Today we’re venturing into the Dread Domain of Borca in the Ravenloft campaign setting! This article fleshes out the location of Scholomance, a dark wizard school on the eastern side of the map. As always, you can get everything you need from the video below, the article below that, or you can get the full color PDF (including MAPS!) over on Patreon!
Get the full color PDF (and maps) over on Patreon!
In the shadows of Mount Gries stands—in proud countenance—Scholomance, Borca’s institute of black magic. Within this dark academy study students of wizardly descent. Most are chosen from Borca’s elite—from noble families, merchant guilds, or influential circles. No student can be admitted without a sponsor, whose absurd expectations can rarely be met. Only the most depraved and desperate survive, overshadowed by the most wicked of pupils. For seven years these students go without the sun, forced to remain in the warrens below the manor—and those that fail to graduate are not permitted to leave. Those who triumph over this gauntlet are welcomed into the Rainmaker Society, a dark cabal that exerts great influence over the country.
Scholomance is an open secret—a known institute amongst the Borcan nobility, who seldom dare whisper its name. Amongst the common folk, it is a legend—a manor of obscene decadence ruled over by the Devil himself. Neither classes truly know where the estate stands, only that it is to the east of Mount Gries, far from the reach of the law. It is said that in the warrens below slumbers a dragon with scales forged from shadow, and whose rage—if the leviathan wakes—will quench the sun itself. Only the Solomanari, the Rainmaker Society’s archwizard, may tame the beast. Whomever wears such a title when the drake awakens will have the honor of riding that harbinger of ruin across the skies in Borca’s final days.
Scholomance’s mysterious instructors—all alumni and members of the Rainmaker Society—come and go with the seasons, but three individuals remain to run the academy:
It is said the Devil himself presides over Scholomance—and the myths could be no closer to the truth. The academy is run by Varmala, a rakshasa masquerading as a man. The fiend is a prisoner like any other Borcan. Although Varmala predates Borca’s absorption into the Domains of Dread, it can find no means of escape. It has laid all its hope upon the waking of Vathreneer. If Borca is smothered by darkness, the fiend believes it may have a chance to return to the hell whence it came.
Varmala is cruel, sadistic and perpetually bored. The fiend plays games with students and visiting instructors alike. No torment is sweeter, it believes, than the affairs of the heart. Through spells of disguise self, the rakshasa sows chaos and mistrust. In every class of Scholomance arises a relationship between two (or sometimes more) students. When it isn’t a disguised Varmala that starts this tryst with a few flirtatious letters or longing glances, the fiend is certainly the one that ends them. Disguised as one’s lover, Varmala betrays secrets or confidence, laying with another student or instructor. The carnage it reaps is like no other, for Scholomance’s students are only permitted to leave as graduates or as corpses.
Narcissa Lehmbruck refuses to die. None know who raised this wraith from the dead, only that she has forgotten more of magic than most will ever learn. The spirit endures as a lesson to why no apprentice should ever murder her master. Undeath has twisted Narcissa’s already dark heart. As the Dean of Discipline, there is no punishment too revolting for her to order. The wraith roams the halls of Scholomance day and night, eager to find disobedient students.
True to her namesake, Narcissa recognizes no authority but her own. She detests Pribuska Windischmann, who she remembers as a troublesome student. Unable to touch her, Narcissa vents her rage upon the villagers and custodians, enforcing a nightly curfew. As a wraith, Narcissa cannot leave the grounds of Scholomance and abhors sunlight.
Pribuska has made a career out of finding and manipulating emergent magi. For over sixty years, she has traveled Borca to shape young sorcerers and wizards. To the nobility, she is salvation—a benevolent visitor that trains their young before a disastrous accident occurs. Amongst the peasantry, Pribuska is feared as a thief that follows rumors like a bloodhound. After confirming a child’s nascent powers, she pays off the parents and whisks the child away to Levkarest, where they are to be trained in her own estate. So far, she has never met a parent she could not sway with threats or gold.
Pribuska has earned infamy amongst the Rainmaker Society and has her eye on becoming the next Solomanari. Several other candidates stand between her and ultimate power—but none of those fools thought to raise generation after generation of loyal magi that would drop everything to assist their adopted mother. Pribuska’s recent tenure at Scholomance is but one more ploy to solidify the loyalty amongst Borca’s wizards.
Serving as a dean, Pribuska is responsible for the school’s curriculum and is second only to Varmala. Her authority is routinely ignored by Narcissa, who herself taught Pribuska decades ago. Pribuska has no love for her erstwhile teacher, who abused students at every opportunity. Were it up to her, Narcissa would be exorcised and sent to whatever hell awaits her.
Pribuska is a LE human archmage that wields a staff of frost and wears a periapt of health.
Only ten students are permitted into Scholomance at a time, and it isn’t until they all graduate or perish that a new class is brought in. The curriculum takes seven years to complete and a geas spell prevents students from willingly stepping outside into the daylight. It is only at night that these apprentices are allowed to leave Scholomance’s cramped warrens. The current class has two years left in their studies and has lost six students to mishaps and murder.
Students are prohibited from harming each other or the destroying of property, but every class manages to defy such rules without consequence.
Caspar is the seventh son of the Pretorius family’s current matriarch, Renja. This black sheep has displayed dangerous powers since before he could walk. It was not until a temper tantrum of his sparked the vast wildfire (the very one that created Borca’s Ash Gardens) that his fate was sealed. From the age of six, Caspar has known that he would be sent to Scholomance to either bring prestige to his family or at last be forgotten.
Caspar is prone to lashing out. He is infatuated with Edith Goldpetals, who considers himself a useful tool in her survival. Caspar knows he’s being used, but cares not. As his fondness for Edith grows, so too does his magic—for his sorcery is amplified by emotion. In days of yore, it was anger that fueled his spellcraft. Now, it is his love—obsession—that allows him to wield such remarkable power.
Caspar is a NE human mage with a Charisma of 17 and an Intelligence of 14. His Spellcasting trait has been replaced with the one described below:
Spellcasting. Caspar is a 9th-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). He knows the following sorcerer spells:
- Cantrips (at will): firebolt, light, mage hand, mending, shocking grasp
- 1st level (4 slots): burning hands, detect magic, shield
- 2nd level (3 slots): enhance ability, invisibility, see invisibility
- 3rd level (3 slots): fireball, counterspell
- 4th level (3 slots): wall of fire
- 5th level (1 slot): immolation
Edith is no native of Borca. Born to another world, Edith was snatched up by the Mists of Ravenloft and delivered to Barovia. Promised mercy by the vampire Strahd von Zarovich, Edith betrayed her fellow adventurers—her misguided and wounded comrades. Before Strahd could welcome Edith as his newest bride, the Dark Powers—impressed by how quickly she turned on her closest friends—ushered her away to Borca where she wandered for some time. It was not long before she attracted the dark infatuation of Ivana Boritisi, who sponsored her admission into Scholomance. Faced again with another tyrant, Edith had little choice but to obey.
Still believing that there is good in herself, Edith has been drowning for some time now. Her peers and tutors are evil beyond measure. She has no desire to graduate into the Rainmaker Society, only escape Borca and leave behind her dark, damnable past… Alas, as his most promising pupil, Varmala has kept a close eye on Edith, ensuring that—even if she were to undo the geas spell placed upon her—the mage won’t escape Scholomance.
Edith is a CN human abjurer (see Volo’s Guide to Monsters) who carries a spellbook containing the spells described in her statistics.
Sabine Schreiner can do no wrong—or so her doting grandparents always told her, even after she murdered her otherwise nondescript parents. Born to a well-off merchant family, she has known luxury, but not power. It was power that Pribuska Windischmann promised Sabine when the wizard took the girl under her wing. Impressed by Sabine’s talents, Pribuska sponsored her admission to Scholomance. Alas, once Pribuska joined the academy, she dared to show Sabine contempt and indifference. To be treated like the common rabble boils Sabine’s blue blood. Once she graduates, Sabine swears, she will humble Pribuska, even if her corpse must be raised to do so.
Sabine is a CE human necromancer (see Volo’s Guide to Monsters) who carries a spellbook containing the spells described in her statistics. She wears an amulet of proof against detection and location.
Were it not for the machinations of his mother, Vaclav would be afflicted by the Nobriskov family’s lycanthropic curse. His mother, a warlock, laid with an incubus to twist her child into an entirely different monster—a cambion. Vaclav is considered the salvation of House Nobriskov—the fiend that will free the bloodline from his Uncle Vladimir’s bloodthirsty hunger. For his own safety, Vaclav was sent away to live with distant relatives until at last his mother—with ample help from Vaclav’s distant, infernal father—got him into Scholomance.
Tormented by his masters and the demands of his infernal father, Vaclav is a man on the edge. Perpetually panicked by the most minor inconveniences, he may prove to be an embarrassment his legacy. Hounded by expectations from his relatives, mortal or otherwise, Vaclav wishes only to live in quiet seclusion—after revenging himself upon those that condemned him to this foul existence, starting with his mother, Katrin.
Vaclav is a LE cambion with an Intelligence of 18 and the Spellcasting trait described below. He can conjure his spellbook or dismiss it into a pocket dimension using an action. The spellbook contains the spells described in his Spellcasting trait below.
Spellcasting. Vaclav is a 9th-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 15, +7 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following wizard spells prepared:
- Cantrips (at will): firebolt, light, mage hand, mending, shocking grasp
- 1st level (4 slots): burning hands, detect magic, mage armor, shield
- 2nd level (3 slots): misty step, suggestion
- 3rd level (3 slots): counterspell, lightning bolt
- 4th level (3 slots): greater invisibility, blight
- 5th level (1 slot): telekinesis
Vathreneer the Slumbering Leviathan
In the caverns below Scholomance slumbers Vathreneer, an adult gold shadow dragon corrupted by the Dark Powers. Centuries ago, Vathreneer was captured by humans and forced to raise children that would be enslaved as mounts. Breaking free from her prison, the dragon laid waste to the entire civilization that wronged her and her children. There was no mercy. The kingdom she burned is remembered by no soul or scholar, and all that remains is ash. The dragon had numerous opportunities to give up her campaign but always chose further destruction—and in doing so, garnered the attention of the Dark Powers.
Vathreneer was sequestered to an airy realm of endless smoke, cinder, screams, and fire. With nowhere to land and rest, the dragon was forced to fly for eons until at last her mind broke. The smoke thinned, revealing the Mists of Ravenloft, which enveloped and delivered her to Borca.
Having fallen into a great slumber, Vathreneer is tormented by guilt-ridden nightmares that have twisted her into a shadow dragon.
Vathreneer is at the heart of the Rainmaker Society’s ethos. Whomsoever holds the title of Solomanari when the leviathan wakes shall take to the skies upon her back. To keep her fed—and to rid themselves of pests—Scholomance’s magi stuff bound villagers into her maw to be slowly crushed, chewed, and swallowed while the dragon sleeps. If she awakens, she yields to the Solomanari’s authority, choosing to serve in madness than face her crimes with a sane mind.
Vathreneer awakens with three levels of exhaustion if she takes 50 damage or more. Otherwise, she is due to continue slumbering for another twelve years.
Since its founding, Scholomance has been tended to by a village’s worth of commoners known as “the Custodians.” It is they who work the fields and orchards that sustain the academy. It is this unfortunate flock that entertains the students and faculty. Entire generations live and die in the shadow of Scholomance. The lucky are taken by plague or age. Others instead find themselves reduced to living test subjects, forced to endure years of cruelty at the hands of the academy’s students. Those who dare leave are soon set upon by the Night Swarm of Mount Gries. No villager alive knows what pact or spells ward away the Swarm, only that to leave is to die and to stay is to suffer.
Amongst the Custodians are three—four, truly—individuals of consequence:
The head butler of Scholomance, Orndorff has long-since become an advocate for the Rainmaker Society. Considered a traitor by the other Custodians, the butler keeps an eye out for any dissent. Those that cross him are turned over to the magi below—who have no reason to distrust his word. Many a man has been subjected to a lifetime of magical torment, only to be raised as undead for further use.
Orndorff is a LE commoner with an Insight bonus of +4.
“Doomed Joachim,” as he is referred to by the other Custodians, is the Scholomance’s current head groundskeeper. No predecessor of his has ever made it to a quiet retirement; all have been taken by the magi below. In the folklore surrounding Scholomance, it is always said that the head groundskeeper—a man of nature and sunlight—is at odds with the manor’s head butler, a powerful servant allowed to live in luxury. The folklore certainly rings true now, for Joachim is on a quest to liberate his people from the shadow of Scholomance—a quest opposed by Stephen Orndorff. His first priority is to undo the curse that fused Konrad and Luca Rott together.
Toughened by years of labor, Eisner has the statistics of a LG thug.
Operating under a sick fascination, Sabine Schreiner magically fused together two fourteen-year-old twins, Konrad and Luca Rott. The two boys now share a single monstrous body crowned with two heads. The horror of this transformation was too much to bear for Luca, who has since gone mad. The magi use this monstrosity for physical labor in the academy below. Recognizing an opportunity to quell any dissent, Stephen Orndorff showed several other Custodians the abomination. For some, however, like Joachim Eisner, the Rott Twins are proof that enough is enough—that the Custodians cannot keep living under the magi’s rule.
Konrad and Luca are kept in the bowels of Scholomance and have the statistics of a Medium-sized ettin.
Visitors to Scholomance often come from the west, following a mountain road that skirts around Mount Gries’ southern summit. The road leads through quiet woods devoid of predators—most native monsters having already been hunted down by the Night Swarm. After several hours through these silent woods, travelers come to a grassy knoll with a commanding view of Scholomance. Read the following when the adventurers first lay eyes on the estate:
Breaking through the brush, you come upon a grassy knoll overlooking the valley below. The sight is breathtaking: beneath the dark visage of Mount Gries lies a lavish estate bordered by tall hedges. Three small farms lie therein, bordered by patchwork cabins and cobblestone pathways. A creek runs through the estate’s heart, quenching orchards and other fields. All roads lead to an opulent and ancient manor perched proudly upon a treeless hill. Behind this manor sprawls a garden of exotic trees encircling a massive oak tree.
The hedge walls come to five gates, the closest of which you can see is unmanned. In the distance, you spot movement: workers, most likely. Surely, this estate must belong to a duke or someone of equal wealth and standing.
By all accounts, Scholomance appears to be an idyllic paradise surrounded by quiet forests and overlooked by the face of Mount Gries. From on high, one can see that the grounds are laid out in the form of a pentagram, at the heart of which stands the manor. The estate is large enough to support a few farms, all fed by the creek that runs from the mountainside.
The grounds are fenced in by 20-foot-tall, 10-feet-wide hedges. These hedges have the same properties as a razorvine (see the Dungeon Master’s Guide) and prove lethal to those that would clamber over such an unassuming wall. Only five gaps appear in the hedgewall; each are warded with permanent alarm spells that alert Varmala to intruders. No guards are stationed there, for the peasants know that to leave Scholomance is die to the Night Swarm of Mount Gries.
The Night Garden
A garden of deadly fruits and exotic herbs sprawls behind the manor. The garden is enchanted; its foul crops do not grow from sunlight but moonlight instead. To an uninformed observer, it proves to be a peculiar harvest: from seemingly sterile seeds leap out vibrant plants overnight, once the full moon has passed.
At the heart of the garden stands Erismond, a slumbering LE treant. The creature has not uprooted itself in over a century and plans to remain here, occasionally berating passerby, for many more years to come. Apples grow upon Erismond’s boughs—but in any harvest, one apple is secretly poisonous. A creature that takes even a single bite of the apple must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw, taking 31 (9d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. A spell of detect poison and disease reveals its deadly nature.
The Monument to Failure
Within The Night Garden stands a marble obelisk. The names of all those who failed to graduate from Scholomance are carved into its stark face, forever memorializing their shortcomings. A detect magic spell reveals an aura of transmutation magic. By whispering “May they rot,” the earth before the monument churns, revealing a staircase to a mausoleum below. Down below lay coffins and urns containing the remains of all past failures—or at least the remains that could be recovered.
The mausoleum is haunted by the ghost of Dasan Dilisnya, a past student sent to the academy solely to remove from him the line of succession. He died attempting to control a demon during his third year at Scholomance. For years he remained at rest, but the arrival of Pribuska Windischmann—his former lover—has roused his spirit. Dasan wishes to be reunited with Pribuska, but he cannot leave the mausoleum. Pribuska is unaware of the ghost’s existence but Sabine Schriener knows the truth.
Along the walls stand ragged homes and hovels: the patchwork homes of the lesser custodians. Candles are lit nightly in the name of whatever deity a family believes will deliver them from Scholomance. These peasants have little treasure, but many secrets—the most consequential being that “Old Man” Niers Radiska dug a tunnel from his basement into the dark academy below.
The breathtaking opulence on display here in Scholomance would confound and disgust Borca’s peasantry. Portraits, marble busts, and other art lines its winding corridors. The floor is warmed by pelts of many strange beasts and rugs woven in distant lands.
Shadows in the manor cannot be trusted. On nights of the new moon, Scholomance’s ambient magic attempts to rob one individual of their shadow. One humanoid within the manor must succeed on a DC 13 Charisma saving throw; on a failed save, a shadow animates and roams the manor until dawn. The shadow cannot slay anything beyond small animals but is capable of other mischief. After dawn, the shadow is returned to its owner.
Scholomance’s faculty, visitors, and chief custodial staff sleep in the manor. No suite is more lavish, and dangerous, than Varmala’s.
Areas of the Manor
The following section describes areas of the Scholomance manor, which you can find on the accompanying map.
This area serves as the primary entrance to Scholomance manor. Those who enter here are greeted by the head butler, Stephen Orndorff. Expected or esteemed guests are met with an effusion of respect, while unexpected or disheveled guests are met with a sneer of derision.
The floors of this area are made from gleaming marble, and the area is lit by oil lamps that hang from the polished oak-paneled walls. Several closed doors lead off into adjacent rooms.
On one wall sits a plush sofa underneath an oil painting of the manor house. Opposite, a staircase leads to the upper floor, and beyond it a hallway leads deeper into the manor.
This richly appointed room is lit and warmed by a roaring fire in a hearth on the northern wall. The purple fabric of the furniture, rugs, and drapery is contrasted by the intricately woven green carpet.
This room serves as a space for guests and instructors of the academy to relax and interact with one another. The current staff of Scholomance, however, feels little need to see more of each other than absolutely necessary. As such, this area is empty more often than not.
When he is not greeting guests or intimidating the other custodians, Stephen Orndorff spends his time in this office amongst piles of books, ledgers, and other documents. From within this office, Stephen Orndorff oversees the care and upkeep of the manor and its grounds, as well as the supplying of goods necessary for the academy below.
The southern wall of the office is adorned with the mounted heads of several types of game which the head butler has hunted in his spare time.
Treasure. There is a 25% chance that the head butler’s skeleton key is within his top right desk drawer. This key will open any door within the manor or its grounds, but not in the academy below. On the desk is a gold-tipped quill worth 5gp.
This small room is filled with the scent of fragrant flowers. It is here that Pribuska takes her afternoon tea. She is often joined by Stephen Orndorff, with whom she tolerates a mild friendship.
A long oaken table dominates the center of the dining room, which is illuminated by candles in an ornate golden chandelier.
Despite the fact that only two living instructors currently reside at Scholomance, the custodians of the manor keep the table ready to receive a full host of guests at all times.
This long and narrow room is lined with shelves containing all manner of foodstuffs and dishes. There are several sacks of flour and beans, numerous tankards and plates, as well as a myriad of eating utensils.
Within this greenhouse, the custodians of Scholomance nurture and cultivate plants for both food and magical experiments. Joachim Eisner, the groundskeeper, can often be found here trimming and watering the plants.
When short-term guests arrive at Scholomance, their coats and personal effects are stored here.
Barrels and bottles of wine fill this room. Each barrel and bottle is stamped with a label from the Stygian Sommelier, a winery of some repute in central Borca. A narrow staircase leads further downward into the shadows of the wine cellar.
The custodians rest here when they are not attending to their duties. Each has their own bed and a locked trunk for their personal effects. Unknown to them, however, the butler’s skeleton key can open each of their trunks, and they are regularly searched for contraband or illicit items.
This spacious kitchen has everything a chef needs to create a feast for the ages. Here, nearly around the clock, kitchen staff work to prepare exquisite meals for both the students and the instructors. Meanwhile, the custodians are given the scraps and trimmings from the richer meals.
A small privy used by the manor custodians.
The custodians of Scholomance manor are permitted entry and exit through this set of doors, and these alone. Any who are caught using the front door are punished severely.
This entrance leads to the main hallway on the ground floor, as well as a servant’s staircase.
Once upon a time, guests of the manor could hear some of the most beautiful music in all of Borca emanate from this room. Now it stands silent and disused. If any were to attempt to play the instruments here, they would find each of them to be severely out of tune. Although the custodians of the manor keep the room clean, none of them know how to tune an instrument, and none of the current staff care to play them.
A large window in this room overlooks the main walkway to the manor house. Around the walls of the room are shelves stacked with spell scrolls. Some are in a usable state, but others are old or damaged.
The door to this room is locked, and may be opened with the butler’s skeleton key, a knock spell, or a DC 20 Dexterity check with thieves’ tools.
Treasure. Characters who search this room find five spell scrolls containing cantrips, two spell scrolls with first level spells, and one spell scroll with a second level spell.
Pribuska spends much of her time in this room when she isn’t teaching or having her afternoon tea. It is here that she writes missives to the wizards she raised, as well as other influential magic users throughout the land, in preparation for her move to become Solomanari.
The door to the room is sealed with an arcane lock spell. The lock can be picked with a DC 25 Dexterity check and thieves’ tools, broken down with a DC 25 Strength (Athletics) check, or suppressed with a knock spell. The door is also secured with a glyph of warding (5d8 lightning damage, DC 15 saving throw) that goes off when anyone other than Pribuska opens the door. The glyph can be identified with a DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation) check.
Treasure. Pribuska has brought few valuables with her to Scholomance. However, the room contains two candlesticks with 10gp each, and two scrolls with fourth level spells. There is also a journal which details her suspicions that Varmala is not who he says he is.
Varmala, as a fiend, does not sleep. Instead, it ruminates in its accursed suite. A sinister force has stained itself into every surface, every pillow and drape—into the very air itself. Creatures that enter this chamber uninvited trigger a silent alarm spell that alerts Varmala. While in this suite, Varmala has a +2 bonus to its AC.
In one corner of the room stands a gold-trimmed mirror of life-trapping. Within this extradimensional prison suffers the true Varmala, a LE human archmage that the rakshasa defeated ages ago. When the mirror is viewed indirectly, his faint countenance can be seen upon the surface.
The door to the room is sealed with an arcane lock spell. The lock can be picked with a DC 25 Dexterity check and thieves’ tools, broken down with a DC 25 Strength (Athletics) check, or suppressed with a knock spell.
Since she died, Narcissa spends as little time as possible in her room, favoring instead to haunt the halls of the academy below. In this room, the furniture is covered in white sheets. One wall is dominated by a large bed, within which lay the remains of Narcissa’s mortal body. Should her remains be disturbed, Narcissa materializes within the room and confronts whomever is inside.
The door to Narcissa’s room is sealed with an arcane lock spell. The lock can be picked with a DC 25 Dexterity check and thieves’ tools, broken down with a DC 25 Strength (Athletics) check, or suppressed with a knock spell.
Treasure. Two floor-to-ceiling mirrors stand on the wall opposite of the bed. Their ornate gilded frames are worth 200gp each.
Nondescript shapes, each covered with white cloths, stand around this long and windowless room. The items underneath the cloths range from disused furniture and artwork to trunks of previous students and instructors that now lie in the Monument to Failure.
Treasure. The storage room contains four paintings worth 500gp each, a silver tea set worth 10gp, as well as journals from past students and instructors that may provide insight into life at Scholomance.
This bath chamber is shared and used by all manor guests and staff, save for Varmala. It is kept immaculately clean by the manor custodians. Inside is an ornate bath tub carved from a single piece of wood, a shelf with plush towels, and a small privy chamber.
These bedrooms are richly furnished and regularly cleaned by the manor staff, but they are otherwise unoccupied. They are kept in a constant state of readiness, should any itinerant instructors or alumni come to the manor.
The Academy Below
It is here under the manor grounds that the students of Scholomance spend seven years of their lives (or the rest of it if they’re unlucky).
Each student bedchamber has a door that is enchanted with an arcane lock spell, requiring either a knock spell or a DC 15 Dexterity check and thieves’ tools to bypass. New students find great solace in these personal sanctums until they learn that a permanent clairvoyance spell has been placed along the ceiling. It is the trial of every new student to suppress the spell lest the Dean of Discipline, Narcissa Lehmbruck, spies upon them.
Areas of the Academy
The following section describes the various areas that you will find in the academy.
This large stone room contains several racks of wine barrels and bottles. In a darkened alcove stand two stone golems at either end of a shelf of wine bottles. The golems attack anyone who comes within ten feet who is not supposed to be at Scholomance.
A DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals a door hidden behind the shelf of wine bottles, beyond which is a winding set of stone stairs that lead to the academy below the manor.
A DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals a tunnel that leads to the hovel of Niers Radiska on the manor grounds.
This room is enchanted to glow a dim, azure light. Her wardrobe and boudoir are full of glamorous attire for any occasion. Her jewelry box is enchanted with a glyph of warding spell (5d8 cold damage, DC 13 saving throw) that goes off when a creature other than her opens the box. A diary stuffed under her mattress details every individual Sabine has sworn revenge on, including Pribuska Windischmann.
Treasure. Three gold rings worth 25gp each, a ruby pendant worth 150gp.
This room is littered by shattered glass and wood—Vaclav was forced to destroy his mirror and portraits to deprive his infernal parent of a window through which it could loom. In his desk, Vaclav keeps a pouch of powdered silver-and-iron shavings for magic circle spells.
This room smells of smoke and ash. Most of Caspar’s possessions are scorched from past tantrums, and the floor is covered with soot. Sets of enchanted, fireproof robes hang upon an iron rod in the otherwise empty room.
This room contains a detailed map of both Borca and Barovia, along with a diary detailing her ordeals. Therein, Edith has written her theory on the nature of this realm’s reality. She is close to discovering the unsettling truth: Borca and its fellow domains have been drawn into the Shadowfell.
These empty chambers belonged to students who did not have what it takes to live through seven years of Scholomance.
The Leviathan’s Door
These massive wooden doors are reinforced by steel shaped into the curling form of dragons, which span the door’s surface. Between the doors is a lock the size of a grown man’s head with a keyhole as wide as a broadsword’s blade.
Ragna Piechota, the Solomanari, possesses the only key to this door. He keeps it hidden in an extradimensional space that he can summon at will. The lock may be picked, however, with a DC 30 Dexterity check and thieves’ tools.
Also guarding the door are three glyphs of warding, cast by Scholomance’s instructors, that each do 5d8 damage (lightning, cold, and fire, respectively).
The library of Scholomance academy is a sight to behold. Unfortunately for the scholars of Borca, only a select few are allowed to set eyes upon it.
Spanning three levels and descending sixty feet into the ground, this circular room is lined with books, ancient tomes, and scrolls of all sorts. Several ladders are arrayed around the perimeter of each floor in order to allow passage up and down the library’s levels, as well as access to volumes on the upper shelves.
The Detention Pit
The students of Scholomance are anything but meek. When pride, hate, and bravado leads to a student crossing their peers or instructors, they are sentenced to time in the Detention Pit—an open-air, 20-foot-deep oubliette warded with a permanent antimagic field spell.
Repeat offenders are rare, but can face days or even weeks in the pit. The areas around the pit provide ample room for others to look down upon the wizard being punished and hurl down insults or other harmful objects.
Casting spells is only one part of a mage’s life, and in order for one to have a well-rounded education, a mage must also be able to brew any number of concoctions. The alchemy lab is filled with all manner of reagents and ingredients that range from mundane herbs from the greenhouse above, to more exotic body parts from places no one wishes to speak of.
The Circle of Binding
To consort with powers beyond the ken of mortals is the very essence of a Scholomance education. This spherical chamber is carved with protective runes and wards. A dock juts out into the center of this sphere, where a permanent magic circle spell has been drawn with bands of copper, silver, and platinum.
Here students summon creatures from beyond the Material Plane, and where they often meet their deaths. To graduate from the academy, a student must summon and master a demon. Although the chamber has been cleaned countless times, the walls are still stained with ancient blood and nicked by otherworldly claws.
Three oak tables stand within this chamber, ready to receive students during their mealtimes. At all hours, the tables are set with finely crafted plates, goblets, and cutlery. The room is illuminated by candles that float eight feet above the stone floor.
The lecture hall marks the center of the academy’s warrens. Within its walls, generations of magic users have studied and honed their craft. The floor of the lecture hall is adorned with glowing runes.
Along its walls rest ten gargoyles—each one staring at a particular desk. These gargoyles function as proctors, of sorts, making sure that no student engages in cheating. If a student is caught cheating, the gargoyle becomes animate and attacks.
Any of the events below can occur while the adventurers are at Scholomance:
The Leviathan Stirs
Vathreneer suffers a days-long terrible nightmare and rages against her cavern. Despite Varmala’s warning otherwise, many in the Rainmaker Society take this as a sign that the leviathan is about to wake. The Solomanari, Archwizard Ragna Piechota, arrives to pursue his destiny. Vathreneer, in her slumber, annihilates the wizard with necrotic energy. With the Solomanari dead, Pribuska Windischmann and her rivals begin to vie for the title. In the coming days, chaos grips the country as every wizard seizes the opportunity to move upward in the society.
Our Esteemed Lecturer
The esteemed illusionist Sena Ivliskova visits Scholomance to hold a practical lecture on illusion magic. To sharpen the students’ perception, the faculty fashion a gauntlet of traps, physical and illusory. The keen-minded prosper but when Sabine Schreiner falls prey to a fire-breathing statue, she plots vengeance against Ivliskova.
Twins on the Warpath
If Joachim Eisner fails to liberate the Rott Twins and undo their curse before the next full moon, Konrad takes his own life. Luca survives, but as the necrosis in his brother’s head spreads, the monstrosity becomes increasingly agitated. If left untreated, Luca goes on a rampage. He cripples Stephen Orndorff and bursts from the manor. While others flee from his wrath, Joachim tries to calm the boy down—in vain. Unless targeted by a calm emotions spell, Luca kills Joachim and murders another four Custodians before Varmala puts him down.
Characters may arrive at Scholomance for any number of reasons. The table below has several ideas of plot hooks that may draw characters to the location, or may provide you inspiration to come up with your own.
|An apothecary has asked you to acquire a rare ingredient that may only be found in The Night Garden of Scholomance.
|They say that no peasant escapes Scholomance, but one has. He begs you for help in liberating his family and friends.
|Pribuska has covertly contracted you to kill her rival, Varmala, and make it look like an accident. She does not know of his true nature.
|You find a long lost note from Edith Goldpetals, requesting aid from adventurers in escaping Borca. Your investigations have tracked her down to Scholomance.
|Ragna Piechota, the Solomanari, believes Vathreneer can be woken early if attacked. He asks you to go “kill the dragon,” knowing it will mean your doom.
|The mists of Borca swallowed you up and deposited you in the middle of Scholomance’s grounds. To what end, you have no idea.