|This article relies on references to primary sources. (November 2011)|
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary and it should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (November 2011)|
|Class||(per 3.5E) Ftr1/Rog2/Clr9/Wiz24/Acm5|
Elminster Aumar is a fictional character in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Also known as the "Sage of Shadowdale", he is a powerful wizard featured in many novels by Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood. His appearance and demeanor in certain aspects seem to echo Merlin, Gandalf, or Odin.
Elminster was one of the first characters Greenwood created for the Forgotten Realms; information about him can be found in virtually all game products, but The Elminster Series of novels by Greenwood are perhaps the most definitive sources of information. The series includes Elminster: The Making of a Mage, Elminster in Myth Drannor, The Temptation of Elminster, Elminster in Hell, and Elminster's Daughter.
Elminster appears as a gray-bearded man of weathered visage, gruff tone, alert, dancing eyes, nondescript attire and a hawk like nose. He is almost always smoking a meerschaum pipe that is spouting vile smelling blue or green smoke. Elminster is also a natural shapeshifter, and can appear in virtually any visage or gender.
A natural storyteller, Elminster is normally a witty, clever, and very charming man. He can be imperious, grave, and terrible and furthermore is a consummate actor. He rarely reveals the full extent of his true nature to anyone who is not an extremely close friend. He can portray himself as a trickster, rake, stern father figure, fool or any other stereotype he wants to assume, depending on what he wants to accomplish or what reaction he wants to elicit from those around him.
As of the end of "Elminster's Daughter" the information that Elminster has several daughters was made known. Besides Narnra Shalace, two others are Laspeera of the war wizards and the Dowager Queen Filfaeril of Cormyr. He has no known wife, but retains contact with several previous lovers, including the goddess Mystra. Although after the Time of Troubles his relationship with Mystra changed when the goddess was slain and the sorceress Midnight rose to assume the mantle of the Lady of Mysteries.
The Harpers; the other Chosen of Mystra (especially the Simbul, his paramour); Lhaeo, his scribe. The Knights of Myth Drannor are also his close friends and confidants, and two or three knights are always in Shadowdale in case it is in peril.
Elminster interacts regularly with the other Chosen of Mystra through a telepathic link. As well as once sharing a bed with the goddess herself, he is currently conducting a relationship with the Simbul of the Seven Sisters.
Elminster has appeared in articles as a wise sage imparting knowledge to a fictional interviewer in numerous issues of Dragon Magazine that were written by Ed Greenwood. He divulged lore on various Dungeons & Dragons monsters in "The ecology of ..." articles such as "The ecology of the ochre jelly." He was used as a source of information for Greenwood's "Pages from the Mages" articles in which various spells were described, as well as various miscellaneous articles such as "Cloaked in magic."
The Making of A Mage 
The first novel in The Elminster Series, Making of a Mage  recounts the character's origin story, which explains why he has such extensive and varied experience. Elminster was born around 212 DR to Elthryn, the lord of the village of Heldon and a prince of Athalantar, and his wife Amrythale, in the kingdom of Athalantar. His family was killed by a malaugrym posing as Undarl, one of the magelords of the ancient kingdom of Athalantar. Taking up his father's broken sword, the Lion Sword, the symbol of the great king of the Stag Throne (who was Elminster's grandfather), Elminster became a brigand.
He soon realized that he had no taste for killing, and gave it up when he went to become a burglar in the city of Hastarl, the capital of Athalantar. He met and became friends with Farl, a local thief, who knew Elminster as Eladar "the Dark." They worked together frequently, eventually forming a gang dubbed the Velvet Hands in opposition to another local gang, the Moonclaws, who were servants of the magelords. Later, while eavesdropping on a possible thieving mark, Elminster met that era's Magister, the wizard who bore the mantle of Azuth's power. When asked if he was interested in learning sorcery, Elminster refused, hating all mages because of the magelords.
While in a temple, Elminster was visited by Mystra, the Goddess of All Magic. She spoke to and left the awestruck Elminster with the message that he should learn of magic and worship her. Soon thereafter, while he was still a young adult, Mystra transformed Elminster into a woman named Elmara to strengthen his bond with magic and to know what it is to be a woman. This change also allowed him to move within his enemies' circles without their knowledge that he was in fact the last surviving prince of Athalantar. For a few years, Elmara was a priestess of Mystra. Later, an avatar of Mystra (who went by the name Myrjala "Darkeyes") trained Elmara in the ways of a mage and brought her to an ancient Netherese arcanist who taught Elmara a spell that would transform her back into Elminster. In the time that followed, Elminster learned much about magic from Myrjala, reaching the point where he could finish taking his revenge against the evil magelords who had usurped the kingdom. After a terrific battle, Elminster persevered and assumed the throne of Athalantar.
However, after regaining his kingdom, he passed the monarchy to Helm Stoneblade, a knight of Athalantar, stating that he had wanted to avenge his family's death, not rule. As he and Myrjala left the kingdom, the so-called Mage Royal, Undarl, attacked them, and the sorceress revealed herself to be Mystra. She offered to make Elminster one of her Chosen, and he readily accepted.
Elminster in Myth Drannor 
A sequel to Making of a Mage, Elminster in Myth Drannor  takes place shortly afterwards. In this novel, Elminster travels to the city of Cormanthor. The book details the ancient elven society and its people, as well as highlighting Elminster's continued magical studies, as he serves as an apprentice to a cruel and powerful wizard.
Elminster remains in Cormanthor for over two decades, and is present when the mythal is raised and the city is renamed Myth Drannor.
The Temptation of Elminster 
The Temptation of Elminster  moves the time line ahead several centuries. At the outset of the novel, Elminster emerges from a dusty tomb, after being trapped there in stasis for many years.
During much of this book, as under orders from Mystra Elminster restricts his use of magic, and Elminster must again learn to survive by his wits and the skills he picked up earlier in his life. He later undergoes further magical training under the tutelage of a wicked sorceress who seeks to tempt him away from Mystra's path.
Following the events of The Temptation of Elminster, Elminster served as a foster parent to three other of Mystra's Chosen: Laeral, Storm, and Dove. It is also suspected that he had something to do with the founding of Waterdeep, or at least with the organizing of the city's lords.
Time of Troubles 
Elminster was instrumental in forming the Rangers Three, who aided him in recurring battles with the mysterious Shadowmasters during this time. Elminster also took time out to defend Shadowdale from an army of Zhentarim led by the avatar of Bane. Bane and Elminster battled, and both were caught up in the spell that Elminster had called upon to dispose of the avatar. Elminster was originally thought to have been destroyed, but when he later reappeared it became apparent that he had merely been transported to another plane of existence for a time.
Shadow of the Avatar Crisis 
In Elminster's absence, the forces of evil tried to rally, but the other Chosen, the Knights of Myth Drannor, and the Rangers Three held them at bay until he returned. With the present crisis averted, all seemed calm, but the Shadowmasters had other ideas. Elminster and the Rangers Three, along with their allies, managed to frustrate and foil the plans of this race of shapeshifters.
Elminster also confronted the overgod, Lord Ao, over his instigation of the Time of Troubles while innocents were being killed. As the critical moment of the Time of Troubles approached, Mystra knew of what was to come and she shed most of her power into Midnight the human wizard, so that all of her essence would not cease to exist. Since Elminster obtained his power from Mystra, this change left him personally powerless at a critical juncture.
He recruited one of the Rangers Three, Sharantyr, and they equipped themselves from Elminster's cache of magical items, which would still function. The two of them were later reunited with the other two members of the band, Itharr and Belkram, but even the Rangers Three could not prevent Elminster from being wounded in battle. Despite this setback, Elminster and the Rangers, along with their allies, not only freed High Dale and defeated Manshoon of the Zhentarim, but they also outlasted the Time of Troubles, and Elminster regained his magic.
Elminster in Hell 
Elminster in Hell describes when the floating city of Shade Enclave was returned to Faerûn after their exile in the Plane of Shadow. The Shadovar—the immortal rulers of the city who were themselves Shades— came to Shadowdale. In a confrontation, one of the shadow princes was blasted with Dove's silver fire. Since Shadovars are living shadow magic, and silver fire is pure weave magic, the collision tore at the fabric of reality and created a rift to the Nine Hells. Elminster realized that the only way to close the portal before a legion of devils spilled forth into Toril was to close it from the other side.
In the opening of Elminster in Hell, Elminster attempted to close the portal and narrowly managed to do so, but at the expense of much of his magical strength. Once in Hell he was abducted and enslaved by an outcast Arch-Devil known as Nergal, who wished to discover the secret of Mystra's silver fire. In the most graphic scenes of The Elminster Series, Elminster was subjected 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 less than inconspicuous, due to the Pact Primeval that prohibits the presence of any god in the Nine Hells, 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.
Elminster's Daughter 
Elminster's Daughter takes place a few years after Elminster in Hell (and is also a sequel to Death of the Dragon). A relatively light-hearted book when compared to the more violent Elminster in Hell, it focuses primarily on the life of one of Elminster's children, Narnra Shalace.
Narnra leads the life of a loner thief in Waterdeep, with no one to depend on but herself. Following an old man through an alleyway and into a portal, she emerges in Marsember. The old man she follows is none other than Elminster. Because of her curiosity, Narnra quickly finds herself involved not only in the intrigues of the Cormyrean nation, but also with Elminster, who turns out to be her father, whom she has never known.
Effect of Spellplague on Future Novels and Media 
With the events of the Spellplague (the world changing event heralding the change from 3rd to 4th edition in The Forgotten Realms) caused by the destruction of his patron, Mystra, Elminster has lost much of his power, but is still unaging. He continues to live in Shadowdale, but is now bitter and withdrawn. It is not explicitly stated, but it is hinted that The Simbul now lives either with or near him after faking her own death.
Other media 
Video games 
Elminster was featured in brief and sporadic appearances in which he aided the protagonist of the Baldur's Gate role-playing video game series and his/her companions, both to check on their progress, and to impart wisdom in regards to their quest in the Bhaal crisis.
Forgotten Realms Comic Appearance 
- Dale Donovan & Paul Culotta (1996). Heroes' Lorebook. TSR. ISBN 0-7869-0412-7.
- Greenwood, Ed (1985). "The ecology of the ochre jelly". Dragon (Dragon publishing) X (#104): 33–36.
- Greenwood, Ed (1984). "Pages from the Mages III". Dragon (Dragon publishing) (#92): 33–36.
- Greenwood, Ed (1986). "Cloaked in magic". Dragon (Dragon publishing) (#112): 33–36.
- Ed Greenwood (1995). Elminster: The Making of a Mage. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-0203-5.
- Baker, Richard, Ed Bonny, and Travis Stout. Lost Empires of Faerûn. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005.
- Ed Greenwood (1998). Elminster in Myth Drannor. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1190-5.
- Ed Greenwood (1999). The Temptation of Elminster. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1427-0.
- Ed Greenwood (2002). Elminster in Hell. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-2746-1.
- Ed Greenwood (2004). Elminster's Daughter. Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-3199-X.
- Bruce Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (4th Edition D&D). Wizard of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- [Forgotten Realms #5 - 8 (1989), DC Comics]
- Greenwood, Ed. The Code of the Harpers (TSR, 1993).
- Greenwood, Ed. Shadows of Doom (TSR, 1995).
- Greenwood, Ed. Cloak of Shadows (TSR, 1995).
- Greenwood, Ed. All Shadows Fled (TSR, 1995).
- Grubb, Jeff, Kate Novak, David E. Martin, Jim Lowder, Bruce Nesmith, Steve Perrin, Mike Pondsmith, and R. A. Salvatore. Hall of Heroes (TSR, 1989).