The Onland Campaign V
The Sovereign Cadre of Practitioners of the Arcane Arts
The wise and veteran Mage knoweth the pursuit of knowledge is infinite, for the deeper his studies, the greater he knows his ignorance. - Genin, On Learning the Art
Origins of the Cadre
The origins of the Ancient and Esoteric Orders of the Cadre are lost in the prehistoric past, but it is almost certain that their understanding of the arcane arts is a legacy of the Mb’Thelor. The Sovereign Cadre of Practitioners of the Arcane Arts began as loosely organized groups of mages. These groups eventually produced three distinct schools of magic: “the Fraternal Order of Scholars of the Mystical Illumination”, “the Sisterhood of the Dove” and “the Disciples of the Black Skull.”
Some believe that the first Order were themselves Mb’Thelor left behind when that enigmatic people departed Onland nearly sixty millennia ago. But the truth is that “the Fraternal Order of Scholars of the Mystical Illumination”, merely solved clues in the artifacts, architecture, and writings of those powerful Ancients.
The Sindarin people of Irisia were also practitioners of the hidden arts. They created the second Order before they departed Onland. Their mages were all noble born women; “the Sisterhood of the Dove.” The children that they left behind also have the requisite high aura and because of their immortality the time to excel at magic. They were the founders of Eversil where the Sisterhood was at the center of Eversilik arcane study.
The third Order have their origin amongst the Phargon people. When the Phargon were overthrown by the dwarves, much of their magical knowledge was left behind. Centuries later, when the men of Blagden moved into the area, they began to explore the Phargon ruins. “The Disciples of the Black Skull,” were a group of arcane practitioners dedicated to unlocking the secrets of Phargon magic.
Throughout the years, these schools waged bloody wars upon one another and in the process, nearly caused their own extinction.
Several hundred years ago, the few remaining leaders came together to put an end to their nihilistic hostilities. They were not completely successful, but at least they created safe havens where mages could gather without the expectation of imminent attack. The three schools were thus united under one banner, with the purpose of preserving and expanding the knowledge of the arcane arts.
Most Cadre magus hold that the elements and processes of Eversilik philosophy are things to be discovered, rather than invented. Only the most chauvinistic mage will promote his personal philosophy as the only valid world view, but the set of beliefs collectively known as Indlost is the most widely held by Onlandian arcanists. Eversilik philosophy is essentially a way of perceiving “Amarlaith,” the cosmic all, in terms of key elemental principles. The various schools of arcane lore place different stress on these elements, and exploit different principles.
Nevertheless, throughout Onland, nearly all organized mystic arts are unified, to one degree or another, by a shared belief in Eversilik principles. While it is true that the earliest schools of Eversilik thought ascribed to the belief that all substances were comprised of a small number of “psycho-physical” elements, most modem Indlostechil now perceive the elements as neutral templates, as ways to grasp and manipulate Amarlaith “realities”. Nevertheless, in recent centuries, the Cadre, has gradually come to adhere to the “hexagonal wheel” of six elements. To the Cadre, and to those who share their world view, the key principles are air, fire, earth, water, spirit and aura. These are no more than names. A modem Cadre magus would deem it simplistic to view each item in the universe simply as being composed of varying amounts of these six basic “elements”. When the contemporary Eversilik philosopher says “earth” he means far more than the dirt beneath his feet. He is referring to the innumerable, natural cycles of birth, life, growth, death, and decay.
Indlost requires a trans-intellectual identily with Amarlaith, an ineluctable feel for the way of things. While its beliefs involve logic and physical law, it is more a style of enlightenment that must be embraced by the whole being. One cannot ascribe to Indlost simply by reading Eversilik books and agreeing with their contents. While all Indlostechil share beliefs and feelings about the world, it should not be forgotten that Indlost is a pluralistic world view; each of the six elements makes unique demands upon the minds and bodies of those who would embrace them, and these disparate demands are exceedingly difficult to reconcile within the compass of a single being. For this reason it is generally necessary for practitioners to specialize.
The energies used to drive the spells of the Indlostechil are arcane powers released by a mage, spell, or artifact from the fundament of “ea” (existence) itself. The exact origins of this energy are obscure, and of only academic interest. A common theory suggests such power is drawn from the First Gods, since the principles involved are analogues of those ambiguous entities. All that is really known is that mages of the Cadre attune themselves to these arcane energies, draw them into their Auras and, with practice and discipline, can shape the powers to their will.
Magic and Religion
One of the errors that can be committed in religious or magical circles is to confuse magic and religion. There is a vital difference between a spell and a miracle, between magic and religion.
As the mage Genin wrote: He who names a miracle magic, insults churches and gods, and he who attributes unto a spell divinity, insults its caster. Confusing magick and religion is offensive and blasphentous.
Miracles are instances of divine intervention. A person invokes his deity to act on his behalf. This is not a matter of skill; it is a function of piety and the will of the deity. If intervention occurs, the deity manipulates the basic force involved and the mortal who invoked him simply watches in wonder.
When a magus casts a spell, he is reaching out and manipulating the primal forces himself; there is no divine intermediary. The action is one of knowledge and personal skill on the part of the magus who would be justifiably insulted at the suggestion that a deity was involved. There are, however, those who intentionally, or through ignorance, ascribe their powers’ origins falsely. Such persons are generally regarded as charlatans.
There is solidarity among Cadre Mages, although this is tempered by the ambitions of the members and the ethos of each Order. Magus of different Orders are unified by common belief in Indlost and the desire to preserve the knowledge of and practice of arcane magic.
A Mage of the White Order and a Mage of the Black Order fighting on opposing sides of a war would not hesitate to destroy each other on the battlefield. When these Cadre Mages meet on neutral grounds, such as a Chantry or Chantry, they are likely to enter into an eager discussion of magic. If attacked by an outside force seen as a threat to their magic (a renegade spell caster, for example), both would join together to fight in defense of the magic.
The chantry is a sanctuary for all members of the Cadre. Personal battles may never be resolved within the gates of the chantry. Any member who violates this Oath of Peace is declared renegade.
Permanent residents of a chantry tend to share similar codes of behavior; like most folk, they are more comfortable with people of their own kind. But there are good and evil members in every Order. And in larger cities, it is not uncommon for all three Orders to have chantries. These are often even housed within the same compound.
Laws of the Cadre
The Cadre has few rules that apply to all orders, but the following are rigidly enforced; all Profanus must take the Pledge of The Sovereign Cadre of Practitioners of the Arcane Arts.
The Pledge is as follows;
I. Membership in the Cadre is the passkey to mystical enlightenment. Succor not a renegade of the art, but strike him down with thy power, else summon brothers to thyne aid (The knowledge and practice of the arcane arts is the exclusive privilege of Cadre Members. The first duty of a Cadre Mage is thus the conscription of or elimination of all non-cadre arcane practitioners)
II. All Orders are brothers in magic. (The second duty of a Cadre Mage is thus the preservation of the knowledge of the arcane arts.)
III. All Cadre Magus are bound to the fraternity of their Order. (The third duty of a Cadre Mage is therefore the advancement of knowledge and practice in his order’s field of expertise within the arcane arts.)
IV. Keep sacred and free from harm, thy house of lore. The Chantry is held in trust among all fraternal practitioners of the arcane arts as a safe haven against those whom would cause harm to a brother of the Cadre. (The Chantry is held in common among all Orders. It is both a sanctuary for all Cadre Members from anyone outside of the Cadre that may wish to harm a Magus and a safe refuge where no magic is to be used by one Cadre Mage in anger against his fellows.)
V. Within the sanctity of the Cadre, respect for thy brother and deference to thy superior shall be the rule but the Will of thy Master shall in all things prevail. (Cadre Members are expected to act civilly towards other mages while within the chantry. They are expected to follow the directions of all superiors so long as those directions do not directly contradict the instructions of their master.)
VI. Beyond the sanctity of the Cadre, the Will of the World shall in all things prevail. (The world beyond the walls of the Chantry is beyond the protectorship of the Conclave. It may bring brother against brother and Order against Order, but such is the way of the universe.)
In addition to these basic laws, each Order has rules and regulations of its own. The members of the White Order also swear the following:
VII. Bring not the scorn of the ordinary folk upon thy brothers, nor make with thyne art a place for thyself above them.
VIII. Spread not thy lore without sanction of thy peers.
Violating any of six basic rules causes a mage to be declared renegade. In addition, any member who (in the opinion of a regent or six or more masters) opposes the general interests of an Order can be declared renegade.
A renegade forfeits his membership and it is the duty of all magus to oppose him. The renegade does not, of course, lose his powers, just his status. In “opposing” a renegade, one is not expected to commit suicide. If one encounters a renegade against whom one could not hope to prevail, it is enough to quickly report the encounter to the nearest chantry or master of superior power. A minor infringement may prompt a warning from a master, group of masters, or chantry.
The following note was sent to Master Karol of Husendorf in 1103 by the masters of his own chantry; Thy brothers have learned that thou hast taught thyne art unto a brother not of thy Order, without consent, and without making unto thy chantry such gifts as are customary. Therefore, it is the duty of the governors of thy chantry to advise thee, that unless thou ceaseth such action, and make unto thy chantry such gifts and acts of contrition as are prescribed that thy name be added to the roll of renegades, and be made known to Cadre in all.
Karol was sufficiently impressed by the threat to give his chantry 1500 marks and half his collection of enchanted artifacts, some 3 priceless items. He also appeared naked on his belly before the assembled chantry council and formerly begged forgiveness. Karl then served in the chantry kitchen for three months. All this despite the fact that the main onus is on the student to acquire the necessary permissions.
The exertus to whom Karol had illicitly taught a single spell was prouder than his mentor. He was sent two similar warnings, from his own chantry masters, which he ignored, forcing both Chantries to add his name to the Roll of Renegades.
The White Order assembled a “team” of three accomplished magus. One used extremely subtle divination spells to hunt him down. The second was a specialist in counter-magick who prevented the renegade from using his magic effectively. The third, an evoker, battered down the renegade’s defences and destroyed him. No quarter was asked, nor offered.
Regardless of whether the renegade heeds the warning and recants, or is destroyed, the Cadre usually try to rectify his renegade actions. Sometimes this is an extremely complex process which might involve removing even the memory of the renegade from those whom knew him.
Organization and Ranks
There are three separate Orders within the cadre. Each Order is represented in a legislative Conclave by nine Regents whom are headed by an (executive) Vice-Chancellor. The supreme head of the Cadre is the High-Chancellor. A general election is held with the use of the consensus spell to select a new High-Chancellor from the twenty-seven members of the Conclave of Regents. Typically, one the three Vice-Chancellors ascends to the High-Chancellorship, but this is not absolute.
The High-Chancellor acts as the Cadre’s head-of-state in dealings with other national powers. Though the Cadre claims to be a completely sovereign entity and has a head-of-state, they are not officially recognized as such by most governments. (This doesn’t mean that they don’t have significant political power though.)
The policy of the Cadre is largely determined by the High-Chancellor, however if a decision is made against the will of the Conclave, then a mandate may be called for in which a consensus is taken of the entire Cadre, and a new High-Chancellor is chosen.
The following ranks denote status within the Cadre and do not necessarily indicate expertise.
ALUMNO NESCIO (Apprentice)
Any full Master (Magus Victum) may adopt Alumno Nescio into his Order. This involves the taking of an oath to obey the cadre’s laws, enrich it in wealth and knowledge, and to conserve its secrets. The alumno nescio swears to serve and obey his master. The master agrees only to teach his apprentice as much as “he deserves to learn”. This wording, individually interpreted by each master, often results in long apprenticeships. An alumno nescio performs menial tasks, assists with research, runs errands, and so on. Most of what the apprentice learns is from watching and listening to the master or by reading the master’s tomes. Many masters are niggardly with their instruction, and often deny access to their most valuable written works. If he is diligent and lucky, shows promise, and his master becomes favorably disposed towards him, the Alumno nescio will learn some spells. Some Alumno nescio lose their masters or are taken into a Order without being given a particular master, usually at a chantry. They serve any resident masters needing help, learning what they can. The agreement between master and student is an individual one.
Getting an Apprenticeship
Anyone may apply to the masters of a chantry for apprenticeship. Alternately, one may apply to an individual master to become his personal apprentice. Wishing to become a Cadre Magus does not make it so. Five factors determine whether a character is accepted into a Order, or by a master: Innate magical ability, Intelligence, Wealth, Family Connections, and the Master’s Personality.
One of the few universal rules of apprenticeship is that when an apprentice reaches a certain level of competence, he must leave his master and/or chantry and go out into the world as a Profanus (Seeker), a rank between apprentice and journeyman. It is hoped that the Profanus will test and refine his art. He is also expected to gather some treasures for the chantry, items of value to aid in its upkeep, or items of esoteric interest to aid its members’ studies.
If the Profanus fails to return, so be it. The custom is intended to weed out the weak and incompetent. If the Profanus survives in the outside world for a year and a day and fulfils his duty to enrich his chantry, he may call himself Exertus, but the decision to promote or not promote a Profanus is made by men and, therefore, is not uniform from one master or chantry to another.
Becoming a Seeker
Only when his master is satisfied with an apprentice’s command of Self-Discipline and Attunement, a process that can take four to six weeks, will he seriously consider teaching his charge his first few spells. The scope and proficiency of this training can vary dramatically as some masters are tough & some are easy. On average, an apprentice has to be able to cast (4) 1st level spells before a master deems them ready. No apprentice can be promoted without at least being able to cast a few cantrips. Some are required to cast 2nd level spells before their master deems them fit to take ‘the Oath’ and go out into the world as a representative of the Cadre.
The Cadre makes little effort to keep their “journeymen” safe and comfortable, or even to educate them further. An Exertus is an independent mage. This is the highest rank attained by most Cadre Magi; many do not even get this far. An Exertus may travel, or reside in a chantry (paying reasonable rent). He may seek advice and instruction from masters or other Exertus, but, in general, he develops his art through his own efforts. This is a divergent stage in the evolution of a Magus, designed to create variety in the higher echelons as each mage pursues his separate studies in his own way.
Becoming a Exertus
No Profanus may become a Exertus in less than a year and a day; most take longer. The custom is for the Profanus to submit at least one reasonably valuable magical item of his own construction and three “original” spells to his master. If the master deems the submission fit, he will convene an inquest on the Seeker’s behalf. During the inquest, no fewer than three masters will review the submissions and the Profanus will be required to demonstrate his abilities (He must be able to cast 3rd. level arcane spells) and defend his research findings during an oral examination. PCs who wish to become Exertus had best get busy.
MAGUS VICTUM (Master)
Only the most accomplished Exertus achieve the rank of Magus Victum (Master). Masters may reside in a chantry without paying rent although most in fact donate time and or money. They may create and train Alumno nescio, may remove (within reason) artifacts and writings from the chantry for study, and are accorded great respect by those aware of their status. Most who achieve the lofty rank of Magus victum have learned how little they really know and spend their time further perfecting their art to the exclusion of all else. Mastery seems to preclude interest in mundane affairs and promotes a mystical lifestyle centered on arcane pursuits for their own sake.
Becoming a Master
The only way to become a Master is by earning the respect and recognition of other Masters. From time to time, a Exertus’ achievements will come to the attention of a master. If he is impressed, he will circulate a Petition of Excellence among his peers. This document praises the Exertus and suggests that he be elevated to the rank of Magus victum. If a total of six Masters and one Primus or Regent sign the petition, the Exertus is summoned to a convenient chantry and presented with the document ‘in a solemn, but simple ceremony. Copies are filed at all chantries in the region, and the new Magus victum keeps the original as proof of his status. Some masters inform an Exertus that he is the subject of a Petition of Excellence, others do not. Exertus aware that a Petition is circulating have been known to help Magus victuma make up their minds by becoming demonstrative. Left to itself, a petition can circulate for years before enough masters are suitably impressed. Sometimes the Exertus dies while the Petition is still circulating. On the other hand, some masters will sign on the advice of a respected colleague, without ever having met the Exertus in question.
PRIMUS (Senechal of a Chantry)
Each Order has its own chantries, places of learning where members may study, learn, and practice. The chantry is administered by a seneschal and a serving staff. The seneschal is usually an Exertus of minimal accomplishments, but does not have to be a mage at all. The staff is generally comprised of apprentices, those who wish to be apprentices, and a few servants who lack the superstitious fear to avoid the place. Most chantries house a combination of transient and permanent residents.
REGENT (Member of the Conclave of Regents)
Each order selects nine members from within its ranks to serve in the Regent’s Conclave. The conclave meets annually to discuss the policy and direction of the Cadre, set goals, create laws and adjudicate disputes. When not in conclave, the regents serve as advisers, primus, adjudicators of justice and symbols of near cult status. Thus the regents hold a great deal of power and are accorded great respect.
To be eligible for nomination to the Regent’s Conclave, a candidate must have served a term as Primus of a Chantry for no fewer than five years and been a Magus Victum for a period of no fewer than twenty years. There must also be an open seat.
VICE-CHANCELLOR (Master of one of the three Orders)
Of its nine regents, one is selected to serve as Vice-Chancellor. Each Vice-Chancellor serves a term of two years, during which time he must reside within a days travel of the High Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellors work on a regular basis with the High-Chancellor and are often asked to serve the cadre in diplomatic matters. The current Vice-Chancellors are;
Archon Alterion – Vice Chancellor of the Grey Order; Archon is in his mid-thirties. He is somewhat of a maverick in the Cadre, having attained the rank of Magus Victum at the age of nine. But it doesn’t hurt that he is the disciple and grandson of the current High-Chancellor. He has served in the Conclave of Regents for four years. This is his first term as Vice-Chancellor.
Bezzan the Black – Vice Chancellor of the Black Order; Bezzan has been a regent for as long as anyone can remember. Records show that he was elected in the year 803, more than 300 years ago. He has served as vice-chancellor on numerous occasions, but few persons outside of the Conclave have ever seen him. He is rumored to be a lich.
Hareth Nimloth – Vice Chancellor of the White Order; ‘The White Lady’ has served as Vice-Chancellor for more than 70 years, which is not a long time for an elf, but quite a long time by human standards. Due to her long tenure, she holds much sway amongst the Conclave even though the White Order is the smallest, representing only about 5% of all cadre members.
HIGH-CHANCELLOR (Supreme head of the Cadre)
The High-Chancellor is the head-of-state of the Cadre and deals with its day-to-day governance. The current High-Chancellor is;
Karlo Alterion – Karlo is recognized as one of the greatest mages and philosophers in the history of Onland. He has written more than a dozen books and created hundreds of spells. His most renown accomplishment is as the architect of Borth. Karlo devised the spells that made the towering prismatic glass buildings of Borth a reality. His student, the Green Mage, Malldar, now carries on his work in that fine city. Karlo lives in Koln and is nearing ninety years of age.