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How powerful are the Archons?

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Are they virtual gods? Demigods? I read a review that criticized SotC for having the Archons as backdrop, essentially relegating PCs to “background” characters in the world. Was that a fair assessment? In the broader scope of the Crucible are the Archon Vault battles a central piece or just one of countless aspects within the setting?

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Posted (edited)

The lore around the Archons is that no one knows what they are. The myths and legends that surround them are innumerable. But they are really powerful beings.

As for the Archons being the backdrop, that's entirely up to you as the GM. The Vault battles would be the cultural equivalent of the ancient Roman Gladiatorial games. The Archons have their purposes in forging keys and opening Vaults. The players of game have their purposes for playing: getting loot at the end of the battle, following a specific Archon (whether out of worship of the Archon, the way a fan of a modern pop-star fawns over the star and follows them every where, etc), or for reasons only known to the player. In any case, there is a huge following of the Vault battles for the same reasons sports teams in our world have huge followings.

Vault battles could be the main backdrop to your Campaign, they could just be in the background where everyone in the city is talking the battle that happened yesterday, your PCs show up in a town to meet with the local administrator, but he has shut his office down because he's at the nearby Vault battle, or the PCs could find themselves in the middle of Vault battle while they are camping after a very long trek through the mountains.

Ultimately, the level to which Archons and their schemes interact with or affect your PCs is completely up to you as the GM.

Edited by A-A Ron

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Thanks! I really like that! I’m getting a potential “anime vibe” from the setting insofar as the ways anime mixes so many themes and tones (many of which are discordant) into something unique. I’m picturing the admin in your example going from uptight bureaucrat to squealing fanboy as an announcer bellows the accolades of the competing Archons from a flying teleprompter. 

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I think I read the same article. The author seemed to think that playing a character with relatable needs and desires (in Secrets of the Crucible) was a demotion from playing an inscrutable god-like being using those characters as pawns (Keyforge). If he prefers the card game over the RPG setting, that's fine, but there's no need to tear down the hard work and creativity that went into this setting book.

Having played Keyforge and Genesys I can assure you the two don't map to each other well at all. If the author of the article wants the same kind of experience in Genesys, the closest setup would be two GMs throwing NPCs at each other. Archon's are basically in-story GM masks, there to provide a narrative excuse for deus ex machina type plot adjustments or quest changes. That kind of thing probably wouldn't fit so well in another setting, but in a zany everything-is-possible setting like Keyforge it makes perfect (non)sense.

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Yes, I believe you read the same one. Based on what I know you make a good counter to the complaints therein. There are plenty of games where one plays demigods and as I learn more about the Archons the less playing one in an RPG appeals to me. Correct me if I’m wrong but they seem difficult to relate to on a personal level, being almost like forces of nature than people, at least narratively. Or, they’re just uber-powerful dudes who gather more and more power to fight over Vaults. I dunno. It’s telling that even knowing little about them I find it difficult to think of stories concerning the Archons, whereas my sparse knowledge of SotC as a whole allows me to dream up a few scenarios about “normal” characters.

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A force of nature that you can talk to and sometimes looks however it wants seem appropriate. The book mentions that while there are tales of fully-realized archons suffering "damage," there is no means to do so in the book either mechanically or in lore. Even in the card game, an archon can only be temporarily inhibited, represented as the chain mechanic. 

 

On a personal note, I can't imagine a game with a retro-era god mode would lead to any meaningful storytelling rpg experience. There just aren't any relatable stakes.

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Here's a couple of quotes from page 13.

Quote

All Archons seem to be unique in every manner imaginable, especially in their powers and how they display them. Even how Archons appear to the var- ied beings of the Crucible can change as they see fit. Archons are not confined to their physical form; they can appear as pulsing energy, impossible colors, or any other semblance they choose. Often, to avoid disconcerting mortals, they adopt a more standard guise, one that will benefit them in their current dealings. 

Quote

Some citizens of the Crucible tell tales of friends or neighbors who one day altered shape and disappeared, the implication being that they were Archons in disguise and had been collecting information for some unknowable purpose. It does seem to be a fact that Archons are curious beings and are usually quite eager to learn about the local landscape and the creatures and people that populate it. Whether by trait or divine skill, Archons can converse with every species, regardless of culture or mode of communication. It is said that they also can communicate with plants and beasts, and even converse with hills and clouds. But then, many things are said about Archons.

It also mentions elsewhere that some Archons have their fan clubs and followers (like a sport team's fan club) when it comes to Vault Battles. 

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I read that same review and frankly, it was bad. The author wasn't even aware of Keyforge before the review, and they made a great big stink about how disappointed card players would be to not play as Archons. Playing the card game, the Archon is literally nothing but the procedurally generated deck name and art. It's not what you see or what you think about in Keyforge. It had other issues as well.

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