean true dragons only, or just any kind of dragon?

If true dragons only, then definitely demons, there's a ton of different kinds of demons that can be easily used for a number of different things, they can be solo operatives, they can represent an army, they can be the summoned or called minions of a summoner, they can possess, trick, smash, incinerate, and so on and so forth.

True dragons...eh. Kind of one-dimensional most of the time, in my experience.

Now, if you include all kinds of dragons, it's much closer as a match since you get linnorms, drakes, wyverns, and some of the more unique dragons, like gorynyches, jabberwocks, kongamatos, korir-kokembe, peludas, tatzlwyrms, woundwyrms, can really help round things out. Unlike demons, they aren't outsiders, so they can help the world seem more fantastical and wondrous, along with judicious use of magical beasts, and even smaller, less hostile dragons can help add that sense of wonder to the world, such as the calligraphy wyrm, faerie dragon, pseudodragon, pyrausta and rope dragon. So if it was all dragons, I might lean closer to dragons, since their roles get expanded immensely over chromatic and metallics especially.


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Demons, since you can fit them into any place in a campaign.

Demons murdered your parents
Demons assassinated the king
Demons stole the macguffin.
Demons lords are completing a spell to take over the world.

Demons can be summoned or made into low level henchmen with relative ease, which can allow them to be used as fodder without backgrounds, which is great for anyone with various plots (since human assassins and bandits can be more easily interrogated or traced).

Dragons... they tend to be at the very top of their respective social ladder, so they usually can't be bothered to personally bother with you. I suppose they could have their minions out and doing things... but usually anything other than the blues lack the subtlety for that and they just steamroll the whole kingdom. Unless they are going around making a lot of halfdragons, you usually don't get quite the personal touch of seeing something directly dragon related until the climax.


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Thank you so much for all of the input and insights. I do agree with pretty much everything everyone has said.

1- Devils- yes!!! they are very very deadly indeed. I have always used demons (with the exceptions of Chain Devils (Kytons) and Winged Devils. I need to look into dropping them into my campaign a little more.

2- Dragons- so many of you have stated my views on dragons-very ancient and terrifying indeed.

My current campaign I am running has a cabal of 7 red dragons laying waste to Golarion. They are the spawns of ancient sin and, as such, have inherited the half demonic template. They are using various demons as "foot soldiers" or Lieutenants to carry out there tasks/ build up their armies/ while they strategize. Its been great fun so far.


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No problem. I hope the campaign works well for you.


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Currahee Chris wrote:
1- Devils- yes!!! they are very very deadly indeed. I have always used demons (with the exceptions of Chain Devils (Kytons) and Winged Devils.

Just being pedantic... devils and demons are different things in Pathfinder and current editions of D&D. Demons are chaotic evil, sort of elemental rule-less monsters that can't usually be reasoned with. Devils are lawful evil, sort of deal-makers and weasels, like lawyers basically.

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