Curse of the Crimson Throne
Although it stands within Citadel Crest, the Acadamae does not belong to the ward. Faculty (Including Headmaster Toff Ornelos) and students of the college live within its imposing walls and outsiders may enter only when they come with a purpose, such as delivering food or performing maintenance, or during the Breaching Festival
The only people allowed to live within the Acadamae either teach at or attend the college. Instructors live in apartment suites within the walls for free, while the rent for students’ tenement flats and studios are included in their already expensive tuition.
Prestigious and highly esteemed, the famed Acadamae attracts students from as far away as distant Geb, and even—to the annoyance of the far-more ancient colleges there—Cheliax. The Acadamae teaches all eight schools of magic, but its primary focus lies in conjuration. Regardless of an apprentice’s specialization (the Acadamae only teaches specialists) every student at the college must pass a grueling exam in conjuration in order to graduate. Thus, the college does not allow its students to forsake learning of conjuration. Rumors speak of those attempting to quit the school becoming test subjects for students of necromancy, but to date no one has verified these stories.
Shrouded in secrecy, the campus’s 30-foot-high walls only barely conceal the grand Hall of Summoning. Visitors and residents cannot hope to ignore the presence of the Acadamae, but since very few people unconnected with the college know what happens within it, the place births abundant (and sometimes ludicrous) rumors.
History: Hoping to spur further settlement of the mainland, in 4473, Lord Ornelos established the Acadamae. The Acadamae stood outside the walls of Mainshore and more than a thousand feet from Castle Korvosa. Both the leader of the Korvosan Guard and the commandant of the Sable Order warned that their groups could not promise protection in that location, but Lord Ornelos seemed unconcerned. Utilizing the Treaty of Crystalrock, he secured from the dwarves of Janderhoff both supplies and workers. In less than a month, an imposing black-marble wall surrounded a five-acre area containing only one small building.
From its founding until roughly a century ago, the Acadamae had no true focus as a school for specialists, treating the seven most powerful schools as equals (then as now, divination was always treated as a universal school all students needed to study). With the collapse of the Empire of Cheliax, the new government’s embracing of infernal influences, and the death of Volshyenek Ornelos in 4607, the Acadamae shifted its focus. The college became heavily involved in the conjuration and control of devils. While it does not actively promote an evil agenda, the college nonetheless tolerates devil-summoning and Asmodeus worship. Despite this lenience toward evil, the college remains a truly Chelaxian and Korvosan institution, and as such it does not allow for wanton destruction or chaos. The evil it embraces is precise, organized, and regimented. The college has grown in the intervening years, and today, numerous buildings fill the walls of the campus, with three more satellite buildings spread throughout the city. The city of Korvosa helps sponsor the college with tax funds, and instructors in the school receive tax exemptions based on the prestige and recognition they bring.
Campus Life: Nearly a town unto itself, the Acadamae provides its students and faculty with everything they need to live. Thus, students of the Acadamae are rarely seen outside its imposing walls. Those who do exit do so in groups as part of their studies or to shop at the Gilded Orrery. On rare occasions, students sneak into one of the many taverns of the city to relieve stress, although it is far more common for them to sneak alcohol or drugs back onto campus.
While most of the schools work together in relative harmony—and those that don’t frequently do not interact at all except in the most formalized ways possible—an increasing animosity between students of conjuration and necromancy have led recently to duels. These formal (and sometimes informal) challenges continue to increase in frequency and viciousness, but as of yet have not led to deaths.
A great number of imps make their homes on the Acadamae’s campus. These imps frequently take to the air, flitting about above the campus and across Korvosa. They tend to travel in groups, as the city’s pseudodragon population views them as foul representations of evil and petty sadism (which, of course, they are).
Students who attend the Acadamae usually have no interest in doing good works. Generally, they seek power at almost any cost. Many become swayed by the honeyed words of the devils they summon, and most of these lose any morality they had and slip inexorably into evil.
Recruitment: The Acadamae accepts nearly anyone who applies, as those who fail become test subjects for those who do not. Occasionally, though, the college doesn’t receive enough applicants to fill out it attendance needs, and in those infrequent years it sets up a recruitment drive throughout Korvosa and its holdings.
The Campus: The individual halls that comprise the Acadamae house classrooms specially designed to facilitate their areas of study. For the most part, these buildings architecturally reflect the nuances of the schools they house.
A1. Hall of Summoning: One of the largest single buildings in Varisia, the Hall of Summoning has defined the new look and feel of the Acadamae since its completion almost a quarter-century ago. Nearly five times as large as the prior Hall of Summoning (and an order of magnitude larger than the school’s temporary home in Ornelos Hall), the college’s newest flagship building features 13 binding circles within its magnificent walls, as well as three immense ones encircling the building itself.
A2. Hall of Seeing: Crystal spheres, mirrors, and reflecting pools fill this hall and influence its architecture. The dome on its roof frequently swirls with clouds and ephemeral images of people and places, as it is actually an immense crystal ball with magical power exceeding even what its size would suggest. The main entry doors of the building look like giant Harrow cards, with the exact cards represented changing every time someone touches them.
A3. Ornelos Hall: The oldest building on campus, Ornelos Hall alone has never been torn down and rebuilt. Ivy covers the walls and centuries of foot traffic have smoothed the steps, but the three interior binding circles remain unscathed and unbroken despite thousands of uses. Since the completion of the newest Hall of Summoning, Ornelos Hall has returned to acting as the administrative building for the Acadamae.
A4. Hall of Induction: Solid dark-iron walls form three sides and the roof of this imposing but plain building known among the students and faculty as the Cube. Only the front of the structure, made from flat iron plates welded or riveted together, breaks the monotony. Inside, the plainness of the Hall of Induction continues unabated, with five empty floors containing only a plain spiral staircase in the center. No chairs or chalkboards clutter the vast, open areas within.
The school of evocation focuses its studies on practice and leaves theory to the other schools. Within the Cube, students spend hours upon hours practicing the ancient formulae of specific utterances, gestures, and rare items that produce the desired effects. Instructors patrol the floors, ready at a moment’s notice to throw up magical walls to block errant spells cast by foolish or overeager students. The entire top two floors of the building are lined with
multiple invisible walls produced via magic.
A5. Hall of Wards: The school of abjuration’s building looks relatively mundane when compared to the others, but its plain exterior hides the best-guarded building in Korvosa. Even the Mint of Abadar’s myriad defenses pale in comparison to those in place around and within the Hall of Wards. Students from other schools and members of various gangs receive invitations once a year with a deceptively simple offer: step foot within the Hall of Wards. See The Breaching Festival Sidebar.
A6. Hall of Lies: Every morning, with the coming of dawn, this building changes appearance. Some days it looks regal, refined, and sophisticated, blending in well with the other halls on campus. Other days it appears run-down, gaudy, or like something from a carnival. The building’s changing appearance has no rhyme or reason, but it does sometimes reflect the current mood of the staff and student body (the day after Queen Domina died, for example, it took on the shape of the Grand Cathedral of Pharasma). Regardless of its general appearance, though, its basic shape always remains the same. This building, of course, houses the school of illusion. Within the Hall of Lies, no one can trust what he sees (or hears, or feels, or smells, or tastes).
A7. Hall of Shaping: As a part of their graduation test, transmuters must in some way alter the Hall of Shaping. If they cause any part of the hall to collapse, they fail. Students who fail get transformed into songbirds and live out their lives in a large cage on the top floor of the hall. The result of this practice, over the course of many decades, has naturally led to a building constructed from a hodgepodge of shapes, colors, and materials. Some ambitious testers try to improve the hall’s aesthetic, to homogenize it. They do not succeed (although they don’t necessarily fail the test).
A8. Hall of Charms: By far the most beautiful building on campus, the Hall of Charms houses the school of enchantment.
The prettiest girls and handsomest boys spend much of their time within this hall, and students from other schools try to give it a wide berth. Unfortunately for the avoiders, except for those who choose to forsake the study of enchantment, every student must at some point take classes within this gleaming hall. The Hall of Charms frequently produces unreasonably powerful enchanters who sometimes even rival conjurers for power within the college. Several of the Acadamae’s past headmasters came from the Hall of Charms, a fact that continues to baffle and annoy the college’s conjurers.
A9. Hall of Whispers: Sinister in appearance (more so than normal for the Acadamae) and undeniably haunted, the Hall of Whispers houses the college’s school of necromancy. Here, young dabblers in death learn first-hand the dangers and unwholesome powers of their oft-shunned school. Apprentice necromancers make no attempts to hide their displeasure at the treatment they and their school receive at the hands of other students, instructors, and administrators. Dark rumors abound throughout the college that the Hall of Whispers holds in its Vaults a small but growing army of undead—an army whose sole purpose is to topple the school of conjuration and gain control of the Acadamae.