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    Schools of Magic in the Flanaess
    Posted on Thu, March 28, 2024 by LordCeb
    Osmund-Davizid writes "

    There are many opportunities for mages to learn their craft throughout the Flanaess.  From the humble hedge wizard teaching simple spells out of his home, to established academies of arcane lore, schools of magic catering to every possible specialty of the Art are available to wizards seeking to improve their knowledge and skills.  Described here are a few examples of schools of magical learning located throughout the Flanaess.



    Most guilds of wizards have an associated school of magic.  Indeed, one of the benefits of a wizard joining a guild is to have access to the academic facilities and laboratories that membership affords.  Some schools of magic are quite open and famous, such as the Greyhawk University of Magical Arts.  Others less so, such as the Black Academy in Skull City (Note 1).  Here are a few examples of schools of magic that can serve as springboards for adventures or as places for wizards to learn new skills.  The time period is assumed to be post Greyhawk Wars, but details can be altered to fit individual campaigns.

     

     

    Mageholm:  Rel Deven is a city of good repute and history in the former Great Kingdom (Note 2) and boasts one of the most prominent sorcerous societies in the world – the Eldritch Lords.  While the Naelex Overkings forbade any guild of wizards in the city of Rauxes itself, on the theory that such a guild could challenge the Overking’s authority (Note 3), most of the independent wizards fled Rauxes to other cities, most notably Rel Deven.  These wizards used what was once principally a social club of wizards to house the lore and magical artifacts of Aerdy until the reign of the Naelex Overkings end and Rauxes become a free city again.  This movement transformed Mageholm from being simply a meeting place for wizards to being a prominent repository of magical lore and artifacts.    

     

    Facility.  The tower of Mageholm serves as a central meeting for the various factions of wizards in Rel Deven and the western Aerdy.  While easily the most powerful of the various wizardly groups, the Eldritch Lords do not entirely run Mageholm.  There are enough independent wizards and other factions to make even the Eldritch Lords look to cooperate with these groups as opposed to attempt to take over Mageholm’s leadership on their own.

     

    Curriculum.  Mageholm was originally intended to be an apolitical meeting place for wizards, with floors of laboratories and classrooms available for members to rent and use as needed.  Mostly private tutoring was done in these facilities representing the entire gamut of magical disciplines.  In short, the facilities and available tutors in Mageholm can accommodate just about any aspect of general spellcasting.  But recently, a new school of magic is starting to curry favor among the younger wizardly classes – the school of apportation (also known as dimensionalist) magic.  Headed by the wizard Falcor, many new spells of moving and teleportation are now being researched and developed in the laboratories in Mageholm (Note 4). Additionally, there is a cabal of blue-robed wizards dedicated to studying the weird glowstones of Rel Deven.  As a side project, these “Stonemages” teach very specialized theories of geomancery on a sporadic basis in some of the general-purpose labs and classrooms of Mageholm. 

     

     

    The Conclave of Domination:  The Boneheart Archmage Kermin Mind-Bender is empire building.  He sees the future of the Realm of Iuz in improving and promoting wizards into positions of power.  To this end, he was awarded the task by the evil demigod to be the foremost trainer and recruiter of wizardly candidates throughout the lands of Iuz.  While Kermin operated out of Dorakaa for some time following the great victories of Iuz in the Greyhawk Wars, he determined that having his academy inside the city itself was too limiting.  He petitioned Iuz to found a magic college elsewhere, and his dread lord agreed.  Kermin chose a spot a few miles directly north of Dorakaa to found his school and to house his private forces (Note 5). 

     

    Facility. Currently the edifice that houses Kermin’s school – he calls it the “Conclave of Domination” – is functional but not complete.  Kermin has some engineers still working on finishing walls surrounding the school and other defenses, but the school itself is fully operational.  Kermin envisions not only a school of magic, but a veritable fortress redoubt/personal retreat for himself and his followers.  Kermin has started his classes and, surprisingly, he has found that teaching magic is something that he takes personal joy and satisfaction in doing.  His faculty is staffed mostly with bakluni renegades from the wizard guilds of the west who are particularly dedicated to Kermin. 

     

    Curriculum.  Kermin has one secret ace in the hole when it comes to recruiting wizardly candidates – he captured a grimoire of particular usefulness in training wizards from the Necromancery in Molag when Iuz captured that city.  This tome, known as The Book of Black Circles, has spells and notes on teaching magic that has boosted Kermin’s already formidable talents in this field (Note 6).  As for the subjects of the school, spells and lore in divination, enchantment/charm and domination magic are the major fields of study.  Specific subjects taught are mostly from what the bakluni wizards could steal from their time in the schools of Zeif and Ekbir, as well as what Kermin personally researched.  Kermin Mind-Bender, true to his name, teaches the best students in the art of breaking people’s wills and minds with powerful spellcraft.  Kermin also has on staff a gnome wizard teaching mindbending illusion magic to those students who have talents in that area (Kermin uses this teacher more as an insult to the Master Illusionist Jumper, Kermin’s Boneheart rival).  Iuz is generally pleased with the early results of the school, though he may push Kermin to teach more destructive battle magic in the future, as that is more keeping with Iuz’s nature than the more subtle spells (Note 7).     

     

     

    Academy of Fire Magic/School of Fire:  The Academy of Fire Magic was founded by the archmage Avissar Fire-Eye to specialize in pyromancy.  The school was located south of Port Toli and provided the ship captains of the Sea Princes with a steady stream of wizards to serve as naval battle mages for their fleets.  The Academy of Fire Magic suffered a tragic fate when a spell under development got out of control and destroyed the bulk of the facility.  The Fire-Eye Scrolls, the repository of the collected lore of the school, were salvaged from the ruins and eventually kept with the archives of the wizard guild in Monmurg.  After the Scarlet Brotherhood took over the Sea Princes, the Fire-Eye Scrolls were discovered and their magic was utilized by their mages and spread throughout the Brotherhood.   

     

    Facility.  During the Scarlet Brotherhood occupation of the Sea Princes, wizards in their service and the cult of Pyremius worked together to rebuild and rededicate a center of learning for war magic in these lands.  A building was erected on the foundations of the original school and quickly bright lights, smoke, and explosions were observed coming from the structure.  The edifice was renamed the School of Fire, and the Brotherhood sent many of their own promising wizards as well as mercenary spellcasters to the school to learn and experiment on more devastating magic. 

     

    Curriculum.  Pyromancy in all its forms is an obvious subject of learning here.  Other spells of invocation and evocation are likely to be experimented on in depth at the School of Fire.  The identity of the faculty is unknown, as the Brotherhood keeps such details secret.  Agents of Keoland have been tasked to attempt to infiltrate the school and report whatever they can on the inner workings of the School of Fire (Note 8).

     

     

    College of Shadow Mastery:  This is another school of magic that has been reformed from the aftermath of a tragedy.  The school was founded by a mage who specialized in teaching shadow magic.  In 579, some sort of mysterious event took the lives of the students and faculty of this school (Note 9). Upon investigation, the officials of Safeton seized the assets of the school and forbade anyone from entering it.  Later, the Greyhawk Wars saw the forces of the Pomarj taking over half of the Wild Coast.  Among the refugees of the city of Elredd was the wizard Pizari Farsight.  He led counterattacks and delaying actions against the humanoids of the Pomarj, allowing many common folk to escape northwards.  At the city of Safeton, Pizari joined the forces of that city-state and together they forced the goblinoids to halt their northward advances (though, to be fair, it was less of the stand of Safeton and more of the desire of Turrosh Mak to expand westward that led to the humanoids stopping where they did).  Because Pizari was obviously a wizard of considerable power, the grateful government of Safeton requested that Pizari stay as an advisor and help repel future assaults by the humanoids.  To sweeten the deal, Safeton offered to give Pizari the run of the closed College of Shadow Mastery to use as he saw fit.  Pizari, tired of fleeing and desiring to strike back at the Pomarj, agreed.  

     

    Facility. The college is shaped like a triangular keep, located on a hill just northwest of Safeton.  It was not greatly damaged in the event that took the lives of the students and faculty, so Pizari did not have to modify much when he occupied the buildings.  Initially, he was content to use the place as a personal abode and base of operations.  Later, for reasons he could not explain, he determined to re-open the College of Shadow Mastery.  Pizari went to the local governing officials and demanded the Scrolls of the Shadow Lord to establish his school.  The new ruler of Safeton, Turin Deathstalker, saw this as an opportunity to gain a cadre of war wizards for his city and gave Pizari all he asked for in exchange for teaching valuable magic to wizards pledged to the city’s defense.  

     

    Curriculum. Pizari, now the chancellor of the College of Shadow Mastery, dedicated himself to studying the Scrolls of the Shadow Lord and became an expert in shadow magic, enough so that he spends the majority of this curriculum teaching this discipline (Note 10).  His longtime companion, Deeli Brahent, is in charge of the day-to-day management of the facilities.  There are currently only a few other wizards on the staff who tend to teach battle magic to aspiring war wizards and adventurers.  Enrollment is open to any who wish to either fight the orcs of the Pomarj or plumb the depths of shadow magic.  The sinister reputation of the school’s past history is beginning to attract less savory types, and this is further affecting the personality of the its chancellor, potentially leading him down a dark path.       

     

     

    Mage’s Guildhall:  This simply named facility is indicative of the relatively low status of wizards in the city of Chendl.  Social snobbery and cultural emphasis made practitioners of the magical arts considered more working class then in most cities.  The guild had their functions to serve: to keep the lights of the town lit, provide maintenance to the magical features of the city, and to entertain the higher classes with pleasant illusions and exhibitions.  The scholarly aspect of the guild was more on the lines of private tutoring of the children of the dilatant aristocracy and the wealthy.  After the Greyhawk Wars, the focus of the guild has been practical service to the crown:  making magical mortars to strengthen the fortifications, battle magic to support the army, manufacturing potions and scrolls, and other such support. 

     

    Facility.  In keeping with the working class model of the guild, its facilities are fairly plain and utilitarian.  The guild is located outside the upper class inner city of Chendl, again reflecting the level of respect wizards have in this city.  The guild houses a relatively prestigious school of magic within it, but for a long period of time, enrollment as a wizard was not viewed as a socially acceptable profession.  Times have changed somewhat, due to the increased need post-war of talented spellcasters.

     

    Curriculum.  Generally, the school taught a wide variety of spells and lore, except in the field of necromancy, which was forbidden by the highly lawful good leadership of Chendl.  After the Greyhawk Wars, a unique strain of metamagic research has been developed at the school, largely because of the contributions of a distinguished alumni, the wizard Chispa Alicante.  She donated one copy of her grimoire, the Libram Spectacularum, to the school library and another copy to the director of the school of magic.  These magical tomes contain spells and notes on a line of research that can greatly increase the power of spellcasting (Note 11).  The knowledge taught has proven very useful to the defenders of Furyondy, making the status of the guild and its teachers rise in the notoriously snobby social circles of Chendl.

     

     

    The Pilgrim School:  This most unusual school of magic consists of a traveling group of wagons and pack animals currently camped just outside of Winetha, on the move to an undisclosed northern location.  The official explanation for the travel is that the leadership of the school are undertaking a pilgrimage to a magical site in the North Province (hence the name that has been applied to the school, it has no official name).  The real reason is far more unusual.  The leader of the school/caravan is a warrior named Thallo who is desperately seeking a magical cure – for his close companion Zarhan has been afflicted by a magical curse that is transforming him into a crippled kuo-toa (Note 12)!  Zarhan and Thallo went tomb raiding in the Gull Cliffs, looking for a grimoire of polymorph magic.  They found it, but the grimoire unleashed a powerful curse on the mage when he handled it.  Zarhan estimates he has only a few months to go before the change is permanent and is growing desperate to seek a cure.     

     

    Facility.  The school is organized like a large merchant caravan, with wagons containing a portable laboratory and small library of books useful for research.  The represents what is left of Zarhan’s fortune.  When the transformation curse began to take hold, Zarhan and Thallo returned to Winetha and cashed in all their remaining assets to get a wish spell cast to stop the curse.  It only minimally worked in that it seemed to slow the transformation but did not stop it completely (Zarhan received only a limited wish, and thus it had a lesser effect – the curse is so strong that only a full wish could have any real effect).  Zarhan keeps himself covered up to hide his disfigurement, and is able to teach from the Book of Metamorphoses without further penalty.  So he has been teaching several adventuring wizards about the subtleties of polymorph magic while also trying to see if he can find a cure for his own affliction somewhere in the tome.     

     

    Curriculum.  After teaching a few courses in polymorph magic, Zarhan has gained back some funds lost from his vain attempt to get the curse wished away.  He and Thallo have turned, in utter desperation, to the hope that a bath in the alleged healing pools at the town of Bilebrine will cure him.  To reach that location is a problem.  Post Greyhawk Wars, the lands of Rinloru are teeming with undead, making direct travel out of the question.  So Thallo is planning to circumvent those lands by going westward and around to get to Bilebrine (Note 13).  In order to generate funds to go through the expensive process of traveling through the lands of the Great Kingdom (bribes alone represent a major concern, as well as paying for guards and teamsters), Zarhan is going to have to teach his courses along the way.  Thallo has recruited the small army of hirelings needed to begin the journey (none of these people know of the curse afflicting the headmaster of the school – Zarhan keeps disguised and stays inside a wagon most of the time, coming out only to teach a course under the cover of spells and darkness) and is ready to begin a desperate march through the middle of Aerdy to reach Bilebrine in time to end the curse (Note 14).  Travelers through Aerdy can thus meet this moving school of magic at any point.  Mages can pick up some especially esoteric magic dealing with the changing of forms from taking a course from this school (Note 15).           

     

     

     

    NOTES:

     

    1.  Other possible examples of magic schools could also include the College of Wizardry supplement which has a couple of potential Greyhawk locations suggested, the Sorcerous Societies of the Flanaess article from Oerth Journal # 3, and other published supplements.  See also Dragon Magazine Issues # 123 and 139 for information about magical colleges and guilds generally.

     

    2.  The sourcebook Ivid the Undying lists Rel Deven as having a population of only 8000.  This seems to be too low for a city of the importance and history associated with Rel Deven.  This author assumes that it was a misprint and the population being closer to 18,000, considering the presence of so many wizards and high level administrators, making Rel Deven more of a mid-sized city and not a town.  It makes sense to have a higher population in the context of this article so as to be able to support a full guild and school of wizards.  An article in Dragon Magazine Issue 139 is used as the base for the description of Mageholm, with the archives being largely rescued materials from Rauxes rather than a magical publication by the guild itself.

     

    3.  Almost all of the wizards currently in Rauxes are under the direct sanction and control of the Overking.  No guild exists and the Imperial Court recruits its wizards by pressing them into service from the lands Naelex controls.  Only a few individual mages remain in that city that are not completely under the Overking’s thumb.  When Overking Ivid I ascended to the Malachite Throne, the Eldritch Lords were responsible for taking many volumes of magical treatises and storing them in the archives of Mageholm.  This is their greatest lasting legacy: preserving the knowledge of the past magical accomplishments of what was once the Great Kingdom. 

     

    4.  See Dragon Magazine Issue 220 for details regarding the spells of the apportation school.  This is a new field of study and has been attracting the curious and the studious to try and experiment with the spells Falcor developed.  Notably, the priestess of Boccob, Johanna of Almor, visited Mageholm to study for her church the insights of the apportation spellcraft and other lore on some ancient artifacts.  The Greyhawk Wars broke out when Johanna was returning to Chathold.  She disappeared and her friend and ally, Otto of the Circle of Eight, is seeking to contact the wizards at Mageholm for any clue as to the route she took in order to attempt to find her (see Dragon Magazine Issue 230 for further information on this plot hook).         

     

    5.  Kermin has a personal guard of bakluni horsemen set up in barracks and stables in a village outside the school.  The lands themselves are useful to Iuz as farmland for growing feed for his rare cavalry forces and grain to feed his human troops, making this location of strategic as well as magical importance.  The local farmers provide for the school’s food requirements and feed for the cavalry, even making enough hay and grain to export to Iuz’s other cavalry troops stationed in Dorakaa.  In return, the Iuzites are not allowed to abuse these wretches.

     

    6.  See Dragon Magazine Issue 139 for details on this tome.  It is worth noting that while it is a grimoire written and used by an evil organization, most of the book has information useful to the training of any mage, whatever the alignment.  Kermin has researched that certain powers of the tome are only available to a lawful evil spellcaster, and those are in short supply in the lands of Iuz.  Kermin is toying with the idea of allying with the wizard lord of Trollbar, Drazen, because by virtue of his alignment, would be able to unlock some of the more subtle aspects of the Book of Black Circles.  Kermin is unaware that Drazen is the brother of Cranzer, a potential Boneheart rival (see the articles on Trollbar on Canonfire for more details of this lawful wizard in Iuz’s employ).

     

    7.  One potential fly in the ointment here is that Iuz, while granting Kermin an uncharacteristically generous free hand in founding his school, insisted on having a chapel dedicated to himself on the grounds.  The high priest sent to staff the chapel is particularly charismatic, and has classes dedicated to Iuzite indoctrination worked into Kermin’s curriculum.  The high priest Eglid serves as a sort of political officer, ensuring that the young mages being taught here are sufficiently loyal to Iuz.  The students themselves are recruited from all corners of the lands Iuz conquered and even further abroad.  Most of the best recruits are young Tehnas, along with a few rebels from lands as disparate as Perrenland, the Tiger Nomads, and even a few of the rare Stonefist youth who show talents in wizardry.  Eglid seeks to break down the wills of these young students so they can become more perfect vessels for the glory of Iuz.  This is not entirely in line with Kermin’s philosophy…            

     

    8.  See Dragon Magazine Issue 123 for details about the spells of the Fire-Eye Scrolls.  The archmage Avissar possessed a magical artifact, a monocle known as the Fire-Eye, that was never recovered after the destruction of the original school.  The Scarlet Brotherhood and the Church of Pyremius are determined to find this item and use it to maximum effect to retain possession of the lands of the Sea Princes.  See the article Keoish Intelligence Report from the Sea Princes on Canonfire for more details about spying opportunities in these lands.  

     

    9.  It is still unknown what was unleashed that horrid day.  For the spells of the school, its history, and theories of its demise, see “Scrolls of the Shadow Lord” on the Codex of Greyhawk site available at  Wayback Machine (archive.org)

     

    10.  Before the invasion, Pizari was a goodly aligned mage content to be a social presence in Elredd and be a part time sage for several specific topics.  In a mishap researching a spectral troll, he was temporarily stranded in the Demiplane of Shadow.  He was eventually rescued, but since that event, a gloom has settled over him, manifesting itself in bouts of black moods and depression.  The deaths of some of his friends from the onslaught of the Pomarj humanoids further put a pall on a once bright personality.  This, as much as anything else, may explain why this mage turned to the study of shadow magic when he exhibited no such interest before.  Of course, rumors are rife with speculation that shades of the former students and faculty haunt the school and are driving Pizari to dabble in more dangerous magic.  The truth of the matter is unknown.

     

    11.  See the Codex of Greyhawk for details on the spells of the Libram Spectacularum, as well as information on the wizard herself.  The spells are metamagical in nature designed to modify other spells after they are cast, creating effects such as anchoring wall spells in empty space, or unerring targeting of evocation spells.  This type of magic, dubbed conjugation magic by Chispa, represents a new theory of metamagic that, by all rights, should spread to other centers of magical learning in the near future.   

     

    12.  A powerful mage named Zarhan uncovered information leading to a lost tomb in the Gull Cliffs.  This tomb contained an ancient spellcaster with Laeyndar’s Book of Metamorphoses buried with him.  Zarhan desired to learn the powerful polymorph spells contained within the spellbook, so he braved the legendary curse associated with it, with tragic results.  The grimoire’s curse that took effect as soon as the mage opened it, in spite of his precautions, triggering a horrible slow transformation into a hunch backed, club footed kuo-toa.  See Dragon Magazine Issue 139 for more information on this tome. 

     

    13.  Thallo has been a companion of Zarhan for many years.  His relation to his master has progressed beyond the typical henchman.  Indeed, he is motivated by true love for Zarhan to get a cure.  Unfortunately, Thallo is not wise enough to see that this plan is folly. 

     

    14.  As the curse progresses, Zarhan’s thought process has become more muddled.  If he is thinking clearly, he could think out a better solution for his problem – such as arranging to have a teleport spell get him close to Bilebrine, eliminating the need for the caravan; or by seeking out legitimate divine healing aid.  But outside of researching polymorph magic, Zarhan’s logic has been steadily eroding due to the influence of the curse.  Thallo is a simple fighter, and has fixated onto the rumors of Bilebrine as a cure for his friend. The real tragedy here is that the healing pool at Bilebrine is entirely fake.  The rumor of the pool’s healing properties was entirely made up by the local ruler to get gullible nobles to spend their money, so after they reach the pool, Zarhan may be too far gone for any true cure to work.  What the wizard does once the change is permanent is up to conjecture, perhaps he would start polymorphing anyone near him into beings like himself in his rage, or perhaps he would end his days as an exiled monster under the pool in Bilebrine.    

     

    15.  Other possible adventure hooks may include having unscrupulous mages joining the caravan with the idea of stealing the tome for themselves, having local authorities confiscate or waylay the school for purposes of their own, the hirelings discover that there is monster in their midst and flee or revolt.  Of course, a party may be hired themselves to provide security for this school and/or help advertise the school to bring student in as they travel in a dangerous part of the world.  That is the stuff of adventures.

     

     

     

    SOURCES:

     

    Ivid the Undying, Iuz the Evil, Return to the Tomb of Horrors, WG8 Fate of Istus, Greyhawk Wars, City of Greyhawk boxed set, From the Ashes

    Dragon Magazine Articles in Issues 123, 139, 220, 230;  Oerth Journal # 3

    Codex of Greyhawk available at Wayback Machine (archive.org)

    Wizard’s Library parts 1-6 on Canonfire

    PC4 To Capture of Troll

    "
     
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