Design Diary: Angels & Aberrations – The Cherubim

My next DM’s Guild product is likely to be a monster compendium of astral creatures (as my previous design diary may have suggested). Initially, I wanted to do every creature that is “from the Astral Plane” in 5e style, but there’s a lot of 1e-era creatures that mention spending a lot of time on the Astral Plane that maybe make more sense in other capacities in 5e. So I’ve cut the Shedu form it, as well as some more “campaign specific” astral creatures.

One category of creatures that this winds up cutting that I’m a big fan of (and might just splinter into a separate compendium) are the Weird Celestials. These creatures are super-interesting – benevolent, chimeric beasts, often based on Near Eastern or Asian creatures, sometimes given psionic powers for…some reason…. This includes monsters like…

  • Shedu
  • Lammasu
  • Baku
  • Foo Dogs / Foo Lions
  • Dragon Horses
  • Hollyphants
  • Moon Dogs
  • Opicinus
  • Phoenix
  • Couatl
  • Ki-rin

In general, these creatures struggle a bit with their particular place in the multiverse. I’ve often thought that you could crib notes from various angel mythologies for this. This suite of benevolent beasts could easily be the “cherubim” to the deva’s “seraphim,” though that would be taking many of the actual mythological creatures out of their native mythologies (not necessarily a bad thing, but you don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater when re-starting a narrative).


I was tempted to put many of them in Angels & Aberrations, using the cherubim motif, but found that they were largely described as “travelling” the Astral Plane rather than of or from the Astral Plane. Thinking about their narratives a bit, I think generally they’re more interesting if they’re from isolated areas of the Material Plane, rather than sitting on some other plane. DM’s are more encouraged to use these creatures if they’re part and parcel of the world rather than off somewhere else and needing to be summoned.

Maybe I’ll go back on that at some point.

For now, I think I’ve got plenty of Astral Critters for the doc. These include…

  • Astral Dreadnought (the poster child for planar monstrosities since 1e!)
  • Astral Hulk (an umber hulk taken to eating astral matter)
  • Astral Render (a powerful god-created ooze that tears the planes asunder to teleport enemies around)
  • Astral Searcher (a ghostly shell of raw emotion that seeks to possess material form)
  • Astral Stalker (a tribe of god-created hunters that, in my new narrative, specifically hunt blasphemers and turncoats like the Athar)
  • Astral Vermin (a re-named 3e Astral Kraken – a behemoth squid-spider that cocoons astral travelers)
  • Astral Warwing (god-created constructs that defend the sites of powerful relics)
  • Aoa (a silvery ooze that reflects magic)
  • Berbalang (a fiendish creature that lives most of its life astrally projected)
  • Brain Collector (good ol’ Far Realm weirdness! These horrors are very knowledgeable about the anatomy of creatures over here…
  • Couatl Variants (including the 4e Cloud Court couatls, Couatl Redeemers who associate with Mithral Dragons, and the Discord Incarnate, created in an ancient clash of good and evil that hasn’t exactly stopped…)
  • Devete (humanoid wanderers that mimic the emotional state of those they come across)
  • Dhour (Intelligent psionic oozes from the Far Realm)
  • Mithral Dragons (agents of prophecy and the gods – who, in my writing, often predict apocalypses)
  • Garmorm (Far Realm horrors that are basically worms covered in singing mouths. New mouths appear when they eat your friends – and those new mouths have your friends’ voice!)
  • Astral Giants (outcast from the ordning, these giants serve the gods of civilization)
  • Inevitables (judges and enforces of multiversal order)
  • Maledictions (lightning-thunder-necrotic-psychic elementals that are the result of a dead god)
  • Psurlons (flesh-warping worm-psions of the Far Realm)
  • Quom (fanatical humanoids who travel on comet-ships to retrieve the specks of dust that are the remnants of their god)
  • Astral Deva (like a regular deva, but with a stunning attack, and a blade barrier)
  • Astral Streaker (basically, songbirds that serve as messengers)
  • Astral Whale (great, nigh-immortal beasts of deep intelligence who roam the planes)
  • Cerebral Parasites (essentially a disease that afflicts psionic people)
  • Void Kraken (A Kraken….from the FAR REALM. Woah.)

These are all in a first-draft-finished state, so once I get a chance to do some editing, they’ll likely be out.