Auditors of Reality

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The Auditors of Reality
Name Legion
Race sui generis
Age as old as Time
Occupation maintenance
Physical appearance like empty gray cloaks
Residence everywhere
Marital Status
Books Reaper Man, Hogfather, Thief of Time, The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch

The Auditors of Reality are the eternal watchers of time and space. Appearing as empty gray cloaks, they have no sense of humanity and all that it entails, whether it be humor or even a sense of singularity, which they particularly despise. Auditors think that to live is to die, and to be a specific person is to live, so an Auditor finds itself imploding if it so much as talks about itself in the first person. Auditors always speak of the "we". Auditors always work in groups of at least three, so that each one can be watched by at least two others. Supposedly all Auditors are of the same opinions about everything, but they still need to watch each other because, frankly, the temptation to live is too great.

They have also had their fair share of run-ins with the Death of the Discworld. Auditors tend to be very unpopular with all anthropomorphic personifications and other supernatural entities for breaking the world to make things the way they ought to be. Auditors think that everything should obey basic physics (i.e. it should not be affected by imagination, perceptions, or thoughts, which sentient beings possess in amounts that seem to the Auditors to be unacceptable). Auditors also think that things should be regular (i.e. all cobblestones should be exactly same size and shape), and all spoken words ought to be literal and there ought not be metaphors. Auditors have tried at various times to get Death replaced by someone with less heart, get people to stop believing in a winter god, and make time stop so that the Auditors can finally catch up with all the paperwork. They also, once they became aware of its existence, objected to certain aspects of Roundworld history, and sought to destroy it.

Ancient non-life form

The Auditors are both repelled by life (and humans in particular) and drawn to it. This leads them to interfere in Discworld, and to do this they are willing to break the Rules.

In Reaper Man it says they cannot be described in ordinary language. “Some people would call them cherubs.” Death calls them servants, watchers. Like him, they are able to appear before Azrael. In Hogfather, Death says of them, “They run the universe. They see to it that gravity works and that atoms spin (or whatever it is atoms do).”

In Thief of Time it says things need to be observed in order to exist. In that case, as the most fundamental of observers, nothing would exist without them. Clearly they are part of the cosmic order, and if it were imaginable that any power could diminish them in their own realm, it would be up to the combined forces of Discworld to rally round. This does not stop them from making a nuisance of themselves.

The Auditors hate life, because it is untidy. By their nature, the Auditors take the view that for a thing to exist it has to have a position in time and space. But all the things that distinguish human beings, such as imagination, pity, hope, history and belief, don’t do time and space. Humanity, by belief, allows things to become that don’t exist. Death said that matter has a fear and hatred of life, and the Auditors are the bearers of that hatred. Periodically they try to tidy things up.

Gravity and atoms are basically important, but the Auditors are rubbish in the human dimension. An intelligence a billion years old, which has seen galaxies die, and sees atoms dance, which has hundreds of senses and thinks in 18 dimensions, which makes decisions by the concensus of millions, quickly falls to bits if clamped into the five senses of a human being, with demanding organs wired into its thinking system, looking out at the world from the darkness behind the eyes through the letterbox of “me”. Life is intoxicating, and if the auditors stray into organic territory, they come to grief.

Auditors' thinking processes are noted repeatedly to be very robotic. One way to stop them and cause them to implode is to write signs which issue logically impossible instructions; examples include a sign that says, in large letters 'IGNORE THIS ORDER', a sign saying 'TURN RIGHT' with an arrow pointing left, or a sign saying 'DO NOT FEED THE ELEPHANT' when there is no elephant for them not to feed.


The Auditors appear to be a tribute to the "Grey Men" (Graue Männer) in Michael Ende's fantasy novel Momo, in which (as in Pratchett) the gray-clothed accountant-like characters closely monitor the actions of all characters and seek to make them as efficient as possible, with no regard for their actual well-being. Ende's gray men are likewise stumped by encounters that seem not to follow literal guidelines, and are ultimately flouted by beauty and a childlike love of narrative.