Congregation of Compassion
Congregation of Compassion

Congregation of Compassion

[ 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 Compassion

The political caste — these bloods derive their power from purity of character, defence of the innocent, and cooperation. While the mightiest bloods of the congregation are the movers and shakers of burgs or even layers, they didn’t start out that way. The lower members of the caste are minions and messengers to more powerful bloods — they need to learn that their role is to serve others, and retain that attitude as they rise in rank. While the tomes are powerful celestials, they also see themselves as servants to all the worthy creatures of the layers they control. It’s this dual-minded attitude of ruler yet servant which makes the political caste of the archons unique, and the plane of Mount Celestia a place of compassionate leadership rather than the stricter moralistic hierarchy of a plane like Arcadia. At least, that’s how the archons see things. If you’re not prepared to toe the line and follow the ethical codes of Mount Celestia, then all bets are off, cutter.

Ranks of the Congregation

  • Herald
  • Horned / Stag
  • Owl / Wisdom
  • Trumpet
  • Gate
  • Throne
  • Tome

Herald or Harbinger Archons

The lowest rung on the ladder of the caste, the herald (or harbinger, depending on what role they are playing) look like miniaturised flying orreries. If you’re not an astronomy cutter, then an orrery is a miniature model of planets and moons orbiting a star. You can use them to predict the motions of planets and moons on the prime, and other Heavenly Bodies on Mount Celestia. It’s presumably this property that allows the heralds to unerringly locate the target of the messages they bear, or the harbingers to trailblaze the best path from one location on Celestia to another. Whether delivering messages as a herald (or edicts, fatwa or bulls, depending on the power in question) or preceding a delegation or choir of celestials on a pilgrimage as a harbinger, these archons are faithful in their intentions and dutiful in their service. When they are not travelling, heralds act as assistants for celestials of higher ranks. On the prime material plane, heralds may act as advisors to mortals, and they have even been known to serve powerful spellcasters of exceptional moral character as familiars. Learning to act with grace and humility towards others is the first lesson on the Path of Compassion.

Sources and Statistics:

  • Challenge Rating 2
  • [3e]
  • [PF1e] Bestiary 3 p18; Statistics here
  • Interesting link with more background here.

Horned or Stag Archons

Archons of the second rank appear as muscular humanoids with impressive antlers or horns, and the cloven hooves of stags or elk. Horned archons are rarely seen by mortals, unless they are in need. These cutters patrol the untamed and wild places of the Upper Planes — venturing even beyond the boundaries of Mount Celestia particularly Shurrock. but also Arcadia, Dothion and the Outlands around Excelsior. Here they act as scouts and watchful sentinels, seeking out evil and working to quietly eliminate it, thus keeping travellers and burgs safe from fiends and the like. Often, the berks being protected don’t even know the horned archons were working on their behalf, for they seek no thanks or payment. Horned archons interact with other celestial races more often than most archons, which leads them to be useful advisors to the Congregation of Compassion, and learning the perspective of other races teaches them a valuable lesson on their Path.

A special branch of the horned archons identify themselves as stag archons. These cutters are effectively the same as their horned brethren, except they devote themselves to serving the Hunter, the power Erastil. As His servant, stag archons occasionally travel to the Prime where they perform acts of kindness like helping children who are lost in the forest, assisting hunters and gatherers to find quarry or berries, and driving away dangerous creatures. It is not clear whether stag archons can only serve Erastil and seek to become proxies, or whether this is just a step on their path of enlightenment.

Sources and Statistics:

  • Challenge Rating 4
  • [3e]
  • [PF1e] Inner Sea Gods p287; Statistics here, called stag archons in the source.
  • [PF2e] Bestiary p27; Statistics here, called horned archons here.

Owl or Wisdom Archons

This rank of archon appears as a vaguely humanoid owl, only more than twice the height of a human. Its plumage is pure white, and a luminous halo often surrounds its head. The feathers of an owl archon radiate the crisp cold of arctic forests, though their touch acts to warm those of good character. These noble creatures embody the concepts of sacred knowledge and watchfulness. As stag archons are to the wild places, so owl archons are to the skies of Mount Celestia and its surrounding planes. These elegant beings are tasked with teaching mortals the ways of benevolence and order, and are said to have an unerring ability to spot a soul in need of guidance from many miles away with their incredible eyesight — which seems to extend beyond mere vision and into being able to sense unrequited need. As the owl archons patrol the skies, soaring silently on their downy wings, they act as watchful messengers and even spies. In times of need they can also act as scouts for the Heavenly Host.

A special branch of the owl archons serves the empyreal lord Tanagaar and are given the honorary title wisdom archon. Many of these beings are in fact promoted by Tanagaar from the ranks of spyglass archons of the Congregation of Confession who perform particularly well in their task of protecting the Unbent Forest. His owl archons are particularly good at moving around undetected, and each leads a network of spyglass archons who act as Tanagaar’s eyes and ears across the Unbent Forest and the whole of Lunia.

The lesson of owl archons is that is important to remain ever-vigilant in the face of evil and danger, and choose to bestow guidance only at the right time. Better to let people try and fail, then learn from their failure, than to act pre-emptively and overbearingly. But it is important that watchfulness is combined with compassion in the right proportion, and it is vital to learn when is the right time to watch and when to step in and guide.

Sources and Statistics:

  • Challenge Rating 11/12
  • [3e] Book of Exalted Deeds p159
  • [PF1e] via Creature Chronicle, which renames the Owl Archon as Wisdom Archon.

Trumpet Archons

Trumpet archons look like nothing so much as winged elves carrying silver horns. These cutters are messengers of Celestia, and signal the arrival of the armies of the Heavenly Host with their fanfare. The magical instruments carried by these cutters are no mere bits of hammered metal; each of the delicately constructed horns is said to have been crafted in Heaven’s blessed forges of Erackinor and infused with the voices of one thousand angels. Only archons are able to truly play these holy instruments to their full potential—mortals lack the power necessary to create the iconic clarion calls, but they can still play them as virtuoso instruments.

A further task that some trumpet archons undertake is to escort the spirits of Mount Celestia’s petitioners back to their bodies if they are ever resurrected. Laurelli Tantarella is one such trumpet.

The lesson of the trumpet’s path is to carry the true worth faithfully, drawing upon the authority and might of their superiors without altering or corrupting the message. They learn when to act on their own desires and volition and when to step back and channel the will of higher powers. Learning to shed the ego in this way is essential to allow trumpets to progress to the next step on the Path of Compassion.

Sources and Statistics:

Throne Archons

Throne archons appear as metal-clad humans with golden skin and hair. They are the just and benevolent rulers of the cities, dominions, principalities and caretakers of realms on Mount Celestia, independent-minded but working in the best interests of their citizens and their higher powers. The chant goes that there are 196 throne archons for each layer of Mount Celestia, making them relatively uncommon cutters, but by no means unique. Thrones are rarely encountered far from the location they have been charged with overseeing.

In this stage of their journey on the Path of Compassion, the archon must learn how to act with authority but step aside without ego or envy when a higher power demands it. They must channel The Message from superiors without corruption or question. They have to allow others to act independently but step in when assistance is required, whether they ask for help or not.

Sources and Statistics:

  • Challenge Rating 15
  • [2e] Planes of Law Monstrous Supplement p8
  • [3e] Book of Exalted Deeds p162
  • [5e] Manual of the Planes p268; More info
  • [PF1e] via Creature Chronicle

Gate Archons

Gate archons are rare bloods to encounter indeed. They appearing as masked humanoid with shimmering wings of planar energy and armour of rune-adorned grey stone, with glowing blue eyes that shine out from their darkened, masked faces. The eyes are the only part of the archon’s body that is visible, and perhaps that’s just as well, because they can bore into your soul and analyse your motivations.

Gate archons stand in silent vigil over interplanar portals, particularly the gates between layers of Mount Celestia, but also those that lead to neighbouring planes. If a traveller is pure of motivation, then they may not even realise the gate archon is not a statue, for they are able to stand absolutely motionless and non-responsive for months on end. However, if a traveller is attempting to use a gate with malice in their heart, then the gate archon will swiftly and gracefully move to bar the way. Even then, they never speak. If attacked, onlt then will they react, but still silently.

In this stage of their existence, the archon must learn the power of silence and the grace in meditative inaction. They will only act when absolutely necessary, and then act once and act decisively, making every action count. This position is also one of introspection, for they have taken a step down in terms of influence from running a burg to guarding a gate, and this is an important lesson in humility.

Sources and Statistics:

Tome Archons

A wag once quipped that the tomes are to Celestia what the Dark Eight are to Baator. They’re not welcome on Mount Celestia any more—but they have a point. The tome archons are virtually indistinguishable from demipowers, there’s only one for each layer of the Mount, and they have a say in how the armies of Heaven are deployed. As a group, they’re also called the Celestial Hebdomad.

It’s not clear what the natural form of the tome archons might be. Some say they’re winged humanoids with hawk heads and claws. Others claim they’re more like angelic humans, often with visibly enchanted weapons. In any case, they’re often seen holding books, and staves, and sometimes, wearing crowns.

These are the names of the known tome archons:

  • Barachiel of Lunia
  • Domiel of Mercuria
  • Erathaol the Seer of Venya
  • Pistis Sophia of Solania
  • Raziel the Firestarter of Mertion
  • Sealtiel the Defender of Jovar
  • Zaphkiel of Chronias

To be a tome archon is to bringing all the archonic lessons of perfection lessons together into one—to empower others to be their best selves, learn how to watch and observe, to only stepping in to guide, to act with subtlety and only when necessary, to act with authority but step aside when a higher power demands, to channel the Message without corruption or question.

As for the crowns? That’s one of the greater mysteries of Celestia, cutter. The Archonite sect seems to worship them, as if they are some manifestation of an even greater power than the time archons.

Sources and Statistics:

  • Challenge Rating 22-32
  • [2e] Planes of Law Monstrous Supplement p8
  • [3e] Book of Exalted Deeds p123-138
  • [5e] Manual of the Planes p269; More info
  • [PF1e] via Creature Chronicle

Source: Jon Winter-Holt, and sources listed above.

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. Stats for those will follow at some point… as will integration of the new PF2 archons.

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