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5E Moral Agency

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
If Zariel was an angel that fell and became a devil, I'd find it very odd to believe that devils couldn't rise to become angels.

Same thing with the Fey Llolth becoming a demon. That can happen, but not in the opposite direction? Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Perfection marred is eternally imperfect?
Eternal damnation is... eternal?


Doesn't sound all that all-loving and forgiving, but, feels like it has precedent.
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Are there any examples of a demon or devil ascending to become a celestial in lore?

I know the answer in my own campaign, but it seems like most fiction (D&D related and otherwise) seems to assume that you can fall, but not rise. But, as I said before, it will depend on the DM. Could it theoretically happen? Perhaps. But if over the millennia, only a single celestial or two have fallen and no demons/devils have risen, then it's as close to impossible as to not matter.

Which has little or no relevance to individual campaigns. In some campaigns Asmodeus could be redeemed, in others orcs are born evil and are simply hard wired that way. Neither is right or wrong IMHO.

But as I said earlier, maybe it's not a question of success but the attempt. If that ogre is trying to smash you into goo so he can use your remains as a sandwich spread it may be a moot point. It's one thing to try to redeem someone when you're not in combat, but whether that's going to be an option is largely going to depend on game style. I've had NPCs that were being groomed to be the BBEG that ultimately became allies, but it was due to repeated and continuous interventions and conversations not just a one time conversation.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Perfection marred is eternally imperfect?
Eternal damnation is... eternal?

Doesn't sound all that all-loving and forgiving, but, feels like it has precedent.
Still doesn't make a lick of sense.

If perfection marred is eternally imperfect... if all an angel needed was "one bad day" and they fell from grace never to rise again... while at the same time a devil could never rise no matter how well they behaved... there would be no angels left. We're talking eternity here... if it was actually possible for an angel to have a momentary lapse and then fall, then statistically every angel would eventually turn into a devil.

So either angels, devils and demons truly are bound to their alignments and don't actually rise or fall (the myths surrounding Zariel's "fall" are just that... merely myths-- she's a devil and always has been)... or else good can turn bad and bad can turn good.

This whole Dark Side of the Force "once you start down its dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny" crap is a bunch of hooey if you ask me.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Still doesn't make a lick of sense.

If perfection marred is eternally imperfect... if all an angel needed was "one bad day" and they fell from grace never to rise again... while at the same time a devil could never rise no matter how well they behaved... there would be no angels left. We're talking eternity here... if it was actually possible for an angel to have a momentary lapse and then fall, then statistically every angel would eventually turn into a devil.

So either angels, devils and demons truly are bound to their alignments and don't actually rise or fall (the myths surrounding Zariel's "fall" are just that... merely myths-- she's a devil and always has been)... or else good can turn bad and bad can turn good.

This whole Dark Side of the Force "once you start down its dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny" crap is a bunch of hooey if you ask me.

It's not canon, but here's one...


Found via: Ascended Demon - TV Tropes
 

These are such great responses! Thank you for all the insights. Any thoughts on constructs? I'm assuming not capable of redemption, but curious if anyone disagrees.
Most constructs have even less free will than basic undead like skeletons and zombies. If a construct is doing evil, it is because it has been given instructions to do so, and not because it wishes to. Thus there is nothing to redeem.
A free-willed construct that has chosen to do evil is as capable of redemption as anything else for which evil and good are choices.

P.S. I as DM hold that devils and demons are embodiments of their alignment so are unredeemable. An exception would become a myth / legend of that Paladin's faith, and is beyond a multiplayer campaign's scope - you would have to play that out solo with a supporting cast of NPCs.
I generally hold that while devils, demons and celestials are embodiments of their alignment, they are corruptable/redeemable. It is just very rare, and would involve an actual change in their fundamental nature.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
We're talking eternity here... if it was actually possible for an angel to have a momentary lapse and then fall, then statistically every angel would eventually turn into a devil.

Unless you have an eternal process of celestial creation.

And, we run into the logical issues with absolutism - it brings into question what "perfection" means. If the celestial is perfect, in an absolute sense, then logically, how can it fall at all? How is a perfect being capable of acting in an imperfect manner? That doesn't sound "perfect" at all!
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Exactly. Which is why the idea that angels can fall but devils cannot rise is logically unsound. It's either/or. Either angels and devils are both bound by their alignments and never the twain shall meet... or for every angel that falls there will usually be a devil that rises.

Now if someone wants to suggest that in the "knowledgeable history" of whatever intelligent species a particular setting has seen that there's only been one story/myth that they know of which involved an Outsider changing sides (Zariel falling for example)... then that's cool. The assumption being she was the biggest name and thus her fall got all the press, while any number of no-name devils were able to regain their wings but no one wrote stories about them. You might have something there. Although personally I think at least one devil re-achieving divinity should have made headlines by now. ;)
 

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
To the OP: In Monte Cook's Ptolus setting he had an organization called the Brotherhood of Redemption. They were basically a psychiatric institute that reprogrammed evil creatures like mind flayers and onis. They would pay a bounty to PCs who brought them evil intelligent monsters. That seems like it could be a good inspiration for an organization that a Redemption paladin belongs to. To me, trying to convert every last monster you come across could derail a lot of plots, hog the spotlight from other players, and just generally make life complicated for the other people at the table. But being a monster hunter sent on a mission to capture rather than kill the world's most evil creatures -- that sounds like good fun for everyone.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
To the OP: In Monte Cook's Ptolus setting he had an organization called the Brotherhood of Redemption. They were basically a psychiatric institute that reprogrammed evil creatures like mind flayers and onis. They would pay a bounty to PCs who brought them evil intelligent monsters. That seems like it could be a good inspiration for an organization that a Redemption paladin belongs to. To me, trying to convert every last monster you come across could derail a lot of plots, hog the spotlight from other players, and just generally make life complicated for the other people at the table. But being a monster hunter sent on a mission to capture rather than kill the world's most evil creatures -- that sounds like good fun for everyone.

Not to get too sidetracked, but isn't "reprogramming" a creature taking away their freedom of choice and kind of evil? It's one thing for someone to see the light and be convinced to change their ways, it's another to ignore what they want and "fix" them. Do the ends justify the means?

Now, if there was a way of reaching out to people trapped in an evil society that wanted to escape that might be a different story. After all, if you're the only gnoll in a clan that doesn't believe in Yeenoghu you probably won't live long if you start praising Pelor at the pack meeting.
 


THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
Not to get too sidetracked, but isn't "reprogramming" a creature taking away their freedom of choice and kind of evil? It's one thing for someone to see the light and be convinced to change their ways, it's another to ignore what they want and "fix" them. Do the ends justify the means?
Yeah, maybe. It definitely has the possibility to be morally ambiguous, which could be part of the fun.
 

MarkB

Legend
Why limit redemption? Why not play the idealistic paladin who knows that goblins, devils, and demons are evil to the core, but strive to redeem them anyway because it's the right thing to do? The ends never justify the means.
But do the means justify the ends? If you choose to give someone a chance at redemption when you know there is little or no chance that they'll actually change their ways, and then they go on to kill again, do you bear culpability for that outcome?

Are there any examples of a demon or devil ascending to become a celestial in lore?
Not all the way to celestial, but there is Fall-From-Grace from the Planescape: Torment game, a succubus who has become Lawful Neutral with tendencies towards good. It's a licensed game, so I would assume she counts as canonical.
 

There are precedents of fallen celestial and reformed fiends (although none that I know have ascended to the status of celestial).

The vengeance/redemption party is very intriguing however. It has potential for epic roleplay... and for epic campaign derailing and crash. I hope that while your characters may see things differently, you, the paladin players, the other players, and the DM, are all on board with it however.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I would argue that Evil benefits by having evil or fallen celestials, so it keeps them celestials unless there is a strong reason to change them (like overlordship of a layer of Hell). That is why Evil trots them out to show you that Good is weak or lying to you.

There aren't a lot of (ahem) good reasons for Good to keep redeemed fiends as fiends. Good therefore tries to turn redeemed fiends into celestials as soon as possible. Since Good isn't trying to make PR points and if Evil heard Good was trying, it would be easy and probably horrifically tragic to sabotage that effort ("yeah, I'm a totally reformed demon too. Why don't you bring all the kids in town here so I can give them some presents."), there is no reason for anyone to hear about redeemed fiends.
 

MarkB

Legend
I would argue that Evil benefits by having evil or fallen celestials, so it keeps them celestials unless there is a strong reason to change them (like overlordship of a layer of Hell). That is why Evil trots them out to show you that Good is weak or lying to you.

There aren't a lot of (ahem) good reasons for Good to keep redeemed fiends as fiends. Good therefore tries to turn redeemed fiends into celestials as soon as possible. Since Good isn't trying to make PR points and if Evil heard Good was trying, it would be easy and probably horrifically tragic to sabotage that effort ("yeah, I'm a totally reformed demon too. Why don't you bring all the kids in town here so I can give them some presents."), there is no reason for anyone to hear about redeemed fiends.
Since when is Good not trying to score PR points? That's what sermons are. Being able to demonstrate that nobody is beyond redemption would be huge for many good-aligned religions.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
Since when is Good not trying to score PR points? That's what sermons are. Being able to demonstrate that nobody is beyond redemption would be huge for many good-aligned religions.
I have been told that sermons are supposed to inspire you to greater good.

I think you will have to work pretty hard to convince me that scenario B is more compelling than scenario A (both below). Feel free to give it a shot:

Scenario A

"Hi. I'm Bob. As you can see I am a deva angel. What you don't know is that this time last century, I was a vile vrock demon. A paladin spared my life after a fierce combat and I realized that there was a better way. The Goddess of Redemption gifted me this form knowing a body made of pure goodness would reinforce the rehabilitative process."

Scenario B

"Hi. I'm Bob. As you can see I am a vrock demon. DON'T RUN AWAY! I swear I will infect you with the spores of madness if you run. As I was saying, I am totally good now. A paladin spared my life after a fierce combat and I realized that there was a better way. I am still a demon, because a body made of pure evil that can only feel any sort of pleasure by inflicting pain and fear on lesser beings like you.... Paaaaiiiin......Feeeaaaar......feels sooo good. Sorry, got caught up for a moment, but I don't do that anymore (mostly). Hey, I said DON'T RUN."
 

MarkB

Legend
I have been told that sermons are supposed to inspire you to greater good.

I think you will have to work pretty hard to convince me that scenario B is more compelling than scenario A (both below). Feel free to give it a shot:

Scenario A

"Hi. I'm Bob. As you can see I am a deva angel. What you don't know is that this time last century, I was a vile vrock demon. A paladin spared my life after a fierce combat and I realized that there was a better way. The Goddess of Redemption gifted me this form knowing a body made of pure goodness would reinforce the rehabilitative process."

Scenario B

"Hi. I'm Bob. As you can see I am a vrock demon. DON'T RUN AWAY! I swear I will infect you with the spores of madness if you run. As I was saying, I am totally good now. A paladin spared my life after a fierce combat and I realized that there was a better way. I am still a demon, because a body made of pure evil that can only feel any sort of pleasure by inflicting pain and fear on lesser beings like you.... Paaaaiiiin......Feeeaaaar......feels sooo good. Sorry, got caught up for a moment, but I don't do that anymore (mostly). Hey, I said DON'T RUN."
You'll have a hard time convincing me that these scenarios are not PR.🙂

And what makes the second scenario more compelling is that scenario B involves actually seeing a Vrock demon doing good works, while scenario A just involves someone claiming to be an ex-demon. Seeing is believing.
 

Are there any examples of a demon or devil ascending to become a celestial in lore?
There was one Devil that became a Planetar. They were not special or unique like most fallen angels are, they just became a bog standard Planetar. Gosh, this is going to take some digging to get her name.
 
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Try genocide.

Really, it's just a mercy killing on a grander scale. So even more mercy than a standard mercy killing.

You cant get much more merciful than that.
 

Are there any examples of a demon or devil ascending to become a celestial in lore?

Resounding Justice (Celestial Planetar servant of Tyr in FR) was once a Fiend (a Devil).

There is a LG Succubus Paladin in the 3.5 BoED from memory.

More relevantly, if the PCs redeem the Archdevil Zariel at the end of Descent into Avernus, she ceases being a Fiend and becomes a Celestial (again).

Fall from Grace was a LN (good tendencies) chaste Succubus, from Plansecape Torment.

Grazzt ceased being a Bateezu and became a Taanari when he changed alignment from LE to CE (still a Fiend though).

Redeemed Fiends are rare. Fallen Celestials are far more common. Four of the current 9 Dukes of Hell were once Angels, and the entire sub-race of Erinyes were all once Angels (or descendants of those that fell to evil).

It's easier to fall that rise.
 
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