Ancient Folklore, Angel, Angelic, Angels, Castles & Crusades, Celestial Being, Christian Folklore, Devils, Fallen Angels, Folklore, Hebrew Folklore, Medieval Folklore, Medieval Magic, Seven Heavens
Since so much of my recent game writing has been on dark subjects, I’ve decided some more light was in order. The following is an Overview meant to tie together my previous writeups of the Angels for the Castles & Crusades RPG. It is intended solely as gaming material, not a serious work of theology. It is definitely not a commentary on anybody’s religious views, merely an approach to implementing medieval folklore and mythology in a gaming context. Feel free to use the Angels as you wish, without reference to this Overview. For example, if you want the Warrior Angels to be servants of your campaign’s God of Protection, and not utilize the Lord of Hosts or Queen of the Angels, do so. Obviously, you could also rename the Lord of Hosts or Queen of the Angels to fit your campaign, or make them identical to existing divinities in your campaign’s pantheon.
Coming very soon is a breakdown of the individual Heavens, or Gardens of the Blessed.
Concerning The Angels
At the zenith of the Cosmos are seven realms of pure benevolence, known collectively as Heaven, Paradise, or the Gardens of the Blessed. Inhabiting these Heavens are the Blessed Souls of those who lived lives of Virtue and goodness. Protecting and tending to the souls of the Blessed are the beings of light called Angels.
Each type of Angel is a perfect exemplar of a benevolent Virtue: Kindness, Charity, Chastity, Patience, Mercy, Diligence, Humility, or Faith. So strong is an angel’s devotion to Virtue that it visibly shines, sometimes emanating from the head as a halo of light, other times surrounding the being as a burning nimbus. Virtue provides the meaning and direction of an Angel’s existence, and they experience joy when they lead others to perfect happiness through its practice.
Angels embody the two complimentary strains of goodness: Righteousness and Mercy. Righteousness consists of strict devotion to the lawful forms of a well-ordered society, and willingness to take positive action to protect good and eliminate evil. Mercy consists of wholly benevolent intentions, commitment to help the less fortunate, and compassionate understanding and forgiveness of the limitations of imperfect creatures. Certain Angels, by reason of their associated Virtue, lean more towards either Righteousness or Mercy. Cherubim, for example, are so Righteous that merely being near one will burn non-Angelic beings with the fire of holiness. The aptly-named Angels of Mercy, however, are so Merciful that they will even intercede on behalf of Devils, asking that they be spared and given the chance to redeem themselves. While the Angels may even disagree amongst themselves about the best way to promote goodness, they never fail to cooperate for the greater good. Accordingly, in mortal terms the Angels are of Lawful Good alignment.
The Angels claim to have been created by, and to faithfully serve, a divinity known as the Lord of Hosts. Many sages state that the Lord of Hosts is the most likely candidate to be the actual Ultimate God – the actual First Cause of existence, and a power who wholly transcends lesser divinities. Other sages speculate that while the Lord of Hosts is not actually the Ultimate God, he is the most powerful emissary of the Ultimate God in the Cosmos, and the only divine power whose will is identical to that of the Ultimate God. Some account say that the natural shape of the Lord of Hosts is that of an enormous being like a man, whose upper body seems to made of bright metal, whose lower body is made of fire, and whose whole being radiates searing white light that breaks into prismatic bands. The light from his body is supposed to shine so strongly that no mundane being can safely look at him for more than a moment. The Lord of Hosts is pictured as sitting upon a throne seemingly made of glowing sapphire, but which is actually the Archangel of the Chariot Angels. Also said to surround the Lord of Hosts at all times are four of the mightiest Chariot Angels, like whirling wheels of chrysolite filled with eyes, as well as the Four Archangels of the Cherubim.
The Angels are also said to have a Queen. She considered by some sages to be the spouse of the Lord of Hosts, and to have once been the only mortal to have ever been without Vice, and perfect in every Virtue. Others propose that the Queen of the Angels is actually the feminine form of the lord of Hosts himself, taken when he wishes for non-angelic beings to be graced with his Presence. Some sages speculate that the The Lord of Hosts and the Queen of the Angels are actually the embodiments of Righteousness and Mercy, respectively. When she appears to mortals, the Queen of the Angels is said to resemble a young woman of perfect loveliness, beautifully but modestly dressed, whose body radiates soft light like that of a summer day, and who is almost always attended by numerous Angels of Mercy. Angels who are asked about the true nature of the Lord of Hosts and the Queen of the Angels generally reply that mortal beings should apply themselves to works of Righteousness and Mercy, and not confuse themselves with questions whose actual answers mere men can never comprehend.
The mission of the Angels in the Cosmos is to serve the Lord of Hosts and the Queen of the Angels in their plan to bring save the Cosmos and its inhabitants from evil and Chaos, and restore it to perfect goodness. They work tirelessly to guide mortals towards benevolent acts, to defend innocents from evil, and maintain the sanctity of holy places. In this work they come into constant conflict with the other kind of spirits. The Planetary Archons try to impose destinies upon humanity, without regard for the moral qualities of their subjects. The Devils endlessly seek to corrupt souls and claim them for Hell. The Demons want to undo all of existence, and turn everything to mad Chaos. The Fairy Folk wish to enjoy and express themselves without moral considerations. While there is no doubt that the Angels represent the single most powerful class of extra-planer beings, both individually and as a whole, it is also true that they are set against vast numbers of other spirits who constantly try to undermine the work of Virtue, Righteousness, and Mercy.
Above all else, Angels love humanity. It is said that the Angels were commanded form their creation to regard human beings as their special concern. No other class of extra-planer beings will aid human beings as quickly, or without obvious reward. An Angel will willingly allow its material form to be destroyed in order to save a human life. Certain Angels will even go so far as to enter Hell in order to reclaim human souls whose vices dragged them to the infernal pits, but whose good actions in life ultimately merit Heaven’s reward.
Angels are organized into groups called Choirs. There are seven regular Choirs, each corresponding to a Virtue and a particular Garden of Heaven, plus an eighth Choir consisting of the Guardian Angels that inhabit the whole of Paradise. Each Choir consists of common members, as well as more powerful nobles who are even stronger in their Virtues.
The Noble Angels of Death are titled: Dominions.
Noble Angels of Mercy are titled: Virtues (not to be confused with Virtue in general).
Noble Chariot Angels are titled: Thrones.
Noble Cherubim are titled: Holy Living Ones.
Noble Herald Angels are titled: Principalities.
Noble Seraphim are titled: Shining Ones.
Noble Warrior Angels are titled: Powers.
Noble Guardian Angels are titled: Lords.
Each of the seven regular Choirs is headed by an Archangel (except for the Cherubim, who have four), beings utterly committed to serving the Lord of Hosts and and promoting perfect Virtue. So strong is the Virtue of the more powerful Angels that they are almost pinned to Heaven by it, unable to bear the evil and corruption in the mundane world for long. Angelic nobles will usually only appear in the mundane world when acts of great benevolence have been committed, on the anniversaries of such events, or on other days of holy significance. Without a direct command from the Lord of Hosts, the awesome Archangels usually require difficult and exhausting rites, performed by the most virtuous of clergy, in order to come to the mundane world.
The Angels of Death are ruled by: The Archangel of Death.
The Angels of Mercy are ruled by: The Archangel of Mercy.
The Chariot Angels are ruled by: The Archangel of Secrets.
The Cherubim are rule by: The Archangels of the North, South, East, and West.
The Herald Angels are ruled by: The Archangel of the Annunciation.
The Seraphim are ruled by: The One Before The Throne.
The Warrior Angels are ruled by: The Warrior Archangel.
The Guardian Angels have no single Archangel.
Fundamental to the way Angels see the Cosmos is the event that they term “The Fall”. According to the Angels, all spirits were originally Angels. Because Virtue is meaningless unless freely chosen, the Lord of Host had granted the Angels free will. The most powerful of their kind, seeing that he was better in every quantifiable way than all other beings, lost the Virtue of Humility. He thereafter decided that he deserved to rule the Cosmos. He corrupted many other Angels, promising to make them even more splendid and powerful if they followed him. Finally, he led the rebel Angels against the Lord of Hosts. The rebels failed, and their lack of Virtue cause them to lose hold of Heaven. The worst fell with their leader into the Pit of Vice called Hell and became Devils, or else were lost to the madness of Chaos, and became Demons. Many of the Angels who had been involved in the creation of the Cosmos had lost their commitment to benevolence and joined the rebellion, hungering to exercise total control over mundane creatures. Those Angels fell to the Planetary Spheres, and became the Archons. Finally, the Angels who had tried to remain neutral in the conflict lost their Righteousness, and thus fell from Paradise and became the Fairy Folk. Similarly, according to the Angels, humans were meant to be a perfectly virtuous creation and automatically enjoy eternity in Heaven. By the malice of the other spirits, particularly the Devils, humanity was corrupted and turned from its intended destiny. Naturally, the other varieties of spirits generally deny the Angel’s account of their origins, with the notable exception of the Luminous Devils.
Angels in general take a dim view of magic. They have seen too many innocent souls corrupted by the lure of sorcery to trust it. Nonetheless, there are indeed virtuous Theurgists and benevolent White Witches who endeavor to serve the will of Heaven. Such mortals must constantly resist the temptation to use their powers for selfish ends, however. Angels do not grant supernatural powers without very good reason, and careful consideration of the possible outcome. Although, like all spirits, Angels are theoretically capable of teaching the arcane spells that correspond to their special abilities, they almost never do so.
All Angels share the following characteristics:
Extraplaner Type: Angels are native to Heaven, and can be affected by magic that targets extra-planer creatures. Wicked sorcerers who are so bold as to attempt to command Angels should be prepared to attract the notice of beings whose mere presence can burn a mortal man to cinders.
Halo: All Angels emit light as the visible sign of their Virtue. This can range from a simple halo surrounding the head, to a burning cloud of pure sanctity that covers the whole body, and renders the Angel extremely hazardous to all mundane creatures.
Odor of Sanctity: All Angels continually emit a lovely smell like the finest incense. An Angel can suppress this Odor of Sanctity if she wishes to be unrecognized.
Magic Weapons to Hit: The material forms of Angels can only be damaged by means of magic spells, or enchanted weapons. Unlike most other kinds of spirits, there is no mundane material that allows ordinary beings to damage Angels without the use of some kind of magic.
Covenant of Virtue: Each type of Angel can bestow certain powers and immunities upon humans, in return for a total commitment to practice and promote the Angel’s favored Virtue. Such Covenants are never easy to uphold, and the Angels will expect extraordinary service in return for extraordinary power.
Darkvision: Angels can see perfectly regardless of illumination.
Spell Resistance: Like most spirits, all Angels have some measure of resistance to magic.
Spell-Like Abilities: All Angels can use Improved Invisibility, Know Alignment, create Light, Polymorph Self, perform feats of Prestidigitation, and Teleport Without Error, all at will. Only one such ability will ever be usable per round, however. Angels can also roam the Ethereal and Astral planes, and speak, write and and understand all forms of communication. Individual Angels will also possess other spell-like abilities, many of which are quite fearsome.
Summoning: Each type of Angel is able to Summon other Angels to come to their aid. Like all Summoned beings, Summoned Angels cannot themselves Summon others until after they have first returned to Heaven.
Angelic Immunities: Angels are immune to all diseases (magical or mundane), all poisons, and all magic that influences minds or perceptions.
Immune to Electricity: All Angels are completely immune to attacks of an electrical nature.