Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gareth Ryder Hanrahan: Interviewed!

NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING
Episode 119 of the Gauntlet Podcast is up for your listening pleasure! In this one I talk with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan about Cthulhu City, his approach to writing, and his voluminous output. Gareth’s one of rpgdom’s most productive and interesting creators. I mean—seriously-- check out RPG Geek’s book summary. It includes sourcebooks, modules, adventure collections, and megadungeons. They list him at just shy of 200 releases and I’m certain that’s incomplete.

Gareth delivers evocative ideas and amazing set-ups. He works on the trad side, but his rich concepts and plots can easily adapt to indie and story games.

His RPG Geek Listing: http://bit.ly/2hNOpDa

Below are a few things by Hanrahan I really love.

GUMSHOE ADVENTURES
GRH has written several really sharp adventure collections for GUMSHOE products. Elsewhere I’ve reviewed Dead Rock Seven for Ashen Stars. I love its variety. The Zalozhniy Quartet offers a series of linked adventures for Night’s Black Agents approachable in any order. They’re both great introductions to the core book’s world—providing great examples of the problems and situations you could play out. In both cases GRH built on adventure concepts from the core book author, providing the flesh and bone to that spirit.

One of my favorite collections he’s done is Brief Cases, one of two books for Mutant City Blues. Harahan has a mandate here: provide rich adventures doable in a session or two. They’re fast, but not thin. Each one leans into a different aspect of the setting. I’ve run “Blastback” for The Gauntlet Hangouts and I appreciated the way the game sets things up for the GM. (See my write-up here with links to the videos).

Some modules provide little GM guidance on how to actually approach reading or running the adventure. They expect the GM to decipher and discover the fun buried within. That works for broadly sketched resources, like Dungeon World starters. Adventures with more connections and detail require signposts. On the other hand, some modules itemize the process: X scene --> Y scene --> Z scene. They offer a track and show how to steer the players back on to it. There’s an expectation of control. Hanranhan’s adventures expect the players to shoot off in many directions. They discuss ways to approach that and how scenes & incidents can flow into one another. Most of all, they consider the practicalities of timing and how to handle changes.

13TH AGE
I’ve mentioned before my love for Rolemaster’s Creatures & Treasures series. They’re great, wild, and random. I’ve bought other item books—the d20 glut spit forth a ton of them-- but I’d never found any I’d really dug. Until I hit The Book of Loot. It’s a great collection, with amazing ideas smartly organized by the Icons. That means you can easily key an item or a player or a situation. My favorite kind of treasures has always been those with novel ability. This has that in spades. I don’t items fully mechanized, just a grab bag of bonuses. I need stuff that players can use in clever ways or that open new approaches to problems.

There’s also Eyes of the Stone Thief. In 13th Age’s Dragon Empire living dungeons bubble to the surface from somewhere down below. These lairs change and reshape over time. Some eat other dungeons. The Stone Thief is a megadungeon which has swallowed cities and castles. It adapts, learns, and changes. You can imagine the challenge in setting that up for the GM. The book’s at once a solid adventure and a toolbox. Since groups can head in many directions it has sections, set pieces, factions, flow charts—all easily divided and accessible. The smart organization struck me when I ran pieces from it. There’s also a dynamite section of dungeoneering at the start and a great index-glossary of key elements at the back.

DRAMASYSTEM
Finally there’s “Heroes of the City.” It’s a short little thing, a DS pitch from Blood on the Snow. But it grabs my attention like no other concept. A band of Heroes and their gathered forces have finally defeated the Big Bad Warlock in his capitol. This is about what happens next. It’s a story about reconstruction, alliance crumbling, old feuds arising, and dark conspiracies lurking. While I never got it to the table with DramaSystem, I did run it as a session of Kingdom. I loved it and I’m probably going to run it again with Fate next year.

WISH LIST
3 Games I’d Love to See GRH Write For
1. Cryptomancer: I really dig this concept and I want to return to it again next year. I’ll love to see some adventure seeds for this “heroes underground” concept. The setting has so many cool ideas that I’d be interested in what he pull out as adventures.

2. Any Free League publication: Tales from the Loop, Coriolis, but especially Mutant: Year Zero. MYZ has a series of Zone Sectors. They’re adventure set ups, NPCs, challenges, and concepts. GRH could offer interesting twists on what happens at home and in the zone.

3. Base Raiders: GRH’s done dungeon-crawls and superheroes (via MCB). I’d be super excited to see what he’d do with those two in combination. What kind of villain base would he create? How would he draw out the cool from the setup?

And of course I’d also like to see a fuller version of “Heroes of the City,” with some mechanics to support that. Perhaps for Dungeon World or 13TH Age.


Anyway, check out the podcast and consider taking a look at Cthulhu City. I have my copy and I’m working through it. I’ll post a review when I’ve had a chance to play around with it more. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Retrocember Rolemaster: Bringing Law to the Ursine Dunes

BEARS DON’T DO TINY CRITS
As I posted a while back, I try not to work on my Gauntlet 2-4 shot games any sooner than two weeks beforehand. It keeps my sanity and structures my schedule. So obviously I’m going to break that rule right now.

In December I have six sessions of Rolemaster on the schedule. That’s broken into a Thursday and a Sunday run of three sessions each. We’ll be playing using Slumbering Ursine Dunes and Fever-Dreaming Marlinko, an exciting Slavic-flavored setting for Labyrinth Lord.
I'm running three sessions of Slumbering Ursine Dunes with Rolemaster in December. The Dunes offers a point-crawl fantasy exploration game set in a Slavic-tinged world. We may even stop off in Fever-Dreaming Marlinko. We will play from pre-gens, rules will be taught, sessions run about 2 1/2 hours 
*Wait, go back. Did you say Rolemaster?
Yes—if you haven’t played it, you’ve probably heard of it. Here’s a chance to check out what’s groovy about it without getting too far into the complexities. I’ll have a simple one-page cheat, we’ll use nice Roll20 characters, and the GM will take care of most of the combat look-up & resolution. I ran RM for years and I’ll be using my simple version of several elements. I’ll be fun.

Come and try it out! If not for the system, then for the setting. It has Slavic Werebears!!! What more could you want!
I’m super excited for this. As of this writing, I even have a seat available in the Sunday. But consider signing up for one or both series in any case. We have waitlists available and seats might open up between now and the start of December.

Thursday Night Series
S1 http://bit.ly/2ycAiSw Thursday Dec. 7th, 8PM EST
S2 http://bit.ly/2xDitvi Thursday Dec. 14th, 8PM EST
S3 http://bit.ly/2x2jwp2 Thursday Dec. 21st, 8PM EST

Sunday Morning Series
S1 http://bit.ly/2xb7BAo Sunday Dec. 3rd, 10AM EST
S2 http://bit.ly/2kfZa5z Sunday Dec. 10th, 10AM EST
S3 http://bit.ly/2hHH0sF Sunday Dec. 17st, 10AM EST

MAKING MY BONES
I ran Rolemaster for many, many years. When I first bought it, they printed the rules on parchment and cardstock. That didn’t even really consider itself a system, just pieces and parts that could be fused together. Faith and willful ignorance of system gaps glued that game together. Over the next two decades I stayed on through multiple reformattings and eventually a massively revised edition, Rolemaster Standard System. RMSS finally burned me out. I gave away all of my copies and materials.

But then a couple of years ago Shawn Sanford ran some Rolemaster for Sherri and I. We saw some of the bits and hilarity that made it such a distinctive game. Super trad, super chart-filled, and super full of crunch. Trad I can handle-- that’s just a flavor. Chart-filled I can manage—I got good at making RM flow quickly. Crunchy I can deal with by sanding down the rough edges. So that’s what I want to look at today. What do I need to do to make Rolemaster simple and accessible for a three shot game with new players?

Note: most of this is inside baseball for folks who know Rolemaster.

WHAT DO THEY NEED TO KNOW?
One goal will be to reduce the info the players need to manage. A RM character sheet has a ton of detail, but not all of it actionable at the table. For example skill and combat values come from multiple sources (base rank, stat bonus, levels, items). But only the final value is really relevant at the table. The details come into play mostly for advancement.

The same thing for characteristics. Each of the ten stats has a value, potential, racial bonus, and base bonus. Some give development points for advancement. All we need to know for a three shot is the final total. While I’ll have a full character sheet with the details the player sheet will be minimal.

What else has to be recorded to make this workable? Profession, Race, Level, Armor Type, Defensive Bonus, Hit Points, Maneuver penalty (for some armor). Cutting things down to that makes it easier to spot what you need to know. Unless you’re a magic-user, but I’ll come back to that.

WHO GOES FIRST?
Initiative’s always been wonky in Rolemaster. Throughout the Companion series we saw multiple versions, most involving complicated action costs and point spends. Some remain among the craziest, most convoluted things I’ve ever read. For my version we’ll go with one of two approaches. A) Everyone rolls at the start of a fight and we rack ‘em up. I’ll probably have players roll d100 plus Quickness bonus. B) An even easier roll determining which side goes first. Winning side, then losing, then mooks. Rolemaster puts emphasis on missile weapons going first, so in the case of the former, they’d get a bonus to the roll. In the case of the latter, we’d break it up into phases (all missiles and then all melee).

MOVEMENT/MANEUVERS
Rolemaster has a complicated Movement/Maneuver system. If you need to roll for a non-attack action, there’s a table cross-referencing difficulty and roll, resulting in percentage of accomplishments. In play, we always eyeballed results, rather than stopping off to work through that. Rolemaster Standard System added an innovation of easier action result charts. They still had different ones for each category of skills (so about 30), but they shared a basic format. For our play, I’ll adapt that. Players will roll d100 plus relevant skill modified by difficulty.
176+ Absolute Success: In combat, you get a free half action. Outside of combat, you kick-ass and get a +30 to your next test. The GM may assign extra benefits.
111 to 175 Success: You do exactly what you set out to do.
91 to 110 Near Success: You do mostly what you set out to do. There’s a cost, complication, or you still have something left to do.
UM 100 Unusual Success: You do what you set out to do and there’s a positive additional effect for the scene.
76 to 90 Partial Success: In combat, you fail but gain a +15 to your next attempt with this. Outside of combat, there’s a cost, complication, or you still have something left to do
UM 66 Unusual Event: Something weird happens. It changes up what’s happening and may require a different check.
05 to 75 Failure: You fail and/or make no progress.
-25 to 04 Absolute Failure: You fail and/or make no progress. There’s also a cost (a penalty on the next roll, damage, situational effect, etc.)
-26 or less Spectacular Failure: FUMBLE-LAYA
I may simplify this more, but in the end I want something I can call quickly and players can pick up on.

INFINITE SKILL
Basic Rolemaster has a tight set of skills, all action or combat elements (Perception, Stalk/Hide, Maneuvering in Armor). But it also has a list of “Secondary Skills” as optional elements. This consists of about 40 skills. They’re…varied-- Contortions to First Aid to Herding to Rowing (and Sailing) to Tracking to Wood-Carving. These arrived in later editions of Character Law as a way to broaden character development. Then Rolemaster Companion II added a complete and compiled 20 page skill list. When they reworked Rolemaster into the Rolemaster Standard System, they leaned into that. Now we had a multi-page character skeet fat with individual skills.

For a three session game, I don’t want to worry about that.

Instead I’m going to put a short list a “Secondary Skill” listings on everyone’s sheet. I’ll distribute bonuses across those. When a player wants to do something and they want to declare knowledge of it, they can name a skill and write it in next to the bonus of their choice. We’ll then decide on a associated stat for it. This will let players define their characters on the fly, make skills effective, and create an interesting set of resource choices.

ARMING YOURSELF
One of the largest challenges to running Rolemaster comes from the combat charts. Weapons have individual charts. A successful roll usually moves players over to an additional critical table (Slash, Crush, Pierce, Heat, Shock, etc). That’s the cornerstone of the system and why it’s dismissively referred to as Chartmaster.

But that’s also the secret sauce.

Those charts are great, wild, and fun. Over the many years I ran it weekly, I got good at looking things up. I did it quickly. When I played online with Shawn Sanford, he had players read their own weapon chart, but he handled the Crits. That worked since the table consisted of mostly RM vets. For what I’m doing, it isn’t as great a choice. I don’t want to dump that in new players’ laps. I also avoiding an app. I’ve tried those before but they’ve been slower than handling it by hand.

So what I am going to do it a little meta, a little behind the curtain. Since I’m making pre-gens, I’ll be choosing characters’ weapons. For these, I’ll go with the most common types (Broadsword, Dagger, Battle Axe, Longbow, etc). I can keep that pool manageable rather than having a dozen different weapons (Scimitar, Falchion, Main Gauche, Rapier) to flip through.

WHAT HO, MAGIC?
Magic in Rolemaster’s complicated. Like really, really complicated. Just buying spells involves investing in lists of spells at level ranges. Spells cost power points. Casting a spell’s a maneuver—with higher success modifying the target’s resistance. Elemental attack spells have their own tables and often specific critical types. Ideally I want to reduce the workload on the PC spellcaster down to: what do the spells I know do, what do they cost, what do I have to roll? I think that should be easy. I can make easy, individual cheat sheets for this.

A little more complex is the issue of spell prep. See RM has a delightful restriction of spell casters. Spells usually take three rounds to go off. Two of prep and followed by an activation round. Yes. Three rounds. However, if the level of the spell’s three to five less than the caster’s level, they can cast it with one round of prep and one of activation. Given PCs will be level four, that means only first level spells.

However, there’s a mechanic to cast faster—it just means that you have a nastier effect if you mess up your casting. There’s also a mechanic for casting spells higher than your level. I have to figure how to write those options clearly. Other variations exist, but I want to cut those down to a manageable set.

I suspect magic will be the most involved section to work through.

OMFG THIS ISN’T ROLEMASTER
Maybe? Maybe not? I’m sanding off the rough edges, but frankly the changes fit into two categories. A) a focus on limited sessions of play . That means hiding the character creation and non-play elements away. B) the kinds of changes I usually made when I ran anyway, like easier initiative.


So there it is—and though it may not seem like it, I’m super excited and looking forward to this. I’m almost giddy with the thought of rolling those percentiles and dishing out exquisite damage. Delicious!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Gauntlet Con 2017 Draws Near!

NO CON CRUD
In two weeks The Gauntlet will be hosting Gauntlet Con, our first online convention. There will be games and panels running Friday Oct. 20th through Sunday Oct. 22nd. There’s a ton of great gaming there- including games run by Paul Czege, Avery Adler, Fraser Ronald, MadJay Brown, Mark Diaz Truman, Becky Annison, Jason Pitre, Jacqueline "Jax" Bryk, Phil Vecchione, Jen Kitzman, Eddy Webb, and more.

As of right now, many games have filled, but a bunch still have seats. A quick glance through shows Psi-Punk, Fate Accelerated, Godbound, Earthdawn, Hydro Hackers, Katanas & Trenchcoats, Legend of the Elements, and Sword’s Edge all have space. And there’s more beyond that. Events use Google Hangouts and the con as a whole will use a Discord channel for communication and making sure games get under way. There will also be a series of panel across timezones.

Right now there are two ways to register for Gauntlet Con2017. You can either join the Gauntlet’s Patreon at the $2 level or pay a $5 registration fee. There’s more details on that at the con page. You can find other info there including some bios on featured GMs and speakers.

Here’s the blurb from the registration page:
“Welcome to the Gauntlet Con Game Schedule! Feel free to browse our games on the Calendar or Events tab. If you would like to join a game and are a Gauntlet Patron, please login using a Gmail account so our organizers can invite you to the Google Hangout Video Calls we use for our games. If you are not a Patron, please register for Gauntlet Con through www.gauntlet-rpg.com. To join an event, click on the RSVP button after you are logged in. Feel free to join the Waitlist if a game is full as the RSVP list changes regularly. To be notified when new games hit the calendar, join the Gauntlet Hangouts Community on G+ (be sure to turn notifications ON).”
It’s very cool and I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes. The Gauntlet’s built an amazing stand-alone RSVP service which makes setting up games easy. That focus on scheduling, waitlisting, and calendar management means that games actually happen. I used to schedule online sessions only to have them crash & burn half the time. That’s a rarity with the Gauntlet Hangouts. I’m excited to see that implemented with an online convention.

RUMBLING TO GET READY 
ALSO I’m running four sessions of World Wide Wrestling for the Gauntlet Con (because I like sticking to a theme). My pitch:
PbtA-Powered Pro-Wrestling Drama! Gauntlet League Wrestling! The mysterious Caestu Group has taken things on the road. They’re recruiting new international, traditional, indie, trindie, and old-school competitors together to display their prowess. While the GLW has Championship belts, the true prize is The Gauntlet, the bearer of which becomes The MC: Master of Conquest! 
We will be playing multiple sessions throughout the convention. Play whichever slot you want. Bring old characters, play multiple sessions, just drop in for one event-- it's a free for all. Each session will set up the current wrestlers and their stories, throw in twists, and maybe even put up a belt for grabs. A curated set of playbooks will be available. We’ll start with a quick heat map for the wrestlers and then get ready to rumble. And by rumble I mean play out the dramatic stories of athletic entertainers trying to make a name for themselves and actually get a paycheck. 
Sessions run three hours. We will use Google Sheets for characters, with pdf playbooks available. No experience necessary, rules will be taught in a friendly environment. If you’ve been curious about World Wide Wrestling, come in and try it out.
I have seats remaining for three of the four sessions, but you can also waitlist in case someone can’t make it!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

From the Secret Registrar: Libri Vidicos Second Year Courses

Long ago I ran Libri Vidicos, a steampunk-magical school campaign that stretched across five years in-game and close to seven real-time. I was reminded of it last week as I prepped to run Pigsmoke, the PbtA game of modern magical academia. Years ago I'd created class lists for each year of Libri Vidicos. They helped break up and signal arcs for each year. We played out many classroom and teaching scenes in LV. They established themes, highlighted NPCs, and allowed me to foreshadow incidents.  

Eventually want to do a list sample list of classes for Pigsmoke, as resource for players running it. Here's my course listing for the second year of Libri Vidicos. 

FROM THE SECRET REGISTRAR
Congratulations on making it to your second year! At this point you might see yourself as having risen higher in the social ranking-- shifting from a little fish to actually walking on two legs. Allow me to dissuade you of that notion. As first years, you had the luxury of a certain degree of forgiveness. As second years, that slightly protective aura has vanished—to all possible exclamations, the answer is the same: you should have known better. Upperclassmen generally look upon first-years as amusing, rosy-cheeked children. Second years are simply awkward and generally uninteresting folks who trip up underfoot.

That being said, congratulations again! You will notice a few of your classmates missing this year, having gone home to tell their parents about all of the wonderful things they did this year and having said parents look on in horror. This is to be expected. I'm sure your class will grow smaller still by the end of your time here at Libri Vidicos. Think about all of the extra individual attention than reduction will gain you!

Now, this year you will only have four required classes. These will take up your first four periods, though in a slightly different order depending on which house you happen to be part of.

YOUR FOUR REQUIRED COURSES ARE:
Rhetoric and Argumentation: A certain school of philosophical mechanics builds on the idea of achieving certainty-- proofs, logical processes, and establishing final truths. Huzzah for them. A full ninety-nine percent of all your disagreements will be based on circumstances where absolute veracity is as useful as a wet cat in a tornado. This course looks at methods of presenting arguments, mastering cogent evidence, and identifying fallacies in an opponent's discourse. It is about being right, not correct.
Natural Philosophy and Scientific Thinking: Too much of what we do is based on the unsteady ground of opinion and hearsay. This course introduces students to the examination of the universal scientific principles operating in the world around us. This survey looks at chemical processes, biological phenomenon, and elementary natural mechanics. These ideas represent permanent foundations in the order of the world. (Students will be marked down for any permanent damage they inflict on the lab or students & staff.)
The Fall of Civilizations: From the Unmaker to the Thonak: Nothing lasts forever. This is amply demonstrated by the history of great disasters across the continent, from the fall of the Makistani, to the collapse of eastern civilizations, to the changes wrought by the forces of darkness. This is history focusing on the interesting bits, not the yawn-y ones.
Further Studies in the Dark World: All the World's Monsters: This year students will learn the zoological catalog of all the beasts so generously brought back to the world by Ilvir and his ilk CURSED BE HIS NAME. Students will study behavior, environment, hunting methods, and color-stage variations for each of these monsters. Additionally students will learn of the catalog of monstrous races who remained after the Parade of Monsters and whose efforts threaten decent people everywhere. (Note: this course does not cover the undead so don't get any ideas).

Course Choices
Students take two electives, or three with permission. Should a student take an overload class, they will be only permitted to enter into two formal clubs or activities. There are no exceptions to this rule. You will note my mention of “activities”, which are informal gatherings and organizations sponsored by the school itself. Students who opt not to or are not permitted to take an overload have the luxury of joining up to three clubs or activities. Dear Lords above that's interesting.

This is the first year that students will be able to start taking courses suited to their own individual inclination. These courses are important, but do not factor directly in to your decision regarding a directed educational track-- that will come in your third year. Therefore we suggest students take courses which seem interesting or odd to them so as to better get a sense of the possibilities lying before them. In other words, while you may have your heart set on something you'd better figure out what your back up plan is when you fail out.

Courses marked with an asterix (*) are half-year courses. Courses not marked with an asterix are full year courses. If you hadn't figured that out coming into that last sentence, be sure to mention that to your Year Master who will arrange for remediation or a good, solid boot to the head. Elective course are open to both second and third years, as well as certain fourth years of deficient intellect

Please note that the Headmaster does not take the blame for these course descriptions, written as they are by their respective departments (though with some editorializing on his part).

THE SCHOOL OF STEEL
Weighty Weapons and Sensible Protections: If one has the wisdom to fight in a mindless glorious war or battle a random drake, one had best be prepared for it. Students will learn the basics of armored combat and the use of weapons of a length up to the size of two headmasters. (Bastard).
Dueling as a Fine Art: Students will learn one or more new sword-fighting styles based on their present aptitude. Additionally the course will focus on the etiquette of dueling, the varying formal rules of dueling across the nations, and the best way to exploit those rules to one's benefit.
Marksmanship: Beginning with muscle powered weapons, you will learn the fine art of putting a hole in someone else. Assuming you don't put someone's eye out you will advance to work with Volters in the second semester.
A History of Warfare*: Examining the records of the great battles of history-- and the contradictions between various accounts, students will come to understand the difficulties and dangers inherit in large-scale warfare. By the end of the course students will understand the difference between strategy and tactics, how to read an OOB, and learn how to spin post-battle narrations to best effect.
Dirty Pool*: At times one way find oneself without a weapon ready at hand in circumstances where having one might be best. This course focuses on specialized self-defense for uncertain times. Not suggested for those students with a strong sense of personal honor or those not favoring a high sense of practicality.

THE SCHOOL OF MAGIC
Commanding the Elements: Beginning from the basic and agreed upon element structures, this course examines other historical and cultural conceptions. Students will learn the universal forms for elemental castings, alternative spell structures, and the art of improvisation. Students should be familiar with at least one element before taking this course. Students not familiar with at least one element should really take a long, hard look at their life choices.
Principles of Symbology: Students will look at the various notation schemes used historically and presently. Application of those schemes to contemporary casting styles will be considered. Course work will also focus on practical application of permanency, cross-styles communication, and handling obscure concepts. Students should not expect any contractions to be explained in any meaningful way.
The History of Magic and Technique: This course looks at the various eras of magic, their characteristics, how changes occurred between them, and what elements carried over. We will also examine the evolution of the current casting styles and how to recognize caster lineage and specialty. Particular attention will be given to dealing with artifacts and anachronistic magics.
Magical Analytics*: This highly specialized course deals with analyzing spells both for re-creation, identifying building blocks, and being able to undo effects. It also begins the sequence of courses working with meta-magics. Not nearly as boring as it sounds moreso in fact.
Wands, Staves and Rods: The Magicians Toolbox*: Some call them crutches, others call them lifesavers-- we will examine the making and use of supplementary items for spellcasting. Note-- students must bring their own wand or device with them to the class. Please see the Quartermaster of Twilight for supplies. He will then tell you to sod off and get your own.

THE SCHOOL OF DIPLOMACY
Ancient Languages: Nothing impresses more than a strong mastery of older texts and poetry. Alternately, it could be a potential tragedy if you couldn't read that ancient Donaen “Keep Out” sign.
People and Places of the World: A comprehensive survey. Do I need to say more?
Culinary Arts: All Things Liquid: Students must obtain a permission slip for the second half of the course, Mixology.
Acting”*: Getting into character...being able to emulate and pass oneself off convincingly as another person...for the purposes of entertaining an audience, of course. Not for anything sinister...really.
Dress and Deportment Across the Continent*: Clothing makes the humanoid person, and is a center point to many person's conception of themselves. This course explores the variety of dress and manners in our present world. Students will be expected to have a mastery of decorum before taking this course. Shoes will be required at all times.

THE SCHOOL OF KNOWLEDGES
Contemporary Political Structures: This course considers who holds power and why. We look at rules of succession, the voice of the people, rules of nobility, political movements, and how change occurs. Most importantly we look at who really holds the power and how they manage to get it. As an added bonus we will learn to identify the the degrees of sinistry separating a royal advisor from a vizier.
Economics and Accountancy: From the smallest level to the greatest, money or likewise commodities drive people. We look at the virtues and vices of mercantilism, how value is assigned, the new orders of compacts, and how trade is managed and measured. We also examine the mathematical tools best used for analyzing the flow of trade, locating fat pocketbooks, and acquiring treasure.
Modern Literature: An examination of literature from the lowest to the highest: from poetics to smut, from epic to pulp action-- we examine the trends, styles and techniques currently “all the rage.” We will also consider how to make a fast buck from the mercurial tastes of the public.
The Fine Art of Correspondence*: In a great many cases, the only representation one can make of oneself is through the written word. If you wish at least part of your legacy to be fine and concrete evidence of your charm and ready wit, consider this class covering elements of history and composition of the well-crafted missive.
Calculational Analysis*: The educated scholar has a significant awareness of his surroundings and is able to see the world in the system of moments, motions and forces. Yes, that's pretty cool.

THE SCHOOL OF PURPOSES
How Not to Be Seen: Please don't take this class if we have to explain that to you.
History of Crime: We study the methods and events of the rich lives of famous thieves, con men, and generally questionable figures. This course features special attention to the overlooked details which resulted in the less skilled being caught.
Mastering the Outdoors: Prepare to engage in the rough and tumble romantic world of eating pinecones to keep yourself alive. It is not enough to know how to survive in difficult and dangerous environments, the true master learns the art of turning his surroundings to his advantage, making places dangerous to those who would harm him, and creating his own kingdom. Students will learn advanced tactics in wood and field craft culminating in a rigorous final exam to the death.
Parlor Tricks and their Applications*: Oh the high-hilarity that can ensue from the proper application of a smoke bomb, flash powder, sleeping draught or hold-out knife at just the right time. Covers the building and use of all manner of gizmos, gadets, and gee-gaws.
Musical Feats*: Playing of instruments. Course offered at different levels based on audition. Students are instructed not to mention this course to first year students on punishment of expulsion from this class as well as all other activities or clubs. NOT KIDDING AROUND HERE!

THE SCHOOL OF PRACTICAL ARTS
Metal Working: Students will learn and practice the basic techniques of working with metals-- from delicate handiwork to forging. Second semester will introduce students to working with amalgams and magical metals. Students strongly attached to their digits may want to consider another course.
Power: Muscle, Steam and Mana: Engines and devices are for nothing without the energies to power them. Seize that power! Master the ancient secrets that have evaded the wise ones through the ages! They call me a fool, but they'll rue the day!!!
Elements of Art and Architecture: A favorite course for aesthetes, dungeon robbers, and future art thieves. Also of some use in polite society.
Basic Physiking*: Accidents will happen and there are times when magical healing remains out of reach. Also deals with injuries beyond the scope of basic magical medicine. Note, enrollment in this course does not give students automatic access to the medicine pantry.
Animal Husbandry*: The care, feeding, and training of non-magical creatures. Mostly harmless.