2020/12/17

OSR: Magical Industrial Revolution - Loxdon College Pt. 1: Courses and Halls

Magical Industrial Revolution is designed to support many different game types. The most obvious, and the most playtested, is dropping Endon into a generic fantasy setting and letting generic fantasy PCs interact with its moving (and exploding) parts.

Since most of my usual players were involved in test games, I'll need to run a different sort of game to make use of MIR. I'd also like to use bits from other books and blogs (Electric Bastionland's background/item tables,
Goodberry Monthly's Wizard City material).

Nothing in this post is canonical, just as nothing in MIR is canonical. Everything changes.

Jan Matejko

Academic Magic

You are students at Loxdon College. You're not nessesarily a Wizard; more politicians in Endon can handle a broadsword than one might expect. You could be the paid bodyguard or servant of a student.

Loxdon College grudgingly allows women to attend, provided they fill out additional paperwork and follow obscure restrictions. Interestingly, the ancient College Charters make no provision for slug-people, phase-shifted entities, obligate polymorphs, or anyone else that might wish to check off [other] on a form. The general standard is the "beard test"; if it can grow a beard, it counts as male. This famously lead to Hamish Philostratus enrolling a mossy boulder as a student while shouting "Behold, a Man!". Some women carry false beards on campus to deter sticklers. Others carry wands of disintegrate, which tends to be a better deterrent.

You level up every Season, provided you pass your exams and survive the term.

You pass classes by completing  and Extra Credit Projects.

Each Season, students select a Major. For Wizards, this determines spells. For other classes, this might just be helpful background information.

Students also roll 2 Courses off the d100 table of Courses. (Optional: A PC can elect to take a Course another PC is taking or roll.) Lecturers offer courses at their discretion. PCs cannot take the same Course twice (unless they failed the first time).

At the start of the Season, students roll to see if they are currently passing their Major and their 2 Courses. Passing requires a grade of 51%. Passing with Distinction requires a grade of 80% or higher.

A grade is determined by: [The PC's Intelligence score] + [the Course's Difficulty score] + [some listed dice].

A student's Major is Int+35+1d4! (1d4 exploding, on a 4 roll an additional 1d4).

E.g. "Lyric Poetry in Ancient Gronk", which everyone agrees is a dead easy Course, is Int+40+1d20. You'd have to be as thick as two short planks not to pass. 

E.g. "Higher Thaumic Field Theory", which nobody fully understands except the lecturer, and even then only when they've had their special medicine, is Int+20+2d8.

If a PC is currently passing their Major or a Course, they don't need to worry.

If they are failing, there always extra credits available for dangerous activities, dungeon delves, looted treasure, and experimental work. Test new innovations. Track down escaped monsters, addled undergraduates, absent-minded professors, and students in arrears. Loxdon College wants to produce competent students... just not necessarily very many of them.

At the end of the Season, students roll grades for their Major and 2 Courses again (adding any bonuses for extra credit work). They can choose to take the new grade or keep the old one.

Once each Season, a PC can say "They Really Really Tried" for a +10 bonus to a Course or their Major.

If a PC fails one or more Courses, they don't level up that Season.

If a PC fails all their courses, they are put on Academic Probation, and must pass all their Courses next season or be expelled. Expelled students are forever barred from calling themselves wizards (or lawyers, etc.). Ancient law also says the Chancellor can lop two fingers off an expelled student. It's rare for students to be expelled; they either die while trying to improve their grades or quit.

Tuition at Loxdon College is 15gp per Season. Membership in a Hall or Academy (mandatory) is another 15-30gp per Season. Education is expensive.

This system is still in playtesting, and may be altered.

Month Month (Real) Month (Fictional) Activity
1 January Portia Off-Season
2 February Malbrogia Roll Grades
3 March Stump
4 April Fillia
5 May Omnia
6 June Lestia
7 July Hadria Roll Grades Again
8 August Clept Off-Season
9 September Paislia Off-Season
10 October Bastia Off-Season
11 November Doria Off-Season
12 December Destros Off-Season


1d100 Courses at Loxdon College Difficulty Lecturer
1 Potion Miscibility Studies Int+30+1d20 Prof. Barns
2 Nonessential Salts Int+40+1d6
3 Phlogiston Distillation Int+35+2d6
4 Principal Underground Rivers Int+40+3d6 Prof. Wosgrab
5 Lost Islands and Continents Int+25+3d10
6 Disagreeable Masonry and Columns Int+40+1d10
7 Pendulum Harmonics Int+25+3d8 Prof. Ziler
8 Tension in Unmoderated Solids Int+30+3d6
9 Compression of Unusual Liquids Int+35+2d6
10 Uses of Sieves and Filters Int+30+2d20
11 Foundations of Endon Int+30+3d6 Prof. Runcible (MIR pg. 12)
12 History of the Fifty-Six Years' War Int+30+3d6
13 Dynasties of the Upper Rogat River Int+40+1d20
14 Architecture Through The Ages Int+30+2d20
15 Nomads and their Uncouth Ways Int+25+3d10
16 Failed Parliamentary Reforms Int+30+2d10
17 A History of Endonian Statuary Int+40+1d10 Prof. Optott
18 Existential Countermeasures Int+30+3d6
19 Sites of Ancient Magic Int+25+3d8
20 Standing and Recumbent Stones Int+30+3d6
21 The Intelligence of Enchantments Int+30+3d6 Prof. Carmot (MIR pg. 90)
22 Practical Golem Logic Int+25+3d10
23 Nebulous Mathematical Analysis Int+35+2d6
24 Recent Runes Int+30+3d6 Prof. Turnspit
25 Things That Should and Should Not Be Int+30+1d10
26 Heretical Geometry Int+35+2d6
27 Bibliomantic Analysis Int+25+3d8
28 Meditations on Immortality Int+35+2d6
29 Notable Prophecies Int+40+2d6
30 Translating Inhuman Utterances Int+35+3d6
31 History of Embalming Int+40+1d10 Prof. Esilibum
32 So-Called "Ghosts" and Other Frauds Int+40+1d6
33 Origin of Textiles Int+40+3d6
34 Practical Haruspexy and Taxidermy Int+40+1d10
35 Curse Mitigation Int+25+3d8
36 Selected Fish Studies Int+40+2d6 Prof. Theric
37 Corpuscular Theory Int+40+1d6
38 Scapular Flow Int+30+2d10
39 Truly Disgusting Anatomy Int+30+2d8
40 Dredging and Dissection Int+30+1d20
41 Lesser Ferns and Greater Ferns Int+40+2d6 Prof. Chamberstoat
42 Advanced Horticulture Int+30+2d6
43 Properties of Various Hardwoods Int+40+1d20
44 Fundamentals of Alchemical Assays Int+30+3d6 Prof. Glass
45 The Properties of Obscure Crystals Int+30+2d6
46 Unusual Noises  Int+40+1d20
47 Overview of Approved Alchemical Theories Int+20+2d10
48 Recursive Introduction to Philosophy Int+40+2d6 Prof. Scalimoss
49 Introductory Recursive Philosophy Int+20+1d20
50 Proof by Lightning Induction Int+30+4d6
51 The Migration of Ley Lines Int+30+2d20 Prof. Gortz
52 Phenomena of the Upper Air Int+30+3d6
53 Lodestones and Ferric Properties Int+30+2d10
54 Extraplanar Geometry Int+20+2d10
55 Moderate Meteorology Int+40+2d6
56 A Sanitized History of Necromancy  Int+40+1d20 Prof. Horton
57 Neo-osteoarchaeology  Int+30+2d6
58 Advanced Indices Int+30+1d10 Prof. Nostrocalcine
59 Applied Illiteracy Int+40+1d10
60 Relentless Logic Int+30+2d10
61 Higher Thaumic Field Theory Int+20+2d8 Prof. Revelston
62 Advanced Paradoxes Int+20+2d10
63 Repairing Thaumic Manifolds Int+35+3d6
64 Frictionless Metaphysics Int+30+2d6
65 Unusual Cartography Int+40+1d10 Prof. Fogel
66 The Lives of Beetles Int+35+3d6
67 Induction and Interpretation of Dreams Int+40+2d8 Prof. Scrute
68 Rangement of the Senses Int+30+2d6
69 Applied Astrology Int+40+1d20
70 Conjunctions of Celestial Bodies Int+25+3d8
71 Inks and Unguents Int+40+2d6 Prof. Ganderblast
72 Filtered Telepathy Int+30+2d6
73 Improvisational Countermagic Int+40+1d6
74 Speculative Herbology Int+35+2d6 Prof. Morlund
75 Tinctures and Extracts Int+40+1d20
76 Retrograde Inheritance Studies Int+30+1d10
77 Approved Culinary Dark Arts Int+30+1d20
78 Error Correction and Documentation Int+30+3d6 Prof. Hextangle
79 Residual Thaumic Trace Theory Int+30+1d10
80 Synthesis and Countersynthesis Int+30+1d20
81 Dissecting Humourous References Int+40+1d20 Prof. Nudgon
82 Contemptible Modern Literature Int+40+1d10
83 Lyric Poetry in Ancient Gronk Int+40+1d20
84 Tragic Poets of Early Endon Int+40+2d8
85 Undirected Reading Int+40+2d6
86 Boundaries and Wards Int+30+3d6 Prof. Aster
87 Detection of Undetectable Signals Int+20+3d6
88 Intermediate Rift Stabilization  Int+30+1d10
89 Musical Theory of the Spheres Int+30+3d6
90 Counterharmonic Alloys Int+30+2d20
91 People Who Have Wronged Me Int+40+2d6 Prof. Loam
92 Unorthodox Debating Int+30+1d20
93 Introductory Cipher Theory Int+20+1d20
94 Metasystemic Analysis Int+30+3d6
95 The Acts of the Eleven Tyrants Int+35+2d6 Prof. Hark
96 Military History of Endon Int+40+1d6
97 Gunpowder Improvement Studies Int+30+2d6
98 Emotional Control of Small Animals Int+40+1d10 Prof. Jariclave
99 Training Through Moderate Torture Int+30+2d20
100 History of Poisons Int+30+3d6
Laurent Gapaillard

Loxdon College

Loxdon College is not, when the game starts, the chaotic heap of history and magic that you might expect. It's not Goodberry Monthly's Wizard City, The Unseen Unversity, Hogwarts, Castle Heterodyne, etc. It doesn't have basements full of secrets, floating buildings, hallways that lead into the past... or if it does, it doesn't have too many of them. It is a fairly normal and down-to-earth place... at first.

As the game's Tempo increases, Loxdon College will change, but it will also change because of the PCs. The PCs are the ones who will found the Order of the Ebony Chalice, open a portal to the moon in a broom closet, fund a new building, destroy and old one, and alter the very fabric of academic reality. They're the founders of a new tradition! They're the ones who future generations of students will name cautiously and with reverence.

Or maybe not. We'll see how it goes.
 

History of Loxdon College

When Endon was just a trading post on a river ... boiled him alive, but not before ... the First Founders ... a group of itinerant turnip-sellers ... believed in education by proximity to knowledge .... the Eightfold Duel and Cogfallow Night ... full of spiders ... and then the Great Reform ... first woman to successfully assassinate a Warden ... the Alchemists were, as usual, terribly sorry ...

Loxdon College has 1,000 students and, at present, 4 areas of study.
-History / Literature / Politics
-Law
-Medicine
-Magic

Given the popularity of Wizardry in Endon, assume half (500) of the students are studying Magic. In a four-year degree, assume 40% (200) are first-year students. Magical education is very dangerous and magical industry is very lucrative. Assume just over half survive to the second year (125), that leaves 75 third year, 50 fourth year students, and 50 post-graduates.

Each of the 10 Academies and Halls (see below) boasts around 100 students, unevenly distributed. Some contain as few as 10, some as many as 200.

Magical education is a dubious art. Shaping a student's brain to accumulate magical energy and store spells is not an exact science; the general theory is that proximity to other wizards and magical books will eventually produce the correct thaumic soul adjustments, turning a spotty and indolent student into a proper wizard. Some students (and some professors) seek an easier path, using powerful equipment, ancient rituals, or sheer terror to rapidly create wizards or instantly transfer knowledge. It rarely works.

Lada Da

Ranks and Roles

Chancellor
The head of Loxdon College. In most hierarchical organizations, power accumulates at the top. At Loxdon College, no one is entirely sure where power accumulates, but it's not in the Chancellor. Their job is to hold dinners, perform ceremonies, assist the Monarch when they encounter a headache-inducing problem, and placate various factions. Since no faction can ever (it seems) accumulate more than a 10% stake in Loxdon College, the Chancellor's job is both tedious and simple.
 
Bursar
The person in charge of money. Students (in theory) pay tuition, sometimes ruinously calculated. Staff (in theory) draw salaries, petition for grants, demand new buildings, and pay for equipment. Endon (in theory) throws handfuls of tax revenue at Loxdon College. In practice, nobody is entirely sure how Loxdon College's finances operate, least of all the Bursar.
 
Deans
Deans oversee a Field of Study. Traditionally, this included History, Law, Literature, Medicine, and Magic, though Magic's proliferation has lead to a nebulous assortment of Deans, as each Chancellor attempts to impose some sort of order on Loxdon College.

Each time a Dean of Magic is required, roll 1d4 for the number of Deans, then assign each Dean a school of magic (MIR pp. 75-76).
 
Warden
Each Hall and Academy is overseen by a Warden. The name was not chosen idly. Wardens have enormous powers within their building and very little outside of it.
 
Lecturers
Those who take up the difficult task of educating the ignorant, the indifferent, and the willfully obtuse. Lecturers have very little power, but are also immune to most consequences. They straddle the boundary between the Middle and Upper class. They are held to a certain standard of behavior, yet everyone accepts a degree of eccentricity. Lecturers in magic can call themselves Mage, Archmage, Magos, Interrogator, etc. Powerful wizards title themselves.
 
Postgraduates
Academic wizards too lowly to earn a position as a Lecturer, too blighted or dedicated to seek a lucrative position in Magical Industry, or too foolish to leave. Every serious researcher has a gaggle of Postgraduates willing to do their bidding. Ignore the patched robes, haunted eyes, and inkstained fingers; your average Postgraduate Wizard totes enough spellpower to knock a building off its foundations. Vaporizing a few undergraduates only results in paperwork. Postgraduates serve as Proctors during examinations.

Halls and Academies

In theory, Halls offer rooms and meals, while Academies offer rooms, meals, and some level of academic support, from tutors to dedicated lecturers. Loxdon College itself hosts most lecturers, workshops, laboritories, and examination halls.
 
1. The Academy Chronometric
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: White clock dial worn above the heart.
Formal Uniform: All white robes, sundial hat.
 
All students must swear, on a lump of primordial rock, to study "Tyme and Alle Its Workes", though the diligence or nature of this study is left unstated. Some see it as a quaint and meaningless ritual and treat the Academy Chronometric as any other hall. Others, openly or in secret, follow the Academy's original purpose. Paradoxes, time-copies, and casual madness are rife. Students are encouraged to keep lead-sealed journals.
 
2. Academy of Reformed Witchcraft
Open To: Women
Casual Uniform: Black conical hat.
Formal Uniform: Black conical hat, reinforced bodice with pockets, cloak, heels.
 
Several decades ago, a small number of magically-inclined women threatened to create a rival magic university in Endon. Loxdon College hastily absorbed the school, initiating the College's decline or signalling the start of a new era, depending on who you ask. Some citizens think the "Reformed" in the Academy's name is a joke made in poor taste. Rumours of Dread Necromancy, Moral Perversion, and other crimes with capital letters abound, assisted in no small measure by the Academy's younger scholars. Secret investigations and surprise audits have uncovered nothing of any real importance.
 

3. Delmott Academy
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Brown tie, curled brown shoes.
Formal Unifrom: Brown tie, black cloak with red lining, curled brown boots with bows.

Originally founded as an Academy for law students, Delmott boasts quiet rooms, a profundal wine cellar, and the second-largest library of non-magical books on campus. Spellcasting within the Academy is forbidden, so it is only popular with academic wizards, those seeking a safe and insulated haven, and wizards who prefer stealth to spectacle.
 
4. Foster Hall
Open To: Women
Casual Uniform: Lace cravat.
Formal Uniform: White conical hat, lace shawl.

Initially advertised a hall for women studying medicine, Foster Hall adapted to the rising tide of magical interest by building a splendid new pentangle. It hasn't worked; most of the rooms are empty. Rumours of cursed stones, invasive scrying enchantments, and comically strict rules keep most prospective students away.
 

5. Goldplate Academy
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Black scarf with silver stars, worn around the neck or as a sash.
Formal Uniform: Black cloak with silver stars.
 
A den of alchemists and dreamers. Goldplate's most celebrated tradition is the Admissions Rant, where prospective students try to convince current members to permit their enrollment. Bribery, catering, and magical displays are encouraged, but if all else fails, the student body looks for a solid five minutes of frothing and gesticulation. Rotten fruit, fake rules, and (in an emergency),  the Warden's disintegration ray are used to dissuade casual applicants. Women are permitted to join, but typically face a more hostile crowd during the Admissions Rant.
 
6. Longaxe Hall
Open To: Men
Casual Uniform: Red feather in hat. (Informally, a black eye and some scorch marks).
Formal Uniform: Blunt silver polearm, iron torc, red plumes.
 
A dueling club given legitimacy by age and real estate, Longaxe Hall has a dreadful reputation. By ancient decree of the Monarch, a member of Longaxe Hall cannot be charged with Murder or Violence against another member, provided the act takes place within the Hall. The stones are scorched and pitted. Students fortify dormitories, launch raids on academic rivals, and test the limits of Endon's laws. There is no place to gain better training in practical battle-magic. Women are not permitted to openly join, but anyone crazy enough to wear a false beard is acceptable.
 
7. Nedalward Hall
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Red and yellow tie, cuffs.
Formal Uniform: Red and yellow checkered cloak, rowan staff.
 
Inclined towards radicalism, experimentalism, and drinking, Nedalward Hall is fertile ground for secret societies and student plots. Nedalward holds a monthly memorial service for students lost to mishaps, accidents, or duels. The Hall's main building is perpetually under construction. Legend says if it is ever completed, Endon College will vanish into the fog.
 
8. Mamseltrough Academy
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Gold and red lozenge brooch.
Formal Uniform: Gold and red cloak, blue leather shoes.

The cheapest Academy at the College, Mamseltrough takes pride in its cold running water, its sturdy beds (no lice, some termites), and its sporting tradition. Students are expected to take up boxing, Whackit, rowing, full-contact chess, or any other sport to maintain their position at the Academy.
 
9. Scrutcher Hall
Open To: Men
Casual Uniform: Purple tie, usually thin and with a family's crest on a silver pin.
Formal Uniform: Purple silk robe, white circular fur hat.

The oldest hall, and the most reactionary. Relatively few members are Wizards. Most are destined for careers in politics, and spend their time gambling, participating in team sports, smoking, and eating enormous dinners. They have the best buildings, the finest wine, and the most secrets. No one is admitted without society connections, a good name, and a substantial donation.
 
10. Some Saints Hall
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Blue tie with narrow white stripes.
Formal Uniform: White wig, blue and white zig-zag robes.
 
Endon is not particularly religious. As Loxdon College expanded, a small temple was deconsecrated and converted into a student residence. The irreverent nickname "Some Saints" stuck. The Hall's most notable feature, aside from its excellent dinners, is its Warden. The exiled Lamassu Gilgath II, cursed to only tread on deconsecrated ground, has seen generations of students pass through the Hall. Gilgath II cannot distinguish individual students, but can detect lies with frightening specificity and deliver immediate punishment.

W. Cade Gall

Clubs and Societies


Loxdon College doesn't have a Students' Union, a Student Newspaper, or even a half-decent secret society. The PCs can invent them.

The Ergot Club
Gambling, drinking, and knife-fighting. Prospective members have to pass three challenges, usually involving theft or mischief.

The Hidden Arena
Monster fights in a buried amphitheater. The faculty know about it and sometimes place bets, but submitting their own monsters is considered unfair to the students.

The Most Worshipful Shudderers
A fake religion (or so they claim) with fake rituals, fake robes, fake secret meetings, and fake prophecies. A good excuse to dress up and denounce people.

The Young Gumperts & The Young Bogs
The Gumperts stand for Endon Values, Harsh Penalties, and The Good Old Days. Their colour is green. The Bogs stand for Lower Taxes, Endon Prosperity, and More Wars. Their colour is blue.

Members of prosperous old familes are expected to toe the party line, associate with their future allies in Parliament, and politely shun the incomprehensible politics of the other side. The two clubs tend to attract stuffy and boring students who enjoy the company of other stuffy and boring students. Both have plenty of memmbers, but almost no one turns up to meetings unless food is provided.

5 comments:

  1. I've been grinning throughout this entire post. Fun to read, and like most good things, making me imagine the nonsense I'd get up to with the material as a DM or as a player.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is awesome! MIR is always worth expanding, so thanks for sharing more of it. My players currently have 4 stranded students from Loxdon camping out in their basement, so this is an amazing conversational source for that; and if they decide to leave Dolmenwood for Endon, these student mechanics would be perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  3. It always amuses me to see the differences between American/British and Spanish University life. My degree was 5 years, but for the average student (such as me), it would take 8 or 9 years. There were few optional courses, instead you could choose among 5 paths, each of them rigidly defined. All courses were extremely focused on the degree's subject (Aerospace engineering), and had dry names like Fluid Dynamics II or Linear Algebra. Teachers would predict happily how we'd lose interest on their subjects and stop attending. And every exchange student from abroad would fail every subject their first term and flee. Good times.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is some damn gameable stuff, yo. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm stealing some of these ideas for my 5e game, as my guys are currently headed to a city with a large University. I'm also stealing all of those classes as book titles because they love to loot books.

    ReplyDelete