Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gate Archon

Nobody likes the bouncer.  Even when your name’s on the list he’s a figure of menace, because there’s always the chance that there’s been some miscommunication and you’ll get turned away.  (I didn’t even like the bouncer when I was the bouncer—I’m thinking of one Run-DMC show in particular.)

Or take St. Peter.  When you think of him, do you think of the most human of Jesus’s apostles, the most fallible, the most relatable, the one most like us?  Nope, you think of the cartoon guy at the Pearly Gates—the one who’s probably not going to let you in.

All of which is to say that, despite their lawful good alignment, gate archons are going to give your PCs plenty of reasons to pick fights with them.  To adventurers, doors are meant to be opened, bars are meant to be bent, and gates are meant to be crashed.  When the greater good is at stake, you can bet they’ll be willing to thrash the lawful good archon in their way.

Or at least, they’ll try.  At CR 17, the gate archon can more than thrash right back.

When the High Templar was slain atop the Altar of Light, the holy city of Nashon fell around him.  Towers fell, black mold grew over white marble, and the trees wept blood.  And in the High Temple itself, the gate archon who stood in the north transept become a devil of anguish and rage.

Breaking into Heaven’s First Precinct was easy.  Breaking out will be the hard part.  Psychopomp clerks detected the party’s intrusion into the Hourglass Aviary, and now a gate archon bars their way back to the land of the living.  The price of Paradise, it appears, is a permanent residency.

Famous gate archons include Atimixus, the quetzalcoatlus-winged archon whose statue guards the gate to the realm of lightning dragons; Evinen’shen, who loves the little liminal sprites and looks after them despite their chaotic fey natures; the Keeper of Autumn; and an unnamed archon who bravely bars one of the otherwise-accurately-named Seven Demon Doors.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 35

There was one doorman everybody liked—so much so that a D.C. blog once suggested dressing up as him in a list of D.C.-themed Halloween costume ideas.  His death has left a hole in the hearts of a number of people close to me, and he is profoundly missed.

Yesterday’s post stirred up quite a lot of Tumblr comments, which I honestly wasn’t expecting.  I had meant to mention that gancanaghs were friendly with leprechauns, but by the time I sat down to write the post I was tired and plum forgot; fortunately filbypott didn’t.  (Blogger readers, tired-me also forgot to attach the picture so a link is in your comments as well.)  And demiurge1138 and others dove into the various male rapist/seducer figures in myth and how they’re perceived in the game. 

For the record, demi, I’m going to go with your Narnia theory.  Gygax was a huge reader, famously recommending a number of books in Appendix N of the 1e Dungeon Master’s Guide.  While Narnia isn’t on that particular list I think there’s no question that Lewis’s wise woodsmen centaurs provided the template for Gygax’s.  And as we’ve talked about before, Gygax’s shadow over the hobby is (understandably) pretty long—so that the tiniest idiosyncrasies in the 1e Monster Manual tend to be with us even today.  That wagon left some deep ruts.

For the record, apparently in the 5e Player’s Handbook there’s a new list, which I just discovered courtesy of this post.  I’ve got some quibbles here and there, but good for them for expanding the canon!

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