Elminster Aumar (pronounced: /ɛlˈmɪnstɛrel-MINN-ster[20]), 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.[21][18]


As a high-level wizard, Elminster was capable of taking on almost any appearance imaginable.[22]

In his natural state, Elminster was an old man with a gray beard, gruff voice, and weathered features but with alert eyes. His clothes were plain. He was rarely without his meerschaum pipe, usually smoking a vile blue or green smoke.[17]

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


Elminster was by turns serious, fearsome, and arrogant, and charming, clever, and good-humored. He was a natural raconteur and actor, and could present himself as a fatherly type, a trickster, a rake, or any other role or cliche required for a purpose or just to get a reaction from others. However, usually only close friends got to see the full range of his character.[17]

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] However, they were slain by Undarl, a malaugrym and a magelord of Athalantar.[17][24] The only survivor, at the age of 12, Elminster took his father's broken sword, the Lion Sword, the symbol of the great king of the Stag Throne, Uthgrael Aumar, and became a brigand and thief.[25][17]

But with no desire for killing, the young El soon abandoned that trade and instead operated as a burglar in Hastarl, 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 Magister asked him if he desired to learn magic, but Elminster refused, as he hated all mages because of the magelords.[25][17]

Eventually, after a number of adventures when Elminster was a young adult, Mystra, the Goddess of All Magic, visited Elminster and spent time with him, persuading him to learn magic and revere her. Soon after, Mystra even turned him into a woman, to strengthen his bond with magic and to expand his understanding of the world, as well as to enable to pass unnoticed by his enemies. 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. Afterward, Myrjala taught Elmnster a lot about magic, until he could at last get revenge against the magelords of Athalantar. The battle was terrible, but Elminster was victorious and finally claimed the kingdom's throne.[25][17]

But Elminster had no desire for kingship, and quickly abdicated in favor of a friend, Helm Stoneblade, a knight of Athalantar. However, as Elminster and Myrjala departed the kingdom, the Mage Royal, Undarl, attacked them, and the sorceress shed her guise, showing she was none other than Mystra. Mystra proposed that Elminster should be one of her Chosen, and he quickly agreed.[25][17]

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] Some believed he had a hand in the founding of the city Waterdeep, or just with setting up its system of lords.[17]

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

Elminster played a key part in establishing the Rangers Three. They helped him in continuing conflicts with the Shadowmasters.[17]

The Time of TroublesEdit

Symbol of Elminster

Elminster's sigil.

In 1358 DR, just before the Time of Troubles, Mystra gained some foreknowledge and backed up her power into Midnight, the human wizard, so it would not be lost. As Elminster, like most other wizards, received his power from Mystra, he was left powerless.[17]

During the Time of Troubles, Elminster defended Shadowdale against a Zhentarim army commanded by Bane himself. When Bane and Elminster battled inside his tower, Elminster used a spell to get rid of the avatar, but both of them were struck, and others believed Elminster was slain.[29][17] In fact, he was transported to another plane for a period of time, and later returned.[17]

However, while Elminster was absent, the other Chosen, the Knights of Myth Drannor, and the Rangers Three held off the forces of evil until his return to the world. However, the subsequent calm was soon broken, as the Shadowmasters had not stopped their plans for power. Elminster, the Rangers Three, and their allies, managed to stop their plans.[17]

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.[9]

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.[9]

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.[9]

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.[9] 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



Elminster could count at allies his fellow Chosen of Mystra, and in particular his lover, the Simbul; the Harpers and many other good folk; Lhaeo, his scribe; and no less than the goddess Mystra herself.[21][17]

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 flirtatious 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. Ed Greenwood (April 1996). “The Athalantan Campaign”. In Pierce Watters ed. Dragon #228 (TSR, Inc.), p. 33.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 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.
  5. Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grubb (April 1998). Cormyr: A Novel (Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 76. ISBN ISBN 0-7869-0710-X.
  6. Troy Denning (Mar 2001). The Summoning. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 07-8691-801-2.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ed Greenwood (September 4, 2012). Elminster Enraged (Kindle ed.). (Wizards of the Coast), loc. 3746. ISBN 0786960299.
  8. 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.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Ed Greenwood (June 2011). Elminster Must Die (Mass Market Paperback). (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786957996.
  10. Ed Greenwood (2011). Bury Elminster Deep. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0786958154.
  11. 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.
  12. Ed Greenwood (May 2002). Elminster in Hell. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2746-1.
  13. Ed Greenwood (December 1998). Elminster in Myth Drannor. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-1190-5.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ed Greenwood (December 1995). Elminster: The Making of a Mage. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-0203-5.
  15. Ed Greenwood (April 1996). “The Athalantan Campaign”. In Pierce Watters ed. Dragon #228 (TSR, Inc.), p. 27.
  16. 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.
  17. 17.00 17.01 17.02 17.03 17.04 17.05 17.06 17.07 17.08 17.09 17.10 17.11 17.12 17.13 17.14 Dale Donovan, Paul Culotta (August 1996). Heroes' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), pp. 48–50. ISBN 0-7869-0412-7.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (July 2002). Epic Level Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 291–292. ISBN 0-7869-2658-9.
  19. Chris Sims (August 2010). “Campaign Workshop: Hero Battle: Elminster”. In Steve Winter ed. Dungeon #181 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40.
  20. 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.
  21. 21.0 21.1 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.
  22. Ed Greenwood (December 1995). Elminster: The Making of a Mage. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-0203-5.
  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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