‘Stranger Things’ Season 4: Who Is Vecna in ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Compared to the Series?

Hawking and the main characters in Stranger Things Season 4 are in for a rude awakening as they face their biggest enemy. The first three seasons had fans fearing the Mind Flayer, the Upside Down, and its many creatures, but nothing compared to Vecna. Stranger Things Season 4 continues the theme of using Dungeons & Dragons terminology and characters, but how does the series Vecna compare to the game?

[WARNING: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Stranger Things 4 Volume I]

Vecna from 'Stranger Things' Season 4 close up in his lair.
Vecna from ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 | via Netflix

Dustin is the one who names their new enemy Vecna in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4

The characters are high schoolers now. But Dustin and Mike continue their love for Dungeons & Dragons with a new crew of players called the Hellfire Club, led by Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn). As fans know, the series uses common terminology and characters from Dungeons & Dragons to name the creatures they have faced.

Fans first hear of Vecna in “Chapter One: Hellfire Club,” when Eddie, Dustin, Mike, and the other players are deep into the game. With Eddie leading, he introduces Vecna. Interestingly, Eddie’s descriptions of the Dungeons & Dragons character parallels what fans will see later in the series.

Eddie described Vecna as having shriveled and desiccated skin but also missing his left arm and eye. Fans then meet the grotesque villain of Stranger Things Season 4 when he kills Chrissy.

In “Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse,” Dustin does the honor of naming him Vecna. Dustin, Steve, Max, and Robin find where Eddie is hiding to learn what happened to Chrissy. He explains how she was in a trance, and Dustin instead says “or under a spell” and later says, “Vecna’s curse.” Dustin explains that Vecna is “an undead creature of great power.”

Is Vecna in ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ the same as in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4?

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According to Time, Vecna in Dungeons & Dragons was not a fully formed character like the one fans see today. The character was introduced as an unfinished character in “The White Box,” the first 1974 version of D&D released by  Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Game design architect at D&D, Chris Perkins, explains, “Vecna was this enigmatic figure, originally. We didn’t know much about him other than something happened, and this powerful wizard became an undead wizard and then was destroyed, leaving behind an eyeball and a left hand.”

In D&D, Vecna is a mighty figure that players can use to their advantage. His arm and eyeball are relics with immense power that could be used by players. The character himself is meant to be a mystery. Unlike the Stranger Things Season 4, Vecna is in a constant state of decay due to using dark magic.

As D&D released newer versions, Vecna became more detailed and gained a physical immortal form. His overall ambition is to amass great power that never seems enough for him. The D&D character is not too far off from what fans see in Stranger Things Season 4, but Vecna’s backstory is different.

The grotesque villain needed to make a connection the Upside Down

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It is not hard to see why Dustin immediately thought of Vecna when Eddie described what happened to Chrissy. He was not far off when fans got their first gnarly look at Vecna. D&D describes Vecna as having deformed and rotting skin and is not a sight for sore eyes.

In Stranger Things Season 4, Vecna holds onto some of the same physical portrayals but for a different reason. In the finale of Volume I, fans learn in Eleven’s memories that her caregiver friend Peter Ballard is Henry Creel, or One, played by Jamie Campbell Bower. Henry grew angered by society and its definition of time and harnessed the power of a grandfather clock to obtain his powers.

After murdering his mother and sister, he was taken in by Dr. Brenner to become his first test subject. It spawned the experiment that led to Eleven. But what does Henry have to do with Vecna?

Fans soon learn that Eleven set Peter free from a chip that stopped his powers. Now free, he kills everyone in Hawkin’s lab. He reveals his true backstory, scaring Eleven of how evil he has become. Eleven uses her powers to stop him and inadvertently opens the first gate to the Upside Down using Henry’s body. Fans watch as Henry gets trapped there and burned alive to become Vecna. His ambition? To gain the power to destroy everyone.

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