Sir Gutain’s Academy for the Alternatively Talented

The Academy Groundsby Nick Culver

For a great many years, far more than most men can remember, Sir Gutain has run his “adventurer’s school” on the outskirts of Daven’s Dale, a small borough a half a day’s ride from the capital. The Academy campus sits on a small hill, overlooking the rest of the town regally, leaving the common folk to glance upon it in the midst of toiling over their fields and shake their heads wonderingly at how or why the king would ever allow such a place to exist. Still, it buys their excess grain, their cows, pigs, and chickens. For its stranger needs, it buys from the continual exotic bazaar that has sprung up at the foot of the hill.

 

Sir Gutain, founder of the Academy.

Purpose and Function:
Sir Gutain’s Academy For the Alternatively Talented is a place where children are raised to become something other than what society would often have them be. Farmer’s sons are raised to be great warriors, merchant’s daughters may be trained in the mystical arts. It is open to all, though for more destitute applicants they must show some special promise before they the tuition is waived. The Academy trains these children to fill the roles that are often needed in society but that danger puts a certain reservation on. The life of a wandering hero is often fairly thankless and, even more often, fairly dangerous. Rather than have every farmer’s son go off to seek his fortune, Sir Gutain trains them so as to give them a fighting chance of being more useful than a corpse on the road in the wake of a wild boar or a band of brigands.

As Sir Gutain’s school is rather unique as well of high repute in certain circles, graduates of his Academy are highly sought after by many. Governments will pay hard coin for a quartermaster who learned under Sir Gutain’s staff. Often merchants wish to procure a graduating student or so to guard their caravans. And other times, students will wander from town to town, taking what jobs present themselves. Their lives are not always set upon graduation, but they don’t often go hungry.

A child may enter the school as early as the age of eight, and usually no later than the age of fifteen. They live at the school for a number of years, graduating when the staff has reached a consensus that they are ready to face the challenges and responsibilities of the outside world. The child’s parents are free to visit, but legal guardianship is turned over to the school. The subject matter that the child is taught, as well as the quantity in which it is taught, is entirely determined by the staff, based mostly on the child’s strengths and weaknesses. The school takes care of all the child’s material needs, including food, housing, clothing, and miscellaneous expenses. The school houses close to three hundred students at any given time, and in a given year graduates approximately thirty. Among these are humans, elves, dwarves, centaurs, and sometimes catfolk (better known as neko-jin among their own kind).

For the Game Master, Sir Gutain’s Academy can function as either a piece of character history, as a plot device, or even as a setting for adventure (students can be most bothersome sometimes). It has been designed to be a rather modular addition to any game, though it does assume a certain demand for its alumni’s skills so as to justify its existence.

Grounds:
The grounds of the school are located upon the top of Daven’s hill in Daven’s Dale, in the center of town. It’s been there as long as any in the town can remember and it has always been in Sir Gutain’s hands.

The grounds are kept immaculately clean, even where the students practice battle, and the entire complex is surrounded by a small, simple hedge maze (simple, that is, unless the complex is under hostilities. The maze has been known to be rather temperamental in times such as those). The grounds include a schoolhouse, dormitories, a stables and smithy, an expansive training field, and gardens.

The schoolhouse itself is an L shaped building. The west wing houses the permanent staff, and the north wing houses an extensive library and classrooms. The central hub houses a few offices, as well as the spiritual center, where students can go to practice whatever religions under the guidance of the chaplain.

The dormitories are close by, long buildings of identical suites. Each dormitory houses a different age group, three dorms total. The suites are enclosed homes, with complete compliments, and other than a slight lack of privacy (due to the fact that eight students are housed in each suite), are often better than the accommodations that the students would otherwise have experienced. In the center of the dormitories is a mess hall, should the students choose to eat communally. It serves three meals a day, plus tea. On special occasions, such as graduations, the mess hall serves as a common meeting hall.

The stables are near the front of the complex, located for easy access from the gates. The obviously house horses, capable of housing quite a few. A little less expected is the adjoining bestiary, where more exotic animals are kept, some as pets, some as mounts, some merely so that the students can be familiar with them. Next to the stables is the smithy, where Melvin De La Menta works. Not only is he the blacksmith, the weaponsmith, and a general fixit man, but he also experiments heavily with gadgets (some of which work, one of which is always in the process of being constructed in his lab). The smithy is one of the newer buildings on the campus, having been rebuild several times.

Staff:
The headmaster and one of the primary professors of Sir Gutain’s Academy is Sir Gutain himself. The Academy has lasted through generations of students, longer than most anyone the in Daven’s Dale area can remember. In all that time, it has never changed hands. Never has it been passed down from one headmaster to another. The school records state that the school is two hundred and fifty years old, founded by Sir Flavius Gutain, once a captain of the previous dynasty’s guard. Sir Gutain retained his title won with the old dynasty, out of respect for his capabilities and aid in the topple of that dynasty. His political leanings are now limited to the continuation of his school, as that he feels that he’s affected history enough. In his own words, “I’ve played the part of hero too many times, and it is a role too harsh for these old bones. Now I help others take the stage. Which task is more noble?”

Sir Gutain is a well reputed sage and wizard, his life obviously extended by magicks. He is rather loud and gregarious, and spends a large amount of his time outside of class no longer researching the arcane arts but socializing with, and providing counsel for, his students and staff. He is quick with a hearty laugh, and often holds a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Despite his outgoing and friendly personality, there are rumors abound among the student population about his bondless wrath as a disciplinarian. He very seldom does anything to discourage or encourage these rumors.

Racel Woodworth, the quartermaster.

Racel Woodworth, the quartermaster.

Also on the staff is Racel Woodworth, an aging Knight. He acts as combat instructor and quartermaster, and often serves the function of practical disciplinarian at the Academy. Racel is a young sixty, though it is obvious that he’s seen more than his share of action and adventure through the years. He’s a gruff old man, filled with memories and covered with light scars. His name is that of legend, the Knight who freed Martyr’s Gate. He refuses to be acknowledged for his deeds and any students who question him about it are almost immediately put to extensive physical training for a week. Rumor has it that he lost a wife and child in the freeing of Martyr’s Gate though this is often the conjecture of the students who wonder why he makes them run so many times about the training grounds. Aside from quartermaster and combat instructor duties, Racel also does much of the organization of public events, though he seldom actually participates them.

Campus chaplain Marlene Elmore.

Campus chaplain Marlene Elmore.

Usually presiding over ceremonies is the campus chaplain, Marlene Elmore. Once an actual priest, she eventually came to the conclusion that most religions were trying to perform the same essential services: solidarity and comfort. As such, she renounced her vows and made personal ones, to study and understand religions of all kinds, with the intent of bring understanding to all. Marlene has been excommunicated by many religions for her “sacrilege,” but she sees this as a small price to pay for the good she’s doing by helping the students of Sir Gutain’s Academy.

Marlene’s a kind soul, one of the easiest of the staff to talk to. She offers counsel and advice to all those who need it. She serves as a spiritual guide, and is willing to perform ceremonies of any dozen religions for the students. She doesn’t laugh much, but often smiles. She tends to any of the wounded or ill on the campus, on top of her normal duties and teachings. Marlene is very busy, but is almost never too busy to listen to a student’s problems.

Scyria Darkwater, the master of stables.

Scyria Darkwater, the master of stables.

Lording over the stables is Scyria Darkwater, one of the larger elves ever to grace the campus. He tries to detach himself from campus affairs as much as possible, spending most of his time in the bestiary and stables. He has somewhat of a disdain for most sentient races, since they tend to squabble amongst themselves. Scyria has no use for the trappings of civilization, including ceremony and bureaucracy. His classes often go untaught and his paper work undone. As a result, Gutain has taken to assigning stable chores to students he wants to learn under Scyria, where they learn in an apprentice-like situation, with Scyria telling them the ways of the natural world.

Scryia is very territorial, and highly protective of the stables. He and Melvin de la Menta are often at odds, as they represent entirely different ideologies and are intimate neighbors. Scyria keeps his own mount in the bestiary, a golden griffon with a name that can only be spelled and pronounced in Elven. The name is said to sound like water over rocks.

Melvin de la Menta, smithy and scientist.

Melvin de la Menta, smithy and scientist.

The smithy is Melvin de la Menta, an awkward dwarf. Like most dwarves, Melvin has an affinity for metal working and blacksmithing. Unlike most dwarves, he abhors stonecutting, and has a love of science, especially the applied variety. Melvin de la Menta is a distracted man, often socially oblivious. He spends most of his time working on bizarre contraptions (one of which is shown to the left, an “indestructible” combat training suit. Of course, it’s built so only a small dwarf could use it…), and usually grabs students sent to him by Gutain and tells them to hold a smoking beaker or hand him a wrench. What time he doesn’t spend on his inventions is usually harnessed in the creation of metal works for the school or in fixing some of the more complicated apparatus on campus.

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