Focused and methodical
Vauban winced slightly. "I hear they prefer to be called students," he said carefully.
"Ha!" Frederick was in a volatile mood, full of dangerous energy and enthusiasm. "I wasn't talking about the students. Most of them actually want to get something out of their education. They're ambitious. I was talking about the professors, all too keen to rest on their laurels and just teach people by rote. Half of the professors I know haven't had an original thought in the last decade."
Vauban shook his head and rolled his eyes behind Frederick's back. The master architect's caustic opinion of his fellow academics had made him few friends at the University. The man himself just considered this to be more proof of the limited vision and thin skins of his so-called peers. Many of the students privately found it entertaining, especially when the Master Architect used his acerbic wit to puncture one of the less popular professors in a public altercation. They regularly speculated that far from quitting the Civil Service in pursuit of greater challenges as he claimed, he'd actually been thrown out by the Consitutional Court for his sharp tongue and inability to suffer foolishness.
"Obviously I don't want to appear over-cautious," began Vauban taking a different tack. "But they're not small projects and..."
"Iron triangle." Frederick interrupted testily. "Cheap, fast, or worth a damn. Pick two."
"That's not really an answer though is it?" Vauban tried again.
Frederick was paying him no attention. Instead, he was gazing out across the water to where Menno van Ritsjhof's newest design was being made manifest. He had his hands raised, framing the scene, chewing his moustache with a speculative look in his eye.
Sensing an opportunity, a young Freeborn lass launched into an engaging spiel about the fine fruit she was selling. Vauban had not realised quite how hungry he was - Frederick was an early riser who considered breakfast to be a trick designed by the slothful and lazy to steal an hour of the day away from the ambitious. Money changed hands, and Vauban leaned against a wall to slice up and eat his oranges.
He had no clear idea why they were in the City of Sails. Over the last few months they had visited each of the League cities; the White City in Bastion; beautiful Seren; the bustling grand market town of Meade; far Kalpaheim in the west; and even made the trek to chilly Gildenheim, City of the Orcs. Siroc was impressive enough, it was true, but it was hardly a place Vauban associated with "academic excellence." With the Winter Solstice barely two weeks away, Vauban was beginning to feel a little homesick for Holberg.
As Vauban finished his breakfast, Frederick pulled out his notebook and began scribbling furiously in it, occasionally glaring accusingly at various buildings along the waterfront.
The younger man threw the remaining peel aside put his knife away, and joined his mentor by the railing.
"We'll need to dredge part of the harbour, obviously," Frederick was muttering to himself as he wrote, "and we'll need something a sight more durable than canvas..."
He paused for a moment, staring intently at something only he could see, his dark eyes flashing, his expression one of absolute focus. After three long heartbeats, he snapped his notebook closed, slipping it into a pocket an running one hand through his salt-and-pepper hair as a broad grin swept across his features.
"But it can be done." He finished confidently. "It can definitely be done."
He appraised Vauban speculatively as if seeing him for the first time.
"Thoughts!" he barked. "I assume you've come up with some while you were wasting your life eating oranges?"
"Is now the best time to be working on universities?" asked Vauban a little testily. "Only the Empress has obviously declared that white granite..."
"Not my problem", interrupted Frederick breezily. "I'm the genius who designs and builds the things; someone else will have to deal with the politics. Anyway! We're done here,"
The master architect patted the packet of papers he had tucked inside his jacket. "We'll spend the rest of today putting together my proposal for Siroc, and then tomorrow morning you'll find us a boat to take us back to Sarvos. Time to head home I think."
As Frederick took off along the quayside back toward the inn where they were staying, Vauban hurried to keep up.
"I think they prefer to call them ships," he said. It was part of his job to challenge Frederick and his assertions whenever possible and he liked to give good value."Ships!" Frederick barked a laugh, gesturing expansively around the docks of Siroc. "When our new school opens - assuming that's what they decide they want - they'll blush with shame at the idea that they ever called these things ships!"
- 1 Overview
- 2 Statement of Endeavour
- 3 Holberg University
- 4 Diora University
- 5 Lepidean University
- 6 Siroc School of Shipbuilding and International Trade
- 7 Summary
- 8 Resolution
Last season, Frederick di Sarvos offered an opportunity to the Cardinal of Ambition, Viviane de Coeurdefer of Dawn. The talented architect offered to design something impressive under the guidance of the Cardinal and present his proposals at the Winter Solstice.
In her "Statement of Endeavour", Cardinal de Coeurdefer, of Dawn suggested that Frederick might design ten prestigious colleges, one for each nation, and quit his tenured seat at Holberg university to travel the Empire teaching aspiring architects. The architect has refused both requests - he is interested in creating ground-breaking new works of architecture - not spending his days giving away the skills he has spent a lifetime mastering. He is also dismissive of the idea of building a university in every nation. He points out that a university needs a bustling local population to support it - which means building it in a city. The Empire could build a university in a tiny steading in Hercynia, but it would be nothing but a giant folly. What he has done instead, inspired by her request, is spend the season touring the Empire visiting already prestigious centres of learning with an eye toward turning one of them into something truly notable.
He has since returned to his offices at Holberg university and has presented the results of his work. Specifically, propositions for several truly Imperial centres of learning, which he is prepared not only to plan but also to oversee construction on. As might be expected, each proposition is ambitious - but also expensive. Indeed, all four of his proposals require significant amounts of white granite which might prove problematic in the current political environment.
Statement of Endeavour
Frederick has assessed several locations and created a list of proposals. He makes it clear, however, that he is prepared to bring his talents to bear on only one of these projects. As he says, "the pinnacle of ambition is to be 'the best, not to be first among equals or some such rubbish."
In each case, Frederick di Sarvos has already secured permission from the faculties involved to oversee their renovation provided permission can be secured. The Imperial Senate can choose to commission one of these projects. An Imperial Wayleave could not be used to commission a college since they fall outside the legal restrictions on wayleaves.
Thanks to Frederick's expertise, the project would not count against the Empire's limit of nine commissions and three wayleaves each season. Should more than one of the projects be commissioned, Frederick has made it clear that he will work on only the first to be successfully raised.
While working on a project, Frederick would not be available for other work - but he has mentioned that provided the work goes well he is minded to offer the Synod another opportunity to place a Statement of Eneavour.
The master architect is patient, but not infinitely so - he has after all a significant number of wealthy patrons interested in his services as well as his teaching responsibilities at Sarvos university. If the Empire has not begun work on one of his projects by the start of the Winter Solstice 384YE, he will move on to other projects. He may still offer another Statement of Endeavour if none of his proposals are taken up, but it is far less likely.
The civil service has noted that the requirement to begin construction may be problematic given the amounts of white granite involved. It has been suggested that it would be possible to meet Frederick's criteria by providing the weirwood, mithril, and labour costs required thus demonstrating a commitment to the project. That should be enough to ensure the architect's interest is maintained, provided that the white granite arrives a season or two later.
Holberg University is often viewed as the foremost centre of learning in the Empire, established long before the city joined the League. Renowned as a centre of medicine and engineering, long years under siege have left its facilities for less practical subjects - history, the arts, theology - somewhat diminished. Still, in the years since the liberation, the university has recovered somewhat and is still a favoured destination for those with the money or the raw talent to win a place at this most prestigious of institutions. It is also where Frederick di Sarvos enjoys his tenured position as a lecturer in, and Chair of the faculty of, civilian architecture.
The university is already one of the most respected in the Empire; Frederick's proposals would transform it into a wonder not only of the Empire but potentially of the world. He intends to leave the central buildings largely untouched, but built four additional smaller faculties in different parts of the city dedicated to medicine, engineering, the arts, and the natural sciences. The art campus in particular would be built as part of Holmauer Park, expanding on and incorporating its beautiful design. Indeed, he plans to request that Katarzyna Von Carstein take the lead on that section of the project, while also mentioned the possibility of liasing with Caerwyn Von Holberg of The Feasting Crow, the proprietor of Wunderkind, to contribute their ideas for the faculty of engineering.
Expanding Holberg University
Frederick's plans for Holberg University are not cheap. The project will require 60 wains of white granite, and 30 wains of weirwood. The project would take six months to complete, and require 180 crowns of labour costs.
The expanded university would have an upkeep of 10 Thrones each season to the Senate Treasury.
The Frederick di Sarvos Faculty of Architecture
The most ambitious part of the project, however, involves building a tower-faculty dedicated entirely to the study and practice of architecture. The building would be a five storey tower which, judging by the preliminary sketches, would incorporate the brutal solidity of Temeschwari architecture with the sweeping towers of Sarvos, the decorative woodwork of Tassato, and the cunning design aesthetics of Holberg into a single harmonious whole.
Holberg already attracts engineers and architects from across the Empire; the Frederick di Sarvos Faculty of Architecture would cement Holberg as the place to study. Yet Frederick is not interested in a purely theoretical syllabus; students and faculty alike would be expected to put their ideas into practice as well.
Once the project was completed, the Senate would gain the ability to assign the Faculty to work on a commission each season. That project would not count against their normal limit of commissions each season. The faculty comes with a single restriction; it is not prepared to work on projects that use less than 30 wains of Bourse materials, since they could not guarantee that their students would learn anything by working on such a project.
To ensure that the commission is able to serve as a practical project for research and teaching, the architects and their students will need the right to make some changes to the plans provided to them by whoever commissions the work. For the most part these changes will be entirely cosmetic, affecting the aesthetics of the building rather than its purpose. Nothing inappropriate or unvirtuous of course, but the faculty might decide to include a tall spire, a grand entrance way, marble columns or the like, improving the architectural value of the commission without affecting its function.
Of course the best and brightest might sometimes produce a design that would change or improve the purpose of the building. That would normally require approval by the Imperial Senate, but Frederick (who has some experience dealing with Imperial Senate commissions) suggests that any Senate motion to commission the Faculty could grant the ability to accept variations recommended by the staff to whoever directed the Faculty as part of the necessary details of the commission. That would avoid wasting precious Senate time. The details of the proposed improvements would be published by the civil service as part of the information issued to everyone attending the summit, so the Senate could always abrogate the commission in the unlikely event that they were desperately unhappy with the proposed changes.
The commission could be explicitly assigned by Senate motion each summit or the faculty could be assigned to support a wayleave. Alternatively the Imperial Senate could choose to create an Imperial title, the Chair of the Faculty of Architecture, as part of the motion. The Chair could be given control of the commission provided by the university, as well as being responsible for representing the students and professors of Holberg University at official functions.
Wunderkind and Leger Domain
One unexpected side effect of expanding the University would be a significant benefit to the Wunderkind and the Leger Domain resources. Both of these prestigious businesses would gain an additional, permanent, rank of upgrade at the point where the project was completed, representing significantly increased opportunities to trade with the expanded university.
The university of Sarvos, Diora University, has had a rocky few years. Following the Grendel invasion, and subsequent liberation, the University apparently encountered financial difficulties. These monetary concerns are now resolved thanks to generous donations from citizens of the League and Highguard, but it cannot be denied that the college has seen better days.
Frederick has proposed completely rebuilding sections of the university; expanding the current campus by ruthlessly demolishing some of the older and more decrepit buildings and replacing them with new structures. The original university campus was - with the best will in the world - something that grew up naturally over time rather than something actually designed. Frederick will have none of that! By selling off some of the satellite buildings, and rebuilding a series of tall, airy towers around the current central administration buildings, a new university with a strong emphasis on the arts, humanities, and international politics could be created.
Renovating Diora University
The degree of construction required here is significantly more extensive than that for Holberg University. Frederick also plans to incorporate the Sarvos aesthetic of placing polished mirrors on the roofs of important buildings - and he will settle for nothing less than mithril for these mirrors. The project will require 60 wains of white granite, 60 wains of weirwood, and 60 wains of mithril. It will take a year to complete, and have labour costs of 45 Thrones.
The college will require an upkeep of 15 Thrones each season, as detailed below.
The Diora University College of Autumn Magic and Dramaturgy
More than perhaps any other settlement in the Empire, Sarvos has a reputation for drawing visitors from all over the world to its docks. Diora has always attracted a number of foreign students, but Frederick intends that the new university should focus even more on appealing to the scions of foreign families. At the same time Sarvos has some of the oldest troupes of magicians active in the League. With the tragic destruction of the Halls of Knowledge by the Druj, Frederick has publicly stated that there is an opportunity to create a more centralised faculty for the study of magic. He proposes that it be built as part of Diora University.
If the proposal is accepted, the Diora University College of Autumn Magic would function like a standard college of magic, specialised in the study of the Autumn realm. As part of the international flavour of the university however, the faculty would attract not only students but also professors from foreign nations with whom the Empire enjoys friendly relations. As such, it would be drawing on a separate pool of talent to the other Imperial colleges of magic. The upkeep of the college would be fixed at 15 thrones a season - but it would have no impact on the upkeep of any other college of magic in the Empire.
Furthermore, there could be additional benefits to mixing many different approaches to magic - both Imperial and otherwise - at a college specialised in the study of the magic of travel and communication, prosperity, trade, and influence. It is hard to say exactly what they might be, but there are potentials for opportunities to increase the rate of study for rituals with the aid of foreign magicians; insights into the techniques of foreign magical traditions; and perhaps even access to innovative (or questionable) suggestions for rituals to codify presented by foreign professors.
Regardless, it is likely that a college of this nature would create a small improvement in diplomatic relations with the magicians of those nations already friendly to the Empire.
OOC Note: Obviously one concern with this college would be the potential for espionage; it is not our intention that this opportunity be a "gotcha" for the Empire. As such, while individual students and professors might be assumed to have learned rituals at the college this is in no way equivalent to the effect of a Declaration of Dissemination and would take place entirely below the abstraction layer.
The Diora Chair of Dramaturgy
Creating a college of magic will certainly create an Imperial title (Frederick has airily suggested The Diora Chair of Dramaturgy). The Imperial Senate would need to determine how this title would be appointed. The most well worn path would be a Declaration of Candidacy by the Imperial Conclave but that is by no means the only way that it could be appointed.
It could be treated like the old Provost of the Halls of Knowledge, and made a national appointment of the League. While the easiest way to do this would be to allow the business owners of the League to appoint it each season, it may also be possible to appoint it via the same method as the Master of the Imperial Mint and the Regario Dossier - open auction for League citizens with the money going to the treasury. Alternatively, given Autumn magic's clear emphasis on trade and commerce, it would be possible to declare the college an Imperial position in the Bourse, appointed by public auction each season, with the title available to any citizen prepared to pay the money.
Regardless, in addition to the usual magical responsibilities and powers associated with a college of magic, the Diora Chair of Dramaturgy would also be responsible for making decisions about, or receiving briefings on, and of the opportunities presented by the international flavour of the college.
College of the Liberated
One possibility the Civil Service have identified might be to combine the new Diora University buildings with the remote camps of the College of the Liberated in Trivento. This would abrogate the existing title Dean of the Liberated (currently lapsed), but would also allow the College of the Liberated to deal with many more students each season, giving a modest increase to the amount of money it produces each season.
The League is not the only place where scholarship prospers, or where a university might prosper. Highguard arguably has an even longer tradition of scholarship than Sarvos, albeit with a very different focus. When Nicovar burnt the Lepidean Library during his rampage, he destroyed what at the time was the most respected college for the study of the Way in the Empire. Today, a public park occupies the ruins of the library. Frederick proposes restoring the Lepidean University to its former glory.
Leaving the park intact, Frederick imagines building entirely new structures to enclose the park entirely. He has confirmed that owners of the buildings that currently abut the park are supportive of the idea of creating a new monument in keeping with the majesty of Highguard. The new university would study not just philosophy, morality, and religion but all the those topics that exalt the human (and orc) spirit - the arts and humanities.
Restoring the Lepidean Library
Frederick's project will require 60 wains of white granite, and 30 wains of weirwood. It would take six months to complete, and require 180 crowns in labour costs.
The new university would have an upkeep of 20 Thrones each season from the Imperial treasury.
The Lepidan Library
The Lepidean Library would be the finest example of its type in the Empire - a library dedicated to collecting the accounts of exemplars and paragons. The Heirs of Lepidus - expert scholars on this topic - are apparently excited enough to plan to move their entire stock of books to the project with an eventual intention of abandoning their modest chapter house in Woodbury to join the faculty full time.
This library could create an Imperial title - the Lepidean Librarian - that would have the power to direct the research of the scholars here. This would function effectively as an additional historical research opportunity for the Empire that could only be used to investigate the lives of paragons and exemplars, or to look into the details of past life visions. The Senate could declare this title appointed by the Imperial Synod, or given its location an focus, the Highborn national assembly.
Alternatively, they might judge that as a title related to historical research it should be appointed by the Senate in a similar manner to the Minister of Historical Research, or they could chose to amend the Minister's powers to incorporate the new ability to direct the Library.
The Heirs of Lepidus have pledged that if the title is made a Highborn national appointment, then with the permission of the benefactors of Highguard they will contribute the remaining funds they were given to cover the entire 180 crowns in labour costs, and pay the first season of upkeep on the new university.
The Garden of Atun
As part of his proposals, Frederick includes an extensive garden which includes resources for the refinement of liao. A university of religious study will require a great deal of liao as part of its curriculum, and it makes sense to produce that material as part of the facilities. With some of the finest experts on the creation of liao in the Empire brought to join the faculty here, the process could be further refined and enhanced.
The civil service predict that if the Lepidean University is built, it will provide one additional dose of true liao to the Empire each season. There are several ways the Senate could deal with this.
As part of the motion to create the building, they could define that the liao would be added to that assigned by the Gatekeepers each season. Alternatively, they could decide that it would be auctioned publicly alongside the existing dose of liao auctioned each season. They might instead choose to give custody of the dose to the Lepidean Librarian, to use as they see fit in the pursuit of knowledge.
Siroc School of Shipbuilding and International Trade
"If I say I'm going to build a school... then in 200 years it will be one of the most prestigious buildings in the Empire, bet you real money."Frederick di Sarvos
Frederick's final proposal is significantly different to the others, but perhaps even more Ambitious. It is easy, he argues, to take an existing university and make it the most prestigious in the Empire. Far more challenging would be to establish something entirely new, and watch it grow. With that in mind, he has proposed the establishment of a school in Siroc dedicated to the study of shipbuilding and the arts of international trade, on the premise that it will serve as the seed from which a college will grow that will ultimately challenge Diora or Holberg for students..
Unlike the shipyard at Atalaya, this new school would be dedicated to innovation more than industry. Furthermore, it would be built in Siroc - and enjoy the protection of the Salt Guard fortress designed by Menno van Ritsjhof, thus making it significantly harder for the Grendel to burn it down.
Constructing the School of Shipbuilding would require 30 wains of Weirwood, 20 wains of White Granite, and 10 wains of mithril for the creation of specialist ship-building tools. It would require 120 crowns in labour, and take six months to complete.
The school would have an upkeep of 5 Thrones each season to the Senate Treasury representing among other things the salaries for expert professors, access to materials for students, acquisition of ship plans, and the like.
There is no need for the College to have an Imperial title associated with it. If the Senate wished, however, it could stipulate that a suitable title be created with responsibility for the School of Shipbuilding and International Trade. The most obvious path for appointing such a title would be through the Imperial Bourse - either as a Freeborn national position appointed by fleet owners or as an Imperial position auctioned through the Bourse. One of Frederick's aides has pointed out that an obvious alternative to creating a new title would be to stipulate that the existing Imperial Fleet Master might potentially be granted responsibility for the School, which has obvious military as well as economic implications.
The School of Shipbuilding
The new college would focus not only on the study of geography, languages, history, and politics, but also on maritime skills including navigation, piloting and ship-building. He envisages an extensive faculty dedicated to improving Imperial understanding of ship design. With suitable funds available, it might be possible to attract experts from the Sarcophan Delves or even Asavea to teach at the college, as well as providing scholarships to promising students. There would also be a practical element - a building yard and dry dock allowing students to develop their practical, as well as purely theoretical, skills.
The school would provide the benefits of a shipyard. The dry dock would allow it to engage in naval construction, and built in conjunction with the Salt Guard, it would allow Siroc to function as a refuge for any Imperial navy.
Crucially it would also encourage Imperial innovation in naval arts. As a consequence, any Imperial navy constructed at the School of Shipbuilding would have the opportunity to gain a quality - similar to the way in which a newly created Imperial army has a unique quality when it is completed. Once a single navy had been built here, any other Imperial navy constructed on the Bay of Catazar would likewise be eligible for a unique quality. In both cases, unlike a traditional army there may be some additional costs - most likely wains of weirwood or mithil - but the amount would depend on the quality to be provided.
The Ships of Sarvos
In the event that the School of Shipbuilding were commissioned, following the first season of construction a wave of renewed enthusiasm for naval endeavour would sweep the Bay of Catazar. One of the consequences of this would be renewed interest among the guilds of Sarvos in building the Sarvos Arsenal and Dockyard from the plans discovered in Autumn 381YE, making that opportunity again available to the Senate.
Frederick has made four proposals. He will design and oversee construction on only one of them, provided construction starts before the Winter Solstice 383YE. The commission will not count against the limit of commissions the Senate has each season. If construction is completed on one of these projects, Frederick will offer another Statement of Endeavour to the Synod.
Expanding Holberg University
- Costs: 60 wains of white granite, and 30 wains of weirwood. 180 crowns for labour. Six months to complete.
- Upkeep: 10 Thrones each season
- Creates the Frederick di Sarvos Faculty of Architecture, effectively giving the Empire an extra commission each season, provided the project meets minimum criteria. The commission overseen by the Faculty of Architecture may gain additional benefits depending on its nature.
Renovating Diora University
- Costs: 60 wains of white granite, 60 wains of weirwood, and 60 wains of mithril. 45 Thrones for labour. A year to complete.
- Upkeep: 15 Thrones each season (without changing the upkeep for any current or future college of magic)
- Creates the Diora University College of Autumn Magic and Dramaturgy, which functions as a college of magic specialised in autumn lore. Attracting international students and professors, it does not increase upkeep for future colleges of magic in the Empire, and may provide addition opportunities related to foreign magic or magicians.
Rebuilding the Lepidean Library
- Costs: 60 wains of white granite, and 30 wains of weirwood. 180 crowns labour costs. Six months to complete.
- Upkeep: 20 Thrones each season
- Provides two benefits; the Lepidean Library would allow additional historical research each season restricted to researching paragons and exemplars, and details of historical figures encountered in past life visions; and the Garden of Atun would provide an additional dose of true liao each season.
Create Siroc School of Shipbuilding and International Trade
- Costs: 30 wains of Weirwood, 20 wains of White Granite, and 10 wains of mithril. 120 crows in labour. Six months to complete.
- Upkeep: 5 Thrones each season
- Creates the School of Shipbuilding which both functions as a shipyard, and would allow the Empire to build navies with special qualities.
- Once complete, it would make the Sarvos Arsenal and Dockyard opportunity available to the Empire again.
During the Winter Solstice, the Imperial Senate heard a motion to construct the Naval Academy of Blood and Brass but ultimately that motion failed. While the Imperial Conclave considered a Declaration of Concord the supported the expansion to Diora University, they ultimately rejected it. Meanwhile, the Imperial Synod saw a Statement of Principle in support of the Lepidean Library from the Assembly of the Nine - but on the explicit understanding that the true liao it would produce would be assigned by the Gatekeepers.
In the event, none of Frederick's proposals was actually commissioned by the Senate; the opportunity is still ongoing. However, following a call to Inquisition by Ranae de Rondell in the Ambition assembly, Frederick di Sarvos has made it clear that he will not work on any of these projects until after the resolution of that judgement has taken place.