Mages are an individualistic lot and the Light Council is divided into many political factions. The two big questions in Light politics are:
• How should the Council deal with Dark mages?
• What sort of relationship should mages have with normal society?
The way a mage answers these questions determines who he’ll be aligned with. At last count there were seven major factions within the Light Council, and these factions will be covered in the three parts of this article as follows:
Part 1: Isolationists and Guardians
Part 2: Crusaders, Centrists, and Directors
Part 3: Weissians and the Unity Bloc.
Factions or Parties?
The Light factions are closer to systems of belief than they are to political parties, though they’ve got things in common with both. Since mage society is relatively small most of the participants in Light politics know each other, and as a result there isn’t any need for the large-scale campaigning and publicity work that the parties in a mass democracy have to do.
Individual mages don’t belong to a party in the manner of an American congressman or a British MP – they’re likely to have one faction that they identify with and consider themselves members of, but this is usually informal. ‘Informal’, however, does not mean ‘unimportant’, and at the higher levels a mage’s choice of which factions to associate with is very serious business.
The edges of Light factions are blurry and it’s not always easy to say exactly which faction a mage is a member of: the Guardians and Crusaders in particular have a big overlap and the Centrists have something in common with just about everyone. For this reason it’s hard to get an exact count on their numbers, although it’s generally agreed that the biggest faction is the Centrists.
The Isolationist faction of the Council want to have as little to do with normals as possible. It’s an old faction, dating back to the bad old days of the mage/normal wars, and it hasn’t changed much. Humans have always been dangerous, but now with the rapidly advancing pace of modern technology they’re more of a threat than they’ve ever been, and Isolationists fear that normals (given the chance) will inevitably end up resenting mages and trying to destroy them. The Isolationists’ solution to this is to make sure normals never have any reason to suspect that mages exist in the first place. Mages should stay as far off the radar of normal society as possible.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Isolationists are the strongest supporters of the secrecy clauses of the Concord. In fact they don’t think the Concord goes far enough; if they had their way they’d institute a full-on suppression program with punishments for any mage who draws publicity. The Isolationists’ other goals vary from mage to mage and come a very distant second in priority. Secrecy is everything.
The Isolationists’ closest allies are the Centrists. Just like the Centrists, the Isolationists want peace with Dark mages, but for a different reason: the Isolationists think that normals are the real threat and squabbles with Dark mages risk drawing attention. Isolationists are suspicious of the Directors – they’ll grudgingly admit that control over normals is useful, but they’re always afraid that the Directors will screw up and the normals will figure out that they’re being used. However, the faction the Isolationists really hate are the Weissians. They’re absolutely convinced that the Weissians’ grand plans will end in disaster and that the only hope for the Light Council is to make sure they’re blocked. So far, they’ve succeeded in doing just that.
The Guardian faction harks back to the original Treaty of Light signed by the very first Council. Those who signed the Treaty swore to protect all humans both from monstrous creatures and from the Dark, and the Guardians carry on that legacy to this day. They believe that the highest calling of mages is to protect the human race from supernatural threats.
In the past Guardians would hunt down Dark mages and monsters, but these days they’re generally reactive rather than proactive: they won’t target anyone unless they believe them to be a clear threat to humans. Guardians used to be the dominant faction of the Council but with the decline of magical creatures there are fewer obvious threats for them to mobilise against and much of their support has gradually drifted away. Nowadays most threats to humans come from other humans and mages are less keen to take action against their own species.
The Guardians generally get on fairly well with the rest of the Council. They’re often called militant or idealistic or out-of-touch, but all the same they get a certain grudging respect for the fact that whenever something really horrible shows up it’s the Guardians who’ll be the first to step up to face it. (It also helps that the Guardians are usually practical enough to get the support of the other factions before they go kill something.) The only group with whom the Guardians have much friction are the Unity Bloc, as the Guardians dislike the Unity Bloc’s willingness to look the other way when it comes to Dark activities.