Guardinal

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Dungeons & Dragons, despite having a diverse array of demons and devils to fill the ranks of its evil extraplanar monsters list, has always struggled to make meaningful entries into its list for the opposing team. Perhaps in no small part because of the game's reputation as a refuge for murderhobos? Regardless, to fill the obligatory slot for Neutral Good angels, D&D has traditionally relied upon the Guardinals, a race of benevolent outsiders who just so happen to appear as a melding of man and beast, usually making use of some positive symbolism related to the animal.

Needless to say, Guardinals get a lot of mockery as being, essentially, "furry angels". Making matters worse, D&D artwork for Guardinals traditionally goes in the direction of... well, let's be honest: fucking ugly. If they had to make furry angels, they might have been better off getting actual furries to do the artwork; at least they might have looked somewhat decent (okay who are we kidding, they'd look freaking gorgeous, GODDAMIT WHY ARE SO MANY FURRIES SUCH AMAZING ARTISTS?!).

Guardinals first appeared in the Blood Wars card game way back in 1995, and then made the jump over to the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix II in the same year. They went on to be further detailed in 1999's "Warriors of Heaven". After that, they slowly migrated over to 3rd edition, scattered across several sourcebooks; the Monster Manual 1 and 2, Manual of the Planes, and Book of Exalted Deeds.

The Guardinals are ruled by a group of Patrons - basically epic level demigod members of their race - most known for their brodom with each other, to the point it's implied they're basically an epic tier Good-aligned adventuring party.

Avoral[edit]

Bird-based avian angels, the avorals hold the honor of being both the first guardianal to make the transition to 3rd edition and the one to make the most appearances in 3e in general (Monster Manual 3e and 3.5, Savage Species, Planar Handbook), the only one to receive attention as a player race, and for going through the most Patrons between sourcebooks - from Duke Windheir in the Blood Wars card game to Zvestra in the Warriors of Heaven splatbook to Duchess Sathia in the Book of Exalted Deeds. Avorals make up the scouts of the guardinal forces, using their flight and keen eyesight. They are perhaps best known for being one of the most fucking ugly guardinals of all.

Sathia the Sky Duchess is a CR 26 celestial best known for serving as a patron & muse to painters and sculpters, with a keen eye for artwork.

Cervidal[edit]

The satyr-like cervidals are said to make up the bulk of the guardinal "armies", being the closest things they have to professional soldiers. Despite this, they didn't make it into 3rd edition until the Monster Manual 2.

Manath, the Horned Duke, is the second Cervidal Patron to be named in Planescape lore thus far, having taken over from Lord Rhanok (who had the job in AD&D and his own card). The in-universe newest member of the team, he's only CR 20 and feels he has much to learn about his new role, though if he's intimidated at the prospect, he certainly doesn't act it. He's certainly nothing like his curmudgeonly predecessor, which his partners appreciate.

Equinal[edit]

One of the last races to make the edition jump, not appearing until the Book of Exalted Deeds, the equinals are big, good-natured boisterous bruisers who like testing their strength and bashing evil-doers upside the head. They had to wait until the Book of Exalted Deeds to get an appearance in 3rd edition.

As with the Cervidals, their original Patron was lost with the edition change, Lord Hwhyn being replaced by Vhara, the Duchess of the Fields; a 15ft tall CR 24 female equinal who adores flowers (especially gifted bouquets) and hides a generous, emotional nature behind a facade of being aloof and somewhat domineering. Despite this, she's a skillful brawler who can easily tear through small armies of evil humanoids with her bare hands. Hooves. Whatever.

Leonal[edit]

Essentially a race of leonic paladins, leonals are the unofficial leaders of all guardinals, and so their Prince, Talisid the Celestial Lion, has been in charge of them all since he first appeared in Blood Wars. In fact, he's so prominent and powerful - CR 30! - that the band of Guardinal Patrons are officially known as "Talisid and the Five Companions".

Leonals first appeared in the Manual of Planes for 3e, but were reprinted alongside their avoral buddies in the 3.5 Monster Manual.

Lupinal[edit]

Angelic wolf-people who constantly hunt down evil. Like the cervidals, despite their commonness amongst the Upper Planes, they didn't appear until the Monster Manual II.

Their Patron, Duke Lucan, was replaced by Kharash the Stalker in 3.5, a CR 22 monster who's essentially a good-aligned assassin/ranger multiclassed character.

Musteval[edit]

A race newly added to the guardinal ranks in the Book of Exalted Deeds, their newcomer status is lampshaded by noting that "The Companions" have never had any Musteval Patrons in their ranks, but they're sure that'll change soon. The smallest of all guardinals at only 2ft tall, these humanoid ferrets are essentially an entire race of golden-hearted rogues.

Ursinal[edit]

Bearlike guardinals whose benevolent wisdom leads to them serving as the scholars, philosophers and record-keepers of Elysium in general and the guardinals in particular. They are still 8ft tall bear-people and more than capable of slapping you upside the head if you're an evil prick, however.

Originally lead by Duchess Callisto, she was replaced in the Book of Exalted Deeds - the race's first reappearance in 3rd edition - by Bharrai, the Great Bear. An 18 foot tall, near max-level wizard with god-like intelligence and a bevvy of other powers that make her Challenge Rating 28.

Agathions[edit]

Because Pathfinder never met a D&D 3e element it couldn't try to rip off, it eventually created its own race of Neutral Good celestial furries, and called them Agathions. Credit where it's due, at least they look better than the Guardinals did.

Agathions inhabit the plane of Pure Good, Nirvana, and are all the ascended souls of former Neutral Good mortals. They are aggressive and interventionist in the mortal world when it comes to dealing with evil, and their philosophical acceptance of both Order and Chaos whilst subordinate to Good means they often serve as go-betweens and diplomats for the more opinionated Lawful Good and Chaotic Good celestials, such as Archons and Azatas, soothing hot tempers and working toward mutual goals of vanquishing evil and protecting good.

All agathions have an animal-like aspect. Some are more humanoid in appearance, while others spend their entire existence in a form nearly identical to that of a true animal. Each type of agathion serves a particular role in Nirvana, and their duties on other planes echo these responsibilities. Agathions are proud of their feral aspects and don’t take kindly to the suggestion that they are cursed folk like lycanthropes or nothing more than magical talking beasts. Every agathion was once a mortal who aspired to goodness and was rewarded in the afterlife with a form suiting her talents and personality; suggesting that an agathion’s form is a kind of punishment is a terrible insult.

As with all Pathfinder outsiders, a massive array of guardinals exist; the ones below merely document the types that have been described so far. Other types exist beyond these, corresponding to other conventional animals (bears, dinosaurs, fish, wolves, and so on), with a few having shapes that resemble insects (particularly beetles, butterflies, and mantises); a handful resemble stranger creatures (such as basilisks and owlbears) or unique “animals” native to extreme environments on distant worlds. Certain animals, particularly those associated with scavenging activities (such as hyenas, buzzards, or jackals) or parasitism (like lampreys or ticks) specifically do not have agathions associated with them—these animals are not intrinsically evil, but their habits and ecological niches are far from the noble and proud traditions that most of the souls who seek enlightenment upon Nirvana would associate with themselves.

Individual agathions may be male or female, but they do not reproduce among their own kind—every agathion is a unique individual made from the soul of a good mortal. This does not prevent them from falling in love or having affairs with mortals, and a few aasimar and celestial sorcerer bloodlines derive from past contact with agathions, particularly among communities not averse to anthropomorphic humanoids. Indeed, many mythologies tie numerous races of this kind to the inevitable result of human tribes forming strong emotional attachments to visiting agathions.

Most of the agathion breeds were revealed in the Pathfinder Bestiary 2, with others creeping in with subsequent splatbooks.

The Bestiary 2 species can be considered the "Core" agathions, and consist of the following:

  • Avorals are eagle-featured agathions that serve as the scouts, spies, and messengers of the agathions. They resemble humans with hand-bearing wings for arms, bird-like legs, a feathery cowl in lieu of hair, and human but "avian" facial features; a prominent nose reminiscent of a beak and piercing eyes.
  • Cetaceals are orca-featured agathions charged with defending the seas and the aquatic races against evil aquatic creatures, such as sahuagin and aboleths. They resemble huge merfolk with the lower bodies of orcas and the black & white skin-tone extending to their humanoid upper torsos.
  • Draconals are amongst the rarest and most powerful of the agathions, serving as direct servitors of the Neutral Good deities and embodying mystical elements relating to energy, life, and the natural world. They resemble humanoid dragons, with wings, reptilian muzzles, tails, scaly skin and dragon-like hides. They come in five different colors, Black, Green, Red, White and Yellow, and each color is associated with a different mystical aspect. These colors are normally chromatic rather than metallic, and an ignorant person seeing a draconal’s colors may mistake her for an evil half-dragon. However, some draconals have metallic or gem-like coloration; for example, a yellow draconal may appear mustard yellow or metallic gold, while a white draconal may be chalk white, pearlescent white, or metallic silver. Draconals can change their coloration after a lengthy period of meditation, but normally only do this in response to some horrible evil that requires their direct intervention. This change affects the draconals’ personality, and may alter their physical shape or apparent gender. In a sense, draconals are based on Oriental Dragon lore, although they visually look more like the classic Chromatic Dragon or Metallic Dragon.
    • Black is a balance between male and female energy, and represents the sky, stars, immortality, and leadership. Black draconals are immune to fire damage, and their breath weapon is fire.
    • Green is slightly skewed toward masculinity. It represents wood, plants, and flowers. Green draconals are immune to cold damage, and their breath weapon is cold.
    • Red is a strongly masculine color, and most red draconals are male or have aggressive or gregarious personalities. Red represents fire, light, and warding against bad luck. Red draconals are immune to fire damage, and their breath weapon is fire.
    • White is slightly skewed toward femininity, and most white draconals are female or have protective or serene personalities. White represents brightness, fulfillment, metal, mourning, and purity. White draconals are immune to cold damage, and their breath weapon is cold.
    • Like black, yellow is a balance between male and female energy. Yellow represents earth, oracles, stone, and luck. Yellow draconals are immune to acid, and their breath weapon is acid.
  • Leonals are, as their name suggests, humanoid lions who vary between actively hunting down agents of evil and simply guarding areas against the depredation of evil. Both roles are equally respected.
  • Silvanshees are the smallest and weakest of their ilk, taking on a form that resembles a somewhat fey-looking cat. They often serve as familiars to goodly aligned mages, which fits in well with their role; they are the spies of Nirvana, wandering the world in secret to act as its eyes and ears against evil influences.
  • Vulpinals are charming, charismatic humanoid foxes who serve as the bards and sages of Nirvana, often working closely with lillendi. Ironically, they're Small-sized, meaning the charming fox troubador is technically only the size of a gnome or a halfling.

Bishop Agathions' resemble a strange melding point of man and fish; a roughly piscine body shape, but with webbed limbs instead of fins and a weirdly human face. They serve as go-betweens for the angelic powers of the land and the sea, being amphibious enough that they can safely move between the two environments. Appearing in the adventure "Shards of Sin", they were most likely based on the Sea-Monk, a Renaissance-era mythical creature of Europe.

Cervaprals are humanoid antelopes who embody the essence of liberty and are passionately devoted to both the overthrow of tyranny and the abolition of slavery. They have no moral objection to the concepts of royalty or nobility, but hold any group that is granted authority through inheritance or tradition to a very high standard, insisting that the rights of the ruled must be protected at least as strongly as the rights of the rulers. As you can probably tell from this, Cervaprals appeared in the splatbook dedicated to Andoran, the "America/Democracy, Fuck Yeah!" region of Golarion.

Cervinals, not to be confused with Cervaprals, are a centaur-like agathion who consist of a humanoid upper body (with stag-like antlers growing from the head) sprouting from the neck & shoulders of a massive elk. They are sometimes termed the “knights” of the agathions, having gained a reputation for their battle prowess, noble natures, and admirable wisdom, as well as their fearlessness and willingness to lead from the front, serving as either general or elite warrior depending on the situation. Cervinals were first mentioned in the "Chronicle of the Righteous", and were reprinted in the Bestiary 5.

Chelonidals are humanoid sea turtles who serve as Nivana's guardians and foot soldiers; when roused to war, they are powerful, well-armored troopers. Ironically, chelonidals assigned to guard places in the mortal world have a well-documented tendency to fall in love with mortals they interact with, leading to the birth of idyllkin aasimar; if this happens, the chelonidal's priorities change to safeguarding and looking after the child(ren), as whilst they are dutiful and protective by nature, family comes first. This agathion breed appeared in the adventure "The Lost Outpost".

Muldnals are humanoid moles who, having formed from the souls of farmers and miners, work to guard and maintain the underground regions of Nirvana and tend to the health of that plane's soil. On the material plane, they have been known to attend sites of magical power associated with agriculture and nature. Although small and inoffensive looking, Muldnals possess a paralytic bite and potent(ish) druidic magic over the earth, the plants and small animals, which they use to defend themselves and their charges. Muldnals were first detailed in the adventure "Assault on Longshadow".

Procyals are humanoid raccoons who embody the positive aspects of civilization, and seek to guide cities to achieve that perfect state in which the city and its inhabitants symbiotically support and strengthen each other. They believe that individuals can be truly happy or free only within a society when they have access to luxury, commerce, and choice, and that society basically exists as a structure centered on the freedom of the individuals within. Procyals see some administrations as fundamentally better than others: democratic groups and wise councils are among their favorite forms of government, while dictatorships, monarchies, and military states must ultimately be replaced. They appeared in the adventure "Dance of the Damned".

Reptials are curious and benevolent scholars of Nirvana. They spend their time collecting holy relics, no matter how minor, and can store some of their knowledge within a chosen relic. They keep most of these relics for themselves, but individual reptials have been known to distribute particularly useful pieces to good-aligned individuals and temples that are enduring difficult trials. These agathions, who resemble humanoid iguanas, appeared in the Bestiary 5.

Whilst the above represent the official Agathions, "Wayfinder", the Pathfinder fanzine, has also hosted some fan made additions; issue #8 houses the jellyfish-like Aequoreals, dreamy sages of Nirvana's oceans, and #9 houses the Chiropteals, halfling-sized humanoid bats who look after the goodly races of the Golarion Underdark, namely svirfneblin.

Gallery[edit]

Guardinal Lords
Agathions
The inhabitants of the Planes of Planescape
Upper Planes: Aasimon - Angels - Animal Lords - Archons - Asuras - Eladrin - Guardinals - Lillend
Middle Planes: Formians - Githzerai - Inevitables - Marut - Modrons - Rilmani - Slaadi
Lower Planes: Alu-Fiends - Baatezu - Bladelings - Cambions - Demodands - Erinyes - Hags
Hordlings - Imps - Kytons - Marilith - Obyrith - Succubi - Tanar'ri - Yugoloth
Transitive Planes: Astral Dreadnought - Githyanki
Inner Planes: Azers - Elementals - Genies - Grues - Mephit - Salamanders - Sylphs
Sigil: Dabus - Cranium Rats
High-ups: Archangels - Archdevils - Archfey - Archomentals - Demon Princes