Sunday, 10 February 2019

Wizards: the Brotherhood of the Violet Cloud

The Violet Cloud is a network of lawbreakers with ties to many local crime rings. It also hides a mage cadre of Illusionists, Enchanters and Conjurers. Most street level operatives have no magical skill whatsoever. Part of a series on wizard guilds for Belswick.



("the Brotherhood, the Violet Cloud")

Wizards should ideally limit themselves to making the mill turn or raining death on (other) peasants. What righteous use is there for befuddling a noble’s wits or summoning a demon? For those that look beyond their station, the Violet Cloud offers more interesting teachings. Its Illusionists help thieves and crooked merchants; its Enchanters grease the wheels of Church, State and Market. Assassination is the bread and butter of its Conjurers. Unscrupulous priests, courtiers and traders find more applications for these schools every year.

Thieves Cant and Mist
There are times to paint a huge violet blob on a mark's house to fear them into paying protection money. But more often it's wise to not advertise that one is, in fact, up to no good. Members of the Violet Cloud can learn a thieves' cant of words, signs and even clothing or jewelry that talk volumes about crime. A more specialized version of the cant is Mist, a flowing tongue with ties to no others that wizards can use to cast spells. Mist is mutable and very pleasing to the eye - members often hide it in jewelry, illuminated parchments, tattoos, woodwork, stone carvings and so on.

Densely coded Mist - source

The Call to the Viole(n)t Cloud
The key tool in the Brotherhood’s arsenal is the Violent Cloud, an entity that hurls casters through time and space, whirls the senses and brings servants from strange places. A scribe's error (or failed rebranding) introduced the now popular Violet monniker but the Cloud is no less dangerous for it. Is it a mindless force, a servant spirit or a Warlock Patron playing a long con with an entire magical tradition? Few users care, as long as it provides power.

Most spells of Illusion, Enchantment and Conjuration are variations on the Call to the Violent Cloud (or Teleport), carefully limited and constrained. The Violent Cloud can be careless if not given precise instructions.

It is customary to quote from Jack Vance's Dying Earth at this point:

Turjan found a musty portfolio, turned the heavy pages to the spell the Sage had shown him, the Call to the Violent Cloud. He stared down at the characters and they burned with an urgent power, pressing off the page as if frantic to leave the dark solitude of the book.


The night was wearing on. A blue light wavered in the forest. Turjan watched a moment, then at last squared himself and uttered the Call to the Violent Cloud.  All was quiet; then came a whisper of movement swelling to the roar of great winds. A wisp of white appeared and waxed to a pillar of boiling black smoke. A voice deep and harsh issued from the turbulence.

"At your disturbing power is this instrument come; whence will you go?"
"Four Directions, then One," said Turjan. "Alive must I be brought to Embelyon."

The cloud whirled down; far up and away he was snatched, flung head over heels into incalculable distance.  Four directions was he thrust, then one, and at last a great blow hurled him from the cloud, sprawled him into Embelyon.
Turjan gained his feet and tottered a moment, half-dazed. His senses steadied; he looked about him.
-- Jack Vance - The Dying Earth, Turjan of Miir

Relations and views

Typical gear
If there is one thing a Brother (f/m) must avoid, it is to advertise their membership of the Violet Cloud. They act as members of other classes in any Estate. One option is to pretend to be a Chartered Wizard or a Bard trained by an obscure religious order. Members train in secret, with masters going so far as to always teach in disguise or even wipe selected memories from their students' minds.

Training is one on one (or few) and is done under cover of other activities. It wouldn't do for the Abbott's secretary to be found out as an aspiring Illusionist, now would it? Arcane implements have to be disguised - a rod shaped like a walking stick, an ornamental dagger, a holy amulet that opens to show an arcane rune. Get creative.

Benefits: specialties, spell access and network

  • can train as Conjuration, Enchantment or Illusion specialists.
  • the Brotherhood can source any spell from its specialty schools of levels 1-6, and spell levels 1-2 from other schools. Access is always at a price of money or favors.
  • like the Criminal background, Brothers of the Violet Cloud can find contacts for their illegal deeds in most villages and towns with a few day's effort.

Favors for the Cloud

The Cloud can teach wizards how to cast Cantrip spells without expending magical energy, or provide training as an Enchantment, Illusion or Conjuration specialist. In return, it will require a service.

  • get initial training as a specialty wizard at level 2: roll 1d6
  • perform the rite to cast Cantrips without spending spell slots: roll 2d6
  • learn specialty school features at (level 6,10,14): roll 1d20

  1. pose as a merchant's help to take charge of a delivery
  2. donate a precious magic item to your mentor, value 50 gp * your level
  3. hinder an Augur's scrying of a caravan that we're about to rob
  4. help out in a heist by providing muscle or getaway
  5. fake a demonic possession to keep a Cleric of the Authority occupied
  6. make a deal with forest Outlaws to hide a Brother on the run
  7. the ship's bosun is a stickler for the rules - get him replaced by someone more understanding about hidden compartments
  8. swap the baroness' prize jewel pendant for this violet piece of glass
  9. a local lord is holding a feast - infiltrate and disable a shutter bolt so the burglar brothers have a way
  10. acquire the spellbook of an Unbroken Circle abjurer before his fellows arrive
  11. plant blackmail materials in a courtier's room and have them discovered
  12. a pack of brothers went to crack the Abbey's vault a week ago - find out what happened to them
  13. adventurers are raiding a wizard's lost tomb - we think there's high magic in there. Retrieve it
  14. an Augur wants to stop feeding us info on which ships will be inspected - send them a lesson
  15. the baronet is getting on in years - kidnap his son, demand a ransom. Then offer the next in line to off the boy
  16. the baron likes him some blood sports - go there and summon something that can give him a thrill
  17. we have reason to believe there is a warlock hiding in the ranks - bit too spicy, even for us. Find them out
  18. one of the Alchemists is in surprising good health after drinking Black Lotus. Find out how.
  19. Get the young lord addicted to Green Lotus - you'll need to obtain a pack from a Surya Satrapy courtier first
  20. Sneak this princely gift to the Caliph's envoy so he'll trade genie binding lore with us

More crimes (d6)
  1. Jeweler - swap the prize gems for his masterpiece with lower quality ones
  2. Tax collector - forge his records to make it seem he pocketed a share
  3. Village priest - steal his sheaf of Indulgences
  4. Agents of two feuding noble heirs - steal from both, hide some loot with the other
  5. Raid a wizard's rare component cabinet - trade the wares back for a spell
  6. Alchemists - steal a potion that makes people forget they saw you

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