Friday, September 18, 2020

The College of Deans

(Contains repeated material from earlier posts.)

Lo, let me tell you a tale of belligerent academia - the formation of the College of Deans by the Dueling Statues - from the annals of Wizard City history.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, the Archmages of the Hand had a very big problem: the Departments of Wizard City University had gone to war. Not a figurative war, mind you, but a very actual one. What started as a typical argument over allocations of funding for facilities renovations escalated into full-blown civil conflict, complete with biological, chemical, and magical warfare as yet to be witnessed on the good green earth.

Trenches were dug in the gardens between lecture halls and offices. Students were mobilized by their professors into companies and battalions by class units and academic majors. The entire Freshman Composition Class was massacred in a surprise ambush by Organic Chemistry 201. The History Department (which to this day doesn't recognize the end of hostilities and still fields guerrilla partisans deep within the Graduate Library) committed atrocities so terrible that no journalist had the stomach to report. Dean against Dean. Brother against fraternity brother. It was a costly war of attrition with no clear victor, and no end in sight until the Archmages stepped in to settle the conflict.

"Swift Administrative Wastage" (S.A.W.) - the program instituted by the Archmages to reorganize the Deanships, a top-to-bottom approach of administrative reform involving "permanent retirements" (assassinations), "reallocation of university resources" (envelopment and starvation), and "administrative censure" (mass executions).

The end result was that the Archmages no longer had confidence that the various Deans could be trusted to manage the Departments - they had too much independence, too much power. The war had been devastatingly costly, and a repeat could likely result in a collapse of the entire institution - Wizard City along with it.

And so, as a solution to this problem, The Dean was made. The Dean. The One Dean. A multitude of identical organisms all cloned from the same Dean-ish stock; trained from birth to be obedient to the command of the Archmages, charismatic enough to woo wealthy donors, powerful enough to keep order among the rebellious faculty and student population alike, the sentinel of the campus - The Mighty Dean of Deans!

Where once there were many, now there is but one Dean. The clones now roam around campus, acting as judge and jury. They are potent peacekeepers: expertly trained in abjurative magics and nullifying fields. Each is as strong as a professor, and they act with perfect coordination and a singular resolve. The entire force of two hundred can be mobilized in mere minutes to counteract any threat to campus, external or internal, with brutal efficiency and potent magics.

The original Dean - Dean Prime - supposedly resides still within the depths of the College of Deans, stewing in an arcane pool of bovine blood, pieces of flesh carved from his body to form more Deans grown in bubbling vats. Within the College a legion of his clones administrate the university: keeping students in line and the agenda of learning clear, balancing budgets and allocating funds to Departments that the Archmages find worthy and loyal.


Chief among The Dean's duties are assessing security risks to the University, in lieu of the history of the Great Departmental War. As such, The Dean keeps tabs on various cults around the University, and reports to the Archmages their potential for escalation.

To be on the Dean's List means one of two things:

1) The Dean believes that your academic excellence is great enough to constitute a security threat to the university, or...

2) You have joined one of the following University Cults, and hence share a security threat collectively with all members of your group.

University Cults

Organization Type
Threat Level
(According to The Dean)
Church of the Spoon
Religious Organization
These people really, really love spoons...
High Modernist Society
Administrative Fraternity
The Illuminati seeking to forge the perfect city and preserve the status quo.
Sorority of the Cell
Student Fraternity
Biomancer pre-med sorority with a penchant for mad science.
Hypermath Cult
Faculty Society
Esoteric Math as a religion. Four sub-sects devoted to exploration of math and magic.
Black Magic Fraternity
Student Fraternity
Black magic bros engage in every kind of forbidden magic imaginable.
Eat the Rich
Psycho-somatic idea plague that causes viewers to cannibalize rich people.
The Thing We Can’t Talk About
Mimetic virus that replicates when talked about, causing people to turn into mindless wandering zombies.
The Other Thing We Can’t Talk About
Anyone who talks or investigates this tends to end up disappearing/disintegrating.
The Custodians
Staff Cult
The mysterious creepy janitors keep the university running by siphoning their works to The Clean God.
The Committee
Faculty Society
All graduate/honors students must face the masked faculty that will determine whether they graduate or die.
The Waking Eye
Student Cult
Secret student publication which writes exposés on other university cults.
Keepers of the True Time
Faculty Society
Members of the university who keeps track of the age of the universe in real time.

It Is Called: Church of the Spoon
Type: Religious Group
Threat Priority: Low

"All Hail The Spoon!"
Thus sayest the Spoon Pope.
They hand out fliers in the city squares. They make monuments to the Spoon. They say that "everything is spoon" given the right lens. They say that the universe is shaped like a spoon, and that everything, down to the last atom, is constituted of spoons. They worship the spoon. They wear spoons from their ears, and eat nothing but spoon-shaped things with spoons. They spoon when they sleep. They make spoons obsessively, and spread their wonder wherever they go. They have single-handed collapsed the spoon market, making them cheaper than dirt, literally.

1. They regard The Gigamancer, capable of summoning one billion spoons (among other things) in a single instant, as some sort of demiurge or avatar of the All-Spoon - their proverbial god, which is more or less The Universe in entirety.
2. The entire endeavor was actually a student prank that got way out of hand. It's original founders, long since excommunicated, have gone on record saying that the whole thing was 'a joke', but nobody cares.
3. There is a hidden hierarchy to the church, with Spoon Priests and Spoon Bishops, going all the way up to the Spoon Pope, who sits upon a throne of spoons.

It Is Called: The High Modernist Society
Type: Professional Order
Threat Priority: "None"

A secret cabal of architects, politicians, and city planners devoted to the formation of the 'perfect' city. It is both the least threatening-seeming of the cults, and the most dangerous. Its founders and members have massive influence in city planning: everything from spontaneous evictions to rent control to zoning laws to eminent domain.

They want to create the 'perfect' city, but what exactly that entails is kept totally secret to all but its highest members. The following conspiracy theories have been developed about their goals. If even one of them are true then The High Modernist Society deserves at least a High threat rating.

1. They have ties to the Providence Men. They even say that the Pyramid Heads pull the strings on their organization from the future, and that every project they influence is tilted towards constructing the monument of their power.
2. Their city planning is all in service of creating a massive magic circle. Everything from zoning to street layouts to ghetto formation to population control is all a part of an elaborate ritual - but what the end goal is nobody is sure.
3. They spur on riots to justify police force so that in the resulting crackdowns they can drive a profit through demolition and real estate development.
I read this recently, can't you tell

4. The slums and ghettos were created and planned by the High Modernist Society for the purpose of harvesting bodies for necromantic experiments. Nobody cares if someone goes missing in the slums, so it's the ideal harvesting grounds
5. It's highest members are actually magitech Artificial Intelligences, manipulating the city's people as pawns towards their goals of technological-magical Singularity. The tendrils of AI power seep throughout the bones of the city, and the zoning laws create a function of specialization to constitute citywide magitech computer parts.
6. The entire society is actually a plot of the Unter-Ooze to completely and universally take over the city via simultaneous plumbing infiltration (sewage, fresh water, bathing). High ranking members are just puppets of the Ooze, and will structurally fall apart under scrutiny. Hence the emphasis of sewer development from the Society.

It Is Called: Omicron Delta Theta (Sorority of the Cell)
Type: Student Group
Threat Priority: Medium

The notorious Biomancer sisterhood, whose name Omicron Delta Theta (ΟΔΘ) pictographically represents the splitting of the cell. Or maybe it's an owl. They like owls. This sorority has often been salaciously accused of incubating and birthing their own mad experiments. This is False (95% of the time). And those who slander the sorority often find themselves spontaneously developing simultaneous throat, eye, and brain cancer. Try being a wizard without those, scum!

The sorority house is located deep within the student ghetto, which gives them plenty of cover to hide their various illegal biomancy activities. The projects of the sisters range from:
"I've crossed a chinchilla and a puppy! LOOK HOW CUTE IT IS!",
to "I've developed a plague that causes people who ask too many questions at seminar to rapidly grow their bottom teeth up through their brain",
to "What if Cronenburg... But MORE?".

At first glance, you think the man on the platform is in control. He is not. Oh, he is not.

Like all rowdy fraternities and sororities, their parties are great. Just watch your drinks, lest you wake up with no teeth, an extra butt, and a unicorn head. If ever they are to team up with the Black Magic Fraternity, both of their respective Threat Priorities will automatically jump to High.

1. The Sorority has developed a highly contagious plague that will kill off anybody over the age of 30 with 99.99% lethality. The reason they're still around is because they're holding the entire city hostage.
2. Nobody becomes a doctor or a nurse in the city without some amiable connection to the Sorority. Those who cross the sisterhood often reach 'unfortunate ends'.
3. Those who survive the hazing rituals of the Sorority become immortal, it's just that the nature of the work they end up doing long after has a high mortality rate.
4. There is a beast that uses the sewers as its hunting ground. It is said to be half-man, half-crocodile, and that is was an aborted 'project' from the Sorority.
5. The Snakemen are actually a product of the Sorority's experimentation. It certainly fits their profile.

It Is Called: The Hypermath Cult
Type: Faculty Society
Threat Priority: Low

The Cult, whose upper echelons are based out of the Infinity Hotel, is nearly entirely devoted to the discovery of new means of math. They have a pseudo-public hierarchical structure, encompassing several semi-public levels of participation, and several more secret ones. The Cult itself is divided into several independent subsections, each devoted to some form of mathematics. These can be recognized by special secret gestures and acknowledgements, most of them completely harmless. Cult membership is denoted by Level, levels 1-5 being public, and levels 6-10 being secret.


The Logarithmancers are devoted to the study of logarithms, and how they might be used to access greater numbers. This sect, above the others, coalesces more power and practicality in its ranking members. Logarithmancers are known to have developed special LOG magic, allowing select members to blunt un-survivable attacks and conditions, such as falling from 100,000ft or withstanding a direct nuclear blast.

The Numerologismists [sic] are devoted to the study of the study of numerology. So, they don't study numerology per se, but rather study the creatures that study numerology - principally goblins, hobgoblins, and trolls - and mathematics systems derived therein. Being that they are often confused (and intentionally mislabeled) as numerologists, they've developed an acute sense of defensiveness surrounding their studies. Numerology is the lowest of sciences, after all, but studying those who study it is anthropology!

The Irrationalists are devoted to the study of irrational numbers. Being there an infinite number of irrational numbers, their work is cut out for them. They are an obsessive and devoted lot, composing a litany of human calculators, mad mathematicians, and artists. Their pursuit of irrationality often leads them down erratic and compulsive paths such as the development of misanthropic supersets, new math systems, and feats of eternal cruelty.

The Imaginarians are devoted to the study of imaginary numbers, complex numbers, and their various applications. There is a lot of drug use in this sect. Without the special drugs, they claim, one's brain cannot access the true Imaginary realm. As such, they tend to be a strange and ethereal group of scholars, far less obsessed with diligence and protocol as the other groups.

1. The Level 10 Logarithmancer, and a few of his Level 9 disciples, can survive a nuclear blast point-blank, such are the powers of his logarithmic magic.
2. The Numerologismists have secretly claimed they've discovered the Number Which Controls the Universe, but they're unwilling to share it, the pigs.
3. The Irrationalists have a secret bunker containing a legion of mad savants, furiously working night and day to produce the highest number capable of being expressed by humanity.
4. The Imaginarians are said to have a drug which shows you the True World. That would mean, of course, that this world is False.

It Is Called: Order of the Nine Eyes (The Black Magic Fraternity)
Type: Student Group
Threat Priority: Medium

The most notorious and infamous student group on campus. Nobody with good sense even walks down the same street as their frat house, even the poor mailman. The house itself - a monument and zoo to every dark magic that ever existed - is a cesspit of debauched insanity. At any given time, it is haunted by no less than three demons/ghosts/monstrosities/aberrations. It is filthy and trapped with all manner of cursed objects with apocalyptic implements on hair triggers - think the basement scene in Cabin in the Woods.

Like this, but a whole three-story house.

Like: Oh, you want to look in the bathroom mirror? Well, you just summoned an ultra-evil doppelganger of yourself that's going to kill everyone you know and love before gouging out its throat in front of your dissertation committee.

1. Despite the perpetual existential dread, the fraternity is surprisingly supportive to its members. Brothers frequently share resources and advice for summoning spirits and demons, rationalizing that the better they are at helping each other, the more horrible-ness they can bring into the world.
2. Their parties are bitchin', too, if you're okay with a moderate-to-severe amount of misanthropy and human sacrifice.
3.  If they ever team up with Omicron Delta Theta, then there will be absolutely no hope for the city to avoid an existential catastrophe.

It Is Called: Eat The Rich
Type: Memetic
Threat Priority: "High"

Source, also more good examples.
Eat The Rich is a memetic cult devoted to its namesake - cannibalizing rich people. It's followers include a litany of shadowy graffiti artist-magicians who decisively plant psycho-somatic-memetic text so that those reading it will immediately attempt to eat the next wealthy person they come into contact with. Servant class folk are frequently targeted for this text, along with close family members of intended targets.

In disproportionate response, several secret and non-secret police units have been devoted to its eradication.

1. Because this cult primarily targets affluent communities, it has been labelled the number one threat in Wizard City, despite only a few occurrences of wealthy-person cannibalism each year (several of which this cult's influence was highly debatable).
2. Some people have theorized that Eat The Rich is actually a puppet by the High Modernist Society to scapegoat any of their misdealings, but those people are dead.
3. Eat The Rich is, in fact, an organism which cares neither about eating nor the rich. The psycho-somatic components of its 'plague' are merely byproducts of its naturally-selected reproductive cycle.

It Is Called: "That One Thing We Can't Talk About"
Type: Mimetic
Threat Priority: Low

Several decades ago a plague swept through the city. At first, people reported seeing strange shadows dancing in the distance down long streets, recalling the appearance of a black cloth caught in a hot air updraft. Then, people reported seeing a black-robed man standing in the distance, staring at them. After that the reports stopped, and the migrations started.

"That One Thing We Can't Talk About" is a mimetic virus of an increasingly closer-standing black-robed man. Early stages of the disease include extreme paranoia and the compulsive desire to talk about the black-robed man, thereby spreading the disease. Late stages include suggestion and brainwashing, culminating in complete loss of free will as the victim begins to mindlessly march due east directly into the desert - to what destination nobody has found out, for subjects die of dehydration long before stopping.

The only way to cure the disease and to halt its spread is to never talk about it, hence all government denial that such hypothetical diseases exist. Despite this, there is a small segment of the population encompassing various amnesiac conspiracy theorists that keep the disease alive, even worshiping the black-robed man as some sort of messiah.

From Lawrence of Arabia
1. The Black-robed man is trying to tell us something. Hosts have sometimes declared they saw the man trying to speak, but producing no words.
2. The State actually perpetuates the plague as a means of eugenics and population control. After all, the lower classes are disproportionally affected by it.
3. Only those who have unjustly escaped prosecution from the law ever see the Black-Robed man, hence why it never affects the righteous wealthy.

It Is Called: "The Other Thing We Can't Talk About"
Type: ???
Threat Priority: ???

The Providence Men. Talking about them has a tendency of getting one mysteriously disintegrated. The Men come from the future where their rule in absolute, and they return to the past to ensure their future. Nobody has any idea what the rationale for the assassinations is, and the Men of Pyramid Heads aren't keen to divulge.

Despite this, there is a small cult devoted to their future rule. They are the only people who seem able to discuss the Pyramid Head Men without getting disintegrated, but only so long as their revelations aren't brought into the proper light. They can be identified by their special signet rings depicting the Providence Eye.

1. ???
2. ???
3. ???

It Is Called: The Custodians
Type: Staff Cult
Threat Priority: Medium

The Janitors. Nobody dares question how they work, not even the university administrators, but the halls remain clean and the trash empties, regardless of the lack of oversight. Do not look into their closets, for within are shrines to the Clean God, and it does not abide those who do not serve.

Those who gaze into the maintenance closets or accost and belittle the Custodians invariably first go mad, then go insane, then go missing. Where do they go? None would dare investigate, lest they too gain the dire attention of the Clean God.

Don't go in the maintenance closet.
By cinemamind
Only protocol will save you during interactions. If they ask you to do something, do it. Do not question the Custodians.  Do not impede their work. Do not follow them into dark hallways. Do not follow them in general. Do not make eye contact or converse with them, unless they made eye contact or converse first, in which case you ABSOLUTELY MUST CONVERSE! Just don't ask or question what they're doing.

And above all, do not go in a Maintenance Closet. Don't even look in it. Just get out of their way and let them do their work, and the halls and rooms shall be clean of filth. Rumors of the shrines within the closets are abound. Students claim to have snatched glimpses of the sculptures within.

An effigy: a blood-dripping ram's skull mounted upon a rib cage of brooms, intestines of mop heads falling out, eviscerated.
A shrine: knickknacks and discarded food, forming a collage of a smiling, cruel face. Black candles.
An abomination: an amalgamation of lint, fused to the far wall. It's maw opens wide. It beckons in with dust-choked gasps.
A body: squirming and suffocating within a trash bag, like a caterpillar in cocoon. Depressions where the mouth draws in breath. It tries to scream.
A pool: acidic rank, smells of lemon a thousand fold. Gloved, coiled hands reach from below the surface.
A vacuum: dark nothing. A horrible void. It draws you in, slow first then impossible to escape. The door slams shut. The cacophony is unbearable.
An abyss: a vertical portal, swirling ever deeper, stretching you out like a black hole.

1. The Custodians murder and dismantle the mad in the dead of night, cleaning up the mess perfectly and with total coordination long before the morning dawn.
2. They throw dis-satisfactory faculty, staff, and students alike into the maintenance closets when nobody else is looking, for the Clean God to consume as sacrifice.
3. They drown accosters in cleaning acid, simultaneously killing and dissolving the body, before pouring the remains down drains that none but they know lead where.
4. The Clean God is a misnomer. In reality, it is the God of Filth, for nothing can be cleaned without something else getting more dirty. The Custodians are agents of entropy - inescapable, the entire universe funneling towards its own dirty-heat-death. They are here to help it along.

It Is Called: The Committee
Type: Faculty Cult
Threat Priority: Low

My palms were sweaty. I'd been standing here, blinded by the auditorium lights for three hours. 'Better absurdly early than late', I'd thought. I didn't think how the idleness would affect my hands. Surely they'd notice. Surely they'd take note. I was a walking dead man, and all because I insisted on being early! Dead man. Dead man. Dead man!

I heard a click at the door. It caused me to jump, then fumble frantically with my papers as I nervously tried to avoid eye contact with the five hooded figures ritualistically seating themselves across an elevated bench. Where they sat it was dark. I couldn't even be sure they were there, 'til I saw a glimmer of brass emerge from the darkness. A womanly hand reached out of the dark.

She pushed forward a cup from her hand. It smelled noxious, of acute notes of mustard. My stomach wretched at the scent and sight.

"Drink from the cup." Said the woman.
"What? I-"
"Drink. And we will deliberate."

My heart dropped into my gut. Was this what the other students meant? Nobody had ever described a goblet before. Was this a test? Was this the test? Was all my hard work in preliminaries for nothing? Were they trying to sense my hesitation? Was I-


Without second thought, I lunged for the cup, and drank. It tasted smooth, like lavender. I remember being pleasantly surprised, and the horrified. There came a noxious aftertaste - a burning gas that fumed from my nose and mouth, like my head was a smoke grenade or a chemical show. I coughed and sputtered, before downing the rest of the horrid draught.

There was a moment of silence. A moment before I wretched. I could feel something caught in the back of my throat - a slimy certain something. It clung to my esophagus like a wretched baby; then, loosed by the spasm of my lungs and onto the floor. My eyes watering, I barely made out its green and black-spotted form. I blinked, and it became clear: a slug, or so I thought, colored of phlegm with eyes an iridescent black. A globule of spit dripped from my mouth to the floor, right in front of my superiors. What did it mean?

"You have passed your Preliminaries. We look forward to your research proposal in two months."

The Committee stood up, exiting the room one by one, leaving me alone on the floor, with a slug born from my lungs. It looked at me as if I had betrayed it. Had I? I don't know.


The fear and bane of all graduate students. The Committee is an cult of anonymous mask-wearing faculty that oversee and approve of graduate students' projects and dissertations, thereby welcoming them into the university as faculty. They should never be taken lightly.

A legit method at Committee gatherings.
1. If you kill a member of a Committee, at The Committee, you then take their place.
2. The secret methods employed by a Committee are unique and tailored to meet the weaknesses of each particular student. The odds are stacked against you. To overcome is the test.
3. The Committee picks projects not based on merit, but by those who would make the greatest human sacrifice upon reaching faculty level. What Dark Power wants professor's souls?
4. There are, in fact, no faculty behind the masks. There is nobody behind the masks. They are not people, and neither are you, if you succeed.

It Is Called: The Waking Eye
Type: Student Group
Threat Priority: Medium

It takes a cult to expose a cult. To that end was made The Waking Eye, the one and only truly legitimate student newspaper. All others are puppets, so sayeth The Eye. It reports on other cults.

There is ritual in the process of the free press. Many powerful forces constantly seek to intervene with the powers of journalism, that they may sway true word and proper discourse to their own selfish esoteric ends. The only defense against such occult forces is a cult devoted to combat them.

Identities are anonymous and ring-based, one member knowing no more than one other member. Intent must be proven by conditional-suicide blood pact. Any published word must pass the Waking Eye, lest lies propagate through the paper. The Eye knows the truth. The Eye knows lies.

Issues of the Waking Eye are never printed on the same medium twice. They remain hidden as illusory script, visible only to those who know the secret ritual to bring the words forth. Issues have been printed in library books, on homework assignments, scrawled on students' backs, or graffiti'd on walls. There are many old issues lying around, as yet to be discovered, hiding and detailing particular cult activity. Once read they disappear forever, to shield its words from authorities.

This has led to a phenomenon known as The Hunt for the Waking Word, which comprises several distinct phases:

1. A rumor begins that a new issue of The Waking Eye has been released.
2. Speculation goes 'round about the medium.
3. Students begin inevitably experimenting on different things to find the new issues.
4. Soon after, cultists from the university begin their search.
5. The medium is discovered, and issues of The Waking Eye begin to quickly disappear.
6. Those students caught viewing The Waking Eye are severely punished by the university. "Academic Probation"

There is an active bounty on all members of The Waking Eye. 100 spellgold a piece - not a light sum.

1. Every printed paper bears the Seal of The Waking Eye upon its surface, and so serves as a vessel for The Eye to see into our world.
2.  Falsehoods may not be printed upon a surface bearing the Seal, or so it is said. There are reasons to doubt, but then again, there are reasons to doubt anything in Wizard City.
3. Every member of The Waking Eye is actually dead, and has been for decades. What actually remains is merely a kind of Stand Alone Complex perpetuated by the student body.
4. There are many old issues of The Waking Eye hidden around campus, waiting to be stumbled upon by particularly investigative students. The older and better hidden the issue, the more revelatory its information. If you find one, Campus Security will come looking for you.

It Is Called: Keepers of the True Time
Type: Faculty Group
Threat Priority: Medium

They have kept the true time of the universe for a thousand years, and they intend to keep it until the end. A cooperation between the Bureau of Spatial and Temporal Matters and the University, devoted entirely to accurate and esoteric timekeeping.

Their timekeeping is accurate for the age of the universe plus-or-minus 3 seconds. This inaccuracy is blamed on the one they call Dave - he who screwed up the clocks and either gained or lost up to 3 seconds about seven hundred years ago. All attempts to go back in time and fix this have all been for naught, so fucked up was Dave's fucking up. As such, Dave's name is to be used in all curses. Ex: "Oh, look, Steward Dave-d up again, surprise surprise!", "You've really Dave-d it this time.", "You're such a Dave..."

The Keepers wear robes covered in little metal plates, and many many methods of timekeeping: watches, entire grandfather clocks, water clocks carried by four, trains of pregnant women.

1. The Keepers have a clock which is counting down by the second to the next Apocalypse. They refuse to show it to any but the highest of authorities.
2. The Keepers have a clock showing the lifespan of the Universe, divided into 7 hours. We are almost at hour 3.
3. Someone or something from the future keeps sending people back into the present to set back the Keepers' clocks. For some reason, this amount of time is always exactly 4.13 minutes.
4. The Keepers employ owls. Why do they employ owls? What do the owls do?


  1. It is honestly astounding how much stuff, and how high quality of stuff, you are able to put into these Wizard City posts.

    1. I think I've got to attribute that, at least in part, to time. This project has been going on long and slow enough that I'm able to constantly revise things when a good idea props up to replace a mediocre one. Some of these ideas have been stewing for months and months.