In many ways, the Collegium exemplifies what non-mages think of all magical organizations. Arrogant, stuffy, mysterious, powerful, inscrutable, unpredictable - something to be respected, but more so something to be feared. The roots of the Collegium have been lost to time, and even in its present form, reliable information on the school is scarce.
A school of magic so old, its members are sometimes loathe to admit other traditions exist at all, no one truly remembers the origins of the Collegium. Or, if any of the school's oldest members do, they have never spoken of it to any outsider. Given the name and its strong presence in Rome, it is often hypothesized that the Collegium began in the glory days of the Roman Republic or Empire. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the name was chosen due to a general preference in Europe for Latin in academia, either as a name for a new organization after the fall of Rome or to rename an even older school of magic. The most fanciful claims point all the way back to Mesopotamia as the original home of the Collegium, though few believe this credible.
Organization and Style
The Collegium is primarily made up of liches and vampires, though the rare spellcasters of other types of undead are certainly welcome. Mortals are disproportionately less common, as their short lifespans are considered insufficient for a “proper” study of magic. Of those mortal applicants who are accepted, elves and dwarves rarely apply, but are often accepted, and mortals born with necromantic powers of any race are typically accepted if they otherwise qualify. It is unclear whether this is because the undead feel some connection with humans gifted with powers of decay and shadow, or because they merely expect all such members to strive for lichdom eventually. It is true that, spurned by their communities as necromancers often are, they rarely inherit any cultural stigmas against unnaturally prolonging one's life. As there are so few organizations and places that are fully trusting of necromancers, a large proportion of those born with such powers eventually do wind up members.
One might expect such a school to have an exclusive focus on death magic, and while it is true that the Collegium admits to more necromantic tomes than any other magical tradition, and must have troves more hidden away, its curriculum is actually quite broad. After all, the school prides itself on an ancient heritage of strong education, and its history even hints at a time before the undead focus of the current organization. Many students are attracted by the necromantic power, of course, but others come because one can be confident that, whatever particular area of magic one wishes to focus on, the Collegium will have ample resources for it. Of course, this only encourages the Collegium to be even more exclusive in its acceptance of mortal spellcasters, and even some undead students have to apply multiple times before receiving entrance.
Unlike the regional focus of the other traditions, the Collegium's largely undead membership tends to cluster its power in those cities with large undead districts. While this places Collegium offices in such great cities as New York, Chicago, Paris, London, and Cairo, their influence rarely spreads far beyond the city boundaries. The headquarters of the Collegium as a whole lies in Rome, and no one can say for sure when it was first built.
This general rule has one major exception: Russia. Due to the influence of Rasputin on the young tsar, the Russian Empire is largely considered to be a puppet-state of the school itself. While this is far from the first time the traditions have involved themselves in political matters, it is the most direct control in known history. The ultimate outcome of the civil war in Russia is still unclear, but observers both mundane and magical remain concerned about the potential far-reaching effects of the unusual political formation.
Relations to Other TraditionsEdit
The Collegium rarely officially cooperates with any other Tactician school, viewing itself as in a separate class altogether. That said, its ideology has certain connections to that of al Mushtamir that can lead to professional relationships between members of the two organizations.
Of course, in Russia, there is a much more direct conflict with al Mushtamir, the Sentinels, and even Trotsky's unusual branch of Qigong. Thus far, this hot war between the schools has remained geographically confined, but it is certainly exacerbating what have always been unfriendly relations.