An architect is not a mere builder. While experience with all the trades that create a structure is a part of his expertise, he does not do the manual work. He conceives the idea of a building, and makes it material. The architect is to be concerned firstly with the construction. This encompasses all the practical matters of site, of materials and their limitations, and that of human capability. The second concern is "articulation"; the building must work and must please and suit the needs of those who use it. The third concern of the architect is aesthetics, both of proportion and of ornament.
The Brotherhood is something between an exclusive gentleman’s club, and a secret society; only true architects are allowed, the membership is therefore small. In a given town, unless it is very large, there won’t be more than a handful of architects, or even one. Meetings will be held in rented places or in private rooms rather than specially devoted locales.
The main goal is the sharing of the valuable knowledge on art and building. Of course there are also more ‘esoteric’ or moral aspects, as advancing the truth, or uplifting the human condition, but those are really in the background, given serious thought by only a few members. Foremost is but the mastery of the craft, and preservation of the secrets of construction.
More valuable than arcane can be local knowledge. A new architect in town can expect useful information from his peers, like customs that are best not broken, and the right people to speak with.
Particularly the relations to local groups can be difficult. Once organized in some way, the workers tend to demand ever more pay and try to do less work, the suppliers to save their expenses, and some customers are just unmanageable. Knowing authority figures that are reasonable and willing to help (or can be bought in the worst case) saves plenty of time and money. The groups range from smaller or larger construction crews, up to officially recognized Guilds as the Society of Brick-Brothers. The question of quality is similarly important.
The mark of membership is a simple ring, it slightly varies across the kingdoms, but a compass and a stonemason’s hammer are almost always included. The ring is usually a gift from a master to his pupil when he is considered worthy, a mark of the end of apprenticeship. A few architects have even their own name on it, and use it as a signet ring. Name or not, many like to leave the mark in the parts of the buildings they have created.
On the inside may be a personal motto of the wearer; the sentence was sometimes used to exchange encrypted messages to a known colleague.
Note: the Brotherhood is NOT a freemason-like organization (but can be upgraded to something like that, if desired).
The Depths of the Art
To know much about a subject gives power over it, and in a world of magic it is doubly true. These abilities are mere cantrips, not full-blown spells. In fact, most architects would deny they have anything to do with magic, and it is merely their expertise that provides them with the information.
Each power works only on the caster/architect himself, range cannot exceed one clearly defined limited space (like a room). Typically, the architect would slowly walk around the room while inspecting it, lost in thought and muttering for himself, then suddenly note "Hey, this isn’t right!" to the builder’s annoyance.
The casting time depends on such factors as architect’s experience, his familiarity with the place, whether he designed it, or was present during construction time, and so on.
The Finger - by the means of touch, the architect can feel with a good precision whether something is perfectly horizontal (or vertical).
The Hand - by laying hands on a structure and concentrating, one can discern something of its stability and the forces that have effect on it. One application could help to find the main supports in a single room (of course by walking around and touching all walls and pillars, so that could take some time).
The Eye - how perfect are the straight shapes, and the curved shapes, all this can the eye see. Beauty and stability both depend on them.
The Foot - walking around the room, one can discover in which way(s) it slopes, and where the water would flow to or stay.
The Sense - one can feel the humidity, and where it most likely comes from; but also feel the air moving through cracks and the like. This may help with completely unrelated activities, like finding concealed architectural elements.
The Mind - concentration is needed in many mundane tasks. This power is most often used while drawing floorplans: hours may need to be spent without interruption, not minding the outside world. One will be exhausted after such a work, but envisioning a work of art, and bringing the vision to others is worth it.
Your home, your fortress
Centuries of experience in building, working with masters of warding magic, research, and the occasional ‘borrowed’ text were all needed to amass the wisdom of what means ‘safe housing’ in a realm of supernatural forces.
It is the choice of building materials, the skelet of the construction, and especially the foundation. The protective power may not be large, but even a little protection makes the life easier; also, such a building easily accepts more warding magics (a minor bonus to warding spells cast on it).
Note: It could be iron nails in every window and door against the fae, or an uninterrupted line of salt throughout the building against the spirits, holy symbols hidden in many shapes and structures against the undead, and so on. There can be protections devised against general magical attacks, or specific forms (fire magic, divination, anything). The question is - what are the dangers in a given game world?
Note: in my vision, these architects are not casting any spell here, merely building the most powerful ‘natural’ wards that are possible. However, you can give them some measure of power, or even make them true low-level wizards specializing in warding.
In or Out: as usual, there’s a very inaccessible location the PCs want to get in, or get someone out from. The architect is similarly inaccessible (maybe imprisoned, or dead… and it wasn’t an accident), the plans nowhere to be found. But his peers may know of plans to similar facilities, or author’s personal preferences. Time to become friends with them.
The new member: a renown architect from far away arrives, eager to take over the large project currently in works, its master being very sick. But the man doesn’t act as would be expected, and seems to avoid the local experts… quickly, is there a crook within reach of this month’s wages?
Begone: if you happen to have an indestructible evil item/demon/whatever at your hands, you might want to hide it forever. You could do worse than having a member of this group aid you in designing and building the prison.
Credits: special thanks belongs to Wulfhere and Chaosmark, who brought important new insights to the Art. Long live the chatroom!