The College of New Olamn, simply known as New Olamn, was a traditional bardic college in Waterdeep. It was formed as a successor to the old College of Ollamh (pronounced: /ˈɑːllɑːm/ AL-lam), also known as just Olamn.
Students of New Olamn were trained in their chosen instruments and underwent a rigorous study of ancient history and memorization of ancient songs and sagas. Most bards of New Olamn studied the College of Lore and practiced its methods.
Master bards (those generally acknowledged to have finished their studies elsewhere) who studied at New Olamn and completed their studies there were conferred the degree of Magnus Alumna.
Base of Operations
The old Olamn college stood on the site later occupied by the House of Song in the Trades Ward. (A popular local story held that Olamn had stood on the site of Halambar Lutes & Harps, but this was false.)
The New Olamn college was located in two villas, Heroes' Rest and Stormwatch, in the Castle Ward. They stood on the Cliffride, a gravel path that ran up the northern side of Mount Waterdeep, overlooking the sea near Waterdeep.
The Cliffride was used to bring supplies to the college, but most visitors and students used the underground tunnel that had been bored through the mountain to improve access. Known as the Mount Melody Walk, the tunnel was staffed round-the-clock by a contingent of the City Guard, with two guards at each end. The passage was illuminated by magical glowing gems; these brightened and changed their hue in response to nearby by sounds. The tunnel was continuously resounding with music due to an ongoing concert known as the Neverending String of Pearls that was performed by bardic students in a small alcove in the tunnel.
New Olamn held a moderately sized amphitheater, where many musicians (particularly members of the Council of Musicians, Instrument-Makers, & Choristers) performed their own works.
The original College of Ollamh was one of the seven elder bardic colleges, dating back to the legendary bard Falataer who established it as the final level of his bardic college. The Ollamh harp, one of the Instruments of the Bards, was named after this college. It had been created by Falataer to test and reward his students who achieved mastery of the Ollamh level of skill. Following this tradition, bards studying to obtain the rank of Magna Alumnae attended all seven colleges, and Ollamh was traditionally the last. However, this practice was abandoned once the original colleges declined, with Olamn falling out of use centuries before the mid–1300s DR.
Following the disgruntled bard Iriador "Garnet" Wintermist's attacks in the Year of the Wave, 1364 DR, Danilo Thann saw a need to re-establish a bardic college in Waterdeep. Working with Kriios Halambar, master of the musician's guild, he developed a plan to re-found such institutions, beginning with one in Waterdeep. Led by Halambar, the Council of Musicians, Instrument-Makers, & Choristers threw their weight behind the proposal, and it was backed by wealthy patrons of the Crommor, Estelmer, Majarra, Melshimber, and Thann noble families. Lord Kelthul Majarra and Lady Hlanta Melshimber even donated the Stormwatch and Heroes' Rest villas to serve as the college's new home. In the Year of the Staff, 1366 DR, the college was reopened with the name of New Olamn.
When Kriios Halambar died in the early 1370s DR, with an election for his replacement as guildmaster not scheduled until the Year of the Haunting, 1377 DR, leading guild musicians began to jostle for influence and position. This provoked thinly veiled tensions between leading Waterdhavian musicians, both in the Council and in New Olamn's leadership.
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