Okay, finally returning to the review of monsters from the Pathfinder Bestiary. Here, we again return to the goodly creatures that populate the planes of existence. This time, we come to those exemplars of order and goodness, the archons.
While the angels represent Goodness in various ethical guises (law, chaos, or neutrality), archons are purely Lawful Good. This, of course, is where the Bestiary really starts to drag us into the “law vs. chaos” part of Pathfinder’s (inheritance of D&D’s) alignment system (warning: rant ahead).
Good vs. evil is fairly easy to understand; even if you can’t articulate it, you generally know it when you see it. Law and chaos, in terms of an individual’s slant towards one or the other – to say nothing of when couched in terms of goodness and evil – are more difficult to define. I think this is largely because it doesn’t have that same “intuitive understanding” that good and evil do, but really, there’s an even more fundamental reason for why law and chaos, as alignment choices, are so hard to define:
Good and evil are defined in terms of how characters relate to other characters. Law and chaos are defined in terms of how characters conduct themselves.
This is why law and chaos seem so messy; because anytime a character acts in a way that doesn’t seem lawful or chaotic at face-value, they’re open to getting slammed by the DM or other players. A lawful character who breaks local laws – even though he rigorously follows his own internal code of conduct – isn’t acting lawful, ’nuff said. It can be very frustrating, and given how the game also has alignment-based spells and effects, oftentimes can seem like one big hindrance rather than an aspect of your character.
So having said all of that, how do Pathfinder’s iconic Lawful Good creatures conduct themselves?
Archons are the ultimate in the “help mortals help themselves” philosophy. They prefer to provide subtle aid an encouragement for mortals to do the right thing, rather than just going in and solving problems. However, the Bestiary also notes that they prefer orderly fixes to things, such as trying to transform a dictatorship into a better government rather than overthrow it. So basically, these are the guys who are backing the rare honest politician with the reform program, rather than the radical revolutionary.
This stance essentially reduces archons to being teachers, rather than crusaders. And given that PCs are adventurers, I suspect that even the most lawful PCs are more inclined towards crusaders. So yeah, these guys have all the major problems of good-aligned monsters, and then some. I don’t foresee a lot of memorable archons in Pathfinder’s future, so let’s just get on with it.
Is it just me, or does this guy look familiar?
Seriously, I could swear I’ve seen him before. Oh well, nevermind. Anyway, these dog-faced creatures are…
Wait a sec…could that be…?
It is! Holy crap! I almost didn’t recognize him, but that guy in the picture is Jock, from Lady and the Tramp!
No, really, take a look:
First, all dogs go to heaven. Presumably this is the reason why there are hound archons, but not other animal spirits like horse archons.
Second, Jock is already an established fighter. While the original movie only hints at it, he’s in fact constantly killing evil doers and burying their remains in a hidden location. Remember how Lady comes along and Jock hides the bones from her? Clearly, in life he was a secret warrior for justice, killing many evildoers (notice the size of those bones – it seems evil humans were his favored prey).
I guess this means I was wrong about there not being any memorable archons. The next time I need a good Outsider in my game, it’ll be Jock to the rescue.