Fellows Friday: Mordenkainen in 5e

Welcome to this week’s Fellows Friday where we take a look at a specific NPC in the World of Greyhawk, look a the information from previous versions and see how we can fit them to th 5th Edition of D&D.

Then we are going to flesh out the characters personality and create three plot hooks to put them in your game.

Today we are going to look at Mordenkainen, the most famous wizard in all of Greyhawk. He was the favorite character of Gary Gygax, the inventor of Dungeons & Dragons.

Like always, we will assume the timeline of “From the Ashes”. So we are looking at the iteration on the 1st of Coldeven 585 CY.

Short biography

Mordenkainen was born in 509 CY in an unknown birth place. He adventured with his friends, with whom he formed the Citadel of Eight. They were an elite group consisting of strong wizards, fighters and alike. Their base was the Obsidian Citadel in the Yatil Mountains.

The Citadel of Eight weren’t always on the same page as Mordenkainen who favors neutrality over impacting the world most of the time.

In 569 CY one of the members, the cleric Serten, died in the Battle of Emridy Meadows. Shocked by the death the group disbanded.

Mordenkainen saw the problem in the group in its composition and founded the Circle of Eight two years later consisting exclusively of spellcasters. At the end of the Greyhawk Wars, at the day of Signing, one of the members, Rary, betrayed the group and killed two other members, Otiluke and Tenser.

In the present day, Mordenkainen has a lot on his plate. He needs to find replacements for his dead friends. Also, he is observing what Rary is doing after he fled to the Bright Desert. Lastly, the war might be over but no one knows how long the peace lasts.


Mordenkainen is 74 years old an 6’2″ tall, but he appears to be in his late 40s. He is bald and has a black beard. He often dresses as a humble merchant when he is travelling, othereise he is favoring brown or black robes with silver linings.

Special properties of the old versions

We are looking at the Mordenkainen stat block from the City of Greyhawk boxed set. Most notably, Mordenkainen possesses rather standard magical items with focus on Pearls of Powers and defensive AC buffing equipment. Lastly, he is a level 20 mage.

The new stat block for 5th Edition

Some changes have to be made when converting a character from 2nd to 5th edition. Ability scores were capped at 18, in 5e we can get them as high as 20. For spells, we have a great workaround. Mordenkainen plays a small part in the Curse of Strahd where they gave him archmage stats and provide a list of prepared spells, that we can use.

So here is my personal Mordenkainen stat block:

Mordenkainen in 5e
Mordenkainen in 5e

Additionally, he possesses the following magical items:


Mordenkainen is a stubborn, difficult man who doesn’t tolerate fools. In discussion, he will listen more than he talks but when he does speak his judgements are authoritative and rarely disputed.

His self-proclaimed duty as the keeper of balance of power is a huge burden. Nevertheless, he isn’t active much himself and many adversaries tend to do his work.

Plot hooks

Mordenkainen would only invite the player characters to his Obsidian Cathredal if they are of very high level and proved their worth in the past. Here are some missions he coukd entrust them with.

  • Rary is planning something in the Bright Desert and Mordenkainen needs a capable group to spy on him.
  • The Valley of the Mage is always a focal point in Mordenkainen’s studies. Jaran Krimeah, the Mage of the Vale, is dabbling a lot in the Plane of Shadow. Mordenkainen instructs the players to find out what Jaran is planning.
  • The players get the mission to retrieve a valuable magical artifact for Mordenkainen, laying in the depths of a dungeon.

I hoped you liked my iteration of Mordenkainen in 5e. Next week we are going to look at Melf, leader of the Knights of Luna.

Please leave any comments or feedback below.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,


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