The largest organization in Stormhaven dedicated to magic is the Black Crown, based in the Upside tower of the same name. The mistress of the Black Crown, Gretchen VanFleet, scrupulously avoids calling her mage collective a guild, though they perform many of the same functions. Training, spell research and some limited trade in magic items all occur within its walls. The Black Crown is closely allied with the government, and serves as an unofficial policing agency for the spellcasting community.
There are other, smaller groups of allied spellcasters, but they have neither the prominence nor influence of the Black Crown and rarely operate in public. Most independent wielders of magic make their wealth hiring out their talents to the guilds and crafting minor items that are useful to merchants. Their choice in spells reflects this inclination, with divination, air, and water elemental spells enjoying greater popularity than offensive magic. Still, there is great opportunity for more violent spellcasters, for the guilds and other power groups understand perfectly that magic is particularly useful for pacifying rivals.
The Black Crown stands tall in the exact center of Upside, surrounded by acres of impeccably manicured lawns dotted with willow trees, waterfall fountains and pocket gardens of rocks and exotic flowers. It is the home of the Archmage Gretchen VanFleet and the heart of magic in Stormhaven. The Black Crown is a slender windowless tower, just over four stories high and tapering to a needlepoint. It is carved from a single block of obsidian, free of ornamentation and perfectly smooth to touch. It gets its name from the eight cannonballs, magically ensorcelled to swirl about its apex in an eternal, chaotic orbit. Four sets of wooden, ironbound doors are the only access to the tower’s interior, one facing each of the cardinal directions. The doors are never locked and there is no visible evidence of knockers or hinges. Each opens smoothly inward with a touch, soundless save for a persistent squeak from the west door. Past a permanent illusion of darkness lies a comfortable lobby, a place where scholars of the arcane arts can sit back and spend some time with their fellows in a relaxed and almost social environment. One of Gretchen’s apprentices, either Edria an elven female, Semmian also an elven woman, or Davron a human male can be found here at all times, in charge of the business end of the tower.