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Gromph Baenre

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Gromph Baenre by francis001
Gromph Baenre is an antagonist in R.A. Salvatore's books based on the Dungeons and Dragons universe. Gromph was a drow and the Archmage of Menzoberranzan, as well as a very capable diviner. He was also the Master of Sorcere, the arcane school, and the eldest son of Matron Mother Yvonnel Baenre, which made him the most powerful male in the city.

Description

Gromph was austere yet handsome. He had amber eyes, like his daughter Liriel. Despite his old age (he was old even by elven standards), Gromph appeared eternally youthful due to the effects of a magical amulet in his possession, that contained a piece of a unicorn's horn. As a powerful spellcaster and the archmage of the city, Gromph almost always wore the Robe of the Archmage of Menzoberranzan, a ceremonial garment that was heavily enchanted. He also displayed the badge of House Baenre at all times.

Interestingly, by 1361 DR, Gromph had not been able to enter elven Reverie for many decades, nor sleep; presumably, only the power of his brooch of perpetual youth kept him alive.

History

Background

Gromph wandered for some time and adventured before becoming the "leashed" Archmage of the Council of Eight (the eight ruling houses), according to a decree by Lolth. It was only logical for the Council to keep close watch on the male wizards, who are their only real challengers for power; Gromph especially so, as he has many responsibilities in the City of Spiders. Foremost, he had to energize Narbondel, the huge "clock" pillar of Menzoberannzan. For most it seemed to be a ceremony of power and therefore an honorable task, but in truth it was a short chain that tethered Gromph to the city itself. He was also tasked with minimizing the in-fighting of the potential students of Sorcere. After the failed invasion of Menzoberranzan by the duergar and the tanarukks, wizardly powers were in short supply.

War of the Spider Queen

In 1372 DR, during the Silence of Lolth, Gromph disappeared at a time when the city most needed him. After a failed attempt by the Lichdrow Lord Dyrr to force Gromph to join sides with him and the Jaezred Chaulssin, he was attacked and imprisoned in a magical sphere. With the help of his familiar, a rat named Kyorli, he managed to utilize a faerzress to navigate down a river to Lake Donigarten, where he was discovered by a roaming illithid named Sluuguth. He tricked the illithid into bringing him to his quarters in Sorcere, where used "thought bottles" of his own design to trick and defeat Sluuguth, sealing his soul into a magical axe. Gromph left his quarters to find the city under siege by duergar and tanarukks. He aided in the defense of Tier Breche.

Gromph then plotted to find one of the siege's instigators, Nimor Imphraezl of the Jaezred Chaulssin. With the help of Andzrel Baenre, he glued an enchanted light gem to Nimor, ensuring that it would take some time before he was able to leave the Plane of Shadow. In the process, Gromph was blinded. With the help of his employed assassin Zillak, Jaemas Xorlarrin, and Kyorli, he received an eye transplant from a member of House Agrach Dyrr.

Not long after, Gromph was forced to confront Lord Dyrr once again. He was physically sent to the halfling sphere of heaven, the Green Fields. He returned with the soul of a dead halfing named Dietr, who became a huecuva. The huecuva was easily destroyed by the lichdrow. A terrific battle of magic ensued, destroying much of the Bazaar. Despite having a staff of power and ring of regeneration, Gromph very nearly lost the spell battle. He was backstabbed by Nimor and petrified by Dyrr. It was only after Triel Baenre, her clerical powers newly restored after the return of Lolth, turned him back into flesh that he was able to break the staff of power and destroy Dyrr's physical form.

Once Dyrr's physical form was destroyed, however, it remained necessary to destroy his phylactery in order to prevent him from returning. Using subterfuge and many spells of disguise, Gromph infiltrated House Agrach Dyrr while it was under attack by House Xorlarrin and found Dyrr's phylactery in the house chapel. He was able to destroy the phylactery with the same axe that slew Sluuguth. The Lichdrow's soul was entrapped in the axe, Gromph inadvertently left the axe behind when his contingency evasion spell took him away from the scene when the house wards began to go off.

Post-Spellplague

Gromph weathered the Spellplague and grew stronger. As of 1463 DR, he was likely the oldest drow in the city. Presumably at the bequest of Matron Mother Quenthel Baenre, he helped instigate the Xorlarrin expedition to Gauntlgrym by "allowing" Ravel Xorlarrin to peer over his shoulder while divining information from a skull gem given to him by Jarlaxle.

Gromph continued to consult on occasion for Jarlaxle, who paid him well.

Rage of Demons

Later, an outbreak that contained the appearance of demons in Menzoberranzan and elsewhere in the Underdark, which were summoned in 1485 DR and 1486 DR by Matron Mother Quenthel Baenre in order to secure her reign over the city, had unleashed. The presence of the demons was according to the plans of Lolth, who arranged for Gromph to inadvertently summon Demogorgon to the Prime Material Plane in 1486 DR.

The events of Rage of Demons had also included the recent events of Neverwinter Online, and what is more, Gromph was mentioned several times in The Maze Engine arc when he was accused by other characters to be responsible for the outbreak of demons.

Personality

Gromph was arrogant, surly, and temperamental, with the occasional tendency to focus on petty disputes. He was cautious when his actions might affect his standing or involve the ruling matriarchy of Menzoberranzan, although he always kept an eye out for ways in which he might strengthen his power and influence. He was no fan of Lolth himself, but he understood her capriciousness.

Although Gromph was always looking for ways to expand his power, he was generally conservative in his approach to the status quo. He had several opportunities to potentially bring down the matriarchy, but he decided to play it safe and not become a revolutionary. This was both in fear of the matriarchy and in fear of Lolth herself.

Gromph viewed himself as the greatest wizard in the world. Some consider Gromph the greatest archmage in all the Realms; Elminster, however, was more than eleven centuries old and Khelben a few centuries younger than that (both may have been greater mages than Gromph, as they had more time to study and perfect their mastery of the Art); as such, it may be more accurate to list him as a rival in power to the other archmages of the Realms.

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