The Magister of Mystra is one of the most mysterious—and misunderstood—beings in the Forgotten Realms. Some say the Magister is simply the most powerful mortal mage in all of Toril. Perhaps, but there is something more, something unique, about being so touched by the Mother of All Magic. Regardless, the mages of Faerûn foll up their sleeves and craft spells and items that they hope will empower them to win the office of Magister. A few will succeed. More will wish they'd never taken up magic in the first place.
Here at last, one can learn all the secrets, abilities, and sacred duties of the Magister. Plus, discover the fate of Lady Noumea and the identity of her successor as Magister. Also, read guidelines on how a PC mage might become the Magister.
This book holds the history of the office, new powers, spells, magic items, a roster of select magisters from the past, and guidelines on how to incorporate the Magister into your campaign.
One magister became a god; many others have hoped to.
FOR13: Secrets of The Magister (2000), by Ed Greenwood, was one of the final prestige-format Forgotten Realms books for AD&D. It was published in February 2000.
Origins. In the 90s, long after he'd submitted his huge initial flood of Realmslore, Ed Greenwood got to write new RPG books by first pitching topics to TSR (and later Wizards) and then producing the books that they were interested in. He pitched Secrets of the Magister because he thought it had a great mix of crunch (including spells, magic items, and even a few monsters) along with background that was full of adventure hooks. The publisher apparently agreed, as the book was accepted for the 2000 TSR schedule.
Ending the FORs. Saying what books really make up the later FOR series is a little fuzzy because TSR stopped using module codes in 1994, but later acknowledged that certain books fell within certain series. Secrets of the Magister has thus retroactively been assigned the code "FOR13." That said, this book is clearly the ninth in the series of black, gloss-on-matte covered books that began with FOR1: Draconomicon (1990) and that covered various "elements" of the Realms in more depth than had been seen before. It was also the last such book, and the last "FOR" book for that matter.
As they ran a total of eleven years, over nine (or thirteen) installments, depending on how you count them, the FOR books were the most long-lived series of supplements published for AD&D second edition—although a few series included more books, such as the very popular Monstrous Compendium range (1989-98) and the PHBR series (1989-95).
Though Secrets of the Magister was the final FOR book, it wasn't the final Forgotten Realms book for AD&D 2e. It was followed by two more game books, The Dungeon of Death (2000) and Cloak & Dagger (2000), as well as numerous novels and the final Volo book, Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate II (2000).
Expanding the Realms. The Magister, a chosen magician of Mystra, was first mentioned in Dragon #69 (January 1983). In that issue's "More Pages from the Mages," Greenwood presented a book called "The Magister":
This tome is commonly called "The Magister" after the title of the mage who is believed to have written it. (The Magister's tale is too long to be recorded here; suffice it to say that he was regarded as an unmatchable magic-user and a neutral force of what he saw as justice and reason, and is remembered with awe and respect for his deeds. He disappeared some ninety years ago; some say he now dwells on another plane....
Over the years, the Magister was mentioned here and there as a part of Realmslore. He even appeared in Ral Partha's Forgotten Realms Heroes box of miniatures (1988), which also included Drizzt, Elminster, Alias, and others. However, in all that material, there wasn't a lot of detail, not even in FR4: "The Magister" (1988); despite the name, FR4 was primarily a book of magic items and spell tomes. It included a mere two paragraphs about the eponymous mage, noting that a new magister, Nouméa, had been selected in 1354.
Secrets of the Magister corrects the prior neglect by providing extensive details on the selection of the Magister, notes on his powers, rules on magisterial magic, and an extensive list of select magisters dating back to "Azuth, the High One" and including the newest, "Talatha Vaerovree of Innarlith."
Future History. The Magister was somewhat retconned in D&D 3e. Where before he was clearly the champion of Mystra, in Magic of Faerûn (2001), he's said to be selected by all the deities of magic. In 4e, the Magister can be found as an epic destiny in Arcane Power (2009).
About the Creators. Greenwood is, of course, the creator of the Forgotten Realms. Secrets of the Magister was his only RPG book for 2000, though he also wrote Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate II, the finale to the Volo series of guidebooks.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons—a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.