Elminster Aumar (pronounced: /ɛlˈmɪnstɛrel-MINN-ster[19]), also known as the "Sage of Shadowdale" and the "Old Mage", was one of the most famous and powerful wizards in all of Faerûn, as well as a fair fighter and thief.[20][17]


As a high-level wizard, Elminster was capable of taking on almost any appearance imaginable.[21]

In his natural state, Elminster appeared as a gray-bearded man of weathered visage, gruff tone, alert eyes, and nondescript attire. He was almost always smoking a meerschaum pipe that was spouting some vile blue or green smoke.[22]

Elminster's most distinguishing physical feature was his hawk-like nose.[citation needed]


A natural storyteller, Elminster was normally a witty, clever, and very charming man.[citation needed] He was a consummate actor,[20] however, and could be imperious, grave, and terrible as the situation demanded. He rarely revealed the full extent of his true nature to anyone who was not an extremely close friend. He could portray himself as a trickster, a rake, a stern father figure, or any other stereotype he wanted to assume, depending on what he wanted to accomplish or what reaction he wanted to elicit from those around him.[citation needed]

Elminster snored loudly while sleeping, although he muted this magically if it would disturb friends. It should be noted that as one of Mystra's Chosen, Elminster did not need to sleep.[23]


Early lifeEdit

Elminster was born in 212 DR[24] to Elthryn, who was the lord of the village of Heldon and a prince of Athalantar, and his wife Amrythale, in the kingdom of Athalantar.[25] His family was killed by a malaugrym named Undarl, one of the magelords of the ancient kingdom of Athalantar.[24] Taking up his father's broken sword, the Lion Sword, the symbol of the great king of the Stag Throne, Uthgrael Aumar, who was Elminster's grandfather, Elminster became a brigand and a thief at the ripe age of twelve.[25]

He soon realized, however, that he had no taste for killing, and gave it up when he went to become a burglar in the city of Hastarl, the capital of Athalantar. He met and formed a bond of friendship with a young thief, Farl, who knew Elminster as "Eladar the Dark". They committed many acts of thievery together and lived life fully, later forming the gang the Velvet Hands in opposition to a rival gang, the Moonclaws, who were servants of the magelords. Later, during a burglary, Elminster met the Magister of the time, Dorgon "Stonecloak" Heamilolothtar, the wizard who bore the mantle of Azuth's power. When asked if he was interested in learning sorcery, Elminster refused, as he hated all mages because of the magelords.[25]

After many adventures, Elminster was visited by Mystra, the Goddess of All Magic. She tarried with him and left the awestruck Elminster with the message that he should learn magic and worship her. Soon thereafter, while he was still a young adult, Mystra transformed Elminster into a woman to strengthen his bond with magic and to know what it was to be a woman. This change also allowed her, now called "Elmara", to move within his enemies' circles without their knowledge that she was in fact the last surviving prince of Athalantar. For a few years, Elmara was a priestess of Mystra. Later, an avatar of Mystra (who went by the name Myrjala Talithyn, or "Darkeyes") trained Elmara in the ways of a mage and brought her to an ancient Netherese archmage known as Ander who taught Elmara a spell that would transform her back into Elminster. In the time that followed, Elminster learned much about magic from Myrjala, reaching the point where he could finish taking his revenge against the evil magelords who had usurped the kingdom. After a terrific battle, Elminster persevered and assumed the throne of Athalantar.[25]

However, no sooner had he gained the kingship than he passed it to one one of his friends, Helm Stoneblade, a knight of Athalantar. Elminster stated that he had wanted to avenge his family's death, not become a monarch. As he and Myrjala left the kingdom, the Mage Royal, Undarl, attacked them, and the sorceress revealed herself to be Mystra. She offered to make Elminster one of her Chosen, and he readily accepted.[25]

Around 241 DR, Elminster traveled to the city of Cormanthor, where he continued his magical studies as an apprentice to a cruel and powerful wizard and living among the ancient elven society. Elminster remained in Cormanthor for over two decades, and was present when the mythal was raised and the city was renamed Myth Drannor.[26]

Somewhere around the mid–7th century DR, Elminster entered a tomb and became trapped there in stasis for roughly a century. He emerged from the dusty tomb in 759 DR.[27]

By now, magic had become unreliable, and Elminster had to again learn to survive by his wits and the skills he'd picked up earlier in his life. The god Azuth soon came to him telling him that he mustn't rely on Mystra for aid like any other Chosen must with magic, this again being a test from Mystra. Soon he had to learn how to survive without constant divine aid. He later underwent further magical training under the tutelage of a wicked sorceress who sought to tempt him away from Mystra's path. Later, during a fake ritual for Bane, she revealed herself to be the goddess Mystra herself, once again testing him.[2]

Elminster later served as a foster parent to three other of Mystra's Chosen: Laeral Silverhand, Storm Silverhand, and Dove Falconhand.[2] He was also suspected of having something to do with the founding of Waterdeep, or at least with the organizing of the city's lords.[citation needed]

In 1336 DR, Elminster visited the Moonshae Isles.[28]

Elminster was instrumental in forming the Rangers Three, who aided him in recurring battles with the mysterious Shadowmasters during this time.[citation needed]

The Time of TroublesEdit

Symbol of Elminster

Elminster's sigil.

In 1358 DR, as the critical moment of the Time of Troubles approached, Mystra knew of what was to come and she shed most of her power into Midnight, the human wizard, so that all of her essence would not cease to exist. Since Elminster obtained his power from Mystra, this change left him personally powerless at a critical juncture.

During the Time of Troubles, Elminster defended Shadowdale from an army of Zhentarim led by the avatar of Bane. Bane and Elminster battled, and both were caught up in the spell that Elminster had called upon to dispose of the avatar. Elminster was originally thought to have been destroyed,[29] but when he later reappeared it became apparent that he had merely been transported to another plane of existence for a time.[citation needed]

In Elminster's absence, the foes of good tried to rally, but the other Chosen, the Knights of Myth Drannor, and the Rangers Three held them at bay until he returned. With the present crisis averted, all seemed calm, but the Shadowmasters had other ideas. Elminster and the Rangers Three, along with their allies, managed to frustrate and foil the plans of this race of shapeshifters. Elminster also confronted the Overgod, Lord Ao, over his instigation of the Time of Troubles while innocents were being killed.[citation needed]

He recruited one of the Rangers Three, Sharantyr, and they equipped themselves from Elminster's cache of magical items, which would still function. The two of them were later reunited with the other two members of the band, Itharr and Belkram, but even the Rangers Three could not prevent Elminster from being wounded in battle. Despite this setback, Elminster and the Rangers, along with their allies, not only freed High Dale and defeated Manshoon of the Zhentarim, but they also outlasted the Time of Troubles, and Elminster regained his magic.[citation needed]

In the Nine HellsEdit

After the floating city of Thultanthar returned to Faerûn in 1372 DR after its exile in the Plane of Shadow, the Shadovar came to Shadowdale to ambush Elminster. In the confrontation, spells were thrown, and Storm Silverhand blasted one of the shadow princes with a ball of silver fire. Since shadovar were living shadow magic, and silver fire was pure Weave magic, the collision between the two tore at the fabric of reality, creating a rift to the Nine Hells. Elminster realized that the only way to close the portal before legions of devils spilled forth into Toril was to close it from the other side.[30]

Elminster entered the portal and narrowly managed to close it, but at the expense of much of his magical strength. Once in Hell, he was abducted and enslaved by an outcast archdevil known as Nergal, who wished to discover the secret of Mystra's silver fire. Elminster was subject to brutal tortures, surviving only because of his exceptional endurance and ability to heal himself with silver fire. While the arch-fiend plundered Elminster's thoughts and memories, Mystra became aware of her favorite servant's plight and entered Hell herself to find him. Realizing that her presence in Hell was overly conspicuous, Mystra retreated and dispatched more subtle agents to find him, first Halaster Blackcloak the Mad Mage of Undermountain (who was defeated), and then the Simbul. After much searching, the Simbul found him, and together they defeated Nergal and returned home.[31]

In the 1370s DREdit

A few years later, Elminster discovered a daughter he had never known, Narnra Shalace, in Marsember. Because of her curiosity, Narnra quickly found herself involved not only in Elminster's activities but also in the intrigues of the Cormyrean nation.[32]

Elminster later secretly helped a small group of adventurers near Westgate at the village of Reddansyr, investigating the fate of a clone of Manshoon, and unmasking the real leader of Night Masks of Westgate, the Night King known as "The Faceless" (the Manshoon clone, now known as Orbakh), three years after the Manshoon Wars in the year of 1373 DR.[citation needed]

On Nightal 15 1374 DR, Sharran agents attempted to steal the Ebon Diadem from Elminster's tower. Due to the essence of the artifact and the sheer power of Elminster's wards, on whose power the artifact fed, the Sharrans defeated Elminster (though not without losing most of their number) and a contingency spell whisked Elminster away, while his tower itself was blasted into ruin and transported to another, unknown plane.[33]


Following the death of Mystra in 1385 DR and the collapse of the Weave in the Spellplague, Elminster was stripped of many of his abilities as one of the Chosen, though he still aged as slowly as he had for the previous millennium and was still quite powerful magically. However, every use of his magic drove him to—and sometimes over—the brink of insanity. When this happened, only Storm was able to bring his mind back, giving of her own essence to soothe Elminster's mind. Elminster could still cast minor cantrips at times—and had, on several occasions, cast minor illusions—without going mad, though this wasn't always the case.[8]

Despite these setbacks, Elminster and Storm continued with their campaign to save Faerûn, battling evil where they could. For years, the two of them pretended to be "Elgorn" and "Stornara Rhauligan", "repairers of ever-crumbling stone, plaster, tapestries, and wood" in the royal palace of Suzail, spying on and testing the loyalties of War Wizards and nobles alike. On one occasion, Elminster even stole into the bedchambers of King Foril Obarskyr and made changes to the Suzail Writ, while his majesty slept not a spear-length away.[8]

In 1479 DR, after finally admitting that they needed help saving the Realms, and having run out of easy-to-steal magic items to feed to the Simbul, Elminster sought to gain access to artifacts known to contain the spirits of the Nine—objects powerful enough to pierce the wards surrounding the royal palace or, Elminster believed, to permanently restore the Simbul's sanity. He also sought to recruit the efforts of a descendant of his, Amarune Whitewave.[8]

During one of his excursions into the palace, Elminster's body was destroyed by Manshoon, who had secretly been peeling away the Old Mage's contingency spells over several years. However, Manshoon departed before he realized that Elminster had survived his body's destruction in a near-undead state. With the agreement of Amarune and the aid of Storm, Elminster's essence was placed in Amarune's body with the aid of a spell the ex-Chosen had discovered in a cache once belonging to Azuth. He then sought to train his great-granddaughter while attempting to defend the Forest Kingdom from Manshoon and traitorous nobles alike.[8] Later, thanks to the sacrifice of the Simbul, he regained his former body again and ruined for good Manshoon's claim to the throne of Suzail.[34]

In 1487 DR, Elminster (with the help of the Srinshee, Alustriel, and Laeral Silverhand) stopped Shar as well as Larloch from becoming the new deity of magic. He killed Telamont Tanthul and let Thultanthar fall upon Myth Drannor. Along the way, Mystra was completely restored.[35]

In 1491 DR, Elminster and Mirt the Moneylender returned to the city of Waterdeep, both aiding the newly appointed Open Lord of Waterdeep, Laeral Silverhand, uncover the culprits behind a string of murders of Masked Lords.[36]


Family TreeEdit



His allies included the Harpers, the other Chosen of Mystra (especially the Simbul, his paramour), and Mystra herself,[20] as well as Lhaeo, his scribe, and good people everywhere.[citation needed]

Elminster interacted regularly with the other Chosen of Mystra through a telepathic link. As well as once sharing a bed with the goddess herself, he conducted a relationship with the Simbul of the Seven Sisters. Elminster and Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun had something of a rivalry, whilst Volo sorely taxed the old mage's patience.[citation needed]

Though known to think very little of humans, Morgwais the Lady of High Forest, liked Elminster a lot and had occasional flirtateous relations with him.[37]


Elminster once (briefly) had a Calishite apprentice named Raerlin, who stole the key to Elminster's closet in order to obtain a powerful spellbook (or possibly a phylactery). When Elminster retrieved the key in 1336 DR at a magefair with the help of Storm Silverhand and subsequently opened the closet, Raerlin appeared as a lich. He was defeated when Storm burnt the pages of the tome Raerlin was after.[38]


According to Lyra Sunrose, Elminster was skilled with a needle and thread, having sewn a blouse for her.[39]

Elminster was a poor horseman.[23]

Elminster was known to be capable of bypassing the wards of Blackstaff Tower and teleport directly inside the structure unbitten, something Khelben believed him to be the lone individual capable of.[40]



Elminster was credited with the creation of the following spells:


Elminster penned a number of books in his time including Songs of the Wind: The Holdings of Windsong Tower.[42]

He famously compiled a 9-book series titled Elminster's Ecologies, in which a number of contributors wrote about the plants, animals, creatures, people and other natural phenomena they encountered throughout the Eastern Heartlands.[43]


Elminster on:

Whenever magic one doth weave
'Tis never ever wise to deceive
  — Elminster[citation needed]
Magic creates, but it also destroys. Whatever ye use it for, it always, always transforms the user and that upon which it acts. Forget that at thy everlasting peril. Remember also that the mage who slays with Art carries the weight of every slain soul around with him from the moment of killing onward. It is not a burden to be lightly assumed.
  — Elminster, A Myth Drannan Amphigory[44]
Methinks ye shouldst take what is given when proffered by an elf. They have secrets aplenty, as well they should, and take care ye don't pry too hard. Inquisitiveness is admired by the People, but rude investigation is not, and ye'd crack the shell of a dragon turtle with your teeth sooner than gain secrets from a slighted elf.
  — Elminster[citation needed]
I am Elminster of Shadowdale, called by some the Old Sage, and called far worse things by others. I've walked these realms for over a thousand years. Yet, I am far from the oldest, wisest, or mightiest being to walk the ground of Faerûn with my well-worn boots—and that is truth. But if ye learn the long history of my deeds, ye'll know precisely what I stand for and what I am. And that's a rare and precious thing, knowing yourself. Do ye know exactly what ye stand for?
  — Elminster[citation needed]
Adventurer, I am Elminster, and I say to ye that these forgotten realms are yours to discover, reforge, and defend, yours to make anew in winning your own crown. Go forth and take up arms against the perils that beset us!
  — Elminster[citation needed]
Ye, I, and all gathered here now, are dangerous. Should we then be destroyed out of hand because of what we might do? Nay! It is the right and the doom of all creatures who walk Faerûn to do as they will; it is why we of the art frown so at those who charm often, or in frivolous cause.
  — Elminster[citation needed]
Not even the gods took unto themselves the power to control ye or me so tightly that we cannot walk or speak or breathe save at another's bidding! It is their will that we may be free to do as we may. Slay a foe, sure, or defend thyself against a raider - but to strike down one who may some day menace thee? That is as monstrous as the act of the usurper who slays all babies in a land, for fear of a rightful heir someday rising against him!
  — Elminster[45]
Outrage? That's one of those overblown emotions reserved for fools who haven't been paying attention.
  — Elminster, Harping by Moonlight: Approaches To Life[46]



These notices could be found on the side of the path leading to Elminster's tower in Shadowdale:[citation needed]

  • "Gone gathering spell components." (This sign at the base of the path is very old and weather beaten, and most pay it little heed.)[citation needed]
  • "No trespassing. Violators should notify next of kin. Have a pleasant day."[citation needed]
  • "An archmage often can react poorly to interruption. Please reconsider before it is too late."[citation needed]
  • "Trespassers could die a quick and certain death or they could be invited in for stew. Thank you for thinking better of disturbing my privacy."[citation needed]
  • "Rumors of spike-filled pits along this path are almost totally false. Thank you for your caution."[citation needed]
  • "This ancient path
    is cracked and paved
    with the bones of those
    who could not behave."[citation needed]


In addition to his residence on Toril, Elminster maintained a hideaway within a floating metal sphere that orbited the central earthmote of the planet Coliar.[47]




Short stories
  • Spelljammer #14: "Before there was Meredith … there was Nimone!"
Computer games

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit


  1. BioWare (September 2000). Designed by James Ohlen, Kevin Martens. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Black Isle Studios.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ed Greenwood (November 1999). The Temptation of Elminster. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1427-0.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 7. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  4. Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grubb (April 1998). Cormyr: A Novel (Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 76. ISBN ISBN 0-7869-0710-X.
  5. Troy Denning (Mar 2001). The Summoning. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 07-8691-801-2.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ed Greenwood (September 4, 2012). Elminster Enraged (Kindle ed.). (Wizards of the Coast), loc. 3746. ISBN 0786960299.
  7. James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “Anauroch”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Ed Greenwood (June 2011). Elminster Must Die (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786957996.
  9. Ed Greenwood (2011). Bury Elminster Deep. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0786958154.
  10. Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (DM's Sourcebook of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 20. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  11. Ed Greenwood (May 2002). Elminster in Hell. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2746-1.
  12. Ed Greenwood (December 1998). Elminster in Myth Drannor. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-1190-5.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Ed Greenwood (December 1995). Elminster: The Making of a Mage. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-0203-5.
  14. Ed Greenwood (April 1996). “The Athalantan Campaign”. In Pierce Watters ed. Dragon #228 (TSR, Inc.), p. 27.
  15. Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (DM's Sourcebook of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 20. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  16. Dale Donovan, Paul Culotta (August 1996). Heroes' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-0412-7.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (July 2002). Epic Level Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 291–292. ISBN 0-7869-2658-9.
  18. Chris Sims (August 2010). “Campaign Workshop: Hero Battle: Elminster”. In Steve Winter ed. Dungeon #181 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40.
  19. Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Running the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 33. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 7. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  21. Ed Greenwood (December 1995). Elminster: The Making of a Mage. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-0203-5.
  22. Dale Donovan, Paul Culotta (August 1996). Heroes' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-0412-7.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Ed Greenwood (November 2003). Elminster at the Magefair (The Best of the Realms). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3024-1.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 88. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 Ed Greenwood (December 1995). Elminster: The Making of a Mage. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-0203-5.
  26. Ed Greenwood (December 1998). Elminster in Myth Drannor. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-1190-5.
  27. Ed Greenwood (November 1999). The Temptation of Elminster. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 12. ISBN 0-7869-1427-0.
  28. Brian R. James (December 2007). “Grand History of the Realms: The Moonshaes”. Dragon #362 (Wizards of the Coast).
  29. Scott Ciencin (May 2003). Shadowdale. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3105-1.
  30. Troy Denning (Mar 2001). The Summoning. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 314–316. ISBN 07-8691-801-2.
  31. Ed Greenwood (May 2002). Elminster in Hell. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2746-1.
  32. Ed Greenwood (May 2005). Elminster's Daughter. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786937684.
  33. Richard Baker, Eric L. Boyd, Thomas M. Reid (July 2007). Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 4. ISBN 07-8694-039-5.
  34. Ed Greenwood (May 2013). Elminster Enraged (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786963638.
  35. Warning: edition not specified for The Herald
  36. Ed Greenwood (2016-06-07). Death Masks. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-6593-2.
  37. Troy Denning (Mar 2001). The Summoning. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 07-8691-801-2.
  38. Ed Greenwood (November 2003). Elminster at the Magefair (The Best of the Realms). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3024-1.
  39. James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “Cormanthor”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), p. 2. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  40. Troy Denning (Mar 2001). The Summoning. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ??. ISBN 07-8691-801-2.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Mark Middleton et al (January 1998). Wizard's Spell Compendium Volume Two. (TSR, Inc), pp. 303–305. ISBN 978-0786906642.
  42. Richard Baker, Eric L. Boyd, Thomas M. Reid (July 2007). Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 5. ISBN 07-8694-039-5.
  43. James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “Explorer's Manual”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), pp. 2–3. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  44. Ed Greenwood (June 2000). “The New Adventures of Volo: Quotations of the Realms”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #272 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 95–96.
  45. Ed Greenwood (February 2005). Spellfire. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 205. ISBN 0-7869-3599-5.
  46. Ed Greenwood (June 2000). “The New Adventures of Volo: Quotations of the Realms”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon #272 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 95.
  47. Dale "slade" Henson (April 1991). Realmspace. Edited by Gary L. Thomas, Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc), pp. 51–52. ISBN 1-56076-052-4.
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