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Blackstaff Tower by Steven E. Schend is the first novel in the Waterdeep series.

The seat of arcane power, where the Archmage of Waterdeep holds his court.

A dark monolith where the rules of reality do not apply.

All Waterdeep rests in the shade of BLACKSTAFF TOWER.

In Blackstaff, a man who helmed the FORGOTTEN REALMS for years tackled an epic tale of the famous wizard Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun–and wrote an instant classic.

In Blackstaff Tower, Steven Schend delves once more into the lore and wizardry of the Realms, and spins a tale that is a "must" for all who hold Waterdeep dear, and want to know what goes on behind the masks many folk in the FORGOTTEN REALMS wear. Pay much attention to the man behind the curtain!


The story takes place between 20 Marpenoth and 20 Nightal, 1479 DR. The story opens with Samark "the Blackstaff" Dhanzscul entering the tomb of Khelben Arunsun as his heir, Vajra Safahr, waits outside. Samark enters the tomb and retrieves the gold ring from Ahghairon's statue, as well as the silver and sapphire amulet from around its neck. When he exits the tomb, men in the service of Khondar "Ten-Rings" Naomal have taken Vajra hostage. Samark and Vajra, who can cast spells non-verbally, soon obtain the upper hand, but then suddenly Khondar's son Centiv Naomal arrives and kills Samark.

In the next scene, young nobleman Renaer Neverember and his friend Torlyn Wands sit in a tavern discussing the progress of their book collections. Their friends Faxhal Xoram and Vharem Kuthcutter soon arrive and tell them that the Watch is after them. The four give the Watch the slip by using little-known routes through the city. When Renaer arrives home, he hears his father, Open-Lord Dagult Neverember, discussing with some unknown men a desire to obtain the Overlord's Helm to find out the other Lords' secrets. The unknown men also talk about a woman from whom they cannot seem to pry information.

The next day, Laraelra Harsard quickly looks through the sellsword market at the Heroes's Garden in order to aid her with a problem in the sewers. She hires Meloon Wardragon, a young man who seems more focused on his food than anything else. The two descend into the sewers and find the two dwarves Harug Shieldsunder and Dorn Strongcroft trapped due to a collapse of one of the walls of the tunnels. Dorn is badly wounded. Laraelra and Meloon rescue the dwarves, fighting off sewyrm lizards to escape. Along the way to the surface, they hear a woman screaming as if she were being tortured. Laraelra and Meloon located the surface location and determine that the building above belongs to the Neverember family. The two immediately go to Renaer Neverember to confront him about the woman. Renaer finds out that the property (Roarke House) was lent out without his knowledge, so he takes Laraelra and Meloon to Roarke House in order to show them that nothing is amiss. Instead, they are chased out of the building by Khondar and a man who appears to be the Blackstaff (but in reality is Khondar's son Centiv in a magical disguise). Laraelra is magically commanded not to speak of the event.

The group decides that other means of reaching the cellar are in order. They recruit Faxhal and Vharem into entering the sewers. They locate the correct cellar, but in the process are attacked by Granek Ruskelver and the "Blackstaff" (Centiv). Laraelra manages to silence the Blackstaff, forcing him to leave due to being unable to cast his spells. In the ensuing battle, Faxhal is killed and Vharem is badly burned. However, the group manages to rescue Vajra and another woman named Charrar. When the group reaches the surface, Charrar turns on them and summons the Watch. The group is just barely able to flee to Varadras, a secret manor built by Renaer's ancestor Varad Brandath.

Back in Waterdeep, Khondar is furious that Vajra and her rescuers escaped. Centiv sets up a decoy: he arranges for the arrest warrants for Renaer and his group to be publicized, and he place on the street a murdered body that appears to belong to Vajra, with a weapon belonging to Renaer still present. Centiv analyzes information that Vajra had provided while being tortured and is able to find a hint to accessing Blackstaff Tower. Centiv, disguised as the Blackstaff, and the wizard Eiruk Weskur go to the tomb of Sarael Arunsun and find a clue in the form of a leather pouch and a scroll tube.

While resting at Varadras, Renaer's group discover that the young halfling Osco Salibuck has been hiding out in the mansion after stealing gems from a lord.

Meanwhile, in the Warrens under Waterdeep, the elderly gnome Ompahr Daergech is approached by a halfling with ten rings on his fingers who called himself "Harthen" (but who is actually Khondar in disguise). Khondar bears a scroll obtained from the tomb of Sarael Arunsun but does not have the mark on his hands indicating that he is a good and honest man. Instead of giving Khondar the actual key to Blackstaff Tower, Ompahr gives him a false key. As Khondar leaves, Ompahr cackles with delight at the scene he imagines will happen with Khondar attempts to enter Blackstaff Tower.

With keys in hand, Khondar and Centiv enter Blackstaff Tower. They are immediately stumped by the otherworldly entrance hall. Khondar abandons his son inside the tower, ordering him to find his own way in or out. Centiv, alone, is suddenly thronged by shadows of all the previous Blackstaffs, who desire to enact revenge on the person in league with the torturer of Vajra.

Back at Varadras, Vajra continues to hallucinate, believing she is one Blackstaff or the other. The group plans to use the entry hall to teleport to another house in Waterdeep, but as they gather, Vajra utters a word that sends them to the haunted Pellamcopse Woods. She collapses when they arrive and thus is unable to help them as the Nameless Haunt cat-beast attacks them. Just as Nameless is about to kill Osco, however, it appears that he recognizes the halfling as Pikar Salibuck, a relative. Nameless realizes that the group are friends of the Blackstaff. He takes them back to his treetrop lair, where each of the group attempts to wield the Azuredge axe. Only Meloon is successful; his Wardragon ancestor's spirit. Lauroun, is embedded in the axe. Nameless deposits them in the Mountainside district of Waterdeep, where they separated and immediately beset upon by dogs and Watchmen.

While escaping the Watch, Renaer and Meloon take refuge at the house of Parlek Lateriff, who reveals that stealing the Jhaarnnan Hands from Khondar would remove much of his power by making him unable to switch out magical rings. Parlek then lets them pass through his house to reach the Talltumble Stairs, which descend down the mountainside to the Castle Ward. At the Talltumble Stairs, the group is attacked by a group from the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors (the guild of whom Khondar is guildmaster). However, one of those mages is Eiruk Weskur, who sees that Vajra, his love, is in fact not dead. He helps the group and joins them on their way to Blackstaff Tower, but not before a group of mercenaries kills Vharem as they pass into a secret tunnel to the tower. Eiruk stays behind to explain everything to the authorities.

Khondar, still in search of one last key to enter the depths of Blackstaff Tower, goes to the palace and interrupts a meeting between Open Lord Dagult Neverember and a merchant consortium from Sembia. He kills one of the members—Markall Silverspur—who is in fact a shade imposter. He teleports Dagult to Neverember Manor, where he convinces Dagult to give him Ahghairon's Key, which can open any lock and find any secret door.

The group finally reaches Blackstaff Tower, where the tower has decided to test them before they move forward. Each member of the group meets the spirit of a former Blackstaff, who tests them: Oscar meets his ancestor Pikar Salibuck; Meloon fights Tsarra Chaadren; Renaer gets into a contest of lore with Krehlan Arunsun; Larelra must show off her diplomatic skills for Ashemmon. Vajra must face her own test: ascertaining her real identity and becoming confident that she is the new Blackstaff. Through her, the Blackstaffs send a message through the air to Khondar in his sleep, compelling him to enter the tower immediately.

Vajra summits Blackstaff Tower and proclaims to the city that she is the new Blackstaff and intends to serve the city. She asks Larelra to become her apprentice. As her apprentice, Larelra can carry a Blackstaff, through which Vajra's power can be channeled even if she is not present.

Renaer exits the tower to talk to the authorities. He is given a counsel with several Lords of Waterdeep and explains the truth of the last couple of days. The Lords don't accept his claims, so Renaer seeks and receives a private counsel with the Open Lord—his father, who is not fond of him at all. Renaer threatens to publicize his father's involvement with Khondar. In return for his silence, Renaer wants all charges against him and his friends dropped, as well as more independence over the affairs of Neverember Manor. Dagult accepts and publicly announces the innocence of Renaer, Larelra, Meloon, and Osco, as well as their two dead friends, Faxhal and Vharem. Dagult and Renaer suddenly realize that if Khondar intrudes into the tower, a Walking Statue of Waterdeep might appear to protect the city—also bringing part of the Spellplague back with it.

Larelra, Meloon, and Osco are teleported to Roarke House to try to head off Khondar's attack. Khondar escapes to Blackstaff Tower with Azuredge (another of the tower's keys) in tow, but the trio are eventually able to find the Jhaarnan Hands to diminish his power. He gets through several layers of wards, triggering the Walking Statue, The Griffon. However, the Walking Statue does not attack, indicating that Khondar is not a threat yet. Meloon, Larelra, and Osco return to the tower to help Vajra. Eltalon Vaundrar, Maerla Windmantle, and Eiruk, all of the Watchful Order, also arrive at the tower to try to help fight Khondar. In the end Khondar is defeated by wolves of the Black Hunt, summoned to protect the tower. The tower and the Blackstaff are now safe. The scene of Khondar being chased and eaten by the wolves is continually replayed around the exterior of the the tower to warn off intruders.

Several days later, Torlyn Wands and other allies of Renaer (Vajra, Larelra, Meloon, Osco, Eiruk, Parlek, Harug) are called by Renaer to Roarke House. He gives them all golden rings with a small garnet inset inside the band. He wants to create a new group similar to the Moonstars that are heroes of Waterdeep and friends of the Blackstaff. The group disagree on what to call their group, but that the group will exist is a given and they talk well into the night.


Click here for index


Main characters[]

Supporting characters[]

Minor characters[]

  • Amhath Dessultar, merchant
  • Ammol, kidnapper
  • Arlanna, barmaid
  • Baentham of Luskan
  • Barlak, member of the Watch
  • Bramal, halfling butler
  • Charrar, woman
  • Dagrol, member of the Watch
  • Delnar Kleeandur, Watch commander
  • Garyn Raventree, cleric of Valkur
  • Gharill, member of the Watchful Order
  • Jarlan of Waterdeep
  • Jarlon, rorden of the Watch
  • Karel, boy
  • Kastarra Hunabar, noblewoman from Amn
  • Kessik, kidnapper
  • Laroun, warlord of early Waterdeep
  • Madrak, halfling butler
  • Marael, member of the Watch
  • Markall Silverspur, merchant
  • Mauron, member of the Watchful Order
  • Milluth, page at the palace
  • Morrath Varbrent, title officer of the City Watch
  • Nhavaen Wands, sister of Torlyn
  • Pallak Nharrelk, magister
  • Phalan, apprentice of the Watchful Order
  • Ramok of Red Larch
  • Rharlek Gralleth, nobleman
  • Rivvol, kidnapper
  • Sambral, halfling servant to Renaer
  • Sarkap, member of the Watchful Order
  • Shrunkshanks, pony of House Neverember
  • Tasmia, member of the Watch
  • Torlyn Wands, nobleman
  • Ulik, member of the Watchful Order
  • Urlath, aide
  • Varkel, servant of House Neverember
  • Vorgan Drulth, Lord's Champion
  • Yrhyra, woman

Mentioned characters[]

  • Agnan Cronal, author
  • Ahghairon, former Open Lord of Waterdeep
  • Ainla, mother of Eiruk
  • Aleena Paladinstar, author
  • Arn Gyrfalcon, author
  • Ash, horse
  • Azoun IV, king of Cormyr
  • Baeron Silmaril, former Open Lord of Waterdeep
  • Borthild "Steelbard", author
  • Bowgentle, author
  • Brian, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Caladorn Cassalanter, former Open Lord of Waterdeep
  • Chartham Dellenvol, friend and killer of Krehlan Arunsun
  • Cyriana, queen of Tethyr
  • Delalar, aunt of Osco
  • Drellan Argnarl, author
  • Durnan, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Elchor Serison, author
  • Ellial, halfling
  • Errilam, king of Tethyr
  • Hurnal, cousin of Wands
  • Jorkens of Waterdeep, author
  • Kanlem Ralnarth, noble member of the City Watch
  • Khel Largarn, author
  • Kuldhas of Waterdeep, author
  • Kulzar Brandarth, pirate and ancestor of Renaer Neverember
  • Laeral Silverhand, adventurer of The Nine.
  • Laeral Arunsun, author
  • Larnarm, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Lhestyn Arunsun, former Open Lord of Waterdeep
  • Malaerigo Harsard, guildmaster of the Cellarers' and Plumbers' Guild
  • Malchor Harpell, wizard and author
  • Malek Aldhanek, poet
  • Maliantor of Waterdeep, author
  • Maskar Wands, nobleman
  • Melkar of Mirabar, author
  • Mirt, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Mynda Gyrfalcon-Thann, Vajra's aunt
  • Myrintar Hasantar, author
  • Narlam, dwarf
  • Nhaeran Wands, Torlyn's sister
  • Nolan, servant of House Neverember
  • Kitten, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Orlar Sarluk, author
  • Paerl Nhesch, author
  • Parama yr Manshaka, mother of Vajra
  • Parkleth, dwarf
  • Pelar, groom
  • Pellark, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Phesta, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Piergeiron, former Open Lord of Waterdeep
  • Pikar Salibuck, wizard
  • Quallon of the Six Fingers, author
  • Rarkin, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Rashemel Steeldrover, Watchlord of the North Towers
  • Rhale the Wise, author
  • Rhinnara, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Ruarn, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Sammereza, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Sarael Arunsun, first son of Khelben Arunsun
  • Sarathus Hothemer, author
  • Sarathus, apprentice
  • Savengriff, author and wizard
  • Sharnal, Neverember servant
  • Shilarn, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Strathea, former Lord of Waterdeep
  • Tamik yn Tamik al Safahr, father of Vajra
  • Terras, nobleman suitor of Nhaeran
  • Vangerdahast Aeiulvana, wizard
  • Varad Brandarth, ancestor of Renaer Neverember
  • Zahyra Ithal, author
  • Zandra, Court Vizera
  • Lord Chalras, noble
  • The Rook, a thief



Primary locations[]

Mentioned locations[]



  • House Ammakyl (mentioned)
  • Bladesemmer (mentioned)
  • Brandarth (mentioned)
  • Clan Strongcraft
  • Estelmar (mentioned)
  • Estelmer (mentioned)
  • House Gralleth
  • Gundwynd (mentioned)
  • House Khearen (mentioned)
  • House Korthornt
  • Mandarth (mentioned)
  • Markarl (mentioned)
  • Melshimber (mentioned)
  • Nander (mentioned)
  • Neverember
  • Phullbrinter (mentioned)
  • Ralnarth (mentioned)
  • Roarke (mentioned)
  • Thongolir
  • Wardragon


  • Ahghairon's Amulet
  • Ahghairon's Key
  • Anthaorl's Fang
  • Azuredge
  • Blackstaff
  • Duskstaff
  • Jhaarnnan Hands
  • kiira n'vaelhar
  • Krehlan's Rings
  • Ncral's Ring
  • Osco's Luck
  • Overlord's Helm
  • Staff of Waterdeep


  1. Steven E. Schend (September 2008). Blackstaff Tower. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 1. ISBN 0-7869-4913-9.