Coldforged Culture: The Colleges of Killbarum: Pt2

I continue rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. This week we’re going to begin covering another 5 Mage Colleges of Killbar. Let’s dive in.

There are a lot of Colleges in Killbarum, and many have closed, been destroyed, or come to other ends. Still, others have emerged from the Blight, purge, and destruction and offer their services. Here is the second of three articles on the mainstay of Killbaran Culture, these mage colleges. There are dozens in both the remains of the republic in the city-states, and within what is now Nova Killbarum. Making your own college is a great way to bring your character into the story, and a great way to add depth to both a region and a game set in Killbarum.

The Amorphous Conclave

Within the Telvus Swamp, sitting in the mist and burbling pools, a bulbous edifice springs forth like a massive pustule. This is the Grand Halls of Transformation, the school of the Amorphous Conclave. Here it has stood for generations as a magnet to those who would seek to change their bodies, and the bodies of others, into forms other than their own.

The Amorphous conclave has never been a powerful group within Killbarum, but it has taken part in directing many of the policies that now exist and the powers that have ruled the republic.  There have been few times in the Republics’ history that it could be ruled by a single school, and the ruling coalition has almost always included the Conclave. The conclave studies not only magical, but scientific transmutations, leaning heavily into the realms of Chemistry, Herbalism, and Alchemy as a foundation of their arcane research. This science-based approach attracts many of the logical minded and tempered candidates for the school and tends to graduate individuals with respect for both science and the arcane.

Unlike other, now destroyed colleges, the Amorphous Conclave was located in an out of the way and perilous location. The Telvus swamp is no place for the inexperienced explorer or student, and can easily swallow up the unwary both through natural hazards and through rumored monstrous creatures that the Conclave has birthed over the years. The Conclave, in a display of unity, reached out and escorted numerous mages into their confines, setting up a protectorate of those who were vulnerable. Though the General railed against the Conclave and denounced its actions, its defenses were never tested by his armies, unable as they were to make it past the natural barriers.

Today, the Amorphous Conclave is accepting new students, and still maintains itself as a safe haven for arcanist refugees. They have limited influence on the nearby Warlords, though they maintain their independence through the same methods that kept themselves safe during the Mages Purge. Mages of the Conclave maintain a good reputation to this day among the Killbarum, looked upon by many as heroes for the actions.

The Tribunate of Observance

Standing strong in the middle of the Massian Plain stood the tower of the Tribunate. Within its hallowed halls stately, elegant masters of the arcane discussed quietly the relative differences between Transmutation and Abjuration, of the elemental confluxes of Lighting and Ice, and the philosophical differences between republic and Empire. It was here that many of the most notable and powerful individual arcanists within the republic were trained, putting forward its agenda and ensuring that the power remained firmly within their coalition.

The Tribunate’s acceptance criteria were always one of academic excellence and superlative arcane prowess, but it was clear that the more powerful your family was, and the more influence you would be able to wield for the Tribunate, the more likely you were to be accepted to the prestigious and powerful group. Within the Tribuante itself, there was even more influence to wield among the competing branches of power within the halls, and within the different provinces and towns that competed against each other for accolades and fame.

The Tribunates prominence and hubris was, as all things of its ilk, its greatest downfall. Their prominent tower and undefended walls were no match for the combined might of the Generals army during the Mage Purge, and the concentration of power it held was too great of a target for it to not be attacked. As the General marched on the Tribunate, some fled, some prepared to fight, but for the most part, the members believed that they could negotiate and leverage their way out of their situation. They were unfathomably wrong. There were no negotiations, there were no overtures, and there was no request for surrender. The bombardment came, it never stopped, and those inside it were reduced to rubble along with the edifice itself. There were no survivors.

Today, the Tribunate exists through the teachings of the few who fled, or were outside of the walls and survived the time of the Purge. Where once they were numerous and powerful, they now bide their time for a chance at glory and power once again. Many of those who live have flocked to Nova Killbarum and its Magus Numare, seeking as he does to recreate the power that once was.

The Alchemaelia

Within the city of Cacinium, to the north of Killbar, stood the Alchemaelia, a blocky and traditional Killbaran structure of high domes, majestic columns, and grand arches. Its doors were open to all, and visitors poured into its halls on a daily basis. The home of the oldest studies of magic, alchemy and enchantment, its classrooms, and studies took on a revered and timeless status. It never became the grand center of Arcanology that the Tribunate did, but it was able to guide, in its own way, aspects of Killbaran life.

The Students of the college were often those of common blood, families, and people with no connections, no wealth, and no power. They would be given educations not only in the arcane, but also in the mundane subjects of mathematics, philosophy, rhetoric, and alchemy. It was here prominence began for many families of legacy and power that traced their roots, not to the founding of the Republic, but the discovery of arcane blood within their veins. The Alchemaelia, once the student had been educated in a traditional sense, would be taught the fundamentals of arcane theory and alchemy, with an emphasis on alchemy as a vessel for magical power. It was proud to produce accomplished crafters who brought into this world dozens of new potions, unguents, and poultices.

Like many colleges, the Alchemaelia suffered greatly from the Mage Purge and the dictatorship of the General. Being within the city limits made the college more vulnerable than most, turning its greatest asset against it. Many of the Collegiates left as soon as trouble started, fleeing to their lofts, villas, or family homes. Few returned, and when the place was ransacked, little of worth was found within, and it was left to fall into disrepair, a deadly reminder of what once was.

Now, the Alchemaelia lies abandoned, its grand halls in disrepair and its stones used, from time to time for furtherance of local buildings needing repair. Its students and staff scattered to the winds, either hunted down and killed, fled across the continent, or settled into a new life. The College is likely to die out, with many of those who would have passed on information living a life of retreat and solitude. There will be some, of course, that pass on their work to another generation but without assistance and intervention, the ruins will crumble into dust and new buildings.

Imperial College of the Arts of War and Sorcery

The Citadel teaches students melee combat and interleaves it with the arcane arts. The Imperial War College, in contrast, teaches students arcane warfare. The Imperial War College sits on its own campus, a fortressed monetary dedicated to the deadly arcane arts on the Imerian peninsula, a fortress in its own right. From here, the mages that were part of the Killbaran army would march to war alongside the legionaries and Praetorians, a conquering force bristling with magical power.

The students at the Imperial War College tended to be a little closer to the unstable side of life, with individuals who enjoy being close to death and destruction on a massive scale being drawn to the workings of magical devastation. Some few also study war in an academic method, studying the best use of magical theory and applied Arcanology. It was these eccentric and often volatile arcanists, many of them with literal magic flooding their veins, who would graduate the College and take their place in the military.

During the Mage Purge, the Imperial College of Arts and war remained untouched and unthreatened throughout. It wasn’t simply a lack of time or desire, as the General rooted out any mages within the military and executed any that stayed around, it was a lack of capability. The deep forest and high plateau of the college provided some measure of security, but the deliberate destruction of the bridges that lead to the college by the mages themselves prevented any serious assault from being brought to bear in any meaningful way. The college suffered badly, however, from renegade mages inflicted with the Mage Blight, and the damage was done to the school, but it was nothing that the other mages could not handle.

Today, the College stands, much like its sister the Citadel, accepting students of magical warfare once again. It has been toured by Numare, and his ascension to Nova Killbarum’s Primarch is directly tied to their endorsement of his vision of a reborn Killbarum that can once again stand tall on the continent.

Caldera of Enlightenment

There are many places that will take their name from an esoteric and cognitive exercise. The Caldera is not one of those. Built-in the smoldering caldera of a living volcano on the Imerian peninsula, the Caldera sits inside its namesake, at the top of the most unforgiving portion of the entire republic. Within, The College built there focused on the ephemerality of existence, the temporality of life, and the permanence of enlightenment and knowledge. By observing and recording events in a passive manner and taking a central line through the world, more would be gained that the taking of one side or another. Right or wrong, they taught, was not determined by the person, but the outcome and history.

The Caldera attracted the most introverted and reclusive of mages. Forced to make a long trek through difficult terrain and up to the top of a mountain and across the lake to the cloud-veiled towers, they were proven to be both determined and tough. Once inside they were treated well, shown the deepest secrets of arcanists from before the sundering, the towers having survived even that calamity. They were given placid and quiet lessons, where they were shown, and expected to understand, the world’s foundations. The Caldera, however much a magical college, spent most of its time watching the rest of the world pass by, recording the fall of ages and the rise of kings. Through wars and destruction and famine and blight, the unmoving sages of the caldera watched it all, recording it for posterity, whatever that may be.

During the Mage Blight, the Caldera proved to be too difficult to assault simply due to its location. The winding and narrow stairs that lead to the caldera was destroyed, by the Mages themselves, and it locked off the force sent to secure and execute the mages of the college. Though they resisted, the college did so through the most basic manners, hiding in the clouds, preventing anyone from entering or exiting. Though many suffered as the college could not grow enough food for everyone, it did survive.

Having seen the growth of Nova Killbarum around them, from within the safety of their mountain home, they have emerged from hiding to offer assistance to Numare and training to those who make the trip. Where once there was a magnificent stone bridge over a massive gorge there now is a masterwork wooden edifice to guide those seekers of lore and enlightenment, of past, future, and present, to the halls of the Caldera once again.

Until next week, and Three more colleges!