The Fantasy Angels of Deliverance
Artists have been painting angels for thousands of years. From the earliest known paintings dating to the 3rd century to the modern artistic depictions of angelic warriors in Deliverance, one thing is for certain: Cultures around the world are fascinated with angels.
There are many myths and legends surrounding angels. Some are grounded in historical documents and Biblical texts, and others are completely made up for the sake of pop-culture entertainment.
How do you know which angelic interpretations are correct?
The best way is to read it for yourself in those manuscripts (like the Bible)… But you’ll find a decent summary if you keep reading this article!
In addition to the detailed explanation of our design choices for the angels of Deliverance, this article will aim to separate facts from fiction in several important areas of angelic study.
Warning — it is a long read!
Feel free to skip to sections that have you curious 🙂
What is an angel?
The word “angel” is translated to mean “messenger.”
That means you and I could serve as angels to one another, but that isn’t what it really means, is it?
We define an angel as a supernatural being that acts at the direction of God. Their home is Heaven, and they exist in a spiritual realm that exists in our midst that we cannot directly see (though we can sometimes feel it). They are incredibly powerful, and serve in many capacities: warriors, messengers, helpers, and more.
The Bible defines at least two “species” of angels: Cherubim and Seraphim. Cherubim seem to be the highest order of angelic being based on several passages. God’s throne is “seated above the Cherubim” (like, right above their heads). but primarily that they are the angels that stand in the presence of God.
The catholic Apocrypha declares that there are twelve orders of angels, and gives a lot of specific detail (Check out the book of Enoch if you are really into angelic stories).
Designer note: We have chosen to use the Bible as our governing authority on angels for Deliverance, but we are not against using the apocryphal stories, Jewish tradition, etc for epic expansion content down the road.
If you believe in angels, then you believe in supernatural humanoid beings that are from a different realm. Based on that truth, one might think you believe in aliens!
We believe in angels. Take that as you will 🙂
Angelic Portrayal in Deliverance
Angels do not ever want to be the subject of worship. If they ask for worship, that’s one of the easiest ways to figure out if you’re dealing with a demon. The next time an angel asks you for worship, back away slowly.
“Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.'”
– Revelation 22:9-10
In Deliverance, angelic stances are specifically designed to point to their creator. They aren’t meant to bring the angels glory, but to glorify God.
That doesn’t mean that they have to look soft and weak… They can look mighty, beautiful, fearsome, dangerous, etc. and still point to God in their demeanor and stance.
In fact, one of our tenets of design in Deliverance is that everything has to look AWESOME (as judged by Millennials that grew up on Final Fantasy and Blizzard games – aka all of us that work on this game.).
What do angels look like?
Deliverance is a fantasy board game that fits within the biblical narrative of things. Thus, angels are good, fallen angels & demons are bad, and Satan is the worst of them all.
Even though Deliverance is a fantasy board game, we have chosen to design Angels to reflect the likeness of humankind.
We believe that most people relate a whole lot better to a human-looking angel rather than a monstrous angel with 6 wings and eyes all over, a classic renaissance-style angel, or a modern “Tyrael-esque” fantasy angel whose face is totally concealed by a hood.
Recent artistic expressions of angels seem to lean toward “godlike” beings. For the sake of our game though, we decided to go with a more closely relatable “human” look.
And speaking of relating to your character, we have done both male and female versions of angels (because girls need to relate, too)! Some people might pause at that, but if you’re curious, read the section on “Male and Female” below to hear more – there is some basis for that in the Bible!
That said, the overall core of our angelic portrayals is the following verse, taken from the Bible:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
Angels are not afraid of anything. Angels should always be depicted as courageous and heroic.
Angels are powerful, and awesome to behold. Their art should reflect awesomeness, too!
Angels are full of love. There is no hatred in an angel (Fallen angels and demons don’t count of course).
Angels have a sound mind. The first version of the Angel of Death had his eyes open, but the dude looked psychotic – like he had seen overwhelming amounts of death and destruction. His art must reflect that he has a sound mind, so we closed his eyes in his art, and he is now at peace.
Male only, or Female angels too?
Deliverance is a fantasy game, so we freely admit that we take creative license here.
There is no real consensus on the existence of female angels. The three that are named in the Bible, along with other encounters with angels, are men (Lucifer, Michael, and Gabriel). Some hold to the belief that angels are non-gender beings. The truth is – we don’t know!
Whatever the case may be, we have chosen to represent both men and women as angels based on the following Biblical verse:
“Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven.” – Zechariah 5:9
Though you might expect this verse to reference female angels, I do not believe it is enough to determine this is more than symbolic imagery. Though to some, women with wings sounds quite angelic!
How do Angels Think?
Many angelic interactions between God, angels, demons, and humanity are recorded in the Bible. Some of these amazing insights are tucked away quietly and appear in the most surprising places. We’re excited to share some of that with you here, because it played an critical role in our decisions.
Despite the fantasy approach to portraying angels in Deliverance, we wanted to accurately represent angels in the way they act according to the Biblical narrative.
The way they stand, what they say and do not say, what they want, what they think… it is all reflected in our fantastic artistic depictions of these creatures as well as the story-driven text of Deliverance.
And of equal significance is that their fallen kin (aka demons) purposefully break many of these rules (“How Do Demons Think?” will almost surely be a future article you can expect!).
What powers do angels have?
Angels are mighty beings of light. Many biblical stories show angels “disputing” with demons (Michael vs Lucifer in Jude 1:9), and even showcase show angels meeting resistance from demons (Daniel 10:13).
We also have many examples in the Bible of angels possessing powers over the elements. Some of these are listed below:
“And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, …” – Revelation 14:18a
An angel has power over fire. That sounds like a pretty useful skill set when battling against demons!
“Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying …” – Revelation 16:4-5a
There is an angel in charge of rivers and springs of water.
“After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.” – Revelation 7:1
There are four angels that control the wind.
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, …” – Revelation 12:7
Angels are trained in the art of war. Angels can shape shift – Satan is called the Dragon here, and he also deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden by taking the form of a serpent.
That is a lot of material to build angelic powers around. We have used elements, geography, and skills of war to imbue angels with supernatural powers.
The most important consideration to all of this? This isn’t magic. These are powers imbued by the Creator on these angelic warriors.
Throwing a fireball into a demon’s face, and sending them to the abyss to await final judgment actually fits within the Biblical narrative!
Ready… aim… fire! (That’s funny, right there)
What about the angelic halo?
The halo’s origin is found within Hellenistic and Roman art. There is actually no scriptural basis for a halo, but we have decided to include them!
It is a fantasy game, after all.
We have taken the idea of a floating circle of light above the head of an angel and turned it into a floating crown that is also tailor-made to fit the angel’s look and style.
Personally, the crown is one of my favorite parts of the angelic art of Deliverance.
The crown represents a reward, and each of our angels get a very thematic crown that showcases their powers and high ranking!
In our game, some fallen angels also get a crown, but the demonic crowns do not float. Demons wear them atop their head as an earthly king would wear a crown. In a subtle way, this is a distant reminder of their former days as an angel of light and denotes their fall from grace.
What about weapons, armor, and angelic body types?
In Deliverance, angels are designed to represent humanity in many ways. Angels serve as the player characters of Deliverance, so we wanted them to be as relatable as possible.
We purposefully stayed away from the monstrous or god-like representation that you see in some modern pop culture games, because we wanted these angels to remind you of someone you might have actually seen before! Angels do walk among us, after all…
The angels are all fearsome warriors in their own ways, but display many different body types. They are perfect in every way, and very different according to God’s design (just like normal people).
The angels are made up of many different ethnicities, because our world is a diverse place full of many beautiful people groups. If earth is a sort of mirror for what Heaven is like, then there must be just as many different ethnicities represented up there!
The armor styles of our angels pay homage to cultures of the earth from various time periods. The idea is that the cultures that have existed throughout history have actually influenced the dress styles of Heaven!
It would make sense that an angel would be more attracted to one culture’s armor styles than another… like Gabriel using more of a Roman-era weapons and armor, or an upcoming character reveal that uses a light and simple modern dyed dress.
Some angels have the epic hood, long hair, and flowy linen garb that you would expect from a more traditional angelic depiction…
… but others have short hair. Some even have beards (The female angels don’t have beards though).
And at least one of our designed female angels looks like she would absolutely school you in an arm-wrestling competition (she’d also electrocute you at the same time, but she isn’t a cheater… as if she would need to cheat to beat you, puny human).
What about an angel’s wings?
There are so many wing types out there for angels. Some types of angels have 2 wings, some have 4, some have 6, and the artistic styles that convey these beautiful creatures are all over the place!
In Deliverance, we have opted to use the wing of a common Sparrow. This serves as an anatomically correct wing style, and we add a bit of exaggeration for awesomeness.
While I won’t bore you with the details of what I actually told my artist, I’ll highlight a few insider points:
- Each one of the sections in the anatomy (example pic above) needed to be defined.
- Primary feathers at the end of the wing were to be exaggerated in length.
- The concave section of the wing (called the “Marginal coverts”) was the most challenging to showcase, depending on the angle of the wing. This and the “primaries” section gave the wing the most character.
- Feathers needed to be delineated, so that it looked like individual feathers made up the wings (versus a wing-like blob).
- Wing positioning was very important, and varies with every angel. These wings had to be anatomically correct in every position, and you better believe that took some work to get right!
Overall, it seems that some angels, like the Seraphim in Ezekiel 1-2, do not even need to flap their 4 wings to stay afloat. They also have 4 heads, which blows my mind a little. For sake of space, I’ll only copy a little bit of the text for your reading pleasure, but there is a lot more which I would encourage you to read in full if you’re into angels!
Here is a partial description from the writings of Ezekiel:
“Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward.
As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went.”
– Ezekiel 1:5-12
The “living creatures” that Ezekiel saw seem to have close cousins in Revelation 4, which have 6 wings and only one head each, though they each vary in which type of head they have:
“Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
‘Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!'”
– Revelation 4:6-8