Compared to the Big Five Factions, the Arcane Brotherhood is relatively small in its size and available resources. Still, they are present for Tyranny of Dragons and Rime of the Frost Maiden to some degree and can offer an alternative to the Zhentarim or Candlekeep for information and resources. This is how they were interpreted during this particular campaign.
Arcane Fellowship / Arcane Brotherhood
The most recent incarnation of the Arcane Fellowship continues to build on a model of a mercantile company under the direction of the mages of the Host Tower. Though centered in Luskan, members can be found across the North and beyond in search of arcane lore, economic opportunity, and to further extend their influence. Mages from across Faerun seek to join them to gain access to its immense store of arcane lore, but few are recruited for membership.
There is an appearance of altruism in their efforts to rebuild Luskan, eradicating undead from the Host Tower, and defending at least one dragon attack, but there are many still suspicious of them. The Order of the Gauntlet believes them to be reckless in their pursuit of dangerous or evil magic. The Lord’s Alliance has accused them meddling in the politics of cities beyond Luskan, including Neverwinter and Baldur’s Gate. To the Zhentarim, the Arcane Fellowship represents a rival and a potential usurper in the North. A recent expedition to the Icewind Dales has the locals wary of these mages questing after a fallen city of Netheril and the secrets of dragons.
- Power over the North through trade and political influence
- Seek out arcane items and lore to add to the Host Tower
- Preserve the mysteries of the Host Tower from outsiders
- It is through the mastery of the arcane that we master ourselves and the world around us.
- More is to be gained from recruiting rivals than be confronting them
- You cannot truly understand magic without putting it into action.
- What magic cannot control, wealth can influence.
|1 – Initiate||Initiate of the Unknown|
|2 – Agent||Student of the Mystery|
|3 – Stalwart||Scholar of the Hidden|
|4 – Mentor||Master of the Secrets|
|5 – Exemplar||Overwizard of the Tower|
Individual members of this Faction refer to themselves ‘Arcanists’ across the ranks. An Initiate who shows promise is apprenticed to a Master. Upon achieving some measure of success, the Student graduates to Scholar and is welcome to freely pursue their own projects. Customarily they will take a personal a mage name, often a color or characteristic like “Maccath the Crimson” or “Kaladar the Cruel” when they achieve the rank of Scholar. Masters have several responsibilities beyond research and are usually associated with one of the four Towers and its associated Overwizards. There have traditionally only been four Overwizards active at any time, creating even greater rivalry within. The Archmage Arcane oversees the entire of the Host Tower, but typically are focused on their own pursuits.
The mercantile side of the Fellowship are better recognized by their function than by rank, such as the Master of the Seas who is responsible for trade ships, Warder of the Mace who oversees the martial defenders of their endeavors, and the Master of Ravens who co-ordinates long distance communications.
Arcanists come from diverse backgrounds and magical traditions, but all demonstrate some degree of ambition coupled with a hunger for further knowledge. Those few chosen from the many who petition the Fellowship are sworn to keep the mysteries of the Host Tower as secret,. The roots of the Host Tower run deep through history and even the more recent regrowth of it continues to baffle outsiders. If the Overwizards have learned any of these secrets, they certainly are not sharing that knowledge with others.
Despite being centered at the Host Tower, Arcanists are frequently found journeying far afield in pursuit of rumoured artifacts and hidden lore. They often style themselves as archeologists of the unknown, but some consider them little more than scavengers of a past they do not understand except for what power it may to them. The truth lies somewhere in between, as their efforts to gather arcane lore and items and outshine their fellows sometimes approach deadly recklessness.
It is practically unheard of for any member to not have at least one or more rivals within the Faction. Some are friendlier than others while a handful are barely restrained from use lethal measures. It is seen as a lack of personal mastery to outright kill a rival and as downright treasonous to act in such a way that puts the Host Tower at risk.
Members can seek additional training in the following proficiencies:
- Languages: Exotic
- Proficiencies: Arcana, Investigation
- Tools: Alchemy supplies, Navigation tools
- https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Arcane_Brotherhood includes a fairly detailed history of the Arcane Brotherhood
- Icewind Dale – Rime of the Frost Maiden has a description of the organization under the NPCs section
- Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide has a couple of paragraphs under the entry for Luskan
- Tyranny of Dragons & Factions pt. 1
- Tyranny of Dragons & Factions pt. 2
- Tyranny of Dragons & Factions pt. 3
After reading up on various official entries on the Arcane Brotherhood, the overall feel I picked up was somewhere between the Freemasons and an Oxford style college. They have a headquarters steeped in mystery, an ambition similar to the Zhentarim but flavoured towards control rather than personal power, and a well-established internal dynamic of masters with apprentices and of recruiting rivals. In many ways, they sounded like a less benevolent shadow to the Harpers or Candlekeep. There’s plenty of potential in various esoteric sounding titles to follow in the style of Archmage Arcane and Overwizards, both for faction ranks and for specific positions within the organizations. Finally, the Host Tower has an aura of mystery with its past and rebirth and the allusions to further secrets within.
We had a discussion at our table about the using ‘Fellowship’ instead of ‘Brotherhood’ as almost all the Arcanist NPCs they had encountered were female (Maccath the Crimson from ToD and Vellyne Harpell from RotFM). For the story, we did the name change as a reflection of this new incarnation of the group that recognized the legacy of the Host Tower but distanced from the sordid history of liches and more overt attempts at domination of the North.