Thursday, September 29, 2011

Update on Arcane Orders

I have generated these following orders for my upcoming home campaign recommencement.  In doing so I've thought of some things I'd like to change (# of spells per level being variable and not a min/max range, means of determining, # and level of members based somehow on gravitas to name a few) but thought readers might get a kick out of seeing what I'll be inflicting upon my players.  I rolled for the spells out of the OSRIC book, as that's what I had available, but may swap some in from Unearthed Arcana and will use the licensed names from the AD&D Player's Handbook in my own game (i.e. Bigby's and Tenser's etc...) Also, I hope to encourage those of you using the system to likewise share.  Enjoy.

1)      The Wilting Library:  These nihilistic academics believe that the sum total of the world’s knowledge is in an inevitable state of deterioration.  Their goal is to seek out and preserve for themselves what knowledge remains, often at the expense of whoever currently possesses said knowledge.

Gravitas:  11 (45% chance to know spell; 6/7 spells per level; max 4th level)
Leader:   (Emu9) Malfallas the Weary
Members: 22
Headquarters: The Wilting Library, Valinport
Requirements:  Upon gaining a new level, members of the order must contribute a spell to the order’s common library not currently on the list below before selecting a spell to learn for themselves.
Dress: Black capes or cloaks with a silver broach or cloak-pin in the shape of a book

Spells Known: Read Magic (1st), Detect Magic (1st), Comprehend Languages (1st), Floating Disk (1st), Identify (1st), Jump (1st), Write (1st), Detect Evil (2nd), Detect Invisibility (2nd), ESP (2nd), Levitate (2nd), Locate Object (2nd), Wizard Lock (2nd), Ray of Enfeeblement (2nd), Clairvoyance (3rd),  Explosive Runes (3rd), Suggestion (3rd), Tongues (3rd), Lightning Bolt (3rd), Gust of Wind (3rd), Protection from Normal Missiles (3rd), more…

2)      The Amazing Order of the Scarlet Magicians: These ostentatious wizards revel in the spectacle of magic.  They favor the use of flashy spells to impress and intimidate the masses.  They are a relatively young order, led by the same brash and mercurial gnome who founded them.

Gravitas: 12 (45% chance to know spell; 6/7 spells per level; max 4th level)
Leader: Glimgalam the Flame (Gmu8)
Members: 12
Headquarters:  Glimgalam and his travelling retinue of magic users and other hangers-on generally take up residence in some inn within Mubonc or nearby lands for several weeks at a time, moving on when the whim strikes him.
Requirements: Impress Glimgalam the Flame.  Blowing something large up with magic is generally accepted as the best method.
Dress: The crazier the better.  Glimgalam favors red, orange and yellow silks and many follow suit.

Spells Known: Read Magic (1st), Detect Magic (1st), Light (1st), Burning Hands (1st), Jump (1st), Friends (1st), Protection from Evil (1st), Continual Light (2nd), Pyrotechnics (2nd),  Ray of Enfeeblement (2nd), Levitate (2nd), Strength (2nd), Fool’s Gold (2nd),  Fireball (3rd), Haste (3rd), Invisibility 10’ Radius (3rd), Suggestion (3rd), Darkvision (3rd), Water Breathing (3rd), Dispel Magic (3rd), Fire Shield (4th), Fire Trap (4th), Wall of Fire (4th), Wizard Eye (4th), Polymorph Other (4th), Enchanted Weapon (4th), Charm Monster (4th)

3)      The Sciapodous Circle of the Threefold Monolith: This mysterious, large-shoed sect is said to worship a three-sided metal monolith located deep within their tower-fortress.  They are a numerous but secretive lot, often seen scuttling about the realm on unknown errands.  Little else is known of the order or its goals. 

Gravitas: 13 (55% chance to know spell; 6/9 spells per level; max 5th level)
Leader:  Grand Poobah Mikos Mianbar (Hmu10)
Members: 39
Headquarters: Tower of the Monolith, outside of Kisford
Requirements: Be a magic user and a practicing worshiper of the Threefold Monolith.  Once per year present oneself to the Grand Poobah and perform some service for the order at his direction.
Dress: Green-grey robes of wool, silver skull caps and large, platform shoes

Spells Known: Read Magic (1st), Detect Magic (1st), Enlarge (1st), Spider Climb (1st), Sleep (1st), Light (1st), Identify (1st), Ray of Enfeeblement (2nd), Stinking Cloud (2nd), Mirror Image (2nd), Pyrotechnics (2nd),  Web (2nd), Strength (2nd), Audible Glamer (2nd), Monster Summoning I (3rd),  Lightning Bolt (3rd),  Hold Person (3rd), Haste (3rd), Dispel Magic (3rd), Protection from Normal Missiles (3rd), Invisibility 10’ Radius (3rd), Dimension Door (4th), Enchanted Weapon (4th), Extension I (4th), Ice Storm (4th), Minor Globe of Invulnerability (4th), Monster Summoning II (4th), Remove Curse (4th), Fumble (4th), Wizard Eye (4th), Cone of Cold (5th), Conjure Elemental (5th), Contact Other Plane (5th), Mage’s Faithful Hound (5th), Passwall (5th), Transmute Rock to Mud (5th), Hold Monster (5th), Wall of Iron (5th), Wall of Stone (5th)

4)      The Concordance of the White Heirs:  This venerable order of magic-using nobility is the oldest and most prestigious of Mubonc.  While ostensibly an exclusive membership, there appear to be very few requirements that cannot be overlooked with the proper amount of coin.

Gravitas: 16 (65% chance to know spell; 7/11 spells per level; max 6th level)
Leader: Lord-Magister Rebane of House D’Valin (Hmu12)
Members: 32
Headquarters: Mubonc, with sister-concordances in other Ardovian cities
Requirements: 1,000 gp to join.  Must contribute 100 gp/ per spell level when learning a new spell from the order’s list.  Members are said to be the human descendants of the old Derosian nobility that ruled over Mubonc in the time of the Empire.  In practice, this is not necessarily true.
Dress: Robes of pure white silk are donned for ceremonial purposes

Spells Known: Read Magic (1st), Detect Magic (1st), Sleep (1st), Magic Missile (1st), Identify (1st), Unseen Servant (1st), Charm Person (1st), Find Familiar (1st), Spider Climb (1st), Shield (1st), Feather Fall (1st), Wizard Lock (2nd), Invisibility (2nd), Ray of Enfeeblement (2nd), Stinking Cloud (2nd), Detect Invisibility (2nd), Continual Light (2nd), Darkness 15’ Radius (2nd), Levitate (2nd), Locate Object (2nd), Scare (2nd), Strength (2nd), Blink (3rd),  Clairaudience (3rd), Clairvoyance (3rd), Dispel Magic (3rd), Flame Arrow (3rd), Fly (3rd), Gust of Wind (3rd), Haste (3rd), Hold Person (3rd), Lightning Bolt (3rd), Slow (3rd), Confusion (4th),  Enchanted Weapon (4th),  Ice storm (4th), Minor Globe of Invulnerability (4th), Monster Summoning II (4th), Polymorph Self (4th), Wizard Eye (4th), Wall of Ice (4th), Fear (4th), Fire Trap (4th), Massmorph (4th), Monster Summoning III (5th), Animate Dead (5th), Cloudkill (5th), Cone of Cold (5th), Contact Other Plane (5th), Secret Chest (5th), Wall of Force (5th), Wall of Iron (5th), Cloudkill (5th), Hold Monster (5th), Stone Shape (5th), Control Weather (6th), Disintegrate (6th), Bigby’s Forceful Hand (6th), Freezing Sphere (6th), Geas (6th), Globe of Invulnerability (6th), Guards and Wards (6th), Invisible Stalker (6th), Move Earth (6th), Reincarnation (6th), Transformation (6th)

5)      The Ruminating Owls:  This popular and inclusive order is headquartered in Redmerrow as opposed to the more cosmopolitan Valinport.  An observer might say that the order appears to be as enthusiastic about rhetoric and feasting as they are magic. 

Gravitas: 13 (55% chance to know spell; 6/9 spells per level; max 5th level)
Leader:  The Fathered Elders (Hmu11, 1/2Emu7, Hmu6, Hmu6, Hmu6, Emu5)
Members: 52
Headquarters:  The Owl’s Roost, Redmerrow
Requirements: Be sponsored by an existing member and voted in by the Feathered Elders.  Learn the secret handshake and all of the passwords.  Participate annually in the Ruminating Symposium, a tenday-long affair held at the order’s headquarters in Redmerrow.
Dress: No standard dress but the order’s ruling body, the Fetahered Elders, wear elaborate cloaks made from the feathers of flying creatures.  General members often accent their wardrobes with the same.

Spells Known: Read Magic (1st), Detect Magic (1st), Enlarge (1st), Dancing Lights (1st), Mending (1st), Magic Missile (1st), Protection (1st), Message (1st), Charm Person (1st),  Knock (2nd), Wizard Lock (2nd), Detect Evil (2nd), ESP (2nd), Magic Mouth (2nd), Locate Object (2nd), Rope Trick (2nd), False Trap (2nd), Forget (2nd),  Water Breathing (3rd),  Tiny Hut (3rd), Hold Person (3rd), Flame Arrow (3rd), Phantasmal Force (3rd), Haste (3rd), Darkvision (3rd), Protection from Normal Missiles (3rd), Suggestion (3rd), Plant Growth (4th), Mnemonic Enhancement (4th), Polymorph Self (4th), Dig (4th), Wall of Ice (4th), Ice Storm (4th), Monster Summoning II (4th), Charm Monster (4th), Fumble (4th), Conjure Elemental (5th), Teleport (5th), Transmute Rock to Mud (5th), Feeblemind (5th), Hold Monster (5th), Stone Shape (5th), Cone of Cold (5th), Telekinesis (5th), Animal Growth (5th)


  1. Even without any further setting context, these groups make an excellent starting point for a ton of different campaign ideas. I am a fan. =)

    Out of curiosity, suppose that your PCs progress in this campaign to the point that they need spells of 7th level and higher. Would you create new and still more secretive orders for them to join that did possess the necessary spells, or would the PCs be on their own to figure out some way to learn new spells?

  2. Yes, there is at least one higher-powered order out there, but whether the players find it and make use of it is up to them and how the campaign plays out. Lacking an order of the appropriate gravitas to join, players will need to earn their spells by seeking them out. What better reason for the budding mage to adventure anyway?

  3. Heh! Naturally.

    If you're ever so inclined, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts (and the thoughts of other bloggers, for that matter) on how PC wizards gather the information that leads them to seek out spells. This is a kind of play that I find very compelling, and I'm curious to hear other people's ideas that go beyond "find NPC wizard, kill him, read his spellbook to see what he had."

  4. At the risk of disappointing you, I'm afraid in my practice a lot of it does come down to "find NPC spellcaster, kill them, take their spells". In theory, though, there are other means to the end.

    Short of killing powerful NPC spellcasters, a group of ambitious adventurers could seek to trick or rob them. Further, if an NPC spell caster has employed the party for some task there's nothing that prevents a desired spell or a chance to peek at his or her spell book being part of the payment. If the world is an active one and spell-casting an accepted but still notable event, then word of a particular wizard using a particular spell should make the rounds. "Have you heard that Dirk the Diggler bested Momo the Mighty with one of Bigby's lost spells? Indeed. I heard that he acquired some forgotten tome from the East."

    Finally, there's good old spell research from the DMG, rules that I truly wish more of my players would take advantage of.

  5. Well, fair enough. =) Let me suggest that "I don't want the rest of the party to sit around bored" is a common-in-my-experience and valid reason for PC wizards to avoid committing themselves to spell research. Though if you're using some form of carousing rules (which is another way of saying "downtime actions" as far as I can tell), that can help.

    I mention the next few ideas just to see what it sparks for you or other commenters, because (as I've said) this is a favorite topic of mine.
    1. A spell is inscribed on a wall in a dungeon (especially, say, a summoning spell, or a Symbol, since that suggests what the PCs had to do to get access to it in the first place).
    2. A captured or purchased tome doesn't have the spell itself, but mentions the name of the tome that does have the spell, or the name of the monastery where the forbidden grimoire was kept, or the name of the wizard who encrypted the spell's formula.
    3. (Bargains with summoned entities is too obvious to count as a whole idea here, so:) A goblin market, where knowledge of powerful spells is but one of the precious secrets on sale.

  6. I have made use of something similar to #2. #3 I've actually been kicking around as an idea since I read Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and the fairy one who's title I forget.

  7. James, in your game world, how many Arcane Orders do you place? 1-2 per city? Randomly distributed throughout the countryside?

    Though I have been meaning to do it for several years, I just finally read The Godfather, as an aside, and intend to overlay Much of that plot framework onto my own Orders. Machivallean and ugly...

  8. There's no set limit or range per se on how many orders, but I do know the population of my game setting and .5% of the population is comprised of classed individuals and from that I know how many magic users there are. The five orders above are all in the same campaign area, a duchy with a population of two or three hundred thousand people. There's a 6th order that is not the powerful one I mentioned above not shown here comprised of illusionists.

  9. That's about what I was thinking.

    By the way, those are all great. The White Heirs are officially stolen. I will insert credit by changing the leader to Semaj See.

  10. Steal away, that's why I posted them, but trust me... half or more of the fun is rolling on the tables two posts down.

  11. These are fantastic! I can totally see a large city hosting several of these Orders, and the rivalry between them.

  12. Rival cities might have equally 'rival' chapters of the same Order.

  13. I'm now officially a fan of Glimgalam the Flame. The requirement for joining his "amazing" order was hilarious. Nice work on all of them.

    I'm just now dropping a group of players into a city modeled after China Mieville's "The City and the City". (Cool book, recommended.) Two primary competing orders of wizards (Red and Blue, naturally.) The Arcanum Sanguineus and the Fraternità del Azzurro. Pretty fundamental conflict, but I have some twists that should keep the players guessing who the good guys really are.

  14. David: Thanks and yes the rivalries will play some part in how the orders are intorduced to the players.

    Richard: Exactly... the White Heirs above, with sister-chapters in other cities, could have their own internal conflicts aside from whatever exists between the mentioned orders.

    Anarkeith: I'm not familiar with the book, but love any kind of RPG conflict where it's not guys in white hats vs. guys with curly black mustaches. Now a guy with a black hat and a curly white mustache, that's something...

  15. An chay tốt cho sức khỏe của bạn và điệu trị một số bệnh tiểu đường, cao huyết áp, tim mạch, loãng xương, viêm khớp, an chay An chay là an và uống những thứ có nguồn gốc thực vật, không an thịt cá hay thứ có nguồn gốc từ động vật vì liên quan đến sát sinh, giết mổ. An chay hoặc an mặn phụ thuộc vào sự lựa chọn của mỗi người. An chay hiện nay khá phổ biến. Các món an chay dễ làm thường dùng các thức an có từ nguồn gốc thực vật như trái cây, rau củ quả, ngũ cốc, đậu phụ … An chay có thể ngừa được bệnh sỏi mật, sỏi thận, hen suyễn và giảm bớt bệnh tiểu đường ở những người không dùng insulin, do thực phẩm chay chứa nhiều chất xơ giúp cơ thể điều hòa thành phần đường một cách hiệu quả.

  16. Hello James C - Are you there? Been awhile since you posted.

    1. Heya Whisk. Yeah, I'm still kicking around out here. Doing more playing than writing about RPGs these days, I suppose.