Latest Update: 7 August 2008
This is one of the parts of Narth 2000 that never was fully completed. While to a degree this was intentional -- I never expected to stop thinking of new magical orders and adding them to this page -- it also suffers from a certain amount of "ran out of steam" syndrome. Several of the orders toward the end can be generously described as "fragmentary". Even so, there was more than enough here for most gameplay; the unfinished material was mostly intended more as "world flavor" than serious options for the player.
It should probably go without saying that at this late date, it is unlikely that I will ever add any more material to this page. Like other N2K pages, it exists more as a historical record than as a live resource.
Also like other N2K pages, any citations of GURPS mechanics and subsystems in the material below refer to GURPS Third Edition, Revised and its sourcebooks. It's not likely that I'll bring those references up to date for the Fourth Edition. Sorry...
- What is an Order of Magic?
- Game Effect
- List of Orders
- Secret/Banned Orders
- The Great Houses
- Sample Houses
Orders are a combination of magic school, social club and professional guild. They provide places for study and for recreation, and also usually ensure the quality and ethics of their members. There are exceptions to this -- certain secret orders pursue necromancy and other proscribed magics, and their ethics are often shaky at best. But most orders are public, and usually in good standing with their neighbors -- so much so that self-trained or otherwise unaffiliated mages are not completely trusted; they are often called "rogues" no matter their personal deportment and behavior, and suffer a -1 Social Stigma. (In some nations, the Orders have such power that rogue mages are outlawed entirely!)
Orders are often large organizations with many branches. They usually have a single leader, called an Archmage (regardless of his actual magical prowess); some are governed by small committees, each member of which is called an Oligarch. Its base is called a Sanctum, and is usually a stronghold in some remote or hard-to-reach location.
An Order will also have a number of Chapters. These are usually located in major cities, and are the primary level of organization seen by most mages. The Chapters are the social centers and the "universities" of the Order. The head of a chapter is known as a Factor and, unless overruled by the Sanctum, has complete authority over the membership and operations of the chapter. Each chapter will be located in a building or complex of buildings known as a Chapter House; the House will always be both magically and mundanely defended against attack and intrusion.
Some orders also maintain magical research facilities, often in remote and unpopulated areas.
Almost all human mages will be members of an Order. While it is not absolutely required -- any good library will have enough information to start learning a little magic, and a clever student can usually take things from there on his own -- there are two large advantages to Order membership. The first is the considerable resources an Order can provide a member. the second is the equally considerable social stigma against "rogue" mages in most countries. Being a member of an Order makes things a lot easier for a young spellcaster.
An order will normally specialize in no more than six to eight colleges of magic. This always includes at least parts of the Enchantment, Knowledge and Metamagic colleges, although the precise spells available in these colleges may be quite limited, and will vary from order to order. See the List of Orders for further information.
A mage who wishes to pursue colleges not taught by his order must either quit the order and join a new one, or find magical texts and teach himself.
Most orders have no automatic restrictions on membership. However, some orders may be intended solely for members of a specific race, such as the Sidhas Asathaul (or "Houses") which are nominally for elves and half-elves only.
Membership in an order usually starts with apprenticeship. A "rogue" mage or one trained in another order may apply for membership, but they will normally have a harder time being accepted, and will usually be required to undergo an "accelerated apprenticeship" that is designed to be harrowing and difficult. Mages are not encouraged to hop from order to order; unless he has a spectacular reputation, any mage who does so will be considered a dilettante and an opportunist, and will find it harder and harder to join new orders.
A member must pay dues equal to 5% of his annual income to maintain his good standing in the order. Apprentices taken in their youth pay no fees, but must act as servants to their Masters in exchange for their education and their room and board. "Transfer students" must pay a fee based on a sliding scale; the exact amount depends on a number of factors, not the least of which is how much the local Factor wants to discourage the applicant. In addition, the mage is expected to protect and defend the order where necessary, and to act as the order's agent when required. Also, like other fraternal orders, the mage promises to aid his fellow members individually when needed.
In exchange for all this, the mage receives a small enchanted tattoo, called an Order Mark, that identifies him as a member of the order. This is normally on the hands, face or chest, where it can be easily seen, although certain secret orders place their tattoos in obscure locations. This tattoo acts as a "key" to the magical defenses of a Chapter House, allowing the mage to enter and leave freely. Order marks are keyed to their individual owners, and can be remotely "shut down" to lock out an outcast or banned member, or one who has changed Orders. In the latter case, the physical tattoo remains, but its magical properties are permanently removed.
Apprentices receive their Order Marks upon entering the order, but do not normally get them enchanted until they are granted full membership at the end of their apprenticeship. Until such time, they can only enter and exit the Chapter House with their master or some other full member.
Members also receive access to chapter libraries and classes on the colleges that the order specializes in. Library access usually costs a token amount -- 10 copper per day or fraction thereof. Classes cost more, on the order of 1 silver/day of class.
Most orders also maintain a program of social events. The budget for these depends on the order and its philosophy (an ascetic order will not have frequent banquets, for example!), but most orders will have at least a monthly informal get-together. In some cities, Chapters from different orders field sports teams and play games against each other. At the very least, Chapter Houses will always have lounges and discussion rooms where mages may relax amid the company of other mages.
In the past, it has been heard of for a mage to be a member of both a public Order and a secret, proscribed one. Such mages are known as "Sleepers". They use the cover of their public image to pursue the goals of their secret brotherhood. Many Orders attempt to purge possible Sleepers from their ranks whenever such are suspected, but such purges are infrequent in these modern days.
In game terms, the member mage will gain the order as a Patron, as well as a Duty to that Order. The exact value of each will vary by the size of the Order. The Order will always have a frequency of appearance of 15 or less.
Many orders require Vows -- such as celibacy or poverty -- from their members. A mage who has changed Orders need not abide by the Vows of his previous Order(s), but many do.
Members must have at least half a point in Savoir-Faire for their Order, and half a point in Thaumatology. Area Knowledge (Chapter House) is appropriate, especially if the Chapter House is especially large. Sometimes members are required to know or learn a certain language at IQ -- such as Sidhaisin for members of the elven "Houses", or Old Common for Cerebromagi.
A mage need not know spells from all the colleges taught by his Order, but can choose to specialize in one or two of them.
Being a "Sleeper" is a Secret whose revelation portends possible death (a -30 point value).
This is by no means a complete list of all the orders of magic found on the Jadiwan continent; it is merely a compendium of some of the largest and/or better known. Many orders are no larger than a single Chapter House/Sanctum -- such orders have not been listed here.
All orders in this list will teach at least parts of the Enchantment and Metamagic Colleges in addition to any explicitly listed with an order. The precise spells known vary from order to order; however, in the former case, most will have some or all of the Wizard's Tools spells. All have the Knowledge College to the extent of the following spells: Detect Magic, Identify Spell, Mage Sight, Seek Magic, Mage Sense, and Analyze Magic. Orders which list Enchantment, Knowledge or Metamagic among their colleges have the full spell list for that college at their disposal.
Some orders teach colleges that have prerequisites from outside their college list. In such cases, the order has only as many spells from the prerequisite college(s) as are needed, and no more; and they do not count those college(s) among those that they practice and teach.
Size: 25 chapters
Sanctum: Palace of the Elements, Dirria.
Colleges taught: All Elements except for Acid subcollege of Water, Gate up to and including the planar travel spells.
Character requirements: Must take a Vow never to coerce or harm elementals. OPH (Snob) is common.
Order Mark: A small circle, quartered, with a stylized flame, water drop, rock and cloud in the quarters.
Description/Philosophy: This order specializes in all uses and forms of elemental magic. They tend to accumulate Allies and Patrons in powerful elemental creatures; it is said that the Rockthane itself aided in the creation of their sanctum. While they are required to be always peaceful and polite to elementals, they are under no such restriction when dealing with other creatures; this order produces some of the more impressive warrior-mages. While no particular church is required for members, most mages in this order worship one or all of the Elemental Lords, or one or more of Fermus, Friel, Kharul, Kel and Lhen.
History: The Brotherhood is actually the descendant of an older order that was shattered and destroyed during Devastor. More than a century after its destruction, several mages discovered a cache of its records, and went about reconstituting the order.
The original Brotherhood took pride in being one of the very first orders; the restored Brotherhood continues this claim, even though it bears only a slight resemblance to its pacifistic, service-oriented forebear. Its policies are often self-serving and self-aggrandizing, and members are sometimes snobbish to the point of obnoxiousness.
Size: Not applicable
Sanctum: Probably not applicable; if it is, then somewhere in Cerebrospace.
Leadership: Probably not applicable
Colleges taught: Not applicable
Character requirements: Old Common, the Plane Shift: Cerebrospace and/or Gate: Cerebrospace spell(s), Survival (Cerebrospace), Cerebrospace Manipulation.
Order Mark: Not applicable
Description/Philosophy: Not applicable
History: The Cerebromagi are not actually a separate order, but rather a loose organization of all those mages who have learned how to enter and make use of Cerebrospace. The first cerebromagi were the initial few explorers/users of C-space organized by the elven mage Imasho Thyrillin, who, with several others, discovered the unique properties of this part of the Astral Plane more than a century ago. At present, the only requirements for "joining" the Cerebromagi are the abilities to enter and shape Cerebrospace, and knowledge of the ancient Common Tongue of the Jadiwan continent.
Size: 57 chapters
Sanctum: Matrix Castle, outside of Krane, Kironar.
Colleges taught: Enchantment, Illusion and Creation, Making and Breaking, Tech.
Character requirements: Must have at least a minor Delusion (player's choice). -2 Reputation as "Weird". Wealth of Comfortable or better suggested.
Order Mark: A hammer over a coin.
Description/Philosophy: The Crafters are among the premiere enchanters of the modern era, rarely exceeded save for the legendary elven-dwarven collaborations. However, they are also obsessed with the nature of reality and truth, and are of the opinion that little truly exists that is absolutely objective and immutable. They point to the close link between Illusion and Creation spells as the basis for their philosophy -- the ability to create false seemings is innately connected to the ability to create true things. All Crafters are eccentric, some much more so than others, and are looked upon suspiciously by the general populace. But their skills are much in demand, and they are not so removed from the world that they do not realize their value to other mages. Subsequently, they are a rich order; it is a rare sight to see a shabby, poorly-dressed Crafter, or one without at least a couple magic items.
History: The Crafters are an order which has a continuous unbroken history dating back some seven centuries before Devastor. Their mages, while not the first enchanters, have compiled and refined the vast number of enchantment spells until they have become the undisputed masters of the college; they continue to add to the college as the decades pass. It is even rumored that some Crafters are researching the possibility of applying permanent enchantments to living beings!
Size: 29 chapters
Sanctum: Introspection Keep, Cerebrospace
Colleges taught: Body Control, Communication and Empathy, Illusion and Creation, Mind Control; plus sufficient Gate spells to provide entry to Cerebrospace.
Character requirements: Vow not to misuse their knowledge, or a Code of Honor defining ethical use of their colleges.
Order Mark: A stylized human head.
Description/Philosophy: The Fellowship seeks to understand the workings of the mortal mind, and by extension, the soul. In the course of this search, they have discovered all the many ways magic can manipulate the mind. But instead of becoming a fearsome force that can twist mobs and governments to its will, the Fellowship imposed a strict code of ethics upon its members, and enforced that code with deadly severity; even today, centuries after the last known purges, no member will lightly consider violating that code. With the discovery of Cerebrospace and its sensitivity to the sentient mind, the Fellowship has moved the majority of its R&D off-plane.
History: The Fellowship of the Mind is a new order, founded a century after Devastor. It has spread somewhat, but is far from ubiquituous. Founded in Chicoqe, on the Larquoneaa, it once had its sanctum there, but the order's headquarters have since been relocated to Cerebrospace.
Size: 21 chapters
Sanctum: Rockhome Deeps, Bukkaazmur
Colleges taught: Earth, Fire, Knowledge, Metamagic, Water (but no water subcolleges).
Character requirements: None. Members are encouraged to pay reverence to Friel, but joining his church is not required for membership. Engineering and architecture skills are common.
Order Mark: A stylized mountain, similar to that found in the holy symbol of Friel.
Description/Philosophy: Given that it was founded by dwarves, the philosophy of this order is not surprising: The foundations of the world are of stone and earth, and all things come from and return to them. Respect the fabric of Narth. The greatest achievements are in creation and discovery. Geomancers, despite a name that hints at divinatory abilities, are more often often designers and crafters of stone structures and earthworks. They are not loath to take life if necessary. Mining companies and construction crews often have a Geomancer or two on their payrolls. Mages of this order tend to be very pragmatic.
History: This order was founded by Dwarven earthmages only a hundred years ago; it is one of the youngest orders to have spread beyond the nation in which it was founded. For its first few decades, non-Dwarven members were discouraged, but a political shakeup among the governing elite of the order some 25 years ago changed the membership policy drastically.
Size: 32 chapters
Sanctum: Sunsholme, in Seenay.
Colleges taught: Fire, Gate, Illusion and Creation, Light and Darkness.
Order Mark: Stylized solar disk.
Character requirements: Patron: Order, on 9-. Reputation +1 from everyone as "crusaders against evil". Members may not be obviously "evil" (no psychopaths, sadists or the like). They may not learn spells from GURPS Grimoire, except for the Gate College. Most members of this order have either Intolerance of Necromancers or Obsession (Destroy Necromancy). Many members are worshipers of Nerahn; some are outright Fanatics. Common quirks include conservative or reactionary views about politics and/or religion, and a dislike of nonhumans. The Old Common tongue is known by almost all members.
Description/Philosophy: "We are the bearers of the light, the keepers of its secrets. From light comes substance, and illumination brings truth." The members of the Golden Sun have long been among the forefront of the battle against evil, particularly those who practice necromancy. Their origins as a lay order of the church of Nerahn (see below) are echoed in the their unyielding adherence to their original (and unchanged) rules and organization. The result is that the order is usually very conservative (and at times reactionary) in its views, and its leaders tend to be those who pleased the previous generation of leaders with their adherence to the order's perferred dogma. The Golden Sun is slow to change in any way, and almost never admits an error in policy or philosophy. This conservatism is extended even to the order's grimoires -- new spells, whether developed in-house or deployed by other orders, are tested for years, sometimes for decades, before being approved for use. As a result, its members are usually not as versatile as those from other orders, although they will often be very adept at the spells they do know.
The order also encourages a great deal of self-reliance in its members, and will only come to their aid under extreme circumstances, hence the lower appearance roll for it as a Patron.
History: The Golden Sun originated some ten centuries ago as an offshoot of the church of Nerahn, and was originally dedicated to the task of rooting out and destroying undead and their creators. Over the first two centuries of the order's existence, it gradually grew away from the church and became a separate, secular body, with wider goals and beliefs. However, the order's religious origins remain apparent in its rigid belief system and political structure. This rigidity has perpetuated both a solid dogma and a "we can do no wrong" attitude among the order's leaders. The Golden Sun participated eagerly in the post-Devastor persecution of non-humans, and even in these more enlightened times has not admitted any wrongdoing in its encouragement (or, in some cases, its part in) of some of the atrocities of the period.
Size: 47 chapters
Sanctum: House of Life, Telzfar, Tinmak (recently destroyed)
Colleges taught: Animal, Food, Light and Darkness, Plant, Sound.
Order Mark: A intricate webwork of lines.
Description/Philosophy: "The cycle of life is sacred; everything has its place and its role. Magic can help bring to fruition a living thing's destiny in the great scheme of things." The Greenfellows are mage-farmers, druid-wizards and others who feel an integral link to the ecosystem of Narth. However, they do not hold the ecosystem above humans and other mortals; instead, their focus is on the cycle of life and the interaction that sentient beings have with it. Few, if any, are "green" fanatics.
One common mission of the Greenfellows is to teach farmers some of the easier Plant college spells -- which are often the most useful ones to the crop-owner.
History: The Greenfellows were founded almost 250 years ago as a local order in Tinmak, a land not then known for excessive fertility or abundance. The Greenfellows, led by a mage who worshipped Maire, sought to improve the lot of their fellow Tinmakki without disturbing the balance of nature. In the decades that followed, this goal was achieved, and both Tinmak and the order prospered and grew. Its Sanctum remained in the original chapterhouse in Tinmak until the recent expansion of the Kironar Empire. The House of Life was destroyed in the fighting and the order is currently without a Sanctum.
Size: 62 chapters
Sanctum: The White Tower, Chesmir.
Colleges taught: Communication & Empathy, Food, Healing, Protection and Warning.
Character requirements: Cannot Kill Pacifism, +1 Reputation from all.
Order Mark: An equal-armed cross over an intricate spiral.
Description/Philosophy: "Sentient mortal life is sacred. There is no greater calling than its protection and nurturing." One of the two best-known healing orders, the Lifegivers focuses on the preservation of human life. Unlike the Order of Physick, it does not teach mundane medical skills, preferring rather to rely entirely on the Healing college. In addition, the order specializes in those other colleges which best lend themselves to protection.
History: The Lifegivers were formed as the result of a peaceful schism within the Order of Physick a little more than a century and a half ago. A dozen or so mages, now revered as "The Founders", left the OP over a philosophical difference in the Order's focus, and created a new order to reflect their views.
Size: 45 chapters
Sanctum: L'shentakuz, Arakund
Colleges taught: Enchantment, Gate, Knowledge, Making and Breaking, Protection and Warning, Tech.
Character requirements: Most members of L'shentayka are orcs or half-orcs. A Major Vow never to destroy anything living or unliving if it can at all be avoided -- Cannot Kill Pacifism is frequently found in conjunction with this vow. Many members have strict Codes of Honor governing their personal behavior and deportment. Engineering and scientific skills are common, as are diplomacy and other social skills.
Order Mark: The Arake'en rune for the letter "L".
Description/Philosophy: "Builders are we of soul and civiliation. We give the lie to the stereotype of the barbarian orc. We build where we can, rebuild where we must, and never destroy where we can find another way." The L'shentayka are an order of mages who seek to build, support and reinforce the structures of the world. Destruction, be it of life or a tumbledown shack, is anathema to them. They also seek to demonstrate the best virtues of an advanced, enlightented civilization. They are also often gifted scientists -- as an example, while Arakund received the concept of firearms from the elves, it was mages of the L'Shentayka order who deduced from their observations and divinations how to duplicate gunpowder.
History: The L'shentayka order was originally an Arakundian vocational school some 250 years ago, but an original member of the faculty was an experienced mage, and increasing numbers of students came to study under him, and later his successors. Soon, the focus of the training changed from vocational to magical, and the school itself transformed into an order of mages who specialize in building and reinforcing -- and understanding -- the structures of the world.
In the last few decades, the L'shentayka Order has expanded out of Arakund proper. The original school building is now the order's sanctum, and chapterhouses can be found in almost every country poised on the edge of the Larquoneaa.
Size: 70+ chapters
Sanctum: The Hospice, Lysiria
Colleges taught: Body Control, Food, Healing, Necromancy (only enough for Resurrection!).
Character requirements: +1 Reputation from everyone; Vow: "Hippocratic Oath" or equivalent, or Cannot Kill Pacifism. Medical skills are common.
Order Mark: An abstract leaf-like form.
Description/Philosophy: "Heal those who need it. Do not take life with your skills." These are the two rules by which all mages of the Order of Physick live. They are doctors and healers, often with both magical and mundane skills; as in other areas of endeavor, medicine, too, has an "observer effect", and diseases with a magical component can only be treated with magic.
History: The Order of Physick is arguably the oldest of the orders which survived Devastor reasonably intact. The earliest independently verifiable records date the order as at least 1000 years old; the order's own records claim an additional 500 years beyond that.
Size: 31 chapters
Sanctum: Elzpath, Jarras.
Colleges taught: Communication and Empathy, Knowledge, Movement, Protection and Warning, Tech. Any and all "Seek" spells, regardless of college.
Character requirements: Each member must take a Vow to pursue some specific goal, usually an artifact or some unknown knowledge.
Order Mark: An open eye.
Size: 44 chapters
Sanctum: The Windspire, Dalamir, Elstrim.
Colleges taught: Air, Gate, Ice subcollege, Movement, Water, Weather subcollege.
Order Mark: Stylized cloud and wings.
For comparison, here are several of the underground orders whose existence has been discovered. In addition to the character requirements listed for each, a member of a secret or banned order must take an appropriate Secret.
Size: Unknown, suspected to be a large order.
Sanctum: Its sanctum was located in Lysirria and destroyed; it is not known if they have established a new one.
Leadership: Rumored to be Archmage
Colleges taught: Body Control, Illusion and Creation, Enchantment, Light and Darkness, Sound.
Character requirements: Must be a worshiper of Ntono. Bard and/or Psychology are common.
Order Mark: The holy symbol of Ntono: a black silhouette of a man.
Description/Philosophy: The Dwellers are a body of Ntono-worshipers who seek to further the Voidchild's aims by sowing discontent and chaos. In particular, the Dwellers like to incite holy wars if they can, by rabble-rousing and demagoguery coupled with clever use of illusions and other magic.
History: The Dwellers are believed to date back to the discovery of magic. Ntono has always had his followers, and those who learnt magic simply applied it to their agenda.
Sanctum: Believed to be in Edrad.
Colleges taught: Body Control, Healing, Necromancy, Sound.
Character requirements: Reverence of Jadeg is encouraged; most members will also have an Odious Personal Habit, usually having to do with hygiene and/or their excessive familiarity with dead bodies.
Order Mark: A stylized human skull.
Size: Unknown, believed to be small.
Sanctum: Believed to be somewhere in the Blasted Lands.
Leadership: Unknown, probably Oligarchy.
Colleges taught: Communication and Empathy, Gate, Illusion and Creation, Knowledge.
Character requirements: Delusion: "We are the only Keepers of the One Truth!", Intolerance of all non-Keepers, Mind Block skill at 18+.
Order Mark: The Keepers appear to have no order mark.
Description/Philosophy: The Keepers appear to be a small band of fanatics who operate out of the Blasted Lands. The specifics of their beliefs and philosophy are unclear; Keepers tend to suicide if captured, and seem to be resistant to magical mind-probing. All that has been reliably determined to date is that they are opposed to virtually every established government on the continent.
History: Not much has been discovered about the origins of the Keepers. Their apparent base of operations in the Blasted Lands suggest that they are the descendants of some nation or Order that was almost entirely destroyed by Devastor. The source of their fanaticism may date back to the beliefs or politics of their pre-Devastor ancestors and antecedents, but little is known for certain. What is known is that they occasionally send agents into the various nations that surround them, with the apparent goals of sabotage and sedition; however, Keepers rarely are able to maintain a cover identity for long and usually give themselves away before they do any real damage.
Colleges taught: Animal, Body Control, Communication and Empathy, Mind Control.
Character requirements: A minor Delusion or other "insanity" disadvantage.
Order Mark: A simple circle of red.
The Sidhai have a system which was imposed thousands of years ago to prevent any one clan from gaining an advantage over the others through magic. In addition to the hundreds of family lines, the Sidhai also have several dozen "Great Houses", which are "artificial" clans composed solely of mages. At his birth, every elven child is tested for magical potential. Those that test positive are given to one of the Great Houses. (Any child born to a Great House who has no Magery is given to a family who has recently given up a child to a Great House.)
In the Great House, the child is raised to be a mage among mages, taught by mages and living with mages. Each house specializes in a small variety of magic, like the human Orders; but unlike the Orders a member of a Great House cannot leave it and join another, any more than any other elf could change his bloodline. An elven mage who tried to go "rogue" in the human style would be at the best outcast, and at worst, hunted down and killed. It is not forbidden for an elven mage to learn magics outside those taught by his House, but he is not allowed to teach them to others in the line. (There are rare exceptions to this, but all are virtually legends; only one is currently living.)
The priesthoods of Lindelona and Maire, as well, are Great Houses, except an elf may join them at any point in his life by renouncing his previous clan. Sometimes children are marked at birth for the priesthood, in which case they are raised in the same manner as mage children.
It is believed that the Yadhai use a similar system.
The Great Houses do not follow the human orders in their use of Order Marks to identify members.
Below are two sample houses:
Name: Asathon ad Alledhef ("The house of magic")
Colleges taught: Light and Darkness, Metamagic, Protection and Warning, Sound, Tech.
Name: Asathon ad haushrel ("The house of the elements")
Colleges taught: All Elements, Plant, Weather.