Gaian Academy and Deepview Island Map
The Gaian Academy is a national research university located on Deepview Island, an inland island and part of the Ponkapoag Lake Archipelago, located at the center of Ponkapoag Lake. Deepview Island's size is approx. 30 sq. miles.
In total, the student body numbers 14,254 as of 27 AO. Of those students: 7,876 are undergraduates and 6,378 are post-graduates. The number of academic staff is 4,010. The average age is 22 for students and 34 for faculty.
Deepview Island is almost entirely flat and slightly above the water level. Aside from paved walkways leading between Academy buildings, it's covered in flood-protective hybrid grass synthesized in a lab and bioluminescent trees that provide the majority of outdoors campus lighting. The golden beaches are surrounded by multiple shoals as a natural barrier and a warning that the water quickly becomes very deep. Various smaller islands can be found throughout the massive lake, many of them inhabited by tight-knit communities consisting of several villages.
Over the past year, its weather has gone from mild to tumultuous as a result of Cold Snap induced climate change. There are frequent rain showers, common thunderstorms, and the island is at-risk for flooding. As a result, Academy walkways are accompanied by drainage sluices to mitigate buildup from rain. In terms of temperature, it tends to be warm for most of the year, despite the common storm fronts.
Fauna and Flora
Aquatic Blot - What's more scholastic than a school of fish? An academy of fish! Native to the archipelago are fish possessing rudimentary telepathy that have developed a kind of hive-mind. The exact mechanism for aquatic blot formation has yet to be uncovered. Researchers are currently searching for what they call "headmaster fish," hypothetical creatures responsible for starting the aquatic blots, but are unsure whether that's the case or if there's an undiscovered psychic event causing the phenomenon. Composition of aquablots varies seasonally. Whereas Spring might dense flocks of flying fish, Summer can have impenetrable walls of minnows, Autumn could make for a terrifying mass of eels, and Winter with a possibility of giant catfish.
Battle Blobs - They look like clumps of red jelly and are stored in the gym. Battle blobs have to be activated by faculty in the Dept of Phys Ed, and they deactivate if removed from the gym. Were one to be removed from the Academy grounds, it would immediately evaporate and disappear. They're not technically alive, but they look like it when they transform. Battle blobs shapeshift into intelligent opponents for sparring purposes as long as the relevant battle data is chipped into them. Battle blobs are not technologically sophisticated enough for instruction in anatomy and biology. They can regenerate from a gram to full functionality in two days. Debate rages about what will happen if an AI ever takes over the battle blobs; the doomsday scenario is typically referred to as Red Goo.
Everlumens - Dwarf conifers altered from the Great Pine Barrens to emit a soft light. Everlumens produce glowcones, sweet fruit-like seeds used as toppings on desert or flavoring for drinks. When eaten directly, people glow like the everlumens for a few hours. The Academy has patented a lotion called Treediance that uses glowcone extract to improve skin appearance.
Hypnocone Snails - Discovered after a group of students found one on the beach. After gazing into its cone, they experienced such hyper focus that they wouldn't stop counting grains of sand until the morning after. In addition to being used in ADHD medication, eating cooked snails produces a mild but pleasant high. Eating them raw creates an intensely nightmarish hallucinogenic trip.
Lash-tailed Water Basilisk - Lurking in the shoals, these dark iguana-like lizards are thin and fast-swimming. They're camouflaged such that swimmers have difficulty seeing them underwater and even in the shoals, particularly when its raining. Unlike their stony-gaze cousins, these basilisks have no eye abilities. Instead, their venom breaks down fish scales into a toxic slurry that's great for their diet. Students bitten by basilisks often require skin grafts, assuming their claws or whip-like prehensile tail didn't take a limb.
Lavaweed - Difficult to grab and grow deep-water algae found near hydrothermal vents. Lavaweed has red-shifting cyanobacteria that absorbs infrared light. Whereas pourgrass might be used for plant and water elemental applications, lavaweed has cross-elemental potential for linking earth, fire and water. These weeds are volatile when removed from the water and are toxic to ingest or otherwise consume.
Pourgrass - Alternatively poregrass. It was developed to create a network of roots that modify Deep Island's soil. After a semester of growth, flooding was cut down by nearly half. Pourgrass is bright green on a sunny day and has a bluish hue when submerged.
Thieving Frigatebird - Kleptomaniac black-and-white birds that have run other birds off of Deepview Island by constantly stealing from them. Now they steal from students. Lost student ID? Frigatebird has it. They're also known for their bright blue gular sacs. When fully inflated, these sacs grant them invisibility. While seemingly counter-productive for mating purposes, observation suggests female frigatebirds care more about how many stolen items there are than how big the males' sacs are.
Undergraduates must demonstrate equivalent competency to someone who has graduated from Terrenus compulsory school and be at least 16 years of age, known as the Age of Reason, which is the legal age of adulthood.
Competency is determined by an entrance exam; it is proctored, but not timed. There are three components: a battery of standardized tests for critical reasoning in reading, mathematics, and the natural sciences; an entrance essay that functions as a statement of intent; and a spellcasting test.
The spellcasting test changes every semester. It consists of providing instructions to the current crop of students to see if they can successfully cast whatever spell was chosen for that semester. Collaboration is permitted, as is modification of the instructions to improve the spell. The spellcasting test score is weighted, meaning it is considered more important than other categories of the entrance exam. It is also the sole determination of whether a freshman is immediately placed in the Honors College, and it helps with acquiring merit-based scholarships for cost of living and residency; for those reasons, transfer and exchange students are encouraged to participate even if they completed an equivalent test at another school. There are no retakes after passing.
Exceptions apply. Any student can be sponsored into the Academy by a master, who is a tenured professor, under academic probation until they reach a point in their tutelage where they can pass the entrance exam. Students under 16 years old are considered emancipated from their parents, and the sponsoring master is considered their legal guardian. Due to the legal responsibilities involved, age waivers are uncommon.
Transfer students who attended a university accredited by the Terrenus government and have credits that demonstrate equivalent competency can waive the entrance exam.
The student exchange program operates under the sponsorship policy. Only students from the continental interior are allowed to participate with few exceptions. In accordance with Terrenus’ isolationist foreign policy, overseas staff and faculty are barred from entry unless they have already renounced their foreign citizenship; provide proof of residency for 2 years in Terrenus; and have obtained Terrenus citizenship, are in the process of obtaining it, or intend on utilizing Gaian Academy programs for obtaining their citizenship. Any exchange student from outside the continental interior who breaks the code of conduct is not only expelled, but deported from Terrenus.
Everyone on campus requires an Academy ID (AID). The AID appears to be a blank smart card, however, it's keyed to the aurametrics and biometrics of the person to which it's assigned. Photographic and biographical information only populate when the AID is in the hands of its registered user. The AID is only valid when enough aurametric and biometric data to sustain life is present, both to prevent AID spoofing and to alert medical services when life signs are failing. This smartcard is required to access any of the Academy's facilities. AID can be linked to most pieces of magitech by attaching a microscanner.
Code of Conduct
Staff and students are required to sign a contractual agreement to abide by the Academy’s code of conduct. The contract is magically binding and enforceable by security staff. Although this is not an exhaustive list, the most important rules are:
1. Comply with all Terrenus laws, regulations, and contractual obligations.
2. Do not disclose any private, confidential, or proprietary information. Research requires signing a non-disclosure agreement and employment has a non-compete clause.
3. Third-party financial interests, including any solicitation by unapproved vendors on Deepview Island, is strictly prohibited.
4. School resources can only be used for purposes on behalf of the school.
5. Everyone has the right to a supportive and positive academic environment. Personal abuse and destruction of property are not tolerated. Weapons are not permitted on campus except by authorized military personnel.
6. No falsification of documents or records is permitted.
7. Students are expected to comply with immediate directives issued by identified Academy faculty.
Every student is educated on these expectations at a mandatory orientation after enrollment.
Violation of any clause within the code of conduct is met with academic suspension for the semester, however, any violence is grounds for expulsion and, in extreme cases, imprisonment. Security staff is trained to de-escalate situations before invoking the contract’s magic.
Cost of Attendance
Students who demonstrate competency as per the admissions policy attend the Gaian Academy tuition-free.
Lecturers and masters who act as sponsors determine their own costs for their classrooms or tutoring services. The Academy will pay for students who have already been admitted, but those who are seeking to develop the remedial knowledge and skills necessary to attend must pay lecturer and master fees, or convince them to waive those fees.
Students who do not graduate from their program of study are given 6-8 weeks’ notice that they must attend a hearing with appropriate faculty to determine their future. If there is no reason to forgive the lack of timely graduation, the education is treated as a delinquent loan that must be repaid. If the student does not attend the hearing, it will occur in absentia. If a payment plan is not imminent, an arrest warrant is placed on the student.
Cost of living and residency is not factored into tuition, but merit-based scholarships are offered by the Academy, faculty, alumni, and private institutions across Terrenus. Due to Terrenus high quality of life, need-based aid is uncommon, but the government has recently given educational grants to families affected by insurgencies in Blairville, Patia, and Biazo Isle. However, the majority of low-income grants for relocation are granted to students from Last Chance. In addition, the Ponkapoag Lake Region has several small towns and villages with employment opportunities.
Federal Work Study and Independent Study
Federal work study offers temporary employment to students for 10-15 hours a week at a living wage. The type of work study is determined by the deans of their departments; employment and supervision is the responsibility of that department’s faculty. Some examples:
1. Become a part of security staff or bounty hunt delinquent students.
2. Maintain and repair the Academy’s apotropaic enchantments.
3. Monitor the environmental and weather control systems.
4. Participate in agricultural activities.
5. Help at the student wellness center.
Work study for a semester counts towards credit of the equivalent class, but the student must submit reports on their work to faculty to demonstrate their learning. Participating in agricultural activities might count towards engineering or alchemy credits depending on the work, whereas being involved with environmental and weather control might provide credit in elementalism-related coursework.
Each semester of completed work study counts towards the 2 year requirement of federal service to obtain Terrenus citizenship. In its short 4 years of existence, the Gaian Academy has produced some of the youngest citizens in the country.
Independent study is an alternative to traditional classroom learning. A student must submit a proposal to the dean of their program’s department, convince faculty that the study is of interest to the Academy or the government of Terrenus, negotiate an appropriate merit-based stipend if applicable, and demonstrate significant academic achievement throughout the semester. An example of independent study would be onsite research into exorcising the Haunted Glen. It also counts towards Terrenus citizenship.
For both work study and independent study, there is a one job limit per student. A student may only use one form of study for one class’s worth of credit per semester. No double dipping.
Staff and Student Residence
73% of students live in the campus residence halls, and 82% of faculty live in campus staff lodging. The rest pursue housing in Ponkapoag Lake Region towns or commute.
There are over 12 residence halls along the east shore of Deepview Island with a variety of room styles available. Every student is provided with a bed, desk, and basic school supplies. Adjustable indoor lighting is provided by radiant rune-stones; style of fixture depends on residence hall. Outdoor lighting is provided campus-wide by bioluminescent plants, the everlumens. There is no curfew and no pets are allowed. Every student floor is overseen by a floor manager who reports to a hall manager. Faculty lodging has no such management system.
Amenities in all residence halls include a ground floor student lounge, dining hall and retail cafe, wireless holo-array access on CAN, self-service laundry, central air, aerogel insulation, vending machines on every floor, and beach access. Each diner has specialized food stations that cater to a variety of diets, and some operate bars. The Gaian Academy is not a dry campus.
Positions, Hierarchy, and Leadership
Students are able to run for student government positions in GAS, the Gaian Academy Senate, which is responsible for representing the student body’s interests. A certain number of seats proportional to current year admission rates and graduating class year are reserved to ensure equal representation.
Faculty are divided between the Academy administration and the academic staff. Since the bureaucracy is large by necessity of managing the student body, the following is not an exhaustive list of faculty, but an overview of the most notable positions in descending order:
- Chancellor - The figurehead of the Gaian Academy, appointed by the regent from a pool of cardinals put forward by the Temple of Gaia.
- Provost - Represents Terrenus' governmental interests in the Academy. Appointed by a general from the ranks of colonels from the Terrenus Army.
- Board of Trustees - Elected officials consisting of Gaian Academy masters and alumni.
- Headmaster - Appointed by majority Trustee vote and unanimous agreement by the Chancellor and Provost.
- Departmental Deans - Heads of the various departments that run the Academy's programs of study.
- Faculty Senate - In charge of representing the faculty and having a voice in policies that affect employees of the Academy.
- Masters - Distinguished professors who are capable of sponsoring students.
- Professors - Tenured teachers that are hired full-time, primarily for their research.
Assistant Professors - Consisting of post-graduate students who either help teach lower and mid-level subjects or work as lab assistants.
- Donovan Cutler
- Lecturers - Adjunct teachers or guest lecturers who run temporary seminars.
Only GAS has access to anyone above the Headmaster through a process of petitioning.
The Gaian Academy is divided into several departments with their own buildings and various programs of study. Each department is headed by a dean. Students may elect employees of their department to the faculty senate. Below is a list of departments and some examples of topics students are able to study, purely for the sake of inspiration:
Dept of Natural Science - Mana mechanics, elemental phase theory, psychometry and retrocognition, arcanospheric climatology, alchemical botany, aberrant biology and cryptozoology, spirit conjuration.
Dept of Engineering - Magitech development, materials enchanting, ley line architecture, natural resource extraction, transportation systems, sanitation and waste disposal, computational casting and spell informatics.
Dept of Medicine - Psychic surgery and mindsculpting, exorcism, biomedical alchemy, geomantic healing, metagenetic therapy, preventative apotropaics, diagnostic divination, organic nanomedicine.
Dept of Physical Education - Adventuring and wilderness survival, dungeoneering, martial arts and self-defense, officer training, somatic spellcasting, physiognomy, metaphysical therapy.
Dept of Social Science - International diplomacy, incantation and rune linguistics, cultural assimilation of Unnaturals, socioeconomic impact of recent disasters and policies, effects of cutting-edge magic on jurisprudence, demography and bestiary studies, interdisciplinary approaches to improving and providing social services.
Places of Interest
Academy Keep - Functions as the Student Services building and houses the Academy's warp gate. After the World Fair, it's been prettied up to the point where it resembles a gaudy Temple of Gaia, which is its secondary function. After the Academy was rebuilt, many of the fortifications were deconstructed. The school's geothermal and ley-line power grids are maintained in the keep's underground.
Botanical Garden - Primarily indoors, the botanical garden spans several greenhouses that feature basic plants for herbology to advanced alchemical reagents. It's the most colorful place on campus and a popular chill spot for picnics.
CAN - Campus area network and the Academy's server system. Augmented and virtual reality are currently experimental technologies in development. At the moment, the only campus-wide augmented reality feature enabled is leaving digital notes that can be divined or read using most magitech.
HMS Expulsion - The Academy used to have its own ship before it was destroyed in the undead attack. Several enterprising students lashed the remains together with various pontoons, buoys, and other flotation devices lost in the attack or to the various floods. At least three containers deep, the raft-like amalgamation is home to one of the Ponkapoag Lake's biggest gangs, Maelstrom.
Hologlobe Cafe - Bistro attached to an extensive multi-floor library that features large interactive holographic globes at every table. Here, students can browse the Academy's secure CAN on larger devices while eating or studying.
Flooded Catacombs - Buried dead from the island's ancient past were used in an undead assault on the Academy over a year ago. The catacombs from which they rose have since been flooded. They're marked by a perpetually clean, white obelisk that was erected as a memorial. Acting as a lightning rod for prayer, the flooded catacombs are full of holy water that feeds consecrations into the lake.
Gymnasium - Part of the Dept of Physical Education, the gym has all the expected equipment for conditioning, endurance and strength training. The floor space is reserved by hour or day for various activities that utilize some of its more specialized areas, such as the sparring rings—the only place on campus where violence is permitted. Although the entire school is magic proofed, the gym is extra fool proofed for reckless meatheads.
Leaf Green Dive - The Academy's bar, dance floor, karaoke parlor, and only specific party spot. It's run by a bunch of social science alumni who claim to be providing a social service to the island—by containing all the rabble. Its namesake is from students getting chloroplastered. A drink invented by the owner in her elective alchemy final can turn people green. They call it Leaf Green because you'll leave green.
Liar Studio - A studio donated from the World Fair, incorporated into one of the post-graduate reisdence halls that uses the new LIES (Luminous Illusion Entertain System) technology. It features illusion-based animated shows, some of them created by students who are eager to get involved in the industry.
Mana Collider - The Dept of Natural Sciences has a piece of technology that slams enchanted particles and microspells together in various media to see what happens. Conspiracy theorists say that the mana collider will open a warp gate-like rift and usher in the end of days.
Mindswitch Game Room - Medicine majors created a room in their residence hall where occupants can switch minds and bodies. Ever tried a bluffing game with someone else's face and voice? Or how about twister while switching to a new body every round? The mind switch disengages at will or upon leaving the room.
Transit Station - Due to various risks and upkeep costs, the lightning rail and bridge projects were abandoned. The transit station is on the west coast and harbors ACV hover-ferries constructed from leftover train cars that will take students across the Ponkapaoag Lake Region. Transit station employees are trained life guards and can cast exposure protection, haste and underwater breathing spells on students upon request.
War Tree - An attempt to genetically reproduce the sanctuary-creating trees of the Peaceful Woods. It had the opposite effect. The War Tree inspires aggression, and as such has been transplanted to a remote location on a tiny islet offshore. Students often use the excuse, "But the war tree made me." to get away with brawls that happen in its proximity. It's been brought up in bio-ethics committees nation-wide as an example of GMOs gone wrong and Terrenus' incomplete understanding of metagenes.
People of Interest
Buskers - After the World Fair, a few street performers from the Blairville gypsy market stayed behind to ply their trade. Now there's various competing student performers lead by rival gypsies that travel across the archipelago spreading amusement.
Campus Security - Consisting of students studying at the Depts of Physical Education and Social Services as well as professional security. Student security focuses on arbitration and de-escalation; they are not permitted to engage in fights, but they reliably end the vast majority of campus disputes. Professional security forces and rapid response teams can deploy a variety of non-lethal countermeasures in addition to negotiators to resolve the most serious student incidences. The most common measure is the invocation of the student signed contract of conduct, which compels surrender.
Dungeoneers - A student activities group that travels Terrenus to create or improve dungeons rather than adventure through them. One of their graduating projects was to create lairs for frost giants in the Great Pine Barrens during the Cold Snap. They've been criticized for providing homes to a pest, but those critics can hardly argue against the fact that the frost giants lately prefer napping in their dungeons than attacking villages.
Maelstrom - Displaced adolescent gang-bangers from Last Chance that have brought the defunct drug trade with them. Although most recreational drugs are legal in Terrenus, Maelstrom undercuts the legitimate sale of taxable narcotics, lifts pharmaceuticals from the Dept of Medicine, and on the down low sells some of the most dangerous and unattainable milspec combat stims on the grey market. They have taken over the HMS Expulsion.
Ranger Squads - An eclectic combination of rangers from the Terrenus Army specializing in aquatic, urban, and wilderness settings can often be found patrolling the campus perimeter or in the Academy Keep. They are skilled in all modes of ranged combat, including the use of bows, crossbows, dart launchers, and rifles, and are well known for their high-level charm and holding spells. Not technically part of campus security, the rangers are often called to deal with animal control, but their main purpose is to defend Terrenus' national security interests on campus.
REAP - Regeneration and Environmental Action Project. After the failure of HERB (Historical and Ecological Research Bureau) to fix the island, REAP formed from the first batch of Academy alumni with the goal to restore Deepview Island to a habitable condition. Their plan was successful. Now plants can grow and animals no longer avoid the island.
Virseq Acrologistics - The only megacorp that runs in the Ponkapoag Lake Region. It has its own island several miles north from the Academy for its corporate headquarters—looks like a fancy resort for the ultrarich. They have near complete control over the flow of goods in the region. Students are instructed to be wary because Virseq are known patent trolls. Virseq corpmages specialize in mass transportation spells, and their guards are some of the best in the business.
War Fox - Local mythology tells that the War Fox was born from a fruit of the War Tree. It's not a fruit-bearing tree, but nobody has a better explanation. Not unlike the foxes of the Peaceful Wood, this singular vixen appeared after the War Tree's transplant. Ponkapoag Lake hunters have reportedly killed the War Fox three dozen times, but no body has ever been found, and she always reappears. Unsurprisingly, War Fox sightings are often bad omens, and students are instructed never to follow her.
White Prism - On the surface, White Prism is a religious organization that appeals to the local flavor of Gaian sensibilities, which aren't always orthodox. Its name was inspired by the memorial obelisk above the flooded catacombs. The underbelly of White Prism contains elements from religious intolerance to hate crimes fueled by outdated sanctimony. They're responsible for the hazing ritual called warbaiting, where new students are lured to the War Tree and duped into fighting.
In 20 AO, the Ponkapoag Lake Region signed the RUG (Regency United Governance) bill, creating a political district from previously disorganized communities. Upon approval, the newly elected regent earmarked funds to join NUT (National Universities of Terrenus) for the purpose of establishing federally funded higher education opportunities.
After a couple of years of organization, Odin, the King of Terrenus, personally traveled the country with a group of teachers. They ran guest lectures for promising young minds as part of the King's annual religious pilgrimage and inspections for military establishments. After accumulating a large following, he directed them to the newly minted Gaian Academy in 23 AO. Taking advantage of the notoriety and involvement of Odin's cabinet, the regency attracted several top researchers to establish themselves away from the grind against the status quo in the megacities.
Despite earning a reputation as an elite university, attendance fell after a series of catastrophic events. During its rise, several headmasters were hired and fired due to failures of management. In 25 AO, an insane student conspired with Unnaturals to lead an undead attack on the Academy. Deepview Island was blighted and reduced to rubble, although the majority of students and faculty escaped unharmed. Although it slowly began recovering as of early 26 AO, an environmental disaster called the Cold Snap caused violent nation-wide climate change. Incursions by frost giants in the regency made travel conditions even more dangerous.
Had it not been for the World Fair in Q4 26 AO, a massive event showcasing the latest and greatest in Terran inventions, the Academy might have gone under. Instead, the influx of tourism funds caused rapid growth and investment opportunities. Rumor has it that the government contract for the World Fair was subject to an intense bidding war; the scales were tipped by the estate funds of a deceased Peacekeeper who used to be a teacher and the avarice of Virseq Acrologistics, which became a monopoly soon after.
It's now 27 AO and the Gaian Academy has produced its first batch of promising alumni and is ready to raise the next generation of geniuses (that's you, beautiful).
- Gestalt: A student named Cassandra collects a strange assortment of items then travels to the flooded catacombs with a friend in the middle of a stormy night. Here, she murders the friend, breaks the catacomb obelisk, and creates a monster with the power of a compressed hurricane. With this monster, who she names Novaculi, Cassandra destroys the residence buildings, the Academy Keep's Warp Gate, and damages a good portion of the transit station, before escaping to Ponkapoag's shore.
- Public Safety I: Donovan and Marian, among other students in Professor Volturn's Public Safety class, are tasked with gathering information on the nearby Spire. Their journey to intel proves to be a trying one that takes them through violent protestors, an attack on public transportation, a riot at a hospital, an exploding corpse, a criminal hamlet aboard a flotilla, and finally the Spire itself. The students can't bring the Spire down but find the message, the key to its destruction, and pass it on.
- Carpe Florem: This is the transitional thread which saw the necessity to expand the Academy from a structure with some outlying fields, to now cover the entirety of Deepview Island. Thousands of students died, were reanimated by foul necromancy, and subsequently placed into stasis, pending a cure for the Unnatural disease forced on them. Virtually all assailants were laid to waist by modified Gladius missile strike and the remainder were sniped from the shore by Terran soldiers or crushed by a sweeper team of GL-17RX golems.
Edited by supernal