The very first lich
Vecna is an Archlich and the first ever lich to come into being due to a deal made with the Demon Lord Orcus in order to grand Vecna immortality. Vecna is generally considered the most powerful lich to dwell on Oerth (a planet found in Greyspace and part of the Greyhawk setting). He eventually attained godhood and became a lesser deity that terrorised the multiverse.
As a lich, Vecna has an undead, skeletal appearance. He is gaunt and has very little flesh, he is also missing his left hand and his left eye though this hinders him little with his powerful connection with magic. He wears the robes of an evil wizard.
Vecna is obsessed with taking power from others and dominating them. He does this by obtaining secrets about individuals believing that they hold the power to manipulate and destroy. He is a cold, calculated schemer and rarely acts irrationally or without due consideration. He is, however, prone to bouts of rage when his plans don’t work out, though this is rare, especially as an immortal lich, he has a long time to plot and hatch his evil plans.
Vecna is a powerful archlich, as such, he has a range of powerful spells at his disposal. He is also undead making him an immortal being. Like all liches, he is incredibly difficult to kill as even if destroyed, he will regenerate as long as his phylacteries remain intact. On top of the usual abilities of a powerful lich, Vecna also has the ability to paralyze with his touch, mind control others and has extrasensory powers that let him sense things beyond the mortal range. He is also immune to disintegration and mind controlling powers.
Vecna has amassed items of considerable power into his possession including a powerful cloak of resistance, bracers of armour and an unholy dagger called Afterthought. His left hand and his left eye are both powerful magical artefacts in their own right that draw power from Vecna. They are not in Vecna’s possession and are highly sought after items that are rumoured to be in possession of Arkhan the Cruel (a lieutenant of Tiamat) and Emirikol the planewalker. Using such items does require a great sacrifice though, involving removing ones own eye or hand.
Vecna’s Stat block
Vecna is widely considered to be the most powerful Archlich in existence, as such, he has stats similar to other Archliches but is able to harness even greater power than even those available to most Archliches. These particular stats are for Vecna prior to his ascension as a minor deity. The following stat block is not an official version but my own creation.
- Armour Class: 21 (natural armour)
- Hit Points: 435 (30d8 + 300)
- Speed: 30ft
|13 (+1)||16 (+3)||20 (+5)||30 (+10)||22 (+6)||20 (+5)|
- Saving Throws: Con (+12), Int (+17), Wis (+13)
- Skills: Arcana (+24), History (+24), Insight (+13), Perception (+13), Religion (+16)
- Damage Resistances: Cold, Lightning
- Damage Immunities: necrotic, poison; bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from non-magical attacks
- Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralysed, poisoned, prone, blinded, surprised, disintegration
- Senses: Truesight (120ft), passive perception (22)
- Languages: Common, Abyssal
- Challenge: 25 (75,000xp)
Legendary Resistance (3/Day): If Vecna fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.
Rejuvenation: Vecna has a phylactery, if destroyed he gains a new body in 1d10 days, regaining all his hit points and becoming active again. His new body appears within 5 feet of the phylactery.
Spellcasting: Vecna is an extremely powerful Archlich. His spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 25, +17 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following wizard spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): mage hand, ray of frost, shocking grasp, firebolt
1st level (at will): detect magic, magic missile, shield
2nd level (at will): arcane lock, detect thoughts, invisibility, mirror image
3rd level (at will): animate dead, counterspell, dispel magic, fireball
4th level (5 slots): blight, ice storm, phantasmal killer
5th level (5 slots): cloudkill, wall of force, dominate person, scrying
6th level (4 slots): chain lightning, circle of death, disintegrate
7th level (4 slots): finger of death, plane shift, teleport
8th level (4 slots): maze, mind blank
9th level (3 slots): power word kill, time stop, meteor swarm
Turn Resistance: Vecna has advantage on saving throws against any effect that turns undead.
Paralyzing Touch. Melee Spell Attack: +17 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 17 (5d6) cold damage. The target must succeed on a DC 22 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Vecna can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Vecna regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
At-will spell: Vecna casts one of his at-will spells.
Paralyzing Touch: Vecna uses his Paralyzing Touch.
Frightening Gaze (Costs 2 Actions): Vecna fixes his gaze on one creature he can see within 10 feet of him. The target must succeed on a DC 21 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or become frightened for 1 minute. The frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a target’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the target is immune to the archlich’s gaze for the next 24 hours.
Disrupt Life (Costs 3 Actions): Each non-undead creature within 20 feet of Vecna must make a DC 22 Constitution saving throw against this magic, taking 52 (15d6) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
If Vecna is in his lair and when combat reaches initiative count 20 (coming behind characters that rolled a 20 for initiative), Vecna can use one of the below lair actions once per turn. The same action cannot be used 2 turns in a row:
- Magical Reservoir: Vecna rolls a d8 and can regain a spell slot of that level or lower. He cannot gain more spell slots than his normal limit.
- Summon Undead: Vecna animates the bodies of creatures that have previously died in his lair. He summons 1d8 creatures into undeath who take the form of skeletons (Monster Manual p272). They will follow Vecna’s commands.
- Necromantic Aura: The ambient, necrotic magic in Vecna’s lair seers those not immune to its powers. All non-undead creatures in Vecna’s lair take 1d12 necrotic damage or half as much on a passed constitution sv throw (DC 20).
The Cult of Vecna
As a being of incredible power and eventually, a lesser deity, Vecna has attracted a following of worshippers known as the Cult of Vecna. Prior to his godhood, the Cult of Vecna acted in secrecy, but upon his ascension, the cult became emboldened and began acting more openly, even building 2 temples in Gloomwrought and Zerthadlun. Their primary goal is to gain power over others by acquiring items of great arcane power or by acquiring the secrets of others. They often use blackmail and coercion to achieve these goals, preferring subtler methods than simple brute force. Within the Cult of Vecna are 2 factions known as the Halls of Secrets and the Eyes of Vecna. Each seeks power through greater knowledge and secrets believing those that seek to find are those the deserve the greatest power.
Vecna’s mortal life is mainly shrouded in mystery, partly because theories of his rise to power have likely been sensationalised over time. Most believe that he was a human born on Oerth, though some accounts suggest he might have been a half-elf. At some point during his mortality, he became obsessed with preserving his life having seen the fragility of mortality. Many believe that this obsession began with the death of his mother who was an evil woman, consorting with monstrous beings and performing sacrifices to them.
It’s unclear how Vecna became a lich. Most accounts suggest that he struck a deal with the Demon Lord Orcus who showed Vecna how to transform himself into a lich. A more disturbing theory suggests that Vecna performed experiments on hundreds of people to try and take their life force for himself which eventually transformed him into a lich. Another more outlandish theory is that Vecna received this gift from a serpent being that personified magic itself. However it happened, it is widely recognised that Vecna was the first lich to ever come into being.
Rise to power
In one of his earliest struggles, Vecna was nearly killed by Oerthian clerics that worshipped Pelor. He was only saved by one of his right hand men, a half-demon called Acerak. in truth, Acerak arranged for Vecna to be ambushed so he could rescue him at the last minute and gain his favour. When Vecna discovered this betrayal, he determined that he would hold his knowledge secret from all others so he couldn’t be betrayed and have his knowledge used against him again.
As Vecna rose in power, he conquered a large area of land northwest of the Azure Sea creating the Occluded Empire. He granted administration of the kingdom to his trusted lieutenant, Kas. He enhanced Kas’ lifespan using necromantic powers that turned Kas into a vampire and granted him a powerful sword imbued with evil magic known as the Sword of Kas to help him administer his duties.
Eventually, the Sword of Kas, with a mind of its own, enticed Kas to betray his master. Kas attacked Vecna in his Rotted Tower and they fought a bloody battle with one another. At the conclusion of their combat, Kas managed to sever Vecna’s left hand and stab his left eye. A huge explosion was caused by Kas’ untimely ending of a powerful ritual and Vecna’s body was destroyed, though his spirit lived on while Kas was banished to Cavitius, which eventually became one of the Domains of Dread of Ravenloft.
Though a spirit, over the centuries, Vecna was able to draw upon the power of his increasing numbers of worshippers who continued to grow based on the legends of him and the use of his hand and eye as artefacts. Eventually, vecna ascended to godhood as a lesser deity but was unable to achieve full deity status.
This was not Vecna’s last attempt at achieving full godhood. He absorbed the essence of Luz, a demigod and invaded Sigil, making him the only person to successful break into the city doors. He was once again thwarted though and was eventually forced into Cavitius.
In Season 4 of the Netflix show, Stranger Things, Vecna is the name given by the protagonists to the villain of that season. While he is not Vecna himself, he is named after the Archlich due to his similar powers that appear magical in nature as well as his undead appearance. The Archlich Vecna also features in the campaign played by the shows characters.
Vecna also appears as a recurring character in Critical Role’s Campaign of Vox Machina. He is also a recurring character mentioned throughout D&D literature.