Wizard's Association of Etoile
Progress Through Magic
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Bizarre occurrences across Saibh spiked in the Second Season of 715, with reports of fires with unknown causes, bizarre localized earthquakes, and mysterious deaths. Magistrates of the Principality of Etoile were dispatched to investigate under emergency orders, and large numbers of persons with 'unusual abilities' were detained and brought to the Etoile Capital City. Questioning revealed that nearly all of them had, within the last four weeks, found themselves able to do physically impossible things with only a mental push, and the majority of them were able to replicate their feats on demand in a testing environment. With no other salient explanation available, it was eventually concluded that these impossible feats were, in fact, Magic, and that the people under investigation were gifted to be the first wizards of Etoile.
With wild rumors about magic widespread, several magic-users (including the well heeled Lord Maurisi) decided to informally stage a demonstration of magical power and limitation, renting the Grand Amphitheatre of Etoile as a venue. The intention was simple - Maurisi had compiled a list of common beliefs about magic, and they would put them to the test in order to verify or debunk them in public view, with writers from the major journals in attendance. Though highly instructive (magical power fades with distance, magi have varying degrees of magical potential, magic cannot create objects from nothing), the show raised more questions than answers, and many non-participating magic-users resented the idea that they were a sideshow for experimentation. This sparked a drive to organize a more formal entity to represent magic-users as a whole.
The idea that there existed a Magic in the world that had no relation to the rapidly advancing technology of Power or similar scientific advance caused great consternation in Etoilean society, and caused many to question the value of the ideal of Progress as espoused by the First Princeps. To allay concerns, plans were drawn up in record time to establish an official Wizard's Association, dedicated to testing and developing magical talent, as well as offering magecraft as a public service under the regulatory control of the Principality. The first Charter of the Association was dedicated in a public ceremony at the Guild Promenade in the Etoile Capital City on 1.4.715. This first charter was cobbled together from portions of other guild charters, and its founding members simply those magic-users who expressed initial interest in joining. This was to have immediate consequence, as magic is not simply a skill like carpentry or banking.
Emma du Ruisseau was a 22 year old florist from Patino, the Machine City and was discovered to possess magical talent in 715, becoming a founding charter member of the Wizard's Association shortly thereafter. As the Association had no general responsibilities, she received her insignia at the Etoile Capital City and returned home to be a simple florist, having little interest in pursuing magical research. This did not go unnoticed in her local neighborhood, and whispers began to circulate. When confronted by a mob that was convinced that she was conducting illicit magecraft (seduction, thefts, subterfuge), Ruisseau was defiant, and when physically attacked, she responded with an outburst of magical energy, projecting magic through her fingers and quartering her assailant. The mob subsequently murdered her and hanged her body from a tree in the local park. Magistrates were able to locate her murderers and deliver the justice of the Principality, but the circumstances of her death shocked much of Etoile, and a restless undercurrent of anti-magic sentiment was growing across Saibh.
Power-Wagons are notoriously time consuming to manufacture due to the large number of parts required and the relatively tight tolerances needed for function. A joint effort by the Association and the Wagoneer's Foundation resulted in a new type of manufactory opening in Patino, the Machine City, a manufactory that did not require a linkage to municipal power supply and would instead use magic to assemble vehicles. This quickly upset many of the residents of the Machine City, as these new factories promised to employ far fewer workers to produce the same number of vehicles. Moreover, many of the locals considered the work 'dishonest', as the physical toil of fitting parts onto a power-wagon was replaced by a magus simply waving her hands. Not long after the manufactory was opened, local political pressure on the Patino District Commander forced the Association to divest itself of involvement, and the manufactory was repurposed to building wagons in the standard way. As this was generally not aligned with the concept of Progress as espoused by the Principality, this led to inflamed editorials in the national journals and stoked deeper resentment.
Magic garnered great interest from other Guilds, who sought to augment their trade and crafts with magical applications. The most obvious application was to Power - one of the first research applications of magic was the charging of a flywheel without requiring a hookup to a water or animal driven power supply. The Power Engineer's Consortium had partnered with the Association to produce a flywheel capable of storing an enormous amount of rotating charge. This was to be the grand exhibition at the 718 Inventor's Fair, but the night before the grounds were opened to the public, the staging area was destroyed in an explosion caused by the flywheel's destruction; it was spinning too quickly for its housing to contain, and the wheel suffered containment breach, causing the death of four Consortium engineers. The fair was rescheduled and further magic applications were put on hold pending investigations into magical safety.
Recognizing the usefulness of wizards on any job likely to be undertaken by the Mercenary's Guild, the Guild formed a permanent pact with the Wizard's Association. All wizards who joined the Association would also be considered mercenaries in good standing and eligible to participate in Guild jobs. They would also subsequently be covered by the mutual protection offered between mercenaries of the Guild. This merely formalized a working arrangement that had been in place prior, as magi were in high demand for Guild jobs of particular danger.
See The Anti-Magic Riot of 721 for further detail.
The events of 721 revealed the inadequacy of the prior arrangement; anti-magic unrest was widespread in the Principality of Etoile and wizards were independently researching battle uses of magic for their own defense. With the situation escalating and tensions rising, a special session of the Ministerial Council was called, and a new Association Charter entered force, imposing stringent controls on the use of magic. All magic use was to be sanctioned by the Principality and all magic users were compelled to join the Wizard's Association, with use of magic by non Association members criminalized. The ability of the Association to research magic independently was curtailed; all research was to be done in conjunction with the Principality. Additionally, the task of training new magi was transferred from the Association to The Academy of Etoile. The signing of this Charter signaled a clear shift in the stance of the Principality to bring magic under its control, and public demonstrations against magic dropped off sharply in the subsequent weeks, likely due to strong state intervention and coercion.
The tumultuous events surrounding the discovery of magic had in many ways damaged the public perception of magic and of wizards writ large. After Principality intervention, the Association found itself with little to do - other trade guilds were leery of commercial or research cooperation, the Principality had taken control and subsumed independent magical research, and the Academy held a tight grip on the magical teaching curricula. After several brainstorm sessions, the Association decided to try to market their services to the public at large with a campaign to 'soften' the perception of magic. To this effect, all wizards of the Association were tasked with public engagement. Wizards would go about in public entertaining crowds, assisting public works, and providing odd services. While seen by many as an obvious ploy, it is now common to see magic shows for children in public squares and wizards providing certain services, such as the Wizard's Cold Comestibles stall in the Etoile Capital City.
The anniversary of the founding of the Principality of Etoile is typically a raucous affair across Saibh. In 723 the Association held a magical lightshow over the Grand Canal to mark the anniversary, an hourlong dance of colorful lights in the sky requiring over fifty wizards to conduct. The "Summer of Magic" was the first of its kind, and the dazzling visuals led to the show becoming an annual event, as well as magic-users finding themselves in high demand for private parties.
I like the idea of how bureaucracy can become a part of even wondrous things (usually does, actually; the world is afraid of wonder and likes to control it in safe little boxes.) This is a good idea. I have some questions. I see the importance of regulating magic, otherwise you'd end up with lunatics throwing fireballs at each other in the street (one considers parallels with guns, but I digress.) But is forcing people to register with the state-sponsored association sufficient? Is there a pledge they have to take, a code of ethics they have to swear to, perhaps a required course on how to use magic safely and ethically? What are the rules that govern foreign wizards and sorceresses? Are they required to temporarily join the association? Do they need a permit from the government to use magic? And what is the penalty for refusing to join the association, or for operating magic without a required permit?
Thanks for the feedback! I'll definitely expand a bit more on some of these questions - but as for foreign wizards, the Principality has the benefit (peril?) of being the only state in the known world, so it doesn't have much in the way of foreign policy.
Well, that does tend to limit the need for foreign policy, doesn't it? LOL
I appreciate the dialogue between the characters in the opening. Reminds me of the bureaucracy that Kvothe faced at his school in the Kingkiller Chronicles. I also like how straight-forward and easy it is to understand the History section as well, in coherence to the rest of your article. Great job.
Hey there! I promised critique on all the top 10 regular league articles, so it’s your turn! I hope this is helpful.
The opening text really builds the feel of the group, and the timeline is packed full of juicy lore that establishes a very authentic history for them. In terms of expanding your lore, and squaring out your sidebar, I think some things you could add include:
Your writing is exceptionally clean. The non-prose segments are a nice mix of flavorful and clinical in a way that makes them easy to absorb and read. Because of how clinical they can be, however, I suggest playing around more with alouds and quotes to intersperse the text with flavor.
Also, what are you using this setting for? If these pages are meant to be a reference for you as an author or game master, I suggest putting more summarized information in the sidebar, so that you’re not scanning the article as you go.
The timelines are great, but unfortunately in their current form are still easy to miss. A way to help bring attention to all the great work you did would be to add a bit to the sidebar with some important dates and a sentence of each, with a note after to check the timeline at the end. You can even link to it with anchors if you want to be really shiny!
All in all, you earned your top 10 spot. Great stuff!
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