D&D Monster Monday: Battleforce Angel
You feel a sharp pain in your back as the battleforce angel runs you through with their longsword. The stolen artifact clatters down the alleyway. You thought you got away, but that damn angel never took their eyes off you.
I recently got my hands on a copy of Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica (GGtR) and was surprised at the number of creatures were included. Not only that, but a fair number of these are mid to high CR creatures which D&D 5e could always use more of. So, I figured it’s only right to take one of these through the wringer in today’s Monster Monday!
My choice was the battleforce angel, and not because it’s the first one in the book. No, because this CR 5 creature is an absolute force to be reckoned with and quite honestly, over-powered.
I tend to feature a lot of average or weak creatures, so it’s been out of character for me to showcase two absolute behemoths in a row. Evil-doers beware, the Boros Legion’s Battleforce Angels are on the hunt!
Battleforce Angel Lore
The Boros Legion is one of the 10 guilds of Ravnica. If you didn’t know already, Ravnica is a Magic: the Gathering setting which is basically a city that spans the entire world. In Ravnica, each of these guilds has a certain job that they perform to help maintain order, encourage prosperity, and provide for the citizens.
The Boros Legion is in charge of maintaining order in the city. Members of the Boros Legion maintain garrisons through Ravnica to ensure that each neighborhood in the city has a strong military presence to limit crime.
There are many angels in the Boros Legion. They believe themselves to be “embodiments of what their creator intended”. Basically, they are skilled warriors that have devoted their lives to seeking justice and protecting the weak.
Battleforce angels are a group of such Boros Legion Angels. They are tacticians and squadron leaders that lead the mortal soldiers of the Boros Legion. However, they do not shy away from a fight. They typically lead the charge and fight amongst their squadron.
This is essential for the success of a battleforce angel’s squadron. The angel needs to be within the heat of battle to constantly adapt and change the squadron’s tactics and maneuvers. Combat in Ravnica is generally small-scale and unpredictable in the city so it’s essential to quickly adapt to new situations.
Battleforce Angel Stats and Abilities
You can find the statblock and lore for the battleforce angel on page 189 of GGtR.
AC: 18 (plate)
HP: 66 (12d8 + 12)
Speed: 30 ft., fly 90 ft.
STR: 16 (+3)
DEX: 12 (+1)
CON: 13 (+1)
INT: 11 (+0)
WIS: 17 (+3)
CHA: 18 (+4)
18 AC is phenomenal. Their HP isn’t the best, but it’s pretty decent, but having such an enormous amount of AC is worth the price to pay. Couple that 18 AC with a creature with 90 ft of flying speed and you have an insanely fast tank.
They also wield a longsword, so if you wanted to you could boost this 18 AC to 20 AC with the addition of a shield. Seriously, for a CR 5 creature, it’s got some excellent survivability from its basic stats alone.
You can tell that the battleforce angel’s ability scores were designed with their lore in mind. High Charisma and Wisdom modifiers scream “perceptive leader” which, given their leadership style of constantly-adapting, spur-of-the-moment decisions makes total sense. You need to be a huge presence and have a keen eye to make these types of calls to a squadron of soldiers.
Their Strength is pretty solid. It’s the creature’s main stat so I’d have liked it to be at least a +4, but a +3 is nothing to scoff at considering the rest of their statblock.
Dexterity and Constitution being a mere +1 modifier isn’t ideal considering how common these are for saving throws, but they have condition immunities and Magic Resistance that more than make up for this minor weak spot.
Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills
Saving Throws: Wis +6, Cha +7
Skills: Investigation +3, Perception +6
Damage Resistances: fire, radiant
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened
Senses: darkvision 120 ft., truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 16
CR: 5 (1,800 XP)
Now, this is a laundry list of benefits if I’ve ever seen one. Keep in mind that this is all for a CR 5 creature with average ability scores too.
The battleforce angel has proficiency in both Wisdom and Charisma saving throws. These are already their best ability scores, but giving them proficiency in these saving throws makes thematic sense as well. A battle-hardened, celestial that leads squads of warriors in battle shouldn’t easily be frightened or charmed both of which are commonly used for Wisdom or Charisma saving throws.
But wait, they can’t be easily charmed or frightened, to begin with. They have condition immunity to both of these conditions as well as exhaustion! Well, there is still plenty of value to gain from having a +6 to Wisdom Saving Throws considering it’s one of the most common saving throw abilities in 5th edition.
As stalwart leaders that are known for making adjustments on-the-fly it’s imperative to be perceptive. Thankfully, they have proficiency in both the Perception and Investigation skills making them well-rounded in these leadership soft skills.
Battleforce angels also have resistance to fire and radiant damage. Radiant damage is a good, flavorful resistance to have, but its mileage will vary. Fire damage, on the other hand, is extremely common and therefore very valuable. This makes for a solid spread of 2 damage resistances and 3 condition immunities.
The battleforce angel can speak, write, and understand all languages. Thematically this is a cool touch and makes them great leaders for all different kinds of people or creatures. It also makes them excellent inquisitors.
120 ft. of darkvision is absurd, especially without the drawbacks that most Underdark races have with the same 120 ft. darkvision feature. This already is amazing, but the battleforce angel also has 120 ft. of truesight.
Truesight gives creatures the ability to see invisible creatures, see normally in magical darkness, detect visual illusions, and know the original form of a shapeshifter. Oh, and they can see into the Ethereal Plane. This is an outlandish amount of visual detection.
A passive Perception of 16 coupled with 120 ft. of truesight and darkvision makes the battleforce angel one of the most perceptive creatures in the game. Good luck escaping an encounter with a battleforce angel. They have the tools to track you down and the speed to outpace you.
Abilities and Traits
Flyby. The angel doesn’t provoke an opportunity attack when it flies out of an enemy’s reach.
Magic Resistance. The angel has disadvantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
The battleforce angel only has two traits, but both of these are extremely powerful. Especially since they fill-in many of the potential gaps that their statblock has at first-glance.
Flyby is a fun trait that gives an unbelievable amount of maneuverability to a creature that has a ton of maneuverability to begin with. The battleforce angel can zip around the battlefield with their 90 ft. of flying speed care-free of invoking opportunity attacks.
For example, you can now zoom into melee range of an enemy, strike them, and fly out of their grasp. This means that you not only won’t provoke opportunity attacks when moving like this, but you could very well avoid a lot of attacks on your opponents’ turns due to flying out of their range.
Magic Resistance helps to plug up the holes that having a +1 modifier to Dexterity and Constitution create. Both of these ability scores are used frequently in saving throws so having a lower or average modifier isn’t ideal.
However, Magic Resistance gives the battleforce angel advantage on saving throws against spells and magical effects. I’d wager that spells and magical effects are the majority of Constitution and Dexterity saving throws that a battleforce angel would make against your party.
Multiattack. The angel makes two melee attacks. It also uses Battlefield Inspiration.
Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) slashing damage, or 8 (1d10 + 3) slashing damage if used with two hands, plus 18 (4d8) radiant damage. If the target is within 5 feet of any of the angel’s allies, the target takes an extra 2 (1d4) radiant damage.
Battlefield Inspiration. The angel chooses up to three creatures it can see within 30 feet of it. Until the end of the angel’s next turn, each target can add a d4 to its attack rolls and saving throws.
Again, for only having two options in this section, the battleforce angel gets a ton of mileage out of both their actions. Plus, their Multiattack lets them make two Longsword attacks and use Battlefield Inspiration each turn. That’s a sizeable action economy that they have at their disposal!
Longsword is a bit more than a typical attack with a longsword. The battleforce angel doesn’t have a shield or offhand weapon equipped by default so most of your attacks should be made wielding the blade with both hands (1d10).
Each hit automatically dishes-out an additional 4d8 radiant damage which is a pretty significant amount of extra damage. Plus, there’s another bonus of 1d4 radiant damage if an ally of the angel is within 5 ft. of the target. It’s not much, but it raises the average damage by a solid 2.5.
Battlefield Inspiration is a cool mechanic and is essentially mini bless that lasts a single turn, but doesn’t require concentration. This does specify that it’s only creatures the angel can see so I believe it means that the angel cannot Battlefield Inspiration themselves. It’s still a great bit of free utility.
Battleforce Angel Strengths
Unmatched Speed and Maneuverability
Their 90 ft. of flying speed is about three times more than the average PC has in a single movement. To put it into even simpler turns, this creature has about three turns worth of movement baked into a single turn. Plus, as I’ve mentioned, with Flyby this is risk-free movement since they won’t provoke opportunity attacks.
They also have 30 ft. of regular movement. This is a creature that can dance around the battlefield moving four times as much as the average PC. We do have to keep in mind that they can only use Flyby when using their flying speed, but with up to 90 ft. of it that won’t be an issue.
90 ft. of total movement speed per turn is absolutely terrifying. It’s even more terrifying when it comes from a CR 5 creature.
You’d generally think that a creature with such a terrifying amount of movement speed and solid damage per round is going to have trouble defensively speaking. Well, with the battleforce angel this typical line of thought should be thrown out the window. Their defenses are unbelievably strong.
First of all, they have an average amount of HP. It’s not great, but it’s sitting behind 18 AC which boosts the creature’s survivability more than a few more hit points could. Not only that, but it’s a creature wielding a versatile weapon. They could equip a shield at no cost and have 20 AC with minimal losses in damage output.
Their HP is also reinforced by their fire and radiant damage resistances. Fire damage is particularly noteworthy thanks to how common it is found in D&D.
Plus, they have condition immunities to 3 separate crowd control conditions! Limiting the likelihood of being CC’d is always a huge bonus for a creature.
They also have a +6 and +7 to Wisdom and Charisma saving throws. This is particularly notable since Wisdom saving throws are fairly common.
But wait, there’s more! Despite having low Dexterity and Constitution modifiers (+1), they’re still perfectly capable of passing these common saving throws. Magic Resistance gives the creature advantage on saving throws against spells and magical effects.
Good luck hitting them with a Hold Monster when they have a +6 modifier and advantage on the saving throw!
And this is all assuming you can actually hit or target the battleforce angel. Chances are, they’ll be flying high in the sky, out of reach of any melee attacks you might have attempted to hit them with. Yet again improving their survivability in a combat encounter.
As a single action, the battleforce angel can make three moves. Two Longsword attacks that deal a total of 50-56 damage per turn on average and Bardic Inspiration which gives up to three creatures an additional 1d4 on their attacks and saving throws for the turn.
Three actions in a single action with one of them being an AoE is an amazing action economy for a CR 5 creature. But when we look at their turn as a whole we shouldn’t just look at what offensive actions they can take.
As I mentioned before, the battleforce angel has effectively 4x the amount of movement. This absolutely comes into play when considering the creature’s action economy. They get more bang for their buck. They can do more each turn than the average creature, and in D&D 5e that’s important!
Massive Single Target Damage
We did out the math earlier, but I’d just like to emphasize how much damage that the battleforce angel can dish-out to a single creature. To put it into perspective, a +6 attack bonus dishing out 50-56 damage per turn between two Longsword attacks is the average for a CR 7-8 creature. This is a CR 5 creature.
This is assuming that they don’t get an opportunity attack against you. Though I’d wager in most encounters the ideal way to position your battleforce angel is out of melee range of the enemy, to begin with. Opportunity attacks won’t be frequent, but an additional 25-28 damage is significant.
This damage is also split between two different damage types. Chances are that if a creature or PC is resistant to one damage type, they won’t be resistant to both. And considering radiant isn’t a super common damage type there’s a good chance that the bulk of the damage the battleforce angel deals won’t be reduced.
Battleforce Angel Weaknesses
A typical D&D Monster Monday article features 2 strengths and 2 weaknesses for each creature. There are some creatures that I’ve deemed under or overpowered to the point of them breaking this rule. Typically they will have 3 strengths and 1 weakness or 3 weaknesses and 1 strength.
The battleforce angel is the first creature that I genuinely don’t believe has a glaring weakness.
I originally thought that perhaps not having a ranged attack option was a potential weakness, but when you have 90 ft. of flying speed you probably aren’t hurting for ways to close the gap between yourself and the enemy.
Another weakness I thought of were movement-impairing effects. The majority of these are caused by spells for which they have Magic Resistance. However, plenty of these effects could be caused by the environment or even from being grappled by a creature.
The issue with this is that a creature with 90 ft. of flying speed and Flyby can outmaneuver grapplers and avoid most types of difficult terrain pretty easily.
Are there ways to counter a battleforce angel? Absolutely. But for a CR 5 creature, it punches above the belt to the degree that it doesn’t have any gaping holes to pick-apart.
How to Play a Battleforce Angel
This is a pretty obvious choice since it’s literally part of their backstory, but the statblock of the battleforce angel does lend itself towards a creature that leads a force of weaker creatures to battle. Group up a bunch of guards or mercenaries together and have a single battleforce angel lead the charge and direct them in battle.
The angel can watch the battle from the sky and swoop in to give orders (and cleave enemies) easily. They can also use their Battlefield Inspiration to empower their allies and provide some great utility for 3 different allies.
They have a naturally high Charisma modifier which makes them great at rallying troops and ensuring that no one backs down from the fight. Most of all, they are inspiring leaders that fight alongside their forces rather than cowardly bark orders from afar. Their troops will want to fight with them because of this!
Smash Through the Enemy and Keep Flying
You should be using the battleforce angel’s 90 ft. of flying speed to your advantage whenever you can get away with it. Ideally, you should never end your turn in melee range of an enemy creature. Soar up 10-15 ft. above their heads and force the barbarian to use their handaxes as opposed to their greatsword.
Flyby allows you to smash through multiple enemies as you effortlessly dash around the battlefield. Take advantage of this trait to soften up some of the enemies as you smash through them. Once you’ve weakened them a bit, the weaker creatures you command will be able to finish the job.
Your strength is being able to constantly move around and keep your enemy from having a safe spot to smash into you. They have to figure out a way to hit you, you should have no problems striking them!
Avoid cooping a battleforce angel up in a small room. They need lots of wide open space to be able to work effectively. Limiting or removing their ability to fly around the battlefield significantly weakens them both in terms of their maneuverability as well as their survivability.
Track Down Villains
Villians and evildoers love to escape so that they can continue to lurk in the shadows and cause havoc. With 90 ft. of movement per turn battleforce angels have no issues with catching up with fleeing enemies. Sometimes enemies are a bit craftier than simply running through alleyways.
Battleforce angels have the wits and brains to track down creative villains. They have proficiency in both the Investigation and Perception skills so they can search for clues of the whereabouts of their quarries. Hell, so long as the trail hasn’t gone cold the battleforce angel can continue to ask around Ravnica looking for their suspects.
Some creature or magic users may opt to turn invisible, but there’s no use in that. 120 ft. of truesight will ensure that any creature using magical darkness or invisibility won’t be able to hide in plain sight.
You’ll have to put in a ton of effort to outrun and outsmart a battleforce angel that wants to take you down.
Honestly, the battleforce angel feels pretty broken. CR 5 just feels disgustingly low for a creature with such minor flaws. Personally, I’d either nerf them a bit or change them to CR 7 or 8.
That being said, I love the feeling and flavor of them. These are truly battle-hardened, experienced, leaders that take matters into their own hands. It’s an awesome creature with a fun playstyle and plenty of tools to keep them relevant as NPCs outside of combat.
Battleforce angels make for excellent army leaders, high-ranking guards, or expert law enforcement. They are seekers of truth and justice and have all the tools and weapons needed to cleanse evil from their domain.
That being said you could easily reskin them to be evil or corrupted angels. Just swap their radiant damage/resistance for necrotic!
As I was reading this I kept thinking of how best to use this “creature” in my Pathfinder homebrew. And kept coming back to an anti-paladin type of adversary!! And you apparently came to the same conclusion at the end, too!!
I wish there was a conversion template to translate D&D 5 creatures to Paizo’s Pathfinder!!
One thing you got wrong, which you’ve gotten wrong in a couple of other stat blocks as well: if a creature has multiple speeds, it can’t use multiple of them in a single turn. Which makes things like the Phoenix and this gal having a walking speed slower than their fly speed completely pointless. There’s literally no reason for either creature to ever walk, especially not in combat.
So a creature can use multiple speeds if it wishes too, but there is (of course) a rule for this. You can find it on pg 190 of the PHB in the “Using Different Speeds” section.
Essentially, a creature subtracts whatever it has moved in a previous speed from their total speed in the new type of speed.
For example with the battleforce angel. They can move 30 ft. walking then 60 ft. flying. However, they cannot move 30+ ft. of flying and then walk as their walking speed would be 0 for the remainder of the turn.
That being said, I agree with your second point! There’s no reason for a creature with flying speed to opt to walk in almost any situation. Especially when they have flyby!