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.