Magisters are the few sane manipulators of the Winds of Magic, trained by the Imperial Orders of Magic, yet even they are eccentric and certainly strange by any ordinary measure. Non-insane users of arcane magic of relative skill in the Old World, are quite rare—more so than one might expect.
The title “Magister” was created to prevent Wizards from becoming too wealthy at the behest of the Burgomeisters. In essence, they are vassals of their order and so they cannot manage business or own extensive property. Instead, a Magister’s College functions like a Barony, and its Wizards are in service to it. However, over the generations, Magister is also an honorific, one which suggests that the individual has mastered of a particularly difficult art (in this case the art of magic), whose learning and position makes him or her superior in some ways to others. The title also refers to the possession of a kind of licence from their College and Order allowing them to practice their art and teach it to others. Anyone bearing the title Magister is considered a full brother or sister of the Order whose Lore they study and whose laws they obey.
Despite the respectability of their titles, the arcane spellcraft, or magic, as taught by and to Imperial Magisters, is still widely regarded as dangerous, against nature, and blasphemous by devotees of almost all of the Old World’s acceptable religious cults. So although few would speak out against a sanctioned Magister, few would also want to share the same radius as a Magister, given the choice.
Not all Magisters are required to stay at the College buildings in Altdorf. In fact, the majority are required to leave in order to pursue their duties and contracts across the Empire. Many prefer to continue their studies elsewhere, sometimes in private or within one of the lesser guilds or libraries of their Order scattered throughout the Empire. Other Magisters are required or invited to join the courts of Electors or other nobles, perhaps by treaty, commercial contract, or familial ties. In such positions, a Magister might work as an advisor, an emissary, household protector against malignant magic, or even as a mentor for offspring that have been identified as possessing an Aethyric aptitude.
It is worth noting the contracts pursued by the Orders of Magic are very expensive, meaning only the wealthiest merchants and nobles will ever be able to afford the services of a Magister (unless of course he is a family member, an old friend, or has some other reason to give a free or reduced-rate service to the employer). There are also Magisters who turn their back on major commercial contracts, particularly amongst the Jade and Amber Orders. Amber Wizards tend to accept smaller contracts needs. Some Magisters travel the Empire or the world on the business of their Order or the Emperor. A few disappear and are seen only once or twice a decade if at all.
There are some Magisters, the most dangerous of their kind, who exist on a kind of permanent secondment to a military body (like the Reiksguard for instance), training with them in battlefield tactics and the strategies of war.
Becoming a Magister
At the end of his travels, decided at the master’s discretion, a Journeyman Wizard returns to his studies with his master. During this period, the master discerns the level of arcane mastery and control his apprentice has, as well as whether he has become tainted in any way by Dark Magic. This process is long, but once the master is satisfied with his protege's skill and purity, the Journeyman Wizard will be expected to travel (sometimes with the master, but more often without) to the master’s home College (if they are not already situated there), to study the deeper secrets and more dangerous magic of the Order. The College is also the only place where an apprentice may be accepted as a full Magister and given all the rights, privileges, and duties of the Order.
If unaccompanied, Journeyman Wizards take an introductory letter and a full report from their master with them to the College, and they will be questioned at great length by the highest-ranking Magister present. Once the interviewer is satisfied, the Journeyman Wizard is given a bunk in a dormitory or even his own cell, and he begins an extensive study of his chosen Order and Lore. How long this period lasts is entirely up to the Journeyman. Once he feels ready, he may ask to be considered for acceptance as a full Magister of his Order. If his request is accepted, the Journeyman will have his arcane skills pushed and tested like never before. The clarity of his arcane senses will be tested, as will his control, speed, and ability to channel the Order’s distinct type of magic. Finally, his spellcraft will be tested through a series of trials, ranging from relatively easy tasks to a magical duel between himself and an examining Magister. This duel is not fatal, and the apprentice will not have to win, though he will be highly esteemed if he does. All the Journeyman must do is fight to the very best of his ability with determination, skill, and a will to win.
The Colleges are scrupulous about who they admit to join their Order, and they will reject anyone who does not match up to their standards of excellence. Such rejects must return to their studies with good grace until they are deemed ready to retry for full Magisterial status. This scenario is unusual because anyone good enough to have survived the training for so long without becoming corrupted or insane is invariably powerful.
An interesting point about Human Magisters is that the longer they embrace and use the one Wind of Magic that directs their Lore, the less able they become to draw on the other Winds of Magic. So although a Magister will still be able to see all the colours of magic (the colour of his own strand of magic will always seems the most vivid and dynamic to him), he will only be able to grasp the colour or Wind that his being has become psychically attuned to. By the time a Journeyman is accepted as a full Magister, this process will already have had a profound effect upon him, meaning that he would be unable to utilize another strand of magic even if he wished to. This is perhaps related to the reason why Magisters begin to reflect the attributes of the Wind they use over time. For example, Pyromancers of the Bright Order become ever more passionate and impatient, and Magisters of the Amber Order prefer to avoid contact with Humanity and feel at home in the wilds.
This state of affairs might also explain why so many fallen Magisters have turned to Chaos worship or Daemonology, as they would probably need divine or daemonic assistance to be able to grasp to any great degree a strand of magic other than their Order’s own. There are, perhaps, a few Magisters who never lost the ability to grasp other Winds of Magic, but they would be rare individuals.
Records of all Apprentices, Journeyman Wizards, and full Magisters of the Orders are kept in each College, and they are open to inspection by the Magister Patriarch and the Emperor himself, and theoretically the Grand Theogonist. But it is rare that an inspection is called for, since Imperial Magisters rarely go rogue—or, at least, that’s what Colleges want people to think. If an inspection is called for, it is usually at the request of the Grand Theogonist; although, this was exceedingly rare under the last Theogonist, Volkmar. But such a request is almost always to make a political point and is rarely carried through, such are the wranglings and dealings of the Imperial Court.
Once an Journeyman Wizard is accepted as a full Magister, he has reached the end of his formal studentship and is no longer bound to his master.
Although some Colleges recognise many different stages of expertise within their Orders (the Order of Light being the most notable) there are common levels that apply to all Wizards. These are listed below, together with common informal terms:
- Apprentice Wizard: This is a catchall for all levels of initiation, from the ignoble Apprentice and floor scrubbers to the about-to-be spellcasters. Apprentices are in the process of learning their craft and so have not yet selected an order. Apprentices are also called drudges, hopefuls, apprentices, senior apprentices, novices, you there*.
- Due to the high failure rate, most College staff and instructors seldom bother to learn an apprentice’s name, instead relying on gestures, shouts, and general terms to get them by.
- Journeyman Wizard: These young Wizards are those who have just been initiated in their chosen order of magic. Though they learn the rudiments of arcane lore, they lack the experience and skill to cast these spells safely. Journeyman Wizards are also known as journeymen, journeyman apprentices, seekers, scrivenlings, lads**.
- Should an individual survive to become a Journeyman Wizard, most who have day to day dealings with them will at least attempt to learn their surname. A Journeyman can expect to be referred to by their surname until they achieve the title of Magister (Master Wizard) and even then, some of their more elderly superiors may persist in the habit.
- Master Wizard: These Wizards have mastered the essentials and develop the means to cast most if not all of the spells in their chosen lore. Master Wizards are also known as Magisters or "Sirs".
- Depending on their temperament and Order, most Master Wizards will expect to be on first name terms with their equals and demand deferential titles such as “Sir” from their subordinates.
- Wizard Lord: The most skilled and learned Wizards are Wizard Lords. Typically, they are called Lord, Lord Magister, or Master.
- Magister Patriarch: These wizards are the leaders of their Orders. At any given time, there is just one Magister Patriarch per Order. These Wizards are drawn from the best Wizard Lords of their Order, and as a result, there is no corresponding career.
- Supreme Patriarch: the leader and mightiest of Human wizards, the Supreme Patriarch rules the Colleges for a period of eight years. At the end of each term, he may be challenged for his (or her) right to remain Supreme Patriarch. Again, this challenge takes the form of a magical duel. The winner (usually the survivor - many duels end in the loser's demise) becomes (or remains) Supreme Patriarch for the next eight years.
- Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Realms of Sorcery (pg. 66-67, 75, 78-79).