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Mordenkainen (pronounced: /ˈmɔːrdɛnknɛnMOR-den-kay-nen[10] about this audio file listen or: /mɔːrdɛnˈknɛnmor-den-KAY-nen[11] or: /mɔːrdɛnˈknɛnmor-den-KIGH-nen[11]) was a prolific archmage from the world of Oerth who was responsible for many powerful and useful spells.[4]


Mordenkainen with his staff.

Mordenkainen had a hawk-like face, with a permanent frown that gave the appearance of alertness and almost anger, and a penetrating gaze. He kept a close-trimmed beard and wore grey, high-collared robes. His voice was deep and melodic.[12]

While imprisoned in Barovia, his hair and beard were both long, black and peppered with grey streaks. When mad, his eyes crackled with eldritch power.[6]

He later changed his hairstyle, favoring a bald head and a trimmed goatee, but lost none of his penetrating stare.[13]


Typically stubborn and one who did not suffer fools gladly, Mordenkainen could be difficult even with his friends.[6]

While suffering from his madness, he was convinced that enemies were everywhere and he was being constantly watched by evil agents.[6]


In addition to many scrolls and potions, Mordenkainen was known to possess a bag of holding, a set of bracers of defense, a crystal ball, a +1 dagger, an efreeti bottle, a wand of cold, a wand of fear, and three pearls of power.[14]


Elminster and Mordenkainen in Ed Greenwood's living room, with Ed hiding inside a suit of armor.

Mordenkainen was the leader of the Oerthian group of wizards known as the Circle of Eight, which included many spell inventors whose names were well known on Toril, such as Bigby, Drawmij, Nystul, Otiluke, Otto, Rary, and Tenser.[15]

Mordenkainen was a good friend of Elminster Aumar; the two met on numerous occasions at Ed Greenwood's house on Earth to exchange news from each other's worlds, as well as spells and lore.[16] On occasion, the two were also joined by Dalamar of Krynn.[17][note 1]

He was also an acquaintance of Khelben Arunsun.[12]


Although Mordenkainen resided primarily on Oerth, by at least the Year of the Shield, 1367 DR, his spells were not uncommon among spellbooks in Faerûn.[4] He often traveled to Waterdeep with his friends for revelry in a city where he would not be recognized.[18]

Following the demise of the Circle of Eight at the hands of Vecna during the lich's first failed attempt at obtaining greater deity status, a grieving Mordenkainen was consoled by Elminster, as the wizards reflected on the fragility of their good deeds.[17]

Mordenkainen later traveled to Barovia in an attempt to free the local population from its vampire darklord Strahd. However, he underestimated Strahd's power and, after barely surviving a confrontation with him, he lost his spellbook and his staff, eventually losing his memory and being driven to the brink of madness. He became known by the locals as the Mad Mage of Mount Baratok.[6]

In the Year of the Scarlet Witch, 1491 DR, Mordenkainen, still suffering from bouts of madness, was in Waterdeep, where Storm Silverhand and Elminster were helping him to recover from them.[2]

By the Year of Twelve Warnings, 1494 DR,[note 2] Mordenkainen inhabited the Tower of Urm, a dwelling that he used as a vehicle to travel through the multiverse. He occasionally visited Avernus to study the effects of the Nine Hells over the schools of magic and to ensure the balance of the universe.[13]

Rumors and Legends[]

His toenails appeared to be a venerated item in some places.[19]


Mordenkainen during one of his many visits to the House Greenwood of Earth.

Mordenkainen's spells known in the Realms included:



  1. See also other articles in the Wizards Three series in Dragon Magazine.
  2. Canon material provides two distinct dates for the events described in Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus: the adventure itself, described in chapters 1 through 5, takes place "fifty years" after 1444 DR (1494 DR), according to events mentioned in pages 7 and 47, while the Baldur's Gate Gazetteer describes the city as of 1492 DR (p. 159). It is possible that the designers made an approximation for "fifty years", even though it is stated in an infernal contract. The lead writer for Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus later confirmed that the adventure takes place in 1492 DR, and the sequel to the adventure, Baldur's Gate III, also claims that the current year is 1492 DR in multiple places.


Curse of StrahdBaldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus
Referenced only
Candlekeep Mysteries: "The Joy of Extradimensional Spaces"
Death Masks
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External links[]


  1. Ed Greenwood (June 2006). “A Dark and Stormy Knight: Another Evening with the Wizards Three:”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #344 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 57.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ed Greenwood (2016-06-07). Death Masks. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-6593-2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Andy Collins, Bruce R. Cordell (July 2002). Epic Level Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 308. ISBN 0-7869-2658-9.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (1996). Volo's Guide to All Things Magical. (TSR, Inc), p. 109. ISBN 0-7869-0446-1.
  5. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 4. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Christopher Perkins, Tracy Hickman, Laura Hickman (March 2016). Curse of Strahd. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 39–40. ISBN 978-0-7869-6598-4.
  7. Robert J. Kuntz, Gary Gygax (1984). Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure. Edited by Frank Mentzer, Michael Dobson. (TSR, Inc.), p. 30. ISBN 0-88038-168-X.
  8. Jason Bulmahn, James Jacobs, Erik Mona (August 2007). Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk. Edited by Penny Williams, Beth Griese. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 92. ISBN 978-0-7869-4358-6.
  9. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 342. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  10. Frank Mentzer (January 1985). “Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #93 (TSR, Inc.), p. 28.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Adam Lee, et al. (September 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. Edited by Michele Carter, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7869-6687-5.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Ed Greenwood (September 1992). “The Wizards Three: Magic in the Evening”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Dragon #185 (TSR, Inc.), p. 57.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Adam Lee, et al. (September 2019). Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. Edited by Michele Carter, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 97–98. ISBN 978-0-7869-6687-5.
  14. Brian Blume, David Cook, Jean Wells (1980). The Rogues Gallery. (TSR, Inc), p. 44. ISBN 0-935696-18-0.
  15. David Cook (January 1991). Vecna Lives!. Edited by Mike Breault. (TSR, Inc.), pp. 8, 84–89. ISBN 0-88038-897-8.
  16. Ed Greenwood (September 1992). “The Wizards Three: Magic in the Evening”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Dragon #185 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 56–63.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Ed Greenwood (December 1992). “The Wizards Three: Sorcery from Three Worlds”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Dragon #188 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 27–34.
  18. Ed Greenwood (November 1994). “The Wizards Three: A Night of Shadows”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #211 (TSR, Inc.), p. 84.
  19. Kate Novak, Jeff Grubb (July 1997). Finder's Bane. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN 0-7869-0658-8.
  20. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 20.11 20.12 20.13 Mark Middleton et al (March 1998). Wizard's Spell Compendium Volume Three. (TSR, Inc), pp. 592–599. ISBN 978-0786907915.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Dale Donovan (January 1998). Cult of the Dragon. (TSR, Inc), p. 64. ISBN 0-7869-0709-6.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 261–263. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  23. Dale Donovan (January 1998). Cult of the Dragon. (TSR, Inc), p. 125. ISBN 0-7869-0709-6.
  24. Dale Donovan (January 1998). Cult of the Dragon. (TSR, Inc), p. 74. ISBN 0-7869-0709-6.