Live by The Sword
Khelben Black Staff Arunsun
Human male 27th-level mage;
one of the Chosen of Mystra
ARMOR CLASS: 3
HIT POINTS: 74
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
ALIGNMENT: Lawful neutral (strong good tendencies)
STR 14, DEX 16, CON 25 (16), INT 18, WIS 16, CHA 15
Spells (6/6/6/6/6/6/6/5/5): As one of the Chosen of Mys-
tra, Khelben knows and can cast virtually any spell (he is ex-
empt from the rule that mages of 18 Intelligence can know
only 18 spells per spell level). It is speculated that he has per-
sonal access to more than 700 different wizard spells. A typi-
cal everyday assortment might include: 1st burning hands,
charm person, detect magic, identify, light, read magic; 2nd de-
tect invisibility, knock, know alignment, locate object, mirror
image, ray of enfeeblement; 3rd clairvoyance, fly, haste, light-
ning bolt, protection from normal missiles, wraithform; 4th
charm monster, dimension door, minor globe of invulnerability,
polymorph other, Rarys mnemonic enhancer, remove curse;
5th contact other plane, dismissal, feeblemind, hold monster,
passwall, telekinesis; 6th chain lightning, death spell, disinte-
grate, project image, reincarnation, true seeing; 7th control un-
dead, duo-dimension, Khelbens warding whip*, limited wish,
power word stun, teleport without error; 8th blackstaff*,
glassteel, mass charm, power word blind, polymorph any object;
9th astral spell, Elminsters evasion*, energy drain, imprison-
ment, time stop. (See also Bonus Spells below.)
Weapons of Proficiency: dagger; dart; quarterstaff; 2 open.
Nonweapon Proficiencies: an indefinite number, in-
cluding ancient history (Waterdeep and the North); artistic
ability (painting); fire-building; languages, ancient (several);
reading/writing (Common and elvish); religion (worship of
Mystra); riding, land-based (horse); spellcraft; weather sense.
Equipment: Blackstaff Tower in Waterdeep is full of all
manner of equipment, both mundane and magical, from any
number of worlds. Numerous spell books are among the
priceless treasures within. All these items have their places,
either on a shelf, in a chest, or in some pocket dimension
(several of which seem to riddle the tower).
Magical Items: Khelben is considered to have the finest
cache of magical items ever seen on the Sword Coast. Objects
he is known to commonly carry are his black stuff (a staff of
power with Khelbens own blackstaff spell cast upon it); bracers
of defense AC2; a ring of protection +3, and any number of
scrolls, potions, magical daggers, trinkets, and gewgaws.
Combat/Tactics: As an archmage, Khelben has little cause
to enter melee. He uses his magical items, spells, and special
granted powers (see below), in that order, to deal with his foes.
Allies/Companions: LAERAL Silverhand, his consort and
helpmate; ELMINSTER; the Lords of Waterdeep; the Lords
Alliance; the Harpers; and the other Chosen of Mystra.
Foes/Enemies: The foes of peace and good in the Realms
and in Waterdeep especially, ranging from the god Myrkul
(who managed to enter Blackstaff Tower) to the Zhentarim,
the Cult of the Dragon, the Shadowmasters, the Knights of
the Shield, and far too many more to list.
Appearance: Khelben is a 6-foot-tall, well-muscled,
bearded man with a receding hairline, black hair with silver
streaks, including a prominent one through his beard, and a
distinguished, imposing manner. He usually dresses in nonde-
script robes and is never without his trademark black staff.
Personality: Often thought to be humorless and grave,
Khelben actually is neither. He simply finds it easier to deal
with people if they are intimidated by or even frightened of
him. He has had numerous apprentices over the years and
likes to encourage young people who display an aptitude for
magic. Wielding the Art can be a gravely dangerous business,
however, and Khelben tries to instill appreciation of that fact
in his pupils by keeping up a stern taskmaster facade.
In private, however, he is quiet and keenly intelligent.
62 With his lady love, Laeral Silverhand, he is gentle and loving.
The few apprentices who, purposely or by chance, have been
granted a glimpse of his private sidehis roaring laugh, for ex-
amplehave all been thoroughly unnerved by the experience.
The only side of Khelben that PCs are likely to see is that of
the gravely wise tutor or stern archmage with much more im-
portant things to think about and do than deal with these
younglings. If the PCs bring news of a threat to Waterdeep, the
North, or the Realms in general, Khelben will go into action,
planning countermeasures, seeking the aid of allies, and likely
asking the PCs to continue in search of more information.
Those who know Khelben well sometimes refer to him as a
spider in the center of a massive web of information, schemes,
plans, and counterplans. While his web is centered on the City
of Splendors, Khelben has placed tendrils across the North and
beyond. Just as hes noted as a collector of magic and magical
items, Khelben also is a hoarder of information. Hes a firm be-
liever in the credo, A secret isnt a secret if you tell anyone.
He commonly manipulates people and events with this exclu-
sive store of knowledge; hell never volunteer information that
isnt specifically requested of him, for example.
Locales Frequented: Blackstaff Tower or other locales in
Waterdeep. If on business, Khelben could be encountered
anywhere, even beyond the Realms themselves.
History: Khelben has a long history on the Sword Coast
(no one knows his true age, but those in a position to make a
guess put it at over 900 years). It is believed that he is of upper-
class, if not noble, birth. Aside from his lady Laeral (and their
apprentices), Khelben doesnt appear to have a family.
Today, he is considered one of the most powerful, knowl-
edgeable, and influential archmages on the Sword Coast.
While for many years it was not publicly known to be true, it
was widely suspected by those in the know in Waterdeep that
Khelben was one of the citys Lords, and thus had access to
their meetings, magical items, and their own instruments of
law enforcement, Force Grey and the Red Sashes. (See the
City of Splendors boxed set for details on these two organiza-
tions.) Then, near the end of 1367 DR, Khelben shocked the
city by showing up at a meeting of the Lords Courtand im-
mediately followed that by announcing his retirement! Now
another form of speculation has arisen, suggesting that Khel-
bens resignation from the Lords was merely a ruse, part of
some scheme that has yet to unfold.
Whatever his status as a Lord might be, Khelben remains
deeply involved with the Lords Alliance, an informal associ-
ation of Waterdeep, Silverymoon, Sundabar, Neverwinter,
and other good cities of the North that works to promote
cooperation between its members and heighten the advance
of civilization across the North. In addition, he has close ties
to the Harpers and often recommends suitable apprentices
for membership in that organization.
Some years back, Khelben was the one who stepped for-
ward when the wizardess Laeral Silverhand fell under the
sway of the evil artifact known as the Crown of Horns. He
was able to break the magic of the artifact and release Laeral
from the Crowns thrall after a huge spell battle between the
two of them that destroyed part of the High Forest. (See the
City of Splendors boxed set for more information.)
Khelben took Laeral under his wing and restored her san-
ity, which she had lost while under the Crowns power. Not
long afterward, a deep and abiding love blossomed between
Khelben and Laeral, and they are widely considered to be a
married couple by most of Waterdeeps inhabitants.
It has been learned recently that Khelben, like his love
Laeral, her six sisters, and Elminster, is one of Mystras Cho-
sen. (See page 136 for details.)
Motivations/Goals: Khelbens ultimate goal is the ad-
vancement of law and civilization across all of the North, also
known as the Savage Frontier. To this end, he works with the
Harpers, the Lords Alliance, and with promising apprentice
mages. Khelben is a master planner and is often busy planting
seeds that may not come to fruition for years or decades.
Khelbens primary motivation is keeping Waterdeep safe and
secure. As the Jewel of the North, the city plays a central role in
many a villains schemes. He uses his magic, his web of col-
leagues and informants, Laerals connections in Undermoun-
tain, and his own links with the Harpers, the Lords Alliance,
and the Lords of Waterdeep to preserve the quality of his home.
Campaign Uses: If the PCs are adventuring in Water-
deep for any period of time, and especially if they use high-
powered, area-effect magic spells in the city, they could well
receive a chastising visit from Khelben. Hell be very stern
about such dangerous behavior, but if the PCs apologize,
make restitution, and swear to cast such magics no more
while in the city, Khelben may get them off the hook with
the citys other authorities. (That is, if the damage they did
isnt too extensive.)
PCs involved with the Harpers, the Lords Alliance, Force
Grey, or the Red Sashes also could encounter Khelben. He
might even recommend the PCs for membership in one of
the above organizations if the PCs are of the right mind and
manage to impress Khelbennot an easy task.
Sources: Shadowdale, Tantras, Waterdeep, All Shadows
Fled, Cloak of Shadows, Shadows of Doom, Once Around the
Realms, City of Splendors.
Spell Immunity: Khelben is immune to magic missile,
blindness, lightning bolt, ice storm, magic jar, death spell,
forcecage, Ottos irresistible dance, and energy drain.
Bonus Spells: In addition to his normal repertoire, Khel-
ben can cast gauntlet*, Alustriels fang*, wraithform, minor spell
turning*, Muiraras map*, antimagic shell, the Simbuls synosto-
dweomer*, brain spider*, and sphere of wonder* each once per
day without having to memorize them or use any of their