|Aliases||The Arch-Lich, the Maimed Lord, Master of All That Is Secret and Hidden, Master of the Spider Throne, The Whispered One, The Undying King, The Lord of the Rotted Tower|
|Divine Rank||Lesser God|
|Pantheon||Dawn War, Oerth (Flan)|
|Domains||3E: Evil, Knowledge, Magic
5E: Arcana, Knowledge
|Worshippers||Wizards, sorcerers, conspirators|
Vecna (his name is an pig latin anagram of the last name of Jack Vance, the man who inspired the "fire and forget" rules for magic used in pre-4e D&D) is one of Evil deities in D&D, having become considerably more powerful over various editions. He also altered reality itself, punking the major powers of Ravenloft, Greyhawk and Planescape in rapid succession so hard that it resulted in third edition, where fullcasters like him were overpowered beyond belief Just as Planned. Even after being beaten by the typical plucky band of adventurers, he still got a net gain in power from Demi-god to Lesser god, double Just as Planned. If there is a Doctor Doom equivalent in D&D, it is Vecna, the most intelligent being of mortal origin ever and unlike Asmodeus who constantly says he's all smart and wise and awesome but has seemingly accomplished precisely dick out of hell besides maintain the status quo, Vecna actually goes out and implements his will into the realm.
As the god of liches in particular and evil magics in general, he's the second most famous lich in D&D behind Acererak, who is somehow more prestigious on the meta side of things despite not being, you know, a god.
Born in the human city of Fleeth, Vecna was taught magic by his mother Mazell. She taught him that the great serpent Mok'sylk taught the god-kings of the Ur-Flan (ancestors of a people living in modern Greyhawk) magic. This serpent is said to be one of the Ancient Bretheren, a group of powerful pre-deity beings that include such movers as Ahriman, Jazirian and the Lady of Pain. She taught the young Vecna that he was descended from the Ancient Bretheren and that it devoured all those who honored it in life. When the princess of the city requested a medicine from Mazell she prescribed one, but since the princess intentionally disregarded the dose she ODed and died. The city guard was ordered to kill Vecna in front of the woman as a retalliation, but Mazell used her magic to allow Vecna to escape. Not happy with this, the authorities dragged her to the public square and burned her alive. But as she died, the woman's soul was seemingly devoured by a great serpent. The young Vecna fled and continued his study of magic. He claimed to have been trained by the Serpent itself, but if this is actually true or part of the Lich's madness is unknown. Over a thousand years later, he had become a powerful lich and laid siege to Fleeth. Officials approached him and offered their lives if he'd spare the citizens. Instead, Vecna let his army murder everyone in the city BUT the officials.
As he began a ritual to ascend into godhood, Vecna was betrayed by the vampire Kas, his most trusted lieutenant. In a climactic battle that cost the lich his left eye and hand, Vecna reached apotheosis followed by an explosion that leveled the new god's empire and flung both of them across the planes.
Vecna is the Evil god of Undead, Necromancy and Secrets. Specialising in dark magics and undeath, he is the go-to guy for necromancers and dark handjobs of all sorts.
Because of the fact that Vecna is supposed to be one scary evil motherfucker, and because he famously got bits of himself hacked off before he ascended to godhood, Vecna's Eye and Hand have long held a place in the game as epicly powerful evil magical items, which would usually fuck you over if you were actually stupid enough to use them - not least of all because, to actually wield them, you had to be willing to hack off your own left hand or gouge out one of your eyes first before you could put them on.
In the 2e adventure Die, Vecna, Die! it was stated that since Vecna was a lich first and a god second, many of his bodyparts were actually lost before Kas' betrayal or during that climatic fight, so that whilst Vecna's avatar shows no sign of their loss (they're just not as "resonant" to his personal mythos as his hand and eye), they can still be found and used for power. The adventure statted up no fewer than twelve other bits of his body as minor artifacts that 3rd edition collectively called "The Fragments of Vecna". These artifacts consisted of the First Digit (right thumb), Second Digit (right index finger), Third Digit (right middle finger), Last Digit (right pinky finger), Incisors (a pair of inappropriately named fang-like canines), Molar, Scalp, Skin, Heart, Foot (left), and Right Eye.
Naturally, this was so stupid that it was swiftly swept under the rug, for the most part. However, the final issue of Dragon Magazine, issue #359, featured rules for the "Left Ear of Vecna" as a minor artifact, whilst "Open Grave", a 4e sourcebook analogous to the Libris Mortis, features a female Vecna-worshipping lich named Osterneth who still possesses "the Heart of Vecna", which she keeps in her own chest.
The existence of the Hand and Eye, and perhaps to a lesser extent the Fragments, inspired one memetically famous joke artifact: the legendary Head of Vecna.
Other artifacts associated with Vecna without actually being part of him consist of the Sword of Kas, the Rod of the Whispered One, and 3 books. The Compendium Maleficarum is a book of spells, doctrines, and secrets crafted entirely from bone (even the pages) and penned in blood, that is on par with the Fragments of Vecna. The Tome of Shared Secrets is an illustrated bestiary of relic status, with the ability to impart knowledge of dark and evil creatures at the cost of a portion the user's life force. Last, but certainly not least, Vecna is also credited as one of the authors who contributed to the Book of Vile Darkness, and indeed was the one that consolidated the contents of an existing collection of scrolls (of which he contributed to) into THE actual book, complete with the, perhaps cliche, cover made of human flesh (specifically a face) and demon bones. Since that time copies have been published, most are shoddy knock offs that have spelling or grammar errors that drag readers into the Lower Planes.
The Fragments of Vecna
Since /tg/ is awesome and gets shit done, here's the rules for Vecna's various missing bits in AD&D, just so you know what kind of crap you had to put up with. To use any fragment, you had to empty a space for it on your body, unless you already had it - this cost you 2D6 damage for the smaller parts (finger, scalp, eye), 10D10 damage for a whole limb or organ, and instant death for a vital organ. This means that you needed somebody else to install Vecna's Heart, after which it'd bring you back to life at 1 hitpoint. Cutting the artifact free causes you to take the same level of damage, but permanently; only a Regenerate spell would restore the missing part and thus its associated health.
All Vecna's Fragments have a Curse causing you to need to make a Save Vs. Spell once per month; failure causes you to be Charmed by Vecna for 4d4+4 hours. Additionally, a Fragment can be temporarily destroyed by any attack that inflicts at least 33 points of damage (except for the Heart), but only being eaten by someone using the Molar of Vecna can permanently destroy them.
Ironically, having even one part of Vecna's Fragments installed makes you immune to Vecna's direct powers (though he can still hurt you indirectly; hitting you with a weapon, commanding a follower to kill you, indirect consequences of spells, that charm effect from the curse, etc), invisible to his scrying effects, and better able to fuck his shit up. Vecna can't heal damage inflicted by someone bearing one of his Fragments, nor can he teleport if grappled by such a host - if someone bearing one of his Fragments was to kill him, Vecna would also be "ejected from the Outer Planes and returned to Oerth", which depending on how you read it, would mean you'd end his divinity and reduce him back to just being a lich again.
- Scalp of Vecna: Gives the bearer a white streak of hair as a physical indication of its presence. The bearer gains +2% magic resistance and can, twice per day, cause their hair to animate; growing 30 feet longer and becoming a tendril that can grapple & immobilize a single victim.
- First Digit of Vecna: Replaces the bearer's right thumb with an overlarge digit sporting a blackened, clawlike nail. The bearer gains +2% magic resistance and can, 4 times per day, either bless (heal 3D6 damage, +4 to all saving throws or attack rolls for 1 hour) or curse (victim must save vs spell or take 3D6 damage (save again to halve damage) and suffer -4 to all saving throws or attack rolls for 1 hour) a single victim by giving a thumb's up or a thumb's down. This power can be used 4 times in total per day, so you have to choose your combination of blessings and curses.
- Second Digit of Vecna: Replaces the bearer's right index finger with an overlarge digit sporting a blackened, clawlike nail. The bearer gains +2% magic resistance and can Charm a single victim for 1 hour once per day by pointing at the target with the finger (palm up) and then crooking it in a beckoning gesture. Targets of this power suffer a -4 penalty to their save vs. spell.
- Third Digit of Vecna: Replaces the bearer's right medial finger with one sporting a massive, dagger-like nail, making them slightly clumsier with that hand. The bearer gains +1% magic resistance and can stab & slash victims with the nail, treating it as a dagger +4 (1d6+4 damage) that secretes a necrotic poison (save vs. poison or take a further 1d4+4 damage). Additionally, the bearer can shoot their nail out as a crossbow bolt +10 (adds +10 to Ranged THAC0) with 3D6+4 base damage and the same poison as a melee attack; this can only be done once per day, as it removes the nail for 12 hours until it grows back.
- Last Digit of Vecna: Replaces the bearer's right pinky finger with one sporting a jagged, fungus-eaten nail. It grans +3% magic resistance, can be used to cast a free "double" of a memorized spell once per 4 hours, and means the bearer no longer requires somatic components when spellcasting.
- Right Eye of Vecna: Replaces the bearer's right eye with a hazed, milky-white orb that makes them look as if blind. It grants +3% magic resistance and the ability to see in mundane and magical darkness. Additionally, thrice per day it can be used to inflict blindness on a single target who meets the bearer's eyes (Save vs. Spell with -5 penalty to avoid).
- Molar of Vecna: Replaces one of the bearer's teeth, giving them +3% magic resistance and a +4 bonus to saves vs. poison. Additionally, 3 times per day, the power of the molar can augment the bearer's mouth; the user can devour any nonmagical material in bite-sized chunks, which can be used for (among other imaginative shenanigans) burrowing through earth/stone/metal at a rate of 1 square foot per 5 rounds. Or the bearer can turn their maw on living victims, gaining a +4 bite attack that inflicts 2D6+4 damage. Each time it's activated, the Molar's power remains active for 20 rounds.
- Incisors of Vecna: Replaces the bearer's upper canines with black vampire-like fangs. In addition to giving +1% magic resistance for each fang installed, if both are installed, then the bearer may transform into a vampire version of themselves for an 8-hour stretch twice per month. They cannot create spawn vampires by using their blood drain in this form - and drinking somebody of good or neutral alignment to death will wrack a good bearer with guilt, causing them to suffer a -5 penalty to all actions, attack rolls and saving throws for the following week. If such a host makes three kills in this manner, then their alignment will change and they probably become an NPC, because DMs in that edition are dicks.
- Foot of Vecna: Replaces the bearer's left foot, without a visible trace but causing a strange hitch in their step. It grants +1% magic resistance and a +3 bonus to attack rolls & damage rolls when making kick attacks. Additionally, it has an array of spell-like abilities that the bearer can trigger, although only 4 such spells can be cast per day, and all are cast as a 20th level caster: Jump, Spider Climb, Free Action, Water Walk, Feather Fall and Levitation.
- Heart of Vecna: Replaces the bearer's heart, obviously, leaving a nasty scar in the process. Grants +1% magic resistance and all the bonuses of a Ring of Regeneration. Additionally, once per month, the bearer can inflict a heart attack by making a called shot touch attack to the chest; the victim must succeed a saving throw vs. death magic or die instantly.
- Skin of Vecna: Replaces a huge swathe of the bearer's skin, covering the left side of their face, neck and torso with dark, scabarous skin that causes them to lower their Charisma score by 5 points. It grants +4% magic resistance and the permanent effects of Resist Fire and Resist Cold. Additionally, it has an array of spell-like abilities that the bearer can trigger, although only 4 such spells can be cast per day, and all are cast as a 20th level caster: Mirror Image, Polymorph Self, Stoneskin and Protection from Lightning. Using its Polymorph Self power does not cause the trademark disfiguration to go away.
In addition to flat out artifacts, Vecna also has some Magic Items affiliated with him. Tome of the Stilled Tongue is a book that has a tongue nailed straight on the cover. The original copy's tongue is from an idiot who decided to devote themselves to the god of secrets (Vecna) despite not being able to keep secrets. The other four copies have their tongues from various spell casters that got on Vecna's shit list.
Baldur's Gate fans may remember the Robe of Vecna, a modified Robe of the Archmagi that set the wearer's Armor Class to 5, granted 10% Magic Resistance and reduced the casting time of all spells by 4; it was included as part of the Limited Edition version of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn and brought back for the Enhanced Edition remaster released by Beamdog. Apparently Vecna wore this robe at one point and his power rubbed off on it.
Vecna has no permanent home, not in the Astral Sea, the Abyss, Shadowfell or anywhere else. He and his followers travel the planes in search of knowledge, artifacts and power. He always travels out of sight and in the dark to avoid attention, prefering forgotten libraries, ruins of lost civilisations, Shadowfell and the Planes. Vecna does hold strongholds in several locations, but they are either far away or well-hidden from civilisation, or are located in dangerous areas, such as Pandemonium. Working with Acererak, he also has bases in other crystal spheres, making him a full planeswalker and quite hard to pin down.
Vecna has the desire to rule over all, living and dead. He is worshipped by all those who desire knowledge and that which is not meant to be known. Undead that are not in service to Orcus are almost always in service to the Maimed God. He commands all sorts of undead, from run-of-the-mill zombies and skeletons to Oni, Liches, Vampires and various kinds of constructs. His followers often band together in cults, dedicated to the practice of necromancy, finding secret knowledge, or both. These cults build their own altars and places of worship to their lord.
There are some who stand out in service to (or against!) their lord:
- Acererak is the Demilich in charge of the Tomb of Horrors. Only his head is in the Tomb though (or more specifically, a copy of his head). The rest of him is in Shadowfell, working on a spell to control undead everywhere.
- Osterneth appears as an attractive woman in her late 20s, but is actually a lich, bearing Vecna's heart in her chest, and is one of Vecna's most trusted allies.
- Kas the Betrayer is a vampire lord that schemes against Vecna. He was the one to maim the Maimed god, in an attempt to attain divinity himself. His weapon, the Sword of Kas, roams the planes and is the only weapon believed to be able to kill Vecna.
The Scroll of Mauthereign
The following is a section taken from the 4th edition book, Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead. This should give you a good idea of how insane worshipers of Vecna are.
The Scroll of Mauthereign is a secret manifesto of Vecna’s cult. It depicts Mauthereign’s twisted version of Vecna’s past and sets down the guiding principles of the organization. The following is an excerpt from the scroll.
In the beginning, there was learning, and Vecna was a paragon among the learned. A student of magic, Vecna was a benevolent teacher who gave his time and his knowledge to his students. Working with Kas, his apprentice, Vecna ministered to the needs of commoners and scholars alike. And yet the people asked for more. They cried out for a leader, a visionary presence who would help lead them against their tyrannical leaders and draconian gods. Out of humility, Vecna initially refused. After time, though, he came to understand their suffering and could not stand idly by.
Vecna taught the people to stand up against tyranny. He advised them to march in peaceful displays—nonviolent protests that showed the rulers of the land that their oppression would be resisted. However, the rulers quelled the protests, arresting and torturing the followers and imprisoning Vecna. Those who supported Vecna were rounded up and made into examples, their heads staked upon rusted pikes along the roads. Vecna’s enemies tried to pry his secrets from him; they sought the names of his allies. They starved Vecna and imprisoned him alone in a filthy cell, but Vecna remained resolute. He never gave up hope that justice, reason, and compassion would triumph. And yet these hopes were slowly eroded by the passing of time. Then, in an attempt to acquire Vecna’s secrets and learn the name of his allies, these enemies of free thought turned to Kas—Vecna’s most trusted ally—who willingly answered the inquisitors’ questions. He surrendered the secrets of Vecna to the enemy, betraying our Lord and all his friends.
Vecna survived eleven years without food and water, kept alive by his passion and mental clarity. No, I do not lie! His flesh stretched taut to the bone, growing sallow and sunken. When the torturers grew angry at his determination, they maimed him, severing his hand and cutting out his eye.
Yet Vecna lived on for us! His soul remained rooted to his dying body out of the hope of salvation. But this was not to be. When starvation and inhumanity did not kill our lord, the defilers decided that his time was at an end. They cut Vecna limb from limb and scattered the parts of his body throughout the world. We did not abide this desecration. Time and again, we attempted to assemble his parts, but the powers of darkness thwarted our every attempt, and it was only through the purest magic that we finally succeeded.
Vecna rose up and smote ruin upon the usurpers and the pretenders. They squealed in cowardice before us. Yet Vecna has mercy even for cowards and tyrants. Under Vecna’s rule, the transgressors were banished, and a peace settled over the land. But alas, it was not to last. Vecna’s enemies plotted and schemed, discontent with their lot, generous as it was. He could have killed them! But he did not, instead granting them their own dominions where they could rule. However, this was not enough.
Gathering their powers, these exiles returned in a slavering mob of savagery. They trampled Vecna’s idyllic domain, slaughtering the people and mutilating the land. They cornered Vecna in his meditation chamber, and though he pleaded with them to see reason—to look with open eyes and see the wonder his rule had brought to the world—they destroyed him, scattering his parts across the planes.
The miscreants took credit for his achievements, and they used Vecna’s secrets to ascend to godhood in a corrupt apotheosis. Now, these immortal swine have renewed their reign of oppression, crushing the spirits of the people under the heel of repugnancy and false religions. Yet we have not forgotten. The time for benevolent demonstration is over. Vecna’s legacy demands true rebellion. These deities have massacred every belief we hold dear. They have banished our lord and despoiled his name. The only way to show them the nature of their evil is to commit our own acts of despicable villainy. Then they will see their own evil reflected in our actions.
When you slay a commoner, it is their evil. When you maim an innocent blacksmith, it is they who wield the knife. We commit these acts as a demonstration of his goodness. We perform these debasements as proof of the degeneration of the gods. When we reassemble our lord’s missing parts, our Vecna will return to rule us, and his rule will be good. All that has happened is part of a mysterious and grand design leading to a bright future of unity and peace. Only through our lord can this be achieved, and though you might not understand now, you will soon. Our souls are dead and we are empty. When he was violated by the usurpers, so too were we violated. When he was betrayed by Kas, so too were we betrayed. Know that all we do is done for a good that is to come. In the world of the future, all that you have lost will be returned to you a thousandfold.
|The deities of 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons|
Haramathur - Moradin
|Amoth - Lakal
Nusemnee - Pelor
|Avandra - Corellon |
|Neutral||Erathis - Raven Queen
|Aurom - Io - Ioun
Kord - Laeris
Bane - Tiamat
|Nerull - Torog - Vecna||Gruumsh - Khala - Lolth |
Tharizdun - Zehir
|The Deities of Exandria|
|Good||Bahamut - Moradin
Pelor - Raei
|Avandra - Corellon |
|Ioun - The Luxon
|Ceratos - Kord |
Quajath - The Traveler
|Evil||Asmodeus - Bane
Desirat - Tiamat
|Arms of the Betrayers
The Hag Mother
Torog - Uk'otoa
Vecna - Vesh
|Gruumsh - Lolth |
Tharizdun - Zehir