New Melderyni Arcane Lore
The Guild of Arcane Lore
Guild Ranks: Mavari, Satia, Shenava, Virana
The Shek P'var: Fyvorian, Jenzig, J'morvi, Lyahvi, Odivshe, Peleahn, Savoryan, Tazmut, Bal'cri, Gul'ren, Kemen'ren, K'tykas, Sul'cri
The necessity for keeping certain kinds of knowledge secret from the majority of the population is that unbridled knowledge once came near to destroying all of kelestia (the universe as is currently known). Among educated persons, knowledge is regarded as the ultimate power, and the right to have knowledge as something that must be earned. The concept of "worthiness to know" is central to most schools of thought; if one man risks his life in the pursuit of knowledge, or invests hours or research time, it is improper for someone else to be freely given the knowledge. This has led to an attitude among scholars whereby knowledge is treated as a commodity. It may be bought, sold, or bartered, but is seldom gifted.
The Arcanists' Guild is a loose association of scholars whose study and practice involve esoteric knowledge. Some study magical phenomena; some practice magic, many are only students in obscure but mundane fields. The differences are sometimes unclear.
There is also a clear difference between magic and religion. A miracle is a religious event brought about by a god, demon, or demigod, with or without the request of a lesser agent (such as a priest). Miracles are not performed by men; they come from the gods. Little or no skill is required to obtain divine intervention. Magic, on the other hand, is caused by the manipulation of non-sentient forces by a skilled practitioner, and requires no divine participation.
This distinction is very important. It is exceedingly improper to refer to a miracle as a spell, or vice versa. The Guild of Arcane Lore is concerned with magic, but has little to do with religion, which is the prerogative of the churches. Theology is a proper subject of study for scholars and members of the guild, but the ability to perform miracles is not regarded as a sign of learning or skill. Psionic talents are not generally considered to be divine intervention, although there are a few churchmen who consider them god-given. Since it usually requires skill, usually acquired through years of practice, to properly employ a native psionic power, talents generally regarded as being within the sphere of the Arcanists' Guild.
An important distinction between magic and religion is legality. In many regions it is illegal to conjure or consort with demons, or "dispose of souls". These are, by definition, religious acts, and either trespass heavily on the prerogatives of the evil churches or, where these churches are proscribed, are considered witchcraft. The penalty for witchcraft is death, often in an extremely unpleasant manner. Most sorcerers deem it wise to avoid all such charges of witchcraft by staying well clear of religious acts.
Magic itself is not illegal in most regions. However, the definition of witchcraft also includes the casting of inimical spells. One who believes himself harmed by the malicious magic may charge his alleged tormentor with witchcraft. Such charges are hard, but not impossible, to prove. One of the purposes of the guild is to defend members from unwarranted legal action.
The basic organizational unit of the guild is the chapter, or chantry, which is governed by a "Chapter Council". The members of the council rarely advertise themselves and are often referred to as Councilmen. The presence of a chantry may be virtually unknown to the entire population.
The typical chantry compound includes quarters and sanctums for resident masters, chambers and dormitories for transients and students, a kitchen, and a great hall or lounge. There are often accommodations for a guard detachment and servants' quarters. Most chantries archives or vaults containing both individual and communal property. The facilities are limited by the wealth of the chantry and its resident members, and the imagination of the senechal and his staff.
Chantry dues are often stated in their founding charter. This varies widely among chantries. One charter may say "each member shall make reasonable donations to the welfare of the chantry," while another might specify that, "each member shall pay a half of his income on, or prior to, the sixth day of Nolus...". Half of all resident teachers salary, renting rooms to guild members, consultation fees, library usage fees, and rarely educating children of wealthy background are all ways that a chantry might gain additional fundings to support the guild and its activities.
The following ranks identify a scholar's abilities within his field. Honorary awards are sometimes made for political reasons, and it is sometimes possible to purchase or otherwise obtain one without meeting the normal requirements. The status of a rank also varies widely by region. In some places, a Satia is a highly respected scholar. In others, he is regarded as a mere student. The subject studied is usually appended to the rank; a master of esoteric arts, for example, would be referred to as a Shenava of the Esoteric Arts (a wizard), whereas a student of alchemy would be referred to as a Mavari of Alchemy.
When a teacher deems that one of his students has learned enough, he may promote him to the next rank. He may not grant degrees higher than his own. Obviously, ranks are only as good as the authority granting them. Chantries generally have the highest standards, but some independent scholars command great respect. A scholar who is granted a rank by a chantry is thenceforth deemed to be a member of that chantry. A chantry has two kinds of members: Residents and members at large. Anyone receiving a degree of advancement from a chantry becomes a member of that chantry. A member at large has few tangible obligations to his chantry.
Mavari (Student) To become a student of arcane lore, one need only be accepted by a mentor. Often the most important qualification is cash. As well as an understanding of his field of study, the successful Mavari will acquire a basic education in language, the local script, the basic concepts of philosophy, religion, history, geography, and fundamental math skills. The typical length of term for a Mavari is 2-9 years.
Satia (Journeyman/Bachelor) Once the student has reached the rank of Satia, he is free to do as he pleases. They may teach, conduct independent research, or otherwise exploit their status as they deem fit. The length of an advancing Satia is 3-5 years.
Shenava (Master) This is the rank sought by those with a lust for learning and by those who desire a career in teaching. Shenava are also free to do as he pleases, although he has more status. If the Shenava wishes to continue his education he is on his own. Shenava who aspire to be Virana study for at least 5 more years.
Virana (Academian/Doctor) This rank is awarded only to particularly accomplished Shenava who are recognized by the awarding chantry (or independent Virana) as having made significant and unique contributions to their fields. Virana are held in great esteem.
A large number of secret societies exist within the Guild of Arcane Lore. These are semi-formal associations of individuals with specific objectives, or who share a common school of thought. Any group of masters may form such an organization. A society with at least half a dozen members, or four virana, may be registered with the central guild. There is no limit as to the numbers of societies to which a member may belong, although some require their members to belong to no other group.
Among the largest and most prominent of the secret societies is the Peleahn Order of the Gentle White Hand, comprised of masters of various disciplines, whose purpose is to protect the guild's interest by exposing frauds.
The shek-p'var (sorcerers' guild) is a branch of the Guild of Arcane Lore. Sometimes referred to as secret societies, each of the eight convocations of the shek-p'var is a separate school and maintains its own chantries. Members may also reside or study in chantries of Arcane Lore, especially where chantries of their own school are not available. The shek-p'var schools are: Fyvorian (Enchantment/Charm), Jenzig (Invocation/Evocation), J'morvi (Conjuration/Summoning), Lyahvi (Illusion/Phantasm), Odivshe (Necromancy), Peleahn (Abjuration), Savoryan (Divination/Psionic), and Tazmut (Alteration).
The following shek p'var are recognized as specialty fields, but do not necessarily maintain separate chantries (and are therefore, smaller secret societies): Bal'cri (Fire), Gul'ren (Water), Kemen'ren (Earth), K'tykas (Wild), and Sul'cri (Air).
There are also numerous still smaller sects whose members number less than 100, which do not merit individual entries. These tiny orders often die out in favor of the larger more organized (and more powerful(?)) shek p'var. The difficulty in spell research, lack of funding, lack of public support, and the inability to receive recognition (even from the Master of Esoteric Arts) often insure failure to all but the most fanatical chantries.