"Prove you are worthy of instruction. Find the hidden college. Find Rumor." -Fie
Fealty: Silver Flame
Distinctions: Dragonthorn Wands
In the first and second eras, the Spire stood as the beacon of arcane instruction in the known world. After the Cataclysm wiped out thousands of years of arcane research and tradition, most practitioners were self-taught, and learned their spells through trial and error. In the year 24,990 AC, the mysterious woman known as Fie discovered a stable planar rift in the Sea of Rakash. On the other side of the rift, Fie became the first mortal to stand on Remnant. It was here that Fie established her secret academy, and began building Rumor.
Archmage Fie, now calling herself the Mistress of Magic, recruited six exceptional practitioners to teach at her secret academy, and began spreading the fable, the legend, the myth, the tale that was Rumor. Any student who could find their way to the hidden college would be accepted as a student, and taught by the greatest practitioners of the era. In time, Rumor taught the Sha'ir Emm and the Witch Patt. In the year 49,990 AC, Rumor was led by Thoros Darkeyes and Walgeon Chorster.
The artificers are Rumor's ostensible government. The artificers considers themselves to be the mediators and controllers of all other activities, even though most of their countless decrees are largely ignored. That's not to say the artificers are impotent, however - their legitimacy and reach wax and wane over time. At its best, the ultra-hierarchical artificers are just, farsighted, and impartial. At its worst, the artificers are cold, stultifying, and bureaucratic.Graven is the current leader of the artificers. The process of convincing Graven to lead the artificers took years, as he is an aloof being who values solitude above all. As chaos in Rumor increased with the return of the dragons, however, and as its students more vocally demanded laws and their enforcement, Graven decided his service was needed enough to trump his own preferences.
The trias politica structure of the artificers has existed nearly since the beginning of the secret academy but had been theoretical and unimportant for millennia. With the chaos of the return of the dragons, the artificers revivified the concept, and it has become deeply meaningful and reflective of their structure and hierarchy. The artificers use of magic tends to fall into three functions: establish, maintain, refine (or alternatively build, defend, improve). Although these functions might seem to map cleanly to the columns, all three functions find expression in all three columns.
The bards are Rumor's steward of nature and the wild; their quest is to preserve the natural world even as Rumor's cities continue to grow. The bards seek to protect the elements of the secret academy that are incompatible or mutually exclusive with its conditions. This is not easy, of course, because the forces of change are so prevalent in Rumor that they threaten to subsume anything that runs counter to them. But the bards practice a strange combination of detachment and holism that provide a kind of separation from the larger changing systems—a separation on which their conservation quest depends.The regal and reticent bard named Anastrianna is the current lead bard. She is the speaker for the bards, and she delivered the Virtuous Edict that declared a new beginning for the bards. Anastrianna is quick to point out, however, that she speaks at the discretion of the Virtue's Chamber, a secretive body of all of the virtue's speakers. She claims that the Chamber can revoke that status, at which time another speaker would replace her as the lead bard. Many outside the bards believe this is false modesty, however, and that Anastrianna controls the Chamber—if it meets at all.
Bards are organized by virtue rather than by race, subclass, or build. Each virtue is the wizarding-equivalent of a school: diverse individuals adapted to different tasks, yet related by a common goal. Virtues often exist solely within a single group, but they need not do so, and large virtues span two or more bardic groups.
The sorcerers are obsessive experimenters, the epitome of a keen creative intellect combined with an unfortunately short attention span. The original mandate of the sorcerers was to provide solutions for public works projects (sewers, boilers, roadways), but their experiments often produce mana geysers, spatial rifts, or arcane portals instead. As of late, their lead, Ishmea, has driven the sorcerers to delve deeper and deeper into more dangerous and experimental magic. The purpose of these experiments is unknown.Ishmea is the lead sorcerer of Rumor. She's an aging, vain, temperamental, and super-intelligent shardmind sorcerer. Ishmea has always been known for her unpredictability, vanity, and fiery temper, and these traits have only become more intense. Ishmea rarely stoops to concern herself with the day-to-day running of the sorcerers, preferring to craft long-range plans and let her students implement the details.
The students of Ishmea who make up her academy elite are referred to as the Izmundi. Ishmea uses the elite to guide her machinations and to keep her abreast of the happenings in the Mortal Realm. The Izmagnus are the most powerful members of the Izmundi elite, which typically has five to seven members (some members are kept secret). Even members of the Izmagnus are not privy to Ishmea's highest-level plans and goals.
The swordmages emulate cunning and their symbol is the eye. The swordmages are martial artists, mystics, and wandering warriors. To the swordmages, discovery and enlightenment are the ultimate goals. Swordmages direct their energies toward learning and 'ascending' to ever greater levels of accomplishment. Rigorous training for body and mind begins at an early age and is continued throughout swordmage's life. The swordmages have a strong sense of tradition, honor, and respect. Cunning and strategy in combat are highly revered by the swordmages, who are associated with the eye. Instead of a school or pact, swordmages are based around a series of aegises. These aegises maintain their own spells and rituals, but they are affiliated through swordmage traditions and values. Outsiders may become swordmages if they can demonstrate a commitment to its rigors. Age is a mark of honor, and elders are revered.A martial arts master, scholar, and mystic, Yuriel has cultivated mental discipline and can accomplish astonishing physical feats. He spent his youth wandering, honing his fighting skills in the wilds. His travels deliberately took him through perilous realms, and he studied their ways with a curious eye. His practical knowledge of the Elemental Chaos is unlike that of most arcane scholars, and this benefits him as a leader. As the lead swordmage, Yuriel is vigilant about his people's safety. Some say that Yuriel possesses a secret potential inside him, a power or calling that will drive him to a greater purpose, but he remains dedicated to leading the swordmages.
On a practical level, the swordmages use concealment magic to achieve an element of surprise - cloak their movements, disguise their identity, scout fallen lands, and ambush their enemies. On a metaphysical level, the swordmages revere the elemental forces, or fires - soulfire, mistfire, and bloodfire. There are many aspects to elemental sword magic, including summoning elementals, temporal and spatial distortion, healing, protection, and combat advantage. A swordmage who masters the three swordmage fires has attained enough wisdom to explore the next level of existence and harness the sixth fire: ghostfire. Only a few swordmages have ever learned to control ghostfire, and it is believed they are able transcend natural elements and alter their fundamental nature and existence.
In the dark, slick corridors lurks the unfathomable network of the warlocks. Warlocks are Rumor's dark but open secret; the students know warlocks exist but pretend they don't. The warlocks' role in Rumor is to provide covert services that others can't or won't, using secrecy as both weapon and defense. Warlocks are hidden even from each other, using pockets of covert students who are aware of only a few other contacts. Warlocks leave no trace, destroying memories of witnesses to their actions, and even going so far as to eliminate their own memories.Nemeia may be uniquely qualified to be the lead warlock: she is a shapeshifter whose mysterious genius flashes with telepathic impressions of the warlocks. She shapeshifts into a variety of guises as her needs and plans require; she may step out into the streets as an elderly widow to eavesdrop at the bazaar, become a hunter to sidestep a gate, or transform into a merchant to deceive a passing noble. Some warlocks believe that Nemeia now plots against Ishmea to discern the sorcerer's hidden endgame and twist it for her own purposes.
There are at least two levels of the warlocks: the overt level, the face the student body of Rumor is allowed to see, and the covert level, that which consists of the inner circle and the members students suspect exist but rarely, if ever, see. The warlocks are just like any others, serving a public purpose for the good of the secret academy. They often serve as couriers, investigators, reporters, and archivists. They serve twin purposes: to give the rest of Rumor a 'friendly' face and to be the street-level eyes and ears of the secret academy.
Wizards are primarily genasi, human, and dray, with a small number of elves, among others. Wizards value thought, wisdom, enchantments, and planning. Instinct is the last thing that wizards rely upon. Wizards study, invent, and create the most clever riddles. There is no room for uncontrolled behavior among wizards. Everything is well thought out and almost perfect.The lead wizard, Zahar, is very powerful and very curious. Even though he is an archlich, he is familiar with all the schools of wizardry, and he is always studying Rumor's most hidden and forgotten secrets. Wizards abound with amorality, control, and order. Ordered control is most common, but amoral control is not far behind. The prime qualities of wizards are control, patience, and thinking, which is why wizards tend to be so serious.
Under the control of the sha'ir, conjured creatures are ready to defend against any attack. Bladesingers are the warriors among wizards, near in skill to the swordmages. Mages can study from the enchantment, evocation, and illusion schools of magic. Evoked elements may dominate the Mortal Realm, while still humbled by the power of arcanists, who dominate and protect Rumor.