Sorcerer guilds in the time of Hali
As I’ve mentioned in this essay, human sorcerers established many guilds, or centers of learning, in the kingdoms of Man. Each guild had its own traditions and methods distinguishing it from the competition. Some favored alternative ways to record spells. Some specialized in certain types of magik. Some even dictated particular forms of attire, though the imposition of a dress code was purely for cosmetic and branding reasons that had nothing to do with the magik’s potency. Some guilds had stringent requirements for membership, others were loose almost to the point of being rather casual. Some guilds had very large memeberships, such as the Mage Guild at Colcester which numbered in the hundreds. Other guilds had only a handful of members. Some guilds practiced openly, others worked in the shadows. Some guilds had huge, grandiose guild headquarter in one or more locations while others studied in small, unassuming shelters. Some guilds were urban and woven into the fabric of society, others were secluded places of the study in the wilderness and far removed from the politics of the day. The only consistent thread among these various sorcerer guilds was that each and every one of them furthered the arcane pursuits of its members.
Not every sorcerer chose to join a guild. Joining a guild was an intensely personal choice and entirely voluntary. It wasn’t for everybody. Some practitioners of the art preferred to seek out knowledge on their own or with the aid of a mentor.
Listed below are a sample of the sorcerer guilds existing during the time of Hali. They’re listed alphabetically, after the Mage Guild of Colcester. Most of the guilds specialized in one particular style of magik, but that didn’t meant that members didn’t know spells outside of that specialty.
Mage Guild of Colcester – By rights, the list needs to start with the Mage Guild of Colcester, the largest and longest enduring guild devoted to the arts arcane. The Mage Guild was affiliated with the University, but was a separate and distinct organization. It was physically located on the University grounds, leasing a building that originally housed the School of History (where I was at one point the Dean). The members of the Mage Guild had library privileges at the University and were allowed to attend classes, for a nominal fee. In terms of magik, the Mage Guild had no particular specialization. It was so large, with so many members and so much capital, that it had mentors experienced in a number of different approaches to spellcasting. Members often rotated from mentor to mentor, until they found someone whose approach matched their own. During the time of Hali, a woman by the name of Davina Flowvine ran the guild. Like me, she came to Colcester at a young age. Unlike me, she discovered an affinity to magik. She enrolled in the Mage Guild and quickly rose in the ranks of the masters. She was a powerful leader for the guild, helped in large part by her widely known relationship with Revus Wilburn, the Head Master at the University.
Blue Wizards – the Blue Wizards’ academy was located on Cantari Island in the inland Sarhaven Sea. Veldacyl, an Elf born in the Elder Days descended from the ancient tribe of the Sea Elves, survived the Reckoning only to find himself on what would come to be called Cantari Island. He did hear Kandol’s call from far away Pel Aesylle and very nearly started the trek westward, but at the last minute had second thoughts. After the tumult of the Reckoning, he desired a quiet, peaceful life more than anything. He realized that the island offered him everything he wanted, and so he decided to stay. He lived there alone for a very long time, and was content. He did have visitors every now and then, from people crossing the Sarhaven. As legends began to spread of the solitary Elf living on the island, visitors became more frequent. Veldacyl had wished for a quiet life, but he discovered that he enjoyed the company of men, finding them a bold, adventuresome, brave, and impatient people. Some of those who visited him were burgeoning spellcasters, hoping to learn pearls of wisdom from the ancient master. Veldacyl enjoyed teaching immensely and founded the Blue Wizard Academy, a place where those with talent and a solid work ethic could learn the arts arcane. The Blue Wizard Academy specialized in spells featuring water.
Edda’s Gold – a wandering club of loosely affiliated sorcerers, the members of Edda’s Gold were lone crusaders who wandered Fanar seeking wrongs to right, injustices to correct and Dark Ones to slay. They had guild houses in nearly every capital city on the continent, buildings served by small household staffs comprised of locals. A retired crusader, someone experienced at battling evil and willing to share lore with younger members presided over each guild house. Such positions were considered a great honor. They named themselves after the sun of the first watch because they specialized in spells of light designed to inflict maximum pain upon the Dark Ones. They usually wore golden robes with sunburst collars, but were not adverse to going incognito when circumstances demanded stealth. Many of the members favored Aeriel the Dawn Mistress for her valor in defending the Three Suns.
House of Wind – a small sorcerer’s guild located in Sangrithar, the House of Wind never gathered much steam. The God-Emperor had little tolerance for any gathering of power and so, like the Devotees, the House of Wind practiced their craft in secret, always fearful that the Averchai would smoke them out and bring them before the Pearl Throne. As you might suspect, they specialized in spells of air and wind, which were quite useful since they lived in a city upon the sea. They often hired on as sea hands so that they could exercise their abilities on the open water, well away from prying eyes. An onboard sorcerer was a boon to any ship and most of the captains that hired them were more than willing to keep quiet about their abilities, and warn their crews to keep their mouths shut also. Breaches of confidentiality were rare, thanks to the sailing code of honor. Of course, there was always the veiled threat from the House of Wind to insure their silence. Any captain or crew member that spilled the beans would find himself cut off from the House of Wind, which would put them at a competitive disadvantage.
Mages of the Green Hand – you would probably think of these wizards as druids. They gathered in the Briarwood, where they used the power of the Spires to commune with nature and developed spells which gave them control over the flora and fauna of Sangrar. They wore camouflage robes and wreaths of holly on their heads. Their name comes from the tattoos on their foreheads, received at the end of their acolyte training. These sorcerers tended to be uncomfortable in large cities and did not often leave the comfort of the Briarwood. Though located at the western end of the forest, far from Dol Melerith, they were on good terms with the Fair Folk and were quite willing to bring their powers to bear when Dark Ones crossed over from the Shadowgrim.
Mages of the Iron Hammer – This sorcerer guild, located on the shores of Lake Hiffrim, was housed in a large and grandiose building as ostentatious as the Temple of the Wave in Sangrithar. They were the craftsmen and artisans of the sorcerous community, spending most of their time making wondrous items of enchantment rather than casting spells. They thought spells too fleeting, a waste of the Spires’ precious energy. For them, true joy of magik found expression in the crafting of these items, which effected a permanence to magik that spells lacked. To their way of thinking, why cast a spell to fly to the top of that nearby cliff when you could enchant a pair of nice leather boots to sprout a pair of wings.
Mages of the Spiral Path – this guild, located in Jeheris, was best known for producing sorcerers that used spinning tops to cast their spells. Many spells cast by human sorcerers required some sort of material components ranging from simple items found in most homes, such as a candle or a clippings from a horse’s tail, to something rare, such as a dragon’s scale. The Mages of the Spiral Path tended to use spells that worked at great distances, like spells of divining or weather control. Every mage carried a bag of spinning tops, of different sizes and colors. To cast spells, they spun tops in various combinations while chanting the appropriate words.
Order of the Crimson Veil – Unlike most sorcerers, the adepts belonging to the Order of the Crimson Veil paid close attention to their physical condition in addition to studying the arts arcane. They split their time between mastering the martial arts and learning spells, many of which were designed to boost their abilities in hand to hand combat. They shunned weapons, employing instead kicks and punches like those used in karate. Their spells could harden their skin like unto iron, or give their hands an edge that could cut diamond, or make them move so fast they were little more than a blur in combat. They located their headquarters in Orland’s capitol ciy, Bergonia, where they enjoyed an uncommon popularity. The people of Orland viewed them as local folk heroes, always willing to protect the poor and needy, though outside of Orland the Order of the Crimson Veil was relatively unknown. Members of the order wore robes of varying colors, signifying their mastery in both martial and arcane arts, and covered their faces with crimson silk veils.
Purifiers of the Flame – this sorcerer’s guild was located in the nation of Jeheris, along the northeastern slopes of the Daladorn Mountains. They specialized in fire magik and were arcane purists, believing magik the ultimate power in the world. This holier than thou attitude didn’t endear them to others, so they tended to keep to themselves. Their proudest achievement was a beautiful altar in the large hall at the center of the guild. An everlasting flame lit the altar. The Purifiers maintained that the flame was a spark of the Flame of Creation, but unless Numra the Great Explorer went outside the Girdle on their behalf, I find that hard to swallow.
Sorcerers of the White Wand – this small band of sorcerers practiced their craft in a secluded tower overlooking Mirror Lake. They researched spells that used, you guessed it, a white wand as the material component. They also waved the wand in different patterns when casting a spell, with each spell having its own distinct pattern. As part of their training, each acolyte went on a quest to retrieve a branch from one of the white ash trees growing on the slopes of the nearby Firewind Mountains and then fashioned a wand from it. Theses sorcerers weren’t flashy types, cutting loose with fireballs and lightning bolts. They leaned towards spells on the defensive side of the spectrum, such as conjuring an obscuring cloud, or a wall of wind to ward against an incoming volley of arrow.
The Crescent Sorcerers – these sorcerers had an academy in Jinavriel, the capital city of Jeheris. They were an odd bunch, sorcerers with an affinity for the night. Their knowledge stemmed from tomes written by the wise Light Elves of Alyrre before the Reckoning. Elgis the Starry-Eyed discovered the treasure trove of ancient lore while exploring some ruins. After much study, he underwent a ritual described in the tomes that taught him how to gather more energy from the Spires during the night, but this gift came at a cost. Elgis now gathered energy from the Spires very slowly in daylight. The ritual had an unintended effect as well, changing the whites of his eyes to black, and replacing his pupils and irises with fields of stars. Elgin became a master of divination and prophecy, and founded a school to teach like-minded sorcerers. The Crescent Sorcerers studied anything they could get their hands that touched upon the suns and the moons, the constellations and their orbits, and the nature of Esel. Joining the guild required undergoing a ritual similar to the one Elgis undertook. This ritual changed how the sorcerer gathered energy from the Spires but did not change his or her eyes – that particular effect started and ended with Elgin. Instead, the sorcerers willingly inscribed a horizontal crescent beneath each eye symbolizing their devotion to the night.
The Endiron Order – Most of the sorcerer guilds listed here were primarily academic institutions dedicated to furthering the arcane education of its members. The Endiron Order was decidedly different. This was a mercenary organization, with members for hire that specialized in magik useful on the battlefield. These wizards, as they preferred to be called, were all from Endiron and had the high foreheads endemic of those people. In fact, if you had a normal sized forehead, they’d politely ask you to find another guild. You met one of these wizards in the Curse of Arvyl’s Folly. Baron Xander Lessari of Cormane employed a wizard from the Endiron Order, one Estan Phaerizal. You might remember him dancing on the parapets during the siege of Cormane. When he zapped Hali with a lightning bolt, he brought out the god-fire burgeoning within for the first time. Like all members of the Endiron Order, Estan wore a tightly stretched skull caps with embroidered runes.
The Harrow – Most of these fell sorcerers lived in the Harrowmeet, a dark enchanted forest in the Sangritharian Empire. Each sorcerer lived in his or her own abode, which was typically cloaked in shadow to hide from enemies. Some left the Harrowmeet to spread their brand of terror elsewhere, taking up residence in equally hidden homes. The Harrow practiced necromantic arts. Like all sorcerers, the Harrow’s magik depended on gathering the energy of the Spires, but they augmented it with dark lore received in exchange for prayers to the Dark Lord. Their spells could wither a foe, animate the dead, or summon tentacles of shadow. Other sorcerers, in fact, most other people, viewed their art as an abomination.
The Magister Academy – located in Colcester, a group of sorcerers specializing in the arts of summoning formed this relatively small guild two centuries before the time of Hali. The sorcerers were members of the Colcester Mage Guild who wanted to break away from the main guild and start a school dedicated to mastering summoning spells. The break was a friendly one, and the new Academy started out with the blessing of the parent guild, a good-sized library, and a well-stocked laboratory. The summoning arts were one of the more dangerous arts arcane. Summoners were sorcerers who could summon beings to their side and compel their assistance. To accomplish this, summoners opened portals to folds in the Girdle, strange otherworldly dimensions where all manner of dangerous creatures lurked. Summoners could call upon very powerful creatures for assistance, but that was a two-edged sword. Compelling the creature you summoned didn’t work one hundred percent of the time. The more powerful the creature summoned, the more difficult it was to compel. Summoned creatures weren’t always pleased at being interrupted and usually arrived in a pretty grumpy mood. If a sorcerer wasn’t powerful enough to compel the creature, the situation could end badly.
Wizards of the Inner Eye – These sorcerers specialized in enchantments that befuddled and confused the minds of opponents. They could suggest you take a course of action that you would never undertake were you in your right mind and you would gladly follow their suggestion. They could read your innermost thoughts, take command of your body, or conjure up your worst childhood nightmares. They had a headquarters in the Irontooth Mountains, overlooking the Savage Plains. The Angrakorans living nearby knew that the sorcerers dwelt there and kept their distance. Wizards of the Inner Eye would return to the headquarters every now and then, to rejuvenate their spirits and study their lore, before returning to the world at large. They weren’t especially numerous, but you could find them walking the streets of any city on Fanar. They were proud group and did not hide when moving about in public. The silver eye tattooed on their foreheads made them instantly recognizable, and feared, more feared than most other sorcerous traditions. It wasn’t that they were an evil bunch. They weren’t, but they weren’t white knights either. They followed a neutral moral code, one that prized the pursuit of knowledge above all else. Regular townsfolk found the thought of someone who could peer into your mind, or steal your most precious memories (even writing that brings a tear to my eye) far more terrifying than a sorcerer who could conjure up an exploding ball of fire.
Wolf Mages of Angrakor – these sorcerers lived in the wilds of Angrakor and traveled with the barbarian tribes of the land. Like the Bardalla of the Humadin, they were considered wise shaman, but when you looked beneath the covers, Wolf Mages had little in common with the Humadin wise men. Bardallas had no connection to the Spires. Their magik was connected to the Spirit World and altogether different. The Wolf Mages, however, derived power from the Spires like other sorcerers. Unlike other sorcerer guilds, and I use the word in the loosest sense here, they had no school, no academy, and no gathering place to store lore. Every generation or two, a new Wolf Mage was born to each tribe and oral tradition passed the lore from elder to acolyte. They used their magik to rally the tribes, to inspire them in battle, and to help their tribes survive in the wild, by divining water sources and guiding the hunt. Wolf Mages also had the ability to change shapes by calling upon the Spires. They could transform into eagles to scout from above, into lions and elephants to rampage across the battlefield, but their favorite form, the first one taught to a young’un showing an inkling of power, was that of the wolf. As wolves, these sorcerers battled fiercely, ripping foes from limb to limb. The Lucatakka of the Humadin, the people of the wolf, took exception to the Wolf Mages and considered them sworn enemies.