(An Information supplement for Fantasy Realms : World of T'Phon)
Copyright (c) 1995 By Joseph Teller
First Published in Interregnum APA #17
The Academy of Magical Arts and Advanced Studies in Tor-VarDen, herein referred to as simply as 'The Academy', was founded during the rein of King Justin, the 11th ruler of the Western Kingdom, and has stood on the same site since that historic founding. The buildings chosen for the Academy, it is said, had previously been unoccupied since the founding of the Kingdom itself. They are believed by many to have been set aside by Phon (or the gods) for the purpose of an academy.
Several additional buildings have been added over the centuries since the founding, and the Academy has grown in size, nature and importance so that it occupies most of the Southern bank of Tor-VarDen. A great stone bridge goes from the River 'Island of Commerce' to the Southern bank (and a second, less foreboding one goes from the Island to the Northern Bank).
A stone wall extends from the bridge in both directions along the bank, rising approximately to waist level, to provide some protection against potential river flooding in MaiPhon and to keep sleepwalkers from accidentally wandering into the strong current. This wall runs about a mile in length and was crafted during the rein of the 31st king, Roderic the Crafty. It was said that Roderic used the project as a means of paying out a large sum of government funds from the pockets of the Barons into those of several of the guilds to ensure his own position of power in face of a potential revolution.
Among the more visible, notable and impressive buildings upon the grounds of the Academy is the Great Hall of Academics (used as a general assembly hall and dining area), the famous Tower of Art (standing nearly 888 feet tall and second only to Phon's Tower for pure building size and architectural magnificence), the dueling Arena of Sajan (Sajan was a follower of Di'Chinu and believed that mages should have traits of a warrior in their philosophy and practices), the Tower Library and the popular Inn of the Enchanted Drummer.
Several lesser towers, dormitories, shops, storage warehouses, support staff residences, and lecture halls litter the landscape in a maze of twisty paths and promenades, decorated in a variety of styles, architecture, and tastes. Gargoyles sit upon building rooftops, spouting forth streams of rainwater (even upon absolutely clear, cloudless days), statuary of beautiful nude Nymphs leer lustlily at passerby's and ancient trees from across the planet and beyond cluster on grassy knolls where the ghostly apparitions of long-dead students that died in the process of final exams can sometimes be seen.
The Archchancellor is the head of the school, always a venerable mage who has worked his way thru the hierarchy and chosen by his predecessor. No woman has ever held the position, and legend has it that if such was to occur that disaster would encompass the Academy beyond comprehension.
Beneath the Archchancellor position are the Chancellor of Magical Arts and the Chancellor of Advanced Studies (one of whom is destined to replace the current Chancellor upon his death). Both these positions also require males to occupy them, because of the rules of succession.
Each Chancellor heads over the individual 'schools' within their category. Each school has a 'headmaster' that reports to the Chancellor. Under each headmaster are a series of lecturers who are the teachers of their specialties. Most lecturers have an assistant, usually known as an 'associate', normally a student that has graduated and is seeking to become a lecturer at the Academy.
Separate from this structure is that of the support services for the Academy. These are headed by the Bursar, who reports directly to the Archchancellor and is held to be equal to the two chancellor positions. The Bursar cannot become Archchancellor, and thus like all lesser positions in the structure, may be either male or female.
Beneath the Bursar are the head librarian (though the librarian also may report to either of the chancellors on matters dealing with records and books dealing with their own divisions), the head groundskeeper, the head chef of the kitchens, the head of building maintenance, the head of Academy security, the head butler, and the head of transportation services. The Bursar handles the finances of the Academy entire and is responsible for the Academy treasury. Many believe that since the bursar position is a position for life, like that of the Archchancellor, that the bursar is actually as equally powerful within the structure.
Students are of two types, those who are sponsored financially (by another mage, a noble, merchant family or other well off patron) and those who are given a scholarship based on their potential merit.
Sponsored students may be in any field and towards any study path. Scholarship students are usually towards a particular school or path of training, and about 90% of all scholarships are in the magical arts. Scholarship students are paid for (including tuition, basic fees and living expenses on campus) from the school's scholarship fund. Scholarship students are expected to repay the fund, with interest, after becoming financially productive members of society. They also are expected to work one day a week on campus while attending, usually in some task for the Bursar's office's various sub-divisions.
The cost to be a sponsored student varies based upon courses of study, the amount of damage the student does in the process of their studies, library fees, mage taxes paid to the city (For the wear and tear mages in training can do), and living expenses. Generally a sponsored student goes thru some 2-8 years (T'Phon reckoning) in training before graduation. A small percentage are offered associateships to join the faculty, the rest are set out upon the world as certified mages.
All students are required to be skilled in reading and writing before they are allowed admittance into the Academy, without exception.
The schools, and courses beneath the Advanced Studies Chancellor are presently:
Applied Advanced Art Studies
History & Antiquities Studies
The schools beneath the Magical Studies Chancellor are:
Philosophy & Religious Seminary Studies
The actual selection of schools and courses of study have changed over the years. Many times a specialty has been lost because there was no surviving teachers (thanks to feedback accidents in demonstrations), while a new specialty was introduced as a graduate student completed a research project that had spanned a decade.
Students are expected to pass courses in both Magical Studies and Advanced Studies, dependent on their particular study path.
Freshman (first year) students are issued a hat, which they are required to wear at all times in public to identify themselves as such. This is a tradition that goes back centuries, and is said was put into law to prevent undue dangers from overtaking them while on campus (from other students) and to warn the citizens of the city when they were off campus, in case of magical accidents while studying basic theory.
Formal hats are also worn at graduation ceremonies, indoctrination of a new ArchChancellor or when attending a funeral for alumni or staff of the Academy. The ArchChancellor wears his grand hat (a rather gaudy pointed affair with ermine, pearls, lesser gemstones etc.), which is passed down from ArchChancellor to ArchChancellor, whenever officiating at a public event, including the evening meal in the Grand Hall. The Chancellors have lesser hats, also worn when officiating at an event, but the bursar and other staff members do not wear hats at any time upon the campus.
Freshmen must live on campus throughout their first year, and are allowed no overnight guests of any gender or relation during that year. After their first year they are allowed to be housed off campus (at their own expense) or can move to more spacious 'scholars quarters' (at a higher cost of course) where the rules are more relaxed.
The Academy operates year round, there is no break period from operations, but all official holidays, feasts and festivals are respected and observed throughout the year. Graduation usually occurs exactly 8 days before Har-Fest, and the week following is one without classes, relaxed rules of conduct and various private festivals and gatherings.
Another holiday popular with students is the Fest T'Dallah, and no classes or class oriented activities occur during this public holiday. It also acts as a 'weeding out' of the less serious students, as many seem to receive a religious calling after this week and leave their studies behind for good.
Final Exams occur two weeks before Graduation and are the most tension filled period of each year. It is the period when the highest number of assaults, suicides, duels, and even assassinations occur on the campus. Campus security runs double shifts for the entire week and are issued special magical equipment to held deal with the increased violence and risks of their duties.
Research experiments are important to the mage oriented class studies in the Academy - would be mages must choose, create and perfect a new magical spell in order to receive their certification from the Academy (without certification it would be nearly impossible to gain a well paying position with a Baron or to acquire an associate position in the Academy itself). This research, of course, has its price, as new magic is always dangerous, and even more so in the magic saturated grounds and buildings of the Academy where background feedback levels compound any mistake by anywhere from a factor of 5 to as much as 50, in mechanics terms.
Occasionally graduate students, certified mages, will continue on at the Academy to deal with a long term direction of research that requires the facilities and a wide range of assistance or staffing. One example is the current ongoing research in the High Energy Studies Tower, which is now in its second decade, on the effects of regular exposure to spell effects. Subjects are cast upon daily by the researchers, to see if there are adverse affects beyond those of the spells themselves, as time progresses.
Another popular, long-term, research project is the ongoing study of the effects of sexual stimuli as a substitution for normal mundra and mandala. It has outlasted three project directors, and there is no sign of a conclusive paper being filed within the next decade.
Although the Academy has a high level of student casualty and failure to complete, it is held in high esteem throughout the civilized world for the quality of those students that do graduate, and often boasts a graduating student placement of as much as 80% within a month of certification.