College Arcanum Fantasy Age
Capital- Warwick, population 10,000+
Ruling Monarchy- the Warwick line has been on the throne since the kingdom was founded just under 400 years ago, although the family name has changed several times. The current king is HRM Tolgrin Warwick Glenmere.
Distribution- Roughly 50% Human, 10% each Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Hobbit, Orc
Location/Culture- Arroden is in the central-west of the continent. Culturally, it is pretty straight fantasy-European, with a loose feudal system, a king and royal court, a capital city dominated by a large castle, etc.
Trade- Arroden is the breadbasket of the continent; while other areas grow crops of various kinds, most of the grain grown throughout Hemland is grown in Arroden. Since it is the only kingdom that borders all five other kingdoms, Arroden maintains a large standing army of both soldiers and mages.
The Wizard Wars: 200-150 years ago- In every generation, there are a handful of people (spanning all races) that are born with the “gift” for magic. Up until this time, a master/apprentice system was the norm. Some gifted individuals found good masters, some bad, and some none at all. Magic was wild, there were no rules or forbidden areas of study, and most wizards quickly learned that they had the power to take what they wanted. Several important events happened during this period:
• The Necromancer: 200-180 years ago. Among one of the lost tribes hiding in a sheltered valley at the western edge of Arroden, there arose a powerful necromancer. He took over his tribe, raised generations of dead ancestors, and marched east to reclaim (and lay waste) to his people’s homeland. The battles were fierce, and were mostly won or lost by magic, not might, as fallen troops would rise from the battlefield to kill their former companions. Sadly, many Arroden wizards joined The Necromancer’s forces, either with promises of power or for fear of being on the losing side. The great wizard Archon gathered every magic-user he could find and eventually led a successful campaign to beat The Necromancer back to his valley, which is still a blighted and horrible land to this day (see The Boneyard). Unfortunately, although the nobles and some of the men in the field knew the sacrifices Archon’s coalition made, the common man only saw the ‘dangers of wicked, god-forsaken magic’.
• The Burning Times: 180-160 years ago. After the threat from the Necromancer, sentiment for magic users took a sharp decline. Over the next few decades, there were several well-publicized burnings of spellcasters who had been found to be carrying out unnatural experiments, stealing children, etc. Although there certainly were evil spellcasters in the land, the anti-magic fever started to spread to all magic-users and even those accused of magic. At some point, religious leaders started to fan the flames of ignorance and intolerance. Middle and upper class citizens questioned whether the wizards had too much power and could be using mind control magic to influence the government. Many wizards went into hiding, while others showed off their talents, defending themselves with word and spell.
• The Compromise/The Founding of Arcadia: 150 years ago. Eventually, in the midst of the chaos, some calmer heads prevailed. The leaders knew (and the common folk failed to see) that their own children might be born with the “gift”. The “gift” was often random and only rarely followed family lines. Enough people in power had children with the “gift” that they came to realize killing all magic-users was not the answer. What was needed was a training program for young “gifted” citizens, laws defining which magics could be studied and practiced, and respectable jobs for wizards to hold that would benefit the kingdom. Archon himself and his followers came out of hiding to be part of these talks. After several years of on-again/off-again negotiations, it was agreed that a College Arcanum would be built at the western edge of Arroden. This would be far enough away from the capital to alleviate fears of the wizards getting involved in politics and close enough to the Boneyard, the Wailing Wood and the Highlands to provide a first line of defense against threats from the west. It took many more years to hammer out the details of testing and training, but the groundwork was laid for what Arroden and Arcadia are like today.
A large responsibility of the College Arcanum, and a common job for recent graduates, is to test children around the kingdom for the “gift”. This usually involves a magically receptive crystal that glows when someone with the “gift” focuses on it. There are also a battery of other tests that all wizards are trained to administer. Officially, every community (regardless of race, class, etc.) is supposed to submit all children between the ages of 8-12 for testing once a year. For the most part, this works, but no system is perfect. Some children are late bloomers and develop magic later in their teens, some are missed because of social class or location, and some have a tiny bit of the “gift” that can be nurtured into something over time but is not enough to be trained as a full wizard.
It is against the law to practice magic without training/sanction from the College Arcanum. It is against the law to study or practice Necromancy or Demonology. Anyone caught flaunting this law is subject to a trial (usually in front of a magister from the College) and punishable by imprisonment or death.
Of course, as with any law, there are people who rebel against it. Some believe the College has no right to take their children away, “gift” or no. Some believe knowledge is an end to itself and the College’s restrictions are stifling and unfair. And others simply are evil and want to study forbidden lore for the power. In any case, another large part of the College Arcanum’s job is tracking down those who would break the magic laws.
Places of Note:
Arcadia: population 5,000.
Arcadia is a walled city on the western edge of Arroden dominated by the College Arcanum. Most business in the city revolves around the College in some way, although there are plenty of traders and merchants who provide the normal means of everyday living. The city is built on a hill in the middle of a flat grasslands (some say the hill is artificial), providing a commanding view of the surrounding countryside and a strategic advantage in times of war. The Garnet River runs just to the south of the city and provides the fastest way for goods and people to travel east to the heart of the kingdom. Every year, approximately 100 new “gifted” children of all races move to Arcadia to receive training at the College. Some bring their families, while others are on their own and live in dorms in the College. There is a near-constant flow of people in and out of the city as apprentices enter, graduates leave, and adventurers and merchants of all stripes bustle about the city looking for work and riches.
• Wizard’s View: “Arcadia takes some getting used to. I certainly wasn’t excited to be dragged from my family when I was a new apprentice, but the things I’ve learned in the years since have been spectacular. You do have to be careful about the politics, though. Instructors have favorites, factions and Orders are always trying to recruit you, and if you have any affinity for combat magic, someone will try to talk you into joining the army or an adventuring band.”
• Rogue’s View: “Arcadia is THE place to be…if you’re competent, that is. Apprentices are gullible, wizards all have a pet project that ‘no one else would understand’ and requires some less-than-savory ingredients, and the politics are murky but come with great reward. And if you are the scouting type, they are always looking for people to keep an eye on the western frontier. You have to be sharp, though. Wizards and monsters are unforgiving sorts if you’re not.”
• Warrior’s View: “Sure, you could be a guard in the capital, but that’s boring. Or you could be a merc for one of the noble or merchant houses, but then you spill your countrymen’s blood for someone else to make money. No, Arcadia is the place to be. You want to test yourself against a zombie or an ogre or some creep who can shoot lightning out his fingers? Then you want to be in Arcadia! That will get your blood pumping! Let you know you’re alive for sure.”
A blighted valley nestled between the Highlands and small spur of the World’s End Mountains, the Boneyard is the home of The Necromancer. It is filled with ruined keeps and watchtowers, twisted animals, and undead. No one is sure if The Necromancer himself is still alive or not, but there has been a small, steady flow of wandering undead coming out of the Boneyard ever since his armies retreated there almost 200 years ago.
The northern end of the great forest that hugs the Highlands is known as the Wailing Wood, named for a type of tree that grows there. The small branches near the top of the Wailing tree have little hollow pockets in them that make a horrible screeching noise when the winds blow. The forest is deep and dangerous, home to strange, isolated (and mutated) humanoid tribes, monsters, and magical creatures best left alone.
Sloping off the World’s End mountains is the Highlands, an area of high desert plains, rocky, alien landscapes, and lost valleys. A number of barbarian orc tribes live in the Highlands, and the gods only know what else lives there.
The Garnet River:
Starting somewhere way up in the World’s End mountains, the Garnet flows east to the sea and the great port city of Landfall. The part of the river from the Highlands to Arcadia is too narrow and fast to be navigable, but from Arcadia to the sea, the river is wide and deep, making it a major highway for the whole continent.