The Spark of Life
Empress Cordelia (1186, 3rd Cycle - 1633, 3rd Cycle) was coronated at the peak of the Elflands Empire, overseeing a kingdom that spanned the breadth of a continent and encompassed dozens of races. In the face of uncertainty and revolt, Cordelia led several reforms to accommodate the empire's populace and ensure centuries of stability. The most notable of these reforms was the Legend Act of 1309 that led to the preservation and transcription of thousands of stories from every race in the Empire, but another act passed several decades prior proved to have far lasting results: the creation of the Magus Collective in 1269 of the 3rd Cycle.
Many rogue wizards existed in the Empire after centuries of conquest by Emperor Fortinbras I (629, 3rd Cycle - 1186, 3rd Cycle), so Cordelia ordered the creation of a mages' guild to bring these spellcasters into the imperial fold. Known as the Magus Collective, this group would receive generous funding from the empire to research and develop new spells to improve life in the empire. Within a century the Collective's membership swelled into the tens of thousands, spellcasters from beyond the empire's borders even begging for membership.
For years the Magus Collective proved to be a vital part of life in the Empire, inventing spells like 'Conjure Fey' and 'Antimagic Field' that would have ramifications for all arcane society. While the Collective's admission process was brutal and sometimes deadly, membership promised security and influence unimaginable for most people under the Empire's rule. The Collective was the only aspect of Elflands society where non-elven races found ways to advance themselves and play a role in national politics: halflings, gnomes, firbolgs, and dragonborn all made names for themselves as high-level spellcasters in the 3rd Cycle's third millennium.
Things Fall Apart
The Collective's hyperpluralism proved to be its greatest strength and weakness. At its height the shared research of thousands of wizards led to incredible innovations, but in the society's waning years the races split into different factions adversarial towards each other. Several yuan-ti attacks on on Elflands territory made the Collective suspicious of outsiders, leading to purges of non-Elflands spellcasters. All wizards from the Northern Territories were expelled by the end of the 3rd Cycle, and with the rise of the human kingdom of Gameth
at the start of the 4th Cycle all members from the continent of Liat
were banished as well.
By the 4th Cycle the Collective had all but abandoned its pursuits of magical innovation and focused entirely on factional intrigues. Divisions between the Empire's elven and non-elven spellcasters led to a series of feuds that nearly tore the Elflands capital of Kassadeia
apart in a series of high-level spell attacks. Fearing the fallout of these feuds, Emperor Laertes III (001, 4th Cycle - 435, 4th Cycle) formally disbanded the Magus Collective and ordered the banishment of thousands of spellcasters from the Empire. The Magus Collective had come to an end.
Nearly a thousand years after the collapse of the Magus Collective, no wizarding society has come close to the Collective's reach and influence. The Sapiens Concord in Gameth became a haven for human wizards on the continent of Liat, but its fierce xenophobia and isolationism has kept it a bit player in the rise of human kingdoms like Sardivelia and Gameth on the global stage. Schools of spellcraft exist all over Pescaliat with emphasis on different subjects (e.g. Eldermere University
, Chusei University
), but without the sharing of ideas and cross-referencing of various schools these universities struggle to innovate spellcasting the way the Collective did in its prime.
More than any other time in recorded history, wizards study and hone their powers in isolation away from the scrutiny of world governments. Some wizards use this lack of oversight to change the world in meaningful ways like with Filip Vikander
and the creation of the oceanic defender Mórolingwe
, while others craft nefarious conspiracies like Fairouz the Undying
. The modern era of industrialization has added an additional wrinkle to the current state of wizardry: some see the new technologies as an opportunity to research and innovate new spells, while some see them as a threat to the world's natural order. Without a new Collective to unify and oversee these disparate bands of spellcasters, factionalism and uncertainty will define the era's higher magics.