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The Colleges of Magic are the institutions of the Empire where wizards are trained in the proper, controlled use of the Winds of Magic. There are eight Colleges of Magic, each corresponding to the eight magical colors or Lores, each with a very different nature and character.
After the Great War Against Chaos in the time of Emperor Magnus the Pious, it was realised that for the Empire to properly defend itself against the forces of Chaos it needed to have its own cadre of loyal magic users to field in battle. With the invaluable aid of the legendary High Elf archmage Teclis, citizens of the Empire who showed natural magical talent were shown how to manipulate the Winds of Magic. Aware of the dangers to humans of using too much magic due to the inherently Chaotic nature of magical energy, Teclis declared that Imperial wizards should only learn how to manipulate a single color of magic, rather than the full High Magic of the Elves. This also appeased the naysayers in Ulthuan who feared if humans were able to access 'True Magic' they might one day become a threat to the Elves. In time, the eight branches of magic users were formed into the eight Orders of Magic, and the eight Colleges of Magic were established in the Imperial capital city of Altdorf.
The Colleges of Magic in Altdorf are the only places in the Empire of Man where magic can be practiced freely. The common folk of the Old World generally greatly fear and distrust magic, due to its close associations with Chaos, and wizards who travel alone keep a low profile to avoid prejudice from the local population. Imperial wizards are required to carry a license to avoid the attentions of the Witch Hunters. Because of this attitude of the populace, the buildings of the colleges are usually protected by powerful spells of illusion which conceal them from the regular citizens of Altdorf and which can alter the physical space around the Colleges, making maps of the capital city notoriously unreliable.
Most Imperial wizards are trained from a very young age, recruited from young boys and girls who show a natural aptitude for magic and have avoided the taint of Chaos' corruption. The hierarchy of each College rises from the apprentice wizards, through journeyman wizards, to the magisters and battle wizards, and finally the Wizard Lords who are among the most respected and powerful of all Imperial citizens, on a par with the great Imperial nobility. The overall head of the Colleges of Magic is the Supreme Patriarch, who is chosen every seven years by means of a magical duel between chosen representatives from each of the Colleges. The current Supreme Patriarch is Balthazar Gelt of the Gold Order.
The Eight Colleges of MagicEdit
College of the Bright OrderEdit
Bright energy is like a hot dry wind; it gutters like flame and runs wild over sands and sun baked fields. it is attracted by fire and heat and is whipped into a frenzy vortex as it swirls over the volcanoes of the worlds edge mountains. The College of Magic which studies Aqshy, the Lore of Fire, is the Bright Order of Wizards. Bright Wizards (also known as Pyromancers) go through a series of changes after being exposed to the wind Aqshy. The one first noticed by most people would be the Bright Wizard's hair, which takes on a fiery color of blond or red, and sometimes when the Wizard channels magic his hair will move like a flickering flame. There are also the strange markings that appear on the Pyromancer's arms and face; many mistake these as tattoos, but they did not come from a needle. Other marks include glowing eyes, feverish skin, extreme discomfort in cold or rain, or a faint scent of brimstone constantly surrounding him. Bright Wizards are the most overtly offensive of the eight Colleges, not only because they tend to be aggressive and excitable by nature. Their spells range from concentrated firey blasts, to swords conjured of pure flame, to massive, all-consuming infernos. More than any other Lore, Fire is truely a weapon in the hand of its practitioner. Because of this, the magisters of Aqshy make up many of the foremost battle wizards within the Empire's armies. The art of pyromancy is not a subtle one, and wherever it is employed, great change or great ruination tend to follow, whether intentionally or not.
Spectacular, fire-topped towers that blaze with magical light form the Bright Wizard College and are a marvel of architecture, its towers rise like pillars of flames high above the townscape of Altdorf, though its fiery brilliance lies concealed behind a barrier of powerful illusion. To those without magical sight, the College's buildings appear as dark and splintered ruins in a wasteland of ashen destruction, but in the heat of summer they sometimes appear as a shimmering mirage, floating above the city like a veil of glittering rubies. At the heart of the Bright College's towers is a gigantic beacon that burns both day and night, and casts an eerie red glow over the entire College and although its towers are not as high as those of the celestial college, they are perhaps more impressive.
College of the Light OrderEdit
The College of Magic which studies Hysh, or the Lore of Light, is the Light Order of Wizards. White Wizards, also known as Hierophants or clerics, dress in pure white robes and are diligent and contemplative by nature. The magisters of Hysh are respected for being peerless philosophers, and place great value on logical method and the search for the fundamental truths of the world. Light Wizards are generally peaceful, trying to avoid violence whenever possible, possessing a wide range of healing and protection spells. However, against the corruption that spills from the Realm of Chaos, the magic used by the clerics offers the most powerful and devastating spells, calling upon the glowing energy of light to exorcise and banish daemons. Where Hysh is steady and constant, Chaos is random entropy, where Hysh stands for controlled grace and self-understanding, Chaos promotes a total lack of control, confusion and insanity.
Like many of the magical colleges, the College of Light goes largely unseen, as it exists within a magical space, parallel too, but separate from the mundane world. To those who chance upon its whereabouts, the building appears as a gigantic pyramid whose translucent walls shimmer with power and the light of a thousand candles. It is an awesome sight indeed and one that few of Altdorf's inhabitants would imagine lies within their city. Deep in the lowest vaults of the College, protected by many twisting tunnels, traps, and magical fields, lies the greatest magical treasure vault in the Old World. Created by Teclis after the Great War Against Chaos, it serves as a repository and prison for many of the evil artefacts and luminous beings of power captured during that conflict. It is the sacred duty of the Guardians of the Light, an arcane society to which only the most powerful Wizards of the Order belong, to keep these powerful evils safely locked away from the world.
College of the Gold OrderEdit
The College of Magic which studies Chamon, the Lore of Metal, is the Gold Order of Wizards. Gold Wizards practice the art of alchemy (and are therefore sometimes called Alchemists), of analytic science, and seek to observe the effect of the unnatural order of magic upon the natural order of the physical world. They believe that through a process of empirical observation and experimentation they can discover the traces of the Aethyr that they believe exists in all physical things, in order to unlock the secrets of transmuting base metals into gold. Due to their considerable understanding of the nature of metal and chemicals, Gold Wizards work closely with the engineers and gunners of the Empire, developing better formulas for black powder and safer alloys for the casting of cannons. Gold Wizards can easily affect metal objects with their spells, weakening them with corrosion or strengthening them with enchantments. Among humans, they are by far the most capable crafters of magical weapons. The nature of Chamon has an affect on the appearance of Gold Wizards, seemingly transforming their skin into gold plate.
The buildings of the Golden Order are neither rich nor ostentatious, but are more akin to great forges with several furnaces and tall chimneys that belch glowing, multi-colored smoke into the air. This College lies not near the center of the city (much to the relief of the citizens of Altdorf) but upon its edge by the River Reik. The river cools the forges and it is a common sight to see the waters running with fantastical colors in the wake of some mysterious experiment. The Golden College is not hidden from view like some magical colleges, but few dare approach it for fear of the evil vapors and crackling magical energies that surround it.
College of the Jade OrderEdit
The College of Magic which studies Ghyran, the Lore of Life, is the Jade Order of Wizards. Jade Wizards, (also occasionally mistaken for druids to which their power is related), are powerful healers, who spend most of their time wandering the countryside of the Empire providing their services to rural communities. They construct monolithic stone circles around hidden groves where Ghyran is strongest, using them in their yearly rituals which they perform in order to channel their magic into the soil to provide fertility and abundance. These often lie at the confluence of three streams, for such places are rich in life magic. Jade Wizards wear predominantly green and turquoise colours, and usually carry a sickle.
Within Altdorf itself, the College takes the form of a plain and unimposing enclosure to the outside world, yet within is a wondrous arbor of beautiful trees whose boughs form the beams and pillars of numerous mighty halls. Glittering pools and streams flow amongst the glades of this hidden world and at its center is a wondrous silver lake where the power of Ghyran collects and whose enchanted waters are said to be able to cure all maladies.
College of the Celestial OrderEdit
The College of Magic which studies Azyr, the Lore of Heavens, is the Celestial Order of Wizards. Magisters of Azyr are also sometimes known as Astromancers. They spend most of their time gazing at the sky and studying the movements of heavenly bodies. It is said that they can divine the future from the movements of the blue Aethyric clouds of Azyr that drift across the upper reaches of the atmosphere, and the manner in which they distort the stars and planets. Celestial Wizards are expert astrologers, using charts illustrated with arcane symbols to predict with certainty conjunctions of the constellations with planets and the sun and the moon. Their spells give Celestial Wizards the ability to influence destiny and fate, and the power to summon eldritch lightning and to call down comets and meteors from the heavens. The Celestial College uses blue as its colour, and astrologers usually wear robes of deep blue adorned with decorative stars and planets. The symbol of this college is the comet, for no other astral entity carries as much significance when it comes to foretelling future.
The sixteen glittering towers of the Celestial College are the tallest buildings in Altdorf, overlooking the Temple of Sigmar and rising far above the Emperor's Palace. None but those with magical sight would know of this, for cunning spells of concealment shield the buildings of the Celestial College from the curiosity of passers-by. A shimmering dome of magical glass sits atop each tower, enchanted to allow the Celestial Wizards to focus on specific aspects of the night sky, and from these observatories the Wizards of the Celestial Order plot the movements of the heavens. Information gathered from the towers is fed into a magical astrolabe at the heart of the College that spins on the head of a silver needle and from which the Celestial Wizards read the myriad potential futures.
College of the Grey OrderEdit
The College of Magic which studies Ulgu, the Lore of Shadows, is the Grey Order of Wizards. Grey Wizards practice the magic of illusion, using spells that manipulate perception and emotion. They also have some control over the weather, and are able to move quickly from place to place. The usual attire of a Grey Wizard is a voluminous grey hooded cloak that they keep drawn around them, concealing themselves from prying eyes. They travel far and wide, gathering knowledge of events from the furthest reaches of the Old World. Some folk whisper that the Grey Wizards operate an arcane spy network with the purpose of infiltrating underground organizations that plot against the Empire, bringing them down before they become powerful enough to cause any real harm. The symbol of the Grey college is the Sword of Judgement, a reminder that seeking knowledge is not enough, for wisdom must be used to correct mistakes and to destroy faults.
The Grey College itself is a worn and shabby building in Altdorf's poorest and most disreputable district. Even the city watch shun this area, and no honest citizen would ordinarily risk entering such a den of rogues. Though the building appears unremarkable, Grey Wizards come and go by a multitude of secret entrances and a warren of magical tunnels extending beneath the building - where they emerge is a mystery known only to the Order's Wizards.
College of the Amethyst OrderEdit
The College of Magic which studies Shyish, the Lore of Death, is the Amethyst Order of Wizards. Contrary to what many people believe, Amethyst Wizards are not Necromancers, and have no spells that raise the undead, nor would they want them. The magisters of Shyish embrace the certainty of death and all other endings, while those who practice the black art of necromancy strive to prevent their own ending at all costs and alter the natural order. While Amethyst Wizards are able to see the spirits of the newly dead, and even communicate with them, they wield no power over them. They are often thought of as introspective and uncaring, but although they generally tend to be a quiet lot, they retain a wicked wit and respect for life. Amethyst Wizards invariably have the last word. Their symbol is the scythe, signifying mortality, and reminding the Wizards of this college to seek their rewards in this life rather than the next.
The College building of the Amethyst Order is dark and sepulchral, shuttered against the light and only dimly illuminated even in the dead of night. Within its silent halls the dust lies thick where it is dragged by the Wind of Shyish from all the ages, bringing with it the stench of eternal decay. Though the citizens of Altdorf are fully aware of this building, none dare approach it for fear of damning their immortal soul forever. Its crooked towers are the abode of bats and carrion birds, and its cellars crawl with all manner of verminous creatures.
The Amethyst College overlooks the infamous haunted Cemetery of Old Altdorf, where tens of thousands were interred in mass graves after the ravages of the Red Plague. The cemetery itself is associated with all manner of foul rumour, and the Amethyst Order's proximity to it is taken by many as proof of the unholy practices engaged in by the secretive Amethyst Wizards. True evidence of such deeds has yet to come to light, but still the good citizens of Altdorf give both the cemetery and College a wide berth, leaving the Order to their secrets.
College of the Amber OrderEdit
The College of Magic which studies Ghur, the Lore of Beasts, is the Amber Order of Wizards. Amber Wizards are rarely seen in the towns and cities of the Empire, preferring to live a solitary life in the wilderness where they are better able to develop their affinity with wild beasts. Ghur magic allows them to commune with the spirits of animals, call the beasts of the wild to their side, and enhance their abilities by summoning the speed, strength and senses of animals. It even allows the wizard to shapeshift into the forms of these animals to fight or travel. Amber Wizards are said to have mastered the feral heart that lies under the civilized mask that hides the animal heart in every human. They have an unsentimental vision of the world where only the fittest can survive and where the life-force of the weak feeds the hunger of the strong. Accordingly, they are excellent hunters and trackers, and they tend to dress themselves in rough furs and skins decorated with horns, teeth and claws. Their symbol is the hunting arrow, the means of survival in a world where everybody is hunter and hunted at the same time.
Of all the Orders of Wizardry, the Amber College is the only one without buildings in Altdorf. Its masters inhabit the caves high in the Amber Hills beyond the city, which take their name from the order. These refuges are not easily found and visitors are not welcomed. Other lairs are said to exist throughout the Empire in the depths of forests and high on mountaintops, but monstrous bears or other powerful wild beasts guard these solitary caves and it is a brave individual who dares disturb an Amber Wizard.