Wiki Update: the Aecha Ostai
One of the things I wanted to have in Temir were politically powerful and interesting factions that people could be a part of. Knightly orders, guilds, secret cabals, that sort of thing. I think that being part of one or more of those helps players get invested in the setting, and provides a backdrop against which the history of the setting unfolds. Happily, D&D was ready to accommodate my desire through the association rules in Player’s Handbook II, which pprovide a way of designing factions and setting them up to reward PCs for joining them mechanically, as well as any thematic rewards which come from it. This is the first of the factions in Temir, the ancient wizards’ guild known as the Aecha Ostai. I’ve stripped out the relevant charts and whatnot, but you can find them here.
The Aecha Ostai, also known as the Wizards of the Coast, are an ancient and powerful guild of mages. Founded before the Sundering of Tachros, they have been different things in different times. In wartime, they are soldiers. In peacetime, scholars. At times peacekeepers, adventurers, watchmen, or craftsmen. The common thread between these is magic and the study of it. First in their tower outside Tachros, where creatures were summoned and experimental spells were developed, now in the Spire of the Singing Winds which hangs over Isard, surrounded by a sprawling university.
How do they work?
The Wizards on the Coast take in the magical and mundane students of anyone who can pay, as well as seeking out talented youths for training. A student typically begins at age twelve, studying for four to six years before being taken as an apprentice for a year or two by one of the Magi of the 2nd or 3rd Circle. When they are ready, they are initiated into the first circle in a rite known as the Trial of the Touchstone. The details of the ritual itself are a closely guarded secret, and speculation abounds as to what exactly it entails. Upon initiation into the 3rd Circle by no less than three of the High Magi, a mage must take on an apprentice, ensuring that the Aecha Ostai have a place in the future. There are many lesser orders within the Aecha Ostai, such as the Phalanx, which holds the authority to police spellcasters in many of the towns of Temir, and the Librarians, who serve as the faculty of the university proper. The High Archmage of the Aecha Ostai has always been a Librarian.
The university does take mundane students as well, the wealthy of Temir, the Samarese City-States, and even the Free City of Valikesh sending their children there for the same education in history, art, mathematics, rhetoric, and logic that the apprentices receive, the Aecha Ostai employing chiefly mundane experts to teach those subjects. The success of their mundane studies often competes with those of the Collegiate of Satu Mare. Sponsored by the Temple of the Ivory Throne, the Collegiate trains bards and scholars in its own way.
Who is involved?
The Aecha Ostai are run by the Archmage, who presides over a council of ten High Magi, each one a representative of one of the dominant orders of the Aecha Ostai. The current Archmage is Aldous the White, a halfling conjuror who some say is long past his prime. Other figures of note are Darien Shaw, half-elven ambassador of the Phalanx, whose job it is to visit other towns and persuade them to accept the Phalanx’s aid in policing necromancy and unlawful magic. As well, the current golden boy of the past few years is actually a girl, an Azurin by the name of Fatima Kidisa, who brought to the circles new ways to mesh the strange soul-magic of her homeland with contemporary wizardry.
The Aecha Ostai’s relationships:
With the birth of the Therengrad Spellbinders’ Ring comes something the Aecha Ostai have not experienced since the shattering of their tower, competition for their magical dominance of the region. Though not openly enemies, the two groups are certainly rivals, and anyone found to be a member of both is liable to be expelled. For the moment the TSRfill a niche that the Aecha Ostai do not, but the expansive and greedy nature of the TSR worries many of the High Magi. The relationship of the Aecha Ostai with the government of Isard is somewhat more complicated, almost symbiotic in nature. Since the harbour wars a ten years ago, the Aecha Ostai are committed to the defense of Isard, and did so quite admirably during the war. But they always seem separate, hanging above the city thanks to the natural magic of the area, and members are often looked on by locals with fear, awe, or scorn as being mages concerned with greater matters than everyday life.