Coldforged Civilizations: The Izkoret Conclaves

I’m rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged Material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. This week we’re going to cover the Covenants of the cities of Izkoret and Halirath. So, with that, let’s dive in.

The Covenants of the Cities.

Izkoret keeps to itself. It’s not a city that trades with or interacts with the various other cities in the world, other than to keep an eye on them via divination and other magics that prevent others from interacting with them. This type of insulation also extends to the people of Izkoret itself, a once large city that has a shrinking population of reclusive artisans and researchers.

Each of these researches, however, does understand the need for collaboration and have agreed to share their discoveries and innovations with a select few individuals who are also on a similar path of discovery and enlightenment.

These groups are the five conclaves of Izkoret, and though they are wide-ranging and powerful, they are almost universally used as a power structure to hide behind for many of the individuals in order to avoid responsibility and maintain their individuality and continue uninterrupted research.

These five Groups are the only conclave that has been created, and any new ones are highly discouraged, though any individual with enough motivation and drive to create a new Conclave would likely have left the city and begun a life outside the confines that surround them here.

Each of these conclaves is both responsible for a portion of life within the city, and also a repository of information on that and other related projects and research that could be useful for its members. Some of this information is highly guarded secrets, while most of it is information that is available to anyone, given the right permissions, connections, and priorities.

As each individual belongs to a conclave and does their research and study within the purview of the conclave, the conclaves are the pillars of what passes for society in Izkoret, and closely monitors activity beyond its own members to ensure that no others imping on their intellectual domains, and will recruit if needed – or exile – anyone who seems to be working on projects that are within the conclaves realm of service.

The Conclave of Vital Animation.

The Conclave of vital animation is often referred to as the Animists within discussion and conversation, and it the largest of the conclaves within the city. The focus of these individuals is the one that drives most of the activities within the city: the creation of animated life.

The creation and manipulation of life as a magical force is the drive that has pushed generations of Gnomish inventors and engineers within Izkoret, and has lead to the creation of thousands of constructs, both unique and mundane, that populate the city. From Clockwork servants to iron sentries and devastating war machines, the Animists are the foundational conclave that provides the animating sprit to these constructs.

Within the halls where they provide the animating sprits, they continue searching, yearning, to move beyond animating constructs via harnessing elementals, long-dead souls or forces from beyond space and time. They experiment with combinations of animating agencies, originations of the motive force and other forms of life magic and conjuration. There are dozens of branches and thousands of tomes written by both gnomish and construct hand that detail the ages of innovation and defeat endured by the members of the conclave. Their library and there is only surpassed by that of the Colithrians, staffed by dozens of constructs and a senior librarian whose entire goal in life is to come up with an innovative and genius force to catalog books in a better manner.

The Conclave is run by Headmaster Oillikov Ondurin, an artificer and conjurer of extreme age and senility. Thankfully, he has at his side his prized Guardian, Drok, whom he has entrusted with remembering and maintaining his schedule as well as ensuring that the Headmaster accomplishes everything needed in a day. Oillikov’s abilities have long since faded, and he has been awarded for his service a cushy life and pleasant comforts of the headmaster’s study and library, trusting his staff of constructs to keep the Conclave running. This has been the arrangement for as long as the Animistss have existed, with the oldest and most accomplished among them being rewarded in their time with the position at the top of the chain. It is seen as a slight, when it finally comes, as it signals to the new headmaster that the rest of the Animists see him as both no longer useful, and no longer capable, and are promoting him out of their way. Almost all of them realize quickly that the job has its blessings, and settle in for a pleasant, cushy, and glorious retirement.

The Arcanological Conclave

The Arcanologists are a small Conclave focused on the application and perfection of magic in all its forms and forces. They see magic as a useful means to any given end, as long as it is employed properly, has correct precautions in place, and is thoroughly understood. They study magic, how to put it together and take it apart, and where it comes from and hold this knowledge tightly. They understand its origins, the consequences it can have, and the results of its manipulation. As long as their members keep their studies far from the other conclave works, they are left alone, if considered a bit eccentric.

While the other conclaves focus on tangible products, the work of the Arcanolgoists is often overlooked and undervalued because they provide a better working environment, faster results, and better testing procedures. Their finds have allowed the Animists to bind greater spirits, the Warders to construct stronger defenses, and the Clothrians to record better information. They are the secret heart of Izkoret, providing all of the other conclaves with a solid foundation to build on, one that is always expanding and improving itself.

While most of the output of the Arcanologists is put to use in practical ways by the other conclaves, their true desire is beyond that of any application of the forces of magic. Instead, most arcanologist are driven by a need to understand the very foundations of magic, how it interacts with itself, how it both rends and heals the world around it. They seek to perfect the use of magic to allow a greater quantity of those within the world to access this most wonderful of tools and a great equalizer. They hoard magic items from times gone by, breaking them down into their constituent components to try and reconstruct them once again, rarely succeeding and even rare still improving, and it is said that every sold magic item is destined for a workshop of an Arcanologist, and many of the buyers around the continent are either gnomish plants or expats working for their lost cousins, knowingly or not.

The Grand Vizier of Arcanology, Kuskir Tillatova, is a grumpy old transmuter that has learned long ago how to manipulate his body beyond the reasonable bounds of mortals. Unfortunately, that means that he is unable to control many of his transmutations, a particular malady that renders him inoperative at a moment’s notice as his body convulses between shapes. His mind, however, is still sharp as a tack, and he keeps a strict eye and timetable on those who have decided to provide him with deadlines and conceptual proofs. This overbearing demeanor, however, only extends to those who promise him some sort of tangible results, and those who are in the middle of a study or research are able to continue at a pace of their own. Much like the animists, the Arcanologists tend to promote as their leader one who lead a productive and worthwhile life, and who simply cannot contribute in the way they once did to their leader. They would not wish to burden someone who is doing real work with the minutea of running a sprawling organization and its multiple networks throughout the continent.

The Conclave of Physical Wards and Barriers

The Conclave of Physical Wards and Barriers, or Wardens, are the ones who have been trusted to keep the city secret, keep the valley defended, and the world none the wiser. They eschew the magical focus of the Arcanologists and the Animists and concentrate on the craft and power of doing something right the first time. Year after year they study to provide for the cities security, studying better methods of defense, stronger walls, more durable construction, and tougher armors, easing the minds of those who live within the city.

The Wardens work closely with the Animists to provide defensive constructs, everything from living walls to rotating trap doors to massive animated barriers, to stand guard at the edges of their city. It’s their innovations that have made it unnecessary for the city to have a curtain wall and allows free movement of people in and out of the city. Additionally, they provide improved armors to both those combat-oriented gnomes, and to the constructs that are used for defense, upgrading their bodies as generations go by to provide the most state of the art protection. Lastly, the Wardens are also in charge of the watchtowers and keeps that are positioned along the mountains, river, and road leading into the city, maintaining a garrison at each and providing for their upkeep. These are some of the most technologically advanced fortifications on the continent, and very few know about them.

Those that join the Wardens see the danger in the world around them, and look to cordon themselves off from it, preventing those who would do them harm from ever committing such an act. They see within their discipline the ability for the Izkoret to stay outside of the eye of the world for generations to come, allowing their research to continue unabated. They see perfection in stone and metal walls, in the curved reflection of a steel breastplate, and the rising spire of an impressive watchtower. They are dour and taciturn, always honing their craft, looking for improvements and reaching for the next technological breakthrough to enable them to fight off, what they see, as the inevitable invasion that will come.

The Wardens are lead by Castellan Ikorsk Ilnovi, The genius inventor of the mobile walls that defend the city today. Outside of approving or canceling projects, she cares little for what the Warders do with their research outside of improving defenses. It doesn’t need to be practical, or efficient, or even realistic, because the outcome of the research will simply be more knowledge. Her main focus is increasing the power and capability of the currently running defense force made of constructs, as she trains them and prepares them for battle against monsters from the mountains and from outside the valley as a whole. She is the cement holding the force together, and many of the constructs believe she truly is empathetic towards them as she encourages their good behaviors and tries to excise the bad. The Castellan of the wardens is an appointed position that the current castellan has chosen and locked away from the very day that they come into the office. This is often a motivated and dedicated defender who understands the needs of the city and the valley. Though they dislike being removed from their old post, they see it as a duty to perform it to the greatest extent possible.

The Colithrian Conclave of Sacred Knowledge

The Sages are an extremely uppity group of sages and lore keepers who plumb the depths of knowledge on topics both mundane and divine, who’s library stretches a mile underground covering every topic from warfare to history to the wind pattern on grasses. They are recluse, even among the loners of Izkoret, and spend years reading up on, researching, and honing their theories. It’s a lonely life, and many of them relish it.

While the Sages are the outcasts of the Izkoret society, they embrace moniker, seeing it as allowing them to achieve what would be impossible otherwise. Years spend deep within books and out in the field studying and performing experiments has lead to deep understandings of every conceivable topic of study. When a problem arises within one of the other conclaves, or a new obstacle presents itself, it is to the sages of Colithrian that those within Izkoret turn, seeking the solutions to problems long thought solved or never having been encountered. Though the knowledge often comes with a price, often one of accompanying experimentation or acquisition of an outside good, it is near certain that the information provided will present a solution to the issue at hand.

The Sages are driven by an insatiable lust to simply know more information than they already do. They delve deep into mystical and mundane research in order to achieve that information, however, it is to be acquired. While much of the information is a simple synthesis, there is a significant portion of sages who require practical knowledge. Anatomists, Doctors, and biologists sit book by brow with historians, mathematicians, and philosophers, each of them pushing the limits of their known fields through rigorous research or through messy and complicated experiments. All of this time in books has a harsh effect on many of their morals, though, and they have found ways of dismissing many ethical concerns that other groups have come to embrace. Though they often on a benevolent path, there has always been a cold, calculated streak through the conclave that drives them, from time to time, to perform horrific experiments or delve deep into the darkest limits of knowledge.

The leader of the Sages is Pashri Ludoi, a former research psychologist who focuses on the limits of the depravity of consenting individuals worried the Conclave so much they promoted him to Master Archivist of the Sages in order to prevent his further studies. This is a time honred tradition among the Sages, where their darkest members with the most troublesome research paths are put into positions of power to occupy their time so that they aren’t able to continue their research. Unfortunately, there is only one Master Archivist at a time, so the punishment is limited in both form and function. Now, Pashri is up to his eyeballs in research requests, book loans, monetary loans and other irritating details of running the conclave that he is unable to continue his studies, much to the relief of the city.

The Conclave of Mastercrafts and Services

The Conclave of Mastercrafts and Creation is the companion Conclave of the Wardens, though they are much more of an afterthought than the other four Conclaves are. For hundreds of years, the Guilds provided the crafts and services that were required for the proper functioning of a city. Blacksmiths, masons, moneylenders, Cartwrights, and wagoneers all plied their trades separately, each striving to survive in a fairly ruthless market. That all came to an end when the Conclaves founder, Marik Turndul, arranged for the guilds to gather together and force themselves into the halls of power, as it is. Through the use of a complete lockout of any form of crafting or services, the Guilds brought the other conclave to their knees, and for the first time in 5 centuries, a new conclave was created and the guilds now stand eye to eye with those who would exploit them.

The guilds run the day to day life in the city, though it is still not a standard life for them. Each guild member strives to perfect their chosen craft or service, looking for the best practices, the best methods to provide their customers, and more importantly, their constructs. They instruct the constructs on how to perform their needed, dangerous tasks like tending fires, logging, mining, and cleaning, while also using them for beasts of burden to carry loads back and forth between both other conclave members and each other. The guild members are the leaders and foreman while the constructs do most of the work and get none of the credit.

Each Craftsman seeks to hone their craft, pushing their understanding to and practice to the limit, attempting to become acknowledged as a master and imprint their style and legacy on those who follow their footsteps. There is no major hall or recorded deeds, though a number of sages do consult the Guild members from time to time, there is simply the protracted apprenticeship and the word of mouth and best practices passed along to those mentored. Each of the individuals in the guild pushes forward with a singular drive that motivates them until their death.

The Guild Master is a young and masterful administrator, Tovoz Adriin, who seeks to build and run the most efficient organization ever devised. Unlike other leaders, the young master desires this position, and engages it with the vigor of youth, diving deeply into the details of trying to wrangle and communicate with hundreds of members spread across over a mile, including the farmers outside of the cities and the Wardens at the guard towers. He created the guild of messengers and criers from the young and spry, those who seek to be the fastest and fittest, striving to reach each destination faster than the most recent logged time, to enter their names in the record books for the ages. As Tovoz is only the third Guild Master in the history of the Conclave, and all have been superlative executives, it does seem that the leadership of the guild will become a guild itself, as Tovoz is mentoring over a dozen promising youths who could take over for him when his time comes.

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Conclaves of Izkoret, and as always,

until next time!