Why aren’t couatl celestials?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


Everything in their lore text seems to paint them as very much not mortal creatures (especially their opposition to sakhils) and they were outsiders in 1e. What happened to them in 2e?


Yeah, that is weird.

Even their description starts off as "these serpentine celestials..."

They've instead been made beasts...which does seem wrong.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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They're still what they were before, but since the category of "Outsider" didn't make the transition over, that means some critters like couatls got a bit shifted around. Had 2nd edition kept Outsider as a trait, then couatls would have it still.

This is in part, as I understand it, to prevent EVERYTHING you encounter on the outer planes from being the same category of creature. When I was developing Bestiary 2, for a time I had them with the "Celestial" trait, but that felt weird to me for various reasons (the main one being that we didn't have couatl-blooded aasimars). So instead they got their own brand new trait: "Couatl". Which is defined later, on page 308 of Bestiary 2, as:

"A family of supernatural feathered serpents who serve as guardians and messengers on the Material Plane for various good-aligned divinities."

Which pretty much means they're the same as they were in 1st edition.

EDIT: The use of the word "celestial" in the description was a poor word choice. Probably should have said something more like "These serpentine guardians..." or "These serpentine creatures..." or the like.


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James Jacobs wrote:

They're still what they were before, but since the category of "Outsider" didn't make the transition over, that means some critters like couatls got a bit shifted around. Had 2nd edition kept Outsider as a trait, then couatls would have it still.

This is in part, as I understand it, to prevent EVERYTHING you encounter on the outer planes from being the same category of creature. When I was developing Bestiary 2, for a time I had them with the "Celestial" trait, but that felt weird to me for various reasons (the main one being that we didn't have couatl-blooded aasimars). So instead they got their own brand new trait: "Couatl". Which is defined later, on page 308 of Bestiary 2, as:

"A family of supernatural feathered serpents who serve as guardians and messengers on the Material Plane for various good-aligned divinities."

Which pretty much means they're the same as they were in 1st edition.

EDIT: The use of the word "celestial" in the description was a poor word choice. Probably should have said something more like "These serpentine guardians..." or "These serpentine creatures..." or the like.

Is there a particular reason you don’t want couatl-blooded Aasimar? They’re in at least one other setting, and they make good sense as an Arcadia PC option.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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keftiu wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

They're still what they were before, but since the category of "Outsider" didn't make the transition over, that means some critters like couatls got a bit shifted around. Had 2nd edition kept Outsider as a trait, then couatls would have it still.

This is in part, as I understand it, to prevent EVERYTHING you encounter on the outer planes from being the same category of creature. When I was developing Bestiary 2, for a time I had them with the "Celestial" trait, but that felt weird to me for various reasons (the main one being that we didn't have couatl-blooded aasimars). So instead they got their own brand new trait: "Couatl". Which is defined later, on page 308 of Bestiary 2, as:

"A family of supernatural feathered serpents who serve as guardians and messengers on the Material Plane for various good-aligned divinities."

Which pretty much means they're the same as they were in 1st edition.

EDIT: The use of the word "celestial" in the description was a poor word choice. Probably should have said something more like "These serpentine guardians..." or "These serpentine creatures..." or the like.

Is there a particular reason you don’t want couatl-blooded Aasimar? They’re in at least one other setting, and they make good sense as an Arcadia PC option.

In part, because we didn't do that originally, in Blood of Angels, and didn't advance that into Inner Sea Races. Doesn't mean we can't do a couatl-themed ancestry in the future at all, but I'd rather them not be aasimars, since the word "aasimar" is a D&D word that we can only use in OGL products.

But also because doing so would have made them MORE difficult for us to do things with. What we're doing with couatls is something that D&D didn't do, and since they're inspired from real world mythology and not something that is owned by D&D, I would prefer to keep expanding them in a way that doesn't limit us from using them in future products like novels or other things that can't or don't use the OGL.

If we decide to do a couatl ancestry for Pathfinder, it can be a Paizo thing, not something we're following D&D in doing.

EDIT: Honestly, I'm more interested in a couatl ancestry than an aasimar (couatl-blooded) ancestry anyway. Although I'd want to handle them in a way similar to how we did the anadi, so that couatl PCs can wear magic boots or rings or gloves or use weapons or otherwise interact with the setting in the way we assume PCs can interact with things, and so that we can spread out the powers across 20 levels without making it look weird.


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I’d be over the moon with a couatl or couatl-adjacent ancestry!


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

As would I. But, then, I'm into all things Arcadia that aren't reflections of Avistan.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Personally, I'm more interested in a couatl-themed PC ancestry than a serpentfolk one, the more I think on it, as far as snakey PC options are concerned.

Doesn't mean it'll happen within the next 18 months, of course, since there's a pretty significant time delay between ideas today and publications tomorrow...

Having to play coy on things like that is one of the more frustrating parts of the job, in fact. It was kind of agony seeing so many folks asking for more about Mwangi or the like in the year leading up to our announcement of "Strength Of Thousands" or the Mwangi book. For example.


I like them as good aligned, magical beasts who don't actually interact with aligned damage (they don't have a weakness to evil or inflict good damage).


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James Jacobs wrote:

Personally, I'm more interested in a couatl-themed PC ancestry than a serpentfolk one, the more I think on it, as far as snakey PC options are concerned.

Doesn't mean it'll happen within the next 18 months, of course, since there's a pretty significant time delay between ideas today and publications tomorrow...

Having to play coy on things like that is one of the more frustrating parts of the job, in fact. It was kind of agony seeing so many folks asking for more about Mwangi or the like in the year leading up to our announcement of "Strength Of Thousands" or the Mwangi book. For example.

You know my stance on playable Serpentfolk and I’ll continue to be annoying about it (why else make one a member of the Magic Warriors!), but I would be very pleased about a couatl-related PC option.

Strength of Thousands is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in the d20 space; thank you all for it! Volume 5 especially has me giddy.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Having to play coy on things like that is one of the more frustrating parts of the job, in fact. It was kind of agony seeing so many folks asking for more about Mwangi or the like in the year leading up to our announcement of "Strength Of Thousands" or the Mwangi book. For example.

I can only imagine!

In any case, thank you for addressing this point. I was curious myself about the difference, though I do also like them as beasts instead of celestials, similar to how I like Kami as spirits instead of celestials.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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keftiu wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Personally, I'm more interested in a couatl-themed PC ancestry than a serpentfolk one, the more I think on it, as far as snakey PC options are concerned.

Doesn't mean it'll happen within the next 18 months, of course, since there's a pretty significant time delay between ideas today and publications tomorrow...

Having to play coy on things like that is one of the more frustrating parts of the job, in fact. It was kind of agony seeing so many folks asking for more about Mwangi or the like in the year leading up to our announcement of "Strength Of Thousands" or the Mwangi book. For example.

You know my stance on playable Serpentfolk and I’ll continue to be annoying about it (why else make one a member of the Magic Warriors!), but I would be very pleased about a couatl-related PC option.

Strength of Thousands is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in the d20 space; thank you all for it! Volume 5 especially has me giddy.

See my Ask James thread for my current thoughts on serpentfolk ancestries. (The short version is that the time/product needs to be right for them.) But doing a strongly-serpentine couatl ancestry would, to me, make it less likely to do a serpentfolk ancestry. And vice-versa.

AKA: We don't have enough books to do them all at once, and for diversity's sake, it's good to spread things around.


AnimatedPaper wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Having to play coy on things like that is one of the more frustrating parts of the job, in fact. It was kind of agony seeing so many folks asking for more about Mwangi or the like in the year leading up to our announcement of "Strength Of Thousands" or the Mwangi book. For example.

I can only imagine!

In any case, thank you for addressing this point. I was curious myself about the difference, though I do also like them as beasts instead of celestials, similar to how I like Kami as spirits instead of celestials.

I didn't catch that at all. That's what I get for reading Kami when I'm half asleep; that's real cool.

And you know, I don't know if I can imagine that. Major kudos to you and everyone else, Jason; I'm not sure I'd have the will power to keep that quiet for that long. Knowing me I'd probably mention it to someone, and with internet that's as good as telling everyone.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Perpdepog wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Having to play coy on things like that is one of the more frustrating parts of the job, in fact. It was kind of agony seeing so many folks asking for more about Mwangi or the like in the year leading up to our announcement of "Strength Of Thousands" or the Mwangi book. For example.

I can only imagine!

In any case, thank you for addressing this point. I was curious myself about the difference, though I do also like them as beasts instead of celestials, similar to how I like Kami as spirits instead of celestials.

I didn't catch that at all. That's what I get for reading Kami when I'm half asleep; that's real cool.

And you know, I don't know if I can imagine that. Major kudos to you and everyone else, Jason; I'm not sure I'd have the will power to keep that quiet for that long. Knowing me I'd probably mention it to someone, and with internet that's as good as telling everyone.

I'm James, but all of our Jasons have the same deal when it comes to having to stay quiet too, so that still works! :-)


James Jacobs wrote:
Perpdepog wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Having to play coy on things like that is one of the more frustrating parts of the job, in fact. It was kind of agony seeing so many folks asking for more about Mwangi or the like in the year leading up to our announcement of "Strength Of Thousands" or the Mwangi book. For example.

I can only imagine!

In any case, thank you for addressing this point. I was curious myself about the difference, though I do also like them as beasts instead of celestials, similar to how I like Kami as spirits instead of celestials.

I didn't catch that at all. That's what I get for reading Kami when I'm half asleep; that's real cool.

And you know, I don't know if I can imagine that. Major kudos to you and everyone else, Jason; I'm not sure I'd have the will power to keep that quiet for that long. Knowing me I'd probably mention it to someone, and with internet that's as good as telling everyone.

I'm James, but all of our Jasons have the same deal when it comes to having to stay quiet too, so that still works! :-)

Boy would my face be red right now if I had a face, oopse.


Related queation, I question why Rakshaha are fiends.


Dr A Gon wrote:
Related queation, I question why Rakshaha are fiends.

Haven’t they always been fiends in D&D?


keftiu wrote:
Dr A Gon wrote:
Related queation, I question why Rakshaha are fiends.
Haven’t they always been fiends in D&D?

Yes.

But Coatls were celestials once so changes can be made.

I thought fiends are daemons (NE), demons (CE) and devils (LE). Celestials are angels (NG), archons (LG) and azatas (CG).

A rakhasha doesn't seem connected to demons etc.

Obviously I am wrong, and I am looking for clarity.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Given James Jacobs response about the Aasimars, I think the fact that tieflings previously could be descended from Rakhasha they wanted to retain that continuity. there might be other reasons as well but I think that has to be apart of it.


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keftiu wrote:
You know my stance on playable Serpentfolk and I’ll continue to be annoying about it

Go team Serpentfolk! Where do I sign up for the newsletter? ;)


graystone wrote:
keftiu wrote:
You know my stance on playable Serpentfolk and I’ll continue to be annoying about it
Go team Serpentfolk! Where do I sign up for the newsletter? ;)

James says to spread things out and making one thing means less likely to do another. I say GIVE ME MORE. Make a dozen playable reptilian races, show the milk drinkers others were here first.

There's got to be someone knowledgeable enough and creative enough to make it worth the time and effort. I will wait.

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