The Fochlucan College
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Perhaps the most famous of the bardic colleges, the Fochlucan College serves as a beacon of learning and diplomacy in a dark and restless land. Many have accused the Fochlucan masters of fomenting intrigues among the nearby kingdoms and using their famed neutrality to conceal the real extent of their meddling and manipulation. By advising mighty rulers and undertaking the tutoring of royal heirs, the Fochlucan bards turn the fate of kingdoms with nothing more than quiet words and whispered secrets.
The Fochlucan College itself is located near the borders of the Gnarley Forest, a few miles from the city of Dyvers. The College is a rambling old stone building that resembles something between a minor lord's manor house and a decrepit old monastery. Green ivy covers its walls, and old lanterns hanging from its eaves warm its chill, misty nights with golden light.
No more than a handful of its collegians are present at any given time -- the strength of the organization lies in the learning and skill of its individual members, not in any muster of warriors. Members are welcome to stay as long as they like but are expected to contribute to the college's upkeep. The customary donation is 50 gp a month (for itinerant members) or 200 gp a month (for members living on the premises).
A small number of servants keep the College in order and prepare meals, but there are no guards or soldiers. Instead, its defense lies primarily in the reputation and influence of its members. Should trouble come anyway, the College is well defended by the handful of lyrists or guests who happen to be visiting at any given time. In case of serious trouble, the Fochlucans turn to the creatures of the surrounding forest. Through ancient pacts, the sylvan denizens of the Gnarley Forest are pledged to defend the bards' house against attack.
The College is governed by the Yew Circle, a small council composed of the five most senior Fochlucans currently enrolled in the order. All five are nominally equal, but if the Circle's opinion is divided on any important matter, the Eldest of the Circle -- the Fochlucan who has served the longest in the college -- decides the issue. Currently, the Eldest of Fochlucan is Yew Master Hurlich Stennarden, a half-elf who has belonged to the College for better than fifty years. The masters of the Yew Circle rarely meet, since they are not often at the College at the same time.
The Fochlucans are affiliated with several other bardic colleges in neighboring lands, including the College of Mac-Fuirmidh, the Doss School, and the High College of Anstruth, oldest and most knowledgeable of the colleges.
Map of the College: