A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Mages’ Guilds

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now . . .

Mage’s Guilds

Mage’s Guilds are part of the culture of Telvaren and the human worlds that are so historical, so commonplace, that no one remarks on them. They’re a part of life, like rain, if rain wore funny outfits and threw spells around

Historically, there have been Mage’s Guilds since various witches, wizards, sorcerers, and alchemists decided it was time to get organized, support each other, and outrun the occasional mob. Some Guilds trace their history back for thousands of years, though as the term “Guild” is a catch-all term for magely organizations, the modern Guilds are often removed from their historical counterparts. Except for historians, this is often of little concern in day-to-day life.

Mages usually enter guilds after formal education, usually the university level. Though there is often some experimentation in career, the majority stay with their Guild, and after five years some ninety percent stay with the Guild they are part of at the time – if that guild is still in business. Choosing a guild is obviously important, and modern career counselors do their best to keep up on them.

Guilds all have their own uniform, color scheme, and logo or badge to make them stand out. As there are a huge number of Guilds, this means that except for truly noteable ones (or stylish ones) people can mix up mages between guilds. It also means any hopeful new guilds will inevitably make style decisions that either conflict with known guilds, or look horrible.

The Guilds provide a large amount of services to their members that, if they choose to, cover almost all of their life needs. There is housing assistance, dining, job placement, training, and retirement benefits. Once a mage is in a Guild, barring any extreme behaivor (well, extreme for a mage), their life is defined if they so wish.

This is unfortunately not just due to convenience or social consciousness, but because to not belabor the point, most magical practitioners are a bit “off” or eccentric. They have radically different life experiences, they wield great forces, and they have to twist their minds into convoluted shapes to bend reality. The Guild ensures full support, and in a few cases, just makes sure no one does anything dumb and destructive.

By ancient agreement and modern politics, all teachers of magic and related professions are approved by a Guild – which of course provides various Universities with a reliable certification program. Some guilds with a teaching or investigative focus, like Phoenix Ascendant, certify non-mages in various historical and technical practices related to magic.

All mages are required to wear their guild colors and badge at all times to identify themselves. This allows people to know when a magic-user walks among them, and to respond accordingly. Though this has meant mages are now fully recognizable as a class of uniformed professionals, this casualness was hard-won over the last few hundred years. Because mages are seen as everyday citizens, Guilds go to great lengths to make sure no one upsets their golden apple cart.

Due to politics, personal preference, and the occasional collapse of Guilds, some mages loose their Guild status. These mages are required to register at a local University magic department. They dress in gray and are known as “unguilded.”

A mage that repeatedly does not identify themselves can be subjected to various sanctions, from expulsion to Guildmarking or Branding – magical tatoos on the face to make their magical nature unhideable. Some mages do this anyway to look impressive since they get to choose the style.
In some cases, Mages may belong to more than one guild; there are a slew of minor specialist guilds. Other guilds also sponsor spinoff or new guilds, often to expand their own power or deal with divisions in their own ranks.

Guilds are regulated by a council where each Guild of a certain size is represented. In theory guild population and seniority decide the votes each Guild has. It’s not that easy, and Mage politics are often quite underhanded and border on the bizarre.

The following is a list of noteworthy guilds:

Abiding Herald

The Guild of diviners, researchers, seekers, analyzers. Abiding Herald is a small but powerful and respected guild known for it’s knowledge and high standards. Despite these standard (or because of them) It’s a surprisingly relaxed guild – getting in is a mark of honor and the guild is mostly free of politics if only for its small size. If you’re in, you’re family.

Abiding Herald’s members wear black and silver. Their logo is a stylized eye, and because of it’s simplicity other guilds are jealous.

Celestial Foundation

The largest Magician’s Guild by a hair, and respected member of the Guild Council. Celestial Foundation has a well-earned reputation, but is very bureaucratic This is because many members end up managing its interests which include property, money, and more. It does produce and attract talented mages, but is riven with internal politics which has caused it not just to stagnate, but to slowly begin a decline.

Members of Celestial Foundation wear blue with gold details as well as blue hats or caps. They tend to wear blue jackets. Their logo is a four-pointed star on a horizon. They are always impeccably dressed and polite, and in “higher society” have a reputation for being charming.

Cerulean Compass

Cerulean Compass is a generalist guid of mages that is also one of the oldest – but not as old as Celestial Foundation. They have an emphasis on developing skills outside of straight-up magic and thus have an educated (and surprisingly functional) group of members.

Cerulean Compass openly sponsors new guilds as a way of cultivating power and keeping the world of magic shaken up.

Cerulean Compass outfits are blue and their logo – unsurprisingly – is a compass.

Crystal Tapestry

The guild of Illusionists. Crystal Tapestry has a long history, but is relatively small and thus has little say in the Council. They are big on ethics, proper practice – and kind of need to be considering what they do.

The guild itself is more a professional association like a union – focusing more on activism and training as illusionists easily find employment. Most work in the military/intelligence, entertainment, law enforcement – some are secondary guildsmenbers in other guilds.

Crystal Tapestry members wear white robes. Their badge is a black point radiating red, yellow, blue, and green lines.

Crimson Cornerstone

Crimson Cornerstone are construction-mages, specializing in working stone and metal and the like for buildings, repair, and recovery. They take great pride in their work, and have developed a strong presence on Gellitar as well as Telvaren.

They employ a large amount of specialty mages – those using only one form of magic. Many guilds look down on “level one” mages, but this GUild prefers specialists for some areas of work.

Members wear black and red, and shoulderpads fit prominently into guild robe designs. Their logo is a black cube on red.

Mirror Mountain

A relatively new and fast-growing Guild, Mirror Mountain is a generalist guild that openly challenges many of the older ones – mostly Celestial Foundation. Because of their willingness to do so, other guilds back them at least temporarily.

Mirror Mountain members wear vibrant purple robes with black highlights, their logo is a triangle-and-eye logo.

Obsidian Moon

Obsidian Moon is a Guild of Necromancers operating in the east of Telvaren, usually among Grand Ivar, Brightguard, Allanax and Kalstaff. They are a straightforward guild, focused on practice of their craft, and have little time for politics.

As they often have little time for social skills, they have taken to outsourcing certain delicate tasks to other guilds.

Members of Obsidian Moon wear black and purple. Their logo is a three-faced skull.

Phoenix Ascendant

Phoenix Ascendant is the guild of Reclimators and Reliquers, those that seek old technology, unusual technology, and reclaim it or defuse it. It is a respected, if workmanlike guild that attracts mostly practical mages and some suicidlaly weird ones the former keep in line. It is not a glamorous guild, but it is respected – and often wealthier than people expect.

Phoenix Ascendant keeps a large selection of scientists, historians, technics, and more on hand and certifies them as well. They are extended full Guild benefits upon becoming full members, aka a Signed Technic or Member.

Members of Phoenix Ascendant wear red wraps or robes with some gold trim, but usually its sober. A flame logo like a wing is their mark.

Radiant Visage

Radiant Visage is a guild that deals with rogue mages, magical dangers, and unusual monstrosities. They are the Telvaren branch of Silent Mask, when the guild split apart centuries ago.

Members of Radiant Visage wear light gray and gold, and wear masks that cover their upper faces when on the field.

Silent Mask

Silent Mask is a guild of exorcists, Demon Fighters, monster-fighters and at times trackers of rogue mages and magical experiments. Silent masc split from Radiant Visage some 2-300 years ago, and they are only found on the worlds of Gellitar and Telvaren.

They are known as a ruthless and at times fanatical guild, and they have an unpleasant rivalry with Radiant Visage. They also cross paths with Phoenix Ascendant.

Their outfits are always white and a mask is always involved, with various faces drawn in black – the faces tell something of their ranks. High-ranking members may have additional details in red and gold, while truly high ranking ones have blank masks.

Splendid Sunset

Splendid Sunset is a very “modern” Necromancer Guild operating out of Grand Ivar and Allanax. They specialize in raising the dead and contacting the dead for forensic and personal reasons.
They were founded by several other guilds some hundred years ago as a way to develop a team of Necromantic professionals with actual social skills, and to settle conflicts over “proper” use of Necromancy. It was easy to shut off people who seemed a bit too sensitive about the whole dealing-with-the-dead thing at the time.

Splendid Sunset’s members are trained in therapy, in speaking, and in etiquette as well as necromancy. Depending on your situation they are thus welcome and comforting or terrifyingly friendly. Other Guilds have found themselves outsourcing important tasks requiring a human touch as well as death-magic to them because they’re just so good at handling it.

Splendid Sunset members wear yellow and their logo – unsurprisingly – is a sunset. They also are known for fashionable hair and dress and use of makeup.

– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – The Reformation

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now . . .

The Reformation

If the War that scarred Telvaren is remembered as a hideous occurrence, enshrined in history and dramas, The Reformation is viewed proudly – and at times with whimsy. Comedies set during the Reformation are not uncommon.

The Reformation is the name given to the period of time where humanity reassembled itself and civilization on Telvaren and outreach was made to the other worlds. All dates are now reckoned from the start, and thus time is often done as AR (After Reformation) and BR (before reformation).

The Reformation was a seemingly near-endless series of meetings, councils, and committees that solidified the new laws and social policies that would govern the recovering world. Humankind and the gods both took part in the proceedings over the decades.

This was an era of comparative peace, but military conflicts between the remaining smaller nations, regions fallen into chaos, and even Great Cities was not unknown. The Reformation is officially reckoned to have lasted some fifty years, though the major work was accomplished in the first decade – but smaller conflicts over land and military bases and territioes occured for over a century.

War had been shrunk down to a managable, intermittent thing, mostly when City Guard units faced off over some piece of land that people assumed were important, but couldn’t prove why.

The major achievements of the Reformation were, in very rough chronological order.

  • Establishment of a planetary government (well most of the planet – the Unaffiliated Territories weren’t invited) run by an elected Parliament, represented by population for the most part, and a Prime Minister and a set of specialist Ministers elected within the Parliament.
  • Establishing the divisions among the armed forces and peacekeepers. Constables operated within cities and were armed only if needed. City Guard operated within the City Provinces and were armed as well as working on civic works. The Military operated outside the Provinces and on any cross-Province activities – in time this also came to claim most of the Ocean and airspace.
  • Recognition of the importance of the Network and making the technical organization known as the Technmoni the keepers of The Network. Led to the establishment of the Third Network.
  • Recognition of the Bridgers and their role in establishing and maintaining the Bridges.
  • Codification of universal laws shared by all Great Cities (though agreement took decades longer)
  • Moving the Parliament of the Great Cities to Allanax, a former capital of the most powerful nation of the West. Arguably Parliament moved to a city just outside of Allanax, but that didn’t work out considering the living conditions. There was also an attempt to establish it on the Moon, but no one wanted the commute.
  • Adsorption of assorted Knightly groups, warrior cults, and monster-hunting organizations into the Military.
  • Recognition of major Guilds, unions, and other professional organizations (which also helped lend the new Government credibility).
  • Establishing a more organized set of laws and policies for interaction between humans and gods – this also resulted in the recognition of Triad True as the major center of theological activity. Encouraging Warrior cults and groups not interested in becoming part of the Military to form organized Warrior Lodges and to engage in public service. It is apparent, if ignored by many, that the goal was to make them more into sports teams than military groups – and it seems to have succeeded, especially with the product endorsements rolled in.  However it took about fifty or more years.

Within a lifetime, the world saw peace, or if not peace, at least a place where conflict was highly localized so you could call it peace if you squinted. As of moder times, in the era of roughly 250 AR, war is unknown and conflict among Cities is mostly sniping, economic, and competitive.

The reformation’s exact end is not unknown, but is assumed to be between 48 AR and 53 AR. Most people round off at 50 AR and are done with it. History records that it didn’t even get a name for a good fifteen years, and was only named after someone realized there was an ongoing process and filed a petition to name it. Even then the term didn’t on for for another three years.

Because it is so well regarded – and because there were incredible amounts of debate, arguing, negotiation, and strange goings-on – The Reformation is oftern portrayed in a humorous light in popular culture. Several notable comedies are set during the time, and almost always focus on jokes about elaborate argumentation, characters wittily putting each other down civilly, comedies of manners, and bureaucracy. “Reformation-style” comedy refers is sometimes used to refer to humor of this nature generally.

The end of the Reformation is celebrated with the Unity Festival, though for over 200 years the festival’s exact activities and date keep changing because no one quite agreed on what it should be. Fortunately, people still argue about it peaceably – which may be the best way to celebrate the rebuilding of the world.


– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – The War

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now . . .

The War

Few things have shaped recent human history than the complex event simply called The War.

Happening some 300 years before A Bridge To The Quiet Planet, the War was a gigantic geopolitical conflict that lasted some fifty years until the Alliance and the rise of the Great Cities ended it. At the end, a great deal of the planet was war-scarred, 3/4 of the population had died (or in the case of the Lost Continent of Yeen, vanished), and the gods had rethought their role in the world. The start of the Reformation is considered the end of the War, but conflicts dragged on for decades, and inter-Province fighting was not unknown until 100 years ago.

The War to a human of the modern age (about 250, AR – After Reformation) is seen as a singular event in most cases. To scholars and to actual history it was a series of interlinked events; many of these are portrayed in popular media. If one discusses “The Battle of Pemmelock Vale” one discusses distinct events; but in the end to many it just becomes The War.

Discussing The War is made more difficult by the fact that, except for parts of the Unaffiliated Regions, the concept of a Nation has fallen out of use. Thus many people who don’t discuss the War in a scholarly context, or in the case of a specific book or piece of media, the world is usually discussed as battles among regions – The North, The Central Region, The South, etc. Often this obscures the subtle politics of the event, though it’s hard to talk subtelty when cities were flattened and cybernetic dragons terrorized the populatce.

Also, discussing Nations casually is seen as bad luck; some gods weren’t happy with them, wandering spirits of the dead might hear of them, and its terribly impolite.

A citizen of Telvaren or its affiliated worlds would probably describe the War as thus:

Over 300 years ago, the were minor conflicts among the different nations. Though held back my trade, by guilds and churches, and by common sense, they festered. In time, the creation of Bridges shook the world – the chance to reach other worlds provided new territories and thus new conflicts – however there were many old battles and old scars that were the real reason. Soon conflict intensified.

The great power of the Central Region, the Dragon Kingdom asserted itself at this time. The oldest Nation, it wielded magic and technology that was arguably the greatest in the world, from sorceries to dragons altered with metal and crystal. They allied with smaller Nations and decided to enforce a peace – on their terms.

This was not met well by any of their neighbors except nations of The South, who had been locked in their own civil conflict. They were glad to have a stabilizing force, though they also planned to stab the Dragon Kingdom in the back as soon as possible. To be honest, no one ever liked them.

In time, the conflicts exploded, with the Dragon Kingdom deciding to “pacify” its neighbors with it’s forces. Some Nations battled against it, others spread their forces. At this time, the first inklings of the Alliance arose as major metropolitan regions, the centers of commerce and immigration, made attempts to quell the wars. They called upon anicnet guilds and schools and other concerns to help them.

Things all changed when the Northern nations (indeed there was only one major nation, spoken of in whispers as Amallakon) made a push against the Dragon Kingdom with the help of the Confederation of Solu in the East. Much to everyone’s surprise, they won, but the war was bloody and vicious. The North, frightened of the weapons of the Dragon Kingdom, was indiscriminate in their use of armaments – great airpower, missiles, and magic.

It was hoped that was the end of the war, but it was only the beginning. Indeed, the gods themselves who had stayed out of the conflict were horrified – but also could not agree on what to do next. The great War Goddess Boldira had found the fighting honorable if messy, but her children and fellow gods disagreed – and indeed she felt unable to cope with the modern age.  The gods found changes moving too fast for them.

With a power gap, The South, now unified, asserted itself, and quickly became belligerent much to everyone’s surprise. What was unknown at the time was that one of the smaller vassal nations, a center of hight technology but under the thumb of the greater nations, had been manipulating and bribing their way to power. Much to their surprise, they found they had several high-placed officials on their side. However they had also unleashed a wave of corruption and manipulation as their puppets were manipulated by different forces.

At this time, Vasikon Zek, the great experimental city on the sea, withdrew from all the nations sponsoring it. This is regarded as the inspiration to form the Alliance of Great Cities, though it rarely gets the credit for it as they idea had been brewing for some time. Indeed the Alliance would prove crucial because the South and the North came to blows.

With the Central Regions a mess, with the East recovering and the West trying to make peace, the North and South wished to be powers as the powers to order the world. However vicious the North had been, the North had showed some restraint in the weapons used. The South, armed with techno-biological weapons, having focused on making sure any war against them would be devastating, was not so kind.

The South had terrible weaponry, often based on plants. The worst was the Red Willows, infectious spores that, when breahed, quickly grew inside a person, bursting out of their bodies.  The South begant o make belligerant threats.

The North and the growing Alliance ran separately to contain the threat. the North witih threats and displays of their missiles on supposedly uninhabited areas, the Alliance used politics. The growing Alliance, ironically, won – and lost.

Revolutions were fomented against the ruler of the South, who had gone slowly mad and called himself The King Of Green after a famous legendary figure. These were, however erratic and unfocused, as well as bloody – the corruption in his government had led to many interests battling it out, often with propaganda. In time the King committed the most horrific act of the war; fearing deposition, he unleashed the weapons of his country on The South, slaughtering millions.

To this day it is called the Silent South. There are ruined cities filled with plants growing through bones, poisonous weapons left behind, toxic foliage that was weaponized. The only reason demons were not spawned from this horror was it was too deadly even for young demons.

The North’s reaction was simple; it was time to unify the world. Under them. It was not an inarguabe stance, but it was made worse because of divisions among the gods. The Marksman, son of Boldira, Goddess of War, incarnated in physical form to lead the military. he felt he would end this conflict that others could not.  The Young god declared he would unify the world – by force.

The Alliance of Great Cities knew a battle was coming, and wearily assembled the remaining militaries of the world. Tired, scattered, they felt they could resist the North. They wanted peace, but not under the foot of someone else; they had grown weary of Kings and Nations and the like. They proposed a more regional alliance, but the North would not have it.

What could have happened in the final War was often estimated, and it would have likely been decades more of conflict. Except The Marksman, the god in human form, was assastinated – one of his fellow gods had given secrets and advised a legion of human assasins how to disrupt his physical form. It was said it took twenty-five people, none of whom survived, to inflict enough damage for The Marksman to die.

When he died, like all incarnated gods, he greated a great Wound in the world – in the middle of a major miltiary base outside a major city.  The ground twisted, madness struck people, communications were disrupted.

The Alliance’s loosely aligned military was ready. One of the great northern cities, Kalstaff, had joined their alliance and happily provided enormous amounts of military information. The North was bombed, spelled, and blasted into submission in what eventually turned into a bloody campaign of simple rage and fear. Refugees streamed away, many meeting a horrible fate.  In the end, the final battle of the War was as awful as anything else that had happened.

In the end, attempts to make peace were brokered by Boldira, goddess of War. Ashamed, she appeared before the leaders of the gathered armies and a summit she had called. She dropped her weapons, crying red-ruby tears, and whispered secrets to some of the leaders. What she said is unknown, but the war ended.

The Goddess of War, often now called Boldira Repentant, had decided War had to change. But, showing her bravery, so did she. War had to be remade for humanity to survive.

The War had ended as Boldira walked the land, weeping. Her solid tears are sought by her clerics as a sign of faith.

There was much to do. The Alliance gathered, the Twelve Great Cities were recognized. Demons still plagued humanity, feasting on the soul-fragments of the victims until the final battle at Pemmelock Vale when they were cast into the sky to Pandemonium.

But, humanity had won. The gods had won.

It just didn’t feel like a victory.

Thus to this day, people are still recovering from the war. Old spells and ancient technology is unearthed. Secrets are found – and sometimes re-hidden. Scrappers still tear apart devestated cities two centuries later while Delvers dig into hidden places looking for knowledge and treasure. Humanity has ventured slowly outside of the Great Cities, because the Cities were all that was left for long they were reluctant to go forth.


– Steve