Council of Twelve
From Dragon Eye Atlas
The Council of Twelve is the ruling body of the Magocracy of Palan. It consists of the 12 most powerful and influential grandmaster mages of the realm, though this is not a strict definition of its composition, due to the way its members are chosen.
The Council has not always ruled Palan. In the early days of the realm (677 BV to around 500 BV) while having been officially reformed into a Magocracy, Palan was still ruled by a mage-king. Between 500 BV and 408 BV, the mage-king became a pure figurehead and a kind of parliament, a gathering of the important members of the various Mages' Guilds, ruled over the realm. In 408 BV, Palan ruled by the Council of Three took over from this never officially named gathering as the ruling body, replacing the kind with three powerful mages as official heads of the realm. This arrangement lasted until 271 BV, when it was enlarged to a Council of Six for purely political reasons, as an attempt to stop the fighting over those three posts and simply invite the three main competitors for each chair into the circle. This proved to be even more unstable and the Council of Twelve formed in 201 BV, with clear succession rules.
Being a member of the Council of Twelve is the highest position one can attain in Palan. As such, the rules for succession were one of the most important parts to be created when the Council was formed.
Every seat on the Council has an associated **heirloom** - a magic item of considerable power. It is possession of those items that proves someone's right to sit on the Council. The actual rules are more complex than just that, however, to deter petty theft and other low trickery. Whoever claims to have gained possession of an heirloom must be able to retain it for three weeks after his announcement, during which he must keep it near his person at all times, and make his whereabouts publicly known at all times. Others may prove they are more worthy by taking it from him. To do so, however, they must be authorized by at least one current member of the Council.
The unwritten rules of succession are slightly different. During their reign, Council members typically choose a successor - a younger, promising mage that they often tutor or arrange tutoring for. Upon their death or retirement, the heirloom is passed on to the chosen successor, just like a normal inheritance would. He then announces his possession, starting the process and - if he can hold on to the artifact - joining the Council three weeks later. Those successions often go unchallenged.
Council members often retire when they become older, and worried about some upstart who is not a chosen successor to try and take their heirloom by force. This does, in fact, happen from time to time, and in some of those cases, a Council member finds an untimely death. Typically, the chosen successor will be authorized to challenge the thief. If the Council member himself survived, he will often authorize himself and take the artifact back. At times, other challengers are authorized as well, resulting in a short-term war among mages over ownership of the artifact in question. While there is sometimes collateral damage when physical spells are used to settle the matter, the whole thing more often than not goes largely unnoticed by the general public.
It can, however, go on for some time as every change of ownership leads to a new announcement of possession and a new three week period. This is true even when someone takes the artifact back, as the rules of succession state that he must hold on to it consecutively. Possession is considered to have changed when the new owner has publicly announced his possession, so it does sometimes happen that the artifact actually changes hands for a few minutes or hours, but is retaken before such an announcement can be made.