Dungeons & Dragons: Who Is Vecna And How Did He Become A Deity?

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  • Humble Beginnings
  • Vecna The Arch Lich
  • Vecna's Return And Ascension
  • Foiled Yet Again

With Stranger Things' introduction to yet another Dungeons & Dragons-related character, all anyone can talk about is Vecna. The show's portrayal of the deity creates a Freddy Krueger-like being that invades the minds of those who have experienced great trauma and sacrifices them for his own selfish ends. As frightful as this entity is, this isn't the real Vecna.

While torturing others through their dreams is definitely something he would do if he were able, the Vecna of D&D is very different from his Netflix counterpart. While both are jaded narcissists that have great delusions of grandeur, the original Vecna's history is far more complicated than a boy born with supernatural powers.

Humble Beginnings

Vecna was not born as an all-powerful evil god of secrets and death. No, he was born as a normal human in the city of Fleeth, a small city located on the eastern continent of Oerik. It is known that a young Vecna trained under the tutelage of his mother in the arts of magic, a subject that many feared within the walls of Fleeth. As such, upon discovery, Vecna's mother was executed for her practice of "witchcraft."

Angry and scared, Vecna fled, vowing vengeance upon the city that had taken his mother from him. It's here that there is a bit of confusion regarding what Vecna did next. There is a theory that he trained under Mok'slyk the Serpent, an entity said to be the very personification of magic, due to Vecna's supposed relation to the Ancient Brethren – a group that Mok'slyk is a part of. Other sources state that he became fearful of his own mortality and sought out the Demon Lord Orcus to learn the secrets of undeath. Regardless of his means, Vecna returned 1,000 years later to exact his revenge.

Vecna The Arch Lich

Vecna would return to Fleeth as a lich, bringing with him a terrible army of the undead and ransacking the city. It was said that the newly made lich was nearly slain as a group of clerics released a powerful spell that heavily damaged his left side. It was only thanks to the intervention of the half-demon Acererak that Vecna survived this attack. However, it was not out of the goodness in Acererak's heart that led him to rescue the lich.

In reality, the half-demon had staged the attack, hoping that by saving his master, Acererak would gain favor and become one step closer to obtaining Vecna's secrets. Upon learning of Acererak's deceit, Vecna became paranoid. He guarded his secrets jealously, refusing to allow anyone even a glimpse of his knowledge. It was this avidity to secrecy, as well as his ever-growing power, that led a great number of people to believe Vecna to be something of a god.

These fanatics served as the groundwork for the Occluded Empire. All across Oerith, sects of this new cult cropped up, extending Vecna's range of influence with minimal effort from the lich himself. Over time, Vecna extended his control across the northwest, conquering a substantial portion close to the Azure Sea. At the rate he was going, he would take full control over Oerith. This would have been the case had he not been betrayed.

It was Vecna's most trusted lieutenant that did the deed. A vampire by the name of Kas the Bloody-Handed. It's unclear why he did this, but many believe that it was his sword, a weapon crafted by Vecna himself, that seduced Kas with thoughts of usurping the lich's power for his own. Whatever the reason, the only thing left of Vecna after the battle was his left arm and eye, his latent magic turning both into magic items of tremendous power.

Vecna's Return And Ascension

Like any good lich, Vecna didn't stay 'dead' for long. He continued as a spirit, spreading his influence and corrupting those with weak wills. It took several centuries, but Vecna managed to amass enough followers to reach the status of a demigod of magic and secrets. Despite his new status, Vecna wasn't satisfied. He wanted more power than he had. He craved the power of a true deity.

The newly minted demigod tried several times to ascend to true godhood, with one attempt leading to Vecna being banished to a demi-plane. However, this was not the end of Vecna's machinations. Even within the realm of Cavitius, the demigod plotted and schemed, formulating what could possibly be his greatest plan.

Over the course of centuries, Vecna began siphoning the essence of a fellow demigod named Iuz, elevating himself to the level of a greater god. Now a true deity, Vecna set his sights upon Sigil, the heart of the multiverse. With his newfound power, Vecna became the first deity to pierce the defenses of Sigil, an action that caused a great disturbance within the multiverse.

Foiled Yet Again

Vecna was in his prime. He had undisputed control over Sigil, a feat that no other had accomplished, and the literal multiverse at his fingertips. He was in a position where he could rewrite or even destroy the world, and all worlds, at a moment's notice. At this moment in his history, Vecna was the single greatest threat and, like any great threat in the universe constructed by Gary Gygax, it was up to a rag-tag group of adventurers to deal with it.

With the aid of Lady Pain, the patron and protector of Sigil, a group of adventurers entered Sigil and confronted Vecna. Despite his power, the godly lich was defeated by their hands, Iuz's essence being stripped from him as he fled. He just barely managed to retain enough power to remain as a lesser deity. To this day, Vecna continues to roam the realms, plotting his next scheme to regain his lost power.

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