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🎨 Creative What does a Mage's Guild do?

vitruvian

Registered User
Validated User
#51
Yeah, I mean why do you think Megadungeons are always stocked with an endless supply of monsters, and always seem to go on forever despite making no logical sense.

I mean there are levels of Undermountain that are probably bigger than the city over it or the mountain that contains it. How do you figure that? (I mean, at least Undermountain has its own live in archmage and his students to explain that).

But those magical portals to the monster dimension aren't cheap, those space distortion and pocket dimensions aren't easy to maintain, someone's gotta do it.
Either that, or it's a huge U-Store-It and kennel/zoo (with stasis spells on the living occupants until adventurers enter the space) from an ancient magictech civilization.

Or a gigantic living organism or even demiplane, kind of like a city-sized or greater mimic but worse, constantly growing new corridors, rooms, traps, and monsters to occupy and wander around in them.
 

Archer

Just This Guy
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#52
They also try to influence the political and religious leaders so that there isn't anti-mage legislation or pogroms.
Which they can do by creating and enforcing rules on magic use, so demons aren't running loose and people aren't being mind-controlled willy-nilly. Putting down rogue wizards who give the profession a bad name, or paying adventurers to do it.
 

RadioKen

repeated and willful
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#54
Managing conflict within the magic-using community so it doesn't spill over into muggleworld and provoke reprisals.
 

junglefowl26

Registered User
Validated User
#55
Hhmmm....why is it always a singular mages guild? In a setting where magic is more common, there might more specialized guilds. Like ones based around the different schools of magic. Or what profession one actually uses their magic for - like a fortune teller's guild, an enchanter's guild, a warder guild (provides magical security), a battle mage's guild, so on and so forth.

In addition to the many services already mentioned, I could see a mage's guild being something of a market where mages exchange material components and alchemical ingredients, magic items, constructs, mutant monsters, spell casting services and the like, and where non-mages can go and commission those things themselves.

Reading this thread, it's making me think that Mages Guilds are under-utilized as antagonists. I'm imagining something with a mafioso flair - the heroes blithely rolls into town, magicking out of the goodness of their hearts, only to have a group of magical legbreakers sent after them for muscling in on their livelihood.
Oh yeah. Usually it is some anti-magical, usually religious faction, keeping mages down, but I could see an interesting story about a group of mages who keep a violent monopoly on magic.

If nothing else, I could see a fun rivalry between a hedge mage and a guild mage who looks down on them.

Pretty much. And that's how Baldur's Gate 2 (the video game) starts, with the Cowled Wizards showing up and putting the smack down on the baddie (and you) for illegal use of magic. I guess in that case it's law enforcement vs. guild enforcers, but close enough.
You know, from what I have heard, the whole "town watch as police" thing is really a modern fiction thing (at least, anything like a modern police force was pretty rare, even in fairly bureaucratic state), and guild thugs were often the closest thing to a police force that many cities had. So I could see a mages guild doing some law enforcement, and possibly not just for magical crime.

Well, all the anti-union arguments seem to have been covered.
It is important to remember that guilds were as much corporation as union, corporations with monopolies no less - in particular from what I understand things sucked for those of the apprentice rank.

yeah, of course now we have Sorcerers for that trope, although I don't think any dnd setting has ever really delved into that possible story idea.
As an aside: an idea I have been playing around with a setting or at least country where the nobles are all from various sorcerer bloodlines, and wizards are something of a new invention - at first the sorcerer-nobles merely mocked the silly upjumped peasants and their peasant magics (in truth most wizards came from merchant or artisan backgrounds, but were still commoners) but now they are starting to get worried that their power base is being challenged.

A bureaucratic megadungeon. Next they'll try to regulate our demiliches because of all the conflict gemstones in their teeth.

-Naxuul
Demiliches are probably running the mage's guild.

Basing things on seniority and having a bunch of undead wizards running around means that power doesn't change hands very often.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
#57
You know, from what I have heard, the whole "town watch as police" thing is really a modern fiction thing (at least, anything like a modern police force was pretty rare, even in fairly bureaucratic state), and guild thugs were often the closest thing to a police force that many cities had. So I could see a mages guild doing some law enforcement, and possibly not just for magical crime.
Yes and no. Modern police can be traced to Robert Peel in the 1800s, and Paris forces around the same time or a bit earlier. OTOH precursors aren't that rare: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police#Ancient_policing

Magistrates and prefects in China, including investigation. Greek city peacekeepers, who would make arrests and such, but actual investigation had to be done privately. Roman security from the army and city watchmen, with a couple clashing statements (magistrates investigating crimes, but victims having to manage prosecutions... one further link mentions quaestors investigating capital crimes in the Roman kingdom.) Then Roman vigiles as firemen and nightwatchmen.

But yes, even if some places had public watchmen guarding the streets and magistrates investigating crimes, others had only one, or neither, with the rich going guarded by footmen, the poor taking their chances, and your family, brotherhood of friends, or guild as the only protection most could invoke. Pre-Peel British feared 'police' as a symbol of foreign oppression...
 

junglefowl26

Registered User
Validated User
#58
Yes and no. Modern police can be traced to Robert Peel in the 1800s, and Paris forces around the same time or a bit earlier. OTOH precursors aren't that rare: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police#Ancient_policing

Magistrates and prefects in China, including investigation. Greek city peacekeepers, who would make arrests and such, but actual investigation had to be done privately. Roman security from the army and city watchmen, with a couple clashing statements (magistrates investigating crimes, but victims having to manage prosecutions... one further link mentions quaestors investigating capital crimes in the Roman kingdom.) Then Roman vigiles as firemen and nightwatchmen.

But yes, even if some places had public watchmen guarding the streets and magistrates investigating crimes, others had only one, or neither, with the rich going guarded by footmen, the poor taking their chances, and your family, brotherhood of friends, or guild as the only protection most could invoke. Pre-Peel British feared 'police' as a symbol of foreign oppression...
Yeah, sorry, I was oversimplifying a bit - still, I think it wouldn't be too much a stretch to have the mage's guild involved in peacekeeping and law enforcement in a fantasy city.

(Though I do want to point out that magistrates in China also handled taxation and acted as judges, and often were in practice too busy to handle investigations themselves, leaving the footwork to their personal retinue* who would round up a posse to make arrests, or call in the army for emergencies. I have also seen references to village wardens, local elites, and household registration systems playing a large role in imperial Chinese law enforcement, but I don't know the details)

*As an aside, after reading the Judge Dee books, I wanted to use it as inspiration for a game, specifically one where the party is the retinue of a similar judge-magistrate type character)
 

Icon

Old enough to know better
Validated User
#59
(1) Makes sure its members obey the rules regarding magical interactions with non-members. Said rules generally enrich and sustain the guild as a whole (though of course leadership always get the first cut).

(2) Makes sure non-members do not perform magic (or if that is not possible try to get them to abide by guild rules as much as possible).

(3) Acquire power, ostensibly to enforce the first two rules but you know how it is once you start acquiring power.
 

DisgruntleFairy

Active member
Validated User
#60
The only one that seems to be missing to me is "job placement."

The guilds help mages find jobs for a small fee of course. If you need say a mage for your expedition into the TOMBS OF DESPAIR but you don't know any mages you can go to the guild and give them a reasonable fee and they will circulate your information to some appropriately skilled usually young people who need a start. The guild will then in turn expect a percentage from the Mage for the job placement services if they get it.

Either way the Mage's Guild makes a reasonable profit, the Mages get there foot in the door, and various groups can find people to provide magical services.

I'm sure that with enough notoriety you can skip the Guild's job placement services entirely but that takes time.
 
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