Groundbreaking – Caldera Magical Academy (Guilds)

“And what about you?” asks the clerk. “Fire Suppression and Forge Maintenance” answers the young ysoki sheepishly. “Ahh, FSFM is what made me the man I am today!” the clerk exclaims proudly as he hands over a sack of supplies and clothes to the recruit. The ysoki does her best to not to stare at the clerk’s prosthetic fingers but can’t help notice that the remaining parts of the hand were very clearly damaged in some sort of fire.

Randal here, back again to continue breaking ground on our Caldera Magical Academy. Let’s dive right in. In a master and apprentice system of education, you don’t have a lot of overhead. Scale up to a small schoolhouse, and historically, villages often had a single teacher for all the children. Once you start scaling up beyond that, you run into a need for support staff. Mix in the fact that you are working with magic, and you need a more uniquely qualified support staff … which means more magically educated people … which leads to training more students. The cycle continues on. I have previously made the assumption that cantrips are common in Marathis’ Cradle, and that fey in the lake area are known to teach children, and last time I straight up said that fey are commonly seen as familiars in the area now. With that in mind, we are treating cantrips as the “norm” for “technology” in the Lakeside Proper region. Fish vendors keep their fish on ice created through cantrips, for instance.

This is where my brain takes a slight detour into a conversation had on the KD Discord about a lamplighters’ guild. While the core purpose of the Caldera Magical Academy is the pursuit of magical knowledge … those pursuits take place in the bigger towers, away from the common areas, by students who have proven to be truly gifted with magic. Their studies are years long, exhausting, and expensive. Therefore to subsidize their training, the academy realized they needed another source of income. Thus began the push for common cantrips to be trained to the common people, which are then organized into various guilds for public works and services. While these guilds are staffed by apprentices, the academy’s council learned early on that the common population has a love-hate relationship with magic. They love it, but they can’t do it, so they fear it, and they hate that they fear it. When they find out that they are being helped by an “apprentice” … that fear kicks up a notch, because how do you trust somebody with magic if they are still learning it!? Therefore, they decided to organize their students into guilds as a simple way to gloss over the fact that they are still apprentices.

The academy almost functions like a small city on its own. Part time students and Day Staff (those working the common areas or with the guilds) generally live off-site and arrive and leave as needed. Tower Staff/faculty (those involved in the more serious and long term magical education) are given quarters onsite to accommodate their frequent and lengthy hours of work/study. For most people passing through, or even those living or working at the academy, looking around any given common area would feel just like looking around any modern college … but with magic and fantastical creatures.

Before we dive into the magical training aspects, let’s take a brief look at some of the day staff guilds at the academy that help to make Lakeside Proper the magical fantasy city on the water that it is. This training, and these positions, are designed to teach simple magic by applying it to maintaining a “progressive” society. It is educational and civic minded in a way that teaches members to help others while showing the public that magic can be helpful rather than destructive. Other than the fact that they employ magic, these guilds are essentially common laborers plying their trade to pay off their education. Most of these guilds are chapters or branches of larger guilds around the region that act as a conduit for apprentices to move on to more permanent roles in their communities.

Ferry and Foundation Guilds. What started out as apprentices moving through the city in flat bottomed boats to inspect building foundations for rot, grew and then diverged. In the early days, popular guild members like the lamplighters, often received tips, while the out of sight types, like the foundation fixers would not. Some of the lamplighters learned that shortcuts to their tasks could be make through the back alleys, and so they would often use some of their tips to bribe foundation fixers into ferrying them. As the practice expanded, the academy needed to put a stop to it because foundations were being missed or skipped, but the fact that there was a source of income available hit home. The ferry guild was thus created as a separate entity from the foundation fixers. Today, foundation fixers are often engineering students taught water, earth, and wood magics to clean, seal, or repair the stilts and posts that make up most of the city’s foundations. The ferry guild is mostly made up of  water and air specialists (to manipulate currents) … but many start out unable to use magic and simply rely on their poles. Many ferrymen of the southern farmlands might want to come here or got their start here.

Fire Suppression and Forge Maintenance Guilds. While they are two separate guilds, these two groups train together and often trade shifts with each other on a regular basis. So much so, that most folks just call them themselves FSFMers. When you live on the water, fire isn’t quite as common as other places, and also easier to put out … but working with fire is still a difficult thing to do and some people just can’t handle the heat. Certainly useful in the farmlands!

Icemakers’ Guild. Again, I have briefly mentioned ice once or twice. While there are some non-guild members that have the ability to freeze water, the guild has specialists that can make ice of varying size, shape, and opaqueness. They have also work with a local carpenters’ guild to make ice boxes. While useful everywhere, for some reason, this is pretty unique to Lakeside Proper. Only the wealthy employ an icemaker outside the Caldera.

Lamplighters’ Guild. As mentioned previously, many locations around the city are lit up at night by magical street lamps. Light is a simple cantrip, one of the most common in use, but also one of the most under-appreciated. Like most guilds, most members are simply students doing their time in the guild to master the particular craft before moving on in their training. Some, however, are specialists that can do things with light magic that goes above and beyond the simple cantrip, such as altering the color or emulating different times of day (as opposed to simply “bright light”). Part of the completion of the course is to create a light crystal, which is then added to the city’s “light crystal grid” … this is how the guild manages to light up so much of the city with so few lamplighters.  While the city pays for the main roads to be lit, some of the richer citizens pay to have their block or favorite park lit up at night. Most other major cities have non-magical lamps on their streets.

Lumber Guild. This guild start out as a partnership with the local logging consortium many years ago when the lumber became scarce in the region. It is from this relationship that the current logging industry was ultimately able to spread throughout the region and the source of some of the early mechanisms and inventions that allow logs to be brought from the northern forest all the way up to the caldera! Locally, they mostly ensure that the logs hauled up the mountain are properly maintained for maximum quality and distribution while working with the sawmills to ensure that usage is maximized and waste is minimized. This involves knowing how to cut logs better as well as finding buyers/uses for any pieces that are leftover after a project. 99% of lumber is from the northern forests, all regulated in some way through the guilds.

I did not start this piece with the intent of going on about the guilds more than the school itself … but my mind grabs a thread and just keeps pulling at it. Next week we will hopefully look at the purely educational/magic side of the academy and see what we can come up with. I can’t guarantee that, though, as I also keep thinking about the structure and amenities of the floating campus …

Thank you for following along! Please join us at our Discord server to let me know what you think or to simply have a chat!

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him endless ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, gaming, or playing with his kids, Randal is likely working on improving Sage (his Discord bot for immersive play-by-post gaming that you can see in action on Know Direction's Discord in the Know Direction Societous PFS channels) over at!