The Black Collegia


Beyond the Collegia d'Arte, there is another set of schools, the rumored Black Collegia. The schools are small and there are many of them, offering instruction in the 'black' arts - that is, the arts unseen.

While there is no formal organization between the schools, they generally fall into three informal categories:

  • Collegia de Danse
    These schools are the least secret and most well-known, and offer instruction in the arts politic, elevating the subject to an art and a science. While the names and locations of chapters and membership are still secret, the Collegia de Danse is widely speculated to exist, and it is not terribly uncommon for nobles to voice suspicion (and envy) about the 'color' of a successful rival.
  • Collegia de Masque
    The arts of subterfuge, espionage, murder, and so forth. It is these schools that are the reason Montevalnans go pale in the face if the subject of the Black Collegia comes up.
  • Collegia de Finale
    The strangest of the three, these schools study 'the way of artful death'. These schools are more philosophical than the others, but there are practical lessons to be learned, as well.

Knowledge of the Black Collegia

Anyone who has attended a chapter of the Black Collegia may reasonably expect to piece together the overall character of the schools, get a rough idea of how to find and gain instruction in some other chapters. This is not because there are official membership rolls, or a secret handshake, or anything like that, but because it is easier to gain entry a second time, especially with more knowledge of the Black Collegia.

GL-Montevalno/5 assures that one knows there are secret Collegia, but not anything terribly specific about them, where they are, or how to join. Their apparent area of instruction is politics, and people are extremely shy of talking about the subject, as if they are somewhat terrified of these 'Black' Collegia.

Basic Facts for OOC Use

  • Attending the Collegia is not a prerequisite to attending a chapter of the Black Collegia.
  • There is also no apparent method of entry into the Black Collegia, and unlike many secret organizations, they are not especially hungry for more members. Unlike the 'normal' Collegia, nepotism, sponsorship, and large donations do not gain one entry.
  • There is no hierarchy between chapters. Chapters are very old. They date back to at least the dawn of the civilized age.
  • A chapter generally has a small set of masters of various arts, and a rotating group of students. Every chapter has multiple levels of initiation, presumably to guard their mysteries.
  • Individual chapters have internal politics. The 'Black Collegia' does not (the organization stops at the chapter level), though there is enough mobility between members that gossip and the like do get around between chapters and schools.
  • Black Collegia chapters may have close ties in some cases, and be bitter rivals in others.
  • Each chapter has some purpose, and most are not perfectly happy with the current state of things. Some chapters have died off, some are 'searching' for things they have lost, and some chapters are at war with other chapters.
  • Some chapters have a 'front' that exists until the chapter relocates. Others have no public face.
  • The Black Collegia are indeed responsible for some targeted killings in Montevalno (and occasionally abroad). Usually this has to do with a breach of trust, decorum, or secrecy, but there may be other reasons.
  • The Black Collegia are not criminal organizations. They're not after fame, or riches, or the power to pull the strings. The motivation to pursue these things seems to be least in the people with the most power in each chapter.

Challenges of Play

A serious question: How does one get play out of secret organizations?

PCs who are both Black Collegiates might reasonably have a scene inside a chapter of the Black Collegia, but that is uncommon play.

A PC member may be tempted to talk about the Black Collegia to another PC for reasons of play and character development. If he does not provide anything further than a mention on the subject, he has simply in passing devalued the secrecy of the Black Collegia without doing anything for play. It's better to have a reason that necessitates talking about it - in other words, make it integral in a plot.

The easiest way to use the Black Collegia is as villains in a plot.

Examples of ways to treat the Black Collegia in Play

  • I'm on an errand from a chapter of the Black Collegia!
    A member can be on a mysterious errand on behalf of her chapter, allowing it to affect her play, without forcing her to address the Collegia directly.
  • Black Collegia as Villains
    The Black Collegia are involved in all sorts of bad things, though not for criminal aim. Protecting their secrecy is the most obvious angle, but there are other possibilities, including: Recovery of a stolen artifact. A student of Masque studying the effects of a particular poison. A master of the Finale, exploiting the codes of vendetta for his students.

How do I join?

The process by which a character joins the Black Collegia is one of the reasons it has succesfuly remained secret - there is no one method. As stated above, bribes and nepotism do not do the trick; however, as an example, blackmailing the right person might, for a Masque chapter.

If you have some history, or want your character to join, +mail The Montevalnan propco and co-propcos detailing several things:

  • How did your character gain entry into the Black Collegia?
  • Define a Chapter
    • Name, type of school, and current location.
    • What sort of role does your character have in the chapter? (default: student)
    • What is the chapter unhappy about?
  • Anything else you want to tell us or be true about the Black Collegia.

What about gifts?

Black Collegia Gifts

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