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Old 12-15-2005, 03:09 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default A wizards' guild (5 parts)

I wrote this for my own fantasy campaign but I offer it as a sample wizards’ guild for any who might wish to adapt it. Some details of my fantasy world crept in, but most of them are self-explanatory. In my world, specific spell formulæ can be designed to draw upon the power of chaos or evil, which makes them more powerful but dangerous (mainly to the mind of the caster); necromancy is not inherently black magic. Some magical effects will not work without these power sources (teleportation, demon summoning, life extension) because of a ritual conducted by a god that “closed” the world. Consumer-grade enchantment is cheap, but it wears off. A journeyman who knows the spell Enchant, even at less than skill 15, can renew the effect; this is how they get practice in order to attain skill 15. Most enchanters learn easier, enchantment-only versions of spells, which allows them to attain a higher effective skill and form bigger circles. Different magical traditions have other limitations, with a corresponding bonus to cast them, which somewhat mitigates the role of IQ in determining who can make use of Magery. Without further ado, I present the…

Terraport Federated Guild of Wizardry

Role: Dominant professional institution.
Symbol: A wand trailing stars.
Interests: Magic for profit.
Culture: Elitist, innovative, and materialistic.
History: Top talent flees the Empire of the Shards seeking academic freedom for magical research.
Structure: Conglomerate of specialist, magic-using guilds.
Tactics: Parley economic indispensability into political power to protect perquisites.
Security: Hierarchical magical security, mercenary guards.
Goals: Advance the state of applied magic.
Friends: Wizards everywhere, businesses which rely upon magical processes or enchanted tools.
Enemies: The Church of Man.
Important People: Archmagi, Guildmasters.

Terraport lies in the northwestern corner of the Empire of the Shards, at the mouth of the Fay Truce river. It is a wealthy city-state that handles river and ocean-going traffic from the empire and beyond, including trade from the Keevan League and Arnskæ tribes. Citizens are proud of their independence, but the ruling council understands that the empire tolerates Terraport for reasons of its own. One reason is the vice industry – better to have it flourish in Terraport than in secret places within the empire. Another is the possibility for innovation in the field of thaumatology, stifled within the empire by the Church of Man. The Church is widespread in Terraport as well, but other beliefs are tolerated, and the city-state’s wealth and relative freedom bring entrepreneurs and dissidents from all over, including non-human races.

Guilds dominate politics in Terraport, and all law is contract law. Residents are assumed to accept an implied contract with the city, and most of them belong to a guild which formalizes their relationship to the government, because guilds are, in effect, political parties. This arrangement has given rise to some peculiar social institutions, such as the Wives’ Guild to represent the interests of women, facetiously called the Ex-wives Guild because most women join when they want a divorce. Theft is illegal in Terraport as it is anywhere, but under the influence of the Thieves’ Guild, preventing theft with “excessive force” is also illegal, and most residents find the cost of occasional burglary lower than the fines for harming the burglar, but at least thieves go unarmed, for an armed robber is fair game.

The ruling council allows confidential contracts to protect trade secrets, and a guild can hire mercenaries (from the Guild Martial) to enforce them. In explaining the carnage which may result, a guild officer need only aver, under Truthsayer spell, that he was enforcing a confidential contract, without revealing its terms.

The most peculiar law of all is Proof of Causation. In accepting a contract, the Assassins’ Guild specifies only that the target will die by a certain date; payment is due even if he dies of natural or accidental causes. Of course, the guild maintains that every target died of natural causes, just before the assassin plunged a knife into him. They stab corpses on occasion to support the fiction, and stabbing a corpse is only a crime against property. The assassin knew the target was about to die from divination magic – provided under a confidential contract, of course. The legal requirement to prove the true cause of death has driven the advance of forensic thaumatology, thus legitimizing necromantic research in the public mind.

Last edited by Gef; 12-16-2005 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:10 PM   #2
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: A wizards' guild (5 parts)

Small guilds band together to form Federated Guilds, in order to increase their political power, and the Guild of Wizardry is such a case. Its constituents are as follow:

Enchanters’ Guild: Enchantment is a demanding specialty with the excellent long-term commercial opportunities, for which reason the enchanters dominate the federation. While many work on contract and sell their goods, others work on speculation producing “mage only” items which the guild will own, renting them out together with the services of journeymen who lack the intellectual attainment needed to make better use of their magical gifts.

Guild of the Ancient Art: When the federation formed, the alchemists asked to join, but the wizards established inborn magical talent as a basis for admission and rebuffed them. Later the wizards came to see the alchemists as an obstacle to their monopoly on magical services and forcibly annexed them. Marginalized within the federation, many master alchemists fled to the Empire of the Shards, where alchemy is seen as the noblest form of magic, free from the harassment that other practices endure. The net result is that wizards may practice alchemy if they so choose without risking an infringement suit, but none choose to operate on a large scale, and Terraport imports elixirs.

Guild of Chirurgy: Ironically, this guild has become dominated by magical healers (although they still teach mundane skills), and most actual chirurgy is practiced by midwives; the guild actually suspended enrollment of non-magical healers until the annexation of the alchemists. One might suspect a rivalry between magical healers and midwives, but in fact they have a cordial relationship. The Guild of Chirurgy is happy to let the women help patients who can’t afford magical healing, and the midwives are happy to accept referral fees when they run across a case beyond their abilities. Instead, both are united against the Church of Man. By law, priests may offer services to co-religionists without risking an infringement suit, and they offer healing to gain converts.

Guild of Sooth: Rulers find it prudent to consult diviners before spending public funds on risky propositions, and lawyers rely on the Truthsayer spell to confirm the intentions of signatories to a contract and witnesses of its breech. In addition to their role as notaries, the soothsayers leveraged their relationship with city government to take the lead in developing forensic magic for Proof of Causation. However, forensic wizards suffer a crisis of credibility, because they belong to the same guild which has a contract to provide the Assassins’ Guild with predictions of death by natural causes. Terraport recognizes conflict of interest only when one party is bound by separate contracts to mutually exclusive obligations, and then the older contract takes precedence, and confidential contracts make it difficult to prove in any case, but especially in this case when the soothsayers themselves have the notary contract. Forensic wizards would like to form a separate guild within the federation, but unlike the Weather Guild, they lack the numbers to persuade the leadership.

Guild of the Wise: At one time, when the people of Terraport feared they would be the next conquest in the Reunification, pagan priests formed this guild as a secular cover. To this day, many priestesses of Cere maintain membership, for the threat has never fully abated, but a secular component has arisen since mana is more reliable than pagan sanctity under the onslaught of the Church of Man. The guild blesses fields and livestock as the cult of Cere has traditionally done.

Magecrafters’ Guild: Enchanters regard professional spellcasters as little more than common craftsmen, hence the name, even though “magecraft” refers to enchantment in the public mind. Most members have a limited talent, such as access to a single college, that impedes their use of enchantment, but in the absence of mechanical refrigeration, a wizard who can make ice can also make a fortune. The guild holds a contract to provide and maintain lighted poles throughout the city, not snuffed by the seabreeze as lanterns would be, and it provides a dozen other useful specialists, but although it is the largest guild in the federation, it produces few masters. Nonetheless its members regard enchanters with contempt, for although an enchanter can readily produce a masterpiece, he typically learns spells optimized for enchantment and must first make a scroll if he actually wants to cast one.

Weather Guild: Shipping is Terraport’s principal industry, and it has a great demand for wizards who can induce a favorable wind or current. Formerly a part of the Magecrafters’ Guild, the Weather Guild went independent when their membership swelled with all the ships’ wizards operating in the seas north of the Empire of the Shards, including Kivese wizards who see no point in practicing under the League’s strict guidelines when they spend so little time in their homeland with its unstable mana. Weather wizards command hefty salaries because they can summon lightning to deter piracy as easily as they summon a fair breeze.

Last edited by Gef; 03-31-2015 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:11 PM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: A wizards' guild (5 parts)

The Terraport Federated Guild of Wizardry does not have a unique tradition; instead its cosmopolitan members collectively practice all common traditions. The Church of Man claims that they even practice chaos and black magic and count undead among their members. It may be true; certainly they have knowledge of such things in their library, perhaps culled from sinister Stormdragon Keep south of the city, a relic of ancient Agony. In fact, having never been conquered and looted by the Empire of the Shards, they have the largest collection of Agonese lore outside of the Holy See, Copas na Shrin, although only master wizards have access to it. Publicly, the guild forbids chaos and black magic but tolerates necromancy if it is not flagrant.

Terraport is easily large and prosperous enough to support an academy, but its social institutions do not lend itself to the establishment thereof. Those with an academic bent join the Students’ Guild, which helps them negotiate contracts with the Scholars’ Guild, an arrangement which may give rise to an actual university which could train novice wizards. In the meantime, journeymen wizards who service the city and its zone of dependency keep their eyes open for youngsters with the talent, and sell a list of candidates to the guild. Wizards seeking apprentices pay a fee to consult the master list and approach candidates and their families to sign a contract of indenture. Anyone can become an apprentice; all it takes is a sponsoring master to pay the registration fee.

Master wizards have a civic responsibility to train apprentices, expressed as a formal requirement by the guild, but that is only one reason to take them. The spell Lend Energy has no prerequisites, and the simple truth is that apprentices pay for their instruction by acting as living batteries of magical energy. The demand for services which none but a mage can render is a powerful incentive for the guild to find and train every talent, and while the decision to take an apprentice is at the master’s discretion, guild officers will order recalcitrant masters to do so rather than allow talent to lie fallow. This makes for some icy relationships.

Learning spells requires not only talent but intelligence. Apprentices often complain that they are nothing but servants and receive no magical training, except to exhaust themselves so that their masters can cast more spells, and meanwhile spend their time on pointless exercises and study of academic minutia of no practical use. Apologists for the guild’s methods point out that a developed mind is necessary to master magic, that the exercises and academic studies develop the mind as required, that lending energy to their masters places them in a position to learn how a professional wizard operates, and that in their role as servants they learn exacting detail, social skills, and the exercise of judgment.

The guild itself maintains a contract with the Scholars to teach basic literacy, which every wizard must have, plus languages, history, theology, and basic thaumatology (their masters will supply advanced instruction). Masters pay tuition, and gladly, for it keeps the youngsters out of their hair and satisfies their obligation in the contract of indenture for a few years. The guild also has several openings for apprentices doing menial and clerical tasks, and masters lucky enough to place an apprentice in one of these positions receive a discount on tuition. In addition to these opportunities, apprentices have access to the unrestricted portion of the guild’s library including many basic spell formulæ, albeit with less precedence than even a journeyman, but a patient and ambitious apprentice can copy spells into his own workbook and study them at leisure. Master wizards watch for this behavior; apprentices who show initiative will finally receive proper training, and those who don’t will have a career waving wands enchanted by their betters.

In most guilds of wizardry, an apprentice can become a journeyman by taking an examination to prove his understanding of thaumatology and reliable casting of a dozen spells, at least two with significant commercial application, that is, workaday knowledge of a single college. The Imperial Society sets a higher standard, a score of spells instead of a dozen, to maintain their elite standing, and in response, journeyman criteria in other guilds are creeping upwards. Terraport is no exception, for they too require a score of spells, but their motivation is different. An apprentice who knows a dozen spells can do journeyman level work for apprentice pay with a modest surcharge for his master’s nominal supervision. The result is to keep magical services cheap in Terraport without impoverishing master wizards. A hefty registration fee for journeymen and dues for active membership also raise the bar for apprentices, and the ones who hurdle it do so by networking, getting a loan from a prospective employer.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:12 PM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: A wizards' guild (5 parts)

Wealthy families can put their children on the fast track with money, to increase the personal economic return for a master who takes time to teach. Elsewhere this is considered unethical, akin to bribery, although it happens. In Terraport, it’s just another contract detail. Professional courtesy dictates reciprocal recognition of journeymen and masters from other guilds, so the other fast track lies through apprenticeship and initial journeyman work outside of Terraport to earn the money for registration. It’s worth it just for library privileges (for which visitors pay dearly), and the chance to work with some of the best thaumatological researchers anywhere. Journeymen have access to all but the most sensitive portion of the library and precedence over apprentices. Active members qualify for a discount on guild services, including made-to-order enchantment.

In most guilds, a “masterpiece” is the criterion for evaluating a master. That is, when a journeyman feels that he has reached the level of skill where he should be acknowledged among the top tier of his profession, he weaves a particularly fine tapestry or makes a particularly fine cabinet covered with decorative carving, or some other durable work appropriate to his trade, and presents it to the guild for evaluation. Among wizards, a fine, durable good appropriate to the trade is an enchanted item. A magic arrow will not do! The journeyman must enchant the prospective masterpiece without assistance, using spells sufficiently difficult as to require slow and sure methods, and enough of them to require two years of labor or more. In practical terms, this requires a journeyman to be so successful that he can afford to take a two-year sabbatical to complete the piece, which makes for long journeys. A panel of masters evaluates the prospective masterpiece, tests the journeyman’s skills and knowledge, and reviews his career with special attention to activities in support of the guild. Of course, there is a registration fee, which most masters pay by donating their masterpieces to the guild.

The masterpiece criterion sounded fair when initially proposed in the confederation, for while an enchanter could enchant almost anything, a chirurgeon could enchant a wand of healing, a soothsayer could enchant a crystal ball, etc. In practical terms, many wizards of the other member guilds lack the breadth of talent suitable to enchantment or are too busy performing their trade to learn it. Instead, they may develop a new spell (or elixir) and submit it as their masterpiece. In the view of the evaluating panel, it must have significant commercial value and represent an advance in magical technology; straightforward developments of common spells do not qualify.

Failing that, a wizard may ritually name an object and use it heroically, but frankly the guild does not expect wizards to be heroic. The whole point of enchantment, as they see it, is to reap wealth while avoiding danger by supplying tools for others to use heroically. Alternatively, resurrection qualifies as a masterpiece for chirurgeons, with a passionate letter of reference from the formerly deceased, and elixirs of youth qualify as masterpieces for alchemists, as every other form of life extension has required black magic in Cere since the closing of the world. A magecrafter can use magic to create a non-magical masterpiece, such as a castle raised with earth magic by a lone wizard.

For those of other guilds too busy for enchantment or research, there is an alternate, “distinguished career” criterion. The hallmarks of a distinguished career are professional references from other guilds and a very substantial donation to the guild. Any prospective master not wealthy enough to make the donation without blinking clearly has not had a distinguished career. Acceptable candidates are usually well past middle age, but the guild recognizes the public relations value of conferring the honor upon its famous members, such as the flamboyant magecrafter illusionist who works with the city’s largest theater.

The rank of archmage is unique among guilds. Technically it is equivalent to the rank of grandmaster, but the gulf between a grandmaster tailor and an archmage is beyond description, and everyone knows it. The bare minimum requirement is an extraordinarily powerful talent [Magery 4+], but the rank is awarded only to those whose achievements fulfill its potential. Their deeds are the seeds of legends. For example, the archmage Lucien Ghostwright invented not only one important formula, but most of the field of forensic magic, and while his talent extends only to necromancy, the spirits under his command can reproduce any spell. The archmage Eclipse discovered an ancient Agonese technique whereby men of no natural talent become wizards, and he used it to build an organization capable of casting Resurrection, routinely, from across a continent. When the Mining Guild unearthed the huge skeleton of a dragon, the archmage Velkanth discovered that it was made of stone, not bone, and animated it as a golem as powerful as an army. There is no registration fee for the rank of archmage and no examination; it is conferred by the guild as an honor. Terraport may have the largest concentration of archmagi in the world, with more than 50 in the city.

Last edited by Gef; 02-22-2012 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:12 PM   #5
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: A wizards' guild (5 parts)

Guildmasters of member guilds hold the same rank as archmagi, although archmagi are exempt from election. In fact few want the posts, and the guilds sometimes pressure senior members into serving a term. The presidency of the federation is hotly contested, however, because the guild which supplies the president rises in status, and the president technically outranks an archmage. (Whether he can enforce his will on them is another matter.) Politics within the guild are strange indeed, as lower ranks in the member guilds agitate against the dominance of the enchanters, while their most capable members show no concern, having so much individual power that they are literally above any politics short of continental warfare.

Magical talent represents money to the guild, and unlike guilds in the Empire of the Shards, they will not decline talent just because it comes in female or non-human form. According to the culture of the guild, intelligent mages are nature’s aristocracy, and scholars and less intelligent mages are its bourgeoisie. Orcs and anthropomorphic animal races are unlikely to be genius wizards, but where they exist they are seen as equals. Given initial prejudices, they must work harder as apprentices to prove themselves, but it can be done.

The people of Terraport are relatively well educated about magic, in that they know that most wizards are working professionals who specialize in commercial applications and have no inclination to turn people into frogs. Because the guild recruits every talent it can find, regardless of social position, almost everyone has a friend or family member in the guild. However, people also understand the fundamental difference between the Guild of Wizardry and all others: Most apprentices develop a skill, but apprentice wizards develop power. A weather witch spends her time summoning a fair breeze for her ship, but if pirates attack, she can also throw lightning from her hands.

In the Empire of the Shards, wizards are the victims of a social stigma, but in Terraport, they are recipients of social regard, compounded of respect and a little fear. The Guild of Wizardry is not only the wealthiest guild in Terraport, it contributes mightily to the wealth and security of the city. Many people, especially members of the Church of Man, are uneasy around magicians, but they know that magic can do things that can be done by no other means. Non-wizards can buy magical tools to produce goods more cheaply than those made elsewhere, and common merchants can buy enchantments from the guild and sell them abroad for a profit. City authorities step lightly around wizards and allow them academic freedom rare in the world. That’s all the wizards want, besides the material comfort that they can provide for themselves, and they exert their magical power to gain political power only to ensure that they will be left alone, and in turn they allow the weaker guilds to run the city as they will.

The headquarters of the Guild of Wizardry is the largest structure in Terraport, and it looks like nothing so much as a huge black box. Outside it is impressive only for its solidity, but wonders lie within: Magical lighting, animated stairways, mirrors that peer into other places, hypnotic illusions, and golem servants. It houses mundane offices, laboratories, and classrooms, but also the famous library, vaults full of enchanted objects, and the ritual room – the basement of the building is one giant room with a modest pentagram inlaid in the middle, surrounded by empty space to minimize the possibility of outside interference. Wizards wear formal robes here, white for apprentices, red for journeymen, blue for masters, and black for archmagi and guild officers. Security is as varied as the artwork, with magical barriers and traps defeated by passcodes, tokens of office, or individual attunement to authorized personnel, backed up by golems and hired muscle from the Guild Martial. The guildhall has many common spaces, with others restricted according to rank, guild affiliation, or specific individuals who rent space convenient to resources the hall provides.

The Guild of Wizardry has the same goals as any other guild, looking after the interests of its professional community, certifying their competence and monopolizing their services, but one goal in particular rises above all others. More than any other group of wizards, with the possible exception of the Imperial Society, the guild exalts research. As noted above, apprentices and journeymen get short shrift. Other guilds sell goods, demand exceeds supply, and the more people who can make goods, the more profit the guilds earn. The Terraport Guild of Wizardry is not concerned with developing every wizard to his full potential, but with finding those wizards with the most potential to advance the state of the art. Their system of instruction is designed to sift the talent pool, and its casualties can still prosper as journeymen by deploying the guild’s advances in the field. The benefit to an apprentice or immigrant journeyman is a few lessons in the school of hard knocks and a chance, if he proves himself, to work with some of the most eminent master wizards. In spite of the barriers to mastery, the Terraport guild is top-heavy, for its environment of academic freedom attracts the best and brightest wizards from around the world.

Terraport’s guild-and-contract government does a fair job of protecting individual liberty, and in particular all the guilds object to competition from slaves. It is however subject to its own particular abuses, as the wealthy can purchase freedoms which the poor cannot afford and manipulate contract law to their own advantage, but none of those abuses impinge upon the Guild of Wizardry.

Last edited by Gef; 12-15-2005 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 12-17-2005, 10:10 AM   #6
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Wilds of Northwest Missouri
Default Re: A wizards' guild (5 parts)

If more fantasy games were constructed with this kind of though and care, I might not have given up playing them. This post is already in my archives. Thanks, Gef!
For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Signed: The Great GM (Jeremiah 29:11)
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