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The Royal College of Sagesby Jesper Andersen
The Royal College of Sages is based in Lower Dengar in Rockhome at the very heart of power in the kingdom. Its headquarters is a magnificent domed structure next to the Senate in the Dwarfheart Cavern. It was founded in 737 AC with both a public and a secret agenda.
Publicly, it is a scholarly organisation devoted to archaeology and recording historical events both in relation to the kingdom of Rockhome and the world outside. The college of sages maintain one of the largest non-human libraries in all of Mystara and is the custodians of massive amounts of knowledge – from the trivial to the most important scientific and religious discoveries of the ages.
Secretly, and known only to a limited selection of the sages – the Elder Council – and to the king and the clan heads, the Royal College of Sages also actively conducts a covert investigation into the origin of the Dengar dwarven race. When Dengar dwarves first visited the Five Shires around 465 BC, they were astonished to be met with suspicion and mistrust and tall tales of a dwarven dictator, Loktal Ironshield, whom the Halflings claimed had ruled the Shires with an iron first half a millennia before.
In Rockhome, it was debated whether dwarves could have left Rockhome during the dark years, when armies of humanoids laid siege to the dwarven kingdom for hundreds of years. Sages agreed and concluded that it would not have been possible (or patriotic!) for such a number of dwarves to leave Rockhome unnoticed in those years. So, while the halflings’ insistence that Loktal and his kin were dwarves was thought to be peculiar (and somewhat insulting), the Dengar dwarves concluded that the long centuries of war, chaos and enslavement to various orc rulers meant that Hin history had become “polluted” with false legends.
And so, relations between Rockhome and the Five Shires remained strained but cordial ever since. The dwarves regard the insistence of the Hin as somewhat insulting and react with a mix of scorn and pity. The Halflings, on the other hand, regard the dwarven denial (as they see it) as an admittance of guilt. Both races, however, are trying to look ahead into the future and not dwell on the past. The issue can, and does, trigger arguments from time to time, however, but thankfully bloodshed is rare on such occasions.
In 733 AC the first real evidence supporting claims that the Rockhome dwarves might not have been the first dwarves on Mystara surfaced in Norwold. This was a highly controversial issue that sparked many debates among the leaders of Rockhome and opinions divide on how to handle this issue. The Royal College of Sages was founded to secretly investigate the matter and decades later after many expeditions to Norwold concluded that a race culturally very similar to Dengar dwarves and yet very different (e.g. they had had a runic written language of their own) has indeed lived in Norwold more than 3,000 years ago. Nothing conclusive could be found though to link that ancient civilization to Rockhome, though.
In the centuries since, the Royal College of Sages has continued to fund and lead expeditions to the furthest corners of the planet in search of ancient artefacts, clues, historical treasures and signs of that presumably lost dwarven race. Along the way, the College has amassed an impressive collection of books and knowledge and a not insignificant amount of ancient treasure, most of which was either archived for scholarly purposes or given to the crown.
At the moment, no new evidence of the mysterious race has turned up in several decades and some dwarves are beginning to lose interest in the matter, demanding that resources be diverted elsewhere.
Relationship between the Royal College of Sages and the Clans:
The leaders of the Buhrodar Clan know of the true purpose of the Royal College of Sages but have not decided on the matter. They have tried to Commune with Kagyar on the question but the immortal has remained strangely silent on this issue. Questioning Kagyar’s creation of the Dengar dwarves could be seen as blasphemy and would certainly present the Buhrodar clan and its many clerics with a dilemma. But since Kagyar has not expressed his displeasure with the activities of the Royal College of Sages, the leaders of the Buhrodar Clan and the church of Kagyar neither support nor oppose them. Thoric Redhand, Minister of History (court historian), is of course a member of the Royal College of Sages (but not its leader).
Traditionally strong supporters of scholarly pursuits and of the Royal College of Sages, the Everast Clan supports the quest to discover more about the mysterious race that disappeared from Norwold. However, because King Everast XV is so disinclined to risk the lives of learned scholars and scientists, the Royal College of Sages has had to rely on less experienced dwarves to lead the expeditions in the field these last few decades, which has greatly reduced the progress of the project.
The isolationists of the Hurwarf Clan find the notion that there could have been dwarves before Kagyar created the Dengar dwarves as preposterous and frankly they are astonished the Buhrodars don’t speak out against the thought as well. Bifia, leader of the clan, knows that King Everast has a lot of prestige riding on this quest and seeks to discredit him for its failure whenever possible.
Thrais, leader of the Skarrad Clan, supports the Royal College of Sages in their efforts. Their research into history and other cultures inspire Skarrad dwarven ingenuity and keeps the Dengar dwarves of Clan Skarrad at the top of their field in engineering, architecture and machinery.
Dwalur, leader of the Syrklist Clan, supports the work of the Royal College of Sages – not just to annoy the Hurwarf Clan, but also because it keeps the mind of the king busy and less likely to interfere with trade with the outside world, which is one of Dwalur’s objectives. He really couldn’t care less about a dwarven race that disappeared more than 3,000 years ago.
Korin, leader of the militant Torkrest Clan, grudgingly accepts the efforts of the Royal College of Sages for now but he thinks it a foolish expense. More than once his troops have been diverted to protect scientific expeditions, preventing them from spending their time striking at gathering armies of humanoids in the mountains or in the deep earth. Korin is upset about this use of Rockhome’s military. The only thing that stops him from openly opposing King Everast and the Royal College of Sages is the fact that once in a while the expeditions actually come back with valuable military intel about enemy forces, which he would not otherwise have gotten.
To the leaders of the Wyrwarf Clan, the whole quest to find a missing dwarven race is dull and a typical indication of how the other clans like to play politics. The Wyrwarfs stay out of it, which is a shame really, since several Wyrwarf leaders have friends amongst humans and elves that could benefit the secret search. Oh well.
The Royal College of Sages today
The head of the Royal College of Sages today is a venerable dwarf sage, Loremaster Dagan Silverbeard. He is probably the most knowledgeable dwarf in all of Rockhome and respected far and wide – even by opponents of the College – for the wisdom of his years. Dagan fears that he will never live to see the truth about the dwarven race (as he suspects it) uncovered for all dwarves to see. He is depressed that King Everast refuses to let the most experienced sages go on expeditions because it greatly hampers the effectiveness and the ability to uncover new information. He regularly pleads with the king in private audiences but so far to no avail.
The Royal College of Sages is run by the Elder Council – a group of 12 wise sages, each one the top of his or her field of research. All members of the Elder Council know of the secret purpose of the College, but they rarely disclose this information with lower ranking sages – and never without the consent of the Loremaster.
All of the sages of the College dress in red robes trimmed with gold, unless they are travelling incognito. Members of the Elder Council wear robes with rune-embroidered sleeves identifying their speciality.