Magical academies make fantastic focal points for campaigns—for all classes. These schools give PCs a powerful patron to support their adventures. They provide quests and access to magical resources and arcane learning. The grounds serve as a base of operations, and a target for villainous machinations. And, they make excellent introductions to roleplaying for those familiar with a particular boy wizard.
Player options available in Tome of Heroes and Deep Magic give every class greater access to magic abilities. Now there’s even more reason to run this style of campaign with the arrival of the Deep Magic 2 Kickstarter campaign. Read closely and see if you can get a peek of some of the new material inside!
In the first article, we set up a magical academy—the Vistrovani Conservatory of Magic. Renowned as the preeminent institution advancing study of new spells, the academy teaches magic not by spell school, but by magical style. The academy doesn’t limit enrollment to wizards, accepting students with any magical aptitude, including paladins, rangers, and even monks.
The Vistrovani Conservatory is not without its share of troubles, including underperforming faculty, imprisoned former students, and a dean who has run the school for ten generations. That’s to say nothing of its competitor, the Masi Academy, which looks poised to overtake the conservatory as the premier magical academy.
Here are some low level adventure hooks to get players started at the Vistrovani Conservatory of Magic—or your own magical academy.
Registering for Classes
With a magical academy campaign, the PCs are students, not wandering vagabonds brought together by a bar brawl or a royal exploiting their benevolence and shared avarice. Instead, you can bring the party together via registration.
When first arriving at the Vistrovani Conservatory, the PCs are escorted to the auditorium to choose their first year’s electives. Professors and star upperclassmen attempt to recruit to each of the conservatory’s magical styles. Practitioners of portal magic seek to impress by teleporting across the auditorium, while practitioners of fey magic play practical jokes on passersby. Professors of weather magic summon tiny storms in the auditorium, breaking the din with tiny thunder strikes.
This is a great time for PCs to choose their class and eventual subclass by introducing players to new options. Of course, there is an entrance exam for each magic style that takes the PCs from 1st to 2nd level. Examples of the entrance exams include:
- Students applying for study of battle magic receive wands of magic missile and brooches of shielding that give off a flashing light when they are used. The students are split into teams, and enter the program by lighting up their opposing students. Like many battles, aggression and line of sight win the day!
- Students applying for the study of dream magic interview each other about their recent dreams. The PCs are judged about their ability to interpret the meanings behind the dreams.
As part of freshman curriculum, each student’s studies are largely prescribed. Students take abjuration, evocation, divination, and transmutation in the first semester, then they take conjuration, enchantment, illusion, and necromancy in the second semester. While students take an elective each semester for their magic style, this helps keep the PCs together while they navigate their first year of school.
- Gichi Otare, the gnome soothsayer, teaches Divination 101. As with all freshmen courses, it’s supposed to be taught in the Common tongue. When the professor has been using narcotics (ever growing in frequency), he begins to ramble in Sylvan and Gnomish. When confronted about being lectured in another tongue, Professor Otare reminds students that comprehend languages is a divination—albeit one that’s not on the syllabus for months. To pass the class, the students must learn a new divination spell by braving the stacks of the Virstani library.
- Shirol Gellen, a fellow freshman, is near death after falling from a balcony over the weekend. She was the project partner for PCs, and they now have to scramble to finish the project. Their professor, Sygra Furnyng, is a virtuoso lich (see Tome of Beasts 2) and doesn’t view a brush with death to be worthy of an extension.
- Ezrej Samander has a reputation at Vistrovani as a top pupil and know-it-all—so it’s surprising when she comes the PCs for help because she’s failing Illusion 101. With the PCs’ help, she gets back to her winning ways—although something seems off for the prize pupil.
No matter how badly some students try, school can’t be just about studying and accumulating knowledge. The scholarch recognized this two centuries ago and began requiring each student to take an extracurricular activity. While some students rail against “mandatory fun,” most students blow off steam one a week.
- Athletic students can play intramural sports against the Masi Academy. Vistrovani is renowned for their prowess at tenpin, while the Masi students are avid track & field athletes. Use of magic is intramurals is formally discouraged but infrequently policed.
- Students can join the Society for the Study of Classic Languages, mentored by Scholarch Cangenthistle himself. In their first year, students learn the alphabets of rare and almost forgotten languages, which is an excellent excuse for the PCs to add new languages to their character sheet. (You can use these languages for adventure hooks in future school years.)
- Students often join the school’s gaming club. They spend one evening each week playing a dice game called Viper’s Nest and a board game called Chip on your Shoulder, which involves balancing more and more pieces of wood on a chunk of metal shaped in a half moon. Rumors say that older students are designing an outdoors game called Black Flag played in the tunnels under the school.
The end of the school year provides GMs with a chance to end the year’s storyline by bringing together different plotlines into a cohesive climax.
While in a stupor, Professor Otare stumbled into the academy’s basement and inadvertently freed the breathstealer (see Tome of Beasts 3). Using collected knowledge of the school, the breathstealer stole a hat of disguise and plotted to replace a student. The breathstealer failed its attempt to replace Shirol Geller, but did succeed in replacing the now-deceased Ezrej Samander. The breathstealer was nearly outed by replacing an overachiever, but luckily, she got help to catch up.
The breathstealer has been unable to leave school grounds because a powerful charm binds it within the walls. After the breathstealer locates the charm while the upperclassmen are away gathering spell components, the PCs must stop the breathstealer from harming students and staff on its flight from campus.
Coming Up Next: Sophomore Antics
Check back each Tuesday for the next four weeks during the Deep Magic 2 kickstarter campaign. Learn how to craft adventure hooks for magical academies that you might use for low, medium, and high level adventures.