Shortly before Christmas, I posted an image from an old issue of The Strategic Review that associated the then-new fivefold alignment system with an early version of the planar arrangement canonized in the AD&D Players Handbook. One of the most interesting features of that image was the inclusion of the names of four different types of beings, each one connected to one of the "corners" of the alignment/planar schema: "saint" in the Lawful Good corner, "devil" in the Lawful Evil corner, "demon" in the Chaotic Evil corner, and "godling" in the Chaotic Good corner.
Devils and demons are very well established in D&D lore, saints less so, but they have been mentioned from time to time (there was even an article in Dragon that dealt with the topic in greater detail). Godlings, on the other hand, are mostly a mystery. From context, I suspect Gygax's original intention was that they were immortal-human hybrids -- demigods in the usual use of the term -- of the sort encountered regularly in Greek mythology. Herakles would be an example of a godling on this understanding.
Obviously, D&D never really picked up on this idea (or, if it did, I missed it), so I've been pondering it a bit in the context of my own idiosyncratic take on alignment. As I have it, the gods are from Elsewhere and define Law by their ordering of Nature to serve their own ends. Saints are beings raised up in their service, while devils are former servants who have fallen. Demons are a "byproduct" of the gods' ordering of Nature -- the cosmic equivalent of radioactive waste given malevolent intelligence. Great believer in symmetry that I am, the question arises: what of those byproducts that aren't malevolent? Is such a thing possible?
I say yes and so godlings are a kind of non-evil "demon." That is, they're Chaotically-aligned supernatural beings created as an unintended consequence of the gods' meddling with Nature. This is the origin for all the "little gods" I drop into my campaign, as well as oddities like the Horse Lords the steppe nomads accept as their aristocracy or the Amazons that threaten the lands of civilized men. Godlings are thus a catch-all for any kind of aberrations, freaks, and weirdos that don't have any other obvious origin or connection in the world. Being Chaotic, they are generally destructive and unpredictable, but they needn't be malicious, since demons already have that niche covered. Of course, godlings can be quite unpleasant and many of them are, but it's more because of their whimsical self-absorption than malice.
(This makes me wonder if perhaps the Eld are godlings in origin, who have become more demon-like as time has gone on. Hmmm.)