Celestials in 5e

gyor

Legend
How do you feel about how celestials have been handled in 5e?

Right now we have "outsider" exemplars races for Lawful Evil (Devils), Chaotic Evil (Demons), Neutral Evil (Yugoloths), Chaotic Neutral (Slaads), Lawful Neutral (Modrons), but no exemplars for Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Good, or True Neutral.

Angels and to a lesser extent Emypreans have been doing all the heavy lifting to fill the gap, but neither are alignment exemplar race, both are products of the Gods, divine servants.

And to make things interest we do have a Lawful Neutral Archon celestial in game, but it's unrelated to traditional D&D Archons and Mount Celestia.

And Eladarin are now mostly fae and unsuitable as an alignment Exemplar and need to be replaced (I suggest perhaps by Asuras).
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
How do you feel about how celestials have been handled in 5e?

Right now we have "outsider" exemplars races for Lawful Evil (Devils), Chaotic Evil (Demons), Neutral Evil (Yugoloths), Chaotic Neutral (Slaads), Lawful Neutral (Modrons), but no exemplars for Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Good, or True Neutral.

Angels and to a lesser extent Emypreans have been doing all the heavy lifting to fill the gap, but neither are alignment exemplar race, both are products of the Gods, divine servants.
I am not sure why one would be worried about "alignment exemplar races" for 5e, when alignment is not mechanically meaningful. Alignment is no longer a magical force that has direct impact on the Multiverse. It is just a description of how a critter behaves.

We have Devils, Demons, Yugoloths, Slaads, and Modrons because their conflicts are particularly relevant to older lore. You can't refer to a Great Modron March if there aren't any Modrons, for example.

Conflicts with or between celestial beings have not been major drivers of D&D lore, so... we don't really need 'em at this time.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I'll admit I kinda wish they'd given more celestials with specific alignments, but in most games it's completely unnecessary, since celestials are usually NPCs, not enemies. Unless a game is based around a conflict in the upper planes (and the lower planes attempt to seize advantage from it) or an evil campaign, it shouldn't matter at all.
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
I am not sure why one would be worried about "alignment exemplar races" for 5e, when alignment is not mechanically meaningful. Alignment is no longer a magical force that has direct impact on the Multiverse. It is just a description of how a critter behaves.

We have Devils, Demons, Yugoloths, Slaads, and Modrons because their conflicts are particularly relevant to older lore. You can't refer to a Great Modron March if there aren't any Modrons, for example.

Conflicts with or between celestial beings have not been major drivers of D&D lore, so... we don't really need 'em at this time.
I guess giving alignment exemplars helps the fluff about the planes around the great wheel, and opportunities for cool and inspiring art à la Planescape, but otherwise I don’t really see the need to stat them out...
 

Seramus

Adventurer
At the very least, I would love to see The Celestial Hebdomad. They were always overshadowed by the Lords of the Nine in popularity, but the seven heavens are an excellent bit of worldbuilding.
 

gyor

Legend
I guess giving alignment exemplars helps the fluff about the planes around the great wheel, and opportunities for cool and inspiring art à la Planescape, but otherwise I don’t really see the need to stat them out...
It all comes down to how you use them. I'd draw both on D&D tradition archon lore, MtG Lore, and Gnostic, Hermetic, and Neoplatonic mythology on Archons.
 

Chaosmancer

Adventurer
I'm honestly usually annoyed by how Celestials are handled in general. I get they weren't given a lot of attention because they aren't supposed to be fought by the players, but it still leads to problems.

For example, a DM of mine just finished running us through a massive fight against an insane amount of devils (legit, if we were using expeirence, our level 13 characters should have ended up at level 25, it was insane). We ended up getting the aid of a Planetar, a Solar, and an Empyrean during the fight. Things that came up.

1) What happens when a celestial is killed on the mortal plane? Devils and Demons get sent back to their respective planes, but no where could we find any lore telling us what happens to Celestials. Do they just die as normal? Why? Why is it easier to kill a servant of the gods than it is to kill even the weakest of devils?

2) Anitmagic. It was insane, but the final battle had the Devils using a massive numbers of Antimagic fields. Turns out, per a straight reading. That a Pit Fiends fire mace is just a natural effect of their being, so it is unaffected. Angelic Weapons though make the weapons magical and add the radiant damage. So, in an Antimagic field they are far weaker than the Devils.

3) Lack of ranged options. Turns out, Planetars don't have a ranged attack. They can move 120 ft sure, but the common "Hurl Flame" attack of Barbed Devils and Horned Devils (both lower CR) are 150 ft range, so they can get kited for a few turns, as the devils just strike at them from a distance. Solars get their longbow... but they only get 1 shot a turn? They get completely outclassed at range

4) A lack of variety means they just can't keep up. So, Mordenkainen's released more devils. Including the Abishai, the Red and Blue Abishai being incredibly powerful (red's deal 14d10+1d8+18 if all their attacks hit, and Blue's have lots of big spells). The vast variety of the various demons and devils meant to fill different roles means that if I need a sneaky devil, or a fast devil, or a magic devil, or a powerhouse devil, or a cannon fodder devil. I got it, I can easily find it. Look at the Celestials. Devas and Planetars and Solars are good at healing, fast at moving, and powerful melee combatants. And their spell lists are nearly copy and pasted from each other. They can't respond to a variety of situations. In fact, they can't even fulfill one of their major literary functions. Only Deva' can disguise themselves as a mortal. You know, that thing that angels do constantly in literature so that people can prove they were good and then the angel can reward them? Not possible per RAW for Planetars and Solars. And, also, most of them just aren't interesting enough. Not only can they not do much that is interesting, but with only three covering all good Angels, you don't get a difference between them. Angels of love, war, crafting, knowledge, hunting, seas, storms, volcanoes... all the exact same.
 

gyor

Legend
I'm honestly usually annoyed by how Celestials are handled in general. I get they weren't given a lot of attention because they aren't supposed to be fought by the players, but it still leads to problems.

For example, a DM of mine just finished running us through a massive fight against an insane amount of devils (legit, if we were using expeirence, our level 13 characters should have ended up at level 25, it was insane). We ended up getting the aid of a Planetar, a Solar, and an Empyrean during the fight. Things that came up.

1) What happens when a celestial is killed on the mortal plane? Devils and Demons get sent back to their respective planes, but no where could we find any lore telling us what happens to Celestials. Do they just die as normal? Why? Why is it easier to kill a servant of the gods than it is to kill even the weakest of devils?

2) Anitmagic. It was insane, but the final battle had the Devils using a massive numbers of Antimagic fields. Turns out, per a straight reading. That a Pit Fiends fire mace is just a natural effect of their being, so it is unaffected. Angelic Weapons though make the weapons magical and add the radiant damage. So, in an Antimagic field they are far weaker than the Devils.

3) Lack of ranged options. Turns out, Planetars don't have a ranged attack. They can move 120 ft sure, but the common "Hurl Flame" attack of Barbed Devils and Horned Devils (both lower CR) are 150 ft range, so they can get kited for a few turns, as the devils just strike at them from a distance. Solars get their longbow... but they only get 1 shot a turn? They get completely outclassed at range

4) A lack of variety means they just can't keep up. So, Mordenkainen's released more devils. Including the Abishai, the Red and Blue Abishai being incredibly powerful (red's deal 14d10+1d8+18 if all their attacks hit, and Blue's have lots of big spells). The vast variety of the various demons and devils meant to fill different roles means that if I need a sneaky devil, or a fast devil, or a magic devil, or a powerhouse devil, or a cannon fodder devil. I got it, I can easily find it. Look at the Celestials. Devas and Planetars and Solars are good at healing, fast at moving, and powerful melee combatants. And their spell lists are nearly copy and pasted from each other. They can't respond to a variety of situations. In fact, they can't even fulfill one of their major literary functions. Only Deva' can disguise themselves as a mortal. You know, that thing that angels do constantly in literature so that people can prove they were good and then the angel can reward them? Not possible per RAW for Planetars and Solars. And, also, most of them just aren't interesting enough. Not only can they not do much that is interesting, but with only three covering all good Angels, you don't get a difference between them. Angels of love, war, crafting, knowledge, hunting, seas, storms, volcanoes... all the exact same.
The most interesting in my opinion are the Devas and Couatls because of their massive crazy shape shifting powers allows them to take forms that express a partulcar theme. A Deva or Coualt that serves a deity might assume a form that looks like their God or is inspired by their function. A Deva that serves a Goddess of Lust will assume a sexy form, one that serves a Nature God might assume an animal form, one that serves a Dragon God might assume a Half Dragon or Dragonborn form.

Also one weird thing about 5e is how often Celestials, especially Angels appear as villians. Ravnica, Eberron, Dungeon of the Mad Mage, Curse of Strahd, Out of the Abyss.

Still agree with most of you points.
 

Perun

Mushroom
I'm all for more celestials. While I was always indifferent to archons, I enjoyed 2e guardinals, eladrin and rilmani. Also, while not an aligment exemplar race, I though hordelings (from the Grey Waste) were a fantastic outer planar race. I always imagined them a bit like something from Jim Henson's workshop (likely due to Toni DiTerlizzi's fantastic art). I don't mind 'cartoony' influences on my D&D :)
 

gyor

Legend
I'm all for more celestials. While I was always indifferent to archons, I enjoyed 2e guardinals, eladrin and rilmani. Also, while not an aligment exemplar race, I though hordelings (from the Grey Waste) were a fantastic outer planar race. I always imagined them a bit like something from Jim Henson's workshop (likely due to Toni DiTerlizzi's fantastic art). I don't mind 'cartoony' influences on my D&D :)
What issue did you have with Archons?
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I'm honestly usually annoyed by how Celestials are handled in general. I get they weren't given a lot of attention because they aren't supposed to be fought by the players, but it still leads to problems.

For example, a DM of mine just finished running us through a massive fight against an insane amount of devils (legit, if we were using expeirence, our level 13 characters should have ended up at level 25, it was insane). We ended up getting the aid of a Planetar, a Solar, and an Empyrean during the fight. Things that came up.

1) What happens when a celestial is killed on the mortal plane? Devils and Demons get sent back to their respective planes, but no where could we find any lore telling us what happens to Celestials. Do they just die as normal? Why? Why is it easier to kill a servant of the gods than it is to kill even the weakest of devils?

2) Anitmagic. It was insane, but the final battle had the Devils using a massive numbers of Antimagic fields. Turns out, per a straight reading. That a Pit Fiends fire mace is just a natural effect of their being, so it is unaffected. Angelic Weapons though make the weapons magical and add the radiant damage. So, in an Antimagic field they are far weaker than the Devils.

3) Lack of ranged options. Turns out, Planetars don't have a ranged attack. They can move 120 ft sure, but the common "Hurl Flame" attack of Barbed Devils and Horned Devils (both lower CR) are 150 ft range, so they can get kited for a few turns, as the devils just strike at them from a distance. Solars get their longbow... but they only get 1 shot a turn? They get completely outclassed at range

4) A lack of variety means they just can't keep up. So, Mordenkainen's released more devils. Including the Abishai, the Red and Blue Abishai being incredibly powerful (red's deal 14d10+1d8+18 if all their attacks hit, and Blue's have lots of big spells). The vast variety of the various demons and devils meant to fill different roles means that if I need a sneaky devil, or a fast devil, or a magic devil, or a powerhouse devil, or a cannon fodder devil. I got it, I can easily find it. Look at the Celestials. Devas and Planetars and Solars are good at healing, fast at moving, and powerful melee combatants. And their spell lists are nearly copy and pasted from each other. They can't respond to a variety of situations. In fact, they can't even fulfill one of their major literary functions. Only Deva' can disguise themselves as a mortal. You know, that thing that angels do constantly in literature so that people can prove they were good and then the angel can reward them? Not possible per RAW for Planetars and Solars. And, also, most of them just aren't interesting enough. Not only can they not do much that is interesting, but with only three covering all good Angels, you don't get a difference between them. Angels of love, war, crafting, knowledge, hunting, seas, storms, volcanoes... all the exact same.
I agree on the lack of variety. Ironically, pre-4e Archons fit the 4e-style roles pretty well:

Artillery: light archons, tome archons (when not controlling)
Strikers: hound archons, sword archons
Defenders: warden archons (shield archons from Pathfinder)
Controllers: trumpet archons, tome archons (when not blasting)
Leaders: throne archons

That lends itself to a lot of configurations.

I find that it works best with existing 5e celestials to pair them with noncelestials, with the celestial as mostly support (but zipping in to pound any caster who is concentrating).
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
They aren't "celestials", but the Chaotic Good exemplars to me are the Archfey. My "quadrant" for the outer planes are:

Archangels - Lawful Good
Archfey - Chatoci Good
Archdevils - Lawful Evil
Archdemons - Chaotic Evil

All the neutral ones are spread about there as well, but I don't see them as most powerful as the four "corners" are. Probably cause they're wishy-washy on at least one of the axis. ;)
 

gyor

Legend
They aren't "celestials", but the Chaotic Good exemplars to me are the Archfey. My "quadrant" for the outer planes are:

Archangels - Lawful Good
Archfey - Chatoci Good
Archdevils - Lawful Evil
Archdemons - Chaotic Evil

All the neutral ones are spread about there as well, but I don't see them as most powerful as the four "corners" are. Probably cause they're wishy-washy on at least one of the axis. ;)
Many Archefey aren't good and some might not even be chaotic.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I think you could reuse the pre-4e Eladrin as a Einhefjar, so the bralani might not just be an elf-looking celestial that turns into a whirlwind, but it might be a human-looking celestial, a dragonborn-looking celestial, or a dwarf-looking one that turns into a whirlwind. I will miss the tribute to the elves who had enough sense not to go to Middle Earth, but I think it has become a hindrance.

I would modify the "must remain hidden" bit to be more "they don't want to take away the honor from mortals striving for greatness", and only tend to show up after some heroic sacrifice is insufficient to win the day (and save lots of innocents): Bob the dwarf might have tried to divert the ancient red dragon to save the wagon full of orphans, but when Bob got ate, Joe, the Einhefjar who turns into a ball of lightning, showed up to honor Bob and hold off the dragon until the orphans got away.
 

Chaosmancer

Adventurer
I would modify the "must remain hidden" bit to be more "they don't want to take away the honor from mortals striving for greatness", and only tend to show up after some heroic sacrifice is insufficient to win the day (and save lots of innocents): Bob the dwarf might have tried to divert the ancient red dragon to save the wagon full of orphans, but when Bob got ate, Joe, the Einhefjar who turns into a ball of lightning, showed up to honor Bob and hold off the dragon until the orphans got away.
I like that a lot, feels really cool. Especially (I end up making different religions for each race) in a religion where striving for ascension to the celestial courts is the ultimate goal. In that case, helping mortals too much would be preventing them from reaching their goals.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Many Archefey aren't good and some might not even be chaotic.
By the same token, some of the devils aren't really lawful and some of the demons (like Grazzt) aren't really chaotic. But the groups as a whole fall into those alignment categories. And for my money, the archfey (like the elves that worship them) are primarily chaotic good as a group. But if you can find better chaotic good celestials, have at it.
 

gyor

Legend
By the same token, some of the devils aren't really lawful and some of the demons (like Grazzt) aren't really chaotic. But the groups as a whole fall into those alignment categories. And for my money, the archfey (like the elves that worship them) are primarily chaotic good as a group. But if you can find better chaotic good celestials, have at it.
Erin M Evans has a great take on how Grazzt's "order" really is chaotic. He appears in one of her novels.

And I've seen no evidence that the Archfey are predominately Good, Chaotic yes, but only a few seem like Good.

And I have Lillend and Asuras.


Asura

I'd combined the Lillend into the Asuras the way Pathfinder merged Lillends in with Azata (Pathfinder Eladarin).
 
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Aebir-Toril

Is lukewarm on the Forgotten Realms
My main complaint with Celestials in 5E is that there are simply too few of them, and those that exist are too weak.

Heck, Planetars and Devas don't have Legendary Resistance, and could, mechanically, at least, easily be trapped with a pair of dimensional shackles, or even, normal shackles.

To add insult to injury, Angels in 5E cannot even, by RAW, cast plane shift.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
By the same token, some of the devils aren't really lawful and some of the demons (like Grazzt) aren't really chaotic. But the groups as a whole fall into those alignment categories. And for my money, the archfey (like the elves that worship them) are primarily chaotic good as a group. But if you can find better chaotic good celestials, have at it.
How is Grazzt not chaotic?
 

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