For those who wish to include a measure of conspiracy in their Campaign’s reality, I present the Cosmic Archons. They incorporate ancient Gnostic, medieval Neoplatonic, and modern UFO lore into a multifaceted class of spirits that are equally likely to be adversaries or benefactors to the Player Characters. Campaign can get very weird indeed once the players get a peek at the secret machinery of destiny!
An Overview of the Cosmic Archons
Some believe that man’s fate is determined by the movement of the celestial bodies, and that events in the sublunary world happen in harmonious accord with the planets and stars. It is also said that each man has a fixed destiny, and that his life is simply the unfolding of his appointed fate. Those few who have discovered the secret machinations of the Cosmic Archons, however, believe that the truth is not so simple.
The Archons are the self-appointed agents of fate, wholly obsessed with ensuring that prophecies come to pass, and that all events throughout Creation occur in perfect accord and harmony with an unalterable plan. It is the Archons who enforce the connection between the movement of celestial bodies and occurrence in the mundane world. The Archons manipulate the minds and fortunes of men, sometime causing wars, and sometimes creating peace. Some Archons seem to reveal cosmic truths, while other toil to destroy and conceal that same knowledge. At all times, however, the Archons are actually engaged in schemes of nearly infinite intricacy. What mortals call destiny is actually the work of the Archons, tirelessly imposing their vision of perfect order upon Creation. Thus, while Archons are perfectly Lawful, they are utterly neutral with regard to Good and Evil.
There are seven types of Archons which are collectively known as Planetary Archons, because each is associated directly with one of the seven Celestial Planetary Spheres. These Planetary Archons attempt to control the fortunes of people who are destined for greatness, as well as determine the collective fates of large groups of people. Additionally, there is an eighth variety of Archons, called Body Archons. The Body Archons are in fact the most common types, attending to the fates of ordinary people, and silencing those who might expose and hinder the Archon’s schemes.
The seven classes of Planetary Archons are:
The Silver (or Gray) Archons who inhabit the First Planetary (or Lunar) Sphere, and are concerned with reproduction, travel, animals, and the sea.
The Brazen (or Prismatic) Archons who inhabit the Second Planetary Sphere, and are concerned with knowledge, business, and criminality.
The Copper (or Green) Archons who inhabit the Third Planetary Sphere, and are concerned with love, art, and feminine matters.
The Golden Archons who inhabit the Fourth Planetary (or Solar) Sphere, and are concerned with healing, health, growth, and the fate of great heroes.
The Iron (or Red) Archons who inhabit the Fifth Planetary Sphere, and are concerned with war and other typically masculine pursuits.
The Tin (or Purple) Archons who inhabit the Sixth Planetary Sphere, and are concerned with the weather, the fate of nations, great rulers, religion, and merriment.
The Leaden (or Indigo) Archons who inhabit the Seventh Planetary Sphere, and are concerned with death, time, the stability of institutions, and the physical properties of matter itself.
In the course of their work, Archons frequently impersonate mortals, other spirits, and even figures of divine status. They are able to perfectly imitate the voices of any other thing in Creation, although they can sometime be unmasked by their awkward and inappropriate behavior. When in mortal form, Archons are fond of claiming to be “from the government”, unless they are impersonating a trusted family member or lover. When Archons impersonate gods, or other spirits, they do so either to manipulate mortals into some course of action, or to directly undermine the power of a cult or religions that threatens to alter the Archon’s inviolate plan of destiny.
The Archons claim to be the first beings to exist, and that their ruler, the Demiurge, is the Creator himself. Naturally, they regard their work not as imposing an alien order, but purging the last traces of Chaos from Creation. The Angels, Devils, and Fairy Folk are all regarded by the Archons as actually being former Archons, duped and corrupted by the Demons. According the the Archons, the Demons themselves are nothing but the stray thoughts of the Demiurge, twisted into a false existence when they contacted Chaos, and infesting the Outer Darkness like vermin. When dealing openly with mortals, Archons sometimes refer to themselves by misleading terms such as “The Cosmic Federation”or “The Planetary Command”.
The Angels claim that the Archons are themselves former Angels who abandoned the cause of good, but did not actually fight against the Lord of Hosts when the Adversary waged his war. The Luminous Devils propose a similar story, but claim that the Archons originally did join in the war, but treacherously betrayed the Devils at a crucial time. Fairy Folk regard the Archons as deluded members of their own species, endlessly following a cosmic plan that was actually intended to be the ultimate joke. No class of spirits has more hatred and contempt for the Archons than the hordes of Demons, however. The Demons regard the Archons as the ultimate enemy, the primary obstacle to the Demons’ desire to return all of Creation to formless Chaos.
Some sages speculate that the Archons were not originally spirits at all, but rather were once a mortal race that somehow transcended their fleshy bodies. Such outrageous speculations are vehemently denied by the Astrologers who plot the movements of heavenly bodies, and regard the Archons as the actual embodiments of the cosmic forces that shape destiny. Certain religious philosophers called the “Knowing Ones”, who to claim posses special revelations from the Ultimate God, believe that the Archons are indeed the spirits that made Creation, but that they did so in a flawed manner, in defiance of the Ultimate God’s intention of a perfect Universe of light. To the Knowing Ones, opposing the Archons and their schemes is primary to restoring reality to the perfection intended by the Ultimate God. Naturally, the “Knowing Ones” are widely rumored to actually be the thralls of Demons.
Achons have an ambivalent relationship with magic. They are curiously susceptible to magic, lacking the Spell Resistance that is characteristic of other classes of spirits (although they are naturally resistant to elemental damage, and their Mysterious Transports do resist spells). For that reason, and also because magic is frequently used by the Demons and their allies to spread Chaos, Archons generally seek to limit the use of magic to as few practitioners as possible. On the other hand, Archons themselves find magic to be a useful tool, so long a they can control those who wield it. Archons have long been involved in a program of linking magic to the movement of celestial bodies, and eliminating the knowledge of techniques that allow magical effects without such considerations.
Archons seldom make deals with mortals. Like all spirits, they are potentially able to teach the arcane spells that correspond to their own abilities. Archons will only willingly reveal such knowledge to the Astrologers that serve as their human mouthpieces, however. Even then, such a revelation will only occur if the Archons deem it absolutely necessary. Most mortals who try to bargain with the Archons find that there is nothing the Archons want but to enforce the terms of Destiny, and they have no interest even in preserving their own individual existences.
The Demiurge who commands the Archons is said to possess a bizarre form, with the torso of a strong man, but the breasts of a woman, the head of a lion, the wings of an eagle, and legs like serpents. He is described as carrying either a long metal rod, or a whip. The apparent consort of the Demiurge is variously titled Dame Fortune, or Lady Luck. She is said to appear like a human empress clad in dark blue, sometimes holding an imperial orb, and often associated with a large wheel like those used for games of chance. Sages disagree about whether Dame Fortune is the Demiurge’s wife, mother, or even the Demiurge himself in feminine form. All Archons, including the Demiurge himself, believe that the Demiurge is actually the Ultimate God, and cannot be convinced otherwise.
All Archons share the following characteristics:
Extraplaner Type: Archons are native to the Planetary Spheres, and can be affected by magic that targets extra-planer creatures. Attempting to control Archons is extremely dangerous, and Magicians who try should expect to be subject to constant attack from other Archons for the remainder of their existence.
Archonic Signs: Each class of Archons is bound to a secret Password, Gesture, and Hand Grip. Should a mortal ever learn these Tokens, and give them to an Archon of the corresponding class, the affected Archons must regard the mortal as a friend. The effect lasts so long as the Archons are not attacked. In particular, possession of Archonic Signs allows for free movement within the Planetary Spheres. Naturally, the Archons will stop at nothing to destroy mortal knowledge of these Signs. Knowledge of the Archonic Signs is kept by certain secret cults and magical orders, who guard their secrets as zealously as do the Archons themselves.
Future Sense: At the beginning of a combat with Archons, players must declare their first three actions to the CK. This represents the Archons ability to see forward in the time stream, and react to events that have not yet occurred. Archons will always seem to be take exactly the actions needed to counter the PCs initial tactics. Players must follow the first three actions they declare, unless the events of combat make an action impossible. After three rounds, however, the Archons become focused on the present, and lose their sense of the future. Thereafter, combat proceeds as normal.
Alternate Forms: An Archon’s natural form is a glowing, androgynous humanoid with a body that appears to be made of living metal. Unless they employ magic such as True Seeing, however, creatures who encounter an Archon will never perceive it’s true form. Instead, the Archon will appear in one of its Alternate Forms. Each type of Archon has several different Alternate Forms, ranging from forms that resemble animal-headed humanoids, to those of actual Angels and Devils. For reasons unknown, the Alternate Forms of Archons tend to to have unusually large eyes.
Mysterious Transport: All Archons are able to create strange vehicles to transport themselves, which seem to appear suddenly from nowhere. The transports of the seven classes of Planetary Archons resemble malleable globes of a material that resembles solid light and liquid metal. These globes are also often turned into lenticular disks, or cigar-like shapes, and are capable of both aerial and submarine movement. Those people who have seen the Mysterious Transports of the Planetary Archons often refer to them as “Wheels of Light”. The transports created by the Body Archons, on the other hand, take the shapes of black carriages and equally dark horses. While the transports of Body Archons do not appear to be capable of flight, such Archons often ride inside the transports of the other types.
Those inside an Archon’s Mysterious transport enjoy protection equal to a Resilient Sphere and a Minor Globe of Invulnerability.
Hypnotic Flash: All Archons are able to project flashes of hypnotic light. Often, Archons appear to carry rods tipped with glowing gems which produce the light. Other times, the light may appear to shine from the Archon’s eyes, a mechanical device, or even the Archon’s Mysterious Transport.
Erase Memories: A being who has been affected by an Archon’s Hypnotic Flash may also suffer memory loss, as the Archon’s option. Generally, an Archon is able to erase as many hours of memory as it has Hit Dice, including a victim’s memory of ever having met the Archon at all.
Disrupt Device: All Archons are able to stop items of a mechanical or technological nature from functioning within 20 feet of their body. The power extends to all magical items of a mechanical or technological nature, such as Brazen Heads, as well as weapons such as crossbows and guns. There is no saving throw against this effect.
Magic Weapons to Hit: The material forms of Archons can only be damaged by means of magic spells, or enchanted weapons. Unlike some other kinds of spirits, there is no mundane material that allows ordinary beings to damage Archons without the use of some kind of magic.
Darkvision: Angels can see perfectly regardless of illumination.
Spell-like Abilities: All Archons can use the following spell-like abilities at will, but no more than one at a time: Hold Person, Major Creation, Major Image, Teleport Without Error. Once per day an Archon can use Time Stop. All Archons can become Ethereal, and travel the Astral Plane.
Summoning: Each type of Archon is able to Summon other Archons to come to their aid. Like all Summoned beings, Summoned Archons cannot themselves Summon others until after they have first returned to the Planetary Spheres
Archonic Immunities: Archons are immune to all diseases (magical or mundane), all poisons, and all magic that influences minds or perceptions.
Resistant To Bludgeoning and Elemental Damage: Archons take only half damage from bludgeoning attacks, or elemental attacks (fire, cold, electricity, wind, or acid).