The University of Veles

The history of the origin of the University of Veles. Curiosity is the inheritance of mankind. Frequently we want to know something only because it needs to be kept secret.

History

The organizations and ideas that would eventually become unified as the University of Veles (VELL-ez) have been around for longer than Ravnica has been completely settled. As civilization on Ravnica spread outwards and societies formed, there was always a need to bring the education and learning of the sprawling city-world to the newly tamed wilderness. The historical Charter Document of the central College of Veles stands as a testament to the attitudes of its founders. It was from this once-frontier institution that the pioneering spirit and attitude of learning for learning’s sake really transformed from a local quest of knowledge in one academy or college and eventually metamorphized into The University of Veles. Using his clout and newly minted experience as a university founder and dean, Nestor the Chronicler turned himself from a wealthy merchant and venture capitalist into the architect of a growing educational infrastructure that would nearly subsume all educational facilities in Ravnica.

Guild War

The University of Veles has never had a large military force, it’s never really needed it. Instead the guild works mostly through a subtle web of influence and favors. During the war the Campus Police were used as a para-military force to mostly keep the assets of the Colleges from being harmed and to protect the students. Instead of being overtly involved, the University played the long game, teaching the students which sides were right and wrong, molding the future of Ravnica with the classrooms of today. Nestor only publicly came out against a few factions, mostly against the Triumvirate. His open racism was a benefit to the upper classes at the time and fear of the “savage” races involved in the Triumvirate helped many people in high places. the University was one of the leading proponents of the Guildpact, they gained nothing by war and everything by peace— especially if it meant that the unstable elements of society could be given a place where they would be more easily manipulated.

Beliefs

The guild’s main tenets can be distilled into the motto of the University: “Curiosity is the inheritance of mankind.” The pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge is a core belief and driving force of the guild. Unlike the Liska Zpravy, the University tries to shy away from propaganda and uses it only as a means of waging active class warfare and then only in specific circumstances. On the whole most guildmages are quiet, inquisitive people working to uncover some ancient secret, decipher an old text or tome or break a cryptic cipher. The nature of the knowledge they seek tends to be that of knowledge lost, that of the ancients. Veles is a lost god, a dead dream and the University is not one for innovation or creation as much as it is of bringing back things from the past. History, philosophy, logic, sociology, ancient magic, astrology, language, writing, religions, occult knowledge, library science and more recently psychology, mental illness and the like are all the major types of studies done. There are no qualms or restriction on “things man was not meant to know” or “dark arts” of any kind. In fact, the Guild Leader, Nestor the Chronicler, is famous for having once said, “Frequently we want to know something only because it needs to be kept secret.” While very few mages in the University actually practice magic other than mind-altering effects, most could explain the basics of how that magic functions and its history and development.

Organization

The University has a very strong central organization but it enforces little upon its satellite members. At the top of the pyramid is the Most Venerable Sede of the Illustrious Dean, the fabled Nestor the Chronicler. Lord Nestor is very reclusive and as far as the public is concerned, only holds the title of Dean symbolically while having little to do with the day-to-day activity of the University. That day-to-day activity is mostly handled by the Auspicious Ministers of the Colleges. These are the leading administrators of various subject divisions (history, logic, religion, occult, etc) and they are the ones that decide where crucial funding and resource allocation will go for various study project and research groups across the university. They are also the final arbitrators in disputes between Regional Deans. After the offices of the Venerable Sede come the Regional Deans and their bureaucracies who oversee in a very general way the actual distinct campuses called Colleges. Most Regional Deans act only as administrative personnel, albeit of a highly regarded position, and they rarely exercise power beyond their station. Those who do make a habit of doing so are not looked upon favorably by Lord Nestor and tend to leave their stations quietly in the night.

Day to Day

The Colleges themselves are fairly autonomous and allowed to pursue research and funding on their own with minimal assistance from the regional and world bureaucracies. The various plants from the higher orgs might nominate certain projects within the College to be viewed by higher ups, flagged as things that the Regional Deans or Lord Nestor would be interested personally funding. through this simple method of meritocracy the University is able to shape the things it wants to see without ever having to cull projects they disapprove of as all of those wanting additional funding or the best students will want to work on things they know the higher ups are personally interested in. In addition to this public organization that is fairly transparent there is a shadow organization ran mostly through various sects and secret societies.

Shadow Plays

While the University presents itself as, and largely is, a meritocratic institution given solely to logic, reason and advancement of understanding of culture and the Mind, it does have another side. The entire institution is riddled with Fraternal Orders, Philosopher’s Societies and the like. These organizations form out of various circumstances and seek to advance various goals, most of them are fairly benign and while they may seem like creepy cults doing strange rituals behind closed doors (which all of them are and do) they exist mostly to create a sense of family and belonging in the cold halls of academia and beyond. These groups also allow for the influence of the University to extend out to those who choose not to stay in academia for their entire lives and give a measure of influence to the University over any Guildless that has studied at any higher institution. Insidiously hiding in plain sight as far as the Universities are concerned are the growing influence of actual cults in the ranks of the Secret Societies. As tomes of knowledge are discovered and grimoires of dark power come into possession of the Colleges those who found them seek to share them without having to give their secrets to outsiders. These cults invariably become corrupted by the dark powers that they access but curiously they usually just compel the cultists to seek more forbidden knowledge. Lord Nestor is fully aware of the existence of these sects and does nothing but seek to have agents in every group so that he may glean all of their secrets without interrupting the actions of the group.

Influence

The guild’s main area of influence should be fairly obvious. The University of Veles has a monopoly on all formalized education in Ravnica. While the main guild halls are focused on certain aspects of the humanities, the University does have more practical schools that go towards educating architects, doctors and so forth. Everything from pre-college through to degree programs and advanced degrees are controlled solely by the University. What the University DOESN’T have is any sort of stable army physical fighting force. While they have access to some very strong mind-control/blast magic, they prefer to to use it too blatantly. The Colleges do protect themselves from vandals and looting by small groups of Campus Police that function more like a secret police than a security guard force. Any forward, overt and proactive attempt at violence or physical response would be laughable at best.

Goals

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Allies and Enemies: Who has what you want? They are likely your best friends, as long as you have something they want too. Who were your enemies that could now be your friends? Who just sucks and can eat your shit?

Spells that mages of my guild would conceivably cast:
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The University of Veles

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