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At first, Irenicus appears to be a simple, if surreal, villain with a keen interest in torturing the protagonist with unusual magic at the very beginning of Shadows of Amn. However, minutes into the game, he reveals that his apparent motive for said torture is to unlock his victim's latent 'power', thereby benefiting from them in the long run. His obsession with a woman he'd previously maintained a relationship with reveals a much more human (or elven) side to him. It becomes apparent later in the game that Irenicus's embarking on his dark path came about partly from love. His possessive nature eventually became too much for his partner to bear, and unable to let go, Irenicus turned to pursuit of power and revenge, which in turn led to him becoming utterly twisted. However, not only love was responsible for his downfall.
He is unusually well-muscled for a mage, and his body shows the ravages of time as a result of being disconnected from the life-force and immortality of the elven people. Irenicus' face is deeply veined and invariably bears a cold, disdainful expression. There has been some contention among players as to whether that is Irenicus' actual face, or some sort of enchanted mask. Jon's ears appear to have been surgically removed and replaced with a form-fitting skullcap that covers the rear half of his head. The exact purpose of this skullcap is unknown, though it (possibly in conjunction with Irenicus' armor) presumably serves some sort of life-support function. This is especially likely in light of the self-imposed vampirism used by Bodhi (Irenicus' likewise-exiled "sister", though whether this is in blood or merely name remains unclear) to sustain her own existence. It is also possible that Irenicus' bodily modifications allow him to augment or better focus his considerable magic power.
Joneleth is Jon's elven name, and Jon Irenicus is later revealed to mean "Jon the Shattered One." The name "Irenicus" was born out of Joneleth's hatred, self-pity, and desire for revenge on Queen Ellesime, and the people of Suldanessellar, for his exile. Irenicus is an ultimately unsympathetic character who seeks to claim divine power to which he has no right. This hubris is in contrast to the motivations of Bhaalspawn individuals such as Sarevok and the Player Character, who can at least pursue Bhaal's power under the excuse of heredity.
His lair seems to confirm that he is a strange character. Grossly deformed creatures kept in containers reveal a complex character; while speaking with the surviving creatures, you learn that they were formerly in good standing with Irenicus, who were tormented by their wait for Jon to return to bring them back to life, or from the brink of death.
Irenicus was already a powerful spellcaster, and the power he sought was the power of the gods themselves, trying to enter the elven pantheon. So he was punished for his lust for power by being stripped of what made him an elf. No longer being able to feel with the same intensity as before, he became bitter, obsessed about his downfall, and embarked on a mission where it was hard to tell if his objective was that of gaining power or satisfying his revenge.
At the start of Baldur's Gate II, Irenicus appears to be a human, although later dialog reveals that both he and his sister, Bodhi, are exiled elves. The elves of Suldanessellar refer to him as 'the Exile', and it turns out his lost love is the elven Queen Ellesime.
At some point following his exile Irenicus crossed paths with Centeol. Within the Baldur's Gate series he is first mentioned in Baldur's Gate by Centeol, a former sorceress who was in love with Irenicus. If charmed she will reveal that Irenicus's lover, Lady Tanova, was murdered by Centeol in order to gain Jon's love. However, Irenicus divined the location of his lovers murderer, and upon confronting Centeol he transformed her into the spider queen.
He is a highly arrogant, and an incredibly powerful wizard. Capable of causing a huge explosion within the city of Athkatla that reduces part of Waukeen's Promenade to rubble, and eliminate several Cowled Wizards that were sent to arrest him thereafter, before eventually surrendering by choice rather than continue his violent actions.
Irenicus' magic is, like Irenicus himself, actually elven in origin. The extent of Irenicus' magical ability at first shown to be unusually potent, then beyond spectacular. In terms of ability and power he ranks among the most powerful wizards in all of Faerûn, rivaling famed mages such as Elminster Aumar and Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun. In combat, Irenicus is swift, decisive and overwhelmingly potent, eradicating opponents with only a single choice spell at a time with horrific efficiency. Irenicus can cast spells of the ninth level or even beyond, and often disintegrates or detonates enemies in an instant—a fractional display of his terrific power is given in Waukeen's Promenade, where he dispatches several dozen experienced assailants with his powerful magics. Irenicus commands some spells that are not even available to any other character, a notable example being Rapture of the Father, a death spell that appears to be able to instantly kill six enemies with no regard to magic resistance or saving throws, and a cloning spell with which he clones the main character and his friends to keep them occupied while he makes his escape.
At the start of Baldur's Gate II, Irenicus serves as the main character's captor. He claims to use torturous experiments to eventually benefit the player character and his sister Imoen by "unlocking their power." However this proves to be a foil for his real intentions: attaining for himself a great deal of power from them by confiscating their souls, to replace the ones he and his vampire sister Bodhi lost. Upon exiting his dungeon, Irenicus surrenders to the Cowled Wizards on one condition: that Imoen (the protagonist's sister in the game) accompanies him. The Cowled Wizards agree to this, as Imoen has used magic openly against Irenicus; Athkatla law prohibits any open use of arcane magic by anyone that is not registered with, or a member of, the Cowled Wizards. The protagonist's party resolves to track down Irenicus and save Imoen from Irenicus' clutches. Irenicus is teleported to a prison named Spellhold, but quickly proceeds to overrun the entire place, killing all of the wizards with ease and taking control of the premises. Irenicus' true, evil intentions are revealed once the player reaches Spellhold. Irenicus finishes his torturing of the protagonist, and in doing so steals the main character's soul. Bodhi accomplishes the same feat, taking Imoen's soul. Effectively, Imoen and the protagonist have swapped fates with Irenicus and Bodhi. Trapped in the lower halls of Spellhold, the protagonist suffers delusions, until s/he is able to turn into the Slayer—an avatar of the dead god Bhaal. The party escape Spellhold, following Irenicus into the Underdark, and eventually to the Elven city of Suldanessellar. Irenicus' scheme is finally revealed—he planned to seek revenge upon the Elves of Suldanesselar by inciting a war between the drow and the elves. During this, he would drain the energy from the Tree of Life, thereby effectively replacing Rillifane Rallathil in the Seldarine and becoming an elven god. The protagonist and his/her party must stop the assault on Suldanessellar, and face Irenicus atop the sprawling tree, and slay him. However, upon dying, the soul of the protagonist drags the entire party down into the depths of the Nine Hells. Only after participating in the Hell Trials (all but one were managed by demons, whilst one other was managed by the recalled essence of Sarevok, the half-brother of the protagonist and primary antagonist from Baldur's Gate I) would a final showdown between Irenicus and a horde of demons against the main character and his/her party commence. If the main character wins, s/he eventually reclaims his/her lost soul, and returns to the world of the living, whilst Irenicus suffers a fate worse than death at the hands of many chittering demons. Irenicus' motives are left up in the air until the closing moments of the game. As the game progresses, Irenicus and his past are laid bare piece by piece. It is not until the final chapters when one can finally deduce and interpret his actions and goals. Irenicus's main goals are those commonly seen in villains: revenge and power.
- Irenicus is voiced by David Warner.