Stranger Things will bring its four-season run on Netflix to an end this year, splitting the season into two volumes. The show, which has always been steeped in D&D lore, has named the villain for its final season.
I’m going to tell you who the villain is so if you don’t want to know, back out of the page now.
Seriously, last chance.
Still here? OK.
It’s Vecna. The arch-lich. The god of evil secrets. The Whispered One.
How Vecna found his way into our prime material plane for Stranger Things‘ final season will remain one of its closely guarded secrets. However, series creators the Duffer Brothers were quite open about the character’s inclusion in the show and their desire to bring him to life through mostly practical effects. In a wide-ranging interview with IGN, the Duffers spoke about their desire for Vecna to sit among the 80s’ great horror villains. In the Duffers’ minds, Vecna should sit alongside Hellraiser‘s Pinhead and castmate Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger as a terrifying, practical villain.
Who the hell is Vecna?
I can’t stress enough how wild Stranger Things casting a character like Vecna is. Vecna originally appeared in the first versions of Dungeons & Dragons, before the game’s official first edition was released. In that version of the game, Vecna was named only in relation to items called The Hand and Eye of Vecna. The character was later fleshed out in the Greyhawk campaign setting, and the 1990 adventure module Vecna Lives! The end of that adventure saw Vecna, now a demigod, vanish from the material plane, and the Greyhawk setting. He would reappear, years later, in the Ravenloft campaign setting module Die, Vecna, Die! that brought the game’s Second Edition era to a close and set the stage for Third Edition rules.
Through the 3e era, Vecna continued his path to godhood, becoming a Lesser Deity and part of the game’s core pantheon. By the time 4e rolled around, Vecna had become the god of secrets, and there he remains today in the game’s popular 5e ruleset.
Vecna was catapulted back into the public consciousness in 2017 when he became the principal antagonist on the popular D&D live stream Critical Role. Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer threaded Vecna’s plot throughout the entire game, only bringing the villain to bear in the campaign’s final arc.
Dungeons & Dragons truly is everywhere now. The game that was so nerdy that people played it in secret behind closed doors has come so far. Vecna is in Stranger Things. I can’t cope.