Kwan Shang-Li was a young Shou monk belonging to the Standing Tree monastic order. Kwan's mother was an elven ranger whom his father married against his family's wishes. Kwan learned woodcraft and his devotion to the goddess Mielikki from his mother. When Kwan was fourteen, his mother was killed by pirates. Kwan felt great affection for his father, Kwan Yung, but their relationship was often tense and they tended to verbally spar with each other. In addition to his skills as a monk, Kwan was a respected scholar.
Kwan and his father traveled together in the area around the Sea of Fallen Stars for many years. The monastery sent them on a mission to recover two rare and dangerous books written by Liou Chang that revealed the secret of opening teleportation gates. The books were believed to have been on the Grayling when it went down in 1399 DR. In order to locate the wreck of the Grayling, Kwan broke into the wizard Ravel Kouldar's tower on Pirate Isle and stole the Grayling's log. Kwan narrowly escaped with his life and then traveled with his father to Westgate on a ship owned by the monastery. While sailing to Westgate, Kwan began to experience visions sent by the eladrin Caelynna.
At Westgate, they reprovisioned and Kwan reunited with two friends, the tiefling fighter Iados and the dragonborn paladin Thava. While in Westgate he recruited a young mage named Amree to act as ship's mage. The ship sailed into the Sea of Fallen Stars and was sunk by Caelynna and their ship settled at the bottom of the sea in Cealynna's domain. Because of Caelynna's magic, the crew was able to breath water and move about as if on land. Caelynna took Kwan to her citadel where she expected him to translate Liou Chang's books. While in the citadel, he found a secret passage and made his way to Caelynna's chambers. Caelynna had opened a small portal to the Feywild and Kwan was able to communicate with one of Caelynna's eladrin enemies. The eladrin gave Kwan a staff infused with eladrin magic to use against Caelynna.
Kwan left the castle and rejoined his shipmates just as they were refloating their ship. Once the ship was on the surface, Caelynna attacked and Kwan used the magic staff to kill her.
Kwan had dark, close-cropped hair and turquoise eyes. He had tattoos of oak trees on his forearms.
Kwan Shang-Li wore leather armor. He carried many weapons but his primary fighting weapons were two batons he kept hidden in the sleeves of his garment. He also kept an elven dagger strapped to his leg and often carries a longsword or katana.