Fallen Celestials and (the lack of) Ascended Fiends

FlyingChihuahua

Adventurer
So I'm pretty sure we are all aware of the Fallen Angel trope and it's relevance to D&D. Four of the Lords of the Nine Hells are said to be fallen angels (Zariel, Dispater, Mephistopholes, and Asmodeus himself) as well as other archdevils (Baalzebul and Moloch) as well as an entire caste of the infernal heirarchy (Erinyes going by 3.5 lore that hasn't been contradicted since to my knowledge). I'm not aware of any Demons and Yugoloths that are fallen angels (or celestials in general), but if there was, I wouldn't be surprised. You can also count evil Empyreans as "fallen angels/celestials" and there is the Radiant Idols in Eberron that I think count (they even fell because they thought they were better than the gods, can't get any more fallen angel than that).

Yet, with all those examples of fallen angels, there are very few examples of Ascended Demons in D&D history and lore. There's a few examples of good members of traditionally evil races, the Mind Flayer Monk from 3.5 Book of Exalted Deeds as an example, as well as everyone's favorite punching bag Drizzt. But, even with those examples, there are very few examples of fiends that have managed to beat past their infernal nature and become good guys. The only one I can think of where the change stuck is Eludecia, a succubus paladin. There is a Bearded Devil in Decent into Avernes that is Chaotic Good, but that's because they have brain damage, and if you heal that, they go right back to Lawful Evil. I just wonder why there are more cases of fallen celestials then there are ascended fiends in the D&D world.

There is an answer to this question in the 5e PHB which says of devils that " A devil does not choose to be lawful evil, and it doesn't tend toward lawful evil, but rather it is lawful evil in its essence. If it somehow ceased to be lawful evil, it would cease to be a devil." (which I am reading as "that devil ceases to exist") Which is a fine explanation as to why there are no ascended fiends (assuming the same applies to Demons and Yugoloths, and there is no reason to not assume that). This does raise another question though, why does the same not apply to celestials? If a Devil that ceases to be Lawful Evil cease to be a devil why wouldn't a Planetar that ceased to be Lawful Good cease to exist? Is there something about Evil as a force that makes it, in essence, more powerful than Good as a force?

Basically, my question is this: Why are there so few Ascended Fiends in D&D lore compared to Fallen Celestials? Is it just not as interesting of a story? Is there something about Good and Evil as forces that prevent ascended fiends? Did the writers just never think of it? I'm interested to hear what other people have to say about this dilemma, or maybe you can give me more examples of ascended fiends in D&D that makes this whole thesis absolutely worthless, that's interesting too. (I know of Azuth being the old Lord of the Nine in Forgotten Realms or something, and while that's really cool and neat, it doesn't really fit IMO because Azuth is Lawful Neutral and I, personally am looking for Evil to Good examples)
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
Not D&D specifically, but based on D&D...

Pathfinder has a Lawful Good Empyreal Lord (basically someone who has ascended to angelhood and been granted a small spark of divinity as a demigod) named Raziel, who is the angelic Demigod of Just Vengeance, Divine Wrath, and Heavenly Battle.

He's an Ascended (Half)Fiend.

He's the son of the Archdevil Dispater and a Fire demigoddess, who instead of following in his father's footsteps, instead chose to devote himself to channeling his burning rage towards the service of Good and lead the hosts of Heaven in battle against Fiends.

His D&D 3E equivalent is Raziel, although Raziel doesn't specifically have any mention of being part-Devil.

 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
I recommend reading God's Demon. Great book about the politics of the demons of hell and the path one demon takes towards redemption.

But overall, I think it isn't really talked about much in D&D because stories are made for heroes to fight villains. SO much of the focus is setting up heroes (players) to fight interesting villains (ie fallen angels). Ascended fiends would thus potential steal the spotlight from heroes and reduce the need for heroes in the world.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I actually read the "cease to be a devil" part as it becomes something else, rather than remains a devil.

And we do know that devils can survive being "changed." Graz'zt was once an archdevil who served Asmodeus, but after leading an invasion into the Abyss, decided to remain and become an independent demon lord.

So Graz'zt changed from a devil to a demon; he did not cease to exist. Just as how Zariel, if the right conditions are met, can become a celestial again in Descent to Avernus.

Anyway, it does seem theoretically possible that a devil could be redeemed and become a celestial (Zariel does do this, but she of course was a celestial originally).

I would say that because souls are essentially currency in the Nine Hells, it is designed to stop souls from leaving the realm, much like a very protectionist economy. So the redemption of souls is something devils actively try to prevent.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
The only ascended devil I know about is Resounding Justice, but her ascension turned her into a planetar. So I assume most Devils that ascend simply become celestials of the appropriate type, instead of becoming something genuinely unique and notable.

I do wish there was at least one ascended devil among the ranks of the Celestial Hebdomad. It puts a cramp in redemption plots when there are barely any clear examples of successful redemption among fiends (though your players can always be the first!)
 

FlyingChihuahua

Adventurer
The only ascended devil I know about is Resounding Justice, but her ascension turned her into a planetar. So I assume most Devils that ascend simply become celestials of the appropriate type, instead of becoming something genuinely unique and notable.

I do wish there was at least one ascended devil among the ranks of the Celestial Hebdomad. It puts a cramp in redemption plots when there are barely any clear examples of successful redemption among fiends (though your players can always be the first!)
Well that, and you can always just homebrew them.

which is why I constrained this discussion to D&D canon, because there is theoretically infinite examples of ascended demons in people's games, but if you have a cool story about that happening, do tell.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
because there is theoretically infinite examples of ascended demons in people's games, but if you have a cool story about that happening, do tell.
If I were to guess, I imagine stories where the bad guy repents and eventually gets all the rewards of being good somewhat undermines the idea that you should be good in the first place. At least from one perspective. But stories are usually about the journey and not the happily ever after. The tale of Devil Joe slowly atoning for his centuries of crimes probably resonates stronger than the tale of Angel Joe, who shouldn't have anything held against him now because he served his time. :ROFLMAO:
 

FlyingChihuahua

Adventurer
I actually read the "cease to be a devil" part as it becomes something else, rather than remains a devil.
But there's another thing about that isn't there? If a devil that ascended becomes just an angel, then why do angels that have fallen become known as fallen angels?
And we do know that devils can survive being "changed." Graz'zt was once an archdevil who served Asmodeus, but after leading an invasion into the Abyss, decided to remain and become an independent demon lord.

So Graz'zt changed from a devil to a demon; he did not cease to exist. Just as how Zariel, if the right conditions are met, can become a celestial again in Descent to Avernus.
I don't really find a devil becoming a demon much like a fiend becoming a celestial. Mainly because well, despite the ideological differences of how Evil should be, they are still ultimately on the same side of Evil. Basically, Lawful to Chaotic or Chaotic to Lawful doesn't seem as big or extreme of a jump as going from Good to Evil or Evil to Good.

although, on that train of thought, what happens to a Slaad that stops being chaotic? There's a small set of fiction and space within the D&D world of Modrons going rogue and ceasing to be Lawful (while still being a Modron, mind), what about Slaads not being chaotic? Hell, they don't even have to be Lawful, considering Rogue Modrons can be any alignment other than Lawful Neutral.

I would say that because souls are essentially currency in the Nine Hells, it is designed to stop souls from leaving the realm, much like a very protectionist economy. So the redemption of souls is something devils actively try to prevent.
Well that's a lot more chipper and funny than my idea of Good essentially being an aberration on the multiverse that goes against the natural order of things.

I do kinda prefer my idea, but your idea certainly has merit and could be a pretty good Epic Level plot hook, busting Evil's monopoly on souls and allow everything a chance at redemption is the perfect combo of silly and epic that I think all good stories need.
 
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It's largely because of the influence of Christian mythology on D&D. (all devils and demons are fallen angels, and cannot be redeemed).

No reason D&D has to stick to the original source material though...
 

FlyingChihuahua

Adventurer
It's largely because of the influence of Christian mythology on D&D. (all devils and demons are fallen angels, and cannot be redeemed).
More than likely (wasn't Gygax fairly devout or something like that?). I also have some Words to say on that topic, but I would rather not get this thread locked so I'm not gonna say much more.

No reason D&D has to stick to the original source material though...
Well grognards would be mad and uhh... Can't really think of anything else, and that negative isn't really too big of a problem in the grand scheme of things.
 

Sepulchrave II

Adventurer
It's largely because of the influence of Christian mythology on D&D. (all devils and demons are fallen angels, and cannot be redeemed).

No reason D&D has to stick to the original source material though...
The original source material is silent on the matter. Lots of people have had lots of different ideas since.

Many early Christians favored the idea of apokatastasis: a universal reconciliation of Nature with God, including Satan and his demons, and the restoration of a perfect order.

FlyingChihuahua said:
Basically, my question is this: Why are there so few Ascended Fiends in D&D lore compared to Fallen Celestials?
Falling is a metaphysical event. Redemption requires an intercessor. Who will advocate for the fiends?

Also, who are you going to fight?
 

Coroc

Adventurer
So I'm pretty sure we are all aware of the Fallen Angel trope and it's relevance to D&D. Four of the Lords of the Nine Hells are said to be fallen angels (Zariel, Dispater, Mephistopholes, and Asmodeus himself) as well as other archdevils (Baalzebul and Moloch) as well as an entire caste of the infernal heirarchy (Erinyes going by 3.5 lore that hasn't been contradicted since to my knowledge). I'm not aware of any Demons and Yugoloths that are fallen angels (or celestials in general), but if there was, I wouldn't be surprised. You can also count evil Empyreans as "fallen angels/celestials" and there is the Radiant Idols in Eberron that I think count (they even fell because they thought they were better than the gods, can't get any more fallen angel than that).

Yet, with all those examples of fallen angels, there are very few examples of Ascended Demons in D&D history and lore. There's a few examples of good members of traditionally evil races, the Mind Flayer Monk from 3.5 Book of Exalted Deeds as an example, as well as everyone's favorite punching bag Drizzt. But, even with those examples, there are very few examples of fiends that have managed to beat past their infernal nature and become good guys. The only one I can think of where the change stuck is Eludecia, a succubus paladin. There is a Bearded Devil in Decent into Avernes that is Chaotic Good, but that's because they have brain damage, and if you heal that, they go right back to Lawful Evil. I just wonder why there are more cases of fallen celestials then there are ascended fiends in the D&D world.

There is an answer to this question in the 5e PHB which says of devils that " A devil does not choose to be lawful evil, and it doesn't tend toward lawful evil, but rather it is lawful evil in its essence. If it somehow ceased to be lawful evil, it would cease to be a devil." (which I am reading as "that devil ceases to exist") Which is a fine explanation as to why there are no ascended fiends (assuming the same applies to Demons and Yugoloths, and there is no reason to not assume that). This does raise another question though, why does the same not apply to celestials? If a Devil that ceases to be Lawful Evil cease to be a devil why wouldn't a Planetar that ceased to be Lawful Good cease to exist? Is there something about Evil as a force that makes it, in essence, more powerful than Good as a force?

Basically, my question is this: Why are there so few Ascended Fiends in D&D lore compared to Fallen Celestials? Is it just not as interesting of a story? Is there something about Good and Evil as forces that prevent ascended fiends? Did the writers just never think of it? I'm interested to hear what other people have to say about this dilemma, or maybe you can give me more examples of ascended fiends in D&D that makes this whole thesis absolutely worthless, that's interesting too. (I know of Azuth being the old Lord of the Nine in Forgotten Realms or something, and while that's really cool and neat, it doesn't really fit IMO because Azuth is Lawful Neutral and I, personally am looking for Evil to Good examples)
wewhewhwhew so now Drizzit is an ascended Demon?

:)

You know that in some mythologies demons are fallen angels. So it would rather be re-ascension or purgatoried or atoned, no?

Edit: I think arch-whatevers are lost without hope. They are in to deep.
 

ChaosOS

Explorer
Eberron's Kalashtar are actually an example of ascended fiends. Per 3.5, Quori are Outsider (evil) and use all the same rules for possession classic fiends do. 5e tried to make Quori aberrations, but this was a change in editing Keith Baker considers a mistake. So, starting with the premise that Quori are basically just nightmare fiends:

Several thousand years ago, a group of good and neutral aligned quori rebelled, made a connection with groups of monks, and formed the first Kalashtar. Given that these are good and neutral aligned quori in a world where immortal spirits are otherwise considered "fixed" (The exception to Eberron's shades of gray), that would mean these are good aligned fiends - or Ascended Fiends.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
I like the idea of devils intentionally advertising fallen angels as a form of propaganda. Change their bodies into something incredibly sexy and powerful, give them endless luxury and the outward appearance of fame, and let the rest of the multiverse see them as total rock stars.

Give everyone the impression that falling is very desirable and rewarded.
 

dave2008

Legend
There is an answer to this question in the 5e PHB which says of devils that " A devil does not choose to be lawful evil, and it doesn't tend toward lawful evil, but rather it is lawful evil in its essence. If it somehow ceased to be lawful evil, it would cease to be a devil."
I understand this to mean simply that it ceases to be a devil, it doesn't cease to exist. It is simply no longer called a devil. That is how I understood it at least.

Also, perhaps we don't here about them because they are ashamed of their former lives and hide the fact as much as possible.
 

dave2008

Legend
But there's another thing about that isn't there? If a devil that ascended becomes just an angel, then why do angels that have fallen become known as fallen angels?
Well there type still becomes "fiend" not fallen angle. We may know them as fallen angles because the fiends want you to know. Perhaps celestial are not so proud and the success of turning a fiend to good is reward enough.

I don't really find a devil becoming a demon much like a fiend becoming a celestial. Mainly because well, despite the ideological differences of how Evil should be, they are still ultimately on the same side of Evil. Basically, Lawful to Chaotic or Chaotic to Lawful doesn't seem as big or extreme of a jump as going from Good to Evil or Evil to Good.
The point is simply that we know devils can change without ceasing to exist. You specifically quoted that devils that are no longer Lawful Evil cease to be devils. You understood that to mean they cease to exist. However, Graz'zt changed from Lawful Evil to Chaotic Evil and he didn't cease to exist, he became a demon (lord) instead. It was an example that in the 5e fiction, devils don't cease to exist when they are no longer lawful evil, they become something else instead.
 

Raunalyn

Adventurer
I don't know of any major demons or devils who have ascended, but there is a record of an ascended demon in the D&D universe.

In Planescape: Torment, one of the playable characters is Falls-From-Grace, a "fallen" succubus who has become good.
 
I think it comes down to the role or purpose of angels. The nature of celestials and fiends are vague and leave it up to DMs.

Are they servants of gods? Do they fall when they stop serving? What about evil gods, do they serve them? Or do evil gods have devil's or demons or something else? Would chaotic gods use reclaimed devils?

D&D doesn't focus that much on the combination of polytheistic and monotheistic aspects it has. It makes most powerful celestials and fiends into alignment robots.
 

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