This week’s artifact sacrificial dagger is again from my Ascendant Crusade campaign, much like the previous three artifacts Gravewhisper’s Claw, Wallcraft’s Offerings and Kofek’s Tongue. This weapon is again illustrated by my ladyfriend. You should check out more of her art on her DeviantArt page.
The Glare of Vecna
Artifact Sacrificial Dagger
(Blade)(Damage) 1d4 (Piercing)(17-20/x4)
At Will – Detect Good, cast by directing the blade towards the target and asking (rhetorically) “Do you seek to foil our lord?” The spell is a great deal more powerful when cast by the dagger, and overcomes any spell resistance the target may have. (Pathfinder Core Rulebook Pg. 267)
At Will – Eyebite, cast by directing the blade towards the target and telling them “The Whispered One’s ire be upon you!” The target receives of Fortitude save (DC 23) to negate. Failure results in the target becoming sickened, panicked, and/or comatose, depending on their HD. (Pathfinder Core Rulebook Pg. 280)
3/Day – Grim Revenge, cast by directing the blade towards the target, then pulling it a yanking motion. Fortitude save (DC 19) negates. This spell is found in the Book of Vile Darkness, Pg. 97. As this book is now out of print, the spell is replicated in its entirety below:
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, Undead
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Medium (100ft + 10ft./level)
Target: One living humanoid
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
The hand of the subject tears itself away from one of his arms, leaving a bloody stump. This trauma deals 6d6 points of damage. Then the hand, animated and floating in the air, begins to attack the subject. The hand attacks as if it were a wight (See the Pathfinder Bestiary Pg. 276) in terms of its statistics, special attacks, and special qualities, except that it is considered Tiny and gains a +4 AC bonus and a +4 bonus on attack rolls. Their hand can be turned or rebuked as a wight. If the hand is defeated, only a regenerate spell can restore the victim to normal.
- Any priest or priestess of Vecna who wields this weapon may substitute it for a holy symbol.
- Any coup de grâce delivered with this weapon results in an instant kill, no saving throw. Traditionally sacrificial blows are aimed at the heart, so that the barbs can latch on to the heart, and pull it from the victim’s chest.
The only thing about Vecna’s Glare which resembles a more common weapon is the hilt, wrapped in reddish brown leather with a silver pommel. The cross guard, which appears to be a hand sprouting from the weapon’s grip, appears realistic, and even feels like cold dead skin when touched. In the hand is gripped a large eye–about the size of a large orange. Large enough to fill the hand’s grip. Like the hand, this eye looks and feels organic, and even has veins which become more or less prominent if the eye becomes “irritated” by things like blood or dirt. Sprouting from the pupil of the eye, representing the eye’s line of vision, is an unusual blade. It has no edge, and comes to a point at the tip. It is less of a blade, and more of a spike. Along the shaft of the spike are a multitude of barbs angling back towards the hilt, so that once the blade is inserted, removing it will cause significant additional damage.
During his life, and his pre-deific undeath, Vecna crafted a number of remarkable weapons. The Sword of Kas is is only the most well known, and most powerful, of these artifacts. In fact, most of Vecna’s own lieutenants were eventually given a weapon forged by their dread emperor’s own hand. Vecna’s Glare is among those weapons created by the evil god, though in this case, the crafting was a great deal more round-a-bout.
Kas was not the only one of Vecna’s followers to betray him. He was merely the most successful traitor. Several decades before the fateful battle which destroyed Vecna’s corporeal body, another of his lieutenants betrayed him. The attempt was clumsy, and the clever lich easily saw through his minion’s attempts at nonchalance. By the time the fool was ready to spring his trap, Vecna had other followers–more loyal followers–in place to ensure the trap backfired on the traitor.
Vecna is known for many things. He is a renowned conqueror, he was a magic user without peer throughout the multiverse, and he is the original source of many powerful artifacts. With so much to be known for, it his great skill as a torturer has been largely forgotten. He kept his treasonous minion alive for weeks, forcing him to experience pain beyond the imagining of even the most depraved. The Whispered Lord could make a victim relive their most terrifying memories, sever limbs only to reattach them and sever them again, or even cast spells which would kill whomever the victim most loved, without even knowing himself who that person was. Needless to say, Vecna learned all he needed to know. And when he was finished, he reached into the traitor’s chest, and pulled out his heart.
Vecna cast a simple spell on the heart, causing it to remain alive, and continue beating indefinitely. He then gave it to Kas the Bloody Handed, and had his lieutenant deliver it to the king with which the traitor had conspired. It seemed that this king, of a kingdom which Vecna had not yet conquered, had thought his kingdom would be safer if Vecna was destroyed. When the king received it, he was filled with anger and fear, and threw the heart out of the window of his audience chamber, where it landed in a river. Two months later, when Vecna sat on the chained king’s throne and asked what he had done with the heart, the king answered. He was then forced to watch as his four daughters, three sons, and his queen, were all thrown out the same window, to land in the same river a few hundred feet below.
Centuries later, after the betrayal by Kas, and Vecna’s own ascention to the level of demigod, the high priestess of Vecna–a rank which is known as “The Heart” within the cult–prayed to her god. She asked that the Hidden Lord might bestow upon her a symbol to rally the cult behind. One which could be used to draw even more to Vecna’s ranks. Vecna answered her. He told her of the traitor, and of the discarded heart. He bade her follow the river which the heart had been cast into. Due to the spell which had caused it to live indefinitely, it would still exist. Recovering it would grant her the symbol she desired.
The priestess was confused by her god’s commands, but she did not question them. Alone she traveled to the castle where her god, centuries before, had murdered a king’s family before his eyes. To reach it she had to travel across an ocean, through a desert, and over three mountains. It took her a year to finally reach the castle. There she found the river, and she followed it. She moved carefully, checking thoroughly for any hint of the heart. Eventually, the river flowed into a cave. Once inside the cave, the priestess descended far into the earth in the pursuit of her god’s will. She faced many monsters which tested her strength, but she never once considered turning back. She lived off of fungi which grew on the stones, and on the meat of the beasts she fought.
Finally, after weeks beneath the earth, having now descended deep into the underdark itself, the priestess came upon a lake. At the center of the lake was a small island, and there slept a red dragon atop its hoard. She constructed a raft, and made her way tentatively across the lake. As she approached, the dragon raised its head, and watched her. Neither attempted to speak until the priestess had brought her raft to land upon the island.
“Give me a reason why I should not devour you, puny human.” the dragon boomed.
“I come to you with tribute, mighty Wyrm!” the priestess said, laying a handful of precious gems on the ground at her feet. “And seek only a single piece of your renowned wisdom in exchange.”
The dragon snarled, “I am no teller of secrets who can be bought with petty baubles!” it roared, even as it drew the gems into its treasure pile with one might claw. “You’ve earned yourself only the right to leave here alive. And be quick lest I change my mind!”
“I wish only to know, great king amongst dragons, if you have ever seen a beating heart pass through this river.” the priestess gambled, knowing the risk she was taking with her life.
This question seemed to pique the dragon’s curiosity. “Perhaps I have. Tell me first why you seek it.” The priestess told the dragon of the heart, its origins, and of her quest to retrieve it, though she was careful to mention only that her god had sent her. To mentioned the Whispered One’s name was frowned upon, but to mention it whilst revealing a secret would be blasphemy.
When her story was completed, the dragon laughed. Dragon’s laughter is a terrifying sound, and it is a credit to the priestess’ devotion that she did not flee on the spot. “I know this heart,” the dragon finally replied. “When I was but a whelpling, it came ashore on my island here. I ate it.”
The priestess nodded. “I see.” she said calmly, taking hold of her holy symbol so she could prepare a spell. The two battled for hours. The priestess was powerful, but a dragon is a foe none should take lightly, and the island lacked cover which she could use to defend herself against the dragon’s fiery breath. In the end, she was very nearly slain. The only thing which saved her was being tail swiped by the dragon hard enough to send her flying onto the treasure pile–right next to a magical spear. So when the dragon moved to swallow her, she dove the spear through the roof of its mouth, and deep into the dragon’s brain.
Her foe slain, the priestess found a sword within the treasure pile, and began to cut into the dragon. Her severe injuries made cutting through the dragon’s thick hide difficult, but eventually she was able to reach the dragon’s heart–nearly as large as she was herself. She sliced it open, and within was Vecna’s Glare, glowing with a purple-black aura of evil.
It took over a year to return home, but when she arrived and held the dagger aloft before the faithful, they cowered before its might. She knew that, now, worshipers would flock to the cult of Vecna in droves. How often did gods bless their priests with such a mighty artifact? She felt truly blessed to have Vecna’s favor.
That evening, The Heart lay down to sleep in her her own bed for the first time in over two years. And in the dead of night, the priestess who had been handling The Heart’s affairs in her absence took Vecna’s Glare, and murdered the high priestess with it.
Let none rest easy in Vecna’s favor.