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Zaknafein Do'Urden (pronounced: /zɑːkˈnfiɪnzack-NAY-fee-in[5]) was the famed weapons master of House Daermon N'a'shezbaernon, more commonly known as House Do'Urden. He was also Drizzt Do'Urden's father, his mentor and his dearest friend. It was he who gave Drizzt the courage[citation needed] to leave Menzoberranzan and trained him to become an excellent warrior. Zaknafein also played a great part in shaping his personality, protecting his son from the truth of Menzoberranzan for as long as he could.


The drow weapon master was strong with thick white hair.[6]


Zak delighted in killing the priestesses of Lolth.[6] He hated the passionless evil they represented, and saw chances to kill them as a way of fighting against it. He had a strong and willful personality, in contrast to the status quo submissiveness that was seen in other drow males. Matron Malice took note of it, but often said nothing because it was that quality that made him even more desirable to her. He also believed in honor and hated the idea of killing children. He was proud when he found out that Drizzt didn't kill a moon elf child.[citation needed]


Zaknafein was heavily involved in his son's weapons training. He taught Drizzt to think creatively in a fighting situation and trained his muscles to respond to such thoughts. He insisted that improvisation was the mark of a good warrior.[7] It is through Zaknafein's tutelage that Drizzt developed the dual-wielding fighting style common among the drow, and that allowed Drizzt to become known as one of the greatest swordsmen in Faerûn.


Life in Menzoberranzan[]

Zaknafein was born a commoner in Menzoberranzan. In time his skills attracted the attentions of Malice Do'Urden and he quickly became patron of House Do'Urden, which allowed him to take the surname, Do'Urden. In order to break his spirit and make him behave more as a true drow, Malice and her daughter, Briza Do'Urden conspired to have him murder a goblin disguised as a drow (a trick the pair would later successfully use on Drizzt). However, the untimely death of Malice's mother led to them abandoning the attempt. During his time as patron, Zak sired one child with Malice, Vierna. Zaknafein sincerely hoped his daughter would share his values and personality and he clashed frequently with her mother over Vierna's future, although he was forced to watch his daughter become corrupted by the evil tenets of Lolth. Sometime after Vierna's birth, Zaknafein was replaced by Rizzen Do'Urden as patron and served House Do'Urden only as Weapons Master, although he continued to be Malice's occasional lover.

In time, Zaknafein became known as the finest weapons master in Menzoberranzan,[8] but most importantly, he was good beyond the ability of his kin. Noble, kind-hearted, and strong in his own way, he did his best to live by his principles, in a world where greed overcomes compassion and ambition overrules all. He also had a mysterious friendship with Jarlaxle, leader of Bregan D'aerthe, and gained a rival in fellow weapons master, Dantrag Baenre [citation needed]. He was said to be the "greatest weapons master to ever cross blades in Menzoberranzan". As such, he can be considered as one of, if not the, greatest swordsmen in drow history.

Malice longed to kill him several times over the centuries but did not both because of her own desire for him and because Zaknafein had proven himself to be a tremendously capable fighter who delighted in killing drow, particularly priestesses, which came in handy as House Do'Urden continued to climb the ranks in Menzoberranzan by eliminating Houses further up. He also trained countless Do'Urden warriors, including Vierna, Maya and Dinin.

Not long before reaching his fourth century, Zaknafein took part in House Do'Urden's assault on House DeVir. He took his customary role of assassinating the fifth House's priestesses. He was shocked at the power of Malice's assault, powered by the birth of Drizzt. During the raid, although Zak relished the opportunity of killing priestesses, he took a moment to mourn the death of the DeVir children, wondering if drow children were born evil.

Returning to House Do'Urden, following the successful annihilation of House DeVir, Zak was pleasantly surprised to find his son still alive following Dinin's murder of Nalfein in order to become Elderboy. Ten years later, his daughter, Vierna confided in him that the boy was different and very talented. Meeting Drizzt for the first time, Zak was unable to contain a smile when the young drow unknowingly spoke out of turn, embarrassing Vierna. Malice revealed her intention for Drizzt to study at Sorcere and replace Nalfein as House Wizard. Zaknafein, who had little respect for wizards, was able to convince her to allow Drizzt to become a fighter instead. Malice snidely remarked that she should have expected nothing less, given the boy's heritage, but Drizzt missed her point.

Zak once attempted to retrieve the Dagger of Menzoberra on the orders of Matron Malice, in exchange for his life, but returned to his house without it due to a magical circumstance. Due to a personal intervention from Lolth herself, Zak's life was spared.[9]

Zaknafein immediately found Drizzt a kindred spirit and that the young drow possessed an innocence and idealism that Zak felt compelled to protect and preserve. The pair would spar frequently and Drizzt learned a great deal from Zaknafein, and Zaknafein trained Drizzt using two finely crafted drow long swords in the dual wielding fighting style common among drow warriors. The two got into an argument over the "double cross down" parry, which Drizzt argued was incorrect as it had no appropriate counter. When Drizzt grew to the age of twenty, Malice ordered the young drow be sent to the Academy for further instruction. Knowing that the Academy would have ruined Drizzt's strong morals and shattered his innocence, Zaknafein pleaded with Malice to allow Drizzt to remain within the House, promising to make him the finest Weapons Master in Menzoberranzan history. Malice did not doubt his word, but sent Drizzt anyway, mostly because she enjoyed seeing Zaknafein in pain.

Unwilling to allow Drizzt to become corrupted and become a soulless killer like the rest of his kin, Zaknafein attempted to kill his son during a sparring match shortly before Drizzt was due to leave. Ultimately, Zaknafein was unable to bring himself to murder his son, although the pair had a falling out and ended up parting on bad terms.

Zaknafein was filled with pride when Drizzt returned from the Academy having graduated at the top of his class for nine of the ten years he spent there. All the same, he was afraid to interact with his son, fearing that Drizzt had become just another evil drow fighter. As Drizzt continued to gain a reputation as one of the most promising warriors in Menzoberranzan, Zak continued to have mixed feeling about his son's success. When Zak heard that Drizzt had apparently killed a surface elf (Ellifain Tuuserail) during a raid, Zak was filled with rage.[10]. When next he met his son, Zak attacked his son but relented once Drizzt insisted that he had actually spared the child and admitted that he was, in fact, Drizzt's father, not Rizzen, as Drizzt had been led to believe. Little did they know that the Do'Urden priestesses were scrying on them both. When confronted by the women, Zaknafein offered his life in exchange for his son's, convincing them that Drizzt would become an even greater warrior than he and was still capable of becoming a puppet of Lolth.[11]

Upon discovering Zaknafein's sacrifice, Drizzt left Menzoberranzan for the wilds of the Underdark. Zaknafein was later brought back through Zin-carla to hunt his son; the spirit-wraith found Drizzt and fought him in the Acid Aerie. Ultimately, Zaknafein fought through the mental barriers, aided by Malice giving him back too much of his mind (so as to be able to use more of the skill he had in life) and he hurled himself into the chasm to prevent himself from killing Drizzt.[12]

Years afterward, Drizzt learned that someone he thought lost became a prisoner of the demon Errtu. He set out to rescue whom he thought was his father. It was revealed that Wulfgar was the demon's captive and that Zaknafein was indeed dead. However, the priest Cadderly Bonaduce summoned Zaknafein's spirit and he went to Drizzt, who was at that time in his quarters within the dwarven mines of Icewind Dale. The fallen warrior told Drizzt what had happened to him, and expressed the pride and love he felt for his son before disappearing.

Zaknafein was brought to Jarlaxle by Yvonnel Baenre II after Drizzt's confrontation with Lolth in Damara.[13]





  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 R.A. Salvatore (1992). Menzoberranzan (The House Do'Urden Retrospective). Edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 1-5607-6460-0.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dale Donovan (July 1998). Villains' Lorebook. (TSR, Inc), p. 111. ISBN 0-7869-1236-7.
  3. Mark Anthony (April 1996). The Fires of Narbondel (Realms of the Underdark). (TSR, Inc), pp. 6–80. ISBN 978-0786904877.
  4. Matt Chapman, Bart Carroll (2020-06-23). Previews: In the Works (Web). In Matt Chapman, Bart Carroll eds. Dragon+ #32. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2020-06-23.
  5. Dungeons & Dragons FAQ (HTML). Wizards of the Coast. (2003). Archived from the original on 2017-07-09. Retrieved on 2018-05-22.
  6. 6.0 6.1 R.A. Salvatore (September 1990). Homeland. (TSR, Inc.), p. 18. ISBN 0-1401-4372-6.
  7. R.A. Salvatore (July 2003). The Thousand Orcs. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 184. ISBN 978-0786929801.
  8. R.A. Salvatore (July 2003). The Thousand Orcs. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 158. ISBN 978-0786929801.
  9. Mark Anthony (April 1996). The Fires of Narbondel (Realms of the Underdark). (TSR, Inc), pp. 6–80. ISBN 978-0786904877.
  10. R.A. Salvatore (September 1990). Homeland. (TSR, Inc.), p. 25. ISBN 0-1401-4372-6.
  11. R.A. Salvatore (September 1990). Homeland. (TSR, Inc.), p. ?. ISBN 0-1401-4372-6.
  12. R.A. Salvatore (March 2006). Exile. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3983-4.
  13. R.A. Salvatore (October 2017). Hero (MMP). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 438–440. ISBN 9780786966158.