Having been advised by Loremasters Teclis and Finreir, Emperor Magnus knew all magic came from the same nightmare void as the Daemon Gods of Chaos — just as he had been told throughout his Sigmarite upbringing. But Magnus also realised that just as human spellcasters had proven useful on the battlefield against the servants of Chaos, they could also aid the Empire in far more profound and long-term ways if they were trained well enough and watched closely by other authorities.
A few months after his return to Nuln from Kislev and his victory over the Forces of Chaos, Emperor Magnus ratified and made law in the presence of all the surviving Electors his wartime decree that had lifted the ban on the controlled use of magic and the practice of spellcraft. Though there was some resistance to his decision, particularly from the Grand Theogonist of the Sigmarite Cult and the High Priest of the Cult of Ulric, all protestations were swept aside and the law was passed through Magnus’ powers of persuasion, force of will, and his political influence in the wake of his stunning military success against the blasphemous Northern Hordes.
The Imperial Colleges of Magic were formally created in 2304 IC, as part of Magnus’ sweeping reforms to Imperial Law. To free the Colleges to study and use magic, while also keep all the Empire’s new Wizards under his control, Magnus drafted and passed (with the guidance and advice of Teclis, the Theogonist, the Ar-Ulric, and several respected nobles and generals of the Empire), the Articles of Imperial Magic. These Articles defined the foundation of the Imperial Colleges of Magic that would garner the Empire with highly trained and dependable Magisters who were sworn to defend it if need be. The Articles also re-instated a partial ban on magic by defining anyone not a member of one of the new Colleges found wilfully using magic to be a “practitioner of dire witcheries” and stating they should be exiled or put to death for the good of all.
The Articles granted the Magisters of the newly formed Colleges “permission to perform magical research and practice thaumaturgy (magic) for the good of the Empire and within its bounds and territories.” The Articles were binding to all Imperial authorities as well as the Colleges, and any illegal or unprovoked attack against the Colleges (though not necessarily individual Magisters) was also to be considered an attack upon the Emperor himself and, therefore, treasonous. Yet the laws and rules of the Articles were even more binding to the initiates to the Imperial Colleges, who would have to adhere to all of them under pain of death — and if an entire College broke with them, that College’s right to exist and practice magic would be revoked.
There are many more Articles in addition to those listed above, including restrictions on how much political power a Magister may acquire, what positions of state authority they can occupy, and under what circumstances. The Articles also list such matters as appropriate conduct for Magisters and their apprentices within everyday society.
There are many grey areas in the Articles of Imperial Magic that have been exploited by both the Colleges and the Witch Hunters across the last two centuries to the benefit and detriment of both of these great power-blocks. Debates as to the exact definition of “good reason” as referenced in article 6 and “favourably” in article 8 are both good examples of the loose meaning of the Articles. Some Magisters have found themselves in considerable trouble for using magic to light a taper in a public place, while others have got away with turning down a request from an Elector on the basis that they have offered what they deemed a “favourable” alternative, which the requesting Elector did not view as satisfactory.
It seems unlikely that a shrewd and politically engaged leader like Magnus the Pious would fail to see the flaws and limitations in the Articles he drafted. There is some debate as to whether ambiguity came into the document as a result of continuous constitutional and political wrangling between the numerous powerbases of the time, or whether Magnus had intended for there to be some flexibility in the interpretation of the Articles, to assure that no one group could monopolise power or authority after his death.
For example, Magnus also both reaffirmed and limited in the Articles of the so-called Obsidian Edict of 2004 I.C. in which the Cult of Sigmar claimed the sacred duty of hunting down and wiping out witchcraft, necromancy, daemonology, sorcery, and Chaos-worship in the Empire. It was reaffirmed in the sense that Witch Hunters were acknowledged as a social force — possessing a prime mandate to track down, try in a court of law, and even execute Witches, Warlocks, Necromancers, mutants, Chaos worshippers, and other renegades, but they were forbidden from pursuing sanctioned Magisters of the Orders of Magic or their apprentices, unless asked for aid by a legitimate spokesman of a College to track down a Magister that had turned traitor, or unless the Witch Hunters were witness to an abominable act by the hand of a sanctioned Magister.
The Witch Hunters were also required to turn over any magic user aged twenty-five years or less to Collegiate authorities, providing the magic user was not guilty of Daemon worship or witchcraft and had not committed an abominable act.
Of course, the Articles did not create exact boundaries of interest and influence between the Witch Hunters and the Orders of Magic, nor does any of it assure or enforce cooperation between them.
- "The first obedience of every Magister must be to the ideals and laws of Sigmar’s Holy Empire of which these Articles form a part; then to he who is rightfully elected Emperor of Sigmar’s Holy Empire; then to the Supreme Patriarch of the Colleges of Magic; then to the laws and ideals of their Order; then to the Patriarch of their Order; then to the authorities that each Magister may be required to serve in the course of his duties; then to other superiors within their Orders.
No Magister may obstruct in malice or for financial or political gain the rulings of the Emperor, nor may they seek to overthrow him for these reasons.
Every Magister of said Colleges must adhere to the laws of Sigmar’s Holy Empire, regardless of the province, region, or citystate, just as any loyal citizen must, except that the Magisters alone shall be permitted to study magic and perform such spells for the good of the Empire.
The Colleges are free to study, document, practice, and experiment with the arcane forces of magic that are present in this world, provided they adhere to the restrictions laid down by Teclis of Ulthuan, keep the good of Sigmar’s Holy Empire in their hearts and minds, and obey the Articles of this document.
The Colleges may bestow as they see fit upon all their own initiates full rights to study, document, practice, and experiment with the arcane forces of magic that are present in this world and also take apprentices to themselves to pass on such knowledge and wisdom as may be part of their Lore and for the good of the Empire.
No Magister may cast a spell or enchantment outside of the theatre of war and in public view without first being requested to by the Emperor, the Electors of Sigmar’s Holy Empire, or another legitimate employer as defined by the Articles of this document. All spells and enchantments cast without these permission may only be done so with and for demonstrably good reason.
No Magister may ever study the Forbidden Lores of the Daemonic Powers, nor the unholy ways of Necromancy, nor any other sorcery or witchcraft that utilises the wicked powers of Dark Magic. Any Magister found disregarding this Article is guilty of an Abominable Act and is both Heretic and Traitor and will be put to sword and fire immediately.
The Colleges must respond favourably to any reasonable request for specific service from any Elector of Sigmar’s Holy Empire.
The Colleges must be ready to render service to the armies of the Emperor and the Electors of the Empire upon request, unless such service aids in the seceding of an Imperial province from the Empire, or unless such service is intended to cause overt harm to the Electoral System, or to the authority of the Emperor who resides upon Sigmar’s Throne, or to the unity of purpose and identity that marks Sigmar’s Holy Empire, as indeed it was so sorely afflicted throughout the dark centuries of the False Emperors.
The Colleges must grant upon request protection for all such diplomatic missions and any other tasks of defence or warfare as are required by the duly elected Emperor of Sigmar’s Holy Empire.
All Magisters may expect to receive accommodation, benefits, respect, and fair treatment, as would befit any noble of Sigmar’s Holy Empire, while in the employ of the Electors of Sigmar’s Holy Empire.
Magisters are permitted to pursue agreements of employment with any persons or organisations: civil and religious, public and private, noble and mercantile, providing their employers are not enemies of Sigmar’s Holy Empire or the people and that will not lead to the breaking of any of these Articles.
All Magisters are required to seek out magic users as may exist within the bounds of Sigmar’s Holy Empire to ascertain their suitability to join one of the Orders of Magic, or else report them the Holy Orders of the Templars of Sigmar, or else destroy them if they prove to be of immediate and grave menace to Sigmar’s People.
All Magisters are required to render such aid as is deemed necessary to the Holy Orders of the Templars of Sigmar, should said Templars provide satisfactory proof that the servant of malignancy they face is beyond their capacity to capture or destroy without magical means.
All Magisters are required to exert themselves to seek out and counter such destructive and anti-Imperial machinations, practices, peoples, and creatures that are beyond the means of civil authorities and Sigmar’s Templars to counter, but yet still serve the Daemon Gods or advance the corruption of Imperial citizens through any sorcerous or infernal means. This shall be the prime concern and purpose of the Colleges, their Orders and the Magisters belonging to them, and to fail in this duty is to render void all the Articles of this document and make obsolete their permission to practise arcane arts without hindrance.
- —Articles 1-15 Extracted from the Articles of Imperial Magic From the hand of Emperor Magnus In the year 2305 I.C.[1b]