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The Magical NAME
Abraxas State University's Core Curriculum
"Natural" and "supernatural" - labels frequently used by humans of the past to comprehend the world - have each gathered some unsavory and inaccurate connotations. The former is characterized as organized, mundane, and boring, while the latter is so incomprehensible as to be irrelevant. There are some good reasons for this division: Namely, mages interact with the world under laws profoundly different than non-mages, and their education and culture reflect that. But gone are the days of secretive covens outcast to the realm of the irrational and the fantastic, and the era of guilds deliberately self-segragted by esoteric norms! The modern world, having grown increasingly prosperous and beyond superstition, has required the arcane arts to adapt. Although arcane colleges are still part of the supernatural side of the world, they have undergone drastic structural changes. In most respects, they resemble mundane colleges and universities. However, their magic heritage is still evident in the curriculum known as the Magical NAME, first pioneered by the seven elite colleges of the Ivy Legion and later adopted by just about every other arcane institution.
The NAME is a descendant of a long alchemical tradition. Its four schools - Notation, Acquisition, Metamorphosis, and Execution - each encompass many disciplines, allocated in ways that may make little sense to a mundane observer. Students are required to take courses in all four schools, but will eventually specialize in one. The culmination of a student's work is their Magnum Opus (M.O.), a degree which includes a thesis or other project representing the attainment of the desire that drove her to the arcane arts in the first place.
— Notation —
Before one can interact with a thing's essence for magical use, one must first find one and understand it as thoroughly as possible. There are as many essences as there are parts of nature, and the goal of the Notationist is to investigate them all.
Courses from the School of Notation emphasize the empirical gathering of information more than any other school of the NAME. For instance, a biology major specializing in botany does not simply study what essences can be found in those plants that make up a large portion of essence sources; they also study the formation and source of power of the essences themselves. Historians use data to reconstruct how mages of the past used essences, recovering lost knowledge for modern re-use. Anthropologists can be found in far-flung locales, observing how essences are found and used in other cultures.
The Siskind Institute of Cryptozoology at Abraxas State has received generous support for its cutting-edge research on creatures that have yet to be discovered. It is named for Rudy Siskind, a prolific letter-writer of unknown whereabouts.
— Acquisition —
Harvesting an essence is not a simple task. An essence can only be acquired with the consent of its genius, who may or may not be a sentient, sapient being in the popular mundane sense - that is, like a human. Acquisitionists rely on their social wits and insight to communicate with audiences that the non-mage cannot even perceive.
The School of Acquisition's goal is to broaden the mind to other minds. The most obviously pertinent discipline is psychology, exploring the mental worlds of the supposedly inanimate. Philosophy, so often scorned as an impractical degree, is frequently taught to hone the understanding of how non-human minds reason. An education in comunications also gives students the tools to discover new modes of interaction with the human and nonhuman world.
The Memento Mori Society is a secretive invitation-only organization rumored to have chapters established throughout the arcane college system, from urban Abraxas State to the remote University of Gog. Its origins, members, and affiliations are shrouded in speculation and mystique, but it is believed to be conducting extensive research on necromancy and mediumship, as well as the mesmerism required to prevent too much word from getting out.
— Metamorphosis —
An essence is a powerful thing and must not be wasted. Even the tiniest of essences can be effective tools in the hands of a skillful mage, and should never be discounted. The task of finding the most efficient and responsible uses of an essence falls to the Metamorphites.
Experimental and theoretically oriented, Metamorphies pioneer research and development of the arcane arts through their exploration and application of supernatural principles and laws. Some are deducible by mathematics students who engross themselves in mystical numerical equations that alter the product of an essence. The flagrant rebellion of supernatural laws against natural ones also frustrates and fascinates many a budding physicist. Economics majors are also highly esteemed in the mundane world for their clever uses of financial astrology.
Contrary to the stereotype of mages as bookish and cloistered, athletic events are actually very popular at Abraxas State, especially against the rival University of Mammon Stewards. But there is more to the competition than physical prowess. Contrary to mundane perception, arcane athletics is an exceptionally intellectual pursuit. It is accepted - even expected - that the outcome of any game will be calculated and contested by Metamorphites seeking to hone their skills. Compared to the machinations of decimal sorcerers, the Abraxas State Archons themselves are just a minor part of the spectacle.
— Execution —
A spell is the culmination of at least one essence combined with a technique. While all mages can engage in some form of sorcery, most of them are more subtle. But when one thinks of the stereotypical mage - conjuring bread, throwing fireballs, etc. - they are likely thinking of an Executionist.
Executionists do not just copy the technology that comes before them, but innovate new spells and methods as well. The most creative of the Executionists are artists and nusicians, applying aesthetic principles to the creation of spells encompassing all mediums. Many language courses are offered at Abraxas State, and the student who masters these mind-bending tongues has astounding flexibility in composing new incantations on the fly. And many mages would be incompetent without a handy magical wand, gem, or sword manufactured by a clever engineer.
The School of Execution is also notorious for its dangerous projects, and for good reason. Abraxas State campus legend claims that generations ago, a disgruntled professor built a golem that ran amok, destroying most of the original campus buildings. Only one crypt is left, where the golem is said to be bound in a labyrinth, never to awaken. Throughout Abraxas State's history, multiple students have let their curiosity (or foolhardiness) get the better of them and descended into those depths; even if any have found the golem, none have emerged.