When the academy for magecraft was founded in SC 1660, its two primary goals were the education of young mages and the protection of the people from dangerous magic. One of the ways in which the latter goal was accomplished was through the collection of magical artefacts, which were stored on the school’s grounds in a carefully guarded room. As it became known that the school was holding all these items, they became subject to attack, which put students and teachers in danger. This was a problem for an institution that claimed to be the safest way for students to learn magic, and they therefore began looking for a solution.
The solution was to create an impregnable vault, warded as powerfully as a vault could be warded, and store the artefacts in there behind layers and layers of security that were essentially impossible to break. The first iteration of the Vault was finished construction in SC 1990/DN 205, and at the time was considered the most impregnable vault in the world.
It was, however, not the most impregnable vault in the world, and was broken into four times in the first century of its existence, most notably by supporters of Patrick Highquail in DN 258, who made off with a substantial portion of the school’s collection in their bid to restore House Highquail to the Dolovin throne. Its security was continually improved over the years to stop the repeated break-ins, and by DN 600 they had slowed to a much less embarrassing pace of roughly one successful break-in every century or so, discounting occasional dragon attacks, which the school was equipped to handle.
When the academy was moved to the new capital of Three Hills in DN 1121, the archmage decided to be very careful about the vault, and had a new one constructed in the new academy before moving any of the artefacts. This construction took place in secret for three years, amid a public plan to have a vault exterior to the academy. Quietly, in the years between DN 1124 and DN 1113, all the artefacts were moved to the new Vault in small batches, and then a large public plan was enacted to “move” the artefacts to the exterior vault. This plan was a trap, and successfully lured in several dozen would-be thieves, who were caught and arrested.
The current Vault’s security is once again considered (by the people who maintain it) as among the best in the world. First, the academy itself has a multi-layered barrier around it that resists illicit magical entry via teleportation and other magical means. The Vault itself is housed in a building near the back of the campus, which is used as a museum, but which is constructed as an elaborate barrier unto itself, which resists destructive magic of most kinds. The barriers in the building can be secondarily activated to lock the entire building down, preventing entry and flooding the whole building with a paralysis spell. The Vault itself is guarded full-time by two mages trained in all manner of combat magic, and is behind two sets of doors, which are layered with a combination of every type of ward possible through use of the Pillars.
Recently, some flaws in the academy’s security have been noted. Non-magical thieves had demonstrated that magical barriers do not prevent people from climbing over walls, something academy students have known for years. The Vault building is magically indestructible but also rarely locked. It is also only ever locked down in the case of a severe attack, which means the building has already been entered. The two mages who are on combat magic duty are only two people and can be overwhelmed, which would make it impossible for them to lock down the building at all. The wards on the Vault itself are only on the doors but not the walls around the Vault, which makes it easy to knock them down and enter the space of the Vault. Though the magic in the protective spells is meant to stop all magicks contained within the fivefold division, being constructed through magecraft alone does limit its power somewhat—and especially limits its power against magicks that transcend the fivefold division.
A series of upgrades have been made to the security recently to cover some of these weaknesses, most notably an increased level of warding involving other types of magic that will enhance the Vault’s ability to refuse entry, and an extension of the wards far beyond the door of the Vault, to cover up the obvious security flaw rather embarrassingly discovered and exploited by a first-year academy student who, though he does happen to be the chosen one and did use this knowledge to save a life and protect an artefact, was also able to break into the Vault using an extremely rudimentary spell.
The Vault’s security is of critical importance, as it houses a number of important and dangerous artefacts, including the Kingsvoid, a small black stone that causes everything it touches to disappear forever; the White Hand, a foot-shaped glove that, when worn on the hand, allows the wearer to change night and day at will and when worn on the foot, can carry the wearer anywhere in a single step; the Five Marks of Olda, a six-piece knife set with a variety of destructive powers; and the Codpiece of St. Ricardo, which houses the soul of a demon slain by the saint and possesses anyone who wears it. Many other such dangerous artefacts exist in the Vault, and all must be protected.
A careful record of the Vault’s contents is kept by its keeper and the academy’s archmage, who are responsible for ensuring that the Vault is not robbed. When the Vault’s collection is expanded, the register is updated as well, and the keeper is responsible for ensuring that the object is stored safely. Different artefacts require different precautions, and so this can be a very challenging task, especially if one doesn’t know what the object in question is at first.
The Vault has been broken into and robbed a number of times in recent years, a truth which the academy is keeping as quiet as possible. The Vault’s impregnability is an important part of its power—because it is known not to be possible to break in, few try. If it becomes known that it is in fact very possible to break in, the academy worries that many will try, and pose a threat to their student body again, and to the items in the Vault and possibly the world. For these reason, I am proposing a project to study the Vault’s full defences with an eye to improving them drastically in light of new understandings of magic coming from the academy. I seek permission to to access the full spell and architectural diagrams of the Vault in order to carry out this study as effectively as possible.
“Project Proposal: Vault Security in an Era of Magical Change (Draft 3).” Submitted to Yancy Heartstone for comment before final submission to the academy security supervisor and apprentice oversight committee, by apprentice mage Oliver son of Orlando on 1 Ezran 1992.
8 thoughts on “Friday Lore Post: The Vault”
Someone should point the academy to the SCP Foundation: this kind of thing is their raison d’etre, and their containment protocols would be very much worth studying.
Good idea, we’ll get Bob on that. It might do the academy some good to be the one studied for once!
If the Academy’s Vault is known to be the most secure location on the planet, why does Theodore feel the need to keep dangerous artifacts himself instead of trusting them to the care of professionals who’ve been doing this for centuries?
Apart from being a self-important jackass and a social climber desperate for relevance, I mean.
Well apart from that obvious thing, Theodore doesn’t trust magical people not to want to use magical things eventually, and thinks they’re best off in the hands of someone who can’t ever use them (him).
Wow, that’s stupid. Nonmagical people can use magic items; that’s arguably the whole point of making them, rather than casting a spell of equivalent effect. (I say “arguably” because there are of course those items that were never deliberately created, as well as magic amplifiers and the like, but in general…)
And restraint is the first lesson a competent magical academy teaches, so said academy is likely to be LESS prone to temptation than some rich idiot who indulges whatever urges he has as soon as he has them.
But then, accurate self-assessment has never been one of Theo’s strengths, has it?
It never has been. And this, like many of his goals, is definitely motivated by greed as much as anything else, masked by what he thinks is honest concern about the safety of the kingdom. To briefly be fair to him, there are a large number of magical items in this world that can only be used by magical people (such as the fake Map of Amker that Cal was only able to interact with due to some extenuating circumstances), so he’s not 100% wrong about that. But you’re also right that many of them can be used by anyone (such as Pax’s soul-cutting knife), and of course that the academy teaches its students not to destroy the world for fun and profit, haha.
So yeah, Theodore’s self-awareness is at an all-time sameness. 😀 Thanks!
They need to do the smart thing and outsource their artifact-guarding work to dragons. Dragons don’t give a shit about ancient unfathomable powers, but they sure as hell ain’t letting stuff that is Shiny and Theirs get stolen by any two-bit thief.
This is 100% accurate, the most well guarded artefacts in the world are in the possession of dragons, of course. But the academy does tend to be very human-centric, unfortunately. 😀