The Arcane College
Aeranore’s gnomes value the study of magical arts, history, and sciences above all others. Long ago they founded an institution in Aeranore where all gnomes could attend to receive an education in these areas of the highest pedigree. The Arcane College was meant just for Aeranore’s gnomes when it was founded, but now its presence and influence has spread.
Every major city in Findalay and Parian has a campus to which members of any race are welcome to apply. Now with various fields of study, The Arcane College has become the Canus A-List academic institution.
Fields of Study
Retired adventurers, young academics, and everyone in-between can be found on the faculty of The Arcane College. If you’re at the top of your field, they want you, and they’ve got the hiring package to back it up. In addition to a healthy salary, professors are offered free room and board in spacious campus apartments, the ability to take free classes themselves, free travel to other campuses, and funding for expeditions and independent studies (provided The College also profits from these pursuits).
There are major fields of study for any who come to the college as a pupil, either to specialize or receive a well-rounded education. Some of the fields of study:
- Arcane Magic
- Forbidden Lore
- Physical Combat and Martial Strategy
- Economics and Accounting
- Law and Government
- Nature Studies
- Unusual Beast Lore
- Cartography and Geography
- Geology and Earth Science
- Alchemical Sciences
- Mechanical Engineering
- Mathematics and Physics
- Foreign Languages and International Relations
Goals of The Arcane College
The mission statement of The Arcane College states: “We establish this collegiate institution to uncover mysteries of the natural and magical world, whether forgotten, lost, or as yet unknown. Our professors will light the candle of students’ minds, which shall, in turn, bring a glorious flow of knowledge to all people in the dark.”
From that flowery, pretentious statement it seems The Arcane College was founded to teach, experiment, research, and explore. That may have been true centuries ago when the establishment was founded, but at some point during the institution’s rapid expansion, another goal was added – profit.
Yes, The Arcane College continues to teach, but their tuition prices are steep. One can get a loan from The Arcane College, but, as we all know, in the long run the student would end up paying even more. Scholarships are only granted to the most gifted potential students, and in turn, those students must work for The Arcane College for free for four years after graduation.
And yes, The Arcane College experiments, researches, and explores, but they only fund those endeavors which will grant them a return and then some on their investment. For PR reasons, the institution will occasionally take on a high-profile project or expedition from which they shall not profit directly. This is a calculated risk. The College bets the prestige associated with that particular project will generate enough donations to turn a seeming net loss into a profitable venture.
That being said, The Arcane College makes its money through discovery and exploration. They have many folk in Verda learning about new cultures and mapping out areas unexplored. They have even sent (often ill-fated) expeditions into The Damned Lands. The Arcane College funded research that has given rise to air ships, underground railways, and hasted cobblestones that speed travel throughout Canus. They have experimented with cheaper technologies and better medicines. When the kingdoms of Canus were truly in trouble, they have to rise up with the goodly folk, as they did during the War of the Crown.
The Arcane College is run by The Board of Arcane Directors, a group of gnome wizard professors, who are each in charge of running one of the campuses of The College.
Adventures with The Arcane College
The Arcane College provides many opportunities for PCs. They might be contracted to serve on an expedition, guard the transportation of The College’s goods and services, or be called upon to help face a greater threat. One of the Directors may hire the adventurers to investigate a murder on campus he or she is hoping to keep quiet or to spy on another Director who may be engaged in underhanded dealings. The Arcane College has several zoos full of exotic beasts, and adventurers can earn coin by capturing and turning over odd beasts to the institute. The more rare and dangerous an animal, the higher the pay.
The PCs might become professors and teach in the downtime between adventures, or pursue an independent study, expedition, or experiment of their own if they can convince the institution to give them a grant. Which The Arcane College may do after a lengthy review process and cost-benefit analysis.
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March 20, 2014 @ 9:22 am
Awesome idea. Really got me thinking.
One neat thing about institutes like the Arcane college is their libraries… many of which contain books that might be unsafe/questionable/sentient/trapped. The second of Garth Nix’s “Abhorsen” books, “Lirael”, is all about a young apprentice librarian who goes on adventures into the “forbidden” sections of her library (all those books are awesome, by the way).
When I played a cleric of the Knowledge God in my first 4e campaign, we decided that every church (which was also a library) had a teleportation circle in it, connected to other libraries, for the inter-library loan system (which, in emergencies, could be accessed by high-ranking clergy of the church).
And I wonder if you have any god of secrets (like Vecna in the D&D cosmology) who might have agents stealing information or hiding it within these Arcane Campuses. Could make for a good spy-type adventure hook. Or maybe if certain nations demand that the College only teach approved forms of magic within their borders.
I’d be curious to see if any of those who “were asked to leave” the Arcane College (for behavior problems, practicing forbidden arts, displaying wild magic tendencies, etc) might have formed their own sort of rejects’ school, or maybe there are charlatan professors who aren’t as good who offer classes to those who fail the entry exams to the Arcane College (not unlike Mr. Emelius Browne in Disney’s “Bedknobs & Broomsticks”). Or maybe there’s a rival school system that engages in inter-collegiate competitions with the Arcane Academy folks.
Many possibilities. But I always love seeing institutes of Knowledge put into fantasy worlds… if I knew there was a formula to make fireballs & lightning bolts shoot from my hands, you can bet your sweet bippy I’d try to start organizing that information in a way that could be properly taught to others with the right temperament. Ideas like the Arcane College just always put my world-building brain in overdrive. Knowledge is power, after all.
March 20, 2014 @ 1:55 pm
These ideas are awesome. The inter-library loan system is a common theme amongst campaigns, since my last 4e campaign had an invoker librarian who’s goal in life was to create the Eberron inter-library loan program.
Definitely thinking about an alternative college who has some different standards and practices. That would be awesome. Also love that there was just a B&B reference.
I agree about institutes of knowledge in fantasy worlds! Hogwarts, people. Hogwarts.
March 22, 2014 @ 11:28 pm
I agree with the other comments…this in particular seems like a mix of Korranburg library of Eberron Zilargo (or however the library was spelled) and Eberron’s Morgraive University.
March 26, 2014 @ 10:11 am
Don’t know if any of you played Mage: The Ascension back in the old days 2nd ed World of Darkness (back in the 90s), but it had some neat ideas about knowledge and the mind. One of the mage groups, the Akashic Brotherhood, was a group of monks who had this great mystical concept of Knowledge, where every thought or piece of Knowledge that ever could or would be had was in a metaphysical shared consciousness “library”, and every time someone had a new idea, they were accessing that library. Ultimate enlightenment meant not only fully opening your mind to the library, but also losing your “self” as you understood your connection to the thoughts of every other person. Yeah, Mage got pretty weird sometimes (but in a good way). Anyhow, that might be an interesting religious sect or concept to throw at some folks attached to the Arcane College.
It might also be interesting to have a Linux vs Microsoft conflict with academics in your world… some want to create these schools to sell their proprietary version of that knowledge, while others believe in free, unrestricted knowledge for everyone.
OOooh! And if there is currently no god of Knowledge, maybe these colleges could be used to drum up divine support for someone to rise to that role (not sure how gods work in your world, but the idea of prayers needed to support a deity is fairly common).
I just can’t stop having thoughts about this college. Makes me want to run a game of just academics in your world.
March 26, 2014 @ 8:58 pm
Man these are some really good ideas. Aaaaaaanddddd stealing.