14 minutes ago
Friday, December 16, 2011
Wizardly Trade Union
It’s traditional in fantasy for thieves to have guilds (probably not like the Lollipop Guild above), but wizards may or may not have professional organizations. For every Mages or Sorcerers Guild in literature there are a number of lone wolves, like Merlin, or members of very select crews, like Gandalf and Saruman.
Magic-user organizations are actually somewhat attested to historically. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Crowley’s Argenteum Astrum are two examples. The line between coven, cabal, and cult admittedly gets blurry when looking at the real world; theurgy and thaumaturgy are not so cleanly separated as they are in games.
Fantasy literature gives some good examples. The Aes Sedai of the Wheel of Time where sort of Lensmen/Green Lantern Corps of a previous age, but by the time of the main story are more like a church or monastic order. The vengeful Bondsmagi of Lynch’s Locke Lamorra series are a like a mercenary company, protectionist guild--and criminal organization. The various Schools of Bakker’s Prince of Nothing and Aspect-Emperor series are practitioners/protectors of specific paradigms of sorcery and feel certain sociopolitical niches.
All of these could be good models for rpg wizardly organizations, but is there any reason to stop at just one? Mages in different cultures/locales might take on very different roles: anointed-by-the-gods rulers in one nation and mercenary hoarders of knowledge in another.
So are there magic-user organizations in your setting? What role do they take?