Heroes of Hillsfar
Mages' Guild of Hillsfar
The Mages Guild in Hillsfar is located near the center of the city, where it has stood for centuries. The guild building is a large tapered tower of nine stories – one story for each plateau of magic. The interior of the tower is larger than the exterior, and arranged in a hierarchical manner, such that the ground floor has the most general, public areas, and the ninth floor is for privileged members and the guild council. Each floor has a library and commons area, a number of useful magical items available to members, and magical gateways to all other floors. Most floors have special areas as well, such as the registration desk on the ground floor, the council chambers on the ninth floor, and dimensionally disparate cogitation rooms on the fifth floor, where spells may be cast without the possibility of damaging the guild, and masters may instruct students more freely.
While one of the draws of the guild for novices has always been the possibility of finding someone to study under, it was not until recently that formal classes for young aspirants were offered. Under the influence of the Zhentarim, not to mention the heavy hand of Lord Maalthiir, such a thing would not have been possible.
Membership of the guild is relatively easy to obtain. An applicant must register his name, have a sponsor (who need not necessarily be a member provided the person is in otherwise good standing with the guild), and pay a modest yearly due. This grants access to the libraries and items on floors appropriate to the member’s skill level, and entitles him or her to attend guild functions.
Persons enrolled in classes thru the guild are not automatically members.
All types of spell casters from all spheres of magic are welcome at the guild, which is explicitly considered neutral territory. Swift and severe repercussions follow any breach of this tenet, and, knowing what company frequents the tower, infractions have been few and far between.
With the air of neutrality in mind, it is nonetheless customary for guild members to wear a particular color prominently on their outfit to signify their general outlook on life. This has broken down to white for “good,” black for “evil,” and red for neutrality. Additionally, novices (those who have not yet surpassed the fifth plateau of insight) are expected to wear grey, and it is encouraged for members to wear a symbol of some kind to indicate their preferred sphere of magical study. This is an informal but near-universally practised guideline, but only expected at official guild functions.
The makeup of the guild council in its current form is a direct extension of this tradition. The council members number nine of the most experienced and/or respected members of the guild, three of each from those who wear the white robes, red robes, and black robes. This endeavor to keep the guild, its goals and structure, in balance has worked remarkably well.
Much like his predecessor, Nash Sorinius, master of the Mages’ Guild of Hillsfar, sees First Lord Torin Nomerthal as a ruining influence on the city. Rather than just making certain that The First Lord doesn’t crush them, the Guild’s mission has now expanded to include actually overthrowing the cruel lord. Nash and his colleagues not only train new wizards in the arts of magic but also mould their minds to be rebellious to the First Lord.
If there is a good faction in Hillsfar, it’s the Mages’ Guild. Although preservation of wizards and the freedom to practice magic is always high on the Guild’s agenda (and was in fact the original reason the organization was founded), the liberation of Hillsfar from the Torin Nomerthal’s rule is increasingly viewed by all members as a necessity.
The Test of High Sorcery
At any time after attaining the seventh Plateau of Insight, a member may petition the council to take the Test of High Sorcery. If the petition is granted (and it is rarely not), the mage becomes a focus of a very secretive ritual, and is subjected to a very challenging test of trials unique to the individual. Every test is different, and the events which take place are rarely shared with others. There are no official penalties for failure, but the Tests are of such a nature that a poor enough performance generally means death. For this reason, not everyone attempts the Test, and it is not a mandate.
Whatever occurs during the Test, come success or failure, is unique to the individual.
For example, Archmagus Nash Sorinius, current leader of the Guild who took his Test in the Year of the Shield, 1367 DR, passed but was not free of negative consequences. He bears arcane disfigurement in the form of discoloration across his body – a sort of arcane scar – which streaks his skin and hair with silver, and has altered his pupils to be silver. He maintains an illusion over his person to conceal this appearance.
Were this a widely known fact, he would be considered to have gotten off lucky.
Success in the test earns the member the title of Magus, not just within the guild but recognized throughout Faerun. It is also considered an important requisite of earning the title of Archmage, though this is something of an ad hoc perception.
Members of Note
Many prominent mages from throughout the Realms can be seen in the tower from time to time, including Elminster, Volothamp Geddarm, and a certain famous floating head.