Baphomet is one of the later additions to the demonic pantheon, but he can hold his own against any of the other demon lords—especially his hated foe, Yeenoghu.
Out of the Abyss and the Rage of Demons storyline have opened the floodgates for a torrent of evil to descend on fifth edition D&D. The Prince of Beasts—also known as the Horned King—epitomizes that evil in its most primal form.
Baphomet was one of the four demon lords who made their debut in the “Monsters and Magical Items” appendix in The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth in 1982. He is described in that adventure as a minotaur (with “an ogre’s body” and “a bull’s head”) worshiped by other minotaurs—a fact that allowed him to rise up to the rank of “lesser power” in the Great Wheel cosmology. That first appearance also revealed Baphomet as the enemy of the Gnoll Lord Yeenoghu (previously seen in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual).
Minotaurs are a classic D&D monster. They first appeared in the original D&D box set in 1974, then reappeared in the Monster Manual three years later. However, they never filled a clear niche in the game as goblins, orcs, and ogres did. Minotaurs took an unexpected route to the forefront of D&D play with the advent of the original Dragonlance series of adventures from 1984 to 1986. Those adventures introduced minotaurs as a major race—and even supported them for player character use in the Dragonlance Adventures supplement. Dragonlance minotaurs continued to evolve in later years, particularly when Romanesque minotaurs appeared in the Time of the Dragon supplement in 1989.
Through the same period, Baphomet gave minotaurs another entry point into the D&D ecosystem. The Horned King got a bit more detail in Manual of the Planes (1987), which described his home as an “infinite maze” that spans his abyssal plane and others. He then made his first major appearance in the 1988 adventure The Throne of Bloodstone, though he played second fiddle to Orcus, the star of that piece. In the adventure, Baphomet is captured by Orcus, allowing the players to free him after negotiating with minotaurs (in a maze, of course).
THE REALMS AND BEYOND
Baphomet’s role as an interloping demonic deity was often highlighted during the second edition AD&D era of 1989 to 2000. First featured in Monster Mythology (1992), Baphomet later made inroads into the Forgotten Realms in Giantcraft (1995), where he picked up a new set of worshippers—the Ice Spire Ogres.
The Horned King also received attention in the Planescape setting. Planes of Chaos (1994) described the Plains of Gallenshu, an independent abyssal layer that sheltered many armanite demon followers of Baphomet. The demon lord also had influence in the City of Doors, as revealed in In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil (1995). And, of course, he was one of the deities of On Hallowed Ground (1996), which revealed that his Endless Maze filled the 600th level of the Abyss.
Meanwhile, the Prince of Beasts was putting together quite a collection of bull-like followers. The horned bulezau demons were rumored to be Baphomet’s creation when they debuted in the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix II (1995). Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to the Underdark (1999) contained the first mention of the Baphitaur, a tiefling-minotaur hybrid (even though full stats for those creatures wouldn’t appear until 2003, in the Underdark supplement for third edition Forgotten Realms).
Baphomet didn’t feature in adventures in the latter days of AD&D, however. Instead, the Horned King lay low in his maze and waited.
Baphomet has continued to appear mainly in sourcebooks from third edition D&D onward. He wasn’t one of the five demon lords who made the cut to appear in Book of Vile Darkness in 2002 (though he was probably furious that his mortal enemy Yeenoghu did). Instead, Baphomet made his return in Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (2006), which named him as the Prince of Beasts.
It was Dragon magazine that gave Baphomet his best spotlight during the years of third edition and fourth edition D&D. Dragon 341 (March 2006) dedicated an entry in the Demonomicon of Iggwilv to him. That article focused on his dual nature, and revealed that not even Baphomet knows whether he was originally beast or humanoid. The Horned King then made a return for a second Demonomicon entry in Dragon 369 (November 2008), which described his nature in the World Axis cosmology. This new take on Baphomet established him as a corrupting force in society—a demon dedicated to extinguishing civilization’s light from the inside.
Twenty-seven years after The Throne of Bloodstone, Baphomet finally makes his return in adventures this year. Though the Prince of Beasts doesn’t play a large part in Out of the Abyss, his servants feature in that adventure—as does a twisting network of Underdark passages known as the Labyrinth, where the Horned King’s followers await their master’s rise.
About the Author
Shannon Appelcline has been roleplaying since his dad taught him Basic D&D in the early ’80s. He’s the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons, a four-volume history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time.