The Host of Heaven descends upon Marath Suvla in an hour of great darkness. Shedding their immortality, they embrace the battle against the Most Foul. They wield a powerful magic unlike any the humans have seen. These messengers bear obscure messages, inscribed upon their flesh. Yet they have forgotten the perfection of Heaven and even the meaning of the message. They claim to serve the Light of Heaven, a name unfamiliar to the rest of the world’s people. Celestials can draw upon their own nature to manipulate the energies of the world in ways that humans cannot duplicate. They can also learn ritualism, forge magic, inscription, and alchemy.
The Celestial Realms at a Glance
Government Style: Regimented Heavenly Host
Forge Magic: Common
Symbol: The Alchemical Symbol of the Sun; a perfect circle with a single centered dot.
The concept of Celestials has been with humanity even prior to the first War with the Most Foul, when the Celestials descended from Heaven to turn the tide of the final battle. Created to battle the darkness in the Celestial Realms, the celestials themselves are beings of Order who understand their place in the divine fight between good and evil. While it is clear to celestials that there is indeed a supreme omnipotent, omni-benevolent being known as the Light of Heaven, the Gift of the Light of Heaven to all beings is that of Choice—that is, while celestials were created to battle the Darkness, they do so willingly. Free Will is one of the core concepts in the Celestial Realm. Without Free Will, the choices the Celestials make would hold little value. It is this value of Free Will that drives the Celestials to create different philosophies and Spheres so they might align and order themselves as their natures incline them to do.
The Celestials have descended to the mortal world once before, each given the choice to descend or not. Those that chose to descend did so with the knowledge that they would become mortal, and would not be able to return to the Celestial Halls. Many Celestials were slain in the Great War of Shadow, and for the first time, the Celestial realms knew true grief. The Host lost many to the side of Shadow as well, as certain of their number pledged themselves in body and soul to the side of the Most Foul. This betrayal was a blow to the Celestial Host, and has caused a schism that exists even now. Some Celestials still choose to pledge themselves to the side of the Most Foul, known to their former brethren as the Fallen. Those who have Fallen depart the Celestial Manse, though where they go is not known in the Celestial Halls. Where the souls of mortal Celestials go after death is not known, not even to the Primarchs, though many suspect that like other mortals they are sent to the Grim Prison.
The Great War of Shadow bred many changes in the Celestial Realm, the not least of which was the creation of the Vanguard of Oriset. Oriset was a Celestial and member of the Host of Heaven sworn to the Sphere of Guardianship. It is after Oriset that the Oriseti Mirei philosophy is named. Oriset believed that guardianship and purity went hand in hand. In order to truly guard against the Shadow, one must eliminate those things that cause temptation. The ideal of the Light must be upheld, against all things, and the elimination of the things that threaten the Light is the worthiest of all goals. To this end, Oriset convinced others in his Sphere to join in him in developing methods to halt the tide of Shadow. His efforts were considered approved when the Primarchs Calithra and Liath bestowed a glaive to him to aid in his endeavors. There were many that followed him after this gift was bestowed, though the Primarchs offered no explanation as to why he was given this glaive. Oriset vanished in the Battle of Marath Suvla, reportedly throwing down his Glaive while weeping at the outcome of the battle. After his disappearance, the Sphere of Guardianship vowed to follow in his path, and officially established the Warrior Order of the Vanguard of Oriset to be those that set his example for others.
Among those of the original descent, a small number of Celestials, having won greatness and sanctity restored by their deeds, returned to the Celestial Manse as Primarchs. Celestials believe also that some of those who remained in the world and survived the Great War of Shadow were blessed by the Light of Heaven to do so, and to perform deeds in the name of the Light.
Created by the Light of Heaven to battle the darkness, many Celestials know of life prior to their Descent as endless cycles of conflict marked by periods of rest. The number of Celestials is steady at 50,000. If one Falls, another is created to take their place. While one of the Heavenly Host cannot be slain while in the Celestial Realms, they can be grievously injured and take the time of an entire mortal's life to recover. When not engaged in battle, celestials recuperate and regain their strength through contemplation and further discourse with those who have also chosen to champion a particular Sphere of Power. Lengthy discussions while consuming the manna and ambrosia of Heaven are common, and friendly debates between those of particular Spheres and Philosophies is a welcome distraction from the endless cycle of engagements with darkness.
Celestials are creatures of Order. Even after surrendering their immortality, they instinctively promote order in their lives, whether it is through the formation of “hosts” on earth, the pledging of their personal might to a particular person or cause, or by carrying out their daily activities in a ritualistic manner. Used to existing in a regimented state, celestials do their best to continue the traditions that they knew while in the Host of Heaven, though they have lost much of their specific memory of those traditions.
Centuries after the first Great War, a Ton Isiq scholar named Isandros of the Scales claimed to have received a visitation from a Primarch in which he was given a holy mission: to prepare, in secret, for the Second Descent. Driven by the idea that humanity’s ultimate destiny was to ascend to greatness with the aid of heavenly knowledge, Isandros formed a secret society known as the Malachim Order. Spanning many nations and surviving the rise and fall of many rulers, the Malachim Order is rumored to have gathered wealth and fiscal power rivaling the mightiest of kings and guilds. Throughout the ages, many have sought to pry the location of the Order’s treasure caches from supposed members, but the society has endured despite this misguided persecution. Centuries of harassment without any true results have taken their toll, and now the Order is seen as nothing more than a fanciful myth created by conspiracy theorists. In truth, the Malachim Order does still exist, and they are the caretakers of the investments made on the behalf of those philosophers who foresaw the coming of the Celestials.
Primarch Valanya, who discovered the need for the Second Descent, has located many of the Malachim Order and have given them divine knowledge that the Host will be descending once more to aid mankind. The Malachim Order eagerly awaits the return of the Celestials, and are ready to lend aid to their cause.
The Mortal Arts - Ritualism and Alchemy
The arts of mortals made their way to the Celestial Manse during the First Descent. Prior to this time, the Celestials simply did not know or practice these arts. However, when the Celestials descended, they lost much of their natural potency and facility with the Realms of Energy, to compensate, many turned the arts of mortals, such as Ritualism and Alchemy. Ritualism was the codified shaping and manipulation of the Realms of Energy that seemed very familiar to the Celestials, where as Alchemy, involving much more physical manipulation, was far stranger. When the Celestials that became Primarchs returned to the Host of Heaven at the end of the Great War, they brought these arts with them.
Alchemy is difficult to practice in the Celestial realms, as the raw components are just insufficient. However the knowledge and theory of the craft has proven very interesting to many of the Celestial Host with an interest in crafting and creation, as well as knowledge for sake of pursuing knowledge. Many Celestials believe that this art should continue to be cultivated in light of the Second Descent.
Ritualism is a very interesting topic of discussion for Celestials. Due to its very nature of manipulating the Realms of Energy, it serves alongside the nature of the Celestials. This causes many discussions and opinions within the Host. Ritualism is viewed in one of five ways:
- Ritualism is a lesser form of what comes naturally to most Celestials. Celestials channel the Realms, capturing them and redirecting the energy to an object seems strange and backwards to them.
- Ritualism is a way to store power that would otherwise dissipate immediately, and this bears study.
- Ritualism is an unnatural and circumspect art that circumvents the very nature and purpose of Celestials.
- Ritualism is a way to work with Energy that is counter to the nature of Celestials. By understanding what is counter to the self, the self is better understood.
- Ritualism is a weapon that may be used in the constant War against Shadow. This is something that would not normally be expected and might provide an edge at a key moment.
Regardless of how it is seen, it remains a point of interest and debate in the Celestial Host.
The Craft of Heaven - Forge Magic and Inscription
The Host of Heaven has long practiced the crafts of Forge Magic and Inscription. However, unlike those in the mortal realms, the Host of Heaven taps directly into the Realms of Energy needed to power such effects. This makes their crafts very potent in the Celestial Manse, but nigh useless away from the Celestial Realms. Upon the mortal realm, they must work to regain their crafts, and once again be able to produce the feats they once accomplished. Being further removed from the Celestial Manse makes the Celestial rely much more heavily on materials found in the world that suit their purposes.
What makes Celestials great?
To begin with, you're an angel of the Host of Heaven. Though much of it is lost in translation to mortal form, Celestials still understand more of the cosmos than any other race. Celestial magic is flexible, requiring no advance preparation, and can be combined with a wide variety of other arts. They have fought the forces of the Most Foul for an eternity, and their Descent represents an act of heroic self-sacrifice; most of them will never return to the Celestial Manse or regain immortality. They are utterly driven in their purpose, which is nothing less than saving the world. They bring with them the Vanguard of Oriset, a warrior order uniquely suited to the battles they will face. Though partially cut off from their base of support, Celestials can still contact the Primarchs and have an entire secret society of humans dedicated to the success of their mission.
What makes Celestials less than desirable?
Celestials have come to a world that does not understand their mission or their nature. In return, the Celestials have little preparation for things like politics and shifting allegiances. Even empathizing with the humans they have come to save is a challenge for some. Accustomed to the ordered, military nature of life as one of the Host, Celestials find themselves much more isolated, in a world where for the first time death comes swiftly and the body is fragile. They face many kinds of temptation and the potential for ruin for the first time, and sustaining their sense of purpose is a challenge. Many in the world will see the Celestials as a means to an end, rather than messengers from Heaven.
Themes and costuming
Celestials are, in a word, angels. Their entire existence is owed to the Light of Heaven, who has created them to be warriors against the darkness. While they have made the ultimate sacrifice of their immortality and have been cut off from the Light of Heaven, they can regain some of their former glory by choosing to learn Celestial Ways and achieve some small degree of the power they once wielded. They have descended from Heaven with the understanding that they are needed on earth, and bear messages of hope to the mortal races in the form of script emblazoned on their faces in any one of a multitude of languages.
Celestials wear White, lots of white. Their style is loose and flowy, materials often being light and airy. Clothing tends to be plain, but is sometimes adorned by touches of pattern or embroidery at the wrists or neck. Jewel-tone colors like Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, Emerald Greens, Royal Purple, etc. are common as trim or as a layer over the main, pure white, outfit. Celestial outfits consist of a base of white-- white tunic, white pants or a white abaya underdress-- over which a caftan (also Kaftan) is worn. The fabric of the caftan is white or sometimes un-dyed fabric, and off the battlefield is usually made of a material that will easily flow and move unfettered with the Celestial. On the battlefield, the sheer flowing caftan is often shortened to tunic-length and made of fabric that is more durable and can withstand the rigors of wearing armor and swinging a weapon. Those Celestials who follow the path of Fire or Ice may wish to wear their caftans in jewel-tone colors to reflect their philosophy-- the caftan can be any pure hue over a base of white.
- Celestials may relearn some control over the miraculous power that once suffused their being. They are the only race that may buy Celestial Ways.
- At character creation, a Celestial must select one of the following types of damage: acid, fire, ice, shadow, or storm. When struck by damage of this type, the Celestial is under the effects of an Intolerance. Defenses against those damage types work normally for the Celestial.
- Celestials gain the advantage associated with their chosen Sphere.
Makeup Requirements: A Celestial’s face must be significantly covered with marks resembling text. Unusual alphabets are encouraged. The text is entirely capable of shifting from day to day, and need not be replicated exactly.