Hell of a Summer
At the conclusion of the War of the Mark, Lord Hadran d’Cannith suggested that the houses formally cement their alliance by creating a citadel—a center for research and study of both arcane magic and the potential of the dragonmarked. Though there were only ten Dragonmarked Houses at the time, the architect and artificer Alder d’Cannith convinced the committee to name the institute the Twelve, based on his belief that there were twelve true dragonmarks in addition to the shattered Mark of Death. Alder was a brilliant man whose works had played a critical role in the War of the Mark, and the members of the committee humored him—though few expected the remaining two marks to appear. (The remaining two marks, Warding and Finding, were not “discovered” until after the creation of the Kingdom of Galifar.)
In the beginning, the Twelve played a critical role in shaping the Dragonmarked Houses, but as the houses have grown in power and spread across the land, its direct influence on the individual Houses has diminished. The Twelve currently operates two distinct functions.
First, and best known by the lay public, the Twelve operates the Citadel of Twelve, and that institute of arcane study remains one of the premier centers for magical research in Khorvaire. By combining the skills and mystical talents of the different marks, the wizards and artificers of the Twelve have created remarkable items. It took the combined skills of House Orien, House Cannith, and House Kundarak to create the safe-deposit vaults that allow Kundarak customers to deposit goods at one bank and withdraw them across the continent. Airships, the lightning rail, even the warforged—these marvels could not have been accomplished without the spirit of cooperation and discovery found among the Twelve.
An arcane institution funded by the dragonmarked houses, the Twelve operates out of a thirteen-tiered keep that floats above the city of Korth in Karrnath. As part of the agreements that ended the War of the Mark, Hadran d’Cannith suggested that the houses work together to create an institute for the application of magic—a foundation that would study dragonmarks and the more traditional forms of arcane magic. The keep was built by Alder d’Cannith, a visionary wizard and master fabricator who used his studies of the sky to determine that the keep should possess thirteen towers. “The moons suggest that the perfect number of dragonmarks is thirteen,” Alder cryptically explained, “but we shall call the institution the Twelve, for the thirteenth mark was cast off long ago.” No one argued with him.
Over the centuries, the institute has been responsible for many arcane advances. The artificers of the Twelve helped develop the airships operated by House Lyrandar, for example, as well as the message stations of House Sivis.
As an arm of the dragonmarked houses, the Twelve attempted to remain neutral during the Last War. However, many of the wizards and artificers of the Twelve had national loyalties that were stronger than their ties to the institute, and they chose to leave to fight in the war. Quite a few fell in battle. Now that the Twelve has resumed normal operations, it seeks to replace its fallen members and make sure that each house is represented. The Committee of Twelve oversees the institute.
The committee actually has more than twelve members; there are twelve dragonmarks, but the split of House Phiarlan and House Thuranni and the current troubles within House Cannith have caused the membership to fluctuate.
The Twelve has access to a tremendous array of mystical supplies and funding, and the greatest wizards and magewrights of the land fight for workshop privileges at the institute. Advances made at the institute are shared equally among the houses, although there are always rumors of one or more of the houses diverting funds for secret projects or attempting to conceal valuable discoveries.
As an institution, the Twelve seeks to advance the mystical arts. In particular, the Committee of Twelve looks for magical developments that have practical value to society and a potential for profit. The Twelve has a great deal to offer arcane adventurers. It has access to considerable stores of rare mystical components and a vast library of spells. Even the mundane can find the Twelve to be an invaluable asset, because the sages at the institute can quickly identify unusual magic items or artifacts. However, being a prestigious organization, the Twelve will not deal with adventurers until they have developed a positive reputation.
King Galifar I, not completely convinced of the dragonmarked houses’ neutrality and altruistic outlook, established the Arcane Congress as direct competition for the Twelve. Today, the two institutes of magical studies engage in a more or less friendly rivalry for resources, students, and arcane discoveries.
Second, and less well known outside the Houses, the Council of the Twelve acts as a coordinating body for the Dragonmarked Houses and an arbitrator of last resort for disputes among the Houses. Each recognized Dragonmarked House elects a member to serve on the Council of the Twelve for half a 5-year term, with no limit on the number of terms that can be served by a representative. These terms are staggered, with a new election every six months.
Laws and Enforcement
The Council of the Twelve is an arbitrating party rather than a legislative body. However, there are three laws that are important to the Council and the Houses that support it:
- Don’t go to war War threatens the fragile balance of power the Houses have established, not to mention wars cost a great deal of money. This law has prevented all-out war from consuming the planet, instead leading to a constant low-intensity shadow war.
- Publicly abide by the Korth Edicts The Edicts prohibit any member of a dragonmarked house from holding a grant of land and place limits on the size of house enclaves and the armed forces garrisoned there. Being seen to abide by these restraints keeps national governments from wanting to further restrict House activities. Any House being caught breaking the Edicts is a potential problem for all the Houses.
- Restitution for demonstrable damages If a House breaks, steals, kills, damages, or destroys another House’s assets (employees or property), and the target can prove it, the aggressor has to pay restitution. This law ties in strongly with the law against going to war, further encouraging a shadow war rather than overt aggression.