While working on my Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition campaign setting, I am drawn back to an idea I have had–and even used to varying degrees of success–in the past: an Adventurers’ Academy. I see how this solves some issues and possibly poses others, so I thought I’d share them here on the internet where no one is ever afraid of telling anyone else they’re wrong–especially when it comes to role-playing games.
How an Adventurers’ Academy Works
The idea itself isn’t difficult. Let’s face it, it’s not even new. Young Hercules did it back in the 90s. Harry Potter’s School of Wizardry is a variation.How about Xavier’s School for the Gifted? In a D&D 5e game, the Adventurers’ Academy is a place that provides training in various skills to characters from varying backgrounds. They learn spelunking, plant identification, melee combat, spell casting, and so on and so forth. The academy could serve as a sort of mercenary group, hiring their students and alums out. They could fade into the background as the characters increase in level and experience. Or, they could be a focal point throughout the campaign.
The Benefits of an Adventurers’ Academy in D&D 5E
First and foremost–because it happens first, after all–this is definitely a way to start off a campaign without meeting in a tavern. It grants an instant background for the players’ characters. It most likely includes a built in patron along with a host of resources. Trying to decipher an ancient text? Well, think of all the knowledge that such a place would have gathered over the years. Even still, there are people who teach people how to read and decipher this stuff there! If you’re using the training rules from D&D 5e, one of the challenges to overcome is supposed to be finding an instructor. Problem solved. An adventure falls apart or falls? no reason to stall the campaign. Head back to the academy and there is sure to be a posting there. What to do when it is time to retire? Go teach at the academy. Could be neat for future characters to learn from earlier characters.
The Drawbacks of the Same Academy
Well, no good plan survives contact with the players, right? Most would assume that people join the Academy when they are young. That’s where they learn their skills. Sometimes people want to play older characters. Okay, that’s possible. But now you have someone who has lived life and gone back to school and they end up being just as competent as someone half their age? There’s all sorts of different ways to address this, but it is a potential drawback players have brought to me with this idea in the past. Also, characters often have widely varying backgrounds. Now they have spent how long being students together? For those who enjoy games with deep political intrigue, this could go either way. As, in theory, the academy should be somewhat neutral, there are plenty of plotters at work within the academy itself.
So, to School or Not?
Like I said previously, I have done this before and am definitely leaning this way for the new campaign. However, I’m not foolish enough to believe I have all the answers. I know I quite possibly have blinders on and may be missing things. What can you all say in regards to this idea? Like it or hate it–and why?