== THE COLLEGE HIDDEN BY THE LEAVES ==
The College Hidden by the Leaves is the third Solar training center established by the Gold Faction Sidereals. Wheras the first two training camps took their cues from the nature of the Zenith and Dawn castes, the College takes its lead from the Night caste. Located deep in thick Eastern forests near Haltan territory, it is disguised both through cunning camouflage and bargains with surrounding Elemental spirits. Guarded by animal & spirit servants, regular stealth patrols and clever traps and pitfalls, it is an easy area to get lost in and never come out of again.
Solars graduating from this school prefer not to call attention to themselves, but still tales are told of swiftly racing figures, leaping through the trees, clad in forest-color camouflage by day and black by night. They are always disguised, either by hood, scarf, or animal/demon masks, and seem to eschew the traditional Orichalcum weapons favored by Solars, instead relying upon shuriken, sling, needle, grenade, and sai (though a few elites have been seen using Belts of Shadow Walking, Slings of Deadly Prowess, Gauntlets of Distant Claws and Ultimately Useful Tubes, among other stealthy Artifacts). They wear little in the way of armor, unless it's silken or mesh, preferring to avoid getting hit as much as they avoid relying upon any tools save their own abilities. Many seem to have an exceptional rapport with certain animals, which leads some to suspect Haltan involvement. Only the trees know for sure, and they are oath-bound not to say a word...
The School of Stealth Unlike the other schools, the Hidden College is not centered in any one building, but over many small, hand-built wooden buildings, appearing to be a small, moderately prosperous village with a population of about a hundred. The people appear just as people do all over Creation, and are quite friendly and welcoming. At least until danger shows...
The town has all the standard buildings any town must to survive: Town Hall, Market, Hospital, various stalls for refreshments, and shops for tailors, barbers, and craftsmen to sell their services and products. These buildings, like the people, are all a well-constructed facade. Replete with hidden doors, revolving walls and trapdoors, the entire village rests upon an elaborate network of tunnels that lead to immense caverns where the real work of the school is done. If need be, the entire practised population can vanish within seconds of a serious threat, leaving behind only a mysteriously abandoned ghost town...
The Role of the Hidden College The founders of the Hidden College believed that the Solars would best serve the world secretly, thereby avoiding the massive hubris brought on by fame and glory that led to the Usurpation. To that end, all Solar initiates are taught to attract as little attention to themselves as possible. Their enemies and targets will never know that they were around, unless it is a deliberate ruse, meant to send them off after yet another enemy.
This branch of the Cult travels widely, and often visits Cult sites secretly to test their security, only announcing themselves once they've successfully breached their defenses; needless to say, the other schools are not amused. Still, they always are grateful for the highly detailed intelligence the College's Scouts bring them from their farflung web of contacts across Creation...
Like the other schools, the Hidden College has its own style of Tiger Warriors, who have more in common with the elite rangers of Lookshy or the Haltan Commandos than the zealous hordes of the other schools. No less devoted than their brethen, however, they also focus on supernatural martial arts, as well as traps, ranged weaponry and Thaumaturgy, especially the summoning of minor spirits and animals, healing and enhancing alchemical potions in pill form, and the enchantment of Exceptional equipment.
Geography The Sidereal founders choose the particular spot of the Eastern forests that they did because it was both hard to find, easily defensible and provides excellent survivalist training. Unlike the other schools, the College is not located on a Manse, but near several demenses and Wyld-zones, which give the area a bad reputation while also providing plenty of supernatural targets for the trainees to test their skills on. Most all of the indigenous and lethal flora and fauna described in _Creatures of the Wyld_ and _Ruins of Rathess_ can be found there, and the Solars are well-educated in their lore.
Training New Solars are secretly brought to the camp through highly convoluted routes, restrained and blindfolded, both to show trust in their captors and to prevent its location from being known. Unlike the other schools, no great honors await her. She is usually ignored by the schools' population as they go about their daily routine and is often left to her own devices. After a few hours, she is brought to a secluded room, where she is shown all of the personal belongings that were lifted from her person by the denizens during the day without her knowledge.
At this point, one of the Sidereals explains the true purpose of the school and the cult. When the Solar agrees to join, they are stripped of their worldly goods, and told to find their own. Thus begins a long process of learning by doing, as the Solar tries to gain the food and clothing she needs to survive through stealth and trickery in the town, while constantly having the few belongings she succeeds in acquiring taken when she isn't looking...
CHARACTER CREATION: Identical to the Character Creation process in _Cult of the Illuminated_, except that students of the Hidden College gain, at no cost, Ox-Body Technique, Graceful Reed Stance, and 2 Charms from Ebon Shadow Style Martials Arts.
Assassins: The long arm of Solar and Cult justice, these Solars strike quickly and silently in the night. Night, Twilight, and Dawn caste Solars tend to gravitate to this Calling.
Calling Abilities: Athletics, Larceny, Lore, Stealth, Thrown
Calling Charms: Lightening Speed, Flawless Pickpocketing Technique, Lock-Opening Touch, Integrity-protecting Prana, Chaos-Repelling Pattern, Brewing Venom Technique, Easily Overlooked Presence Method, Precision of the Striking Raptor, Joint-Wounding Attack, Observer-Deceiving Attack
Infiltrators: Agents under deep cover among the College's enemies, allies and rivals. Some may even be in one of the other schools...This Calling is normally filled with Night, Eclipse and Zenith caste Solars.
Calling Abilities: Investigation, Larceny, Linguistics, Performance, Socialize
Calling Charms:Ten Magistrate Eyes, Seasoned Criminal Method, Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise, Flawless Pickpocketing Technique, Stealing From Plain Sight Spirit, Whirlwind Brush Method, Letter-Within-a-Letter Technique, Masterful Performance Exercise, Wise-Eyed Courtier Method, Mastery of Small Manners
Scouts: The fieldmen of the village, performing duties from patrolling the surrounding area to ambushing intruders. The few times Collegiates are called upon to do upfront fighting, these are the stalwarts who do it. Often Dawn, though a few Nights also join their ranks.
Calling Abilities: Archery, Athletics, Awareness, Endurance, Survival
Calling Charms: Wise Arrow, Fiery Arrow Attack, Monkey-Leap Technique, Lightning Speed, Sensory Acuity Prana, Surprise Anticipation Method, Unsleeping Watchman Technique, Tireless Runner's Stride, Hardship-Surviving Mendicant Spirit, Unshakable Bloodhound Technique
The Hidden One, Chosen of Endings, Secret Master of the Academy: A legend among the Sidereals, this ancient one long ago sacrificed his very name upon the altar of duty; through means unknown, he literally Ended his own name, to the extent that it no longer exists, even within the secretive records of the Forbidding Manse of Ivy (the similarity to similar practices of the Abyssals is not lost on his fellows). As one of the most influential of Saturn's Children, he brings much support to the Gold Faction and his own hidden school, and subtly uses both as a means to his ultimate end: The End of the Second Age of Man. He has foreseen that he will not see the dawning of the Third Age, but believes that his death will be a key event in bringing it about...
An unassuming elderly man with an absent-minded grandfatherly air, The Hidden One spends his time in the camp in many of his Resplendent Destinies, most of which are unremarkable folk like shop-owners or gardeners. Indeed, discovering that he even exists and finding him is one of the unspoken trails of the Academy, which only a small handful of Solars has so far accomplished; these he binds to him as Acquaintances and uses as his inner circle (he is even strongly considering initiating them into Sidereal Martial Arts). However, he often pops up to offer advice and direction to all those under his stewardship, and although he realizes such attachments are not wise, he has come to accept and love this little town and all the people living there as his true family. Which will make his eventual sacrifice of them (if need be) all the more painful...
Sable Swan, Night-caste Assassin: Of all the graduates of the Academy, first and foremost is Sable Swan. Her needles, poison and carefully staged "accidents" are said to have dispatched more enemies of the Cult than all the Tiger-Warrior armies led by Solars of the other schools together. A loner, few have ever even seen her unmasked, and she counts fewer still as true friends. One of the first and few who successfully found The Hidden One, she truly loves him like a father, a passion rivaled only by her regard for her mischevious "little brother"...
No one can say for sure how attractive Sable truly is through her ever-present mask, although her visible eyes and pony-tailed hair are certainly alluring, and the comely form she displays through both her light and mesh-like Silken Armor is definitely captivating (although few who see either are in a position to appreciate their aestethic qualities). Expert in the entire range of thrown armaments, especially with her Orichalcum Skycutter, she is also quite skilled in the use of explosives, smoke and poison (often all at once) and is only a few Charms away from mastering Ebon Shadow Style Martial Arts.
Ricket the Casteless: This ten year old boy was eking out an existence in Nexus, using his shapeshifting abilities to earn money via spying and petty theft, before being rescued from the streets by Sable Swan. After going through the requisite Cult training, she claimed him as her Lunar aide, a role he relishes. The only thing cooler than helping Sable take down the bad guys in inventively deadly ways, is being able to act up and get away with it because he's her loyal partner! Although he always goes just a bit too far, earning a rap on the head from her...
Despite being well-cared for by the Cult, Ricket still somehow manages to suggest the poor ophan beggar he grew up as, with a headful of mousy-brown tusseled hair, plenty of plasters on his scratched-up body and well-worn patched up clothes (a large pair of front teeth are the Tell of his Totem, the mouse). Boistrous and loud, he enjoys filling the silence of his partner with laughter. His cheerful and overeager disposition, however, overshadows all of that; he's just as good as charming his way out of trouble as he is getting into it. About the only thing that can make him behave himself is a stern word or look from Sable. But only until the next time...
The Shade of the Sun, Abyssal Day-caste Infiltrator: Upon learning of the existence of the Academy, The Shade's Deathlord sent her to infiltrate it. Doing so was (and is) no easy feat, but she loves the challenge, as well as the irony that she has become one of the Cult's best Infiltrator agents. She certainly has no problem with using her great beauty and wiles to influence and sabotage the camp's enemies, who all too often are her Liege's rivals, as well. Meanwhile, she studies her "allies" for patterns and weaknesses and prepares to strike where it will hurt them the most. Unknown to her, her deception was discovered from the start by The Hidden One, who likewise studies her for clues to defeating the Deathlords, and who believes that he may be able to subtly turn her to the path of renegade...
Easily the most beautiful person in the Academy, The Shade (or Summer Shade, as she's known there) balances her time between sussing out the secrets of the village and cultivating her very own flamboyant cult of personality. She must also find the time to renew the Charms that enable her to impersonate a Night-caste Solar. She has a nemessary servant who takes her reports back to their Liege, often in the body of a quick-flying bird. When she must kill, she enjoys using her long, lustrous hair to garrote her victims to death...
Kite, Dawn-caste Scout: Kite is the very model of the Academy's philosophy: Results unseen. While Sable Swan and The Shade of the Sun may have more acclaim due to their more visible (at least to the Academy) successes, Kite's success is that the safety and security of the camp go unchallenged. So long as he does his job properly, no one will ever know that he's doing it at all. The captain of the Scouts, he is just a short way away from graduating but doesn't see his life really changing afterwards. Unlike many Solars, he does not burn with the passion to reshape the world outside, but only to protect the only home he's ever known. His one weakness is the growing love he feels for "Summer Shade"; she could quite easily trick him into lowering his guard, and thusly, the guard of the entire school...
Kite is rarely seen, but when he is, he is invariably dressed to match his surroundings, thanks to a rare 1st Age fabric given him by the Hidden One that changes colors and patterns to blend in (Stealth +3). The best archer of the Academy, he is never without his short bow, wears Hearthstone Bracers, twin Perfect dueling axes mounted on his back, and always wears his Ghost-Seeing Blindfold over his eyes when on duty.
You've missed out on what the characters have to spend their 10 dots on in Abilities. Based on your free Charms, I've figured out what they probably would be. However, I don't agree with limiting characters to Ebon Shadow Style.
Edit: I've done a lot of thinking on this, and come up with something that more closely matches the way Kether Rock and the Sequestered Tabernacle function in this regard. Presented below:
Characters from the Hidden College must meet the following ability levels:
- Athletics •
- Awareness •
- Dodge •
- Investigation •
- Larceny ••
- Stealth •••
- Thrown •
Characters trained at the College Hidden in the Leaves receive the following Charms for free, although they must meet the prerequisites:
Reed in the Wind, Graceful Crane Stance, and one of the four following pairs:
- One Among the Shadows & Easily Overlooked Presence Method
- Sensory Acuity Prana & Surprise Anticipation Method
- Shadowed Brilliance & Flawless Pickpocket Method
- Precision of the Striking Raptor & Joint-Wounding Attack
Assume the two new charms are specialties of the College. - Trithne