Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Just what the Hell is an Archon anyway?

I've done a lot of posting about the "Archons", and their role in the Shatterworld setting. The basic idea is, there are seven main gods, representing Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Time, Plants (Flora), and Animals (Fauna).

Each of the seven gods have an Archon. A physical representative on earth, who is essentially an immortal.
I guess you could call the Archon an "avatar", but I think that a "mediator" or "proxy" would be a more appropriate description. They were obviously inspired by the Istari from Lord of the Rings.

Essentially, the world was created in seven "days". I don't know if a "day" has any relevance to a 24 hour period or not. But in each phase of creation, each "day", another of the seven parts of creation came into being.

First was Time, because without time, there can be no "change". Everything is static. There is no "first", nor "second", etc... Fire can't burn, wind can't blow, water can't flow and things can't grow.

Next was Air. I mostly picked air as second so it would precede fire, since fire needs air to burn (at least in our immediately perceivable world). It is all good to say "let there be light", but if that light needs oxygen to burn, one might re-think the order of things.

After Fire came Water, then Earth rose from the Water. This seems to me more natural for some reason than saying there was Earth, and it was dry, and then it started raining.

So, once we had Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Time, all these elements could merge to create life... plant life. So on the sixth day, plants were created.

Finally on the seventh day, the animal kingdom was created.

The Archons taught mankind the "secrets" of their domains. How to harness wind power, how to forge steel, how to plant crops. That sort of thing. They also taught "magic".

I just created the blog post for Phusis, the god of plants. On each of my posts, I do a lot of searching for artwork that evokes something very specific. I found this piece by Thomas Cole. It is from his Voyage of Life series, and represents Childhood.

I chose the image for the primordial feeling of the vegetation. This to me feels like a "new world". But as I looked at the boat, with the angel and the infant, it got me to thinking. First I thought perhaps I chose the wrong piece, because I actually hadn't noticed the infant at first glance. In my "story", mankind doesn't exist at this point. So who is the infant?

I thought perhaps the angel was the Archon, but then it hit me. The infant is the Archon. The Archon is created on the same day of creation as his/her domain. So here we have Callawin, the Archon of plants, as an infant, being introduced to the world by an angel.

Each Archon, being a physical entity, enters the world as an infant. By the time they are encountered by man, they are grown to some level of maturity. Their appearance is determined by the facet of creation they oversee. Some are male, some are female. Some are old, some are young. Darkstar, the Archon of Kronos starts out each year as an infant, and grows to old age throughout the year. So if you were to encounter Darkstar multiple times, you might not recognize him, because he could have been an old man the last time you saw him, and now he is a teenage boy. But he remembers you. (That is, unless he is time traveling, and the version of him that you are now encountering is meeting you for the first time).

So there you go. Archons are immortal physical intermediaries of the gods, each a servant of a particular god, who entered the world as an infant, was educated by an angel, an became a shepherd of men.


  1. Interesting. I like how you closely examined the image to pick things up about the setting.

  2. One of the fun things about designing settings is not knowing exactly where the design will wind up. Just as players can significantly alter a setting with the characters they create, or even just questions they ask, any material used as inspiration or example can have a dramatic effect on the setting. It pushes your brain in a new direction, gets you considering things in a new light.

    To me, one of the big joys of roleplaying is discovering a setting along WITH your players, even if it is something you've set in motion yourself.