You know, you really should read Worm. One of the main characters there looks like this, and encompasses a very unique perspective that book has on what is effectively Outsiders of that world. Or, at least, I don't think I have ever seen something like that anywhere else.The main reasons are...
- It was the most appealing avatar for me on the list at the time.
- I really like angels in D&D and see them as my iconic good outsiders.
- Angels hold a certain significance to me due to IRL experiences.
While the 1st isn't very interesting, and the 3rd reason is kind of a can of worms that would end up going down the rabbit whole of spiritual experiences, the 2nd I think stands to make a decent D&D tangent. That is the nature of angels as outsiders wearing the "good" badges, so I'm going to talk about that here a bit.
As framed in the D&D I've grown up with, the three primary good-aligned outsiders are Archons, Angels, and Azatas.
- Archons who are typically Lawful Good.
- Azatas who are typically Chaotic Good.
- Angels who are typically Neutral Good or just "Good".
I think angels have appealed to me as the quintessential good outsiders because they have no predisposition for Order or Chaos, their predisposition is one of simple Good. And it is the Good and Evil alignments that I care the most about and enjoy toying with when telling stories as a GM or creating characters as a player. In hindsight that shouldn't really be surprising considering law vs chaos tends to present itself in paradoxical and stupid forms in D&D, such as the logical fallacies of Inevitables, or the lack of meaningful persona of Proteans, while Good and Evil are far easier to relate to and - within the definitions given in alignment - are easier to understand.
Angels for the most part appear as human-like creatures as well and these similarities are both subtly encouraging as an icon of perfection, and subtly discomforting when their perfection is found to be flawed. In some ways, angels and the notion of fallen angels serve to contrast the high and lows of ourselves in spirit, in much the same way that orcs represent the vices of humanity in a cultural sense.
Even when they break from their Good alignments, most fallen angels are understood to still on some level be angels, and their reasons for falling are often presented as pragmatic or overly zealous, often understandable, often relatable, and often not wholly without some remnants of their former righteousness still manifesting and muddying the waters of themselves.
Angels are often ideal outsiders to use as guides, guardians, and messengers because of their various strengths and apparent wisdom. Likewise, being unaffiliated with Law or Chaos, they're a suitable catch-all ally for good heroes and characters in general. They're of course not the only outsiders that fall into these roles (I've even used Djinn for similar things in the past), but when I think about good outsiders that are going to aid PCs, angels are usually on the forefront of my mind.
On Outsiders in My Games
While angels are a favorite outsider of mine, they're often given less screen time than other outsiders. Given their high CRs, most are treated as sort of quasi-deities or demigods in my settings, and I use a very wide range of other outsiders for various purposes. I also try to avoid portraying outsiders as caricatures and more as powerful but intelligent spiritual beings. For example, in my games, evil outsiders don't instantly want to destroy everything. Pit fiends could almost be described as classy with a sort of faux honor born out of their own self respect. Succubi are quite capricious but not unreasonable, quite suited for sowing discord or acting as an unlikely ally in some cases where their interests coincide. I include both Hindu and Zoroastrian elements to Asuras (something I was disappointed with in the Pathfinder depiction). Spirits such as Djinn may act as guardians and guides for people or individuals. Most, somehow, tend to be relatable.