Hey Greyhawkers! Coinciding with the internet buzz about Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, I'm gonna muse over my latest (and possibly last due to Blogger) poll, Which Wizard Would You Follow? Greyhawk is a land of many mages, none as famous as the Circle of Eight. I gave a major section of the group to see who people like if they were say an apprentice or henchmen of these notable wizards. Read on and enjoy.
Top of the list with 34% of the vote is Tenser. It was a close race but the lawful good archmage won the most followers. Tenser is one of the most potent wizards in history having plumbed the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, owning a magical castle on the Lake of Unknown Depths and created a vast spell repertoire to his name (who hasn't heard of his Floating Disk?).
Why Follow Tenser? For all his fame and glitz, he is the most honorable wizard in the Circle to serve. On the coast of the Nyr Dyv near his castle is a hamlet named Magepoint. This small village is entirely populated by Tenser's forces, all experienced veterans led by an elven fighter-mage named Cymria of Celadon. Tenser as mentioned is the moral center of the Circle for good, where most of the mages would try to follow "the Balance" he is one to hire heroes to do Good quests, or act out in defense of the Flanaess personally. His name-spells suggest this as many are martial themed such as Tenser's Transformation (gives fighter skill), Tenser's Flaming Blade or Tenser's Giant Strength. You can find many of his name-spells in either the Player Handbook, Greyhawk Adventures or Return of the Eight.
Next on the poll, not surprisingly is Mordenkainen with 27%. Mordenkainen is the defacto leader of the Circle of Eight. He is not necessarily the most powerful archmage in the group, nor its most likable. Mordy is however the most cunning and has his irons in many fires on Oerth and across the planes. Much like Tenser (both are from the Wild Coast as well), Mordy comes from humble adventurer roots having explored Greyhawk Ruins and Maure Castle - he likewise has a castle and an array of spells created in his name such as Mord's Faithful Hound and Mord's Disjunction.
Why Follow Mordenkainen? If you seek fame and fortune Mordenkainen is the wizard to follow. His Obsidian Citadel is deep in the Yatil Mountains a place where only the best of the best can get access and is defended by giants, a silver dragon and griffon riding fighters. His library of magic and knowledge of the outer planes, especially the Blood War between the lower hells and abyss is phenomenal. He travels to other prime worlds like Faerun to hobnob and trade spells with other archmagi like Elminster. For a neutral wizard, Mordy is very active and will keep his apprentices and henchmen busy on quests to gather information or items he needs. Beware though, Mordy is growing increasingly unhinged (he cut his hair off!) and might send you to your certain death (see Vecna Lives!)
Next up with 13% of the vote is Mordenkainen's long time adventuring buddy, Bigby. Bigby is the wizard best known for his hand themed spells like Bigby's Interposing Hand, Bigby's Crushing Hand and many more! Bigby once was from the Great Kingdom but has since moved into a modest house in Onnwal (see Treasures of Greyhawk).
Why Follow Bigby? For starters he is the real neutral voice in the Circle. Tenser chases evil, Mordy often plays his own side, but Bigby is the cautious voice in the party who tries to slow down their plots. Once an active adventurer like the others, Bigby now fronts as a merchant in Scant the capital of Onnwal and would make an unassuming mage to serve. He has all the powers and magical access of his colleagues, but doesn't show it off to the point of being defensive (his name-spells show it). Bigby as a master is a good choice for those who don't want to get caught up in every epic quest - yet could if the need arises.
Following Bigby with 10% of the vote is the only female member of the circle, Jallarzi Sallavarian. The youngest of the eight wizards, she was sponsored and pushed through to membership by Tenser in an attempt to give the group of neutral, old males some more Good direction. She is noted for her distracting beauty and her pseudo-dragon familiar, Edwina.
Why Follow Jallarzi? Why not!? She has a fabulous home in the City of Greyhawk, she is allies with other women in power like Constable Derider Fanshen and High Matriarch of Pelor Sarana and she trains lesser mages of good alignment. Jallarzi may still be new to the Circle but she has the trust of Tenser in the least. Adventurers whose patron is Pelor and show their loyalty to the defense of Greyhawk's domain would be her best followers. Don't get ideas of romance with Ms. Sallavarian though, she is rumored to be very friendly with Kieran Jalucian of the Guild of Wizards.
Let's finish up. Coming in last are two wizards who really are bad ass in their own right: Drawmij with 4% and Rary with 3%. Rary is the evil Ketite mage whose power is on par with Mordenkainen and eventually turned on the Circle and ran off to the Bright Desert with Sir Robilar. Drawmij is the aloof mage who lives under the Azure Sea and has a hatred of the Mage of the Vale. There is much to be read about these two and their spells in the books Rary the Traitor, City of Greyhawk boxed set and Greyhawk Adventures.
Why Follow Rary or Drawmij? The low vote for Rary is surely because of his switch from neutral to evil. Who would want to follow a notorious mage who offended not only the Circle of Eight and the entire city of Greyhawk, but his own brother, the sage Arkalan Sammal? Rary rules a remote, hostile desert with plenty of his own magical comforts and a defensible tower, yet most of his henchmen patrol and live abroad. Followers of Rary would surely be sent out to search ruins for lost magic in order to build up him and the realm. It's a thankless job, but you'd have fewer moral constraints to your quest.
Drawmij on the other hand is a neutral mage whose concerns are the seas. He is silent and secretive also making him a poor choice for a mage to follow (unless you are amphibious perhaps). Drawmij has magics few other wizards have ever seen however. He has boats capable of exploring the deepest oceans, time and dimensional magic items and an exotic undersea palace that once belonged to the Grand Druid. A follower of Drawmij might be on land instead, among the courts of Keoland and Celene perhaps as he does keep contacts in these nations, as well as keeping tabs on his enemy the Black One of the Vale.
Of course fellow mages Otto, Nystul, Otiluke and others from post-wars didn't make the poll. I imagine if they were included they'd finish even lower than Rary or Drawmij. Whatever the case, becoming a henchmen or apprentice for an uber-mage is an accepted trope for fantasy like Greyhawk. Maybe next time instead of your DM suggesting an NPC benefactor you can now suggest seeking one out on your own!