Adult education is a thriving business. In this modern world there are always new skills to learn and information to master. This is even truer since the recent rise of Shadow. Although most mundane folk do not recognize Shadow entities for what they are, some do and they are understandably curious.
The Institute for Continuous Education is dedicated to the premise that the more mundane folks understand at least the basic facts about magic, monsters, species from beyond Shadow, the better life will be for everyone. Classes are scheduled in convenient evening and weekend hours, and are taught by local experts in the field.
The classes offered by the Institute are bare bones basic. They mostly give mundane humans the vocabulary necessary to intelligently discuss creatures and effects of Shadow. However, if students stay with the program for several years, they eventually progress to the point of being able to cast spells, speak Shadow languages, and move relatively unobtrusively among creatures and species from other realms.
There is little of value for heroes in the Institute's classes. But the instructors are often former-heroes or Shadow creatures and so make good contacts. They are usually in touch with various aspects of the local Shadow communities and make excellent sources of information.
The only way heroes would fit in with this organization would be if they hired on as instructors. In that case, they would be able to requisition equipment from the Institute with an appropriate level check. These checks receive a +2 bonus if they are valid requests for the course a character is teaching, or a -5 penalty if they are frivolous.
Dr. Allison's Guide to the Mystic Arts
The primary text for all courses taught at the Institute for Continuous Education, this book by Rose Allison, PhD has also become an international best seller.
Until a few years ago, Dr. Allison was an obscure parapsychologist with a weekly syndicated talk radio show that was barely kept on the air through grants from various occult foundations and eccentric individuals. With the rise of Shadow, however, she quickly became the popular figure most literate in the ways of magic and creatures from beyond reality. Unlike most people in her field, though, Dr. Allison had been engaged in serious research, delving into the past and gathering useful and accurate information about previous Shadow incursions. She was quickly able to turn her years of notes into a cohesive and entertainingly written book. It serves as a perfect primer for mundane folk who want to learn about spellcasting, potion brewing, and other magic processes. It also is an invaluable aid to those doing serious research on spells effects, components, and the process of creating magic items.
The Institute for Continuous Education hosts a website with an interactive version of Dr. Allison's Guide. This is a private site, though, and is only accessible to current students whose tuition is paid in full. (It is possible for non-students to access the website by succeeding at a DC 20 Computer Use check.
Anyone using Dr. Allison's Guide to the Mystic Arts gets a +5 equipment bonus on Research and Knowledge (Arcane Lore) checks. Users also receive a +2 equipment bonus on Craft (chemical), Craft (visual arts), and Craft (writing) checks when brewing potions and scribing tattoos or scrolls.