The Esoteric Order of the White Robes of Hodon Systalien
The Esoteric Order was founded by the elven heretic Hodon Systalien, a silver elf who grew obsessed with knowledge and felt the calling of the god of knowledge, Nistur. Hodon took up the mantle of Chosen for his deity at some point in the past, though none know quite when. It is also believed that he was at one point a member of the Order of the Blue Robes, perhaps even a member of the venerable order of magic’s Council of Twelve before a permanent falling-out led to his banishment.
Hodon’s approach to knowledge and the study of the world’s secrets has always been tinged with madness and obsession, but his dedication knew no bounds, and shortly after his ascencion as an avatar of the god of knowledge a cult of like-minded individuals grew up around him, and founded a dedicated cult to Nistur. This cult has remained small but widespread; shrines and small temples can be found across the Middle Kingdoms, and the cult is sometimes even more prominent in local communities than the Blue Robes, who usually stay focused on the major cities of the world.
On the surface the focus of the Esoteric Order is history, nature, physics and magic, but that is not entirely correct. The “white robes” as they are sometimes known focus on the history of the world, the secrets of nature and the underpinnings of the cosmos on every level they can conceivably explore. There is a suspicion that the obsession the members experience is actually a direct influence of their god, seeking to catalog and explore every facet of existence for the deity’s enigmatic needs to understand everything.
One might expect the Esoteric Order to engage in activities which spread knowledge, but that would be a false assumption. Most members of the order do provide local tutelage to the less fortunate, educating the masses who will accept such studies, and indeed they tend to focus on the commoners and lesser folk of the Middle Kingdoms, while the Blue Robes tend to teach the aristocracy. However the Esoteric Order never teaches magic to any save their own, and the secret arcane lore they uncover is considered a jealously guarded secret.
The culmination of the order’s lore and actions are found in Hodon’s castle, located along the precipice of the Rift of Tragonor, where he has grown a vast garden of enchanted crystals which act like recorders of the world’s events. Hodon teaches a select few dedicates here how to read the crystals and transmigrate the soul through the planes in the quest for ever greater secrets. His true purposes in the acquisition of this knowledge remains unknown, though the cult overall seems to be firmly dedicated to the ways of order. For this reason only the Cult of Naril leaves the Cult of Nistur alone.
The Esoteric Order is both an enclave of like-minded scholars and a reclusive hideaway for the obscure cult of the god Nistur. The common bond between its members is an unhealthy obsession with secret lore, knowledge in general, and the truth. Many of the order’s members are noted for their obsessive, introverted tendencies, and only a few are more sociable. Those who are sociable tend to be the ones who will teach at local school houses and try to “give back to the community.” All of them revere Hodon Systalien for his breadth and scope of knowledge of the world, and strive to contribute what they can toward the ever expanding understanding of the world. They are in all ways like a band of natural philosophers who seek the truth for its own sake, and covet the knowledge above all else, including adoration or the appreciation of others.