The Politics of Witches

The Council of Chancellors

Founded in 10 AD during the reign of Augustus, The Council of Chancellors serves as the administrators of various Colleges of Magic. Each College appoints a Chancellor to sit on the Council, as well as a Vice-Chancellor to assist the Chancellor. Chancellors serve for ten years and are elected by the general membership of the College. In theory, any Rank Three or higher member of a College can seek the Chancellorship. In practice, the position rarely goes to anyone that is not at least Rank Two, and all of the current Chancellors are Rank One. In formal communications, the title of Chancellor is used with the witch’s last name (i.e. Chancellor Parker).

Though The Nine are the ultimate power in the magical world, the Council holds the most “real” power regarding the day-to-day operations of the various colleges.

Archmages

An Archmage is the leader of a guild. Though most witches train privately under a master or with a coven, there are actual guild halls in which formal study takes place. In privately organized Guilds, the Archmage is either the founder of the Guild or someone appointed to the task by the previous Archmage. For College-sponsored Guilds, the Archmage is appointed by the Council of Chancellors. In formal communication, the title of Archmage is used with the witch’s first name (i.e. Archmage Douglas)

Magi

A Magus is the head of a magical school within a College. Magi report to the Chancellors of their respective Colleges, but generally act independently of the College itself. The honorific Magus replaces the witch’s last name in formal communications, and is also commonly used with the formal title from his or her School. (i.e. Warlock Marcus Magus)

The Magi in many ways function like the Deans of different schools within a University. Each Magus works to advance the needs of his or her school, gain resources for members of the school, and design and implement educational programs for the school’s use.

Justicars

Justicars are the official Witch Hunters for the Council. The sole purpose of the Justicars is to deal with rogue witches and supernatural creatures that threaten the Balance. While authorized to use any means necessary to neutralize an immediate threat to the Balance, they are not all-powerful and cannot act with impunity. In formal communications, the title of Justicar is used with the witch’s last name (i.e. Justicar Williams).

Guilds and Rank

Membership in a Guild is not required to be a member of a college. Any witch can send a petition to the Nexus of their chosen college to gain membership. Once the membership is accepted, the witch can visit any college-sponsored guild hall for purposes of research or to take classes, but may find some resources restricted to them.

Joining a college-sponsored guild opens access to more resources, and college-sponsored guilds within College generally provided access to each other’s members.

Rank

Private Guilds are not required to provide access to non-members, but their members also do not gain any of the benefits of from College-sponsored guilds. In addition, while the leader of a Private Guild can use the title of Archmage, in reality the title is merely a formality that doesn’t carry a lot of weight with the larger College body. Further, private guilds do not have the authority to issue Rank Three Trials.

Rank within the colleges indicates a witch’s general level of expertise and power, similar to educational degrees (high school diploma, Associate’s degree, Bachleor’s degree, Master’s degree, PhD.) But to think of it as a strictly linear concept would be too simplistic. Rank is actually a rather complex web of comparative ratings.

For example, a Rank Three Demonlogist would be considered higher rank than a Rank Three Evoker, even though Demonology is a specialized school within the College of Evocation. A Rank Four Illusionist who earned rank from a Private Guild would be considered lower rank than a Rank Four Illusionist who earned rank from a College-approved guild.

And, in truth, in many ways Rank is more a function of the magical bureaucracy than actual power. There are plenty of apprentices that possess more raw magical talent than their mentors, but have a lower rank simply because they never bothered to apply for it. Rank is a way to gain political power within a College, as well as gain access to otherwise restricted research and resources. But because it also requires a commitment to study to pass the trials, it is a fair general indicator of how much magical ability a witch possesses.

Gaining Rank

Any member in good standing with a College can apply to take the Rank Five Trials. The nature of these trials varies from college to college. The Colleges of High Magic tend to have rather intense written exams designed to determine the witch’s understanding of the basic elements of the craft. The Colleges of Expanded Studies tend to have less stringent Rank Five trials, generally as simple as a basic demonstration of magical talent.

Individual Schools can grant rank separately from the Colleges. The only significant difference between gaining rank in a College versus a specialized school is that the Magus of the school must approve the witch’s application. If the witch is an apprentice to an existing member of the school, this is practically guaranteed. In many cases, the actual Rank Five trial itself will be identical to the College’s trial.

A Witch needs to pass the Rank Five trials to gain access to WitchNet, the online resource for the magical community.

Achieving Rank Four is a similar process. Earning Rank Four earns the Witch additional access to resources from Guild halls and WitchNet.

Achieving Rank Three rank and beyond requires membership in a College-Approved Guild, as the trial must be approved by an Archmage appointed by the Council. In the case of schools, the Magus of the school must also approve the trial.

To take the Rank Two Trials, the witch much petition the Chancellor of the College directly or, the case of a school, the Magus of the school. A Magus will almost always confer with the Chancellor first before approving a petition.

Rank One is granted by the Nine. While a witch can theoretically petition for the rank through the Lord Advocate, in reality most witches are granted Rank One after some unique set of circumstances that caught the attention of the Nine.

Creative Commons License
The Politics of Witches by Julie Ann Dawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The Nine

The Nine represent the supreme leaders of the magical community, yet almost nothing is known about them. The Nine are never referred to by name (because nobody is even sure what their names are). They are instead referred to by number based on which school they represent. First of the Nine, for example, refers to the Nine responsible for the College of Conjuration. Ninth of the Nine refers to the Nine responsible for the College of Technomancy. The Nine only rarely involve themselves in the day-to-day affairs of the magical community.

Even the origins of the Nine are a mystery to most magic users. The earliest records of their existence are found in ancient Babylon, where they were first referred to as the Five Pillars of Heaven (the original five colleges of magic). One scroll hints that the original Five were the highest ranking Bare among the Babylonian priesthood, one representing each of the five Supreme gods of Ishtar, Marduk, Nabu, Ninurta, and Nergul. But there is no known corroborating evidence to support this.

Despite the fact that almost nobody knows who these individuals are, their existence and authority is rarely questioned. This blind acceptance may be, in part, due to the fact that they mostly leave the magical community alone. The Nine will impose their authority only in situations that threaten the entire magical community. Their “hands off” leadership approach makes it easy to accept them.

Advocates

Each of the Nine has an Advocate. The Advocate conducts business between The Nine and the Council of Chancellors. Though they prefer to work through indirect channels, they will directly communicate with a witch on pressing matters if doing so is the most efficient method of obtaining information. Advocates are always Rank One members of their College.
Advocates are rarely addressed by their names. Instead, they are referred to with the honorific Lord Advocate or Madame Advocate.

Unlike the Nine, the Advocates identities are well known, and they can be reached even by low-ranking witches in a crisis (though it had better be a real crisis). Advocates spend most of their time at their College’s Nexus.

The Esteemed

The Esteemed are paranormal beings who serve the Nine. It is unclear exactly WHAT The Esteemed actually are. The Esteemed are not affected by spells and powers that normally affect otherworldly entities and routinely circumvent wards designed to block even the most powerful of demons and fae. All that is known for sure is that they are the unwavering servants of the Nine, and have a vast array of peculiar powers. The Esteemed do not have individual names insofar as anyone knows, and are simply referred to as Esteemed when addressed.

When an Esteemed appears, it normally appears as a ball of translucent light. They can communicate in any language and telepathically manipulate physical objects in their vicinity. The Esteemed act independently of the Advocates and are often sent out on pet projects or investigative missions for their masters.

Creative Commons License
The Nine by Julie Ann Dawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.