Ah, salaam! Welcome back to Cadameria!
One day we’ll get to how people greet each other in Cadameria.
Anyhoo. Welcome back to our Worldbuilding Journal series, where we try to create an entirely new world based on prompts from the Worldbuilding Journal published by Wizards of the Coast. The world we have created is so far centred upon the magical city of Cadameria. We’d previously tackled the Cadamerian Black Markets (even got a story written about that) and the inns and taverns of Cadameria. The setting in which Cadameria is a part of has yet to be named for now, but we do know the place is a city of magic, which is used by way of a special ore called Glintstone which can hold, transmute, and release charges, creating wondrous effects. Along the way we met an assassin, smoked a hookah courtesy of a culture foreign to Cadameria, and watched as a Grand Magus of the Schola Arcanum met a gruesome end. We’ve also established that Cadameria has a Magic School, both a premier education facility run by the Schola Arcanum, the oligarchy that controls the city, and a Technical School for the rising middle class folk of Cadameria. And we also discovered that since there is a middle class in Cadameria, the setting can’t be Euro – medieval, but more technologically advanced, so the earliest would be around the renaissance era, post Industrial Revolution kind of thing. The mindset of the people is still predominantly medieval though, but this might change in the future.
Today we continue the issue of childcare, and I kind of wanted to go into great detail about the children left as orphans or without a guardian in the city, but first let’s talk about the equity of access to education in Cadameria. It’s a topic that I’ve managed to start thinking about in between the posts about the city.
Part of what inspired this post is a discussion on higher education I had. Long story short, education is what determines the success of a nation – especially its economic and political success. This stands to reason – you don’t get better skilled workers without better training, you don’t get innovation without inculcating a culture of critical thinking, and once you have that you get people wanting more and better for themselves and the people they represent and that’s how you get better political representation and systems. Education unlocks the mind to its fullest potential.
As a quick aside, the discussion was about student debt in America, and was triggered by a Vox – Netflix special on money. It is incredibly astounding to me, a Malaysian, just how incredibly predatory the student loan system in America is. To sum it up it reminds me of that part in Goodfellas where they take over the restaurant and milk it for what it’s worth before torching the place. “Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh you got a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? Fuck you, pay me.” It’s worse because these are actual financial institutions that suckers in these people – it’s all legal. What the hell. Even if a graduate can’t get a job, can’t get a job that can afford the loan repayments, sure they can put that loan in deferment, but the fucking interest keeps adding up no matter what – it’s compounding just like a fucking credit card deal. A Student Loan works the same way as credit card debt. Think about that!
But let’s go back to Cadameria, where we can actually make things better if we want (or worse). Does an educated society sound like something Cadamerians want? The answer would have to be an astounding yes. They love magic. You need to be trained in Glintstone Application to use and develop Glintstone for society. Ergo, more of that is always good.
Glintstone Application 101. Huh…I have a course name now.
Here’s the thing though – that doesn’t square with what we know of the Schola Arcanum. It’s not that they don’t want new Glintstone applications – they want to be the ones in control of it. We’ve established that the Schola leaders, the Grand Magi, are the oligarchy that are in political control of the city of Cadameria. Why train the people to work against that? They’ve got a good thing going. They don’t want anyone to threaten that – remember what Hadrian said. If a new Grand Necromancer shows up and forces everyone to capitulate or be turned into zombie slaves, that would be bad for them.
And so there must never be a new Grand Necromancer. Thus the study of some schools of magic is disallowed. Why stop there? The Grand magi can control who gets what education. Why not train them to toe the line, to only study Schola approved sorceries and accept the Schola approved doctrine? Anyone who thinks differently gets booted out. Anyone who refuses to toe the line gets booted out. Any threat to the oligarchy that is The Grand Magus Council gets booted out.
So education in Cadameria is strictly a tool used by the Schola Arcanum to control the population. Schools exist but only to forward the Schola’s line of thought to the masses and create the sense that what they want is what’s good for Cadameria, and any aberrant thought is to be stamped out as threats to society. The Schola creates an illusion of choice by allowing both the Schola Arcanum Apprentice Academy and The Cadamerian Technical School to exist, but the syllabi for both are highly regulated and intake is biased in favour of those who support the Council and their agenda. In effect, education is hoarded, and the masses do not have their minds opened as much as a truly democratic magocracry might have allowed for. Think a theocracy but with technocrats instead of priests and popes.
Wow, when did I get so cynical?
To the orphans, then. Does it make sense that the state would sponsor children without guardians? There seems to be no benefit other than providing a place for children to be cared for. Perhaps they would do it, just for the optics? You know, I think they might. Not just for the optics, although that would definitely be the Council’s primary motivation. We’ve established that Cadameria has a significant criminal element, by the existence of its black market alone. No, we’ve not gone into detail about the gangs that run the market, but it’s easy to assume they’re there, since even rebellious elements like Hadrian can set up shop in the city. By creating orphanages they can help curb recruitment of urchins by the gangs and attempt to stifle recruitment, preventing the gangs from growing. How effective this is, is another story.
The orphanages provide shelter and care, of course, but most of the training probably has little to do with Glintstone and more towards the children taking a trade. The Schola most likely has the orphans training in the ‘back office’ of the Schola’s operations. Things like smithing, cooking, cleaning and whatnot. Orphans in Cadameria can expect a life serving the magi, but never becoming one of them.
A lot of this implies that social mobility is very rigid in Cadameria. Peasants tend to remain peasants, nobles tend to remain nobles, and there is very little cross class movement. Only the elite can afford an education while the rest are doomed to a life of servitude to the elites. And since we brought up class…classism is a very real concept in Cadameria. Its social strata are rigidly enforced via the culture of the city, again with magi at the top while those with less access to Glintstone (i.e, those disadvantaged at the socio – economic level) at the bottom. Movement is possible but significant enough to be remarked upon, and difficult enough that those who do manage it are lauded and shown to be an example that the masses should look towards. This, instead of them looking at the system and wondering why the success story isn’t the norm, because they have a vested interest in maintaining the social order as it is, be it either economically or politically.
There’s an implication here that Cadameria is an economic superpower, and I think that jives with what we know already. Cadameria is the center for magical research and development, with new technologies appearing from the Schola to be distributed and sold to the rest of the world. It’s kind of like the Silicon Valley of the world in that sense. That tracks – this Forbes list of the richest people in the world has six of the top ten richest people in the Technology sector. It would definitely make sense that Cadameria be as prosperous as it is due to its status as the Mecca for magic.
I’m pretty blown away from what we’ve learned about Cadameria just from considering how education is handled in the city. That shows how important it is, not just in our worldbuilding but also in real life, as well. So many things being interconnected – how divided society is in terms of social classes, the opportunity for social mobility, and how economically strong the society is. Granted, a lot of these was implied just from ‘magocracy’, but really considering these topics helps get the creative juices flowing.
I might even get a story out. Who knows? You won’t if you don’t stick around to see where we take this setting next! For the next post, most likely I will be doing the next prompt in the book, and we’ll see how Cadameria changes with our new ideas.
Oh, and thanks for reading and stopping by! Each of your visits and likes gives me sooooo much serotonin, and motivates me to keep doing this blog. Thank you so much – you, yes you! I appreciate you, and hope the time you spent here in my corner of the Internet was worth it.
Until next time! Or however they say goodbye in Cadameria.