DescriptionThe great secrets of existence, powerful knowledge lost to time, understanding things that mortals were never supposed to understand: This is what drives the Arcanists. They love the world as a treasure hoard of answers only waiting to be found. This organization of sages and spellcasters has been famous before the apocalypse. During the war of dragon gods, some of their most powerful members fought against divine proxies, or even faced Zathruax himself. They also helped Marisha Veilbreaker and her friends in their quest to stop the end of the world. In the first days of Ashandri, they sent a telepathic message to every sentient being in the world. And with that, they unquestionably became the most famous of all organizations. Many people traveled to Delvaroth or one of their smaller outposts elsewhere to join the group. But they also became the target of less friendly beings and organizations interested in their power and knowledge. Fortunately, the Arcanists are used to fighting enemies. They helped topple many villains and brought down beasts that even famous heroes couldn’t defeat. Their role as protectors of the innocents is as important to them as their pursuit of knowledge - at least in the public eye. The reality is that, occasionally, they look to the other side when the suffering of innocents yields great results. They still condemn acts of evil, officially, but that doesn’t mean the results of a deed already done shouldn’t be used. And some of their less compassionate members rely on this, secretly conducting evil experiments for the sake of understanding (and sometimes, power and status). Some of their enemies see the Arcanists as the true villains - and rightfully so, at least in some cases.
GoalsKnowledge. Magic. Understanding. These three runes - written in the ancient language found in their headquarters, The Arcanist Vault - are shown in the official symbol of the Arcanists, and they embody what the organization stands for. To them, intellectual insights and arcane powers are the closest thing to divinity a mortal being can achieve. Bright minds must be nurtured and encouraged so their achievements better the life for everybody. But all that needs a stable society, with at least a certain amount of freedom. The thought of a genius working as a farmer’s aide or even as a slave somewhere cripples the heart of Arcanists. Which is why their secondary goals are promoting a stable and free society, with full access to education for everybody. Poverty and strict caste systems wasting the potential of great thinkers are abhorred by the organization. They fight these things both on the political stage and by organizing quests and missions, either carried out by their own people or delegated to well-paid adventurers and mercenaries.
Rules and LawsWhile the Arcanists have their administrative processes, they don’t want bureaucracy to stand in the way of gaining knowledge. That’s why they only have five simple laws that they really care about, and that members can easily memorize. All other rules they have are more like guidelines that can be bent if it helps the pursuit of knowledge. Their first two rules are the most important ones, and those who break them are called Defilers. These people usually end up in one of the secret Arcanist prisons, never to be seen again. There are exceptions, though - depending on how malicious a deed really was, and how interesting the project is that a Defiler was working on. It happens that the Arcanists look the other way, or a Defiler’s punishment is more symbolic, if what they were working on is promising enough. (Public attention usually leads to harsher punishments, though.) The five official laws of the Arcanists are:
- Law One: Don’t harm innocent sentient beings.
- Law Two: Don’t endanger the world or large areas of it.
- Law Three: Help protect knowledge, the pursuit of knowledge, and the pursuers of knowledge - unless this contradicts the first two rules.
- Law Four: Do not create unnecessary suffering.
- Law Five: Do not force anyone into a life they don’t want.
Organization structureSimilar to their laws, the Arcanists don’t care too much about hierarchy. Of course, there are members who enjoy the status of a great title, and authority sometimes helps make efficient decisions. The organization still kept their structure as simple as possible, focusing more on jobs and tasks than hierarchical titles. The leader of the Arcanists is the Supreme Weaver of the Mystic Arts. A new leader is chosen only when the last one dies, leaves the organization or is sentenced as a Defiler (something that never happened so far). A new Supreme Weaver is chosen from among the ranks of the existing Grandmasters, the empty seat then filled with a member of the lower ranks (again, chosen by the existing Grandmasters). The six Grandmasters and their functions are as follows. The Supreme Weaver: The leader of the organization has a final say in every decision, but usually focuses on the grand goals and most important missions. The Supreme Weaver is chosen not only based on achievements and knowledge, but also needs a certain political understanding. The Grandmaster of Beasts: An expert in the field of non-humanoid (mostly) mortal creatures, the Grandmaster of Beasts is responsible for everything from researching animal anatomy to fighting dragons. If you want to know how to defeat a certain beast, this Grandmaster knows how to do it - or where the knowledge can be found. And if nobody has an answer, you can be certain a new research project is initiated right away. The Grandmaster of Tomes: Also called the Keeper of Knowledge, this Grandmaster is responsible for the organization’s vast libraries. Writing down new knowledge, copying existing books and protecting scrolls and books from decay and destruction are part of the everyday tasks of the Grandmaster of Tomes. They also organize quests to retrieve lost knowledge. The current holder of the title, the Ashfolk (formerly human) wizard Brayanne, is hellbent on recovering the knowledge lost in the Ocean of Ash. The Grandmaster of Spirits: Ghosts, spirits, angels, demons, devils and elementals - if it's an otherworldly entity, it’s the responsibility of the Grandmaster of Spirits. In the past, this list included deities - until about two hundred years ago, when the goddess Oura personally killed the old Grandmaster and twenty of his most important staff members. It’s a well-kept secret what exactly angered Oura that much, but ever since, the Arcanists are careful about treading too far into the domains of the gods. The Grandmaster of Secrets: There are things the world is not yet ready for, and secrets that should never be revealed. These are the domain of the Grandmaster of Secrets, the only person in the organization allowed to keep knowledge from the Supreme Weaver. The title comes with heavy burdens, but also with a massive amount of protective magic. The holder of this title is considered to be both blessed and cursed: They have access to knowledge other Arcanists only dream of, but some of this knowledge is truly soul-shattering. It’s common knowledge that the Grandmasters of Secrets die young - and more often than not, they die at their own hand. It’s a tough job, and those who do it are sometimes even more respected than the Supreme Weaver. The Grandmaster of Politics: Magic and the secrets of the world aren’t always helpful when dealing with the leaders of society. The Grandmaster of Politics is responsible for alliances and truces, and for analyzing the most probable goals and schemes of those the Arcanists deal with. They also take care of most internal conflicts in the organization. As a master of psychology and culture, this Grandmaster wields the greatest direct influence in the world. The title also highly increases the chances of becoming the next Supreme Weaver. About half of the organization’s leaders were a Grandmaster of Politics before being chosen as first in command. The lower ranks in the organization are as follows. Head of Department: As direct subordinates of the Grandmasters, the Heads take care of a specific field. For example, the Head of Dragons is responsible for all draconic research, including races such as the Dragonborn, and reports to the Grandmaster of Beasts. Chief of Mission: From specific research subjects to important quests, these Arcanists take care of particular projects with a defined goal (and often, timeline). The retrieval of an artifact, slaying a dangerous beast or solving an important puzzle are all tasks assigned to a single individual. A Chief of Mission reports back to a Head of Department, and directs their own staff. Their teams usually consist of five to fifty members, although a few cases with hundreds of mission members are known. The Chiefs are also the ones usually responsible for hiring outside help. Once their mission is accomplished, they lose their title. But a good achievement in this position usually leads to getting a new mission assigned quickly. Honorary Titles: Sometimes, an individual’s achievement or understanding of a topic is so great and important that they receive an honorary title. From the Keeper of Runes to the Speaker, these people report directly to one of the Grandmasters. There are usually no more than about ten honorary positions.
RelationshipsAn organization as actively involved in world politics as the Arcanists has many enemies and allies. They also usually don’t mind working with others to accomplish a mission. Their enemies are often widely considered villains, but the Arcanists also openly oppose limiting societies such as in Bridgepoint. The following are only the most important (and well-known) allies and enemies.
AlliesThe Arcanists are strongly allied with Marisha Veilbreaker herself, and have made it clear they are always ready to support her when it comes to defending the world. While the Halfling champion gladly accepts their offer, she is also aware of the organization's darker sides. In critical missions, Marisha prefers to work with The Voidguard or with friends she knows well. On the other hand, the Arcanists’ resources and knowledge often make sure they are irreplaceable. The Voidguard have a very similar view on the Arcanists as Marisha herself. There are even a few known cases where they fought on opposite sides. So far, most conflicts could be solved diplomatically. The two organizations are a bit like friends with different philosophies: They work together, but sometimes, it just doesn't work out. The Chainguards are a group the Arcanists have very ambivalent feelings for. They protect the World-Chains, which is good, and they share the Voidguard as a common ally. But the Chainguards also have knowledge about the World-Chains that they strictly keep to themselves, driving the Arcanists mad. Both organizations often work together, but the amount of trust between them is somewhat limited.
EnemiesThe Arcanists openly oppose the caste system of Bridgepoint, and use their political influence to change that society. Naturally, the Nobles of Bridgepoint aren’t exactly happy about it. The city’s rulers try their best to undermine the Arcanists, and members of the organization aren’t exactly welcome here. The Shadow Sanctuary is an organization located in the Bleeding Jungles. They are a refuge for many people who were banished elsewhere, or who have to hide for whatever reason. While this doesn't necessarily mean they’re evil, it’s a known fact that some Defilers escaped to the Shadow Sanctuary. Within the Bleeding Jungles, the two organizations also occasionally end up as rivals when it comes to retrieving important knowledge or items.
Important locationsThe Arcanist Vault, located in Delvaroth, is the current headquarter. It’s a place of countless secrets and powerful magic, which probably makes it the best possible match for this organization. The Arcanist Camp near the Drift is the base of operations for some of the organization's greatest research projects. Regional headquarters exist in every single region of Ashandri. Most were already long established before the apocalypse. The one in the Ember Wastelands was founded only a year ago, and is located in Sharloc’s Trade. Their main mission is to further the peace between Delvaroth and the Ember Wastelands, but it’ll probably take years before they make real progress with that. Another new regional headquarter is in the Bleeding Jungles, an area of the world where the Arcanists didn’t have any presence before the apocalypse. The Arcanist Prisons are secret locations hidden throughout the world, secured to keep even the most dangerous individuals inside. Rumours are the organization even captured a few powerful demons and devils. One of these prisons gained notoriety when a Defiler broke out a few weeks ago. The prison, hidden in the icy expanse of Varua, was attacked by agents from Va’Laeth. While it’s unknown what they were looking for, the Arcanists managed to kill them - but only after they shut down several of the prison’s defense systems. Coruak the Bloodmage, an infamous Defiler, managed to escape, killing twenty prison guards on his way out. The next day, a whole village not far from the prison was entirely wiped out, with a spell known to have been developed by Coruak himself. The Bloodmage hasn’t been found since. The Arcanists are not only searching for him, but also relocating all other inmates now that their prison location has been revealed.
Important membersThe most important members of the Arcanists are, of course, the Grandmasters. The Supreme Weaver and the Grandmaster of Beasts are detailed in the Arcanist Vault. Jhurun has been the Grandmaster of Politics for over 50 years. There's little that’s known about him: He joined as a prodigy child when he was only 8 years old, and was kidnapped at the age of 12 by an enemy organization. He returned at the age of 20, wearing a black mask resembling a panther, and a hooded robe. He claimed to have killed his kidnappers, and indeed, there were no traces of the villainous mage guild left. His magical abilities were amazing, but his understanding of people's nature surpassed even that. It’s said Jhurun only needs to look at a person once, and instantly knows what drives them. This made him perfect for the position of Grandmaster of Politics. And when his predecessor died, Jhurun took on the role at the young age of 23 - making him the youngest Grandmaster in the history of the Arcanists. He’s rarely seen in the Arcanist Vault, instead traveling through the world to wherever his skills are needed most. As his 75th birthday comes closer, and he shows no signs of slowing down, people are discussing whether he’s Human, or of another race. Curiously, all written information about the time before his return has disappeared. Except for his close friends and the other Grandmasters, nobody knows the truth. Varkron Yulenky is an Ember Half-Orc who got stranded on the “wrong” side of the battle in Delvaroth in the first days of Ashandri. Fortunately, he was lucky, ending up with people who helped him survive, instead of seeing him as an enemy. This experience changed his view on the Delvarati, and in the end, he joined the Arcanists. With his heritage and world views, Varkron was asked to establish the regional headquarter of the Arcanists in the Ember Wastelands. Having returned to his homelands, the half-orc does everything he can to convince the locals that the Delvarati aren’t bloodthirsty monsters. It’s good luck for him that the wife of the city's chief shares his opinion. Merengolas, an elven druid who joined the Arcanists after they sent out their worldwide message, is something of a political activist within the organization. He is unhappy about the fact that his fellow sages often carelessly experiment on animals, plants and mushrooms. Merengolas is promoting the removal of the word sentient from the First Law of the Arcanists. Many other members are calling him crazy, claiming certain experiments and endeavors would be impossible that way. But he’s also getting support from some people, and the Grandmaster of Beasts has been seen talking to him several times now.
Rumours and news
- Rumours claim that Coruak the Bloodmage is on his way back to the Arcanist Vault. What's true is that a spellcasting serial killer is traveling through Delvaroth, leaving dozens of dead bodies in his trail. Even with divination magic, the Arcanists failed to find him. Now they are hiring adventurers to stop the killer - or at least locate him, so the Arcanists can finish the job.
- The Chainguards claim that a Defiler called Zerrik recently attacked them on the World-Chain to Morothai. They believe that the Arcanists deliberately allowed him to escape in order to secure an important tome. Now that they captured him, they say he didn't have the tome with him. The whole event created such tensions between the two groups that the Voidguard joined the discussions, trying to keep the peace between them.
The Voidguard and the Arcanists have been allies from the start. But as the Voidguard completely focusses on the defense of Ashandri, the Arcanists also seek knowledge and power for its own sake. In some cases, this has led to conflicts between the two organizations. So far, when this happened, they managed to "agree to disagree". But the different priorities of the two groups might lead to problems in the future.
The Arcanists see the Chainguards as important allies. However, they are frustrated that the Chainguards often deny them access to knowledge about the World-Chains. The Chainguards, on the other hand, consider the Arcanists helpful, but potentially dangerous. Therefore, when the two parties cooperate, the Chainguards usually remain very vigilant.
The Shadow Sanctuary and the Arcanists are rivals at the edge of becoming true enemies. So far, they tolerate each other (unless they have the same goal), but if tensions gets worse, the conflict might turn into an outright war.
The Holy Purge
The Holy Purge would love to eradicate the Arcanists. The Arcanists, on the other side, don't really care much about the fanatics of the Purge.