Groundbreaking – Caldera Magical Academy (Satellites)

Nope, not that kind of satellite … I am talking about remote campuses! Randal here, back to try to bring this discussion full circle by discussing the role of Caldera Magical Academy outside of the Caldera.

This entire topic started by me bringing up the fact that I wanted to figure out what sorts of magic was considered more important in each of thee regions, and then figure out what their training might look like so that we could figure out how they were trained, by whom, and what their preferred “weapon” of choice is … re: staves vs wands. Funnily enough, I started this before the Advanced Player’s Guide (APG) came out and even mentioned wanting to wait for it before discussing witches … and now I want Secrets of Magic before I discuss summoners, magi, and whatever else they are going to drop on me. Setting that aside, here is where I have landed on training in the basin outside the Caldera, but, before I can really dive in, I want to address another world building topic that I have purposely left vague up until now.

The setting we are building here in Groundbreaking is a single region, Marathis’ Cradle, that is somewhat isolated from the rest of the world due to the topography of the land. The sort of wizard academy that I am touting Caldera Magical Academy to be really would require a location that has access to “international” trade: goods, ideas, money, students, and more … I want this place to be a premier, top of the competition educational system, with hundreds of low level (cantrips) students and scores of mid-high tier casters (5th+) on campus at any given time. As we have gone out of our way to point out the lack of frequent interactions outside the Cradle, we should really account for this level of magic training and education.

Future episodes will cover the outside world, and even the planet itself …

But for now, we are sticking with the magical education of the Cradle at large, beyond the Floating Campus. Wizards. They love their books. They love to study. They love to be boring right up until they blow something up. (Ok, not all wizards, but go with me here.) Pick any other caster (maybe not cloistered clerics) and you will find somebody that does not want to be cooped up … and wizards know their strengths and like their cushy assignments, so when the academy expanded and grew, they all sorted out a system that worked for everybody. All magical educational locations contract with the Caldera Magical Academy and operate as a satellite location that employs local staff and educators preferentially, focusing on teaching and researching magics that are good for the region.

This current arrangement is far from the first pass at trying this, it took many years of trial and tribulation before everything settled down and all the towns and cities (and the people therein) became comfortable with such a wide reaching network of spell casters. During this transitional period, one of the changes that is now considered almost a core aspect is the unionization of the faculty. Originally, the contracted campuses were taking funds and not properly distributing them … and it didn’t turn out well. A byproduct of the unionization of the faculty was that ensuring a union instructor was qualified meant the founding of a magical licensing body. While you are required to be licensed to teach anywhere in the Cradle, you are not required to be licensed to use magic, but many guilds like to get their employees licensed when they can to use it in contract negotiations. Thus far the amount of double dealing with licensing agents or completely fabricated licenses has proven to be minimal …

Ok, stepping back to the thousand foot view of what we have just created, let’s see if we have accomplished our goal. We have a massive magical educational system that is focused in the only metropolis in the region. To account for the number of casters we have in play here, we have limited the educational systems outside the metropolis to satellite locations that are focused on arts that are specifically tie to or useful to that region. Instead of outside teachers there, we use locally sourced talent that has been licensed and contracted to ensure a minimum level of reliability and mutual respect. This should cover the focus of magical training in one primary location while giving us a bunch of various sites that we can expand upon at our leisure to continue the debate of identifying where you were trained and as well as “weapon” of choice.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the more interesting options you might have for satellite assignment/location/training.

  • Dreamer Campus The gnomish dream caverns are still their own school, but they have worked out an arrangement for transfer/exchange students. Illusionists and oracles are the majority of those that try to get in and although the selection process is lottery based, there is a competitive element and it. gets. tense.
  • Flooded Covens If you were really interested in the occult tradition and wanted to get first hand experience (beyond simple calling/summoning in a lab) you would likely put in for a coveted spot with one of the covens that operate out of the swamp near the ancient flooded city of The Misty Ruins.
  • Gorge Tower This “campus” is usually the shortest attended training location. It is a simple hundred foot circular stone tower (classic wizard tower look to it) with an aerie at the top that opens out over one of the highest points of the gorge in the south-east region. Their speciality is flight.
  • Molten Forges This is more or less just an apprenticeship, but it is with the finest dwarven smiths and crafters of Tar’Urzeft. Clerics and wizards looking to become crafters are likely to request assignment here, but the quality demanded of the dwarves often sends them into other career paths.
  • River Drake Fire Brigade The farmlands have many grain silos, mills, and just generally a lot of things that can burn and will burn fast and dangerously. If you are a crazy daredevil, have a knack for bonding with drakes, or happen to be good with water magic … then you might just get recruited. As much as most people think they are flooded with applicants, when it really comes down to it … casting spells atop a drake while flying through fire isn’t really something one dives right into. With many cities trying to lure them away, they currently can’t train recruits fast enough.
  • Treetop Campus If you want to focus your magic on the primal tradition, working with or even becoming a druid, you will likely get a transfer here in the northern forest.
  • Don’t worry, I have plenty more where these came from … can you think of any?

To break stride here a second … I just finished watching the 4th season of My Hero Academia and I am doing everything in my power not to incorporate something like that here! If I were still doing Terraforming, I would probably just run with it.

Thank you for playing along at home! 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!