Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Power and the Academe

"It is perhaps pertinent to consider the manner of man who has become the new specialist. He lives in a materialistic age, where comparatively small interest is given to absolutes. He is a man of charm, wit, sophistication, but no profundity. His ideals are not abstract. His field of endeavor, if he is a scholar, may be mathematics or one of the physical sciences; but it is a hundred times more likely to be a phase of what loosely are called humanistic studies: history, sociology, comparatives, symbology, esthetics, anthropology, the varieties of experience, penology, education, communication, administration and coercion, not to mention the morass of psychology already trampled by generations of incompetents, and the still unexplored wilderness of psionics.

There are also those who, like the author, ensconce themselves on a thunderous crag of omniscience, and with protestations of humility which are either unconvincing or totally absent, assume the obligation of appraisal, commendation, derogation or denunciation of their contemporaries. Still, by and large it is an easier job than digging a ditch."

-Jack Vance, The Demon Princes.

The State is a byzantine and many-headed organization, with only pretenses toward democracy.  However, it is less under the control of the Nyx Cluster or the other core worlds than is popularly supposed.  In fact, the levers of State power are firmly in the grip of the intellectual elite.  They are known as The Academe.

The Academe is a sort of meta-university, and also a militarized think tank.  The State Navy, in fact, is not entirely distinguishable from the Academe's military sciences division.  All officers are professors or graduate students, and military actions are often styled as research projects, practicums, or lab work.  The following are the divisions of the Academe.  It should be understood that these are literally organized as university departments, with cross-disciplinary students and all the rest.  Mortarboards are out of fashion, in that they are not compatible with vacc suit helmets.  As such, cloaks, capes, half-capes, or mantles with appropriate coloration or decoration are used.

The College Nephilim

This is school for psychics.  It is effectively the same as The Black House, although part of the Nephilim's staff are engaged in poaching psychics from every world that will tolerate them.  The color of the Nephilim is a shimmering blue-green.  They are entitled to a gold-embroidered symbol for each discipline in which they have Mastered the third-level power.

The College Athena

The Athenians are the students of war.  The most visible and celebrated component of this college is the department of space warfare, but they are enthusiastic defenders of every martial field, from judo to small-unit tactics to orbital bombardment.  The color of the Athenians is Void, a fabric so black that it reflects no light whatsoever.  Those who have received primary credit for published, peer-reviewed work of original research are entitled to wear a silver skull as a brooch and/or embellishment on a personal sidearm of their choice.  

The College Weyland

This is the college of design and engineering.  All Weyland students and staff wear a Metatool with insignia covering their level of attainment, and their color is a red-bronze.  Typical engineering tasks are, of course, handled adequately well by planetary colleges and technical schools.  The Weylands specialize in astrotechnology and megascale engineering.

The College Gaia

Fields of study in this college include life sciences as they are generally understood, in addition to xenobiology and terraforming.  The last two are considered the hot topics.  The colors of the Gaians are dark green, with a double-helix trim for those who have published original research.

The College Apollo

This is the medical sciences division.  It is the smallest of the colleges, as medical training is considered adequately provided by planetary medical schools.  However, it does include specialized divisions of parasitology and epidemiology, which are considered to be of special concern for spacefaring civilizations.  The Apollonian color is white, with a crimson Caduceus for the professors.  Apollonians are never without their bioscanners, which are always white with a crimson caduceus.  They will also typically carry a medical kit if they are on-duty.

The College Mnemosyne

This school is often criticized as a catch-all or miscellania, but its original purpose was to house sciences that were largely done on paper rather than with heavy equipment.  The various departments can no longer be separated into a more sensible organization because none of them will tolerate being the ones kicked out.  The major departments include philosophy, mathematics, information and game theory, (human) sociology and psychology, (human-created) cyberpsychology, computer sciences, history, (human) linguistics and anthropology, history, literature, communications, political science, et cetera.  The color of the Mnemosynes is purple, with a variety of seals for various accomplishments and areas of study, which they jealously squabble over.  Do not mistake this college for harmless academics, they have produced a number of highly skilled spies and assassins, and their graduate students and professors dominate the political scene.

The College Discordia

This is the school of finance, management, accounting, etc.  The hottest field in this college is the Weaponized Economic Studies department.  The color of this college is, obviously, Gold.  This college is absurdly well-funded, and indeed produces much of the support for the Academe as a whole.

The College Echidna

This covers all of the Xenostudies.  Xenolinguistics, theories of political and social science as they apply to alien sapients, histories of alien species, etc.  Often cross-disciplinary.  The color of this college is dark grey, and may be decorated with a black icon for each alien species for which they have a peer-reviewed publishing credit.

The Office of Promethean Studies

Every successful academic career must take at least a taste of that most ambrosial of all pursuits...field-work.  No published paper, wine-heavy dinner party, or affair with a starry-eyed protege can be considered complete without a few exciting anecdotes from field-work with the Promethean office.  This office conducts all of the State's Prometheus Projects, the massive public-works and education initiatives designed to increase the tech level of an entire inhabited world.  Those members of the Academe who have successfully contributed to the Promethean Studies division are entitled to a flame-red trim about their cape.

As a note in generating NPCs: Any member of the Academe proper (as opposed to support staff) will be at least level 2.  People gain education and experience in planetary organizations, and then apply to the Academe.  This doesn't entirely apply to Psychics at the Black House, for whom there is often no undegraduate program available, and for whom the State is voracious.  Persons with Master's degrees or Doctorates will almost always be fifth level or higher.  The tweed-clad professor from the Athenian college has likely killed many men, and that monosword he carries is probably not for decoration.  The highest-ranking officials in the State and many planetary governments are usually also staff or students in the Academe.

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