Elminster Aumar (born c. 212 DR) is a fictional character in the Dungeons & Dragons-based Forgotten Realms setting. 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.
In the later series after D&D 3.0, Elminster was often portrayed with shorter hair, a beard, and a sword at his side.
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 and Khelben have something of a rivalry, whilst Volo sorely taxes the old mage's patience.
Elminster was born around 200 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 named 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 and a thief at the ripe age of twelve.
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 formed a bond of friendship with a young thief, Farl, who knew Elminster as Eladar "the Dark"; they committed many acts of thievery and lived life fully, later forming the gang the "Velvet Hands" in opposition to the rival gang, the Moonclaws, who were servants of the magelords. Later, while evesdropping 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, as he hated all mages because of the magelords.
After many adventures, Elminster was visited by Mystra, the Goddess of All Magic. She tarried with him 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, no sooner had he gained the kingship than he passed it on to one of his friends, Helm Stoneblade, a knight of Athalantar. Elminster stated that he had wanted to avenge his family's death, not become a monarch. 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 remains in Cormanthor for over two decades, and is present when the mythal is raised and the city is renamed Myth Drannor.
During much of this book, magic becomes unreliable, 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.
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.
In the opening of Elminster in Hell, Elminster entered 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 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, 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.
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.