Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wizards and Society

There are lots of ways to setup the interaction of magic-users and the society of a fantasy setting. My take is influenced by the fact that religion and culture play a big part in the forces driving my campaign. The magic-users are not exempted. The key element to remember about the magic-users in a D&D world that despite their power they need time and resources in order to fully realize their potential. Without time to rest and study they will quickly run out of spells and lose what sets them apart from their mundane peers.

Wizards and Society
The magical Orders are a threat to the hierarchy of society since the magic-users bow to neither Patriarch nor Potentate. The Orders are powerful enough to deter rulers from attacking them openly. But the knight's courage and the priest's prayers have supernatural powers of their own, so members of the Orders rarely attack their mundane foes in open warfare. Those who cause undue conflict between the Orders and society are subject to punitive action.

Young magic-users often find the restraints caused by society annoying, and they sometimes skirmish with the powers of the mundane world. Older magic-users, find ways to pursue the arts of magic despite the desires of those who would control or destroy magic-users. They scorn those who do not follow their example. Most magic-users are wary of the outside world. They will go to great lengths to maintain the shaky peace that continues to the present.
Fanatics within the magical Orders and the various Churches have long called for an end to the truce. They desire a final confrontation to destroy each other. So far, voices that are more reasonable have prevailed.

Most magic-users realize that, while they wield great power, they have no defense against miracles. They stay out of the way of the various Churches and not draw attention to themselves. Were they to threaten society, the magic-users feel that they would suffer the fury of the Gods. To complicate matters, many in the Orders are believers and share the faith of many Churches. Typically misunderstanding and/or political intrigue are the base of any conflict between the magic-users and the churches, not moral antipathy.

The various magical Orders realize that aid to the barons and the churches will ease tensions. To this end, they offer their service and knowledge. The Order of Set has gone so far to become part of the triad that governs the Thule Empire.


Anonymous said...

Wizards often need patrons, as the path of the wizard is expensive, so the ties between nobles and wizards are likely to be close. Wizards are so useful to nobles that such ties are likely.

Some religions would be likely to support their own schools of magic as well.

Unknown said...

"The magical Orders are a threat to the hierarchy of society since the magic-users bow to neither Patriarch nor Potentate. The Orders are powerful enough to deter rulers from attacking them openly."

Hmm...interesting, but IMHO unlikely. In my homebrew sorcerers are members of the church like most folk (who would not be in an age of miracles????) and view their powers (as did Nostradamus)as a gift of their god. Even if sorcerer's were so inclined, they are too few to oppose society at large, especially since opposing the church would cost them their friends and family, as well as any good-will they have created for themselves in the community.

Emirikol the Chaotic: "Me, yield to the Bishop??? Never!!!!"

Later he is found alone sobbing in his tower as horrified friends, family and servants have deserted him en masse. The next day finds him excommunicated from the church as an enemy of his god. He flees the comminuty he can no longer safely live in. As word spreads that the church is on the warpath, even his sorcerer friends distance themselves from him, forcing him to flee to the wilderness.

Few people (real or imagined) want to live in the wilderness as an outlaw. To be opposed to the church or society (and thus the gods) means being a plaything of demons in the afterlife and who wants that unless they have already sold themselves to the dark ones?

In most fantasy settings magic and miracles will be seen by all folks (or at least told about it by authoritive sources) at least once in their lifetime. Folks KNOW the gods are real and that an afterlife is certain. What nut would risk losing it?

Yep, there would be plenty of outraged sorcerers and holy men willing to track down such wolves and destroy them. So, no, I believe that sorcerers would be all too willing to bend the knee if their monarch or church came calling.

Just how I work it, YMMV.