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GM Note: The colleges of magic presented here reflect different styles of spellcasting. Given that there are only two arcane classes at the moment, GMs can either ignore the "different styles" rules, or they may require all starting mages to be members of the College of Elementalists, which most closely models the Wizard class. Warlocks seem cut out for the College of Sorcery, but they might be just as likely be rogues with no affiliation with any large organization.
Very few people are able to wield the invisible forces which human beings have described as "magic." Some believe that all magic originates in the primal chaos of the elemental planes, others believe it is a gift of the gods, while the majority of spellcasters regard it simply as a natural phenomenon to be manipulated by those with the knowledge. The Gorn Athyn believe that the magical arts which they once mastered were taught to them by the Fey Folk, and the luxuries which magic brought them led to their complacency and downfall. In the City States, there is the widespread belief among citizens, both magicians and non-magicians alike, that the Ruin was divine punishment for magical tampering in forces better left alone. Today, a human gains mastery over magic only after years of study, and even then, only a portion of the Art can be learned. True power resides only with the Gods. Some humans, however, push at the margins of godhood by studying the theory behind "natural" magic, exclusive of the need for divine benevolence and intervention. Control over the study of magic is carefully monitored by professional societies of magicians known as the spell colleges.
People who want to learn magic must study it either through the temples (see Religion) or through one of the five spell colleges. The colleges are loose organizations of magicians who study similar aspects of the Art. There are usually fewer than one or two hundred full magicians in any given college, with about three times that number of apprentices and novices. There are rivalries both between and within the colleges. Since they are usually consumed by personal goals and a passion for research, magicians rarely associate with each other, and they ally only when the future of their order is threatened. Magicians usually consider themselves aloof from political affairs, but many are tempted to serve in the courts of kings and great magnates. Every great lord in the Lands has a magician or two associated with his or her court, where they serve as status symbols as much as they serve as advisors. Magic is never used for frivolous purposes, not only because of the risk of side effects, but also because of an unspoken code of ethics among magicians. There is also the concern that most of the population regards magic with mixed awe and fear. In rural areas, most non-clerical magic is lumped under the category of "sorcery," unfairly or not, and is condemned as a corruption of city-dwelling elites who have lost touch with "solid values." In addition to mob violence, a magician who abuses his or her powers will also quickly find that such abuse constitutes one of the rare "threats" which will cause a College to rally together. The five established Colleges are:
A large number of alchemists also live in Uria's cities. There is some dispute about whether these artisans constitute true magicians, for although they cast no spells, the items they produce are doubtlessly magical.
The arcana skill provides more than "background knowledge" associated with each college. It also provide information on important college spellcasters and rituals associated with the organization. Members of good standing within a college (which usually means paying dues of about 10-20 gold pieces per annum) may use the facilities of that college wherever the college maintains a branch. Each spell college maintains several libraries containing lore pertaining to their specific field of magic. Magicians may only learn new spells through their college, if they are in a city where a library is available. For rare spells, a magician may have to travel to a distant city. Once they have mastered all of their college's spells, they may develop their own magical spells, as long as they conform to the college's principles.
Spellcasters of unusual power are able to disassociate themselves from the colleges and declare themselves Archmages. Archmages are considered the most powerful mortals in the Lands, able to create any magical effect desired. There are three known Archmages in the Lands: Screeda the Inscrutable in the marshes near Freehaven; Lankor the Hermit in the Genwood; and Marakar the Pilgrim, who has no fixed abode.