Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mage's Guild: An Overview

by Frank Shaw

The Mage’s Guild is the great anomaly in the City of Hub. Of the Five Great Guilds they are the only guild without enterprise or industry to carve out their niche in the city. The Merchant’s Guild has commerce, the grand caravans rolling in and out of the city on a near continuous basis. The Music Guild has a firm grip on the brothels, feasting and dance halls, as well as most of the taverns and inns scattered throughout Hub. The Workman’s Guild, for all their organized chaos, counts each individual member in one of the necessary trades to keep the city running and the citizens happy. The Blacksmith’s Guild, with stoic monastic forges, is able to create works of craftsmanship which transcend mundanity with the whisper of consciousness itself. Compared to the other four Guilds, the Mage’s Guild are little more than magic addicted thugs. 

This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Mage’s, who have organized themselves into little more than gangs, called “Schools” by those who are members of the Guild and by anyone within earshot of a guild member. These “Schools” are loosely organized through common philosophy, usually in line with one of the seven Elements or one of their sub-elements. These are not strict divisions, and it would not be unheard of to find one school aligned with Fire, another aligned with Fire and Ice, and a third with Water and Shadow. 

The schools have a common hierarchy. Each is led by a leader, and usually has several officers that act in various roles underneath the leader. The titles vary from school to school, but there are titles that are most commonly used.

  • Captain, Vice-Captain: These are the leaders of the school. While not always the most powerful spellcasters, they are the most cunning. Typically they are the most likely to have control of the Bliss and Despair that comes from casting magic.

  • Agent: These are the ambassadors to other Guilds or Schools. Only the most powerful schools have Agents.

  • Chamberlin: This member is in charge of keeping the day to day business of the school. They watch over the school headquarters and often relay messages between the captains and the regular members of the school.

  • Sergeant of Arms: They are responsible for guarding the school headquarters’ as well as the higher-ranking members of the guild.

  • Members: These are full members of the school. Depending on the school this may mean they have a vote or say in actions the school takes, though this varies greatly.

  • Recruits: While members are recognized as part of the school, recruits haven’t earned a say yet in the day to day activities of the school itself.

  • Potents: These are potential recruits and include those that hangout at the school, or those the school intends to poach.

Most of the schools have the stated goal of controlling the market on magic, typically through magical services. Most schools have the ambition to also control magic items and all other spellcasters in the city. Lacking the discipline of true craftsman, the Mage’s can only muster wands, weak fetishes, or diluted potions. Some alchemists in the Guild have developed a talent for creating poisons and drugs, particularly the rare Geato Abira (lizardfolk) who have knowledge of flora and fauna for use in this enterprise. Both these items are typically sold to other Guilds, as the Mage’s have little use for either.

Due to their lack of talent the Mage’s often find themselves in strife with the Blacksmith’s, who by sheer willpower and master of their craft can create permanent magical items. They are also at odds with the Music Guild as there are many spellcasters in this Guild, primarily bards, who are not members of any of the Mage’s Guild Schools. This strife has made some schools unopposed to kidnapping candidates or apprentices of either of those two Guilds and forcing them into their individual schools. Most schools are smart enough to take those members who are of little import or not full members, but occasionally a school will ignore this unwritten rule and try to take someone who is ranked or known. These schools usually don’t last long, as the Mage’s are very good at self-policing.

The Mage’s are indifferent to the Merchant’s as they are too unorganized to negotiate good contracts with Liara. Occasionally contracts will be brokered by the Chaosman, or by an impromptu council of the most powerful school captains, but these are usually fleeting and are typically looked at with a grain of salt by both sides. The Merchant Keeper’s that do run businesses in the Mage’s Quarter are typically left alone, sometimes for a small bribe, though again this varies by which school is in charge of that particular street at the time

The Mage’s Guild’s relationship with the Workman’s Guild is a bit of an anomaly when compared the other Guilds. While rarely one of the less savory schools will take someone from the Workman’s, this is an exception to the rule. In general the Workman’s Guild is off limits to poaching, and in exchange many craftsmen from the Workman’s Guild live in the Mage’s Quarter of Hub plying their trade and assisting schools which they have developed a good rapport with.

While each school is ostensibly divided by philosophical lines, territory and profit cause the most conflict between them. These squabbles turn into turf wars and sometimes full on wars that pull in other schools. This leads both sides to hire mercenaries and leave the city for their Mage’s War, as it is one of the few written rules of the Guild that the Mage’s settle their rage fueled disputes outside of the city where the destruction can be minimized. This is one of the few edicts enforced by the Chaosman.