The point of this is to collect all of the lore in one place so that when you use Yeenoghu, you will know all of the basic concepts and you can pick and choose what fits your game.
Real Life Origin
Frank Mentzer says that there was this newsletter that TSR would publish, just for the employees. Apparently, D&D rules stuff was included in these newsletters. He says that there's one newsletter that stats out Yeenoghu as the demon lord.. of orcs.
James of grognardia relates an amusing urban legend that ultimately turned out to be false:
"In any case, I once heard a story about the creation of Yeenoghu by Gary Gygax. The story goes that players in the Greyhawk campaign, having run afoul of one too many demon lords and archdevils whom they accidentally summoned by speaking their names aloud, got into the practice of using circumlocutions to avoid repeating past mistakes. One such circumlocution was "You-Know-Who." After a while of doing this, Gary sprang Yeenoghu on his players, on the assumption that his name sounded enough like the phrase that he might answer by traveling to the Prime Material Plane."
The Essential Information
Here's the basic stuff you should know when using Yeenoghu in your games:
- He is the Demon Prince of Gnolls, and is also known as the Beast of Butchery and the Ruler of Ruin.
- He wields a triple flail made from the bones of a slain god.
- He rules his own layer of the Abyss called "Yeenoghu's Realm", but does not have complete control over it.
- He lives in a palace on wheels pulled by slaves.
- For a time, he was allied with Doresain, King of Ghouls.
- Yeenoghu hates Malcanthet and Baphomet.
- He'll usually have "...66 gnolls of the strongest sort" with him.
- He receives homage from the king of ghouls (which is Doresain, ally of Orcus, as far as I know), so he has the power to summon 6-16 ghouls, too.
- He can see into the astral and ethereal planes.
- He has piles of spell-like powers, including magic missile, mass charm, teleport, fly and he can gate in d4+1 Vrocks.
- Does 3d6 damage.
- Make a saving throw or be paralyzed.
- Save or be confused, as per the spell.
The most powerful gnoll shamans have an amulet that can summon a shoosuva for aid. It appears as a huge, emaciated hyenadon, glowing with yellow light. Those bit by it are paralyzed. While paralyzed "...only the most basic life functions will continue."
It's also said in this article that any gnoll shaman or witch doctor can call on Yeenoghu for advice.
Manual of the Planes
Yeenoghu gets a blurb in the section on the Abyss. From page 102: "Yeenoghu's great mansion is the size of a city. It rolls across the barren salt-waste of his layers, pulled by slaves and controlled by gnolls."
AD&D 2nd Edition
- Yeenoghu dwells in "...an exceptionally dismal and fetid layer of the Abyss."
- He displaced Gorellik, god of the gnolls. Gorellik wanders Pandemonium and the Abyss, sometimes in the form of "...a mottled white hyenadon."
- His magic resistance dropped from 80% to 20%.
- His flail is a +3 weapon. The second ball now causes fear instead of paralysis.
- He is the patron of all gnolls and commands ghouls through the subjugation of the King of the Ghouls.
- He is bestial and straightforward, more likely to charge into melee rather than trying anything subtle.
- He rules the 422nd layer of the Abyss, a place known as "Yeenoghu's Realm." He spends time there hunting lesser creatures or captured mortals.
- Yeenoghu's dream is to see gnolls rule, with humans and elves as slaves or food. He knows the gnolls can't do this alone, thus he is always looking for allies.
- Malcanthet, Queen of Succubi is a hated enemy. He periodically attacks her realm, but is always repelled.
Doresain: We get details on how Yeenoghu conquered the ghouls. Doresain, King of Ghouls, was a vassal of Orcus. He had his own layer of the Abyss, which Yeenoghu invaded and conquered. Doresain swore fealty to Yeenoghu. Apparently Orcus is busy and hadn't noticed yet (Doresain is back at the side of Orcus in 4e).
Yeenoghu lives in a mansion that is pulled through the layer by thousands of kidnapped slaves. Once per year, the palace takes a trip around the layer.
Major Locations in Yeenoghu's Realm include:
- Bechard's Landing: The shore where Bechard, the demon lord (a rotting whale) lies beached. Bechard is one of the obyriths, the ancient race of demons that existed before he demons and devils. He resembles a knotty beached whale, and is incapable of movement. He constantly bakes in the sun and he is very slowly dying. Bechard can barely speak, even telepathically.
- The Curswallow: A yellow ocean that prisoners escape to. Cannibal pirates sail these seas.
- The Dun Savanna: A grassland full of deadly plants, poisonous water and carnivorous beasts.
- The Screaming Peaks: There's a gate to The White Kingdom, home of the ghouls, here. As such, these mountains are full of ghouls and maurezhi.
- The Seeping Woods: A vast forest of yellow trees. There's a huge statue of Yeenoghu and a secret band of succubi plotting against the demon lord.
- The Gathering Gate: A circular portal that allows access to various worlds. This is where slaves are brought through.
D&D 4th Edition
- The triple flail is made form the bones of a slain god. When used, the flail sprays blood and tears of the fallen deity.
- In 4e, it is said that Yeenoghu was once a primordial. He was transformed by the Chained God who lurks at the bottom of the Abyss.
Nezrebe hates elves, and hunts them. He has a special chamber set aside for torturing elves. He even crucifies elf slaves to mark off lands under Yeenoghu's control. He spends his time outing minor demon lords who try to encroach on Yeenoghu's plans.
We are told that there are three cities in Yeenoghu's Realm:
- Vujak-Riln: A staging ground to mount expeditions into The Seeping Woods.
- Vujak-Sesco: A place where creatures of all races mine the mountains for iron and metals. Corpses litter the streets, which are devoured by roaming jackals and hyenas.
- Vujak-Kesk: The home of Yeenoghu's cult. Followers gather here to perform ceremonies. There's blood pits where gnolls fight each other to weed out the weak.
There's not much on Yeenoghu in here. I guess they figured the Dragon article covered most of the bases. There is a page on followers known as "Yeenoghu's Death Pack".
"The weakest of his faithful are treated as slaves, but those that can prove their mettle and their battle madness to Yeenoghu can rise high in his service."
They have an array of special powers. They can do damage even on a missed attack, get bonuses to hit when an ally is slain, give allies bonus damage to a target, that kind of thing.
D&D 5th Edition
In Out of the Abyss, apparently each demon lord inflicts a type of madness. Yeenoghu's brand of madness "...drives its subjects toward the anger of wild mobs bent on destruction and bloodlust."
The madness will make the victim view civilization as a threat to freedom, and give them a hunger for the flesh of sentient creatures.
The 4e article is right here on the wizards site for free.
There's a really well done expansion of Yeenoghu on AuldDragon's AD&D Blog
Chamber Band wrote a song about Yeenoghu