Thursday, July 22, 2010

Second Age Adventure Setting: Pythos University

I've become more and more interested in running adventures set in the Second Age, and have been toying with a few different settings.  Here are my first few notes on Pythos University, a God Learner academy located in Slontos.  I'd love to know what you think.

Doomed to a hideous parody of existence after the fall of Slontos, Pythos University is currently a center of experimental Heroquesting, pushing the boundaries of myth to come up with new theories about the way the hero plane works.  The University is made up of several Collegia (vulgarly, colleges), associations of scholars centered around differing theories or avenues of inquiry.  The leaders of these colleges – variously called Masters, Principals, Wardens and Deans – are often in quiet, and sometimes noisy, competition. 

The University is famous for having developed artificial Heroquest Gates, allowing researchers access to the Hero Plane directly from the colleges.  Because of the experimental nature of the magic involved, the University is a dangerous place, and at least one college bears the marks of backlash damage.  Crippled students are common, and, although the College of St Xemela looks after them, many have severed ties with their colleges and settled in the town, which recognizes the wealth the colleges bring, but worries about the horrors the experiments can unleash on the town.

Attempting to keep order in this town is Inspector Fanto, a former student of great intelligence who found himself stripped of magical ability during one experiment.  There is a high level of mortality in the town, and it is the Inspector’s job to sort the accidental from the deliberate.  The Inspector is highly respected by the University’s leaders, but often finds that researchers dismiss him for his lack of magic.  Townspeople often do not trust him because of his status as a former student.  Nevertheless, the Inspector and his staff are often all that stands between the University and oblivion.

The Colleges

Collegium of the Fifth Action (Action College): Action College is headed by Master Hedin tel Frolos, leader of the Hedinist or Hypotheticalist School.  Hedinists are interested in what happens when central characters or events are altered or prevented in Heroquests.  Hypotheticalism is extremely dangerous, because often the myth falls apart or “snaps back” with massive backlash.  Hedin’s leading researcher is Doctor Hawk, who has been crippled so badly that he is confined to a magical flying chair and can only speak through mental link with his Venator servant.  Doctor Hawk is zeroing in on a grand unification theory of Heroquesting, something that will underpin the artificial Monomyth that is central to God Learner theory.  Other personalities at the College include…

Collegium of Hwarosian Mystery (Old College): Old College was the first college established at the University.  It is headed by Warden Moser de Suler, one of the oldest and wisest researchers at the University.  Old College is a mainstream God Learner research establishment and does not push the envelope particularly, which is why the other colleges were established.  Warden Moser is concerned at just how far his colleagues are going, and often employs agents to spy on their activities.

Zistorite Research Institute (Machine College): Machine College is a combined effort of the Cogs of Zistor and the Order of Otherworld Exploration.  Led by Clarxo the Wheel, the College devotes itself to applied mechamagics, and the Advanced Mechamagic Building has produced some very important advances over the years.  However, there have not been many breakthroughs in recent years, and Clarxo is becoming impatient.

Collegium of St Volanc (St Volanc’s College): St Volanc’s ceased to be a college devoted to the war order some time ago and is now the home of the Conditionalist School of Enginistos Got, a former Hedinist who took his research one step further.  Conditionalism seeks to promote other participant(s) in a myth to replace the protagonist(s).  The central concept of Conditionalism is The Could-Have-Been King, whose power the Conditionalists are attempting to harness, along with an army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres.  Needless to say, this is even more dangerous than Hypotheticalism.  The college’s East wall has been blown down and several dozen students killed in the past couple of years.

More to come if people are interested.


  1. It looks very interesting! :)
    However, are you going to stop the Praxian campaign? Did you run the murder scenario?

    You could still run the Praxian campaign and use this God Learner stuff with a bit of time-travelling... ;)

  2. No, the Praxian campaign is ongoing and has a lot of life left in it. I'm considering time-traveling for the forthcoming Pavis Rises adventure.

    However, I think an occasional Second Age adventure with different characters might be a nice change-up.

    I did run the murder scenario with very interesting results - I have a resourceful bunch of players.