Celestials

Oldest and highest of all beings, Celestials are better known on the Material Plane as gods, goddesses and angels. They view themselves as the protectors of the world against the malign powers of the Lower Plane, and they have captured the hearts and minds of many through the religions that they have worked to establish on our earthly plane of existence. Though they may come across as cold, aloof or condescending, one should always try to treat them with the utmost decorum, as it is hard to get a Celestial back on side if you offend one.
Extract from Borja Paladell's Libro Planorum.   Celestials view themselves, and are viewed as the creator species, that originally brought the world of Ulskandar into existence. They are the main sapient inhabitants of the Upper Plane, but they have a variety of interests in those that live on the other Planes of Existence, whether that be to encourage their own worship and the religions and cults that they have established on the Material Plane, or to combat their arch enemies, Demons and Devils in the Lower Plane.

Basic Information

Anatomy

The vast majority of Celestials will be humanoid in their physical form, with the major difference being that many of them will have wings, like those of a bird, and which will be large enough to viably function as a way for the Celestial to move around. In terms of their hair, skin and feather colour, Celestials tend to range between the skin and hair colours associated with Humans, ranging from blacks and browns through to white. A Celestial’s feather colour will almost always match their hair colour, and if it does not, it will generally be complimentary. In terms of their eyes, Celestials do not have coloured irises, but only have the white colour of the eye ball and the black of the pupil visible. In terms of their height, the lower orders of Celestials (Nuntius through to Seniorem) will tend to be between 6ft/c.1.8m to 8ft/c.2.4m in height, though they may well manipulate their appearance magically in order to disguise their true height and blend in more if they are on the Material Plane. Those that belong to the higher orders of Celestials can equal or even surpass Giants in their height, depending on their order and level of power.   Celestials that differ from the more standard physical form are those that belong to the Deorum, the highest order in Celestial society. As Deorum are deities (gods and goddesses), many of whom have, or claim to have existed since time began, they come in a variety of different shapes, sizes and physical forms. Indeed many Deorum have many shapes that they adopt depending on the situation, so their original physical form is impossible to know, and may even have been forgotten by the deity themselves. Celestials that have been promoted to the level of a Deorum, will tend to retain the standard physical form, as above, though with much superior powers than those lower down the hierarchy.

Genetics and Reproduction

Celestials reproduce in the same way that the majority of sapient species on the Material Plane reproduce, with males and females copulating to produce one or more offspring. However, children that are brought about by these relations will begin life on the lowest rung of Celestial society (see below), and it will be up to them to work their way up the hierarchy through their own merits.   Celestials will tend to have much longer gestation periods that other sapient species, which are normally at least 10 years in length, with the physical signs of a pregnancy only becoming physically apparent and inconvenient for the mother in the final two years. It is unknown why Celestials carry their children for so long in the womb, but it is hypothesised to be to do with the fact that the creation of essentially immortal beings (when it comes to ageing that is), takes far longer.   It is also possible for Celestials to interbreed with members of other humanoid species, which if the union results in offspring will produce Heavenborn children, rather than either a pure Celestial, or a pure member of another sapient species.

Growth Rate & Stages

Once they have been born, Celestials will then take nearly 300 years to mature from, what those on the Material Plane would recognise as being a child-like state, to an adult-like state. Once they have reached adulthood, at around 300 years of age, all Celestials, regardless of their parentage will be entered into the Nuntius order, from which they will not alter, unless they are rewarded for their service by being promoted to a higher order of Celestial. Promotion to a higher order will bring about physical changes, especially if promoted to a higher order, and is a process that can only be carried out by a member of the top three orders of Celestials.   Whilst Celestials are essentially immortal when it comes to weathering the ravages of time, they can be killed, but it is extremely hard to destroy one, especially a Celestial that belongs to a higher order. The slow maturation, and the length of the gestation period required for Celestials to reach adulthood means that Celestial children are fiercely protected and guarded, and the loss of a Celestial child is greatly mourned by the whole Divine Line that they belonged to.   There are six orders in Celestial society and evolution which are outlined below:   Deorum- The highest of the Celestial orders, Deorum are incredibly powerful beings that are viewed, and who have the capabilities of deities, and are viewed as such by other Celestials, and those that live on the other Planes of Existence. Deorum are the most likely Celestials to be in charge of their own Divine Lines, either individually or as part of a collective. Once a Celestial becomes a Deorum, their power will continue to increase slowly and incrementally with age, with the oldest Deorum being so powerful, that they are thought to have been the creators of Ulskandar and the Universe itself. Deorum are able to promote those from orders below them to the level of Seraphim as an individual, but collectively a group of Deorum are able to promote a Celestial to the level of a Deorum as well.   Seraphim- The second highest tier of Celestials, Seraphim act as the immediate deputies and bodyguards of the Deorum that they serve, and are as a result imbued with an enormous amount of power. When a Divine line goes to war, it is likely to be a Seraphim, rather than the Deorum themselves who commands the Line’s forces in the field. As Seraphim are so individually powerful, there have been instances where they have formed (whether successfully or no) their own Divine Lines, with themselves at the head. Some of these Seraphim Divine Lines have even managed to find traction on the Material Plane, though it is rare for them to emerge as anything other than specific cults. Seraphim are able to promote those from orders below them up to the level of Cherubim.   Cherubim- Unlike the two orders immediately below them, the focus of Cherubim is not on ensuring the survival of the Divine Line through combat, though they can be formidable opponents in their own right, but is instead on ensuring that the institutions of the Line are running and governed effectively. Cherubim are given charge of all of the administrative institutions in the Divine Line, and will lead teams of Nuntii to ensure that the line thrives in the domestic sphere. Cherubims are also the only other order of Celestial, after Deorum and Seraphim, who have been able to establish their own Divine Lines, though unlike those in the two superior orders, no Cherubim led Divine Line is known to have survived for long. Cherubim are able to promote those from orders below them up to the level of Seniorem.   Seniorem- When the army of a Divine Line goes to war, it is the Seniorem that will head up the battalions of Bellators on the field, acting as captains for the Seraphim that has overall command of the host. Seniorem are powerful fighters in their own right, and well versed in holding their own on the field of battle. They are also the most powerful of Celestials that can pass all but unnoticed on the Material and other Planes, which means that they are often entrusted with missions to other Planes of Existence that are too important to be trusted to a member of a lesser order.   Bellator- The warrior order of Celestials, a Bellator’s primary task is to defend the Divine Line, and they are expected to follow their orders to the letter, regardless of what that would mean for their own personal safety. As an order, Bellators are well armed, and have their magical abilities optimised to aid them in combat, and they are trained to function as part of a larger formation, and as individual warriors. They will occasionally lead expeditions where a single Bellator is in command of a company of Nuntii, though this is not standard practice, and often these expeditions will be more focused on information gathering, rather than combat.   Nuntius- The lowest order into which all Celestials, regardless of their parentage are born. Nuntii (plural form of Nuntius) often perform the more mundane duties linked to the survival and thriving of the Divine Line they are associated with, including crafting, farming and acting as messengers, civil servants and agents. They are, as Celestial beings relatively powerful in their own right, but could be easily matched by the more powerful Magic users and warriors of the Material Plane. They are occasionally used as auxiliary military forces as well, though this is not their primary role in the order of Celestials. As the most unobtrusive of Celestials, Nuntii are the best at blending in with inhabitants of other Planes, particularly those that inhabit the Material Plane.

Additional Information

Social Structure

The vast majority of Celestials are organised into a fairly linear structure, based around the Celestial Orders (see above), which is referred to as a Divine Line. Divine Lines are, on the whole ruled over by either one, or a number of Deorum, with the rest of the Celestial orders sitting below them and acting as the subjects of the Deorum. As the six orders of Celestials are so intrinsically tied into the idea of Divine Lines, a Nuntius, for example will always be outranked by members of all of the other orders, whilst a Seraphim would only be answerable to a Deorum, and would have command over the orders below them. In effect, this means that Divine Lines function like absolute monarchies, but this is not always the case. For example, the Pantheon of the North is a Celestial Divine Line that is headed up by Njördr, but has a secondary tier of seven other Deorum below him. Divine Lines do not need to be led by a Deorum specifically, there are examples where a Seraphim, or even a Cherubim head up a Divine Line, though lines that are governed in this way are never as powerful as those led by Deorum.   Celestial Divine Lines will often have a so-called Lay Line that sits beneath all of the Celestial orders, which is comprised of peoples that live on the Material Plane that worship the Celestials, and the Deorum specifically as gods and goddesses. Again, with the example of the Pantheon of the North, the Lay Line is the organisation of the Pantheon on the Material Plane, whose earthly activities are led by the Grand Lector.   It is also possible for Celestials to exist outside a Divine Line. Often these Celestials will either be those who have committed a great act of harm, either intentionally or not, against the Divine Line they belonged to, and have since been cast out, or they are individuals whose Divine Line has been broken by the destruction of the Celestial that led it. In the case of the former, such individuals will generally be shunned by other Divine Lines, who will view them as dangerous individuals, who are highly likely to be corrupted by powers from the Lower Plane. In the case of the latter, Celestials whose Divine Line has been destroyed will either attempt to join a new line, or will wander the Planes, mourning the loss of their leader and feeling unable to join another line.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Celestials are most commonly found on the Heavenly Plane, which is their natural environment, but unlike their antithesis species Demons and Devils, they do not need magically rich environments to survive, and they can exist in any of Ulskandar’s other Planes of existence without difficulty. However, like creatures from more magically rich Planes, they will not be at the height of their powers when they are in the Material Plane, as there is not as much magic to sustain their more potent abilities.   It is extremely rare for a Celestial to venture into the Lower, or Hellish Plane of Ulskandar, as they know that they will be attacked on sight by any Demons or Devils that they encounter. It  is unusual for Celestials to venture into the Grey or Idyllic Planes, but they have been known to do so, when the need arises. The most common Plane of existence to encounter a Celestial, after the Upper Plane is the Material Plane, though it would still be classed as uncommon to encounter one there. Celestials take great interest in the activities of those on the Material Plane, primarily because they are thought to have seeded life there, and also because they wish to cultivate and encourage the growth of religions and cults that may be linked to their Divine Lines, so as to increase the power-base from which their line can increase its power and influence. In most instances, residents of the Material Plane will be unaware that they have met a Celestial, as they will generally take great pains to disguise themselves. However, it is well known that Celestials appear undisguised to the mystic Hediya Dilara, the occupant of the Heavenly Spire, and Celestials will undoubtedly appear undisguised, or reveal themselves to other people on the Material Plane who they believe would be of use to them.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

All Celestials are magically sensitive creatures and are able to wield Magic to some extent or another. Less powerful Celestials may only be able to use magic in the more magically rich environment of the Upper Plane, whereas more powerful entities will be able to so regardless of where they are, or which Plane of existence they happen to be on. In addition, different Celestials will have a different range of more mundane abilities that they are able to bring to bear, but one thing that is common to all of them is ability to fly, which will either be done through the use of physical wings, or through magical means for those Celestials that do not have the physical appendages.   As well as this, Celestials claim to be able to ascertain a creature’s, be they sapient or not, character and morals, simply by looking at them, and sensing the presence of a ‘good or an evil soul’, as a Celestial would put it. Exactly how this works is not known, but it does allow Celestials to identify inherently evil creatures, especially those from the Lower Plane simply by looking at them, and more powerful Celestials are said to be able to detect the presence of an evil creature, such as a Devil or Demon from many miles away.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Celestials, depending upon the level of their power, are often referred to by those on the Material Plane simply as Angels, Gods or Goddesses.

Major Organizations

Pantheon of the North, Walanniism.

Average Technological Level

With regards to their use of technology, Celestials are by no means dependent upon what those on the Material Plane would term ‘technological advancements’, but they do, for example, use tools for necessary task, make and wear clothes and use and craft weaponry. Celestials seem content to exist with the level of technology, that most Gnomes would say verges on being a basic level of tech, and they are perfectly able to do things, that would involve say an incredibly complex piece of engineering on the Material Plane, through the clever application of Magic. It is interesting to note that most Celestial tools and weapons will be enchanted by their makers to make them more effective at their intended jobs. Weapons in particular will be enchanted to make them particularly effective at dealing damage to denizens of the Lower Plane.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

There are a number of customs and views that are common to the vast majority of Celestials including:   Regard themselves as the creator race- Celestials view themselves as being the original race, with the most ancient Deorum being responsible not only for the creation of Ulskandar itself, but also for starting the creation process on the Planes of existence that has led to the creation that exists today. As a result of this, Celestials are likely to view the rest of the world with a great sense of responsibility, which is compounded by the fact that they are often worshipped by those on the Material Plane. This leads Celestials to defend, in their own way those that they view as being free of corruption, or who directly worship them, but also bound to fight against those who they view as being corrupt, a line of thought which has fuelled the conflict between Celestials, Demons and Devils ever since the latter two races came into existence.   Believe in Paying their Way- One of the major things that separates Celestials from their counterparts in the Lower plane, and stops them from going down the slippery path towards being corrupted into Demons or Devils themselves, is the fact that they strongly believe that they should repay those that aid them, and that they should make fair exchanges for anything that they get from other beings, whether Celestials or not. This relationship is best exemplified between the Divine Lines of the Celestials, and their devotees on the Material Plane. In exchange for worship, and an associated boost in power and prestige, the Divine Line will work to ensure that their non-Celestial adherents are repaid with what inhabitants of the Material Plane would term ‘luck’, or ‘blessings’ or ‘divine favour’, or ‘divine assistance’.   Highly Meritocratic- In Celestial society, one makes ones way through the orders of Celestials off the good work that one does and nothing else. Celestials will be rewarded for the quality of their deeds, or hardworking, and dedicated way in which they carry something out, or attempt to carry something out by being promoted to a higher order of Celestial by those above them.   Highly Lawful- All Celestials have great respect for the Divine Line that they are a part of, and will take orders from their superiors almost without question. They are incredibly dedicated to protecting the system that they are a part of, and it takes a great deal of persuading or doubt to drive a Celestial to leave their Divine Line, and establish a new one, or even defect to serve some other power.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Both Demons and Devils are treated with absolute contempt by Celestials, who view them as the spawn of Divine, Celestial beings who were corrupted and turned against their basic principles in order to gain absolute power and dominion for themselves at the expense of all those that they wished to dominate. On their part, Demons and Devils view Celestials with just the same amount of contempt with which they themselves are viewed, with Demons simply being driven by a desire to destroy the ordered system that Celestials live in, whilst Devils wish to prove the superiority of their own system over Celestials. What this means in reality is that it is highly likely that Celestials will attack, or be attacked by Demons or Devils on sight, unless there is a particularly expedient reason for them not to do so.   When it comes to other species that live on the Material Plane, Celestials will tend to treat them equally as creatures that are part of the creation that the most powerful Celestials brought into being. This does not mean that they will treat them automatically with kindness, but they will for the most part be neutral in their outlook towards them, at least in the beginning. As those that reside on the Material Plane can be influenced into becoming followers or worshippers of Celestial Divine Lines, it is in the interest of Celestials to treat them with respect, even if it does occasionally come across as condescension.   There are some species on the Material Plane that are viewed more positively, and some more negatively by Celestials, opinions that have been formed over millennias’ worth of dealings with them. Creatures such as Orcs, Dratokarttin Goblins, Lupines and Gnolls will automatically be treated with suspicion and often outright disdain by most Celestials, as they view them as being too cruel or savage to be worth dealing with. In addition, the so-called ‘divinities’ that Lupines and Gnolls in particular worship, are not Celestials themselves, but are instead denizens of the Lower Plane. Orcs and Dratokarttin Goblins have also been known to worship a mixture of Celestial beings and beings from the Lower Plane as a matter of regularity, and so are also viewed as being potentially dangerous. Creatures such as Elves, on the other hand will normally be treated with automatic favour by Celestials, who view cultivating friendship with and devotion from them to be highly advantageous, given the long lives that Elves lead.   Finally, there is a specific sub-race of peoples on the Material Plane, known as Heavenborn, who are creatures that were originally brought into the world through a union between a Celestial and a member of one of the Material Plane’s humanoid species. Heavenborn are extremely rare, but are viewed with great favour by Celestials, especially those who belong to the same Divine Line from which the Heavenborn is descended, who see them as highly useful agents and operatives on the Material Plane. The most highly regarded Heavenborn have even been invited to dwell on the Upper Plane, and have been granted immortality.

Lifespan
Immune to ageing.
Average Height
6ft/c.1.8m to 8ft/c.2.4m on average, but Celestials of higher orders can be much larger.


Cover image: by Chris Pyrah

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