It’s easy to play Spot the Planetar in RPG supplements and The Order of the Stick: they’re the green bald ones. As the generals of the Angelic Host and the second choir (at least in Golarion’s reality), they’re likely the most powerful angels your PCs will encounter unless they reach truly epic slumming-with-solars levels.
And despite being neutral good, it’s not hard to find reasons to throw one at the PCs (and vice versa) at the appropriate level. Planetars are battle generals; they want to fight. That doesn’t make them evil, just eager—think Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander (and even more so Jack in the novels that inspired it).
Parties should not want to fight them though—even non-good ones. Planetars are likely to have strike teams of angels at their disposal (as well as allied archons, agathions, and azatas), and they can easily summon more aid, as well as keep their important troops upright with remove and cure spells. And given their ability to dispense waves, earthquakes, fire storms, and banishments, they are their own artillery companies.
So to find a planetar, look to fields of battle on the borders of the various realities—think Apocalypse Now set in the Outer Planes. Ally with one, and you will have an army from Heaven on your side. But if you expect to take one on, then truly expect a battle.
Missing one eye and with wing lamed even beyond celestial healing (courtesy of a qlippoth), the planetar general Torfariel is a legend. Unfortunately, some fear the years of battle have tarnished his spirit—his detractors call him Bloodstone, after the red-flecked green rock so favored by evil casters. When he refuses a call to attend the Harmonious Song, mortal agents—adventurers—are sent deep into the Plane of Air where he is fighting a strange and elusive army. Once they arrive do they join his ranks or follow their mandate and somehow take him in—if possible—alive?
Two bralani azatas are in the debt of a planetar but resent being called by his summon monster spells (V, in place of one dispel evil and/or righteous might). They seek help breaking into the Hall of the Written to find the record of their debt and destroy it—and in the Celestial Planes, where words are revered, doing so is like breaking into a vault and a military installation…at the same time.
Planetars are not misnamed. Every one is responsible for the welfare of single world. The solar system of Myrias, having 23 planets, thus also has more planetars than most, but that does not mean the system is untroubled by evil. Half of Orlia’s protectorate is overrun by an alliance of vile catfolk and degenerate sulis, and her defense of the two remaining human continents has made her militant and unforgiving. Selaphi polices one of Myrias’s most far-flung worlds, a rocky red planet. Having no lives to guard, he paces the surface in meditation rather than flying above. All this time alone has caused him to hear strange whispers—sometimes from the red planet’s deep caverns, other times from the darkness of the void above. Uzshen has simply disappeared, and his astral deva servants fly over the archipelago-filled water world, searching desperately for what has become of him and wondering when his superiors will come looking…if at all.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 11
In terms of exposure, the planetar’s high-water mark is almost definitely this Dragon cover—which sadly features the least convincing pose re: holding a greatsword in combat I have ever seen. I don’t normally call out bad art because that’s not my field and I like to keep this blog positive and chipper…but seriously, look at that thing!
Mail! Catdragon asks:
Remember the carbuncle?
My answer: Barely! I wasn't an AD&D player, so my first exposure to the carbuncle was when it popped up in an issue of Pathfinder. (It's probably also in my Tome of Horrors Complete, but that's waaaaaay at the bottom of my to-read pile.) But apparently the lovable lump has the same kind of fandom the flumph has. :-)
I won't get to it officially till I loop back around to C again (Bestiary 3 didn't come out till I was in halfway through D). But maybe for you I can sneak it into the roster early like I did with the cerberi...
And look at THIS crazy shiz!
Hey! I’ve been a long time reader (since the Blogspot days)…
Thanks psp! PS: My dad’s an OB/GYN, so your name amuses.
Recently, I had the urge to adapt your framework to a different genre, and here’s the result:
I know zero about Pokemon. But I bet you all do. And psp’s site is way prettier than mine, because he has pictures. Go look!
P.S. I thought I remember reading somewhere that you’re a Williams alumnus - is that right?
Heck yes, and proud of it to a degree that makes me unfit for human company. Hence my rather jerky hyperlink on Wednesday. ;-) Living so close to VA, I swear if people ask me if I went to William & Mary one more time…
Speaking of Williams, one of the best summers of my life was spent there working in the library. I worked 8–4—an ideal workday I still long for. When I was done, there were two glorious hours for sunshine, Frisbee and napping before dinner, and plenty of time after before slipping off to sleep.
So I can get up before 8. I want to get up before 8. (Hell, when I taught I had to get up at 5:45.)
But I work in advertising now, which is rewarding but soul-shatteringly God-awful schedule-wise: 10 (your morning = ruined) to 6 (your evening = it is over)…or 7…or 8…or 3 (no, really, this happens). After the gym and pretending-to-be-a-responsible-adult crap, I’m lucky to be asleep by midnight or 1.
So let me tell you how it felt reporting for jury duty a half hour late, on five hours of sleep, in the rain, after a cold breakfast with no new episode of Strip Search to watch this morning…
But I answered a ton of reader mail! (And the new episode is up—and is hella controversial—now!)
Have a great weekend.