Regular archons as a dwelling

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Home Forums Age of Wonders 3 Discussions Regular archons as a dwelling

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This topic contains 24 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Draxynnic 8 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #105515

    Telenil
    Member

    This notion has been discussed in several threads, including the recent “new/race class analysis”, and I think it warrants a thread of its own.

    I have to admit that the archons being only seen as undead is one of the very few things that bothers me in AoW3. I can see the point of twisting their themes around from a story perspective; nevertheless, I feel having iconic archons as a dwelling and “standard” undead as an other would be a more exciting alternative.

    Aside from the “coolness factor” of regular archons, I think this would work for the following reasons:
    – Of all undead, only the titan is recognizably an Archon unit. Archers, swordsmen or wraiths don’t have particularly distincive looks, all could switch from “undead archon dwelling” to “undead human dwelling” as they are.
    – From a lore perspective, this “light footprint” would be consistent with high men/archons strategies. I didn’t play AoW2, but according to AoW1, they kept small groups of keepers and watchers in the realms between the two undead invasions. It would make sense for them to do the same now, and a smaller group getting involved in a local conflict is exactly what a dwelling is about.
    – High Men/Archons are arguably the most unique humanoid in the game: they have spirit protection, higher movement speed and true seeing. These features could make a valuable addition to the game. In addition, some of their units have a specific combination of abilities that already exist in the game. The paladin is a cavalry unit with some healing capacity, the avenger is all-around irregular with spirit bolts, a type of damage that is rarely found outside of theocrat units and human priests. This may in fact be too unique for a playable race, but a neutral dwelling is an elegant way to circumvent the problem.

    TL;DR: Archons are an iconic AoW race that seems particularly appropriate for a dwelling. There is previous evidence of small archon compounds in the lore, their units are distinctive enough to complement existing armies, and almost all of the undead units are generic enough to transition to “standard undead”.

    Any thoughts/comments?

    #105538

    Ravenholme
    Member

    Storywise, the Archons are gone for now, which is why they’re not in the game yet. This makes sense, since all the way back from AoW 1, it has been hinted/stated that the Archons travel to worlds, prepare them, hand them over to the Elves, who nurture them until Humans can ascend to Archon-hood and the cycle starts again on another world.

    Reading between the lines, it seems this journey stalled on Athla for a variety of reasons, both events on Athla (The distrust that brewed between the Archons and the Elves, the events of the campaigns), and, possibly, the loss of the Shadow Realm to the Shadow Demons. Certainly, the crusade that has ensued since the end of AoW:SM, taking the entirety of the Archon people with it (Save those who stayed behind and were corrupted by the Shadai into the Revenants) suggests that the Archons are more invested than most in erasing the Shadow threat (Save the Syrons, who have known the rule of the Shadow Demons more intimately than most) – many of the Wizard Kings only became involved due to the promise of riches and power.

    I think the Archons are likely to return, as Draxynic said in the “New Race/Class Analysis” thread, at some point, in some form, but I suspect it will be when the story enters the phase whereupon Athla is reconnected with the Shadow Realm, and I have no clue whether that will be as a Dwelling or as a Race (I suspect the former).

    Lorewise, the Revenants are important, as they hint that all things are definitely not well, if even the pure Archons can be corrupted by an outside force. (Something that lends credence to Merlin’s actions to seal Athla from the Shadow Realm). Standard Undead will return, in the form of the Necromancer class if at all.

    All in all, I’m not entirely convinced this really did need its own thread, as the discussion is very much a logical part of the “New Race/Class Analysis” thread.

    #105558

    Draxynnic
    Member

    Reading between the lines, it seems this journey stalled on Athla for a variety of reasons, both events on Athla (The distrust that brewed between the Archons and the Elves, the events of the campaigns), and, possibly, the loss of the Shadow Realm to the Shadow Demons.

    It’s a complex situation. Lennart described the fundamentals of the elf-archon relationship prior to AoW1 a couple of years ago in the AoW2Heaven forums. Basically, it goes as this:

    At a top-end level, the elves and archons have an alliance that predates either coming to Athla. The archons have the power to form gates between worlds and cleanse them of any unnatural evils that may be there, but do not have the ability to rejuvenate those worlds. The elves, however, do. So the basic agreement is that the archons claim worlds, then turn them over to the elves, who bring live back to them. When the rejuvenation is complete, the elves are supposed to turn over the world to humans, withdrawing back to their own homeworld or moving on to the next world to receive their attentions.

    The reason why they have to turn over the world, bittersweet as it is, is that humans can only develop their full potential as archons if they have total freedom of choice. It’s fairly meaningless, on a spiritual level, to choose to do good if an elven superpower is watching over you with a big stick forcing you to do so – you have to have all the temptations to do evil, possibly even the examples of other humans who’ve gone evil to reinforce those temptations or possibly even try to force you to take another path, in order to demonstrate the full Dedication to Good required to ascend to archonhood.

    So, that’s the general situation that has gone back for countless millenia. What went wrong on Athla is that, for reasons that aren’t really clear to me, this arrangement was a royal secret. Inioch knew exactly what it meant when the archons arrived a couple of centuries into his reign – none of the other elves did. And Inioch didn’t want to give up rulership. Now, the archons have methods to tell if someone is lying to them, so rather than dealing with the archons directly, Inioch founded a group of middlemen to deal with the archons while he tried to find a way to sabotage the planned transfer of power behind his back – choosing, as his negotiators, elves dedicated to the principle of maintaining harmony between all others. Yes, this is where the Keepers came from.

    Somewhere, in the chaos between humans arriving and the fall of Inioch’s court, the archons figured out they’d been deceived, and pushed the humans to overthrow the Verdant Court. Furthermore, I think Lennart may also have made a mention that the archons were actually responsible for the Trump of the Dead being made available to mortals – they figured that if anyone was ever silly enough to blow it, they’d be able to sweep in, show why the other races need the archons to fight against the darker forces in the universe, and get into a position to remove or marginalise the races that don’t fit into the human-centric world they sought to create. In the High Men ending of AoW1, this is pretty much exactly what happens.

    At this point, where starting to go into my own extrapolation, but I think what happened is that Julia’s victory put them in a bit of a bind. They’ve done some extreme things in the name of the greater good, but they are still good, and their lie-detection abilities mean that they know that Julia and the Keepers are blameless in the entire affair. They probably resigned themselves to having effectively lost the world back then (one world isn’t worth fighting allies over, especially if word gets to elves elsewhere in the multiverse of archons massacring elves that were guilty of nothing more than being ill-informed) but they wanted to make sure that at the very least a human population would remain on Athla as an insurance policy. While I don’t think they ever had the numbers on Athla again that they had in AoW1 (their role in AoW2 and SM, while significant, was more one of keepers and watchers intervening when needed, not one of massive armies) they maintained some presence so they could act against threats to humanity and possibly in the hope that their embassies could achieve what they could not gain through force of arms – the voluntary withdrawal of the elves and other races from Athla.

    The arrival of the Shadow Demons, however, turned their gameplan upside down. On the one hand, their evident loss of control of the Shadow World probably meant they could not in good conscience ask the elves and other races to evacuate through portals that are no longer secure. On the other, it meant that Athla was back on the front lines – a human-dominated world might be substantially less protected against attack than the more heterogeneous Athla, and in the short term, having the races of Athla as potential allies was possibly more useful than waiting for a human-dominated world to start generating archons. So, basically, the archons formally renounced their claim, gave Julia their conditional blessing (the condition being that there still be a place for humans on Athla, albeit not necessarily as top dogs) and, trusting that she’d hold up their bargain, left to concentrate on the wider conflict.

    Anyway, there are a few things that can point to archon dwellings, which I went over in the aforementioned thread. To be honest, I could see it going either way.

    #105561

    That makes the Archons significantly more evil than I had thought them to be!

    They basically created the Dark Elves and the entire AoW1 conflict then.

    A great deal of blood on their hands, and the issue of exactly what the Humans’ position as a race is/should be in Athla is *still* unresolved.

    However, there are huge numbers of Humans about which means a decent recruitment pool for Archons, so the door is still wide open for them to come back, and I’d love to be there when they meet their fallen brethren.

    #105619

    Telenil
    Member

    Furthermore, I think Lennart may also have made a mention that the archons were actually responsible for the Trump of the Dead being made available to mortals – they figured that if anyone was ever silly enough to blow it, they’d be able to sweep in, show why the other races need the archons to fight against the darker forces in the universe, and get into a position to remove or marginalise the races that don’t fit into the human-centric world they sought to create. In the High Men ending of AoW1, this is pretty much exactly what happens.

    Holy shrine!

    Is there any way to confirm that? Conspiring for world domination was ruthless already, even if Inioch was the one who broke the pact, but this? They purposely unleashed a nightmare on the world to catch the elves between the undead hammer and the high men anvil. How do they still call themselves dedicated to good after that, are they good people with heartless leaders or something? Even the dark elves never went so far.

    Thanks for the history lesson, AoW1 makes a lot more sense now!

    #105637

    Shiara384
    Member

    Telenil. Well-Intentioned Extremists can go extreamly dark lengths to do what they see as for the greater good.

    From what I just read, Archons SCREAM “Well Intentioned Extremists.”

    Plus, its kinda Inioch’s fault. Sure, the Archon’s aren’t really exempt too, but if Inioch hadn’t had been so power hungry, none of this would have ever happened.

    There’s a trope on TV tropes where it says Good is Not Nice, sounds just like the Archons.

    Draxy, Was inioch always that evil and corrupt? The way he acts after being reanimated and in age of wonders 2.

    #105660

    Draxynnic
    Member

    From what I recall… It’s unclear. Inioch did some ruthless things in order to try to maintain his leadership – including, it seems, working to invalidate Meandor as his heir. It’s also been implied that Inioch was directly responsible for the problems that the human colonies had, possibly on the logic that if he could work it so that humanity failed to survive, then the archons would have to give up. Meandor, in fact, was initially assisting the human revolt to discredit Inioch – obviously, this backfired in a massive way (Meandor didn’t expect the humans to actually succeed in overthrowing the court). If you weren’t Meandor or human, though, Inioch in his first life was probably a much better ruler than what the archons had in mind – from that viewpoint, he could have been a well-intentioned extremist himself, and then death and reanimation changed him.

    I think everyone involved in those events were shocked at how far it went. In the archons’ defense, Inioch does seem to have been trying to kill off the humans on Athla, and it’s clear in the high men campaign that the high men were horrified at what the humans did to the elves. I think when they learned of Inioch’s duplicity, they were furious and wanted to teach Inioch a lesson, and lost control of events. Planting the Horn could have been part of the same anger – if you read the relevant short story (on the AoWHeavengames site, albeit in a weird location – I’ll post a link when not on my phone) it’s pretty obviously a trap. The archons were probably thinking that if things got bad enough that someone might actually blow it, then it was better for all concerned for them to get a sharp lesson that leaves the archons in control. Again, though, they miscalculated.

    Anyway, I’ll see if I can dig up relevant links when I’m next on a real computer.

    #105662

    Flamespike
    Member

    Okay seriously, we need to archive all that lore somewhere and have an official wiki! Lots of stuff I missed in the previous stories 😛 even if some of it might be extrapolation, still very interesting nonetheless!

    #105667

    Draxynnic
    Member

    Okay, my mistake, it was from Raymond, not Lennart. From http://aow.heavengames.com/cgi-bin/forums/display.cgi?action=st&fn=29&tn=5537&f=29,5537,30,730&st=0:

    “The High Men (and Gabriel) were not evil, if anything, Inioch was. He ignored the High Men, when they came. The Elves were supposed to leave the Blessed Continent after the Reign of Inioch. That’s what was known as the Covenant between the High Men and the Elves. The High Men found the world that the Elves changed into a habitable place. In exchange for other worlds the Elves and High men have worked together for eternities. But the Elves of the Blessed Continent fell in love with their creation, and refused to leave it.

    Technically the High Men did nothing overtly aggressive towards the Elves either. They simply created Humanity, because the humans are High Men in embryo. Only the best human souls can rise as High Men, but they require a world where Humans are free… and a perfectly free race doesn’t play well with elves…

    AND… Much of the trouble between the Humans and Elves in the Valley of Wonders was setup by Meandor who was jealous of his father. Of course only pieces of this story are given in the game and the materials that went with it…

    Of course the High Men did set up Melenis to Blow the Trump of the Dead, and unleash the Undead, so that they could demonstrate what they did best–kill Undead…”

    And later in the thread:

    “Meandor’s story was largely hinted at, but not told for lack of a vehicle to tell it, but he’s not entirely sympathetic. His jealousy of Elwyn and Julia are understandable, considering the way that Inioch more or less replaced him. What is less obvious is that Meandor conspired with the Humans to gain control of the Verdant Throne, but the Humans knew he planned to double cross him and turned on him once they had access to Inioch’s throne.

    And yeah the humans weren’t too nice, but Inioch’s Elves never understood Humans. He tried to control their lives the way of the Elves–which would never work–as Elves had strict controls over whom could do what (including who could have a baby, etc…) (When your race is immortal, you control those things a lot more than Humans who reproduced like rabbits.) The oppression of the elves, their need to keep pristine wilderness that could feed starving hordes of human refugees if they could just plant crops, etc, and all the wealth of the Elves, and the rather destitute and desperate circumstances of humanity led them to brutality.”

    Somewhat similar to what happened with the Commonwealth later when you get down to it, in fact, except Julia did a lot more to help with the famines than Inioch did.

    Short stories can be found here: http://aow.heavengames.com/gameimages/protagonists.shtml

    #105695

    Telenil
    Member

    From http://aow.heavengames.com/cgi-bin/forums/display.cgi?action=st&fn=29&tn=5537&f=29,5537,30,730&st=0:

    Wow. That’s one story I didn’t see coming. It makes the High Men much more “realistic” as people, you see why they are so willing to crush any evil they encounter when they are in the middle of that larger war.

    Telenil. Well-Intentioned Extremists can go extreamly dark lengths to do what they see as for the greater good.
    (…)There’s a trope on TV tropes where it says Good is Not Nice, sounds just like the Archons

    You are probably thinking of Good Is Not Soft.
    In any case, here is my thumb rule: someone who justifies his actions by calling upon a “greater good” is not good. They may be effective servants of a just cause, but it means they care more about their overarching plan than its actual consequences. You only speak about greater good when 1) you acknowledge your actions are problematic, and 2) you had alternatives.

    Of course, I certainly agree that the Archons seem genuinely merciful to the vainquished, value freedom and fight for a good cause (basically what Drax gives in that AoW Heaven thread). Between that and the fact these undead would eventually have attacked some world at some point, they fall short of full-blow vilainy. But I think “Dedicated to Good” is a more accurante description of the Archons than “Pure Good”. In fact, it sounds very appropriate on a lot of levels.

    #105699

    Good stuff!

    I always viewed Inioch as trying to look out for the Elves, so a Supremacist of sorts, who didn’t want to leave Athla. Interestingly enough, a strong case could be made for Humans being the “rightful” rulers of this world, which makes the dialogue at the end of Elven Court 2 a bit more interesting.

    Elves, pack up and go.

    A very narrow minded view point could be held saying that no Elves = no Elf/Human conflict, or no Humans = no conflict.

    Exterminate!

    #105721

    Draxynnic
    Member

    In any case, here is my thumb rule: someone who justifies his actions by calling upon a “greater good” is not good. They may be effective servants of a just cause, but it means they care more about their overarching plan than its actual consequences. You only speak about greater good when 1) you acknowledge your actions are problematic, and 2) you had alternatives.

    I’d argue point 2. Sometimes it’s true, but usually when ‘greater good’ is invoked the good beings in question genuinely feel they had no other option – they can either commit a small evil themselves or allow a much greater evil to come to pass. Of course, the nature of heroic fiction is that in these circumstances, someone will find a third option that allows both evils to be stopped – but the people invoking the ‘greater good’ clause usually either didn’t know about it at the time, or did know about it but also knew it was a gamble, and they didn’t think the gamble was worth the risk.

    But I think “Dedicated to Good” is a more accurante description of the Archons than “Pure Good”. In fact, it sounds very appropriate on a lot of levels.

    Pretty much. They’re soldiers on the side of good, but aren’t really any more good than the other races. I’ve generally thought for quite a while that there’s a degree of intolerance in any “Pure Good” alignment (look at the Iron Maiden lore in Shadow Magic, for instance) – the most genuinely good race on Athla is probably the halflings.

    #105762

    Morty
    Member

    Why do people want Archons back so much? They’re shiny, morally superior humans. Just about the exact opposite of an interesting race.

    #105772

    Anvos
    Member

    They have the angelic Romanesque theme, are generally on the more elite than squishy side of the spectrum, there really isn’t a race that has that much spirit damage, have essentially been a protector race, and in the face of the Phobians and Commonwealth being the last two human empires they represent that humanity in this world can strive to be far better than the path they keep heading on.

    #105780

    Draxynnic
    Member

    They’re also a fundamental part of the AoW mythos, and their status of ‘morally superior humans’ is actually one of the things that’s interesting about them and which gives them a foil – they’re reliant on human populations that are given the opportunity to do great evil in order for more archons to be created. This has thrown a number of moral dilemmas at them that your stereotypical goody-two-shoes race would not have to handle, and how they’ve handled those and how they’ve dealt with (and might deal with in the future) the consequences of those decisions are part of what makes them interesting.

    #105820

    Soulcatcher
    Member

    Hmm it would seem that i missed a lot of lore… But as someone said Archons are gone now and i would personally like to see more of the Undead( old fashion ones) and see what makes them tick ( it can’t be killing and turning everyone Undead only there should be more to them).

    #105861

    Anvos
    Member

    I think Inioch’s Victory/Undead Victory states that pretty much is the undead endgame, to exterminate all life everywhere. If I remember correctly the pc hero there is pretty much the last person alive in this world in the epilogue.

    Also we can’t say gone yet on the archons as plot seems to be heading to more dealings with the shadow realm eventually. Plus we don’t really know how many times before Athla the archons pulled off the transfer successfully to give them places for new archons or reinforcements to come from.

    #105876

    Draxynnic
    Member

    All of the campaign endings can be found at http://aow.heavengames.com/gameimages/campaign_endings.shtml (Spoilers, obviously).

    ‘Destroy all life’ seems to be a common default for undead goals – as seen with Inioch and Nekron. Merlin and Meandor seem to have defied this, and are able to command undead without them going ‘destroy all life’ – but while both appear to have died and come back, it’s questionable whether they’re truly undead as opposed to being genuinely brought back to life.

    #105902

    Ericridge
    Member

    I like this thread, learned more about the lore xD

    #105947

    Those Highmen ending are so….bitter.

    And it occurs to me that the Undead, at least in AoW1, were really a cats paw of the Highmen, which makes me think that the Undead were really controlled by the Highmen, and from that, it’s not a stretch to understand why they are now Undead in Aow3.

    I am disliking Highmen more and more…

    #105951

    Telenil
    Member

    During AoW1, all hell broke loose when Meandor resurrected Inioch. I didn’t read anything implying the Highmen did it that time. The blowing of the Trump of the Dead happened centuries before and caused the first Undead invasion.

    All endings were well written, but the best IMO was Goblins-Undead, hands down. A bad guy realizing he allied with the wrong people after all, and getting some nihilistic comfort in the fact that every living thing must die in the end. Almost all other endings show regret and crushed hopes, but this one felt strangely satisfying.

    #106041

    Kaiosama TLJ
    Member

    On the thread subject I want to add that I had one though before of how Triumph could re-introduce them again.

    It’s a bit like this: If you Leader is Good (or Pure Good), he/she can spend a big amount of Mana and some turns to free the Archons from their curse and turn the Necropolis into some kind of Citadel with regular Archon units available (and all Dedicated to Good obviously), and Evil Leaders could also be able to do the opposite to get a Necropolis. Gameplay-wise it would be a form of Migration, except that in gameplay (and context) would be an act of Good. (and of course turning it into a Necropolis again would be Evil)

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Shiara384 wrote:</div>
    Telenil. Well-Intentioned Extremists can go extreamly dark lengths to do what they see as for the greater good.
    (…)There’s a trope on TV tropes where it says Good is Not Nice, sounds just like the Archons

    You are probably thinking of Good Is Not Soft.

    Actually, I think Designated Hero fits more in this case.

    #106084

    Draxynnic
    Member

    I don’t think the undead were controlled by the High Men – although it should be said, the revelation that the Circle contains a lich (Nekron) while also containing two archons and lead by one indicates that the archons do recognise that the undead do have a place in the Great Plan…

    …albeit one they’d prefer to minimise as much as possible.

    Anyway, my understanding is that the archons placed the Trump as a calculated risk, but a risk they believed was minimal (if someone DOES blow the horn, they’ll let the undead make their presence felt and then swoop in and mop up). You could draw parallels with the concept of Armageddon – evil runs rampant and then the angels come in to set the world to its ‘proper’ order. Whether this is entirely ‘good’ depends on your attitude here, but certainly the archons are on the side of light if not necessarily always good.

    On my reading of the endings – I’d agree regarding the Goblin-Undead one. The two side-switchers, obviously, realised they’d royally frelled up at the end. Goblin-Dark Elf is actually a bit of a cliffhanger that will never be resolved – the Goblin-Dark Elf character is one who’s already crushed two rebellions and all contenders to the Valley of Wonders, so while he’s always going to be ruling with an iron fist, he could well survive and be, well, as happy as a Stormlord ever can be (particularly given the base assumption that he’s a Dark Elf, and thus mentally ill (‘dead in spirit’ as the elves term it) to begin with).

    The halfling-high men ending is, I think, one of saddened acceptance. The character of that story arc has recognised that it’s important for the larger plan for humans to inherit Athla and for the elder races to move on, but is saddened that the world has to be diminished and his friends and kin have to leave for this to happen. It’s a similar feel, IMO, to how the elves of Lord of the Rings probably felt after the destruction of the Ring, when those that remained in Middle-Earth had to leave or diminish.

    Anyway, I would disagree with the following:

    Actually, I think Designated Hero fits more in this case.

    The Designated Hero trope usually applies when the “hero” in question is doing horrible things and generally seems not much better than the villain, but the writer treats this as a perfectly heroic way to act. The “hero” is still lauded as a hero by everyone who isn’t an author-designated Bad Guy, rarely has any karmic backlash for their actions, and if they have regrets, it’s for things they failed to do, never something that they did but probably shouldn’t.

    The archons and elves are probably more of a white-and-grey morality thing. The archons have good reasons for what they do, and in the greater scheme of things, the multiverse (if not Athla in particular) probably would be better off if they won. Meanwhile, there is clear signs that while they’ve done some dark thing, they do genuinely regret the loss of life that has occurred as a result of their actions – and it’s probably partly due to that regret that they decided in the end to let the elves of Athla be (allowing Julia to take stewardship of the Blessed Continent ‘for now’ after AoW1, formally withdrawing all claim at the end of Shadow Magic). They’re not Designated Heroes because while they’re people on the side of good that have done some not-good-things, Triumph has never tried to present these actions as being morally unquestionable… and they certainly have suffered karmic backlashes for their excesses.

    And this is, to rewind the thread a bit, a more detailed rebuttal of Morty’s claim that they’re not an interesting race. Yes, at first glance, they’re shiny morally superior humans… but they’re a race that despite that has still performed morally questionable acts, and now they have to live with the consequences of those (including their own consciences, and since the lore makes a big point of how the archons can tell truth from falsehood, they may not have the luxury of self-deception – they have to face the results of the things they did head-on and do penance for it). If they were perfect, they’d be uninteresting, but their imperfections and the fact that we can even have this discussion rather than everyone going “Yup, they’re shining embodiments of pure and unadulterated Good, no doubt about it!” gives them complexity and makes them interesting.

    #106520

    Kaiosama TLJ
    Member

    Fair enough, I stand corrected.

    Still, considering them “Pure Good” even though they did not-so-good acts is still odd to me. But I agree with you that shades of gray help make a compeling story.

    #106558

    Draxynnic
    Member

    Well, as I’ve said before, this is the first time that ‘pure good’ has actually meant a higher state of morality. Previously, what it has reflected is intolerance and a rigid adherance to their idea of good that’s unforgiving of those that don’t measure up to their standards.

    Or to put it another way – they’re on the side of good, including genuinely regretting any suffering caused by their (in)action, but tend to focus more on the ‘confronting evil’ side of good than the ‘offering compassion’ side. Although they DO certainly believe in redemption.

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