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 Test of High Sorcery

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DM Evenstar
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PostSubject: Test of High Sorcery   Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:00 pm

The Test of High Sorcery is the single binding experience in a wizard’s life that makes all Wizards of High Sorcery brothers and sisters in magic.

Many students and minor practitioners never take the Test, either afraid of the risk or never selected by the Conclave.

Those who make the journey to a Tower and take the Test undergo a trial of skill and nerve that is completely unique to the individual, yet is also an experience shared by wizards that allows a Black Robe to have moments of understanding with those who wear raiment of White.

A wizard’s soul is forged within the fires of magic, and he will never be the same again.During the Second Dragon War, three powerful mages used the wild magic to destroy the marauding dragons threatening the elven kingdom of Silvanesti. Unfortunately, the mages lost control of the magic, which went on a rampage, causing the deaths of thousands before it could be brought under control.

The Gods of Magic had long feared that such a disaster might occur if some means were not provided to control the use of magic. The gods carried the three wizards, who came to be known as the Lost Mages, into Beyond, where the gods impressed upon the mages the need to establish laws and rules designed to govern those who wielded magic.

To maintain the balance in the world, the Gods of Magic decreed that three Orders should be established: the White Robes, faithful to Solinari; the Red Robes, faithful to Lunitari; and the Black Robes, faithful to Nuitari. Unlike clerics, mages are not required to pray to the Gods of Magic to receive their spells. Mages are expected, however, to adhere to the precepts and beliefs of their own
Orders.

Upon their return to the world, the Lost Mages summoned their fellow wizards to present to them the dictates of the gods. Most of the wizards had seen the terrible destruction caused by magic run amuck, and they agreed that the gods were wise and that some sort of control was necessary. To reward the mages for their cooperation, the Lost Mages described to them the benefits that would be gained by belonging to established Orders: access to collections of spellbooks, scrolls, artifacts, and laboratories; the protection afforded by the fortress-like Towers of High Sorcery; the ability to share thoughts and ideas with likeminded individuals.

A few wizards thought the gods were acting as despots and refused to obey the laws, but most mages believed that the benefits far outweighed the drawbacks and were eager to belong to the new Orders. So many magic-users clamored to join the
Orders that the new Heads of the Orders were dismayed. Some of those wanting to belong were serious students of magic and would be welcome members. Others obviously had no interest in the Art of magic at all. Among these were kender, who came in droves. Young nobles arrived with the expressed belief that learning magic would be “jolly fun.” Some announced they had developed schemes for using magic to turn a profit. Still others came with more sinister purposes, convinced that they could use magic in obtaining revenge against those who had wronged them.

The three mages realized that by bringing all these people into the Orders, without any attempt to screen out those who would use magic heedlessly or dangerously, they might actually do more harm than good. Their answer was to develop a test that each applicant must pass before being accepted into the Orders. The test would not only judge a wizard’s ability to cast spells, it
would also reveal if the wizard was motivated by dedication to the magic or by purely selfish or sinister reasons. And, in order to further weed out those who were not serious in their pursuit of magic, the wizards decreed that any wizard who wanted to take the Test of Magic must literally be willing to place his or her life on the line. Those who took the Test and failed would die. As Heads
of the Orders had foreseen, this decree caused any number of applicants to rethink whether or not being a wizard was worth risking one’s life.

The decision that mages must demonstrate their dedication to their magic and prove their abilities reduced the number of candidates, but also aroused anger among some of the mages, particularly those of high level, for the Heads of
the Orders stated that all applicants were required to take the Test, no matter what one’s rank or standing. Several powerful wizards were incensed and insulted and refused to join the Orders, instead choosing to become renegades. These renegades banded together and, for a time, plotted against the new Orders, hoping to bring them down. The Orders were backed by the
Gods of Magic, however, and proved to be strong and enduring. The renegades soon found that life as an outsider was difficult and dangerous. Most eventually saw the wisdom of joining the Orders.

Records still exist of those early Tests. Compared to those given today, the Tests of that time appear simple and even crude. They were administered by the three Lost Mages, who not only determined a candidate’s worthiness, but also decided which Order a candidate should join.

As the years passed, the Test has evolved, with more wizards participating in giving the Tests, and the Tests becoming more complex and more accurate in their assessment of candidates. The Tests given today remain true to the principles of their founding. They are used to discover if a candidate is skilled in magic, if a candidate is willing to give his life for the arcane art, and to
teach the candidate to know more about himself, his own thoughts, dreams, and desires.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

The three Orders come together to create a Test for a new candidate. Using many magical tools at their disposal, the wizards giving the Test learn intimate details about the wizard to be tested. Looking into the past, the archmages view some of the incidents
that shaped the candidate during childhood. They peer into dreams, and learn secrets that the potential mage will not admit to anyone. Though some might view this as an invasion of privacy, such scrutiny is an important step in crafting a Test that is personal, challenging, and unforgettable.

Wizards who agree to take the Test are given to know that such an investigation into their private lives is going to be undertaken and may choose not to proceed with the Test.

Goals of a Test

The overriding goal of the Test of High Sorcery is to assure that wizards who will be given access to powerful arcane spells are serious about the practice of magic and will use it responsibly.

A supplicant mage taking the Test risks his life in doing so, and thereby pledges his life to the practice of magic and the Orders of High Sorcery.

The inherent risk involved in the testing process serves a simple principle: anyone wishing to learn more advanced spells must take the responsibility seriously enough to stake his life on the chance to attain such power. A student mage is given many chances to opt out before the Test begins — even at the last moment — because, once begun, failure means death.

Families, friends, and loved ones often beg a young wizard to give up the pursuit of magic for this reason. Many potentially brilliant members of the Order abandon their goals due to such pressure, remaining life-long practitioners of only minor spells. But the call of ambition and eldritch power are very seductive, and the truly determined answer the call despite the risks.

Another important aspect of the Test is the moral choices it presents to the wizard. A mage who survives the Test will wear the white, red, or black robes and be a full member of the respective Order, aligned with a moon and God of Magic. The Test offers a number of potential paths that examine the mage’s psyche and lays out many difficult choices. Does the mage think of others
before himself? Do power and ambition mean more than love and family? Or does the mage commit to neither good nor evil, walking a path of balance between light and dark? These questions are answered during the Test, and define the wizard’s place within the Orders of High Sorcery.

A fundamental part of the Test that is often overlooked is the simple examination of the wizard’s magical skills. Knowledge of the language of magic is important, as are understanding spell components and learning how to fi nd components in difficult situations, as well as general arcane lore.

Most mages will have to cast every spell they know, with special situations set up in which the creative use of magic can make the difference between life and death. Some Tests also investigate a wizard’s knowledge of magical creatures and those with
magical abilities.

Running counterpart to a spellcaster’s magical expertise is the ability to solve problems and situations without the use of magic. The Orders of High Sorcery understand that not every problem can be solved with a spell, and that a candidate should demonstrate common sense and resourcefulness. A wizard should always prepare for the situation when he has cast his last spell, and
should conserve his magic for use in emergencies.

Structure of a Test

One of the most important functions of the Conclave of Wizards is the creation of Tests for potential mages. Each Test is highly individual and tailor-made for the person involved, drawing on his past, present, and potential future. However, there are some fundamental building elements common to all Tests.

• A Test is rigorous and dangerous. Failure means death
.
• Every Test presents at least three challenges that examine a mage’s knowledge and use of magic. During these challenges, the wizard must generally cast every spell he knows.

• A Test includes at least three perils or tasks that cannot be solved through magic alone.

• In a Test, a wizard must face at least one confrontation with a known ally.

• All Tests involve the mage in solo combat with a highly dangerous foe.

Another important concept in the structure of a Test is the trinity. Past, present, and future; good, evil, neutrality; twilight, night, dawn — these are just some of the symbolic trinities that have been used to create the basic structure of a Test.

Sometimes the use of these concepts or symbols is quite obvious, while many times they are so subtle that the wizard never realizes they were a basic element in his Testing.

The trials for a wizard are constructed so that there is opportunity for rest and study between the parts of the Test that present significant danger. Often these safe havens are familiar places drawn from the spellcaster’s own memory — an old home, a local inn, or a childhood secret hideout. Such sanctuaries allow a mage to heal, find rest, and prepare a new selection of spells. Oftentimes clues are subtly placed within the rest area to guide the individual in his preparation, though these can sometimes be misinterpreted.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Invitation

The Conclave monitors the progress of apprentice and student wizards throughout Ansalon. When these wizards exhibit an ability to use powerful spells, the Conclave issues an invitation to the wizard to journey to the closest active Tower of High Sorcery. (This is almost always the Tower of Wayreth.)

The invitation might be in a letter delivered by a magical messenger, a recurring dream sent via the power of magic, or personally delivered by a member of the Conclave.

A character with the wizard class will generally receive his invitation at 3rd or 4th level, as the Orders feel that spells as powerful as fireball or lightning bolt should not be wielded by those who have not proven themselves worthy and responsible. The initial invitation is formal and courteous, but always includes the warning that the Test is only for potential mages dedicated enough to risk their lives to prove themselves.

If an invitation is refused or ignored, the wizard potentially places himself in danger. If a wizard is content to practice only minor magic (spells of 2nd level and below), then the Conclave has no further interest in him. However, if the character refuses or ignores the invitation and takes additional levels of the wizard class (or a prestige class that raises his effective spellcasting level), then the character is branded a renegade and faces the retribution of the Conclave.


Last edited by DM Evenstar on Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Magical Restrictions While Testing   Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:04 pm

While the wizard is required to use magic as part of the experience of the Test, those administrating the Test also limit use of the magic in order to prevent “cheating” or circumventing challenges. It is important to remember the following:

• A wizard cannot escape the Testing Grounds through use of magic.

• A wizard cannot use magic to transport himself from one area within the Test to another.

• A wizard cannot use magic to contact creatures outside the Test.

• A wizard cannot use magic to summon creatures from Krynn to the Testing Grounds
(though spells that summon creatures from
other planes, such as summon monster, will
work normally).
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PostSubject: Structure of a Test   Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:07 pm

Tests of High Sorcery are unique experiences designed for the wizard being challenged. Yet the shapers of the Tests, those wizards administering the Test, also realized there should be a common structure to serve as a foundation for them all.


Companions:
Though most wizards undertake a Test of High Sorcery on their own, there is no prohibition against taking companions along for the journey. The challenges are adjusted to take into consideration the aid given by other members of the party, and the shapers of the Test always make sure the wizard lives up to the requirements and guidelines set down by the founders of the
Orders. In other words, companions can help, but they can’t take the Test for their friend. It is also worth noting that no one who enters the Testing Grounds is guaranteed a safe return.

Challenge:
A Test is created to be suitably challenging for an initiate, tailored for his current level of power, and taking into account anyone he might bring with him. At least one-third of the encounters should have an Encounter Level +1, which represent more serious dangers that are still manageable.
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