Swynfaredian Otectum Parties
Like most things related to Swynfaredia's upper class, Otectums metaphorically relate to dragons. "Otectum" loosely translates into "hatching" or "egg breaking" even though in this case the hatching is metaphorical. The Swynfaredian Otectum is kind of like the unisex equivalent of a debutante ball in the real world. On paper, the age of legal adulthood in Swynfaredia, as it is in most human nations, is sixteen but to a be a true member of Swynfaredia's ruling class, a person must have some talent for sorcery. Signs of sorcery can manifest as young as four or five, but it is some time before a child's random magical events are tamed into concrete spells that a budding sorcerer or sorceress can cast spells consistently with a level of control. Most sorcerers and sorceresses can master this between ages 14 and 16, but there are rare prodigies that can cast spells as young as 11 and rare late bloomers who cannot consistently cast spells until they enter their second decade. Otectums essentially celebrate a young sorcerer or sorceress magical coming of age. They are not scheduled until the celebrant can cast at least one spell consistently and reliably. Ideally the young man or woman is also fluent in Draconic by this time, but fluency in the language of dragons is not technically required. About half the time the sorcerer's or sorceress' spells are known well in advance of the ceremony and other times it is kept as a surprise. Often it is popular for the celebrant to reveal one or two spells ahead of time and save one or two spells as a surprise. A big portion of the purpose of the demonstration of spells is to show off and boast, especially if it's a group Otectum rather than a solo Otectum, and surprises are usually impressive. Richer and more ancient houses tend to have larger and more lavish ceremonies but even a sorcerer of no noble blood can expect a good party which he will probably remember fondly for the rest of his life.
Political UndertonesIt's not just a celebration, there is a political purpose underpinning to the party. A true dragon blood sorcerer or sorceress has blood ties to at least two noble houses and because Swynfaredian titles can pass to men and woman, a young sorcerer can inherit lands or titles from both his mother's and his father's noble families Blood ties or not, a young sorceress' chances of inheriting a title goes up if she has a politically connected mentor within the house in question. It is difficult but not impossible for a young sorcerer or sorceress to obtain mentors in multiple houses and thus be in multiple inheritance lines, but most mentors are not willing to share their proteges in this fashion unless the young sorceress in question is truly exceptional. In generations past, it was mostly a young sorcerer's responsibility to impress an elder and obtain the patronage of a great mentor while the neophytes and losers were cast aside and politically blacklisted. Now more often than, even a sorceress of modest ability can expect to have multiple would-be mentors trying to woo her as every house wants as many skilled proteges as they can get. An unlucky or unskilled young sorcerer might not get the best mentor but nowadays it is very hard for a young sorcerer to be so inept or unpopular as to not be able to find any mentor. If a young sorcerer or sorceress is not of noble blood, he or she can still expect older magi to try to recruit them. Everyone wants skilled magical retainers and at this point, very few ruling lords and ladies can afford to limit themselves to exclusively using dragon bloods as their agents. This is why more and more landed nobles are choosing to sponsor laving Otectum parties for groups of low born sorcerers and sorceresses, they are recruitment events. Gift giving was always part of an Otectum but they used to be primarily inexpensive gifts intended to invoke sentimentality and over the centuries the gifts have become more numerous and more expensive. Now lavish gifts are often distributed as displays of power and status for the givers and to bestow high aspirations on the recipients
Romantic UndertonesAn Otectum probably has multiple elders contemplating possible betrothals though in truth such planning probably began at least from the first moment the youngster manifested random magic. Nevertheless meddling elders are probably going to be hatching new politics-laden matrimony schemes throughout each and every Otectum. While this is scheming is quietly occurring, a small distance away you have a bunch of boisterous young men and women with overly optimistic hopes for the future in a setting with good food, flowing wine, and music. So there is usually some flirtatious undercurrents in most Otectums is not full romantic "entanglements." When young mages compete with each other in magical showing off contests, it's often done to impress a paramour or discredit a romantic rival. Sometimes they might magically attack other attendants in unsanctioned duels. If one or more of the adolescent sorcerers present are invokers it would be wise to check how much wine they consume.
The tradition of the Otectum dates back almost from the founding of Swynfaredia. It is noteworthy that Otectums used to be fairly informal but over almost 900 years of Swynfaredian history, Otectums gradually have gotten more and elaborate with each successive generation. Some historians have noted that centuries when over 90% of the children of the dragon bloods "bred true", the Otectum was mostly a simple formality, and an excuse to throw a feast, but now that only about 50% of dragon blood children breed true, each son or daughter of a house manifesting true magic makes the Otectum a cause for celebration. Originally, Otectums were only for full dragon bloods, but in recent years more and more sorcerers and sorceresses of commoner blood or mixed heritage are receiving Otectums. A lowborn sorcerer(ess) shouldn't expect a Otectum as lavish as a highborn's, but they will still get a fairly nice party all the same. One new tradition that is quickly gaining traction is to have 2-7 sorcerers and sorceresses have a group Otectum. This is especially common if the young celebrants are not full dragon bloods. Often, these group Otectums are sponsored not by the sorcerers' or sorceresses' families but by the local ruling lord or lady.
The young sorcerer(ess) sits through a formal ceremony in the Draconic lasting about between thirty minutes and an hour. Following this, the young sorcerer or sorceress demonstrates his or her magical ability to a crowd of family, friends, and well wishers and then a raucous feast and party begins. Each house has it's own minor variants and mini-rituals throughout the party and since a lot of sorcerers and sorceresses have mixed heritage a single Otectum can pick up a lot of these.
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Food and drink is usually chosen based on what the party host can afford and what is available in the local area. Most participants will wear formal garb in the traditional colors of their house(s). There also costumes and decorations based on what kind magic the celebrant manifests. For instance, an Invoker's party might have a brass dragon statue with an oil fed fire in it's mouth as a centerpiece. A young necromancer's parties may look like a real world Day of the Dead festival with lots of participants wearing makeup to look skeletal. A group Otectum is going to probably have many schools of magic celebrated and while uncommon, it's hardly unheard of for an adolescent sorcerer or sorceress to manifest two schools of magic at a young age and in most cases they are happy to show this off.
The main participants are traditional the young sorcerer or sorceress, the celebrants family and close friends, and the local lord or lady who the young man or woman lives in the land of. Members of the clergy, usually Children or Keepers may or may not be invited to take part depending on the subject's family's views on this. If the subject's family can afford it, many go all out having a huge feast and inviting many guests which may involve giving the local peasants some free food or inviting distant nobles that the young subject never met before his/her Otectum.
An alternative opinion...Swynfaredians, much like the dragons they seek to emulate, like to boast and show off their prowess. But there are also dragons that skulk in darkness and deal in secrets. More than a few sorcerers and sorceresses believe that you should never let your rivals learn you can or cannot do. Some choose to forgo their Otectum for this very reasons. Others still throw an Otectum but choose to underplay their true power.
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