White Lotus Academy


Records about the founding years of the White Lotus Academy are incomplete. In fact, 143 years ago, Headmistress Daniorra noted in her journal the day of her acceptance of the position. Apparently an orderly soul, her journal tracks the admission and graduation of each student alongside the coming and going of various instructors over the years. Daniorra also created the position of the academy bursar, investing the minor devil Incarus as the first with that duty to record tuitions, donations, expenditures, and other finances.

Since that time, few of the headmasters and headmistresses have kept personal records as detailed as Headmistress Daniorra’s, whose original journal was recently stolen by a group of fey, though a copy remains in the academy’s library. Much of the academy’s history can be inferred from the bursar’s complete records. Tuition records account for each student, stipends account for each head of school and instructor, and expenditures authorized by the various instructors and the heads of the school allow insight into their personalities.

Beyond its institutional history, the White Lotus Academy appears in few annals. It has remained strictly apolitical. Students attend the academy from many nations, representing conflicting interests. They might return to those affiliations after graduation, but the school lends aid to and allies with no outside concerns.

The restriction on interfering with external politics
extends only to the White Lotus’s headmaster and
instructors, as well as to sanctioned student activities.
More than one student over the years has departed
from the school out of a need to use his or her skills
in defense of a homeland or an ideal. The school
officially considers such departures to be leaves of
absence, and it treats these activities as studies abroad
and field training rolled into one. Though the school

in no way encourages students to involve themselves
in politics, the instructors consider such actions valuable
training for students who are so inclined. Unless the
student’s actions harm the school, as when Kendrick
Maero ended a siege on his home city-state by claiming
to represent all White Lotus Academy, he or she is
readmitted without hesitation.

As a group, the school’s members involve themselves
in large-scale conflicts only when the school is
directly threatened. Instructors and students went to
war to defeat an undead army marching across the
land, and a group of students once gained permission
to infiltrate and overthrow a rising cult of Vecna as
their graduation project.

The academy has refused to involve itself with
a great many events in history. When the nomadic
hordes rampaged across the nation in which the
school resides, the headmaster closed the school’s
gates, activated its wards, and blanketed it in illusion.
The cruel vampire lord Ilcasar resided nearby for two
decades without academy interference. Count Maron
maneuvered the national politics in pursuit of his
vendetta against the school.

That last point is telling of the academy’s strict
policy: Until Count Maron took direct action against
the school, the school’s members did not act against
the potential problem. They did not ignore the problem.
Headmistress Umberlin arranged paths through
the Shadowfell and the Feywild to acquire all the
resources the school needed to function in case Count
Maron had cut worldly routes.

The Campus

The White Lotus Academy doesn’t have an expansive
campus, but it suffices for the quantity of students
and the instructors. Among the various buildings full
of classrooms, the many basements, and the grounds
outside the walls, space is plentiful.

The broad path from the Sunrise Gate curves from
the guard post toward the center of the grounds,
passing the two student dorms on the right and the
Lost Secrets Library, the Hall of Amber, and Iola’s
Insight on the left before reaching Founder’s Hall,
which is the social and nearly physical center of
the academy.

Founder’s Hall

Founder’s Hall was the first building of the White
Lotus Academy. Originally, it served two instructors
and 26 students as dormitory, classroom, meeting
hall, and dining hall. Today, it has the largest open
chamber on campus and is used for social gatherings
and public addresses. Students and instructors post
notices here. It also contains the school’s permanent
teleportation circle and a reception chamber. Ever
since a cohort of yuan-ti attacked the school from this
area, use of the circle has triggered a mental alert
to instructors. Today, this includes Dean Mahli and Instructor Ibok.

Hall of Amber

Possibly the most recognizable building on campus,
the Hall of Amber is a breathtaking edifice mostly
of amber stained glass. It contains two performance
halls, several practice rooms, and some storage. Here,
Instructor Ibok teaches the school’s bards.

Headmaster’s Hall

When the school grew to a point where Founder’s
Hall and the Headmaster’s Residence needed more
space for administrative functions, the academy had
this hall built. All the instructors have offices here,
though only the dean of students and the bursar do
much work in them. Headmaster Marovic prefers
his office at his residence, and most other instructors
claim a laboratory or classroom and make it their de
facto domain. Students who distinguish themselves
as responsible and capable are given additional duties and one of the unused offices for that work.

Headmaster’s Residence

The headmaster or headmistress traditionally inhabits
a mansion set against the academy’s northern wall. It
has a small personal library, ancient furniture, master
and guest bedrooms, master and guest offices, a small
courtyard, and two overlooking terraces. Only the
furniture in the master bedroom and office changes
when a new person assumes the office. Headmaster
Demmon moved out of the residence after 3 years as
headmaster, describing an evil presence that
disturbed him. No one else has sensed such a presence, so no effort has been made to remove it.

Hiwai Dormitory

The first of the two student dormitories to be built,
Hiwai displays an older architectural style by 20
years but is structurally the same. The ghost of a
student from almost 80 years ago keeps a room here
and is willing to help residents of the dorm with their
studies. She occasionally grumbles about revenge.

Iola’s Insight

This is the academy’s temple to the world’s many gods.
A wealthy elf student named Iola donated the funds for
the construction, believing that the absence of any
worship on campus could anger the gods. The mosthonored
deities in the temple are Corellon and Ioun, but
all the non-evil gods and goddesses receive attention.
Instructor Ibok tends the temple as part of his duties.

Lost Secrets Library

The White Lotus Academy’s library is deceptively large. It began about half the size of Founder’s Hall
with a single door, but it has since become a building
large enough to hold thousands of books and hide at
least three subbasements, where students must go to
find tomes to study. The lower chambers are accessible
from a central stairwell, which appears to have no
end to the stairs or the heavy iron doors that lead into
the stacks. Students cannot open most of the doors.
In recent memory, only one student has bypassed this
magical protection and returned—the dangers in the depths of the Lost Secrets Library are real.

Stelson Arboretum

A private donor funded Stelson Arboretum 77 years
ago. The arboretum is filled with trees and other
flora from exotic locales and sustained through a
combination of hard work and magic. Not only quietly
beautiful, the arboretum is also a giant classroom
for various lessons. It even contains plant creatures,
which only occasionally slip their arcane bonds and
endanger the students.

Stokes Hall

Here is where the magic happens. Most of the
classrooms and laboratories are in or under Stokes
Hall. Instructors give their lessons here at all hours of the day and night, and they run hands-on laboratory
classes in the well-equipped and –supplied labs.
Several of the labs are devoted to an instructor’s
personal experiments and are therefore off limits to
students, but the instructors pay close attention to
who breaks those restrictions. A student with that
initiative frequently ends up as an instructor’s valued
personal assistant.

Within the horseshoe of Stokes Hall is Harrid
Yard, colloquially called the Yard, and it serves as
the main practice area for students. Though students
are allowed to practice their magic anywhere, they
are held responsible for the results, and the Yard is
better protected than most of the campus. The Yard
contains several animated suits of armor and targets for practice plus a dueling area paved in flagstones.
No windows pierce the solid walls into Stokes. One
time, the animated practice dummies rampaged,
but a group of advanced students lured them to the
courtyard of the Headmaster’s Residence and then
demolished them for good marks.

Umberlin Dormitory

Umberlin Dormitory was under construction when
Headmistress Umberlin died in defense of the school,
and it was named in her memory. The dormitory
contains a kitchen and a larder, and students are
expected to feed themselves.

Academy Environs

Several landmarks stand near the White Lotus Academy: the town of Whitton, the rock formation called the Count’s Fingers, the mysterious Veltish Crypt, and Lockhart Keep.

The nearest of these is the town of Whitton, which supports the academy by providing food, menial labor, accommodation for visitors, and a social structure with which students can interact. History is unclear on whether Whitton sprang up around the business the academy provides or the academy chose the location for the convenience of the town. Regardless of which came first, Whitton is a town shaped by its largest customer. It caters to the students of the arcane in the services and goods it offers. One can find reagents for all sorts of rituals at numerous shops, inns give special rates for wizards willing to cast an entertaining illusion or bards who perform their music, and the town guard gives a lot of slack to students. Persistent but unproven rumors suggest a group of advanced students summons and binds creatures from other worlds to rent these creatures’ services to unsavory characters.

Veltish Crypt is a labyrinthine catacomb. Its
antechamber and few nearest halls are relatively safe,
and they are marked with over a century of rebellious
students’ clandestine meetings. More than a few
White Lotus secret societies have met in the crypt’s
chambers over the years. The Blood Stars, a group of
star pact warlocks who have all graduated and gone
separate ways, left a face to help them communicate
danger to their fellows; it is even now weeping blood in dire warning.

Deeper in the crypt is a mix of trap-laden halls and
monster-infested chambers. Undead are common
dangers there, but creatures of all sorts threaten those
students who brave the depths. White Lotus students
think that the crypt is maintained and restocked by
academy instructors, but this might not be the case.
Beyond the nearby hills, a small keep is just out of
sight from the western edge of the Hadorim Memorial
Wall. Abandoned in an earlier era and restored by
academy staff some time ago, it serves for those guests
of the school who insist on bringing retinues too large
to be accommodated on the academy campus. Lockhart
Keep is enchanted to provide food and unseen
servants to guests of the White Lotus, and to ward off the return of its first owner.


The White Lotus Academy always has 46, 58, 73, 90, or 112 students, numbers that grant the school a numerological advantage in calling on good fortune
and negating a curse laid on the school before the
time of Headmistress Daniorra. Luck, fate, and the
headmaster’s diligence maintain these numbers.
A new student is usually between 8 and 12 years
old (or the equivalent for other races), with a smattering
of students joining the school as old as 16. For a student
to be admitted at an older age, there must be special
consideration. One student who began at 20 was the
child of a devil and a deva. Also, a human farmer
became a new student at the age of 68 when dispersed
energy from the death of an exarch imbued him with uncontrolled arcane power.

Students at the White Lotus Academy come from
all strata of society and all parts of the world, but the
school’s attendees skew toward the wealthy. It is a
matter of logistics, not prejudice. The school’s location
makes the effective cost of attending ever larger for
those traveling from far places. Wealthy folk can pay
the academy’s substantial tuition more easily than poorer would-be students.

The school offers scholarships to promising youths
who cannot pay the full tuition, and this fee is set
high enough to give the unmotivated rich pause. The
number and size of these scholarships depends upon
how many additional students the academy needs to
meet its numerological quota. The prospective
student’s entrance interview with the dean of students
determines whether an applicant is offered a
scholarship or whether the student is permitted to
repay the school after graduation—called a loan of
knowledge on the bursar’s books—and how large a
grant the student receives. Students granted a loan
can expect to repay the debt monetarily if they are
financially successful, and in service if they are not or
if their skills are useful. Headmaster Marovic decides
the final tally on when such a debt is paid, telling the
bursar only when to mark a debt paid (sometimes
a full century after it was incurred). He records the
details in a private book handed down from
headmasters and headmistresses past.

Student Life

The typical student comes to the White Lotus Academy
early in life and stays for an average of 10 years,
graduating between the ages of 18 and 22 years. In
the arcane disciplines, few students qualify as average.
Prodigies complete the curriculum and their final
projects in as little as 6 years, and students who take
things a little slower might stay 14 years from start to
finish. Students are permitted to remain only as long
as the dean of students foresees that the student will
graduate, and they must be able to pay the tuition.

Kendall Farson, a current student, has been
attending for 20 years and is only 2 years shy of the
record. In contrast, a prophecy tells of a student who
will need only 4 years at the academy—which would
be the least time to graduation—and who will save the
White Lotus from dissolution in a time of great crisis.
Headmasters over the years have leaked this prophecy
to the students as a motivation tool, and Marovic is
one of them.

Every two new students are assigned to an older
student who helps familiarize the student with the
campus, the routine, and the classes. This student
helps with the younger students’ study, so he or she
frequently pursues the same or a similar curriculum.
Third-years are considered the ideal choice for the
duty, since that is the same time that the students are
allowed a broader degree of freedom in choosing the
course of their study. The responsibility helps ground
them and forces them to revisit the fundamentals,
a valuable chore third-years usually neglect. New
students who promise to be a greater challenge are
assigned to even older students, and one prompted
Headmistress Calcagia to call in a favor from a graduate
from a decade before.

One of the instructors chooses a new student’s
classes and continues to dictate the student’s lessons
until the student completes the first 2 years’
curriculum. In the third year, the student can choose
the course of his or her studies, allowing for a core
of advanced fundamentals. The fifth- and sixth-year
student chooses all his or her own classes and works
more closely with instructors, assisting in tutoring
younger students. The student’s eighth year is
self-directed and might be theoretical research,
practical experimentation, or practical application.
Students create wonders and travel on dangerous
quests to earn their diplomas of graduation from the
White Lotus Academy.

Numerous groups, clubs, and associations are
active on campus, and a student can belong to several.
Most are devoted to specific tangential academic
interests, such as the construction of minor automatons
or the interpretation of various prophecies that can be
read in the library. Others are dedicated to less
academic pursuits. The Wilted Lotus is a faux-anarchic
group of students competing to play the best prank on
the faculty or general student body. Members of the
Apple Core Affair try to leave as many broken hearts
(and mussed beds) in their wake as possible, laughing
over their conquests.

Some of these groups qualify as secret societies,
but such secrecy is not always for sinister purposes.
The Phantasmal Players conceals its membership because someone felt embarrassed at spending that much time creating entertaining uses for cantrips. Others have good reason to hide their affiliations. Shadow Claw performed assassinations for 19 years before its members were ousted. The Wizards Serene found a path through the library’s depths to where a mind flayer sits, bound, and members take lessons from it in secret.

A Day in the Life

A typical student rises within an hour or two of dawn,
or earlier when the days are shortest. He or she might
stop at the temple for a quick prayer to a god associated
with the morning, before or after breakfast. Breakfast
is a chaotic affair in the student kitchens, and then
the student heads to classes, with half-hour to hour
breaks between them, until roughly noon. Lunch is
less crowded than breakfast because the students
return from classes at different times.

A student returns to classes until middle to late
afternoon, and then enjoys free time. Much of this
time is required for study, but the student can spend
time with friends, perhaps in Whitton. The student
also has time for personal communion in Iola’s Insight in this period.

Dinner comes at the student’s leisure, and those with funds purchase something in town. Any meal could be purchased in town, but doing so does not reduce the student’s tuition and doesn’t mesh with the packed schedule of the earlier day.

A student goes to bed anywhere from before sundown to long after midnight.


Fourteen instructors teach at the White Lotus
Academy. All but two of them live on campus in the
spacious quarters the academy grants them. Their
quarters are scattered across campus, each near the
part of the school where he or she spends the most
time. Only the Headmaster’s Residence is visible to
students. All the other faculty’s quarters are
accessible only to them and their invited guests, and
the areas are behind doors that normally lead to closets
or unused labs. Each instructor can also leave his or
her quarters directly to a sitting room in the
Headmaster’s Residence where the faculty has
occasional meetings. One artificer pranked the
faculty by randomizing the doors from which an
instructor would emerge. Despite his complaints,
he was not allowed to use that display of skill as his
graduation project.

Headmaster Marovic

A short, aging human with wispy hair, Rolland
Marovic is deceptive to his core, as befits a master of
illusion magic. He learned his craft from a master
in the Shadowfell of whom Marovic says little. Since
coming to the school, he has incorporated White
Lotus techniques into his art. He taught at the
academy for 13 years before he accepted the position
of headmaster. His habit is to walk incognito among
the students and instructors both to judge the state of
his school, and to dispense cryptic advice as himself
or as the janitor who wanders the grounds. Instructor
Westbrooke thinks Marovic has been somewhat
unstable since he shrouded the entire school in a
persistent illusion “to avoid notice of angels on a holy rampage.”

Muriel Mahli, Dean of Students

Dean Muriel Mahli is the eladrin dean of students
and has been for 31 years. She is tall with the stately
beauty common to her people and one notable
disfigurement: a patch of hair is missing on her
temple, where she bears a great scar. At least one new
student is tricked into asking about it each year and
suffers the consequences of the one question that
looses Dean Mahli’s fierce temper.

Mahli’s duties, beyond instruction of swordmages in training, are to guide and protect the general
student body—generally from themselves. She wields
the longsword well, and also has melee skills using
her bare hands, both of which allow her to keep
students in line without trouble. She is legendary
among students for quelling an unruly and
incorrigible student body by inviting them to attempt
to best her in combat, all at once. With every student
on the ground in a state of incapacitation and pain,
she proceeded to patch them all up. After setting
that precedent to keep the students in line, she was
more forgiving. To improve the student body’s mental
health, she encourages acts that other disciplinarians might punish.

Dean Mahli can reach her quarters through any door that leads to a custodial closet in either of the student dormitories.

Instructor Hribar, Bursar

The devil Incarus retired from the position of bursar
18 years ago, volunteering Hribar as his successor.
Hribar, a devil of knowledge, accepted the position,
and only the headmaster knows what Hribar receives
in return. He is an imp who looks, for the most part,
like a short, devilish human or tiefling with a pair
of wings. He is suitably civil in his role as bursar but
delights in teasing or unnerving the students.
In addition to his duties as bursar, Hribar uses a
working knowledge of infernal magic to instruct
warlocks at the White Lotus Academy. He has
additional insights on artifice, and he suffers in
silence when other instructors ask him to
demonstrate the way a magical principle reacts to his nature.

Hribar’s quarters are behind a door that normally
leads to a supply closet immediately behind the
bursar’s desk. From his quarters, Hribar can, at great
cost, escape to the Nine Hells rather than return to
the academy grounds.

Instructor Ibok, Master of Duels

Students recognize Rufus Ibok by sight, since few
dwarves are on campus. Instructor Ibok was an avid
adventurer in his youth, and he traveled with six
different adventuring companies before settling to
write books and ballads of his experiences. As an
instructor at the White Lotus Academy, Ibok teaches
aspiring bards the art of music and uses his free time
for his personal projects. Hearing a plaintive, original
melody from his worn lute wafting from nowhere
is not uncommon, occasionally accompanied by his
sweet baritone.

In addition to teaching the academy’s bards,
Instructor Ibok also teaches classes in protocol and
etiquette across the world, which is knowledge he
acquired on his travels. This expertise also makes
him the ideal master of duels, since he knows all the
forms, including regional variations, and is a
masterful arbiter of fair play. When two students
ready for a practice duel, Ibok ensures they remain
safe; his attention was especially valuable when a student
revealed himself to be a doppelganger assassin while
in the middle of a duel.

Ibok’s quarters are in the Hall of Amber, through
a door that normally leads into a practice room that
contains a harpsichord that can control the local
winds. Ibok lets most students stride directly into his
chambers rather than give them access to
the harpsichord.

Instructor Apresa

Liese Apresa is a powerful and unpredictable sorceress.

She lives her life in the same manner she
wields her magic: chaotically. Her habit is to show up
places she is unexpected, such as other instructors’
classes, students’ conversations, parties, and duels, to
dispense wisdom and a quick lesson before leaving
just as suddenly. Her words often have no relevance
whatsoever, but occasionally they are prophetic or
just what is necessary to help someone. One student
endured hearing her warning, “Ignore the winter”
each time she saw him for his entire enrollment. He
recently sent word that he learned her meaning in
a recent encounter with a ghaele of winter from the Feywild, along with his thanks.

Apresa lives with her husband, Instructor Westbrooke, in a house near the campus on the edge of Whitton.

Instructor Westbrooke

Malcolm Westbrooke is a half-elf wizard in the middle of his life. He teaches wizardry and artifice at the academy and accepts no hesitation or errors from his students. Mistakes are rewarded with long essays or research work in his lab. Perfection earns a trip abroad to study whatever subject the deserving student chooses—a reward Westbrooke takes seriously. He once escorted an artificer on a trip to infiltrate a githyanki compound to investigate one of their silver swords firsthand. These trips are why Westbrooke’s classes are full despite his uncompromising teaching style.

Westbrooke lives with his wife, Instructor Apresa, but usually comes to the campus through an enchanted door that leads to an office in Founder’s Hall.

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