The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 2: Juvenalia

Day 1 will be split into two parts because it wound up being goddamn busy.

You didn’t think the tutorial was over, did you? Let’s continue by explaining a bit more of the interface.

There are three periods for every day. On school days, the first two periods default to Attend Class, which, as mentioned earlier, is a good way to gain skills, get good grades, and avoid demerits. Free periods, on the other hand, default to Rest, which resets your Stress and Vitality but does nothing else useful. Clicking on the time period gives you this menu of options. The list you’re looking at is the starting set of possible actions, and for the most part they are based on what skills you have. Cast Spell lets you do just that, but Iliana doesn’t know any spells yet, so I’ll get into that later. Use Item lets you use a consumable inventory item (so long as it’s equipped), and finally Use Ability lists another set of actions, this set based on locations you’ve found instead of skills you’ve trained.

Once you’re satisfied with the actions chosen for the day, you hit the big button and this extra menu pops up. For instance, I’ve gone with Training in the morning, Adventure in the afternoon, and Explore for the evening. With Training I need to determine which skill to train (in this case, Social Skills), and Adventure and Explore also have several options to pick from.

After all, you can range pretty far out if you want to. The main building of Academagia is deceptively big, for instance (and it looks pretty damn big already), plus it has some extensive land holdings around it. You might also explore Elumia itself (Elumia being a fairly small island), the Imperial Reserve (which is a forest, not a bank), or the main city of Mineta. I’ve chosen the last one for the initial exploration; exploring Academagia on the first day isn’t the best idea since several important areas are revealed automatically and you wouldn’t want to waste your time discovering something redundant. As for the Adventure I chose, well, we’ll get to that later.

One other thing you may have noticed is that the color-coded text pops up here as well. Many daily actions have skill rolls attached, and checking the colors is a good way to tell whether or not you’ll be wasting your time. That said, Adventures in particular can be deceptively colored, but I’ll get to that when we get to the Adventure. Now, on with the show.

Skill training, eh? Well, no time like the present. Before you can hit upon an exact system to train something as abstract as Social Skills, however, one of your college mates sticks her head into your room.

Hey, the Regent wants us new kids in the common room. Now, like.

Oh, well. You’ll just have to improve your Social Skills later.

Upon reaching the common room, you see that most of the students have already arrived. As the last few trickle in, the Regent, an old and rather paternal man with a shaggy white beard, speaks.

Looks like you’re all here. Well, I just wanted us all to get to know each other before we all go down to Orsi’s general assembly. You’ll all be sharing living space together, after all. I am Professor Sixt von Rupprecht, made Regent of Aranaz only recently. The last Regent had to be let go, unfortunately. It seems as though he was at the center of an artifact smuggling ring. Terrible affair, that.

You’re not entirely sure you trust the way Professor Rupprecht smiles as he describes the fate of his fellow teacher.

I am also the professor of Calligraphy, which means you will all be taking my class, and let me add that I fully expect Aranaz to shut the other colleges out of the top grades. Do you understand?

Nods all around.

Good! Now, let’s just go around and introduce ourselves. Just your name and a little about yourself. Why don’t you begin?
Me? Oh, well, my name is Vrenelle Bonvin, glad to be here in Aranaz, but how come we have to sit down to introduce ourselves? I’ve already been down to the Great Hall and back and it’s really quite the jog, I think we would have plenty of time to introduce ourselves along the way.
I’m afraid not all of us could keep pace with you, my dear, and we’re not assembling in the Great Hall, regardless. Go ahead now, keep going clockwise.
Huh? Oh. I’m Tabin Furenzti. Not much more to say. So, Professor, I don’t suppose you were the one who brought up the accusations against your predecessor?
I did, but that’s not really important, now is it? He was caught, after all. So who’s next?
I am Milena di Montors. I got started with magic a few years back in a smaller academy. If any of you need help with your lessons, I’ll be available for tutoring, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work out a reasonable rate.
Rikildis von Kiep. Did you know the rumor mill has already gotten started? Why, I’ve heard--and don’t ask me for a source, it’s confidential--that a certain wizard with a certain reputation for a bad attitude may be just about ready to confess his undying love to a certain witch later this very day. And don’t forget where you heard it from; I’m certain there’s more to come.
Hi everyone. I’m Raoul Leconte. I suppose if I’m going to be honest, Aranaz wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to join Morvidus, since they say animal lovers go there, but then I heard it’s where all the bullies hang out, and I just want to stay as far away from them as possible.
You made a wise choice, son. Aranaz is a much better college than Morvidus, and far less prone to raw, unmanaged aggression.
...I’m Emilia. Strolin.
Montague Ruffo. It is a pleasure to meet you all.
Oh, I like your accent! Would you happen to be from Somma?
But your accent is clearly--
Move along, children.
Hi. I’m Malacresta Vercesi. Did you read your horoscope today? Mine said I’d be meeting new people.
Gods, how obvious. Who gave you that stinker?
Oh, I compile my own horoscopes. I was glad to see what it was, too, because I was worried I might get here too late since I spent so much time this morning compiling my horoscope.
...Next? Next! Son, put down those riddles and introduce yourself!
Huh? Oh, sorry. My name is Courtenay de Surval. Sorry I wasn’t paying attention, but I happened by the library on my way over, and they have entire shelves devoted to riddles and unsolved mysteries! I just had to bring one along.
Well, don’t let the librarians catch you with that until tomorrow, you’re not supposed to be borrowing books yet. I don’t suppose you brought those with you from home, young lady?
I did, actually. Basia Rydz, pleasure and all that, and may the best student win.
Win what?
The exit exams, duh! Why the heck else is anyone here?
Now, now, there are all sorts of reasons to go to a high-ranking academy such as this one. It just happens that being the top student is the best reason. Now, I believe you two are the only ones left.
Finally! You know, I’ve been trying to be calm and polite and not interrupt others unlike some people, but you’ve all been doing it so terribly wrong I just have to say something. Like reading a book during introductions, that’s just so incredibly rude! And why are you carrying books to the general assembly, Basia, were you going to be rude and not listen to the Legate himself? And don’t think I didn’t notice that you didn’t actually say anything about yourself when it was your turn, Emilia. I’m watching you. And as for you, Montague, how come you didn’t answer Rikildis’ question? And why did you interrupt Montague’s turn?
Just tell us your NAME, my dear.
...Oh. Aveline Cincebeaux. Now, as for me--
I think we already understand, my dear. Now, how about you?
Oh, yes. My name is Iliana Ot’Matar. And, well, I’m just here to learn!

You try to give the other students your most winning smile, and it looks like it worked. Several of them are also nodding at your comment about “learning,” including the Regent. You realize then that most of your audience understands that by “learning,” what you really meant to say was, “I’m here to gain incredible amounts of power and turn the world into my plaything.” It is at this point you realize that you are in good company. Incredibly dangerous company, but good nonetheless.

Now that that’s been dealt with, let me show you the Door before we head to the assembly. Now remember, students, adult wizards have tried to exorcise the Ghosts in the Cold Room beyond the Door, and not one has succeeded despite years of attempts. Of course, I understand about dares and such, but I want you to understand that it is extremely dangerous inside, and I am only showing you the Door so you do not accidentally stumble into it. This way, children.


You’ve only just had time to put away your clothes after getting back from the general assembly (such a boring waste of time that was, too) when you hear the knocking at your door. Wondering who could be calling on you so soon, you cross the small room over to the door and open it hesitantly. “Yes?” you say.

A bright smile greets your nervous question. “Hi,” says the woman as her hand snakes out to grab yours in a firm shake. “I’m Oan...Oan Sung. I’m your Mentor.” Seeing the confused look you give her, she continues with, “And I’m guessing no one told you I was coming, did they?”

You shake your head--there was the thing in the letter, but it didn’t give you much information. She smiles politely. “I remember what it was like,” she says. “Day before classes, barely settled in your room, no idea what’s in store...let me tell you, it’s better that way. People who come here full of stories about how things should be don’t have the easiest of times; they’re the ones who get stuck in detention the first day.”

Detention on the first day? How does that happen? Still nervous, you find it difficult to talk. Oan’s polite smile turns into a gentle one. “Come on, I’ll explain as we walk.” Pulling you out the door, Oan closes it behind you and leads you out of the Aranaz dormitories and into the fresh air; as she walks, she keeps up a steady patter that is as soothing as it is informative.

“Like I said, my name’s Oan, and before you ask, yes, I’m from Sae’on. And before you can ask, let me say that yes, we know just how important magic is to our survival and no, I don’t plan on taking what I’ve learned and going back to spend my life there. Growing up in a city that needs to be under a bubble of air just to protect it from the volcano isn’t as interesting as people think it is, but yes, you do learn an awful lot about magic from an early age.” She looks over and smiles at you. “But now you can tell your friends that you’ve met someone from Sae’on. I’ll bet you none of them have.”

You smile awkwardly, reminding Oan of why she’s there. “’ve barely had time to unpack, let alone make friends. Don’t worry, you’ll get there.” Turning, she directs you to a worn pebble-lined path and steps up beside you as you start down the path. “You’re obviously curious about things, or you wouldn’t be here, so that’s a start. Everything you need to start with is right in here anyway,” she says, tapping your head lightly with her finger.

You stare at her for a moment, somewhat confused as to where she’s going with this. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I didn’t even explain what I’m doing here. Okay, here’s the quick version. Each incoming First year is assigned a Second Year as a mentor, someone to help guide them during their first year at the Academagia. As tradition dictates, this Second Year--me--greets the First Year--you--on Juvenalia. Appropriate, isn’t it? You’re like my new apprentice. Don’t worry, though, I won’t treat you like one,” she gives a little laugh. “Anyway, it seems there was a little mix-up in the registrar’s office this year, because they took in three last-minute additions and ran out of mentors. Legate Orsi asked around for the best mentor from last year, and my name popped up enough that he asked me personally to draw a name from a hat and mentor that student.” Her smile crinkles the corners of her eyes. “And when the Legate asks you personally to do him a favor, you don’t really say no, do you? Still, some First Years don’t want to be hassled by someone older than them, so you have a choice to make. Do you want to have me as a mentor, or should I just let you get back to your room?”

You think for a moment, then decide that Oan doesn’t seem like the hassling type, and agree to be shown around.

Oan nods. “I figured as much, but it never hurts to ask. Come on, let’s head over to the Great Hall and we’ll talk about a few things.”

“See that buiding over there, the one with all the arches and white marble?” Squinting, you see buildings everywhere, most of which are encased in some kind of marble. Following her finger, though, you find the building she’s pointing at and raise your eyebrows. No wonder they call it the Great Hall!

Tall and cylindrical in design, the building seems made more of arched windows than of marble. From the outside, you can see a veritable forest of columns, and for a moment, you find yourself losing perspective as you see several gnomes walking in front of the Hall; it’s only when one of those “gnomes” starts walking up the stairs that you realize they’re students like you!

“Yeah, it took my breath away the first time I saw it, too,” Oan says. “The Great Hall is where you’ll take your meals, but it’s much more than that. It’s a meeting place, a study hall, a dueling ground...but only when there aren’t any Professors around, obviously; it’s also where students go when they’re assigned Hall Session and Detention, so we’d better talk about how to avoid those two things.

“I don’t know how it was at your last school, or even if you went to any schools before this, but here at the Academagia, there are two kinds of Reprimands: Academic and Conduct. Most people only get Academic Reprimands if they stink at a class during the Midterm exams; Professors don’t like failing students, and they won’t pass someone just because of their family connections. Well, they usually don’t pass students because of that, but it’s happened before, so I’m sure it’ll happen again. Still, if you don’t have good connections and stink up a class, you’ll get assigned to a Hall Session, which takes up the whole first day of your weekend, so make sure you don’t neglect your studies for fun.

“The second kind of Reprimand is a Conduct Reprimand.” Oan tosses a smile over her shoulder and laughs. “Everyone gets at least one of these during a year, so don’t panic when you get hit with your first one. Lots of things can get you a Conduct Reprimand here, things like being in the wrong place and getting caught, being on the wrong side of a Professor’s temper, royally stinking up an answer in class...lots of things, really.

“I think it’s fair to say that the easiest way to get in trouble is just by being somewhere where you haven’t been invited. Basically, almost anywhere you go, if you don’t have official Visitation Rights, you have a chance of being discovered by someone who’d worry about what a kid your age alone is up to--even in a lot of shops, unfortunately--and who’d file a complaint with the school. Or with the guards. Or both.

“I don’t mean to make you panic--usually, the odds are really low. Like, four or five in a hundred. But if you’re seen carrying a flaming sword and giggling like a maniac, the odds can go way up.

“Don’t ask me how I know that.


“You’ll have to discover some things on your own, of course, but I’ll give you a quick brief on Conduct Reprimands. There are three grades, each of which goes hand-in-hand with a Detention. The first is a Caution, which isn’t so bad, really; you get three of these a month before moving up to the second grade, which is a Review. You get two Reviews a month before you’re in real trouble, which is the third grade. You don’t want to deal with a Discipline, but if you do, expect to spend a long time in Detention.” Oan’s voice takes on a personal hitch as she says, “Detention’s not all that bad, really, but the stuff that comes with a Discipline isn’t worth the hassle, believe me.”

Oan leads you up the wide marble steps of the Great Hall, taking a single step with each extended stride. You’re forced to take two steps to her one, a fact that doesn’t escape Oan’s observant eye. “This whole building was built to remind students of two things. First, it was meant to remind us that we’re smaller than we think we are; no matter how important we all think we were when we got here, we have to remember that there’s a bigger world waiting for us after graduation. Secondly, it’s supposed to remind us of the days when the Wyrms ruled Men, thus pushing us to the perfection of our preferred crafts so we can fight the Dragons should the Empire call upon us.” She shakes her head and laughs. “As if any Dragon Flights have made it past the Wall in the last century!”

Cresting the final step, she turns and waits for you to make the last few steps before continuing. “Now that the bad part is out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff. There are two kinds of Exams: Midterms and Finals. The purpose of Midterms is to sort out who is failing and who is on the bubble. Finals, on the other hand, are meant to find the best of the best and shower them with honors. I’ve already told you what happens if you do poorly in your Midterms, so I won’t waste your time with that again. Suffice it to say that you’ll want to study at least enough to pass them comfortably. And before you ask, no, I don’t know how much is enough for you; each person is different so you’ll just have to pace yourself and take your own risks. Finals boil down to this: pass your class or don’t plan on moving on with the rest of your friends. Skills and studying are very important, got it?”

You nod your head, so Oan continues. “Take Negation for example. Negation is composed of Negation Methods, Negation Phemes, Negation Spells, and Theory of Negation. You can’t train Negation itself, but it’ll go up so long as you study at least three of its Subskills. Make sense?”

She pauses, thinking for a moment. “But don’t get so wrapped up in studying that you neglect to have fun! You have got to mind your Emotions or you will definitely get burned out. It’s all right to take a break from time to time, go shopping, chat with friends, or play a prank.”

Nodding, you let Oan lead you into the building. her voice takes on an awed tone as she leads you through the forest of columns and towards the center of the building. A great granite dais rises from the marble floor, a good ten paces square. On top of the dais are seven different colored clay pots, each holding a single incredibly dead-looking flower. “Those are the Flos Fragi,” she says.

She turns to you. “No matter how poor your Elumian is, everyone in the Academagia knows these words,” she says. “The Flos Fragi, or Exploding Flowers, are the symbol of each College’s Merit. When a student does something that makes a Professor happy, they award a point or two to that student’s College; the Flos Fragi grow a bit for each Merit point until, when a threshold is crossed, a seed shoots out of the plant’s flower through the hole in the ceiling and explodes into the College’s colors! The plant doesn’t die, but the flower loses its leaves until the College is awarded Merit again. The plant grows with each Merit point, too, so even after your College’s flower explodes, you know how far ahead of the other Colleges you are.”

Oan’s broad smile tells you she’s seen her fair share of her College’s colors displayed over the school’s sky. “Here’s the rub, though. Only the first College to cross the Merit threshold gets to have their plant explode...the others just drop their flower’s petals when they cross the threshold and start over. And the best part is that the winners of each level of Merit win something from the Professors! The first prize is always a small purse of Pims, but after that, it’s different every year. Only the winners get the prize, so the competition is fierce!”

Oan walks you around the rest of the buliding, pointing out where the Hall Sessions are usually held and where each College usually takes their meals. When she finishes the tour, she says, “So, now it’s time I got to know a bit more about you. What would you say your best strength is, the thing that really makes you deserve to be here at the finest school in all of Elumia?”

This sudden question almost has you blurt out something about Pirate Magic-Queens, but you catch yourself just in time. “I like to think I’m good with people,” you say instead.

Oan nods her head. “I thought as much,” she says. “My advice to you is to Train to your strength, at least for the first few weeks. Don’t neglect your studies, of course, but focusing on your strengths for a little bit might pay off big for the next time we meet.”

“Next time?” you ask.

“Of course! Mentors don’t just do one thing and disappear. Tell you what; let’s plan on meeting again when you feel ready. You can fill me in on how things are going then, and maybe we can see about answering a few more questions. Until then, I suppose you’ll want to know where the kitchen is, don’t you?”

You nod your head vigorously.

You’ve taken advantage of the neutral ground of the dining hall to meet some of the students from other colleges. Right now, you’ve wound up mediating a debate between Neta Xemutre and Cathrine Chard one one side and Oriabel Sidot and Durand de Thiomines on the other.

Really, I don’t see where “history” enters into it. My great grandfather on my mother’s side was there, at the battle, and I’ve always trusted the family’s written account of what happened. How would some low-rent historian who lived fifty years later know anything about the truth of the matter?
But it’s a matter of perspective, Cathrine! Your grandpa was probably worried about winning the battle and didn’t have time to consider what the other general was thinking. The author of this account read all sorts of reports and things, like the one your grandpa wrote, and he didn’t have to worry about writing to appease the winner or anyone.
Do you think he talked to ghosts who were there? Or would they have been too angry over their deaths to talk about it?
Is that all you care about, Oriabel? Are you really going to spend the rest of the year talking about ghosts like this? Because if you are, let me know, so I know not to bother talking to you again.
Now, Neta, we all have hobbies. Like Durand’s history thing. Isn’t there something you like to do?
Not particularly...

Just then, you notice a boy heading straight for your table. You recall seeing him earlier; a tall, handsome lad whose face was marred with an unmoving sneer of contempt. You pegged him then as a bully and ignored him, but now he has a somewhat different expression. Neta acts somewhat surprised when he passes her by to sit next to you, and now you’re starting to get a little uncomfortable as you wait for him to speak. Finally, you give in.

So...what do you want?
Hi, my name is Philippe. Wanna be my girlfriend?

Your face burns and your eyes widen as a smiling Philippe waits for your answer. You only manage to sputter out a “What?” before the other students around you start to giggle.

Anyone ever told you that you have pretty eyes? You know your hair is incredible. And your eyes are just hypnotizing. Want some cookies? I took them from that Cyrus kid. Want me to carry your books? Can I get a portrait of you to hang in my room?

Hot damn, first day and we got a random event. And a doozy of one, too, but it does give me the excuse to show off the color-coding system. Sadly, in this case, it appears as though our best bet is Magical Appraisal, which is red, and thus indicates poor odds for success. The other two options are purple, which means they’re just about guaranteed to fail.

Right, while you’d like to blame Philippe’s infatuation on your ravishing good looks, you’re fairly certain he’s just been ensorcelled by someone. Maybe you could figure out how? As Philippe drones on and on about the many ways he could worship you, you look closely at his face and clothes but can’t find anything that would give you a clue on how to fix him. It’s not that you expected success, considering you haven’t even begun classes, but you had to try.

Exasperated, you ask Philippe to just stop and leave. For a moment Philippe looks confused, then suddenly he starts crying like a big baby. Literally. Philippe is bawling his eyes out and he looks almost pathetic.

The entire situation just gets more complicated as all the students around you start giving you disapproving looks and Philippe pitying looks. Worse comes to worst as the students start to call you a heart-breaker and an ice cold witch. Sighing heavily, you bend down to the crying boy and try your best to soothe him like a mother and her baby.

After five minutes of shushing and “There, there’s” from you, Philippe begins to cry louder and Professor Briardi appears--and, after a quick confirmation of the second weirdest situation in her life, she casts a powerful negation spell that returns Philippe to his normal self, but knocks him out at the same time.

The situation just makes you hope that you’ll never become a mother.