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  1. Rhialto

    Perspectives on Academagia

    AUTHOR'S NOTE: I write this as an attempt to capture, in narrative form, three things: 1. my ability to tolerate the noise of keys clacking as text is typed, which I once had and, if all go well, I shall have again. 2. To capture my impressions as a player about notable features of the game Academagia: The Making of Mages. 3. To experiment with the construction of a new narrative persona/voice that captures in some way the role that I feel that one of my characters has created in the game world. The following Caveats must follow: 1. I make no claim to any ownership of any part of Black Chicken Studio’s characters, settings, games, etc. 2. I regret that I lack the patience and time to write a week-by-week AAR style narrative. 3. Any and all feed back upon this narrative, for good and for evil, is much appreciated. I hope that I may play Y2 some year, and hope that this character can be involved in adventures! With these words having been written, I begin my story. Although it is said to be encrypted, this is merely a literary conceit. The Worried Student: 1 Kapsus, 1658: My Lord? my Father? I know not what you are to me now, I write this to you under considerable mental strain. Shadows tend to haunt me, I fear who and what we are, and I worry about dear friends’ friendships – all because of that instruction that you gave me at the beginning of last school year. Do not worry. I will explain to you all my fears in good time; but you can surely understand why this message I encrypted. Many hours in the library have taughten me the joys of cryptology; the key I sent separately. On to the matters. They are: your instructions; my instructors; matters at school; friends; what I hope to do next. Your Instructions: I followed your instructions, which led me to a bog-hut, and thence to a school that teaches Gates Magic. Finally I understand why you so disdained astrology. The skies above that school were not those of Cyve, so what use could star studying serve there? If I were bold, I would claim the following sentiment as my original thought: “The Heavens change, as do the ground upon which we stand, yet people endure.” But these words were chanted to me by a student who was so paranoid that no face could be seen beneath a robe and no outline made out. I have become, according to the judgment of the professors at this school, a competent, though not exceptional journeyman – my father’s worthy Son, and a continuer of the family’s legacy. It is a noble form of magic, which I am glad to be learning. Entire universes await us, and we are told not to seek them! It is strange that Elumia prohibits the summoning of other beings and the creation of new life forms even as it permits the summoning of bolts of fire and the negation of gravity. My study of other, legal pillars of magic have been much more fruitful in terms of competence. I am apparently accounted a prodigy in revision, and I am an exceptional journeyman in my negation magic. It was with considerable reluctance that I applied myself to the study of ambushes (my becoming a wolf-boy would not be unusual among my college Morvidus - which already boasts a snake-lover, a cat-girl, a fanatical vegetarian, and too many people who do not like roofs, or shoes, or bathing - but would be contrary to the social image that you and I seek for our family), but such skills have not corroded my humanity and have helped me with many school issues. My Instructors: You told me that when I made contact with an instructor who gives me true wisdom, I should follow that instructor as a slave if necessary in order to gain true wisdom. Such was not necessary this year. However, I made the following very interesting connections: Professor Sido: A brilliant teacher of philosophical matters, who loves to teach languages in his spare time. He has had many adventures, he claims, and is willing to tolerate philosophical arguments about why the ban on gates magic was wrong. He taught me some Bassan, which was very useful for me, as I will later tell. He really likes my writing, I think. Euneycia: She offered me much education in various aspects of gates, but after I had secured admission to the school, I took full advantage of it; Euneycia, however, taught me much about anatomy, and helped me expand my zoology. She also claimed to know you – our whole family – and was expecting my arrival. I will ask you more about her later. Pelia: A girl younger than I am, she is extremely skilled at revision – to her, turning apples into gold is trivial. I helped her get into Academagia, and she in return taught me some portion of her talent. She also seeks the outer limits of magic – seeking her father who vanished during a timetravel accident. It’s not fair that she gets to toy with the foundations of economy and time without facing death! She is also very skilled in brewing, yet she is so dedicated to her magics and continuing her father’s legacy, both inside and outside Academagia, that I doubt that she has given the smallest thought to making explosions. Were it not for her private tutoring of me (free, do not worry), she would be heralded as the prodigy in revision, and I would be regarded as skilled but not exceptionally so. Professor Badcrumble: An astrologer and Regent of Avila. She helped a person whom I will tell you about later, and she has really been trying to encourage us to take up astrology. I have finally been dabbling in it at the library. On Cyve, I want to try to have every advantage that I can have. Matters at School: I am not the only one secretly studying strange magics. A student in the upper years wanted to use norn-power to gain illegal and very dangerous mastery, but I defeated him in a duel. But everyone else seems corrupt also, so my friends and I reported him not but left him humiliated. I did not want to face detention or investigation after my heroic deed. The legate Orsi seems to be tolerating and trying to protect a criminal, Ilaro by name, who seems to use gates magic, if the rumours be accurate. In Morvidus’s garden I discovered a student trapped for decades in suspended animation by a professor who wanted to protect his academic reputation. I tried in general to avoid getting too involved in the school’s government or Mineta, because being caught as a gates mage would be easier that way. So I dealt with pirates serving a leader named the Asad the Lion in my successful attempt to help deal with Ilaro. I helped the pirates also with some legal matters, so it seems that I am preparing myself to operate on both criminal and litigation related aspects of life – useful for a practitioner of illegal magic! One of my house mates – Uliva – is rather strange. The rumour is that she dreams of snakes whispering to her in her dreams, and she loves snakes while awake enough to make such claims plausible. I tried to approach her about this, but she was not willing to trust me. Given my own secretive studies of certain types of magic, I sympathize with her. Sima, a strange girl from Hedi, is always trying to deal with artifacts – jewelry - that she claims that her family want her to make or handle for them, yet she lacks the talent or determination to do it by herself. So it seems that my family and I am not the only ones with magical secrets. I just wish that you had better prepared me for what was to happen in that house – even telling me that it was located in the bogs near Academagia would have been a great help. Finally, in a matter that you may appreciate more than I did, there is a civil war among the werewolves, and somebody is smuggling to them magical items – I and Professor Pachait of Zoology found ourselves caught in an assassination attempt against the one who is regarded by the Minetan authorities as their king. Nasty savage fools they are, but by the stars they were scary when fighting – and they tried to use their magic to turn the place pitch black. Only my skill with negation prevented that magic from happening successfully. Finally, there is some sort of smuggling group operating near the Academagia. It is called the Falcon Costers, or something like that. I only got involved with them briefly; their plans for smuggling something were in conflict with Morvidus’s plans for an end of the year picnic, so we had to assert our College’s rights. The picnic turned out to be very fun eventually. Now I turn my pen to the most horrifying incident during this past year. I wish some times that I had never learned any part of the Bassan language, but having learned parts of it, I used it in the following way. One of the professors had found a Bassan letter and ask for my help in translating it. If I had confined my role to that, there would be little to say – but I was curious towards the narrative of the letter, which spoke of a powerful artifact and sinister forces that had, decades ago, sought the artifact, and were apparently seeking it still. I undertook my own investigations in the Bassan quarter, and discovered a woman who told me how to reach the small island where the artifact was said to be hidden: I should go to the edge of Elumia, call out a phrase, and jump off, after which a bird-god would catch me and fly me to the island. Through my studies of Gates, I recognized this as a primitive gates spell, presumably simplified in order to avoid legal restrictions. I refused to submit in this way, but used my Gates training to summon the bird god to take me to the islet. The Islet had been trapped, though, so that my arrival – or that of any human – summoned the sinister forces who had been searching for the artifact. Perhaps they had been living humans just as I am, but they were not then. I fell into a panic. If I were to flee and tell the authorities at Academagia about my triggering of this trap, then they would probably use negation to see whether I had used any magic that might affect the trap; this would reveal my use of Gates. So I compounded my use to protect my use as a secret: I summoned some spirit that defeated the revenants with ease. After this, I instinctively investigated the artifact that had brought such sorrow to so many people. It was a book about Mastery! I did not dare to submit it to any person, lest they investigate and discover my use of Gates. Even destroying it was a bad idea – it might be trapped itself, and fragments might be traced to me. So I resolved to study Mastery, reasoning that it would be a terrible thing if I were to let my possession of this illegal artifact go to waste. I am now almost at the level of a journeyman in Mastery, and it is a sickening pillar – all about enslaving people. Yet I have heard that it can be used for good in curing the defective and educating the ignorant, so I have persevered. Friends: I have not made many friends this year. I suppose you would be glad about this – more friends mean more who might be informed about our study of gates and the school. But I have made three friends, of whom to you the third would be most interesting. Firstly, there is Girars, a fellow student of Morvidus and a vegetarian. He is very eager to make all people not eat meat, because of the deaths of animals, and he has helped me much to develop my knowledge of vegetarian recipes. He wanted me to join him in experiments to develop plant-based familiars, arguing that animals are abused too much. Mr. Pebbles fascinated him for this reason, and Mr. Pebbles liked him as best as it could, but I refused to get involved. Between Pelia, Euneycia, and the mastery volume, I already had too much to do in terms of secretive or poorly understood magics without plumbing the depths of the familiar bond. I think the familiar bond to be a type of mastery, myself, but say that only to you. But Girars is a friend, whom I helped in an attempt to free some animals who would have been slaughtered for their meat. Secondly, there is Oan, an upperclasswoman from Sae’on (the volcano city – but she does not like people to remind her of that). She was assigned to be my mentor as a freshman, and she tried to be instructing and not reducing me to a slave. This policy benefited both of us, for I helped her in her research to locate and gain benefit from tree spirits in the Imperial reserve. She has claimed that she is my friend for life for this – I would settle for a friend long enough to go to Sae’on, but…any ways, she is a friend. Thirdly, there is Prudence. Stars above, I would be cautious about that name of hers, since only a few months ago she had the reputation of insulting or brawling with all who called her that! But now we have gained glory as founders of a student society for people like her – not fighters, but lonely outcastes whom other popular groups will not accept. She came to me and suggested the forming of that group, and my heart was split by sorrow! Here was a girl who had some of the isolation and difference from others that I had. Plus, her rumoured belief that the suppression of gates was an unjust conspiracy made her attractive to me – a friend who would not be horrified at my being a gates mage! So I resolved to help her, even though we had to deal with rimbal players and poster vandalism issues. Once she brought Regent Badcrumble onto our side, however, the group, which she named the Belonging Brethren after some old Auncish poetry that she likes, was easily formed with only one brawl in which we both fought well. Now she tries more to follow Regent Badcrumble’s ideas about the role of women as it is versus how it should be – quite interesting stuff, I think – and no longer minds being called Prudence – it forms nice Auncish verse, she tells me, with good terms, such as pugnacious or powerful. So I regard her as a very dear friend, and hope that we can visit over the summer. It is true that we are different in academic inclinations – she failed grammar, arithmetic and dialectic – but we are equals in negation, and she is very creative in her rhetoric – the Iambic and choliambic forms come swiftly to her, and make her a source of wit to those whom she is friendly with. Being honest, I suspect that she has some secrets of her own. She is enrolled in a very strange selection of elective courses for her temperament – grammar and arithmetic, and I am frequently amazed that she did not study Athletics given her physical fitness and love of physical activity. She likes singing also, yet enrolled not in music. Yet she will not explain her course selection, beyond saying that it is personal. If she were to develop more satisfaction and discipline, she could be a better mage – the rumour is that she has much skill in incantation, but does not study incantation. Yet she is studying much that she enjoys little and is so often suppressing her joy. I am glad that I and the Belonging Brethren are helping her to find happiness, confidence, and responsibility. What I want to Do: I want answers from you and the family. What are we? What is our relationship to the secret school and gates magic? Can I tell Prudence about any of this? Would our nature prevent me from having friends over? How dangerous is Gates? I also want to train incantation magic at the Contu school. I have the money now (and the school would accept me), and gaining training in this pillar would help my school life – incantation is very combat oriented, and I lacked it when it would have been useful last year. It might give me another subject to talk to Prudence about. Any idea what the advanced incantation is? Brewing: Pelia has given me the basics, but those basics are fascinating – so I would like to enroll in the brewing course next year. Forging: I have much skill at the forge, and would like to research possible ways to make armour that would protect against mastery magic. Mastery: I hope that my further researches into Mastery can better reveal how it can be defended against and how it can be used to cure minds. Including mine and possibly Prudence’s. Archery: It would make a nice relaxing hobby to excel in. Prudence: would you know of any magical cults in Auncausy to which one Prudence Cossins’s family might be joined? It is a wild thought by me that I do not believe (I blame merchants of the sort that the Auncish produce like flies who want a proper daughter), but as a family bonding activity, investigating a new friend is a good activity. Gates Magic: Rumour at the school is that Gates has three specializations: I want the demon-summoning one. Life creation is better suited for some of the freaks in my college, and teleportation is redundant – there are other ways to travel, and teleportation seems limited aside from that. Finally, I am really frightened by the summoning ritual that I participated in at the school. I keep thinking about the creature, and its words of alleged wisdom and their genuine effect upon me, and shadows now alarm me more. But this is all the more reason for me to better understand the multiverse and the effects of summonings. If a bad person, such as that upperclassman, try to summon beings for bad purposes, I want to be a good summoner who can deal with it. I hope that this letter finds you well, and hope that your reply in person will resolve many of my worries and questions. Your son (and vassel?) Siming Shi AUTHOR'S Note: I may apply this same premise to other character run throughs, if you like this one enough.