Gunnir Statement of Purpose
"We, the members of the Gunnir Magical Academy for the Arcane Arts and Sciences, hereby firmly declare our intent in the founding of this place of higher education. We wish to create an opportunity for wizards everywhere to develop their talents; we wish to provide an open bastion of knowledge for all who desire the wealth of learning; we wish to build an environment in which research, reason, and thought can flourish and develop without impediment; and we wish to be independent and self-sufficient in our academic pursuits, not bound by the ties of any political aims. These are the goals of this glorious institution, the very principles upon which it was founded, and they shall forever be preserved within these walls."
Founding and History
In 1171 E.P., a powerful wizard by the name of Archmagus Julius Hawthorne III, the third in a line of male descendants gifted with great arcane talents, devised a grand vision. Intending to leave his mark on the world as a scholar, he conceived a center of academic and arcane learning alike that was free from the boundaries of the governments of individual nations, a self-sufficient and utopian organization of wizards that could exist to serve the common good of all in pursuit of knowledge. Using funds inherited from his wealthy ancestors and investors interested in seeing his ideas come to fruition, Archmagus Hawthorne III built the first structures of the original Gunnir Arcane Institute amidst the glory of the Shuman Mountains in 1173, just two years later. Constructed on a magically-leveled plateau, the first Gunnir campus consisted of a primary hall containing a modest but still impressive library, several multipurpose rooms that could function as lecture halls or practice areas for simple magic, and a small bank of bedrooms intended to accommodate travelers that had come from far off lands for days at a time so as to allow them proper time to conduct their research.
Over the span of the next few decades, the Gunnir Arcane Institute took on more and more long-term boarders and acquired more magical resources, expanding their library to cover a wide variety of types of knowledge both mundane and extraordinary. Many more experienced wizards would make pilgrimages with their apprentices to the site, and masters and neophytes alike would take the opportunity to exchange knowledge with other wizards making similar journeys. In essence, Gunnir became a common pool of arcane wisdom. Not only were the tomes available in the rapidly-growing libraries a means for learning, but other wizards spending time researching, writing, and experimenting provided a means for any magically-adept traveler to pick up on a few secrets. The Institution began to take on the semblance of the typical wizard's guild, but on a much grander scale. Unlike most wizard's guilds, Gunnir lacked membership dues or government affiliations, and the relatively remote location was ideal for practicing potentially dangerous spells that might be best not tested in residential areas. Furthermore, despite the fact that Archmagus Hawthorne III founded the school, he took no joy in governing it or developing the typical bureaucratic attitude that many in his position often did. Instead, he continued to use his family's wealth and donations from other wealthy patrons interested in developing an independent institution to allow for further growth without burdening those who came simply to learn. The continued expansion of Gunnir eventually resulted in the capacity for housing several hundred travelers at a time, and many wizards actually made Gunnir into a permanent home, paying no more than it would cost to rent a room at a basic inn for the same duration.
By 1244, less than 50 years later, the Gunnir Arcane Institute had grown beyond expectations. Archmagus Hawthorne III, nearing the end of his life, had passed on the tradition of maintaining Gunnir to his son, Archmagus Hawthorne IV, who decided that Gunnir's immense size, libraries, and number of permanent wizard residents merited some rethinking about how to structure the Institute. It was at this time that Archmagus Hawthorne IV opted to turn the Institute into the Gunnir Magical Academy for the Arcane Arts and Sciences, usually simply abbreviated to the Gunnir Academy. His father approved wholly of the decision, as long as the basic principles of Gunnir's inception--a bastion of knowledge for all seekers--remained intact. And they have. Gunnir became more academically organized, and many of the wizards that had stayed at Gunnir for years and years offered to teach classes to large groups of eager apprentice students. The boarding area expanded dramatically to allow for a larger student body, giving birth to the Gunnir student dormitory wing. The number of classrooms and practice chambers increased to meet demands, and the library, as always, continued to acquire more and more of the necessary arcane texts to operate a school of magic.
Today, Gunnir Academy still preserves the original ideals of freedom of knowledge and access to information that it was originally founded upon. Any man, woman, or child in the pursuit of arcane or mundane learning will find that Gunnir is not only a hospitable place (by far and large, anyway), but perhaps the most rich in resources on Igala. The student body numbers somewhere around 800, drawn from all over Igala (and occasionally farther away as well). Gunnir also employs and provides a research environment for as many as 40 or 50 teachers.
Education. Autonomy. Integrity. ~The three main principles of Gunnir Academy
Gunnir in the Present
As time has passed, the structure of Gunnir has changed to suit its needs, but its mission and function have not.
Organization and Policy
Originally, Gunnir's presence as an independent institution outside the realm of government establishment and its relatively small size made most issues of law and politics completely irrelevant. Disputes were settled in gentlemanly fashion (occasionally with formalized duels, but rarely to the death--fighting was heavily discouraged on the grounds) whenever possible, and Archmagus Hawthorne III acted as a final arbiter in the situation of a great dispute. Gunnir largely ignored the surrounding countries and existed as a wholly neutral entity, blind to the national origin of its visitors. As long as everyone conducted themselves with respect for others and a sense of personal integrity, all was well at Gunnir.
Eventually, as the institution grew and eventually became a school, a council of wizards, drawn from each classification of magic, was devised to head the Academy and settle disputes in policy. Since a single man could no longer handle the responsibility of governing all of Gunnir, the job of the council was to handle disputes by majority vote, with all points being heard before any decisions were made. Gunnir technically has a fairly expansive rulebook that covers the conduct of students and their instructors, but most of the finer points of such are ignored except in extreme circumstances. The general rule that dictates most of the conduct at Gunnir is simply use common sense. Unfortunately, an institution full of wizards is occasionally a little short on that particular resource.
Today, Gunnir Academy's council is headed by the Archmagus Wray, a wise and benevolent Archmage with a generally serious air and a deep commitment to keeping Gunnir tradition alive.
While Gunnir is by no means defenseless against outside attack (after all, it's a campus full of spellcasters), Gunnir also is home to something on the order of 200 dragoons--not the Rivan Ishtarian fanatic variety, but actual holy knights devoted to Ryuugami. Many of Gunnir's dragoons come from Baron in search of an easy life, and for the most part, they get what they desire, as their primary function when Gunnir is not engaged in some sort of warfare is simply to act as a peacekeeping and lookout force.
A full Gunnir education typically takes a bare minimum of six years. In order to graduate, a student must fulfill a certain number of requirements related to their chosen magical specialization, often referred to as a major. Examples of common majors at Gunnir include:
- Elementary Elemental Studies -- Focuses on the four elements of air, water, fire, and earth--even within this major, most students pick one or two at most to particularly focus on.
- Complex Elemental Studies -- Usually starts out with some or all of the four elements and then moves into a heavier concentration of holy, shadow, or applied astral magic.
- Enchantment -- The study of altering the properties of matter, either temporarily or permanently.
- Illusory Arts -- The school focused on illusions and projections of false reality.
- Mental Magery -- The art of psionics, namely telekinesis and telepathy.
- Temporal Manipulation -- Studies alterations in the flow of time, time-based divinations, limited time travel (mostly theoretical), and other "time magic."
- Spatial Manipulation -- Effects that alter gravity, inertia, or other similar properties.
- Conjuration and Creation -- Focuses on generation of matter from energy or the summoning of spirits.
- Malediction -- The school of "curses."
- Benediction -- The school of blessings and positive enchantments.
- Healing and Medical Studies -- Spells that mostly cure diseases and wounds. Most students in this field also study anatomy and physiology as well as non-magical methods of administering first aid or even surgery.
Other majors may exist, and some students actually major in more than one area, or opt to take classes unrelated to their major to expand their arcane knowledge. In order to claim a degree in a particular school of spellcasting, a student must demonstrate competency and study of that major by registering for and completing with passing marks numerous classes related to their chosen field. In addition to courses directly related to their field, a student must take classes on abstract concepts or practical magical knowledge such as applied magical theory, monsters and magical creatures, planar studies, demonology, or any number other of similar subjects.
Just as the Gunnir Academy library contains a vast number of books about subjects other than magic, the school also teaches a wide variety of more mundane skills. Most students choose or are required to take a certain number of non-magic courses such as history, geography, foreign languages, metallurgy, architecture, mathematics, economics, swordplay and other physical combat skills, classical literature, or whatever else happens to interest them.
The highest rank a wizard can earn at Gunnir is Archmage, which signifies graduation with honors and at least a double major. Most students eventually attain this rank given adequate time and involvement. Graduation under slightly less impressive circumstances awards the graduate in question with the rank of Adept Wizard. Students have no rank of any sort and are simply referred to as apprentices, though students rarely refer to one another as such except in a mildly pejorative fashion. Older or more advanced students will often refer to younger or less experienced students as apprentices, but otherwise, they usually simply call each other mages or wizards.
The Gunnir student body ranges wildly in terms of demographics. Age, race, country of origin, and other background details vary drastically from individual to individual. However, most of Gunnir's students are between 14 and 24 years old, though some might be considerably older, and many of the instructors consider themselves to be learners as much as the students are. Generally, the background of a student is far less important than their social skills and magical aptitude. A talented or likable student of any age can find friends and achieve success in coursework if dedicated to the cause, and while individuals might hold various biases, the school as a whole is largely blind to differences in race or origin. Most of Gunnir's students and instructors are human, with the second largest group being various subraces of surface elves, but students can be of any sentient species with the capacity for magical aptitude. The primary interest of the school at large is the capabilities of its members--the more proficient at magic a student is, the better his reputation tends to be, barring various mitigating circumstances.
Of course, Gunnir students often feel that they have much better things to do than study. Extracurricular activities at Gunnir include, but are not limited to:
- 10 Paces -- A formalized wizard's duelling organization that puts together monthly tournaments that pit man against man to see who really knows combat and defensive magic best.
- Brass Rackets -- A tennis-like game played with enchanted rackets, brass rackets is something of a blood sport at Gunnir and often becomes fairly violent. A favorite of many spectators, brass rackets is always played with mixed doubles teams--one male and one female on each side. Judges trained at detecting gender-swapping enchantments police this rule and enforce it heavily, though many males who try making themselves female for the purpose of playing on the same team as a male friend are often unintentionally fairly obvious about it.
- Conjurer's Chess -- Not a simple board game, conjurer's chess is played outdoors or indoors on a special 8 by 8 grid large enough to accommodate summoned monsters. Each player begins by summoning a specified number or type of creatures and then takes turn commanding them in combat, trying to use strategy and tactics to outmaneuver opponents.
- Gunnir Theater Group -- Known for its spectacularly conjured special effects, the Gunnir Theater Group keeps students entertained and cultured with renditions of popular plays, improv nights, or student-written productions.
Most Gunnir students also enjoy a good, wild party. Magic is fun enough as it is sober, and when heavily intoxicated, it often becomes that much more interesting. Even a simple cantrip seems like a miracle through an alcoholic haze. One particularly amusing pastime of students majoring in Enchanting (and quite often other students who think they ought to be able to do that, too) is the casting of polymorphing spells while completely smashed, often resulting in bizarre and warped creations or students spending the evening in the form of drunken barnyard animals. Pranks are common among students at Gunnir, ranging from the relatively harmless (animating someone's bedsheets to prevent him from leaving his bed) to the somewhat dangerous (electrifying a hallmate's doorknob or trying to summon chaos spirits to haunt your roommate's sock drawer). Given the fact that a lot of Gunnir students are prone to developing some degree of eccentricities, life in the Gunnir dormitories is rarely ever boring.
Gunnir Fighting Styles
Gunnir students often choose to study the skills necessary to hold their own in combat. With the large number of potential threats to travelers in the form of monsters and bandits, most Gunnir students believe that having at least a base familiarity with combat techniques and spells is beneficial. Additionally, mages that go on to become professional duelists (for sport) or mercenaries find that their combat abilities are quite obviously the key to success.
The Gunnir approach to combat is to teach various "styles," allowing the individual mage to incorporate his own techniques and subtle changes to suit his or her personality. Some mages use a combination of styles or switch styles depending on their situation, but most mages tend to favor one style or technique over others. The styles taught at Gunnir are:
- Type I (Conservative) -- Designed for neophyte mages or wizards in single combat against a clearly superior opponent. This style emphasizes the use of magic that stalls, disarms, or nullifies a foe's attacks. Often, the purpose of Conservative fighting is not to win a battle, but merely survive or to find an opening to escape, though this is nott always the case. Some mages take Conservative fighting to a more advanced level, but at this point the style bleeds into type III, Defensive.
- Type II (Aggressive) -- A style that many mages, particularly overconfident ones, tend to almost naturally. This style emphasizes the use of destructive force as quickly as possible, "nuking" potential threats into atoms before they have a chance to respond. Because of its reckless nature, a mage facing an opponent utilizing strong defensive techniques may find himself spent and vulnerable before eliminating the threat.
- Type III (Defensive) -- This style focuses on the use of spells that bolster or protect the mage in order to outlast an aggressive foe. Type III mages generally wait patiently for some sort of opening before striking or allow their opponents to exhaust themselves. By becoming an impenetrable fortress and eliminating his weaknesses, a mage can defeat opponents that would otherwise be stronger than himself.
- Type IV (Strategic) -- Type IV combat blends type III's focus on keeping the user out of harm's way with offensive techniques to wear down an opponent more rapidly instead of simply taking the "impenetrable fortress" route and waiting out the situation. This is the type most often favored by summoners, as it suits their chosen magic quite nicely; the summoner keeps an enemy preoccupied with his pets if at all possible. Type IV Strategic fighting also commonly mixes less direct offensive techniques such as the use of poison with evasive tactics that allow the mage to essentially wait for his opponent to die.
- Type V (Trickster) -- Sometimes called the "show-off's style," type V takes some elements from type IV Strategic combat. Different mages often have somewhat different definitions of what constitutes type V combat, but the general preferences of mages that claim to utilize it are illusions, curses, and enchantments that confuse, hamper, or humiliate a foe. Trickster mages may also utilize excessively flashy spells simply because they enjoy doing so. Many spells commonly employed by type V Trickster combat do no actual damage whatsoever and simply serve to disorient opponents in order to make them more vulnerable to actual damaging attacks.
These five types can also be prefixed with "martial" (as in, Gunnir Martial Type IV: Strategic), which indicates that the mage likes to utilize swordplay or other physical combat as part of his fighting routine. Gunnir mages are taught that, if nothing else, a standard melee or ranged weapon saves the user's arcane stamina. Other forms may exist, but the majority of them can be classified as one of these five or a combination thereof.
Some example mages and their preferred fighting styles:
- Jak Snide -- Type II Aggressive (while never trained at Gunnir, a Gunnir mage would classify his fighting style as such).
- Archmagus Wray -- Type III Defensive.
- James Paynus Silvar -- Martial Type V Trickster.
- Archmagus Hakaril Silvar -- Type IV Strategic/V Trickster combination. Often utilizes Type II Aggressive under great emotional stress.
- Darin Prentiss -- Type III Defensive/IV Strategic combination.
- Zeke Mazuo -- Martial Type II Aggressive/V Trickster combination.
You stand at the portcullis that is the singular entryway through the outermost wall that separates the grandiose halls of learning and spires of majesty of the Gunnir Academy for the Arcane Arts and Sciences from the outside world.
The outermost area of campus is surrounded by an enormous stone wall constructed of sandstone blocks that would blend into invisibility with the range of the Shuman were it not for the elaborate relief carvings that decorate its surface. Through the gate exists a massive rectangular courtyard bordered on by all four sides by trees and shrubbery. Park benches are scattered about beside the cobblestone roads that lead between Gunnir's four main halls, and an enormous marble fountain has been constructed as a centerpiece to the courtyard garden.
Gunnir's other buildings have been constructed of black basalt and surround the courtyard on three of its sides. The architecture is gothic in style, accented by relief carvings and stained glass among gargoyles and sky-scratching spires and ramparts. To the left is Arcane Hall, where the majority of classes take place. To the right is Apprentice Hall, the primary student dormitory building. Forward from the gate are two buildings side by side. The left building is Scholar Hall, which primarily consists of a multi-floor library. The forward building to the right is adorned with an enormous tower on each corner; this is Founder's Hall, the administrative building where the leaders of Gunnir have established their offices and all of Gunnir's records are kept.
On any given day, Gunnir's courtyard is typically being traversed by dragoon guards employed by the administration, students on the way to class or just simply goofing off, or instructors running behind schedule.
Obvious exits: Shumans Spine North <shN>