Groundbreaking – Caldera Magical Academy (Towers)

“What, you’ve can’t swim?” asks the instructor. “Well, soon enough you will be able to cast at least one spell under water before you need to come up for air!” the instructor beams. “But … but …” the student stammers, “I’m a fire mage …”

This time on “What Aspect Of The Caldera Magical Academy Are We Talking About” I think we should go ahead and take a look at the core layout of the academy, physically and training wise. I have mentioned a couple times in the past that the layout is that of a central spire surrounded by a ring (or rings) of towers. Well, I am finally going to make a call on this, and I am going to just go big (don’t wanna go home). We are going to have 3 concentric rings of towers that surround the central (and tallest) spire.

The first is going to contain 4 towers … sure, this could be called a square, or a diamond, but the pathways from tower to tower in circle creates a ring (as seen from above). These four towers are going to represent the basic “alchemical” elements of fire, earth, air, and water. These towers are the shortest, as they represent both an introduction to the magical arts as well as a little bit of grounding the arcane with some basic alchemy. This is done by way of extensive learning of magical components and their substitutions (and the other “mundane” bookwork). Much of this early education is meant to both provide a solid foundation and to weed out those that aren’t committed to learning/memorizing the sheer volume of knowledge needed to perform wizardry at the highest levels. Most students find themselves questioning their decision after their 1st month, but those that can complete the first semester can often find comfortable guild work. Many that make it through the first year but decide they just aren’t cut out for more are usually able to find decent work as an alchemist.

The second ring of towers contains 5 (nope, not a pentagram) that represent fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. These towers stand twice as tall as the inner ring, but only half as tall as the spire, and are where students begin to learn how magic interacts with nature. While most students spend a year or two in the inner rings, some with a knack for can skip parts (or all) of the early education to work with the primal parts of the education provided in these towers. Caldera Magical Academy takes students from all backgrounds and teaches all traditions, and so this ring is where most of the non-traditional wizards spend most of their time and receive most of their education and training. While on the surface it seems that this is the “primal” ring, it goes well beyond that by taking the base elements from the inner ring and adding finesse to elevate them. This is where a lot of the “mixed” elements or “inverted” magics are taught and mastered. What is ice but water with no heat? Those that master ice are usually a master of both water and fire (drawing heat out of the water to freeze it) but can also be master of water and air (the ability to use air pressure instead of heat/cold to change water to ice).

The third ring represents the classic 9 schools of magic. The towers stand taller than the inner two rings, with 10 floors each, and arch toward the central spire. This is where the classic arcane wizards are trained. The bottom floors are mostly used for common training (non-classic wizard casters), with the next few focused on “general school knowledge”, while the upper floors are reserved as home and study for specialists. While the towers have 10 floors, they don’t correspond to spell level, but are more or less:

  • Ground Floor: Basics / General School Knowledge
  • 2nd Floor: Cantrips / Specialist Introductory
  • 3rd Floor: 1st Level Spells
  • 4th Floor: 2nd Level Spells
  • … and so on …
  • 10th Floor: 8th Level Spells

While the lower levels are organized much more like schools (or trade schools), once you hit the 4th floor the number of students drops off drastically, and the rooms and spaces are much more open and designed for experimentation and practice. There is only ever one instructor shared across the top 3 floors (5th-8th spells), another shared across the next two (3rd-4th spells), a single instructor for the 4th floor (2nd spells), and a varying number of instructors on the bottom two floors as dictated by attendance.

As you would expect of a magical academy, there are illusions and abjurations everywhere. From safety nets for those practicing flight to veils that keep all the goings on hidden from those outside the grounds, magic is everywhere. Especially in the ground and supports that hold the campus on top of the water! Not only did it take a lot to raise and hold the ground in place, but it continues to take upkeep every year to avoid a collapse or other disaster. But, being on the water does provide one unique aspect of training that not many other places can boast … an underwater arena! Technically, there are two domed arenas on campus, each offset from the spire such that if one were flying above and squinted, they might look like the dots to the outer circle’s yin/yang. The arena closest to the city is an above ground arena where most public ceremonies are held, while the arena out furthest on the water is actually the air bubble above a water-based arena, designed to train casters how to work with water.

Ok, well, I think we covered a lot of ground in regards to describing the physical structure and the basics of what each of the primary buildings are used for- there are many little sheds and other buildings around the grounds that connect to the various towers at ground level (or below). I want to stop here because I am honestly not sure where I want to go next with this… be it more detail on training or perhaps the organization/faculty, or somewhere else in the region entirely …

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!