Vecna, once a powerful human wizard who became a lich, is the god of Destructive and Evil Secrets, Magic, Hidden Knowledge, and Intrigue. Notably, Vecna is missing both his left eye and left hand.
Worshipers, Clergy & Temples
Vecna's cult is very secretive, and cells have been uncovered, at various points in history, in Diamond Lake, Greyhawk, Saltmarsh, and Verbobonc. Temples to Vecna have also been reported in the Pomarj town of Highport and Erelhei-Cinlu, the debased city at the heart of the Vault of the Drow.
Clerics of Vecna often don't realize which god they're serving when they're first initiated. Many are carefully groomed and often believe they are joining an obscure sect of some knowledge god, and are only told the truth when they show their willingness to do anything in pursuit of knowledge and power. The truth is not revealed to them until they show their willingness to do anything in the pursuit of knowledge and power.
Vecna's clerics amass knowledge and secrets by any means necessary. They are spies, blackmailers and corrupters, using the knowledge they gain to hold power over others. They work to corrupt and destablize nations by turning the rulers or his advisors. The clerics of Vecna seek The Hand and Eye of Vecna, as well as the evil power they grant.
As a secret cult, members do not wear anything that denotes their service in public. Even in private ceremonies, clerics tend to wear inconspicuous black hooded robes. Higher level priests may done black robes with a purple fringe, often with a purple symbol noting their title.
Each position in Vecna's cult is named for a certain body part. At the top is Vecna himself, followed by the Voice of Vecna, which can only be filled by Vecna's manifestation. Next is the Heart of Vecna, the high priest of the cult. The last known Heart of Vecna was Diraq Malcinex of Ket, who was slain by adventurers in 581 CY.
Immediately below the Heart of Vecna are two bizarre monsters known as the Hand and the Eye. The Eye of Vecna creature appears as a slender humanoid with an eyeball for a head, whereas the Hand of Vecna appears as a stocky humanoid with a huge left hand where its head should be.
Individual congregations are known as Organs. Each Organ is led by a Thought of Vecna. Lesser priests are known as Memories of Vecna.
Lay members of the cult consist of the Teeth, Fingers, Blood, and Spawn of Vecna. The Teeth of Vecna are made up of wizards, and specialize in arcane spellcasting and crafting magical items for the cult. The Fingers of Vecna consist mainly of thieves, who engage in various forms of subterfuge. The Blood of Vecna are mainly warriors charged with protection and enforcement of the cult and its goals. The Spawn of Vecna are the lowest in the cult hierarchy, and consist of the common people who honor the Lich Lord.
Being a secretive cult, there are few real collections of Vecnan teachings. At some point in his history, Vecna penned a tome known as Ordinary Necromancy, as well as another work named Vecna's Ineffable Variorum. He is also rumored to have made significant additions to the Book of Vile Darkness. The Nethertome of Trask is ascribed to him, though this provenance is considered highly dubious.
Another literary relic of Vecna is the Tome of the Stilled Tongue, a spellbook that contains instructions for mental exercises that increase the potency of the practitioner's spellcasting. Five copies are known to exist, each with the severed tongue of a treacherous Vecna cultist nailed to the cover.
Copies of the Tome of the Stilled Tongue are highly prized by the cult for Vecna's role in that work's development.
Although not actually penned by him, The Book of Keeping (a book of yugoloth summoning) is heavily linked with the cult of Vecna, as the cultists have the only known copies that are free of the intentional errors introduced into the book by the fiends that wrote the volume as a trap for would-be summoners.
Orders and Other Vecnan Organizations
Other Vecnan organizations are known to exist outside of the mainstream cult, and some may have similar or identical names. Relations between these groups and the mainstream cult may vary. Known examples are the Eyes of Vecna (a cult of undeath consisting mainly of rogues), the Fingers of Vecna (Vecna's personal guard), and the Ebon Triad (a heretical cult seeking to merge Vecna, Hextor, and Erythnul into a single entity).
Vecna and his faithful believe in the power of secrets and their ultimate ability to destroy anyone, no matter how powerful. Vecna hopes one day to destroy every other deity in existence, leaving himself the sole ruler of creation.
Another tenet of Vecna's faith is the doctrine of a secret evil within every being, no matter how virtuous. This seed of evil, Vecna teaches, can and should be exploited by those able to identify it. Vecna's followers never reveal all that they know.
Vecna is usually depicted as a powerful lich missing his left hand and eye. Sometimes he is depicted with withered, mummified flesh; other times he is depicted as a being of bare bone, with not a trace of skin remaining.
Relationships & History
Vecna has few allies, and countless enemies. His greatest, and perhaps only true ally is the mysterious entity known as the Serpent. The famed cambion lich Acererak once served Vecna, but the current status of their relationship is unknown.
Among Vecna's staunchest foes are Kas, Iuz, and the Circle of Eight. The Lady of Pain once opposed him indirectly, through a party of adventurers.
Vecna is opposed by the Old Faith and the Silent Ones.
Among Vecna's most notable servants are Gusten the Blood-Fiend, Sir Loran, and the death knight calling himself Kas the Bloody-Handed.
Vecna learned the ritual of lichdom from Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead.
Vecna was born as a human, centuries ago as a member of the untouchable caste in the Flan city of Fleeth on Oerth. He was initially trained by his mother, Mazell, in the arts of magic, before she was executed by the government of Fleeth for practicing witchcraft. Vowing revenge, Vecna eventually assumed a mastery of the dark arts achieved by no mortal before or since. Some say this achievement was due to direct tutelage by Mok'slyk the Serpent, believed to be the personification of arcane magic itself.
At some point during his long life and unlife, Vecna undertook arduous researches into the nature of life itself in a hidden temple buried in the mines near what is now Diamond Lake; the site of this laboratory is now known as the Dark Cathedral.
Some nine hundred years after his birth, Vecna, now a lich and ruler of the Occluded Empire of Vecna, a great and terrible empire (in the Sheldomar Valley, centered near the modern-day Rushmoors) of the Flanaess, laid siege to the city of Fleeth with an army of arcane spellcasters and undead (VHotR). Legend has it that Vecna was nearly slain in this battle by clerics channeling the power of Pholtus, the god of light. The clerics unleashed a great burst of light, which hit Vecna primarily on his left side. Vecna was rescued and brought to safety by one of his wizard generals, a cambion named Acererak (who would one day himself become a mighty demilich).
Vecna eventually recovered. On the verge of conquering Fleeth, certain citizens of the city came before him to beg for mercy. They offered up the entire city and her wealth if only Vecna would spare the lives of her citizens. When Vecna was not satisfied, the officials offered their own lives. Vecna gave one of their number, Artau, and his family, over to his lieutenant, Kas, who spent the entire day torturing and murdering them before the other officials. Still unsatisfied, Vecna slaughtered all within the city, and had their heads stacked before the officials, with those of their family members prominent. Vecna then granted his mercy, granting the officials leave to depart, and promising them his protection for the rest of their lives.
At his empire's height, Vecna was betrayed and destroyed by his most trusted lieutenant, a human vampire called Kas the Bloody-Handed, using a magical sword that Vecna himself had crafted for him, now known as the Sword of Kas. Only his left hand and his eye survived the battle, perhaps because of the previous events in Fleeth.
Vecna did not stay gone forever, and returned to Oerth as a demigod of magic and secrets. In 581 CY, his cult helped set events in motion that would have granted him the power of a greater god, but the plan was ultimately foiled. In 586 CY, Vecna ended up imprisoned in the demiplane of Ravenloft, but broke free in 591, emerging with the power of a greater god after absorbing the power of Iuz. Vecna then entered the city of Sigil, where he came perilously close to rearranging all existence to his whims. When Vecna was ejected from Sigil by a party of adventurers, Iuz was freed and Vecna returned to Oerth greatly reduced in power, though still a lesser god.
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Vecna is a powerful lich, with withering, mummified flesh. He is missing his left hand and eye. He is wearing a black robe with a purple fringe and carrying an ornate staff.
The temple of Vecna is secretly hidden beneath the city. In the basement below the barber's shop, behind a secret door, is a long, dank tunnel that leads to an open cavern lit by a single brazier in the center. At the back of the cavern are dark gray stone steps, flanked by skeletal guardian statues, leading up to thick wooden double doors. The smell of death is strong inside. The 20'x30' room is lined with torch sconces and an altar sits against the back wall. To the right is a crude morgue, with several tables, all with rotting bodies. To the left is a small library with two desks, and two doorways leading to other rooms in the temple.
Vecna's priest is a thin man with sharp facial features and dark graying hair. He is wearing a long black robe with a purple fringe. He is holding a long wooden staff—bones and tiny skulls hang from several strands of twine dangling from the top. He has a rope belt with several pouches, and a mace hanging from his hip.