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In Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), angels are a type of celestial that hail from any of the Upper Planes. Angels are also known as aasimon. In earlier editions of D&D, angels were always good-aligned, although 4th edition redesigned angels so that they could be of any alignment.
The beings eventually known as angels were introduced to the D&D game in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D), although a few sets of angels appeared before them.
Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)
The first set of creatures known as angels to appear in D&D game appeared in Dragon #12 (February 1978), which detailed the unique beings Armaiti, Asha, Haurvatat & Ameretat, Khathra Vairya, Mithra, Sraosha, and Vohu Manah. More angels appeared in Dragon #17 (August 1978), including the angel of healing, the angel of wrath, the archangel of mercy, and the seraphim.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
A set of angels appeared in Dragon #35 (March 1980), including the angels of the ninth order, the archangels, the cherubim, the dominions, the powers, the principalities, the seraphim, the thrones, and the virtues.
A completely different type of angelic being first appeared in two issues of Dragon in its "Featured Creatures" column. The astral deva, the monadic deva, and the movanic deva first appeared in Dragon #63 (July 1982). The planetar and solar first appeared in Dragon #64 (August 1982). The agathion, the astral deva, the monadic deva, the movanic deva, the planetar, and the solar appear in the first edition Monster Manual II (1983); these creatures have no collective name and appear alphabetically throughout the book (with the three devas appearing together under "D").
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
The creatures from the Monster Manual II appear in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Outer Planes Appendix (1991), where they are now known collectively as the aasimon. Aasimon appearing in this compendium include the agathinon (formerly the agathion), the astral deva, the monadic deva, the movanic deva, the light, the planetar, and the solar. The same set of aasimon appeared again in the first Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix (1994).
The book Warriors of Heaven (1999) details and focuses on celestials heavily. This book presents the agathinon as a player character race.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
These beings appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000) under the celestial entry and are no longer referred to as aasimon, including the astral deva, the planetar, and the solar.
Savage Species (2003) presented the astral deva celestial as both a race and a playable class.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
Angels appear in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003) in their own entry and called angels for the first time, including the astral deva, the planetar, and the solar.
The harmonious choir of the words celestial and the sliver celestial appear in Dragon #353 (March 2007).
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-2014)
Angels appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), including the angel of battle, the angel of protection, the angel of valor, and the angel of vengeance. Angels also appear in Monster Manual 2 (2009).
Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014-)
Angels appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2014).
In D&D, angels are all extraplanar outsiders and share a number of magical powers:
- They possess darkvision, the ability to see in the dark.
- They are immune to acid, cold and petrification.
- They are resistant to electricity, fire, and poison.
- They have a protective field that wards them against evil creatures and effects.
- They can speak with any creature that has a language.
In 4th edition, angels hail from the Astral Sea. In the Dawn War, angels served deities as soldiers, though they are not necessarily in the service of the gods anymore. Angels are ancient enemies of archons. Angels, who range from human-like to ogre-like in size, are not so much physical beings as energy given form. Made both from the essence of the Astral Sea, angels are basically the energy of both given form. This form is vaguely humanoid, with varying degrees of similarity to mortals. Most angels have only the most basic masculine or feminine features, with lower bodies trails off into floating energy. Angels have a number of unique abilities granted to them by their nature. All angels are capable of at least limited flight, often being capable of much more, flying more speedily even than they walk. Many are also capable of magically warding themselves against attack, making it more difficult for enemy strikes to successfully hit them. Angels also wholly lack the capacity to fear, or at least to such an extent that fear magic is ineffective against them, and all are resistant to radiant damage. Angels are usually, though not always, good creatures. Similarly, many are in the service of the gods whom they fought for in the Dawn War though quite a few have taken up the life of a planewalking mercenary, serving any whom they wish, be it for wealth, power, or a cause. It is unknown precisely how angels were first created. Some claim that the gods created the angels though, if they did this, it was not intentional and angels are themselves nearly as old as the first gods, having originated in the very first moments of the Astral Sea’s existence. However, whether or not the gods created the angels the latter soon served the former’s purpose, offering themselves as soldiers during the Dawn War. As a result, most today still serve gods, though not all do. Compared with gods and exarchs, angels are far more interested in the affairs of the Prime Material Plane and other planes, acting both openly and secretly as agents in the mortal world.
Types of Angels
Many different kinds of angels have been created for D&D, which include:
- Agathion əˈɡeɪθi.ɒn əGAYthee-on / Agathinon - Warrior angels sometimes sent on missions to the Material Plane.
- Deva, Astral - Patrons of planar travelers and powerful creatures undertaking good causes.
- Deva, Monadic - Stoic watchers of the Ethereal Plane and the Elemental Planes.
- Deva, Movanic - Celestial infantry serving the Positive Energy Plane, the Negative Energy Plane, and the Material Plane.
- Deva, Stellar, Starkin - Luminescent humanlike celestials that can shift to a bright, twinkling point of light like a star in the night sky.
- Deva, Stellar, Emprix - An Emprix looks like most starkin, though slightly more attractive (if possible) and radiating dignity and power.
- Light - Misty rainbows of light that serve high-level worshipers of good deities and provide good beings aid on quests.
- Planetar - Mighty generals of celestial armies that also help powerful mortals on missions of good, particularly those that involve battles with fiends.
- Solar - The greatest of the angels, usually close attendants to a deity or champions of some cosmically beneficent task.
- Monster Manual v3.5, page 10.
- Monster Manual 4th edition, pages 14-17.
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- LaFountain, J. Paul. Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix. (TSR, 1991)
- Varney, Allen, ed. Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix (TSR, 1994)
- Perkins, Christopher. Warriors of Heaven (TSR, 1999)
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- Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (Paizo Publishing, 2009)
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