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"After speaking with him for nearly a day and a night, I chose to travel with him across the world to this great city of Altdorf, to this very College, to beseech the brother Magisters of this Golden Order for the opportunity to prove myself worthy of being accepted as an apprentice to their College. And now, some forty cold winters later, I am here to teach you the facts and practices that you will have to accept and adhere to if you wish to survive with sanity and soul intact as long as I thrive as a Magister in the service of this different nation's great and noble Emperor and avoid the fires of Sigmar's Templars. I do not anticipate that many of you will succeed."

—Haqiqah al-Hikmah, Arabyan Magister Lord of the Golden Order[1j]

The Imperial Colleges of Magic in Altdorf.

The Colleges of Magic, also called the Orders of Magic, are important and powerful Imperial institutions of magical learning and practice that are located in the city of Altdorf. They have the legal responsibility to train and police all individuals who are capable of channelling the Winds of Magic so that they best serve the interests of the Empire. The Colleges of Magic are places of learning as well as inherently political institutions. They each possess physical buildings and are inhabited by a collection of non-magic-using servants, apprentices and Magisters, the title given to a wizard who is a full member of a college and therefore licensed to practice and teach magic in the Empire.[1d]

The Colleges of Magic have centralised buildings in Altdorf that allow the emperor to contact each college's governing Magister or "patriarch," or at least the senior members of each of the Orders of Magic when he needs to. The Orders of Magic include the magical lores, personalities, philosophies, ideals, rituals, traditions, and goals that each of the colleges impart to their apprentices.[1d]

But the Orders of Magic are also far-reaching, highly secretive societies with distinct identities and agendas. Imperial Magisters claim that the essence of their orders are not found in buildings or dusty tomes but in the actual pursuit, manipulation, and embodiment of the Winds of Magic that lie at the heart of their orders' lores. With these mighty Human wizards within its military's ranks, the Empire can face and defeat even the greatest and most destructive forces that would dare to assail its borders, be they mortal or supernatural.[1d]


The founding of the Colleges of Magic began with one particular individual -- the High Elf Loremaster Teclis of Ulthuan, one of the most powerful magic-users the mortal world has ever known. Facing an imminent massive assault by the forces of Chaos, and with the permission of the future emperor Magnus the Pious and the grudging support of his subordinates, in the early years of the 24th century IC, Teclis and his brother mages offered amnesty to the Human hedge wizards and petty magic-users that existed in the Empire at that time. They also proceeded to seek out as many more potential wizards among the general populace as possible.

Word was sent by galloping outriders to every part of the Empire they could reach, offering a full pardon for the illegal practice of magic and training to any and all that knew or suspected they had an affinity or ability with magic.[1a]

Some experienced strange dreams, compulsions to journey to Altdorf as if some force compelled them. There, if they submitted themselves to Teclis' judgment and training and agreed to fight in the coming war against Chaos, they were guaranteed protection from harm by any of the Empire's other powers or agents. They would be under Teclis' personal protection and the protection of the Great Uniter, Magnus of Nuln.[1a]

The Magical Purge

The High Elf Loremaster Teclis during his years training Human wizards in the Empire in the early 24th century IC.

The High Elven mages' incredible skills and profound sensitivity to the movements of the Aethyr enabled them to sense even the smallest conjurations by the weakest Human spellcasters for leagues around them, thus allowing them to find potential magic-users by themselves. Using their arcane knowledge, the Elves could traverse the lands of the Empire with supernatural speed and uncover many of the primitive or misguided magic-users who were forced to live in secrecy by those who feared their abilities. Yet there were others who made their way to Talabheim of their own accord, handing themselves over to Magnus the Pious' authority in desperate hope of acceptance.[1a]

With barely a pause, Teclis and his two High Elven companions eradicated any witches and warlocks corrupted by exposure to Chaos beyond any hope of redemption. Teclis left alone the priests and clerics of the Empire's cults, despite sensing a great aptitude for arcane magic in many. The holy men and women of the Empire were adamant that they had no power or wish to manipulate magic, insisting any miracles their prayers might bring came directly from the deity they worshipped.[1a]

It is said Teclis' allies, the Loremasters Yrtle and Finreir, were amused by these self-righteous claims, as they knew all magic ultimately came from the same power source no matter the method of how it was channelled, but Teclis merely nodded and allowed the issue to drop. The priests he had approached could already work magic with faith and rituals without learning the arcane spellcraft that Teclis offered.[1a]

The great archmage saw no reason to inject doubt into the hearts of the Empire's clergy by pressing his point. Teclis and his brother mages began to instruct their Human students in the ways of spellcraft much to the horror and disapproval of the many templar orders of the Empire, most notably the witch hunters. Indeed, many people and longstanding Imperial authorities were aghast that Men should be permitted to embrace the dangerous sorcerous arts. But Magnus, now heralded as the Voice of Sigmar, the Great Uniter of the Empire, and the Last Hope against the Chaos hordes, ordered that it should be so. Magnus had the backing of the Grand Theogonist of the Cult of Sigmar and the Elector Counts, so the Witch Hunters and other zealots were held at bay.[1a]

Rise of the Imperial Wizards

Volans, the first supreme patriarch of the newly founded Imperial Colleges of Magic

So it was that the Empire's petty magic-users and those slightly more refined practitioners of secret and not-too-corrupted arts, learned in distant lands or through private experimentation, studied the rudiments of the arcane lores Teclis and his fellow High Elven mages had to teach. Time was against them, so Teclis, Finreir, and Yrtle taught relatively simple offensive spells -- fireballs, lightning bolts, and ear-splitting noises. But he also taught spells of healing to cure the injured on the battlefields and other such skills that would prove useful against the dread legions of the Dark Gods.[1b]

Two from amongst the Loremasters' many protégés excelled beyond all others, and their names are remembered to this day with awe and respect: the hot-headed Friedrich von Tarnus, shamed commander of the Carroburg Greatswords and future first patriarch of the Bright College of Magic, and of course the most powerful and educated of all Teclis' Human students, the man known to history as Volans.[1b]

Alongside their Loremaster mentors, these two played a vital role with the other fledgling Imperial spellcasters in defeating the armies of the Dark Gods during the Great War Against Chaos and scouring the Empire of the taint of Chaos in its wake. In many battles, the Elven archmages and their Human protégés showed their willingness to spill their own blood in the defence of the Empire, and all of them took grave wounds during that terrible war. Loremaster Yrtle himself fell in battle, beheaded by some clawed fiend of Chaos even as he incinerated it with the fire flashing from his hands. He was buried in Ostermark with all honours.[1b]

Following the Empire's victory in the final battle of the Great War Against Chaos at the very gates of Kislev, the power of Chaos gradually ebbed away. Daemons began to melt back into the Realm of Chaos, helped along by the vicious spells cast at them by Teclis and his Human students. Once the darkness had withdrawn from the land once more, the Kislevite city of Praag was levelled and rebuilt, though ever afterwards it has remained a haunted city where the dead are said to rest uneasy in their graves.

So it was that the new breed of Magisters were hailed as the saviours of the Empire alongside Magnus the Pious himself. For his part, Magnus was elected emperor, and under him the Imperial provinces were united under one rule for the first time in centuries. If the Elector Counts of the time had any doubts about installing the dark-eyed minor noble and former seminarian to the Imperial throne due to his support for magic use, they kept their thoughts to themselves. The people of the Empire had chosen their leader and would not be denied.[1b]

Founding of the Colleges

A licensed Imperial wizard walking freely through a city of the Empire.

Change was everywhere, but none were prepared for what would happen next. Upon his ascension to the throne, Magnus I asked Teclis and Finreir to help him create an institution where Imperial citizens might be properly trained in the full secrets of magic and spellcraft. The new emperor had witnessed firsthand the usefulness of controlled magic driving back the forces of Chaos on the battlefield. He believed the Empire could not allow itself to abandon an asset as valuable as magic, especially in the face of his uncertainty as to whether the forces of Chaos had truly been defeated or just driven back temporarily.[1b]

At first, Finreir advised against this, claiming the secrets of magic and spellcraft were not meant for Men. Humans and Elves had come to blows in the past and would probably do so again. Teclis, however, took a longer view. He reasoned the safety or doom of the Old World lay in the hands of the Men of the Empire, for their lands were the most populated and they held the most powerful states and mightiest armies on the continent. As even grudging allies to the High Elves, the Humans could prove an important safeguard in any future war against the Chaos Gods and their minions.[1b]

More importantly, the Elves no longer had the strength to win such a war alone. Teclis told Finreir that if the Humans were unable to resist the physical and spiritual predations of Chaos, they might also fall to the Dark Gods one day, and what then? Ulthuan, and perhaps even the entire mortal world, would be undone by the will of the Ruinous Powers. After much private debate on the matter, Teclis' wisdom eventually prevailed, and so he and Finreir founded the eight Imperial Orders of Magic, also later called the "Colleges of Magic," in the city of Altdorf at Magnus' request.[1b]

For the good of the Empire, Altdorf was chosen as it was close enough to Magnus' seat of power in Nuln for him to keep an eye on the budding orders, but not so close to him that should they implode they would drag him down with them politically before he could react. In the summer of 2304 IC, Magnus announced that Altdorf would house the new Orders of Magic. Riots erupted on the streets and people fled when the High Elves worked their arts to alter the nature of Altdorf to accommodate the new College of Magic buildings. When people eventually returned, they found their city much as it always had been, but also vastly different.[1b]

The magic used to alter the fabric of the city made the city unmappable, and 'dorfers were left to navigate its labyrinthine streets by relying on landmarks rather than a sense of direction. This led to further rioting, but martial law ensured the populace, though grudgingly, accepted the new order. Once established, the new Orders of Magic began courting the city's guilds and their leaders. It seemed the wizards wasted no time in getting involved in the complexities of Altdorf politics.[1c]

The grand prince of Altdorf, who distrusted these new developments, established a new category of citizenship, the "Magister," which was applied to the wizards of the colleges to curb the Orders of Magic's growing political power, while complex trade laws, voting rights, and rules of land ownership served as a stopgap measure to control the wizards' alarming influence in the city.[1c]

Over the next several years, the wizards and the nobility of the city jockeyed for control, engaging in a complex dance of negotiation and intrigue. However, with each decade, the orders carved a little more power out for themselves, and even now, it is fashionable among the city's elite to keep a wizard in their courts. It remains to be seen what the future holds for this impressive political force, for many Imperial wizards have the ears of the most mighty and powerful, and now move through all levels of society unimpeded by the superstition and prejudice towards magic-users that was common in the past.[1c]

Institutional Development

After the founding of the Orders of Magic, the Imperial Age of Magic began.

For the first few decades of their existence, the Imperial Colleges of Magic were required to do little more than learn and master their arcane crafts. During this time, and for the entirety of his life and Imperial reign, Emperor Magnus I and the Imperial throne was the sole authority to whom the colleges answered, though the students' loyalty remained with Teclis. This arrangement was made because Magnus did not trust anyone else in the Empire to not be biased against the fledgling colleges, and no one else in the Empire really trusted the wizards enough to want to be involved with them.[1d]

In addition to this, despite the fact that the Great War Against Chaos had welded the Imperial provinces together by force of necessity, the provinces still had centuries of bitter hostility and warfare behind them; the bloodshed and misery of the Age of Three Emperors was still fresh. Magnus believed that if any of the Elector Counts managed to get over their fear and distrust of the new Imperial Magisters, the counts would use them to launch a new and devastating attack upon an ancient rival. So contact with the Colleges of Magic was tightly restricted, and the Magisters stayed within the bounds of their institutions as much as possible, keeping everyone outside at bay.[1d]

As the years passed, new laws and treaties were drawn up, dictating specifically when and how an Elector Count could call upon a Magister's aid. This was supposedly a sovereign right of all the Electors of the Empire, but it was the hardest to legislate. It was decided that each Elector should pursue his or her own treaties with the Colleges of Magic without fear of political bias or other unfair advantages. As long as the Orders of Magic and their Magisters adhered to the Articles of Imperial Magic laid down by Emperor Magnus and his advisors, there would be no chance of the Magisters ever allowing themselves to be swept into a destructive civil war. After all, a Magister's first loyalty was to the idea of the Empire as a unified nation, even though it was often not unified at all. Therefore, Magisters were within their rights, and even expected, to withdraw from any treaty or contract that brought them into conflict between Electors looking purely for political gain.[1d]

This ensured that Imperial Magisters could only be deployed in the wider interests of the Empire and not for the sake of the Electors' petty political rivalries. Of course, this system is not foolproof, as nothing ever is. Some Electors have had family members and loyal servants become Magisters of one of the Orders of Magic. Despite sworn loyalties to their colleges, some wizards have become involved in border disputes and minor battles between rival provinces.[1d]

However, no Imperial Magister has ever taken sides in a major civil war or triggered one. It is clear to scholars in the present-day Empire that Magnus was looking ahead long term while drafting the Articles of Imperial Magic. With a few notable exceptions, the majority of the early Magisters of the Imperial Colleges were retrained Hedge Wizards of uneducated, peasant backgrounds. They were clearly not expected to seek contracts as advisors to nobles or as diplomatic envoys for the emperor.[1d]

However, as the decades passed Magnus realised that the education, sophistication, and political awareness of the Magisters would develop. The responsibility to report all magically sensitive people to the Orders of Magic applied as much to scholarly, noble, and mercantile families of the Empire as it did to the peasants. It was often much harder for a highly visible scholar, noble, or merchant in one of the Empire's populated cities to hide such abilities. Even if they were able to hide them, once the choice of attending the colleges arose, it was far safer and convenient to go to the colleges for an education than continue to hide.[1d]

The noble and mercantile families also generally believed they had much more to lose by being accused of witchcraft than any mere peasant whose life in their eyes was nearly worthless. So nobles, merchants, and various professors and scholars were often the first to submit themselves or their magic-sensitive offspring to the Colleges of Magic for training. These educated and often well-travelled individuals brought to the colleges an understanding of the politics, diplomacy, warfare, and even etiquette of the Old World that was otherwise not taught to any great degree at the colleges. These notions were then passed on as the scholars, nobles, and merchants became Magisters and took on their own apprentices.[1d]


"I believe it to be a bit of both. Some are the dedicated Battle Magisters who are exceedingly powerful but appear to be regarded as somewhat unreliable by their peers, perhaps in the sense that they may have short tempers. I remember this to be the case with at least one Pyromancer seconded to my regiment. He was watched closely by a companion who seemed to be of higher rank, and possibly power, within his order. However it must be said that I have met other Magisters of prodigious battlefield power and prowess who have in their dealings with me also proven to be men of great wisdom and honour, very controlled and with profound senses of duty. These types must certainly have been ear-marked for greatness in their orders, if, indeed they were not considered great already."

—Kurt Helborg, Grandmaster of the Reiksguard[1f]

A trio of Magisters, representing their own Colleges of Magic.

The Colleges of Magic are subordinate to the emperor in three ways. First, they exist within the walls of Altdorf (with the exception of the Amber Order). Therefore, the colleges' initiates are officially citizens of the city-state of Altdorf and subject to its local laws and the rule of its prince, currently the Emperor Karl Franz. The Amber Wizards of Ghur maintain the seat of their order within the wild Amber Hills beyond Altdorf, which means they are officially citizens of the Reikland and therefore subject to the rule of Karl Franz in his role as the Elector Count of that Grand Province.[1d]

Second, the colleges are bound by the Articles of Imperial Magic to give their loyalty to the emperor regardless of whom he is or where he resides -- and in the current era, the Imperial crown rests very firmly with the princes of Altdorf.[1d]

Third, the emperor bestows the largest financial endowments of any other noble upon the Colleges of Magic. So with few exceptions, their continued existence with the interests they have, to a degree, relies on Imperial funding. As a result, any of the colleges will supply Karl Franz with whatever is in their power whenever he asks for it without hesitation or charge, both as their duty and due to the good political will it generates.[1d]

Many of the other Elector Counts have protested the close ties between the emperor and the Colleges of Magic and are often resentful of the preferential treatment the colleges give to the prince of Altdorf, not that their protests count for much within the colleges' walls or to the secretive Orders of Magic that the colleges front.[1d]

Under the last Supreme Patriarch of the Orders of Magic, Thyrus Gormann, subtle pressure was applied to the Empire's College of Electors to allow him to join their number and be allowed to cast a vote in the election of all future emperors. This was naturally vehemently opposed by all the Electors other than Karl Franz and the governing elder of the Moot who stayed reasonably neutral in the matter. It is a given that the Supreme Patriarch would almost always choose to back the princes of Altdorf with any vote he is granted, which would give the prince, who is also always the Elector Count of the Reikland, five secured votes, along with his own and that of the Cult of Sigmar's votes.[1d]

The Sigmarites opposed this plan as a matter of principle, and the other Electors condemned it because of the staggering advantage it would give the count of the Reikland in all future Imperial elections. While the elder of the Moot admitted that such a thing would indeed unbalance the electoral system further in favour of the ruler of the Reikland, he also saw no real difference between the Supreme Patriarch having the vote and the Sigmarite Grand Theogonist and his two most senior Arch-Lectors having them, or indeed the Ar-Ulric having a vote.[1d]

Although the idea was never pursued actively, gossip and whispers about the issue continue within provincial courts across the Empire. Though he does not currently have a place in the electoral system of the Empire, the Supreme Patriarch of the Colleges of Magic is the permanent representative of the Orders of Magic in the Imperial court. He is the primary advisor to the reigning emperor in regards to all matters magical, arcane, and anything else the Supreme Patriarch perceives as his duty to advise upon.[1d]

Penalty and Law

"Believe me, there are many profound safeguards built into the training and instruction of our dedicated wizard warriors. They will not turn traitor."

—Dietmar Gulonsson, Magister of the Celestial College[1f]

A Witch facing execution by an angry mob.

Anyone found practicing spellcraft outside of the Colleges of Magic and their related orders is guilty of violating the Imperial law against witchcraft, or worse. The punishment that the witch hunters have devised for this crime is death by burning -- the only sure way to destroy the taint of Chaos, or so they believe.[1g]

All manner of horrific and rather painful measures may be taken before the burning to ensure that there is no possibility of spell-casting, escape or cursing the folk who are performing the "cleansing." In the northern reaches of the Empire -- where folk are known to be rather direct and excitable -- nailing offenders to a tree and burning them is the standard way of disposing of a witch, while in the south far more civilised (and painful) methods are preferred.[1g]

Arcane Justice

Although any Watchman or agent of civil law may theoretically arrest someone accused of witchcraft (any non-collegiate magic use), many Watchmen would consider doing so quite a risk. They are not paid much, and who wants to risk being cursed? Instead, it's more likely they will simply try to shoot the offender from a distance or inform the local chapter of Templar Witch Hunters, the local cult's priest, or some other religious authority. In the Empire, a fair trial must be given to anyone accused of practicing witchcraft, and this is usually the case in more civilised and reasonable towns. But if the accused seeks to evade arrest too passionately, shows their true colours as a servant of Chaos, or uses magic to defend themselves or harm others, then the witch hunters or other religious authorities will not bother apprehending them.[1g]

They will just kill the offender and burn their corpse. Aside from the obvious moral treacheries faced by all hedge wizards and witches, it is a very brave or very mad individual who would bring charges of witchery or another abominable act against a collegiate Magister without exceptionally damning proof. Such charges must be made according to law and be well-founded, especially within the great cities of the Empire.[1g]

After all, Imperial Magisters are protected by Imperial law and their orders wield considerable political power and influence, both overt and covert. If such charges are brought against a sanctioned Magister in rural areas where political influence over lords and burgomeisters means little, the accuser must be sure he is exceptionally well-protected. Ordinary citizens have few defences they can rely on when confronted by an enraged magic wielder, especially a trained Magister of an Imperial College of Magic.[1g]


If a Magister infringes the Articles of Imperial Magic or his order's own constitution, it is a matter for the Colleges of Magic to deal with on their own, though the witch hunters often try to lay claim to this responsibility. The colleges do not take this duty lightly; to do so would be the first step to their own corruption and downfall. Punishment can range from flogging to exile, to execution, or worst of all for a Magister, "pacification." Pacification, as opposed to execution, is a punishment reserved for those Magisters who are found guilty of gross misconduct, traitorous acts, or worst of all, defaming the good orders of the Colleges of Magic.[1g]

Essentially, if a Magister embraces the practice of Dark Magic, rejects their order and college, becomes a threat to the Empire at large, or worst of all, does something to focus the already frightened eyes of the Empire's public on their actions and therefore the college and order to which they belong, college authorities always seek to have that Magister captured alive. Death is too good for such traitors. The public's fears that the Colleges of Magic do not police their own well enough, or even that the colleges should not be permitted to exist at all, need to be addressed very visibly. Pacification is the worst possible punishment for a Magister, and it takes considerable effort to achieve. Not only is it spoken of in dire tones to young apprentices, the actual processes involved are kept a closely guarded secret.[1g]

All wizards are aware that pacification involves a type of Aethyric gelding -- a cutting away of the part of the soul capable of seeing and casting magic. It is unclear as to whether this involves removal of actual flesh, but the very thought of a sundering of the soul is enough to make all but the most thick-headed recoil. As wizards progress within their order, this apprentices' tale is ornamented somewhat with additional facts.[1g]

Each order seems to have slightly different and conflicting rumours about the process of this mental mutilation -- including what happens to the poor unfortunates afterwards. The Amethyst Order simply maintains that the soul in question is allowed to die in accordance with their usually loudly screamed wishes. Other orders maintain darker tales of tormented souls entombed within their own skulls or used as fodder for those Daemons it suits the Light Order to consort with. Some believe the fires of the Bright Order's flaming towers are fed by more than the Wind of Aqshy.[1g]

Pacification is known to have been performed only six times in the history of the colleges, as most traitors are either captured and killed before they do anything to attract the public gaze, or the public never realises that the evil sorcerer sacrificing their children to Daemons was once a collegiate Magister. As a rule, Black Magisters tend to stay out of the public eye even more than warlocks or sorcerers, meaning it is fractionally easier for the orders to track them down without having to make a graphic example of them to appease the witch hunters and the public at large.[1g]

Pursuing Traitors

When it comes to the pursuit and capture of traitorous Magisters, the Orders of Magic look to their own offices to deal with the problem. If possible, no order is willing to reveal to the world that one or two of their numbers regularly go bad. Besides, there are few people or authorities within the Empire who have the arcane skills needed to hunt down and destroy such traitors.[1g]

If a Magister of any particular order is revealed to have turned to Dark Magic or the worship of a Chaos God, their former order will silently mobilise all available resources to capture or, more likely, kill them. If such a task proves impossible for one Order alone (a rare occurrence, though not an unprecedented one), then it is possible for an Order to approach another for aid.[1g]

This holds particularly true for the Light, Gold, and Celestial Orders; the others tend to be too proud, too secretive, too cynical, or too personally involved in the problem to care much for outside help. The reason an Order of Magic would agree to help find a Black Magister of another order, without making the hunt public and keeping it secret from the witch hunters, is because each and every one of the orders know of the public's general fear and distrust of spellcraft.[1g]

If it were known that a trained Magister of one of the orders had fallen to darkness, the Colleges of Magic system as a whole would risk coming into irreparable disgrace. Many religious and rival political organisations would jump on any opportunity to condemn the colleges out of all proportion; hence, it must be avoided at all cost.[1g]

Exile and Wandering Magisters

All Magisters are considered responsible for the behaviour of their apprentices, past and present. So if a Magister strays from the path, their old mentor (if they still live) will also be examined and punished with anything from exile to execution for their former protégé's crimes, unless some explanation can be given. This is a purely internal affair for the Orders pf Magic, and they rarely, if ever, see a reason to involve any external authority.[1g]

There are two reasons why this law exists and why it is enforced so strictly by the orders upon their members. First, if an apprentice or Magister breaks the law in spectacular fashion or is found to have turned to darkness, then targeting that apprentice's or Magister's master as equally responsible is the only way to legally satisfy the requirements set out in the Articles of Imperial Magic. The master of the traitor must pay to spare blame from the entire college and order to which they belonged.[1g]

The second and most important reason for this condition is to ensure that all Magisters are careful of whom they teach their arcane arts to and are thorough in their observation and instruction of their apprentice. It also means that Magisters will take personal responsibility to track down a runaway apprentice or rogue Magister or face the fullest penalty of the law themselves. Some respected Magisters whose apprentices (old or current) have broken serious laws are fortunate enough to only be exiled by their order from Altdorf or the Reikland, or at worst, the lands of the Empire.[1g]

This is obviously far better than execution or pacification, and it means the members of their order will still regard the offender as one of their number, even if they cannot accept them as part of the college's highly visible political body. Such exiles usually find their way to Marienburg, the city-states of Tilea or Estalia, or even Bretonnia (though this choice is quite risky). Because they are still on friendly terms with their order, the exiles are welcome to share in the resources and learning of their order, a fact that irks many witch hunters but is beyond their ability to prevent.[1g]

Loyal Magisters that have been banished due to the acts of former apprentices still serve their order, and therefore the Empire, indirectly. They often send back reports on the realms they reside in, and their abilities generally assure that they can attain employment in positions near authority and so are often in perfect positions to spy on their new employers.[1g]

Other exiled Magisters choose to travel the world seeking wisdom to further enhance their own skills and the learning of their order. Some Magisters have made their way to such far-flung places as Kislev, Norsca, Albion, the Border Princedoms, Araby, and even, or so it is rumoured, distant Grand Cathay and Nippon. Whatever these wanderers learn, they record all of it on parchment so that one day they may take it to the secret libraries of their colleges to share the knowledge they have acquired with the members of their orders.[1g]

Outsiders and the Colleges of Magic

"They are a curious people, these Empire folk. You cannot be talking with them, but they'll be pushing ale into your hand, and offering you food. They have a curious sort of hospitality, and think nothing of getting outrageously drunk with their guests; indeed, they will expect you to do the same. Still, they are cunning, and ingenious. I would give my eye teeth for one of their Wizard Orders to set up in Tilea."

—Diplomat Adjunct Liguardi Millangilo, Advice to my Successor[4a]

The Colleges of Magic have the ability to appear exactly how they want to, and they appear different to different people. Those the wizards wish to impress, such as potential benefactors, may be greeted by wondrous displays of magic. Those they wish to intimidate may have to trudge through gloomy corridors before reaching their destination.[3b]

Plenty of different types have business with the colleges. They often hire adventurers to run errands not suitable for Magisters. Those who prove to be competent and discreet may be hired repeatedly. Magisters often visit other colleges, usually seeking a bit of knowledge in the other college's specialty. The colleges are always willing to share at least a little bit of information.[3b] Some colleges also try to cultivate relations with the wealthy and powerful -- particularly the Gold and Celestial Colleges.[3b]

But the majority of the colleges' dealings with the outside world are simple and mundane. Magisters, after all, are still Humans who need food and drink, and the activities of the colleges require plenty of other items. Many Imperial merchants and tradesmen who supply the colleges don't really know to whom they sell -- Magisters wear disguises when dealing with them, or the suppliers are instructed to drop their goods off at other locations.[3a] In other cases, though, the colleges wish to make their economic largesse known, and make sure their suppliers know exactly who is providing them with such good business.[3a][3b]

Orders of Magic

"The eight Imperial Colleges of Magic have taken their names, moods, and purposes from the eight Winds of Magic. A situation has arisen amongst even the chattering classes of this nation whereby the names of the Winds of Magic are often confused with the appearance or practices of the Magisters of the Colleges that study them. So there tends to be some confusion between the actual colour of any particular Wind, the common names that the populace at large might give the Magisters of any given colour, and the actual rune-names for the various Winds of Magic. It appears that this confusion has been worsened by the fact that these “colours” of magic are more than just shades and hues. They are the separate projections and forces of fundamental, un-sensed aspects (forces, physical things, abstracts or a combination of the three) of the mortal world."

—Extracted from the Liber Chaotica, penned by Father Richter Kless, Order of the Torch. Committed to the Frederheim Hospice for the Insane, 2520 IC.[1n]

The Wheel of Magic, depicting the eight Winds of Magic; clockwise from top: Ghyran, Azyr, Ulgu, Shyish, Aqshy, Ghur, Hysh, and Chamon.

The High Elf Archmage Teclis taught that however dangerous it is, magic can be controlled and purified by a trained practitioner. Men learned how the raw power of magic blew into the mortal world in the form of eight Winds of Magic, which represented unique types of magical energy.[1n]

For each wind, Teclis founded a separate College and Order of Magic, and he and his brother mage, Finreir, taught the first Magisters and college Patriarchs. The wise Loremasters saw that the minds of Men were unable to control the power of more than one Wind of Magic with any degree of safety, even with the most careful study. Thus today there are eight Imperial Colleges of Magic, which form the headquarters of one of the Orders of Magic in which new Magisters are trained.[1n]

The political relationships between the colleges vary from cordial to rivalrous. Generally, orders nearer each other in temperament and lore on the Wheel of Magic tend to have friendlier relationships, while orders on opposite sides tend to oppose each other. Thus, the Jade Order may be on friendly terms with the Amber Brotherhood, while at the same time opposing the Bright Order.[2a] In some cases, such as the infamous Night of a Thousand Arcane Duels, the friction between the colleges has spilled into outright violence.[2b]

Eight Orders of Magic

Religious Outlook

Although religious beliefs vary from order to order and wizard to wizard, all Imperial Magisters tend to take a more practical and less superstitious view of the divine -- probably because of the early influence Teclis and Finreir had on collegiate belief systems. All Magisters are aware of the existence of the many gods and Daemons, wholesome and otherwise, and do not underestimate the enormous power and influence these entities have over the mortal world.[1h]

However, although they are careful not to offend these gods and Daemons and even make offerings to them as and when it is deemed necessary and appropriate (as with the Amethyst Order and Morr), collegiate Magisters tend not to directly worship or offer their personal devotion and dedication to any of the gods.[1h]

It is a fine line between making respectful observances to the gods and actually worshipping them, as a priest or another devoted citizen might, but it is one that Imperial Magisters walk. In times of need, some of the Empire's cults have approached the various orders -- in an entirely unofficial way -- to request aid. This has resulted in some tentative relationships between the cults and the Orders of Magic.[1h]

  • Light Order - The Light Order maintains some links to the Cult of Shallya, particularly when it comes to dealing with daemonic possession and matters of daemonology.[1h]
  • Celestial Order - Rumours of Verenan scholars consulting with Celestial Astromancers have neither been denied or confirmed. Likewise, those that worship Morr in his aspect as the god of dreams have been known to turn to the Celestial Order.[1h]
  • Gold Order - The Golden Order has made overtures towards Dwarf Runesmiths and priests with little success, as the Dawi are jealous guardians of their secrets. The Altdorf press has insinuated some links between the Gold Order and Ranaldian tricksters in a recent scandal involving vanishing gold, but this is unlikely to be true.[1h]
  • Jade Order - The Jade Order maintains close links with the Cult of Taal and Rhya, as well as certain rural Shallyan cults. Those who follow the god of the sea Manann often find themselves oddly at peace whilst around Jade Wizards, but this has never been formalised into any type of compact between the order and the Cult of Manann.[1h]
  • Amber Order - The Amber Order maintains occasional links to the Cult of Taal, and to a lesser extent Rhya. The Amber Wizards will stir themselves to aid the wild places and often find common cause with these cults as a result of this common goal.[1h]
  • Bright Order - While it often provides Battle Wizards for the Imperial military forces, this has curried little favour for the Bright Order among the Empire's faiths -- even with the Cult of Sigmar. The Pyromancers' relations with the clergy of Manann are positively awful as it has been claimed that the patriarch of the Bright Order referred to the Sea Lord as "a watery, damp squib of a little god."[1h]
  • Grey Order - The Grey Order has no known ties to any religious cult.[1h]
  • Amethyst Order - The Amethyst Order's relationship with the Cult of Morr is very strong -- as one would expect.[1h]


Potential wizards in training learning their arts in the Colleges of Magic.

The seats of arcane learning in the Empire are the storied Colleges of Magic -- but there is a subtle difference between the Colleges of Magic and the Orders of Magic, though most people in the Empire that know of them use the terms interchangeably. Despite the colleges in Altdorf being the centres and storehouses of magical learning and artefacts in the Old World, they are very unlike the Empire's mundane universities. Apprentice wizards do not live like university students, attending lectures and going out drinking in the evenings. The Colleges of Magic have apprentices who come to learn the secrets of the college's lore, but they may rarely, if ever, leave the confines of their college unsupervised.[1d]

The colleges are also places where people who are bound by a similar fate -- being sensitive to magic in a world that despises such people -- come together to share knowledge and expand their skills. The Colleges of Magic are places of deep learning, and scholars of magic meet there to discuss complex and mysterious arcane matters. Or some poor soul found to be attuned to the Aethyric tides might choose or be impelled by Imperial law to go to the college, both as a means for the colleges to control that person and also to learn from them by studying their talent.[1d]

Someone who is not a Magister of a college and its associated Order of Magic, or a person with no arcane knowledge to share and who is not sensitive to the Winds of Magic, could not walk in and demand to be taught the magic of that order, regardless of their wealth or social standing. But Imperial Magisters do not only reside within the college building of their order; the majority are scattered across the Known World. For this reason, apprentices are often taken on by individual wizards not living near Altdorf or the colleges. These Magisters maintain regular correspondence with their college or order to exchange knowledge and maintain some unity between wizards all specialised in the same lore of magic.[1d]

It has been about two and a half centuries since the Colleges of Magic were first created on the orders of Magnus the Pious. In that time they have thrived, gradually expanding their knowledge and expertise in the use of magic and increasing their political footing throughout the Empire. Despite their relatively small size, the colleges and their related orders are among the Empire's great powerbases in the current era -- though few would realise it, because the Orders of Magic are careful to maintain a low profile.[1d]

The colleges and their orders have the sole licence to practise and study magic in the Empire, and they jealously guard that right. They have treaties and contracts with nobles and powerful merchant houses across the Empire. Despite this, the colleges remain under the microscope of the Cult of Sigmar and its state-sponsored Templar Witch Hunters. Fear and distrust of magic are still prevalent throughout the Empire, and rightly so. Many of the old religious and civil authorities of the Imperial provinces regard the Orders of Magic as highly suspect, if not a direct threat. Conspiracy theories abound.[1d]

Although Magnus did not intend for the colleges to churn out Battle Wizards, the most powerful spells Teclis and Finreir had taught to the budding Human Orders of Magic were most useful for battle. Though the colleges, even from their earliest days, had an abundance of petty and lesser spells for more general use, it took over a century before the colleges had accumulated a wider range of arcane knowledge.[1d]

Today the Colleges of Magic have a much wider reach, and their interests stretch to almost every corner of the Empire, with initiatives, properties, libraries, contracts, and treaties, and in some cases even small guild and chapter houses, scattered throughout the realm. Emperor Karl Franz has presided over and encouraged the expansion and success of the Imperial Colleges, becoming their most generous and politically powerful advocate and patron.[1d]

As emperor, Elector Count of the Province of the Reikland, and prince of the fabulously wealthy city-state of Altdorf, Karl Franz has sought to further strengthen the ties between himself and the various political powerbases situated in his capital. Though certainly not as powerful as the Cult of Sigmar, the Colleges of Magic have become great political powers in their own right, despite being directly subordinate to the authority of emperor.[1d]


There is no written licence that sanctioned Imperial Magisters must carry on their person. The fact they have been accepted into one of the Orders of Magic and trained by them is enough to satisfy the legal demands of the Articles of Imperial Magic. There are various signifying tattoos, brands, emblems, and items the apprentices and Magisters of an order must wear or carry to signify their membership to their college and order. And this is proof enough for secular and religious authorities of all the major Imperial cities and towns, though villages in rural areas are unlikely to recognise these marks, emblems, and items.[1i]

With the Colleges of Magic being mostly self-policed and self-supported, it is in their best interests to keep track of all of their members and make sure they stay loyal, stay in contact, and send funds (10% of all earnings, unless they are a Lord Magister) every year to the closest body owned by or representing their order.[1i]

These funds go to the maintenance of the college's buildings, the upkeep and training of apprentices who are based at the colleges (instead of with a Magister living elsewhere), and they fund the orders' other unpaid duties and goals across the Empire. Overall, a member of any of the eight Orders of Magic must keep his order informed of where they are going and what they are doing. If a Magister enters a town or city where there is a guild or chapter house belonging to their order, or even just another Magister of their order, it is considered good practice and a mark of due respect to make oneself known. There are some mystical ways that each college can keep track of the movements of their members, but how this is done is a secret unknown to outsiders.[1i]


Most people who become apprentices do so in their youth, between the ages of ten and their early-to-mid twenties, for two reasons: youngsters tend to be submitted to collegiate authorities as soon as they begin to manifest any strange powers and because learning how to effectively and safely use magic is a long, slow process for Humans. The earlier this process is started, the better. If a Magister has a child, they will either be sent far away never to see their parents or know of their abilities, or they will be raised in the traditions and spellcraft of the Order of Magic that their parents belong to -- there is rarely any other choice.[1j]

Some untrained magic-users have little choice but to apprentice later in life, though there are fewer practising Magisters who would be willing to take on an apprentice much older than their mid-twenties, unless that apprentice showed particular skill, dedication, and loyalty. A lot of the work of an apprentice is menial labour, fetching and carrying, preparing ingredients, and learning tedious mental drills and formulas, not to mention various arcane languages and so on.[1j]

Few adults are naturally inclined to perform such demeaning and mind-numbingly boring tasks for no wages beyond a bed, meals, and the promise of future learning. One might think that because the apprentice's college will check up on them regularly and claim at least 10% of all their earnings for most their lives older magic-users would be discouraged from staying. But given their options: accept this situation, risk destroying themselves with uncontrolled magic, or have their tongues removed and be burned alive by witch hunters, few have much choice in the matter.[1j]

Although many apprentices are based in the actual buildings of the Colleges of Magic, each is tutored by an individual Magister of the college's affiliated order; he is their mentor and master. Certain elements to do with the history of the order, its duties and restrictions, and certain points and debates concerning the nature of magic and its use are sometimes taught as lectures to groups of apprentices.[1j]

But the actual visualisation and handling of magic is usually taught on a one-on-one basis -- especially by colleges like the Amber and Jade Colleges, where almost all their spells and theory are taught through an oral tradition, hands-on demonstration, and experimentation. Most Magisters will only take a couple of apprentices over their entire lives, though there are some who base themselves permanently in the college buildings in Altdorf, and their whole purpose seems geared towards teaching the arcane arts.[1j]

In most rural regions of the Empire, it is unlikely to have more than one Magister covering a whole region, and they may be reluctant to take on an apprentice at all. But if faced with someone with an aptitude that cannot be ignored, it is the Magister’s duty to take on the apprentice, whether they want to or not. They will then teach this new apprentice the magic learned from their own master. However, before this process can begin, potential apprentices must be deemed fit to learn the arcane secrets of magic.[1j]


There is no standard way to approach to the Colleges of Magic to become an apprentice, as many of the colleges have different procedures and structures for such things. However, there are some internal agreements about searching for and processing potential recruits that bind all wizards. Applicants to the colleges can be divided into those that apply voluntarily, those that an existing collegiate Magister or Journeyman discovers and compels to apply, and those that some other authority or agency compels to apply. A stipulation of the order that granted the Colleges of Magic the right to exist was that every senior apprentice (Journeyman Wizard) and full initiate of an order (Magister) must investigate any rumour of untrained and/or unlicensed magic use.[1k]

It is the sworn duty of all collegiate Magisters and Journeymen Wizards to investigate the abilities of anyone discovered using magic or practising spellcraft of any kind, knowingly or otherwise, who is not associated with one of the Orders of Magic. The Magisters must gauge their physical, psychological, and spiritual suitability for joining one of the Colleges of Magic. If the subjects are sane and not irredeemably contaminated by Dark Magic, it is the Magister's or Journeyman's duty to escort them to the nearest collegiate property.[1k]

Or they may take the untrained magic-user under their own protection until the individual can be escorted to a collegiate property, or, as a last resort, report their existence to the nearest chapter of witch hunters -- something no Magister will do if they can help it. Naturally, if the untrained magic-user that a collegiate Magister discovers is a dangerous witch or warlock, then the Magister must contain or eliminate the threat they pose by whatever means necessary.[1k]

College Selection

Generally speaking, applicants will feel drawn to whichever College of Magic most suits their character and talent, and this choice is invariably the right one -- at least in those people who are already sensitive to, and perhaps somewhat manipulated by, the Winds of Magic. A preference for passion, physical vibrancy, and a fiery temper might attract the Red Wind of Magic to an Aethyrically sensitive person more than any other wind. Although, it's just as likely that over-exposure to the Red Wind will make someone passionate, physically vibrant, and fiery-tempered, so it is difficult to know which comes first or if it even matters.[1k]

The personality attributes that allow Magisters to judge whether an applicant is best suited to their college are easiest to see in the young. As Aethyrically sensitive people grow older, and perhaps start manipulating the Winds of Magic subconsciously, it is harder to see a clear-cut path in regards to which lore of magic they possess the greatest skill for.[1k]

This difficulty is because all untrained magic-users tend to utilise a cocktail of the Winds of Magic, which exposes them to the many different moods and predilections of the Winds of Magic, making their personalities more sporadic and prone to change. A Magister confronted with an uncorrupted and magically-sensitive young person who is not best suited to the Magister's own order is required by Imperial law and his oaths as a Magister to send or drag the applicant to a representative of the college he believes would be more suitable, along with a letter of introduction where necessary.[1k]

Upon being accepted by a Magister, hopefuls become the first level of apprentice, known as an Apprentice Wizard. Once accepted, the apprentice, or his family, is expected to offer a substantial endowment to the college for upkeep during the apprentice's entire time studying with his mentor.[1k]

If the apprentice or their family have no money, they are expected to give anything and everything they can afford to the college, more as an act of total submission than for any real monetary worth that new apprentice's meagre possessions may fetch. Those that cannot afford any upkeep at all will be treated as unpaid servants within the college or by their mentor, working to cook, clean, fetch, carry, and do the jobs that no one else wants to do -- giving them more backbreaking work to do than apprentices of more affluent backgrounds.[1k]

Additionally, every single apprentice is expected to swear binding and enforceable oaths of absolute loyalty by the law of the land, all the gods, and their own immortal soul to their new college, its Order of Magic, and their mentor. Some say these oaths are not just words; they actually bind the apprentice to their master in supernatural ways. Considering the nature of the Orders of Magic, it is likely true.[1k]

College Layout

A map of Altdorf and the known College of Magic locations within the city.

The seats of all the Colleges of Magic are in, or very close to, the Imperial city-state and current capital of Altdorf. Altdorf is located where the great Reik and Talabec rivers meet before heading out to the Sea of Claws, making Altdorf the hub of the three other great trading cities of the Empire: Nuln, Talabheim, and Marienburg.[1d]

Because of its location, Altdorf is one of the largest, wealthiest, and most populated cities in the Empire. Altdorf's position within the Empire is further secured by the fact that it is the capital of not only the largest and wealthiest province in the Empire, the Reikland, but the Empire itself because it is the seat of the current emperor, Karl Franz. Finally, Altdorf is also the seat of the Grand Theogonist of the Cult of Sigmar, the famous Imperial Engineers' School, and the Colleges of Magic themselves.[1d]

As the home of the Imperial Colleges, Altdorf sees more wizards and magic use than anywhere else in the Old World. As a result, the citizens of Altdorf are slightly more accustomed to witnessing demonstrations of magic than others in the Empire. Though folk of other Imperial cities disapprove of magic use, Altdorfers make it a point of pride to treat magical events the same as mundane ones -- an overstated attitude. It is true that Altdorf's citizens generally don't flee screaming in terror upon seeing a wizard or witnessing some minor, or even more impressive, demonstration of arcane magic. But an observant person would note the onlooker's jaws tightening or their somewhat too-fast and nonchalant dismissal of such demonstrations as unimportant.[1d]

Few sane people in the Empire are ever truly dismissive of magic. Although the people of Altdorf are more accustomed to seeing magic use, there is also a strong element of keeping up appearances to foreigners and each other. Even if a veteran soldier witnessed a Pyromancer wielding a sword of pure fire, he would still find it a rare, spectacular, and alarming sight if he were to see it again on the streets of Altdorf. But determinedly pretending there is nothing at all remarkable about such things is a practice that even the poorest Altdorf beggar indulges in, as long as it seems safe. It isn't as if the citizens have much choice -- the Colleges of Magic have been centred within their city for over two hundred years, after all.[1d]


  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Realm of Sorcery (RPG)
    • 1a: pg. 27
    • 1b: pg. 28
    • 1c: pg. 29
    • 1d: pp. 61-65
    • 1e: pg. 67
    • 1f: pg. 68
    • 1g: pp. 69-70
    • 1h: pg. 71
    • 1i: pg. 72
    • 1j: pg. 73
    • 1k: pg. 74
    • 1l: pg. 75
    • 1m: pg. 76
    • 1n: pp. 81-88
    • 1o: pp. 89-97
    • 1p: pp. 98-102
    • 1q: pp. 103-109
    • 1r: pp. 110-115
    • 1s: pp. 116-118
    • 1t: pp. 119-121
  • 2: White Dwarf 389 (UK)
    • 2a: pg. 60
    • 2b: pg. 61
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition: Winds of Magic (RPG)
  • 4: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Sigmar's Heirs - A Guide to the Empire (RPG)
    • 4a: pg. 45