After deciding what I wanted to do with the Tower, the location itself, I started thinking about what sort of Earth needed to be in place to allow for the Tower. That started with, as noted last week, the idea that high magic was deemed too dangerous to teach on Earth. So, who made and enforced that determination?
The answer was The Authority.
Ok, what’s the Authority?
In short, a collection of representatives from Earth’s five mage factions. The Authority meets infrequently, in part because the factions generally dislike and distrust each other, and in random places. The Authority doesn’t really affect the daily lives of most magicians, except for their first ruling—that high magic not be taught on Earth. For the most part, the Authority’s job is to see to global scale threats to the magical community and to keep the factions from either revealing themselves to humanity or destroying each other outright (basically the same thing).
Brotherhood (of Thoth), The
The Brotherhood is made up of the scholars and librarians of the magical community. They hold the view that all knowledge is precious and preserving knowledge is the highest goal in existence. They generally get along with the Company/Rovers and the Order, with fair relations regarding the Coven. However, they see the Circles as their antithesis and the Free are an interesting case.
Company of Rovers, The
The Company, or the Rovers, are the wanderers and free spirits of the magical community. Their goal is to roam the world and experience everything. They are driven by a sort of wanderlust and lack of ties to any given place. They generally get along with the Brotherhood and Coven, while pitying both for their geographic limitations. On the other hand, they are antithetical to the Order and Circles with the two factions’ rigidity. Many enjoy the Free as kindred spirits of a sort.
Members of the Coven are the magical community’s naturists and “tree huggers”, or neo-druids. They believe the natural world need preservation and guidance. They hold the natural world in great esteem, and are mostly female in membership (60/40 female-male ratio). The Brotherhood and Rovers are friends of the Coven, while the Order and Circles have a mutual hate relationship with the Coven. The Free can be useful, but also potentially problematic.
Order of Hermes, The
The Hermetics are the magical community’s scientists. They believe that magic, like every natural force, is subject to scientific laws and analysis. Ultimately, they believe in order and rigid laws of nature. The Order gets along well with the Brotherhood. However, they consider the Company and Coven to be undisciplined hoodlums. The Circles are generally considered scary because the Order doesn’t know what they’re doing and they pity the Free.
Seven Circles, The
The Seven Circles are widely considered cultists and lunatics. Their core philosophies and purpose are unclear to all outsiders, so is their method of choosing new members. They are extremely secretive in their methods and rarely talk to those outside the faction. Some, especially younger mages, don’t even believe the Circles actually exist. To the Circles, all other factions are potential threats.
The Free are not a faction as such, the term is a general catch-all for those mages who fall through the cracks of the faction system. People in the Free range from those rejected by other factions to those who choose to be factionless to small factions that aren’t recognized by the five Authority factions. They are generally looked at with disdain by the factions, sometimes targeted for violence and scapegoating by faction leaders.
Two small Free factions are:
Initially a mundane institution, the Caer supposedly pre-dates the Authority and started as a temple dedicated to a forgotten deity of love and desire. It has since expanded to cover all such deities and serves as a mix of temple and monastery involving study of the low magics. About 100-200 years ago, the Caer masters accidentally discovered coitomancy through tantric study. Due to the nature of their teachings, all Caer Anam trained high mages are limited to coitomancy, lithomancy, alchemy, and cryptomancy unless they study sorcery or blood magic elsewhere.
Iron Mountain Monastery
The Monastery at Iron Mountain is a monastic school located in the side of a remote mountain. The sect is primarily focused on martial study combined with the practice of witchcraft and wizardry, based on Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, and Sufi traditions. Their unique martial art incorporates elements of several styles from China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Masters accidentally taught themselves some sorcery, that is wrapped up in wuxia-style traditions and trappings, both philosophically and in effects. Alchemy and glyph magic (hand signs) are also incorporated.