Puerto de Maio, Morocco, is host to the University Consortium Project. The largest cooperative research project ever initiated, the Consortium is a collaboration of both funding and scholarship by Oxford University in England, Harvard University in America, and The Sorbonne in France. The Consortium was founded in response to the simultaneous discovery of a magical Locus and early-dynasty Egyptian crypts in Puerto de Maio. However, as significant discoveries continued to be made there (such as the Clocktower and its strange effect on technology), the Consortium has expanded its charter to include many disciplines. Departments include Ancient Studies, Galvanism, Anthropology, Necrology and Metaphysics. Originally, the Consortium planned to include the study of Magic in the Ancient Studies Department, but there is word that faculty for magical research may instead be organized into a separate department of their own. There is also rumor that a Philosophy department may be funded to support scholars in the popular philosophical branch known as Parallelism.
The Moroccan Sultanate has graciously granted Consortium faculty living space in the Puerto de Maio's Royal Residences (which provides accommodations for local and visiting dignitaries, among others), but the Departments themselves do not have permanent building space. Each of the founding universities has contributed faculty, researchers and graduate students to each department, although some departments are more heavily staffed by one university or another. Most departments have been founded on grants from private patrons, government organizations, the founding universities themselves. These grants provide the necessary funding to support the various research projects that are already underway. In addition, the Consortium has included in its mission statement an invitation to any and all academics, researchers, and interested professionals from the various Consortium disciplines to come to Puerto de Maio and contribute their expertise. Interested parties have been instructed that in most cases, limited funding does not allow for the creation of additional paid positions. However, certain portions of department grants are earmarked as compensation for those who materially assist on the various projects and researches. The Consortium has also suggested that those who wish to participate directly should book passage to Puerto de Maio and, upon arrival, apply directly to the faculty of the various departments. Travelers may also wish to send advance notice of their arrival addressed to the University Consortium in Puerto de Maio, attention of the appropriate department or faculty member.
Please Note: You may begin the game as a professor (as well as a student, researcher, etc.), however you may not start as a faculty member of the Consortium or any of the founding universities. You may be a student from a founding university, you may have lectured at one of them during your career, etc., but you may not have previously held a position through which you would already know other members of the faculty.
Descriptions of individual departments are below.
Ancient Studies Department
Ancient Studies Department
The Ancient Studies department has been referred to by its detractor as "Dr. Frankenstein's Department" due to the fact that it is an amalgam of several heretofore uncombined areas of study, namely: Egyptology, Classics, Phoenician Studies, and Archaeology. This merging of sister subjects has caused a certain degree of internal strife and stress, particularly for Dr. William Lesko of Oxford who has the dubious fortune, thanks to both Oxford's large endowment to the department and the good professor's own recent fame for discovering the mortuary texts of Queen Hatshepsut, of being the titular head of this assemblage of related fields. Although they jockey for funds and position amongst themselves, like all good siblings all the Ancient Studies scholars invariably rally together when in conflict with another department, particularly Anthropology for whom they harbor no small degree of scorn - Dr. Lesko was once overheard to refer to that branch of study as "intellectual Philistines who ignore physical evidence in favor of namby-pamby hand-holding with the noble savage".
As Phoenician Studies is a poorly understood and underpopulated field, it is no wonder at all that its most prominent scholar, Dr. Ipheginia Bodel of Brown University (here in Morocco through her connections to Harvard, which is a source of some consternation to more than a few of the Harvard scholars present), is just a smidge defensive about her area of specialty. She has been known to pick quarrels with anyone whom she feels has academically slighted her (once going so far as to hurl a bust of Napoleon through the stained-glass window of a professor of Classics who referred to Dido as "that Carthaginian hussy") and as such is not terribly popular among her colleagues, although her knowledge and skill are well-respected in all circles. It is rumored that Dr. Bodel was "invited to take a sabbatical" by the head of her department at Brown shortly after the aforementioned stained-glass incident. Her assistant is a rather put-upon young graduate student named Ula Cramer. Poor Ula is also newly the assistant to Dr. Archambault de Raousset-Boulbon, a Roman Archaeology professor from the Sorbonne, due to the mysterious disappearance of his assistant, Laurent Pioche some several weeks ago.
Since the discovery of the Loci, the Archaeology section of the department has been, in the words of one Violet Kirkegard of the Ladies' Adventuring Society, "a veritable scholarly apiary." Among the many archaeologists seeking to make a name (or at least a published article) for themselves are Dr. Clarinda Fourcade of the Sorbonne, whose skill with a trowel is only exceeded by the sharpness of her tongue when berating a hapless assistant (they seem to come and go with an alarming rapidity), Sir Elsworth Blenkinsopp, whose excavations of the Roman port of Ostia have earned him a professorship at Oxford and whose daring exploits so colorfully published in recent editions of the layman's journal, The Armchair Archaeologist, have earned him the admiration of many ladies of society, and also Arval ap Maddock, a Welsh-born graduate student from Harvard with a wry, sardonic sense of humor who has come to Porto de Maio to research his doctoral thesis on the evolution of sacred spaces throughout the many cultural changes in the island's long history. Arval has of late been trying to help the overburdened Ms. Cramer with her duties but since he expressed his fondness for Aeneas (the perfidious lover of Queen Dido in Virgil's epic: The Aeneid), has been banned from Dr. Bodel's presence, thus making this task considerably more difficult.
Classics is perhaps the second most well-represented sub-group after Archaeology and indeed there is sufficient overlap between the two groups to make a good argument either way. In addition to the noted Dr. de Raousset-Boulbon, there is Dr. Ackerly Featherstonehaugh (pronounced "fanshaw") of Oxford, whose particular specialty is the Roman Empire. His current project is studying the interaction (particularly religious and cultural) between the Romans and the local tribes and has been speaking extensively with many of the natives in an effort to learn what he can from their oral histories.
Although gifted with no mean amount of money by the various supporting universities and museums, the Ancient Studies is also the darling and beneficiary of certain circles of dilettantes, among whom it is considered the height of fashion to affect an interest in cultures long-dead. As having a bevy of patchouli-scented, caftan-wearing socialites with more money than sense following one from trench to trench, hovering over ones shoulder when one is making scarp drawings and interrupting every three minutes while one is attempting to translate an Eighteenth Dynasty stele is not conducive to productive scholarly work, the various members of the Ancient Studies department have taken to foisting said socialites upon each other and attempting to make good their escape. One especially persistent group, the Grand High Society of the Black Ibis - whose founder is believed by some to be the reincarnation of Thuthmosis III, has been exceptionally problematic for the scholars. Dr. Lesko seems to be a particular target of this group as he is known to be a specialist in the reign of Queen Hatshepsut and a great admirer of the intrepid monarch -- in fact he has a particular interest in Porto de Maio ever since a funerary figurine with the name of his favorite ruler was found on an expedition a few months ago. His assistant, Beresford Hume, once came upon some members of this order trying to break into Lesko's office and was chased about town by a particularly unpleasant Society member for seven hours. Hatshepsut was an 18th-dynasty pharaoh who was one of the handful of female rulers in Ancient Egypt. Her reign was the longest of all the female pharaohs, and her funerary temple still stands as a tribute to her incredible rise to power. Although it has been almost three and a half thousand years since Hatshepsut usurped the Egyptian throne from Thutmosis III and his re-taking of said throne decades later, the Order of the Black Ibis still appears to be holding a grudge.Back to top
Galvanism is the study of the electricity produced by chemical action (usually metals and liquids, as in a Galvanic battery). The most exciting developments in the field focus on investigating Galvanic action in animals, and especially the therapeutic application of electricity to the body.
Originally to be called Mechanology Department, the Galvanism department has been named in dedication to Doctor Devlin Wyeth, the most famous scientist in the field of Galvanism at this time (both for his genius and for his eccentricity). Dr. Wyeth has uprooted a good portion of his offices and laboratories at the Sorbonne to continue his studies on "sabbatical" in Morocco. The founder of the famous department by the same name at the Sorbonne, Wyeth earned an early reputation for using himself as the subject in most of his experiments into the electrical impulses carried by the body. Upon arriving in Morocco, Wyeth immediately took up a rather reclusive residence in a large but ramshackle mansion in the vicinity of Puerto de Maio. In the last few weeks, he has not been heard from - though this in and of itself is not unusual, as his past experiments have been known to last up to several months during which time the sound of crackling static electricity and the occasional shriek were the only noises heard. A true eccentric, there are wild rumors about Wyeth, including one that claims he has augmented a good portion of his own physiology with galvanic implements such as wires, magnets and battery leads. A throng of research assistants, technicians, graduate students, and volunteer test subjects have followed him to Morocco, in hopes of catching a moment of this now-famous man's time. It is well known that he accepts no one into his research programs who does not have a "healthy sense of physical and metaphysical curiosity", and many of his assistants and experimental subjects work for him for free. The doctor seems to have acquired a cult-like following among many of the younger devotees of the field. A permanent laboratory has been established for the department, though it is in the afore-mentioned mansion owned by the eccentric Doctor Wyeth, who has so far kept an erratic schedule of open hours at best, and none at all of late.
Other scientists in the field of Galvanism are scant, as many "serious" academicians consider the application of Galvanism to human research to be bunk. Wyeth himself is known to have excellent, if not entirely disclosed, backing, and thus the resources available in this department are considerable and quite tempting to even those who think Wyeth a quack. A few colleagues in the related field of mechakinesiology, or the study of mechanized and motorized devices and their interaction with animals (specifically humans), plan to join the good Doctor in Puerto de Maio, although it is no secret that they are disgruntled that the department has been named after the narrower field of Galvanic studies. Of course, the Doctor disagrees entirely, saying that on the contrary nothing could be more encompassing than the field of Galvanism, which (according to him) includes the study of the grand electrified motor which is the human body, and which supports and furthers the study of countless related fields such as mechakinesiology, biology, medicine and in particular surgery, and many areas of metaphysics. Wyeth even claims that with finely tuned mechanisms in place, it should be possible to contact the spirit world, have foreknowledge of future events, and even visit the future itself.
In addition to Wyeth, two graduate students in Mechanology have arrived in the department.. Mechanology is the realm dedicated to designing and fashioning devices of moving parts, usually powered by steam or battery, and used either to enhance quality of life (such as pocket watches, sextants, and such), or in, well, reduce it (as in small mechanized incendiary devices). Philip Parker and Eugenia Graves have been a team dating back to the mid 90s, when they met during Eugenia's first conference speaking engagement at the age of 16. Eugenia and Philip are both attending Harvard, in various stages of doctoral work. A recognized prodigy at a young age, Eugenia is working on her first advanced degree, while Philip will likely soon receive a third Honorary Doctorate from Harvard. Inseparable, these two have come to Puerto de Maio mainly to study the Clocktower and the related gearworks that have been found in the area. It is rumored that while Ms. Graves may be planning to base her doctoral thesis on this amazing device, Philip is reported to have been seen be eyeing it, wrench in hand, and muttering, "I just want to see what makes it tick!"Back to top
On the eve of the birth of his brand new Department of Social Anthropology at Oxford University in 1910, the Professor R. R. Marett could hardly resist the call to scholarly arms drawing him far from home to the islands off the coast of Morocco. The indigenous population was heretofore unstudied, with a wealth of unique ethnological information to be gathered and analyzed. Marett was among the first in his fledgling field to focus on social anthropology. He believed the origin of religion to be neither naturalistic, nor metaphysical, concentrating instead on a psychological analysis of religion. The Parallelism movement was of particular interest to him for having so recently gained such rapid popularity amongst diverse populations around the world. In Morocco, Marett intends to focus his attention on the cultural foundations and ethnology of the Berbers.
Marett is politely disdainful of archaeologists. His view of them is summed up as follows: Archaeologists retrieve bones and trinkets, while Anthropologists apply cultural relevance and intellect to the understanding of people and their societies. To that end, Marett brings with him his most promising student, the American, Ernest Albert Hooton. Hooton is a small, myopic young man - self-described as a scholar from birth. He is well schooled in the classics, as well as ancient languages. Hooton is fascinated by physical anthropology. A master of measurement and statistical analysis, Hooton has his own interest in Morocco - specifically in the Canary Islands. It is rumored a large area of remains can be found from the ancient inhabitants of those islands. Such a large skeletal assemblage is a very rare find and, if it is truly there to be found, a morphological analysis of those remains would make his career. Hooton is actively pursuing a position at Harvard and a find like this would seal the deal for years to come.Back to top
Predictably, the Necrology Department has refused to release any information about their faculty or projected projects in Puerto de Maio. Those funding the department are as tight-lipped as the department faculty itself. Speculation would suggest that those who have come to Puerto de Maio to study Death Sciences were drawn by the graveyard. This rare example of a burial ground in Puerto de Maio may show a complete linear record of the invading cultures which occupied the area over several hundred years. Members of the Necrology Department are believed to be engaged in collaborations with Phrenologists in the Metaphysics department as well as Archaeologists and dig teams of the Ancient Studies Department. Wild rumors circulate about these cryptic scholars, connecting them with the Adventurer's Club, the Millennial Society, the Grave Dancers and even the Harvesters of Set. However, there is no way to substantiate these reports - apparently, no one will in Puerto de Maio will admit to even being a member of the Necrology faculty!Back to top
The Metaphysics Department unifies several distinct disciplines under a single umbrella. It is rumored that not all of the disciplines are happy to be so grouped together. The most commonly-heard complaint is that some of the metaphysical disciplines are hard science and some are pseudoscience-but it is a subject of heated debate as to which is which.
There appears to be a particularly fierce rivalry between the astronomers, astrologers, and archaeoastronomical geomancers. In addition, the other disciplines do not appear to be pleased at the inclusion of Mesmerism and Astrology in the department.
Specific disciplines included in the Metaphysics Department are outlined below.
Phrenologists believe that the shape of a person's skull reflects the shape of the brain beneath and can therefore be used to predict his or her personality, strengths, and weaknesses. The skull is divided into sections, with each section corresponding to a specific characteristic. A subdivision of phrenology, physiognomy studies facial characteristics such as the shape of the nose, forehead, lips, etc. Phrenologists use a variety of calipers and other instruments for practicing anthropometry, or "head reading."
Since phrenology depends heavily on the study of skulls (real, live people being noticeably reluctant to submit their skulls for examination), the phrenologists at the University have struck up a useful collaboration with the Necrology department. They have also been observed speaking with the Galvanism department.
The representative of the phrenology discipline is Richard Peake, an English phrenologist. He is accompanied by Dr. Lydia Fowler, a medical doctor from a distinguished line of phrenologists.
Cryptozoology is the study of undiscovered (or possibly imaginary) animals known as "cryptids." Cryptids under study range from Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster to "mythical" beasts such as dragons and unicorns, as well as elusive creatures such as big cats in Australia.
The cryptozoology department at the University is particularly interested in studying drawings of certain potentially unusual creatures that appear in the hieroglyphics found in the graveyard and crypts in the vicinity. University gossip suggests that they have approached the Egyptologists in the Ancient Studies department to propose collaboration. They have also been seen talking to members of the game hunters branch of the Adventurers' Club about accompanying them on expeditions.
Geomancy and archaeoastronomy
Geomancy is the study of the flow of power through the natural world through lines of energy known as "ley lines" and veins of underground water. Geomancers use "dowsing" with a dowsing rod or pendulum as a way to identify these energy flows.
Archaeoastronomy is a form of geomancy that studies how ancient cultures oriented sacred places in relation to the movements of the sun, stars, and moon (e.g. Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, etc). Experts believe that by studying the way that the sun/moon/stars move and interact with the earth at different points of the year, it may be possible to identify "gateways" through which we can move from one dimension to another.
The University was particularly fortunate to acquire an expert in Colonial Archaeoastronomy from the Sorbonne, Marc Laroux. Laroux has won a grant to study the structure and alignment of the graveyard and crypts, which he believes may be designed along archaeoastronomical lines. Accompanying Professor Laroux is Associate Professor Octavia Cree, specializing in classic geomancy and dowsing.
Astrologers study the influence of the stars and other celestial bodies on people and human behavior. Astrologists believe that, with proper study, celestial phenomena can be used to predict human behavior, as well as future events and trends.
Astrologists at the University have been overheard speaking with contempt about the astronomy department, who they believe have enslaved themselves to Science at the expense of everything truly important and meaningful in the field.
The astronomy discipline uses scientific methods such as mathematics and telescopes to study the stars. The astronomy department considers itself the only true science in the Metaphysics department-indeed, perhaps in the entire University!-and is outraged at being grouped together with "these charlatans and pseudoscientists", as they have been overheard calling them. They return the disdain of the astrologers, who they consider quacks.
Mesmerism, clairvoyance, and spiritualism
This discipline is devoted to the study of how the invisible or spiritual world interacts with our own. Spiritualists study subjects such as clairvoyance and precognition and communication with the dead through techniques such as hypnotism and mesmerism.
The sole representative of the discipline at the University is Visiting Lecturer Theodore Carlyle, an American. Carlyle is an extremely well known and dynamic figure in his field who is known to have been invited to mesmerize several important world leaders. There are rumors that he corresponds with Rasputin in Russia on certain academic topics of mutual interest.
Rumor has it that many of the other professors in the department strongly object to the inclusion of this discipline with their own, more scientific studies. Moreover, the fact that there are no permanent tenured professors in the discipline has sparked talk that the University does not fully support the mission of the discipline. It is whispered around town that Carlyle retains his foothold in the University through the influence-and perhaps the money-of a powerful political figure.Back to top
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