Though not the equal of the balors in martial prowess or physical ability, the nalfeshnee make up the intelligentsia of the tanar'ri. The keepers of the Court of Woe, they direct much of Abyssal society, deciding on all matters of demonic promotion or demotion, and judging the fates of all those sent before them.
The judges of the tanar'ri in a kind that stands wholly against all forms of law or order, the nalfeshnee are not especially respected amongst these fiends, their mental skills squandered in a court that holds no laws and bends to the whims of those that lead it. Yet is exactly because of their disdain for any form of precedent and the innate mockery they grant to the entire concept of a legal process that they are allowed to remain in such a position of importance. Many take faux-noble titles to reflect their high self-opinion, but such titles are granted by no true authority, as obviously no such authority exists in the Abyss to grant it.
While the majority of nalfeshnee sit the courts of the Woeful Escarand, others hold minor realms within the Abyss, for the most part found upon the Plain of Infinite Portals. Some of these realms are larger than any mortal kingdom, while others are limited to but a single fortress. Some choose this route for themselves, but others take it up after a dismissal from the Court. Though not common, given the wide berth given to Judges of Woe, on rare occasion one will act so far outside the bounds of their authority, their duties, and the fancies of the other Judges that the only recourse is to exile them from the Mount.
For those outside the Court, nalfeshnee prefer never to get directly involved in their own affairs, seeing themselves above such matters. Any matters that fall under their interests are handled indirectly, through minions, lieutenants, or behind-the-scenes dealings as often as possible. This extends even to combat; though they have any number of abilities that make them a fearsome foe to confront directly, a proper nalfeshnee finds the average physical confrontation far too gauche to bother with. They will, of course, make the occasional exception to show a lesser their place (and some do get a visceral joy out of rending a victim's flesh), but most nalfeshnee prefer to prove their superiority through brains, not brawn.
As all true tanar'ri, nalfeshnee are only ever promoted, not born. In particular, nalfeshnee are brought up from those demons who hold great levels of avarice and gluttony, a great desire for power, holdings, anything. Though they technically fall beneath the balor in strength, the nalfeshnee caste is often a terminal caste, leading if anywhere directly into the status of Abyssal lord. Occasionally a nalfeshnee is given the opportunity to shift to the status of balor, but the strong prejudices between the two castes make this rare indeed; still, when such a promotion is offered — usually only after the greatest of accomplishments — it is considered a deep offense to the caste to reject it. Those few that are offered such an opportunity and turn it down are seen even more poorly by tanar'ri society.
Though not desiring sustenance for survival, nalfeshnee can feed upon the hatred and despair of other beings, draining it out over long periods. Those who have suffered these depredations over much time are unable to work up strong negative emotions of any sort; while this may seem oddly positive a change for fiends on the surface, it renders such victims quite suggestible and pliable, depriving them of any desire for objection or refusal.
The nalfeshnee style themselves the lesser lords of the Abyss, and their forms reflect this. Appearing as twisted distortions of bloated dukes and duchesses, they stand close to twenty feet tall, with a weight that often reaches over four tons. Thought to also be a reflection of their facades of nobility, their bodies show aspects of that favored hunting animal of many lords, the wild boar. With heads seemingly ripped from the bodies of such, including vicious tusks, bodies covered in the coarse, short hair of these beasts, and porcine hooves for feet, the comparison is not hard to make. Their exposed skin, running over their chest and stomach, tends to be especially pale, and though it appears to be stretched paper-thin, it's as impenetrable as any demon's. Their back is adorned with small, feathered wings that seem far too small to support their size, as if the fiend grew too large for their span; in practice, a nalfeshnee has no trouble flying despite this.
- Faces of Evil: The Fiends, pg.47
- Fiendish Codex I, part 2: The Lost Annals
- Hellbound: The Blood War - The Dark of the War, pg.24
- Monster Manual, pg.46
- Planescape MCI, pg.107