Intro to occult, aptitude, what is seen as occult
Wizards of the Steel Realms are bound in the rare self taught ability, Master-Apprentice, or guild relationships. Adventurer wizards are difficult in that they must seek out places of power, places of ancient knowledge that are un-looted, creatures of power, or kill other wizards. Killing other wizards runs the risk of incurring the wrath of the guild or master they are tied to. A wizard without a patron is distrusted (at best) by most. It means the use of their power has less consequences, they are more apt to use it.
Alliances: Many individuals and orders forge alliances with like-minded entities. The exchange of students, current events, some knowledge, access to items and places of study and magical knowledge, and just mundane benefits (places of rest, basic sustenance, a place to congregate with like-minded individuals, etc.). Each alliance description will list its allies and what level of Presence the allied members must have in order to gain benefits (reflective of the level of service as well).
An spell book is passed down as part of a family or business prize. The character’s natural aptitude and study allow them to master it by will alone – with a great deal of study and practice. The character’s beginning spell book represent just such a tome. The advantage of being self taught is that none know your true capabilities and you are beholden to no one for knowledge or your station. These type of magi are willing to take shortcuts and risky paths in order to gain their power.
Formal institutions exist to organize occult knowledge and promote aspects of it to the world at large. These groups offer members avenues of training that are faster and safer than self discovery. It allows for mutual defense and the sharing of esoteric knowledge. These are generally based around schools and ideals; Most around a single school/focus that they do well. Membership benefits depend on being in good standing. If it is not sanctioned and in service to local rulers, it certainly at least defends the small locale its presence is in. All orders have membership, tithe, and/or contribution requirements.
Masters are personal sponsors and mentors. Their spell library should be worked out ahead of time by the GM and player. The player would have gravitated toward apprenticing with a wizard whose magics they were interested in.
Fonts of other-planar activity often contain hidden patterns and occult means of pulling knowledge from them; knowledge which may be inscribed in a spell book or scroll.
In the realms, there is a habit if inscribing occult knowledge on stone tablets and metal sheets (preferred/most common) – as a sort of permanent record for owners to fall back on in the event of a fire or loss of the more practical work. Such items can be reverse engineered and a spell inscribed in a spell book or scroll. This is where such things have not already been looted – making it difficult to ascertain if a “trip to the local ruins” will be worth it for the local wizard.
Ancient and powerful creatures can be controlled and compelled, befriended, or persuaded to share their occult knowledge. Ghosts, spectres, liches, dragons, and all manner of good and evil legendary creatures possess arcane and occult knowledge which can account for feats and spell knowledge.
Formal: Wizard Duels
A wizard can be challenged to a duel on 3 grounds: 1) Personal Enmity (grudge – usually to the death); 2) Worthiness (reputation); and 3) Challenge of Knowledge (often times personal knowledge is put forth in a contest – loser must give up some of their hard won knowledge – both parties pledge ahead of time).
Chance: Adventuring Encounters
Coincidental – during their travels one wizard comes upon another in a situation that puts them at odds and one’s death is another’s gain. Killing a wizard bound to a master or guild is no small thing and should be considered before done. The enmity of the wizard’s superiors may not be worth it. Defeat can be a stripping of their items, including spell book, without death… but sometimes it is necessary or cannot be helped.