Minotaurs have always seemed an under-used asset in D&D. Unique, imposing creatures combining cunning with brute force, they are worthy foes in their own right. But combined with the challenge of a labyrinth and the suspense of being hunted by a relentless, monstrous pursuer, minotaurs would seem to offer an ideal experience for any party of adventurers.
So, both in honor of these oft-neglected monsters and to mark his appearance in the 5th edition module Out of the Abyss (his first module appearance in over twenty years), it’s fitting to take a look at the ultimate minotaur – the demon prince Baphomet.
Who is Baphomet?
Baphomet’s origins are shrouded in mystery. While it’s believed he began as a mortal of some form, there is debate about whether he was a human who grew bestial or a beast that aspired to more human traits.
A common theory is that he was cursed by the gods and cast into the Abyss for blasphemy – though given the power to which he’s since ascended, that doesn’t seem to have been much of a punishment. Baphomet himself neither remembers the details of his own origin, nor does he care – his concerns are with the present and the future.
The demon lord baphomet is a being of rage and brutal bloodlust. He doesn’t crave the kill itself; he craves everything leading up to the kill – the pain, the fear, the chase, the raging bloodlust of the hunter, the panicked flight of the prey. He abhors the finery and restrictions of civilized life, and believes strength and purpose lay only in hatred and barbarous savagery.
But while his philosophy and manner are wholly bestial, Baphomet is much more than just an animal. Crafty and intelligent, Baphomet is an accomplished tactician and surprisingly adept at dark sciences. As much as he craves combat, he also makes alliances and other agreements with other demon princes when it suits him, and his skills and knowledge make him a desirable ally.
Baphomet’s ultimate goal is to destroy all civilization from within, corrupting it with hatred and violence until it crumbles leaving only the bloody laws of tooth and claw in its place. With the blight of civilized society swept away, the demon lord intends to fight his way to mastery over the natural world, effectively making all of creation his personal hunting ground.
One need only look at a dark forest – the sort of place already tainted by his influence – where travelers easily become lost, hazards and threats lurk in every shadow, and the curious can disappear forever, to see the world Baphomet dreams of.
In the short term, however, Baphomet’s attention is consumed almost entirely by his war against the Demon Lord of Gnolls Yeenoghu. The reasons for this seemingly eternal rivalry are lost to time, though some sources say it has to do with Yeenoghu’s betrayal of his then-ally in an ancient war.
Whatever the case, virtually all of Baphomet’s experiments, plans and actions seem to be in service to the war. Unless they can be used to this end in some way, Baphomet currently has little interest in events in the mortal realms.
The History of Baphomet
In real-world history, the name Baphomet first appeared among the accusations levied against the Templar Knights when France’s Philip IV had them arrested en masse in 1307. Baphomet was supposedly an evil deity from the Middle East, whom the Templars were worshipping in secret with profane rituals.
In the centuries after the fall of the Templars, the name and traditional imagery of a goat-headed figure were incorporated into occultism and intertwined with the idea of Satan. However, no record of a deity matching its description has ever been found, either in Middle Eastern lore or elsewhere, making the name likely either a mistranslation or a whole-cloth fabrication.
But in Dungeons and Dragons, Baphomet is the Minotaur Demon-Lord, the Prince of Beasts, the Horned God. Baphomet has been a part of the D&D universe since the very beginning, debuting in the 1st Edition module S4: Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth (part of the infamous Dungeons of Dread series). Both Baphomet’s stats and his biography have evolved through every version of D&D since.
Initially, Baphomet was described as an ogre with a bull’s head, some 12’ tall, with resistance to many forms of attack, abilities like telekinesis and teleportation, a fearsome bellow that could cause creatures to flee in panic and a breath weapon – a spray of unholy water – which he could unleash six times a day. By 2nd edition, he was promoted to a lesser god as well as a demon prince, with the ability to grant Maze or Wall of Stone to sufficiently faithful minotaurs.
Third edition provided a wealth of information about his realm, goals, and attributes, including adding a power called Bestial Curse by which Baphomet could cause a target to mutate into a mindless, misshapen hybrid of man and beast. Fourth edition further fleshed out the mythology of Baphomet, with descriptions of several minions, more details about his realm and its inhabitants, and more insights into the nature and ambitions of Baphomet himself.
The latest incarnation of Baphomet is a terrifying figure, a 20’ tall minotaur with six iron horns and a covering of black fur. He has burning red eyes gleaming with a cruel intelligence, and though he revels in bloodlust and savage combat, he is nonetheless a cunning foe.
When talking about Baphomet’s 5E stats, it’s important to note there are actually two different sets. One version appears in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and the other in Out of the Abyss. While they are largely identical, the Mordenkainen set gives the demon prince fewer hit points (only 275) and slightly lower attack damage on both his gore attack and with his bardiche, Heartcleaver.
Using the Out of the Abyss stats, Baphomet has a natural armor class of 22, 333 hit points and a speed of 40 feet. He has resistance to fire, cold, and lightning damage, and immunity to poison and non-magical bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage. He is also immune to the charmed, exhaustion, frightened or poisoned conditions. He speaks all languages, has truesight and telepathy to a 120’ range, and has a passive perception of 24.
The Minotaur Lord also has advantage against spells and other magical effects, and up to three times a day his Legendary Resistance will let him choose automatic success in place of any failed saving throw. And it should go without saying that he is immune to the maze spell, and his ability to flawlessly remember any path he has taken means the minotaur god can never get lost.
The horned king, Baphomet can detect magic at will and can cast the following up to three times a day (Spell Save DC 18): dispel magic, dominate beast, hunter’s mark, maze, and wall of stone. He can also cast teleport once per day. In the vein of his Bellow ability from prior editions, the Prince of Beasts can spend an action to use his Frightful Presence, which causes all creatures whom he chooses within 120 feet to make a Wisdom save (DC 18) or flee in terror.
The save is repeated each round (with disadvantage if Baphomet is still in sight), with success ending the frightened condition and rendering the creature immune to the Fearful Presence for 24 hours. If a creature succumbs to madness in Baphomet’s presence, it will generally take the form of blind rage, predatory bloodlust, or other aspects of the sort of savage violence the demon prince enjoys.
Additionally, when in his palace Baphomet can do any one of the following on an initiative of 20: seal any opening with solid stone for up to one minute, reverse gravity until the following round in any room with no dimension longer than 100 ft (he himself can choose to be immune to this effect), or mirage arcane in any room of the same size. He cannot take the same lair action in two successive rounds, however.
Unsurprisingly, Baphomet loves melee combat, and it will almost certainly be his first choice when encountering foes (though remember, he is no fool – Baphomet is a shrewd strategist and unlikely to let bloodlust get the better of him). He can charge opponents, adding an extra 22 points of piercing damage to his gore attack, and requiring a Strength save (DC 25) for the target to avoid being knocked prone.
He can also use his action to do a multi-attack, making not only a gore attack with his horns, but a bite attack and a strike with Heartcleaver as well. He can also take three Legendary Actions each round, making either another charge or an attack with Heartcleaver at the end of an opponent’s turn.
The stats for each of Baphomet’s attacks are as follows:
Baphomet 5E Statblock
Gore: +17 to hit, 10’ reach, 2d10 +10 piercing damage
Bite: +17 to hit, 10’ reach, 2d8 +10 piercing damage
Heartcleaver: +17 to hit, 15’ reach, 4d6 +10 slashing damage
At first blush, Heartcleaver doesn’t seem that impressive – certainly not grading on the scale of Demon Lords’ weapons (compare it to, say, the Wand of Orcus). In fact, it’s only marginally more damaging than Baphomet’s bite attack.
Those looking to spice up the weapon might consider taking a page from Baphomet’s Forgotten Realms version in earlier editions, in which Heartcleaver’s damage could only heal naturally, and was unaffected by healing potions or other magical means of instant healing, as a possible way to jazz up the demonic weapon.
Baphomet resides on the 600th level of the Abyss, a realm dubbed the Endless Maze. True to this name, virtually the entire plane consists of an infinite labyrinth which expands as needed whenever an explorer finally nears its boundaries. The Maze also connects with other mazes and maze-like areas throughout the Abyss, and perhaps beyond.
The Endless Maze is a mix between narrow, single-file passages, wide boulevards, and galleries and chambers of all sizes. Mysterious towers beckon in many areas, and balconies and other structures are frequently encountered.
The labyrinth displays flawless, intricate stonework of the best granite and marble near the center, where Baphomet’s power is greatest, but becomes increasingly more plain, damaged, and decrepit as one moves further out. Ultimately, at the outer reaches, the Maze degenerates into raw stone and winding caverns.
It is said that whenever Baphomet’s power grows, the refined area of the Maze expands, and likewise contracts whenever he is weakened. But wherever one walks in the Maze, the décor is always the same – carnage and blood, the remnants and trophies of the hunts and battles that constantly take place here.
At the center of the Endless Maze lay the Lyktion, Baphomet’s thousand-chambered palace said to be a labyrinth in its own right, with stairs and passages running in every possible orientation of three-dimensional space (think of an M.C. Escher painting).
A mile-wide moat surrounds the palace, with submerged tunnels and chambers running in similar mind-bending configurations. The only apparent entrances to the Lyktion are in the palace’s lower depths, reachable only through the moat’s passages – which are constantly patrolled and guarded by all manner of horrors.
Above the Maze appears to be a gray, overcast sky of low-hanging clouds, but this is an optical illusion. The “sky” is simply a ceiling of unworked stone, upon which crawl strange insect-like creatures believed to be from the plane above Baphomet’s. Note that anyone attempting to fly over sections of the maze will encounter flying versions of these ghastly creatures, as well as other airborne threats.
A handful of other unique landmarks dot the Endless Maze beyond just the Lyktion. One of the most significant is Baphomet’s Tower of Science (called the Horrid Spire in 4th Edition) – a 16-floor laboratory devoted to vivisection, torture, death, and the use of breeding and grafting to create wholly new demonic horrors. Goristros and Bulezau, among other demon breeds, are said to have been created as a result of Baphomet’s labors, and the demon prince seems to enjoy spending most of his time here.
Also found in the Maze are the Fields of Brass – a gigantic coliseum which takes its name from the great brass plates comprising the arena floor. The Fields of Brass are devoted to blood sports involving the most fearsome creatures from across the planes, as well as Baphomet’s own creations and captives.
The tiered levels above the combat floor are believed to be heavily trapped, as the sheer scale of the battles in the coliseum means they often spill over into the upper levels. At the highest rim of the coliseum, Baphomet has a grand bone-and-bronze throne from which he can watch the bloody contests when he chooses.
The most unique feature in the Endless Maze is technically not part of labyrinth – the only area on the entire plane of which that can be said. This is the Bone Castle, fortress of the mysterious Pale Night. For reasons no one knows, Baphomet has uncharacteristically allowed this elusive demon lord to keep her fortress and surrounding territory when he assumed control of the plane.
Built from hand and fingerbones, the fortress sits in the center of a plain of scattered bones, with the Endless Maze barely visible from the castle’s walls. Not only do Baphomet and Pale Night not squabble over the territory, but seem to have a sort of alliance, as they have been known to come to each other’s aid against invaders. The exact nature of their relationship, and any pact that exists between them, remains known only to them.
Lastly, beneath the Endless Maze is a subterranean labyrinth called the Maze of the Misbegotten, where Baphomet sends the products of his experimentation which turn out so horrific even he wants to be rid of them. Patrolling this under-level is the Misbegotten, a horrific, mutated black worm. Meant to dispose of Baphomet’s failed creations, the Misbegotten detests its creator, and would happily kill the demon prince if it were given the chance.
The Maze is populated by numerous tribes of minotaurs, as well as wild goristros, bulezau, and similar creatures. Demonic beasts of Baphomet’s construction also run the labyrinth, acting as hunting dogs for the demon prince and his other minions, and almost any other monstrous creature can be encountered in the endless passageways of the labyrinth.
And occasionally other demon princes and lords can be encountered here, usually on expeditions to capture some of the wild goristros for their own use (which Baphomet usually allows).
There is also surprisingly large population of mortals – captives of Baphomet freed into the labyrinth purely to be hunted by the Horned God or his minions. These are mostly humans and (due to his enmity for Yeenoghu) gnolls, some of whom have been fighting off and avoiding hunters for ages and could be valuable allies to those venturing into Baphomet’s realm.
Baphomet’s Demon Cults
While Baphomet is obviously revered by minotaurs, he has a surprising number of human worshippers as well. Such followers come from the ranks of those eager to indulge their savage desires free of society’s limits and comprise a kind of nature cult partaking in bloody, brutal hunts and other sacrificial rites to win his favor. Gnolls, for obvious reasons, are especially prized as victims.
Over time, this devotion to Baphomet will yield physical changes in his followers. Eyes will become increasingly bloodshot. Hair will thicken, darken, and spread across the body.
Their whole aspect will take on a more animalistic quality. Ultimately, small horns may even sprout from the head – and the most zealous of Baphomet’s followers can aspire to transform fully one day into the sacred form of the minotaur.