An architect1 is a professional who leads the construction of buildings, playing a primary role in design and supervising the building work to ensure that their plan is properly implemented. Architects are primarily a sub-species of civil engineer, although many would deny it. The output of architects - when it suceeds at least - is, unsurprisingly, known as architecture.
The evolution of the architect is an important step in the development of any civilisation, allowing it to undertake significant construction projects on a basis other than trial-and-error, although historically the role was often merged into other professions - the requisite knowledge of physics, geometry and the like being too scarce to waste on overspecialisation. Equally the term has also been applied to people who perform only part of the role and full role architects known by other descriptions.
By diffusion the term has also been applied to designers of other large and unwieldy things such as ships, software and artificial terrain.
In some, more primitive eras - particularly those where geometery and physics are mysterious - architects may develop a reputation for using magic to erect otherwise impossible structures. In a campaign that features magic, this may be entirely feasible and may explain some of the unfeasible structures found in fantasy art and literature.
Architects have almost nothing in common with actors.
Game and Story Use
- Not a great deal of use in game, although any setting in which large constructions play a major part may need PCs to interact with architects.
- If you allow your PCs to settle down and build a home-base, very few of them will settle for the sort of home that can be built without one - although plenty of them will begrudge the fee and try to use their meta-knowledge to get around it.
- The evil magic using architect is a possible ancillary character - human sacrifice was a normal part of large building projects in some cultures (usually binding the soul of the deceased to defend and/or support the construction). For an example of how to integrate this into a modern campaign try Robert Westall's The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral.