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|Avatars are the agents of the gods. They are servants assigned to a wide variety of tasks and act as the emissaries and agents of the gods upon the planes of men and other planes. The term avatar is actually a rather generic term referring to a wide variety of beings. Avatars include angelic beings, saints, occasionally mortals and even physical manifestations of the gods, themselves. As with many things dealing with the gods, avatars can be difficult to quantify or categorize. Nonetheless, mortals still try.
Angels are perhaps the most categorized of all avatars. There exists a hierarchy of angels which seems to transcend the different pantheons. While not all pantheons will have angels (and often, if they do, they will be called something other than angel), most do have at least a few. Not all pantheons that have angels have angels of all classes. Some may only have one or two angels in the entire pantheon. Finally, often times it is not apparent to the average worshipper if a particular divine servant is an angel or something else. For the purposes of this treatise, all avatars that are not saints, mortals, or deific incarnations (gods in physical form) are considered angels.
Angels are immortal, eternal beings (although, in principle they can be slain), like the gods, themselves, but created by the gods. Angels are primarily beings of spirit capable of assuming physical form. Various religions have, in fact, commented on the noted similarity between angels and demons. In fact, there is a great deal of similarity, even in terms of mortal descriptions of these beings. Heretical individuals might even go so far as to suggest that the principle difference between demons and angels is that angels are in the service of the gods and demons are not. Obviously, however, there is much more to it than that. Angels are generally benevolent towards mortals, (at least towards those of their deity’s faith) and most reports indicate that they are beings of great beauty and magnificence. The obvious counter to this is that the angels of the darker gods are not necessarily beautiful, and are certainly every bit as dangerous as any demon. The angels of a particular pantheon always mimic the ways of their masters.
Angels have been classified by many religions and many sects within religions. An objective classification scheme for angles is much more difficult than with demons (partly due to the fact that wizards have been highly adamant about their scheme and most religions simply follow along). The names of the classes of angels is even more varied. However, in general, most religions will agree in principle to a classification scheme of between seven and nine levels of hierarchy in the angelic structure. Nine often seems to work best to meet observables (specifically to iron out interpantheon conflicts), however, seven has the benefit of being symmetric to the demonic hierarchy. The names of the hierarchies are still pretty much open to debate. Two example classification schemes found on several planes follow below along with the well known Etonian scheme for both Angels and Saints:
Saint Hilda of Rivenrock, Avatar of Tiernon
|A great deal of differences between classification schemes has to do with simply rearranging the order of the lower ranks. The problems often come from the fact that specific angels are known to be (or have been at one time) in specific groups, and since very seldom are multiple angels together at the same time, judging relative power is difficult. A heretic might be tempted to say that there is often a case of ‘my angel is bigger than your angel’ going on in these schemes.
What is known is that the members of the foremost rank, the Seraphim, are indisputably the most powerful. The individual Seraphim are, in turn, the leaders of the various other ranks of angels and thus also have dual classification in some schemes (in this case a power level classification scheme breaks down). Further, it is clear that the Seraphim are nearly as powerful as some of the more major gods, certainly as powerful as the lesser gods. In most pantheons, the Seraphim are acknowledged to have taken part in the creation of the multiverse.
If one were to persist in trying to gauge or classify angels in a power level scheme, (which time and time again has proved fraught with problems) one might like to heretically compare power levels to those of the demons (strictly in theory, of course). The Seraphim are thought to be on the level of the demon princes. Many blasphemous rumors insinuate that the Concordenax was actually a renegade Seraphim, who thought himself more of a god than an Seraphim. Following this, to use the Jeromic system, the Cherubim would be roughly equivalent in power to class V demons and so on down to the minor Angels. Again, it must be stressed, this association is tenuous at best because even the weakest of angels is more than a match for the weakest of demons (or so many like to believe).
While it is extremely difficult to classify angels, it is even more difficult to classify Saints. Saint is a generic term used only in this treatise to refer to a divine servant of mortal origin. Saints are unquestionably beings who were once mortal (or quasi-immortal like the Sidhe) and who have, by the grace of their deity, somehow transcended this state. The powers and abilities of such individuals seems to be highly random, and varies not only from pantheon to pantheon, but from saint to saint.
Some saints have the ear of their deity, others are little more than errand boys. What exactly their powers and abilities are is highly varied and spans the entire spectrum of existence. In some cases, the sainted being has actually gone on to become a deity in his or her own right (usually of lesser stature) within the pantheon. Relationships between saints and angels is not predictable and must be determined on a case by case basis. Blasphemous speculators have envisioned that much a Saints relative power is related more to politics and the favor of the deity than absolute raw power.
Another form of avatar is the mortal agent. Sometimes, deities will use their followers (or annoyingly, innocent bystanders) as instruments of change or action. These individuals are often no more than pawns, but can go on to become very powerful and influential individuals if their deity wills and things work. Otherwise they usually end up as a Blessed Martyr to the Cause (read: Dead). While some mortal avatars can go on to become saints, it is generally not the preferred way of doing things, because the gods do not usually consult with the mortal in question.
The final form of avatar is that of the deific incarnation. In other words, on extremely rare occasions, deities will embody themselves upon the planes of men to enact their plans. These individuals are extremely powerful, as they are gods and are only moderately hampered by physical form. This ‘hands-on approach’ is very rare and generally only used in either very grave situations (end of the multiverse or pantheon type things) or by the more ‘quirky’ (no blasphemy intended), or individualistic deities
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