If you’ve watched the newest season of Stranger Things and are wondering who Vecna is, I’ve created an in-depth guide that walks through the lore in DnD. While we know that Vecna is a character in Dungeons & Dragons, there is some interesting history you should know that will make the TV show that much more enjoyable.
Table of Contents
Who is Vecna in DnD?
The history of Vecna is a bit contradictory, in that some accounts will say one thing and others will say something else. Most agree that Vecna was originally a human wizard from Oerth. Over time, as Vecna became increasingly powerful, he began to fear death; this grew to an obsession after the death of his mother.
He was taught how to achieve something known as “undeath” by Orcus. Undead in DnD were once-living creatures that had been animated by spiritual or supernatural forces. Vecna learned how to perform this upon himself. But this came at a cost, as Vecna experimented upon hundreds of innocent mortals in a ritual that allowed him to absorb power and channel it into his body.
During his rise to power, Vecna was nearly killed by clerics of the Oerthian god Pelor, but was saved by a former apprentice known as Acererak. But Acererak had actually arranged for Vecna to be ambushed so that he could gain favor with Vecna and learn more of his secrets. This caused Vecna to be jaded towards his followers, vowing to never reveal his knowledge again.
Who Betrayed Vecna?
Later, Vecna was again betrayed, this time by one of his closest followers, Kas. Vecna trusted Kas enough to promote him to Lieutenant and grant him the majority of administrative tasks, and even extended his life with the Sword of Kas.
Why did Kas Betray Vecna?
The evil from Vecna manifested in the Sword of Kas and convinced Kas to overthrow and kill his master. While performing a ritual to perform his highest level of power, Vecna was interrupted by Kas and attacked. For those wondering who cut off Vecna’s hand, it was Kas. The battle between the two was epic and ended with Kas cutting off Vecna’s hand and plunging his sword into Vecna’s left eye.
After the battle, the only remnants of Vecna’s physical body were the left hand and left eye. Interestingly, these two body parts still contained the will of Vecna.
How did Vecna Become a God?
What we know is that Vecna became a God, but the reason behind his ascension to full-fledged deity status is unknown. This is truly fitting for a god who obsessed over secrets.
Despite that, there are multiple failed attempts of Vecna’s to become a god. Despite the majority of Vecna’s physical body being destroyed, his spirit was not. He traveled across plans, gathering power from the members of his cult. Specifically, pieces of his remains scattered, corrupting people with whom they came into contact.
It wasn’t until centuries later that Vecna made his first attempt to become a full-fledged deity. He did so by amassing a large following among worshipers and wizards that he reached the status of demigod, being accepted among the most corrupt powers of the Astral Sea. Upon failure, he turned his most powerful followers into skull lords (undead monstrosities).
There were other attempts to achieve deity status as well, including absorbing the essence of the demigod Luz and invading Sigil.
Again, we don’t know the way in which Vecna became a deity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Vecna Real?
Yes, Vecna is a real character that comes from D&D lore. While not “real” in the literal sense, this is a character that actually exists in D&D.
Is Vecna the Whispered One?
Yes, one of Vecna’s titles is “The Whispered One”. He is also known as Maimed Lord, The Arch-Lich, Master of the Spider Throne, The Undying King, Lore of the Rotted Tower, The Chained God, Maimed God, and Lord of the Hand and the Eye.
What is Vecna’s Phylactery?
Vecna’s Phylactery is the container that housed his essence. This is important for Vecna, as his body roamed Elion in search of his soul, but eventually decomposing. Because Vecna is immortal, Vecna exists as essence in his phylactery.
Did Matt Mercer Create Vecna?
We know that Matt Mercer borrowed Vecna in the Exandra campaign, but many D&D players and DMs do that. So no, Matt Mercer didn’t create the original Vecna. Based on how campaign 1 of Critical Role ended, some wonder if he created another version of Vecna or borrowed from the original.
What Book is Vecna In?
Vecna first appeared in D&D in the 3rd Edition sourcebook of Deities and Demigods in 1976. It was Matthew Attanasio wrote “Vecna, a lich who hordes [sic] dark secrets, covets incredible power and holds dominion over the undead, is perhaps the most infamous of these deities.”
What is the Head of Vecna?
The Head of Vecna was created as a joke in a campaign run by Mark Steuer. The group tricked another into going on a quest for the Head of Vecna, which in reality didn’t exist.
Who Has the Eye and Hand of Vecna?
The assumption would be that Lieutenant Kas has the Eye of Vecna, as it was one of the only remains after his battle with Vecna. Again, these both had the will of Vecna, and worked his deeds wherever they went.
How Powerful is the Hand of Vecna?
The Hand of Vecna is an item in the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Here are the following results of obtaining this item:
- Instantly, your alignment changes to neutral evil
- Your Strength becomes 20 (unless already 20 or higher)
- All melee spell attacks and melee weapon attacks you make with the Hand deal an extra 2d8 cold damage upon a hit
- The most powerful ability of the Hand of Vecna is that it has 8 charges. You can use an action to expend 1 or more charges to cast one of the following spells:
- Finger of death (5 charges)
- Sleep (1 charge)
- Slow (2 charges)
- Teleport (3 charges)
The Hand of Vecna regains 1d4+4 charges that have been expended every day at dawn. Every time you use the Hand of Vecna to cast a spell, it in turn casts the Suggestion spell on you (DC 18 save), suggesting that you commit an evil act. This act is situational, in that it could suggest a specific act or leave it up to the user.
Is “Vecna’s Hand” Left or Right?
It is Vecna’s left hand that was one of the only remaining physical body parts left behind upon his betrayal.
Is Eye of Vecna Good?
If by “good”, we’re wondering if the Eye of Vecna is powerful, it would be a resounding yes. The Eye of Vecna is a powerful artifact that gave its wearer powerful spells and supernatural senses. If we’re wondering if the Eye of Vecna is “good” in the moral sense, it would be a resounding no. In fact, wearing the Eye of Vecna would come with a cost, the first of which being the changing of the wearer’s disposition to neutral evil.
To use the powers of the Eye of Vecna, the wilder must remove an eye and place the artifact where their eye once was. The Eye of Vecna would then take place of the removed eyeball. If the wearer removed the Eye of Vecna, they would be killed.
Upon wearing the Eye of Vecna, wearers gained the following:
- Truesight (along with the ability to see through solid objects like X-ray vision) – This could only be performed a limited number of times before risking exhaustion.
- The following spells:
- Crown of Madness
- Dominate Monster
What Happens if Someone Uses the Eye and the Hand of Vecna at the Same Time?
If using both the Eye and Hand of Vecna, users would gain additional abilities on top of what the individual items offer. Here’s what they would get:
- Immunity to Disease
- Immunity to Poison
- Premonitions of imminent danger
- Exhaustion can no longer be reached when using the Eye’s X-ray vision
- The ability to cast wish 1 time every 30 days