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A family born to the Drow race (A component of R.A. Salvatore's series: Forgotten Realms, including several subseries) the Baenre Family is the family which has reigned in the fictional Underdark city of Menzoberranzan for over 2000 years. House Baenre is a family of powerful schemers and manipulators that holds more power than any other house in Menzoberranzan.
R.A. Salvatore has made the Baenre family the bastion of power for his creation, Menzoberranzan, keeping it so for over 2,500 years. Fiercely devoted to the drow goddess Lolth, as all houses in the Menzoberranzan society were, House Baenre was led by Matron Mother Triel Baenre, a shrewd priestess of Lolth who was able to succeed her slain mother Yvonnel, after Salvatore wrote her slain.
Menzoberranzan was a city ruled by backstabbing and ambition, and Baenre thrived in it. It, the house, held the greatest favor of Lolth more successfully than any other family in Menzoberranzan history. As such, the family was successful at keeping hold of the prestige Deceased Matron Mother Yvonnel Baenre succeeded in acquiring and continually supporting throughout her over 2,000 year reign.
Members of House Baenre
Yvonnel Baenre/Old Matron Baenre
Yvonnel Baenre, called for centuries simply Matron Baenre, embodies the House in the city of Menzoberannzan with an uncanny strength bred from deceit and ambition. Still, in the Underdark where the most evil of creatures lie, there are none who would not shudder at the fury of the "Spider-Kissers" being turned on them. She is described as being the most powerful drow matron mother to have ever lived in Menzoberranzan and even in her old age she is known to be one of the most magically protected beings in Faerûn. More than two thousand years old, Matron Baenre has had twenty children (15 daughters and 5 sons) and has maintained the relatively enormous power of House Baenre for centuries. After the drow ranger Drizzt Do'Urden wreaks havoc on House Baenre when escaping from its prison chambers, Matron Baenre convinces the other drow houses to assault Mithral Hall in revenge. During the assault, Matron Baenre comes across Drizzt and his companions, and by lucky chance Bruenor Battlehammer slays Matron Baenre after a summoned Tanar'ri exposes a shard of antimagic left over from the Time of Troubles, sending the beast back to the abyss and dispelling Matron Baenre's magical defenses.
Matron Triel Baenre is Yvonnel Baenre's first daughter. Shrewd and ambitious though she is, Triel did not expect to be landed with the role of House Matron so early. Paranoid about her height (Triel is short, even by drow standards), she fills her mother's role but not her throne (literally; during the Starlight and Shadows series, she even sets about trying to add a foot pedestal to the very throne). However, Triel is shrewd and calculating, and a powerful vessel for Lolth's Will, despite her often flippant attitude toward her goddess, her favor with the Spider Queen is the envy of the Drow. She has guided Menzoberranzan through tough times and continues to do so in the presence of looming catastrophe. She has a draegloth son, Jeggred, who acts as her bodyguard and obeys her every command. The draegloth is ultimately slain in Lolth's realm, the Demonweb Pits, by Quenthel Baenre in the book Resurrection, the finale to the War of the Spider Queen series.
Gromph is the Archmage of Menzoberranzan; Master of Sorcere, the arcane school; and first son of Matron Baenre, which makes him the most powerful male in the city. Gromph is approximately seven centuries of age; he appears young, however, as he has a magical amulet containing a piece of a unicorn's horn which prevents him from aging. He 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 is only logical for the Council to keep close watch on the wizards, who are their only real challengers for power, as Archmage Gromph has many responsibilities in the City of Spiders, including lighting Narbondel, the huge "clock" of Menzoberranzan. Gromph is one of the few males of the city who has power enough to have almost anything he desires, including the respect of females, but at the same time he has become bitter and hateful towards Lolth due to the structure of the matriarchal society. Despite having much power, Gromph is angered by the fact that he has risen as far as he can, while he could have gained much more power had he been born a female. Liriel is his daughter by one of his discarded lovers, making her claim to Baenre heritage shaky (since Menzoberranzan is a female-dominated society, parentage is traditionally traced through the mother, not the father.)
Some consider Gromph the greatest archmage in all the Realms; Elminster, however, is more than eleven centuries old and Khelben a few centuries younger than that (both may be greater mages than Gromph, as they have 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. According to the Menzoberranzan box set, Gromph is 20th level. This actually makes him less powerful (in terms of class, but not in terms of position or family) than the Spider Mage, who is listed as 24th level. Interestingly, no mention is given of the Spider Mage during the events of the War of the Spider Queen, in which Gromph and the drow-lich Dyrr are said to be the two most powerful mages in the city. However, as noted in the Spider Mage's description, he is largely forgotten and seemingly overlooked by the rest of the population. Note that the latest official write-up of Gromph, which can be found in Dragon magazine #302, puts him as a Diviner 18/Archmage 4- a 22nd level wizard specializing in the school of divination. This could represent "normal" character growth since his last write-up.
Disturbingly, Gromph disappears at a time when the city needs him most. He is attacked and imprisoned in a magical sphere by an exceedingly powerful lichdrow named Lord Dyrr, the true ruler of House Agrach Dyrr. Gromph manages to escape the sphere by manipulating an illithid named Sluuguth, killing the illithid soon afterward. Gromph goes from that point on to help secure the city from the many magical fires that were burning it to the ground.
Gromph, in the later War of the Spider Queen hexad of books, with the help of Triel, kills the lichdrow Dyrr and destroys his phylactery.
Berg'inyon, the youngest son to Yvonnel, is a fighter of great prowess, outmatched only by Drizzt Do'Urden and Artemis Entreri. He is described as a typical drow with high ambitions and no sense of morality. Berg'inyon, along with Kelnozz of Kenafin, is introduced as a classmate of Drizzt in Melee Magthere, where he is constantly ranked below Drizzt, much to his dismay and to his mother's anger. After graduating Melee Magthere, he commands House Baenre's lizard riders, and after the death of his elder brother, Dantrag, becomes weapons master as well. After the drow retreat from their assault on Mithral Hall, due to the instability that would likely plague House Baenre after the disastrous failed conquest of Mithral Hall (and the likelihood that Triel would soon give birth to a son she would groom to replace Berg'inyon as the weapons master, which among the drow would likely mean Berg'inyon's death), Berg'inyon chooses to accept Jarlaxle's offer to join Bregan D'aerthe as a lieutenant of the renegade drow band. When Crenshinibon begins to cloud Jarlaxle's judgment, he joins Rai-guy Bondalek, and Kimmuriel Oblodra in their attempt to usurp control of Bregan D'aerthe, but in the ensuing conflict Berg'inyon faces off against Artemis Entreri in single combat due to Berg'inyon's desire to fight the one considered Drizzt's equal; however, Entreri proves to be more skilled than Berg'inyon and slays him.
Dantrag is the amber-eyed former weapons master for House Baenre. He wields two enchanted swords, one of them of drow make, one of them named Khazid'hea, forged in the lands above and possessed of its own personality and will. Dantrag also has a pair of bracers that increase the speed of his hands, allowing him to defeat many of his opponents by simply striking so fast that they cannot move fast enough to effectively counter. He is considered second only to Zaknafein, Drizzt Do'Urden's father, and thus longs to defeat Drizzt, Zaknafein's son and protégé, to emerge from under Zak's shadow. In Starless Night, Dantrag challenges Drizzt to single combat in the tunnels above Menzoberranzan. Initially, his superior speed gives him the advantage. Drizzt's superior skills and insight allow him to win even against this disadvantage, by figuring out the weaknesses in Dantrag's seemingly undefeatable fighting style. Drizzt realizes that Dantrag's magical speed is countered by understanding his predictability; moreover, Dantrag lacks a certain level of control, and is unable to improvise in the middle of one of his moves. Eventually Dantrag is defeated and slain by Drizzt, who takes possession of his bracers and gives Catti-brie the sword, Khazid'hea.
Liriel Baenre (created by Elaine Cunningham)—the beautiful, flippant, and sardonic daughter of Gromph— originally belonged to House Vandree, before her talent for arcane magic was discovered by her father. Taken into the ranks of the Baenres, Gromph still sought to keep her separated from the influence of his sisters and mother, and he sent her to stay with a minor House to hone her magical talent rather than study to be a priestess. Liriel grew independent and soon found the restrictions of Arach-Tinilith, where she was subsequently enrolled, too binding. Using a book given to her by her father, Liriel traveled to the surface lands where she met drow followers of Eilistraee, the Dark Maiden of benevolent drow. Caught up in the plots of the Vhaeraunite merchant-turned-mercenary band the Dragon's Hoard, Liriel—a powerful mage, warrior and ex-priestess of Lolth—led a struggle against them with the help of her friends—a human barbarian named Fyodor of Rashemen, the mutant two-headed deep dragon Zz'Pzora, and the Eilistraeean forces of Qilué of the Seven Sisters.
Settling for a life on the surface, Liriel found herself hunted by her House and father. She traveled across the ocean with Fyodor, who became her lover and friend, and a pirate named Hrolf, who took her in as a daughter. Liriel's adventures caused drastic consequences for all drow, including the return of her aunt Quenthel to her old House, as well as allowing drow magic to function on the surface.
Quenthel, third daughter of Yvonnel Baenre, High Priestess of Lolth, second only to Matron Mother Triel Baenre as Menzoberranzan's most powerful priestess, rose through the ranks as High Priestess quickly with Lolth's favor. Returned from death by the will of Lolth after being slain by Drizzt Do'Urden during the end of the drow invasion of Mithral Hall, and has been reinstated as Mistress of Arach-Tinilith, the priestess school of Menzoberranzan. Her house attempted to cover up her absence by claiming she had gone on a mission, and kept the secret from many. Until now, the only male to have known about her death is Gromph Baenre, when he admitted to his sister Triel that he had found out. She and Triel's draegloth son, Jeggred, teamed up to uncover the mystery of Lolth's Silence. After the Silence of Lolth was uncovered, Quenthel was ordered to return to Menzoberranzan by the reborn Mother of Lusts and continue heading her faith in that city as Mistress of Arach-Tinilith.
Jarlaxle, son of Yvonnel Baenre, is the opportunistic mercenary and former leader of the renegade drow band, Bregan D'aerthe.
Other members of House Baenre
Andzrel, a cousin of Triel and the current weapons master of House Baenre, may be a mere shadow of Dantrag or Berg'inyon with his blade, but he knows his way around a melee.
Bladen'Kerst, daughter of Yvonnel Baenre and second eldest to Triel. Sadistic, unpredictable and uncontrollable, she was slain by the dwarves of Mithril Hall during the invasion.
Grendan, a 10th year student of Sorcere during the War of the Spider Queen, known for being good with illusions. He is involved with Noori.
Jeggred, a draegloth, stands by his mother Triel's side as bodyguard, and in the face of Lolth's Silence, has joined his aunt Quenthel in her search. He kills Ryld Argith (as ordered by Danifae) and is eventually sacrificed by Quenthel to the reincarnated Lolth.
Julani, a Master of Evocation, stationed at Sorcere during the War of the Spider Queen. He was killed during the events of the novel Extinction, when several Baenre mages tried to cast spells on an enemy, only to have them reflected back upon themselves.
Merith, a psychotic ex-commoner, was adopted for her clerical talent. Arguably as sadistic as the late Bladen'kerst, she knows nothing of intrigue and protocol.
Nauzhror, Triel's first cousin once removed. He is pudgy and a Master of Sorcere who sports a large beard, grown with a hair growth cantrip. He was archmage during Gromph's brief absence.
Noori, a female 10th year student of Sorcere during the War of the Spider Queen. She is noted by Gromph as being high-born, a cousin to himself. Grendan is her lover.
Prath, a student of Sorcere and a nephew and apprentice of Gromph.
Sos'Umptu, the quiet and unambitious sister of Triel and Quenthel, tends the Baenre chapel.
Vendes, the now-deceased daughter of Yvonnel Baenre. Vendes was the House's master torturer, and earned the nickname "duk'tak" (unholy executioner). After she finished with her victims they were turned to stone and displayed around the house. Drizzt Do'urden killed her while escaping from House Baenre's captivity.
Vrellin, One of Triel's nephews. Unusual for the fact that he wears no armor in battle, only a hand crossbow strapped to his left wrist, loaded with magical, exploding bolts.
Zal'therra is a priestess and Triel's cousin. She also commands the Army of the Black Spider.
Zoran, during the war of the Spider Queen, a 2nd year student at Sorcere. Gromph reflected on the fact that he was not a good student, prone to making mistakes.
Major contributions from www.rasalvatore.com and contents from the series available there.