stranger things 4 vecna

Who Is Vecna, Stranger Things 4’s New Villain Inspired By Dungeons & Dragons

After three long, weird years, Stranger Things 4 is finally out on Netflix on 27 May, with a new villain in The Upside Down called Vecna.

In case you haven’t watched the trailer yet, here it is below.

Vecna in Stranger Things 4

We know that Vecna in Stranger Things 4 is a humanoid that has integrated the roots, vines and organic shapes that is part of The Upside Down.

“Season 4 required a villain unlike any before,” executive producer Shawn Levy said to IGN. “And it needed to be more than a creature, more than an evil cloud of particulate. It needed to be a humanoid villain with more depth, more dimension, and far more evil. That’s what Vecna is.”

It has been confirmed by series creators Matt and Ross Duffer to be inspired by iconic horror figures such as Pinhead, Freddie Krueger, and Pennywise.

Interestingly, Robert Englund who used to play Freddie Krueger in classic horror Nightmare on Elm Street, is in Stranger Things 4 as Victor Creel. Creel killed his family decades earlier in their home in the town of Hawkins and has been in a psychiatric hospital ever since.

strangers things 4 victor creel
Victor Creel in Stranger Things 4

“What occurs in that house is pivotal to understanding what has been happening in Hawkins all of these years,” Ross Duffer said (via EW).

Vecna in Dungeons & Dragons

The new big bad in Hawkins shares the same name with Dungeons & Dragons‘ lich-turn-lesser god Vecna.

D&D’s Vecna has been more undead than alive from the time he was introduced in the first edition of the role-playing game back in 1974. Two objects remain from his mortal body: his eye and left hand, artifacts of corrupting evil and great power that have been in every edition of D&D. To use them, you would have to remove your own body parts and replace them with Vecna’s.

dungeons and dragons vecna, illustration for article on stranger things 4

In D&D‘s lore, Vecna was the ruler of the Occluded Empire on Oerth, a planet in the Greyspace planetary system. He was betrayed by his lieutenant Kas and his mortal body was destroyed, leaving his eye and left hand behind.

These objects still carry fragments of the lich’s will, becoming artifacts known as the Eye of Vecna and the Hand of Vecna.

Vecna’s spirit endured after his body’s destruction, accumulating power from his surviving followers as well as people corrupted by the artifacts. Through these, he ascended to the status of demigod, before a failed assault on the interplanar city of Sigil left him with only the power of a lesser deity.

He was so powerful that even his robe was infused by his magic. In Baldurs Gate II (highly recommended game), the Robe of Vecna is one of the most powerful mage robes available in the game, valued primarily for lowering the wearer’s spellcasting time. Combined with another item, Amulet of Power, they enable some extremely game-breaking cheese.

Vecna has seen a revival in popular culture in recent years, partly due to the popularity of Critical Role and what happened in episode 114 of the show.

You can find Vecna’s artifacts in most things D&D, such as the D&D and Magic: The Gathering crossover set, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, where both the Eye and Hand are, true to form, situationally powerful cards that also damage you when used.

So far, the Vecna in Stranger Things 4 has a ghastly resemblance to D&D‘s Vecna in skeletal features if not in magical powers. Like the Mind Flayer and Demogorgon in earlier seasons of the show, chances are that Vecna will be loosely inspired by D&D lore.

Whether it does take inspiration from how Vecna can travel through the multiverses, is corrupting, and never truly killable, those questions remain to be answered when Stranger Things 4 begins streaming on 27 May.