Monday, 17 February 2020

GREAT CANON: Teclis - Part 5: Founding the Colleges of Magic (2005-2007)

In Part 5 of my series exploring the aelven god of magic's prior existence, Teclis' founding of the Empire's Colleges of Magic is expanded on in a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and he makes a cameo in another global narrative campaign.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, or WFRP to aficionados is Games Workshop's cult Warhammer World set roleplaying game, which having previously been licensed out to various publishers in relative obscurity for over a decade was relaunched to great fanfare with a brand new edition in March 2005, by Black Industries, a short lived subsidiary of Games Workshop's Black Library. WFRP's 2nd edition was distinctly set in a post Storm of Chaos Warhammer World, with the modern version of the setting explored through it in more detail than ever before. Realms of Sorcery, the game's appropriately titled magic supplement was released the following November, and included an expanded history of the founding of the Colleges of Magic, also detailing Teclis' part in the Great War Against Chaos.

On traveling from Ulthuan to the Old World with Magnus the Pious' ambassador Pieter Lazlo on the ship Sigmar's Hope (known to its crew a the Folorn Hope), Teclis, Yrtle and Finreir are taken to Talabheim, where Magnus is gathering troops to his cause. Immediately establishing himself as a font of sage advice, Teclis explains to a sceptical Magnus that the men of the Empire need to be taught to wield magic with skill and safety in order to be able to combat the Aethyric horrors they'll be facing in the north. Magnus is convinced by Teclis, and requests the three Loremasters promise to destroy any human students showing even the slightest hint of Chaotic corruption. Teclis replies in a chilling tone that any tainted creature going near him or his colleagues would be obliterated beyond human understanding.

Authorised by Magnus, and with begrudging support from the rest of the Empire, Teclis and his fellow mages, through magical and mundane means put the word out across the Empire of amnesty, pardons and training offered to any and all hedge wizards and petty magicians able to answer the call. Teclis politely opts to leave alone the clergy of the Empire's various faiths, able to channel magic into what they call prayers and miracles bestowed upon them by their gods (much to Yrtle and Finreir's amusement) - later on in the book a quote ascribed to a lecture given by Teclis to human students details Teclis' discrete, nonetheless dismissive view of the prayers of human priests being subconsciously channelled spells by priests who didn't realise they were Aethyrically sensitive, in line with Warhammer's approach at the time to gods and daemons being subconscious reflections of sentient races collective psyche.

Many of the human magic users making their way to Talabheim already show signs of corruption, handing themselves over to Magnus and the elves authority as a desperate last hope, and only meeting swift annihilation at the hands of Teclis and his fellow mages. As the elves begin to instruct their new students in the ways of spellcraft, many of the Empire's templar orders, particularly the infamous Witch Hunters look on in horror, but are powerless to do anything, the elves having received Magnus and the Grand Theogonist's blessing. The three elf mages teach their assembled human pupils relatively simple offensive spells in the form of fireballs, lightning bolts and loud noises, as well as healing magic to aid the wounded.

Teclis' two standout students are Volans, who would go on to become the first Patriarch of the Light College and overall Supreme Patriarch; and Friedrich von Tarnus, the warrior mage previously established as having crafted the Silver Seal for Magnus, and his own Armour of Tarnus, here expanded upon as the shamed former commander of the Carroburg Greatswords, and future first Patriarch of the Bright College. At the forefront of the Empire's armies in the coming battles, the newly trained human wizards and the elf mages themselves show a willingness to spill their own blood defending the Old World from Chaos, Yrtle himself being beheaded in battle by 'some clawed fiend of Chaos' as he incinerated it with magical fire, and being buried in Ostermark with full honours.

The forces of Chaos thoroughly beaten back to the Northern Wastes, Magnus and the new human Magisters are heralded as the saviours of the Empire, and on ascending to the office of Emperor, Magnus asks Teclis and Finreir for their assistance setting up an institution where Imperial citizens can be properly trained in the now invaluable battlefield art of spellcraft. Consistent with his White Dwarf 156 characterisation, Finreir is resistant, with Teclis agreeing with Magnus and arguing that the safety of the Old World, and in the long run Ulthuan lay with the the Empire, as the most populated and powerful nation on the continent. After much private debate Finreir relents, and in the summer of IC 2304 Magnus announces that Aldorf would house the nascent Orders of Magic (Aldorf, though usually thought of as the Empire's capital was not at the time, with Magnus' seat of power residing in his home city of Nuln - chosen for good reason should something go wrong and Magnus wish to distance himself).

Riots erupt on Altdorf's streets, and are only put down by martial law as Teclis and Finreir alter the fabric of the city's reality to accommodate the new College buildings, rendering it permanently unmappable, with locals forever more forced to rely on landmarks rather than any conventional means of urban navigation. The buildings of the eight Colleges being erected by Teclis and Finreir or the Empire's human citizenry is unclear, and while I won't detail them here, all are ostentatiously prenatural by Warhammer's potato sack low fantasy standards, and at first glance might (appropriately) feel more at home in the Mortal Realms.

September 2006 saw the 7th edition of Warhammer hit shelves. The only noteworthy piece of Teclis content in the game's hardback rulebook would be the above photo of a High Elf army, with Teclis' original Jes Goodwin model used to represent him (having previously turned up in White Dwarf articles simply credited as 'Mage'). This would be a publication quirk and not a new precedent though, with Gary Morley's 6th edition model continuing to represent Teclis for the foreseeable future.

Teclis would play a very minor part in The Nemesis Crown, summer 2007's (significantly lower key than the previous Storm of Chaos) global campaign, involving the Warhammer World's various factions slugging it out across the Empire's Forests in order to track down the titular magical crown, hewn from warpstone in order to contain the power of the almighty Rune of Ages by the Runelord Alaric the Mad thousands or years prior, a source of great shame to the Dwarfs, and thought lost until now. The High Elves' agenda in the campaign was to secure the Nemesis Crown to use as a bargaining chip with the Dwarfs in order to negotiate the return of their own Phoenix Crown, taken by the Dwarfs as a trophy at the end of the War of Vengeance, with Finubar dispatching Teclis to patrol the Sea of Claws and stave off Dark Elf and Chaos invaders (apparently on account of him being so well travelled). The High Elves did not discover the location of the Nemesis Crown, with the Dwarfs winning the campaign and claiming it unassisted, placing it under lock and key in Karaz-a-Karak.

If you were worried I'd forgotten about Lileath watch, then don't be, as the following September's ecclesiastic WFRP supplement Tome of Salvation would see her named Lileath the Maiden, Goddess of Dreams and Fortune for the first time outside of Warhammer 40,000, as well as describing her as prayed to for clarity, prophecy and foresight, and worshipped as part of a triumvirate alongside Isha and Morai-heg.

If your name isn't Bretonnia, new editions usually herald a new army book, and the High Elves' would drop in November 2007, with the background section consisting of mostly recycled content from the original 1993 Warhammer Armies: High Elves, and you guessed it... Bill King's White Dwarf 156 article introducing Teclis and Tyrion. Reprinted with a twist this time, King's story received a few minor editorial tweaks, to reflect the subsequently established Dark Elf background, with instances of the Dark Elves worshipping Slaanesh and Chaos replaced with overall more ambiguous depravity.

Along with the rest of the High Elves, Teclis' 7th ed rules were far more conventional than his 6th, with Sariour, Charoi and the Curse of Aenarion jettisoned entirely; and the conventional ineffective combat statline of a wizard - with the bonus demerit of Strength and Toughness 2, to reflect that he was/apparently still is pretty feeble, I guess...? Warhammer's players stigma against special characters being fielded in pickup tournament games was starting to thaw with 7th edition, and with Teclis' High Loremaster special rule and the War Crown of Saphery taking all the usual randomness out of spell generation and the magic phase, he was a regular source of of groans and mumbled 'beardies' from anyone unfortunate enough to be on the opposite side of the table.

Included on Teclis' rules page is an informative bit colour text about Lileath, who is described as the eternally young daughter of Isha, with the Moon Staff apparently once bestowed as one of three gifts by Lileath to the elves of ancient past, with the universal vision granting Star Crown, and cleansing Amulet of Sunfire having been lost to history.

The most significant development for Teclis and Tyrion in 7th edition's High Elf army book is a timeline snippet dating to the 10th year of Finubar's reign (IC 2173), 128 years before the Battle of Finuval Plain, detailing N'kari running amok across Ulthuan, in an attempt to eliminate the descendants of Aenarion, before being eventually put down in a climatic battle at the Shrine of Asuryan, with survivors telling of the bravery of a pair of young elf twins. This would be expanded upon in great detail in Warhammer Armies: Daemons of Chaos, released the following year, and the subject of my next post.

I hope you've enjoyed what has been a comparatively mundane instalment of Great Canon: Teclis. If you're concerned that the rest of the series will be this humdrum, then please don't fret. Part 6 sees Teclis and Tyrion receive the aforementioned brand new origin story, predating their earliest adventures.

If you have any feedback about this or previous instalments in the series, or have spotted something I've got wrong or omitted then please contact me.

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