SRD‎ > ‎Innistrad‎ > ‎

Avacyn Restored

During Avacyn's absence, the angels suffered. Without their leader, the flights became disorganized and ineffectual. Many retreated from view, lost without the power that created them. Avacyn's disappearance took a toll on the Lofts, the holy site above the Thraben Cathedral where Avacyn dwelled with her hosts of angels. From the outside, the Lofts appear to be a long attic tucked under the eaves. But once inside, the space is much larger than it appears to outsiders. None but the angels are permitted to enter the Lofts. Because of this, there was no outside witness to the dramatic deterioration of the space during Avacyn's absence. Before, it was an elegant hall in pristine condition. But the hall literally crumbled without the archangel, until rubble covered the flagstones and rain fell through the gaping holes in the roof.

Art by David Palumbo

Gisela, the leader of Flight Goldnight, was devastated in the aftermath of Avacyn's disappearance. Gisela was one of the few witnesses to the battle between Avacyn and Griselbrand. She had been the archangel's confidant, closest ally, and strongest sword. And when she watched Griselbrand strike Avacyn with a killing blow and trap her in the Helvault, Gisela experienced emotions she'd never felt before: fear, helplessness, and despair.

Requiem Angel | Art by Eric Deschamps

When the Helvault shattered, Avacyn emerged at her full strength. Her presence infused the Avacynian protective wards with holy magic once again. The angelic host was restored to its full power, which gave the humans the chance to gain the upper hand in their fight against evil. The three flights of angels reformed in greater numbers than before. Once again, they became Avacyn's soldiers on the front lines of battle. Only this time, instead of barely containing the monsters of the world, the angels and their human allies began pushing them back, away from the bastions of human civilization. For the first time, they were winning.

Art by Karl Kopinski

Flights of Angels

Flight Alabaster

This flight of angels is centered in Thraben, and is instrumental in maintaining Avacynian wards. These angels reside mainly in the Lofts and are a familiar sight to the inhabitants of the city. They generally travel in small groups as they visit the centers of healing in the city. Alabaster angels also aid priests and cathars in maintaining the protective wards on the city walls and holy sites throughout Innistrad. According to the other flights, Alabaster angels tend to be overly sentimental, but they think of themselves as practical yet sympathetic. They often do not travel with weapons, preferring to use their magic, and engage in battle only when the conflict can't be resolved another way. During the archangel's absence, the Alabaster angels were first to recognize the Avacynian wards were failing. Many remained active—more than those of other flights—doubling their efforts to reinforce the wards. These efforts likely saved Thraben from the fate that befell many other towns and settlements.

Art by Igor Kieryluk

Flight Goldnight

This flight is an army of soldier-angels focus on the martial strength of the church. The flight's home is the Elgaud Grounds in Nephalia, although there are many Goldnight angels in Thraben. Elgaud Grounds is where the cathars are trained, and the angels are a daily presence in the young soldiers' lives. At the edge of Elgaud Grounds is an imposing stronghold on a rocky crest that overlooks the ocean. Part church and part fortress, it is called Engelturm. The soldier-angels dwell in a series of narrow spires and interconnecting chambers in the upper levels of Engelturm. These rooms are forbidden to all but Flight Goldnight.

Because it is centered in Nephalia, Flight Goldnight deals with necro-alchemists and their skaab creations more frequently than the other flights. The angels have developed a fierce determination to destroy every trace of the undead and their twisted creators. During Avacyn's absence, groups of skaab-hunting Goldnight angels became known as "hatchet squads" by the skaberen and human criminal elements. Each such group had a contingent of cathars, or holy warriors, who would hack up and burn the zombie corpses so they couldn't be revived again.

Any trials against heretics or criminals in the four provinces are presided over by a high priest, but an angel of Flight Goldnight always witnesses the proceedings. Angels are not present at executions, however. These are carried out by nameless executioners. Unlike angels from Flight Alabaster, the soldier-angels of Goldnight always travel armed. When a new cathar regiment is posted in a remote region of Kessig or Stensia, an angel accompanies them on their journey. Angels are unable to remain too long in Stensia because of the lack of wards in that area, however. Even after a couple of days in the province, an angel's resolve weakens dramatically.

Art by Cynthia Sheppard

Flight Goldnight angels are characterized by pragmatism and observance of church law. They are strategists in battle and skillful leaders during martial conflicts. Flight Goldnight angels consider their Alabaster sisters to be maudlin and susceptible to the emotional whims of the world. Flight Goldnight angels cultivate a more martial mindset, and are more than willing to take up arms when the need arises. Most Goldnight angels were steadfast—blindly so—in their denial that Avacyn had disappeared, in fact. She was on a mission, they insisted. She knew exactly what she was doing and would soon return.

This faith was rewarded with the shattering of the Helvault. Gisela's power not only returned, it increased dramatically. She was tasked with continuing the crusade against necromancers and their legions of undead, which she embraced with fervor and devotion.

Flight of Herons

These are the angels of birth, rebirth, and purity, and are associated with the New Moon season. Their magic is said to ward humans against harm in life. This is the smallest flight of angels, and its primary function had been scouting and tracking werewolves and other marauding monsters. When Avacyn disappeared, they moved their home from Thraben to Videns, a holy site in the far reaches of the Gavony province. The angels of this flight continued to travel through remote areas, trying to prop up the failing wards in regions far beyond the safety of Thraben.

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight | Art by Igor Kieryluk

Because they are closer to Kessig than the other flights, the Heron angels were instrumental in the inquisition against werewolves. They worked closely with the cathars stationed in Kessig. In the final days before Avacyn's return, ferocious howlpacks ran wild over Kessig, forcing countless humans to take up residence in walled settlements protected by too few angels and cathars. The Flight of Herons directed its efforts on this threat, and its presence saved untold lives. Of all the flights, the Herons were the closest to giving up on Avacyn. They believed they would have to turn to forces in nature for new sources of power and security.

Art by Todd Lockwood

Avacynian Archmages

Each archmage of Avacyn was an acolyte of the church who, at some point, showed a natural ability to channel the archangel's divine power, but beyond that common trait they could be anyone within Innistrad. Once identified and sought out by the elders, these talented few would then be taken and immersed in the secret orders of mages within each of the angelic flights. These abilities and powers have been historically passed down through angelic masters and eventually to humans. All the archmage lineages can be traced back to Avacyn herself.

Art by Michael C. Hayes

When Avacyn was bound within the Helvault, the archmages lost most, if not all, their power. The elders of the three orders saw this as a time to revivify the old ways, of times even before Avacyn. They each began to relearn how to survive and utilize their talents without Avacyn's emanations of holy energy. Some practiced martial combat and their own derivations of magical spells and enchantments.

Others focused on the natural elements of the land, relearning the strange alchemical properties of nature and harnessing them to their purpose. A few reopened ancient tomes about healing plants, sacred springs, and magical wards to continue ministering to those in need.

Art by Lucas Graciano

Now that Avacyn has returned, the archmages are infused with power yet again and also have the natural abilities to accompany that power. They are forces to be reckoned with and include the most powerful wizards on the plane. Each lineage has its own specific garb and accoutrements, so most inhabitants of Innistrad can recognize them at a glance.

  • Archmages of Goldnight are called "spearsages." The archmages in this order are associated with the power of the sun. Their spells are powerful and aggressive, casting blinding rays of holy light to blast hordes of undead into ash and boosting their allies with courage and speed. Prophecies had spoken about Avacyn one day vanishing from Innistrad and the Archmages of Goldnight took this very seriously. They made sure to train themselves in both the arcane and the martial arts. If push comes to shove, they are not squeamish about taking up weapons. They often wear armor under their robes, and their weapons and armor are emblazoned with the symbol of Avacyn's twin-bladed spear in front of the sun.
  • Archmages of Alabaster are known as "moonsages." These archmages are concerned with keeping the human flock from returning as zombies. Their magic is preventative or warding, banishing undead to the void and making sure graves remain sealed. This order dips a little into the realms of alchemy and studies some of the works of notable skaberen and ghoulcallers to better understand the forces that can animate the dead. Most of the writing and lore that has been done on the Helvault is the work of moonsages. They used alchemy to purify moonsilver from wherever they could find it, creating powerful amulets, wards, and weapons for Avacynian cathars and clergy. Their weaponry is fused with more unique and odd designs, perhaps a result of their specializing in artifacts and the undead. Their symbol is that of Avacyn's collar rising above the moon.
  • Archmages of Herons are the "springsages." This order is concerned with healing. Its magic and use of the natural world can restore health to a single person or sometimes an entire group. Most of the acolytes in this order were Avacynian priests who wandered throughout the remote places of Innistrad, ministering to the people and healing the sick, eventually becoming enamored with a life of wandering and solitude. Thus the springsages often live in monastery-like cloisters, tending their gardens and appreciating the beauty of nature. With their renewed powers, the Archmages of Herons quickly sought out repentant werewolves. Their weapons are usually wood staves and clubs and their armor (if any) is simple leather hardened with wax. Their symbol is a heron within a circle, often tattooed.

Gryffs and Gryff-Riders

It's been years since anyone on Innistrad has seen any of the elegant, heron-headed species of griffin known as the gryff. Gryffs are longer and leaner than the traditional Innistrad griffin, with flexible necks, sleek hindquarters, lance-like beaks, and equine hooves. Gryffs are swift and nimble flyers, natural enemies of dark creatures, and a powerful force for the side of Avacyn and her angels.

Art by Jason Chan

Gryffs are sensitive creatures. They have been known to become visibly agitated when in the presence of dark forces. Some clerics have used gryffs to detect malevolent geists, pierce the glamers of vampires, and uncover the corrupting influence of the demonic Skirsdag cult. Thought to be emissaries or agents of Avacyn, gryffs are revered as divine beings. The heron-like head and wings of gryffs suggest the heron symbol of Avacyn and the shape of the markings in the silver moon. Gryffs can manifest power similar to strong Avacynian magic, and their screeching cries can call on angels and other celestial creatures.

Gryff-knights are Avacyn's aerial cavaliers. Most griffins are too surly or unpredictable to be ridden, but gryffs seem naturally suited to mounted combat, as their agility and poise translate into a smooth but maneuverable ride. Cathars of the Gryffbond Order, or simply the gryff-knights, are a type of cathar dedicated to mounted combat in the skies. Gryff-knights are paired off one-to-one with their gryff companions and stay with that union until one of them dies. Knights swear solemn oaths to their gryff companions, and it is thought the gryffs answer in kind. Gryff-knights are not like griffin riders on other planes, because they recognize the beast under their saddle is the greater being in the equation; they are merely there to aid and protect the gryff. Gryff-knights learn to read the moods and even understand the vocalizations of their gryff companions and can tell when a gryff has sensed nearby evil.

Art by Jason Chan

Even in this time of Avacyn's return, evil still lurks. The Gryffbond Order has devised a potent technique for slaying especially powerful demons and other epic foes. The gryff and its rider fly straight at the enemy while the gryff-knight lowers his or her lance and chants an Avacynian prayer. The two of them undergo a magical transformation, becoming fused together as a single divine weapon. Together, the Gryffbond Knight and gryff companion slam into the enemy creature, sacrificing their lives but also slaying the enemy.

New Evil Arises

Devil's Breach. Once just a story that far-ranging trappers and woodsfolk would talk about around the fireplace, the Devil's Breach has now opened up wider and deeper, revealing tunnels and pathways into realms infernal and twisted. Imps, devils, and demons clamoring to get to the surface can now rush out into Innistrad to ply their homicidal trade to all and sundry. All these changes are no doubt caused by the release of Griselbrand from the Helvault. The Devil's Breach is now a massive tear in the surface spewing out brimstone and fire. The surrounding forest, once green and lush, has charred and blackened, while imps and devils dance all day and night to the flickering fire spewing from the chasm.

Art by Lucas Graciano

Cathar Masteries

Cathars are the soldiers of the Avacynian church. They're educated at the seminary at Thraben Cathedral, where they study religious law and martial warfare. After cathars enter the priesthood, they must select a specialization, or mastery. They receive additional training at either Thraben Cathedral or the Elgaud Grounds in Nephalia. From there, they are assigned to active duty at locations throughout Innistrad.

As a whole, the cathars were deeply affected by the disappearance of Avacyn, the diminishing wards, and the time of Dark Ascension. Some masteries changed by necessity, and some changed because of politics. Each mastery has a captain, and in the absence of Avacyn, the personalities of the captains influenced the cathars under their command. Some cathars aligned with particular flights of angels, which had ramifications in the rank and file. Under pressure to safeguard their provinces, the captains were forced to take measures to increase the strength of their cathars in whatever ways they could. The angels tried to assist them, but the wards had failed, and monsters were running amuck. The cathars saw themselves as the last line of defense.

Art by Volkan Baga

Gavony Riders

The riders are Innistrad's elite cavalry. They're trained extensively in the equestrian arts, particularly mounted swordsmanship as well as secondary weapons such as the lance. Most are stationed in the Gavony moorland in a walled compound known as Rider's Lock, near the village of Merwald Downs. The compound includes a large manor where Captain Einolf Brandt lives with his wife and family. Brandt is a loyal, competent leader and an excellent equestrian. When zombies attacked the village of Merwald Downs, he sent his riders to evacuate the entire population and sheltered them in the compound until the menace was wiped out.

Art by Chris Rahn

Moor Chaplains

Cathars of this mastery are battlefield chaplains with healing and protective magic. They're usually armed when they enter a conflict but aren't on the front lines. In a battle, their primary role is to move among the injured and offer healing. Often, a regiment will include several chaplains who can work together to cast large-scale wards. The chaplains are headquartered in the outskirts of Thraben under the command of Captain Nadila Maas. She doesn't have much experience as a leader and there was great discontent among her ranks during Avacyn's absence.

Mausoleum Guards

This is the largest mastery, as it requires no specialized magic. Although they protect other locations besides mausoleums, that is their most common duty. Some also guard walls and key locations in Thraben, such as the cathedral, courts, and trade houses. The head of this mastery is a strict, clever man named Lewenhart. He is one of the first to suspect the existence of the Skirsdag, and his investigations into the demon cult nearly cost him his life.

Keepers of the Pale

Cathars of this mastery are known as Keepers of the Pale, or simply the Pale. They specialize in matters surrounding the Blessed Sleep and geists. All members of this mastery live on the Thraben Cathedral grounds, but the Pale undertake long, solitary pilgrimages that last months—sometimes years. They are the most secretive mastery, and their arcane rituals and clandestine nature cause distrust among the other cathars.

Art by James Ryman


Blessed weapons are an important part of Avacynian magic, and these cathars are trained in the art of weapon making. Certain blessings must be said at certain times during the forging process to make a weapon magically effective against a particular foe. Silversmiths are particularly revered because of the difficulty in imbuing the silver with strong magic, especially anti-lycanthropic magic. This mastery has a presence in both Thraben and Elgaud. Captain Frimar has strong ties with the merchant community in Nephalia and spends most of his time at Elgaud. During Avacyn's absence he became aware of the trade in illegal Helvault silver. He established a special detail to investigate and retrieve all objects made from pilfered silver.

Art by David Palumbo


Historically, this mastery was made up of detectives who investigated crimes, both mundane and supernatural. They travelled to remote parishes plagued by unexplained murders. More recently, they were tasked with finding werewolves who attempted to lead normal lives. Their role took a darker turn during Avacyn's absence, when a series of inquisitions occurred in Kessig and the Gavony moors. They not only executed those who had not been proven to be werewolves, but also began "enforcing" church law and punishing heretics in unsanctioned trials without angelic witnesses.

Art by Steven Belledin


During Avacyn's absence, the incidence of devils increased dramatically, and their antics became increasingly destructive and cruel. A group of rogue duelists broke with their captain and set out on their own to hunt down devils. The leader of this group is a former moor chaplain named Roricus who lost his family to a devil "prank" that burned his village to the ground.

Nightfall Duelists

The duelists patrol the port towns of Nephalia streets, especially at night, targeting criminals and the illegal corpse trade. They are also the first responders if vampires or werewolves attack inside the port towns. As experts in bladework, the duelists readily engage vampires and often step in for someone who has been challenged to a duel by a vampire, using formal dueling etiquette. Minna of Selhoff is one of the most famous duelists. An accomplished fighter with many victories to her name, she let her celebrity go to her head and now stages traveling shows in Nephalian towns. The neglect of her duties has made her unpopular among her fellow cathars, particularly because there is a great need for her skills.

Art by Igor Kieryluk

The Quiver of Kessig

Parish-blades are cathars stationed in parishes and serve as escorts along roads, and the Quiver of Kessig is a relatively new offshoot of the parish-blades that specializes in archery and long-range defense. Some guard walls, churches, or any place that needs defense against airborne attacks. During Avacyn's absence, Captain Raf Gyel moved many of his cathars to the Gatstaf Grotto with the Flight of Herons. Now they function as scouts and rangers for the angels. They have become practically independent from governance of Thraben Cathedral and the church.

Gatstaf and the Cursemute

The village of Gatstaf is located on the lip of a deep crevasse, surrounded by rocky wheat fields and shot through with chasms and caverns. Gatstaf is well-known for its thorny but hearty grains, its coal mining, and its skilled leatherworkers. The town serves as a pilgrim's stopover for many routes through Kessig and is the site of a renowned subterranean natural spring and altar to Avacyn. Denizens of Gatstaf are pious but belligerent, and have been known to assemble mobs to attack homes or families believed to harbor werewolves, led by the town elder Kolman. Gatstaf is also known for a nearby religious landmark; a crossway runs down from Gatstaf through the canyon below to Gatstaf Grotto, where a famous natural spring and Avacynian altar reside.

Art by Ryan Pancoast

Kolman is a bitter and cruel man who vowed to rid his parish of werewolves. Some close to him suspect he might actually be a werewolf himself, and is using his showy antagonism to mask his own shame. Many lone werewolves live in secret among the Kessigers, too afraid of retribution to reveal themselves, but too attached to their families and Kessig roots to leave. Suspicion and speculation run rampant among Kessig's commoners, fueled by frightened exaggeration and misremembered anecdotes. Kessigers hold conflicting views about how to detect, hunt, or cure werewolves; how many exist; what keeps them at bay; and what it all means for humanity.

After Avacyn disappeared, Gatstaf's interactions with werewolves became more vicious and desperate. Kolman, the town elder, successfully uncovered a small group of families giving refuge to some suspected werewolves. Before a large crowd, he had four people executed who were believed to be werewolves. The act was done while they were in their human forms, so it was not possible to verify their curse, but the evidence seemed strong. Many cheered the punishments, but later it became clear that one of the executed was an uncursed human. Some in Gatstaf felt they were taking on the same savagery as the monsters they feared.

Art by Steve Prescott

When the Helvault opened, Kolman began a great purge of werewolves. He led inquisitors and cathars throughout Kessig, whose faith-derived powers were restored by Avacyn's return. Under his command, they hunted down and slew many werewolves in a great inquisition. Some of the larger howlpacks lost a fifth of their number in a matter of days. Still others, especially those who exulted in their wild nature, fought back with brutal and brazen attacks. Most of the more infamous and destructive werewolves were hunted, captured, and put to death with holy fire.

Even after Avacyn returned to Innistrad and it became safer to hunt werewolves, the mood of the citizens of Gatstaf was uncertain. Howlpacks of werewolves targeted the town, stealing victims and even turning a few citizens to the curse, but the horror of the inquisition haunted the minds of the populace. Then Kolman announced a final offensive on the wilderness surrounding Gatstaf. All the cathars and priests from the area were called to scour the forests in an attempt to destroy the howlpacks once and for all, and in a wave of fresh anger, the slayers formed a mob. Kolman dubbed it the Gatstaf Hunt and praised all who gathered to track and kill.

Guided by their reinvigorated folk magic, the hunters found their quarry quickly, and the two sides squared off: humanity and werewolf. Even under the presence of a strong, clear moon, many of the werewolves began to revert to their human forms. The concentration of Avacyn's magic—reflowing through the shrines, inhabiting the blessed weapons—allowed many of the werewolves to control their wolf natures and overcome the change. One by one, the werewolves regressed to their human forms, and some of the assembled slayers saw their loved ones among the monsters.

Cloudshift | Art by Howard Lyon

The Gatstaf Hunt yielded not a single kill. The fight became a reunion and a pilgrimage. The slayers and the lycanthropes came together and walked through the woods to the Gatstaf Grotto, site of an ancient Avacynian shrine. They bathed in the waters of the natural spring and basked in the divine power of the altar.

Then together, just before daybreak, they appealed to Avacyn for aid in breaking the lycanthropic curse. And Avacyn appeared to them right there in Gatstaf Grotto.

Avacyn's Gift

Avacyn's message was short and simple. She could not break the curse of lycanthropy, she said. The curse mingles the human spirit with the spirit of the wild, and the wild spirit could not be destroyed without also destroying the werewolf 's humanity. So those afflicted with the curse would forever have it. However, Avacyn offered the Gatstaf werewolves a special place at her side. If they promised to serve as guardians of humanity, she would transform their curse, fusing the two warring aspects into a single noble creature, and allowing them to dwell in the light of her blessing. The lycanthropes at the Grotto that day cried for joy and accepted her offer, and she transformed them into the wolfir. In a powerful wave of spells that would become known as the cursemute, Avacyn's magic spread through the plane, transforming not just many werewolves but many of the world's foul curses. The wolfir emerged as a new race of great wolf-creatures dedicated to the principles of the Church of Avacyn.

Wolfir Silverheart | Art by Raymond Swanland

It is not known whether any werewolves still exist on Innistrad, but some, perhaps many, might have escaped destruction by slayers and rejected Avacyn's eldritch transformation into wolfir. It was theorized that other lands beyond the great seas harbored exotic species of lycanthropes, and it has been speculated that some werewolves of the known world have fled for those far regions.

Wild Defiance | Art by Slawomir Maniak

Liliana Vess and Garruk Wildspeaker

The cursemute had an unintended impact on a visitor to the plane: Garruk Wildspeaker. At the moment the cursemute swept across the land, Garruk was knee-deep in swamp muck surrounded by the severed limbs of Liliana's ghouls.

Garruk Wildspeaker tracked Liliana to Innistrad. In their first encounter, she inflicted him with the Chain Veil's curse, a dark hex that affects Garruk's magic and that seems to worsen with every passing day. Garruk had been hunting Liliana across multiple planes in order to force her to remove the curse, or, barring that, to kill her in revenge. Liliana, whose dark magic is greatly amplified by the Chain Veil, came to Innistrad to hunt down and slay one the four demons to whom she is indebted for her agelessness and power. Before she acquired the Chain Veil, Liliana was forced to do the bidding of her demon masters. Now she believes she can eliminate her soul-debt by destroying them instead.

When Liliana uses the Veil, she transfers her essence into the artifact, slowly becoming its servant rather than the demons' servant. The demon she seeks on Innistrad is Griselbrand, who tricked Avacyn into the Helvault with him. Liliana travelled from one province to another, searching for her quarry. Meanwhile, Garruk tracked Liliana from Kessig and finally intercepted her in a marshy swamp. The two fought, and because Liliana was now reluctant to use the Chain Veil in every fight, Garruk briefly had the advantage.

Triumph of Ferocity | Art by James Ryman

But Garruk's strength was diminished because of the Chain Veil's curse. His green-aligned magic has weakened, being replaced by nascent black-aligned magic. He wasn't strong enough to fight Liliana at her own game and was bested by his nemesis, who cheerfully left him surrounded by ghouls and continued on her demon-hunting quest.

Triumph of Cruelty | Art by Izzy

Close to death and tormented by pain and fury, Garruk dispatched the ghouls, but his mind slipped away from him. He wandered in blind circles, shouting at the ravens and imagined monsters. It might have been the end of the great hunter, but for the events unfolding in Gatstaf.

When Avacyn's magic reached him, Garruk regained his senses. He stared down at his arms, watching the black veins receding from his skin. He was overcome with joy at the sudden absence of pain and sickness. But it was a falsehood. Within seconds the veins reappeared, his blood seemed to thicken to tar, and his back bent under the weight of the curse once again.

The cursemute was enough to bring him back from madness and death, but it was not enough to cure him.

After slogging his way out of the swamp, he came upon Angel's Way, a well-traveled road between Kessig and Thraben. He knew the witch was heading to Thraben, and he could doggedly continue his pursuit. Or he could strike out another way, toward the origin of the magic he had felt so strongly. There was a power on this plane that could cure curses. Maybe there was another way to rid him of his evil burden—a way that didn't involve the witch.

Plains | Art by Adam Paquette

Sometimes a straight line wasn't the best way to catch a beast. And sometimes the quickest route to a kill was the longest path through the forest. Yes, this day he would let his senses guide him. Garruk knew his hunt for Liliana was far from over. But for now, he turned away from Thraben and headed toward the rising sun.