D&D General The War Between Vecna and the Raven Queen: Origins, Thoughts, and Campaign/World-Building Ideas

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
So, let me throw this out there first, I love Shadowfell. Love it. I want it to be awesome. SO, for my two cents, a war between Vecna and the Raven Queen is great grist for the mill. In a lot of cases the appearance of a well worn name like Vecna would turn me off, but not in this case, in this case I think he stands pretty clearly for one side of that. There's a ton of great material out there for Shadowfell, and adding a war just makes it better.
 

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Lyxen

Great Old One
Note that, although I did not really like the treatment of it, the main 4e campaign which culminated with Prince of Undeath roughly has the same kind of arc, with Orcus instead of Vecna, but as Orcus has himself had a number of interesting statuses, including being slain himself, at least twice, resurrecting, gaining and losing both god and demon lord titles, being a vestige, etc.

Maybe you can get some inspiration from this as well, but good luck on your arc, indeed the Shadowfell and the Raven Queen are two really great additions to the game brought by 4e.
 

Since much of your campaign seems to revolve around the limitations of these two gods, why not put the Sword of Kas in a place that is off limits to both gods? The Raven Queen can't retrieve it or doesn't know where it is because it's in a realm outside of her control. It's in the possession of immortal beings and since no one dies the location never gets revealed to her. Maybe the location is a place she cannot look, a fortress or dungeon on another plane. These could fall in line with Vecna's limitations as well. Lots of possibilities there.

If you want to make an adventure that spans the planes then Yugoloth are a good choice of common monsters. They have a decent CR range, lots of special abilities, they're infernal mercenaries, and they're neither devils nor demons. You could put the Sword of Kas in an abandoned fortress in Gehenna in the possession of Yugoloth mercenaries. The original warlord of the fortress (whoever) was slain leaving this company of Yugoloth to claim it. At some point in time these Yugoloth were employed to fight against or for Vecna and Kas (maybe both as they'll fight anyone) and when things went sideways they grabbed the Sword and ran because their contract was up when Kas was killed. Now you can stick that sword in the hands of any infernal warlord and at any CR rating you want.

Mordi's Tome has some really kewl infernals as well and for this campaign you might want to employ the Orthon, an infernal bounty hunter sent by Arch Dukes of Hell to hunt down and capture or kill a creature. They have invisibility at will as a bonus action, a deadly array of weapons, and lots of skills and powers. Adding another interested party could spice things up. After all, both Vecna and the Raven Queen were mortal. Who's to say some immortal fiend doesn't want power over them?
 

Aldarc

Legend
A thought I had on motive and standing:

The Raven Queen is a God of knowledge and as close to omniscient as you can get in D&D. Vecna believes that this means she knows his secrets and/or secrets he alone should be privy to and thus she must be destroyed. This has doomed him to eternal failure.

However, the Raven Queen didn't know any of those secrets... until he started moving against her. The more he wars with her, the more he ties his fate to hers and the more knowledge of him she gleans from the universe. By his own struggles, he slowly gives away what is dearest to him and slowly seals his own destruction as the Raven Queen comes closer and closer to learning his greatest vulnerabilities.
We did already have Ioun in 4e's pantheon.

@AcererakTriple6, I like what you did. I certainly think that Vecna opposes the Raven Queen in how his secrets and dark arts threaten the natural order of death that is her purview as well as the secrets she possesses. In my own Nentir Vale, however, I tend to emphasize Ioun vs. Vecna (i.e., knowledge vs. dark secrets) and then the Raven Queen vs. Orcus (i.e., death vs. undeath).
 

Voadam

Legend
In AD&D 2e, Vecna became a Demigod and made his way into the Ravenloft campaign setting, becoming a Dark Lord and gaining his own Domain of Dread, alongside his traitorous lieutenant Kas the Vampire Lord. Then, finally, he eventually escaped Ravenloft, attacked Sigil and was fended off by the Lady of Pain, almost destroyed the Multiverse after becoming a Lesser God (or something like that) in Die Vecna Die! (one of the few AD&D 2e adventures written by Wizards of the Coast), and suddenly became a Greater Deity in D&D 4e, and finally ended up in D&D 5e where he is a god that spans the Multiverse, but is more important in certain worlds (Exandria, Greyhawk) than others (Eberron, Forgotten Realms, etc). Vecna is the god of secrets (such as how to achieve Lichdom and perhaps Apotheosis), undeath (as he is a lich-god), as well as arcane magic (as a skilled wizard).

Did 4e have gradations of greater or lesser gods? I thought the core pantheon was just gods and exarchs (with exarchs ranging from powered up mortal level champions to former greater gods like Maglubiyet).
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Although I like the idea overall, I do have one quibble I don't really like the idea of Vecna having endless armies fighting the Raven Queen's forces in the Shadowfell.

I think as the god of secrets, Vecna should be fighting the Raven Queen in a much less direct, brute force kind of way. Plus, I feel like Vecna would know how completely pointless such a war would be; after all, he was forced into a similar endless conflict with Kas in Ravenloft. It'd be super weird for him to return to exactly that plan after learning how completely futile it was against a much less powerful enemy.

So, overall, don't really like the idea of another endless battlefield. I do like a "shadow war" of agents across the multiverse, battling for information and magic in small duels and conflicts. Like secret agents, that kind of stuff.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Did 4e have gradations of greater or lesser gods? I thought the core pantheon was just gods and exarchs (with exarchs ranging from powered up mortal level champions to former greater gods like Maglubiyet).
I'm not sure if it had the division, but given that 4e's Pantheon was so small (one of its major boons), I think it's safe to say that basically every god from the Dawn War Panthon is a "Greater Deity" in 5e terms.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Although I like the idea overall, I do have one quibble I don't really like the idea of Vecna having endless armies fighting the Raven Queen's forces in the Shadowfell.

I think as the god of secrets, Vecna should be fighting the Raven Queen in a much less direct, brute force kind of way. Plus, I feel like Vecna would know how completely pointless such a war would be; after all, he was forced into a similar endless conflict with Kas in Ravenloft. It'd be super weird for him to return to exactly that plan after learning how completely futile it was against a much less powerful enemy.

So, overall, don't really like the idea of another endless battlefield. I do like a "shadow war" of agents across the multiverse, battling for information and magic in small duels and conflicts. Like secret agents, that kind of stuff.
I already addressed this point in this post:
Definitely. Vecna is a schemer. He definitely plans on winning the war by using his schemes and plans, not his armies. I just mentioned the armies because I believe that on a plane of existence where the main population that isn't trapped in a Domain of Dread is the Shadar-Kai, known for following the Raven Queen, Vecna might want an army of undead to fight them off and hold his ground in the Shadowfell. Vecna is smart enough to know that having both brilliant schemes to overthrow and kill the Raven Queen and an army of undead to aid in conquering the rest of the Multiverse once he's done with her is better than just relying on one of those things.
My main point was that Vecna would be doing both, if threatened by the Raven Queen's armies of Shadar-Kai. You need armies to fend off armies, and they help you delay the war in order to do the "Shadow War" to find secrets that could help you kill the Raven Queen. Obviously do it how you want, I'm just explaining my reasoning for including it.
 

Voadam

Legend
I'm not sure if it had the division, but given that 4e's Pantheon was so small (one of its major boons), I think it's safe to say that basically every god from the Dawn War Panthon is a "Greater Deity" in 5e terms.
5e splits Greater and Lesser Gods along the lines of those who are greater principles who might manifest avatars but killing the avatars does not affect the greater god and lesser gods who are embodied in the planes somewhere and could be encountered by the PCs as the gods themselves and not a mere manifestation (Lolth is specifically mentioned as an example). DMG page 11 is where divine rank and the greater versus lesser god distinction is made. The listing of gods in the PH appendix and the 4e Dawn War pantheon in the DMG do not list divine ranks or distinguish between greater and lesser gods though.

I think the fact that the 4e gods (and primordials and demon lords) had stats and were embodied in specific places in the 4e cosmology meant they would be lesser gods in 5e terms, similar to 1e deities and not 5e greater god disembodied abstractions who could not be encountered outside of manifestations, the way 2e deities were presented with stats only for avatars. So 4e Lolth of the small pantheon would be a lesser 5e god because she was actually an NPC in the setting and cosmology.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Since much of your campaign seems to revolve around the limitations of these two gods, why not put the Sword of Kas in a place that is off limits to both gods? The Raven Queen can't retrieve it or doesn't know where it is because it's in a realm outside of her control. It's in the possession of immortal beings and since no one dies the location never gets revealed to her. Maybe the location is a place she cannot look, a fortress or dungeon on another plane. These could fall in line with Vecna's limitations as well. Lots of possibilities there.

If you want to make an adventure that spans the planes then Yugoloth are a good choice of common monsters. They have a decent CR range, lots of special abilities, they're infernal mercenaries, and they're neither devils nor demons. You could put the Sword of Kas in an abandoned fortress in Gehenna in the possession of Yugoloth mercenaries. The original warlord of the fortress (whoever) was slain leaving this company of Yugoloth to claim it. At some point in time these Yugoloth were employed to fight against or for Vecna and Kas (maybe both as they'll fight anyone) and when things went sideways they grabbed the Sword and ran because their contract was up when Kas was killed. Now you can stick that sword in the hands of any infernal warlord and at any CR rating you want.

Mordi's Tome has some really kewl infernals as well and for this campaign you might want to employ the Orthon, an infernal bounty hunter sent by Arch Dukes of Hell to hunt down and capture or kill a creature. They have invisibility at will as a bonus action, a deadly array of weapons, and lots of skills and powers. Adding another interested party could spice things up. After all, both Vecna and the Raven Queen were mortal. Who's to say some immortal fiend doesn't want power over them?
This post isn't about my campaign. I don't have a campaign about this, this is lore information about the two deities in general and brainstorming ideas for how to use them for people that do want to base campaigns off of their conflict. If I were to make play a campaign revolving around this conflict, I'd definitely put the Sword of Kas in a place that neither of the gods have access to.

(The OP does contain some of the info about my homebrew campaign setting, but most of it is just the standard lore about the gods. My campaign setting doesn't revolve solely around this conflict, this is just the conflict that my world has for the Shadowfell. The Feywild, Elemental Planes, and other planes of existence in my world have different conflicts.)
 

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