The Congregation of Confession
The Congregation of Confession

The Congregation of Confession

[ Archon Congregations | Crusade | Confession | Compassion ]

The Archonic Congregations

Archonic society is highly structured and hierarchical, with members of the race filling particular positions based on their level of progress along the paths of purity. The race is further organised into three Congregations: Crusade, Confession and Compassion, which encompass the three different roles in Mount Celestia: Defending the plane and its ideals, helping to promote the qualities that Celestia stands for, and caring for the beings that call Celestia their home. All of the castes are said to be equally important, although the sly observer will notice that it’s only the Compassionate who get to actually rule the plane. Luckily, archons are a cooperative lot and recognise that without the defenders of the plane and its faith there wouldn’t be anything worth ruling in the first place. Archons of a given order (sub-type) are typically – but not always – members of the congregations listed below. Exceptions are uncommon, but can exist where an individual has special qualities or interests that merit their inclusion in a different caste.

The Congregation of Confession

These cutters represent the religious caste of the archons. They have adopted the role of caring for the spirits of the archons and their allies on the Evermountain. Tasks like educating new lantern archon petitioners; running the confessional shrines; keeping an eye on goings-on in the burgs of Threshold and beyond; auditing the wording of prayers and liturgies; researching, recording and sharing religious lore in the libraries of the plane; investigating heresies and blasphemy; and issuing religious bulls and fatwa — all of these tasks fall under the remit of the Congregation of Confession. Cynical cutters often take a swipe, claiming the Congregation is more interested in collecting secrets and coercive influence over inhabitants of Mount Celestia. And perhaps some of that does occur — but the ideals of the Confessionals are noble, in theory.

Ranks of the Congregation

  • Spyglass
  • Preceptor
  • Codex
  • Word
  • Sybil
  • Excinder
  • Star

Spyglass Archons

The spyglass archons are short, subtle humanoids cloaked in shadows with glowing eyes peering out from their hoods. Their black lace wings are kept hidden under their cloaks unless they’re flying. They wear masks that cover their faces completely, which make it very difficult to tell them apart. That’s probably intentional, because the spyglasses act as sentinels, information gatherers and frankly, spies, for the Archon Host, and other similarly-minded Upper Planar powers. Their ability to pass undetected, hide in shadows, and infiltrate evil organisations and armies means they’re encountered outside of Mount Celestia as inside — Sigil, the Gate Towns, the Lower Planes, and even strongholds of evil are locations they dare to visit.

While spyglasses are sneak and full of guile, they are also steadfast law-followers. They will not knowingly break local laws while gathering information, However they are also capable fighters, able to use many of the tricks that rogue employ to keep themselves safe and undetected. And what do they do with the information they gather? Well, probably not act upon it for starters; these bashers are spies not vigilantes. When a spyglass has gathered enough evidence to make a report, it flits back to Celestia to spill the dark to its superiors.

Sources and Statistics:

  • Challenge Rating 3
  • [PF1e] Chronicle of the Righteous p61; Statistics here
  • Find a great article on spyglass archons here

Preceptor Archons

Once a spyglass has completed, and survived, enough missions to satisfy their patrons, they are promoted to the rank of preceptor. These creatures are humanoid birds, usually ravens but other types of intelligent bird like parrots or mynah have been observed. They have glowing eyes, wear white robes trimmed with gold and carry a wooden staff. Preceptors early in their journeys on the paths of Celestia typically start by being listening and sympathetic ears in the shore confessionals of Lunia, where petitioners unload their spiritual baggage. Once they have done this for many years, the preceptor’s focus changes. Drawing upon the wisdom and experience they have gathered as spyglasses and confessors, the preceptor’s role is to intervene when a worthy individual has a crisis of faith or is on the cusp of making a life-changing decision. The preceptor will typically not instruct, but will relate parables and ask questions to prompt the individual into considering all options and making a sensible, and righteous, decision. Others report a more psychic experience, where they may not even see the preceptor but have their awareness expanded by mystical means. How the preceptors know when to appear, now that’s darker. Perhaps they use information gathered by the spyglasses, or perhaps the sybil archons advise them. Either way, many a noble king or steadfast paladin has been visited at just the right moment by one of these cutters.

Sources and Statistics:

Codex Archons

Once a preceptor archon has learned as much as they can about wisdom, redemption, righteousness, mercy, or whatever theme that their paths have taken them, they begin to feel an urge. While some scholars might say that everyone has a book inside them, for preceptors this is literally true. The archon isolates themself for months or years in a monastery, and undergoes a strange process where its wisdom is consolidated and codified. The result of this is a codex archon, a large sentient book with wings made of light. The book contains all the knowledge that the archon has collected regarding its speciality, but it can also talk! Codex archons are rarely seen outside of Celestia’s libraries, where they hold court, consulting with scholars and sages. Some have wondered whether particularly well-written codex archons are the tomes which tome archons carry. That’s as maybe; it would certainly be a high honour for them. It’s possible for mortals to summon codex archons, and they’re also sometimes seen as a part of the Heavenly Host when the armies venture outside of Celestia, where they act as advisors and historians.

Sources and Statistics:

  • Challenge Rating 5
  • [PF1e] Monster Summoner’s Handbook p24; Statistics here
  • A note about challenge ratings – the codex archon is more knowledgeable about its narrow area of focus than the preceptor, but less dangerous. Such are the strange ways that archons evolve.

Word Archons

After innumerable years spend cooped up inside a dusty book, sooner or later the archon eventually bursts out. Representing the power of a single word distilled from their entire opus, a word archon will represent a pure concept like love, virtue, morality, honesty, honour or probity. Their role is to defend the definition of their chosen concept from corruption, and this task means they can be encountered anywhere in the planes. Physically, the word archon appears as a tall humanoid with glowing bronzed skin, surrounded by a whirlwind of parchment which can also act as wings. Each page bears a single rune representing their chosen concept in a different language of the multiverse. In combat, the word archons are able to utter words of power and are masters of truename magics. Consequently, they’re greatly feared by extra-planar creatures who are able to be banished back to their home planes.

Sources and Statistics:

Sybil Archons

These cutters are the wise and mysterious oracles of Celestia. The chant goes that they can peer into both the future and the past as if they were looking around a corner. They’re able to glean wisdom from the powers of the Evermountain, pull magical lore from libraries without even needing to visit them, and predict the best course of action with uncanny insight. They consequently sought after by occultists, empyreal lords and the Celestial Host itself. You might find a sybil archon in an Oracular Temple on the Mount, advising in the court of a tome archon, travelling the astral plane mixing with psychopomps in the River of Souls, or embedded in celestial armies acting as advisors and future-changers.

They appear as humanoids wearing heavy hooded robes, with large feathered wings folded behind them. Their most striking feature however is the brilliant light that shines from their cowls, obscuring any view of their actual features in a dazzling glow. It’s said that staring into the face of a sibyl archon will reveal something about your own fate, but personally I think that’s just a load of flam.

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Excinder Archons

The excinder are huge angelic humanoids with flaming wings and swords, and curiously their faces do not have mouthes. They’re able to converse telepathically, although they are beings of few words. Their role is to seek out and destroy tomes of evil and heretical writings, censoring knowledge that they deem to be a threat to the morality of mortals and planars alike. They’re able to grab offending works remotely, teleporting books right into their hands. They’re also able to erase passages or replace words with ones that are more palatable to their archonic philosophy. Excinder are feared by mortal sages and librarians, who have been known to set up wards, superstitious that an excinder will appear and destroy their precious books for an imagined blasphemy. In reality, the excinder have bigger fish to fry and are only concerned with seeking out the most heinous of corruptions.

Sources and Statistics:

Star Archons

Star archons are the high-ups of the Congregation of Confession, and are the master tacticians and strategists of archon philosophy. They are consulted on matters of religion, morality, ethics, and strategy in warfare; while the hammer archons are the brawn in the Celestial Host, the stars act as the brains. The chant goes that there are seven star archons in total. They appear as large humanoids, floating on sunrays and emanating brilliant light in all directions — better believe you’ll see one of these cutters coming, berk! In combat, they wield potent magical weapons called starknives, which can return to them after being thrown, or fly in strange patterns, striking basher after basher. If they’re injured, blinding light pours from their wounds instead of blood. The most feared ability of the star archons though is their fabled rebirth; when killed, a star archon explodes in a devastating detonation of fire, light and force, before being reborn all phoenix-like as a sword archon, probably in quite a bad mood.

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Source: Jon Winter-Holt, Author’s note: The congregations are my own creation, non-canonical and partly inspired by the minbari from Babylon 5. Now there’s a deep cut eh? I’ve mixed together the D&D archons, with the additional/alternative archons from Pathfinder.

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