Every season of "Stranger Things" ups the ante with newer, more powerful, and scarier villains, and the fourth season is no exception. This season, our heroes are facing down a super-powerful being they've dubbed "Vecna." Fans of the Dungeons & Dragons game will be familiar with this creature, but just how much inspiration will the show take from its characters' favorite game, and how much will be totally new and unexpected?
Who Is Vecna in Dungeons & Dragons?
In the universe of Dungeons & Dragons, Vecna is first alluded to via the remaining "artifacts" of the being. Throughout versions of the game in the late 1970s, Vecna was mostly a mysterious creature in the game's lore, known only as a long-destroyed, evil "lich," or undead spellcaster who is extremely difficult to kill. The "Hand" and "Eye" of Vecna were mysterious artifacts that, if used, put the player at risk of being threatened by the eerie undead creature.
It wasn't until around 1990 that Vecna finally got more of an official "character" profile. He's seen as a wicked demigod and a fierce enemy and, eventually, is part of the game's pantheon of deities. Later additions to D&D lore reveal more about Vecna's physical appearance, depicting him in monstrous humanoid form. Vecna has human-like arms and legs, referencing the human he was thousands of years ago (although his left hand is missing and is a powerful magical artifact in the game), but his head is a frightening skull, and he's missing his left eye. He also has several tentacle-like extensions swirling off of his body - something "Stranger Things" fans have seen before.
Vecna's character biography traces his evolution from ancient, magic-wielding human to vengeful necromancer to undead master of dark arts. He plays an antagonistic role in several "stories" in the lore. According to these tales, Vecna ruled a great and terrible empire, until he was betrayed by his right-hand man, Kas, who destroyed him with a sword Vecna made for him. In later tales, Vecna rose from the dead as a demigod of dark magic, pursuing ways to acquire the powers of a greater god.
Who Is Vecna in "Stranger Things"?
The earliest materials about "Stranger Things" season four haven't given much away about their version of Vecna. We can assume that the Party give their latest foe a D&D-themed nickname, just like they did in previous seasons with the Demogorgon. From the trailers, it looks like the newest supernatural creature to attack Hawkins has a similar physical form to the D&D villain, with a humanoid shape, a skull face, and tentacles.
It remains to be seen how much of the creature's powers are similar to its D&D namesake. Most importantly, the Hawkins crew might look to their beloved D&D lore for ways to take down their own Vecna. After all, the D&D Vecna has a human origin and a soul stored in a powerful, magical box - both of which, if they appear in the "Stranger Things" version, could be the key to taking down this new threat.