Eighty years ago, a quiet elf named Lelaras purchased an old library building from the city of Free Haven. For an independent scholar such as Lelaras, the library was an exciting purchase, mostly because it came stocked with thousands of scrolls and books. The entire building had been closed up years before due to citywide budget cuts and the city was happy to sell it to Lelaras for next to nothing so that they could cut some of their old losses.
For a full two years, Lelaras and dozens of hired professionals worked tirelessly to repair the building and restore most of the books to usable condition. After much work and a large amount of money invested, the library was reopened to the public under the name “The Repository.” Lelaras spent a veritable fortune purchasing new books, maps, scrolls, and other study materials. Within a year of opening day, The Repository had the largest supply of library materials in all of Free Haven and became the most utilized library for miles around.
After the first few years a new concern began to grow in Lelaras’ thoughts. He noticed that while many nobles who wanted to research their family history and spellcasters who researched topics pertaining to their crafts used the library’s resources, there were almost no poor or common people using the library, despite there being no charge for its services. This concerned Lelaras, who had opened the library to make information available to all people.
To alleviate his growing concerns, Lelaras began pioneering a teaching program at The Repository. He invited people from all walks of life to come and learn from his teachings, which were very basic and spread over a wide range of topics such as reading comprehension, mathematics and history. He charged nothing for his services to children and asked only that any adults who attended his classes and were capable of doing so give a donation to help fund more materials for the library.
As word spread of a “school” willing to educate children for free, many of the common families that lived in and around Free Haven began enrolling their children. Thanks to Lelaras’ open and friendly nature, more than a few of the parents began attending classes when they could, as well. Soon, Lelaras had to hire on extra help to assist him in teaching and maintaining the library. Eventually, a tuition based on the economic class of the family involved was established to pay for the services of the new instructors. The poorest children and even many adults were still taught for free, but families with more money were charged a tuition of anywhere from 20 gp to 1,000 gp based on their economic status and exactly how much personal tutoring would be required. Despite the school enacting what many called price gouging, the school’s reputation for results kept new students coming in.
The Repository Today:
Today, the Repository is much the same as it was when the doors first opened almost eighty years ago. The entire building has been fully restored and except for the private quarters of Lelaras and his staff, each wing is open to the public. The library has become a landmark of the city of Free Haven. Many of the resident families have been taught there for two or even three generations. Even a few of the city officials have Lelaras to thank for their superb educations, a fact that helps insure that city funding for the Repository doesn’t dry up.
For children, a full term (if the word “term” could be used to describe such a loose period of instruction) is two years with the harvest season considered a vacation. The children attend class six days out of the week for four hours per day. Each day is broken into three subject periods which are usually taught by the same instructor, but sometimes by separate instructors. For adults, the term is a much shorter three months. Adults attend class three days out of each week for three hours per day. If a willing instructor can be found, tutoring is available if the student’s schedule does not synch well with the school’s class schedule.
Class topics are generally very basic, focusing on general education. Lelaras is more interested in teaching people the skills they need to continue learning on their own than in creating geniuses. Generally, reading comprehension is the first class a student will encounter, with classes in basic mathematics, science, history, geography and the like being sure to follow.
Each instructor is given leave to teach their class however they see fit. Lelaras doesn’t allow anyone to become an instructor unless he trusts in their ability to teach. Unfortunately, the library is not large enough to house dormitories for students from out of town, but many local merchants and craftsmen are happy to put up a student or two in exchange for a few hours of work after school lets out each day. Lelaras encourages this, since it also provides many students with the means to easily find themselves an apprenticeship or at least a relationship with a merchant that could lead to a rewarding job.
Intelligence 9+: Although even the poorest, most downtrodden applicant is welcome to sit in on classes, a certain amount of Intelligence is required to understand the lessons. In order to benefit from the classes, a student must have an Intelligence of 9 or higher.
Economic Status: Each applicant is thoroughly questioned regarding his economic situation to determine how much he will be expected to pay for an education. In some exceptional cases, clerical magic or even psionics is used to verify the truth of the applicant’s words, though the honor system is usually more than enough. For simplicity, assume that the school charges tuition of 50 gp for a PC at first level and 100 gp for each additional level thereafter. If the PC’s character background includes attendance at the Repository, the Dungeon Master may deduct anywhere from 40 gp to 75 gp from the PC’s starting wealth.
Language: By the time a student reaches graduation, he is better read than he was before he enrolled. If the student could not read or write when he enrolled, he is able to read and write the Common language by the time of his graduation.
Education: During the course of his education, a student picks up a lot of basic knowledge. This knowledge is rarely specialized, consisting mostly of general studies. Upon graduation, a number of Knowledge skills equal to the student’s Intelligence modifier +1 become class skills.
Using the Repository:
The Repository is unlikely to be the site of a full-fledged adventure, but it could prove to be an interesting backdrop location. The most obvious use for the library is that the PCs may need to research a subject, and refer to the Repository for that purpose.
Spending at least four hours studying in the Repository grants a +4 bonus to any Knowledge check, or a +2 bonus to a Spellcraft check to learn a spell from a spellbook or scroll or to decipher a written spell.
Another obvious use for the Repository is as a source of achievement for a PC (or group of PCs). While the party’s spellcasters spend week or months in downtime crafting new magic items for the party, a barbarian might be interested in learning to read.The library might also make an appearance in a character’s history to explain where he or she learned a spell or acquired ranks in a Knowledge skill.
Lastly, it’s entirely possible that the library might become the scene of a gritty battle, should the PCs be on the trail of a vampire that has been credited with several deaths in the area (the instructor Vanlieous Ketar). Although his lair is elsewhere in the city, the PCs might track him back to the Repository and confront him there.
NPCs of Note:
Lelaras Kenivelson, Owner and Principal Instructor
Sheena Spire, Instructor
Ragnon Delver, Instructor
Vanlieous Ketar, Instructor
Sha-Hala Es K’ali, Instructor
Venus Hallek, Head Librarian