Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Guild of Dracologists

This article is the third in the guild series. Click here to catch the first one, along with a word explaining how Caldwen's guilds are set up in general, and what academic diplomas are about.

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Dragons both fascinate and terrify. These ancient beasts attract insatiable curiosity from spellcasters wishing to unveil their secrets and own their powers. For some, there is the visceral desire to master such magnificent creatures, to learn from them, or perhaps to protect them. The trouble is that dragons are largely seen as evil monsters in Calidar’s universe. Most are. Rumors of a war between dragons seemed to imply evil ones killed their better kind, or perhaps merely drove them away. This field of study is a riven one, with as many quarrelsome cabals as the colors of dragons. They all teach the same tools of the trade, but with different intents. As a business, dracologists dispense care and knowledge of dragons, advising the military or the wiser mages, or ridding lands plagued by such creatures.

Belledor & Phrydias: This guild aims its sympathies at hypothetical benevolent dragons. It seeks to prove their existence, to facilitate their return to this world, and to banish or fell evil ones if they do not yield to the common good. The guild in Seahollow focuses on gold dragons and seeks to clarify false assumptions about them. Surrounded with mystery, this guild is more powerful than it appears. Information has filtered in from Lao-Kwei during the past century about such wondrous beings. The guild recently set up a legation on that faraway world. A third branch in Phrydias investigates new theories about metallic dragons other than gold. Exceedingly cautious about recruits, these cabals publicize neither their findings nor their members’ identities. A number of Meryath spellcasters have joined this guild.

Caldwen & Nordheim: These dracologists abhor the arrogance and foolishness of slaying dragons. Regardless of ethos, they will protect them in any way they can. Their goals are to respect dragons, gain their trust, learn their secrets, and endeavor to cohabitate for the sake of peace. They keep quiet about their tacit willingness to serve dragons whom they see as the greater race. A main outfit, in Meggidon, focuses on black dragons. Another, in faraway Nordhavn, protects whites. Relatively obscure, other such cabals scattered in the Great Caldera, focus on various other breeds.

Ellyrion & Alfdaín: Ever the military types, Ellyrian dracologists dream of commanding dragons for the sake of power. They see them as invaluable airborne cavalry. All dragons must be subdued or slain, and their eggs seized so hatchlings may be raised to serve the empire. An establishment, in Drakotiris, concerns blue dragons. A rival outfit, in Lathias, specializes in green dragons. There is nothing secret about these cabals as both actively recruit spellcasters. Demeanor is mostly martial. Primary strategic aims are to deny outer world powers access to Dread Lands’ seitha deposits.

Meryath & Osriel: These cabals ostensibly support dragon-slaying expeditions to earn plunder, clues, spell components, precious new magic, and personal glory. The official narrative in Meryath is revenge for the death of Meríon the Great. Its true goal is to acquire knowledge and money to bolster Meryath’s war effort against the Draconic Knights. A major establishment in Meryathon focuses on red dragons. This guild is the best known on Calidar. Its policy is to shamelessly advertise/exaggerate its successes and to create popular heroes in order to attract new members. Guild fees on captured hoards are hefty. “Anything goes” with this rough and tumble bunch. Another guild in Lorical, Osriel, concerns merchant princes, profit, and the sale of components.    (. . .)

The chapter goes on to describe three inner cabals. The Cabal of the Blood accommodates magic-users with Spellcraft Licenses in Invocation and Divination, teaching intuition and empathy between certain dragons and their cabal advocates. The Ritual of the Blood, if it succeeds, gives advocates useful skills to interact with their chosen dragon breeds. The next step, in the Cabal of the Fierce, enables qualified advocates to learn the ropes as thaumaturgists. If the Ritual of Invocation succeeds, it unlocks innate dragon-like powers. Some of you may recall a similar treatment in GAZ3 Principalities of Glantri, and you won't be disappointed. The last cycle, in the Cabal of the Wyrm, "surviving" members learn to master the Ritual of Dedication. If it succeeds, they must select one of several paths defining the nature of their relations with a specific dragon of great power: minion, protector, godfather of the present clutch, or slayer for the sake of Eternal Glory. Each of these cabals presents many dangers in one's quest for perfection, and failure results in dire consequences. Powers are nice, but getting them isn't easy or for the faint hearted. All cabals in Caldwen are similar in this respect.