Archon (Dungeons & Dragons)

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First appearanceManual of the Planes (1987)
AlignmentLawful Good or Chaotic Evil, depending on game edition

In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, archons are a type of creature. In 1st and 2nd edition, they are powerful lawful good creatures from the upper planes, and in 3rd edition they are celestials. These creatures are sent by higher powers striving for good to aid in battle against the forces of evil.[1] In 4th edition, the term archon instead refers to elemental soldiers of chaos and destruction.[2]

Publication history[edit]

Archons were introduced to the D&D game in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988)[edit]

Archons appear in the first edition Manual of the Planes (1987), including the hound archons, the lantern archons, the sword archons, the tome archons, and the warden archons.[3]

Dungeons & Dragons (1977–1999)[edit]

This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the archon, which appeared in the Dungeons & Dragons Master Rules (1985) in the Master DM's Book,[4] the Immortal Rules set, in the DM's Guide to Immortals (1986),[5] and later in the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991).[6]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)[edit]

Archons appear first in second edition in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Outer Planes Appendix (1991), including the hound archon, the lantern archon, the sword archon, the tome archon, and the warden archon.[7] The same set of archons appeared again in the Planes of Law boxed set (1995) for the Planescape campaign setting, along with the trumpet archon, the throne archon, and a description of the fallen archon.[8]

The book Warriors of Heaven (1999) details and focuses on celestials heavily.[9] This book presents the hound archon, the lantern archon, the sword archon, the trumpet archon, and the warden archon as player character races.

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000–2002)[edit]

Archons appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000) under the celestial entry, including the hound archon, the lantern archon, and the trumpet archon.[10]

Savage Species (2003) presented the hound archon and trumpet archon celestials as both races and playable classes.[11]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)[edit]

Archons appear in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003), including the hound archon and the hound archon hero, the lantern archon, and the trumpet archon.

The Book of Exalted Deeds (2003) expanded and detailed celestials further, and includes the owl archon, the sword archon, the throne archon, and the warden archon.[12] The Celestial Hebdomand, a group of celestial paragons of the archons, also appears in this book, including Barachiel, the Messenger, Domiel, the Mercy-Bringer, Erathaol, the Seer, Pistis Sophia, the Ascetic, Raziel, the Crusader, Sealtiel, the Defender, and Zaphkiel, the Watcher.

The Planar Handbook (2004) presented the hound archon as a "monster class", enabling one to play it at any level, gaining the abilities of the hound archon "race" over time while a typical character gains class levels.[13]

The hammer archon appears in Races of Stone (2004).[14] The word archon appears in Tome of Magic (2006).[15] The sibyllic guardian appears in Complete Psionic (2006).[16] The justice archon and the justice archon champion appear in the Monster Manual IV (2006).[17]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2014)[edit]

In this edition, archons are the elemental equivalent (and therefore archenemy) of angels. Archons appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), including the fire archon emberguard, the fire archon blazesteel, the fire archon ash disciple, the ice archon hailscourge, the ice archon rimehammer, and the ice archon frostshaper.[18]

The earth archon, storm archon, and water archon appeared in the Monster Manual 2 (2009),[19] the air archon appeared in Manual of the Planes, and the iron archon and mud archon appeared in The Plane Below.[20]


In the 3rd edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game, archons are all extraplanar outsiders which share a number of magical powers:

  • They possess Darkvision, the ability to see in the dark.
  • They are immune to electricity and petrification.
  • They are resistant to poison.
  • They can teleport at will.
  • They can speak with any creature that has a language.
  • They have righteous aura that menaces nearby enemies and reduces some of their abilities.
  • They have a protective field that wards them against evil creatures and effects.

Archons live on the Outer Plane of the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia.

Types of Archons[edit]

In the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons, there have been various types of archons, which include (click on the numbers following the names for images):

  • Hammer Archon [1] - Hammer archons strive to root evil out of its hiding places within the earth.
  • Hound Archon - Canine-headed defenders of the innocent and the helpless against evil.
  • Justice Archon [2] - Menacing angels resembling radiant warriors clad in bright full plate, wielding glowing greatswords. They consider themselves the purest champions of justice in Celestia. While they do not attack without provocation, they are easily incensed by the mere sight or suspicion of evil.
  • Lantern Archon - Floating balls of light that give what assistance they can.
  • Owl Archon [3] - Airborne scouts, messengers, spies, infantry, and protectors of lesser celestial creatures.
  • Sword Archon [4] - Enforcers of the heavenly laws, its forearms can transform into holy flaming longswords.
  • Throne Archon [5] - Commanders of the cities of Celestia and the judges of the Heavens, occasionally tasking themselves with meting out justice to the particularly vile or corrupt.
  • Tome Archon - Prior to changes in the 3.5 BoED these appeared as humanoids with arms and feathered wings protruding from their back. They have very hawk-like heads. They are aloof and dignified creatures who possess powerful intellect, magic, and physical might. There are only seven of these beings, one residing on each of Celestia's layers. They record all things that happen in the Heavens with passionless accuracy and total indifference. As of the 'Book of Exalted Deeds' the nomenclature of Tome Archons was ignored and their descriptions changed.
  • Trumpet Archon - Celestial messengers and heralds with considerable martial skills.
  • Warden Archon [6] - Guardians of the gates of the Seven Heavens, and observers of the affairs of the Material Plane.
  • Word Archon [7] - Using the power of truenames, they ensure such words inspire the good-hearted everywhere.

The Celestial Hebdomad[edit]

In the game, the celestial paragons of the archons are collectively known as The Celestial Hebdomad (and sometimes "tome archons"). The members include (click on the numbers following the names for images):

  • Barachiel, the Messenger [8] - Ruler of Lunia, the bottom layer of Celestia, also known as the Silver Heaven.
  • Domiel, the Mercy-Bringer [9] - Ruler of the Golden Heaven of Mercuria, the second layer of Celestia.
  • Erathaol, the Seer [10] - Ruler of Venya, the Pearly Heaven, the third layer of Celestia.
  • Pistis Sophia, the Ascetic [11] - Ruler of Solania, the Crystal Heaven, the fourth layer of Celestia.
  • Raziel, the Crusader [12] - Ruler of Mertion, the Platinum Heaven, the fifth layer of Celestia.
  • Sealtiel, the Defender [13] - Ruler of Jovar, the Glittering Heaven, the sixth layer of Celestia.
  • Zaphkiel, the Watcher [14] - Ruler of the Illuminated Heaven of Chronias, the seventh layer of Celestia.

Other publishers[edit]

The archon (including the hound archon, lantern archon, and trumpet archon) appeared in Paizo Publishing's book Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (2009), on pages 19–21.[21]


  1. ^ Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, and Monte Cook Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2003) pages 16-19.
  2. ^ Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt . Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008).
  3. ^ Jeff Grubb Manual of the Planes (TSR, 1987 ).
  4. ^ Gygax, Gary, Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 4: Master Rules (TSR, 1985)
  5. ^ Mentzer, Frank. Dungeons & Dragons Set 5: Immortal Rules (TSR, 1986)
  6. ^ Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
  7. ^ LaFountain, J. Paul. Monstrous Compendium Volume Outer Planes Appendix. (TSR, 1991)
  8. ^ McComb, Colin and Wolfgang Baur. Planes of Law (TSR, 1995)
  9. ^ Perkins, Christopher. Warriors of Heaven (TSR, 1999)
  10. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  11. ^ Eckelberry, David, Rich Redman, and Jennifer Clarke Wilkes. Savage Species (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  12. ^ Wyatt, James, Darrin Drader, Christopher Perkins. Book of Exalted Deeds (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  13. ^ Cordell, Bruce, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel. Planar Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
  14. ^ Decker, Jesse, Michelle Lyons, and David Noonan. Races of Stone (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
  15. ^ Sernett, Matthew, Dave Noonan, Ari Marmell, and Robert J. Schwalb. Tome of Magic: Pact, Shadow, and Truename Magic (Wizards of the Coast, 2006)
  16. ^ Cordell, Bruce R. and Christopher Lindsay. Complete Psionic (Wizards of the Coast, 2006)
  17. ^ Kestrel, Gwendolyn F.M. Monster Manual IV (Wizards of the Coast, 2006)
  18. ^ Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008).
  19. ^ Rob Heinsoo, Stephen Schubert. Monster Manual 2 (Wizards of the Coast, 2009)
  20. ^ Ari Marmell, Bruce R. Cordell, Luke Johnson The Plane Above: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos (Wizards of the Coast, 2009).
  21. ^ Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (Paizo Publishing, 2009)