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Halaster Blackcloak (formerly Hilather Blackcloak pronounced: /ˈhɪlɑːθɜːrHILL-a-thur[5]) was a notorious, ancient, and utterly insane wizard who resided within his lair, the infamous Undermountain.[1]

Personality[]

Halaster seemed, in a word, insane. He muttered and chuckled to himself ceaselessly and had difficulty holding the thread of any conversation or debate for very long. Nevertheless, he remained fully aware of threats and hazards, and reacted and defended himself with great speed and efficiency. While in Undermountain, he had only rare moments of lucidity, but if he was ever outside the dungeon, he became lucid for much of the time.[1]

At these times, Halaster was cold, well-mannered, and dignified and fastidious and meticulous in his habits, though still thoroughly evil. He did not tolerate any insult or insolence in any case and remembered any offense or help given his way. He pushed to have his own way in all things, heedless of the havoc or harm done to others in the way.[1]

His main hobbies were collecting new monsters and kinds of magic. However, having lived for millennia, he finds very little that he hasn't seen before. Thus, until such things came along, Halaster meddled in politics and goings-on in the world according to his whims for his own entertainment.[1]

He was more gregarious as a young man, creating and hosting magefairs and spellmoots, and taking many apprentices. However, as his power grew, he dealt more and more with beings from other planes, which led to his growing madness.[6]

Abilities[]

As a mighty archmage, Halaster Blackcloak had a vast array of spells and magical powers at his command. Among them, he could make use of contingency spells and clones of himself to ensure his survival in any spell-battle.[1]

Inside Undermountain, he could command all kinds of constructs, including crawling claws, helmed horrors, and various golems. He also made use of its countless traps and and surprises, such as a "moving portal" that could pick up either himself or his victims and deposit them somewhere else.[1]

In addition to his great magical prowess, Halaster was well-versed in many areas, from gem-cutting to engineering to the breeding, care, and containment of monsters, both alive and undead, particularly from those hailing from other planes.[1]

Possessions[]

As well as Undermountain itself, Halaster owns hundreds of magic items, some quite powerful, which were hidden in caches throughout Undermountain. However, he was known to always wear a ring of protection +5, a ring of regeneration, and/or a horned ring; a robe of eyes; and up to twenty flying +1 daggers.[1]

Activities[]

He was said to be often "hidden in the walls" of Undermountains, namely his own private network of secret passages there.[1]

History[]

Hilather of Imaskar[]

History does not record where and when Halaster hailed from, and it was only suspected that he was older than Elminster.[7]

In fact, he was named Hilather and came from the Raurin in the Imaskari Empire during its Late period (from −3920 DR). A young prodigy, Hilather rose to become one of the foremost archwizards of the empire. When the fellow Imaskari mage Madryoch the Ebon Flame created the Shadow Stone and plotted to take over the empire, the heroic young Hilather went to the fortress of Metos, challenged Madryoch, and finally bound him within the Demiplane of Imprisonment, thus saving Imaskar.[8] He became Lord Hilather, and an Imaskari artificer.[9]

However, during the ultimate fall of Imaskar in −2488 DR, Hilather escaped to a secret Imaskari stronghold concealed deep under Imaskar's western mountains and entered a temporal stasis.[9] He was trapped there for thousands of years.[10]

Eventually, Hilather emerged from the temporal stasis and began to explore Faerûn. In the Year of the Addled Arcanist, 128 DR, after arriving in the Shoon Imperium, Hilather was hired by the Imperial Court to research a more secure means of binding fiends to obey their summoners. Hilathar based himself in the remote emirate of Torsil, which lay on the Sword Coast north of the Cloud Peaks, where he worked from an abandoned tower. Four years later, Hilather delivered the thirteen Demonshields to Qysar Amahl Shoon IV, then disappeared.[10] (His old tower was plundered by Iryklathagra, then a blue dragon wyrmling, in 150 DR[11] before becoming the site of the Ulcaster School of Wizardry in 1026 DR.[12])

It's thought Hilather changed his name to Halaster in the belief it would sound grander and more appropriate for a great mage.[7]

Halaster of Waterdeep[]

In the Year of Scattered Stars, 168 DR, a mage calling himself Halaster Blackcloak and only later realized to be Hilather, arrived at the foot of Mount Waterdeep together with his apprentices, collectively called "The Seven". In the center of the Deepwater Plateau, northwest of the flourishing seaside farms, Halaster began construction of Halaster's Hold with a tower and fortified ramparts, with smaller towers for his apprentices. He summoned fell beings from other planes to do the work.[7][13] But Halaster refused to release the creatures after they constructed his Hold, instead sending them into the caverns to build more and more subterranean chambers. Later sages believed his association with such creatures had corrupted him, causing him to grow in power but also in madness.[6]

Soon, he claimed the Underhalls of the Clan Melairkyn and started to explore.[13][6] This began Halaster's Hunts, a long series of journeys into the Underhalls, driving out the drow, duergar, and various monsters that lived there.[6][14][15] Meanwhile, the Seven desired to establish their own subterranean holdings and departed Halaster's Hold in the Year of Sundered Sails, 307 DR. They left it abandoned and the people of the surface settlement, then known as Blackcloak Hold, shunned it in a belief it was cursed.[15]

By 309 DR, Halaster had complete control over the near-endless tunnels and caverns, having extermined their denizens, and began constructing the largest and most deadly dungeon imaginable, Undermountain.[6][14][15] By that time, Halaster had become completely mad and wanted nothing to do with the outside world. He left his hold to live in Undermountain itself, allowing the keep to fall into ruin. Several of his apprentices came looking for him; he slew two before demanding the rest help him fortify his dungeon even more. One refused and managed to escape: Jhesiyra Kestellharp, who would later become Magister and would provide what little was known about Halaster, the Mad Mage.[6]

Centuries later, in the Year of the Telling Tome, 668 DR, a number of mages from across Cormanthyr and especially in Myth Drannor started to vanish, the cause unknown. The only sign was visible portals in Myth Drannor crackling and flashing blue lightning. This was the work of Halaster, now kidnapping mages at random and banished them into the Underhalls. After ten years of this, the Guild of Naturalists realized Halaster was behind it and it was payback for their collection of monsters from Undermountain. Their rescue mission does not come back. They give up their expeditions, but fail to destroy the portal linking their guildhall and Undermountain.[16]

By the early 11th century DR, the now city of Waterdeep had expanded to encompass the ruins of Halaster's Hold. In the Year of the Bold Barbarian, 1007 DR, Ahghairon cast magical wards on the ruins to stop its hazards getting out into the city.[17]

Modern History[]

On Higharvestide of the Year of the Gauntlet, 1369 DR, two members of the Twisted Rune managed to kidnap Halaster Blackcloak from inside Undermountain.[18][19] The lich Priamon "Frostrune" Rakesk and the alhoon Ralayan the Ocultacle used a ring of multiple wishes to summon the Mad Mage to Stardock where they could scrape the secrets of Undermountain from his mind.[19] Halaster's kidnapping allowed the madness of the dungeon to escape in a chaotic event known as Halaster's Higharvestide. Gates began randomly transporting creatures from Undermountain to places throughout the Realms, causing havoc and destruction everywhere.[18] A group of adventurers hired by the Lords of Waterdeep managed to reach Stardock and free Halaster. The Mad Mage immediately returned to Undermountain, which quelled the chaos of the dungeon and ended the terror of Higharvestide.[19]

While tainted by the goddess Shar in 1369 DR, Halaster plotted to steal the secret of silver fire from the goddess Mystra and her Chosen, using drow and the Red Wizards of Thay. This was foiled by the Seven Sisters.[18]

In the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, Elminster was inadvertently sent to the Nine Hells while defending the Dalelands from the Shadovar. Mystra made a bargain with Halaster that she would try to cure his insanity if he rescued Elminster from Hell. Halaster agreed, and entered Avernus. Though he was unsuccessful, and had to be rescued in turn by Alassra Silverhand, Mystra kept her word, and managed to partially cure him. She then proceeded to blast Asmodeus with Halaster's insanity.[20]

Death[]

Shortly after dawn on Eleint 30, the Year of Risen Elfkin, 1375 DR, an earthquake struck Waterdeep. Though the city suffered little damage, many people there saw visions of Halaster screaming, his eyes ablaze with rage, sorrow, and swimming stars. Arcane magic users who saw the visions also reported scenes of destruction in the vast maze of Undermountain: pillars cracking and crumbling, chasms and rifts opening, and explosions of sparks. Those brave enough to investigate quickly discovered that Halaster had inadvertently killed himself while attempting a powerful ritual; as he died, he hurled desperate visions and compulsions to people all across the continent.[2]

Return[]

In fact, Halaster's ritual had not slain the Mad Mage, but instead scattered his essence across the planes, with the influence of the Spellplague preventing it from being reformed within one of his clones hidden in Undermountain.[21]

After the Second Sundering in the 1480s DR, with the Spellplague finally ended and magic restored to its former stability, Halaster was able to recorporate himself and returned to Undermountain, resuming his normal activities as if he had never been gone.[speculation]

Relationships[]

Halaster's Apprentices[]

Several of Halaster's apprentices became extremely powerful in their own right, though all would become infected with his madness.

  • Shradin Mulophor: Shradin was a powerful Netherese necromancer who'd survived the collapse of his civilization. In 1148 DR, he learned of Sargauth Enclave and petitioned to become an apprentice to the Mad Mage. Halaster agreed and also allowed him to take the Enclave as his own. Shradin, calling himself the "Lord of Bones", turned the Enclave into Skullport, a neutral way-station in the Underdark, permanently linking Undermountain to the Underdark.[22]
  • Trobriand: Called "the Metal Mage", Trobriand had a gift for building metal constructs and monstrosities.[23]
  • Muiral: Called "the Misshapen", Muiral was originally a great warrior who served as Halaster's bodyguard. He later became an apprentice to the Mad Mage and used his power to augment his considerable strength and fighting prowess. Finally, as the madness of Undermountain overcame him, he grafted his body onto a giant scorpion.[24]
  • Arcturia: Much like Muiral, Arcturia's madness led her to experiment with bodies, both hers and others. Perhaps Halaster's most ambitious apprentice, she was known for her cruel experiments with polymorphing others to suit her whims.[25]
  • Jhesiyra Kestellharp: For reasons unknown, Jhesiyra transformed herself into a living wish spell to escape from Halaster, but he brought her back to Undermountain. She later ruled over other living spells in Undermountain's Citadel of the Bloody Hand. Driven half mad by her transformation, she rules over the living spells the Mad Mage forced her to create, and it is uncertain whether she is truly aware of Halaster's demise.[26]
  • Maerlyn: Otherwise lost to time and history, Maeryln was a human who specialized in absorption of arcane powers, memories, and souls. It was rumored that Halaster took her on because of her resistance to the Spellplague that he somehow knew was coming. She was consumed by her own experiments when she summoned a lifedrinker specter that drained away her memories and life-force and existed only as a ghost.[27]
  • Ibbalar Thrul: A willing apprentice to the Mad Mage after becoming disgruntled and a pariah of Waterdeep.[28]

Halaster's Heirs[]

While the term "Halaster's Heirs" formerly referred to the surviving apprentices of Halaster, it later referred to an arcanist academy on the Dungeon Level of Undermountain formed by Trobriand and Muiral.[29]

Halaster's Clones[]

As part of his many preparations to escape death, Halaster created a number of clone-bodies to receive his consciousness, which he kept locked in protective stasis and located throughout Undermountain and the lower reaches of Waterdeep. When Halaster died prior to the Spellplague, it was possible that one or more of these clones was activated and set free by 1479 DR, although this is not confirmed.[21]

These clones could look very different to Halaster, with different ages, sexes, and species. Each could develop their own individual personality and abilities, but would have Halaster's mind occupying their subconscious, occasionally fighting for dominance over their body. They might have become adventurers in hopes of finding some way to expel this shade of Halaster from their mind, while striving to preserve their individual existence.[21]

A common trait of these clones was that, owing to the influence of the Spellplague upon the stasis magic that had preserved them, each had a unique relationship with time. The clones did not physically age, and were impressively resistant to diseases, growing more immune as they grew stronger. Those that developed their powers eventually gained limited abilities to manipulate time, a trait that manifested in unnatural speed and reflexes. More unusual manipulations of time were seen in the hands of some clones, but were not a universal power. Likewise, some clones displayed more resistance to mental assaults than others, which they attributed to the need to frequently engage in mental struggle with Halaster's mind within their own.[21]

Works[]

Over many centuries, numerous magic items and spells were created by or attributed to Halaster Blackcloak.

Magic Items 
Spells 

Appendix[]

See Also[]

Notes[]

  • The majority of the first chapter of Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, the second expansion pack to the PC game Neverwinter Nights, takes place in the 3 deepest levels of Undermountain. Halaster (along with a clone of Halaster) makes an appearance at the very end of the chapter, and rhymes in all his lines, much to the annoyance of the drow passing through his lair (and perhaps the player).
  • Halaster is briefly referred to by name in the PC game Icewind Dale 2 by an npc, Nickademus, who claims to have been one of the mad wizard's pupils.
  • Apart from Elminster in Hell, he is also mentioned in Ascendancy of the Last[37] in relation to his apprentice, Trobriand, and the Undermountain. It is stated that Qilué Veladorn, the high priestess of Eilistraee, led the priestesses of her temple in a song of rejoicing when Halaster perished.

Appearances[]

Adventures
The Ruins of UndermountainUndermountain: The Lost LevelUndermountain: StardockExpedition to UndermountainWaterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Novels
Escape from UndermountainOnce Around the RealmsRealms of the Underdark: "A Slow Day in Skullport" • SilverfallElminster in HellThe Paladins
Video Games
Descent to UndermountainNeverwinter Nights series (Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the UnderdarkNeverwinter Nights: Infinite Dungeons)Neverwinter: Undermountain
Board Games
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Referenced only
Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Begins

Gallery[]

Further Reading[]

References[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 180–181. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 158. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  3. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Who's Who in Waterdeep”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 76. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  4. Christopher Perkins (November 2018). Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage. Edited by Jeremy Crawford. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 310. ISBN 978-0-7869-6626-4.
  5. Ginny Loveday (2018-11-06). A Wrinkle in the Weave (DDAL08-04) (PDF). D&D Adventurers League: Waterdeep (Wizards of the Coast), p. 12.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Jean Rabe, Norm Ritchie (Feburary 1994). The Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep Levels (Campaign Guide). (TSR, Inc), pp. 3–4. ISBN 1-5607-6821-5.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Dale Donovan (July 1998). Villains' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 0-7869-1236-7.
  8. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 63. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  11. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 64. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  12. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 115. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 66. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Joseph C. Wolf (1999). Skullport. (TSR, Inc), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-1348-7.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 69. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  16. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 94, 96. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  17. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 115. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Steven E. Schend (January 1997). Undermountain: Stardock. Edited by Bill Olmesdahl. (TSR, Inc.), p. ?. ISBN 0-7869-0451-8.
  20. Ed Greenwood (May 2002). Elminster in Hell. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2746-1.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Andrew G. Schneider (March 2012). “Character Themes: Citizens of Splendor”. In Steve Winter ed. Dragon #409 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 3–5.
  22. Joseph C. Wolf (1999). Skullport. (TSR, Inc), pp. 6–7, 93. ISBN 0-7869-1348-7.
  23. Jean Rabe, Norm Ritchie (Feburary 1994). The Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep Levels (Campaign Guide). (TSR, Inc), p. 46. ISBN 1-5607-6821-5.
  24. Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 27–28. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  25. Ed Greenwood (1991). “Campaign Guide to Undermountain”. In Steven E. Schend ed. The Ruins of Undermountain (TSR, Inc.), p. 105. ISBN 1-5607-6061-3.
  26. Eric L. Boyd, Ed Greenwood, Christopher Lindsay, Sean K. Reynolds (June 2007). Expedition to Undermountain. Edited by Bill Slavicsek. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7869-4157-5.
  27. Erik Scott de Bie (Summer 2010). Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 51.
  28. Interplay (December 1997). Designed by Chris Avellone, Robert Hanz. Descent to Undermountain. Interplay.
  29. Eric L. Boyd, Ed Greenwood, Christopher Lindsay, Sean K. Reynolds (June 2007). Expedition to Undermountain. Edited by Bill Slavicsek. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7869-4157-5.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 154. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  31. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (1996). Volo's Guide to All Things Magical. (TSR, Inc), pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-7869-0446-1.
  32. Dale Donovan (July 1998). Villains' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-7869-1236-7.
  33. Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 151. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  34. 34.0 34.1 Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 153. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  35. Dale Donovan (July 1998). Villains' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), pp. . ISBN 0-7869-1236-7.
  36. Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 155. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  37. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
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