07 August 2012

Candycreeps: Part 2 - The Pembrigan Academy

This is the second part in an ongoing series on Candycreeps. Part 1 and Part 3.

The first entry in this series on Candycreeps primarily discussed the history of the setting, while this will focus on the primary stage for the setting: The Pembrigan Academy for Gentlemen, Ladies and Creatures of Good Breeding.

Founded by Louis H. Philiford (an old boxing partner of Teddy Roosevelt) as a west coast boarding school in response to the east coast and British schools that had snubbed him earlier in life. From its origins it has a strong focus on agriculture and physical activity. Agricultural activities include farming, livestock, fish-farming, and the academy's own private national park (care of T.R.) complete with a lake. Sports in all forms, from rodeo to fencing, are a source of school pride and any student that expects to be popular would be well served to be athletically talented, particularly a well-attended one like crew, basketball, fencing, or football.

That's Louis H. Philiford and Teddy Roosevelt
The events leading up to the contemporary Pembrigan Academy have produced to a very different school than it was when the all-important alumni attended, but court decisions are court decisions until they are successfully appealed. Even the founder, Louis Philiford, has risen from the dead to take stock of what was once his. A mere matter of his death didn't deter him in trying to take back the school, no matter what side the law was on (clearly not the right side). Towards this end he waged an ever escalating guerrilla war against the morale of the administration (with the support of the student body) until it caved and offered him the brand new position of Dean of Cappadocian Affairs. Which has turned out to work well for everyone as the administration has someone with insight into Caps from their perspective and the Caps now have someone with clout looking out for them.

As part of the settlement with the Creep orphanage/school (P.S. 187) that was crushed by the academy's athletic field, FarneyCo has ensured that there will forever be a divide between the Cap kids and those that are, well, still alive. That would be the mandatory work-study program, a special "diversity education development initiative." What this means is that Cap kids can be pulled from class, hallways, their beds in the dead of night, bathroom, wherever, for some testing. Generally of the illegal, ill-advised, with extra side-effects variety that FarneyCo has specialized.

Academics are diverse, including all of the sciences that you may dread (for very real reasons) and all of the humanities that bore, or move you to tears (even robots cry when reading Where the Red Fern Grows). Of particular interest to the science nerds are the old, kinda exploded, a little collapsed FarneyCo labs (creatively referred to as the "Labs") with dodgy gravity. Turns out that there is a lot of stuff down there that could be described as horrifyingly dangerous to humanity at large. So, it's a popular destination for unsupervised children with a bright future in the mad sciences, and those that succumb to peer pressure. The Labs also serve to weed out the children that... didn't wear the proper personal protective equipment? Run faster than the other kids? Recognize that not all buttons exist to be pressed and sometimes the people that install buttons don't have a lot of foresight into their use? Look, some kids don't make it back.

For those with some interest in fashion, or the lack-there-of when it comes to school uniforms, the school colors are maroon and navy (dark red and blue, guys). The old style boys' uniforms consisted of a maroon jacket, navy slacks, and a maroon and navy striped tie. Girls got a navy blazer, maroon A-line skirt and navy pumps. More recently the jackets have been traded for maroon and navy argyle cardigan sweaters. Currently the uniforms also represent a subtle division between the haves and the have-nots of the school since only those of considerable means can afford the official uniform and wear their status without fear of reprisal from any of the administration.

Most of the students are from the local area (around 70%) and only students 7th grade and up can board at the school. The remaining 30% are all shipped to the academy from their parents and naturally at least 12. Boarders can leave school grounds whenever they want, but the gates close (regardless what side you are on) at 10 pm sharp and lights are out at 11 pm. It isn't widely know, but there are ways back into the school from the underground through the Labs. It's generally recommended to be back on time, but it's virtually guaranteed that any group of PCs will be caught out after dark at least once.

There are three notable dorms (or "dorms" as appropriate) described for the Pembrigan Academy: the Chicken Coops, the Playpen and the Kennel; there are no co-ed dorms: this is a school for good breeding, not plentiful. 

The Chicken Coops originated from when the school first went co-ed (during WWII) and there were not enough dorms to house the incoming female students. The only available buildings were the cluster of defunct large-scale poultry breeding sheds, which were spruced up and stuffed with bunk beds. Currently, with a significantly more equitable female-to-male ratio, there are new girls' dorms and the Chicken Coops have been converted into premium apartments for junior and senior girls. Ostensibly they are assigned by housing lottery, but in reality those with influence and affluence get to live there with the occasional lottery winner to ensure that it isn't completely rigged. The atmosphere in the Coops is a pre-Sorority with lots of social activities and a dance party/mixer once a term (the book assures us that the Chicken Dance is played).

One of the only surviving buildings from P.S. 187 is officially known as Morton Hall now, and it has the dubious distinction of being the only underground dorm, dubbed the Playpen, at the Pembrigan Academy. It has a lot of color, like the 12 degree tilt, occasional sketchy gravity, and the littered remains of the Cap daycare that was once there. It's not all bad, there is a 30% discount on rent and some enterprising residents have invited nearby Cap children to come play with the leftover toys and children's books. It is still considered the least desirable dorm, with additional long walks to the surface and back each day, and the residents skew heavily to the Cap population (whether this is due to socioeconomic factors or true rigging of the lottery is unknown).


Within the national park on the grounds holds the last "dorm" that is described. The Kennel (as it is know to everyone but the inhabitants) is home to the Pops that want to get back to nature, or perhaps away from everyone else. Unsanctioned by the administration, this outdoor village spans from the ground to the trees and allows the Pops to sleep outside and hunt for their own food. There are no rules and an community meetings are the only real organization. Most of the residents also have special permission slips and waivers to remove the school from any liability regarding what the students do out there. Those that don't generally have secret dorm rooms if they feel an animalistic need for a hot shower or pizza.

The Pembrigan Academy also has its share of traditions (often informal) including the Head Boy and the Tail Boy (not restricted to boys). How they currently function is that two of the best students will be approached and offered these prestigious positions. Each boy will take turns, alternating at the semester. All punishments for the Head Boy will be suffered by the Tail Boy. The idea is that since they will trade places, they will maintain their best behavior and lead the other students by example. It even works, unless the two hate each other. In which case it plays out more like open war as the student body takes sides and assails each other.

Another unofficial tradition is the Running of the Dogs. It has made its return with Philiford, much to the administration's chagrin. The students will round up the 7th grade boarders through subterfuge (punch and pie maybe) and then subject them to a stampeding mass of very excited (also slightly vicious) corgis in the school's own version of the famed event in Pamplona. 
Black stars, nooooooooo!

This is really just a sampling of the flavor regarding the Pembrigan Academy and there is plenty more to discover, such as the cold war (verging on hot) between the drama and choral departments over wrangling talent and funds for the plays and musicals. The punishment system (with dreaded black stars) and various underground extreme sports (including the Cafeteria League, headball and a dueling club). There are places of interest, and not just the Labs, like the cafeteria and library where gravity is unpredictable. The library has predictable, though nonsensical, gravity which allows for truly epic games of assassin with airsoft guns. Also Pembrigan's very own "superhero", the Detentioner!