Collegium Profanum

“Ardua Veritatum” - Unofficial motto of the Collegium Profanum

The Collegium Profanum is a small school for those who are trying to discover the mysteries of the Fae; it is a rather informal organisation formed by those who have broken off from the burgeoning University of Oxford. Where traditional thought and contemplation has been sufficient to unravel some detials of the divine world, it has proven much less successful at understanding the inner workings of the world of Faerie. As such it has been become more and more accepted, by members of the college, that if any meaningful steps are going to be made in comprehending the Fae they must search the world at large for those willing to share those secrets. In short, the Collegium Profanum generally is not made up of cerebral thinkers - they have long since moved on to more fruitful pastures - but those willing to approach the oft mistrusted Seelie in the name of knowledge.


 "Sir Joseph Noel Paton - The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania - Google Art Project 2" by Joseph Noel Paton - Google Art Project: Home – pic Maximum resolution.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sir_Joseph_Noel_Paton_-_The_Quarrel_of_Oberon_and_Titania_-_Google_Art_Project_2.jpg#/media/File:Sir_Joseph_Noel_Paton_-_The_Quarrel_of_Oberon_and_Titania_-_Google_Art_Project_2.jpg

Since their arrival in our world little has truly been known about the nature of those known as Faerie. While scholars can comfortably place humans in a rightful place in God's hierarchy even the foremost philosophers have not yet been able to capture an understanding of the Fae. Very much of what is known - or presumed to be known - is twisted through rumour and folk tale, so while many believe they understand these beings the more learned are well aware of how little they really do. In the last half decade a handful of these more learned souls have begun to congregate in the great town of Oxford, where those studying the natural philosophies had already established a centre of learning1). For most of its short history the Collegium Profanum consisted of those like-minded younger, or more distant, heirs of nobility who have a passion to understand the world of the otherworldly.

The college's founders were three former students of the University of Oxford who, frustrated at the unwillingness of those teaching at the university to aid study into the nature of Faerie, set out to form their own institution. Isobel of Norwich, Gilbert Warde, and Matilda the Young envisioned a place of discovery and study where the English could hope to work together to become wiser when dealing with the Fae and turn this into advantage for the nation. Despite these principled aims the fledgling Collegium Profanum floundered at first, drawing no more beyond the three founders than those who could be counted on one hand; the high profile schism2) from the University had badly damaged their reputation. On top of these issues, the college struggled to find permanent accommodation - let alone anything approaching a Royal Charter. By attracting the young and impressionable the college survived: the meager existence that had to be eked out ensured that the college kept only the most dedicated.

In the wake of Eleanor of Aquitaine's crusade, the college has had a sudden uplift in their fortunes. Firstly the founders bowed to necessity and began allowing the talented among the lower classes to fill out roles left critically empty by those who had left to crusade, and secondly this reduced the size and clout of the establishment that viewed the Collegium Profanum as irrelevant and juvenile. Both of these allowed the college to act more freely and on a broader base to sustain their members and their passions. The most significant discussion was the discovery by Cuthbert Potter (the college's 'Librarian'3)) of a map which claimed to show the location of Tingatel Castle. Much discussion has been sparked among the now sparse and informal membership of the college of what to do if the map is accurate. Suggestions range from plundering the castle for it's fabled knowledge of the Fae to moving Collegium Profanum there in whole cloth so that they may finally act out of a robust base, and everything in between.

Culture and Custom

"Libraries in the Medieval and Renaissance Periods Figure 4" by Unknown - archive.org. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Libraries_in_the_Medieval_and_Renaissance_Periods_Figure_4.jpg#/media/File:Libraries_in_the_Medieval_and_Renaissance_Periods_Figure_4.jpg

The culture of the Collegium Profanum is very loose and disordered: not truly anarchistic in the way of outlaws but simply too small and too much in its infancy for a firm hierarchy to serve it well. Of course the founders are well respected by all members of the college - at least in public - and there are some others whose opinion may hold greater sway than that of the average member. This respect can be garnered by any number of ways that respect is often garnered, for example Cuthbert's recent discovery means that he suddenly has more people hanging on his word than was previously conceivable. Someone's favour is quick to rise and fall, and those resting on earlier laurels are often forgotten as newer and more interesting developments come to the fore. The members have taken to calling themselves the Profana. One of the more recent developments is to start taking correspondence from those about the country who have heard of the college, to expand the membership beyond simply those who live in Oxford. Opinions are split on whether this is a good thing, with one side claiming that having more people will allow them to grow quicker and do more, and the other side claiming that by not meeting these people in person they cannot truly explain their theories to the satisfaction of the Profana.

There are no lectures or classes held by the college, in the traditional sense, as so little is truly known about the Fae that trying to teach it seems like an effort in futility to many of the Profana. Instead, when one of the members believes that they have some new discoveries or ideas they will gather the Profana together to present it for discussion; this will take place in whatever space they can carve out and seeing a gaggle of the college in one of the taverns or bars of the town is not unusual to the locals. These discussions, in fitting with the Profana in general, are raucous affairs with the presenter having to defend their idea against a braying crowd of as many different opinions and viewpoints as people. Despite the apparent hostility of the affair the vast majority of the college will defend it as the best way to determine which pieces of knowledge and theories will stand up to criticism and which won't.

Major Players

"Entrance to Tintagel Castle - geograph.org.uk - 993488" by Sarah Charlesworth. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Entrance_to_Tintagel_Castle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_993488.jpg#/media/File:Entrance_to_Tintagel_Castle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_993488.jpg

  • Isobel of Norwich: One of the founding members of the Collegium Profanum, Isobel is outspoken, passionate, and (by any reports) incredibly naive. Those who have moved in similar circles as the college from the beginning say that it was Isobel's motivating influence that caused the group to be formed in the first place, and without her it would have likely died many years ago. Those who have interacted with the Profana from afar, or those new to the college, will likely only have met Isobel out of the three founders: she provides the closest thing they have to a public face, and brings it upon herself to greet all new members personally.
  • Gilbert Warde: The oldest of the founders, Gilbert is rarely seen to interact with the rest of the college if he can at all avoid it. The Profana's opinion of him varies from 'stuffy old man' to 'wry trickster who always has something he's not saying' and you'd get as many different views as times you asked about it, even if it was the same person you were asking. It is commonly accepted wisdom in Oxford that without Gilbert the college would have collapsed within weeks: even if they couldn't say why. One thing that is constant is that when Gilbert offers advice or critique - a rare occurrence in and of itself - it always has surprising merit.
  • Matilda the Young: As the final founder, Matilda has always been a force driving the Profana outwards: it is not a secret that the Faerie are out there in the world, and it is Matilda above all urging that the college must go out and interact with them if they are to have any success. Within the college she's known as a ruthless pragmatist putting the need for them to achieve their aims above smaller problems: without her there is no way that the Profana could have survived as long as they have. She is currently leading the argument that the college's operations should be moved to Tintagel Castle permanently if Cuthbert's map proves to be accurate.
  • Cuthbert Potter: As the 'Librarian' of the Collegium Profanum, Cuthbert's remit appears to cover any and all odd jobs that the college need doing - at least until some books and a place to keep them are sourced. A warm and jovial figure, he lacks the layer of pretense that all three of the founders manage to maintain and as such is the most well known figure in of the Profana in Oxford. Admittedly growing up there as a Potter's apprentice helped, and family ties going back many years mean that he is invaluable in keeping the college in good shape while they are in and around Oxford.


Note: Rank +1 is not available for the Collegium Profanum faction

Marked (-2)

One morning, after a late evening of discussion with the Profanum, you awoke with a shocking black mark on your body. It is very obviously not naturally occurring, and is certain to arouse suspicion: if the wrong people see it… well let's not dwell on that. It's best to just hide it, and try to work out how and why it's there in the first place.

OOC: Please tell the GMs what the black mark on your character looks like (nothing too complex) and where it is. It should be in a location that could be relatively easy spotted if you weren't taking efforts to conceal it. e.g. back of the hand, forearms, neck

Rank (Collegium Profanum) (+2)

You command the respect of many in the Collegium for some reason. Perhaps you have discovered a theory which has rather caught on, or your expeditions to hunt for important fae sites and artefacts are the in thing. This doesn't mean that your theory or expedition is right per se, just that people are more likely to listen to your ideas.

1) Henry Plantagenet having banned the English from studying in the University of Paris years earlier
2) If such a word is appropriate for as tiny a split as this one was
3) He would be the first to question how one can be a librarian with no library and no books
college.txt · Last modified: 2015/10/09 09:17 by gm_jen
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