Sunday, September 8, 2013

Campaign Design - Organizations: The Collegium

The Collegium

The Collegium is a powerful organization of arcane and divine casters whose members are commonly known as the Blue Mages due to their distinctive dress, and which rules over the city of Enslem from their imposing fortress of Caelantha. The Guild, as it is also commonly known, is ruled by the Magarchs, powerful students of the magical arts who have been promoted due to their power and connections to rule over the other members. There are several ranks within the Collegium, ranging from apprentices, to initiates, to full guild journeymen and masters, and then to the circles of the Magarchs. The Outer Circle is the lowest rung of the Magarchs, holding authority and the right to command other members and the forces of the guard. Above the Outer Circle are the seldom seen Magarchs of the Inner Circle who guide the political and diplomatic relations of the Guild. Beyond the Inner Circle, the structure of the Collegium's governance is a mystery to outsiders. If there are more ranks within the Guild above the Inner Circle, the Magarchs are keeping them hidden, as even the members of the Inner Circle are seldom seen outside the confines of Caelantha. Members have spoken of a High Magarch, but as no one outside the Guild has ever seen such an individual, there are many who dismiss the existence of such a figure as a fabrication.

The Collegium is also known as "the Guild". While there are many "guilds", there is only one "Guild", and when one refers to an organization simply as "the Guild", everyone knows what they are talking about. The Collegium is a secretive organization and appears to have only a handful of overriding aims: Expanding the arcane knowledge and power of the organization and preserving the independence of Enslem. All other concerns appear to be subordinated to this cause. Members of the Guild largely turn a blind eye to the activities of the Sang-Nuit in the city, unconcerned with the lives or welfare of the inhabitants except to the extent that disruptions would threaten the Guild's hegemony. Members quell unrest and maintain the defenses of the city as well as ferreting out any spies or agents unfriendly to the Guild. Members are also frequently found travelling in other lands ensuring that external political events to not impinge upon the independence and freedom of the city, spinning webs of alliances and and other agreements that the Magarchs consider advantageous to the Collegium and its position as the rulers of Enselm as well as whatever other hidden goals or agendas the Guild may have.

It is through the power of the Guild that Enslem retains its independence. The Collegium ruthlessly enforces its most famous law within their domains: No person who is not a member of the Collegium may ever legally use magic under the foreboding midnight blue sky of the Interdiction. This law is, in observed practice, inflexible and absolute. No matter how well-disposed the Collegium has been towards a non-member caster, the Blue Mages have always preserved their monopoly over the use of magic within the protected portions of the city. The ban applies to all arcane and divine spell casting, and the Interdiction de Magique affects all forms of magic and supernatural abilities equally well. No outsider, no matter how well intentioned, has ever avoided the Blue Mage's ban on magic within the boundaries that they consider to be theirs alone.

Almost all members are recruited as children. Adults who are admitted to the Collegium are vanishingly rare to the point of being virtually unheard of. This doesn't stop many of the poor and down on their luck from showing up at the gates of the Guild's fortress of Caelantha to seek membership, and once in a great while such hopeful persistence pays off. The Guild regularly searches the areas in which it has influence for promising students with magical talent. Once they locate such an individual they spirit him or her away to an unknown location or locations. It is presumed that the Collegium has a secret training ground on Poudre Island where its recruits are trained in the mystical arts and conditioned to be unswervingly loyal to the Guild, although as outsiders are forbidden to land on the island, this is merely conjecture. When apprentice members of the Guild return from their period of training, they appear to remember little of their childhood lives. The few times that a family member has recognized a member of the Collegium after he has returned, the apprentice has appeared not to recognize his family member. It is widely believed that members of the Collegium are somehow mentally conditioned to loyalty, and regard the Guild as their family.

Most members are gnomish, alvari, or human. There have occasionally been halfling and khülen members, but they are rare as halflings and khülen are generally not available for the Collegium to claim. Most outsiders also assume that the Collegium regards most of the generally wild and undisciplined khülen as being generally unsuited to the academic tenor of the group, although some Collegium researchers have devoted substantial time studying the unique spirit magic of the shifter-folk. Despite the substantial population of changelings living in and around Enselm, changeling members of the Collegium are rare, presumably because of a tacit agreement between the Blue Mages and the Night Siblings. There are few dwarven members due to the fact that most dwarven wizards follow their own race’s mystic traditions, although the Collegium has been known to work closely with the magical engineers of the Hartzstadt. many outsiders presume that the Collegium regards freidnly dwarven spell casters living in their own countries are more politically valuable to the Collegium than a handful of additional dwarven members would be. Even though the ironborn are created by the Blue Mages, there are only a handful of ironborn who actually join the Guild's ranks, most of whom were specifically created to address some specific problem, concern, or research project of the Guild.

In terms of total numbers, gnomes appear to make up about sixty to seventy percent of the known membership, while alvari and humans make up most of the remainder in a more or less even split. The remaining races are sprinkled here and there. Gnomes dominate the upper echelons of the Guild structure, comprising approximately eighty percent of the Inner Circle, highest government body known well enough by outsiders to determine the membership thereof. Most known members of the Guild are wizards, shugenja, or some combination of both, with a smaller number of sorcerers, favored souls, and clerics among the Guild's ranks.

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