The Hands of Vecna by badooga (2024)

Table of Contents
Overview Ideology Membership Activities Locations In Your Campaign Elder Evils Party Interactions Renown Typical Features Lower Ranks Eldon Eldon Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Dalgar Dalgar Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Claira Berevan Claira Berevan Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Lucia Lucia Actions Bonus Actions The Inner Circle The Archivist The Archivist Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Zisk Zisk Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Idravia Idravia Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Legendary Actions Gundrun Gundrun Actions Reactions Legendary Actions Kothar Kothar Actions Reactions Legendary Actions The Splinter Cell Overview In Your Campaign Korag Korag Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Aelan Sylvaranth Aelan Sylvaranth Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Rayla Sylvaranth Rayla Sylvaranth Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Nothic Familiar Actions Overview Ideology Activities In Your Campaign Rank 6: Liason The Splinter Cell Lore Vecna's Gambit The End The Beginning A Simple Adventurer The Beholding Facing The Overseer Physical Description Social Encounters Combat The Overseer Actions Bonus Actions Legendary Actions Mythic Actions The Inverted Panopticon Class A Phenthuum Phenthuum Actions Bonus Actions Cerebrilith Cerebrilith Actions Bonus Actions Usvapna Quori Usvapna Quori Actions Bonus Actions Class B Yoake Yoake Actions Bonus Actions Janara Nedath Janara Nedath Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Legendary Actions Red Knight Red Knight Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Class C Drawmij Drawmij Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Legendary Actions Neogi Darkstrider The Voidcrawler Dark Hunger's Conduit 6 Eldritch Ballistae (Crew: 3 each) Mangonel (Crew: 5) Neogi Darkstrider Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Legendary Actions Neothelid Hydra Neothelid Hydra Actions Reactions Legendary Actions Class X Haldroxoc Haldroxoc Actions Bonus Actions Reactions Legendary Actions Synarrah Synarrah Actions Bonus Actions Legendary Actions Echo of Maanzecorian Echo of Maanzecorian Actions Legendary Actions

Across the planes, numerous cults dedicated to The Whispered One spend their time amassing forbidden knowledge, performing profane rituals, and poisoning the masses with their master's vile words. But one stands high above the rest: the Hands of Vecna, a covert interplanar organization that uses the magical secrets and artifacts they've amassed to defend the mortal worlds against the horrific elder evils that threatens to tear them apart.

Overview

An interplanar counterpart to the Eyes of Vecna, the Hands of Vecna dedicate their lives to thwarting eldritch horrors that would tear the planes apart if left unchecked. From the shadows, they seize and contain volatile artifacts, safeguard dangerous knowledge and untamed magics, and launch assaults on insane cults dedicated to these unfathomable beings — all while spreading The Undying King's influence in the process.

Ideology

Regardless of how "evil" one might accuse Him of being, there is one detail about Vecna that cannot be disputed: He understands that if the planes are consumed, destroyed, enslaved, or irreversibly tainted by an elder evil's influence, there won't be anyone left to worship Him. It is for this reason that He works tirelessly to thwart their efforts.

In fact, Vecna is the only deity who truly understands what is at stake here. The gods of the Lower Planes wage petty wars and lack foresight and long-term planning, and those of the Upper Planes are arrogant, naive, and myopic to the greater universe around them. At the end of the day, mortals are simply livestock to them, the Material Plane but a playpen for them to create more worshipers and petitioners. Only Vecna, a human wizard turned wandering god of secrets, can see the bigger picture. It is up to us mortals to defend ourselves against the countless horrors lurking beyond the stars — no matter the cost. And with His help, we might just have a fighting chance.

To do this, we need to spread our roots far and wide. Remain ever unseen, and seek out as much knowledge and power as you can. Wielding power without comprehension is worthless — those who do so are not deserving of it. No, the occult magic that the forces of "good" would gatekeep from the world are the only way we can ensure our survival - we must take it for ourselves, study it, and weaponize it against these alien threats as best we can.

We deal with rabid cults, alien artifacts, and profane rituals; more specifically, we root them out and neutralize the threat they pose, all while staying out of public view. With misguided servants of light looking to stamp out anything even remotely related to the Maimed God, and omnicidal cultists itching to destroy anyone who opposes the "higher powers" that they serve, secrecy and discretion are of absolute importance.

Membership

Unlike other groups that serve Him, the Hands of Vecna are not strictly religious in nature — while the organization's mission is suffused with His teachings and indirectly serves His will, religious worship or fealty is not a requirement. That said, worshipers of other deities will generally be shunned or removed from the organization entirely.

A large majority of our members are adventurers. Daring heroes of all backgrounds and classes can and will find their way to us, as long as they possess the strength, resolve, and willpower needed to become a Hand of Vecna. Others are victims of these elder evils and their minions in search of revenge for the wrongdoing done against them.

Paladins. Many warriors amongst our ranks swear paladin oaths that involve defeating extraplanar threats. In particular, some of these paladins will take on an Oath of the Watchers directly in Vecna's name, using the organization's rules and mission statements as their tenets.

Rogues. All of our members receive basic training in duplicity and stealth, so for some of them to go on to become rogues is simply a natural progression of their growth. Assassins are useful for getting the jump on high-profile targets and unsuspecting cultists, while thieves are generally assigned to artifact retrieval missions for obvious reasons.

Warlocks. The rite for being initiated into our organization includes affirming your dedication to our cause by taking on a warlock pact. While strengthening this pact further is by no means a requirement, many of us have pressed on and acquired a Pact Boon that best fits their needs.

Wizards. Unlike many mages' guilds across the Material Plane, the Hands of Vecna welcome those who study the finer, darker arts with open arms. Those who have proven their worth are allowed access to our archives and can freely peruse the various tomes and lexicons of "forbidden" magics.

How long has it been since I joined? Months? Years? A decade? It all blurs together at this point. For as long as I can remember, I have been a proud Hand of Vecna, demonstrating utmost loyalty and dedication to the cause. My superiors congratulate me for my spotless track record, and the rest sing my praises and aspire to be half as devoted as me. I possess everything I could ever want and more. For all intents and purposes, my life is perfect.

Yet, a pit of despair has grown in my shriveled, black heart. No, not despair — fear. Even in the face of their sweet, soothing words, every nerve in my body screams to me, begging me to escape from the manipulations that imprison me here.

I have to put a stop to all of this. But where do I even begin...?

Activities

The Hands of Vecna participate in numerous activities across the Material Plane and Outer Planes, each of which can fall under one of the three general categories below.

Anomaly Containment. An anomaly is defined as an object, place, or creature that has been tainted by an elder evil or otherwise poses an existential threat to the baseline reality of its world or the Planes at large. Anomalies must be neutralized, or better yet, captured and delivered to Headquarters to be contained and studied.

Espionage. The activities of some religious organization, influential group, or some other entities or entity have aligned themselves with anomalous interests or blatantly threaten our organization — directly or indirectly, intentionally or otherwise. To neutralize this threat, Hands of Vecna are often assigned to spy on, sabotage, or entirely eradicate their operations as the Inner Circle deems appropriate.

Research. Some of our members are assigned to Headquarters or remote research sites in order to study anomalous phenomena and potential counters to them. Uncovering the dark secrets that explain how these anomalies (and the Planes themselves) function is of the utmost importance.

Hands of Vecna Mission Types
d20Mission Objective
1-5Artifact retrieval
6-10Anomalous creature eradication
11-13Infiltrate/sabotage an anomalous cult
14-16Anomalous creature containment
17-20Eradicate an anomalous cult

Do not seek out your mentor or the Inner Circle in order to acquire a mission; you will receive mission briefings by parchment or sending stone when the time is right.

Logically speaking, this organization is righteous and true. I am righteous and true. We've thwarted countless doomsday rituals, stamped out cult after cult after cult, and recovered dozens of artifacts that would each pose a threat to reality itself if left uncontained.

But there is more just beyond my grasp. They always assure us that the missions are for the sake of the cause, but the longer I execute them, the more dubious they become. Cryptic sub-objectives that are seemingly unrelated to the main task, wild goose chases of questionable relevance, and even downright objectionable killings of supposed opponents my intuition tells me are innocent...

I have to piece this all together before I lose any more pieces of myself.

Locations

The Hands of Vecna have dozens of cells along numerous worlds and wildspace junctions in the Material Plane, and dozens more allied organizations (typically worshipers of Vecna) and informants spread across the multiverse thereafter. Their continued anonymity is critical — for their safety (and yours), you will only be informed of those cells that are immediately relevant to your assigned missions.

Material Plane. Across various worlds in the Material Plane, certain temples of Vecna, political institutions, and adventurers/mages/thieves guilds have been designated as assets for the purpose of monitoring those worlds for anomalies and potential recruits. Some missions will assign you to seek out certain individuals within these organizations for more information regarding the nature of the threat at hand and the most-likely-unfamiliar world that threat has taken root in.

Outlands. Being the most popular interplanar hub in the Outer Planes, the City of Doors is by far the most fertile recruiting ground for our organization. With the entire city under the protection of the Lady of Pain, the Hands of Vecna deemphasizes anomaly containment within Sigil, instead focusing its efforts on recruitment, gathering information from planar travelers, and identifying key portals that provide easy access to mission locations.

Wildspace. The Inner Circle has identified several trade routes and interstellar junctions within Wildspace that are of particular value to our organization. For missions that require interstellar travel, it is expected that you either own a spelljamming craft or possess the means to procure your own means of transportation as appropriate.

Who are these so-called "informants"? Why is it so hard to find even one of them when we supposedly have hundreds of them across the Planes? And how have none of them ever defected, snitched, or otherwise compromised our operations?

With that in mind, note that most of our members reside in dormitory spaces reserved on the lower floors of Headquarters, where they recuperate, restock, and recenter themselves between missions. While its exact location is only known by the Inner Circle, access portals can be sought out in Sigil or the surrounding gate-towns and can be opened via the amulet provided to you during your Initiation.

Headquarters is also home to the Inner Circle and other managerial staff, our primary research teams, and extensive Archives dedicated to the study of the occult and the anomalous. Here, members have unrestricted access to our comprehensive training facilities, exclusive merchants and craftsmen, extensive childcare and educational services, and areas of worship for those who find themselves beseeching the God of Secrets for guidance or protection.

Blackthorn Theme

In Your Campaign

In campaigns involving world-ending threats and eldritch horrors, the Hands of Vecna can be anything from a faction the party reluctantly allies with to secondary villains to acquire essential information from.

Elder Evils

The various entities detailed in my Elder Evils 5e conversion are typical instances of threats the Hands of Vecna might fight against; some examples relating to them are detailed below.

Pandorym. With the eminent threat of Pandorym's mind being freed from its prison, the Hands of Vecna may seek to claim Pandorym's body for themselves. With the 30-foot-diameter sphere of annihilation in their possession, Pandorym's mind will surely be unable to reunite with it — and in the process, they will have acquired a powerful weapon that can shatter even the strongest defenses erected by The Whispered One's rivals.

Ragnorra. The Hands of Vecna have waged a shadow war against the Malshapers for decades, tirelessly sabotaging their efforts to guide the Mother of Monsters to particular worlds by destroying the offerings and Astral Runes they create. By studying Ragnorra's spores and her twisted progeny, the Hands seek to find a cure for positive energy corruption and improve their understanding of biology and healing magic. However, if Ragnorra's trajectory happens to intersect with a world the Inner Circle deems problematic or undesirable, they may very well condone or even accelerate her arrival there, destroying that world and giving them a shot at vanquishing her damaged form while it is still vulnerable.

Shothragot. Tharizdun's release is undesirable to even the foulest devotee of Vecna, but that doesn't mean they can't take advantage of the situation. For instance, the Hands might claim some of the Gems of Tharizdun for themselves and extract the Chained God's essence for their own dark purposes. Furthermore, Jallarzi Sallavarian's disappearance throws the Circle of Eight into chaos, giving the Hands a golden opportunity to assassinate the other members and eliminate a rival organization.

From what I've gathered, the Inner Circle can actually cause the entirety of HQ to shift from plane to plane. I have no clue how often they can perform such a shift, but right now, the entire complex seems to be tucked between two mountains somewhere deep in Gehenna.

UPDATE (██/██/████): Border Ethereal? Deep Ethereal

UPDATE 2 (██/██/████): Abyssal layer? Too dark to tell

UPDATE 3 (██/██/████): Shadowfell (fairly close to Evernight)

UPDATE 4 (██/██/████): Maybe a layer of Pandemonium? Shifts are becoming more and more frequent


In addition, the Hands of Vecna maintains task forces assigned to the containment of common types of aberrations.

Aboleths. Unlocking the secrets stored within an aboleth's genetic memory is highly desirable to the Inner Circle. While capturing an aboleth is fairly straightforward, efforts to overcome its telepathic abilities without destroying its memories altogether still prove to be a challenge.

Mind Flayers. The Hands of Vecna maintain plants within Vlaakith's ranks, allowing them to observe the progress of their war against illithid-kind. Should the Illithid Empire threaten to reemerge, the Hands would provide covert assistance in the background; that said, it is not above them to try and replicate the mind flayer experiments that created races like the duergar who possess latent psionic potential.

Quori. Some specialized Hands will take the fight to the Region of Dreams, detaching their consciousnesses from their body in order to wage war against nightmarish aberrations like the Dreaming Dark that would feed on the wakeful. Most Hands pay little mind to these dreamwalkers, but if an anomalous dream entity were to pose a threat to reality at large, they would become mortalkind's first line of defense.

Party Interactions

The far-reaching interplanar nature of the Hands of Vecna makes them straightforward to include in any setting, especially those with Planescape and Spelljammer elements.

Generally speaking, an adventuring party might first enter the Hands' sights by destroying or containing an anomaly or aberrant cult on their home world in the Material Plane. An embedded agent within an organization your party is part of or allied could then seek them out, offering to provide them with information and resources that could help them defeat more enemies of the same type. In exchange, the party is to bring back objects or creatures tainted by the threat at hand so that they may be studied.

As the party's trust deepens, the agent will pivot the party's efforts towards more self-serving ends, having them find magic items and destroying political opponents for the supposed purpose of helping to defeat the threat. When the party realizes they have been used for nefarious ends, they may decide to investigate their dubious employer and root out the rest of the cell.

In some campaigns, the storyline would end there — but in high-level campaigns, the party might themselves traveling across the Planes in order to root out the higher ranks of the organization their employer works for. Alternatively, the party might decide to infiltrate (or get invited to) the main organization, allowing them to be sent across the Planes for the purpose of anomaly containment. From there, the party may find themselves clashing with the Inner Circle and beyond, as described in the next sections.

Regardless of the path they take, even the most righteous of adventurers will end up reluctantly allying with the Hands of Vecna, for there are always more pertinent threats to be dealt with; at the end of the day, the Hands of Vecna will always flaunt their status as being the lesser of two evils as a method of avoiding conflict.

Renown

As described in the Dungeon Master's Guide, you can use renown to track your party's standing with the Hands of Vecna. Renown is a numerical value that starts at 0, then increases as the party completes missions or quests that serve the organization's interests or involve the organization directly.

Advancing the interests of the Hands of Vecna increases the party's renown within organization by 1. Completing a mission specifically assigned by the organization, or which directly benefits the organization, increases the party's renown by 2 instead.

RankRenownOther Requirements
107th level
23
31012th level
425
55017th level; special

Rank 1: Initiate

This is the rank a character receives when first joining the Hands of Vecna. In addition to recruiting already-active adventurers, survivors of attacks from anomalous threats that are looking for revenge will often be rescued by the Hands and accepted into our organization with open arms.

The initiation ceremony for the Hands of Vecna involves swearing yourself to the ideals of the organization at the center of a large amphitheater, where the Inner Circle and all attending Hands judge your conviction and watch as you place your hand upon a levitating black orb at the center of the room. This orb is a conduit of power that will bind you to the One Who Knows as a warlock.

In some instances, an initiate will be promoted directly to agent depending on their merit and the Inner Circle's judgment. Either way, access to Headquarters is only granted to initiates who arrive directly from Sigil or otherwise are granted this privilege according to the needs of the organization.

Children. They recruit children orphaned by an anomaly and brainwash them into serving Vecna. I would call it clever if even the mere thought of it didn't sicken me to my stomach.

I can only be grateful that my daughter hasn't fallen victim to their lies. She's headstrong and stubborn, just as I was at her age. I can only hope it won't put her in any more danger than she's already in.

I miss her dearly. I hope the mission in Thuldanin isn't treating her too harshly.

Faction Insignia. You receive an insignia of Vecna, which takes the form of an amulet, bracelet, necklace, or other wearable accessory. Each insignia is adorned with the outline of a hand with an open eye in the center of its palm.

This insignia is also enchanted with divination magic. When within 30 feet of a portal (active or inactive), a worn insignia will magically reveal its location to you (no attunement required). Once per day, you can then use your action to learn the destination plane of the portal and what portal key it requires, if any. This effect can penetrate most barriers but is blocked by 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt.

SOMEONE IS WATCHING YOU

DO NOT TRUST THEIR GIFTS

Rank 2: Agent

Agents have shown that they're aligned with our goals, and can take on more responsibility within the organization.

Lodging. You can acquire lodging and food at Headquarters or remote cells of the organization, allowing you to maintain a comfortable lifestyle at no cost to you.

Mentor. As an agent, you and your party are assigned a mentor (rank 4) to guide you along your journey. This mentor will be assigned by the Inner Circle and tailored to your specific needs and skills as an adventurer.

Variant Rule: Downtime Days

To help maintain a steady narrative pacing in your campaign, you may wish to take inspiration from the Adventurer's League ruleset, where downtime days between missions are granted as a resource to be spent on out-of-combat activities.

Downtime Days. In addition to gold, characters earn a number of downtime days after every mission. In a story arc where narrative tension is running high and related missions are given out in quick succession, you may allow the party to stockpile their downtime days to be spent all at once at a later date.

Gaining Downtime. The default Adventurer's League ruleset tends to award five downtime days per two hours of productive play. These downtime days are awarded at the end of a mission and can be spent on downtime activities — including those specific to the Hands of Vecna.

Spending Downtime. The party can spend their downtime days to participate in Downtime Activities, as described in the Dungeon Master's Guide and Xanathar's Guide to Everything. In addition, gaining renown in the Hands of Vecna will grant access to unique downtime activities, as described below.

Downtime Benefits. You can spend your downtime partaking in activities unique to the Hands of Vecna, as described below.

  • Magic Items. The Hands of Vecna have a vast collection of magic items, anomalous or otherwise, that is matched by few others across the planes. While many are not available to members and are kept hidden away in a secret location, some can be purchased from vendors within Headquarters.
  • Information. When you spend your downtime researching a topic (XGE 132) relating to anomalies, the arcane, the occult, or the Planes, you make the Intelligence check with advantage. Beyond the selection of tomes available to you in the Archives at Headquarters, Hands of Vecna (such as your mentor) may know of locations across the planes that have information you are in search of (convincing them to grant you this information is a different story entirely, of course).
  • Training. You can take advantage of accelerated training programs for a language or tool kit of your choice, as directed to you by your mentor. This training takes 50 days of downtime (no gold required), or 25 if your mentor trains you personally.

Secret Missions. During certain adventures, you may be given the opportunity to complete side objectives as assigned to you, granting extra renown in the process.

Rank 3: Seekers

Seekers are reliable faction members, entrusted with many secrets and deserving of additional support during adventures.

Hirelings. The Hands of Vecna may provide the party with a number of unskilled hirelings equal to their proficiency bonus. These hirelings are mindless undead that will follow the party's commands; however, they won't participate in combat.

Mentor Assistance. During some adventures, your mentor may join you out in the field. Preferring not to participate in combat, they may provide valuable assistance from the sidelines, including minor investigative work and research, acquiring housing and methods of transportation, and securing escape routes if needed.

Spellcasting Services. At the DM's discretion, hiring a spellcaster from the organization is free for low level spells and costs half as much for higher level spells.

Ironically, it feels as though the organization trusts you less as you rise the ranks. Perhaps they are weary of power grabbers who would hack their way up to the top if given the chance, or maybe they are afraid of anyone who has the means of defying their hierarchy.

But even without a Whisperer breathing down my neck, I just can't shake the feeling that I'm being watched — not unless I stash away my amulet in a different room.

Rank 4: Whisperer

As a whisperer, you are a trusted voices within the Hands of Vecna. You are looked upon as a champion of Vecna's teachings, and as mentors by those of lower rank.

Become a Mentor. Many whisperers are either mentors or leaders of high-priority organization cells across the Planes. However, this isn't a strict requirement — as long as you keep yourself occupied with missions worthy of your status, you can maintain this rank indefinitely.

Inner Circle Guidance. As a whisperer, you no longer have a mentor of your own — instead, a member of the Inner Circle itself will take interest in your activities and guide you directly.

Services. By now, your status will grant you privileged access to many services in Headquarters free of charge. Through mentorship, you can also assign mentees to lesser tasks that are assuredly beneath you.

Rank 5: Inner Circle

Consisting of five elite members, the Inner Circle assigns missions to the members and guides the organization's decisions and purpose. Promotion to this rank is only possible if a member of the Inner Circle is slain or otherwise unfit for duty; in this case, the remaining members will select a replacement from amongst the Whisperers as they see fit.

From the limited glimpses I've seen of their drama, the Inner Circle can't seem to agree on anything. Is Kothar really able to keep them all in line?

And how do they even have the time to assign us missions when they're all off on their own business half the time? Even Kothar would rather roam the halls and preach The Whispered One's holy message than spend any time in her office.

Do they assign secretaries to this task? Maybe they use simulacra? Or is there something else I'm missing?

The Hands of Vecna by badooga (1)

Claudio Pozas (EGW)

First Sermon

As you file in amongst the other Hands, you see a robed figure approach the podium. While initially appearing human, the soft green glow of her eyes gives her an unmistakably otherworldly aura. This is Kothar, the leader of the Inner Circle that you only caught a brief glimpse of during your initiation.

Everyone takes their seats, and all eyes wait patiently for the priestess to begin. After the room has achieved perfect silence, she speaks with a commanding, yet comforting tone of voice that seems to perfectly capture the attention of any onlooker you happen to glimpse at.

"In today's Hermeneutics session, we shall analyze the Vecnan teachings of the lich Mauthereign, their failings and shortcomings, and the lessons we can extract from them.

In The Scroll of Mauthereign, a dogmatic and idealistic version of Vecna's past is presented to his followers. It claims that Vecna was a being of pure benevolence, a victim of envious usurpers who sought to claim His secrets for themselves. Following this is a call for action, a plea to embrace villainy in His name — supposedly, His enemies have 'forced' our hand, giving us no choice but to commit despicable acts as a reflection of their own evil.

While I am always one to preach tolerance and respect, especially for fellow worshipers of The Whispered One, make no mistake — this organization does not associate with these extremists in any capacity.

Mauthereign's fallacy is simple: he still ascribes to the outdated notions of 'evil' and 'good'. In his twisted mind, he must be good, because to be good is to be in the right, and his enemies must be evil and thus in the wrong.

But Hands of Vecna do not adhere to this limited worldview. Deities of the Upper Planes have abandoned their followers time and time again — is that not an act of evil? Are we to fall to our knees and praise the baatezu for waging their endless Blood War against the tanar'ri, preventing them from spilling forth into the Material Plane? While these questions are complex and could justify several sessions of their own, do understand that these are but countless examples of the asynchronity between morality as a philosophical construction and as a cosmic force.

I will be blunt — Vecna is indeed what some philosophers would claim to be 'evil'. But is He in the wrong? Not in the slightest. Vecna is not the 'god of evil secrets', for secrets lack the capacity for morality. For good or for ill, secrets are the lifeblood of the Planes, and Vecna claims dominion over all of them. While madmen like Mauthereign may use His secrets to lay waste to the worlds, we use them to defend the worlds from the machinations of the horrors that lurk just beyond the boundary of what we call 'reality'.

Mauthereign's failings mirror those of the gods themselves. As timeless embodiments of concepts and ideals, they lack the ability to see beyond themselves. With few exceptions, they are slaves to their nature, and their impression on the Planes is only a facsimile of consciousness, a superficial imitation of the mortals they claim to rule over.

In a time long past, Vecna was in fact a mortal, just like you and I. He understood happiness, and despair, and curiosity, and grief, and even love. And even now that He is a deity, Vecna tirelessly wanders the Planes, constantly searching for forgotten secrets and fragments of forbidden knowledge that may He may claim for Himself. And He understands that there are threats beyond mortalkind's comprehension, that in the face of the true horrors beyond the stars, the wars waged by the gods are nothing more than petty squabbles.

So, does Vecna perform evil acts in search of this knowledge? Of course. But with the fruits of labor, He attains a wonderful boon that no other deity can even hope to understand — the ability to change. Just like us, Vecna is ever evolving, constantly expanding his understanding of the Planes, of mortalkind, and of Himself.

That, my friends, is the lesson Vecna wishes to impart upon us. Only in the search for knowledge and power can true metamorphosis be achieved. And until the mortal worlds can understand this and finally reach salvation, it is up to us to defend them, to hide in the shadows and fight the battles they cannot. Because if we don't, if we allow even a single elder evil to claim victory over us, then everything mortalkind has accomplished will have been for naught.

And thus, we return to the Scroll of Mauthereign in search of any fragments of this simple truth that he may have accidentally uncovered. In particular, his commentary on the failings of the gods are particularly well-spoken. One sentence in an otherwise inflammatory passage managed to catches my eye: 'Now, these immortal swine have renewed their reign of oppression, crushing the spirits of the people under the heel of repugnancy and false religions.'

It is our responsibility to not fall victim to the same fallacies as Mauthereign and his followers, to twist The Whispered One's message to fit our own agenda. For it is only through truth that we have any chance to succeed.

Thus, I conclude my portion of this session with one more quote from Mauthereign: 'The time for benevolent demonstration is over. Vecna's legacy demands true rebellion.' We must rebel against our true nature, against the lies of 'fate' and 'destiny', against the seemingly inevitable forces of entropy and destruction that threaten to annihilate all that which we hold near and dear to our hearts. It is only through such rebellion that we can enact Vecna's true will and bring about our salvation.

Thank you for your time."

This section features a selection of stat blocks and descriptions for members of the Hands of Vecna and the Inner Circle.

Typical Features

Hands of Vecna may possess one or more of the following features.

Ancient Secrets. If the cultist has the Spellcasting trait, it can choose one spell of 3rd level or lower. The cultist can cast that spell at its lowest level at will.

Dark Indulgence. After the cultist makes an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, but before the outcome is determined, an additional d20 can be rolled. The cultist chooses which of the d20s rolled is used to determine the outcome. When it does so, it takes 12 (5d4) necrotic damage, which can't be reduced or prevented in any way.

Dark Speech. The cultist can use its bonus action to force one creature within 60 feet of it that can hear it to make an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw (DC is Charisma-based). On a failed save, the target suffers one condition of the cultist's choice until the end of the cultist's next turn, choosing from the following options: blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, poisoned, or prone.

Expertise. The cultist has expertise in two skills, allowing it to double its proficiency bonus on any ability check made with them.

Ghostly Gaze. The cultist can see through solid objects to a range of 30 feet; when it does so, it perceives objects as ghostly, transparent images.

Inquisition Defier. The cultist is immune to effects that allow other creatures to read its thoughts, determine whether it is lying, or know its alignment.

Warlock Features. Almost every member of the Hands of Vecna has at least one level in the warlock class. To represent this in their statistics, you can grant them the Pact Magic feature and/or one or more Eldritch Invocations. Higher ranking members will often have Pact Boons as well, even if they have no other significant warlock features.

Lower Ranks

Below are a few examples of lower-ranking Hands.

Eldon

"Procedures? Avoiding risk? That's your job, not mine. I'm just here to bash some skulls and have a bit of fun."

Aloof and carefree, Eldon is amongst the more sociable members of the Hands of Vecna. While his reckless attitude often creates friction between him and the other Hands (especially his mentor), there is no denying that his track record of slaying aberrations and completing missions makes him a high-value field agent.

Physical Description

Eldon (it/he/they) is a short, slim water genasi with dark blue skin and light gray eyes; their blueish-white hair is tied back into a ponytail that extends down to their hips. Their beard stubble and faint wisps of body hair are of a similar color, and they often carry themselves around with a confident spring to their step and a sh*t-eating grin spread across their face.

Preferring to remain agile and unburdened, Eldon has cut their robes into shorts and a revealing shirt that puts their river-esque top surgery scars on full display.

Lore

Eldon had a modest upbringing in Fallcrest, a small town that serves as the crossroads of the Nentir Vale. Yearning for a life of excitement and glory, Elton ventured into the Fallcrest Catacombs in search of treasure, but came across more than it bargained for: a horde of core spawn crawlers whose deep slumber had been disturbed by a foolish adventurer.

When this was discovered, the Hands of Vecna immediately dispatched a team as to prevent the horde from laying waste to the humble town; when they arrived, they were instead greeted by a satisfied Eldon standing over the corpses while covered in blood. Impressed by its combat prowess, the team brought it back to Headquarters to be initiated.

Social Encounters

Lacking any sense of subtlety or discretion, Eldon is one of the easier Hands to interact and converse with, regardless of the party's affiliations. Forming a rivalry with the party comes easy to it, but whether this rivalry is friendly or hostile depends on how friendly they are with it and how well they can match its energy.

Beyond its confident exterior lies a deep, unrecognized desire for friendship and mutual understanding that causes it to act out from time to time; if this desire can be identified and satisfied by the party, Eldon will become a deeply loyal friend and companion to them.

Despite its mentors best efforts, Eldon is indifferent in the teachings of Vecna; it is only interested in the thrill of fighting dangerous and powerful aberrations. That said, swaying it against the Hands of Vecna is not the easy task that it seems — convincing it to agree with their reasoning, let alone throw away years of their life for a new cause, will require mutual respect and trust to be built up over the course of the campaign.

Amphibious. Eldon can breathe air and water.

Call to the Wave. Eldon knows the shape water cantrip, and can also cast create or destroy water out of combat once per long rest. Constitution is its spellcasting ability for these spells.

Uncanny Strength (1/Day). Eldon can spend 5 minutes calling upon its hidden reserves to gain a boost to its strength. For 10 minutes, the amount of weight it can carry, push, drag, or lift is doubled, and its jump distance is tripled.

Combat

Eldon dives headfirst into combat as soon as the opportunity arises, using his Battlefield Control and Mobile features to immediately dominate the battlefield. With no ranged attacks of his own, Eldon focuses purely on distracting and repositioning his enemies while his allies harry them with attacks from afar. Enjoying a good challenge, Eldon will prioritize the strongest foe he can while punishing any weaker enemies who attempt to interfere.

Eldon is certainly unlike most of the initiates that I've seen — for better or worse. While their defiant and stubborn attitude is certainly refreshing, their sole devotion to slaying aberrations makes it difficult to think of something that could incentivize them to go against the organization. Ultimately, the idea of recruiting them into the Splinter Cell is dubious at best.

Eldon

Medium humanoid (water genasi, fighter), chaotic neutral

  • Armor Class 17 (Armor of Shadows)
  • Hit Points 150 (20d8 + 60)
  • Speed 40 ft., swim 40 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
19 (+4)18 (+4)17 (+3)11 (+0)9 (-1)15 (+2)
  • Saving Throws Str +8, Dex +8, Con +7
  • Skills Acrobatics +8, Athletics +8, Performance +10
  • Damage Resistances acid
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 9
  • Languages Common, Primordial
  • Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Battlefield Control. The area within 15 feet of Eldon is difficult terrain to creatures of its choice. Such creatures also have disadvantage on attack rolls made against Eldon's allies while within the area.

Indomitable (2/Day). Eldon can reroll a saving throw it fails. It must use the new roll.

Multiattack Defense. When a creature hits it with an attack, Eldon gains a +4 bonus to AC against all subsequent attacks made by that creature for the rest of the turn.

Pact of the Blade. Eldon cannot be disarmed and ignores resistance to nonmagical slashing damage.

Steel Will. Eldon has advantage on saving throws against being frightened.

Actions

Multiattack. Eldon makes three melee attacks.

Chain Whip. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4 + 4) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) force damage, and Eldon can shift the target into an unoccupied space within 15 feet of it if the target is Huge or smaller.

Sweeping Slash (Recharge 5–6). Eldon sweeps its chain whip in a 15-foot cone. Each creature of its choice in the area takes 24 (8d4 + 4) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) force damage (DC 15 Dexterity save for half). On a failed save, a target is also knocked prone.

Bonus Actions

Brawler. Eldon attempts to grapple or shove a creature within 5 feet of it.

Mobile. Eldon moves up to 10 feet without provoking opportunity attacks.

Second Wind (1/Rest). Eldon regains 15 hit points and can end one condition of its choice on itself.

Reactions

Giant Killer. When a Large or larger creature Eldon can see misses it with a melee attack, Eldon can attack that creature in retaliation.

Hold the Line. When a hostile creature moves into Eldon's reach, or moves 5 feet or more while within its reach, Eldon can make an opportunity attack against it.

Dalgar

"If it's good company yer lookin' for, as long as you don't mind me terrible whiskey breath and a whole lot o' rambling about nothin', yer in just the right place, laddie."

Adept in artifice and alcoholism alike, Dalgar is a dwarven smith who puts his metalworking skills towards the eternal war against all things anomalous.

Physical Description

Dalgar (he/him) is a stout, big-bellied dwarf with rough white skin and long, ungroomed orange hair containing streaks of gray and white that are abnormally pronounced for a man of his age. While his rough, textured face is as welcoming as one can get for a Hand of Vecna, his eyes paint a different picture, with astute observers noticing that his once-brilliant blue irises now possess a mournful gray hue.

Dalgar can generally be found wearing his worn and tattered arcane armor while holding a half-empty bottle of whiskey in his left hand.

Lore

Dalgar once had a peaceful life alongside his husband, Elam Brawnanvil. But after recovering from a mysterious illness, Elam entered a life of crime that eventually forced the two dwarves to go on the run. It was then that Dalgar discovered the truth: a hashalaq quori had possessed Elam and went on a hedonistic crime spree. The two then clashed blades, and Dalgar was forced to kill his husband in order to banish the quori. Blaming himself for lacking the means and power to defeat that nightmarish aberration without killing the one he loves, Dalgar went on to study in the ways of artifice before eventually falling in with the Hands of Vecna.

Dalgar

Medium humanoid (dwarf, artificer), neutral

  • Armor Class 21 (arcane armor, repulsion shield)
  • Hit Points 104 (16d8 + 32)
  • Speed 25 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
16 (+3)10 (+0)14 (+2)18 (+4)14 (+2)13 (+1)
  • Saving Throws Con +6, Int +8, Wis +6
  • Skills Arcana +12, History +8, Medicine +6, Perception +6, Persuasion +5
  • Damage Resistances lightning, poison
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
  • Languages Common, Dwarvish, Undercommon
  • Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Dwarven Resilience. Dalgar has advantage on saving throws against poison.

Helm of Awareness. Dalgar has advantage on initiative rolls. He also can't be surprised while he isn't incapacitated.

On Guard. Dalgar has advantage on opportunity attacks.

Pact Magic. Dalgar's spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13). He can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material components:

1/rest each: mirror image, misty step, protection from evil and good

Spellcasting. Dalgar is a 9th-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 16). Dalgar has the following artificer spells prepared:

At will: acid splash, catapult
2/day each: healing word, heat metal
1/day each: haste (ally only), web

Actions

Multiattack. Dalgar makes two melee attacks and uses his Lightning Launcher.

Thunder Gauntlets. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage plus 10 (3d6) thunder damage, and the target has disadvantage on attack rolls against targets other than Dalgar until the start of Dalgar's next turn.

Lightning Launcher. Dalgar targets one creature he can see within 60 feet of him and deals 13 (2d8 + 4) lightning damage to it (DC 16 Dexterity save for half). On a failed save, the target is also restrained until the start of Dalgar's next turn.

Bonus Actions

Boots of the Winding Path. Dalgar teleports up to 15 feet to an unoccupied space he can see. Dalgar must have occupied that space at some point during the current turn.

Defensive Field (Recharge 4–6). Dalgar or one ally of his choice within 30 feet of him gains 12 (2d8 + 3) temporary hit points.

Reactions

Repulsion Shield. When Dalgar is hit by a melee attack, he can push the attacker up to 15 feet away.

Social Encounters

Dalgar is pleasant enough to talk to, but only a few minutes of conversing with him will allow his mask to fade away, revealing a depressed alcoholic who meanders through his day-to-day life as if he were apathetic and directionless. This is, of course, when he is off the clock; during a mission or a shift as an armor merchant in Headquarters, he makes sure to put on the best customer service voice a dwarf can muster.

In spite of his problems, Dalgar generally possesses enough charm and wit to hold a decent conversation with all those who let him ramble a bit.

Brewing Hobbyist. Dalgar can craft one potion of healing or potion of heroism as part of a long rest, requiring no costly materials or components.

Mark of Warding. Dalgar can cast alarm, arcane lock, and knock once per day each.

Spellcasting. Dalgar can cast identify, lesser restoration, and water breathing once per day each.

Combat

Dalgar's specialty is in bolstering his allies in any way he can, but that doesn't mean he won't go blow to blow with a foe when it comes down to it. With his concentration being a valuable resource, Dalgar starts by casting haste on his strongest martial ally before standing back and defending the party's vulnerable spellcasters and ranged attackers with Defensive Field. If he can catch three or more opponents in a web spell without inconveniencing his allies, he will do so — and then he will follow up with a well-deserved beating using his Thunder Gauntlets.

Poor Dalgar. When I first joined as an initiate, he was actually assigned to my task force, and the two of us got to know each other quite well. We drank quite a few bottles together... and fooled around a bit more than I'd like to admit.

Don't get me wrong, the man is certainly sweet — and far more attractive than he has any right to be — but it definitely wasn't healthy to be doing any of that when it was so soon after Elam's death. And it's not like he was the only widow(er) in need of a rebound at the time...

In any event, I do hope he's doing well. He remained an Agent when we were both offered the rank of Seeker, and even now that I'm a Whisperer, it would seem that he's content with staying exactly where he is now. Not that I would really know, though — I haven't actually spoken to him since then. I'm just too busy with my work all the damn time.

Maybe I should reach out to him. If not for the Splinter Cell, then at least to remind him that he doesn't have to be alone in all of this.

Claira Berevan

"To study necromancy is to unlock the secret of life itself. To reject it is to reject its potential to save lives and change them for the better."

A recent graduate of the prestigious Strixhaven University, Claira Berevan is one of the newest additions to the Hands of Vecna. Excelling in all things arcane, Claira is a promising upstart who is anticipated to rise the ranks using her arcane talents and necromantic specialities.

Physical Description

Claira (they/she) is a young, chubby woman with dark brown skin, long black hair, and bright amber eyes. They wear the standard black cap and cloak typical of a witch, as well as a signet ring depicting their family crest and an ornate silver earring hanging from her left ear. Throughout the day, they can generally be spotted holding or reading their thick leather-bound spellbook.

Claira's irises take on a dark green hue whenever she uses Eldritch Sight, and they become bright purple when using Eyes of the Rune Keeper.

Lore

Back in her home plane, the Berevan family is well known for their supreme talent in all things arcane; as such, Claira was taught to be a wizard starting from the age of ten. While the pressure to live up to her family's expectations were high, Claira excelled in her studies and was eventually accepted into Strixhaven University. With no particular passion for most schools of magic, she decided to join Witherbloom College in her second year and study the harvesting of life energy from dying creatures and its manipulation within living ones.

Anticipated to graduate top of her class, a Hand of Vecna embedded into the school faculty attempted to recruit her to the organization and was promptly rejected and dismissed. But merely a few days after she graduated, a beholder would end up attacking her family home; in spite of everything she learned, she wasn't able to defeat the beholder before it managed to severely wound her mother.

With her failing to consider the possibility that the beholder was purposefully unleashed on her family by the recruiter she rejected, Claira went on to join the Hands of Vecna, determined to use her arcane talents in the name of protecting the innocent from aberrant monsters.

Having just been promoted to Agent, the impossible then occurred: instead of receiving a Whisperer mentor like others of her rank, the Inner Circle member Gundrun immediately volunteered to train her in the forbidden arts of wizardry that Witherbloom could not teach her. The reasoning for this is currently unknown.

Social Encounters

Still accustomed to the sheltered life of a student that hasn't seen the "real world", Claira is more shy and reserved than ever before. If met with kindness and/or an intellectual equal, their compassion, thoughtfulness, and friendliness will shine through; however, as Gundrun continues to mentor them, they will be tugged in the opposite direction towards a grim life of dark magic and pervasive corruption.

Eldritch Sight. Claira can cast detect magic at will.

Eyes of the Rune Keeper. Claira can read all writing.

Combat

While she excels in her studies, Claira has little experience in actual combat situations. She will be eager to come up with a plan for combat if she has ample preparation time, but if the events that unfold deviate from her expectations, she will have trouble improvising a new strategy.

Once combat begins, she will default to casting darkness and following up with barrages of attacks from Eldritch Blast and Lay Waste. She will use circle of death only if she can hit three or more opponents without harming her allies.

If Dark Speech's frightened condition and Eldritch Blast aren't enough to prevent an enemy from engaging in melee, she will use ray of enfeeblement to weaken their attacks alongside mirror image, thunderwave, and shocking grasp in order to disengage from them.

With her concentration being a valuable resource, Claira will be hesitant to casts spells such as fly and protection from evil and good unless the situation deems it to be necessary.

Claira is also reluctant to kill her enemies outright, preferring to let her allies knock them unconscious instead; at minimum, this allows her to interrogate foes for more information, and in an ideal situation she can let them flee afterwards.

Having witnessed Claira's initiation ceremony, she seems to be quite the gifted arcanist. But more importantly, kind souls like hers are hard to come by — and it would seem that Gundrun would love nothing more than to contaminate that kindness with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a gloomy, bitter disposition only comparable to their own.

With Gundrun hovering over her all the damn time, it might be difficult for me to intervene and recruit her to the Splinter Cell before it's too late. Maybe I can convince Aelan to try and befriend her once they gets back? Although, with how brash and arrogant she's been recently, I wonder how well that would work out for them...

Claira Berevan

Medium humanoid (human, wizard), lawful good

  • Armor Class 15 (Armor of Shadows)
  • Hit Points 110 (20d8 + 20)
  • Speed 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
9 (-1)14 (+2)12 (+1)20 (+5)12 (+1)11 (+0)
  • Saving Throws Int +9, Wis +5
  • Skills Arcana +13, History +13, Investigation +9, Persuasion +4, Sleight of Hand +6
  • Damage Resistances necrotic
  • Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 11
  • Languages Common, Deep Speech, Dwarvish, Elvish
  • Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Dark Indulgence. After Claira makes an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, but before the outcome is determined, an additional d20 can be rolled. Claira chooses which of the d20s rolled is used to determine the outcome. When she does so, she takes 12 (5d4) psychic damage.

Devil's Sight. Magical darkness doesn't impede Claira's darkvision.

Eldritch Mind. Claira has advantage on Constitution saving throws made to maintain her concentration on a spell.

Pact Magic. Claira's spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 17). She can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material components:

At will: false life, feather fall, levitate (self only)
1/day each: darkness, fly, protection from evil and good

Spellcasting. Claira is a 12th-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 17, +9 to hit with spell attacks). Claira has the following wizard spells prepared:

At will: mage hand, prestidigitation, shocking grasp
2/day each: mirror image, ray of enfeeblement, thunderwave (3rd-level)
1/day each: animate dead, bestow curse, circle of death

Actions

Eldritch Blast (Cantrip). Claira unleashes three attacks of crackling necrotic energy.
Ranged Spell Attack: +9 to hit, range 120 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10 + 5) force damage plus 7 (2d6) necrotic damage, and Claira can push the target up to 10 feet away from her in a straight line if it is Huge or smaller.

Bonus Actions

Dark Speech. Claira forces two creatures within 60 feet of her that can hear her to make a DC 17 Charisma saving throw. On a failed save, a target is frightened or poisoned (Claira's choice) until the end of her next turn.

Lay Waste (3rd-Level Spell). Claira creates two orbs of negative energy and sends them streaking streaking towards a point or points she can see within 60 feet of her. On impact, an orb explodes, and each creature within 5 feet of it takes 15 (3d6 + 5) necrotic damage (DC 17 Constitution save for half).

Reactions

Arcane Shield (Recharge 4–6). Claira adds 4 to her AC against one attack that would hit her.

Grim Harvest. When Claira reduces a hostile creature to 0 hit points with necrotic damage, she can regain 9 (2d8) hit points.

Lucia

"I am the shield against the endless terrors that lie beyond the stars. The bulwark against the pervasive evil just beyond the veil. The bastion between eternity and oblivion.

I will shelter the weak from the unfathomable forces they can't hope to understand. I will protect mortalkind from the petty infighting within and the alien destroyers without. I will rise above the ignorant naivety of the masses and fight the battles they cannot.

I will learn all I can, and protect that which I know. The Worlds can only be saved through my utmost secrecy. Only in darkness can they remain safe, and only in shadow shall I operate.

I will root out the pervasive corruption that the selfish Gods overlook. Only The Whispered One can see the true threats that would destroy us. Only The Whispered One has chosen to raise His hand and act.

I am the Whispered One's hand. Through Him, I will have the power to ensure our survival. Through me, He will bring forth our salvation."

Recently promoted to Seeker for her exemplary service, Lucia is a young astral elf who swore an Oath of the Watchers in Vecna's name, vowing to defend the innocent from the horrific aberrations that lurk beyond the stars.

Physical Description

Lucia (she/zir) is a young, slender elf with pale white skin and shoulder length blond hair. Bright orange irises illuminate zir black scelera, and zir ornate plate armor is adorned with golden engravings arranged to form the symbol of Vecna. Sheathed on zir back is a double-bladed scimitar whose sheen attracts plenty of attention when not concealed by a plain brown cloak.

More often than not, Lucia can be found maintaining a dismissive scowl and an aggressive stride. Zir rough, deep voice betrays zir smooth, mostly-feminine face, and in times of distress, ze can be found with unkempt hair and unshaven beard stubble.

Lore

Lucia's childhood was spent in the Xisten asteroid belt in Wildspace, where a distant offshoot of the great Xaryxian Empire has made its home. Combative and aggressive, Lucia harbored great resentment towards her parents for refusing to let her spread her wings and explore Wildspace, justifying the decision by pointing to her long lifespan as a reason not to rush things.

This resentment eventually boiled over, and Lucia stole a star moth ship and ran away to explore everything Wildspace has to offer. After a few decades, she visited her old home only to stumble upon a raiding party of neogi assaulting the asteroid belt and sacrificing the astral elves within in the name of Hadar, the Dark Hunger.

Lucia fought valiantly, but in the end, there was nothing she could do to save her people from the raiders. Left for dead and cast into the void of space by the neogi darkstrider that led the raiding party, the last sight Lucia could take in before fading to black was the last remnants of her home city being swallowed by a mass of writhing black tendrils.

When she next awoke, Lucia was in the Hands of Vecna Headquarters, having been rescued by a task force sent to investigate the neogi and their attack. With despair and survivor's guilt consuming her heart, Lucia had nothing left but to join the organization that saved her, with Kothar herself stepping in to raise the distraught elf as she completes her adolescence.

Once she became of age, Lucia was permitted to properly join the Hands of Vecna, swearing a paladin oath with the initiation rites as its tenets in front of the entire crowd.

Now, Lucia tirelessly hunts anomalous creatures, running from her unresolved issues while desperately searching for the neogi raiders that destroyed her home.

Social Encounters

Young, traumatized, and raised to be a perfect Hand of Vecna by Kothar, Lucia lacks the self control required for pleasantries or politeness. Ze is aggressive and impulsive, and has never been told "no" by anyone who can stand up to zir. Ze works poorly in groups despite always demanding to lead them, and never knows when to back down. While besting zir in a brawl can put Lucia in zir place, a better solution is to wear zir down with kindness until ze grows accustomed to being treated like an equal.

The secret third option that some players may choose is to flirt with zir until ze cracks, which is the approach Eldon has taken as of late. Not knowing how to handle romantic or sexual attraction, a flustered Lucia will attempt to push away these feelings as best ze can, and will rationalize it as "focusing on my duties"; whether Eldon is oblivious to this or knows how ze truly feels is yet to be seen.

Divine Health. Lucia is immune to disease.

Divine Sense (Action). Until the end of her next turn, Lucia knows the location of any aberration or anomalous magic within 30 feet of her that isn't behind total cover.

Lay on Hands (5/Day). Lucia touches a creature and either restores 12 of their hit points or cures them of one disease or poison that is afflicting them.

Using These NPCs

In my head, the four characters in this section were originally written to all be part of the same party/task force. Lucia would lead the group and eventually get with Eldon, Dalgar would be the "wise" older figure who gives advice from time to time, and Claira would slowly open up and form a close bond with another character who isn't present in this document.

While you could follow a similar framework, the versions of the characters presented in this document work independently of each other just as they do together (Eldon flirting with Lucia is optional), so feel free to use them however you'd like (if at all).

Combat

Fearless and aggressive as ever, Lucia will dive or Starlight Step into the fray and use Abjure the Extraplanar to turn as many extraplanar creatures as she can. She pushes enemies with her Eldritch Smite only if she is overwhelmed or if it would be more advantageous for her allies. If the backline is threatened and warding bond isn't sufficient, she will Starlight Step back and defend them using Aura of Protection, Warding, and Purity as best she can.

Besides a lack of ranged abilities, Lucia's biggest weakness is being taunted into anger, which may cause her to tunnel vision and act irrationally. Doing this may allow opponents to separate her from the party, depriving them of her protection.

Ah yes, Kothar's pet project. To give them credit where it's due, they've certainly raised Lucia to be quite the effective aberration slayer. But perhaps they slacked a bit in the emotional regulation department...

You know, Kothar never struck me as the type to be a mother — then again, I wasn't that type either until Aelan was born. But there's a significant difference between them and I: while I want what's best for my child, that damned priestess just wants to mold theirs into an eventual successor. When I carve my way through the Inner Circle, the part I will enjoy the most is plunging my dagger straight into Kothar's heart.

Lucia

Medium humanoid (astral elf, paladin), lawful neutral

  • Armor Class 18 (plate)
  • Hit Points 130 (20d8 + 40)
  • Speed 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
17 (+3)15 (+2)14 (+2)12 (+1)13 (+1)17 (+3)
  • Saving Throws Str +10, Dex +5, Con +9, Int +4, Wis +4, Cha +10
  • Skills Athletics +7, Intimidation +11, Medicine +5, Perception +5, Religion +9
  • Damage Resistances damage from spells
  • Condition Immunities frightened
  • Senses passive Perception 15
  • Languages Common, Elvish
  • Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Aura of Protection. Lucia and allies within 20 feet of her gain a +3 bonus to saving throws and can't be frightened while she isn't incapacitated (accounted for in her statistics).

Aura of Warding. Lucia and allies within 20 feet of her have resistance to damage from spells (accounted for in her statistics).

Fey Ancestry. Lucia has advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can't put her to sleep.

Pact Magic. Lucia's spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 15). She can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material components:

At will: light, speak with animals
2/rest each: command, see invisibility
1/rest each: freedom of movement, protection from evil and good

Pact of the Blade. Lucia can't be disarmed.

Spellcasting. Lucia is a 13th-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 15). Lucia has the following paladin spells prepared:

2/day each: compelled duel, healing word, moonbeam
1/day each: aura of purity, dispel magic, warding bond

Actions

Multiattack. Lucia makes three melee attacks.

Double-Bladed Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) slashing damage plus 22 (5d8) force or radiant damage (Lucia's choice). If the target is Huge or smaller, Lucia can also push it up to 10 feet away from her.

Abjure the Extraplanar (1/Rest). Each aberration, celestial, elemental, fey, and fiend within 30 feet of Lucia that can hear her must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, a creature is turned for 1 minute or until it takes damage. While turned, a creature can only take the Dash action and must spend its turns trying to move as far away from her as it can.

Bonus Actions

Starlight Step (Recharge 4–6). Lucia teleports up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space she can see.

Watcher's Will (Recharge 5–6). Lucia ends one condition or spell on an ally of her choice that she can see within 30 feet of her.

The Inner Circle

The five members detailed below constitute the Inner Circle.

The Archivist

"Get out of my Archives. Now."

By all accounts, the Archivist should not have been allowed to join the Hands of Vecna, let alone the Inner Circle. A renegade illithid and potent psionicist, the Archivist tends to the Archives at Headquarters, safeguarding all of the secrets within; anyone looking to access its contents must seek the Archivist's approval.

Physical Description

The Archivist (it/its) is a tall, imposing mind flayer with sickly white skin and black veins pulsing and writhing within its flesh. It wears ornate robes adorned with The Whispered One's symbol on the back, and several animated tomes can be found levitating around it at any given time.

A large jagged scar extends downwards across its right eye, splitting it into four smaller eyes that can all move independently. At least two of them will be reading a book at any given time, and all five have a ghoulish green hue.

Lore

More senior members can recall when the previous Archivist, a reserved veldaken monk named Devul, suddenly disappeared one day — some claim mysterious illness, while others posit that they were punished for a failed coup attempt. Her replacement ended up being a renegade illithid, and the rest of the Inner Circle claimed this new Archivist was devoted to destroying the rest of its kind.

Social Encounters

The Archivist is judgmental, curt, and condescending — even more than the average mind flayer. The only thing it loathes more than social interaction is someone it doesn't approve of accessing its Archives, and thus performs its required duties begrudgingly.

While there is no one guaranteed method of gaining its approval, some initiates have reported accidentally quelling the Archivist's anger and being granted access to the requested tomes by allowing it to rant unabated about the importance of the Archives and the preservation of the forbidden knowledge within.

The Archivist

Medium aberration (mind flayer, psion), lawful evil

  • Armor Class 17 (Psychic Defense)
  • Hit Points 93 (17d8 + 17)
  • Speed 30 ft., fly 15 ft. (hover)
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
10 (+0)14 (+2)12 (+1)20 (+5)19 (+4)18 (+4)
  • Saving Throws Int +10, Wis +9, Cha +9
  • Skills Arcana +15, Deception +9, History +15, Insight +9, Perception +9, Religion +10
  • Damage Resistances damage from spells
  • Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned
  • Senses truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 19
  • Languages all, telepathy 120 ft.
  • Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +5

Magic Resistance. The Archivist has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Psionics. The Archivist is a 16th-level psionicist. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 18). It can cast the following spells using psionics, requiring no components:

At will: detect magic, detect thoughts
3/day each: dimension door, soul cage
2/day each: animate objects (books only), scatter
1/day each: dominate monster, plane shift

Actions

Crushing Bludgeon. The Archivist bludgeons a creature within 90 feet of it with telekinetic force. The target takes 32 (6d8 + 5) force damage (DC 18 Strength save for half). On a failed save, the target is also knocked prone if it is Large or smaller, and it can't stand up until the end of the Archivist's next turn.

Dream Blade. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 23 (5d6 + 5) psychic damage. The attack roll is made with advantage if the target is in dim light or darkness.

Withering Mind Blast (Recharge 5–6). The Archivist unleashes corrupting psionic energy that withers creatures in a 60-foot cone. Each living creature of the Archivist's choice in the area takes 13 (2d12) psychic damage plus 13 (2d12) necrotic damage (DC 16 Intelligence save for half). On a failed save, a creature is also poisoned and has its speed halved for 1 minute; the target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, taking 13 (2d12) necrotic damage on a failed save, and ending the effect on a successful one.

Bonus Actions

Mind Cannon. The Archivist mentally assaults one creature it can see within 90 feet of it. The target takes 16 (2d10 + 5) psychic damage (DC 18 Intelligence save for half).

Reactions

Psychic Deflection. When the Archivist is hit by an attack or it fails a saving throw, it gains a +2 bonus to its AC against that attack or a +4 bonus to that saving throw.

Combat

In combat, the Archivist will take great pains to prevent the Archives from being damaged. It starts by using dominate monster to turn the strongest foe against their allies, and follows up with a Withering Mind Blast that debilitates aggressors at soon as possible. From there, it's simply a matter of buying time for reinforcements to arrive, which includes casting scatter to reposition foes in the optimal location for its allies to neutralize them as swiftly as possible.

If its books are attacked or seriously threatened, the Archivist will cast animate objects on them so that they might defend themselves. It then enters a blind frenzy, focusing its Crushing Bludgeon and other attacks against the would-be book destroyers as soon as possible.

Rather than retreat when in dire circ*mstances, the Archivist will fight to the death in defense of the Archives unless told to stand down by a fellow member of the Inner Circle.

I remember being quite shocked when the new Archivist was revealed to have never stepped foot in Headquarters before, let alone it being a MIND FLAYER. To allow one of the foul aberrations we are sworn to destroy to lead us was quite the unpopular decision, to say the least.

I distinctly recall the puzzled expression Kothar gave the poor initiate who asked why the other viable candidates from amongst our existing ranks were not chosen for the position. Her excuse was, quite frankly, utter bullsh*t — she's normally quite skilled with her words, but this time, it was almost as if she stumbled over herself trying to come up with a response to a question even she had no answer to.

With that in mind, I also don't buy into conspiracies claiming that the mind flayer is secretly controlling the rest of the Inner Circle. Not only does it seem too weak for that, but whenever the judgmental prick mutters to itself, it feels as though it's the one being enthralled.

But if Kothar doesn't know why the illithid is here, and if the illithid isn't here by choice, then who's the one pulling the strings?

Zisk

"Secrecy above all. If an opponent knows your face before they know your blade, the battle is already lost."

Once a well renowned Whisperer assassin, the changeling assassin Zisk was inducted into the Inner Circle and given purview over the organization's darker dealings. Espionage, extortion, kidnapping, murder — if a mission involves any one of these, chances are, Zisk was the one who assigned it.

Physical Description

As a changeling, Zisk (any pronouns) has access to an unlimited number of aliases and identities, but in Headquarters he most often takes the form of a gruff human with shoulder-length gray hair and a husky voice to match. Regardless of the form he takes, he tends to wears ordinary studded leather armor and a tattered black cloak. Astute observers (and senior Hands) will recognize that he often keeps his left arm under his cloak — as part of his initiation ceremony, he cut off his left hand as a form of devotion to The Whispered One.

Lore

Zisk is the second-newest addition to the Inner Circle, added merely weeks before the previous Archivist's disappearance (some conspiratorial Hands waste no time drawing a connection between the two). Her changeling powers and sheer devotion to Vecna allowed her to rise quickly through the ranks, with Kothar being impressed enough to become her mentor during her brief stay as a Whisperer.

As the most visibly "criminal" member of the Inner Circle, many Hands look to Zisk for guidance and tutoring in the arts of deception and stealth. She can often be found supervising the Covert Operations training sessions in Headquarters, where initiates are taught basic lessons for stealth and assassination missions.

Social Encounters

Skilled in teaching and speechcraft alike, Zisk is more sociable than the majority of the Inner Circle, second only to Kothar herself. In a conversation, Zisk will maintain a dispassionate and didactic tone, always intently examining spoken words and body language for any information that they could use against them if needed.

Ear for Deceit. Whenever Zisk makes a Wisdom (Insight) check to determine whether a creature is lying, treat a roll of 7 or lower on the d20 as an 8.

Inquisition Defier. Zisk is immune to effects that allow other creatures to read their thoughts, determine whether they are lying, or know their alignment.

Combat

In an ideal situation, Zisk's manipulations and schemes will lead any foes directly into a trap that will ensure their demise. Location-wise, they prefer dark, maze-like corridors that they can use to divide and conquer their foes, especially when using minor illusion and silent image to make it appear as if they are in multiple locations at once. If they had time to properly study their opponents' capabilities, they will start by casting darkness or silence and picking off the spellcasters before slinking back into the shadows.

If caught off guard or otherwise engaged in melee, Zisk will rely on Rebuke of the Talisman and Cunning Action to break off and retreat once more. Their primary weakness is in their lack of long range attacks and tools to deal with said attacks from their foes; if they can't rely on allies to compensate for this, they will retreat and change their shape in order to elude their pursuers.

Zisk is nothing more than a convenient scapegoat for the organization's moral failings. The entire Inner Circle is complicit in the crimes we've committed in their name — they just dump all of the "controversial" missions onto her to take the heat off of themselves. After all, if it's just Zisk's fault that we partake in these terrible acts, then perhaps there is "hope" that her successor will be better.

Ironically, it was Zisk's words that led me to encounter The Benefactor that has allowed me to stay out of the Inner Circle's sight for so long. Just a simple moment of hesitation during a discussion of the Abyss... so much for secrecy.

Zisk

Medium humanoid (changeling, rogue), neutral evil

  • Armor Class 17 (studded leather)
  • Hit Points 143 (22d8 + 44)
  • Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
11 (+0)20 (+5)14 (+2)16 (+3)21 (+5)20 (+5)
  • Saving Throws Dex +10, Int +8, Wis +10
  • Skills Acrobatics +10, Deception +10, Insight +10, Investigation +8, Perception +10, Sleight of Hand +15, Stealth +15
  • Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 20
  • Languages Common, Deep Speech, Dwarvish, Elvish, Halfling, Orcish, Thieves' Cant
  • Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +5

Assassinate. Zisk has advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn't taken a turn in combat yet. In addition, any hit they score against a creature that is surprised is a critical hit.

Evasion. If Zisk is subjected to an effect that allows them to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, Zisk instead takes no damage if they succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if they fail.

Pact Magic. Zisk's spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 18). They can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material components:

At will: feather fall, mage hand, minor illusion, silent image
1/rest each: darkness, dispel magic, silence, slow

Sneak Attack (1/Turn). Zisk deals an extra 28 (8d6) damage when they hit a target with a weapon attack and have advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of Zisk that isn't incapacitated and Zisk doesn't have disadvantage on the attack roll.

Actions

Multiattack. Zisk makes three weapon attacks.

Blinding Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d4 + 5) piercing damage plus 7 (2d6) necrotic damage. On a critical hit, the target is also blinded until the end of Zisk's next turn. Hit or Miss: The dagger returns to Zisk's hand.

Shapechanger. Zisk polymorphs into a Medium humanoid they have seen, or back into their true form. Their statistics, other than their size, are the same in each form. Any equipment they are wearing or carrying isn't transformed. They revert to their true form if they die.

Bonus Actions

Cunning Action. Zisk takes the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action, or they make an Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check.

One with Shadows. If Zisk is in dim light or darkness, they become invisible until they move or take an action or a reaction.

Reactions

Rebuke of the Talisman. Zisk halves the damage they take from an attack if they can see the attacker. If the target is within 30 feet of them, they can also deal 5 psychic damage to it and push it up to 10 feet away from them.

Idravia

"I care not for your cowardly hesitations, moral quandaries, or religious objections. The Balance must be preserved."

Even the strongest of aberration slayers in the organization must accept their inferiority to Idravia. Using nothing but pure force of will and martial superiority to hack her way through legions of mind flayers, aboleths, neogi, and countless other horrors until she eventually found herself to be a member of the Inner Circle.

Physical Description

Idravia (she/they) is a wide, brawny dragonborn with brilliant amethyst scales and dark purple eyes. The toll of countless battles scar their body in the form of deep cracks in their crystalline skin and several missing teeth in their long, girthy snout. Their horns hover in place a few inches above the stumps on their head, and their four fingers have finely sharpened claws protruding from the tips.

Idravia's plate armor is plain, but displays enough wear and tear to hint at their true status as a supreme monster slayer. Between their confident attitude and heroic posture, those who meet Idravia swear that they stand well above ten feet tall, despite only actually possessing seven feet of height.

Lore

Following the teachings of the amethyst greatwyrm Aleithilithos, Idravia's clan took pride in studying the innerworkings of the Outer Planes and opposing incursions from the Far Realm wherever they might appear. However, a schism began to form amongst the clan leaders — while some sought to indulge in dark magic and reality manipulation in order to destroy these aberrations more effectively, others thought this school of thought to be too dangerous, even going as far as to compare those who follow it to be no better than the alien threats they are sworn to destroy.

With the allure of knowledge and power poisoning her mind, Idravia quickly became a leader of the former camp, and the two sides eventually broke out into all out war. In the end, the majority of the clan was wiped out, and those who survived were forever scarred and left to forge their own paths. Despite her best efforts to stop the others from leaving, Idravia found herself left behind and utterly alone. From here, it would only take a few weeks for her isolation-fueled research to lead her to The Whispered One's teachings, and a few months after that for her to fall in with the Hands of Vecna.

Social Encounters

At best, Idravia is an inspiring leader whose encouragement can incite courage and confidence in the hearts of those who are doubting their place amongst the Hands of Vecna. At worst, Idravia's scoldings will leave even the strongest of warriors with their knees shaking and a pit of despair growing in their stomach. Which one a Hand gets depends not only on Idravia's current mood, but on how high-ranking they are and how capable they are judged to be.

Astute Leader. Idravia gains a +3 bonus to any Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma check she makes that doesn't already use her proficiency bonus.

Insightful Gaze. If Idravia spends at least 1 minute observing or interacting with another creature outside combat, she can learn one of the following pieces of information about it:

  • One of its personality traits
  • Which of the following abilities it is highest in: Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma
  • The skill or skills it excels most in
  • A one-word summary of its current emotional state, such as happy, confused, afraid, or focused

Press Onwards. Whenever Idravia finishes a short rest, she can decrease the exhaustion level, if any, of herself or one ally of her choice by 1.

Combat

Idravia prefers to initiate combat with a sudden charge out of an arcane gate that takes her foes by surprise. With the large radius of her Commanding Presence and other features, and the enormous amount of defensive capabilities and utility offered by abilities like Inspiring Word and Command Ally, the best chance at defeating Idravia is to focus her down with crowd control and damaging abilities as soon as possible. Knowing this, Idravia will command her allies to neutralize enemy spellcasters as soon as possible while she partakes in the pleasure of hacking her martial foes to pieces.

When bloodied, Idravia will retreat slightly, focusing more on defensive abilities like Gem Flight and Parry while attacking from range with her shortbow. With that in mind, Idravia will still fight to the death unless ordered to by Kothar.

I've actually been fortunate enough to go on a mission with Idravia once in the past. In addition to getting a proper look at her combat capabilities, it was also one of the most eye-opening experiences I've had in all 412 years of my life.

To summarize, a ritual gone wrong somehow managed to split Hastur's consciousness in half. One part of him stayed in the Far Realm where he's supposed to be, but apparently the other half was (and still is) entirely unaccounted for. A bunch of his servants were scouring the Material Plane in search of that missing half, and we were dispatched to put an end to them as soon as possible.

The things I saw were... gods, I can't even begin to describe them. But what I remember most is not the myriad of grotesque forms possessed by the King's servants, but the awe-inspiring sight of Idravia, covered in blood and guts, ripping a star spawn hulk in half with her bare hands.

Just know that if Idravia can't be recruited to our cause, I will at least give her the honor of a swift death.

Idravia

Medium humanoid (gem dragonborn, warlord), lawful evil

  • Armor Class 18 (plate)
  • Hit Points 187 (22d8 + 88)
  • Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
19 (+4)17 (+3)18 (+4)16 (+3)17 (+3)18 (+4)
  • Saving Throws Str +9, Con +9, Wis +8, Cha +9
  • Skills Arcana +8, Athletics +9, Intimidation +9, Perception +8
  • Damage Resistances force
  • Senses passive Perception 18
  • Languages Common, Draconic, telepathy 30 ft.
  • Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +5

Commanding Presence. Idravia exudes an aura of leadership while she isn't incapacitated. While within 75 feet of Idravia, allies can add a d4 to their weapon attack rolls and +4 to their weapon damage rolls.

Indomitable (3/Day). Idravia can reroll a saving throw she fails. She must use the new roll.

Pact Magic. Idravia's spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17). She can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material components:

At will: levitate (self only), see invisibility
1/rest each: arcane gate, dispel evil and good (applies to aberrations)

Pact of the Blade. Idravia cannot be disarmed.

Tough as Nails. Idravia has advantage on saving throws against being charmed, exhausted, frightened, and incapacitated.

Actions

Multiattack. Idravia makes two weapon attacks.

Greatsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +12 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage plus 17 (5d6) force damage. If the attack had advantage on the attack roll or is a critical hit, the target must also succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened until the end of Idravia's next turn.

Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage plus 14 (4d6) force damage, and the target is pushed up to 10 feet away from Idravia in a straight line.

Bonus Actions

Inspiring Word (Recharge 4–6). One ally of Idravia's choice within 60 feet of her regains 20 hit points and can move up to half its speed without provoking opportunity attacks (no reaction required).

Rally the Troops. Idravia ends the charmed and frightened conditions on herself and each ally within 75 feet of her that can hear her.

Reactions

Parry. Idravia adds 5 to her AC against one melee attack that would hit her. To do so, she must see the attacker and be wielding a melee weapon.

Relentless Assault. When an ally of Idravia's within 75 feet of her misses an attack, she can use her reaction to allow the ally to repeat the attack against the same target.

Legendary Actions

Idravia can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. Idravia regains spent legendary actions at the start of her turn.

  • Gem Flight. Idravia flies up to her walking speed. She falls if she ends the movement in the air and nothing else is holding her aloft.
  • Command Ally. Idravia targets one ally she can see within 75 feet of her. The target can use its reaction to make one melee weapon attack with advantage on the attack roll.
  • Singularity Breath (Costs 2 Actions). Idravia creates a shining bead of gravitational force in her mouth, then releases the energy in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in the area takes 16 (3d10) force damage (DC 17 Strength save for half). On a failed save, a creature is also pushed 15 feet away from Idravia in a straight line.

Gundrun

"To extract the secrets embedded within a soul is mortalkind's holiest task. To wield these secrets against threats of unreality is its most noble pursuit. And for a soul to try and resist its inevitable rending is my own greatest pleasure."

Hailing from the distant Astromundi Cluster, Gundrun is an antilan wizard who specializes in necromancy and the manipulation of the soul. They serve as the only arcanist on the Inner Circle, and spend much of their time directing the containment and research of anomalous artifacts and magical phenomena.

Physical Description

Gundrun (they/he) is a tall, slender human sun mage with ornate black robes and a skull face mask decorated with the organization's insignia and other religious symbols of Vecna. Through the mask, his right eye has a golden-green hue to its iris, and his left eye is completely absent, having been removed as a show of faith to The Whispered One. His silvery hair extends just below his shoulders, and his skin possesses a muted gray hue. Under his mask, his pale, gaunt face is tattooed with symbols representing the school of necromancy.

Lore

Not much is known about Gundrun's past, especially from their upbringing in Clusterspace, but at some point they used a living ship to escape the crystal sphere and wandered Wildspace in search of magical secrets beyond what the sun mages could teach them. This naturally led them to worship of The Whispered One, and their arcane talents eventually carried them all the way up to Rank 5 of the Hands of Vecna.

Gundrun has been a member of the Inner Circle and Kothar's second in command for many years now. As a wizard, Gundrun oversees the organization's arcane research and development, and a non-negligible portion of the Archive's books on occult studies were penned by them. They are the primary supervisor of anomalous research and containment, and have personally drafted many of the procedures and guidelines used by the organization to safely study alien artifacts and aberrant creatures over the years.

Recently, Gundrun has broken precedent and taken on Claira Berevan, a young wizard who has just been promoted to Rank 2 of the organization, as their mentee. While Gundrun does indeed see much of their younger self in Claira and wants to teach (and corrupt) her to become the best wizard she can be, this tutelage also serves a secondary purpose: Gundrun is afraid that Claira is capable of surpassing them and could potentially replace them on the Inner Circle in the distant future. Becoming their mentor allows them to keep a close eye on her development as a wizard, and if necessary, kill her and raise her as an undead thrall in order to protect their current status.

Social Encounters

Gundrun speaks with a condescending sneer, especially to those who are unversed in the arcane arts. He especially looks down on barbarians, druids, and rangers; barbarians are mindless brutes to him, and he possesses a special disdain for nature and its guardians.

Gundrun's condescension is not entirely without reason, of course — he has seen all too many Hands fall victim to naivety and arrogance, bringing about their untimely deaths... or worse. For a Hand to prove to him that they aren't a bumbling idiot, they must demonstrate a strong track record of intelligence, success on missions, and arcane insights... although appealing to his ego and worship of Vecna certainly won't hurt.

Eldritch Sight. Gundrun can cast detect magic at will.

Mystic Arcanum. Gundrun can cast modify memory, programmed illusion, suggestion, and teleport once per day each when not in combat (spell save DC 18).

Combat

Gundrun never fails to be surrounded by at least four undead bodyguards at all times. When combat begins, they will command two or three of them to deal with the least intelligent of their foes, with the remaining bodyguards remaining close to them for the purpose of Redirect Attack. They will target their attacks against the strongest spellcaster in the party, using their resistance to spell damage and Consume Magic ability to counter any attacks thrown their way.

Gundrun prefers to use area control spells like darkness, Evard's black tentacles, and stinking cloud, but once bloodied, will switch to using mind control spells like dominate monster, enemies abound, and eyebite with the hope that their foes are weakened enough to be incapable of withstanding them. They use Shadow Step sparingly, as they seek to avoid being separated from all of their bodyguards.

Gundrun has to be the most arrogant, pompous, self-righteous ass I have EVER met. Even with that mask on his face, I can just FEEL the judgmental attitude radiating off of him. And best of all, he's the biggest coward of the Inner Circle — no one but him finds it necessary to bring around bodyguards all the damn time. f*cking pathetic.

Worst of all, I'll never forgive him for how he treats Aelan. Her promotion to Agent was supposed to be a joyous occasion, but his backhanded compliments and thinly-veiled insults left her on the verge of tears by the end of it. When she came to me afterwards for comfort, when I saw how he had reduced such a confident, capable woman to a crying, shaking child desperate for her mother's embrace, that's when I first realized this organization was not the perfect safe haven I had originally thought it to be.

Gundrun

Medium humanoid (antilan human, wizard), neutral evil

  • Armor Class 17 (Armor of Shadows)
  • Hit Points 137 (25d8 + 25)
  • Speed 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
10 (+0)18 (+4)12 (+1)21 (+5)15 (+2)16 (+3)
  • Saving Throws Dex +9, Int +10, Wis +7
  • Skills Arcana +15, Deception +8, History +15, Intimidation +8, Investigation +15, Religion +10
  • Damage Resistances damage from spells
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
  • Languages Abyssal, Common, Deep Speech, Infernal, Primordial, Undercommon
  • Challenge 15 (13,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +5

Dark Indulgence. After Gundrun makes an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, but before the outcome is determined, an additional d20 can be rolled. Gundrun chooses which of the d20s rolled is used to determine the outcome. When they do so, they take 12 (5d4) necrotic damage, which can't be reduced or prevented in any way.

Eldritch Mind. Gundrun has advantage on Constitution saving throws made to maintain their concentration on a spell.

Magic Resistance. Gundrun has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Pact Magic. Gundrun's spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 18). They can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material components:

At will: bane, eyebite, levitate, telekinesis
1/rest each: animate dead, protection from evil and good

Spellcasting. Gundrun is an 18th-level spellcaster. Their spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 18). They have the following wizard spells prepared:

At will: darkness, feather fall, mage hand
3/day each: enemies abound, Evard's black tentacles
2/day each: bestow curse, mislead, stinking cloud
1/day each: danse macabre, dominate monster, soul cage

Actions

Multiattack. Gundrun makes three ranged attacks or two melee attacks.

Desiccating Blast. Ranged Spell Attack: +10 to hit, range 90 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 + 5) necrotic damage, and if the target is a living creature, its speed is reduced by 10 feet until the end of its next turn.

Vampiric Touch. Melee Spell Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 19 (4d6 + 5) necrotic damage, and Gundrun regains hit points equal to half the amount of necrotic damage dealt.

Creeping Rot (Recharge 5–6). Gundrun unleashes negative energy that withers creatures in a 60-foot cone. Each living creature of their choice in the area takes 39 (6d12) necrotic damage (DC 18 Constitution save for half). On a failed save, a creature is also poisoned for 1 minute; the creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, taking 13 (2d12) necrotic damage on a failed save, and ending the effect on itself on a successful one.

Reactions

Arcane Shield. Gundrun adds +4 to their AC against one attack that would hit them.

Redirect Attack. When a creature Gundrun can see targets them with an attack, they can choose an undead ally within 5 feet of them. The two swap places, and the chosen ally becomes the target instead.

Legendary Actions

Gundrun can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. Gundrun regains spent legendary actions at the start of their turn.

  • Bolster Undead. Gundrun grants 12 (2d6 + 5) temporary hit points to an undead ally within 60 feet of them.
  • Shadow Step. If Gundrun is in dim light or darkness, they can teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space they can see that is also in dim light or darkness.
  • Consume Magic (Costs 2 Actions). Gundrun targets a creature within 60 feet of them who is concentrating on a spell and forces it to make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the target's concentration is broken, and Gundrun gains 5 temporary hit points per level of that spell.

Kothar

"In His name."

Charismatic and authoritative, Kothar is the leader of the Inner Circle and the Hands of Vecna as a whole. As a devoted priestess to The Whispered One, Kothar's teachings shape the guiding principles of the organization and how its members shall conduct themselves.

Physical Description

Kothar (she/they) is a fallen aasimar; they initially appear as a tall rubenesque human with bronze skin and a shaven head, but the soft glow of their green eyes and the slight distortion and diminishment of light that passes near them reveals their true nature. They wear plain black robes similar to those of newly initiated Hands, and the organization's insignia is tattooed onto their forehead.

Lore

While Kothar never claims to be the founder or first leader of the organization, she has been around longer than any other Hand. She is known as a Thought of Vecna, the head priestess of an individual "organ"/congregation that carries out His will. While worship of The Whispered One is by no means a requirement for membership, many find themselves willingly joining after attending one of her regularly scheduled sermons and being enamored by her words.

Kothar allows most decisions relating to the organization to be handled by the other four members of the Inner Circle, only stepping in to break ties or to make executive decisions with seemingly inscrutable motivations. She often chooses to roam the halls of Headquarters and observe the day-to-day activities of the lower ranks; when her presence is recognized, she simply gives a warm smile of acknowledgment and continues with her pleasantly peaceful walk as planned.

In the rare case of a disciplinary matter that needs to be handled by the Inner Circle, Kothar will step in and speak with any troublemakers in her private sanctum. Nobody knows exactly what she says during such meetings, but without fail, anyone who receives this discipline of hers emerges from her sanctum calm and pacified and never causes any more trouble.

Social Encounters

Kothar always speaks in a calm, soothing voice that gives off an aura of wisdom and empathy. Even when her patience is tested, Kothar will never break their caring smile, let alone raise their voice or speak rashly or condescendingly. When asked a question they can't or don't want to answer, they will simply laugh or deliver an empty platitude that manages to avoid the query entirely.

Constant Spells. Kothar is always under the effects of the glibness and nondetection spells.

Inquisition Defier. Kothar is immune to effects that allow other creatures to read her thoughts, determine whether she is lying, or know her alignment.

Mystic Arcanum. Kothar can cast calm emotions, geas, greater restoration, and planar ally once per day each when not in combat (spell save DC 18).

Combat

In combat, Kothar prefers to play on the defensive, holding her position with guardian of faith and misty step while bolstering her allies with circle of power, Whispered One's Blessing, and Whispered One's Feast. She focuses on single target attacks like Celestial Mote to start, but once most of her allies have been defeated, she will switch to damaging spells like circle of death, flame strike, and sunburst. Spells like divine word, power word kill, and finger of death are then saved for the final rounds of combat when the enemies are bound to be depleted of hit points and other resources.

Interrogation

As soon as her death ward is used, Kothar will become fearful and beg for her life. With her position as the leader of the Inner Circle, it should be straightforward for her to promise information in exchange for being knocked unconscious and spared.

When captured, Kothar will continue being anxious and potentially have a nervous breakdown; a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) check will reveal that she is afraid of some higher power and the dire consequences she will experience in the afterlife if she dies.

While intimidating Kothar will indeed make her panic even more, following up by attempting to calmly persuade her to give information is the most effective way of making her talk. She is free to give information about the general operations of the Hands of Vecna, but will adamantly refuse to speak about the Inner Circle and its decisions; a DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) check will reveal a similar anxiety as her fear of death, and a DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check will allow an interrogator to draw parallels between her behavior and that of someone under the geas spell.

Seeking Answers

As you shout your questions at the distraught priestess, you see her sweat intensify, her bound hands fidget in distress, and her eyes dart rapidly across the room as if scanning for some sort of hidden threat.

At last, Kothar looks directly at you and frantically shouts with an intensity you've never seen in her before.

"No, no, you don't understand, you have no idea what you're doing, you- no, I can't, I can't, I can't tell you, I CAN'T TELL YOU, no, please, I can't, if I do, she'll-"

Kothar gasps and stops directly in her tracks. Her eyes widen in pure terror as she realizes her mistake; if her hands were free, they would be covering her mouth in shock. At that, writhing black corruption begin to spread from under her eyes and down her neck, and she begins begging to her god for mercy to no avail.

Once the corruption finally consumes the entirety of her body, Kothar lets out a shriek of pain as she explodes in a shower of gore and crackling black energy with wisps of green. There is nothing left of her; in her place, a shadowy spirit resembling the late priestess hovers in the air, gazing directly at you in desperation and hunger.

Kothar

Medium humanoid (fallen aasimar, cleric), lawful evil

  • Armor Class 18 (Armor of Shadows)
  • Hit Points 153 (18d8 + 72)
  • Speed 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
14 (+2)21 (+5)18 (+4)16 (+3)20 (+5)18 (+4)
  • Saving Throws Int +9, Wis +11, Cha +10
  • Skills Arcana +9, Deception +16, Insight +17, Medicine +11, Persuasion +16, Religion +15
  • Damage Resistances necrotic, radiant
  • Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, frightened
  • Senses truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 15
  • Languages all
  • Challenge 18 (20,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +6

Circle of Power (5th-Level Spell). Kothar and allies within 30 feet of her have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects. Additionally, when an affected creature succeeds on a saving throw made against a spell or magical effect that allows it to make a saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw.

Death Ward (4th-Level Spell; 1/Day). If Kothar would drop to 0 hit points as a result of taking damage, she drops to 1 hit point instead. Alternatively, if she is subjected to an effect that would kill her instantaneously without dealing damage, that effect is negated.

Pact Magic. Kothar's spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 18). She can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material components:

At will: dispel magic, eyebite
2/rest each: darkness, dispel evil and good

Spellcasting. Kothar is an 18th-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 19). She has the following cleric spells prepared:

At will: bestow curse, dispel magic, heroism
3/day each: guardian of faith, mirror image, misty step
2/day each: circle of death, finger of death, flame strike
1/day each: divine word, power word kill, sunburst

Whispered One's Binding. If Kothar is killed, or if she attempts to communicate information any information relating to Rank 6 of the Hands of Vecna, she will explode at the start of her next turn, dealing 28 (8d6) necrotic damage to each creature within 30 feet of her (DC 19 Constitution save for half). Kothar's soul is then transformed into an allip in the same space, and she can't be revived by any means.

Whispered One's Shroud. Hostile creatures perceive dim light within 30 feet of Kothar as darkness, and bright light in the same area as dim light.

Actions

Multiattack. Kothar makes three ranged attacks or two melee attacks.

Celestial Mote. Ranged Spell Attack: +11 to hit, range 90 ft., one target. Hit: 31 (4d12 + 5) necrotic or radiant damage (Kothar's choice). On a critical hit, magical darkness (necrotic) or bright light (radiant) fills a 5-foot-cube centered on the target until the end of Kothar's next turn.

Withering Touch. Melee Spell Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 18 (4d6 + 5) necrotic damage.

Reactions

Whispered One's Feast. When a hostile creature within 30 feet of Kothar fails a saving throw, Kothar can grant 10 temporary hit points to herself or one ally within the same range.

Legendary Actions

Kothar can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. Kothar regains spent legendary actions at the start of her turn.

  • Celestial Revelation. Kothar flies up to her walking speed. She falls if she ends the movement in the air and nothing else is holding her aloft.
  • Unholy Menace. One creature within 30 feet of Kothar must succeed on a DC 19 Charisma saving throw or be frightened until the end of its next turn. While frightened, the target is blinded beyond a radius of 30 feet and can't take reactions.
  • Attack. Kothar makes one attack with Celestial Mote or Withering Touch.
  • Whispered One's Blessing. Kothar or one creature of her choice within 30 feet of her regains 23 (4d8 + 5) hit points and can add a d4 to its next attack roll or saving throw.

The Splinter Cell

While most members of the Hands of Vecna are passionate about or at least somewhat supportive of the organization's mission, some find themselves doubting its leadership and religious affiliations. Of those doubters, a select few have joined together to create the Splinter Cell: a secretive group that seeks to oust the Inner Circle and rid the organization of Vecna's dark influence.

Overview

The Splinter Cell is far from being the first dissenting subgroup within the Hands of Vecna, but those who have made their dissent public in the past have been quickly silenced and disappeared. By sticking to the shadows and using a mysterious artifact known as the Orb of Lies to cover their tracks, the current Splinter Cell has been able to remain undetected for the time being.

Ideology

The publicly stated mission of the Hands of Vecna — to contain and neutralize anomalous threats throughout the Planes — is indisputably noble and just. However, the Splinter Cell would argue that the organization's ties to The Undying King have corrupted it beyond reform, with Kothar and her Inner Circle guiding its members towards acts of evil and cruelty in His name while using the mission to contain anomalies as an excuse for their crimes.

Beyond that, the Splinter Cell disagrees on the exact methods and ideals it should abide by. Some members argue that bold action must be taken in order to win over as many Hands as they can, while others, including the mysterious leader and Splinter Cell founder known only as The Defector, claim that only patience and quiet espionage can be relied on.

Membership

Beyond The Defector and her daughter, the Splinter Cell only has a handful of members — not nearly enough to stand a chance at taking down the Inner Circle. Historically, they've sought to recruit higher-ranking members who have enough experience to be disillusioned and disgruntled by the organization's corruption, but as of late, they've pivoted to seeking out fresh blood from amongst the initiates in hope that their lack of sufficient indoctrination will make it easier to sway them to the cause.

Activities

For the moment, the Splinter Cell is simply gathering their numbers and accumulating as much information as they can before they strike. At the moment, their long-term goal is to kidnap Kothar and interrogate her for key pieces of information that could prove crucial in defeating the rest of the Inner Circle... and, if The Defector's hunch is correct, in exposing the mastermind behind their actions.

As a short-term goal, the Splinter Cell is currently investigating the disappearance of Devul, the previous Archivist who vanished merely a few months ago. Some members suspect that Devul uncovered an awful secret that caused her to turn from a loyal Inner Circle member to a rebel of her own, but was quickly silenced before she could act on it and expose the rest of the Inner Circle for what they truly are.

When I hear Kothar's honeyed words and passionate sermons, I sometimes doubt whether creating the Splinter Cell was the right decision. When she speaks of Ioun's irresponsibile dissemination of dangerous secrets, the Raven Queen's myopic reverence of the chains of Fate and rejection of necromancy as a tool for good, and Corellon's complacency and naivety in seeing magic as a form of beauty and not the weapon it truly is, I hear no lies and detect no flaws in her logic.

Yet, when I see the pain and suffering I've caused, when I look back at the bloody trail of corpses I've left in my wake, when I think of all I've done in the name of "good", in service of "justice", and for the sake of protecting my daughter from the horrors just beyond my sight, I am reminded of my mission once more. We must oust the Inner Circle and purge this organization of darkness before it is too late.

I am loathe to admit it, but sometimes I secretly pray to Vecna and desperately plea for him to grant us a divine blessing. Because if he doesn't truly support us, if he is just using us as a means to an end, then the gods truly are worthless.

I'm sorry Korag, but I really do think your hypothesis is unsubstantiated. You simply didn't know Devul like I did — not that the two of us were close, of course, but every time I'd venture to the Archives for my studies as an Agent, she would never fail to drone on about the importance of secrecy and honoring The Whispered One in every action I take. She removed both of her eyes in his name — you can't fake devotion like that. Besides Kothar, she was the most religious of the Inner Circle at the time. I can't think of anything that would motivate her to stage a coup against the others like you claim she did.

Not that the new Archivist isn't incredibly suspicious, of course — I sent you my notes on that subject already — but I think it's far more likely that Zisk got too ambitious and assassinated her in a foolish attempt to eliminate a rival and consolidate more power for himself.

Rayla,

I might have a new lead on the Archivist — it seems promising, but it's too early to tell right now. I'll let you know if anything comes of it.

For now, I'm being sent out on an assignment yet again... some dwarven miners in Krynnspace managed to dig up something that apparently should have stayed buried.

See you soon,

- Korag

With both Aelan and Korag off on assignment, things here at Headquarters have been... quiet. I'm doing my best to enjoy it while I can, but between worrying about their well-being, my ever-growing anxiety, and a creeping loneliness I'm all too familiar with, there isn't much rest to be had.

Why am I so paranoid? Night after night, I find myself frantically checking to see if the Orb is still hidden — and every time, it ends up being in the exact spot I left it in. It's not like its location can be magically divined, and I fail to see why anyone would even think to search my room, much less that specific floorboard...

The Benefactor assures me that everything is safe, but I still can't shake the feeling that if I make one wrong move, our entire operation will be compromised and my soul will be subjected to unimaginable torture for centuries to come.

Is the isolation getting to me? Korag says I need to leave my office more, but the more I think about doing it, the more I end up burying myself in my work. But it's not like this work isn't important...

Maybe Aelan's right — at the end of the day, I'm just a coward. I can't even bring myself to follow through on the Splinter Cell I started. Hells, after our last fight, I can't even bring myself to look her in the eyes and tell her I'm sorry.

I truly hope we can find at least a few new candidates within the next few months. We are in desperate need of some fresh blood... and if there isn't any, I truly have no idea what to do with myself besides wallow in my misery.

In Your Campaign

In a campaign where they are attempting to infiltrate or are otherwise disillusioned by the Hands of Vecna, any efforts made by the party to undermine, oust, or slay the Inner Circle will eventually be noticed by the Splinter Cell. If invited to join them, the party will have access to a small group of allied NPCs who share a common goal and can help guide their actions in the fight yet to come.

Allies

When the party first joins the Hands of Vecna, The Defector might attempt to become their mentor in order to gauge whether or not it would be desirable for the Splinter Cell to recruit them. That said, it is recommended that a different Whisperer swoop in to become their mentor first, and for the Splinter Cell's familiarity with the party to develop over time via interactions with cell members like Aelan.

If the party does eventually join the Splinter Cell, The Defector can protect them using the Orb of Lies, preventing any rebellious activities from being detected by divination magic or scrying sensors while in Headquarters. They can then be assigned missions or otherwise provided assistance by the Splinter Cell in their efforts to defeat the Inner Circle, culminating in the potential capture and interrogation of its leader Kothar.

With the Splinter Cell being divided on how to approach their task and what principles should guide their actions, the party can act as a tie-breaker, with their actions potentially inspiring the other members to follow their example as appropriate.

Enemies

The Hands of Vecna organization is designed to be a secondary antagonist in a campaign where the party's main task is defeating an elder evil that threatens their world or something else they deeply care about. But while not recommended, it is also possible for the party to support the organization and be opposed to the Splinter Cell, or for them to seek to eliminate this cell in order to gain the Inner Circle's favor before summarily betraying them in their quest for power. In this case, the party might slowly catch on to the Splinter Cell's activities, and can work with the Inner Circle to flush them out as best they can before they can kidnap Kothar.

In the process of fighting the Splinter Cell, the party might discover information that converts them against the Inner Circle and back towards the path of light. But if they defeat the cell and still refuse to oppose the Inner Circle, you could play it straight and have the organization fully back them in the fight against the elder evil in question, or you can have the Inner Circle reward their loyalty with a betrayal; after all, if the party did discover forbidden secrets about the organization and its upper ranks, then it is a loyal Vecnan's duty to reclaim these secrets by eliminating them before the information can be spread.

The opportunity I've been waiting for finally arrived: when the Archivist picked a fight with that new initiate Claira, I snuck into its private study and copied down some of its more interesting notes. While its writing is mostly insane rambling, there was one note about a long-dead illithid deity named "Maanzecorian" that caught my eye... maybe the reason it's here has to do with him? I'll do more research soon.

Korag

"If you want real change, you have to stand up and enact it yourself. Every moment you sit still is a moment where the Inner Circle still draws breath."

Excelling at infiltration and tracking alike, the orc ranger Korag serves as the second-in-command of the Splinter Cell and the progenitor of many hypotheses involving the organization's affairs.

Physical Description

Korag (they/them) is a tall, thin orc with pale green skin and black hair in a ponytail. Their left eye has been removed in honor of the Maimed God, and beneath the fur coat are countless scars inflicted by blade and claw alike.

Lore

As a member of the Royal Pathwardens, Korag once dedicated themselves to protecting the Celadon Forest on the planet of Oerth. But when kaorti servants of Zurguth, the Feasting Vast, began corrupting its wildlife, the Royal Pathwardens were entirely overwhelmed by the threat. When the Hands of Vecna received word of this, they approached Korag and attempted to lure them into service of The Whispered One with the promise that the power they'd attain would be capable of defeating the kaorti for good.

While initially resisting the temptation, the kaorti crisis began to boil over, and Korag had no choice but to accept the offer. With the help of the Hands and a new warlock pact in the name of Vecna, Korag and the Royal Pathwardens were able to rid the Celadon Forest of the kaorti — but by accepting this offer, Korag also gave the Hands an opportunity to slay the Pathwardens and claim their base of Dedermont's Keep as a site of worship for Vecna.

In their attempt to save their home from an elder evil, Korag had betrayed their ideals and allowed it to be defiled by the servants of Vecna. Possessing a broken spirit and no other purpose in life, Korag joined the Hands of Vecna and has tracked and slain aberrations for years now. When all seemed lost, they eventually met The Defector and were inspired by the small glimmer of hope she still possessed.

Korag is now the second-in-command of the Splinter Cell, and has found a new purpose in destroying the cult that once manipulated them into destroying their home. They put their ranger skills towards tracking potential leads and gaining information that could lead to the downfall of the Inner Circle, and they serve as the balance between The Defector's overabundant caution and her daughter's fiery temper.

I'm telling you Rayla, there are much larger forces at play here that we simply aren't able to perceive, some sort of mastermind that's puppeting the Inner Circle and spying on everyone's activities. Even Gundrun has been publicly expressing his dissatisfaction with the uptick in missions as of late. Instead of assuaging his concerns, Kothar seems... nervous. Defeated, even. Like even she doesn't have a real choice in the matter...

Korag is currently on a mission to Reorx, the third planet in Krynnspace, where dwarven miners have accidentally disturbed a colony of dangerous core spawn.

Social Encounters

Calm yet passionate, Korag's utter disdain for the Inner Circle is balanced by the guilt of their past and their worry for the future. With the survivor's guilt of being the only surviving Royal Pathwarden still haunting their dreams, they personally take on dangerous missions and risky endeavors for the Splinter Cell so that nobody else has to.

This also motivates them to act as a mediator when arguments arise between Splinter Cell members, even if it means compromising their own moral integrity or emotional well-being. As an outlet for the frustration this causes, Korag often formulates hypotheses regarding the nature of the Inner Circle and snoops around for evidence of them, often to no avail.

Eldritch Versatility. Korag can cast identify, illusory script, and speak with animals as rituals. They can also cast encode thoughts (GGR 47) at will.

Pact of the Chain. Korag has a sprite familiar named Sprink (any pronouns) that they can summon once per rest. They can communicate telepathically with Sprink and perceive through its senses as long as they are on the same plane of existence. While perceiving through Sprink's senses, Korag can also speak through it in their voice.

Spellcasting. Korag can cast lesser restoration, locate object, knock, and nondetection once per day each.

Combat

Always on the hunt, Korag excels at tracking and subduing their quarry with Slayer's Prey while evading it with pass without trace and One with Shadows. If staying at range isn't an option, Korag will weave in and out of melee range with Fleet of Foot, Relentless Hex, and Skirmisher. When working in a group against multiple enemies, Korag will trust their allies with beating back the weaker opponents while they contend with the most powerful amongst them personally.

If Korag's target knows they are being hunted, Korag will use silent image to create an illusion of themselves; if the target attacks the illusion, they will give up the element of surprise and allow Korag to initiate their own ambush.

In the Archivist's study, Sprink managed to find a few papers stashed behind a brick in the wall. I'm positive these were left there by Devul — who else would even have the chance to put something there?

Of course, due to wear and tear, most of the writing is... utterly illegible. But I refuse to let that deter me. A few words did survive, though, and a few of them keep mentioning the name "Haldroxoc"... hm. I'll have to keep digging.

Korag

Medium humanoid (orc, ranger), neutral good

  • Armor Class 17 (studded leather)
  • Hit Points 157 (21d8 + 63)
  • Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft., swim 40 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
14 (+2)20 (+5)16 (+3)14 (+2)17 (+3)12 (+1)
  • Saving Throws Dex +8, Con +6, Wis +6
  • Skills Acrobatics +8, Athletics +5, Nature +5, Perception +9, Stealth +8, Survival +9
  • Senses blindsight 10 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
  • Languages Common, Goblin, Orcish, Undercommon
  • Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +3

Brave. Korag has advantage on saving throws against being frightened.

Indomitable (3/Day). Korag can reroll a saving throw they fail. They must use the new roll.

Pact Magic. Korag's spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 12). They can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material components:

At will: blade ward, silent image
2/rest each: protection from evil and good, silence
1/rest each: pass without trace, wind wall

Actions

Multiattack. Korag makes four melee attacks or three ranged attacks.

Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6 + 5) piercing damage.

Light Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 5) piercing damage.

One with Shadows. If Korag is in an area of dim light or darkness, they become invisible until they move or take an action or a reaction.

Bonus Actions

Fleet of Foot. Korag takes the Dash, Disengage, or Search action.

Slayer's Prey. Korag hexes one creature they can see within 60 feet of them for 1 minute, or until they are incapacitated or use this bonus action again. While hexed, Korag adds a d4 to its attack rolls against the target, deals an additional 9 (2d8) necrotic damage on weapon attacks against it, and has advantage on checks made to track or spot its location.

Relentless Hex. Korag magically teleports up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space they can see within 30 feet of the target hexed by their Slayer's Prey ability. To teleport in this way, they must be able to see the hexed target.

Reactions

Giant Killer. When a Large or larger creature within 5 feet of Korag that they can see hits or misses them with an attack, Korag can attack that creature immediately after its attack.

Skirmisher. When a creature misses a melee attack against Korag, or if a hostile creature ends its turn within 5 feet of them, Korag can move up to half their speed without provoking opportunity attacks.

Balancing Support, Agency, and Storytelling

When designing the Splinter Cell, there were three factors I needed to balance:

Party Support. While it is expected that the party will feel isolated from the rest of organization throughout their infiltration efforts, once they eventually discover and join the Splinter Cell, they will finally have allied NPCs that can provide story direction, information, and support both in and out of combat.

Player Agency. Making the Splinter Cell too knowledgeable, have too much power or influence, or suggesting that they be introduced early on in the story runs the risk of depriving the players of their agency and forcing them to take a backseat in the narrative as the Splinter Cell railroads them in a specific direction and does most of the work.

Storytelling. I designed this document to be both a resource for DMs and an engaging story-driven experience for the reader; as such, I felt it prudent to deliver some key information and revelations via in-game notes written by The Defector. It was also a high priority to make the world of the Hands of Vecna feel lived in and dynamic, rather than just a static setting whose status quo is only challenged by the party. On the other hand, I wanted to leave plenty of gaps for DMs to fill in, which provides both personalization and creative inspiration.

To balance all three of these, I made sure to give the Splinter Cell the knowledge that they are somehow being watched through their faction insignias along with a way to counter it, but left the limitations and specific functionality of the Orb of Lies vague so that the DM can decide how they want it to work in their campaign. I gave The Defector a higher rank in the organization and several connections to other NPCs so that she can be story-relevant, but made her doubtful and cowardly and gave her few pre-existing allies within the Splinter Cell so that the party can sway others to their cause organically. And while I included plenty of notes where The Defector and Korag stumble upon key information about the organization, the DM is more than welcome to alter or remove some of these revelations in favor of having the PCs be the first ones to discover them.

At the end of the day, I trust DMs to do what's right for their games, which includes making alterations or removals of certain "canon" elements to make it fit their setting better, spacing out the introduction of certain characters and story elements, and adding in extra details to flesh out the organization in their specific campaign settings. After all, this document isn't meant to be a standalone campaign concept: the Hands of Vecna serve first and foremost as a companion faction and storyline to a main quest that involves an anomalous threat.

Aelan Sylvaranth

"I knew you were dumb, but I didn't think you were stupid as well. Get out of my f*cking way, asshole. Last warning."

Boisterous and defiant, the barbarian Aelan is known to be a typical anomaly-hunting member of the Hands of Vecna. In secret, however, she is a member of the Splinter Cell and the daughter of The Defector, its hidden leader.

Physical Description

Aelan (she/her) is a tall, stocky half-elf with light brown skin, bright orange eyes, and long, flowing black hair. She often wears a thick winter jacket and dark cloak made from leathery flesh of a cloaker she killed. Between her powerful build and her aggressive disposition, she appears to take up more space than she actually does.

As of her most recent mission, there is a large claw mark right where her right eye used to be, which is only partially covered by a standard black eyepatch.

Lore

Aelan knows little about her upbringing, except that a sudden attack by elder evil cultists uprooted her quiet village life and caused the untimely death of her father. She and her mother roamed the world in destitution for years, until one day they were eventually taken in by the Hands of Vecna.

After living out the rest of her adolescence alongside other children in Headquarters, Aelan eagerly became an initiate and began hunting elder evil cults just like her mother. As she rose the ranks, however, she became disillusioned with the organization's failings and eventually joined her mother's Splinter Cell.

At the present moment, Aelan and her party are on a mission to retrieve an anomalous cubic gate in Thuldanin, the second layer of Acheron, that enables portals to be opened to the Far Realm. The cubic gate was successfully contained, but not before an aberrant incursion from it led to the deaths of two party members and a close call that permanently clawed out her right eye.

Social Encounters

Aelan's pact boon is an empowered talisman that offers great power, but it also causes her to be stuck in rage while worn. Even without this rage, however, Aelan is not afraid of starting a confrontation by speaking her mind and breaking the rules — something that has gotten her in trouble with the organization's upper ranks several times throughout her adolescence.

Due to the safety its power offers, Aelan has been wearing her talisman more frequently of late. Her mother frequently uses the talisman as a scapegoat, blaming it for Aelan's combativeness as a way to dismiss her concerns and calls for action within the Splinter Cell.

Despite her initial disposition, Aelan will ultimately soften up to those she sees kindness and integrity in and become fiercely protective of them — even at the cost of her own life, should the need arise. That said, she will only show vulnerability and take off her talisman around people she truly feels safe around.

Ultimately, Aelan mourns the childhood she never had, and sees it as her duty to destroy the Hands of Vecna and grant everyone a second chance at having free, happy lives.

Aspect of the Moon. Aelan does not need to sleep. To gain the benefits of a long rest, she can spend all 8 hours doing light activity, such as reading or keeping watch.

Gift of the Depths. Aelan can breathe underwater, and she can cast water breathing once per day.

Otherworldly Strength. Aelan counts as one size larger when determining her carrying capacity and the weight she can push, drag, or lift. Furthermore, her jump distance is tripled.

Combat

Aelan recklessly charges into combat and throws herself at the biggest and strongest enemy she can find. She uses the environment to her advantage, using her Brawler bonus action to push enemies off cliffs or into terrain hazards when possible.

For the first part of combat, Aelan will forgo the teleportation from Rebuke of the Talisman and simply use it to retaliate against melee combatants. Once bloodied, or if an opportunity arises to exploit an unsuspecting target, she will use the teleportation to close the gap between her and a ranged attacker, keeping that gap closed with Brawler, Feral Instincts, and Grasp of the Talisman on subsequent turns as best she can.

Hi Papa,

As soon as you started counting down from a hundred, me and mama found a REALLY good hiding spot, just like you told us to. It is really dark and tiny and smells bad because its under Old Bilbrons house across town, but mama brought all her cards and we have been playing with them for a while so its okay. Ive never played hide and seek for this long, but i was super duper quiet even when the other seekers were banging on the door a bunch, so mama is very proud of me and my skills.

Mama said it might be time to find a different place to hide, so im making this note so that you know where we went. Mama said she will mail it to you so you better check the mailbox or else!!!! Also please find us soon because i think mama is tired of playing and she is sad because she misses you a lot.

LOVE AEL

Aelan Sylvaranth

Medium humanoid (half-elf, barbarian), chaotic good

  • Armor Class 15 (Unarmored Defense)
  • Hit Points 161 (19d8 + 76)
  • Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft., swim 40 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
20 (+5)13 (+1)18 (+4)10 (+0)15 (+2)11 (+0)
  • Saving Throws Str +9, Con +8
  • Skills Athletics +9, Perception +6, Survival +6
  • Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, slashing
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
  • Languages Common, Elvish
  • Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Fey Ancestry. Aelan has advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can't put her to sleep.

Protection of the Talisman. If Aelan drops to 0 hit points and doesn't die outright, she can make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. If she succeeds, she drops to 1 hit point instead, and the DC increases by 5 until she finishes a short or long rest.

Reckless Attack. At the start of her turn, Aelan can gain advantage on all melee weapon attack rolls she makes during that turn, but attack rolls against her have advantage until the start of her next turn.

Vigilance of the Talisman. Aelan can't be surprised and has advantage on Dexterity saving throws against effects that she can see, such as traps and spells. If she is blinded, deafened, or incapacitated, her talisman will force her body to evade for her.

Wrath of the Talisman. Aelan is always raging while she isn't unconscious. While raging, Aelan has advantage on Strength checks and saving throws, resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, and deals extra force damage on attacks (accounted for in her statistics).

Actions

Multiattack. Aelan makes two weapon attacks.

Maul. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) force damage and can push the target up to 10 feet away from her.

Handaxe. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6 + 5) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) force damage and can reduce the target's speed by 10 feet until the start of her next turn. Hit or Miss: The handaxe returns to her hand.

Bonus Actions

Brawler. Aelan grapples or shoves one creature within 5 feet of her.

Feral Instincts. Aelan takes the Dash or Search action.

Grasp of the Talisman (Recharge 5–6). Shadowy tendrils emerge from Aelan's talisman and grasp at each Huge or smaller creature of her choice in a 30-foot cone. A target must succeed on a DC 17 Strength saving throw or be pulled into an unoccupied space as close to Aelan as possible.

Reactions

Rebuke of the Talisman (Recharge 5–6). When Aelan is hit by an attack or fails a saving throw, she can force the d20 to be rerolled and use either result. If she can see the attacker within 60 feet of her, she can also teleport to an unoccupied space within 5 feet of it and make a melee attack against it.

Designing Adventurer Stat Blocks

With the Hands of Vecna being a darker spin on the classic "Adventurer's Guild" trope for the higher tiers of play, my goal was to distill the class identities of its members down into a handful of features that are manageable for a DM to run both in and out of combat.

To achieve this, I found it effective to list their out of combat features outside of the main combat block, which allowed me to give them a flavorful set of social and exploration abilities without concerns of making the main combat block too large or cluttered.

Furthermore, creating mechanics that organically connect an NPC's primary class and their warlock pact was also a fun task, and doubled as a departure from the typical adventuring tropes that helps keep the document fresh and engaging.

I wish Aelan had a chance to live a normal life, to be happy and healthy, to grow up without... this. But when Nadir died, when I let grief consume me and fell in with the wrong crowd, that was all denied to her.

If there is a chance to save Aelan and all of these other lost souls from the Inner Circle's clutches, from Vecna's dark influence, from themselves, surely I should take it? I at least owe them that, right...?

Rayla Sylvaranth

"Can't you see it? This organization is failing each and every one of us. The extreme expectations, the lies and manipulations, the constant sense that we're being watched... sooner or later, you're all bound to crack under the pressure. But if you work with me, you still have a chance. If you join the Splinter Cell, there is still hope for you yet."

While known to most of the organization as a renowned Whisperer, Rayla is actually the leader of the Splinter Cell. From the shadows, she works tirelessly to take down the Inner Circle and rebuild the organization from the ground up.

Physical Description

Rayla (they/she) is a stout wood elf with dark skin, reddish-brown eyes, and grayish-white hair braided into a long ponytail. Age, stress, and trauma have all taken their toll on their body, which is riddled not only with wrinkles, but also scars from her various adventures over the years.

Lore

Once a youthful adventurer in the world of Pelinore, Rayla Sylvaranth eventually found herself yearning for a quiet life alongside her partner Nadir, a land druid and fellow adventurer who had become smitten by her charm and musical talent. The two ended up settling down in a small village in Cerwyn County, where they had a quiet marriage ceremony and had their first and only child Aelan.

However, disaster struck when a cult dedicated to an elder evil of the DM's choice began to take root in the village. While Nadir heard whispers of their growing numbers and wanted to investigate, Rayla dismissed them as rumors and turned a blind eye to them. She would later come to sorely regret this decision, for the cult eventually made their move and launched an attack on everyone in the village who wasn't already on their side. Nadir stayed behind and sacrificed himself to save Rayla and Aelan, who were now without a home.

Consumed by grief and having nothing left to her name, Rayla aimlessly traveled across the lands for years in search of coin and safe haven for her and her daughter. The two eventually found their way to the City League, and Rayla joined the local thieves' guild and used her skills as a duplicitous bard to make a living. When she was eventually arrested, a Hand embedded in the Order of Heralds learned of her tragic backstory and offered sanctuary for both her and her daughter amongst the ranks of the organization.

Rayla eagerly accepted — she finally found a home, a purpose, and most importantly, a safe haven for her daughter to grow up. She quickly rose the ranks, eventually becoming a loyal Whisperer under the tutelage of Zisk, but she began having doubts after watching a fully-grown Aelan join the organization and suffer under the pressure of its high expectations and the ever-present threat of being killed in action. Once she reached her breaking point, she stole the Orb of Lies and founded the Splinter Cell, dedicating her life to destroying the Inner Circle and bringing an end to their schemes once and for all.

Social Encounters

The average Hand will see Rayla as a stern, reclusive bard that trains lower-ranking members in the arts of stealth and espionage. But those who join the Splinter Cell will see them as the austere, organized, and fatigued rebel they really are. Their lengthy life as an elf has tempered their once-defiant attitude with patience and wisdom, which when combined with their lurking trauma and fearfulness makes them slow to make decisions and even slower to act — something that never fails to annoy Aelan.

When push comes to shove, it will be up to the party to inspire Rayla to set aside their fears — whether through compassion or intimidation — and finally have the Splinter Cell take action.

Actor. Rayla has advantage on checks made to pass themselves off as a different person. Furthermore, Rayla can mimic the speech of another person or the sounds made by other creatures. They must have heard the person speaking, or heard the creature make the sound, for at least 1 minute. A successful Wisdom (Insight) check contested by Rayla's Charisma (Deception) check allows a listener to determine that the effect is faked.

Book of Ancient Secrets. Rayla can cast alarm, identify, illusory script, magic mouth, and silence as rituals. They can also cast encode thoughts (GGR 47) at will.

Far Scribe. Up to four creatures can write their name in Rayla's Book of Shadows. Once per day, Rayla can cast sending without using material components; Rayla writes the message on a page, and if the target replies, their message appears on the page for 1 minute.

Gift of the Protectors. Up to four creatures can write their name in Rayla's Book of Shadows. When such a creature is reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, they magically drop to 1 hit point instead. Once this magic is triggered, no creature can benefit from it until the next day.

Inquisition Defier. Rayla is immune to effects that allow other creatures to read their thoughts, determine whether they are lying, or know their alignment.

Jack of All Trades. Rayla gains a +2 bonus to any ability check they make that doesn't already include their proficiency bonus.

Mantle of Whispers (1/Rest). When a humanoid within 30 feet of Rayla dies, Rayla can use their reaction to gain access to all information that the humanoid would freely share with a casual acquaintance. Such information includes general details on its background and personal life, but doesn't include secrets. The information is enough that Rayla can pass themselves off as the person by drawing on its memories.

Mask of Many Faces. Rayla can cast disguise self at will. Typical disguises include a young firbolg named Flynn, a half-high elf named Jarsali, and even her late husband Nadir.

Spellcasting. Rayla can cast arcane lock, knock, lesser restoration, nondetection, passwall, planar ally, see invisibility, and suggestion once per day each, requiring no verbal components (spell save DC 17).

Combat

If avoiding or escaping combat isn't an option, Rayla will use her training as a College of Whispers bard to confuddle and elude the enemy as best as possible. She starts off with a dominate person spell to turn the enemies against themselves before seeking a good vantage point to throw her daggers from. She will freely give out Bardic Inspiration and prioritize her allies' lives over her own, but even she recognizes the importance of escaping with spells like dimension door, invisibility, and mislead. She uses spells like Bigby's hand, hold person, and mirror image if threatened in melee, and will cast command once bloodied to have her enemies drop their weapons or flee.

If possible, Rayla will attempt to end combat by threatening to kill an unconscious character if they don't accept her conditions. If her opponents flee, she will use mind spike in an attempt to track their location.

Let's face it, Rayla: you simply aren't strong enough to win this fight by yourself. Hells, you can barely even hold your own in a battle without relying on others... at the end of the day, you're just here to have a pretty smile and pluck your lute. You're nothing without other people to rely on. Why not just call it quits?

No, I've come too far to back down now. Between Korag, Aelan, The Benefactor, and the few others that have decided to join our cause, we actually have a chance of winning this. We will win this. As long as at least one of us is still standing, we can keep hope alive.

Rayla Sylvaranth

Medium humanoid (wood elf, bard), lawful good

  • Armor Class 18 (Armor of Shadows)
  • Hit Points 150 (20d8 + 60)
  • Speed 35 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
14 (+2)20 (+5)17 (+3)15 (+2)16 (+3)20 (+5)
  • Saving Throws Int +6, Wis +7, Cha +9
  • Skills Deception +13, Insight +11, Perception +11, Sleight of Hand +13, Stealth +13
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 21
  • Languages Common, Druidic, Dwarvish, Elvish, Thieves' Cant
  • Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Fey Ancestry. Rayla has advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can't put them to sleep.

Pact Magic. Rayla's spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17). They can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material or verbal components:

At will: blight, mind spike, silent image
2/rest each: hellish rebuke, invisibility
1/rest each: command (5th-level), dispel evil and good

Spellcasting. Rayla is a 14th-level spellcaster. Their spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17). They know the following bard spells, and can cast them without verbal components:

At will: blade ward, mage hand, message
3/day each: heat metal, hold person, mirror image
2/day each: dimension door, enemies abound, mass healing word
1/day each: Bigby's hand, dominate person, mislead

Actions

Multiattack. Rayla makes three weapon attacks.

Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d4 + 5) piercing damage plus 10 (3d6) psychic damage. On a critical hit, the target is also blinded until the end of Rayla's next turn.

Bonus Actions

Bardic Inspiration (5/Rest). Rayla grants one ally within 60 feet of them that can hear them a Bardic Inspiration die, a d10. Once within the next 10 minutes, the target can roll the die and add the number rolled to one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw it makes.

Cunning Action. Rayla takes the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action.

Words of Terror. Rayla forces one creature within 60 feet of them that can hear them to make a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the target is frightened until the end of Rayla's next turn.

Reactions

Countercharm. When Rayla or an ally within 30 feet of them that can hear them fails a saving throw against being charmed or frightened, the target can reroll the save and use either result.

Uncanny Dodge. Rayla halves the damage she can takes from an attack if she can see the attacker.

As I navigate the labyrinthine hallways in Headquarters, I swear I can sometimes hear light footsteps or faint scuttling a few meters away. Is this a side effect of my amulet? Is some sort of invisible creature following me? Or maybe I'm finally losing my mind?

The Benefactor

  • Name: Typhon
  • Identity: God of Life, Health, Fertility, Knowledge
  • Method of Contact: Say his name three times in quick succession

While Typhon's assurances regarding our protection might seem idealistic and naive, it would seem his offers are genuine — so far, the Orb of Lies has been successful at preventing the Inner Circle, and whoever has been watching us through our insignias, from learning of our activities.

He hasn't asked much of me yet, but I expect that to change soon; after all, even a benevolent god like him does not grant power and information freely. Then again, perhaps secrecy is simply that important to him, which I can't fault; in any event, contacting him as per the above instead of waiting for his next instructions should only be done as a last resort.

To-Do List

  • Weekly mentor meeting with Zisk
  • Follow up on my last conversation with Aelan
  • Purchase scroll of protection from aberrations
  • Browse the Archives for any information on portal hijacking

The Orb of Lies

The Benefactor's intel was legitimate — the Orb of Lies was deep inside Zoragmelok, right where he said I would find it. Given how long it's been since I stole it, it's safe to say that Fraz-Urb'luu hasn't realized that it's missing, doesn't know it was me who stole it from him, or doesn't know where or how to find me.

It makes perfect sense. The Orb, by its very nature, is impossible for him to find. With its ability to foil scrying sensors by providing them with fake images of my choosing, there's no real way for him to track it down. Perhaps his vault should have had better security.

I am curious as to how a deity like The Benefactor knew the Orb was there in the first place; a God of Fertility is the last entity I'd expect to gain knowledge of the Abyss from. But that line of questioning is irrelevant — what matters is that we've secured a measure of protection.

It's definitely not just the insignias... does the organization's symbol itself hold special power?

Always watching...

Always listening...

Always waiting...

But to what end?

A hypothetical "Rank 6" of the Hands of Vecna... I shudder at the thought. It once seemed laughable, but I fear it's time to accept reality...

Whoever is "overseeing" our organization is playing a much deeper game than we could ever imagine... I can't possibly fathom what punishment I would face if they were ever to discover us.

No. I shouldn't let my fears consume me. If I can stay out of their sights using this Orb, then clearly they aren't infallible. If I remain in the shadows for now, surely I can think of something that would allow me to defeat them...?

So far, I've only managed to recruit 2 3 4 new members to our cause. The process is slow and arduous, and I must take every precaution to ensure that I do not tip my hand to someone who would rat us out. No, right now, our lack of numbers is a strength.

And yet, I can't shake the feeling that maybe Aelan is right. If I just sit here at my desk and twiddle my thumbs, then nothing will get done, and this "Splinter Cell" will be nothing more than a private book club of contrarians.

No, something needs to be done, and soon. Perhaps I've been going about this wrong — instead of aiming for disgruntled veterans from the higher ranks, perhaps I should be paying attention to the newest batch of initiates to see if any of them possess the drive and passion to incite real change.

Our resources are... limited, to put it mildly. Besides The Benefactor, our only allies are indirect in nature — ranging from hired devils that can do some minor reconnaissance to a few Harmonium guards that owe me a favor or two. Most of our gold is being put towards mission-related expenses, leaving us with dwindling supplies that are barely even enough for a quick escape should we ever be caught.

That said, we also can't rely on external help, whether that be foolhardy adventurers or well-intentioned celestials. Confronting the organization head-on is tantamount to suicide — only through espionage and insider knowledge can we win this fight.

It should be mentioned that this organization does serve an important purpose. If I do come out of this alive, perhaps its resources can be put towards a more... secular approach to anomalous containment and neutralization.

Who is The Overseer?

Beckoning

As you chase the pattering footsteps through the corridors, you eventually come across a dead end — it would seem that the strange creature that had been stalking you has shaken you off its trail. But when you turn around, you see a tiny, hunched figure gaze upon you with its single, baleful eye. The creature opens its mouth as wide as it can, and a teasing, sultry voice emits from within.

"Took you long enough, hm?"

It would seem that this creature is a familiar of sorts, and whatever master it serves has finally decided that she wants to speak with you directly.

"It's come to my attention that you have been looking for me. You call me 'The Overseer', right? Such names are beneath me, but I will admit that it's a catchy title.

These games are tiresome. You want answers, explanations, the truth. And only I can provide them.

Come. I think it's about time we met face to face."

Truth

After days of traversing the Astral Sea, you finally reach your destination: a large spherical stone that glistens dimly in the dusky sky. As you approach, you see a human woman overlooking the edge of some sort of pit, levitating a few feet above the surface as she intently observes whatever is contained within it.

As you approach the woman, she remains ever unmoving, keeping her back turned towards you without a care in the world. But when you make it within 30 feet of her, she speaks in the same voice as the nothic, but this time with a relaxed, almost casual cadence to her words.

"Quite the sight, isn't it?"

In the pit is a quarry of sorts, with countless undead tirelessly hacking at the rock with their pickaxes. The woman appears to be digilantly supervising their activities.

"To think that a being as mighty and powerful as a god can be reduced to... this. Just a small hunk of rock, drifting aimlessly in the Silvery Sea for all eternity, with nobody out there that knows or cares enough to remember what it was in life. Almost makes me feel sad for it... almost.

I'd ask what you think about all that, but something tells me you didn't come all this way to talk about philosophy. And I'd ask who you are, but that would be a waste of time, given that I already know so much about you."

The woman turns around, revealing a knowing smile and piercing green eyes that almost seem as if they stare right through you. She co*cks her head slightly before chuckling to herself.

"So tell me, adventurers: what would you like to know?"

Nothic Familiar

Tiny aberration, neutral evil

  • Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 16 (3d4 + 9)
  • Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
6 (-2)16 (+3)16 (+3)13 (+1)10 (+0)14 (+2)
  • Skills Arcana +5, Deception +4, Insight +2, Perception +2, Stealth +5
  • Damage Resistances psychic
  • Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 12
  • Languages Abyssal, Common, Deep Speech, Infernal, Undercommon
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +2

Devil's Sight. Magical darkness doesn't impede the nothic's darkvision.

Mimicry. The nothic can mimic animal sounds and humanoid voices. A creature that hears the sounds can tell they are imitations with a successful DC 14 Wisdom (Insight) check.

Actions

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) slashing damage.

Rotting Gaze. The nothic targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw against this magic or take 7 (2d6) necrotic damage.

Invisibility. The nothic magically turns invisible until it takes an action or makes an attack or damage roll, or until its concentration ends. Any equipment the nothic wears or carries is invisible with it.

Shapechanger. The nothic polymorphs into a fiendish form that resembles an imp (speed 20 ft., fly 40 ft.) or a quasit (40 ft.), or back into its true form. Its statistics are the same in each form, except for the speed changes noted. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn't transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

Weird Insight (1/Day). The nothic targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must contest its Charisma (Deception) check against the nothic's Wisdom (Insight) check. If the nothic wins, it magically learns one fact or secret about the target. The target automatically wins if it is immune to being charmed.

Always present but forever unseen, The Overseer is the founder of the Hands of Vecna and the puppeteer of its supposed "Inner Circle". Watching through the eye contained within any depiction of the organization's symbol, The Overseer uses her supreme clairvoyance to identify threats to reality and dispatch Hands to contain and neutralize them — spreading The Whispered One's influence in the process.

Overview

Using supposed "informants" as a coverup, The Overseer's power of Beholding is responsible for the vast majority of information used by the Hands of Vecna to assign missions and "resolve" internal conflicts. With Kothar as her mouthpiece, The Overseer is the unseen hand that guides the organization's vast interplanar network of agents and spies, directing its manpower and resources across the Planes as part of her never-ending war against the elder evils... and as pawns in her numerous schemes to amass as much knowledge and power as she can.

Ideology

"I am the sole reason that you can enjoy a sip of water, smile and laugh in the company of friends, and take a long, deep breath as you savor the midsummer air. If it weren't for me, the Great Old Ones would have already sundered the Planes and rendered your home world utterly inhabitable. You would be wise to remember that."

First and foremost, The Overseer scorns deities and planar outsiders alike for meddling in mortal affairs, placing her faith in mortalkind's collective ability to beat the odds and overcome any challenge thrown its way. From her perspective, she is the unseen guardian of the Material Plane — and deserves the privileges that come along with it.

Determined Iconoclast. Unlike Kothar, The Overseer does not partake in acts of worship towards Vecna. While seeing Him as wiser than the other deities and respecting His methods, she carries out His will out of necessity, rather than faith, and will refer to Him as her warlock patron rather than her deity.

Hungry for Power. The Overseer's seemingly noble intentions are tainted black by the intoxicating allure of endless power and knowledge. She will regularly send Hands of Vecna on missions to acquire artifacts in order to expand her personal collection instead of furthering the organization's goals, and is constantly on the lookout for esoteric lore to add to her vast knowledge of the arcane.

Relentless sad*st. The Overseer's thirst for power is only matched by her manipulative and sad*stic tendencies. After all, as mortalkind's savior, she deserves to toy with the ignorant fools beneath her however she'd like. She takes great pleasure in blackmailing or extorting her opponents using the many secrets she has amassed via The Beholding, and will go to great lengths to corrupt heroes into her ideal servants.

Activities

Vigilo. Audio. Opperior.

As the true leader of the Hands of Vecna, The Overseer supervises as much of the Planes as she can in search of magical secrets to claim and cults of elder evils to put an end to before they can take root.

The Beholding

The Overseer's true power is that of The Beholding, which allows her sight to extend across the Material Plane and beyond.

Effects. The symbol of the Hands of Vecna takes the form of an outline of a hand with an open eye in the center of its palm. The Overseer can magically see and hear through this eye using her own senses, regardless of whether the symbol is engraved on a faction insignia, etched into a stone wall, or drawn on a piece of paper.

Detection. With The Overseer masking her presence and the Hands of Vecna symbol itself not being magical, spells like detect magic and identify can't detect the effects of The Beholding, and effects like truesight won't detect the presence of any scrying sensors. However, at the DM's discretion, those who spend enough time in proximity to the symbol might develop a lurking feeling that they are being watched, and can proceed to experiment with the symbol in order to confirm it as the source of the effect.

Counters. While detecting The Beholding is difficult, there are several ways one might attempt to overcome it. A few examples are described below.

  • Avoidance. The Overseer can't see you if you avoid the symbol of the Hands of Vecna or use spells like nondetection to make you imperceptible to her. However, not being able to see an adventuring party she once had sight of will make her suspicious, so she will direct her nothic familiar to spy on them personally.
  • Disabling the Effect. Besides defacing or destroying a symbol, the only thing capable of entirely disabling The Beholding is an antimagic field spell or similar effect, which will cause it to cease functioning while in its range of effect.
  • Distractions. No matter how powerful she may be, even the human mind is limited in how many different stimuli it can pay attention to. While extremely risky, especially if The Overseer has already taken particular interest in them, the party might attempt to distract her with a decoy event while performing the real act in secret at the same time.
  • False Divination. Effects and items that cause divination spells and scrying sensors to provide misleading results, such as the Orb of Lies used by the Splinter Cell, are the most effective way of evading The Beholding without making The Overseer suspicious.
  • Tarterus. As the prison plane of the multiverse, any magical efforts to leave the Tarterian Depths of Carceri beyond a wish spell simply fail. Similarly, The Overseer's Beholding does not function within Carceri, a glaring flaw that never fails to enrage her. If any opportunity to fix this is presented to her, she will go to great lengths to seize it immediately.

Blackthorn Dark Theme

Otherwise, it might be possible to evade or foil The Beholding via a pact with a powerful planar ruler or Great Old One. Examples include Fraz-Urb'luu, the Prince of Deception; Prukal, the Dark Globe; and even Vecna himself.

Research

The Overseer has spent decades researching Far Realm-infested stars, Great Old Ones, elder evils, and other alien entities that could potentially pose a threat to mortalkind and reality as a whole. She could write entire volumes on aberrations such as aboleths, mind flayers, and quori if she desired to, and her study of aberrant reality manipulation has granted her mastery of dunamancy, particularly in the art of graviturgy.

Beyond this, The Overseer's personal hobbies include the study of early history and the time before the gods. She is particularly interested in relics from during or before the Dawn War era, for perhaps the forgotten secrets of the past may be the key to protecting the future.

Location

The Overseer's lair is The Inverted Panopticon, an impossibly tall tower far off in the Astral Sea. The Overseer is effectively confined to this tower, as it is the focus of power for The Beholding, but that doesn't stop her from exploring the planes through her nothic familiar or going on brief excursions in the Astral Sea.

Due to the plane's timelessness, The Overseer has had decades upon decades to study occult lore and uncover arcane secrets without fear of aging, and plans to continue doing so indefinitely.

"It's just so boring being cooped up in my tower all alone for decades at a time. Finally getting to meet you face to face is such a wonderful change of pace... not to mention, getting to stand atop Maanzecorian's left eye is so much more wonderful than I ever could have imagined."

Servants

To maintain as much secrecy as possible, The Overseer will only willingly be in the presence of a few beings. Chief amongst them is Kothar, the leader of the Inner Circle. Their god instructed them to work with The Overseer and follow her will to the best of their ability, and cursed them with a failsafe that gives no choice but to comply: if they break their secrecy in any way, they and everything in a close vicinity will be completely annihilated.

Beyond Kothar, The Overseer may allow a small group of adventurers to work for her directly as Rank 6 members of the Hands of Vecna. These adventurers, sometimes called liasons, are sent on exclusive missions given directly by The Overseer that are too important or secret to be handled by members of Rank 4 and below. As The Overseer is very much isolated in her tower, she is eager to recruit new liasons that she can converse with freely... well, as freely as she can, at least.

Lastly, The Overseer will often use mindless undead to perform menial tasks and physical labor, as they lack the mental capacity to remember any details about her that could be extracted by any would-be pursuers.

In Your Campaign

As you all deliberate the decision, The Overseer's arm remains outstretched, her smile unerring, her unmoving body hovering inches off the ground as she waits for one of you to take her hand. With each exchange, her piercing green eyes dart to whoever is speaking and drink in every last detail that they can.

...

When you take her hand at last, her grin widens in pure, unadulterated joy.

"You made the right choice. I'm proud of you." You can tell that a thorough sense of satisfaction and anticipation lies just beyond her calm, approving demeanor.

At that, her hair and dress levitate upwards as a large cylinder of crackling green energy begins to swirl around everyone.

"Come. There is much work to be done."

A symbol depicting a closed eye appears on the ground within the vortex, which spins faster and more violently with each passing moment. At last, the eye opens, unleashing a brilliant flash of green light that teleports everyone to whatever destination your new employer has in store for you.

Regardless of whether they seek to work with or against her, joining The Overseer is by far the best chance the party has to defeat whatever elder evil has been the main antagonist of the campaign thus far. After all, The Overseer will almost assuredly possess key knowledge of this threat that may be the party's only hope of defeating it, and she would love nothing more than to string them along by holding this knowledge over their heads as much as she can.

With their privileged position as her liasons, a party that has aligned themselves with the Splinter Cell or otherwise opposes The Overseer will be able to slowly gain her trust as they perform more and more missions for her. Using this trust and their investigative skills, the party may be able to find or be permitted to visit The Inverted Panopticon, granting them the final piece of information they need to take her down. With The Overseer defeated, The Beholding can finally be destroyed once and for all — or perhaps even claimed by a party member to use for their own purposes.

With the Hands of Vecna plotline unfolding in parallel with that of the elder evil, the party will find themselves rushing to defeat The Overseer at the same time that the elder evil is truly beginning to emerge or otherwise achieve its main goals. With her defeated, the party, and whatever supporters they can recruit from what remains of the organization, must race against time to defeat this major threat once and for all.

Despite her hero complex, if the situation calls for it, The Overseer will choose to allow an elder evil to emerge, if for no other reason than to prove a point to the party and sneak in one last laugh just before the apocalypse begins.

Rank 6: Liason

Welcome to Rank 6 of the Hands of Vecna! You are now a liason of The Overseer, who acts as the leader of Rank 6 and the organization as a whole.

As a liason, you will carry out missions personally assigned by The Overseer (often through her nothic familiar). With members of Rank 5 and below believing you to be deceased, you have officially risen above the main organization and become true defenders of mortalkind.

Of course, as a liason, you will be expected to wear your faction insignias at all times — this way, The Overseer will receive real time updates on your mission status and can send you help if absolutely required. In some cases, The Overseer will send her familiar to the field alongside you as to provide direct assistance in gaining access to certain locations or as part of your cover when in a social situation.

At the moment, you are the only active liasons in Rank 6. Do not inquire about the status of former liasons.

The Splinter Cell

"Your efforts to overthrow the Inner Circle have not gone unnoticed. In fact, I'm impressed — I've never met anyone with the ability to evade my sight, let alone the power to defeat and capture Kothar herself."

"To be perfectly honest with you, this rebellion you have gotten yourself caught up in is the least of my concerns. In the grand scheme of things, they are nothing but a speck, a momentary interruption to the much deeper game they can't quite seem to grasp. After all, if they truly understood just how important our work is, they wouldn't be staging this pathetic coup and disrupting my operations."

In many cases, The Overseer's existence will be discovered by the party after they and the Splinter Cell capture or kill Kothar. If this happens, The Overseer will immediately choose a replacement from amongst the organization's best and brightest (which isn't necessarily from its higher ranks); if one can't be chosen, she will directly create a thrall and install them as a proper figurehead, just as she did with The Archivist.

The Overseer will still recruit the party even if they are revealed to be part of the Splinter Cell, using this as an opportunity to keep them on a tighter leash, preventing them from contacting the Splinter Cell or participating in its activities nearly as easily as they could before. If the party slips up and exposes the Splinter Cell, she will take the opportunity to destroy it as soon as possible; otherwise, she will assign Zisk to somehow infiltrate the cell using their changeling abilities and destroy it from within.

In the case that the Splinter Cell manages to expose The Overseer's existence to the organization at large and/or gather a large following and instigate a revolt, The Overseer will step in and seize direct control over the Hands of Vecna before the situation can worsen. With her identity exposed, The Overseer is free to combat them directly; for example, she might unleash the organization's contained anomalies and sic them onto the Splinter Cell, and if the party is amongst them, she might recruit villains from earlier in the campaign as well.

Lore

Once an ordinary adventurer, The Overseer's connection to the Maimed God and her subsequent rise to power stems all the way back to Vecna's failure to conquer the multiverse in the 2nd Edition adventure "Die Vecna Die!"

Vecna's Gambit

Long ago, the archlich Vecna attempted to become a greater deity by absorbing the essence of the demigod Iuz. From there, He escaped the Demiplane of Dread and mounted an invasion of Sigil, the City of Doors. As the supreme planar crossroads, Vecna sought to use Sigil to remake the Planes in His image and become the master of all reality.

When his plan inevitably failed, Vecna still possessed a burning desire to become the supreme deity of the multiverse and quickly began drafting new plans. As fate would have it, one of these plans would eventually bring about the circ*mstances that brought him in contact with The Overseer.

The End

With Concordant Opposition being the center of the Great Wheel, Sigil's position atop its Spire means, in a metaphysical sense, that it overlooks the entirety of the Planes and serves as their primary focal point. With Sigil out of His reach, Vecna posited that there could be an identical focal point on the "opposite" side of the Wheel that He could use.

After much searching, Vecna found a viable candidate. If one travels an impossible distance through the Astral Plane, the silvery sea will fade into the blackest of night skies; if the Astral Sea is considered a vast, empty expanse, then this place is an eternal void, a junkyard containing the smallest remnants of long-forgotten worlds that borders on the edge of reality as we know it. This is The End — the boundary between the Silvery Sea of Thought and pure, blissful Nothingness.

Vecna theorized that if The End is the edge of existence, then it effectively wraps around the multiverse like a shell; thus, commanding The End would allow Him to command the Planes contained within this shell, just as he intended to do with Sigil.

The Beginning

With a location picked out, Vecna immediately began construction of The Inverted Panopticon: an impossibly tall tower, built atop a lone asteroid named Artaeum endlessly drifting through the void, that would allow Him to overlook all of existence from above... or more accurately, from below.

Unfortunately for Him, Vecna's theory was only half correct: while this Panopticon does overlook all of the existence, its position on the border of reality prevented His newfound sight from reaching beyond the Planes' most obscure fringes, making it effectively useless for his purposes. His frustration growing even further, Vecna abandoned The Panopticon and labeled it as a failed project to be discarded and forgotten.

"Most of the time, Vecna's machinations are too complicated for the mortal mind to comprehend in their entirety. But in this case, it's very obvious that he simply grew impatient and abandoned his project out of pure frustration. Quite human of him, don't you think?"

A Simple Adventurer

Decades later, a human adventurer whose name has long been forgotten took an interest in aberrant beings and the threat they pose to reality. Alongside her party, she began her eternal quest to thwart these elder evils and their cults, all while scouring the Inner and Outer Planes alike for artifacts and texts that could be relevant to her quest. This quest took its toll, however, and the young adventurer would eventually dip her toes into wielding dark and forbidden magics in the name of the greater good.

At some point, the adventurer sought the tutelage of a powerful arcanaloth deep in Mungoth, who vastly widened her perspective on arcane magic and its capabilities. This tutelage was not without a price, however — the arcanaloth slowly corrupted the adventurer and her already-crumbling morality, eventually culminating with her betraying her party and selling their souls to it as payment.

With her training complete, the now-unburden adventurer continued searching the Planes for answers. When all hope was lost, she eventually stumbled across the abandoned Panopticon, drawing the attention of Vecna.

"In my defense, they totally deserved it. You can't blame me when I was just trying to do the right thing!"

"...Well, maybe you can blame me a little. But that's all in the past now, darling! There's no need to get hung up on minor details that aren't even relevant anymore, right?"

The Beholding

While Vecna discarded The Panopticon for not being able to watch all of reality, the adventurer was undeterred. By tethering The Panopticon's power to the essence of certain symbols and using her own soul as its focal point, she devised a method of extending her sight to the immediate area surrounding any physical expression of these symbols — regardless of what Plane they are located in. While not useful to a deity like Vecna, this extended sight, which she dubbed The Beholding, is unfathomably dangerous in the hands of a human, who is free to meddle in the affairs of other mortals without drawing the attention of opposing deities.

Recognizing the potential of this adventurer and the power of The Beholding, Vecna formed a generous warlock pact with her: He would grant her access to magical secrets beyond her wildest dreams, arming her with the knowledge and power necessary to defeat the elder evils that would threaten reality, while she would gather information and followers that operate in His name and follow His teachings, growing His influence in the process.

Thus, this originally well-intentioned adventurer became the Lord of Secrets' Right Hand, and to fulfill the terms of the pact, she would go on to form the Hands of Vecna organization that we all know and love today.

"It's a simple exchange: he gives me the power I need, and I give him a few extra followers. That's all there is to it, really — I'm not exactly one to worship a deity, let alone a man who's all gaunt and shriveled up... yuck."

Facing The Overseer

"You finally did it. You threw my organization into chaos, turned the majority of my loyal servants against me, and came all the way here, to my humble little Panopticon deep in the Void, for the sole purpose of slaying me, the one supposedly responsible for allllll of your troubles and woes. Your dedication is certainly something to behold.

How does it feel, knowing that an elder evil is on the doorstep of your world? That instead of working with me to stop its emergence, you turned your back on your people for a shot at killing me? That all of the blood and sweat and tears you put into this wonderful little adventure of yours was for NOTHING, just because you thought it wise to let yourself die at my hand?

Know that when your world ends, when all its pathetic souls cry out for their heroes to save them in their time of need, I will tell them that you abandoned them. In the final moments of their wretched existence, you will be remembered as the cowards and deserters you are.

And when they reach their hands out to me, begging me to save them instead, I will just watch. I will watch, as I always have, and drink in allllll of their pain and despair and agony and fear. And I will enjoy every last second of it.

...

This is your legacy. I hope it was worth it."

The Overseer works best not as the main villain of a campaign, but as a secondary antagonist whose storyline is interweaved with that of the elder evil that threatens your party's world and serves as the campaign's primary antagonist and final boss. With her holding the final piece of information or magic item needed to defeat the elder evil once and for all, the party must race against time to defeat The Overseer before concluding the campaign by battling the elder evil alongside all of the allies they have gathered throughout the campaign.

The Overseer's humanity serves as a foil to the inscrutable nature of the elder evil in question. Between the allies and enemies formed in previous arcs involving the organization and whatever hatred towards her that The Overseer has managed to incite within the party through her manipulations and schemes, the Hands of Vecna are a way to ground the story using interpersonal connections and character-level stakes. This is a great way to prevent a high-level campaign involving a world-ending threat that acts more like a force of nature from feeling stale and impersonal, which is a common pitfall that official D&D content and even other media such as superhero movies regularly fall victim to.

Furthermore, The Beholding serves not only as a mystery and puzzle that even a high-level party will need to approach intelligently, but as a way to interrogate themes of mass surveillance and violations of privacy as a means of ensuring the safety and protection of the masses. Once The Overseer is defeated, the party may choose to destroy The Panopticon and eradicate The Beholding entirely, or they might decide to claim its power for their own dark purposes.

Physical Description

The Overseer (she/her) is a tall, slim human woman who appears no older than 30. Dark tendrils can be seen lurking beneath her pale white skin, ranging from faint wisps underneath her eyes to pure black corruption staining her hands and extending up her forearms.

The Overseer's most prominent features are her hungry, prying eyes that never fail to stare right into one's soul. Her green irises almost seem to emit a soft glow even in the absence of light, and are only highlighted further by a subtle amount of black eyeshadow and eyeliner.

Beyond that, her curly brown hair is arranged in a messy, chin length bob, and she wears black stockings with a matching knee-length gothic dress typical of many necromancers and witches.

The Overseer's magic typically manifests as crackling green energy with faint black wisps contained within. Matching arcane eyes emerge whenever she opens a portal, teleports, or otherwise manipulates space itself with a spell or ability.

"Were you expecting someone more... strange? Fearsome? Monstrous, even? Sorry to get your hopes up, but the mysterious 'Overseer', as you call me, is just a plain old human.

Not to sell myself short, of course. It took quite a lot of patience, money, and estrogen to make me the woman I am today. And if you're in my line of work, patience is quite the valuable trait to have..."

Social Encounters

Even if the characters aren't Hands of Vecna themselves, between past encounters with organization members that bear its insignia, being eavesdropped in a location where the organization's symbol is secretly etched onto a wall or other surface, and being spied on directly by her nothic familiar, The Overseer will be intimately familiar with the party's methods and personalities and adjust her approach accordingly. She might appeal to a devoted paladin's virtues of heroism and courage, a greedy rogue's desire for coin and fame, or an ambitious warlock or wizard's thirst for more arcane knowledge. She will shower cooperative characters with endless praise and bombard combative ones with nonstop scoldings and chastizing. And most importantly, if the party is in need of any knowledge or magic that she possesses, she will never offer it without receiving something in exchange.

In a conversation, The Overseer will maintain an energetic, whimsical, almost maniacal attitude that creates a stark contrast with the rather stoic and stern Inner Circle that the party might be used to. She will also seize any opportunity to flirt with female members of the party, serving either to piss them off or to make them easier to manipulate, depending on the situation.

At the end of the day, The Overseer is delighted to finally let loose a little and partake in meaningful social interaction; whether that interaction is hostile or friendly is irrelevant to her enjoyment. If anything, she enjoys arguments and banter the most — after all, it gives her a chance to drop the already-transparent mask and unleash the true malice and sadism that lies beneath it.

Constant Spells. The Overseer is always under the effects of the detect magic, glibness, mind blank, and warp sense spells (no concentration required).

Mystic Arcanum. The Overseer can cast dream of the blue veil, gate, gate seal, modify memory, and soul cage once per day each when not in combat (spell save DC 22).

Voice of the Chain Master. The Overseer can communicate telepathically with her nothic familiar and perceive through its senses no matter what planes of existence the two are on. Additionally, while perceiving through the familiar's senses, she can also speak through it in her own voice.

Combat

With a wide variety of graviturgy spells (see Explorer's Guide to Wildemount for more information) at her disposal, The Overseer excels at dominating the battlefield and eviscerating many foes at a time. With her supreme knowledge of the party and their capabilities, The Overseer will assuredly prepare counters and traps that can foil their usual tactics. With her mostly being confined to The Panopticon, The Overseer is itching for a fight, and will relish the opportunity to finally go all out against her foes. She may also decide to draw from her vast collection of magical artifacts in order to ensure her success, at the DM's discretion.

First Phase

The Overseer will start the fight with an illusory dragon spell, which appears as an amorphous shadowy spirit with glowing green eyes spread all over its mass. She then follows up with forced movement spells like eldritch blast, Evard's black tentacles, gravity sinkhole, and scatter to gather as many combatants into a tight area as possible to maximize the damage dealt by her area of effect abilities. If any combatants manage to slip past her defenses and any minions that may be guarding her, she uses single target abilities like Bewitching Whispers and Mire the Mind to debuff them before teleporting away with Baleful Transposition.

Throughout the battle, The Overseer will taunt the combatants with the secrets of theirs that she gathered over the course of the campaign. She will do everything in her power to convince them to embrace ambition and darkness, even if this ambition would further motivate the party to slay her. If death seems inevitable for her, her goal will not be survival (especially if the party can overcome invisibility from Whispered One's Veil), but to ensure that the victors are worthy of succeeding her and claiming The Beholding for themselves, a natural continuation of the seeds of corruption she always seeks to plant within her liasons.

That said, The Overseer will go all out and fight to the best of her ability until the very end. When a character is low on hit points, she will seize the opportunity to potentially kill them with abilities like divine word and reality break. As long as she slays at least one party member or other important ally to the party, she will be at least somewhat satisfied — and due to the regional effects of The Panopticon, this death will permanent.

Throughout the battle, she will also use the surrounding terrain to her advantage, including collapsing parts of The Panopticon on top of the party and pinning them between obstacles. To help decide how much damage such objects do the party, use the Improvised Damage table (DMG 249).

The Overseer

Medium humanoid (human, warlock), chaotic evil

  • Armor Class 17 (Armor of Shadows)
  • Hit Points 240 (32d8 + 96)
  • Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (hover)
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
11 (+0)18 (+4)17 (+3)24 (+7)20 (+5)23 (+6)
  • Saving Throws Con +10, Int +14, Wis +12, Cha +13
  • Skills Arcana +21, Deception +13, History +21, Insight +12, Investigation +14, Perception +19, Religion +14, Stealth +11
  • Damage Immunities necrotic, psychic
  • Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, exhaustion, frightened
  • Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 29
  • Languages all, telepathy 15 ft.
  • Challenge 23 (50,000 XP, or 100,000 XP as a mythic encounter)
  • Proficiency Bonus +7

Eldritch Mind. The Overseer can maintain concentration on two different spells at the same time. In addition, she has advantage on saving throws to maintain concentration on spells.

Legendary Protection. If The Overseer fails a saving throw, she can spend one legendary action or end concentration on one spell of her choice to succeed instead.

Magic Resistance. The Overseer has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Pact Magic. The Overseer is a 20th-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 22). She knows the following warlock spells, and can cast them without components:

At will: Evard's black tentacles, eyebite, gravity sinkhole
3/rest each: chain lightning, gravity fissure, scatter
2/rest each: divine word, illusory dragon, reverse gravity
1/rest each: dark star, ravenous void, reality break

Trickster's Escape. The Overseer ignores difficult terrain, and magical effects can't reduce her speed or cause her to be restrained. She can spend 5 feet of movement to escape from nonmagical restraints or being grappled.

Voice of Vecna (Mythic Trait; Permanent). If The Overseer is reduced to 0 hit points or killed, she doesn't die or fall unconscious. Instead, she resets to 240 hit points, and she ends all spells and effects of her choice on herself. She then unleashes a huge burst of energy that decimates the area within 120 feet of her, causing each creature and object in the area, regardless of size or structural stability, to be pushed up to 30 feet away from her and knocked prone.

Whispered One's Sight. The Overseer can see into and through solid matter out to a radius of 60 feet. To her, solid objects within that radius appear mostly transparent and don't prevent light from passing through them.

Actions

Multiattack. The Overseer makes three spell attacks, each one against a different target.

Eldritch Blast (Cantrip). Ranged Spell Attack: +14 to hit, range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 23 (3d10 + 7) force damage, and The Overseer can move the target up to 10 feet horizontally in a direction of her choice if it is Huge or smaller.

Lifedrinker (Mythic Form Only). Melee Spell Attack: +14 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 33 (4d12 + 7) necrotic damage. The Overseer regains hit points equal to half the damage dealt, and she can move up to 15 feet without spending movement or provoking opportunity attacks.

Whispered One's Veil. The Overseer magically becomes invisible until she makes an attack or damage roll, or until she targets a creature or object other than herself with a spell or ability. She can designate any number of creatures to be able to see through this invisibility until she uses this action again.

Bonus Actions

The Overseer can't use the same bonus action two rounds in a row.

Baleful Transposition. The Overseer attempts to magically swap places with one creature she can see within 30 feet of her. If the target is unwilling, it can make a DC 22 Charisma saving throw. On a failed save, The Overseer and the target teleport, swapping places. If the target cannot fly, The Overseer can't use this ability unless she is standing on a surface.

Bewitching Whispers. The Overseer whispers words of compulsion in the Dark Speech to one creature within 120 feet of her that can hear her. The target must succeed on a DC 22 Charisma saving throw or be charmed, frightened, or fall prone and be unable to stand up (Overseer's choice) until the end of its next turn.

Legendary Actions

The Overseer can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. She regains spent legendary actions at the start of her turn.

  • Ascendant Step. The Overseer flies up to half her speed.
  • Mire the Mind (Costs 2 Actions). The Overseer magically curses one creature of her choice within 30 feet of her. The target must succeed on a DC 22 Charisma saving throw or be dazed until the end of its next turn. While dazed, the creature's speed is halved, it can't take reactions, and it can use either an action or a bonus action on its turn, not both.
  • Reality Warp (Costs 2 Actions). The Overseer casts reverse gravity or scatter, if available.

Mythic Actions

If The Overseer's Voice of Vecna trait has activated, she can use the options below as legendary actions.

  • Otherworldly Leap. The Overseer jumps up to 60 feet without provoking opportunity attacks. Each creature within 5 feet of where she lands is then pushed up to 10 feet away from her in a straight line.
  • Unholy Vigor (Costs 2 Actions). The Overseer gains 30 temporary hit points, and she gains resistance to one damage type of her choice until the end of her next turn.
  • Whispered One's Decree (Costs 2 Actions). The Overseer unleashes a torrent of forgotten secrets and forbidden knowledge in a 120-foot cone. Each creature in the area that can understand at least one language takes 35 (10d6) psychic damage (DC 22 Intelligence save for half). On a failed save, a target is also deafened and has its speed halved until the end of its next turn.

Second Phase

The Overseer serves as a potent threat against even high-level characters, but you can increase the challenge by using her Voice of Vecna trait. When this happens, The Overseer is rejuvenated by The Whispered One Himself, and then she can choose one of her mythic actions when she uses a legendary action.

You might foreshadow The Overseer using her mythic trait by describing how the tendrils of corruption beneath her skin grow more pronounced and even turn into large cracks along her skin as she suffers wounds.

When her mythic trait activates, The Whispered One takes control of her body, transforming her into a foul manifestation known only as the Voice of Vecna. Eerily silent, vengeful, and almost bestial in nature, this manifestation unleashes all of its power in a wild frenzy in an attempt to destroy the already-weakened party.

Because the 30 foot push also applies to structures, The Overseer's mythic trait is bound to destroy part of The Panopticon and drastically alter the surrounding battlefield. If the party lacks the means to fly and fails a DC 25 Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Strength (Athletics) check, they will likely lose their balance and fall with the ground beneath them as it collapses into the floor below.

 With that, The Overseer will go into a wild frenzy, engaging opponents that were caught off guard by the blast in melee using Otherworldly Leap and Lifedrinker while adapting to their attacks with Unholy Vigor. She will prefer to speak in distorted, guttural growls, but Vecna may cause various voices the party recognizes to whisper into their minds as part of an exchange.

Make no mistake, however — The Overseer is still every bit the intelligent foe she was in life, and will retreat and attack from range as soon as it becomes necessary. She go all out against the party, starting off with the remaining uses of divine word and illusory dragon if they are available, followed up with whatever spells she has left at her disposal. She will also unleash Whispered One's Decree instead of Unholy Vigor when on the attack; when she does, use this as an opportunity for Vecna to speak directly to the party in His own voice.

When she is finally slain once more, The Overseer's body and the manifestation of Vecna within it will crumble into dust and scatter into the void.

Fighting The Overseer as a mythic encounter is equivalent to taking on two CR 22 creatures in one encounter. Award the party 100,000 XP for defeating The Overseer after she uses the Voice of Vecna trait.

At long last, The Overseer falls to the ground, blood trickling from the large cracks of foul corruption that now riddle her entire body. You see her grimace in pain, barely able to push herself onto her hands and knees. Despite her perseverance, there is no more fight left in her.

"It is time."

The Overseer gasps as a booming voice echoes around you. No, not one voice — it speaks using hundreds upon hundreds of voices simultaneously, all coalescing into one unified decree that is unmistakably divine in nature.

"No... I'm not... done yet..."

The Overseer's gaze darts around in a frenzy, frantically searching for the source of the voice she knows is present all around her to no avail.

"You have played your part well, Overseer. But your role is now complete. You have failed, as Fate knew you would. And now your soul is mine, as you promised to me so long ago."

The Overseer rises into the air, and her body begins to convulse as the black tendrils of corruption spread from the cracks in her skin and wrap around her body.

"No... I CAN'T... I WON'T GIVE IN..."

Before she can scream, the tendrils grab ahold of her jaw and completely envelope her face.

"You already have, child. Now, repeat after me."

At that, the divine presence around you begins to manifest into crackling green and black energy, all of which funnels itself into her body. As it does, you feel eons of knowledge brush against your fragile mortal mind, the history of a billion worlds forcing its way into one ear and exiting from the other just as quickly as it arrived. It is then that The Whispered One speaks one simple decree through His new manifestation.

"VIGILO. AUDIO. SUPERVENIO."

In an instant, a roar of violent green energy hurls you and everything around you away from her. The Panopticon's metallic groan echoes violently through your ears as the ground beneath you begins to give way, and when you look up, you see The Overseer's body hovering in place, its pure black silhouette illuminated only by cracks of green energy overflowing from it, its eyes looking back at you with sad*stic glee — not that of the late Overseer, but of Vecna Himself.

Using Vecna Sparingly

One of the reasons I tend to dislike official portrayals of Vecna (sorry, Eve of Ruin), whether modern or historic, is that he's too overtly present as a villain that can be directly defeated by the party. Yes, that's basically his whole schtick, and I've even made stats for this explicit purpose, but when he's been defeated so many times by mere mortals, he starts to feel less like a BBEG and more like Team Rocket — especially when his motivations simply amount to a generic thirst for ultimate power.

As a response to that, I made sure that Vecna's sole appearance in this document as a direct threat is The Overseer's mythic trait; having his first and only personal involvement be to possess the body of the organization's big bad and initiate her second phase is a great way to make him as fearsome as he should be.

Furthermore, rather than just having him be a bland villain in search of multiversal domination (sorry, Eve of Ruin), I took inspiration from The Magnus Archives to help reinforce his status as an inscrutable god of secrets.

The Inverted Panopticon

In the farthest corner of the Astral Sea lies The Inverted Panopticon, a tall tower sitting atop a small chunk of rock surrounded by nothing but a pure black void.

Reaching The Panopticon

As it was built by the God of Secrets Himself, The Panopticon is difficult to locate; it is immune to attempts by intruders to divine information about it or teleport into it. Rather, information about its location must be acquired manually from The Overseer or some other source.

From there, making it to The Panopticon is a task in of itself. The party might discover a hidden route that allows spelljamming vessels to fly there over the course of a few weeks, or they might need to find a special portal key that takes them directly to it. Either way, finding a method of traveling to The Panopticon may require working for The Overseer until proper trust can be established.

When the party reaches The Panopticon, their initial orientation in the Astral Sea will make it appear upside down relative to them.

Description

Once envisioned by Vecna to be His seat of power as He watches over the multiverse, The Panopticon was designed to be befitting of a god, with grand halls and ornate wall carvings befitting of what would have been the Overgod of all the planes. When His project initially failed, He brought many of his finer decorations along with Him, but the majestic architecture of the tower still remained.

While its specific layout is up to the DM to map out, The Panopticon's floor plan can only be described as the purest expression of geometry, containing high degrees of symmetry and neatly arranged rooms that reflect the symmetry of the Great Wheel itself. The ceiling is generally about as high as the room is wide, and in some rooms will be even taller to accommodate any larger creatures that are housed within or pass through them on a regular basis.

Furthermore, the following entries detail areas that are guaranteed to be found somewhere in The Panopticon.

Dungeon. In the lower levels of the tower reside several floors of prison cell. Originally designed to house even the mightiest of Vecna's foes, these cells have now been repurposed for containing anomalous creatures, volatile artifacts, and fearsome monsters that The Overseer may wish to unleash upon her foes.

Study. The Overseer's private study can be found on an upper floor of the tower, and will contain all of her notes and writings on her study of the arcane, the war against anomalous threats, the Hands of Vecna, and more. Hovering in the center of the room is an illusory/holographic star chart, which contains a comprehensive map of every location in the planes and wildspace that she knows of and those that she has eyes in or influence over. It also contains a tome detailing everything she knows about The Beholding, allowing anyone who dedicates enough time to studying it to recreate or seize power over it (which may include creating a new symbol that it may act through instead of the old one).

Summit. At the top of The Panopticon is a large domed chamber containing the focal point of The Beholding. At the center of the room is a circular platform that The Overseer hovers above as all of the information obtained by The Beholding flows into her. Enormous amounts of energy swirl around her, with the countless sights and sounds perceived by The Beholding clashing in a violent cacophony that only The Overseer can fully process.

Any creature that isn't The Overseer who touches The Beholding is blinded and deafened by the massive flow of information into its mind.

When she is not on the circular platform, The Beholding focuses itself into a Small green orb that hovers over it. The Overseer need not be in this spot to benefit from The Beholding, but her connection to it grows weaker the farther she wanders from it, and she can't connect to it at all if she is on a different plane of existence.

Vault. In The Overseer's study is a painting of her and her old adventuring party hanging on the wall. Behind it is a secret hatch that leads to her personal vault, which contains a myriad of magical items (anomalous or otherwise) that she has claimed for herself.

This vault may contain particularly powerful items that were contained by the party during a mission for the Hands of Vecna, as well as any artifacts necessary for defeating the elder evil that threatens the party's world. It also has mementos and trinkets acquired from dozens of worlds — The Overseer ascribes personal meaning to some of them, and sees the others as valuable relics of these worlds to be preserved for historical purposes.

While its specific contents are up to the DM, the Treasure Hoard tables in Chapter 7 of the Dungeon Master's Guide can be used to generate the loot present in the vault.

At the DM's discretion, The Overseer may draw one or more items from this vault and use them against the party in combat.

Commission by Beenomorph

Regional Effects

The region within 10 miles of The Panopticon is warped by Vecna's magic, creating the following effects:

Inscrutable Nature. Any creature, object, or structure within the region can't be targeted by divination magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors.

Impenetrable Nature. No spell cast by anyone other than The Overseer can be used to enter the region, leave it, or transport oneself from one floor of The Panopticon to another. Spells like astral projection, gate, teleport, and plane shift cast for these reasons simply fail, as do effects that banish a creature to another plane of existence. These restrictions apply to magic items and artifacts that have properties that transport or banish creatures to other planes as well.

Magic that summons creatures or objects from other planes functions normally in the region, as does magic that involves an extradimensional space. Any spells cast within such an extradimensional space (such as that created by a Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion spell) are subject to the same restrictions as magic cast in the region.

Spells can't destroy or alter the shape of The Panopticon's magically protected ceilings, pillars, columns, walls, or floors. For example, an earthquake spell would not trigger a ceiling collapse or create fissures in the tower. Doors and furnishings, however, are not protected in this way.

While they are in The Panopticon, characters who receive spells from deities or otherworldly patrons continue to do so, but spells that allow contact with beings from other planes function do not function unless The Overseer allows them to.

Gravity Storm. Beyond a distance of 1,000 feet from The Panopticon's outer walls, the Astral Sea's subjective gravity functions as normal. But within that distance, graviturgy magic surrounds the tower and protects it from harm. Spelljammers can't fly in this area without being repelled, and projectiles launched at the tower are also deflected.

Gravity points down towards the center of the asteroid, and creatures who attempt to fly and climb in this area will be quickly knocked down, forcing them to approach by foot along the surface of the asteroid.

Obliviation of Spirit. When a creature in the region dies, if its soul isn't captured by the soul cage spell or a similar effect, it is cast into the void and annihilated. That creature can't be revived by any means short of a wish spell.

Minions

With her reluctance to trust anyone else, The Panopticon's only other residents are normally mindless undead that are tasked with guarding the tower from intruders and performing menial tasks. But for the final battle, she may also gather prior enemies of the party to help her fend them off, or better yet, raise party members or beloved NPCs who previously died as undead thralls.

The Overseer may also choose to open the cells of the dungeon and unleash a variety of anomalous threats (familiar or otherwise) in an effort to overwhelm the party and their allies with brute force.

In a Spelljammer-centric campaign, The Overseer may have a fleet of ships just outside of the tower's Gravity Storm effect piloted by these minions of hers. The party may wish to battle them directly in ship-to-ship combat, or perhaps they may slip past enemy lines to enter The Panopticon by themselves while their allies fight the fleet as best she can.

Lair Actions

On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), The Overseer can take a lair action to cause one of the following effects; she can't use the same effect two rounds in a row:

  • Command. The Overseer casts the command spell on every creature of her choice in the lair that she can see (spell save DC 22). She issues the same command to all the targets.
  • Telekinetic Grasp. The Overseer casts telekinesis and targets an object in the lair. The spell doesn't require concentration and ends on initiative count 20 of the following round.
  • Visions of Despair. The Beholding invades the mind of each hostile creature within 1 mile feet of it and forces them to relive a shameful or traumatic memory. A target must succeed on a DC 22 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened until the end of its next turn.

Ultimate Fate

With The Overseer defeated, the party and their allies must decide what to do with The Beholding. A good aligned party may choose to destroy The Beholding via a particularly thematic gesture, such as throwing the Orb of Lies or some other artifact into the central sphere; if necessary, the party can use a ritual in The Overseer's personal notes to deactivate it for good. Once destroyed, The Beholding can never be recreated in this location again.

While deactivating The Beholding does remove a potent source of planar intel, those who seek to vanquish anomalous threats can still benefit from the wealth of information and magic items available to them in The Overseer's study and vault. With these boons, the Hands of Vecna can be restructured into a secular organization that defends the planes via mutual cooperation and allyship rather than secrecy and espionage.

Alternatively, a character could use The Overseer's notes to bind themselves to The Beholding instead, allowing them to benefit from its power and use it for whatever purposes they desire. They can also use her notes to create a new symbol for their new Beholding to be bound to as they see fit.

Optionally, a character that binds themselves to The Beholding may form a direct warlock pact with Vecna akin to that of The Overseer's, granting them great power as long as they continue to carry out His will. Furthermore, if it is not deactivated or claimed, Vecna will send His loyal servants (and maybe even an avatar) to seize control over The Panopticon once more.

In any event, with The Overseer defeated, The Beholding dealt with, and the items and information they need to defeat the emerging elder evil in hand, the party will finally be ready for the final arc of the campaign. Depending on their choices, remnants of the Hands of Vecna may end up allying with the party in this battle without any strings attached.

With many of the campaign's narrative threads finally complete and a multitude of allies and upgrades being acquired along the way, defeating The Overseer should hopefully yield a great payoff that makes the party's diversion from their main goal truly worth their while. And while not having any impact on the cosmology of the setting, the party's actions may have a significant impact on future campaigns, the threats that emerge during them, and the daring heroes or conniving villains that rise up to challenge them.

Beyond the elder evils themselves, threats identified by the Hands of Vecna that are categorized as Class A, B, or C, which are listed in ascending order of a threat's level of danger and the urgency to neutralize it. Rank 6 are instead assigned to Class X threats, which threaten The Overseer's covertness or otherwise hold personal significance to her.

While possible enemies for the Hands of Vecna to deal with are in no short supply, a few example monsters for each Threat Class are also presented in this chapter for your convenience.

Class A

Class A threats hold some influence over or otherwise pose a threat to a local area in one world.

Phenthuum

"The dimernesti have not only abandoned us, but also assaulted our safe haven and massacred dozens of our kind. They have made their message perfectly clear: peace is not an option. We march on Dimernost tomorrow."

Deep in the Courrain Ocean of Krynn, a rogue skum named Phenthuum crusades against the cruel aboleths and seeks to liberate their brethren from eternal psionic domination.

Physical Description

Like other skum, Phenthuum (they/them) has slimy, translucent flesh and four tentacles in place of legs. They are dependent on water, which they must immerse themselves in regularly lest they experience painful-and potentially lethal-skin eruptions. Their former existence as a dimernesti elf can only be identified with a DC 25 Wisdom (Medicine) check.

To distinguish them as the leader of their kind, Phenthuum uses the body of their former master as a war trophy. Its skull is placed over their head as a helmet, and some of its bones have been fashioned into armor for their upper body.

Lore

Phenthuum remembers nothing of their past beyond their former heritage as a dimernesti sea elf (shoal elf). They gather that they were part of a dimernesti clan that was ambushed by an aboleth, who proceeded to transform them into diseased skum and enslave them to be footsoldiers in its guerilla war against mortalkind.

Purely by chance, one of these skum awakened some form of latent psionic potential: they were an ardent, allowing them to channel their emotions into invigorating their allies and launching devastating assaults on their opponents' minds in equal measure. Most importantly, the awakening freed this skum from their master's domination, and through clever planning and the element of surprise, they were able to slay their master and free their kin from its control.

Taking on the name of their slain master, Phenthuum has marshaled their newly-freed skum brethren against aboleth-kind, scouring the Southern Courrain for aboleths to slay and more skum to free. But this noble quest has been disrupted by the shoal elves of Dimernost, their underwater capitol: despite attempts at civil conversation and negotiations, the elves scorn the skum for their diseased forms and distrust them due to their (former) connection to the aboleths. This has escalated to raids hellsbent on wiping out these rogue skum, giving Phenthuum no choice but to fight back.

Like the shoal elves, the Hands of Vecna see these Phenthuum's rogue faction of skum as anomalous threats to be neutralized. However, compassionate Hands may decide to go against the organization's orders and ally with Phenthuum against the aboleths, at risk of disciplinary action from the Inner Circle.

Social Encounters

Seeing themselves as bearing the burden of freeing their kind, Phenthuum acts as a courageous, compassionate knight when possible, but will sometimes slip into the calculating and reclusive mannerisms of their old master when the stress is too much to bear.

Phenthuum is naturally distrusting of humanoids, and will initially treat them with suspicion and scorn. But if proof of their honesty can be provided, Phenthuum will eagerly form an alliance and try to work with them to end the dimernesti attacks and rid the Courrain Ocean of the aboleth threat for good.

Amphibious. Phenthuum can breathe air and water.

Aura Sight. If Phenthuum spends at least 1 minute observing or interacting with another creature outside of combat, they can learn information about the creature from its psychic aura. Phenthuum learn if the creature is under the effect of any magical or psionic effects, its current hit point total, and its basic emotional state.

Telepathic Eavesdropping. Phenthuum can overhear any telepathic conversation within 120 feet of them. The creature that initiated the telepathic conversation makes a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw when telepathic contact is first established. If the save is successful, the creature is aware that Phenthuum is eavesdropping.

Water Dependency. Phenthuum takes 6 (1d12) acid damage every 10 minutes they go without being immersed in water.

Combat

Phenthuum fearlessly charges into combat alongside their skum allies, casting either beacon of hope or control water before the fight if possible. If the enemy has resistance to psychic damage, they will use Mind Thrust to nullify it before attacking with their tentacles. They use Psychic Crush when possible, hoping to stun enslaved skum so that they can be knocked unconscious in melee and recruited to the cause once their aboleth is slain.

Phenthuum

Medium aberration (skum, ardent), chaotic good

  • Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 136 (16d8 + 64)
  • Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
20 (+5)14 (+2)18 (+4)14 (+2)16 (+3)20 (+5)
  • Saving Throws Con +8, Int +6, Wis +7, Cha +9
  • Skills Arcana +6, Medicine +7, Perception +7, Persuasion +9, Survival +7
  • Damage Resistances psychic
  • Condition Immunities charmed, frightened
  • Senses darkvision 120 ft., tremorsense 30 ft., passive Perception 17
  • Languages Common, Deep Speech, Elvish, telepathy 120 ft.
  • Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Aura of Victory. When a hostile creature Phenthuum can see is reduced to 0 hit points and Phenthuum isn't incapacitated, Phenthuum and each ally within 20 feet of them gain 10 temporary hit points.

Psionics. Phenthuum is a 12th-level psionicist. Their spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17). They can cast the following spells using psionics, requiring no components:

At will: control water, nondetection, warding bond
2/rest each: beacon of hope, lesser restoration, suggestion
1/rest each: calm emotions, create or destroy water, revivify

Thought Shield. Phenthuum's thoughts can't be read by telepathy or other means unless they allow it. Whenever a creature deals psychic damage to Phenthuum, that creature takes the same amount of damage as them.

Volatile Mind. If Phenthuum fails an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw, each creature within 15 feet of them takes 7 (2d6) psychic damage.

Actions

Multiattack. Phenthuum makes two tentacle attacks. They can replace any of these attacks with a use of Mind Thrust.

Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d10 + 5) bludgeoning damage plus 7 (2d6) psychic damage. If the target is a Large or smaller creature, it is also grappled (escape DC 15). While grappled, the target has disadvantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws. Phenthuum has four tentacles, each of which can grapple one creature.

Mind Thrust. One creature of Phenthuum's choice within 30 feet of them takes 18 (3d8 + 5) psychic damage (DC 17 Intelligence save for half). On a failed save, the target also can't benefit from resistance to psychic damage until the end of Phenthuum's next turn.

Psychic Crush (Recharge 4–6). Phenthuum creates a 20-foot cube of psychic energy centered on a point they can see within 60 feet of them. Each creature in that area takes 38 (7d10) psychic damage (DC 17 Intelligence save for half). If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, a target is also stunned until the end of Phenthuum's next turn.

Bonus Actions

Phenthuum can't use the same bonus action two rounds in a row.

Ardent Surge. Phenthuum or one creature of their choice within 60 feet of them regains 12 (2d8 + 3) hit points.

Incite Bravery. Phenthuum ends the charmed and frightened conditions on each ally of their choice within 60 feet of them.

Sources of Inspiration

Many of the ideas in this document were not conjured from thin air, but rather inspired by several pieces of media that I especially adore, as listed below.

The Magnus Archives. The Magnus Archives is a horror fiction anthology podcast that inspired much of my depiction of Vecna, The Overseer, and the organization as a whole. It follows Jonathan Sims, the new head archivist of The Magnus Institute — an academic institution dedicated to researching the esoteric and paranormal — as he attempts to organize its archives and make sense of the supernatural encounters documented within. If you liked the themes present throughout in this document, I absolutely recommend listening to this podcast.

The SCP Wiki. The SCP Wiki is a collaborative writing site that blends fantasy, horror, and science fiction. It is centered around the SCP Foundation, a secret organization that works to contain paranormal threats, protect the earth, and keep the existence of themselves

and the anomalous hidden from humanity. Many elements of the Hands of Vecna and its operations, even down to the use of the term "anomalous", are inspired by the content on this website. Many of the entries are self-contained, and there is no one canon to keep track of, so feel free to dive right in!

Malevolent. Malevolent is a Call of Cthulu-inspired horror fiction podcast that follows Arthur Lester, a private investigator in Arkham who has been thrust into a precarious situation involving supernatural forces beyond mortal comprehension. Lovecraftian lore is a huge influence on the elder evils and Great Old Ones in D&D lore, so Malevolent is a great podcast to listen to if you're looking for inspiration on otherworldly threats for the Hands of Vecna to contend with.

The Elder Scrolls. The Elder Scrolls is a series of action fantasy roleplaying games. For this document, the lore involving Hermaeus Mora and the Psijic Order from Skyrim and Elder Scrolls Online inspired a lot my writing.

Cerebrilith

Cerebriliths are demons whose already fearsome powers are augmented by psionics. They are specialists that join demonic armies only in response to specific requirements (such as the need to defeat mortal psionic creatures and characters). When not so occupied, they continually develop and train their already impressive mental abilities (alone or in small groups), usually by stalking mortals.

Cerebriliths stop at nothing to slay intelligent foes. They delight in extracting the brains of their victims, examining them in hopes of prying loose new insights into the mental arts.

Physical Description

This monstrosity appears to be a massive humanoid about 8 feet tall, with an unbelievably swollen brain. Its bulging, elongated skull is swept back, fusing seamlessly with its hunched back. Its fanged maw protrudes from beneath a bony brow. The rest of the body is spindly but slick, as if coated with constantly leaking fluid. The demon walks on all fours but fights standing up.

Combat

Cerebriliths favor telepathic attacks, usually beginning a battle by using synaptic static to wreak havoc on many foes at once. The cerebrilith also excels at focusing one threat at a time via powers like eyebite and mental prison, which it will dish out depending on the circ*mstances of the battle. The cerebrilith will generally stay at range until it can dive in with Lightning Leap, attacking in melee and using Ego Whip to wreak havoc on psionicists and spellcasters with ease.

"We usually only get a cerebrilith case in one of two scenarios: either the illithid god Ilsensine responds to a summoning spell and decides to send one as a form of aid, or more commonly, a demon lord gets way in over their head with something psionics-related and needs a specialist to clean up their mess. While the former scenario is obviously under our purview, we try not to interfere with the tanar'ri's business if we can help it."

"That said, I've noticed a concerning uptick in cerebrilith activity throughout the Material Plane as of late — and they don't seem to fit either of the two profiles. Has something managed to unite them under a different banner? I'll have to have Idravia assign some Agents to investigate whatever's going on here."

Cerebrilith

Large fiend (demon), chaotic evil

  • Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 133 (14d10 + 56)
  • Speed 40 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
20 (+5)14 (+2)18 (+4)20 (+5)18 (+4)20 (+5)
  • Saving Throws Int +9, Wis +8, Cha +9
  • Skills Arcana +9, Insight +8, Investigation +9, Perception +8, Stealth +6
  • Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
  • Damage Immunities lightning, poison
  • Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, poisoned
  • Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 18
  • Languages Abyssal, telepathy 120 ft.
  • Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Innate Psionics. The cerebrilith's innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 17). It can innately cast the following spells using psionics, requiring no components:

At will: detect magic, detect thoughts
3/day each: fear, telekinesis
2/day each: eyebite, synaptic static
1/day each: dominate monster, mental prison

Magic Resistance. The cerebrilith has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Power Resistance. The cerebrilith has advantage on saving throws against psionic powers and other psychic effects.

Thought Shield. The cerebrilith's thoughts can't be read by telepathy or other means unless it allows it. Whenever a creature deals psychic damage to the cerebrilith, that creature takes the same amount of damage as the cerebrilith.

Actions

Multiattack. The cerebrilith makes two claw attacks.

Claws of Force. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) force damage, and the target is pushed up to 10 feet away from the cerebrilith if it is Huge or smaller.

Lightning Leap (Recharge 5–6). The cerebrilith lets loose a blast of lightning in a line that is 60 feet long and 5 feet wide. Each creature in the area takes 21 (6d6) lightning damage (DC 17 Dexterity save for half), and the cerebrilith can teleport to an unoccupied space touched by the line.

Variant: Demon Summoning (1/Day). The cerebrilith chooses what to summon and attempts a magical summoning. It has a 40 percent chance of summoning 4d6 dretches or one cerebrilith.
 A summoned demon appears in an unoccupied space within 60 feet of its summoner, acts as an ally of its summoner, and can't summon other demons. It remains for 1 minute, until it or its summoner dies, or until its summoner dismisses it as an action.

Bonus Actions

Ego Whip. One creature the cerebrilith can see within 10 feet of it takes 19 (4d6 + 5) psychic damage (DC 17 Intelligence save for half). On a failed save, the target also has its concentration broken, and it can't take reactions until the end of its next turn.

Usvapna Quori

Usvapna quori, more commonly known as dream master quori, are the inquisitors and assassins of the Dreaming Dark, serving Dal Quor relentlessly and unquestioningly.

Physical Description

Towering up to 10 feet tall, a dream master quori seems to have stepped out of a nightmare. Four pincer-tipped limbs emerge from a massive torso, and a snakelike tail coils about a legless body as it floats in mid-air. A void of inky blackness sits where the creature's head should be, and its malevolence can be felt by any and all onlookers.

Lore

When the quori were driven from Eberron by the giants, the dream masters were directed to prepare for an eventual

return to the material world. Over the millennia, dream master quori have visited countless mortals, invading their dreams and planting the seeds for a quori return. Now, with Riedra growing in strength, the dream masters scour the dreams of mortals, searching for any threat to the new order.

Combat

A dream master quori prefers never to enter a fight without proper preparation. If surprised, it attempts to use Shadow Step to retreat to a safe location, returning moments later with a vengeance. It will attempt to pick off the weakest targets first, getting the drop on them with spider climb and casting fear or Hypnotic Pulse to prevent unwanted distractions from engaging before it can retreat. Once bloodied, the quori will cast dominate person to turn the strongest melee combatant against the rest of the party before reevaluating its battle strategy.

Usvapna Quori

Large aberration (quori), lawful evil

  • Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 143 (22d10 + 22)
  • Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
12 (+1)18 (+4)13 (+1)16 (+3)19 (+4)18 (+4)
  • Saving Throws Dex +8, Int +7, Wis +8
  • Skills Deception +8, Intimidation +8, Perception +8, Sleight of Hand +8, Stealth +8
  • Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire
  • Condition Immunities charmed, frightened
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 18
  • Languages Common, Quori, telepathy 30 ft.
  • Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Dweller in Darkness. While in darkness, the quori is invisible to any creature that relies on darkvision to see it in that darkness.

Innate Psionics. The quori's innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 16). It can innately cast the following spells using psionics, requiring no components:

At will: charm person, spider climb
2/day each: fear, silence
1/day each: dominate person, dream

Probing Telepathy. If a creature communicates telepathically with the quori, the quori learns the creature's greatest fears if the quori can see the creature.

Vanish (2/Day). An Inspired that serves as a vessel for the quori can use its action to cast the invisibility spell, requiring no material components.

Actions

Multiattack. The quori makes four attacks with its pincers. It can replace two of these attacks with one use of Hypnotic Pulse.

Pincer. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage. If the attack roll has advantage, the target takes an additional 7 (2d6) psychic damage. On a critical hit, the target's speed is also reduced to 0 until the end of its next turn.

Hypnotic Pulse. Two creatures of the quori's choice that it can see within 60 feet of it take 9 (2d4 + 4) psychic damage (DC 16 Wisdom save for half). On a failed save, a target must use also its reaction to move up to 5 feet in a direction of the quori's choice, and it has disadvantage on the next saving throw it makes before the end of the quori's next turn. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks.

Possession (Recharge 6). One humanoid that the quori can see within 5 feet of it must succeed on a DC 16 Charisma saving throw or be possessed by the quori; the quori then disappears, and the target is incapacitated and loses control of its body. The quori now controls the body but doesn't deprive the target of awareness. The quori can't be targeted by any attack, spell, or other effect, and it retains its alignment, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and immunity to being charmed and frightened. It otherwise uses the possessed target's statistics, but doesn't gain access to the target's knowledge, class features, or proficiencies.
 The possession lasts until the body drops to 0 hit points, the quori ends it as a bonus action, or the quori is forced out by an effect like the dispel evil and good spell. When the possession ends, the quori reappears in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the body. The target is immune to this quori's Possession for 24 hours after succeeding on the saving throw or after the possession ends.

Bonus Actions

Nimble Escape. The quori takes the Disengage or Hide action.

Shadow Step. If the quori is in dim light or darkness, it can teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space it can see that is also in dim light or darkness.

Class B

Class B threats hold some influence over or otherwise pose a threat to large region in one world or local areas across several worlds or planes.

Yoake

"Please... help me..."

The young sorcerer Yoake unwillingly exudes planar energies that destabilizes reality around her, allowing for the horrific star spawn to slip between the cracks and enter our world.

Physical Description

Yoake (she/her) is a short half-elf in her twenties with fair skin and long black hair that reaches to the middle of her back. She wears clothes typical of a commoner, and is often covered in the blood of her accidental victims.

Lore

Yoake's relatively normal life on Toril was turned upside down when a malevolent entity of the DM's choice forcibly suffused her body with planar energies far beyond anything her mind can handle (e.g. using a well of many worlds). This energy has sent her into an unstoppable rampage that destabilizes local reality and causes star spawn to enter the Material Plane. Strangely, these star spawn do not rampage like she does — rather, they actually lash out against any creature that gets too close to her or tries to hurt her.

When this power awakened, Yoake accidentally killed her family and much of the town she lived in. While she would avoid civilization if possible, Yoake is teleported to a random form of civilzation once per day and must do her best to avoid killing too many people. Her only solution is to track down the entity that cursed her with this power and force them to fix her somehow; as such, she embraces this power to a small extent and assembles an army of star spawn.

Between the star spawn and her inability to control her destructive powers, any settlement she comes across will scorn and attack her, even as she begs for help. As such, even well-intentioned adventurers who try to approach her will not be trusted and may be lashed out at depending on her mood.

The Hands of Vecna were alerted to this threat when a small city was partially damaged by her rampage. While the mission assignment is to slay her, the party may instead wish to find a cure or treatment by tracking down the entity that did this to her or otherwise nullify her magic in some way.

Hands of Vecna Music

If you're looking for songs that invoke imagery akin to that of the Hands of Vecna, have lyrics and themes similar to the characters involved with the organization, or were otherwise listened to while I wrote this document, check out my playlist on YouTube.

Social Encounters

Scared and volatile, Yoake apologizes profusely for the damage she causes while simultaneously distrusting anyone who attempts to approach her. It may take a series of Charisma (Persuasion) checks for the party to convince her that they mean her no harm, but once they do, she'll be shakily cooperative and give any information they need to help track down the entity that made her like this.

Random Teleportation. Once per day, Yoake is forcibly teleported to a random settlement or form of civilzation on the planet she's on. The spell's destination may be influenced by her current mood or desires, and may function similarly to the teleport spell, at the DM's discretion.

Variant: Planar Jaunt. In a planar campaign, the DM is free to modify Yoake's abilities to work on a planar scale. With this variant, her Spatial Rift ability instead creates Planar Rifts that connect two random planes of existence, and her Random Teleportation takes her to a random plane of existence every day.

Combat

Unless a creature intentionally provokes her, Yoake is more akin to a walking disaster than an active combatant, constantly destroying her surroundings and potentially injuring innocents even as she begs for forgiveness. While she won't attack the star spawn that protect her, she will only actively defend and work with them if she is retaliating against a threat or searching for vengeance.

In a proper fight, Yoake will use spells like disintegrate, gravity fissure, and lightning bolt to annihilate her foes. She uses wall of force to guard her flank while bypassing the enemies' with Spatial Rift, but keen foes may use the two-way nature of these rifts to their advantage to bypass hers instead. When she is bloodied, Yoake will cast scatter to split or bunch up her enemies all at once instead of relying on the randomness of her Destabilizing Aura.

Forced Abilities. Yoake must use Spatial Rift when available. If no creatures are around, she may find herself unwillingly casting gravity sinkhole or pulse wave or using Arcane Blast on nearby objects and structures.

"Don't bother trying to save the girl. Planar anomalies like her are difficult to capture, and I would much rather save any containment options involving antimagic for anomalies that could be useful to us in the future. Just go for a clean bow shot to the eye, will ya?"

"Unrelated, but word in the Hells is that these two berks from Realmspace managed to sneak in and steal a valuable artifact from Mephistopheles' private vault; I would laugh, but security in Cania has just been made ten times tighter in response, which is quite a setback for us. I wanted to send you there next week to retrieve something for me, but thanks to them, I have to rewrite those plans from scratch... ugh. Stupid f*cking Faerûnians."

"In any event, I'll let you know when I have something concrete for you to work with."

Yoake

Medium humanoid (half-elf, sorcerer), chaotic neutral

  • Armor Class 16 (mage armor)
  • Hit Points 126 (12d8 + 72)
  • Speed 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
8 (-1)16 (+3)22 (+6)10 (+0)12 (+1)11 (+0)
  • Saving Throws Con +10
  • Skills Intimidation +8
  • Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
  • Languages Common, Elvish
  • Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +4

Death Burst. If Yoake is reduced to 0 hit points or dies, she explodes in a violent eruption of planar energy. Each creature and object within 120 feet of her is transported to Othrys, the first layer of Carceri, or to some other plane of the DM's choice.

Destabilizing Aura. At the start of each of her turns, each creature and object that isn't being worn or carried within 60 feet of Yoake other than her takes 18 (4d8) force damage (DC 18 Charisma save for half).
 If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, a target is teleported to an unoccupied space within 60 feet of Yoake, and a star spawn mangler is summoned in its original space; if the target rolled a 1 on the d20, a star spawn hulk is summoned instead. The star spawn acts on Yoake's initiative, is immune to this aura, and will attack creatures that get within 60 feet of her.

Fey Ancestry. Yoake has advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can't put her to sleep.

Innate Spellcasting. Yoake is a 12th-level spellcaster. Her innate spellcasting ability is Constitution (spell save DC 18). Yoake knows the following sorcerer spells, and can cast them without material components:

At will: arcane gate, gravity sinkhole, pulse wave
2/day each: fly, gravity fissure, lightning bolt
1/day each: disintegrate, scatter, wall of force

Regeneration. Yoake regains 15 hit points at the start of each of her turns if she has at least 1 hit point.

Siege Monster. Yoake deals double damage to objects and structures.

Actions

Multiattack. Yoake makes three Arcane Blasts attacks and uses Scream of Anguish (if available).

Arcane Blast. Ranged Spell Attack: +10 to hit, range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 17 (2d10 + 6) force damage, and the target is pushed up to 10 feet away from her if it is Huge or smaller.

Scream of Anguish (Recharge 4–6). Yoake unleashes psychic energy in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in the area that can hear her takes 28 (8d6) psychic damage (DC 18 Wisdom save for half). On a failed save, a target also can't take reactions until the start of its next turn.

Bonus Actions

Spatial Rift (Recharge 4-6). Yoake creates two permanent teleportation portals within 60 feet of her, which are linked as the arcane gate spell. There is also a 50 percent that a star spawn grue will appear at one of the portals when they are first created.

Janara Nedath

"When I drown this world in an ocean of blood, the Shadow shall return, and we shall know true paradise at last."

With the blood of Azrai running through her veins, the cruel Janara Nedath seeks to conquer all of Cerilia and form a new empire in the name of her abolethic master.

Physical Description

Janara (she/they) appears as a human with unnaturally pale skin with dark gray hair. She has dark teal eyes and a matching cloak that extends a few feet behind her as she walks.

As the campaign progresses and her abolethic corruption spreads, Janara's skin will become more and more translucent, as though she is transforming into a skum servant.

Lore

The Nedath family has always been tainted by Azrai's darkness, but its youngest scion Janara is so thoroughly corrupted that they derive sorcerous magic from it. With no kingdom to call their own, Janara has lurked in the background of Anuirean politics for years, always on the hunt for an opportunity to claim more power for themselves.

Eventually, Janara got their wish: a complex scheme implicated the baroness Marlae Roesone of treason and illegal dealings, granting them the support of the people when the baroness was couped and her eponymous kingdom was claimed by the Nedath bloodline.

Even as one of the only true sorcerers in all of Cerilia, Janara knew they stood no chance against the other bloodlines who seek to conquer the continent for themselves. They beseeched Azrai for a divine blessing, but their prayers were instead answered by a similarly foul being: Y'chak, The Violent Flame. This abolethic elder evil expressed its support for Azrai's corruption and Janara's thirst for power, and offered its foul blessing in exchange for enabling abolethic supremacy across all of Aebrynis.

Eagerly accepting Y'chak's offer, the new regent Janara combined their natural guile and abolethic enchantments to aggressively form political alliances, attract new settlers, and build up her armies. Now, Janara and their aboleth allies are ready to begin the long-awaited crusade to conquer Anuire and beyond.

Dominion of Nedath

Once a humble Anuirean kingdom of farmers and frontier settlers on the Southern Coast, the Dominion of Nedath has aggressively expanded its holdings and military presence, and much of the Southern Coast has come to rely on its naval protection from the abolethic invaders that have recently emerged from the Straits of Aerele, blissfully unaware that the two factions are one and the same.

In addition to the late Roesone's resources, Janara is aided by a half-dozen aboleth generals, each polymorphed into humanoids that help her manage her new kingdom. With their help, Janara wields unholy realm spells that will consume all of Anuine if left unopposed.

Abolethic Charm. Janara's subjects are unusually loyal to her, stemming for a charm placed on drinking water within her domain that makes them unconditionally loyal.

Great Flood. Between endless thunderstorms and bodies of water constantly overflowing, Nedath is slowly being flooded at a rate of one inch per month, a process the kingdom has prepared. Once Nedath's water level reaches six inches, this supernatural flooding will begin to effect each adjacent province; when those provinces are flooded by six inches of water, the flooding will spread in a similar fashion. While Nedath's military has already made preparations for this flooding, nearby provinces will be forced to adapt to the new weather conditions.

Plague of the Deep. After a province reaches a foot of flooding, a quarter of its civilian population will be infected with a water dependency disease, as detailed in an aboleth's Tentacle attack. This disease will infect a quarter of the remaining uninfected population every three months thereafter.

Social Encounters

Trained from birth in the arts of deceit and manipulation, Janara is a highly charismatic and strategic regent, using misinformation and nationalism to rally her citizens against neighboring domains and reinvigorate their domestic production. Her magical boons have made her complacent, however, and she is unaccustomed to dealing with fellow regents or other beings who can resist her enchantments and deal with her fairly.

Janara thinks herself as being superior to every other being on Cerilia, and even has fantasies of betraying her aboleth allies and claiming the continent for herself. However, she is ultimately an oblivious pawn in the aboleths' quest to destroy mortalkind on Aebrynis and beyond, and will be discarded when they see it fit.

Abolethic Awareness. If Janara converses with an unblooded creature she can see, she automatically knows its creature type, when it is lying, and what its greatest desires and fears are.

Blood History. Janara can call upon the memories of all of her ancestors, granting her advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma checks.

Divine Aura. Janara can cast charm person, detect thoughts, and mass suggestion on unblooded creatures twice per day each (spell save DC 18).

Spellcasting. Janara can cast modify memory, prayer of healing, scrying, and sending once per day each (spell save DC 18).

Combat

Janara freely uses her underlings as meat shields and has no care for whether they live or die. This doesn't prevent her from bolstering them with spells like aura of purity and circle of power, however; rather, she simply sees them as resources to be expended. While she prefers to stay at range and seeks the high ground, she is more than willing to get her hands dirty with destructive wave and Shadow Wave in melee.

When she is bloodied, Janara will cast dominate person to turn her enemies against each other as she makes her escape.

Janara Nedath

Medium humanoid (human, sorcerer), neutral evil

  • Armor Class 15 (mage armor)
  • Hit Points 161 (19d8 + 76)
  • Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (hover), swim 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
11 (+0)15 (+2)18 (+4)13 (+1)14 (+2)20 (+5)
  • Saving Throws Con +9, Wis +7, Cha +10
  • Skills Deception +15, Insight +7, Intimidation +10, Perception +7, Persuasion +10, Religion +6
  • Damage Resistances necrotic, psychic
  • Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion
  • Senses truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 17
  • Languages Common, Deep Speech, telepathy 30 ft.
  • Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +5

Azrai's Favor (3/Day). If Janara fails a saving throw, she can add 2d4 to the roll, potentially turning it into a success.

Innate Spellcasting. Janara is a 14th-level spellcaster. Her innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 18). Janara knows the following sorcerer spells, and can cast them without material components:

At will: aura of purity, command, water breathing
3/day each: blight, fear, tidal wave
2/day each: Bigby's hand, hold person, mass healing word
1/day each: circle of power, destructive wave, dominate person

Thought Shield. Janara's thoughts can't be read by telepathy or other means unless she allows it. Whenever a creature deals psychic damage to Janara, that creature takes the same amount of damage as she does.

Actions

Multiattack. Janara makes two Withering Bolt attacks.

Withering Bolt. Ranged Spell Attack: +10 to hit, range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (3d6 + 5) necrotic damage, and the target's speed is reduced by 10 feet until the end of its next turn.

Shadow Wave (Recharge 6). Janara unleashes negative energy in a 60-foot cone. Each hostile creature in the area takes 22 (4d10) necrotic damage (DC 18 Constitution save for half). If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, a target only deals half damage with weapon attacks that use Strength until the end of its next turn. Allies in the area instead gain a number of temporary hit points equal to half the damage roll.

Bonus Actions

Mind Lash. Melee Spell Attack: +10 to hit, reach 30 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d10 + 5) psychic damage. If the attack roll was made with advantage, the target also has disadvantage on the next Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw it makes before the end of Janara's next turn.

Psychic Drain. One creature that is an ally of Janara's or is charmed by her takes 10 (3d6) psychic damage, and she regains hit points equal to the damage dealt.

Reactions

Divine Protection. Janara magically adds 3 to her AC against one attack roll that would hit her.

Legendary Actions

Janara can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. Janara regains spent legendary actions at the start of her turn.

  • Otherworldly Wings. Janara flies up to her speed without provoking opportunity attacks.
  • Attack. Janara makes one Mind Lash or Withering Bolt attack.
  • Scion's Compulsion. One creature of Janara's choice within 60 feet of her that can hear her must succeed on a DC 18 Charisma saving throw or be frightened until the end of Janara's next turn. Blooded targets make the saving throw with advantage.

Red Knight

"The Council has spoken: the Hands of Vecna must die. So it is said, and so it shall be done."

Being a spirit bound to a suit of magical armor, the red knight roams the planes in its never-ending quest to destroy the Hands of Vecna.

Physical Description

Similar to a helmed horror, the red knight (any pronouns) resembles an empty suit of red plate armor meant for a dragonborn that stands over seven feet tall. Their armor is forged with red steel, a lightweight, dull red metal, and is worn from countless battles across the planes. Their red steel sword glows softly with arcane runes and is pristine condition.

Lore

The red knight was once a paladin named Nadarr who served the Council of Intrusion in the world of Mystara. This council of Immortals guards the world against extraplanar threats, so naturally the Hands of Vecna attempted to infiltrate the upper echelons of its mortal servants. When Nadarr discovered the plot, the Hands orchestrated a plot to assassinate her and cover it up.

Nadarr was a victim of the Red Curse of the Savage Coast, which granted her an extraordinary magical power called a Legacy. Between her specific Legacy and her indomitable spirit as a paladin, Nadarr's soul still resides within her armor, animating it so that it may continue to carry out her masters' will.

As the red knight, Nadarr's lingering will scours the planes in search of the Hands of Vecna and other servants of The Whispered One so that she may take her vengeance and ensure the safety of Mystara. By tracking down aberrations and other anomalous threats, she hopes to slay the unsuspecting Hands sent to contain them and work her way up to the Inner Circle.

Social Encounters

As a suit of armor animated by the spirit of a steadfast paladin, the red knight speaks in short, literal phrases and has a one track mind when it comes to fulfilling its quest. This doesn't prevent it from behaving intelligently, however — it simply chooses not to speak frequently, rather than being incapable of it.

If the red knight discovers or is told that it is attacking a member of the Splinter Cell, it will be conflicted. On one hand, they share a common goal in taking down the organization, but on the other, its oath applies to all servants of Vecna, without any consideration for the willingness of these servants. Splinter Cell members who wish to recruit it to their side must provide a sufficient argument to stop it from attacking them — or worse, from crumbling into nothingness from potentially breaking its oath.

Detect Portal (1/Rest). As an action, the red knight detects the distance and direction to the closest planar portal within 10 miles of it.

Divine Awareness (1/Rest). As an action, the red knight can sense whether the following types of creatures are present within 10 miles of it: aberrations, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead. This feature doesn't reveal the creatures' location or number.

Whispered One's Bane. The red knight can use divination magic to know if a creature it sees is a warlock of Vecna or has otherwise made a pact with him (no action required).

Combat

Knowing that being a solo combatant makes him weak, the red knight will generally prefer to interrupt an existing combat encounter between an aberration and a Hand of Vecna by

Once he dives into the fray, the red knight will relentlessly pursue its target without fear or hesitation. With its red steel equipment possessing antimagic enchantments, the knight prefers to target spellcasters first, using features like Relentless Avenger to stay within their melee range while knocking other nuisances away with Hold the Line.

Putting It All Together

With the dozens of NPCs and story hooks detailed in this document, the question of how to properly incorporate them into a campaign is entirely natural. What level should the party start fighting the Inner Circle? How do I hint at The Overseer's presence throughout the game? How do I modify this to fit my setting or work with the story I'm trying to tell?

The simple answer is this: I don't know. Given my limitations as an individual hobbyist writer, I don't have the time, energy, or motivation to present this as a proper adventure book. Rather, I wanted to treat the Hands of Vecna and its related NPCs as a toolbox, where the DM of a game can use any of these tools to add to their game as they see fit.

For instance, one DM might want to incorporate this material into an already-running campaign, while another might want to start from scratch with it in mind. One might want to tweak certain NPCs and their personalities, while another might repurpose the stat blocks or use only one or two entries in the Threat codex for their game. All of these use cases are valid: go forth and play the game how you want to.

As an aside, check out the Three Clue Rule by The Alexandrian if you haven't already. Creating plots involving mysteries can be difficult, but this guy has it down to a science.

Red Knight

Medium construct (paladin), lawful neutral

  • Armor Class 20 (red steel plate, shield)
  • Hit Points 210 (28d8 + 84)
  • Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (hover)
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
20 (+5)10 (+0)17 (+3)16 (+3)14 (+2)20 (+5)
  • Saving Throws Str +10, Dex +5, Con +8, Int +8, Wis +7, Cha +10
  • Skills Athletics +10, Intimidation +10, Perception +7
  • Damage Resistances damage from spells; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks that aren't adamantine
  • Damage Immunities force, necrotic, poison
  • Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, stunned
  • Senses blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 17
  • Languages Common, telepathy 30 ft.
  • Challenge 16 (15,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +5

Special Equipment. The knight is made from a set of red steel armor enchanted to defend against magical attacks. In addition to granting him the damage resistances and immunities in his statistics, the knight can turn any critical hit against him into a normal hit.

Aura of Protection. The knight and each ally within 30 feet of him gains a +5 bonus to saving throws and can't be frightened while he isn't incapacitated (accounted for in his statistics).

Innate Spellcasting. The knight's innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 18). He can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

At will: command, dispel magic, lesser restoration
2/day each: dispel evil and good, fear, greater restoration
1/day each: destructive wave, plane shift, steel wind strike

Magic Resistance. The knight has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Spell Immunity. The knight is immune to the fireball, heat metal, and lightning bolt spells.

Actions

Multiattack. The knight makes three melee attacks.

Red Steel Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 5) magical slashing damage plus 16 (3d10) force damage. If the creature is concentrating on a spell, it has disadvantage on the Constitution saving throw made to maintain it.

Bonus Actions

Shield Bash. The knight shield bashes one creature within 5 feet of him. The target must succeed on a DC 18 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone, pushed up to 10 feet away from the knight, or both (his choice).

Reactions

The knight can take one reaction on every turn in combat.

Hold the Line. When a creature moves while within the knight's reach or hits him with a melee attack, he can use Shield Bash against it.

Relentless Avenger. When a creature enters or leaves the knight's reach, he can make an opportunity attack against it, even if it took the Disengage action beforehand. On a hit, he can move up to half his speed without provoking opportunity attacks.

Shield Master. If the knight is subjected to an effect that allows him to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, he instead takes no damage if he succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if he fails.

Class C

Class C threats have significant influence over several regions or planets across multiple planes or wildspace systems, or are otherwise significantly more powerful than the average Class B threat.

Drawmij

"Have we met before? Wait, don't tell me. Perhaps you've already met 'me', per se, but have I ever... no, I don't believe we have. Pleased to make your acquaintance!"

Famous for the creation of the eponymous instant summons spell, the archmage Drawmij is a well-renowned Oerthian chronurgist and member of the Circle of Eight.

Physical Description

Drawmij (he/him) appears as a young man in his early thirties, but he is actually in his sixties or seventies. He has vibrant blue eyes and light blonde hair, stands over six feet tall, and wears elven robes that use cool colors.

Those with a keen eye might notice that Drawmij's physical features change slightly each time they meet him. His shoulders might be slightly more broad, or maybe his hair is slightly thicker and curlier, or perhaps he grew or lost a few inches of height.

Lore

Drawmij is a founding member of the Circle of Eight, a group of eight plus one archmages from Greyspace that is devoted to preserving the Balance between the forces of Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil. He has survived years of conflict and strife, including the war waged against Vecna and His servants, as well as the tragic betrayal of Rary that resulted in the deaths of Tenser and Otiluke.

For years now, Drawmij has devoted his time to the study of chronurgy magic, allowing him to peer into the future and safeguard the Planes from dangerous threats before they can fully emerge. In recent predictions and investigations, he has seen brief glimpses of the Hands of Vecna and their activities across the Planes; given enough time, he might just be able to uncover the organization's existence and work with the Circle of Eight to expose and destroy them.

Social Encounters

Eccentric and whimsical, Drawmij is a troublemaker that often finds himself in dangerous situations he barely finds a way out of. In casual conversation, he gives little thought to his prestige and the influence that grants him; instead, he often disguises himself as a humble, weary traveler that is pleasant enough to converse with.

When the conversation topic drifts to those he dislikes — such as the newest three members of the Circle — Drawmij will drop most of his whimsy and take matters seriously. He spares no mercy for sworn enemies like Rary and Vecna, and will use every resource at his disposal to take them down — no matter the cost.

Signature Spells. Drawmij can cast augury, clairvoyance, gate seal, locate creature, locate object, sending, teleport, and warp sense once per day each.

Spell Mastery. Drawmij can cast detect magic, Drawmij's instant summons, find the path, mage hand, prestidigitation, and wristpocket at will, requiring no material components.

Combat

Drawmij generally starts combat with a spell like slow to debilitate his foes before they can act. He follows up with damaging abilities like cone of cold and Magic Flare, and will use Chronal Recoil and Retroactive Positioning to remove himself or allies from harm's way.

Once bloodied, Drawmij will cast time stop, using that time to rid himself of harmful spells with dispel magic, place down a globe of invulnerability or wall of force, or even move objects with telekinesis as appropriate. He will then unleash his full arsenal of spells and abilities on his foes, saving power word stun for a critical moment at the very last second.

"The Circle of Eight has been the biggest thorn in Vecna's side for quite some time now. Whenever he concocts a plan for multiversal domination or schemes to vanquish foes like Ioun and the Raven Queen, you can bet that at least one member of the Circle will be there to meddle with his business and foil his plans once more.

In the past, the Circle's activities were not our concern; while we have on occasion struck against Vecna's foes — warlock pacts aren't cheap, after all — taking on the Circle of Eight is very much outside of our purview... or more accurately, was outside of our purview.

You see, Drawmij has discovered something big: us. He hasn't pieced it all together yet, but sooner or later, he's going to realize the full extent of our operations and rally the other seven — excuse me, eight members of the Circle against us. We are powerful, but Mordenkainen and his lackies are quite cunning, and we wouldn't be able to beat them in a full on war without suffering heavy losses.

So, the plan is simple: we need to take out Drawmij before he fully discovers the Hands of Vecna. This information isn't too classified, so I'll have to bring this to Zisk's attention so that they can concoct a plan. Meanwhile, I ought to figure out a way to destroy any clones he might have hidden away somewhere..."

Drawmij

Medium humanoid (human, wizard), neutral

  • Armor Class 15 (mage armor)
  • Hit Points 150 (20d8 + 60)
  • Speed 30 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
12 (+1)15 (+2)16 (+3)21 (+5)20 (+5)18 (+4)
  • Saving Throws Int +10, Wis +10
  • Skills Arcana +15, History +10, Insight +15, Investigation +15, Nature +10, Perception +10
  • Damage Resistances damage from spells
  • Senses passive Perception 20
  • Languages Celestial, Common, Draconic, Dwarvish, Elvish, Gnomish, Primordial
  • Challenge 16 (15,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +5

Magic Resistance. Drawmij has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Spellcasting. Drawmij is an 18th-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 18). He has the following wizard spells prepared:

At will: dispel magic, levitate, see invisibility
3/day each: cone of cold, haste, slow
2/day each: globe of invulnerability, scatter, telekinesis
1/day each: power word stun, time stop, wall of force

Temporal Awareness. Drawmij and allies within 60 feet of him can't be surprised and gain a +5 bonus to initiative rolls.

War Caster. Drawmij has advantage on saving throws made to maintain his concentration on a spell, and he can use Magic Flare to make opportunity attacks.

Actions

Multiattack. Drawmij makes two Magic Flare attacks.

Magic Flare. Melee or Ranged Spell Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 24 (3d12 + 5) force damage.

Bonus Actions

Drawmij can't use the same bonus action two rounds in a row.

Retroactive Positioning. Drawmij teleports to an unoccupied space within 60 feet of him that he can see.

Time Siphon. Drawmij unleashes chronurgy magic in a 120-foot cone. Each hostile creature in the area takes 33 (6d10) force damage (DC 18 Charisma save for half). On a failed save, a target also has its speed halved until the end of its next turn. Allies in the area instead has their speed doubled until the end of their next turn.

Reactions

Chronal Shift. After Drawmij or a creature he can see makes an attack roll, a saving throw, or an ability check, he can force the creature to reroll and use the second result.

Legendary Actions

Drawmij can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. Drawmij regains spent legendary actions at the start of his turn.

  • Chronal Recoil. Drawmij teleports one creature he can see within 60 feet of him to an unoccupied space he can see. The target must have occupied that space at some point on its last turn. An unwilling target must succeed on a DC 18 Charisma saving throw to avoid the effect.
  • Spellcasting (Costs 2 Actions). Drawmij casts a non-damaging spell.
  • Vortex Jaunt (Costs 2 Actions). Drawmij uses Retroactive Positioning, and immediately after he disappears, each creature within 30 feet of the space he left must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or take 16 (3d10) force damage.

Neogi Darkstrider

"Kill them all."

Ruthless and effective, the neogi darkstrider and his fleet of nightspiders scour wildspace in search of any semblance of civilized life to sacrifice to Hadar, the Dark Hunger.

Physical Description

Like other neogi, the darkstrider (he/him) looks like an outsize spider with an eel's neck and head. If him towering over his kin weren't enough to indicate his status, his body is covered in black tendril tattoos, and he dons a metallic mask that is halfway between a plague doctor mask and a skull. When he uses it, his voice is deep, commanding, and ruthless.

Lore

The neogi darkstrider has terrorized wildspace for decades now in his futile quest to prevent the Far Realm-infested star Hadar from burning out. He generally seeks out smaller settlements and outposts that can be taken down by

The darkstrider's personal ship is a larger nightspider called The Voidcrawler, which has the ability to turn invisible out of combat. With this fearsome power, The Voidcrawler can perform reconnaissance and launch surprise attacks with ease, giving it a reputation as an unseen force of nature that can and will ravage wildspace with ease. The ship's crew consists of twenty-three neogi who man the weapons, four umber hulks that serve as shock troops, and two neogi masters who are dedicated guards and backup pilots to the darkstrider that captains them.

The darkstrider's home base is an asteroid belt in a long dead wildspace system, where he and his neogi servants gather their manpower and resources between raids.

Social Encounters

If his actions aren't enough, the darkstrider will sometimes let loose short sentences in Common directed towards his foes. If engaged telepathically or in Deep Speech, however, he will waste no time verbally tearing apart his opponents and praising his foul master in order to break their nerve.

The darkstrider spares no mercy, not even for his servants. Weakness means failure, and failure means gruesome death.

Mystic Arcanum. The darkstrider can cast air bubble, contact other plane, sending, and speak with dead once per day each.

Shroud of Hadar. The darkstrider and creatures of his choice within 30 feet of him are always under the effects of the mind blank spell.

Combat

The darkstrider wastes no time boarding an enemy spelljammer, using Shadow Stride and Grasp of Hadar to close the gap on his enemies. He will default to eyebite with his legendary actions if not faced with a significant threat, but uses arms of Hadar and Gift of Hadar for himself to protect himself from foes that pose a challenge. He will use Brood of Hadar, maddening darkness, and hunger of Hadar if three or more enemies can be targeted simultaneously, and once bloodied, will use dominate person to try and turn the enemy against each other.

The Voidcrawler

Armor Class: 19 (metal)Cargo: 60 tons
Hit Points: 400Crew: 30
Damage Threshold: 20Keel/Beam: 200 ft./60 ft.
Speed: fly 40 ft.Cost:

Dark Hunger's Conduit

The Voidcrawler's spelljamming helm can only be attuned to by a warlock of Hadar. While attuned, the pilot gains access to special abilities as detailed below.

Nondetection. The Voidcrawler and creatures aboard it can't be targeted by any divination magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors.

Invisibility. After channeling for 1 minute, the pilot causes the ship and its contents to become invisible. If the ship or any of its crew take damage, make an attack or damage roll, or cast a spell, any channeling or prior invisibility is broken, requiring the channeling to be restarted.

Overwhelming Darkness (1/Day). The pilot can use their action to attempt to blind the pilot of one spelljammer it is aware of within 1,000 feet of the ship. The target must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma saving throw or be blinded until the end of the Voidcrawler's pilot's next turn. While blinded, the target can't see anything happening on or around the vessel it is piloting.

Telepathy. The pilot can speak telepathically to any spelljamming pilot within 1,000 feet of the ship.

6 Eldritch Ballistae (Crew: 3 each)

Armor Class: 15
Hit Points: 50
Cost: 50 gp (ballista), — (eldritch bolt)

It takes 1 action to load a ballista, 1 action to aim it, and 1 action to fire it.

Eldritch Bolt. Ranged Spell Attack: +6 to hit, range 120/480 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (3d10) force damage.

Mangonel (Crew: 5)

Armor Class: 15
Hit Points: 100
Cost: 100 gp (mangonel), — (stone)

It takes 2 actions to load the mangonel, 2 actions to aim it, and 1 action to fire it.

Stone. Ranged Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 200/800 ft. (can't hit targets within 60 feet of it), one target. Hit: 27 (5d10) bludgeoning damage.

Neogi Darkstrider

Large aberration (neogi, warlock), lawful evil

  • Armor Class 18 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 195 (23d10 + 69)
  • Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
21 (+5)12 (+1)17 (+3)15 (+2)11 (+0)20 (+5)
  • Saving Throws Dex +7, Con +9, Wis +6, Cha +11
  • Skills Arcana +8, Intimidation +17, Investigation +8, Perception +6, Persuasion +11, Religion +8
  • Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
  • Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned
  • Senses darkvision 300 ft., passive Perception 16
  • Languages Common, Deep Speech, Undercommon, telepathy 30 ft.
  • Challenge 18 (20,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +6

Devil's Sight. Magical darkness doesn't impede the darkstrider's darkvision.

Herald of Hadar. While he isn't incapacitated, the darkstrider exudes an aura of hungry darkness within 30 feet of him. Dim light within the aura becomes darkness, and bright light in the area becomes dim light. Furthermore, allies within the aura benefit from the darkstrider's darkvision and Devil's Sight and have advantage on saving throws.

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the darkstrider fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.

Pact Magic. The darkstrider is a 16th-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 19). He knows the following warlock spells, and can cast them without material components:

At will: arms of Hadar, darkness, eyebite
2/rest each: fear, hunger of Hadar, invisibility
1/rest each: dimension door, dominate person, maddening darkness

Spider Climb. The darkstrider can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Actions

Multiattack. The darkstrider makes two weapon attacks and uses Grasp of Hadar.

Shadow Blade. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 feet, one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 + 5) psychic damage plus 9 (2d8) necrotic damage. Hit or Miss: The blade returns to the darkstrider's hand.

Grasp of Hadar. One creature within 30 feet of the darkstrider takes 40 (9d8) necrotic damage (DC 19 Strength save for half). On a failed save, the target is also pulled up to 30 feet towards the darkstrider if it is Huge or smaller.

Brood of Hadar (Recharge 6). The darkstrider unleashes dark horrors on a creature within 120 feet of him, which then leap from it to up to three other targets within 30 feet of the first one. Each target takes 22 (5d8) necrotic damage plus 22 (5d8) psychic damage (DC 19 Constitution save for half). On a failed save, a target is also restrained until the end of the neogi's next turn.

Bonus Actions

Gift of Hadar (Recharge 4–6). The darkstrider summons a tendril of dark energy, which orbits and protects one ally of his choice that he can see within 60 feet of him until the start of his next turn. While the tendril orbits the ally, the ally has resistance to radiant damage, and whenever a creature within 10 feet of it hits the ally with an attack, the tendril lashes out and deals 9 (2d8) necrotic damage to the attacker.

Reactions

Feed on Weakness. When a hostile creature within 30 feet of the darkstrider fails a saving throw, the darkstrider and each ally in that area gain 10 temporary hit points.

Legendary Actions

The darkstrider can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The darkstrider regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

  • Shadow Stride. The darkstrider moves up to his speed. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks and allows him to pass through the space of any creature.
  • Shadow Blade. The darkstrider makes one weapon attack.
  • Grasp of Hadar (Costs 2 Actions). The darkstrider uses Grasp of Hadar.
  • Spellcasting (Costs 2 Actions). The darkstrider casts a non-damaging spell or uses an action from an eyebite spell it is concentrating on.

"This is the space marauder that killed Lucia's original family, right? Believe me, Kothar has regaled me with that sob story plenty of times. As well as other stories about her 'most prized disciple', now that I think about it. I try not to pay attention to her incessant droning, but from the few fragments I picked up, it's almost as if she cares about Lucia. How curious. Let's just hope her attachment doesn't become a liability. I would hate for Lucia to have to replace her too early."

"In any event, I would respect this guy's craft if his goals were less... omnicidal. He's commanding, ruthless, and most importantly, the most efficient herald of an elder evil I've ever seen. Although, 'seen' is a bit of an exaggeration — if not for Lucia, I would only know of him from rumors and legends spread across wildspace. Predicting his next target will certainly be a challenge... but it's nothing a Whisperer and a few Seekers can't solve with a bit of elbow grease."

Neothelid Hydra

A neothelid is a mind flayer tadpole that consumes the rest of its tadpole pool and grows into a worm of immense size, while a hydra is a reptilian monstrosity with multiple regenerating heads. While each is fearsome in its own right, neither can hope to compare to a neothelid hydra: a writhing pile of several neothelids all fused into one terrifying predator that prowls the planes for the biggest prey it can find.

Physical Description

A neothelid hydra is akin to a pile of tangled wires that have been permanently conjoined by glue. The individual neothelids are akin to large slime-covered worms with purple, ridged flesh; their faces are akin to four-petalled flowers, with their central mouths being covered in teeth and housing several barbed tentacles.

It would be more accurate to say that a neothelid hydra rolls like a tumbleweed, rather than slithering along the ground like a coherent creature. Each head attempts to move the main body in a different direction, wreaking havoc wherever they go. Despite their conflict, however, the heads will not fight each other, recognizing that they are all part of one collective creature that share the same common goal: endless consumption.

Lore

A hydra is said to be formed from the blood of Lernaea, a dragon god slain by Tiamat, the Scaled Tyrant in a time long past. So when a foolish wizard stumbled upon an untouched vial of Lernaea's blood deep in a forgotten temple and poured it directly into the tadpole pool of a mind flayer colony, the tadpoles were assimilated into the blood and rapidly grew into a five-headed neothelid of unfathomable size and power.

Possessing the ability to shift between planes normally attributed to its mind flayer cousins, the neothelid hydra roams the planes in search of sustenance to satisfy its insatiable appetite. Day by day, it consumes entire villages and towns across the Material Plane — quickly attracting the attention of the Hands of Vecna, who will assign its most powerful agents to neutralize the threat as soon as possible.

Combat

When the neothelid hydra arrives in a town, it will begin its feast by casting earthquake and biting as many prey as it can, targeting enemies with the highest Intelligence score first using Creature Sense. If one of the hydra's heads die or it otherwise takes significant damage, several heads will focus their ire on the attacker, attempting to use its tentacles to digest it quickly, or if that proves difficult, using Fling to hurl that attacker as far away as it can.

In general, the hydra will prefer to spend its legendary actions on its Acid Breath, reducing victims to puddles of slime and leaving only their delicious brains intact. But once bloodied, or if reduced to two or less heads, the hydra will attempt to grapple the strongest threat with its tentacles and cast feeblemind on it, and will go on a rampage with Charge and its Tentacles.

"What the f*ck was that idiot thinking?"

Using Pazuzu

On page 31, it is described that a Benefactor named Typhon provided Rayla Sylvaranth with the location of the Orb of Lies she uses to protect her Splinter Cell from The Overseer's gaze. Typhon is supposedly a God of Health and Fertility, but if you didn't see the link, here's the scoop: Typhon is actually a disguise used by Pazuzu, the Demon Prince of the Lower Aerial Kingdoms.

As Typhon, Pazuzu is known to provide aid to those in need in the form of blessings, intervention in dire combat scenarios, and information. In exchange, Pazuzu may require a creature to swear utter obedience for a week or more—and takes full advantage of this service. Over time, even the most innocent servants of Good will find that they have been corrupted into bitter, cruel souls that sow discord and destruction wherever they go.

So, how does Pazuzu fit into the Hands of Vecna storyline? While a demon lord like him needs little justification to steal from Fraz-Urb'luu, why has he struck against an organization dedicated to The Whispered One? What are his plans with the organization and its Splinter Cell?

One possibility is that Vecna uncovered a terrible secret about Pazuzu: he was the one who corrupted the angel Asmodeus, who now rules the Nine Hells, and has a secret alliance with him to find the Shard of Evil that lies at the bottom of the Abyss. In retaliation, by acting as The Benefactor of the Splinter Cell, and perhaps with the assistance of the cerebriliths described earlier in this chapter, he hopes to destroy Vecna's most powerful servants and seize the power of The Beholding for himself. In this scenario, Pazuzu serves as a secret villain to be discovered by the party when they join the Splinter Cell and thwarted before he can do any significant harm.

Alternatively, perhaps Pazuzu is simply a bystander in the war between the Hands and the anomalous, and seeks personal gratification by corrupting the organization's few innocent members towards evil. In this scenario, Pazuzu can serve as a beneficial patron even if the party does discover his true nature — as long as he gets what he wants in the end.

Depending on your campaign, perhaps The Benefactor is in fact a different malevolent entity altogether that opposes Vecna. Options include Asmodeus, Lord of the Ninth; Fraz-Urb'luu, Prince of Deception; Iuz the Old; Kas the Betrayer; any of the Class X threats described later in this chapter; an elder evil or its servants; or perhaps even Vecna himself.

One last option is to cut The Benefactor out of the narrative entirely — perhaps Rayla discovered the location of the Orb of Lies and stole it from Fraz-Urb'luu's fortress of Zoragmelok without any assistance from secret villains or extraplanar entities. This is an attractive choice for campaigns that already have enough villains, allowing the Splinter Cell plotline to be entirely focused on overthrowing the Inner Circle and The Overseer.

Neothelid Hydra

Gargantuan aberration, unaligned

  • Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 232 (15d20 + 75)
  • Speed 50 ft., swim 50 ft.
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
29 (+9)13 (+1)21 (+5)3 (-4)16 (+3)12 (+1)
  • Saving Throws Int +3, Wis +10, Cha +8
  • Skills Perception +17
  • Senses blindsight 120 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 27
  • Languages
  • Challenge 21 (33,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +7

Acidic Blood. When the hydra takes piercing or slashing damage, each creature within 5 feet of it takes 10 (3d6) acid damage.

Creature Sense. The hydra is aware of the presence of creatures within 1 mile of it that have an Intelligence score of 4 or higher. It knows the distance and direction to each creature, as well as each creature's Intelligence score, but can't sense anything else about it. A creature protected by a mind blank spell, a nondetection spell, or similar magic can't be perceived in this manner.

Immutable Form. The hydra is immune to any spell or effect that would alter its form.

Innate Psionics. The hydra's innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 16). It can innately cast the following spells using psionics, requiring no components:

At will: confusion, dominate beast, telekinesis
1/day each: earthquake, feeblemind, plane shift (self only)

Magic Resistance. The hydra has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Multiple Heads. The hydra has five heads. While it has more than one head, The hydra has advantage on saving throws against being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned, or knocked unconscious.
 Whenever the hydra takes 40 or more damage in a single turn, one of its heads dies. If all its heads die, the hydra dies. At the end of its turn, it grows two heads for each of its heads that died since its last turn, unless it has taken 40 or more fire damage since its last turn. The hydra regains 20 hit points for each head regrown in this way.

Siege Monster. The hydra deals double damage to objects and structures.

Unstoppable. At the start of each of its turns, the hydra can end one condition on itself, provided it has at least 1 hit point and three heads.

Wakeful. While the hydra sleeps, at least one of its heads is awake.

Actions

Multiattack. The hydra makes as many bite attacks as it has heads. It can replace a bite with one use of Fling.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +16 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (2d10 + 9) piercing damage plus 7 (2d6) acid damage.

Fling. One Huge or smaller object held or creature grappled by the hydra is thrown up to 60 feet in a random direction and knocked prone. If a thrown target strikes a solid surface, the target takes 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it was thrown. If the target is thrown at another creature, that creature must succeed on a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or take the same damage and be knocked prone.

Reactions

For each head the hydra has beyond one, it gets an extra reaction that can be used only to use Fling Away or to make opportunity attacks with its tentacles, as described below.

Fling Away. If the hydra is hit by an attack from a creature it has grappled, the hydra can use Fling on it.

Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack: +16 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (2d10 + 9) bludgeoning damage plus 7 (2d6) psychic damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 19) if it is Huge or smaller. While grappled, the target is restrained and has disadvantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saves. A head can only grapple one target at a time.

Legendary Actions

The hydra can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The hydra regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

  • Charge. The hydra moves up to half its speed in a straight line.
  • Tentacles. The hydra attacks with its tentacles or uses Fling.
  • Psionics (Costs 2 Actions). The hydra casts an innate spell.
  • Acid Breath (Costs 3 Actions). The hydra exhales acid in a 60-foot cone from each of its heads. Each creature in a cone takes 35 (10d6) acid damage (DC 20 Dexterity save for half). A creature in the area of more than one acid breath is affected only once.

Class X

The containment of Class X threats is assigned to Rank 6 members of the organization by The Overseer herself. These threats aren't necessarily more powerful than Class C threats, but rather possess or otherwise involve sensitive information regarding The Overseer that she seeks to keep confidential.

Haldroxoc

"'The Overseer', you say? Yeah, I know her alright. Back in the day, she'd be called 'The Administrator' or 'The Founder', Hells, back when she was my student, she didn't even have a name — she dropped her deadname and never opted to choose a new one. Youths these days fascinate me.

It doesn't matter what you refer to her by though, because I'll never stop calling her a PAIN IN MY ASS! It's not my fault she was so eager to be corrupted! How was I supposed to know she'd become the most annoying eavesdropper to ever befoul the Planes?!"

Amongst those who consort with yugoloths, the arcanaloth Haldroxoc is infamous for being a master illusionist, a magic item fence and interplanar crime boss, and utterly impossible for any of her enemies to find. But she holds one additional secret: she taught The Overseer in the ways of arcane magic back before she founded the Hands of Vecna.

Physical Description

Fiends don't age, but Haldroxoc (she/her) nevertheless presents as a wizened, anthropomorphic jackal with streaks of gray and white fur all across her body. Unlike most arcanaloths, she wears a dark gray cloak covered in rips and stains from years of use and a plain gray cowl to match. Her voice is loud, rude, and raspy, as though she were a human senior citizen — but when she needs to be serious, she clears her throat and speaks in a low, hushed tone.

Lore

When a young, overeager human broke into Haldroxoc's dwelling in Mungoth and sought tutelage in the arcane arts, she was impressed — approaching an arcanaloth in its lair without a plan its tantamount to suicide, yet this human was also competent enough to find and infiltrate said lair in the first place. Rather than immediately enslaving her, Haldroxoc took a risk and accepted her as an apprentice. In some sense, she was a long-term investment; if this human mage truly had potential, it would be a waste if she didn't cultivate and exploit it.

And so, this human became Haldroxoc's warlock, and she would use the bountiful magic taught to her between adventures on her quest to vanquish the Great Old Ones. It didn't take much for Haldroxoc to drag her into the depths of darkness — this warlock was eager to delve into the forbidden arts, no matter the personal cost. In exchange, the warlock helped Haldroxoc amass resources, eliminate criminal rivals, and acquire magical secrets to further expand her arsenal.

When the warlock's dissatisfaction with the limits of Haldroxoc's knowledge became apparent, she attempted to break the contract and end her apprenticeship — but Haldroxoc planned for this eventuality by including fine print that made breaking the contract punishable by death.

Backed into a corner, the warlock lured her adventuring party to Mungoth and betrayed them to her patron — after all, the contract didn't say whose death(s) it had to be. With the adventurers dead and the pact broken, Haldroxoc was free to enslave the former warlock by force, but the crafty mortal managed to escape just before Haldroxoc could subdue her.

The next few decades passed without incident, allowing Haldroxoc's crime ring to freely expand and thrive. But when servants of the newly formed Hands of Vecna made an attempt on her life, it only took a bit of investigative work to piece together that this human warlock was behind it, and that she somehow had a way to eavesdrop on her activities.

With that, Haldroxoc relocated her base of operations to the Bastion of Last Hope in Carceri; while seemingly trapped, Haldroxoc is actually safer than ever, protected from The Beholding in a prison plane no sane foe would dare chase her into. To further protect herself, she created a line of jackal cowls for her underlings that mask their identities with a visage of herself.

Jackal Cowl

Wondrous item, legendary

This plain white hood has blue Infernal script written down the middle that read "Shadow hide you".

The jackal cowls are a massive collection of hoods used by Haldroxoc's servants to disguise themselves as her. She also freely distributes them to other criminals, even those that would oppose her, as a way to befuddle enemies who try to spy on her operations.

Jackal's Disguise. While wearing the cowl, you are transformed to look like Haldroxoc. The new form mimics Haldroxoc's appearance exactly, including her voice, but you retain your own game statistics. While in this new form, the cowl melds into your person and is undetectable.

This form lasts until you die or remove the cowl. Interactions with you while you are transformed by the crown reveal no illusory magic, nor do they reveal anything other than details about Haldroxoc. You count as Haldroxoc for the purposes of spells, traps, and other defenses that wouldn't target her.

While anyone who can see through shapeshifting can see through this disguise, The Overseer can't see through this disguise with her truesight when she perceives it through The Beholding — it must be done in person or directly through her nothic familiar.

Share Identity. Unless she wishes otherwise, divination spells and similar effects that would target Haldroxoc instead target a random wearer of a jackal cowl.

"If I'm being perfectly honest, my old teacher doesn't pose a threat to me at all... at least, not directly. I'm sure she's content with f*cking off to gods-know-where and keeping her mouth shut for now — the real risk comes from her potential to expose me to any enemies that somehow think to seek her out."

"Beyond that, she seems to have delved into fencing anomalous artifacts as of late. Petty bastard... is she taunting me? I can't wait to shave off her fur and hang her on my wall for all eternity."

Social Encounters

Haldroxoc prefers to be left alone when possible, and will leave most of her criminal operations to the whims of her loyal servants. She treats her stay in Carceri as a vacation of sorts, and will be cranky to those who dare interrupt it. She isn't beyond humoring uninvited guests as a form of entertainment, but will eventually kill or enslave them as appropriate. In a conversation, she is eccentric, whimsical, and can even sound insane to the untrained ear — but behind it all is a ruthless, cunning crime boss who is more than willing to lie and cheat her way out of anything.

If an enemy of the Hands of Vecna or a member of its Splinter Cell approaches her, Haldroxoc will immediately perk up and offer to help them take down The Overseer so that she may finally be safe from being spied on.

Master of Disguise. Haldroxoc can cast alter self, glibness, and mind blank at will.

Spellcasting. Haldroxoc can cast clairvoyance, geas, guards and wards, legend lore, mass suggestion, mirage arcane, programmed illusion, and sending once per day each (spell save DC 18).

Combat

Haldroxoc prefers to use her illusions to flee combat — but if necessary, she will create a labyrinth or similar illusionary battlefield for her to manipulate with Illusory Reality and Malleable Illusions while traversing it with her Ghost Form. She will mess around with spells like eyebite and Otto's irresistable dance to start with, but once bloodied, will bring out the heavy hitters like enemies abound, mental prison, and even antimagic field to get rid of her foes as soon as possible.

Haldroxoc

Medium fiend (yugoloth, wizard), neutral evil

  • Armor Class 18 (barrier tattoo)
  • Hit Points 187 (25d8 + 75)
  • Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (hover)
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
17 (+3)20 (+5)16 (+3)21 (+5)16 (+3)19 (+4)
  • Saving Throws Dex +10, Int +10, Wis +8, Cha +9
  • Skills Arcana +15, Deception +14, Insight +11, Perception +8, Stealth +10
  • Damage Resistances cold, fire, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
  • Damage Immunities acid, poison
  • Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, poisoned
  • Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 18
  • Languages all, telepathy 120 ft.
  • Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +5

Special Equipment. Haldroxoc is attuned to a barrier tattoo, an eldritch claw tattoo, and a ghost step tattoo (accounted for in her statistics).

Ghost Form. Haldroxoc can move through creatures and solid objects as if they were difficult terrain. If she ends her turn in a solid object, she is shunted to the nearest unoccupied space, and she takes 1d10 force damage for every 5 feet traveled.

Magic Resistance. Haldroxoc has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Spellcasting. Haldroxoc is a 20th-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 18). Haldroxoc has the following wizard spells prepared:

At will: darkness, invisibility, major image*
3/day each: enemies abound, eyebite*, fear*
2/day each: fireball, mislead*, Otto's irresistible dance*
1/day each: antimagic field, mental prison, weird

*No concentration required.

Actions

Eldritch Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d4 + 5) magical slashing damage plus 14 (4d6) poison damage.

Word of Unreality. One creature within 60 feet of Haldroxoc that can hear her takes 45 (7d12) psychic damage (DC 18 Intelligence save for half). On a failed save, the target is also blinded, deafened, and has its speed halved until the end of Haldroxoc's next turn.

Bonus Actions

Illusory Reality. Haldroxoc chooses an inanimate, nonmagical object that is part of an illusion spell of hers and make that object real for 1 minute. The object can't deal damage or otherwise directly harm anyone.

Malleable Illusions. Haldroxoc targets a Huge or smaller section of an illusion of hers and changes its nature, using the spell's normal parameters for it.

Nimble Escape. Haldroxoc takes the Disengage or Hide action.

Reactions

Illusory Self. When a creature makes an attack roll against Haldroxoc, she can interpose an illusory duplicate between the attacker and herself. The attack automatically misses her, then the illusion dissipates.

Legendary Actions

Haldroxoc can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. Haldroxoc regains spent legendary actions at the start of her turn.

  • Substitution. Haldroxoc magically teleports, swapping places with a Medium or smaller illusory object that she can see within 30 feet of her.
  • Master of Illusions. Haldroxoc uses Illusory Reality or Malleable Illusions.
  • Claw (Costs 2 Actions). Haldroxoc makes a claw attack.

Synarrah

"I am the beginning, the end, the one who is many. I am your guardian, your warden, and your savior. Join me, and the Far Realm shall be no more. Lend me your strength of mind and spirit, and the planes will know peace at last."

Synarrah once served as The Overseer's original Liason, but when the allure of power drove her insane, she broke away from the Hands of Vecna and went rogue. Now, she scours the multiverse in search of fellow shardminds and other powerful beings to absorb so that she may accrue more psionic power and become the next Living Gate.

Physical Description

In their normal form, Synarrah (she/they) is a tall, crystalline humanoid composed of hundreds of small, translucent green crystals. Their body is animated by pure psionic energy, which gives off a dim glow and pulses when they speak with a raspy, monotone voice.

When they use their shard swarm feature, however, Synarrah's body shatters into a swirling vortex of humming crystals that crackle with psionic energy. Their voice is similarly shattered between several dissonant tones, and takes on some of the vocal quirks of those she's absorbed.

Lore

Shardminds are sentient fragments of the Living Gate, which once served as the boundary between the Far Realm and the known multiverse. Its destruction during the Dawn War brought about the rise of the illithid empire, and while the portal to the Far Realm has since been closed, shardminds seek to rebuild the gate and divorce the alien realm from the other planes of existence once and for all.

How the shardminds might accomplish this goal is a matter of debate. Some, known as the Thought Builders, wish to rebuild it by hand, while the God Shard philosophy upholds that acquiring as much personal power as possible will allow a shardmind to keep the Far Realm at bay. In contrast, the Shard Slayers believe that slaying a shardmind will return its essence to the site of the Living Gate, and thus that all shardminds must be destroyed for it to be restored.

The shardmind Synarrah was once an adherent of the God Shard philosophy, and joined the Hands of Vecna in its earlier days so that she may use her psionic and martial prowess to fight against the forces of the Far Realm. Her combat prowess as a battlemind allowed her to quickly ascend to the rank of Whisperer, and The Overseer took personal interest in her activities and promoted her directly to be her first Liason.

Seeking to test the limits of her shardmind capabilities, The Overseer assigned Synarrah to dangerous missions where she would absorb portals to the Far Realm, rather than destroying them like other Hands would. In theory, absorbing the alien energies from these portals would expand her psionic potential even further and allow her to take on more powerful threats — and if she ever posed too much of a threat, The Overseer could simply capture her and use her as a battery for psychic energy.

This energy would come at a personal cost, however — as the alien energies pressed against the confines of her mind, Synarrah's thirst for knowledge and power increased dramatically. While this was entirely in line with The Whispered One's teachings, Synarrah eventually realized that The Overseer was going about this the wrong way. Absorbing the Far Realm's energy only serves to expand its influence throughout the planes — instead, she should be absorbing mortals with potent mental facilities, as well as the bodies of other shardminds whose crystalline mass can be added to her own. Blending elements of the Shard Slayer philosophy with her existing approach, Synarrah proclaimed that she must become the new Living Gate by force.

Seeing that her Liason had clearly gone insane, The Overseer immediately attempted to capture her, but Synarrah managed to escape the battle. Now, Synarrah roams the planes in search of kin to add to her mass and powerful minds to consume. Given the confidential knowledge a former Liason like her has at her disposal, The Overseer has tirelessly been searching the planes for any sign of Synarrah and her conquests.

While Synarrah doesn't actively go against the Hands of Vecna, she knows that The Overseer views her as a threat — or perhaps even a competitor. Furthermore, the Vecnan pursuit of knowledge and privileged access to occult lore makes a Hand's mind more valuable than most, so on occasion she will ambush a party of particularly intelligent Hands and attempt to consume them.

Social Encounters

Believing their cause to be the righteous one, Synarrah will come across as surprisingly sociable and compassionate until the cracks in their logic begin to display themselves. They often scout potential prey (shardminds, powerful psionicists, and other particularly intelligent mortals) by disguising themselves as an ally, granting them a privileged view of said prey's intellect and problem-solving skills. When the time comes for them to consume a mind (and body, in the case of a shardmind), they will attempt to sooth the target by emphasizing their pivotal role in the quest to defeat the Far Realm.

Mental Consumption. As an action, Synarrah consumes the mind of a humanoid within 10 feet of her that has been dead for no longer than 1 minute. Her maximum hit points increase by one hit die, and if the target is a psionicist or has an Intelligence score of 17 or higher, her melee attacks deal an additional 1 force damage. If the target is a shardmind, she also consumes its body, and the temporary hit points granted by Battle Resilience each round increases by 1.

Psionics. Synarrah can cast mind blank, plane shift, programmed illusion, and project image using psionics once per day each (spell save DC 19).

The Beholding's Blind Spot. Synarrah can cast disguise self using psionics at will (spell save DC 19). Unlike most illusions, The Overseer can't see through this disguise with her truesight when she perceives it through The Beholding — it must be done in person or directly through her nothic familiar.

This ability can also be taught to any humanoid that Synarrah deems to be worthy of it. Alternatively, a speak with dead spell cast on Synarrah's corpse can reveal the secret to the spellcaster and the rest of the party.

Combat

Synarrah starts combat by using Shard Swarm and casting globe of invulnerability as part of her Multiattack. She prioritizes the most intelligent members of the party, using Psionic Anchor and pulse wave to bring them into melee range whenever possible. When bloodied, or if concentration on her globe of invulnerability ends, she uses Mind Cloud followed by thunder step to retaliate. If necessary, she saves her staggering smite for a critical moment where she has no luck recharging her Shard Swarm.

While Synarrah will fight to the death if needed, she may also consider surrendering and providing aid in the quest to defeat The Overseer.

"I thought Synarrah and I had something special, but clearly she thinks assimilating other shardminds is a better use of her time. I agree that power is desirable, but is she really trying to become the next Living Gate all on her own? Even I have to rely on people sometimes, darling. If only she could learn that lesson before going utterly insane... whatever. What's done is done.

I'd like to think I'm doing a better job with you lot, hm? Having just one Liason is a mistake I'd very much prefer to avoid making again. In any event, I ask that you retrieve as much of her as possible after shattering her to pieces."

Synarrah

Medium humanoid (shardmind, battlemind), neutral evil

  • Armor Class 20 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 144 (17d8 + 68)
  • Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (Shard Swarm only)
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
20 (+5)16 (+3)18 (+4)21 (+5)18 (+4)14 (+2)
  • Saving Throws Str +11, Int +11, Wis +10, Cha +8
  • Skills Arcana +11, History +11, Investigation +11, Survival +10
  • Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing (Shard Swarm only)
  • Damage Immunities poison, psychic
  • Condition Immunities blinded, grappled, incapacitated, paralyzed, restrained, stunned (Shard Swarm only), charmed, frightened, petrified, poisoned
  • Senses blindsight 30 ft., passive Perception 14
  • Languages Common, Deep Speech, telepathy 30 ft.
  • Challenge 17 (18,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +6

Battle Resilience. At the start of each of her turns, Synarrah uses psionics to gain 10 temporary hit points and end one condition on herself, provided that she has at least 1 hit point.

Eldritch Mind. Synarrah has advantage on Constitution saving throws made to maintain her concentration on a spell.

Magic Resistance. Synarrah has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Pact Magic. Synarrah's spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 19). She can cast the following warlock spells, requiring no material components:

At will: command, see invisibility
1/rest each: protection from evil and good, slow

Psionics. Synarrah is a 15th-level psionicist. Her spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 19). She can cast the following spells using psionics, requiring no components:

At will: pulse wave, telekinesis
2/day each: Tasha's mind whip, thunder step
1/day each: globe of invulnerability, staggering smite

Psychic Absorption. Whenever Synarrah is subjected to psychic damage, she takes no damage and regains a number of hit points equal to the psychic damage dealt.

Actions

Multiattack. Synarrah makes three melee attacks. Alternatively, she makes two melee attacks and casts a spell (in any order).

Glaive. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10 + 5) magical slashing damage plus 22 (5d8) force damage. If the target is Huge or smaller, Synarrah can also push it up to 10 feet away from her.

Shard Slice (Shard Swarm Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 45 (8d8 + 5) magical slashing damage. If the attack roll was made with advantage, the target is also blinded until the end of its next turn.

Bonus Actions

Shard Swarm (Recharge 5–6). Synarrah loosens her mental grip on her physical form and becomes a Huge swarm of crystal shards until the start of her next turn. While in this form, Synarrah can occupy another creature's space and vice versa, can move through any opening large enough for a Tiny crystal shard, and gains new traits and abilities (accounted for in her statistics).

Legendary Actions

Synarrah can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. Synarrah regains spent legendary actions at the start of her turn.

  • Attack. Synarrah makes a melee attack.
  • Psionic Anchor. Synarrah attempts to teleport one creature she can see within 60 feet of her to an unoccupied space within 10 feet of her. An unwilling target must succeed on a DC 19 Charisma saving throw to avoid the effect.
  • Mind Cloud (Costs 2 Actions). Synarrah unleashes a psychic wave. Each creature within 30 feet of her must succeed on a DC 19 Wisdom saving throw or take 32 (5d12) psychic damage. In addition, every spell ends on creatures and objects of Synarrah's choice in that area.

Echo of Maanzecorian

While it was believed that no trace of the late illithid god of secrets exists in the multiverse, a recent development in The Overseer's quest for knowledge has inadvertently awakened an echo of Maanzecorian's lost divinity. Now, the undead mind flayer roams the planes in an attempt to rebuild its supreme knowledge and following.

Physical Description

The Echo of Maanzecorian (it/he) resembles a huge malformed mind flayer with withered gray flesh. Its face is dotted with dozens of green eyes, with at least eight writhing tentacles emerging from its gaping maw. Its limbs pulse with putrescent green energy, threatening to burst at any moment. It hosts a variety of gashes and wounds across its torso, clearly scars left behind by whoever killed this being in life.

Lore

Maanzecorian, also known as the Philosoflayer, was once an illithid god of secrets who strove for a complete comprehension of all knowledge. He taught that true understanding can only be attained by allowing the entirety of one's memories and thoughts to be present at the forefront of the mind, rather than having individual components stored deeper within and accessed one at a time.

However, Maanzecorian was slain by Tenebrous, an undead god and visage of the demon prince Orcus, as part of his quest to find the wand of Orcus and resurrect as a true deity. Beyond a small fragment of his essence that remained in the long-dead illithid world of Penumbra, Maanzecorian was mythologized into a true embodiment of his ideals, and knowledge of his existence faded into legend and obscure texts.

However, The Overseer's thirst for knowledge would eventually lead her to an asteroid drifting through the void of the Astral Sea: the rocky remains of Maanzecorian's left eye, the only piece of his corpse that manifested physically in the wake of Tenebrous's use of the Last Word. Realizing that the Philosoflayer's forgotten knowledge was crystallized within the stone carcass, The Overseer immediately amassed a small army of mindless undead to mine for as many secrets as possible.

Maanzecorian's left eye has served The Overseer's purposes well — most notably, a fragment of his cornea taught her the cerebral incisions and psionic manipulations used to turn an unfortunate mind flayer into the thrall known as The Archivist. Some time after she met the party atop this eye, however, The Overseer got in over her head: when the miners dug into the center, they were met with the Echo of Maanzecorian, an undead remnant of the lost illithid god and keeper of his most valuable secrets. Newly awakened and hungry for knowledge, the echo took The Overseer by surprise and managed to escape the Astral Sea before she could subdue it. Now, the echo scours the planes in its quest to reassemble its lost stockpile of knowledge so that it may be resurrected as a true illithid god once more.

Now aware of The Overseer and her operations, the Echo of Maanzecorian has wasted no time hatching a plan to destroy the Hands of Vecna, slaying The Overseer and striking a vital blow against a rival god of secrets in one fell swoop.

In response, The Overseer scrambles to contain the threat as soon as possible, having lower ranking Hands track the bloody trail it's left in its wake so that her Liasons may swoop in and take care of the threat swiftly and effectively.

Social Encounters

With decades having passed since its untimely death at Tenebrous's hand, the Echo of Maanzecorian is bitter, resentful, and unsociable — it would much rather extract knowledge from a creature by killing it than converse with one, if possible.

The echo holds particular contempt for Vecna, the unquestionably superior god of secrets who it wishes to dethrone, and for Orcus, whose undead form is responsible for reducing it to its pathetic unliving state. In addition to seeking out Penumbra and other former sites of worship for the Philosoflayer, Hands of Vecna may find some success in exploiting this hatred to set a trap for the echo.

Divine Will. The echo is immune to any spell or effect that would alter its form, as well as those that would read its thoughts, determine if it is lying, or magically influence its thoughts or behavior.

Necromantic Rejuvenation. The echo can use psionics to cast resurrection once per week, which it can use to revive old foes of the party as a deterrent or to resurrect NPCs with valuable information that it can proceed to extract using Consume Knowledge.

Shielded Mind. The echo can use psionics to cast detect magic, detect thoughts, mind blank, and modify memory at will (no concentration required).

Superior Psionics. The echo can use psionics to cast antipathy/sympathy, geas, plane shift, scrying, sending, and warp sense once per week each.

Combat

With its superior intellect and Creature Sense trait, the Echo of Maanzecorian possesses great tactical acumen and will exploit the party's weaknesses as best it can. It will surround itself with faithful illithid servants and other minions, and will direct them to swarm any enemies once they have been stunned by Mind Blast. Any characters who survive the initial onslaught will be turned against their allies with dominate monster or neutralized with eyebite and power word pain.

Once bloodied, the echo uses the wish spell to cast a powerful spell like earthquake or holy aura without requiring concentration. It then unleashes spells like divine word and power word stun freely, and if necessary, will focus on using Mind Erosion to help ensure that the party will fail the saving throws it imposes on them.

"Not only do traces of his corpse grace the Astral Sea, but an unliving remnant of Maanzecorian now roams the planes?! This is fascinating! I can't wait to pick it apart and find out what makes it tick. Given the success of the current Archivist as a member of the Inner Circle, I can only imagine all the wonderful activities I'll be able to partake in once I get my hands on the full thing.

...the threat to my operations, of course, is not quite as fascinating. This needs to be dealt with, and fast — there's no telling what kind of damage an undead power like this could cause if left unchecked. Hm, what to do..."

Echo of Maanzecorian

Huge undead (mind flayer), lawful evil

  • Armor Class 18 (Psychic Defense)
  • Hit Points 290 (20d12 + 160)
  • Speed 40 ft., fly 40 ft. (hover)
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
24 (+7)13 (+1)26 (+8)27 (+8)22 (+6)25 (+7)
  • Saving Throws Con +15, Int +15, Wis +13, Cha +14
  • Skills Arcana +22, Investigation +22, Perception +20, Religion +22
  • Damage Resistances acid, cold, force
  • Damage Immunities necrotic, poison, psychic
  • Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned
  • Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 30
  • Languages all, telepathy 1,000 ft.
  • Challenge 22 (41,000 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +7

Consume Knowledge. When a creature dies within 120 feet of the echo, the echo learns everything that the creature knew in life, and the creature can't be revived by any means short of a wish spell.

Creature Sense. The echo is aware of creatures within 100 miles of it that have an Intelligence score of 4 or higher. It knows the distance and direction to each creature, as well as each one's Intelligence score, but can't sense anything else about it. A creature protected by a mind blank spell, a nondetection spell, or similar magic can't be perceived in this manner.

Half-Incorporeal. While in dim light or darkness, the echo can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. If it ends its turn inside an object, it takes 5 (1d10) bludgeoning damage and is shunted out into the nearest unoccupied space.

Innate Psionics. The echo's innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 23). It can innately cast the following spells using psionics, requiring no components:

At will: circle of death, eyebite*, ray of enfeeblement*
2/day each: dominate monster, feeblemind, power word pain
1/day each: divine word, power word stun, wish

*No concentration required.

Psychic Cleanse. At the start of each of its turns, the echo regains 15 hit points and can end one condition on itself, provided that it has at least 1 hit point.

Actions

Multiattack. The echo makes three attacks.

Withering Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (2d10 + 7) psychic damage plus 13 (3d8) necrotic damage. If the target is Large or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 17), and it can't cast spells that use somatic or verbal components until the grapple ends.

Wormhole Blast. Ranged Spell Attack: +15 to hit, range 120 ft., one creature. Hit: 27 (3d12 + 8) force damage. On a critical hit against a Huge or smaller creature, the echo can choose to magically teleport, swapping places with the target.

Mind Blast (Recharge 5–6). The echo unleashes psionic energy in a 120-foot cone. Each creature in that area takes 55 (10d10) psychic damage (DC 23 Intelligence save for half). On a failed save, a target is also stunned until the end of its next turn, and the echo magically learns one fact or secret about the target.

Legendary Actions

The echo can take 4 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The echo regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

  • Attack. The echo teleports up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space it can see and makes one attack.
  • Mind Erosion (Costs 2 Actions). The echo targets one creature within 60 feet of it. Until the end of the echo's next turn, the target has disadvantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws.
  • Psionics (Costs 3 Actions). The echo casts an innate spell.
The Hands of Vecna by badooga (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

Last Updated:

Views: 6748

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

Birthday: 1992-06-28

Address: Apt. 413 8275 Mueller Overpass, South Magnolia, IA 99527-6023

Phone: +6824704719725

Job: District Real-Estate Facilitator

Hobby: Letterboxing, Vacation, Poi, Homebrewing, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Cabaret

Introduction: My name is Mrs. Angelic Larkin, I am a cute, charming, funny, determined, inexpensive, joyous, cheerful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.