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MToF (pg. 6) says that when most Lawful Evil creatures die, their souls emerge from the River Styx as Lemures:

Most of the evil souls consigned to an afterlife in the Nine Hells become lemures...

The DMG (pg. 63) says that unclaimed Neutral evil souls end up in the Abyss and become Larvae:

Hades is the destination of many souls that are unclaimed by the gods of the Upper Planes or the fiendish rules of the Lower Planes. These souls become larvae...

Finally, the MM (pg. 53) says that the souls of evil creatures (presumably Chaotic Evil) who descend to the Abyss become Manes:

Souls of evil creatures that descend to the Lower Planes are transformed into manes...


The above Outer Planes are all LE, NE, or CE, respectively, and indicate an involuntary transformation of a soul that arrives on the plane.

Ignoring the planes of deities for now, are souls that arrive on the other aligned planes also subject to an involuntary transformation? For the sake of simplicity I'm only interested in the following planes as they have a single alignment (as opposed to Bytopia which is both NG and LG):

  • Mount Celestia (LG)
  • Elysium (NG)
  • Arborea (CG)
  • Limbo (CN)
  • Mechanus (LN)

For example, is there lore to indicate that a LG that arrives at Mount Celestia becomes a low tier angel?

I am primarily interested in answers from 5e, but if there is none, I am interested in older editions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you open to older sources on this? On Hallowed Ground (1996) and Book of Exalted Deeds (2004), among others, go into some detail on this, but I don’t think anything for 5e does. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jun 11 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan thanks for the comment, I meant to include that. I'm mostly interested in 5e material, but if none, I'm interested in lore from older editions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 11 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: this question was inspired by discussion on OP's answer to What happens when you target a dead creature with Scrying? - the answer to this might be relevant to whether "I cast scry on Bob the human wizard" works if Bob's dead and you're on the relevant plane. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 12 at 4:58

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In 5e, souls become petitioners

Morte's Planar Parade, a companion to the Monster Manual, explains about Petitioners, which seems to be the default state of being for souls after arrival on their alignment matched plane, p. 4:

Death and the Planes

Mortals that die eventually have their souls return as petitioners in far-flung reaches of the Outer Planes. There, they manifest as idealized versions of themselves. These forms might be similar to the forms they had in life or be those of entirely different creatures.

Petitioners are former mortals. They've lived, ceased living, and now exist on the Outer Planes. They typically inhabit a plane that shares their alignment or the realm of a deity they worship.

This does not actually define a creature type. The book lists, ghost petitioners, berserker petioners, and commoner petitioners, even animal, flumph and beholder petitioners.

However they would not usually become angels, archons, modrons or slaadi that inhabit those planes.

Good aligned planes (Mount Celestia, Elysium, Arborea)

In 5e, Angels are not created from mortal souls, but from the astral essence of benevolent gods (MM, p. 14)

Shards of the Divine. Angels are formed from the astral essence of benevolent gods and are thus divine beings of great power and foresight.

Likewise, Archons are not described as made from the soul of mortals, but as created by the powers of order and benevolence (Morte's Planar Parade, p. 16; although it might still be possible that these powers create them by transforming mortal souls):

Archons are denizens of the Seven Heavens of Mount Celestia. Created by the powers of order and benevolence, archons defend their home from fiendish incursions and safeguard those threatened by wicked forces

Mechanus

And likewise, Modrons, the primary inhabitants of Mechanus are not described as being made from mortal souls but created by Primus (MM, p. 224; again one might not neccesarily exclude the other here):

Cogs of the Great Machine. If a modron is destroyed, its remains disintegrate. A replacement from the next lowest rank then transforms in a flash of light, gaining the physical form of its new rank. The promoted modron is replaced by one of its underlings in the same manner, all the way to the lowest levels of the hierarchy. There, a new modron is created by Primus, with a steady stream of monodrones leaving the Great Modron Cathedral on Mechanus as a result.

Limbo

Lastly, the Slaadi of Limbo were spawned by the Spawing Stone, not created from mortal souls, and proliferate by implanting and transforming humanoids:

The foremost inhabitants of this inhospitable plane are the toad-like slaadi. [...] Primus's creation had an unforeseen side effect: the chaotic energy absorbed by the stone spawned the horrors that came to be known as slaadi. Sages refer to Primus's massive creation as the Spawning Stone for this reason. [...] Slaadi have horrific cycles of reproduction. Slaadi reproduce either by implanting humanoid hosts with eggs or by infecting them with a transformative disease called chaos phage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hm, “created by the powers of order and benevolence,” “created by Primus,” and “spawned by the Spawning Stone,” are not really mutually exclusive with using former-mortals’ souls and/or petitioners. In fact, in at least some cases, I believe that’s exactly what happens (or at least, happened, in prior editions) and these quotes don’t really necessarily convince me that anything’s changed. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jun 11 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I agree that at least for Archons or the Modrons that might be possible; for the spawning stone and angels I think it's not -- the chaotic energies spawned the horrors known as slaadi does not sound to me as if Primus or anyone else had an active effort in this, and angels are explicitly made from divine essence. But don't let this answer stop you from making one of your wonderful, in-depth ones on the matter, which TBH, I already look forward to. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 11 at 18:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer more or less correct back to second edition, too: 2e's planescape setting said that dead souls become petitioners, the exact form of which depended on the deity who ruled their afterlife. The default for most planes was that they'd look much like they did while they were alive, but there were exceptions: For example, non-elf followers of Corellon Larethian would look like elven versions of themselves when they became petitioners, and petitioners of Chronepsis were twisted into hourglasses. (1/2) \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Jun 11 at 22:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ For souls who didn't go to a specific deity's divine realm (or to a divine realm whose deity didn't choose a specific form for their petitioners), they'd be stuck with the default option. Oh, and some planes had different default options: Petitioners in the Abyss had the form of manes, souls who went to Baator became soul larvae, and those who went to Celestia became lantern archons. Some sources suggested or implied that new petitioners might take the form of larvae on lower planes other than Baator as well, though the circumstances in which this happen were never made clear. (2/2) \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Jun 11 at 22:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll add that MPP includes lantern archons, but doesn't describe them as the reincarnation of souls who reach Celestia, as they were in previous editions. Instead they're just described as guides for petitioners. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 12 at 2:46

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