Shangalar displayed little of his demonic heritage, with only a pointed ears and bone spurs on his elbows and knees. After his transformation into a lich, his appearance altered over the centuries. Shangalar's skin became jet-black and calcified, increasing his already formidable toughness and even reflecting spells akin to spell turning.
In life, he was extremely paranoid and regularly laid out various plans and contingencies to prevent potential betrayals and double-crosses. This often caused the deaths of innocents and ruined lives to which Shangalar was completely indifferent.
He wore a black dragon–hide cloak that he'd crafted from a pair of dragons he had slain. He also had a notoriously grim personal spellbook filled with dark magic he had created, before it was stolen by a thief. 
One of the lasting contributions of Shangalar before achieving lichdom was his research into dark magic. The development of the arcane version of negative plane protection as well as the spells repel undead, bone javelin and bone blade can be attributed to Shangalar.
Shangalar was born the son of a cambion vizier in Calimshan. During the late 7th century DR, Shangalar slew his father and took over the position of Grand Vizar and ruled Calimshan alongside his childhood friend, Mameluk Murabir Avarrk. However after Avarrk's death at hands of assassins, Shangalar fled into the Marching Mountains and created a floating pyramidal lair to hide from his enemies. He accumulated power and wealth by raiding the ruins of ancient human and elven civilizations, aided by hired lackeys and summoned monsters and undead.
While exploring ruins in the desert of Anauroch, Shangalar was robbed of his spellbook by the renowned master thief, Athchos the Black. Athchos attempted to lease the tome a mage in Elturel but was killed by a swarm of hundreds of crawling claw, of which Shangalar was believed to be responsible. Contributing to this theory, and perhaps as a point of pride, was the fact Shangalar took on the mantle of "-the Black" after Athchos' death.
Sometime before the Time of Troubles, Shangalar's lair was intruded upon by Rhangaun and Rysellan the Dark. His display of power in defending his lair greatly impressed the two runemasters of the Twisted Rune enough that they allowed him to join their organization.
In 1358 DR, the chaos of the Time of Troubles severely disrupted the experimental magics in Shangalar's lair and greatly weakened his overall power. By at least 1369 DR, Shangalar had become one of the nine runemasters in the Twisted Rune, a position that he still held as late as 1372 DR.
Shangalar was responsible for transforming the former concubine, Jymahna, into a lich. Whilst they both lived, Jymahna was Shangalar's lover and in undeath she operated as his agent for centuries. Many of Jymahna's secrets were kept hidden by Shangalar.
- Ed Greenwood (December 1990). “Arcane Lore: Pages From the Mages, Part VI”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Dragon #164 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 59–63.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 178. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 183. ISBN 978-0786912377.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 184. ISBN 978-0786912377.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Ed Greenwood, Tim Beach (1995). Pages from the Mages. (TSR, Inc), p. 18. ISBN 0-7869-0183-7.
- ↑ Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 177. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend and Dale Donovan (September 1998). Empires of the Shining Sea. (TSR, Inc), p. 182. ISBN 978-0786912377.