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D&D 5E Angels/Celestials of Different Races

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
This is quite a simple concept, but one that D&D doesn't seem to do that often (from what I've seen).

Angels should have a variety of different appearances. They shouldn't just look like muscular humans with wings, in my opinion (or green-skinned muscular humanoids in the case of the Planetar). There should be angels that look like different races, maybe dependent on which god they serve.

For example, in my homebrew world, the Raven Queen has promoted some of her most devout Shadar-Kai to become Angels. They grow black raven wings (duh), become celestials, and get a version of the Angelic Weapons feature that does necrotic damage (specified to ignore the necrotic resistances/immunities of undead).

Also, my world's goblinoids worship magic, and the founders of their religion managed to transform themselves into angels using their arcane-divine power (like a mixture of True Polymorph and Tasha's Otherworldly Guise). The Hobgoblin became the equivalent of a Planetar (with arcane-blue wings), but with wizard spells, the Bugbear became the equivalent of a Solar (with leaf-green wings), but with druid spells, and the Goblin became the equivalent of a Deva (with golden-yellow wings), but as a Divine Soul Sorcerer.

It's just a simple change, and it could be applied to a lot of different types of celestials. Gruumsh could turn his most devout followers into Orc-looking evil Archons that rode Flying Aurochs (Winged Bull stats). Imagine Moradin-serving Dwarven Angels that wear heavy armor, wield Mauls/Warhammers and have metallic wings! Gold-feathered Aarakocra that serve the Gods of the Sun and Air, Kobolds that serve Tiamat becoming Abishai when they die, Pegasi-Centaurs that serve the Gods of Nature, Couatl-serving Yuan-Ti with rainbow-wings, and so on!

Any thoughts? Have you done anything like this in your world/campaigns?
 

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Celestials can have a marvelous variety of forms.

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Or

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Or even

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Wondrous!
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Well, if you look at real-world religious texts that actually describe divine servitors, they can REALLY vary quite greatly.

Just sticking to what I know best (The Bible), you get all kinds of images:

The Cherubim, later shortened to Cherub, is the lowest in rank among the four. The Bible describes these beings as animal-human hybrids, tasked with guarding the garden of Eden against humankind.

In the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet’s vision depicts them as having four faces: that of a lion, an ox, an eagle, and a human. They have straight legs, four wings, and bull hooves for feet that gleam like polished brass. One set of wings covers their body, and the other is used for flight.

Meanwhile, the Malakim resemble humans…but are not actually depicted in the text as having wings.

OTOH, Seraphim are described as “having six wings, two of which are for flying, while they use the rest to cover their heads and feet.”

Ezekiel says the Ophanim are beings made out of interlocking gold wheels with each wheel’s exterior covered with multiple eyes.

So…go nuts! Clearly, there’s reasons why angels in Christianity often introduce themselves with phrases like “Be not afraid!”
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
This is quite a simple concept, but one that D&D doesn't seem to do that often (from what I've seen).

Angels should have a variety of different appearances. They shouldn't just look like muscular humans with wings, in my opinion (or green-skinned muscular humanoids in the case of the Planetar). There should be angels that look like different races, maybe dependent on which god they serve.

For example, in my homebrew world, the Raven Queen has promoted some of her most devout Shadar-Kai to become Angels. They grow black raven wings (duh), become celestials, and get a version of the Angelic Weapons feature that does necrotic damage (specified to ignore the necrotic resistances/immunities of undead).

Also, my world's goblinoids worship magic, and the founders of their religion managed to transform themselves into angels using their arcane-divine power (like a mixture of True Polymorph and Tasha's Otherworldly Guise). The Hobgoblin became the equivalent of a Planetar (with arcane-blue wings), but with wizard spells, the Bugbear became the equivalent of a Solar (with leaf-green wings), but with druid spells, and the Goblin became the equivalent of a Deva (with golden-yellow wings), but as a Divine Soul Sorcerer.

It's just a simple change, and it could be applied to a lot of different types of celestials. Gruumsh could turn his most devout followers into Orc-looking evil Archons that rode Flying Aurochs (Winged Bull stats). Imagine Moradin-serving Dwarven Angels that wear heavy armor, wield Mauls/Warhammers and have metallic wings! Gold-feathered Aarakocra that serve the Gods of the Sun and Air, Kobolds that serve Tiamat becoming Abishai when they die, Pegasi-Centaurs that serve the Gods of Nature, Couatl-serving Yuan-Ti with rainbow-wings, and so on!

Any thoughts? Have you done anything like this in your world/campaigns?
One idea I have for a world is to give them complete non-humanoid appearance, and state explicitly that the least mind-bending appearance they can easily take on is basically a blurry impossibility that will give you a headache if you stare.

To dig in a bit, what I mean is, Planetar might have 12 wings branching out of a wheel covered in eyes, and the angles and proportions just don’t make sense and the sight of them forced saves vs stun or something, etc. In order to appear to people and not break their minds, they can take a roughly humanoid shape, but they need a lot of experience with mortals to not still be upsetting to look at. They might appear as if 6 different creatures with different features and proportions were occupying the same physical space, all speaking in unison.

Another idea I had is to take out the angels, and make more use of other celestials like coatls and stuff.
 


AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)



Was this supposed to be tagged 4e rather than 5e?

I bring it up because while in 4e angels served all deities, in 5e angels are LG and only serve LG, NG, or CG deities. Prior to 4e angels also only served good deities, and could themselves be any good alignment.

Just in case any new players are reading this and getting as confused as I was (or maybe you have a really unique take on a CG Raven Queen...)
 

Was this supposed to be tagged 4e rather than 5e?

I bring it up because while in 4e angels served all deities, in 5e angels are LG and only serve LG, NG, or CG deities. Prior to 4e angels also only served good deities, and could themselves be any good alignment.

Just in case any new players are reading this and getting as confused as I was (or maybe you have a really unique take on a CG Raven Queen...)

PHB Angels aren't the only Angel in 5e anymore, Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica and Eberron: Rising From the Last War both had Angelsof different alignments. Really the PHB Angels are Assimon, a particular race of Angels, and there is room for other types of Angels in 5e, such as 4e's kind, or Asura were were basically a kind of Angel in function, but more Chaotic, among others more obscure D&D Angel types.
 

Given that these are Polytheistic Angels, I thought I'd provide an idea of what ancient Polytheistists experience Archangels, Angels, and the 3 kinds of Daimons as.

"Archangels

The first of the Greater Kinds subordinate to the Gods are the Archangels; who are at the top of the median triad, holding the function of Perfection. Archangels assume the duties of a Personal Daimon once the soul the Personal Daimon looks after has moved onto the worship of the Hyper-Encosmic Gods. In general, the appearance, activity, and visions of the Archangels are similar to those of the Gods, though are always less.

As servants of the Hypercosmic Gods, Archangels appear much like them; though always inferior in nature, emanating a stern but gentle quality. Similarly, Archangels reflect a shape, size, etc. that is by large uniform, however, aren’t quite perfectly in their uniformity, nor do they share in the singleness of essence of the Gods. Again, tranquillity streams from the Archangelic presence, but unlike the stable tranquillity of the Hypercosmic Gods, the Archangelic tranquility is associated with the sense of motionless activity.

The appearance of an Archangel is filled with beauty, though it’s always lesser than that of the Gods whom they serve above them— and likewise, their light and fire is supernaturally bright, but not a brightness beyond brightness. Furthermore, their fire is seen encompassing and surrounding them, and their flames may sweep ahead or behind as they manifest. As secondary beings, the archangelic radiance, as is the radiance, or lack thereof, of all the other Greater Kinds, seems rooted in something else, such as the brilliance of their God. Their holy fire and light is not quite as unbearable as that of the Gods above them, though they are still undoubtedly powerful and unendurable to humans.

Like the Hypercosmic Gods, the activities in which the Archangels are engaged are completed in the same instant they are conceived; however, their movement is now associated with those accomplishments. Though their function is anagogic, it doesn’t achieve the complete perfection of the soul. Though benevolent, and bringing about health, virtue, and purity, the powers of the Archangels are such that these do not come about perfectly nor completely.

The visions brought about by Archangels are perfect and true, setting parts of the world in harmonious motion as a light goes forth announcing their presence. Like the Gods, Archangels appear surrounded by lesser divinities, consisting of Angels who orbit around the same originating divinity. The epiphanies granted by Archangels fill our souls with truth, but only the portion of truths to which the Archangel concern with, and not the whole of the truth that the Gods encompass. Each Archangel presents its truth and power to us appropriate to the soul which receives it, and not wholly and completely, thus granting us a portion of Providence while we are still subordinate to Fate.



Angels

As the second member of the median triad of Gods & Greater Kinds, Angels hold the function of illumination.

Because motion is their primary feature, angelic actions aren’t accomplished instantaneously. Holding the function of illumination, Angels help loosen the sway of the realm of generation through gnosis; though they don’t free us from it. However, that illuminating power makes the above visible to the below, and with that brings in the soul the courage to fully imitate the divine through theurgy, and in doing so participate in the divine will of the Gods and Celestial Demiurge. Just as those ranking above them, angelic benevolence brings about benefits to body, soul, and intellect; however their lesser power only allows for benefits particular to their individual essences, and in manifestation, those blessings aren’t nearly as great as the illumination embracing them.

Just as Archangels are lesser in appearance, power, and activity to their Gods, Angels are more inferior than Archangels. Angels have a similar solemn and gentle presence as Archangels, though are less stern and milder. The appearance of an Angel brings with it a sense of order and serenity, but one that’s marked by movement as opposed to the perfect tranquility of the Hypercosmic Gods.

Though they have bright & angelic beauty that they receive from above, it is only partial to that of Archangels. The dimmed radiance of Angels means their presence is able to be endured by us, which allows the theurgist to engage with them in ways that aren’t possible with the suffocating presence of the divinities in the ranks above them. Angelic fire is described as divided in nature, sometimes appearing with it, occasionally prior it, and sometimes following it, except when the Angel appears in their utmost perfect forms. Overall, Angels have a simple appearance, modeled after the God they orbit. They’re lesser to the Gods and Archangels in every way, though their size, shape and so forth remain stagnant and unchanging.

When appearing in a theurgic vision, Angels are slightly less than perfect, though their form is clearly visible, as their light is not as blinding as that of an Archangel. The presence of an Angel isn’t accompanied by lesser beings, but rather, their presence reveals those activities that are proper to them. The magnitude of epiphanies received by us when we invoke the presence of an Angel is reduced than that of an Archangel, bringing about a “rational wisdom, truth, pure virtue, a firm knowledge” (Iamblichus De Mysteriis, II.9, 105), and an order which is proportionate to the purity of soul and power of the invoked Angel.



Daimons

Daimons (Latin: Genii) are benevolent Beings between the Mortals and the Gods. They hold the role of purification and their activity can be described in katagogic terms, which means that they don’t release incarnate souls from generation, but rather they bind them there. All Daimons have a role in the Realm of Generation, serving the Encosmic Gods by making the world the best it could be, not in relation to us, but rather its working as a whole. Their roles are important and necessary for the fallen soul’s process of purification; as without purification in generation, human souls cannot rise once more to regain their position among the Greater Kinds. They are produced through “the generative and demiurgic powers of the Gods in the furthest extremity of their procession and of their ultimate divisions.” (Dillon 1973, 50)

Generally, the activities of Daimons appear faster than they really are, and their work isn’t accomplished at the moment of its conception. Their duty is to distribute the divine impulses they receive from the divine above them to the Realm of Generation below in a harmonious and ordered way. They are responsible for the binding of souls to bodies, which causes our fallen souls to associate themselves with those bodies and thus bind us further to the “chains of Fate” (Iamblichus De Mysteriis, II.6, 99).

Unlike the other superior beings above them, Daimons have many varied and complex appearances, their form and size varying at different times. Whereas Archangels are stern and Angels are mild, the Daimonic countenance is fearsome; especially for the impure.

There are explicitly three kinds of Daimons. Because of this, Daimons are the most complex of the superior beings, overshadowed only by human souls. The three kinds of Daimons are:

I. Personal: A Personal Daimon (Oikeos Daimon) are patron divinities over our spiritual development. Though they belong to the Encosmic Gods (who are the Leader/Visible Gods), they fall in the domain of Generation and are thus under the guidance of the Sub-Lunar Demiurge. They’re designated to watch over an individual soul before it descends into matter. That particular Daimon “stands over [its soul] as the fulfiller of the various levels of life of the soul” (Iamblichus De Mysteriis, IX.6, 335) and binds the soul to its body, watching over the human for as long as they live, and likely for long as the soul is tied to generation. They oversee matter.

The Personal Daimon is there to protect you, ward away danger, guide you, inspire you like a personal muse, and even help you attain good fortune. The chief of concerns of one’s Personal Daimon is to give correctives if one gets too far off track from vertical alignment with the Good. You are in danger if you are not corrected in this fashion, for you may be allowed to drift into evil. Often, it does all of this without you being aware of it. In the divine Plato’s dialogue, the Apology, Socrates states that his own Personal Daimon never instructs him what to do but merely warns him when he’s about to make a mistake. Therefore, the Personal Daimon preserves the free will of the person it oversees by allowing them to determine their aims and how to pursue them without interference, however, it will give warning when those goals aren’t spiritually healthy.

Personal Daimons guide our lives until a worshiper moves onto the Median form of theurgy and engages in the worship of the Hyper-Encosmic Gods, to which Archangels replace their roles (Iamblichus De Mysteriis, IX.6, 335-7).



II. Punitive: Unlike the Personal Daimon, Punitive Daimons operate in a general judgmental fashion and aren’t connected to a specific soul; their function being the judgment of impure souls. Punitive Daimons are able to advise us on the proper course of moral action, viewing all such activities from a superior position that’s outside of time, and are thus able to see the full ramifications of any and every action. They’re understood to work against unjust human endeavors while cooperating with the just. Punitive Daimons are able to harm, or even kill a human for their actions if deemed necessary. They give visions of their terrible power when manifesting. They are led by Sub-Lunar Gods. They oversee matter.



III. Relational: The last kind of Daimons are called Relational Daimons (Iamblichus In Timaeus, fr. 80), also called “Elementals.” They and are Daimons without reason or intelligence as we understand, and their general role is overseeing of the functions of their particular portion of the physical world. Each of these Daimons hold a single function in the material world, having “been allotted just one power, in the apportionment of tasks which has been prescribed for each entity in each of the parts (of the universe)” (Iamblichus De Mysteriis, IV.1, 205).

The Relational Daimon’s irrational nature can be commanded by humans, both theurgists, and sorcerers. This is because the human intellect, which participates Nous, behaves as an organizing force for Relational Daimons; especially when that intellect is in harmony with the ordering of the cosmos via theurgy (Iamblichus De Mysteriis, IV.1-2); but may also work when the intellect has crafted an artificial order through the use of sorcery (Iamblichus De Mysteriis, IV.205-6). Like the Punitive Daimons, they are led by Sub-Lunar Gods. However, unlike the Personal and Punitive Daimons who oversee matter, Relational Daimons are immersed in it. Due to this association, the appearance of their pneumatic vehicles brings with them an eldritch sense of disorder. The pneumatic bodies of these Daimons without reason, being surrounded by matter as they are, are said to take on a material vestment that are peeled off just as human bodies that are cast aside by the soul upon death.



We can conclude that all Daimons are associated with matter in some form or another. Though frightening to witness, Daimons are nonetheless beautiful. This beauty is arranged in proportions, and unique to each Daimon as opposed to the general beauty possessed by their superiors. The brightness of a Daimon is similar to that of an angel’s, though more divided and not always of the same magnitude. Their fire casts a smoldering glow akin to ember rather than the brightness of those prior."
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Well, if you look at real-world religious texts that actually describe divine servitors, they can REALLY vary quite greatly.

Just sticking to what I know best (The Bible), you get all kinds of images.

Yeah, just make them non-humanoid and be done with it.
 



More Neoplatonist exploration of Polytheistic Angels, including Hermes as Prototypical God of Angels, or an Archangel.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
I'm with the majority of others here. "Angels," as such, are their own species. I would say most, if not all, "angelic beings" are spiritual entities, by their nature, and thus capable of altering their appearances as needed/wanted, to suit whatever audience/onlookers they are dealing.

I wouldn't really think of them as "humans with wings" and others being "elves with wings" or "dwarves with wings," and so on. I mean it certinaly makes sense that angels in the service of different deities would take on whatever form -as said above- is a "lesser" [divine/unimaginable/metaphysic/powerful] version of that deity. So, if you god of dwarves [e.g. Moradin] is an immortal divine dwarf of gigantic proportion that looks like dwarf and does dwarven things...then, sure, the angels of that deity, or at least one order thereof, it would make sense, have the appearance (or are capable of assuming the form of) stunningly superior specimens of dwarves...perhaps with actual beards of woven mithral and copper, or granite skin or what have you.

Full disclosure, they get next to no use/appearances in actual game play...aside from the occasional dream or vision to clerical/paladinic characters. I have done that a few times. But am just as likely, if not moreso, to use other celestial creatures for such plot devices or "errands": couatls, sphynx, shedu, etc... But, I tend to think of angels in my setting as more "otherworldly" beings...nearly incomprehensible to most mortals, thus they must cloak/wrap their spiritual being in a familiar close-to-mortal-appearing 'skin' to appear and be recognizable by those they are interacting.

Sometimes that perceivable "coating" is a gleaming muscular guy with golden eyes and massive silvery feathered wings (actually metallic and capable of slicing through nearly any material). Sometimes it's a vaguely humanoid shaped "vessel" of white and bronze metal that can fire "javelins" of radiant energy from the end of its "arms." Sometimes, if it suits your story/setting purposes, it could be a halo-sporting halfling dressed in what seems to be a sheaf of wheat or living vines/leaves.

If you want different racial appearances for your world's angels/depending on the god they serve, I say go for it.

But, for ease of play, I get that it helps for them to have a "base/true" form [most easily defaulting to the MM descriptions] so they are recognizable for the players.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I was just thinking of the erotes/cherubim and the whole varied descriptions thing…

Imagine if ALL divine servitors appeared winged juveniles of various species. Little winged babies, kittens, puppies, kits, calves, colts, etc.- all in resplendent attire.

…that has NOTHING to do with their actual power and danger in combat. Everything you see about them is illusory- all they are in reality is incredibly bright balls of conscious divine energy, Even their weapons and armor- if they have any- is just a visual analogy for their being,
 



Personally, I have a fondness for the non-humanoid celestials: couatl, lamassu, things like that. I would happily only have bestial celestials.
If I made celestials mine would just look odd like suns wearing masks with a ring around it, living bells and gongs, a giant face with smoke trailing out the back with two disembodied hands, living architecture
 

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