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 What's the deal with Zaphkiel ?
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jordanz
Senior Scribe

545 Posts

Posted - 18 Jun 2022 :  04:49:07  Show Profile  Visit jordanz's Homepage Send jordanz a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
From what I've read he was the first Tome Archon. He's certainly the greatest good non deity in existence. But almost everything about him is shrouded in mystery. I have some questions...and I would like to know what you guys would speculate the answers could be.

Who do you think elevated him to ruler of the Hebdomad? Some god? Some Overgod? Likely not Tyr since even he doesn't know what the bugger is up to day to day.

Why is he shrouded in secrecy? Isn'y that normally reserved for the bad guys? I mean sure groups like the Harpers like to stay low key, But he should be relatively safe perched at the top of mount Celestia. With a gazillion Archons sandwiched between him and the nearest Arch Fiend. If you are all about promoting Goodness, what is the secret?

Has he even taken to the field of battle?

What level of martyrdom would be required for a mortal to get such an elevated position? My guess is it would have to be so legendary as to be difficult to completely hide from the world...unless it happened so long ago that any records are buried too deep.

And finally what do you think he's up to? Is he plotting to turn the abyss into a vacation spa for angels? Is he really trojan horse implanted by some evil super power - like Vecna?

What are you your thoughts?

Baltas
Senior Scribe

Poland
942 Posts

Posted - 18 Jun 2022 :  12:20:36  Show Profile Send Baltas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, one theory is that Zaphkiel and the 6 other original members of the Hebdomad, were 7 "Wandering Dukes" (of the Vaati) who fought against the Forces of Chaos Lead by the Queen of Chaos and Miska the Wolf-Spider.
https://ghwiki.greyparticle.com/index.php/Wind_Dukes_of_Aaqa
https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Wind_Dukes_of_Aaqa

The Vaati are also described as androgynous beings, like the Hebdomad. Zaphkiel further has a shaved head, like most Vaati were said to practice, and his metalic skin, resembling the smooth skin of Vaati

Possibly him being Icosiol (who sacrificed his life to defeat Miska).

Who elevated him and the other original six members of the Hebdomad? Possibly Jazirian who was described as the supreme being of Lawful Good in the Book of Hell, and counterpart of Asmodeus/Ahriman.

Ed also wrote he imagined Chauntea-Yondalla as the supreme ruler and being of Seven Heaven of Celestia:
https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1180287080238370816

So it's also possible Chauntea and/or Yondalla (depending if you see them as separate, or one goddess), elevated Zaphkiel.

4E described the 7 Wandering Dukes as angels of Bahamut, so it's possible he elevated them to this position, possibly when he had greater power.

Another non-canon idea, if from late 2E and 3E era writers, that also worked for Green Ronin publishing, (alluded in the Book of Fiends, but truly stated in The Book of the Righteous) that the Hebdomad were 7 heroic ancient/proto-genies (specifically an ancient kind called Divs). Zaphkiel (or his counterpart here) is named Mik'ail.

Mik'ail (Zaphkiel?) in the Green Ronin canon/The Book of Righteous , was elevated by Morwyn, an ancient Lawful Good goddess of healing, wisdom, peace, forgiveness, mothers, childbirth, and mercy, wgo is the Queen of the Seven Heavens.

This could work together - in the conversion of Age of Worms to Forgotten Realms and Eberron, Vaati were equated and connected to ancient Djinn, and Djinn were stated to be connected to them in other sources. 5E describes them as rivals on the other hand. Though I guess Djinn might be chaotic offshoot of Vaati, or bot are related races.

[EDIT]

The Vaati/Wind Dukes of Aaqa seem to be inspired by the Aerial Spirits of Solomon - a group of neutral spirits (described in Ars Theurgia-Goetia, the second book of the Lemegeton/The Lesser Key of Solomon), sometimes described as jinn. Up to having Wandering Dukes within their ranks, and sharing similar names with Vaati:
https://genies.fandom.com/wiki/Aerial_Spirits_of_Solomon

[EDIT2]

In the Bloodstone series of modules, it's was suggested Bahamut is the superior of the 7 Tome Archons - Terxyx, the at time Tome Archon of Mercuria, served Saint Sollars, who in turn referred to Bahamut as his superior (though latter sources connect him with Ilmater). This would connect with the 4E bit of lore.

It is to be noted that Tome Archons in 1E and Early 2E were of rather lower celestial rank - lower than Devas, to which they were promoted. This was though retconned, and their importance was visibly increased.

Still, it is an interesting connection.

Edited by - Baltas on 19 Jun 2022 15:37:25
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LordofBones
Master of Realmslore

1443 Posts

Posted - 18 Jun 2022 :  23:37:19  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The problem with that is that Chauntea doesn't live in Celestia. Her realm is on Eronia, Elysium.

Anyway, Zaphkiel, like Asmodeus, the General of Gehenna, Primus and the Slaad Lords, is one of the chiefs of the planar exemplars he belongs to, and probably predates the human pantheons. The various planar lords don't answer to deities and exist separately from the deific hierarchy, so I don't see why the overgods or one specific pantheon has any say in how the exemplar races conduct themselves. It's not like Helm can influence the promotions of the modrons, or that Auril can install Jim the arcanoloth as the next General of Gehenna.
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jordanz
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545 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2022 :  06:22:35  Show Profile  Visit jordanz's Homepage Send jordanz a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

The problem with that is that Chauntea doesn't live in Celestia. Her realm is on Eronia, Elysium.

Anyway, Zaphkiel, like Asmodeus, the General of Gehenna, Primus and the Slaad Lords, is one of the chiefs of the planar exemplars he belongs to, and probably predates the human pantheons. The various planar lords don't answer to deities and exist separately from the deific hierarchy, so I don't see why the overgods or one specific pantheon has any say in how the exemplar races conduct themselves. It's not like Helm can influence the promotions of the modrons, or that Auril can install Jim the arcanoloth as the next General of Gehenna.



Good point, unlike Asmodeus, the General of Gehenna, Primus and the Slaad Lords...Zaphkiel was supposedly elevated into his position.
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LordofBones
Master of Realmslore

1443 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2022 :  06:45:32  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's entirely possible that Zaphkiel was elevated by the primordial predecessors of the archons, in the same way that the Baatorians preceded the baatezu and the obyrith the tanar'ri. We don't exactly know what the original seven martyrs were.

He could also have been elevated by the power of the plane itself.
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Baltas
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Poland
942 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2022 :  07:26:26  Show Profile Send Baltas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

The problem with that is that Chauntea doesn't live in Celestia. Her realm is on Eronia, Elysium.

Anyway, Zaphkiel, like Asmodeus, the General of Gehenna, Primus and the Slaad Lords, is one of the chiefs of the planar exemplars he belongs to, and probably predates the human pantheons. The various planar lords don't answer to deities and exist separately from the deific hierarchy, so I don't see why the overgods or one specific pantheon has any say in how the exemplar races conduct themselves. It's not like Helm can influence the promotions of the modrons, or that Auril can install Jim the arcanoloth as the next General of Gehenna.



Well, it's possible Ed had imagined Chauntea as Lawful Good, and having her residence in Celestia, not Elysium.

Yondalla still fits though, especially that curiously she has some overlap in terms of portfolio with Green Ronin's Morwyn.

With a deity being able to influence promotions of archons - it's probable a deity is older, and more important than it seems.
This was evident with how Jazirian was characterized in The Book of Hell. There is also some precedence for it with Bahamut - he was described as an Angel of Seven Heavens (in Dragon #38, before Archons were introduced) in 1E, and his seeming importance there as presented in the Bloodstone modules. Bahamut's cosmologial importance is also something not new - the 1990 Draconomicon stated Bahamut and Tiamat might not be gods, but 2 opposite "Archetypes" towards which all dragons adhere/are connected to in some manner, including Dragon gods, aside from Asgoroth (though Bahamut and Tiamat possibly also being opposite aspects of Asgoroth, seeing the Red Dragon myth presented there).

Still, I'll understand giving a specific, worshiped deity such position, might imbalance things in a setting.
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LordofBones
Master of Realmslore

1443 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2022 :  08:27:49  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To be fair, Jazzy was only ever described as such in GtH. Jazzy himself is a pretty big deal, being the Greater Power of an entire extraplanar race, but I go with the idea that Big A and friends are aphanacts tainted by Evil that were banished by the original primordial powers of Law around the same time the tanar'ri began to overwhelm the obyriths while the 'loths just sat back and watched.

I'm personally rather uneasy with the idea that Bahamut and Tiamat as aspects of IO. IO strikes me as the ultimate dragon, so far beyond gods in the way that dragons are so far beyond the mortal races. Bahamut and Tiamat are dragons gods concerned with worldly aspects (justice, avarice, pride), while IO has transcended that and pretty much leaves his children to govern themselves. I like the idea that Falazure is IO's opposite; while IO represents creation and destruction, the Night Dragon perverts into that into oblivion ruled by the unliving.
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Baltas
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Poland
942 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2022 :  09:12:15  Show Profile Send Baltas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, The Twin Serpents origin was alluded several times, and Jazirians major cosmic role was I think last directly mentioned in Dragon magazine #359, as one of the Ancient Breathen or Elders, described as "Uber-Gods", among their number the mentioned Jazirian but also Asmodeus, Mok'slyk (the Serpent connected to Vecna, seen by him as the personification of magic on a multiversal scale) and the Lady of Pain herself.

This origin being mentioned at all, was most recently in the 5E "Minsc and Boo's Journal of Villainy", though only as a possible origin for Asmodeus, not mentioning Jazirian. And mentioned the other origins for Asmodeus. Another one kinda blending the Fiendish Codex II and 4E origins, stating the his Master against who Asmodeus rebelled, and eventually slain (ie "He Who Was") was "The First God of Law" by Volo (though it could be as well an ancient entity of Law, described as a god).

With origins, it's also possible the being that elevated Zaphkiel, was He Who Was before his death. (If we see him as an ancient being of Law and Good).

To be clear, I do also like the fallen "angel" (very possibly indeed Aphanact) origin for Asmodeus, if I think it is compatible with his 4E origin, if maybe with a few adjustments, something we disagreed though in past.

Especially that it kinda connects to the piece 1E lore were devils were described as fallen angels and presumably their "descendants" after a fashion in the (now non canon?) 1E Lawful Good angels of Seven Heavens (more directly based on Judeo-Christian angelology) write-uo in Dragon Magazine #35 (and a bit further alluded in Dragon #43).
If with some differences, but still.

With Bahamut and Tiamat, they could be among the most ancient entities born from Io, and "poles", "polarities", "opposite archetypes" towards which dragons gravitate towards on various level. This is also kinda close to the take on them in 5E "Fizban's Treasury of Dragons".

Alternately, Tiamat and Bahamut are more independent aspects, like Emanations in Gnosticism, or former aspects, that by now are fully separate deities from Io.

And very interesting idea with Falazure.

Edited by - Baltas on 19 Jun 2022 15:46:05
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Delnyn
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USA
710 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2022 :  17:08:27  Show Profile Send Delnyn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Book of Exalted Deeds mentions the plane of Celestia itself promoted the first seven lawful good souls that arrived after martyrdom. Of the original seven, only Zaphkiel remains. He alone decides who replaces a fallen member of the Hebdomad. If Zaphkiel himself dies, it would seem Celestia itself -not a deity - would replace the archon of the Chronias.
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Baltas
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Poland
942 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2022 :  20:23:15  Show Profile Send Baltas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I mean, that's one way to read it directly:
quote:

In the days of creation, when the multiverse still quaked with
the aftershocks of birth, the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celes-
tia awaited the mortal souls who would protect and guide the
plane as the first archons. Seven blessed martyrs who had sacri-
ficed themselves to the cause of law and goodness emerged
upon the young plane with powerful and unique forms—a
mandate from Celestia itself that these beings would serve the
Seven Heavens as their immortal rulers.



It's a bit ambiguous if it's a metaphor for the fact pre-mortal residents of Celestia elevated the original Hebdomad, or that the plane itself elevated the Celestia Hebdomad.

It's also suggested Zaphkiel himself elevates a new member of the Hebdomad, when the old one dies., suggesting to me the it was a metaphor, but YMMV.
It' also not clear if the original Celestial Hebdomad were the very first martyrs who arrived at Celestia, arrived from unrelated sacrifices, or one from one event, or related events.

The line that the "multiverse still quaked with the aftershocks of birth", to me possible reference to the war between Law and Chaos, and still the possibility at least some of them were Vaati. The line about mortals though, makes it more complicated - Vaati are referred as immortals (if more in the sense they are unaging, they don't go back to their plane after destruction of their body when not on the Plane of Elemental Air), most probably disqualifying them.

Edited by - Baltas on 19 Jun 2022 20:38:10
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Marc
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639 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2022 :  20:46:54  Show Profile Send Marc a Private Message  Reply with Quote
always seemed to me as one of the first beings to pass the tests of Celestia, not elevated by any power

Vaati were from the plane of Air, probably related to the Hindu god Vayu

there is also an unnamed power of pure thought that is served by mercurials in Celestia, tough on the fourth layer in a hyper-reality realm

.
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Baltas
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Poland
942 Posts

Posted - 19 Jun 2022 :  21:16:55  Show Profile Send Baltas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, Vaati as I wrote above, seem to be in part inspired by the Aerial Sprits of Solomon, and jinn (with which te Aerial Spirits themselves wre sometimes connected).

Both Vaati and the Aerial Spirits, have a group named the "Wandering Dukes". Even some names of both groups of Wandering Dukes overlap:

Icosiol (Vaati) - Icosiel (Aerial Spirit)
Uriel (Vaati) - Uriel (Aerial Spirit)
Emoniel (Vaati) - Emoniel (Aerial Spirit)

The lesser Wandering Duke, Zosiel, has also a counterpart of the same name among Aerial Spirits - curiously, Zosiel, the Aerial Spirit served Icosiel, while Icosiol avenged the slain Zosiel (the Vaati) after by destroying his killer the demon Kizarvedexus.

Vayu (also called Vata) might also be an inspiration, through name and role, but also possibly his Avestan counterpart - Vayu-Vata. I'm not sure about a direct in-universe connection, as Vayu is Chaotic Neutral, unless he changed his alignement, or Vaati and Vayu grew alignment-wise/ideologically apart.

Edited by - Baltas on 20 Jun 2022 07:12:12
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Zeromaru X
Great Reader

Colombia
2276 Posts

Posted - 20 Jun 2022 :  01:16:03  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
As for Bahamut and Tiamat, remember that the new story for them (4e, SCAG) is that when Io died, he was reborn as Bahamut and Tiamat. Io's dead varies depending on the source: he either was killed by the Primordials in the Dawn War (4e, SCAG) or he sacrificed his being to create the world (Fizban's, I guess making a reference to Io's creation of the Multiverse in Monster Mythology).

Anyways, the thing is Bahamut and Tiamat are THE dragon gods now, with the other gods being retconed or repurposed (like Sardior, who is now Bahamut and Tiamat's child).

According to 4e, Io can be reborn when Bahamut and Tiamat fuse again (Io still exist as a spiritual being or some form of vestige, per 4e lore).

But, sorry for the parenthesis. I just wanted to clarify the current lore of the dragon gods.

Instead of seeking change, you prefer a void, merciless abyss of a world...

Edited by - Zeromaru X on 20 Jun 2022 01:17:09
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Baltas
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Poland
942 Posts

Posted - 20 Jun 2022 :  05:56:54  Show Profile Send Baltas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah, I know, but thanks for clarifying it.

It's also interesting the Io/Asgorath spliting into Bahamut and Tiamat lore, is quite similar to to Draconic theogony in Reign of Dragons article (by Brian R. James) in Candlekeep Compendium IV . There though, Asgorath/Io splits into Xymor, Yaldabaoth (Tiamat) and Null.
Asgorath/Io though did there reform on the planes, independently from his 3 fragments.

There though, Bahamut is not the same as Xymor - instead being the first metallic dragon, who inherited Xymor's divinity.

This makes me wonder if this article wasn't in part an inspiration for latter lore, especially that WOTC hired Brian R. James before 4th edition came out, and him making alongside Ed, George Krashos, Eric L. Boyd and Thomas Costa an official version of his Grand History of the Realms. Though both could just to take inspiration from the lore and implications of the 1990's Draconomicon, still the similarities are uncanny.


[EDIT]

Also, returning to Zaphkiel - while it is stated in "Players Guide to Faerun" that at least according to legend, only Tyr knows Zaphkiel's original identity as a mortal. It does also suggest he might (it's not stated stated as a certain) not know what what happens in Chronias, but also that he feels great respect for him. Suggesting that he might chose to trust Zaphkiel enough to not mind the first Archon to have keeping the secrets of Chronias hidden.

This doesn't prove Tyr was involved in Zaphkiel's ascension, but if the legend is true, Tyr is indeed a very old deity. (connecting to real world theories Tyr is a very old god, possibly tied to primordial figures like [quote=""https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuisto]Tuisto[/quote]. And also suggesting Zaphkiel might had been someone interesting in life, as well as his sacrifice. Though it also might be connected to Tyr's age, or trust he and Zaphkiel have towards each other.

Edited by - Baltas on 20 Jun 2022 22:53:53
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