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

Myrhdraak

Explorer
Have a look at Ereshkigal from the old Babylonian mythos as the female ruler of the Underworld (Irkalla). You can find a lot of inspiration there and probably also some of the inspiration of the Raven Queen character. According to the old Babylonians the people that entered the realm of the dead (Irkalla) were having cloaks of black feathers, and was eating ashes from the ground like birds. Ereshkigal can also explain the Raven Queens' neutral alignment, as the belief in ancient Babylonia was that the rich or the poor, all got the same fate in the afterlife. So rather than looking forward to the afterlife, the message of the gods was "enjoy life while it lasts" (imagine the consequence of a society with such a belief ...). The whole story of Gilgamesh's failure to fetch his dead friend from the underworld, also serve the message that no living can avoid death, which of course can be a key driving force for the Raven Queen to actually claim the soul of Vecna that has avoided death!
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
However, the Raven Queen is a much newer deity, only emerging in D&D 4e, being a completely new concept.
Actually, this isn't exactly true. As James Wyatt notes in the Dawn War pantheon section of the 5E DMG, the Raven Queen is actually Wee Jas from Greyhawk with some serial numbers filed off. So she has a publication history going back to the 80's.
 

Myrhdraak

Explorer
Of course it is not true. However, what I am saying is if you want to look a real world pantheons and try to learn what might have inspired the designers when they came up with Raven Queen - Ereshikigal is probably one of their inspirations.
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
Have a look at Ereshkigal from the old Babylonian mythos as the female ruler of the Underworld (Irkalla). You can find a lot of inspiration there and probably also some of the inspiration of the Raven Queen character. According to the old Babylonians the people that entered the realm of the dead (Irkalla) were having cloaks of black feathers, and was eating ashes from the ground like birds. Ereshkigal can also explain the Raven Queens' neutral alignment, as the belief in ancient Babylonia was that the rich or the poor, all got the same fate in the afterlife. So rather than looking forward to the afterlife, the message of the gods was "enjoy life while it lasts" (imagine the consequence of a society with such a belief ...). The whole story of Gilgamesh's failure to fetch his dead friend from the underworld, also serve the message that no living can avoid death, which of course can be a key driving force for the Raven Queen to actually claim the soul of Vecna that has avoided death!
What do you think the impact of this would/could be as it applies to a god of death, or even a Pantheon? In DnD we have ready made healing, raise dead, resurrection and similar magics which do exactly that - allow the living to avoid death. Why would a god of death allow that? Particularly if those more powerful deaths carry more power/memories/whatever into their realm?

(Its also a reason I prefer curating a Pantheon, rather than 500 random gods of whatever that you can, you know, like worship, or not, a la 5e)
 

Myrhdraak

Explorer
Well in my own campaign world based on 1500 BC Babylonia, Ereshkigal do not look kindly on people that try to avoid their Fate (i.e. the date of death that the Godess of Death have set on an individual). A raise death requires a soul for a soul to work, i.e. the players have to trade another soul in order for the Raven Queen to allow a long dead character to return (which can create interesing moral role-playing situations). PCs having been dead only for a short time, I would propably judge could be recalled because their souls have not reached the Halls of Irkalla yet, as you have to travel quite far to reach them (over a river very similar to Styx in Greek Mythology - the ferry man is called Urshanabi and the river Hubur). People that are trying to prolong their life beyong their assigned Day of Death, are targetted by the followers of Ereshkigal to bring into their Godess shadowy halls. People getting help through healing or otherwise is not a problem as they have still to fullfill their fate before their Day of Death happens.
 

RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
Actually, this isn't exactly true. As James Wyatt notes in the Dawn War pantheon section of the 5E DMG, the Raven Queen is actually Wee Jas from Greyhawk with some serial numbers filed off. So she has a publication history going back to the 80's.
I never took this a confirmation that the Raven Queen was a reskin of Wee Jas in 4e, but that she was retconned in 5e to be a different alias to Wee Jas to clean up the pantheon and explain things for those coming to 5e from 4e as they were retconning a lot of things. They did the same thing to Erathis, Avandra, and Zehir.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I never took this a confirmation that the Raven Queen was a reskin of Wee Jas in 4e, but that she was retconned in 5e to be a different alias to Wee Jas to clean up the pantheon and explain things for those coming to 5e from 4e as they were retconning a lot of things. They did the same thing to Erathis, Avandra, and Zehir.
The 5E DMG was written by James Wyatt, who also made the 4E pantheon. In thst section, he is laying out hisnown exact thought process and sources.
 

Voadam

Legend
5e DMG Page 11:

Several of the gods are drawn from other pantheons, sometimes with new names for the gods. Bane comes from the Forgotten Realms. From Greyhawk come Kord, Pelor, Tharizdun, and Vecna. From the Greek pantheon come Athena (renamed Erathis) and Tyche (renamed Avandra), though both are altered. Set (renamed Zehir) comes from the Egyptian pantheon. The Raven Queen is akin to the Norse pantheon's Hel and Greyhawk's Wee Jas. That leaves three gods created from scratch: Ioun, Melora, and Torog:

I read "akin to" as filling a generally similar niche/archetype but different from the explicitly straight renamed ones.
 

RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
5e DMG Page 11:

Several of the gods are drawn from other pantheons, sometimes with new names for the gods. Bane comes from the Forgotten Realms. From Greyhawk come Kord, Pelor, Tharizdun, and Vecna. From the Greek pantheon come Athena (renamed Erathis) and Tyche (renamed Avandra), though both are altered. Set (renamed Zehir) comes from the Egyptian pantheon. The Raven Queen is akin to the Norse pantheon's Hel and Greyhawk's Wee Jas. That leaves three gods created from scratch: Ioun, Melora, and Torog:

I read "akin to" as filling a generally similar niche/archetype but different from the explicitly straight renamed ones.
Thank you, that’s what I was reading.

I have no doubt that the Raven Queen and her initial origins took heavy inspiration from GreyHawk deities, especially with her connection to Nerull. However I think saying the Raven Queen and Wee Jas are the same deity is a stretch.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
My own version of 4e imports Hades and has a 5 way battle over the Underworld and thought between Raven Queen, Vecna, Hades, Lolth, and Zehir

Zehir evolves to a god of Immortality and "Not Thinking" and basically becomes Warhammer's Nurgle but stabby and snakey


GodWhat information do they offerWhat afterlife do they offer
Raven QueenTruth of Known eventA chance to dwell in the paradise of your patron god
HadesNew Discoveries unknownChance to dwell in the nice part of the Underworld
VecnaA SecretA chance to escape afterlife punishment via undeath
LolthA lie and the ways to make others believe the lieEscape death by shoving soul into a clone
ZehirBlissful IgnoranceCan't go to Hell if you never die. Can't suffer in Hell if you can't think nor feel
 







Voadam

Legend
Looking at the Raven Queen's entry in the 4e PH I don't see anything about knowledge as part of her domain.

The Raven Queen
Unaligned
The name of the god of death is long forgotten, but she is called the Raven Queen. She is the spinner of fate and the patron of winter. She marks the end of each mortal life, and mourners call upon her during funeral rites, in the hope that she will guard the departed from the curse of undeath.
She expects her followers to abide by these commandments:
✦ Hold no pity for those who suffer and die, for death is the natural end of life.
✦ Bring down the proud who try to cast off the chains of fate. As the instrument of the Raven Queen, you must punish hubris where you find it.
✦ Watch for the cults of Orcus and stamp them out whenever they arise. The Demon Prince of the Undead seeks to claim the Raven Queen’s throne.

The 5e DMG entry is even more terse:

Raven Queen, goddess of death LN Suggested Domains Life, Death Symbol Raven's head, in profile, facing left

Did she get expanded on in a 4e dragon article or somewhere else?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Looking at the Raven Queen's entry in the 4e PH I don't see anything about knowledge as part of her domain.

The Raven Queen
Unaligned
The name of the god of death is long forgotten, but she is called the Raven Queen. She is the spinner of fate and the patron of winter. She marks the end of each mortal life, and mourners call upon her during funeral rites, in the hope that she will guard the departed from the curse of undeath.
She expects her followers to abide by these commandments:
✦ Hold no pity for those who suffer and die, for death is the natural end of life.
✦ Bring down the proud who try to cast off the chains of fate. As the instrument of the Raven Queen, you must punish hubris where you find it.
✦ Watch for the cults of Orcus and stamp them out whenever they arise. The Demon Prince of the Undead seeks to claim the Raven Queen’s throne.

The 5e DMG entry is even more terse:

Raven Queen, goddess of death LN Suggested Domains Life, Death Symbol Raven's head, in profile, facing left

Did she get expanded on in a 4e dragon article or somewhere else?
A lot, IIRC. Also in the write ups for several races, some classes, Paragon Paths, and Epic Destinies, etc.
 


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