Architects are interested in economics and fascinated by the way that money moves around and influences the world. They see money as a powerful tool for influencing people and changing society for the better. They make an effort to study the world around them to try to understand what improvements are needed and who is best placed to carry that out. Through investment and mercantile activity, they seek to change the world around them.
Architects disdain “shopkeepers”, people who buy things and simply wait for customers to purchase from them. Architects seek out individuals who can benefit from the skills or commodities they are selling and convince them to invest their money in whatever service the architect can provide. They look for new opportunities to make profits and for ways to capitalize on new developments.
Architects claim that commerce is the perfect example of the Net of the Heavens in action. Wealth is the tool with which an architect influences the world, seeking out the most important nodes, the people and moments in the net where wealth can be best employed to produce the most dramatic changes. Some architects appreciate the profits such opportunities yield, but riches are not the primary concern for most architects. The majority are driven by a desire to change the Empire, to strengthen and enrich it, so that it grows ever more perfect. A merchant prince of The League might bemoan the actions of a dozen imitators who copied their original idea — whereas a true Urizen architect would be delighted to achieve so much with so little personal effort.
Originally the architects were skilled masons, designing and constructing dwellings for the Urizen people. The spires favoured by Urizeni require tremendous technical skill to construct, so the skills of the most capable architects were in great demand. The best architects sought out spires that would provide the most prestigious commissions, constantly looking to develop their arete by building ever more challenging designs. They soon found that the most effective way to meet their ambitions was to generate demand rather than simply respond to it. They would produce meticulous sketches of the most incredible buildings, touring Urizen as they sought a spire that was sufficiently inspired to pay for the work.
As architects became accustomed to promoting their novel ideas, their ambitions slowly grew. No longer content to just create spires and towers, they dreamed of new ways to enrich Urizen. Architects designed winched platforms to make it easier to move people and materials quickly up the mountains. They built bridges intended to span not just rivers but whole valleys. The intricate systems of pipes used to heat Urizen spires were designed by the great architects of this age.
The most famous work of the architects is the heliopticon — the elegant system of mirrors and lights that are used to send signals from one mountain top to another. The idea was first proposed by Anna of Comena, as a warning system that would give spires time to prepare for attack by barbarians. Her original plans were based on a system of metallic dishes that would carry a voice for long distances, but she quickly adapted the designs to incorporate ideas developed by Martena of Tabulous, a fellow architect who was famous for using mirrors to illuminate spires with reflected natural light. The two worked together to create the very first heliopticon system, demonstrating to the collected magicians how they could use flashes of light to send messages from Tabulous to the neighbouring spire of Delving.
With the demonstration a triumph, Anna and Martena created copies of their designs and sent them to every spire they knew, urging them to create their own device. Today the heliopticon stands as the greatest testaments to the architect's art — the ability to dream up new ways that citizens might invest in the Empire to create prosperity for all.
Like many Urizen, architects strive to make the world a more perfect place — but they see trade and investment as the best way to achieve that. When starting out, most architects invest simply to increase their wealth and prosperity, but the ultimate goal is to become affluent or influential enough that you can make crucial investments that will transform the lives of ordinary citizens. Some architects at Anvil trade their skills as artisans, magicians, apothecaries, but many architects are traders who buy and sell goods for profit.
Architects tend to be divided into two groups. The first group believe that the Net of the Heavens is revealed by the prices people are prepared to pay for things: the more someone is prepared to pay, then the greater the need, and thus the more appropriate it is to provide the goods or service to that person. This group tend to side with the more profit-motivated business people who inhabit the League and the Brass Coast. Their counterparts view this approach as fatally flawed — they believe that prices reveal only what a person can afford to pay. They believe that architects should make their own decisions on where to invest — based on their judgement of what will provide the best return rather than be motivated by profits. This group tends to have more in common with the benefactors of Highguard and the seneschals of Dawn.
Although they disagree on the best approach, all architects agree that trade and investment serves to improve the wealth of the whole Empire. For example, both groups support the practice of arbitrage. To an architect, if someone can buy mana crystals cheaply in Urizen — and sell them for more in Highguard — then that trade benefits the seller, the buyer, and the trader alike. According to the complex theories of the architects, such traders cause prices of mana crystals in different markets to converge — which benefits everyone.
What drives many architects is the grand ambition to use their wealth to create something truly extraordinary — something that makes a lasting difference to the prosperity of the Empire. The example of the heliopticon serves as an inspiration to every architect that if they work with like-minded individuals across the Empire they could create something similar, something that will provide lasting benefits for generations to come. To achieve something of this kind requires more than just access to great wealth, it requires the imagination to think of new solutions. Architects reserve their praise not for the richest members of the Empire, but for those who use their wealth and influence in the most creative ways.
Not all architects are rich; an architect who is independently wealthy may be able to finance their own investments and schemes, but this is not the only model. Many architects cultivate a network of wealthy associates and investors to whom they can appeal for backing.
Creating an Architect
This archetype is intended to appeal to anyone who is interested in trade and economics in Empire, for anyone who is inspired by the engineering achievements of historical figures like Brunel. Architects can be interested in trade, finance, or economics, but you don't have to a dedicated trader to be a successful architect. The archetype is perfect for anyone whose character goals are focused on creating enduring accomplishments in the Empire setting.
Creating an archetype gives you a lot of freedom to take any skills that appeal to you. It is useful to have skills that you can trade with other players so you can grow wealthier, so magicians, artisans and apothecaries are all common. But ultimately, you can play an architect who buys and sells resources in the game, or who buys and sells the services of others — you don't need any specific character skills to do any of these things. Selling skills can be an effective way to make money in Empire — but if you plan to spend your time making money at the events, then the best advice is to make money by doing something you enjoy.
If you are creating a character as part of a group, then it is a good idea to find out if anyone else in the group is interested in trade and money. If you're the only member of the group who is keen on trade and prosperity, then it's useful to see what options you have for hawking their skills and resources for them at the events. If there are other members of the group with similar ambitions, then it's helpful to discuss plans and see if you can work together. In either case, you should take time to find out what sort of things the group and members of the group would benefit from. Obtaining items, rituals, or investments that are useful to members of your group is a good way to get started as an architect. If the group has some grand goal — to build a new spire, to fortify their homeland, to launch a navy or create a college of magic — then this gives you a long term goal to work towards.
As an architect, you are motivated to get involved in every deal, but the most important thing you need is a vision of what you are trying to achieve. Most architects are not interested in gaining wealth for their own ends — they want to use it to change the world for the better. To do that, you'll need access to wealth, either your own or friends, but you'll also need a big idea for what you want to do with it. It's a good idea to start with some simple goals, such as getting a sinecure created, but you want to build on each success with something more ambitious than the last project. Don't worry if you're not certain what you want to achieve with your character at first though, you can always set about the task of becoming wealthy and well connected while you work out what your grand ambition is going to be.
Playing an Architect
Playing an architect gives you a set of basic character goals: to gain access to wealth so that you can fund your grand ambitions, to get a knowledge of the market so that you know what people need and can address that, and to strive to create some lasting monument that changes the Empire for the better.
The more money you have access to, the more you can accomplish, so it's sensible to pursue any opportunity for making money. In fact, it's a good idea to try to get involved with every transaction, even if you won't make money off it directly. It will help you learn more about Empire's marketplace and also allow you to meet other characters with similar goals. Being wealthy is always useful, but don't assume that you have to be rich yourself. Many architects cultivate a group of patrons who are willing to back them. Such people might be investors, seeking a return, or simply allies who share your ambition to see the Empire prosper.
Remember that you can buy and sell anything. Some players make cakes, drinks, or even props that they sell for money in the game. You can sell your skills as an artisan, an apothecary or a ritualist, but you can also sell the skills of your friends and allies if they'll let you. There are lots of resources in Empire that you can buy and sell — you can trade in personal resources like green iron or herbs like cerulean mazzarine, and if you get rich enough then you buy and sell precious resources like ilium or mithril.
Many architects are obsessed with studying markets looking for opportunities for profit; the more you know about prices in the field, who is buying, who is selling, the more openings you will have to make some coin. The ultimate achievement as an architect is to engage in arbitrage — in Empire terms that means making an agreement to buy a commodity from one person while you make a second agreement to sell the commodity to another for a higher price. Not everyone agrees with the practice — some characters will think you are exploiting the marketplace if you can pull this off — but the common view of the Urizen architect is that everybody gains by such an arrangement.
While it might seem simplest to focus on Urizen, there is no need to restrict yourself to one nation. The more people you trade with, the more opportunities you will have to roleplay with people and the more likely you are to profit from them. The most dramatic way to make money is to hold a title in the Imperial Bourse — particularly if you can win one of the really wealthy titles like the Brilliant Star. These titles are hotly contested and many are controlled by wealthy cartels, so you'll need a lot of allies and backers of your own to help you wrest control of one. Putting together a cartel of your own is a great motivation for an architect, but you don't have to aim for the most expensive seats. There are plenty of less valuable seats in the Bourse that are well worth aiming for while you establish yourself.
If you can, then it's a good idea to keep a close eye on the Winds of Fortune. These are noteworthy current events in the Empire setting which are published before each event. They often come with consequences for the citizens of the Empire which are spelt out in the wiki page for each Wind. Crucially, they will sometimes create opportunities for profit — a chance for your character to get involved and address the situation. Part of the goals of the architect is to keep abreast of changes in the market, so that you can address them (and potentially reap the rewards thereby).
One of the broader goals of an architect is to make the Empire more prosperous. Don't think of an architect as someone who builds things — but as someone who makes a plan. Architects are traders trying to make money, they're engineers trying to create amazing things, but they're also economists trying to get people to be more prosperous. People often prefer to avoid being reliant on trade, it feels better to be self-sufficient and to have everything you need before you get to Anvil. But you don't want people to feel comfortable, you want them to be prosperous, so your second goal is to encourage people to specialize in the things they do well. If you find a group that has a shortage of cerulean mazarine and an excess of green iron, then you want to encourage them to keep doing that by buying their iron and selling them mazarine. (Economists call this comparative advantage in the real world).
The ultimate character goal for an architect is to create some lasting change in the Empire. You may need to acquire some influence in the Imperial Senate to achieve this, since they control key powers like commission and also appraisal. But if you manage it then you have the potential to create something amazing that will appear on the wiki and will change the world for everyone.