The Distributed Academy of Philosophers

The Distributed Academy of Philosophers

The Harrowing has exacted a heavy toll on humanity. Not just in terms of lives lost and the general erosion of society, but in the very understanding of the workings of the world. Across the face of Haven, schools and universities were never exactly common at the best of times. Expensive, and with little immediate concrete benefit, education beyond basic mathematics and enough letters to read the Book of Holies was considered a costly and very niche pursuit. In an age where survivors must contend with famine, plague, and unspeakable horrors stalking the land on a daily basis, even the most rudimentary learning is often viewed as something of a waste of time, and higher education is a luxury that borders on the unobtainable. Nevertheless, there are those who persevere amidst the calamities, a remarkable few who strive to keep the light of knowledge burning despite the terrors that surround them—the Distributed Academy of Philosophers.

Before the Harrowing, institutes of higher education followed one of a handful of pedagogical formulations. In the Ayanian Empire, the Church Columnar paid for teachers to dispense their wisdom (and, coincidentally, controlled what sorts of information were provided in curricula). In contrast, the Eilstern Demesnes saw the heads of state and their coffers paying salaries to instructors. Lastly, students who wished to learn in the Outlands of Torjavik, Kraekirk, and Ij, by necessity, pooled their personal resources together and directly hired scholars to teach their coteries.

As funding for such institutions dried up alongside tax and tithe revenue, and spendable resources plummeted with the failure of crops and the deaths of laborers, the majority of universities found themselves either formally disbanded, at a loss for a student population, or without enough teachers to continue. Even so, some brave souls endure. At some point, a handful of those of an academic persuasion began to exchange correspondence, first as a matter of professional courtesy or simple socialization, but increasingly as a way to shuffle written materials to secure locations, or to trade bodies of knowledge between groups. And while even the end times were not enough to entirely quash the petty squabbles and rivalries between pedants, there has been some significant success in the formulation of a network of learned individuals who seek to maintain humanity's knowledge base. While not entirely formal designations, there are a handful of archetypes that many academics now fall into: archivists, historians, and principals.

Archivists are those who consider it their duty in chief to preserve physical media. They seek out rare texts, works of art, and other objects of cultural import. Once an object is in hand, an archivist will go to great lengths to preserve and protect it.

Historians, by contrast, seek out what they sometimes refer to as 'pure knowledge.' Historians don't much care about the form such knowledge comes in, and can spend great lengths of time transcribing manuscripts, copying down oral histories, and generally attempting to maintain the stories of the world from before the Harrowing.

Finally, there are the Principals. Less concerned with the world that was, Principals strive to push the boundaries of human understanding in the present. Chirurgeons who autopsy strange creatures, alchemists tinkering in crude laboratories, astronomers studying the heavens to read the future and understand the flow of the cosmos—all of these are Principals.

Prominent Members

Archivist Emelie Meitner: A prominent scholar from the Demesnes, Meitner travels widely in her personal quest to acquire, catalogue, and protect rare texts. Rumors (rather persistent ones, at that) suggest she is able to concoct a variety of noxious substances, though it is unclear if she ever offers such things for sale or barter.

Historian Isaac Grayson: Little is known of Isaac Grayson, save that his manuscripts of collated knowledge are some of the few books still in active print.

Gaspard du Cheriac: An alchemist hailing from just outside Andiva, du Cheriac is as renowned for his talent as he is for his… foibles. Keeping strange company and wandering hither and yon in his search for rare components, the substances he creates are 'eclectic,' to say the least.