Steeped in antiquity and reeking with the odour of learning, the University of Linnarson is large and sprawling; universally recognised as the pre-eminent centre of learning on the continent, it dominates the town of Linnarson in which it is situated. The university is home to many learned men; approximately half of those at the university are wizards, with the other half consisting of other learned men. It has strong links with other places of learning in the city (such as guild schools and the military academy). There is sometimes friction between the magical and non-magical parts of the university. The university also takes students, who come from all over the continent for the privilege of learning.
The university is very old (almost 1000 years old, though it has expanded over the years). It’s architecture reflects this, with styles ranging across the centuries. Many of the buildings are very grand. It has a collegiate structure and there are 34 different colleges (founded at different times), many of which are named after deities or saints; prestigious nobles or the founder. Each college is quasi-autonomous but bound within the overall body of the university (similar relationship to the different states in the USA).
The Great Library
Towering like a monstrosity over the city of Linnarson, is one of the most imposing and unattractive buildings in the university: the Great Library. Recently extended, it consists of a large tower seven stories high with adjacent wings built on. It is known to extend several stories below ground, though the total extent of its catacombs is less widely known. The library is the largest in the known world, containing several hundred thousand volumes. Scribes are constantly setting out on long journeys to copy books from other libraries.
It is probably the only place where holy books of worship and healing rest only a few tens of feet away from those of the vilest necromancy and dark sorcery (some areas of the library are restricted). A visitor to the library would first find himself in the grand antichamber, a circular room lined from floor to ceiling with books. The near regions of the library are lit by the famous Glow Lights of the Great Library; however, someone who ventures further in to the depth may find rather more sinister things, such as having their books brought to them by a withered hand.
A selection of traveller’s comments
-I was walking past the Great Gate of Barnwell College, admiring the intricate carvings and the gargoyles that adorn the front of the college when I saw one move. It was no mere decoration, but a living gargoyle.
-Unless you have a strong stomach I wouldn’t advise looking at some of their research too closely. They carry out gruesome experiments on strange monsters there.
-Never have I seen so many bizarre and outlandish races gathered together in one city. I know that learned men come from all over the world, but I’ll still never get over the shock of seeing a centaur discussing philosophy with a pixie.
-Don’t annoy the students. Pranks can be a lot more annoying when they can wield magic.
-Even the King’s Palace in Ellesae doesn’t compare with the grandeur and beauty of some of the buildings here.
Most of the university’s funding comes either from gifts from merchants or nobles or else from its vast endowments. Many people who die without heirs leave their fortune or estate to the university (in a similar way to giving it to a monastery), and some colleges are fabulously rich. Cornelius College is the third biggest landowner in the kingdom (the first two being the Crown and the Church). This wealth is reflected in the grandeur of many of the buildings; given that the large number of wizards, philosophers and the like the university abounds with bizarre magical (and non-magical) devices and creatures.
Colleges vary in size, wealth and splendour. Many have grand buildings and beautiful grounds. All share some common features including rooms in with the Masters, Senior Masters and students live, a place of worship (not necessarily all devoted to the same deity), a small library and a Great Hall (shuttered) where the members of the college dine. Meals are formal occasions wearing formal robes and gowns; at many meals archaic ceremonies involving speeches in the Old Tongue, bowing and other such formal occurences are common. Of course, the food and wine is extremely luxurious: Duke’s College has enough wine in it’s cellars that at the current (high) rate of consumption it would have enough for forty years.
A few cultural things
Rivalry between the colleges can be quite intense, leading at times to genuine animosity. The rivalry is formalised in the Summer Games, a week long period of tourneys (both physical and arcane) between the different colleges.
Honour duels are very common amongst the students. Duels are fought with long, thin duelling swords and are usually to first blood. It is considered very bad form to accidentally kill someone in such a duel, and a mark of skill and honour is to wound your opponent in the face. Facial scars from such duelling are thus common, and recognised across the continent as a mark of someone who has been to the University of Linnarson.
The Senior Masters
In the hallowed halls of the University of Linnarson a glimpse may sometimes be caught of the Senior Masters, learned sages and masters of knowledge. They seldom leave their dusty studies full of learned tomes, other than to dine - each evening they will be found shuffling down the dimly lit corridors to the dark and shuttered Great Hall. After feasting at high table by candlelight they will be gone, returning once more to their studies. None but they know of their pact with death, how they have willingly embraced an eternal undeath in which to pursue knowledge, yet this is the reason for the darkened corridors and the shuttered hall, for those who are undead cannot abide the light of the sun…
The Senior Masters are the oldest and most learned men at the university (and, indeed, in the world). Those belonging to this elite group have all, despairing of the shortness of life and the amount of knowledge to gain, become undead in order to have an eternity in which to become more learned. It is generally assumed that they are prolonging their life using magical means: the fact that they have become undead is a total secret. The Senior Masters hold all the important posts in the university. They are not evil in any of their actions (though can be ruthless and callous in the pursuit of knowledge), though people who believe that all undead are evil would probably consider them to be evil.
-This could be a good place to get a party together. They could all be students or otherwise associated with the university.
-Just as an interesting place to visit. Maybe you have to take a message to someone there.
-The wizards will probably have plenty of needs for rare items which could spark off quests.
-A more involved mission involving intrigue with various people/groups at the university.
-The Senior Masters. Maybe their secret comes out (or is in danger of coming out).