There are certain campaign concepts that come into my head and never seem to leave. The whole idea of setting a game in a school of magic with the main characters being students within it is one of them. I obviously have Harry Potter to thank for this, but there are numerous novels and movies that cover the same material. So with some work I have created the idea for an alternate campaign concept set in the modern day at a grand school of magic where all those who are Gifted go to learn the secrets and come to master the Hermetic Arts. Tutelage in the boarding school is for fifteen years, going from roughly ten to twenty-five, with graduation seeing them become a full mage within the Order of Hermes (which also sees them choosing what Hermetic House they might want to be in). The school itself was founded around the start of the first millennium AD and so by the present has had over a thousand years of history, making it and ancient and magnificent edifice. Characters in the school come from all over the world for in the present it is not Mythic Europe but rather Mythic Earth, and the Order of Hermes is simultaneous with being a worldwide magical culture, society, and government. Being sorted in one of six Tribes, it is within their tribe that the students of the school will eat, sleep, relax and be educated in the fine arts of magic and scholastics. Characters in the game are students, and the stories that will be told will be about their adventurers as they go about their time in the Scholae Magicae. Though they will be protected from having to deal with horrors fit only for an adult, they will still have there share of quests to work out. It is the friends they meet at school, and the knowledge they gain during the fifteen years, that will shape who they will be when they become adults.
While there are many formats that such a game like this could be played out, the one that will be tried is that of a letter writing campaign. The idea is that the children of the school are writing to their friends, siblings, and parents with news of their days and what they are learning. Such letters will get responses, as such will help to spur on the events of the campaign. When a particular interesting event occurs then the situation can be played out, allowing for a more normal roleplaying session. Letters can be as small as single paragraphs to vast essays, as sometimes one might want to cover a lot of material, especially if its interesting. Another benefit of this sort of format for a game is that players can take nearly all the time they need to come up with a letter, and they can post it when they are most available. I think in this day and age with people separated by vast distances and different hours with jobs that such alternate gaming opportunities might be very fun.
Any ideas on this would be welcome and appreciated - basically, I just really want to share this idea with those who love Ars Magica and maybe also the idea of magical schools.
Some of the points I developed for the setting:
REFINED OPENING OF THE GIFT
The School of Magic uses an alternate (and somewhat secret) technique to open the Gifts of their enrolled students. Beyond the standard benefits of Opening the Gift this version has three special features.
Unaffected By The Gift: Those who have had The Gift opened using refined techniques are not affected by the negative social effects of The Gift in others. Even a Blatant Gift does not especially bother the character. [This means that it is not the Parma Magicae that provides sense immunity, it is the way their Gift was opened.]
Subtle Opening: The Arts are Opened using a subtle and flexible technque unique to them. Consequently, a magus does not suffer a penalty to the study Source Quality for his Arts scores when learning Supernatural Abilities (see ArM5, page 166). The magus is still penalized for scores in other Supernatural Abilities.
Teaching the Art: A character may teach several students the Hermetic Arts, and a student may learn by a teacher who is educating others. The number of students is still the teacher's Teaching Ability times five. No additional virtues are needed.
This variant of the traditional Opening of the Arts is a secret technique based on three Major Breakthroughs and combined with a fourth Major Breakthrough. Even those who have had their Arts opened using the new method do not actually have the appropriate knoweldge in order to Open the Arts of others using the altered technique. To learn the method of using the technique one must gain Hermetic Teacher (Minor Hermetic Arcane Virtue). Though in some ways the ability is considered a part of a mystery cult, the theory behind it has become fully unquestionablly a part of Hermetic Magic Theory. Until such a time that the virtue escapes, only certain members of the Scholae Magicae have the Virtue.
The Scholae Magicae exists in a regio whose real world location is unknown to all but the Headmaster of the school. The pocket realm has the appearance of a green and fertile valley surrounded by insurmountable cliffs in all directions. To the south there is a massive freshwater lake, home to various fish as well as beaches and even a small town called Laketown. To the east is a small cut out that is home to the majority of arrival gateways and also possesses the small settlement of Portville. To the north is a massive forest cut into three parts, the Green Grove which is open to all, the Deep Forest which is restricted, and the Dark Wood which is secured against entry by potent wards. In the west there is the expanded mountaintop of Mount Caem whose interior is accessible by various tunnels passages, some of which have purpose and others which are abandoned. In the interior region are various groves and patches of various fruit bearing trees, farming fields for grains and vegetables, and gardens containing many of the resources that a school might need to be self-sufficient as possible. In the very center is a vast yet small hilltop known as Castle Plateau which is where the towering castle-like school itself is built upon.
The Scholae Magicae castle itself is a single vast structure roughly twenty-five hundred feet in width constructed in the shape of an elaborate nine peaked star. Above the twenty foot foundations, the structure rises 100 feet into the sky and is divided into five twenty foot stories full of chambers and hallways of various sizes. The thirteen pentagonal chambers within the great Scholae Magicae are vast open spaces two hundred feet in width, though each center fifty feet is covered in a single majestic tower 200 feet high. On each parallel level equal to the main structure are covered bridges leading to inner hallways spanning the gap (all use the center tower as a connecting point). On the ground floor itself there are a multiple of stone paths surrounded by artificial ponds, waterfalls, benches and gazebos, and greenery of various kind. Though the span looks like its open to the sky there is a crystal clear glass-like roof covering it and keeping the space perfect no matter the outside whether conditions.
Coming and going from the regio is done through five methods. The simpliest method is by entering through one of the many gateways that exist in Portville. The other end of these gateways are located all throughout the world, though they only open at particular times in particular places. Another method is arriving by boat, for the river that connects to the regio's lake is capable of connecting to river's all throughout the world at various times and places. A third method is through the forest, for at certain times portals can appear in any and every forest in the natural world that could link to this regio. A fourth method is through the mountain, which links to various tunnels and caves and such in similar mountains in the real world. The final method is one of the most advanced and restricted, and is only available to those directly connected to the school through powerful ancestry or an official school position. This method lets a magus actually teleport directly to the school's regio through the use of highly powerful magic.