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THE THANDELL ACADEMY

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The City of Thandell

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The Thandell Academy

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History & Lore of Thandell

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The Faerunian Calendar

The Thandell Academy Tradition

Thandell is constantly beset upon by all manner of enemies, being at the foot of the Spine of the World Mountains and near the eaves of the Moon Wood.  The Evermoors brood just to the south.  In response to the ceaseless assaults, the city has enacted a system to create guardians out of everyday citizens – the Thandell academy.  In order to serve in the academy, one must live in Thandell and be at least fourteen years old.  Gender is not a consideration.  Race has become less of a consideration since Commander Valeria Dragonthorne changed her policy about half-breed entrants.  All social classes can enter the academy, but nobles rarely join except to snub their private tutors.  Indeed, commoners stay in the academy more often and for longer periods than wealthier students, due to Thandell’s payment plans.

The Thandell academy offers intensified training for a minimum period of one year.  Students of greater promise may advance to second year training, and the elite may warrant a third year, but few advance to further years of training.  Citizens may buy a seat in the academy or earn a seat by signing a contract of indentured servitude.  Students may buy their own supplies or earn them through their contract.  Likewise, students may pay for room and board at the academy barracks, or earn them through their agreement.  Contracts are made legally and magically binding, although the price may be changed to reflect the academy’s actual spending on the student.  For a year’s worth of training and supplies as a fighter in the academy, a citizen must serve the city freely for one year.  Other classes require a longer length of servitude to make up for the costs.  It is rumored that the cost of an assassin’s training outstrips even a wizard’s, as Mistress Akordia demands a great amount of pay for her lessons.

The main goal of the academy is to provide protection for the city, and everything in it is geared toward that purpose.  Students are eventually sent out to patrol the fields, the city wall and the city streets.  The indentured servitude of many students assures that the city will have seasoned as well as fresh protectors at all times.  Students are lured into further service through the offering of permanent positions and pay.  Nearly all of the Queen’s elite guard and the seasoned guard of the city are former academy students.  Thandell’s academy has favored clerics, fighters, rogues and wizards above all other classes.  Bards, rangers and paladins have been trained within her walls as afterthoughts, depending on the availability of suitable instructors.

The Thandell Academy Affiliation

As the most prevalent and preeminent group in Thandell, the academy offers various benefits and asks for services in return.  (This section outlines the Thandell academy as an affiliation; the Player's Handbook II introduces a system for detailing the benefits, pitfalls, and background of a group.  Although we've used the academy from the beginning of our campaign , we had no rules associated with it until 2007, when I first encountered the PHB II.)

Symbol: The academy has no symbol, although most students wear the same styles and colors of clothing and use the same kinds of equipment.

Motto: The academy does not have an official motto. Nonetheless, every student is made to understand the purpose of the academy and different commanders impress their personal mottoes on their charges. For instance, it is known that Commander Silverstrike’s motto is “Rule Number One,” but only students know what rule number one is.

Background: The city of Thandell was founded in an area renowned for its monsters and harsh winters. The earliest settlers each took a turn providing security, especially while the first city wall was being built, but as workloads increased the numbers of guards thinned. For decades, gaps in the watch were filled by new immigrants and recruited adventurers, but the Night of Smouldering Ruin in 1249 DR brought such haphazard methods to an end. On that night, a force of trolls overran the walls and wrecked havoc on the town within, causing heavy civilian casualties and terror. Watch members and noncombative townfolk alike fought back fiercely with flame and were eventually able to run the trolls off – but not without causing considerable damage to the flammable structures of the town. After that harsh lesson, the royal house of Thandell gathered with the Council of Eight to discuss what should be done. It was decided that an organization was needed to train as many Thandell folk as possible and to provide consistent security for the town, her interests, and her key citizens.

The convocation decided on a government-supported academy aimed at recruiting, arming, and training the average citizens of Thandell. Inspiration was taken from institutions in Silverymoon, and Waterdeep but the plans were based firmly on the ideals and situation of Thandell. As such, practicality and efficiency became key watchwords. To garner enough interest, the academy would have to offer better incentives than other, more leisurely organizations, so it was decided that room, board, food, and training could be paid for by a contract of service to the city. The Council also decided that it would be wasteful and counterproductive to partition the classes into separate guilds, as might be seen in Waterdeep. Instead, all of the students would be trained in basic weaponry and tactics together and would be given assignments in mixed class groups. Those students receiving free board would be housed together, with higher-level students earning the rights to private or joint rooms. This would consolidate resources, assure variety, and invite camaraderie.

The predominant attitude in Thandel did not allow for the building of a decorative learning place, despite the fine buildings of Silverymoon. Safety and strength were the foremost concerns and unnecessary decoration would just be wasted effort. The dwarves were immediately consulted about designs for a large, fortified training structure and better town walls. This is the leading reason why Thandell’s walls, towers, and academy structures are all comprised of stone and “decorated” with arrow slits. Much of the town was employed in these large construction projects, which allowed the academy to open in 1250 DR. By that time, the rules, structure, and trainers of the academy had all been chosen and tested. (A representative of the academy was also added to the Council, making it the Council of Nine.) Mistress Talindra has the distinction of being the only current teacher who was also a part of the original staff; given her power and longevity, there has also been no other instructor of magic since the academy opened its doors.

Initially, the academy only offered instruction for clerics, fighters, rogues, and wizards. After several decades, paladins and rangers were also welcomed, though instructors of such classes have been difficult to keep in supply. The case has been even worse with bardic trainers since they tend to wander off; the academy has inconsistently offered bardic instruction as it has been available. Repeated attempts on the lives of royalty brought about the executive decision to begin training assassins in 1349 DR. Akordia the terrible shadow has been the only known instructor of assassins in Thandell, though it is a great secret as to which students receive her instruction.

Goals: The first goal of the academy is to protect the city and her interests. This is the most important and all-consuming goal of the entire effort. Thus, any academy student who willfully causes or abets harm to the city is punished or expelled; the city has too many enemies to play games.

Enemies: Thandell (and, by extension, the academy) has many enemies. The city has a violent history with its closest neighbor, Nesmé, although the worst skirmishes are largely cyclical (with major battles happening once every thirty years or so). There are periods of begrudging peace that are inevitably interrupted by outbreaks of accusations and then violence. The local trolls, evil humanoids, dragons, and giants are also regular threats (though trolls and humanoids are the most common). The lycanthropes of the Moon Wood used to be more of a problem but they have been far less troublesome since the activation of a powerful magical site in the wood that spawns undead.

Allies: Thandell and Everlund consider themselves sister cities due to their history. Although Everlund is at some distance, the city sends as much aid as it can when Thandell calls. Thandell also has a close relationship with the dwarves of Mithral Hall, and the two settlements regularly interact. The city’s relationship with Silverymoon is perhaps the most distant, despite geographical location. Thandell is friendly with its greatest neighbor but, like Nesmé and other small places, has staunchly refused to join the Lord’s Alliance. Thandell does not want to be ruled by Silverymoon’s policies, however obliquely, and although it is also lawful good, Thandell has always prized its difference from the jewel of the North. Thandell used to be friendly with the small settlement of Quaervarr but that ended when Quaervarr was overcome by shadow, and all of her people vanished save one. The academy of Thandell follows its government’s stance about alliances and also enjoys the support of the general city population.

Prerequisites: To enter the academy, you must be a Thandell resident of at least fourteen years of age (or the equivalent for your race). The majority of academy students are humans and dwarves; although half-breeds and other races are allowed now, they are not necessarily encouraged.

Type: Government-run academy

Scale: City/County (8)

Criteria

Affiliation Score Modifier

Possesses expertise and power

1.5 x character level

Possesses a noble title

+2

Spends 10 or more years in the affiliation

+2

Recommended by a member who has an affiliation score of 21 or higher

+2

Saves the life of a member who has an affiliation score of 21 or higher

+3

Adventures with a member of the affiliation

+1

Performs especially dangerous assignments

+2

Veteran of a major battle/skirmish

+2 for 1 event, +4 for multiple events

Serves the kingdom after completing the original term of service

+2

Is a Thandell academy-trained assassin

+1

Comes from any half-race in which one parent race is evil (half-drow, half-orc, etc.)

-2

Known to associate with an evil race (drow, orcs, etc.)

-2

Known to have caused the death of an academy member through reckless actions

-2

Known to have caused damage to the academy (money, etc.)

-1 / 5,000 gp

Known for cowardice

-1

Of an evil alignment

-1

Affiliation Score

Benefits & Responsibilities

4 or lower

Free room, board, and food at the academy but paying for it by doing shit work (laundry, cooking, scrubbing, goblin hunting, graveyard shift guard duty).

5-10

Free minor supplies worth 50 gp or less (non-luxury goods for duties, as available) and access to the academy depot for buying and renting.  Assignments of a better quality (wall duty, guard duty, patrol, generally work within the city).

11-15

Important assignments (diplomatic, hunting of greater prey, travel).  Some costs for assignments are waived. 10% discount when buying from the academy depot.  Can get a personal appointment with a commander within 1d6 days.

16-20

Responsible for some teaching of lesser students.  Very important assignments (involving some direct contact with nobles and royalty, government secrets, extensive travel). 20% discount when buying from the academy depot.  Can get a personal appointment with a commander within 1d3 days.

21-25

Responsible for overseeing large groups (essentially, members at this level are commanders of the wall, the interior city, or the outlying farms).  Authority to grant assignments and to set wages.  30% discount when buying from the academy depot.  Can assign up to 5,000 gp a month in supplies to their section.  Nicer private room(s) offered.  Can get a personal appointment with a commander within a day.

26 or higher

Responsible for teaching major classes and acting as generals in major battles.  In charge of maintaining the safety of the city.  Answers directly to the monarch.  50% discount when buying from the academy depot.  Provided with separate, fortified living quarters that are proof against scrying.  Can get a personal appointment with a monarch within a day.

The Thandell Academy Staff

An instructor of Thandell’s academy must be no less than tenth level.  It is not necessary to be a citizen of the city to teach there, but outsiders are tested for loyalty with more vigilance.  All of the instructors are rigorously tested for skill, efficiency, and loyalty, through a series mundane and magical testing.  The background and deeds of candidates are thoroughly inspected, to say the least, and witnesses are often called forth.  All instructors must be approved by the monarchical rulers and a majority of the advising council, as well as by the current commanders.

There are only two commanders of Thandell’s academy at any given time.  Commanders are taken from the ranks of the instructors most times, and they generally represent the elite of the entire city.  Commanders must undergo completely new tests and must be re-approved by the rulers, council, and their fellow commander.  They report directly to the rulers and act as generals for the city during wartime.  Instructors of the fighters, clerics, rogues and wizards are asked to be available to the city after their lessons are done.  All instructors are offered quarters at the academy to use at any time.  Although instructors may leave the city for extended periods due to personal business, they cannot be assured that their jobs – or homes – will be waiting for them.  Commanders who leave the city must appoint their replacements before leaving, and if they do not, they are not allowed to return.

The current instructors of the academy (as of late 1382) are:
Commander Silverstrike - dwarven fighter, male
Commander Valeria Dragonthorne - human fighter, female
Akordia the terrible shadow - human assassin shadowdancer, female
Mistress Talindra - elven wizard, female
Marcon Vengeancehammer - dwarven cleric of Moradin, male
Selise Heavenstorm - human paladin of Helm, female
Lorn Onaris a.k.a. Leaping Moon - human monk, male
Sarelle - human bard, female
Gerana Faldorn - human ranger, female

Mistress Talindra has been the instructor of wizards at the Thandell academy since the academy's inception.  She has been in the city since it first sprang up around her tower.  The powerful elven lady gave the Thandell settlers her blessing and favored them over the Nesmeans that had appealed to her from across the river.  Mistress Talindra was asked to advise Thandell's monarchs early on and she continues to do so, claiming the seat of magical expertise in the Queen's Council of Nine.  Other wizards have sought to share her positions or to usurp them, to no avail.  Mistress Talindra is generally tasked with any number of things - scrying, magical security, fending off major enemies, and so on.  It is not known how long she will continue to serve the city; though she benefits from graceful elven aging, Mistress Talindra is getting on in years.  No one knows exactly how old she is but she has not traveled beyond the Thandell area for about the last century.  It is known that she has one granddaughter, Delila Berendos, who lived in Silverymoon until just recently.  Why Mistress Talindra has chosen to send for her granddaughter and reveal her to public view is not clear but rumors abound.  Quickly after arriving, Delila joined one of Thandell's most prestigious academy teams but without signing up with the academy herself.  Then the young wizard married the royal bastard of Thandell, the son of Prince Daereth.  Some believe that Mistress Talindra is grooming her kin to inherit her tower and take her place - and not everyone is happy about that possibility.

Commander Valeria Dragonthorne has made a greater impact on the city than anyone could have guessed.  She took up a teaching position at the urging of Commander Silverstrike, after a tumultuous career of hunting half-breeds of all kinds throughout the North.  Her apparent reform from her bloody ways charmed the rulers and much of the council, but it is rumored that the rest of the council hoped her ways had not changed.  In any case, she was voted into power almost unanimously.  Once she attained command, she worked on a quiet but persistent campaign of cleansing.  It did not matter what halves were in the whole; she pursued all half-breeds indiscriminately.  She chased off any half-orcs and apparent tieflings that dared to stay, even for a night.  She eventually caused half-elves to go into hiding, and those that wanted to join the academy were forced to disguise their appearance to do so.  Only in the most recent years have her ways changed.  The violent reappearance of her half-elven daughter seems to have changed Dragonthorne's views.  Since battling her daughter to a tentative truce, Commander Dragonthorne has given up her intimidation of half-breeds and has allowed them to partake in the academy.

Leaping Moon, or Lorn Onaris, was offered by his family as a candidate for marriage into Thandell's royal house.  Originally from a prestigious family in Silverymoon, Leaping Moon left the city for some years to train in a distant monastery.  There, Leaping Moon practiced intensely and discovered the bond that could occur between men.  His family did not take kindly to his desire to remain unmarried once he returned.  The Thandell matchmaking ball provided an opportunity for further prestige that his family could not pass up, and once his name was put forth, he did not dare to refuse.  Leaping Moon made no effort to be wed but instead asked to try out for the position of the instructor of monks at Thandell's academy.  Given his skills, background, and dedication, Leaping Moon was granted the position not long after the ball ended.  Monks have always been relatively rare in Thandell but that has not deterred Leaping Moon's determination.  He gained a small number of students at once and actively seeks others.  Right now his new, prize student is Nolon Anuvien, who was also a candidate for the Thandell royals.  The two have been seen constantly together and it is rumored that they both remain unwed because of an interest in each other.  The people of Thandell do not appear to be perturbed; generally speaking, a common sentiment in Thandell is: "Can he do a good day's labor and help keep the trolls out?  'Cause if he can, his bed partner's no business of mine."

Sarelle was first encountered in Waterdeep and her extraordinary gifts earned her an invitation to try out for the position of the academy's bard instrutor.  She is a rather pale figure, almost frail-looking, but she has a presence that is difficult to forget.  Although she does not speak much about her origins, she has revealed that she was a captive of illithids for some time.  Forced to undergo careful experiments, Sarelle was eventually granted the ability to see into other people's thoughts - including those of her captors.  She was able to examine the thoughts of the mind flayers and formulate a plan for escape, but she emerged in weakened health.  She learned to cope with the alien minds she had encountered; she also learned to control her power.  Her ability to read minds complements her bardic training and her keen insight.  Sarelle is an extremely effective diplomat and is valued as a potentially powerful asset.  Some do not trust her but she has passed every test thus far, and she has been granted permission to teach at the academy.  She has stated that it is her intention to help others to think like their enemies, in order to guess at strategy and to perhaps facilitate the peace process.   

Gerana Faldorn is the new wife of Prince Daereth.  A skilled ranger in her own right and a worshipper of Gwaeron Windstrom, Gerana is a native of Thandell's long-time rival, Nesmé.  She was invited to Thandell for matchmaking purposes and placed favorably; along with her husband, she is next in line to the Thandell throne.  She is known for an active wit, a sharp eye and for the need to wander the wilds.  She has revealed that her god saved her life in the Troll Moors once and she has been in search of him since.  In an attempt to provide her with freedom outside of the city and guards, Gerana was offered the open position of instructor of the academy's rangers.  Gerana had already expressed a desire for "honest work in the outdoors" and although the academy has not traditionally produced a high percentage of rangers, the city could use their expertise.  (Rangers are also far more likely to remain tied to the city than druids.)  Gerana accepted the position at once and is now looking for students.

 
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