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Khelben Arunsun

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Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun (414 DR1374 DR, aged 960 years, although rumors are he may still be alive being a Chosen of Mystra) was the Lord Mage of Waterdeep, a masked Lord of Waterdeep, and powerful archmage.[citation needed] He resided in Blackstaff Tower until his death.[7]

One of the few spellcasters to become one of Mystra's Chosen,[8][9] and the last survivor of House Maerdrym,[10] Khelben was a serious, imposing wizard, and a grim proponent of law and order whose methods of achieving the ultimate good were often highly questionable in the eyes of the righteous.[citation needed]


Khelben stood just over 6 feet (1.83 meters) tall and was well-muscled. He usually dressed in robes, wielding his trademark Blackstaff. As of 1374 DR, he had a full beard; black hair with silver streaks, including a prominent one through his beard; and a distinguished, imposing manner.[11] He often dressed in black with a silver torque and a cape lined in gray fur.[12]


Often thought to be humorless and grave, Khelben was actually neither. He simply found it easier to deal with people if they were intimidated by or even frightened of him. He had numerous apprentices over the years and liked to encourage young people who displayed an aptitude for magic. Wielding the Art could be a gravely dangerous business, however, and Khelben tried to instill appreciation of that fact in his pupils by keeping up his "stern taskmaster" façade.[citation needed]

In private, however, he was quiet and keenly intelligent. With his lady love, Laeral Silverhand, he was gentle and loving. The few apprentices who, whether purposely or by luck, chanced a glimpse of his private side—like his roaring laugh, for example—were all thoroughly unnerved by the experience.[citation needed] He did not like displays of affection with his wife in front of others.[13]

The only side of Khelben that most saw was that of the gravely wise tutor or stern archmage with much more important things to think about and do than deal with these younglings. If news of a threat to Waterdeep, the North, or the Realms in general, was brought to him, Khelben would go into action, planning countermeasures, seeking the aid of allies, and asking the informer to continue in search of more information. Those who knew Khelben well sometimes referred to him as a spider in the center of a massive web of information, schemes, plans, and counter-plans. While his web was centered on the City of Splendors, Khelben placed tendrils across the North and beyond. Just as he was noted as a collector of magic and magical items, Khelben also was a hoarder of information. He was a firm believer in the credo, "A secret isn't a secret if you tell anyone." He commonly manipulated people and events with this exclusive store of knowledge; to this end he'd never volunteer information that wasn't specifically requested of him.[citation needed]

Khelben was a reasonably good artist and hung many of his works around Blackstaff Tower.[14]


As an archmage, Khelben had little cause to enter melee. He used his magical items, formidable array of spells, and his Chosen powers (especially his silver fire), in that order, to deal with his foes.[citation needed]

When injured, Khelben's wounds would close by themselves, thanks to the silver fire, with flickers of silver flame burning at their edges.[15]


Vajra Valmeyjar remarked that Khelben enjoyed "slumming" with common folk, and making wagers with them. In fact, he was often to be found in the Selûne's Smile tavern in 1357 DR, getting involved in affairs there, sometimes with his face concealed by a hood.[16]

Khelben sometimes took on an alias and had friends/allies/apprentices take on his guise to cover for him while he was absent. This led to several inaccurate historical statements on his whereabouts at particular times and many actions attributed to others could in fact be attributed to Khelben.[citation needed]



Khelben was born to Arun Maerdrym, the first half-elf born to a noble elven family of the ancient city of Myth Drannor, and the human ranger Arielimnda. Khelben's father followed an ancient elven custom and did not give him a name upon his birth. He remained unnamed even at the age of 12 when he started to learn the ways of magic, joining the Incanistaeum as a pupil of Mentor Wintercloak. He'd collected a number of nicknames though. Among some commoner elves he was known as "Biir". Some elven nobles named him "Zenar", while his elven friends simply called him "Bhin". Upon leaving Myth Drannor in 449 DR, he took the only name he was proud of: Arun's Son (Arunsun). His nameless origin followed him as he came to be known as "The Nameless Chosen".[citation needed]

However, between 421 DR and his first death in 464 DR, Khelben only saw his father nine times.[17]

Khelben was the last survivor of House Maerdrym.[10]

Rise to power and first deathEdit

Khelben made a name for himself to prove himself worthy in the disapproving eyes of his elven peers, battling phaerimm along the way.[citation needed]

In 464 DR, in the Sword of Anauroch, Khelben came across his father, who had been escorting Evereskan elves, his then wife and children, westwards, in combat with the phaerimm.[18][9] After both Khelben and Arun ran low on spells, and inside a protective sphere, Arun struck the Duskstaff of Sarael using his Lupinaxe, killing them both and transforming the surrounding desert into a crater of glass.[8]

Khelben was resurrected by Mystra to become the Chosen of Mystra.[8][9]

In the 9th century, Khelben posed as a cloistered monk in Candlekeep, though when he learned of the establishment of the realm of Stornanter, he left Candlekeep to take up the guise of "Malek Aldhanek" and became court wizard of that realm. In his place, he left a student of his, Tsalem of Threehills Dell to take his place in the library fortress. Hidden in Alaundo's prophecies, a dire threat was discovered and Khelben faked Malek's death to begin preparations against it.

After a beloved wife's death sometime in the 10th century DR, Khelben did not wish to publicly mourn her loss and so spent thirty years clearing away the sunken wrecks of spelljammers in the Trackless Sea and Sea of Fallen Stars.[19]

In 1150 DR, Khelben arrived in Waterdeep and built Arunsun Tower, later known as Blackstaff Tower.[20] The tower was attacked by malaugrym in 1179 DR, but they were turned back by Khelben, Elminster, and others.[21]


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In 1311 DR, Khelben secretly returned to Waterdeep after the death of his son, Zelphar Arunsun.[22] In 1321 DR,[23] his grandson, Khelben the Younger, left Abeir-Toril to go planewalking and exploring, ending up on what Elminster suspected to be the world of Oerth. Khelben the Elder took over his grandson's identity for both their sakes. His origins could be a weakness, so nobody, not even most of his family save for a few of his closest allies, knew his origins and true age. To the public, Khelben was the son of Zelphar and Lhestyn, when in reality Zelphar was Kheben's son.[24]

In 1356 DR, Khelben assisted Drizzt Do'Urden and Wulfgar in boarding the Sea Sprite, captained by Deudermont. He claimed to be a simple forester, although Drizzt suspected that he was at least a peer of Malchor Harpell.[25]

One day in the Year of the Prince, 1357 DR, the skies over the city darkened and an interdimensional wormhole (from the Great Door) disgorged a swarm of gargoyles and kenkus over the city. Khelben and a City Guard troop arrived to hold them off.[26]

In the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, during the Time of Troubles, Khelben briefly left Waterdeep to consult with Elminster. He returned to find Lord Piergeiron had unwisely made a deal with lawyers to handle the city's civic disputes. Being no fan of lawyers and not understanding why sane society would have them, Khelben hatched a plan to evict them from the city, working with Kyriani and using Onyx the Invincible as an unwitting patsy. In disguise, Kyriani tricked Onyx into signing a marriage contract, with Khelben waiting to use him in a test case, but not before blasting the lawyers with a cone of cold and teleporting away to Castle Waterdeep. In the Lord's Court, the lawyers got Lord Piergeiron to rule the contract valid and the marriage official, and Khelben confronted Piergeiron over the arrangement. Afterward, Khelben took the lead lawyer to meet Onyx and his alleged wife on their court-appointed wedding night, claiming Onyx had to fulfill a dwarf marriage custom, the "Bedchamber Trek", or else the marriage would be invalid. The lawyer had to escort Onyx to the bed to enforce the ruling. However, Khelben created illusions of caverns and fiery pits, filled with trolls, giant spiders, and strange bird-like monsters to harass Onyx and the lawyer. The terrified lawyer fled in horror, abandoning Onyx and thus reneging on the lawyers' contract with the city, rendering it void as the Blackstaff had planned. He thanked Onyx and Kyriani for their services, and left them to their wedding night.[27]

On the hottest day of summer of 1358 DR, Khelben was frequenting the Selûne's Smile. He bet 50 gold pieces on Timoth Eyesbright as he arm-wrestled Vajra Valmeyjar. He may have had an ulterior motive: in the skies above, the constellations of the Woman Warrior and the Centaur were in alignment, giving power to their contest. This power merged with sweltering magic to open a door to an extra-dimensional prison, releasing Aviss and Fellandar to wreak a path of destruction in the city. Explaining the truth, Khelben urged Vajra and Timoth to continue arm-wrestling to hold the door open, and gave Kyriani and Onyx the Invincible a ring of spell storing to help battle the villains. At last, Khelben hurled Aviss and Fellandar back into their prison with a telekinesis spell. Though Vajra and Timoth broke off, leaving the winner unknown, Khelben insisted he should get his winnings and Onyx struggled to pay back his bets as an argument raged.[16]

Retirement as Masked Lord and the MoonstarsEdit

In 1367 DR,[28] Khelben retired from his role as a Masked Lord of Waterdeep (only to quickly - and secretly, rejoin their ranks). During this time Khelben spent his time organizing (some would say manipulating) events in Faerûn and with the aid of his Moonstars, along with his beloved wife, Laeral Silverhand Arunsun.[citation needed]

In 1370 DR, Khelben split off from the Harpers and formed his own splinter group, known as the Tel'Teukiira or Moonstars. He was expelled in 1370 DR from the Harpers after making a deal with Fzoul Chembryl, cleric of Bane and leader of the sinister Zhentarim, in 1369 DR.[29] With his departure, he brought others with him into the Moonstars in order to better suit his needs.[citation needed]

Second "Death"Edit

On the Feast of the Moon, 1374 DR,[3] Khelben Arunsun brought together many powerful mages in order to restore the denizens of the lost city of Miyeritaar's High Mages and cleanse part of the High Moor. In order to make the magic permanent, he and the Grand Mage Ualair the Silent sacrificed their magic to create Rhymanthiin, the Hidden City of Hope. His greatest legacy may yet live on in the twins that Laeral carried.[30]

After his second death, Khelben's spirit coalesced in Blackstaff Tower to guide and advise future Blackstaffs. Rumors are that he may return as he did after his first 'death' as he is one of Mystra's Chosen[31].



Khelben's granddaughter, the daughter of his daughter, was Syndra Wands.[32] His son was Zelphar Arunsun.[33]

Laeral SilverhandEdit

"Khelben's lady" was Laeral Silverhand of the Seven Sisters, whom he rescued in 1357 DR from the grip of the Crown of Horns and the part-dead god Myrkul and spent three years nursing back to sanity in Blackstaff Tower.[34] They had a permanent link that they used to communicate with one another remotely.[11] In later years, the two were often apart, with Laeral spending a great deal of time away adventuring while Khelben remained in Waterdeep mired in politics and diplomacy.[35] In 1361 DR, Danilo Thann moved the elfgate portal to Evermeet to Laeral's quarters in Blackstaff Tower with the hope that the two would be able to spend more time together.[36]


Khelben spent time in the service of the Harpers, but considers that he was unfairly treated by the Twilight Trio and left the organization to form his own, called the Moonstars, with similiar goals. In addition, he was able to keep the Moonstars under tighter control than was possible with the Harpers.[37]

Danilo ThannEdit

Khelben's nephew Danilo Thann, son of his "sister" Cassandra Thann, was one of his most promising apprentices — Khelben even considered him his "probable successor" for a time.[38]. Khelben began working with Danilo at age 12, teaching him in the ways of wizardly and presumably introducing him to the Harpers.[39] The two were quite fond of each other, although they would never admit it and they often disagreed about means and ends.[40] Danilo often called Khelben "Uncle Khel."[41]



  1. The Forgotten Realms Campaign Set gives his level as "26+".
  2. The original 3rd-edition stats include four of the superseded "Epic" levels. Later sources added these to the Wizard levels.




Starlight & Shadows trilogy:

Songs and Swords series:

Return of the Archwizards trilogy:

Video gamesEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 53. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  2. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 157. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  4. Jeff Grubb, Ed Greenwood and Karen S. Martin (1987). Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (DM's Sourcebook of the Realms). (TSR, Inc), p. 24. ISBN 0-8803-8472-7.
  5. Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), Running the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 36. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  6. Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 274. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  7. Uncredited (December 1989). The City of Waterdeep Trail Map. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 978-0880387583.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 7–9. ISBN 978-0786940165.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 88. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 62. ISBN 978-0786940165.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 25. ISBN 978-0786940165.
  12. Elaine Cunningham (April 2000). Elfshadow. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 52–53. ISBN 0-7869-1660-5.
  13. Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 51. ISBN 978-0786940165.
  14. Elaine Cunningham (April 2000). Elfshadow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 55. ISBN 0-7869-1660-5.
  15. Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 99. ISBN 978-0786940165.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Dan Mishkin (September 1991). “Summer in the City”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #33 (DC Comics).
  17. Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 4. ISBN 978-0786940165.
  18. Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-0786940165.
  19. Steven E. Schend (1999). Sea of Fallen Stars. (TSR, Inc), pp. 138–139. ISBN 0-7869-1393-2.
  20. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 122. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  21. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 123. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  22. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 134. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  23. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 137. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  24. Ed Greenwood (1993). The Code of the Harpers. (TSR, Inc), p. 48. ISBN 1-56076-644-1.
  25. R.A. Salvatore (January 1990). The Halfling's Gem. (TSR, Inc), p. ??. ISBN 0-88038-901-X.
  26. Dan Mishkin (May 1990). “Day of the Darkening”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #18 (DC Comics), p. 5.
  27. Dan Mishkin (November 1990). “Lawyers!”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #23 (DC Comics).
  28. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 147. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  29. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  30. Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786940165.
  31. Steven E. Schend (September 2008). Blackstaff Tower. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4913-9.
  32. Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 86–87. ISBN 978-0786940165.
  33. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 31. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  34. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 142. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  35. Elaine Cunningham (April 2000). Elfshadow. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 242–243. ISBN 0-7869-1660-5.
  36. Elaine Cunningham (April 2000). Elfshadow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 311. ISBN 0-7869-1660-5.
  37. Steven E. Schend, Sean K. Reynolds and Eric L. Boyd (June 2000). Cloak & Dagger. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 26. ISBN 0-7869-1627-3.
  38. Elaine Cunningham (April 2000). Elfshadow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 240. ISBN 0-7869-1660-5.
  39. Elaine Cunningham (April 2000). Elfshadow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 283. ISBN 0-7869-1660-5.
  40. Elaine Cunningham (April 2000). Elfshadow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 281. ISBN 0-7869-1660-5.
  41. Elaine Cunningham (April 2000). Elfshadow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 233. ISBN 0-7869-1660-5.
  42. Elaine Cunningham (April 2000). Elfshadow. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 152. ISBN 0-7869-1660-5.

Further readingEdit

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