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There are extensive resources regarding devils and demons for 5e. Not only are there descriptions of the motivations and natures of individual archdevils and demon lords, but there is also a lot of interesting detail about the histories of their planes (e.g. the blood war).

This detail has led to me using a lot of devils and demons when I DM. However, my players have been wondering where the extraplanar good guys are. Are there any good-aligned counterparts for devils and demons?

Specifically, I'm looking for extraplanar beings that are powerful, but not quite deities, and that are trying to push their individual agendas (for example, in the way that Orcus wants to turn everything into undead). So far, I only know of the Angels in the MM, but there isn't very much detail given there.

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This is not unusual; Dungeons & Dragons has a long history of giving the heavens and their denizens fairly minimal treatment. They just aren’t as interesting—they get along, they generally support the players (who are generally at least non-evil), and so on.

Nonetheless, previous editions have discussed, at least in broad strokes, the leadership of these planes. Detailed breakdowns about each member, and their individual agendas, however, are rarer. Again, they kind of tend to get along; there is just less scheming for individual priorities going on in the Upper Planes. Not saying none, certainly, but much less.

Anyway, here’s the broad strokes, per the more-or-less consistent Dungeons & Dragons cosmology that we’ve had since at least 2nd edition. Much of this is only briefly mentioned, and sometimes simplified, in 5th edition, but I treat those simplifications as being solely in the interests of keeping descriptions brief, rather than a strong statement that things have changed.

Exemplars—the true expression and rulers of the outer planes

First of all, the archdukes of Hell are devils, and the demon lords and princes are, as the name suggests, demons. This makes them the exemplars of their alignment (LE for devils, CE for demons), and of the outer plane of that alignment. See here for more on the exemplars. Exemplars are literally an alignment-incarnate, and they are formed from the substance of the corresponding outer plane—which is literally formed from the belief in and adherence to that alignment. So devils are formed from Hell, which is made up of solid lawful-evil-ness, and likewise demons from the Abyss as chaotic-evil-incarnate.

The upper planes have exemplars too, and like the devils and demons, they have their own governing structure:

  • Mount Celestia and its archons are ruled over by the the Celestial Hebdomad. The leader of the Hebdomad is Zaphkiel, the only remaining member of the original seven martyrs that created the seven heavens. The other six tome archons on the Hebdomad are Barachiel, Domiel, Erathaol, Pistis, Raziel, and Sealtiel.

  • Elysium and its guardinals are ruled over by Lord Talisid and the Five Companions (or Five Champions), Duke Lucan, Duchess Callisto, Duke Windheir, Lord Hwyn, and Lord Rhanok.

  • Arborea and its eladrin are ruled over by the Court of Stars, headed by Morwel, Queen of Stars, and her consort Faerinaal and champion Gwynharwyf. Other members of the Court do not appear to have ever been given names, or even counted.

Other notable planar residents

These are not necessarily the only institutions of power and influence in the heavens, just the official governing structures of those planes—the counterparts to the archdukes and demon lords/princes. For example, the Seelie Court of the fey are good, and found on the Upper Planes—but their counterparts are the fey of the Unseelie Court, not the archdukes or demon princes. The fey control their own realms within the planes but do not control entire planes the way exemplars do.

Gods and their relationship with the planes and exemplars

Another important example are the good gods and the angels. Deities tend to have their own realms in the planes, including good gods in the heavens, but those realms are separate from the rest of the plane as a whole. Gods are, effectively, guests in these planes—the exemplars enjoy a much closer relationship to the plane itself than the gods living there do.1 This special relationship makes it very difficult to attempt to usurp them, and the strings attached to god-hood largely prevent deities from trying to do so. So deities keep themselves apart from the governance of that realm as a whole. They certainly can interact with exemplars, may have exemplars among their worshipers or agents, can act against individual exemplars in the pursuit of their own interests—but they don’t get to interfere with the ruling of the plane itself. The plane, and their own god-hood, won’t let them.

In short, while good deities are important, powerful, and influential residents of the upper planes, they are not part of the governing structure of any of those planes. That means they are not analogous to archdukes and demon lords, and so are an inaccurate answer to this question.

As a notable almost-exception-that-proves-the-rule, the Hebdomad has four gods (Bahamut, Heironeous, Moradin, and Yondalla) who sit on it, alongside the seven archons. However, those gods take an advisory role, and defer to the rulings of the archons, especially on matters relating directly to archons or Mount Celestia.

Last but not least, some sources refer to the leaders of exemplar hierarchies as gods, but this is an oversimplification. They can be, and are, worshiped like gods, and their faithful can receive divine spells and other blessings through that worship, but at least in more detailed coverage of the outer planes, a distinction between exemplars—even very powerful ones—and gods is important. Both positions have great, cosmic power, and both positions come with some strings attached, but deities receive both greater individual power as well as narrower concerns and constraints than exemplars do. This fact is particularly important to Asmodeus, the Lord of the Ninth, who leverages the fact that he is not a deity, and thus freer to act, to the hilt. The Lady of Pain in Sigil is also exceedingly adamant about not being a deity—but what, exactly, she is, is a matter of pure speculation (but I wouldn’t recommend speculating about it too loudly).

Angels

Finally, angels (devas, planetars, and solars) are special, powerful, servants of the gods. Unlike true exemplars, angels can be any good alignment, rather than being the pure expression of exactly one alignment. Being directly related to good gods, they too stay out of the affairs of the Hebdomad, Five Companions, and Court of Stars, and so again are not a good answer to this question. Notably, other alignments lack a counterpart to angels.

Elementals and the inner planes

The inner planes are different from the outer planes; they are matter and energy rather than faith and belief. As such, elementals are expressions of stuff rather than alignment, which means they aren’t quite the same as the exemplars of the outer planes. They tend to be neutral just because they are uninterested in aligned matters, unlike say the rilmani who are the exemplars of truly neutral alignment and care quite a lot about balance—and elementals can be whatever alignment suits them (technically exemplars can too, but it’s vastly harder for them). Nonetheless, elementals are similarly “the plane incarnate,” so there are also similarities. And there are the archomentals, four very powerful, good-aligned elemental lords, one for each element. Their counterparts, though, would be the princes of elemental evil, rather than any devils or demons, making them similar to the fey as being not quite a correct answer to this question.

The positive energy plane and negative energy plane are nearly empty, and their few denizens do not form societies of any description.

  1. With the notable exception of Lolth, who is both a demon prince (styling herself Demon Queen though that’s just her personal title) and an evil goddess—the only individual I’m aware of that does both like that. Otherwise, exemplars don’t take kindly to gods thinking that their deity status grants them any say in planar governance. Lolth only gets around that because she had lost her deity status and became a demon, and then a demon prince, and only subsequently regained her god-hood. Well that, and because no one really wants to mess with Lolth.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Which editions/products mention talk about these entities/planes? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 11 '18 at 17:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast All of them, more or less. 2e is where most of this got written up, but this has been pretty consistent in D&D. Maybe not 4th, 4th did some weird things. 5th edition hasn't detailed all of this, and in some cases the brief descriptions have been simplified, but I believe this to all still be true in 5th. There was talk of even doing more Planescape in 5th, which relies on this cosmology and organization. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 11 '18 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ By Angels are you referring to Devas/Solars etc, or one rung higher? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 11 '18 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Yes, devas and solars (and planetars, if those exist in 5th). I’m not actually aware of a rung higher than solars that aren’t just gods. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 11 '18 at 18:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @bgvaughan I’m not aware of any such transition, but I can’t specifically speak to the history well enough to say it didn’t. But for what it’s worth, the divine realms of deities are embedded within the planes but are kept separate from them. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 12 '18 at 18:11
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Celestial Paragons

The D&D 3.5 book Book of Exalted Deeds details the good-aligned counterparts to archdevils or demon princes: unique good-aligned creatures known as Celestial Paragons:

The archons, guardianals, and eladrins have their rulers, leaders, and examplars on the celestial planes where good holds sway. These celestial paragons share much in common with each other and also bear certain similarities to their archfiend counterparts on the Lower Planes.

The book names sixteen such beings, divided into three groups.

The Celestial Hebdomad is a group of seven unique and powerful lawful archon lords: Barachiel, the Messenger; Domiel, the Mercy-Bringer; Erathaol, the Seer; Pistis Sophia, the Ascetic; Razier, the Crusader; Sealtiel, the Defender; and Zaphkiel, the Watcher.

The Five Companions is a group of five unique guardinals: Sathia, the Sky Duchess; Manath, the Horned Duke; Vhara, Duchess of the Fields; Kharash, the Stalker; and Bharrai, the Great Bear. They are led by Talisid, the Celestial Lion.

The Court of Stars is a group of eladrin which includes Morwel, Queen of Stars; Faerinaal, the Queen's Consort; and Gwynharwyf, the Whirling Fury.

The Celestial Paragons are the closest thing in D&D to a good-aligned counterpart to archdevils:

  • They're more powerful than standard creatures (above level 20, in D&D 5e terms)
  • They're unique (unlike, say, solars—solars could have unique appearances, but they're never actually portrayed as such in any D&D canon)
  • As good-aligned outsiders (a 3e term for extraplanar beings), they're the exact opposites to fiends. They were in fact deliberately written to fill this role: The Book of Exalted Deeds was written specifically to make good-aligned counterparts for the evil things in Book of Vile Darkness, even when there was very little demand for them (since the good guys rarely fight celestials).

Princes of Elemental Good

A related category of beings are the archomentals, elemental lords who rule over the inner planes. The best-known of these are the evil princes such as Imix and Olhydra, but they too have good-aligned counterparts which could be of use to you, as described in Dragon Magazine #353:

  • Ben-Hadar, Prince of Good Water Creatures
  • Chan, Princess of Good Aerial Creatures
  • Sunnis, Princess of Good Earth Creatures
  • Zaaman Rul, Prince of Good Fire Creatures
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They would be the Celestials, Demigods, and Archfey. Forgotten Realms Wiki has a list of specific entities. d20srd also has a list of ranks and powers for 3.5e that could likely be adapted to 5e if you want to create some.

Celestials

Celestial, Angel, Archoms, Eladrin, Guardinals, Asura, Bariaur, Couatl, Einheriar, Hollyphant, Ki-rin, Lillend, Moon dog, Pegasus, Shirokinukatsukami, Unicorn.

Faerûnian Demigods

Deep Duerra, Finder Wyvernspur, Garagos, Gargauth, Gwaeron Windstrom, Haela Brightaxe, Hoar, Jergal, Laogzed, Lurue, Nobanion, Red Knight, Savras, Sebek, Selvetarm, Sharess, Shiallia, Siamorphe, Ulutiu, Valkur, Velsharoon, Drasek Riven.

Notable Archfey

Relkath of the Infinite Branches, Lurue the Unicorn Queen, Verenestra the Oak Princess, Sarula Iliene the Nixie Queen, Aurilandür the Frost Sprite Queen, Neifion the Lord of Bats, Titania the Queen of the Summer Court, Oberon the Green Lord, Baba Yaga, Queen of Air and Darkness.

Reference

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @QuadraticWizard If you want to support an answer by including a debunking of a likely-sounding but incorrect category of other answer, regardless of whether it appears in another answer post, please cover that in your answer post, as a supporting argument for the correctness of its answer. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 11 '18 at 18:28
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Solars

A solar is godlike in its glory and power. On the battlefield, the solar's sword flies into the fray on its own, and a single arrow from a solar's bow can strike a target dead on contact. So great is a solar's celestial might that even demon princes shrink at its resonant commands. It is said that only twenty-four solars exist. The few solars that are known are stewards of specific deities. The others rest in a state of contemplation, waiting for the time when their services are needed to stave off some cosmic threat to the cause of good. (MM p. 18)

A Solar is CR 21, matching the low-mid archdevils and demon lords in power. There are not many of them. They are feared even by demon princes. Clearly these are the counterparts to demon lords and archdevils.

Solars are Lawful Good, however all Good deities command angels:

Even chaotic good deities command lawful good angels, knowing that the angels' dedication to order best allows them to fulfill divine commands (MM p. 15)

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