The Hand of Vecna (SLASH'EM)

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%   The Hand of Vecna (SLASH'EM)   Severed hand.png
Base item severed hand
Affiliation
When carried
When wielded drain resistance
When invoked
Base price 700 zm
Weight 1 or 300, depending on variant
For the artifact in EvilHack, see The Hand of Vecna (EvilHack).

The Hand of Vecna is an artifact that appears in SLASH'EM, SlashTHEM and Hack'EM. It is chaotic-aligned, and its base item is the severed hand of Vecna. The Hand of Vecna is one of the rewards for completing the Chaotic Quest.

Generation

The Hand of Vecna is only generated upon killing Vecna in a way that would normally leave a corpse (i.e. any method minus disintegration or digestion). Since Vecna is always generated in the Chaotic Quest, his Hand cannot be wished for and will always revert to its base item if left in bones.

Description

While carried, the Hand of Vecna provides cold resistance, half physical damage, and hungerless regeneration; while wielded, it additionally confers drain resistance. Invoking The Hand of Vecna has different effects dependent on your current luck: if invoked at -10 luck or lower, the characters takes 5-24 damage, and otherwise 4 to 7 tamed non-lich undead monsters are generated, with a -3 penalty to luck and alignment record applied regardless of outcome.[1][2][3]

Attempting to eat The Hand of Vecna (or any severed hand) will bring up a prompt asking the player if they are sure they want to do so.[4] If a character eats The Hand of Vecna, they take 150-199 damage.[5] A character can also sacrifice The Hand of Vecna at an altar, which is equivalent to sacrificing a very high-level corpse with no special effects.[6]

In Hack'EM, the Hand of Vecna weighs 300 aum unless it is carried by a Necromancer, and Necromancers also do not sustain penalties for invoking the artifact.

Strategy

The Hand of Vecna is easily one of the most powerful artifacts in its appearances due to its slotless regeneration and half physical damage, and additionally provides a form of drain resistance to handle the more commonplace level drain effects. Obtaining the Hand is generally worth the trouble of braving the Chaotic Quest and its nasty undead inhabitants: this includes various spellcasters such as master and arch-liches, ghoul mages, vampire mages (who are even more dangerous in Hack'EM), and Vecna himself.

Eating the Hand of Vecna is a potentially fatal Bad Idea, and is generally only likely to happen by mistake. Sacrificing it poses no risk to the character, but is similarly unwise unless the player truly does not want the artifact - while it can be useful to appease an angry god, the much less valuable Eye of the Beholder can be used in the same way, as can various high-level corpses. Be mindful of the inventory letter used for the item, and avoid speeding through text prompts where possible.

History

In SLASH 6, an ancestor of SLASH'EM, killing Vecna produces either the Hand of Vecna or the Eye of Vecna with an equal probability of each - the Hand's carry and invoke effects are carried over from this version.

Origin

Vecna is an original creation of Dungeons & Dragons, where he originally was a background figure that became popular enough to feature as a major antagonist. He is named for fantasy author Jack Vance, who among other achievements developed the "fire-and-forget" magic system that would come to be used in D&D and many other fantasy works. Vecna is first mentioned in Eldritch Wizardry, the third supplement to the original Dungeons & Dragons game co-developed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, with the supplement authored by Gygax and Brian Blume - the supplement introduces the Hand of Vecna and Eye of Vecna, artifacts which are the only remnants of the long-destroyed evil lich.

While no details of the artifacts were ever revealed to Gygax, the descriptions of the artifacts in the 2nd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide of 1989 further expanded on Vecna's history; the release of the 1990 adventure Vecna Lives! would finally have him debut in person. Though the exact details vary, most versions of Vecna's history state that the fight between him and his most trusted lieutenant Kas left Kas flung across the planes of the multiverse, with Vecna himself seemingly destroyed in whole save for a disemboded left hand and eye - even after eventually resurrecting, Vecna is always depicted with these parts missing from his form.

The left hand and eye of Vecna are high-valued and very dangerous magical artifacts that bestow incredible supernatural strength and spellcasting power upon their users, and provided even more benefits when used together. Such power naturally came at a terrible cost: using either one requires the removal of the corresponding body part to affix the artifact in its place, and the fragments of Vecna's will left within each one would turn its wearer towards evil while corrupting and decaying their body. Removing the affixed artifact(s) would invariably result in death, and both artifacts could only be destroyed permanently if a being that wore both artifacts was slain by the Sword of Kas. The Hand and Eye are considered classic Dungeons & Dragons artifacts that best exemplify the temptations of power and how they can easily tear apart an adventuring party.

Messages

The Hand claws you with its icy nails!
The Hand attacked you upon invoking it.
Creatures from the grave surround you!
The Hand raised the dead upon invoking it.
You feel the hand scrabbling around inside of you!
You took damage from eating The Hand of Vecna.
You offer this evil thing to <your god>...
You sacrificed The Hand of Vecna.

See also

References