“A war is coming, one that will place wizard against sorcerer on an arcane battlefield. Though I wish we could avoid it, I’m afraid we can not. We must fight. To do otherwise would be to sentence those who practice Wild Sorcery to death.”
–Ulin Majere, the Dragon Mage
Origins of the Academy
The return of the power of High Sorcery and the restoration of the power of Wild Sorcery to its full potential at the end of the War of Souls has left the balance of arcane magic in dire straits. The Orders of High Sorcery are rebuilding, though at a slow pace. It will be generations before they reach their former glory.
At the same time, sorcerers walk through the world with renewed power, but without any protection from the eyes of the Orders of High Sorcery. Though each of the three Orders has its mandate where sorcerers are concerned, the eyes of the Conclave are upon sorcerers, and any deemed to be a threat will be eliminated.
In the year 425 AC, Ulin Majere, the Dragon Mage, has reached his 40th birthday. Upon the evening of his birthday celebration, he sat at the ruins of the Academy of Sorcery, reflecting on the failures of his life. He had failed his wife and children when they died. He had failed the dragon Sunrise, who he abandoned. He had failed his father when he destroyed the Academy of Sorcery.
Ulin underwent a mid-life crisis. He was invited to join the Orders of High Sorcery. Though he enjoyed the structured side to High Sorcery, the wild magic still called to him. He then became witness to a Black Robe renegade hunter in action, who had taken it upon himself to slay a sorcerer. Though the Orders of High Sorcery assured Ulin that the Black Robe had acted without the Conclave’s consent, Ulin saw the murder as a portent of what was to come.
Ulin emerged from the experience a changed man. He vowed that he would be a protector to sorcerers, that he would train them to use their magic responsibly and to lead the types of lives they wanted to lead, answering to no Conclave. Ulin soon underwent a quest, which he does not speak of, returning from it partnered with the gold dragon Sunrise. Together, the two flew to the ruins of the Academy of Sorcery. Using powerful magicks that could only be harnessed by the coupling of sorcerer and dragon, Ulin ripped the ruins of the Academy of Sorcery from the ground, converting it into a flying citadel.
Ulin has begun recruiting students to train at the rebuilt Academy. The mobility of the Academy allows for better protection, especially with the dragon Sunrise as its protector. Ulin does not want a fight with the Orders of High Sorcery, but he is preparing just in case.
Training at the Academy of the Dragon Mage is a bit different than it was under Palin. Ulin believes that certain basic lessons are a must, but that each individual sorcerer has his own path to learning the power of Wild Sorcery. Ulin tries to instill within his students a sense of independence so that they do not feel beholden to join any organization. Whether they do or not is solely their choice. Ulin forces no one to be his students, nor does he subject them to a life-threatening test. He only accepts those students dedicated to learning, and hopes to shape them all into individuals who can go out and face the world on their own.
While the Orders of High Sorcery believe that Wild Sorcery has a "Chaos taint," Ulin has come to think of it in terms of "freeform magic." For wizards, arcane magic takes years of study. It requires learning to use spell components, the language of magic, and the arcane gestures used in casting the spell. While talent comes into play, it is shaped by education.
Sorcerers approach magic differently. They have an innate connection to the magic. Sorcerers can feel the magic around them, shaping it into arcane spells of terrible power. Sorcerers approach magic from an almost artistic standpoint, manipulating magic as an artist manipulates colors on a canvas.
Above all, students are taught that they are lifelong students of Wild Sorcery, and that the learning never ends.
The Academy Grounds
The campus is laid out into a circular pattern between the eleven Towers of the Arts, one dedicated to each of the Realms of Sorcery. The Tower of the World stands in the center of this "wheel." The Tower of the World is the hub of the campus, and contains the Academy Library, which takes up three floors, a kitchen, laboratory, and the Grand Hall. A network of open hallways connects the Towers of the Arts together as well as connecting them to the Tower of the World.
Previously, the grounds of the Academy were laid out in quadrants dedicated to powerful mages of the past (Magius, Par-Salian, Justarius, and Raistlin). Ulin maintains the quadrants, but no longer uses the names of the wizards whom they were once associated with. The Quadrant of Independence is where students can go to be alone and reflect on their place in the world. The Quadrant of Dedication serves as a reminder that the study of Wild Sorcery is a lifetime endeavor. The Quadrant of Perseverance serves as a reminder to never give up. It is here that sorcerers practice their magic. The Quadrant of the Vallenwood holds a single vallenwood tree. The area is lush and green, a reminder of Ulin’s former home and the idea that Wild Sorcery is a natural magic.
The Academy of Sorcery has few that it calls ally, though two groups stand out. The Legion of Steel is one of the Academy’s greatest allies. Some Academy sorcerers go on to join the ranks of the Legion of Steel. The Academy sees the Legion as the champions of the cause of mortals, which meshes nicely with their own philosophy.
The Academy also maintains friendly relations with the Citadel of Light. The two groups have similar methods of study and have had a historical alliance from the days that Palin ran the Academy. Their relationship has been strained a bit lately with Ulin Majere’s new direction for the Academy. The Citadel clerics and mystics worry that Ulin’s instructions will lead to a war between wizards and sorcerers.
The greatest of the enemies of the Academy of the Dragon Mage is the Orders of High Sorcery. Though the Red Robes can generally be counted on to leave the Academy alone, the White Robes are keeping a wary eye on the Academy, while the Black Robes are seeking the Academy’s destruction. Ulin is very careful to give the Wizards of High Sorcery a wide berth, avoiding the presence of any Tower of High Sorcery, inhabited or not.
The Knights of the Thorn also represent a great threat to the Academy. The Thorn Knights would love to take over the Academy, capturing its students and stealing the magical secrets within. The Thorn Knights are also aware of the potential of the Academy, so they seek to mount a preemptive strike against the Academy before they become too powerful.
Perceptions of the Academy
The Academy is perceived in many different ways, depending on who you are. Many sorcerers see Ulin Majere as a savior to their kind. Some sorcerers fear the Academy will become another group like the Orders of High Sorcery, demanding that they join. The Wizards of High Sorcery look upon the Academy with concern, each of the three orders advocating a different way of handling the Academy.
The Knights of Solamnia are still distrustful of arcane magic, so they maintain a healthy distance. The Legion of Steel and Citadel of Light serve as allies, though the Citadel is concerned that Ulin’s actions might lead to an arcane war. The Dark Knights see them as a tool to be plundered and a potential threat to the Knights of the Thorn.
As for the common man, most are unaware of the Academy’s existence. Some think it’s a tale told by children. Those that do know of it are leery at best.