An organisation in the Dungeons and Dragons world of the Forgotten Realms found in the nation of Amn. Their official function is to regulate and control the use of arcane magic within Amn. The populace of Amn has enough of a distrust of magic users that, though the Cowled Wizards make use of powerful magic themselves, they are given the freedom to do nearly anything they desire in the name of protecting Amnish citizens from harmful magic. This blind trust gives the Cowled Wizards a lot more power than is necessary for their function and the bureaucracy of the Amnish government ensures that few complaints about anything relating to the government, including the Cowled Wizards' activities, are heard. A lucky spellcaster ignorant of the Cowled Wizards' laws might only receive a warning upon the first offense but few are that lucky.
The Cowled Wizards played an important role in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, as they captured both one of the player character's closest companions and greatest enemies. The Wizards operate Spellhold, a magically sealed asylum used to imprison those they have captured and halt their spell casting capabilities, claiming that magic users within Spellhold are being rehabilitated after having their minds corrupted by magic. Few prisoners ever leave Spellhold alive and the fortress has been used to keep some imprisoned for political reasons as well. In BG2, a licence can be purchased for five thousand gold pieces in Athkatla's government district to legally practice magic within Amn, so long as that magic isn't used to harm anyone (unprovoked, assumedly). If the player character is a mage or sorcerer and gains a structure called the Planar Sphere as his or her stronghold, the Cowled Wizards will approach the player character about training a few new recruits for them.
Along with the Council of Six and the Shadow Theives, the Cowled Wizards make up a third of the most powerful people in Amn. Since members of the Council of Six remain anonymous to most of the nation's populace, it is possible and quite likely that at least one member of the Council is also a member of the Cowled Wizards. This would further ensure the Cowled Wizards remaining in power.