Then, last night in bed, it hit me. LBB D&D is subtle. Even though it is the progeny of a wargame, and even though its detractors claim it doesn't promote real story-driven roleplay, it is all about visualization. Sure, you can treat your character like the boot in Monopoly, and just move him around, killing and looting. If you want to get into the character, though, it is all imagination. There are very, very few mechanics to guide or direct. In that playstyle, "story driven" is at its purest form.
So, the so-called effects of attending a magic college or standing near a ley line should be subtle and story driven, as well. Sure, there can, and will, be some minor mechanical aspect, especially with the ley lines. The colleges, though, are more about story. Character backstory to be precise. Really, once I considered it, that's how it should be. I want to include the colleges as a means of adding depth and verisimilitude to my world, and by extension, any character that attends a college. The "benefit" is that verisimilitude, that connection to the world.
There will be more tangible benefits, of course, but they will be subtle, as I said. Things like:
- Reputation, which may affect reaction rolls
- Fraternity, being able to call on fellow graduates for help or employment
- Facilities, to research lost lore or new spells
- and, of course, some sort of mechanical give-and-take, but it too will be subtle