Angels, also known as the aasimon (pronounced: /ˈæsɛmʌn/ ASS-eh-mun), were celestials that hailed from any of the upper planes. Powerful entities of light and goodness, they were the traditional enemies of all manner of fiends and served as the warriors, stewards, and proxies of the divine powers.
Angels possessed comely—even sublime—looks, and most had wings. Beyond this, there was great physical diversity among angels. For example, the angels of Dwarfhome were shorter and stouter than those of other divine realms.
All angels had a number of inherent magical powers, a large number of which could be utilized whenever they pleased. Scholars reported that they had the ability to grant divine aid, perform auguries, change their appearance, comprehend languages, cure serious wounds, detect evil or magic, discern moral and ethical alignments, read magic spells, and teleport without error. An angel's power to detect evil was especially potent, and, in fact, an angel could look an evil creature in the eyes and know its history, nature, name, and sometimes even its true name.
Angels were also said to have a special power over mortals to invoke reverence, by releasing a brief, blinding burst of light, which paralyzed mortal viewers with either love or fear. They were also surrounded at all times by a holy aura that protected those standing within it from evil and weaker magical spells.
Angels could see in darkness and low light. They were generally capable of speaking the language of any creature they came across, even if they did not know it inherently. Angels were immortal and therefore did not need to eat, drink, or sleep, though they could do so if they desired to. Their souls and bodies were one and the same.
Unlike other outsiders, angels could not automatically gate in or summon other angels to assist them. They had to rely on sending out a distress call, to which other celestials or good creatures might or might not respond. This call was magical in nature and manifested as either a gut-wrenching song or a moment of silence. Ki-rin, lammasu, metallic dragons, and unicorns are all examples of the kind of creatures who might respond.
The immense power of angels was balanced by their compassion and kindness. Beyond their propensity for goodness, there was great diversity among angels in terms of their moral and ethical sensibilities. Some were very lawful and orderly beings, ensuring that truth prevailed; others upheld the importance of freedom, choice, and creativity; while still others maintained a balance.
All angels were honest beings, who found lying or cheating abhorrent. Likewise, it was against the nature of angels to steal from others, and angels were typically honorable and trustworthy in all their dealings. (Some argued that this behavior implied that angels were only ever lawful good beings, but this was only a more recent opinion.) Angels were quick to vocalize their disapproval to any companions who did not act in similar manner and would seek to repair any damage done by such "misguided" peers.
Aasimon sought to lead by example and tried to persuade others toward righteousness without having to preach or condemn. If their goals were in direct conflict with another, they would never acquiesce. Even so, they considered violence as the last option and would never provoke a fight, desiring rather to find a peaceful solution. If angered, however, it was hard to find another kind of being in the multiverse with so intense an emotion of wrath. Their vengeance was terrifying and swift. Against fiends, they showed no mercy, and they felt no remorse when slaying an evil creature.
Angels were rarely ever mistaken in their judgments, and they were well-aware that they were among the most powerful celestials in existence. These qualities could lead to a sense of superiority in an angel, but few refuted the facts. Other celestials, such as archons, guardinals, and eladrins, sought them out as mediators in disputes. In turn, most aasimon had great respect for those same races. However, angels did not tend to hold the same respect for the asuras, and the two types of celestials held no small amount of contempt for each other.
Most angels preferred to rely on their great mobility and attacked enemies at range.
The angels were divided into two main groupings—warriors and celestial stewards. The warriors were called upon to fight for the good gods and to defend the borders of those deities' realms. Some sources held that angels were more likely to fight other angels from other good planes than fiends from the Lower Planes. The only commonly known type of angel to serve as a warrior was the agathinon.
In contrast, the celestial stewards were those angels who served as the direct hands of the gods. Each type had a particular purpose to serve. From weakest to most powerful, the celestial stewards were:
Angels lived primarily in the Upper Planes and were permitted to travel freely among them from one to the other, likely by means of the World Tree. They could also enter the Astral and Material Planes if directed by their divine masters, to support the purposes of good. When this happened, which was only in dire situations, they were sent not to serve mortals but to command. Only very rarely were they sent to the Lower Planes and only for missions of utmost importance.
In the Upper Planes, angels served as defenders and protectors of their homes, repelling any invasions. They sometimes acted as guides and guards to any mortal visitors of their realms.
Creation & Ascendance
Angels were created by the will of their deities from the spirits of select petitioners. The gods or goddesses simply formed new bodies for these chosen followers in their afterlife, making them into agathinon.
Agathinon who served faithfully as warriors in the holy armies could be promoted and transformed into celestial stewards in a process called "ascendance". Such a promotion involved a change in physical form, magical power, and status. Typically, agathinon were promoted into devas, who were in turn transformed into planetars and finally solars. The powers considered the good deeds performed by the angel when deciding when and how to promote him or her. An angel retained all memories when ascending; it was only the physical form and powers that were changed.
The angels of Mount Celestia were not formed directly from petitioners but were instead promoted from trumpet archons or other archons, who had already risen through the ranks of those celestials from the lowly lantern archon.
Light aasimon were the lowest of the celestial stewards, yet they were not formed from the ascendance of agathinon; instead, they were created from the spirits of greater angels who had been slain on other planes in the course of their missions. For this reason, they were held in reverence by other angels of greater power.
Ascendance was always offered, not required. If an individual angel desired to remain in his or her current form rather then transform into a higher being, there was no shame attached to this decision. Nevertheless, the great majority of angels accepted promotion, seeing it as a chance to obtain an even more virtuous state of existence.
Some more modern scholars refuted all of this and claimed that angels were in fact formed from fragments of the "astral essence" of the good gods themselves. Even if true in some cases, it is certain that at least some petitioners were made into angels by the powers.
Although angels epitomized what it is to be good, they were not infallible and were still capable of corruption. They often believed themselves to be infallible, and in some cases, it was this or their strong sense of honor and refusal to lie or cheat that left them open to being corrupted or manipulated. Good intentions did not guarantee that an angel would always act in true righteousness, and sometimes an angel would fail in thinking that the greater good justified an action that would cause harm to an innocent.
Any angels who committed an egregious deed of evil—whether accidental or intentional,—were noticed by their superiors immediately. Except for the most despicable evil deeds, angels were usually given an opportunity to see the error of their ways and repent, but if they continued down the evil path, a celestial tribunal was gathered, with one of the god's proxies chosen to judge the erring angel and cast judgment. An advocate was chosen to reason with the offender and to petition the tribunal for a chance at redemption for the offender.
The punishment of an angel usually involved revoking of powers and/or descendance to a lower form in the angelic hierarchy, usually the form of an agathinon. An unrepentant angel was usually stripped of all powers and cast into the Lower Planes. These were the "fallen angels", and their names were never spoken in the Upper Planes again. The spirits of most fallen angels were consumed by the fiends with great pleasure; however, some were instead formed into the lowest of the demonic, daemonic, or devilish hierarchies to become fiends themselves. Legends stated that this was the original source of the first erinyes. Some of these fallen angels eventually rose to become powerful fiends, ruling over legions of evil. In one myth, even Asmodeus was once an angel.
Alternatively, angels were exiled. Such fallen angels retained their powers but were not permitted in the Upper Planes. These outcasts sometimes went to the Material Plane to live in secret as hermits, hoping to someday be redeemed. Other banished angels took their punishment personally and became truly evil and unrepentant, even seeking a place of power among the hierarchies of the Lower Planes.
- Anaya, Baatral, Harajin, Lorabelios, Nemevon, Silnia, Tamiel, and Zarod, eight fallen angels petrified for their crimes in the Labyrinth of the Underdark.
- Asmodeus, a fallen angel who became Lord of the Nine.
- The Shards, a group of seven female planetars in service to Selûne, who were composed of moonlight and fire.
- Zariel, a fallen angel who became ruler of Avernus.
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(any good alignment)
Arcadian avenger • Asura • Bariaur • Couatl • Einheriar • Foo creature (Foo dog • Foo lion) • Hollyphant • Ki-rin • Lillend • Moon dog • Pegasus • Shirokinukatsukami • Sliver • Unicorn (Celestial charger)
Aasimar (Deva) • Half-celestial