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Making a new Mage Setting (Anstruther Academy) for young Awakened

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  • Making a new Mage Setting (Anstruther Academy) for young Awakened

    Anstruther Academy (pronounced Ainster if you're Scottish, Ans-tru-ther otherwise) was established in legend by one of the students of Merlin. Originally a Hermetic school which catered to a small number of talented children, it is now the Traditions' primary educational establishment for all Awakened children.

    The setting takes some inspiration from Hogwarts (Scottish location, magic school for children) but I intend for it to be "what if the WoD had a magic school" rather than "what if Hogwarts were in the WoD". I really want to leave behind some of the worse aspects of the world-building like there being an Evil House or the school being modeled on private boarding schools etc.

    The school is a large castle which was the ancestral home of one of its founders. Various wards give it an Arcane rating and protect it from sleepers. The reality zone is pretty messy. All of the Traditions are represented to a certain degree, so there are modern religious sites and pagan stones (Scotland is full of those), laboratories and libraries...

    Rather than teachers being divided by subject, teachers are closer to mentors and are divided by style. Teaching teleportation to a room full of teenagers is pretty much pointless if none of them work with the Latin incantations you use. Some topics such as History (backstory of the Traditions etc) and Magickal Theory (here's what happens to Mages who mess around with X, here's why safety should always come first, here's an anecdote about how I escaped a situation without having to use my powers), Languages and various Skills/Knowledges are more universal, and are taught in large groups.

    The castle would be full of secrets and oddities to fuel many stories. Lost Grimoires, hidden chambers, powerful Wonders, Bygones like Dragons, gateways to other worlds created by reckless students, secret societies...
    Last edited by 11twiggins; 02-05-2019, 11:01 AM.

  • #2
    Recruitment; the Traditions aren't hunting down every single child that Awakens and sending them off to a special school. To do that they'd need to be entirely fused with the Technocracy. The school is for awakened children who come to the attention of the Traditions, and a good proportion of the attendees are the biological relatives or mentees of Tradition mages.

    Furthermore, most Mages do awaken as adults and learn by themselves. The purpose of the school is to protect young vulnerable mages from the world, protect the world from them, and help them to grow into powerful agents of the Traditions. Some might label it an indoctrination camp.

    If a child has sleeper guardians, they are misled using magickal trickery and persuasion, and are convinced to send their "gifted child" to an elite and secretive school with no fee.

    It might be presumed that there is an inverse institution run by the Technocracy, since they are better able to perform such recruitment. There is no evidence that such an institution exists, but that's what you would expect...

    A lot of learning takes place outside of classrooms and is much more free-form than might be expected at an "academy". Examinations are optional and allow for a variety of approaches; they are challenges which can be overcome through many different paths. A Verbena might spend their days and nights in the nearby wilderness, only checking with their teachers when they encounter problems. Meanwhile a Chorister might spend all their time cloistered in chapels and musical activities and libraries, being taught constantly by their mentors.
    Last edited by 11twiggins; 02-05-2019, 11:36 AM.

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    • #3
      What styles are you thinking of?

      If this institution is that old, there is the very real possibility of lots of legacy departments and rules. There might be groups that are not Traditions (or never were), and even groups that don't exist anywhere else. Two ideas that come to mind:

      One of the members of House Tremere still teaches there. Yeah, yeah, traitorous vampires and all that, but he's got tenure. No one's even certain if he's a vampire or not, partly because he's deliberately keeping that a secret and partly because it's dangerous to look too closely into faculty secrets.

      The Cosians have a department there. They joined the school before their participation in the Order of Reason was official. Even though the Order of Reason has long since moved on in philosophy, longstanding agreements and traditions say they have to turn all of their students over to the Technocracy when they graduate.


      Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
        What styles are you thinking of?

        If this institution is that old, there is the very real possibility of lots of legacy departments and rules. There might be groups that are not Traditions (or never were), and even groups that don't exist anywhere else. Two ideas that come to mind:

        One of the members of House Tremere still teaches there. Yeah, yeah, traitorous vampires and all that, but he's got tenure. No one's even certain if he's a vampire or not, partly because he's deliberately keeping that a secret and partly because it's dangerous to look too closely into faculty secrets.

        The Cosians have a department there. They joined the school before their participation in the Order of Reason was official. Even though the Order of Reason has long since moved on in philosophy, longstanding agreements and traditions say they have to turn all of their students over to the Technocracy when they graduate.
        VAMPIRE PROFESSOR that's a glorious idea. I love it so much. Tremere holdover who coaches Mages in Certamen tactics. He could even be the head of one of the school's houses...

        While the idea of a "yeah we have a weird treaty where we give them 2% of our students and they have their own special class" is pretty neat and fitting for the world of Academia, it doesn't really mesh that well with the idea of it being a secret school. Plus I doubt the Technocracy want agents who have spent 7 years befriending reality deviants and learning about a more flexible view of enlightenment. It's just going to give you a nest of traitors pointing in both directions.

        Definitely thinking of an old establishment. Its lore claims that it stretches back to Arthurian times. No one is entirely sure since it's hard to perform sensitive Time magick in such a chaotic setting. In fact attempts to establish the school's origins have given multiple contradictory pasts.

        EDIT: Getting rid of "oh and there's splat and splat too" since looking back it was turning into a kitchen sink.
        Last edited by 11twiggins; 02-05-2019, 12:05 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

          VAMPIRE PROFESSOR that's a glorious idea. I love it so much. I'm immediately integrating that. It would also make sense for the building to have a few Wraiths in residence, and the nearby woods should have some Werewolf presence because of the intensity of nodes/cairns. An Earthbound demon slumbering beneath the loch would also be quite fitting.
          There aren't many better ways for Wraiths to escape the Hierarchy than hanging around a bunch of wizards. I could even see there being one or two who claim to be wizards -really, they've just been hanging around so long they are good at giving advice (they are effectively specialized libraries, not mentors)- who tutor students who agree to let them skinride along for a semester. They just have to avoid the Chakravanti wing.

          While the idea of a "yeah we have a weird treaty where we give them 2% of our students and they have their own special class" is pretty neat and fitting for the world of Academia, it doesn't really mesh that well with the idea of it being a secret school. Plus I doubt the Technocracy want agents who have spent 7 years befriending reality deviants and learning about a more flexible view of enlightenment. It's just going to give you a nest of traitors pointing in both directions.
          The other way of running it is the faculty keeps finding unique exceptions not to. Behind the scenes the Cosian Faculty and the Administration is adamantly against turning anyone over, but they can't openly admit that because that would tarnish the university's integrity. So instead they let the students (and many of the other departments) think that they will turn young cosians over, but they find ever more complicated and arcane reasons not to (or let the students engage in daring midnight escapes just after graduation, that works too).

          Or not. Honestly, the most recent magical university game I've been in was a Pigsmoke one shot, so I may be a little over-focused on bizarre faculty politics.


          Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post

            There aren't many better ways for Wraiths to escape the Hierarchy than hanging around a bunch of wizards. I could even see there being one or two who claim to be wizards -really, they've just been hanging around so long they are good at giving advice (they are effectively specialized libraries, not mentors)- who tutor students who agree to let them skinride along for a semester. They just have to avoid the Chakravanti wing.
            The wraiths of old Mages would be an amazing resource, especially since some magickal traditions prefer resources other than books. And yeah it's a cozy haunt since Spirit magick can fix most of a Wraith's problems.

            Furthermore, if you're going to be teaching people how to channel ghosts or commune with the dead, it's good to have some ghosts hanging around.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
              Rather than teachers being divided by subject, teachers are closer to mentors and are divided by style. Teaching teleportation to a room full of teenagers is pretty much pointless if none of them work with the Latin incantations you use. Some topics such as History (backstory of the Traditions etc) and Magickal Theory (here's what happens to Mages who mess around with X, here's why safety should always come first, here's an anecdote about how I escaped a situation without having to use my powers), Languages and various Skills/Knowledges are more universal, and are taught in large groups.
              That this school teaches for all the Traditions and several styles gives me an idea:

              This institution was founded not very long after the Great Convocation (albeit the place could be older, and perhaps the Tremere already resided here before it became a school) as an effort of cooperation similar to the First Cabal.

              The first Council understood that cooperating with mages of wildly different belief systems was going to be a challenge, to say the least. The First Cabal was a (rather unfortunate) symbol indicating that such cooperation was possible. The school was a bet on the future: Young mages living and learning together could develop an "open" Paradigm (that is a mage that has a preffered way of doing magick, but believes other Paradigms are valid too) and become a good element for future multi-tradition cabals.

              If this is the case the optimal way of teaching would be free classes with professors that are open to anyone that wants to learn (in adition to the basic learning in maths and language any child should have).

              Childhood and adolescence are stages of change. One can't expect a kid that's still learning her place in the world to hold to an unchanging Paradigm forever. The hardships and constant array of new experiences (like, say, sexuality) will mold and change their beliefs

              A traditionalist Hermetic may fall in love with a Dreamspeaker and bent her potent will to understand his spiritual heritage. A boy educated into hacker culture and science might find D&D wizards enticing and want to learn how to do their magick stuff now that he knows it exists.

              This will cause problems with wizardly parents, but try as they might the parents won't be able to prevent this intermingling if all the young mages learn at the same place (unless potent magick it used, but then why send the children there in the first place?) because it's fully natural (not to mention a seed of stories/characters)

              And this is good for the school purposes. All young mages would learn basic magick theory, including the "nine spheres" for inter-tradition comunication purposes. Other than that the children would be encouraged to try as many fields as they like, speaking with tutors of several orientations and entering in classes, even if they may not understand everything, in order to entice their curiosity and expand their Paradigm (and, perhaps in secret, to foster the "we're all god(s) in disguise" Paradigm that the Trads try to push on the world). Graduates would excel at syncretism and doing rituals with mages of other traditions, which may not be of the likes of every Traditionalist but does foster the goals of the Traditions as a whole.
              Last edited by Aleph; 02-05-2019, 04:53 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Aleph View Post

                That this school teaches for all the Traditions and several styles gives me an idea:

                This institution was founded not very long after the Great Convocation (albeit the place could be older, and perhaps the Tremere already resided here before it became a school) as an effort of cooperation similar to the First Cabal.

                The first Council understood that cooperating with mages of wildly different belief systems was going to be a challenge, to say the least. The First Cabal was a (rather unfortunate) symbol indicating that such cooperation was possible. The school was a bet on the future: Young mages living and learning together could develop an "open" Paradigm (that is a mage that has a preffered way of doing magick, but believes other Paradigms are valid too) and become a good element for future multi-tradition cabals.

                If this is the case the optimal way of teaching would be free classes with professors that are open to anyone that wants to learn (in adition to the basic learning in maths and language any child should have).

                Childhood and adolescence are stages of change. One can't expect a kid that's still learning her place in the world to hold to an unchanging Paradigm forever. The hardships and constant array of new experiences (like, say, sexuality) will mold and change their beliefs

                A traditionalist Hermetic may fall in love with a Dreamspeaker and bent her potent will to understand his spiritual heritage. A boy educated into hacker culture and science might find D&D wizards enticing and want to learn how to do their magick stuff now that he knows it exists.

                This will cause problems with wizardly parents, but try as they might the parents won't be able to prevent this intermingling if all the young mages learn at the same place (unless potent magick it used, but then why send the children there in the first place?) because it's fully natural (not to mention a seed of stories/characters)

                And this is good for the school purposes. All young mages would learn basic magick theory, including the "nine spheres" for inter-tradition comunication purposes. Other than that the children would be encouraged to try as many fields as they like, speaking with tutors of several orientations and entering in classes, even if they may not understand everything, in order to entice their curiosity and expand their Paradigm (and, perhaps in secret, to foster the "we're all god(s) in disguise" Paradigm that the Trads try to push on the world). Graduates would excel at syncretism and doing rituals with mages of other traditions, which may not be of the likes of every Traditionalist but does foster the goals of the Traditions as a whole.
                Nice! Liking all of this. The castle having once been a haunt of House Tremere could be a great potential origin. Since it's a very magical place I've decided that it should have multiple competing origins which people can't agree over. Not sure that unfortunate historical symbols are the best addition but the rest of this is really well thought.

                Syncretism being the specialty of graduates is a really great idea! And I love the idea of paradigms evolving with time. Characters will arrive with Arete 1 and Paradigms which aren't fully defined yet. One PC has said that her Mage will have Awakened when she tried to get a Creepypasta ritual to work. Now her Avatar is a creepy forum poster, but she doesn't realize that their posts are only visible to her. With time she could evolve into a Virtual Adept or a Euthanatos mage, or anything inbetween. Another PC was saying he wants his guy to start off as a self-aggrandizing Edgelord who thinks he's the chosen one etc. and while he'll start off as a strict Hermetic he may loosen up with time.

                And yes I can imagine the school being VERY strict about Mage relatives/guardians interfering at the school. Helicopter parenting is not allowed ;-) Just let the kids develop their magick however they like.

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                • #9
                  Story hook ideas...

                  - Friendly NPC is losing control of their powers and doing everything they can to hide it. Their sanity is slipping and they're a young Marauder prodigy waiting to happen. How do the PCs handle this? Who do they tell about it?

                  - Antagonistic and bullying behaviour culminates in a PC and an aggressive NPC peer agreeing to settle their differences through Certamen.

                  - An ill-advised midnight summoning leads to dangerous results.

                  - The master of a faculty announces a competition to create the most wondrous magickal display possible, with a grand prize for the winning group.

                  - With most of the faculty absent, the academy's nodes are thrown into chaos by a mysterious force. Explosions of magickal energy begin to manifest along with spiritual chaos. The small group of students who are in residence over the vacation are left to mitigate the catastrophe.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                    Story hook ideas...

                    - Antagonistic and bullying behaviour culminates in a PC and an aggressive NPC peer agreeing to settle their differences through Certamen.
                    Bonus points if there is a short character arc of the characters having to figure out what the hell Certamen is supposed to be since the "official" description doesn't make much sense in their paradigm. "Manifest a sphere as a sword, what does that even mean? Next you'll be telling me to manifest my Philosophy 209 course as a pair of boots."

                    - An ill-advised midnight summoning leads to dangerous results.
                    Or as I like to call it, Tuesday.

                    - With most of the faculty absent, the academy's nodes are thrown into chaos by a mysterious force. Explosions of magickal energy begin to manifest along with spiritual chaos. The small group of students who are in residence over the vacation are left to mitigate the catastrophe.
                    Ho ho ho.

                    Edit: On a more serious note, the holidays would be an excellent time for the shifters in the woods to mount an attack. Mages and Werewolves trying to use the same nodes/caerns is an explosion just waiting to happen. Or if you want to keep relations generally cordial between the two, it is an excellent time for a young pack to accidentally chase after a bane onto school grounds then try to take it down without being detected.
                    Last edited by Ramnesis; 02-06-2019, 11:40 AM.


                    Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post

                      Bonus points if there is a short character arc of the characters having to figure out what the hell Certamen is supposed to be since the "official" description doesn't make much sense in their paradigm. "Manifest a sphere as a sword, what does that even mean? Next you'll be telling me to manifest my Philosophy 209 course as a pair of boots."
                      Yeah I can imagine a VA having to hunt down an older VA student who has "ported" Certamen over into their understanding.

                      "Basically it's where you literally push your programming capacity RIGHT out of your body and manifest hard light holograms to duel people with. Hermetics don't really understand what they're doing and have a bunch of mystic gibberish about willpower instead. And yes, there is a manga which basically has Certamen in a digital world as its premise, I can lend it to you."

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                      • #12
                        At the recommendation of a friend who is a Mage ST, I've decided to make the setting's resonance dangerously powerful and chaotically varied. Freak weather events, weird flora and fauna, strange spiritual fluctuations, a really messy local Middle Umbra, people getting out of bed and finding themselves in the middle of the lake in their PJs...

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                          At the recommendation of a friend who is a Mage ST, I've decided to make the setting's resonance dangerously powerful and chaotically varied. Freak weather events, weird flora and fauna, strange spiritual fluctuations, a really messy local Middle Umbra, people getting out of bed and finding themselves in the middle of the lake in their PJs...
                          This school is going to be confirmation of every negative stereotype the wolves have about Mages isn't it?

                          Also, one more idea, one of the groundskeepers is an actual Paradox spirit. No convoluted faculty politics is responsible for this one, he's not actually on the books and everyone would get rid of him if they could. They can't. They can't even talk about him because it draws his attention. Perhaps he's tied into the multiple histories of the school. Perhaps he's in all of them, but not at the same time.


                          Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                          • #14
                            A Paradox spirit would be a good bogeyman for the children.

                            Since Reality it's so chaotic in the premises of the school it's possible that the whole place it's at risk of getting send to the Umbra ( the same as the Lands of Giants, Lemuria and many other fantastical places), and the groundkeeper it's the one that has been sent by the Universe to decide when too much it's too much.

                            Which brings us to the all important subject of Paradox, something that all the children should learn about sooner rather than latter. And, of course, the spirit doesn't see with good eyes when children break the already very streched Reality of the school, and has no qualms imparting his own lessons on the subject...

                            A humble mage (I imagine a Dreamspeaker), expert in Paradox and spirits, has the big responsability of appeasing the spirit so the school doesn't get send to the other side, and to help the children when they get in trouble with the groundkeeper
                            Last edited by Aleph; 02-06-2019, 03:06 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post

                              This school is going to be confirmation of every negative stereotype the wolves have about Mages isn't it?

                              Also, one more idea, one of the groundskeepers is an actual Paradox spirit. No convoluted faculty politics is responsible for this one, he's not actually on the books and everyone would get rid of him if they could. They can't. They can't even talk about him because it draws his attention. Perhaps he's tied into the multiple histories of the school. Perhaps he's in all of them, but not at the same time.
                              Love that. A janitor/handyman/custodian/groundsman guy who seems to pop up everywhere and none of the teachers talk about. He's a boon to the school really, since a good bit of Justice is thrown in there. If you keep messing up the school with magick detention is the LEAST of your worries.

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