The Architects are a little-known alliance of alien races, who are responsible for creating (among other things) door-sized "gateways," which are devices capable of sending the user across space and time, or even to alternate universes, on mental command. One such device somehow found its way into the back wall of the Good Time Chinese Restaurant in Lawndale, which led to the bizarre adventures recounted in the third-season episode "Depth Takes a Holiday." The Architects were first mentioned in the fanfic "Illusions" (by CharlieGirl, Angelinhel, and TAG) and resurfaced in Lycissa's "Second Chances" and "End of the Line," Richard Lobinske's "Three," and TAG's "Guys' Night Out."
It is also theorized that the world of Counterpoint had some minor affiliation with the Architects as well, because of the nature of their technology (including the necklaces that afforded wearers powers comparable to those of Defender Rings).
In "Illusions," the supernatural character Angel said the Architects were "aliens from another arm in this galaxy. The Architects made those inter-universal gateways about half a billion years ago, loads of them, and ran all over the place with them. Beings that find the gates now tend to hide them away for whatever purpose they can dream up, like sneaking into other people’s homes—or invading other worlds or universes." She added that the Architects "are all gone, dead most likely."
A gateway appears to be a large bar of dull gray metal bend in roughly the size and shape of a door frame. To use it, one must touch the metal bar and think about where (or in what time period) the user wishes to visit. The user then steps through the gateway and comes out at the desired destination.
Angel noted that each gateway emits a "a multi-planar resonance signature," a kind of telepathic nudge that acts as "a come-hither signal, a way of ensuring that someone finds it." Such signals manifest themselves in various ways (dreams, ideas for stories, visions, impulses to do certain things, etc.), but direct the recipients to a specific location (such as Lawndale's Good Time Chinese Restaurant) so the gateway can be discovered and utilized. The signal is so powerful that it crosses into parallel universes that are similar to the universe where the device exists. Thus, in a universe in which Good Time does not have a gateway, certain people might feel an impulse to go to that restaurant, or else have odd dreams about it in which they meet strange people who have come through a wormhole or gate in that restaurant, have the urge to write science-fiction or fantasy stories about that restaurant, and so on. It is possible that the presence of an Architects' gateway in a certain location predisposes that spot, in alternate universes, to spontaneously develop an interdimensional wormhole on its own, or else cause other beings to create the same in the same location. In "Three," Richard, a hypersphere supervisor for The Agency, described the devices thus: "Those damn Interfaces are the biggest pains in our butts imaginable, but can also be useful. They are semi-sentient, telepathic, and are reality aware. They can implant suggestions into people with a reason or need to use it. Almost invariably, the target will come and try. Normally, the person will have no idea that they were being manipulated. Interfaces also tend to be addictive and can transport beings into realities without Interfaces. They have been used for incredible good, but the damage done by their use is also great."
Unknown to almost everyone, the gateways are also intelligent and possibly malign, often sending the users to dangerous worlds or disastrous encounters, perverting the travelers' actual intent in using the devices. Use of a gateway also appears to be psychologically addictive, causing travelers to never stop using them until the travelers are eventually destroyed by what they encounter. Even a powerful being like Angel is herself vulnerable in an undefined way to the presence of the Architects' gateways. Were she to use one, it would induce a sort of insane power hunger in her that she described as similar to what Galadriel (of The Lord of the Rings) claimed would happen to her were she to receive the One Ring (see The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter VII).
Gateways were the last devices created by the Architects, who became entirely extinct within an extremely short time after the gateways were employed. In When It Rains, Judith travelled 487 million years into the past to the main node of the newly created Gate Network on Sol V to implant an AI virus in the network and disable it. While her effort was disrupted by the Ringwraith Ian Llywd, it was completed by a version of Daria Morgendorffer working with The Agency Supervisor Richard and a version of Daria Von Doom, thus completing a time loop that resulted in the collapse of the Architects Confederation and the creation of The Agency from their ruins.
The organization known as DELPHI has recently learned of the existence of the gateways, and has made securing one for study and use a standing priority for all operatives and associated groups. Conversely, the Corps of Ringbearers and The Agency have forbidden the use of Architect Gateways forbidden for their personnel, and (as part of the Nova Valdris Accords) have made the destruction of all such Gateways a high priority for their operatives. In the Shining Star story, "Temporal Conundrum," the intelligence behind the gates began to push back against their actions through a surviving Ringwraith, Ian Llywd.