The Sorcerer

A sharn (top), displayed on the cover of The Sorcerer. Illustrated by Jon Sullivan.

Dungeons & Dragons creature
Alignment Always chaotic neutral[1]
Type Large aberration[1]
Source books Anauroch (AD&D Second Edition Forgotten Realms) by Ed Greenwood, Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to the Underdark (AD&D Second Edition Forgotten Realms), Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn (Third Edition Forgotten Realms and Dungeons & Dragons), The Ruins of Undermountain (AD&D Second Edition Forgotten Realms)
First appearance The Ruins of Undermountain (AD&D Second Edition Forgotten Realms)
Image from Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn, illustrated by Monte Moore image

The sharn are fictitious creatures in the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons & Dragons. They are central to the plot of the fantasy novel Blackstaff by Steven E. Schend and are best known as those responsible for imprisoning the malevolent phaerimm. Within the context of the setting, the sharn are also called by the lesser known names shiftshades, blackclaws, simmershadows, skulkingdeaths, and fhaorn’quessir,[2] which is Elvish for “changed/altered/transformed people.”[3]

The sharn are adept and monstrous sorcerers who worship the alliance of deities known as the Pentad—the elven deities Corellon Larethian and Sehanine Moonbow, the dwarven god Dumathoin, and the human deities Mystra and Oghma. The sharn are composed of a variety of different races, including elves, dwarves, humans, and centaurs, of fallen civilizations that willingly underwent magical transformations to turn themselves into sharn that they may better preserve their civilizations’ lore.[2] The sharn also prevent abuses of magic and fight against corruptions of the Weave.[4]

All sharn share a single group mind; they are one being with many souls and sense what other sharn sense and think what other sharn think. It is rare when the sharn mind fragments into the individual minds of its composite beings. Sharn can meld and flow together, forming black pools of liquid.[2] There are black pools of sharnstuff in caverns in the upper reaches of the Underdark, particularly the Northdark, where the sharn make their homes.[5] The sharn split off from these pools of themselves, and when they complete their missions, they meld back into them.

The sharn can create small portals through the ethereal and broach nearly any protections or barriers.[2] Each portal is a small translucent hexagonal window of purple light three feet in diameter that coalesces out of a swirl of purple motes, and the sharn can maintain up to three of them at once within about twenty feet of their bodies. Although the sharn cannot move completely through these portals, they can use them to see through, cast spells through, and extend limbs through to claw or bite at their opponents. Sharns also frequently cast spells upon themselves which greatly increase their speed and agility. They do not need material components or focuses for their spells, whether arcane or divine.[1]

The sharn are not very numerous. According to Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn, their society houses much political argument and social intrigue, and they constantly have power struggles which are typically based on ideological conflicts. It also states that most of the elder sharn have phased out of existence, but this does not seem to be the case in Steven Schend’s Blackstaff. Furthermore, it mentions that the sharn spend the majority of their time engaged in internal debates and experiments.[1]

Physical description[]

Sharn have large bodies shaped like teardrops with amorphous, hairless, and oily black flesh surrounded by a nimbus of purple light. Their massive three thousand-pound (1,360-kilogram) black and silver bodies are lit by continual magical flares, and they are between twelve and fifteen feet (366 and 457 centimeters) tall. They each have three huge, eyeless heads which each only consist of two nostrils and a large mouth with sharp fangs dripping saliva. All three heads are connected to a single trunk.[1]

Sharn have three large arm-trunks that each end in three hands. Two arm-trunks are located at the sides of their bodies, and another is attached to their backs,[1] although they only have two arm-trunks in the novel Blackstaff. Each hand has three clawed digits,[1] whereas in Blackstaff, each has four.

Sharn do not have legs or feet, just a thick tail, and they prefer to float or fly in the air rather than slither on the ground.[1] Each of their nine hands has multiple eyes that each see normally and with darkvision. In the novel The Sorcerer, each hand has a single eye in the center of its palm. In Blackstaff, their skin can move and shift, with small eyes, fingers, and mouths forming and disappearing at will anywhere on their bodies. They also seem to be able to regenerate lost limbs within seconds. The sharn track by scent and by magic.[2]


The first sharn were the surviving citizens of the ancient dark and wood elf realm known as Miyeritar.[6] Aryvandaaran historians discovered a familial link between the family of their ruler, Coronal Ivósaar Vyshaan, and the Olrythii, the ruling house of Miyeritar. Circa −14,700 DR, the Vyshaanti began negotiating to annex Miyeritar peacefully, but the Miyeritaari resisted. Around −13,200 DR, the powerful sun elf realm Aryvandaar began raiding along Miyeritar’s borders and interfering with its trade routes, and around −12,000 DR Aryvandaar mounted an all-out invasion of Miyeritar, thus beginning the First Crown War. Circa −11,800 DR Aryvandaaran forces had occupied Miyeritar, and by −11,300 DR, while the Second Crown War was raging between Ilythiir and Thearnytaar, Eiellûr, Syòrpiir, and Orishaar, Aryvandaar conquered Miyeritar, ending the First Crown War.[7]

Dark and wood elf clans in Miyeritar continued to resist Aryvandaar, now called the Vyshaantar Empire, and around −10,500 DR, during the Third Crown War, Vyshaan high mages produced a horrid magical storm called the Dark Disaster, or the Killing Storms, that hung over Miyeritar for months and laid waste to it, turning it into an infertile wasteland that became known as the High Moor. The fell magic proceeded unopposed because of a Vyshaantar assassination campaign that had killed many Miyeritaari high mages in the months before.[7]

Three grand mages of Miyeritar—T’karon, Hamra, and Alunor—who would become known as the Three Watchers devised the means to become sharn and transformed themselves and some willing citizens of Miyeritar into sharn in order to preserve their civilization in the hopes that it would one day rise again.[8] The sharn from Miyeritar were the three grand mages and about eighty citizens, which included elves, dwarves, humans, and the guards and scouts of Miyeritar, the centaurs. The elves of Uvaeren also later became sharn. In Mirtul 611 DR, the Year of the Normiir, the members of the Pentad Retreat also became sharn after the traitorous precept, the vampire wizard Palron Kaeth, used the orcs of the Everhorde to attack the hidden enclave.[2] Survivors of other fallen civilizations have also become sharn, probably from such places as Ammarindar, Ascalhorn, Eaerlann, and Netheril.

In −354 DR, the Year of Many Maws, the first recorded clash between the phaerimm and sharn occurred. In 329 DR, the Year of the Closed Scroll, the sharn finally defeated the phaerimm and imprisoned them in their realm beneath Anauroch, the Buried Realms, which the phaerimm call the Phaerlin, by constructing a magical barrier that anyone except phaerimm can pass through.[7]

In the events taking place in the novel Blackstaff, the sharn are collecting items of Miyeritar scattered all across Faerûn for a high magic ritual that would restore the high magic city of Faer’tel’miir, an ancient city of Miyeritar that was located on what is now the High Moor. The last time the sharn had acted with such focus of purpose was when they constructed the Sharn Wall around the phaerimm. Usually, magical fields or internal conflicts among their collective mind make them act unpredictably or madly. On the Feast of the Moon, 1374 DR (the Year of Lightning Storms), the malignant magic of the Killing Storms is cleansed from the area (the entire High Moor is gradually being cleansed of the corruptive magic, which will take centuries to conclude[9]), and Faer’tel’miir, the Library City of Miyeritar,[10] is restored and renamed Rhymanthiin, the Hidden City of Hope, through a High Magic Ritual of Myriad. Among the notable participants in the ritual are the three grand mages and many other sharn; the Chosen of Mystra Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun, Elminster Aumar, Laeral Silverhand, Alustriel Silverhand, and Alvaerele Tasundrym the Silent Chosen; Mentor Wintercloak, one of the Seven Wizards of Myth Drannor; Ualair the Silent, Grand Mage of Myth Drannor, keeper of Uvaeren’s Secrets, and master of the N’Vaelahr of Myth Drannor; High Mage Orjalun of Silverymoon; the elf wizards Darcassan of Wingsong Tower and Shalantha Omerdawn; the human Jhesiyra Kestellharp; the gnome Parthar the Valiant or Rhymallos the Hidden Eye, an unsung hero of Myth Drannor who took the form of a mezzoloth to infiltrate the Army of Darkness; the wizard Malchor Harpell; Syndra Wands, granddaughter of Khelben; the Tethyrian wizard Lord Gamalon Idogyr, Count of Spellshire, Sage of the Royal Court of Tethyr, and great-grandson of Khelben; Lord Maskar Wands; Phaerl Hawksong; Luvon Greencloak; the bronze dragon Essioanawrath the Elder; the gold dragon Tlanchess; the dragon called the Argentalon; the tiefling mage Tulrun of the Tent; the Mistmaster and his consort Azure; the wizards and former Zhentarim Sememmon and Ashemmi; Maaril, the infamous Dragonmage of Waterdeep; Nain Keenwhistler; the high-ranking clerics of Oghma Fourth Reader Shaynara Tullastar of Candlekeep, Loremaster Cadathlyn of the House of Many Tomes, and Sandrew the Wise, lorekeeper high and ranking priest of the Font of Knowledge in Waterdeep; Kyriani Agrivar, half-elf mistress of Selûne’s Smile; and Elsura Dauniir. Khelben and Ualair sacrifice their lives to restore Rhymanthiin, and their spirits go to Arvandor, the elven heaven. Most of the sharn shed their skins, which become a part of the walls of the city, and return to their original forms. Some sharn of Miyeritar choose to remain sharn, for they would become drow with the Corellon’s Descent (the ancient high magic spell that transformed the dark elves into drow) had they relinquished their sharn forms. They remain Rhymanthiin’s defenders and defenders against corrupt magic in the realms, and they can form from any wall or street of the city to apprehend malefactors due to the sharnstuff woven into the city. All former sharn and those who partake in the ritual are granted a home in the city. The new Rhymanthiin serves as a center for magic, knowledge, lore, and the unity of different races, and those with malice in their hearts shalt not find their way there.[2]

Publication history[]

The sharn have appeared in various Forgotten Realms supplements since first appearing in AD&D’s second edition, and were central to the plot of the fantasy novel Blackstaff by Steven E. Schend.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons second edition (1989–1999)[]

The sharn were introduced to the Forgotten Realms campaign setting in the Ruins of Undermountain boxed set (1991),[11] and were revealed to have played an important part in the history of the Anauroch desert in the accessory Anauroch (1991).[12] The sharn also appear in the Netheril: Empire of Magic boxed set (1996), detailing their role in the ancient history of the world. The sharn are reprinted in Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three (1996).[13]

The sharn’s role in the Underdark is further detailed in Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to the Underdark (1999).[14]

Dungeons & Dragons third edition (2000–2002)[]

The sharn appear in Monsters of Faerûn (2001).[15]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)[]

The sharn appear in Anauroch: The Empire of the Shade (2007).

Dungeons & Dragons fourth edition (2008–)[]

The sharn appear in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (2008).


  • Baker, Richard, Ed Bonny, and Travis Stout. Lost Empires of Faerûn. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005.
  • Boyd, Eric L. Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to the Underdark. Renton, WA: TSR, 1999.
  • Heinsoo, Rob, and James Wyatt. Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2001.
  • Denning, Troy. The Sorcerer. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2002.
  • Schend, Steven E. Blackstaff. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2006.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Heinsoo, Rob, and James Wyatt. Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2001.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Schend, Steven E. Blackstaff. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2006.
  3. Sypa, Steven. “Here Is a Compilation of Canon Forgotten Realms® Elven Words.” Dagnirion. 1 Aug. 2006. Angelfire. 16 Feb. 2007 <>.
  4. Schend, Steven E. “Blackstaff: Chapters 18 – 27.” Candlekeep Forum. 29 Nov. 2006, 16:15:00. Candlekeep. 16 Feb. 2007 <>.
  5. Boyd, Eric L. Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to the Underdark. Renton, WA: TSR, 1999.
  6. Schend, Steven E. “Blackstaff: Chapters 18 – 27.” Candlekeep Forum. 22 Aug. 2006, 03:04:15. Candlekeep. 16 Feb. 2007 <>.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Baker, Richard, Ed Bonny, and Travis Stout. Lost Empires of Faerûn. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2005.
  8. Schend, Steven E. “Blackstaff: Chapters 18 – 27.” Candlekeep Forum. 30 Dec 2006, 20:36:24. Candlekeep. 16 Feb. 2007 <>.
  9. Schend, Steven E. “Blackstaff: Chapters 28 – 40.” Candlekeep Forum. 24 Jul. 2006, 04:27:13. Candlekeep. 3 Mar. 2007 <>.
  10. Schend, Steven E. “Blackstaff: Chapters 28 – 40.” Candlekeep Forum. 21 Jul. 2006, 13:08:17. Candlekeep. 3 Mar. 2007 <>.
  11. Greenwood, Ed. Ruins of Undermountain (TSR, 1991)
  12. Greenwood, Ed. Anauroch (TSR, 1991)
  13. Pickens, Jon, ed. Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three (TSR, 1996)
  14. Boyd, Eric L. Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to the Underdark (TSR, 1999)
  15. Wyatt, James and Rob Heinsoo. Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)

External links[]

  • Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves, download of an Adobe Reader document in a ZIP folder (6.04 MB) — Written by Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka and published in 1998 by TSR, this AD&D Second Edition source book contains information on the physiology and mindset of elves; the history of the elves; Cormanthyr, Myth Drannor, Semberholme, the Tangled Vale, the Elven Court, and Windsong Tower; elven magic, including notable elves of the Art such as the Srinshee, mythals, and magical items; and more. It also mentions three high mages of Miyeritar and ninety dark elf wizards who disappeared into the heart of the Dark Disaster in an attempt to stop it.

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