D&D 5E How would YOU build Vecna?

Dausuul

Legend
How would you build Vecna?
I would start by thinking about what kind of a villain Vecna is, to inform his signature traits.
  • He is known for the power of his eye and hand.
  • He's intent on learning and keeping secrets.
  • He was defeated by a sword-wielding vampire.
  • He's the iconic lich--as far as I know, the first named lich in all of D&D history, and certainly the most well-known, even before Stranger Things.
So, with all that in mind, I would give him an eye-themed power and a hand-themed power; probably some kind of nasty "evil eye" debuff, and a powered-up version of the classic Paralyzing Touch that liches are known for... maybe one that he can use at range with a gesture of his left hand.

Then I'd develop other powers around deception and detection. Vecna knows your secrets (e.g., he knows what spells all casters in the party have and what magic items everyone is carrying), but you don't know his. Perhaps he projects quasi-real duplicates of himself, which have his powers but fade into nothing if they take fatal damage. (Multiple duplicates, each with its own initiative, could act as a form of legendary action.) Meanwhile, the real Vecna stays hidden in an adjacent demiplane, laying down occasional debuffs and sending out new duplicates as the old ones are destroyed. To reach the real Vecna, you must locate the point where the demiplane touches the Prime, and then do <something TBD> to force open the entrance and get inside. Spotting where the duplicates are coming from is key to doing this.

The demiplane is filled with a devastating field of necrotic energy which inflicts heavy damage on each PC at the start of their turn, plus a debuff of Vecna's choice. Vecna is vulnerable in melee (for a CR 26 definition of "vulnerable"), so his focus is keeping his enemies at a distance.

As far as spells go, I would follow the general thrust of the Vecna statblock on D&D Beyond: In combat, Vecna relies on custom non-spell powers, but he also has a list of utility spells. I might flesh out that utility spell list a bit more. On the other hand, I would also be much more strict about excluding combat options from it (no lightning bolt or dispel magic, probably not dimension door either). The descriptive text would note that Vecna knows most or all of the spells in the PHB, but he normally devotes most of his prepared spells and slots to empowering his non-spell abilities. This is a thing he can do, because Vecna.
 
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I would start by thinking about what kind of a villain Vecna is, to inform his signature traits.
  • He is known for the power of his eye and hand.
  • He's intent on learning and keeping secrets.
  • He was defeated by a sword-wielding vampire.
  • He's the iconic lich--as far as I know, the first named lich in all of D&D history, and certainly the most well-known, even before Stranger Things.
So, with all that in mind, I would give him an eye-themed power and a hand-themed power; probably some kind of nasty "evil eye" debuff, and a powered-up version of the classic Paralyzing Touch that liches are known for... maybe one that he can use at range with a gesture of his left hand.

Then I'd develop other powers around deception and detection. Vecna knows your secrets, but you don't know his. Perhaps he projects quasi-real duplicates of himself, which have his powers but fade into nothing if they take fatal damage. (Multiple duplicates, each with its own initiative, could act as a form of legendary action.) Meanwhile, the real Vecna stays hidden in an adjacent demiplane, laying down occasional debuffs and sending out new duplicates as the old ones are destroyed. To reach the real Vecna, you must locate the point where the demiplane touches the Prime, and then do <something TBD> to force open the entrance and get inside. Spotting where the duplicates are coming from is key to doing this.

The demiplane is filled with a devastating field of necrotic energy which inflicts heavy damage on each PC at the start of their turn, plus a debuff of Vecna's choice. Vecna is vulnerable in melee (for a CR 26 definition of "vulnerable"), so his focus is keeping his enemies at a distance.

As far as spells go, I would follow the general thrust of the Vecna statblock on D&D Beyond: In combat, Vecna relies on custom non-spell powers, but he also has a list of utility spells. I might flesh out that utility spell list a bit more. On the other hand, I would also be much more strict about excluding combat options from it (no lightning bolt or dispel magic, probably not dimension door either). The descriptive text would note that Vecna knows most or all of the spells in the PHB, but he normally devotes most of his prepared spells and slots to empowering his non-spell abilities. This is a thing he can do, because Vecna.
I will summon @dave2008, this good stuff and he plans to do a Vecna god statblock
 

In my game, the gods are distant and all-powerful, utterly beyond the reach of mortals, and only other gods could ever fight them. (shrug)
Well, that is right in line with the DMG description of greater gods.

I prefer something between princess Mononoke and what you prefer (couldn’t really think of a word to describe it)
 

I would start by thinking about what kind of a villain Vecna is, to inform his signature traits.
  • He is known for the power of his eye and hand.
  • He's intent on learning and keeping secrets.
  • He was defeated by a sword-wielding vampire.
  • He's the iconic lich--as far as I know, the first named lich in all of D&D history, and certainly the most well-known, even before Stranger Things.
So, with all that in mind, I would give him an eye-themed power and a hand-themed power; probably some kind of nasty "evil eye" debuff, and a powered-up version of the classic Paralyzing Touch that liches are known for... maybe one that he can use at range with a gesture of his left hand.

Then I'd develop other powers around deception and detection. Vecna knows your secrets, but you don't know his. Perhaps he projects quasi-real duplicates of himself, which have his powers but fade into nothing if they take fatal damage. (Multiple duplicates, each with its own initiative, could act as a form of legendary action.) Meanwhile, the real Vecna stays hidden in an adjacent demiplane, laying down occasional debuffs and sending out new duplicates as the old ones are destroyed. To reach the real Vecna, you must locate the point where the demiplane touches the Prime, and then do <something TBD> to force open the entrance and get inside. Spotting where the duplicates are coming from is key to doing this.

The demiplane is filled with a devastating field of necrotic energy which inflicts heavy damage on each PC at the start of their turn, plus a debuff of Vecna's choice. Vecna is vulnerable in melee (for a CR 26 definition of "vulnerable"), so his focus is keeping his enemies at a distance.

As far as spells go, I would follow the general thrust of the Vecna statblock on D&D Beyond: In combat, Vecna relies on custom non-spell powers, but he also has a list of utility spells. I might flesh out that utility spell list a bit more. On the other hand, I would also be much more strict about excluding combat options from it (no lightning bolt or dispel magic, probably not dimension door either). The descriptive text would note that Vecna knows most or all of the spells in the PHB, but he normally devotes most of his prepared spells and slots to empowering his non-spell abilities. This is a thing he can do, because Vecna.
I think his hand and eye only became a thing after he initially tired to ascend to godhood. I think the version presented in DnDB is before Kas betrayal and the loss of the hand and eye.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I think the version presented in DnDB is before Kas betrayal and the loss of the hand and eye.
Oh, I know. However, from an out-of-universe perspective, the Hand and Eye practically define Vecna to most D&D players--having a "hand power" and an "eye power" taps into the mythos of the character.

From an in-universe perspective, we might ask why the Hand and the Eye survived when the rest of Vecna was destroyed, and why they retained so much power after his demise. Maybe Vecna placed that power into them before he was destroyed. In fact, Kas might have deliberately severed the Hand and Eye because he knew it was the only way to weaken Vecna enough to kill him.

(That could be another mechanic to add, actually: If you score a critical hit on the real Vecna with a slashing weapon, and he's below X hit points, you cut off his left hand or cut out his left eye, disabling the appropriate power.)
 

Azuresun

Adventurer
In general for statting Vecna, I'd suggest looking up Sul Katesh, from the Eberron book. It's pretty much the perfect statblock for a "magical final boss", along with a 1/day trademark move of blasting everything in three 40ft radius bursts with force damage, and then having the areas become antimagic fields that don't affect her magic. And legendary actions that make enemies spend their spells to harm their allies, or which destroy enemy spells and heal her based on how strong the spell was.
 

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