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Never Work for Wizards: The Magocracy of Bemmea and Allain

Never Work for Wizards: The Magocracy of Bemmea and Allain

Sorceress of BemmeaA word of advice to all those who think things get better once you leave the Goblin Wastes and enter the safe lands of the Magocracy of Bemmea and Allain: Things don’t really get better.

The Exarch and all those mages cracked open the walls of the reality. The madmen of Caelmarath called down the Elder Things, the Waste Walkers, the horrors that stand frozen on the ashen plains from the western sea to the Ironcrags. Those fine folk broke the world, and all power is theirs to command, and their feuds are something to avoid.

So, never take work from the magocracy, if you can help it. Thing is, you can’t really avoid it. A Bemmean wizard will show up and will tell you what the job is; they never ask, and somehow, you always find yourself nodding and saying yes, probably because the wizard has snared you with a charm without you noticing.

‘Course, the wizards will want to “secure” the work with a simple deal, like an invisible spirit follower (to make sure you’re on the job all the time), and ink magic on your forehead or your hands (so people know which mage you are working for), and maybe a few albino ravens and a goblin guide just to be sure you don’t lose your way. So… You’ll do the work. If you don’t take the job… Well, your ghost will do the work.

Yeah, the money’s great. Platinum, gold, diamonds. Wizards don’t seem to blink when you name your price, so think of your usual fee and then triple it. They won’t care. And trust me, you’ll earn it when the Bronze Men of Carrefay come looking for your trail, or the Hunters of Ambross eat your last horse.

The Magocracy
The magocracy of Bemmea and Allain is a successor state to the Kingdom of Caelmarath, a great empire of humans who rose up after the fall of Ankeshel to challenge the might of the Valeran Elves — and who succeeded far beyond their imaginings. The wizards were human at first, and arrogant as wizards are, and they built on the strongest ley lines and broke the walls between this world and others to call up servants.

Over time, the people of Caelmarath gathered power from dark springs, and some became tieflings. And in time, their magic destroyed Caelmarath entirely, destroyed the competing magocracies within and around it, until only one was left. That one, the cruelest and most dangerous of them, survives, a city suspended and protected by magic when all the land around it sank into the ocean.

The Wizards
The creatures that are wizards now are hard to call human. They are tainted by the Realms Beyond, they are warped by the bargains they made. Many are the offspring of demons, or have infused themselves with the blood of devils and the dust of liches, to strengthen their own prowess. A few walk about under illusions as fair as any elf princess, but most don’t bother. Instead, their hoods are damn deep and damn dark for a very good reason. Somewhere under those hoods, their lambent eyes glow greenish-yellow or silvered purple—and the wizards might have a single eye, or a dozen.

Teleporting as often as breathing, able to paralyze a foe’s lungs or inscribe their flesh with glyphs of everlasting pain, the wizards of Bemmea are cruel, negligent, dismissive of the peasantry around them. And yet, they are strangely polite and even deferential to the White Knights of Bourgund! When asked about this, they invariably change the subject.

Six Wizard’s Servants
In addition to the usual familiars, unseen servants, and various constructs, the wizards of Bemmea and Allain also command dozens or even hundreds of different magical servants from the Realms Beyond. These six are relatively well known to the humans and tieflings of Bemmea:

Aalala Hachmal, the Laughing Devil: A particular creature of the Western Wastes, always laughing when it speaks, mocking, puzzled, and causing horrible confusion when it passes. Some believe that Aalala Hachmal is a child of the Elder Things, and that it carries messages to them from the magocracy. If only those message could be intercepted, understood—and replaced.
the Bone Walkers: Simple servants who perform drudgery in wizard’s homes, such as drawing well water, grinding grain, or washing clothes. They are said to work only at night, falling into piles of dust by day. Some believe these are wizard’s ancestors or teachers, enslaved by their descendants or students.
the Bronze Men of Carrefay: Named for their ruddy skin and strangely greenish eyes and hair, these are arcane assassins and planewalkers. Speechless, they become invisible at will, and prefer to fight with poisoned blades that temporarily destroy the arcane power of those they strike. Naturally, the wizards loathe them and have bound their souls to perpetual service, for fear others might use them against the magocracy itself.
the Howling Horror: A creature of reddish wings and a feathery, writhing underbelly, akin to a dragon crossed with a parasitic worm that devours it from within. It screams and howls incessantly. Said to roost on an island far off the coast, and summoned to shore only to destroy enemies of the state.
Ink Demons: Black, eyeless, and liquid, the ink demons are servants who may have taught the arts of ink and glyph magic long ago. They can hide within books, folios, and scrolls, and seem to have recently infested the Great Library of Friula in the Seven Cities.
the Marauder Giants: Enormous, pale, and tattooed ogres or giants who command nightmare spirit-beasts as humans might command a pack of hounds. They often serve as bodyguards, a wall of white, flabby flesh preventing anyone from reaching a wizard in their midst.

Interested in adding to the insanity that is the Western Wastes? Curious about the cruel wizards of Bemmea? Join the Midgard campaign setting project.

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21 thoughts on “Never Work for Wizards: The Magocracy of Bemmea and Allain”

  1. These magocrats are delicious Wolfgang! Great job Midgard patrons! They are reminiscent of many themes thoughout fantasy literature and gaming. Though I cannot join the Midgard project this time, I’d love to be involved in a future Open Design project focusing on this region!

  2. Thanks, the magocracy is one of my oldest and favorite societies — it dates back to my first campaign (junior high school!). I have included it in some form in every campaign setting I’ve run since.

    You’ll hear more about these guys, I’m sure. :)

  3. Ha! I saw the title in my reader and thought ‘Uh oh. Someone’s burning bridges.’ I’m glad to see my tired brain was wrong.

    Love article. It inspires creativity.

  4. So.Fricken.Awesome.

    No wonder they were in every campaign, I want them in all of mine as well! Can’t wait until I can spring these wizards on my players. . .

  5. I love the article. It really gives me a much better idea of just what is going on in the magocracy than my previous partially formed thoughts. A few answers and many new questions are just what we need to get the ideas flowing! Hunters of Ambross? I can’t wait to know.

  6. I have never been very interested in playing Arcane spellcasters, but these seem like the kind of evil wizards I want to spring on players…very Thulsa-Doomish. I am equally interested in the White Knights of Bourgund – what’s up with these guys that they command the respect of powerful wizards and sorcereresses? Dibs!

  7. Great article! I’m intrigued by the Bronze Men and Ink magic and am curious of what daily life for those living in such a well monitored kingdom might be like. Is everyone living in ignorance or is subtle fear of horrific end a constant companion for the common man?

  8. A little more specific feedback. . .

    I like this, I do. The wording in the beginning, almost makes me feel like, as a DM, I have to railroad my players to use this group. I don’t want to do that, and know I don’t have to in reality, but thats the impression that hit me.

    I like the servants and really want an expanded definition for the Bone Walkers. Are these skeletons? Do they have personalities? Do they just look old and malnourished?

  9. Interesting. The railroading is deliberate but not required. The magocracy has ALWAYS been about running roughshod over what people want. You *can* ignore them, and the hooks are optional, but ignoring them has a price. It’s a bit of thematic repetition that works for me. YMMV.

    More on these monsters at some point, but probably not here on the blog. There’s this Midgard Bestiary idea floating around…

  10. Gold, platinum and diamonds? Do you know adventurers who won’t accept such deal?

    Troubles aplenty, a contract with the devil? A pathway made of dark, very dark ink? Once again, do you know adventurers who won’t be tempted? After all, an adventurer does walk the razor edge, always… so gold, platinum, and diamonds you say… yes, I’m definitely ready to sign! Bring this magical ink of yours!

  11. I think that if you don’t want to railroad your players with these guys, it’d be cooler to use these wizards as the creators of the obstacles the players must overcome. If a rival group has been commanded to stop the players, but they were reluctant proxies for the wizards your players may take pity.

  12. There seem to be a few strange things going on at the end of the second paragraph under “The Wizards”:

    and yet, strangely polite and to the White Knights of Bourgund!)

    It seems that the ‘and’ between ‘polite’ and ‘to’ is an extra word, and that there’s a trailing close parenthesis (perhaps it was originally a parenthetical statement?)

  13. The first paragraph under “Six Wizard’s Servants” seems to start in the middle of a sentence; maybe the header was supposed to be part of the following paragraph? It’s unclear.

    I found the Ink Demons ignited my imagination – I’m already thinking about how to bring them into one of my own campaigns.

  14. Ok, one sentence-level glitch is human error, two is the web editor gets a demerit. (And thank you, it’s fixed now.)

    And ink demons are a delightful set of creatures. I look forward to hearing how they have infested your campaign!

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