Vecna is very much a figure of mystery. He dates back to a time of near-prehistory in Greyhawk, before the migrations, before the wars between Suel and Baklunish, perhaps even before the ascendancy of the Suloise Empire itself. He is a figure more of legend than fact and, like all legends, there are embellishments, exaggerations, distortions, contradictions, and confusions attached to his name. [WGA4 Vecna Lives]
-1746 to -1711 CY Vecna is said to have been born as a member of the Untouchable caste in the Flan city of Fleeth, in the Sheldomar Valley. He was initially trained by his mother, Mazell, in the arts of witchcraft before she was executed by the government of Fleeth for the crime of practicing unsanctioned magic, forbidden to the Untouchables. Vecna was devastated. He was enraged. He had nothing but the love of his mother and they had taken that away from him for harmless tinkering. 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 (I’m going on a limb and suggest that Mok’slyk might have been a Yuan-ti priest-magi), believed to be the personification of arcane magic itself.
In his time, Vecna was considered the mightiest of all wizards, unsurpassed in his knowledge of all the arcane arts. From the loneliest chamber of a black tower, he ruled over a now-forgotten nation. Some say his realm was beyond the great mountains to the west. Another theory holds his tower once rose from the very depths of the Nyr Dyv. A few writers even go so far as to claim Vecna’s dominion extended over another plane and that he was ultimately destroyed by a revolt of the greater powers that dwelled there! [WGA4 Vecna Lives]
With time, like all things human (although some tales claim he was half-elven. Vecna grew old and neared death. The black oblivion caused no terror in hi, only anger and rage. He was determined not to die and in his conceit came to believe that immortality was not merely possible, but was is right. He began a search for the ultimate power needed to overcome the Greater Power, Death. [WGA4 Vecna Lives]
As a sign of Kas’s authority (and to protect his lieutenant from the intrigues of others), Vecna forged the sword of Kas, a magical weapon like none ever known. ale-spinners say its iron was taken from the heart of a frozen star and forged in flames stolen from the sun. Though dull and unadorned, it shimmered with evil. Its edge could bite any metal and its blade never dulled. When Kas wielded it, no man could withstand him
Fashioned by Vecna’s hand, the sword was evil, even when compared to its creator. It whispered to Kas in secret voices, feeding the warrior’s pride and vanity. “You are greater now than your master,” it said. “You are the true ruler of all his lands.” Slowly it seduced him, urging him to usurp Vecna’s throne and send the arch-lich to death forever. And gradually Kas came to believe its words. [WGA4 Vecna Lives]
-1547 CY Vecna knew he would never be secure in his Empire so long as the Elves stood against him. He took the war to them. The first elven city fell, marking the beginning of the 400 Year War. 604 FT
-1156 CY Vecna, pleased by Kas’ cruelty and skill, elevated Kas to be his chief lieutenant, and blessed him with Tharizdun’s kiss, turning Kas into a vampire of great power. He then gifted Kas his fabled sword. 995 FT
-1154 CY The City of Summer Stars finally fell, but Vecna’s armies were broken on its walls. 997 FT
Points of Legacy from the War with the Elves
The City of the Summer Stars received emissaries from the Ur-Flannae. Those necromancers and wizards spoke honeyed words, but Sharafere saw the lust for magical power in their hearts and sent them away. In their rage and desire to possess the magic of the elves, the Ur-Flannae brought their own magic to assault the city. Fire and acid rained down from the skies. Fiends stalked the forests. Bulettes, xorn, and other monsters erupted from the very earth to strike at the foundations of the city. Sharafere knew the city could hold against this assault, but the forest around was screaming its agony at the defoliation and slaughter which covered thousands of square miles. The undead and monsters of the invaders seemed countless in number; the elves slew thousands and still the Ur-Flannae mounted wave after wave of attack. Sharafere's eldest son, Darnakurian, could take no more. A peerless enchanter, he called on many sources of power, even across the planes. From corners of the void dark voices came to him, seducing him with the promise of supreme power—power which could destroy the Ur-Flannae and save the city and the forest. Darnakurian grew gaunt and sleepless, barely ceasing his work to memorize more spells he needed in his race against time. Finally, he crafted the appalling sword the elves named Hunger. Marching to the throne room, he presented it in triumph to his mother as the instrument by which the elves could triumph and banish their evil foes. Sharafere was appalled. The weapon's evil was apparent to her, hidden beneath the waves of magical power which emanated from it. She ordered him to destroy the malign sword, at which Darnakurian was aghast. Driven half-mad with bitter anger at what was happening to the forest and frustration at the thought that his endless work was valueless in his mother's eyes, he raised the sword and slew her in the Palace of the Heavens. Looking down at her body, the enormity of his crime came over him and the elf-prince was plunged into madness, his mind broken. He fled into the forest and came upon a conclave of necromancers. Then his doom came upon him in earnest. Darnakurian slew thousands in a matter of hours. The circle of destruction his sword emanated cut a great swathe of horrific deaths before him as he charged the Ur-Flannae and drove them in terror from the forest. Finally, the elf-prince took himself back to the city. So weak was he by now that the sword controlled him utterly, and it drove him to slay his own people in the hundreds. Every gray elf alive in the City of Summer Stars either fled, never to return, or perished in that single day. [Ivid]
No living man has ever entered Bitterness. Within it, Darnakurian's form is still alive—in some sense. A powerful temporal stasis spell, crafted by the last of the great gray elf wizards before they fled the city, imprisons him inside. He still holds Hunger on his lap as he sits frozen, staring out blindly into the great marbled hall of his home. No living man (or other sentient creature) is going to get anywhere near Bitterness if the guardians who prowl the margins of the Coldwood have their way. These gray elves are known as the Sentinels. [Ivid]
At last, emboldened by the sword’s sweet voice, Kas struck at his lord. No man saw the battle, but with its end Vecna’s dark tower crumbled into dust, leaving only the sword and a pile of ash. The body of Kas was never found. Of Vecna, all that remained were his lifeless Hand and Eye. [WGA4 Vecna Lives]
Sword of Kas: There is recorded this additional information regarding the lich, Vecna: "When Vecna grew in power he appointed a most evil and ruthless lieutenant to serve as his bodyguard and right hand. This henchman was the lord, Kas, and for him Vecna found a weapon of potency, a long and thin flatchet of dull gray metal; a sword of unsurpassed hardness with sharp point, keen edges, and magical properties. For a long, long time Kas faithfully served the lich, but as his power grew, so did his hubris, for his Sword was constantly urging him on, saying that Kas was now greater than Vecna himself, and with the might of the Sword to aid and direct him, Kas could rule in Vecna’s stead. Legend says that the destruction of Vecna was by Kas and his Sword, but at the same time Vecna wrought his rebellious lieutenant’s doom, and the world was made brighter thereby."
Although the powers and effects of the Sword are only hinted at, there can be little doubt that Kas became the most renowned swordsman of his age because of it.
Seldom is the name of Vecna spoken except in hushed voice, and never within hearing of strangers, for legends say that the phantom of this once supreme lich still rooms the Material Plane. It is certain that when Vecna finally met his doom, one eye and one hand survived. The Eye of Vecna is said to glow in the same manner as that of a feral creature. It appears to be an agate until it is placed in an empty eye socket of a living character. Once pressed in, it instantly and irrevocably grafts itself to the head, and it cannot be removed or harmed without slaying the character. The alignment of the character immediately becomes neutral evil and may never change. DMG 1e
The Hand of Vecna: The arch-lich Vecna supposedly imbued both his hand (left) and his eye with wondrous and horrible powers enabling them to persist long after his other remains mouldered away into dust. Tales say that the Hand appears to be a mummified extremity, a blackened and shriveled hand, possibly from a burned body. If the wrist portion is pressed against the stump of a forearm, i.t will instantly graft itself to the limb and become a functioning member with [great] strength in its grip. The Hand will eventually turn the alignment of the host character to neutral evil as explained hereafter.
Dream by baxiaart
Reflections-before-the-battle by candra
The Hand and Eye of Vecna, by Daniel Frazier, Book of Artifacts, 1993
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1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
2138 Book of Artifacts, 1993
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OJ Oerth Journal, #1, #11
Shadis 50, August 1998
The map of Anna B. Meyer