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Vecna (pronounced: /ˈvɛknɑːVEK-nah[4]) was a once-human king[16] and lich from Oerth that ascended to godhood.[4][23] While he was once considered the most powerful lich to dwell on that world,[24] over the ages he spent in undeath Vecna became maligned across the multiverse, and was considered the scourge of all civilization.[25]

Evil is not an absence of good. […] It is not a choice. […] Evil is one of two forces in the cosmos, an agency locked in eternal struggle against its antithesis. […] Only good and evil exist. And not even a hair's width of space separates them.
— Vecna[26]

Description

As a deity, Vecna appeared as a decrepit lich missing his left hand and left eye.[16][27]

Personality

According to some, Vecna had an obsession with acquiring and maintaining secrets,[2] believing them to be the source of true power.[16] He was precise and calculating in his actions,[28] but was at times prone to bouts of intense rage.[2]

Vecna believed that every being in existence held a single secret that could be manipulated to bring about its destruction. Uncovering that secret and exploiting its truth were the key to gaining dominion over others.[16]

Divine Realm

As a deity, Vecna did not claim a domain, but instead wandered the entire multiverse.[29] He maintained the Citadel of Cavitius, originally on the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Ash near the border to the Negative Energy plane, which he had wrested away from the Doomguard long before.[30] The Citadel was used by Vecna as his fortress, which he visited regularly, to gloat on the despair of his defeated enemies.[21] Later, it became his prison as it was drawn into the Domains of Dread by the Dark Powers.[7]

He also kept a hidden, "black tower" within the plane of Pandemonium.[31][32]

Powers

Vecna possessed a number of tremendous powers, including the ability to paralyze others with his touch, inherently cast a variety of powerful spells, and alter reality at will. He was immune to disease, disintegration, mind-controlling powers, and a variety of other debilitating effects.[16] His sensory perception extended far beyond that of mortal beings, up to a range of 10 miles (16 kilometers), and could similarly perceive anything within the same range as any of his worshipers. He could also feel whenever someone uncovered, disclosed, or otherwise wrote down any secret that contained information that could affect the lives of five hundred people or more.[16]

At any time Vecna could craft any variety of magic, so long as it was valued at 30,000 gp or less.[16]

Possessions

The Eye and the Hand of Vecna, his only physical remains for a time.

Vecna carried with him a +5 unholy dagger named Afterthought and protected himself with bracers of armor and a powerful cloak of resistance.[16]

While not among his possessions per se, there existed two powerful artifacts in the multiverse that drew their power from his undead body: his eye and his left hand.[6] For those that sought these artifacts, accessing their power required vicious acts of self-mutilation, either by gouging out one's own eye or forcibly removing a left hand.[6] Over the years Vecna's hand came into the possession of Arkhan the Cruel, lieutenant of Tiamat,[33] while his eye was rumored to belong to Emirikol the planewalker, both of whom spent significant time on Avernus.[34]

Even items Vecna wore as a mortal, such as a set of his robes absorbed tremendous magical power from the undead lord and bestowed a fraction of it upon future wearers.[35]

Relationships

According to Vecna's own accounts, his mortal mother was a wholly evil woman who sacrificed animals and consorted with monstrous beings. It was her cruelty that helped shape the man he was in life and undeath.[26]

Vecna had something of a working relationship with Asmodeus, the powerful archdevil having offered the archlich use of his devil minions.[36] Ironically, it was Asmodeus' servant Fierna that stole a valuable secret from Vecna: that of how to directly travel between the Prime Material plane and the Nine Hells.[37]

He had two known exarchs, Falazure the Night Dragon,[38] and allegedly, Vocar the Disobedient,[39] the latter of whom was rumored to possess a powerful secret regarding Vecna himself.[40]

Enemies

Vecna was obsessed with taking revenge on his vampire lieutenant Kas for the legendary betrayal he committed against his master on Oerth.[41]

The Whispered One was a sworn enemy of the Raven Queen, whom he envied for her unique abilities to tap into the flow of souls and to harvest knowledge. One of his goals was to overthrow the Queen and rule the entire Shadowfell from her Fortress of Memories. His servants constantly battled with the Raven Queen's shadar-kai followers.[41]

As a demigod, Vecna sought to attain dominion over time from the god Pelor, as it as a concept stood in opposition to the existence of lichdom,[42] and was considered an enemy of the deity Hlal.[43]

Activities

I have but one warning before I leave you to your awakening. Resist not the truths I and perhaps others record here. Open your mind and heart to the knowledge contained on these pages. Only then will you understand and receive the wisdom darkness can provide. […] Embrace the lore and spurn the light, and you too shall ever after walk in darkness.
— Vecna's introduction to the Book of Vile Darkness[26]

Vecna sought to destroy other gods in order to garner more power for himself.[16] In addition to his prerogatives as a deity, Vecna also sponsored pacts with warlocks as an undying patron, owing to his perspective as a once mortal being who had become knowledgeable of the secrets of life and death over many lifetimes.[3]

Some sages also claimed that Vecna had laid out traps for wizards seeking forbidden secrets in their quest for power. Those wizards that stumbled upon those traps were transformed into nothics.[44] It was common to find nothics in cults to Vecna serving as guardians or jesters, as well as spies to Vecna himself, who could always see through their single eyes.[45]

Many academics believed Vecna was the original author of the Book of Vile Darkness,[26][46] which later received additions from other evil scholars.[47] He also authored other lesser-known works such as Ordinary Necromancy[48] and Vecna's Ineffuble Variorum. He crafted a number of spells including Vecna's conflagration and Vecna's Ultimate Abjuration, the latter of which could theoretically protect liches from the powers of gods.[49]

He was also believed to be the creator of the pearl of secrets, a sentient pearl of power that compelled its owner to seek out Vecna's hand and eye.[50]

Worshipers

A holy symbol of Vecna.

The cult of Vecna teaches that Vecna was cursed by gods who were jealous of his power. […] Vecna confronted his own death and imprisoned it in a castle on the gray sands of an alien world, where it wails in eternal torment.
— A member of the Zarovan tribe of Vistani.[2]

The cult of Vecna acted in secret for much of the Arch-Lich's existence and were emboldened upon his ascension to godhood.[27] They were a wholly evil group,[51] that brought in new members via blackmail and coercion.[27] Like their god, these malevolent clerics sought to uncover lost arcana—especially on the plane of dreams[52] and the Shadowfell—[53] and exploit secret information to accumulate power and gain control over others.[16]

Vecna attracted among his worshipers a notable number of kenkus,[54] half-fiends,[55] and even some neogi.[56] Some morally-corrupt practitioners of psionics also offered their veneration to Vecna.[57]

Among Vecna's worshipers was a secret society referred to as the Halls of Secrets. They believed that knowledge was the most pure form of power, and only those that made the effort to fully understand the nature of that knowledge were worthy of the power that accompanied it. They maintained anonymity while parsing through all the accumulated knowledge in their possessions, in order to fully assess and judge its value. It only attracted members that were unconcerned with morality or ethics.[25]

The Eyes of Vecna was an order of Vecna's followers that strove to keep knowledge and secrets from those considered unworthy to possess them. It operated in small cells of a handful of individuals.[58]

Places of Worship

Temples of Vecna were known to have been built in Gloomwrought[59][60] and Zerthadlun.[61]

History

Mortal Life

Vecna's early life was clouded in legend and contradiction. Most accounts stated that he was originally a human wizard from Oerth, although some reports claimed that he was a half-elf.[5] After having become an extremely powerful wizard, Vecna began to fear for his own mortality,[6] an obsession some say was triggered by the death of his mother.[2]

One theory states Vecna was taught by Orcus how to achieve undeath, eventually leading to his becoming one of the most powerful liches in existence.[6] Another spoke of Vecna experimenting upon hundreds of innocent mortals to formulate a ritual to absorb power from the various planes of existence and channel it into his own decrepit body,[2][51] while a third put forth the idea that the mortal Vecna learned the secrets of lichdom from a being known as "the Serpent",[62][63] believed to have been a personification of magic itself.[64] Regardless of how it began, Vecna's path to becoming a lich was said to be the first instance of a mortal possessing the willpower to sacrifice their own body for such a feat.[65]

Rise to Power

In one of his earliest battles, Vecna was nearly destroyed by clerics of the Oerthian god Pelor, but was spared annihilation by one of his most trusted lieutenants—and former apprentice—[66] the half-demon called Acererak. In truth, Acererak arranged for Vecna to be ambushed in order to gain favor with his master and position himself closer to Vecna's most treasured secrets.[2]

After Vecna became aware of Acererak's treachery, he vowed to never let his esoteric knowledge be compromised again. Vecna's zeal for secrecy and ever-growing power led to him being worshipped as something of a god, even before any form of ascension. From among his most-fervent devotees arose the heartless paladin named Kas.[2]

Over time Vecna conquered a vast expanse northwest of the Azure Sea on Oerth, forming the Occluded Empire.[1][51] During his reign, Vecna trusted his lieutenant Kas with most administrative tasks, using necromantic magic to grant him unnatural longevity as a vampire and forging the powerful Sword of Kas as an instrument of his authority.[2][6]

Death and Ascension

However, Vecna's evil manifested in the sword and seduced Kas into usurping and killing his master.[6] According to one storyteller, Vecna had accumulated enough collective power and magic to achieve apotheosis by means of a ritual in his Rotted Tower, but Kas interrupted the ritual and attacked his master; the two engaging a tremendous battle. In the end Vecna gained the upper hand, but just as the lich moved to slay his former servant, Kas cut off his hand and plunged his sword into Vecna's left eye. Finally, a massive explosion destroyed the tower and shook the surrounding lands.[2] According to others, Vecna banished Kas to the realm of Cavitius, but not in time to avoid his own destruction.[7][18]

Regardless of the exact specifics, the only traces left of Vecna's physical body were his left hand and eye, which still carried a fragment of the lich's will. Their latent power turned them into the artifacts known as the Hand of Vecna and the Eye of Vecna.[5][6][7][18][67]

Vecna's spirit endured, however, languishing across the planes and slowly gathering power from the surviving members of his cult;[2] his name continued to instill fear in mortals,[51] and it was said that, through his eponymous artifacts, his evil continued corrupting others. Small pieces of his withered remains scattered across existence, corrupting anyone with whom they came into contact.[68]

After several centuries, Vecna amassed sufficient followers and worshipers among ambitious wizards to reach the status of demigod,[5] and was accepted among the most corrupt powers of the Astral Sea.[2] For failing him, he transformed his most powerful lieutenants into the first of the undead monstrosities known as skull lords.[69] At this point, many, including Elminster, were aware of the threat of Vecna's ascension.[70]

After a failed attempt to ascend to full deity status, Vecna himself was banished to Cavitius, which was drawn into the Domains of Dread by the Dark Powers;[63] his failure freed Kas, whose long exposure to Cavitius's negative energy had transformed him into a vampire. Kas, in turn, became the lord of Tovag, a realm originally from Oerth drawn into the Domains of Dread bordering Cavitius, the two realms forming the Domain of Dread known as the Burning Peaks.[7][18][71]

Vecna Dies, Again

Vecna, as he appeared around the invasion of Sigil.

Some time later, Vecna once again attempted to ascend to the status of greater deity via organizing a centuries-long plot culminating in his absorbing the essence of the demigod Iuz and also invading Sigil, from where he could exert control over the entire multiverse.[19]

Vecna invaded the City of Doors, becoming the only deity in existence that successfully breached Sigil's defenses,[72] and caused a great disturbance in the multiverse but was once again thwarted by adventurers and expelled from Sigil with assistance from the Lady of Pain.[73] He had his essence separated from Iuz, but managed to retain the power of a lesser deity.[4][73] Following Vecna's defeat, the Lady of Pain strengthened Sigil's defenses and reorganized the planar structure in order to repair the damage caused and to prevent such an event from ever happening again.[73]

Travels Through Time

At some point in his existence Vecna managed to steal one of the original black obelisks created by the enigmatic group known as the Weavers. He used the powerful artifact to travel to essentially remove all trace of the Weavers from known history and stole all knowledge regarding the obelisk's creation. By some means, that information came into the hands of the arcanists of ancient Netheril.[74]

Rumors & Legends

Some scholars speculated whether or not Vecna actually authored his namesake Variorum. The inclusion of the spell depth perception within the spellbook led to the theory that the Vecna foresaw the loss of his eye—but not his own death—and thus created a spell to improve his hampered vision.[49]

The origins of Vecna's ascension to divinity was considered a great secret, fitting for the god that obsessed over them. One of the most outlandish, though widely believed, theories stated that Vecna's assault on Sigil granted him the will to restructure the multiverse as he saw fit.[63]

Appendix

Appearances

Adventures
Referenced only
The Throne of BloodstoneTomb of AnnihilationBaldur's Gate: Descent into AvernusIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Novels
Referenced only
Finder's Bane
Video games
Referenced only
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of AmnPlanescape: TormentNeverwinter Nights
Organized Play & Licensed Adventures
Tomb of Annihilation (Streams of Crimson)Avernus Rising (Hellfire Requiem)
Card Games
Spellfire: Master the MagicMagic: The Gathering (AFR)

Behind the Scenes

The name 'Vecna' is an anagram of 'Vance', a reference to the legendary fiction writer Jack Vance.[75]

Further Reading

Gallery

External Links

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the following links do not necessarily represent the views of the editors of this wiki, nor does any lore presented necessarily adhere to established canon.

References

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Connections

The Oerthly pantheon
Powers of Oerth who have influenced the Forgotten Realms
CelestianVecna
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