Friday Lore Post: Wizard Hierarchy

Unlike hereditary magic users, wizards are not born with a family structure in place to take care of them when their magic manifests. Unlike mages, there does not exist (at least on Menechit) a dedicated training school to educate them in power. Wizards are instead educated in one-on-one apprenticeships that last several years and have a few layers of hierarchy in them.

First, some history. There used to be a wizards’ academy on Menechit—in fact, there used to be two. They cooperated and were rivals to the mages’ academy, but, weakened by their participation in the Flame War, they were ultimately destroyed in the war started by Dorothy Highquail in DN 540, when they chose to support the would-be deathless queen in her bid to claim the throne. The subsequent outlawing of necromancy tarred the reputation to the Tangential Schools, which were never able to rebuild after the war.

Wizards now are not trained in schools, at least not in Menechit, for what was once a punishment is now a tradition, and they tend to view the mages’ academy with skepticism. When a child of magical talent is found, usually by mages as they are the ones with the apparatus to search for them, the child is handed over to the nearest wizard for training as an apprentice.

Wizard apprenticeships progress through three stages over a period of six to ten years. The first stage is initiate stage, during which the new wizard is taught the basics of magic and the various other fundamentals. This stage of training can last three to five years, depending on the talent of the initiate. When the mentor determines the student is ready, the initiate wizard will take an initiate exam, and passing will allow them to move onto the second stage, the apprentice phase. Though in-training wizards are always colloquially called apprentices, those in the apprentice phase, which can last another two to four years, are higher-level students who have mastered the fundamentals and are considered capable of performing their own work and their own research. They are allowed to request materials from other wizards and may sometimes be asked to supervise initiates early in their training, under the general supervision of a fully-trained wizard.

When the master wizard determines the pupil ready, the apprentice’s exam will be written, and once passed, the apprentice will become a journeyman wizard. These are essentially fully-trained wizards who will still, for a year or two, operate under the auspices of their teacher as a probationary measure. They often live on their own and conduct their own work, but they are expected make reports to their teacher frequently and take suggestions and criticism, and they cannot yet take on their own apprentices. Only once a final exam is completed are wizards considered fully trained and able to do as they please.

Exams are not proctored by the apprentice’s teacher, but by a group of wizards chosen by the Circle of Wizards. The Circle is the governing body of wizards, a rotating group of practitioners who will sit on a ruling council for five years at a time, making decisions that affect wizardkind. These decisions by and large pertain to the training of new wizards, though they also send emissaries to the sitting monarch in Kyaine. Occasionally Dolovin monarchs have had a Circle wizard as an advisor, but this is far less common as the mages’ academy is so close to them. Nobles may also petition to have a wizard as an advisor, though most do not do this. The Circle therefore often has little to do unless there is a disaster that needs magical help, or some other major crisis. They do have more of a presence in Kyaine than Dolovai, as mages are all sent to Dolovai to train, and therefore are less common in the south.

The exams themselves consist of a full-day written exam and a full-day practical exam for initiates, three days of written and then a week of practical testing for apprentices, and for journeymen, a treatise-length written test that must be handed it at the beginning, and a practical demonstration of one’s power lasting a full month of observation in the wizard’s place of residence. All exams are proctored by at least three members of the Circle. The mentoring wizard will be there but may not take part in the assessment. Fully half of wizards fail their exams on the first try, though very few journeymen fail. It is a very rare wizard who reports having never failed an exam, and failure of one part constitutes failure of the whole exam.

Apprentices at all levels are expected to assist their teachers in their work and research, even once they’ve started doing their own. Lineages have formed as a result of this, as a wizard trained by a healer is likely to go on and become a healer who trains other healers, and so forth, and it’s not uncommon for those in a lineage to take their masters’ surnames. But teachers are also expected to modify their training to suit the strengths of their pupil. A wizard may have several apprentices at once. It is rare, however, to see a wizard with more than two or three. Some wizards, of course, are more or less likely to take on apprentices at all and may pass them on to teachers they feel are more suited. The typical wizard will have between five and twenty apprentices over his or her lifetime.

Once graduated from training, there remain levels of hierarchy between wizards. There are regular wizards, which most wizards are, master wizards, and high wizards. The distinctions between these three classes of wizard are primarily based on power and contributions to both knowledge and society, as well as the number of students one has mentored. Informally, wizards generally are expected to defer to those older than them. Those wizards sitting on the Circle are not exempt from this, though they do tend to be afforded more respect than others.

Some have questioned whether all this hierarchy is really necessary. When probed about this, the Circle will point out that while there have been dozens of examples of renegade mages over the centuries, the number of wizards who have gone rogue is relatively small, which they attribute to greater oversight. It is very difficult for a wizard to get away with much, because even when they are done training, the hierarchies in place make sure that they are never completely unobserved. It is in this way that the wizards of Menechit have survived for centuries and it is in this way that they plan to do so.

From “The Definitive Atlas of the World, Vol. 3: Institutions and Organizations,” by Pascal Tiberius Naoton Quimbell Haeverine anNatalie, published in White Cape in DN 1997, with thanks from the author to Ignatius Harrow for his editorial assistance.

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