Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Age of Strife: The Order of the Blue Robes

Two notes: first, this order writeup for the Age of Strife have been inspired by the format for the same deployed in Runequest 6. Second, it references D&D 5E but you can extrapolate from that to work out 13th Age ideas, too.

The Order of the Blue Robes
The Order of the Blue Robes was founded during the turbulent years of the Faith Wars in Hyrkania some 1,400 years prior. During this time of turbulent revolution and religious conflict the sorcerers of the empire realized their vulnerability as individuals and conspired to forge a sort of brotherhood of mutual self-interest and preservation. The original founders were numbered twelve, and it was from this that the Council of Twelve was formed. One of the twelve was Warenis Burghest himself, the immortal reincarnate of Order, and his presence on the Council lent a great deal of power and religious protection that helped those wizards of the time stay safe in a period when practicing sorcery could lead to a swift death. It was also during this time that the notion of the “blue robes” became an indelible descriptor for the order, as its members and supporters all chose to wear deep blue dyed robes as a show of solidarity and support.

Over the centuries the order has prospered and grown to a complex organization supporting colleges of magic and study in eight major cities throughout the Middle Kingdoms, including Hyrkan’ien, Hyrmyskos, Octzel, Yllmar, Jnril, Eastonia, Karan and Krythia. Individual mages belong to the order throughout the empire and the rest of the Middle Kingdoms, and a record of the Blue Robe’s living members suggests over two thousand practitioners of magic belong to the order.

Though the Blue Robes were founded at a time when religious fervor led to the prosecution and murder of practitioners of magic, the order sustained itself through the beneficial network of mutual study and research that it propagated. The founding wizards of the Council of Twelve each imparted a portion of their knowledge into a library of archived spell records in the Grand Librarium of Hyrkan’ien where the volume of arcane lore has expended dramatically after fourteen hundred years. Today, being a sorcerer in the Empire of Hyrkania means being a member of the Blue Robes; without that recognition of membership practitioners of magic are suspiciously regarded as hedge wizards, rogue agents or worse: cultists of chaos. The cult’s nature, then, is order and knowledge.

The Blue Robes have organized like a true college of learning focused on magic and the availability of shared resources and research. Lay members are like card-carrying guildsmen, but the next tier of the order are the teachers who provide tutelage to eager apprentices. The Blue Robes long ago began providing educational classes to laymen of the Empire and abroad, as well; the furtherance of their educational studies have led to a more educated civilization overall and they have in this way influenced the thinking of men in the Middle Kingdoms to be more accepting of magic and the practitioners of such.

Aside from the apprentices, lay members and teachers there are academic positions and collegiate administrators, but all of these layers defer to the ever-present Council of Twelve, which represents the twelve greatest wizards in the world of Lingusia, or so it is said. The Council is always open to include Warenis, the champion of Order, when he manifests (such as he has in the Age of Strife). It is his continued efforts to further the order’s needs that have provided more stability over the last fourteen hundred years than anything else.

The standard process of joining the order initially requires a donation of services, goods, spells or coin to assist the local branch or college. Once the individual  has joined a lay member then he may participate in the local convocation, and have a say and vote in activities. To become a teacher or faculty at one of the colleges the mage must demonstrate impressive skill in magic and be nominated by the regional council.

Alternatively an individual with raw natural magical talent may be found and indoctrinated into the order as an apprentice. Once an apprentice reaches a level of skill that would allow him or her to graduate, he is then expected to provide a minimum of two years of service to the order, making him a lay member in formal status.

The senior leaders of the colleges are culled from among the finest of the order and sometimes even invited to sit on the Council of Twelve when positions become available. The Council has the ear of no less than four ruling kings and the emperor himself in the Middle Kingdoms.

No mage who has ever worked with either the Red Robes or the Black Circle will be allowed in the order. Mages convicted of crimes or heresies are exiled from the order as well. Anyone who demonstrates a talent for barbaric magic is regarded carefully before any possible consideration for entry. If an individual is unable to maintain a minimum level of skill and proficiency in magic they will be excised from the order as well.

Learning Magic Through the Order
The Blue Robes have existed for a millennia and a half now, and the accrued knowledge of thousands of professional wizards over this time has led to a ponderous level of knowledge on sorcerous arts. Virtually all sorcery spells can be found somewhere within the Grand Librarium or in the individual archives of each college. Failing that, there is a member somewhere who might likely provide tutelage for a price.

For game purposes, each location has roughly 1D12+12 spells available at that particular college (each spell is level 1D10 with the “0” meaning a cantrip). A true member of the order may spend several years in each of the major cities studying the libraries of each branch college.

Long Term Membership

The ultimate goal of an aspiring member of the order is to achieve sufficient fame, skill, and sorcerous prowess as to be invited onto the Council of Twelve. Membership on the Council is a world-wide level of influence, and provides access to resources and knowledge unattainable anywhere else.  The process of achieving rank on the Council does require a gift in turn: a unique spell to be added to the permanent roster of knowledge for the order (cult evolution).

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