Jarlaxle is a fictional character in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting based on the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. He first appeared in the 1990 novel, Exile, by R. A. Salvatore as the charisma and opportunistic drow leader of the mercenary band, Bregan D'aerthe. The character has appeared again in subsequent novels including Road of the Patriarch, The Pirate King and The Promise of the Witch King. He also has a cameo in the CRPG Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, in which he tricks the PC into stealing gems for him from an undead lich.
Slender and tightly muscled, Jarlaxle is the dandy of Menzoberranzan. He chooses the brightest colors for his clothes and wears a cape that shines in every color in both the visible and infrared spectrums. A mental command can transform this bright cloak into a concealing piwafwi (Drow cloak of invisibility). Jarlaxle commonly wears high boots, bracelets and other jewelry that typically makes loud noise upon his approach (the jewelry jangling and the boots loudly echoing upon the floor, even upon surfaces such as soft carpeting where such sounds should not be possible), but which, like the cloak, can be made to be loud or silent at his discretion. He also wears a magical eye patch that protects his mind from magical and psionic intrusions and allows him to see through walls and other solid objects. He often shifts the patch from eye to eye to keep others guessing as to its powers. He wears a magical bracer which supplies him with an infinite supply of throwing knives (each knife, after being thrown, returns to the bracer). Another staple item is his wide-brimmed hat, plumed with a diatryma feather and worn atop his clean-shaven scalp that is heavily implied to be enchanted to have many different properties, including ones activated by tipping it in different directions. One of Jarlaxle's practiced moves is to remove his hat and sweep into a bow, exposing his bald head. Jarlaxle's shaven head is a symbol of his place in Menzoberranzan. In a society where rank and position are indicated by hair style (e.g., male drow nobles all have haircuts specific to their houses), Jarlaxle has no hair to illustrate that he considers himself above the society of Menzoberranzan.
More than anything, Jarlaxle is an opportunist. His wealth is considerable, but official station in drow society means nothing to him. Jarlaxle has learned that the best way for a male to survive and prosper in the matriarchal drow society is by being outside the system and too valuable to be eliminated. Jarlaxle was audacious enough to take his life in that direction, quickly gathering a mercenary band designed specifically to house outcast drow. Always calm and composed, although with an ever-ready quip, Jarlaxle enjoys flaunting his independence and is proud of the fact that the noble houses come to him for aid. In the city of Menzoberranzan, intrigue and double-dealing are a way of life, and no one plays them better than Jarlaxle does. Jarlaxle deliberately cultivates an air of mystery about himself, keeping his actions unpredictable so that even his closest advisors in Bregan D'aerthe are often kept off-balance and guessing as to his next move. Predictability allows individuals to study a potential opponent, note their apparent strengths and weaknesses, and plan accordingly; thus, unpredictability is a great asset to Jarlaxle, as others are forced to improvise, rather than plan ahead, when dealing with him.
As a male outsider in the city, Jarlaxle has much information few others beyond Lolth's priestesses are likely to have access to. He is probably one of the most powerful individuals in the city and the surrounding Underdark. For enough money, Jarlaxle and his band might ally with Gromph Baenre, the Archmage of Menzoberranzan, to set about changing Menzoberranzan's Lolth and female-dominated society and to squeeze as much adventure and pleasure from life as he possibly can. Jarlaxle enjoys manipulating chaos and disorder—as well as causing it and then manipulating it. This is both because he can usually manipulate chaotic circumstances to his own advantage, and because he simply enjoys the spectacle. Jarlaxle seems to greatly enjoy learning new things and living through new and unique experiences, probably at least partly due to the boredom of having lived so very long (he is apparently centuries old.) He enjoys manipulating circumstances to generate chaos and see what happens, often viewing everything as a game (at times, he can be rather cold regarding the lives of those he manipulates as pawns in his games.)
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