Forgotten Realms Wiki
Forgotten Realms Wiki

The Arcane, also known as mercanes,[1][2][9] were a race of spacefaring[4] and extraplanar[1][2][10] merchants, especially interested in dealing in spelljamming equipment.[4]

Where do the Arcane come from? Who are they? Why do they sell their helms? Surely profit is not their only motivation. Who among us has ever even learned how a helm works, let alone manufactured one?
— Gamalon Idogyr, during a lecture to the Seekers at the Library of the Spheres[11]


The Arcane looked like tall and slender blue-skinned giants with long, delicate fingers. Some reported that each finger had an additional joint;[1][2][4][10] others claimed that they had five fingers and a thumb on each hand.[7][8][note 1] They had narrow shoulders and a sunken chest. Their skulls were narrow and double-domed, with a slight bulge over their brows and their dark eyes sunk into their heads.[7]

The Arcane typically dressed in robes.[1][2][4]

The entire Arcane race had a type of collective telepathy. They became immediately aware if a member of the race was harmed, which made it impossible for an aggressor to conduct business with any other Arcane until amends were made.[4]


The Arcane were viewed by other species as a very cool, efficient and uncaring race. Their response to attempts at haggling was unpredictable, but they invariably reacted badly to threats. Wronged Arcane did not forget a slight, but took their time in exerting revenge in non-violent and subtle, albeit damaging, ways. In addition, the Arcane were very suspicious of newly contacted groups and never initiated contact themselves, preferring to negotiate through representatives. This irritating behavior led other species to tolerate the Arcane as a necessary evil.[4]


Despite their size, the Arcane were considerably weak and non-combative. They preferred to avoid confrontations through negotiation. They were usually accompanied by bodyguards, especially when conducting business in dangerous areas. If confrontation did break out, they were capable of defending themselves by using magic items, but the most frequent response would be for them to flee by using their innate invisibility and dimension door abilities, with no regard for their bodyguards.[4]


The Arcane were the major (often the only) source of spelljamming helms for most spacefaring races, including humans, elves, mind flayers, lizardfolk, and even beholders.[4][12] The only exception were the neogi, who were capable of acquiring their own helms through other means. For that reason, the Arcane kept themselves neutral in all situations and did not get involved in any confrontation whatsoever between factions. In fact, it was common for the Arcane to supply both sides of a conflict, even at the risk of mutual annihilation, which the Arcane viewed as a small loss compared to the magnitude of their business.[4]

As skilled merchants invariably connected with the business of spelljammers and helms, the Arcane could only be found in crystal spheres that contained races at least aware of the possibility of space travel. They were completely absent from superstitious or isolationist worlds but were remarkably easy to find in places where spelljamming technology was at least heard of. Since they most commonly traveled alone, some more primitive cultures visited by the Arcane viewed them as deities themselves, sometimes even spawning cults that prayed to them asking for power.[4]

It was not known whether the Arcane themselves produced space travel technology or acquired it from another mysterious dealer. It was uncommon to find an Arcane traveling aboard a spelljammer: they were ubiquitous all over space and came and went as they pleased. This suggested that they traveled by a different, unknown, means.[4]

The Arcane were the only non-beholders that were authorized to freely land and conduct business on the planet H'Catha. They provided the planet's inhabitants with all their ships.[13]

According to the illithid Estriss, there were likely many Arcane residing on Toril. He knew of at least one each in the massive cities of Calimport and Waterdeep and had heard rumors of the Arcane controlling the Dock, which was located in the Wu Pi Te Shao Mountains. (Estriss did not believe this latter rumor, however.) At least two Arcane lived on the Beacon Rocks in the middle of the Great Sea.[14]

Despite their reputation as eternal wanderers, some Arcane were permanent inhabitants of Dweomerheart, the realm Mystra (Midnight) shared with Azuth, Savras, and Velsharoon.[15]

Some Arcane were known to revere the "Departed Elders";[8] whether these elders were considered a pantheon in their own right is unknown.


There was little known about the origin of the Arcane. Rumors abounded about their origins.[4][14] One tale claimed that the home world of the arcane was not within a crystal sphere but instead was hidden somewhere within the phlogiston.[14] A thri-kreen legend[14] told that their origin had something to do with the legendary Spelljammer, in that they gave up their homeworld in exchange for the ship with an ancient deity.[4][14] Failing to properly control the ship, they ended up as eternal wanderers,[4][14] and their planet ultimately fell into its sun.[14] The Arcane themselves did not comment on these legends.[4][14]

The illithid Estriss theorized that the Arcane had learned their magic from the ancient spacefaring race known as the Juna. For their part, the Arcane denied that the Juna had ever even existed.[16] Estriss, admitting his bias about Juna-theories, also proposed a second theory that the Arcane had received their technology instead from the reigar. He noted that esthetics, the reigars' strange spelljamming craft, were almost always crewed by the Arcane.[17]

Notable Arcane[]



  1. The text of "Lorebook of the Void", as well as later depictions give the arcane an additional joint in each finger. The image there, however, shows the same number of joints as a human, but an additional finger on each hand. The authors of the Cloakmaster Cycle of novels seemed to have followed the image in "Lorebook of the Void" rather than the description.


Dungeon #36: "The Sea of Sorrow"
Into the VoidThe Radiant Dragon



  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan (September 2001). Manual of the Planes 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 179–180. ISBN 0-7869-1850-8.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (July 2002). Epic Level Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 204–205. ISBN 0-7869-2658-9.
  3. Andy Collins, David Noonan, James Wyatt (2003). D&D v.3.5 Accessory Update Booklet. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 22.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 Jeff Grubb (August 1989). “Lorebook of the Void”. Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space (TSR, Inc.), pp. 67–68. ISBN 0-88038-762-9.
  5. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 152. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  6. Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), p. 8. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Nigel Findley (September 1991). Into the Void. (TSR, Inc.), p. 237. ISBN ISBN 1-56076-154-7.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Elaine Cunningham (November 1992). The Radiant Dragon. (TSR, Inc.), p. 2. ISBN 1-56076-346-9.
  9. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 62. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Richard Baker (October 1995). Monstrous Compendium Planescape Appendix II. Edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN 0-7869-0173-X.
  11. Richard Baker (1992). Rock of Bral. (TSR, Inc), p. 72. ISBN 1-56076-345-0.
  12. Nigel Findley (September 1991). Into the Void. (TSR, Inc.), p. 93. ISBN ISBN 1-56076-154-7.
  13. Dale "slade" Henson (April 1991). Realmspace. Edited by Gary L. Thomas, Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 1-56076-052-4.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 Nigel Findley (September 1991). Into the Void. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 94–95. ISBN ISBN 1-56076-154-7.
  15. Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 152. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
  16. Nigel Findley (September 1991). Into the Void. (TSR, Inc.), p. 96. ISBN ISBN 1-56076-154-7.
  17. Elaine Cunningham (November 1992). The Radiant Dragon. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 88–89. ISBN 1-56076-346-9.
  18. Dale "slade" Henson (March 1992). “War Captain's Guide”. In Jon Pickens ed. War Captain's Companion (TSR, Inc.), p. 57. ISBN 1-56076-343-4.
  19. Nigel Findley (September 1991). Into the Void. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN ISBN 1-56076-154-7.
  20. Ed Greenwood (1993). Volo's Guide to the North. (TSR, Inc), p. 143. ISBN 1-5607-6678-6.