When angels show up in fiction they cover a wide range of forms, from winged babies to flaming wheels of eyes and wings. The barachius angel falls closer to the winged human side of the spectrum, serving as warriors of Heaven in a futuristic setting.
A barachius angel is a CR 7 foe with a specific purpose: destroy technology that will be used for evil. Take note of the exact wording there. The barachius angels don’t care about a device’s intended purpose, only what will be done with it. To that end, they’re packing several powers relating to their holy nature and their close ties with technology. Firewall (Su) creates a twenty foot long, ten-foot high wall of divine fire that only damages evil beings and proves that even divine beings aren’t above puns. Protective Aura (Su) grants a +2 AC bonus and +4 bonus to all saves against any evil source. Rounding out its main abilities is Upgrade (Su), which adds a +1 bonus to the AC or attack rolls of an ally. In terms of spells, they can cast arcing surge and interplanetary teleport once a day each and can cast inject nanobots and microbot assault three times a day. They’re no slouches in outright combat either, wielding a holy corona laser rifle and holy sintered longsword. Besides all of these, they also have one other ability that isn’t mentioned in the stat block, but in their flavor text. If they find a mortal worthy or intriguing enough they may choose to bestow their helmet upon them. As their armor is closer to an exoskeleton for a nova of divine fire than actual clothes, this is the only way to obtain one of these helms. A Barachius Helm is a level 5 magic item that grants two once per day abilities, one that allows the wearer to see the auras of evil beings and technology and the other a use of the barachius’s Firewall ability.
Barachius angels are aspects of my favorite part of Starfinder, where magic has to adapt to the advent of technology. With interstellar travel and magitech internet, someone had to step up to make sure evil didn’t use it for, well, evil. So we get the barachius, Heaven’s tech support. That’s not even entirely a joke, their entry notes that Hell has hacker devils now and the barachius angels are the ones who deal with the infernal viruses, worms, and Trojan horses they produce. On the one hand, being able to summon a divine agent to get rid of viruses must be nice. On the other, it’s entirely possible they would do so by using Firewall on your computer, so there are pros and cons. Fascinating insight into the Starfinder IT profession aside, barachius angels more typically show up as specialized operatives hunting down technology that will one day be used for evil. As mentioned above, it’s the “used” in that phrase that’s important. Build a silo of nukes and they’ll twiddle their thumbs and ignore you if they’re never actually used. Assemble a single robot on a factory line that will eventually develop a flaw in its code that leads it to slaughter the people it was meant to serve and they’ll kick down your door to scrap it, even if that event wouldn’t have happened for decades to come. Overall, they serve as guards against threats that no one else knows about and they aren’t keen on sharing their motivations.
The end result of all of this is a security force that can hop between planets and hunt down inventors and technology for unfathomable reasons. That alone is fairly menacing, particularly the idea that they might scrap your work and kill you even if you have the best of intentions, but there’s another detail that makes it even more ominous. They’re mentioned as having a near-prescient ability to determine the nature and future of any technology but read that paragraph above listing their abilities and you’ll find a notable lack of any divination powers. This could be excused as being left out of their stats because there wasn’t a good way to work it into the rules but let’s ignore the Doylist and focus on the Watsonian for a moment. Barachius angels, for all their drive to hunt down technology that will one day be used for evil, can’t tell the future of technology. Do they get their information from a greater power that uses them as remote sensors? Is their infamous divination ability a lie they enforce by deleting all evidence to the contrary? Are they deluded but good at guessing? Whatever the truth, it sets the stage for many possibilities.
Another good plot hook is their helms. Divine beings granting mortals part of their own arsenal is nothing new, but it’s still a great way to get players excited. You impressed an angel enough that they gave you their magic hat, how cool is that! But besides cool powers and feeding your player’s egos, there’s part of the helm’s description that makes it a potent plot motivator of its own. As mentioned above, the armor of a barachius is part of them, so giving away their helmet is literally giving out a fragment of their being. This isn’t speculation either, the description explicitly states that the helms they give contain a sliver of their own essence. So the question must be raised: with enough creativity, what could one do with a fragment of an angel?
Despite my earlier description of barachius angels as terrifying judicators who’d judge you for crimes not yet committed, they are still firmly and literally on the side of the angels. If you’re looking for a more traditional angel, one that shows up to do good and fight alongside heroes, they can fit that role well. Besides their various abilities meant to aid their allies, they can appear as hunters for futuristic quarry like mad scientists or malfunctioning murderbots. Here are a few plot hooks to use barachius angels in your game:
- Barachius angels have locked down a city, letting no one in or out. Within its confines, they desperately hunt an inventor who is working on technology that will one day form the basis of a superweapon that can tear through planes. As their hunt goes on and their desperation mounts, the risk grow greater that they will simply eradicate the entire city rather than allow the scientist to complete his work.
- A devil has corrupted a barachius, using magic to block and replace the divine signal he receives from his empyreal lord that he relies on to know the fate of technology. As the devil manipulates the unwitting angel, his flesh has gradually begun to warp into a mechanical form as wires replace veins and metal supplants bones. His actions in service of evil have caused him to slip from lawful good to lawful neutral, and by the nature of outsiders, he is warping into a being of the appropriate alignment: an inevitable. Uncomprehending of why this change is inflicted upon him and unwilling to disobey what he believes to be the voice of his master, he seeks any aid he can to determine the source of this affliction.
- A notorious space pirate is rarely seen without a barachius angel at his side, raising questions and conspiracy theories about the moral nature of both the pirate and his victims. In truth, the angel is an unwilling servant. A mortal to whom she had given her helm was slain by the pirate, who employed a sorcerer to reverse the link between angel and helmet to force her into servitude. If her helmet can be retrieved, she can return to her brethren with the information she’s been gathering during her time at his side to bring down a battalion of angels to decimate the pirate fleet. Until then she must continue to serve as a minion of the pirate, even fighting against those who would try and free her.