The Magic Users' Institute, or MUI (moo-ey) for short, is an impressively large and ostentatious white and black marble building in DiCi. It houses an impressive library of spells, techniques, histories and lore of the various magic types, and it opens its arms to anyone who can demonstrate either an aptitude for magic or the passion and determination to learn it , regardless of magical type. It is usually pompous and perhaps a little too concerned with maintaining the drama and mystery a magic user, in their opinion, needs. In a world where most people use the terms "magician", "cleric", or "priest", the Institute and its staff insist upon the older, traditional (and more inclusive) form "magic user."
That concern with drama and mystery goes for the Institute itself, of course. Even the Institute's home seems designed to intimidate the hell out of any who dare approach its gargantuan black marble doors or stare up at the gilded dome that dominates the center of the building. Of course, any non-magic users attempting entrance will regret the action: while there are no guards, there is an intricate spell woven on the door, a combination of Elemental and Spirit magic that reads the magic energy in a person's soul. While non-magic users can enter, they must have a special talisman, obtained for them by a member of the Institute, in order to avoid the hard psychic backlash that reaches out and smacks back any unworthy intruders.
And while it's true that any and all magic users are allowed into the Institute, there is a difference between a mere magic user and a member of the Institute. A magic user has restricted access to the Institute's secret and protections, whereas a member has a wider range of freedoms and is securely under the Institute's wing (and thumb). Naturally, being a member requires certain moral and monetary assurances to the Institute. However, unlike most other guilds, unions and governing bodies, the Institute is honestly a not-for-profit organization. Membership dues go back into the the services they provide, including 4 yearly parties, one for each individual magic type: one on Sun 15 for Holy Users, Pale 30 for Unholy Users, Freedom 13 for Spirit Users, and Leaves 28 for the Elemental Users. These parties are members-only, and have a reputation for getting well out of hand (especially the Unholy part), which means they also require extensive spells to keep the effects of the celebration from affecting the rest of the city (to say nothing of the cleanup). The parties are the highlight of the social calendars for these magic users: they're huge fun, a great way to network, and enormously expensive. Thus, most of the members are more than glad to chip in to help pay for them - and a lot of magic users sign up for membership to get into them in the first place. While any members is invited to any party, most tend to stick to their own type, which the Institute sort of implicitly encourages. A few drunk Unholy users at a Holy event, and things get nasty. Although a member cannot harm another due to the Code, insulting each other and throwing about of things are quite allowable.
Aside from the great parties, the Institute and its members look after each other and their immediate families quite aggressively. There is, as mentioned, unrestricted access to the Institute's library, which contains the notes and research of thousands of magic users, throughout the centures. These papers are, of course, restricted to members only, though basic books on spellcasting for the different types, comparisons and constrasts between them, and simple histories are available to all, even to non-magic users who are granted entrance. Members can both teach classes and take them at the Institute, and there are specially crafted and enchanted practice rooms, some as large as arenas, for perfecting a member's spellcraft. Naturally, you have to schedule classes and seminars and sign up for time in the practice rooms, but within these rules, no questions are asked, no restrictions made. You are a member, and are granted explicit trust because of this.
Becoming a Member of the Magic Users' Institute
It's not hard. You have to be a magic user or someone who wants to learn magic who is under the sponsorship of another magic user, preferably a member. While there are classes given at the Institute, they're generally higher-level beginner or advanced classes, or seminars and lectures on technique, so it's best to have your own teacher. If your teacher's a member, you'll have better access to the Institute's extensive libraries. However, a lot of people are interested in learning magic until they actually start attempting it, and then, for one reason or another, give it up, so any student is denied membership of their own 6 months.
But if you're already an established magic user, all that's required is to walk in the front doors, and ask the nice lady at the Information desk where you can sign up. She'll point you to the right, and at the end of a long and gorgeously appointed hallway, you'll step into a luscious office (to the right of hte door is an engraved gold plaque that reads "membership Office"), where the equally nice man behind that desk will ask you a few innocuous questions, then hand you a form to fill out and sign - in blood. You are then given a dime-sized silver disc on a long silver chain, a sort of dogtag. Engraved on the front of the tag is the MUI crest; turn it over and you'll see your signature appear on the back, underneath MUI's designated symbol for your magic type (the Holy Sun, the Unholy moon, the Elemental Planet, and the Spirit Star). This is your proof of membership, and you are encouraged to have it on your person at all times. While altering the way you wear the tag is allowed (some have made them into a bracelet charm, sewn them into their clothes, or just shoved the whole thing into their pockets), the tag itself is enchanted against tampering, melting, and most other forms of physical or magical destruction.
Once you have your tag, that's it. You are now an official member. Membership dues for the first year are due within a month - you can pay monthly, bi-monthly, semi-annually, or all at once for the year, as you wish. And of course, you are now bound to the Institute's Member Code. This is not an option - the tag enforces the Member Code upon you. Should you "misplace" the tag, it is possible to sidestep some of the minor Code articles, but the major ones (as noted below) are still impossible to violate. THIS is the reason you sign your membership contract in blood.
Technically, none of the Code should be considered "Minor" or "Major" by a member's standards: they are all to be upheld equally. However, since certain articles can be circumvented by the removal of the member tag from your person, those that cannot be violated no matter what must be marked. Thus, "Minor" Code articles and "Major" ones; there is no way to violate a Major Code article so long as you remain a member of the Institute. Naturally, you may return to the Membership Office and ask to be stricken from the rolls; you will sign another contract, again in blood, and your tag must be returned at that time as well. If you look at the tag after you sign the contract, the front will still display the MUI crest; turning it over will reveal your signature un-signing itself (as if you were erasing it starting at the end and going perfectly over each letter back to the first initial) and the symbol of your type will be gone. Soon the entire backside will be blank and smooth, as if it had never been imprinted. You will be refunded what dues you have paid for htat particular year (if any), and wished well on your journey. You may rejoin again at a later date - but it is the last time you may join. If you rescind your membership a 2nd time, you will no longer be allowed membership after that date. And naturally, once you are no longer a member, all member privileges disappear, immediately.
As a member, you will receive:
Code of the Magic Users' Institute
Violation of these articles will require strict punishment, said punishment to be voted upon and meted out by a Council of the violator's peers.
As a member, you will receive: