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Vhaeraun (pronounced: /vˈrɔːnvay-RAWN[4]), also called the Masked Lord, the Masked God of Night, The Shadow,[4] and, less frequently, the Shadow Lord,[6] the Masked Mage and the Lord of Shadow was the drow god of drow males, thievery, territory, shadow magic, spellfilchers,[5] and evil activities on the surface, aimed to further drow goals, interests, and power there.[3][1]

Vhaeraun was the son of Araushnee[4] and Corellon Larethian.[28] He held the unique view among drow that males and females were equally valuable[3] and was primarily prayed to by those drow males who sought a better life than slavery under Lolth's matriarchy[27] and who opposed it.[29]

DescriptionEdit

As an avatar, Vhaeraun appeared as a normal male drow,[30] handsome with a slim, graceful, and toned physique.[27] He could change his size as he wanted[31] and appeared either with a height of 16 feet (4.9 meters)[27][24] or six feet (1.8 meters).[32]

[He] looks just like a regular drow, except for his eyes. They change color, you see, to reflect his moods. Red when the god is angry, blue when he's pleased, green when… he's puzzled….
— Q'arlynd Melarn to Leliana Vrinn[30]

He never used armor but always wore a black (or purple[33]) mask and a long cloak of the same hue. His eyes and/or hair could change color to reflect his emotions (red for anger, gold for triumph, blue for amusement, green for puzzlement and curiosity).[24][27][30][32]

When he appeared to Inthracis in 1373 DR, he was missing a hand,[34] though at a later time, he was reported to be holding two weapons, one in each hand.[35]

A legend told among drow, to crush the idea of rebellion against the matriarchy, was that Vhaeraun wore his mask to hide scars inflicted by Lolth for his arrogance. A similar legend was one that told Vhaeraun to be mute because he lost his tongue to Lolth for questioning her.[36] The Masked Lord was seen talking with his mouth though the veracity of the former legend was unknown.[37]

PersonalityEdit

Vhaeraun was an arrogant[38] (at times vain) god and shared the vindictive trait of all drow deities.[32] His arrogance made him believe the drow to be above other races. He also urged every single drow to believe she or he was above other drow. His followers derived the idea of gender equality from this belief of his.[38] He believed that all other races should be subjugated by the drow.[28]

While he was willing to use underhandedness to reach his goals, he didn't tolerate the same being used against him or his people.[3][1]

Despite these harsh traits, he was also willing to cooperate when it came to undermining and fighting his mother, Lolth,[39] and tried to unite the other drow gods against her.[27]

For you? …For you this: my gratitude, something that is beyond price.
— Vhaeraun to Inthracis, in response to being asked, "And for me, Masked Lord?"[40]

Vhaeraun was actively involved in the lives of his followers.[3][32] Tzirik Jaelre went so far as to describe him as a caring god.[41] Vhaeraun was indeed one who didn't distance himself from the concerns of his followers and answered their pleas about fifteen percent of the time,[24] even in the form of sending divine servants in cases of real need.[1] He also seemed to be protective of his followers and was seen providing protection to those in his vicinity when he could[42] and the means to avert self-sacrifice to those working for him.[43]

He and his followers shared a realistic understanding regarding his strength. He knew that he was too weak to fight his mother directly, so he worked against her in secretive ways,[27][28] directed at increasing his and his people's power and decreasing that of his enemies,[44] starting with passive resistance by teaching ideas that contradicted Lolth's dogma[3] and moving to open action. The Masked Lord was unusual among deities for his readiness to enter the front line himself when the scale was right, meaning when the target was another god.[45][46][47]

Like Kiaransalee, Lolth, and Zinzerena, Vhaeraun was prayed to on practically every world inhabited by drow[48]—for example, on Oerth[49]—and had a unique aspect for each world. These aspects were usually different from each other in slight ways,[50] but the one from Toril drastically differed from the other aspects. To be precise, the other aspects were all of a neutral evil god,[23] while the aspect from Toril was chaotic evil.[3]

AbilitiesEdit

Main article: Lesser deity

Vhaeraun was a lesser deity. He granted spells to his divine spellcasters and gave his clerics access to the abilities and spells of the chaos, drow, evil, travel, and trickery domains and could inherently cast the spells from these domains.[51] After the Second Sundering, he granted the new Trickery [52] and War domain to his clerics.[15]

He could look into people's minds. He combined his sensing abilities to be constantly on the look out for dissidents, rebels, and generally dissatisfied people with the potential to work for him against the Spider Queen in Lolth-ruled cities where he had already at least some worshipers working against his mother, like Menzoberranzan, Tlethtyrr, or Waerglarn. Once someone was deemed compatible, the individual was approached by a manifestation of Vhaeraun[44] or sent clerics of his[53] to have a one-on-one inducement interview. (See Manifestations.)

You lack the skill.
— Vhaeraun to Malvag when asked, "Why won't you help me?"[54]

Vhaeraun could speak and read any language, including nonverbal languages,[55] but seemed to have a preference for High Drow.[56] He could transfer information directly into the brains of people with whom he was conversing. This method ensured that the information was transferred without risk of misunderstandings but was very painful for the recipient.[57]

Vhaeraun could levitate.[33] He was one of two creatures who lived on Carceri but didn't really belong there, for he could get in and out of the Red Prison as he wanted. This fact brought them the hatred of other deities from the Tarterian Depths.[58] Out of all his movement abilities, teleportation seemed to come most naturally to him. He was seen casually teleporting around walking distance during his business negotiation with Inthracis.[59] For all these movement abilities, he had his limits. For example, he couldn't ignore Lolth's ban on entering her domain during the Silence of Lolth and needed outside help to do so.[33]

Vhaeraun had the ability to turn his body parts incorporeal and touch corporeal things inside a corporeal container while remaining incorporeal. For example, he could grab inside a body and crush its internal organs.[60] It is not clear whether it was his ability to cast polymorph any object, but he once changed a cage with Sehanine Moonbow inside into portable size and dumped her through a gate that he created.[61]

These spells are but the first of my gifts. With them you can swear to Lolth… yet maintain first loyalty to me.
— Vhaeraun, talking to Shakti Hunzrin by telepathy[62]

Apart from always moving as though under pass without trace,[27] the Masked Lord could cast any invisibility spell[32] and turning invisible was a part of his fighting style.[27] What made his abilities at stealth truly special though wasn't the abilities themselves but his skills at them. An entire percent of his clergy in his church consisted of clerical double spies, called masked traitors, clerics whom Lolth believed were under her employment but were in truth specialty priests of her son. This was possible because of his aforementioned skill. Lolth, who was more powerful than him, simply couldn't compete with him on the field of stealth and trickery.[44]

Vhaeraun could change his and his equipment's size[33] and fought as a warrior and as an assassin with two weapons—a longsword, Nightshadow, in his main hand, and a short sword, Shadowflash, in the off-hand.[27] His martial fighting style was of mostly defensive nature and consisted of riposting while primarily dodging and evading enemy blows, parrying only when he had no other choice.[63] It was impossible to hit him with mundane weapons.[27] His prowess in an open, frontal fight wasn't that of a war god. He once fought Selvetarm,[64] the drow demigod of battle prowess,[1] and was driven away, effectively losing against his own son.[64]

Vhaeraun possessed all the immunities and protections of a lesser deity.[65] in In addition, Vhaeraun was immune to all kind of illusions—except those created by more powerful divine beings—and to being charmed.[27] While the immunities of deities were generally useless against a divine creature of higher status,[65] when it came to his immunity against charms, he was under no such restrictions.[27]

Vhaeraun was thought to be unable to cast spells by himself;[27] on the other hand, he was called the Masked Mage[5] and was observed making extensive use of spells.[64] He was able to duplicate any divine or arcane spell used by his followers within 180 feet (55 meters) and could cast them while fighting physically at the same time.[27] He was capable of generating heat, both in the form of magma[42] and by converting blasts of shadowstuff into fire, the latter being hot enough to cause agony to deities.[66] He could also cause a bladebend effect once every six minutes.[27]

PossessionsEdit

Normally, deities didn't use magic items,[67] but Vhaeraun could and did wield any magic item provided by his followers, as long as they could be used by evil individuals,[27] and he had a penchant to use protective magic items. He also charged one magic item per calling of his avatar as payment.[68] (See Manifestations.)

In battle, he wielded two swords, Nightshadow and Shadowflash. The former was a black longsword of quickness,[27] which he could make appear out of nowhere in his hands.[33]

Shadowflash was a short sword made of silver, which could emit a flash of eerie light, capable of blinding those who looked at it.[27] He also carried a dagger, though its properties were unknown.[69]

The Masked Lord's cloak was able to absorb seven spells of any strength each day, including magic that could affect a whole area, (therefore protecting both the deity and those who stood near him,) and could make the wearer transparent to those who looked through it. If stolen, or when the avatar of its owner was destroyed, the cloak would melt into nothing.[27]

Divine RealmEdit

Main article: Ellaniath

Vhaeraun’s home realm was called Ellaniath,[70] the whereabouts of which were unknown as the Masked Lord wiped the memories of any visitor.[71]

ManifestationsEdit

Vhaeraun had a number of ways to manifest his powers. Apart from his own avatar[27] or his minions' direct help,[1] he could empower[27] and inform his people.[72]

CallingEdit

Avatar

Vhaeraun was capable of creating avatars and preferred to appear in his avatar form when possible. (See Description.) A ritual needed to be completed for such an event,[27] but even when said ritual was completed, the avatar appeared only once in five times. On appearing, a magic item needed to be given to (or just taken by) the avatar). If a magic item was not available, the summoner was sent on a quest to get one. The obtained magic item was then offered on an altar, and any thieves who might steal this item were pursued by the avatar.[68]

The ritual consisted of the casting of a gate spell and could be done reliably and without the need to offer a magic item when the Masked Lord's personal goals were involved, if the calling of an avatar as done by Tzirik Jaelre is taken as a standard.[37]

Servitors

It was relatively easy to convince Vhaeraun to send one of his servitors for help, provided the proper rituals were conducted in situations of real need.[1] "Real need" didn't necessarily mean life or death situations. Instances in which shadows were used as messengers to contact a large number of followers in a wide area were known.[73]

Tangible EffectsEdit

Apart from direct help, Vhaeraun had other means by which he could provide his followers with tangible help.

Flitting Black Shadow

When Vhaeraun wanted to directly help an individual who hadn't conducted the ritual to call his avatar, he could send a flitting black shadow. It acted as a half-mask for a chosen individual for about nine minutes.[27]

During that time, the recipient received a blessing in the form of minor healing, the true seeing spell, ability to wound creatures immune to mundane weapons, moving silently while under the pass without trace spell, and success at keeping one's footing under all circumstances. A single creature could only be blessed like this once per day.[27]

Half-mask of Shadow

Another manifestation consisted of a floating insubstantial half-mask, made of shadow. It could pass through any obstacle, magical or not and including divine boundaries, to reach the enemy of his people. The mask then (twice per appearance) laughed mockingly and chillingly, inducing terror in those who heard it, as though with the fear spell.[27]

Interview

Vhaeraun could see into other people's minds, he used this ability to discern compatibility with his philosophy. Once a person with the proper mindset was found, a shadowy black face mask appeared before the individual. Via telepathy, a one-on-one inducement talk was conducted. If such a private meeting was discovered, the mask used a number spells to kill the intruders. After proving that his cause was based on power and had chances to succeed, the mask left to come back later for another talk.[74]

InformationEdit

Vhaeraun could, apart from the standard manifestations (see infobox), convey information by sharing concrete information with several people at once through shared dreams.[75]

ActivitiesEdit

Vhaeraun's goal was to put the Ilythiiri,[44] or drow, back into the position of power that they once held. He detested seeing his people wither because of the pointless infighting and division that Lolth promoted. His plan towards his goal was to undo the Spider Queen and her idea of "society", replacing it with one where the drow would be united and both genders treated with equality. He saw that as the only way to lead the drow to reclaim their power and place on the surface, called the Night Above, to rule over all the others.[44][28] Elves represented an exception, as it was Vhaeraun's belief that all the Tel'Quessir needed to work together for common progress.[3][39]

Vhaeraun 2e

Vhaeraun spying on his enemies.

The Masked Lord taught subtle opposition against the priestesses of Lolth and their ideals.[27] He incited his followers to rebel and sow rebellion—especially among male drow—against the Spider Queen's matriarchy, by any means available,[1] going as far as to personally teach methods and skills of resistance.[4]

He promoted the same kind of activities on the surface. He taught his followers to increase drow power and influence based on real assets, by trade and association with other creatures, but also by criminal means,[44] for example thievery.[24] These kind of activities on the surface were so similar to Mask's[27]—whose activities consisted of creating a trustworthy front and not committing unnecessary crimes in the face of other means[76]—that the two deities were confused with each other among non-drow there.[27] After the Second Sundering, Vhaeraun's modus operandi emphasized the "good citizens" part more strongly than before.[77]

The Shadow also gathered any particularly effective poisons, spells, and tactics devised by his clerics, in order to share such tools with the rest,[44][28][24] and also trained the otherwise defenseless male drow in the skills of a rogue.[4]

RelationshipsEdit

Vhaeraun was the son of Corellon Larethian and Lolth,[78] the elder twin[79] brother of Eilistraee.[28] He was the father of Selvetarm.[1] He opposed and was opposed by all of his family members.[3][80]

SeldarineEdit

The relationship between him and the Seldarine, of which he was formerly a part, were poor; in fact all members of the Seldarine considered him their enemy.[81]

Corellon Larethian
In time, perhaps, you can redeem yourself and return to the fellowship of Arvandor.
— Corellon to Vhaeraun[82]

After his son Vhaeraun's betrayal during the War of the Seldarine, Corellon practically cut his son off and exiled him.[83]

Corellon gave up on the idea of trying to turn his son Vhaeraun to abandon his ways.[84] He vowed to kill Vhaeraun if he ever tried to hurt his sister.[83] Nevertheless, the Masked Lord did threaten the Dark Maiden's life, without known action against him on Corellon's part.[85]

Interestingly, the one type of magic that the Protector considered too corrupt for elves and thus suitable for drow, the usage of the Shadow Weave,[86] was the niche Vhaeraun filled in his role as the patron of shadow magic.[5]

Sehanine Moonbow

Vhaeraun hated Sehanine Moonbow for escaping his prison during the War of the Seldarine.[87]

Shevarash

Shevarash dedicated his life to killing drow. Vhaeraun was his primary target, alongside Lolth.[88] It was unclear why the Black Archer viewed the Masked Lord as a primary enemy, since Vhaeraun also wanted to get rid of the Spider Queen.[89]

Dark SeldarineEdit

Dark Seldarine - F&P

The Dark Seldarine. From left to right: Vhaeraun, Kiaransalee, Lolth, Selvetarm, Ghaunadaur, and Eilistraee.

The relationship between him and the rest of the Dark Seldarine was not good; his relationship with Lolth was completely hostile. One of Vhaeraun's goals was it to unite the rest of the drow powers against the Spider Queen.[27] Such cooperation was difficult, because of the vastly different views each deity shared,[7] though he did succeed at forming an alliance with Kiaransalee[90] and later one with Eilistraee,[91][14] with cooperation with both Ghaunadaur and Selvetarm to a lesser extent. (See below.)

Lolth

Vhaeraun and Lolth's relationship started as mother and son.[28] Vhaeraun shared her trait of ambition and became her confidant in her betrayal against her husband.[92] At latest after the Descent, the two were complete enemies, Vhaeraun calling for the destruction of the society for which she stood.[28]

What I want… is my mother's heart fed to demons and shat out for my amusement!
— Vhaeraun, on Lolth[57]

Vhaeraun was Lolth's favorite child[38] and she encouraged her son's rivalry with her, for it appealed to her love of chaos.[93] On the other hand, her son having actual success at swaying the drow to his cause of destroying her, her supporters and beneficiaries, and her version of society[28] was a real source of fear for her.[94] Lolth viewed him as her true rival[27][95] and enemy, leading to her incorporating specific tenets against her son's followers.[96]

Mother and son had little to no common ground. Lolth promoted favoritism towards females;[97] Vhaeraun promoted gender equality.[28] The Spider Queen demanded surface elves as sacrifices from her worshipers;[98] the Masked Lord urged his followers to cooperate with surface elves.[3] Lolth tried to keep drow society stagnant in every regard;[99] Vhaeraun attracted those who wanted change in societal progress, economic growth, territorial expansion, etc.[95] Lolth wanted to extinguish the drow race's desire to return to the surface;[100][101] Vhaeraun called for settling the surface.[44][28] These differences made the idea of Lolth's forces and those from the surface working together against Vhaeraun's into something not completely impossible.[102]

Eilistraee

Vhaeraun's relationship with his sister Eilistraee was one that underwent large changes over time. Before the Second Sundering, he used to hate his sister Eilistraee, and the two were on hostile terms.[87] Vhaeraun's hatred against Eilistraee originated both from his sister having been the favored child of Corellon Larethian and from her hindering his efforts to bring the Ilythiiri under him, (as that conflict opened the way for Lolth and Ghaunadaur to rise to prominence.) Nonetheless, he tried to bring her alongside the other drow gods on his side against Lolth.[87][84]Eilistraee, on the other hand, mourned her brother's selfishness and cruelty, and, until the late 1400s DR, the two remained adversaries. The Dark Maiden opposed her brother's ruthless ways, and she wished to lead the drow along the path of light.[103]. Her divine champions generally chose the evil deities of the Dark Seldarine as enemies to oppose, and that led some of them to focus their efforts against the followers of Vhaeraun.[104]

…You should.
— Eilistraee answering to Cornaith Moonflower's claim of having no fear of Vhaeraun[105]

After 1489 DR, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun achieved a deeper reciprocal understanding, (possibly even friendship,) but this didn't necessarily extend to their followers.[91][14] How the alliance between the traitor of the Seldarine and an ally of the same affected their respective relationships with the elven pantheon was not known. They shared a few characteristics. Both wanted their people on the surface—Eilistraee, in harmony with others,[106] Vhaeraun, by building power structures that allowed his followers to rule over others.[44][28]

A slur to describe him among the followers of Eilistraee was the Sly Savage.[107]

Ghaunadaur

He was opposed to Ghaunadaur.[3] The two gods used to guide the elves of Ilythiir together, during their time there,[108] though it was not clear whether they were on amicable terms. If Ka'Narlist was taken as a measure, followers of Ghaunadaur considered Vhaeraun an upstart who was not attractive to those who were looking for life force as a power source.[109] There was also an overlap in their follower base. A meaningful part of Ghaunadaur's followers were philosophically closer to Vhaeraun than Ghaunadaur and followed the latter only because they didn't know about the god of thievery or his agenda.[110] Followers of Ghaunadaur and Vhaeraun seemed to work together based on individual projects. As examples, followers of the two worked together to destroy the Lolth-worshipers in Eryndlyn.[111] The Ghaunadan fey'ri House Dlardrageth[112] and the Vhaeraunite drow House Jaelre worked together to protect themselves from the Army of Myth Drannor,[113] and even after Vhaeraun's death, a faction of Vhaeraunites and Ghaunadans successfully worked together to destroy the Promenade of the Dark Maiden.[114] They were even capable of living side by side, like in Holldaybim.[115]

Kiaransalee

Vhaeraun was allied with Kiaransalee, though she was also allied with Lolth.[90] The difference between these two relationships was that the former was a willing alliance to get rid of Lolth's dominance,[1] while the latter took the form of forced subservience to the Spider Queen and included and enmity.[116]

Selvetarm
What I want… is Selvetarm's obsequious brain torn from his foul head so that I can use his empty skull as a piss pot.
— Vhaeraun on Selvetarm[57]

Vhaeraun was opposed by his son Selvetarm.[80] For example, when the draegloths started to convert to Vhaeraun during the Silence of Lolth, Selvetarm took some in with the intention of handing them over to his grandmother when she awoke again.[117] Even though Selvetarm hated his grandmother,[118] to whom he was practically enslaved,[1] he still fought against his father during the Silence of Lolth, as Vhaeraun sought to destroy Lolth in her weakened state, thus botching his chance for freedom.[64] Vhaeraun had a very low opinion about Selvetarm's intelligence,[119] but the submissive trait of his son was what angered him most.[120] It seemed that his position as patron of male drow was contended by the more conformist Selvetarm after the Second Sundering.[29] At some point in time, though, the two managed to set aside their differences enough for radical Selvetargtlin and Vhaeraunnites to cooperate, such that being raised by Selvetargtlin was not something to bat an eye at.[121]

It was heavily suspected that the reason why the attack on the Promenade of the Dark Maiden and Vhaeraun's assassination attempt on the Dark Maiden were on the same day was because the two gods were in league with each other.[122]

EnemiesEdit

Underdark Deities

A large number of Underdark deities were also his enemies. They included the duergar deities Laduguer and Deep Duerra, the derro deities Diirinka and Diinkarazan, the beholder deities Great Mother and Gzemnid, the mind flayer deities Ilsensine and Maanzecorian, the aboleth progenitor Piscaethces, the ixzan deity Ilxendren, the kuo-toa deity Blibdoolpoolp, the myconid deity Psilofyr, and the troglodyte deity Laogzed.[3] This could have been less from personal grudges than from the fact that, in the Underdark, societies organized and identified themselves first through their racial identities and tended to enslave others who were not of the same race to make the generation and distribution of the (extremely) scarce resources easier.[123][124]

Surface Deities

Other enemies of his were Sharess and the halfling deity Cyrrollalee.[3] Vhaeraun's enmity with Cyrrollalee was rooted in their portfolios. The halfling goddess was the deity of homes and Vhaeraun was the god of thievery and thus an intruder into homes.[125] His enmity with Sharess had a more specific background. (See Age of Humanity.)

AlliesEdit

Vhaeraun enjoyed a working relationship with Mask, Shar, and Talona.[3][28]

Symbol of Mask 2e

The symbol of Mask, one of Vhaeraun's allies.

Symbol of Vhaeraun 2e

The symbol of Vhaeraun.

Mask

Vhaeraun was an ally of Mask.[28] The two were similar in many ways,[39] and among non-drow on the surface, the two were often confused with one another.[3] The two even shared one similar title—"Lord of Shadows" for Mask[126] and "Lord of Shadow" for Vhaeraun.[5]

While Mask was interested in absorbing Vhaeraun to compensate his loss of power to Cyric[39], there were also followers of Vhaeraun who used the resemblance of the two gods' symbols and methods to recruit followers among humans and half-elves.[44]

Shar

Vhaeraun was the drow patron of shadow magic[5] and Shar was the owner of the Shadow Weave.[127] They worked together in projects that concerned this magic, like the School of the Shadow Weave, which had followers of both Vhaeraun[128][129] and Shar among them.[130] When Vhaeraun died, Shar was also one of the prime choices to whom his followers might convert.[131]

Talona

Talona was a deity from Carceri, which meant that she hated Vhaeraun for being able to go in out of the Red Prison at his leisure, but she found him exceedingly dangerous.[58] Still, the Lady of Poison and the Masked Lord maintained a functional working relationship.[28]

FollowersEdit

Generally speaking, the drow deities had a strange relationship with their followers. In some cases, followers were referred to in terms of belonging to one or the other deity like possessions.[128][132]. That seemed to be meant in the literal sense for Lolth[133] and Kiaransalee,[134] who were capable of using their followers' fate as a wager in their game for their own gain.[135][note 2] While Vhaeraun meddled in this game, he didn't wager his followers like the others.[133]

…Why are things so cruel and divisive? Why isn't there more harmony, mutual enjoyment, and common growth in power? Why, after thousands of years, are we still all stuck in this one cavern…?
— Questions and problems for which Vhaeraun provided answers and solutions[95]

The drow gods also had dogmas that were generally concerned with describing how to live a life that pleased them,[136] whereas Vhaeraun's dogma was unique in that it was used to outline the goal of his organization and the steps towards it.[28] He considered himself the leader of this endeavor.[28]

The relationship between him and his followers was based on a deal—the followers' obedience in exchange for divine support,[7] whereas piety was at best of secondary concern.[103] His followers joined him for different reasons, from actually agreeing with his philosophy,[44] to more personal reasons like the desire for change[27] or freedom,[53] to completely personal reasons like the desire for revenge, simple madness,[44] or because they thought that Vhaeraun's support was a tool strong enough for the follower's social advancement to justify the risk of exposure.[103]

Vhaeraun primarily valued his followers for their action; what was excluded from evaluation were their intentions, private desires, and thoughts, including rebellious ones. He was capable of punishing his followers for bad performance—a good track record wasn't considered an excuse for it.[137] He also punished for transgressions, such as impersonating him, even with punishments that virtually meant death, as happened to Tellik Melarn.[138] He held people in high standing for their actions, despite any rebellious thoughts against him.[139]

MortalsEdit

His goal was to lead the drow back to their former position of power. He saw a general need for advancement for elves and encouraged cooperation, including intermarriage among the elven races. The goal included the subjugation of other races. Intermarrying also had an ulterior motive in the form of increasing drow numbers on the surface by taking advantage of the drow's genetic dominance and the psychological quirk of children to favor their drow parent.[19][44] Despite this, cooperation with other races was possible. He had an unexplained dislike against dwarves and gnomes and forbade his followers from associating with these races,[39][3][24] but they did so anyway. (See Church of Vhaeraun.)

He found halflings and humans tolerable.[3][24] It was believed that the Shadow wanted, or at least was not against, the drow interbreeding with humans to acquire their genetic traits.[140]

WorshipersEdit

Main article: Church of Vhaeraun

Priest of Vhaeraun

A priest of Vhaeraun in typical regalia.

Vhaeraun had the largest drow following on the surface[141][39] and the second largest overall.[142] The church of Vhaeraun primarily consisted of drow and half-drow males who sought a better life than slavery under Lokth's matriarchy,[27] and who opposed it.[29] The promise of a gender-fair society[44] in which empathy, cooperation, and growth was possible appealed to them.[95]

The followers of Vhaeraun believed that they must free themselves from the tyranny of the Lolth and take their rightful place in the Night Above by force. This would involve the destruction of the drow matriarchy and the infighting of Lolth's followers, resulting in the unification of the drow people, as opposed to a squabbling collection of rival Houses with conflicting aims. They believed that Vhaeraun would lead them in a society where the drow ruled over all the other, inferior races and where male and female were equals.[28]

ServitorsEdit

The Masked Lord was personally served by his petitioners, the souls of his dead followers,[143] on his realm Ellaniath.[144] Some petitioners were turned into vhaeraths, petitioners who gained additional abilities in stealth and retained their skills in life, who were frequently dispatched to Toril to do their god's bidding.[26]

Other servitor creatures weregehreleths (farastu, kelubar, and shator); mephits (air, smoke, and earth), shadow dragons, shadow fiends, shadows,[27] and yeth hounds.[145] Petitioners who distinguished themselves in life through great service were turned by the Masked Lord into some type of his servitor creatures.[146]

Vhaeraun once forbade his priests to use spells to summon any servant creatures, as he expected them to only perform rituals to summon his avatar[27] and to show their self-reliance.[147] This rule was substantially relaxed, and it became in fact easy to convince him to send one of his servitors for help, provided the proper ritual was conducted.[1] He also provided his followers access to his servitors for their summon monster and planar ally spells.[148] The vhaeraths were an exception; calling them required the knowledge outlined in the Obsul Ssussun.[26]

SymbolEdit

Vhaeraun symbol

The symbol of Vhaeraun.

Vhaeraun's symbol was a black half-mask.[3] One variation consisted of two black lenses forming a mask.[1] There was also a slight variation of this symbol that consisted of a black mask with two blue lenses.[52]

HistoryEdit

The Dawn AgeEdit

See also: Dawn Age

Vhaeraun was born as the son of Corellon Larethian and Lolth,[28] as the elder twin brother of Eilistraee.[79] About −30,000 DR, Lolth (at that time called Araushnee) tried to overthrow her husband as the head of the elven pantheon.[92][149]

You are still willing to do these things? …After all, he is your father.
— Lolth to Vhaeraun, talking about their betrayal[150]

Vhaeraun was her confidant in this betrayal.[3] He was unique in that he didn't feel attachment to membership in the Seldarine, suggesting the option of simply leaving the group, and he also didn't see inherent value in blood ties. what gave Araushnee the final nudge away from the Seldarine was a combination of realizing that she was alone, after understanding her son's capability to betray his father and his potential to murder her later to come out on top.[151]

And he is your lord husband. If there is a difference, please explain it to me….
— Vhaeraun to Lolth, talking about their betrayal[150]

Eilistraee was intended to be the unknowing murderer of her father[152] and the scapegoat for the betrayal.[79] The plan involved Corellon's sheath, on which a curse was placed. Vhaeraun was the one who hid Corellon's sheath, so that Eilistraee would find it,[61] which she did out of her known affection towards her father.[153] The sheath was cursed to direct her arrows to the bearer, Corellon,[103] and retrieving it and giving it back to him guaranteed that she would be in his vicinity when the battle ensued.[153] Vhaeraun's other role was to imprison Sehanine Moonbow.[87] She needed to be imprisoned because his mother Lolth conducted the very first step of the betrayal in plain sight of the moon goddess, thus revealing it to her.[154] The moon goddess eventually managed to escape her prison, albeit at high cost to herself.[155] During the war, Vhaeraun protected Araushnee.[156] After the war, a trial was called, and Vhaeraun was one of those sent into exile from the Seldarine.[157]

What really happenedEdit

When Corellon fought his first battle with Gruumsh, the elves were born from the elven god's blood. Corellon chose favorites among them and those were made gods. Vhaeraun was among these first elven gods. During those days, all elves had shapechanging powers, which allowed them a maximum degree of freedom.[158]

At some point in history, Lolth came up with the idea to limit the elves' freedom and with it their shapechanging powers for dominion. All elves including their gods agreed with her and the elves took their humanoid forms. The elves including their gods declared Corellon their father and Lolth their mother and chose their favorite. Those gods who chose Lolth became later the Dark Seldarine and those who chose Corellon became the Seldarine.[159]

Corellon became enraged at Lolth for proposing the loss of freedom but the elves protected her. The logic behind it was that no elf should be attacked. Upon pleading their case, Corellon thought about it and while thinking was attacked by Lolth. The later-Seldarine stopped this attack but the later-Dark Seldarine did nothing. This act made the split between these two groups final and Vhaeraun was out of his creator's graces.[160]

The Time of DragonsEdit

Vhaeraun's influence spreads like a bloodstain upon the land. Finally, he became strong enough to achieve that which he most desired.
— Eilistraee on Vhaeraun[105]
During the Time of Dragons, the first elves came to Toril. They didn't know about the Seldarine and mostly strove to live in scattered tribes with one exception, the Ilythiiri.[161] Among them, Vhaeraun became the mainstream deity.[85] in the first elven state Ilythiir.[161]

He, and to a lesser degree Ghaunadaur, helped their people to carefully but successfully expand their territory throughout southern Faerûn[108] (at that time the name for the single continent on Toril)[162] and power, to a level that kept them independent from the dragons.[163] Eilistraee tried to stop Vhaeraun's evil machinations,[164] but he tried to kill her in return.[85]

Throughout this time, he maintained thin ties with his mother.[165] Without any evil intentions, the moon elf Kethryllia Amarillis drew Lolth to Toril in −24,440 DR;[162] the Spider Queen then made inroads in the southern state of Ilythiir.[166]

The First FloweringEdit

See also: First Flowering

Vhaeraun became the most popular deity in southern Ilythiir,[167] as that nation spread throughout the south of the continent,[162] with Vhaeraun as the driving force behind this development.[108] This position of hegemony changed with the First Sundering[167] in −17,600 DR.[162]

Despite vastly different views, Ilythiir was originally on good footing with the other elven nations,[168] but Lolth poisoned the relationships between dark elves and other subraces.[169] Seldarine-following elves came up with the idea to create a dark elf-free piece of land for those weary of the difficulties on the continent.[170] They used elven high magic, and while they succeeded at creating their island, Evermeet,[171] they damaged the continent, with accompanying casualties, among them many citizens of Ilythiir, as collateral damage.[162] Among this collateral damage was a large part of the church of Vhaeraun.[167] The Masked Lord's influence ebbed with the loss of his worshipers. According to Szorak Auzkovyn, Vhaeraun's salvage efforts were foiled by Eilistraee[3], through her favoring of female followers and excluding men from her clergy, thus causing a schism in the egalitarian church of Vhaeraun by seducing the women away to her.[172] Lolth then became the hegemonic deity in Ilythiir,[167] allowing her to start her machinations to corrupt and destroy all elves, which culminated in the Crown Wars.[108]

The Crown WarsEdit

Aryvandaar, a sun elf kingdom, had borderline genocidal intentions regarding the dark elves of Ilythiir at latest after the Dark Disaster.[173] Geirildin Sethomiir, the coronal of Ilythiir, read even earlier those intentions in the actions of Aryvandaar. The coming battles were viewed and treated as battles for survival, so he made a pact with Lolth by proxy of Wendonai, around −11,500 DR,[174] to gain the power needed to save his people.[175] This act made Lolth the most important deity in Ilythiir.[174]

Nobles of Ilythiir followed the example of their coronal and made their own pacts,[176] and Vhaeraun, no longer the main deity, supported the dark elves of Ilythiir with servants and other support during the battles, alongside Ghaunadaur and Kiaransalee.[168]

It is not very clear what kind of role Vhaeraun filled during the Crown Wars, though it was known that it was not one as a warmonger; that role fell to Lolth and Ghaunadaur.[177]

The Ilythiiri, who were still refining their worship of the Dark Seldarine, used to portray their gods as spider deities, and high priests were killed by the offended gods for promoting this kind of iconography. Vhaeraun, for example, was depicted as a Masked Spider.[178]

The Crown Wars destroyed most elven realms, including Ilythiir.[92] By the end of this era, Vhaeraun and Lolth were enemies. (See Relationships.)

Age of HumanityEdit

See also: Age of Humanity

At some point, some centuries before the third century DR, Zandilar, a deity worshiped by the elves in the Yuirwood at that time, tried to seduce Vhaeraun.[179] The background for this seduction attempt was that Lolth's followers had attacked the elves in the Yuirwood. The elves there trouble repelling any invaders, and thus Zandilar made habitual use of her seductiveness to get information and allies or to sway would be invaders away. Her target for seduction at that time was Vhaeraun. She tried to seduce the Masked Lord for information and/or assistance, but he imprisoned her intead, with the goal of stealing her power. Bast managed to create the opening for Zandilar to flee, and Zandilar let her savior take the remnants of her power, so that Bast could protect the elves in her place.[180] Vhaeraun's son Selvetarm was born just before the process of this merging, and he rejected his father out of personal uncertainty.[47]

War of the Spider QueenEdit

See also: War of the Spider Queen
Silence of Lolth

In the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, the goddess Lolth went into a state of hibernation, a period called the Silence of Lolth, with Selvetarm protecting her, as part of a plan to increase her power and separate her divine realm, the Demonweb Pits, from the Abyss.[181] Vhaeraun gained influence through unfurling his plans during this opportunity. His followers took over power by both legal[182] and violent means,[111] and Vhaeraun himself gained power from being sought out as an alternative patron, for example, by draegloths.[183]

Vhaeraun and Selvetarm Do Battle

Vhaeraun and his son, Selvetarm, dueling.

In that same year, the drow of Menzoberranzan, through Triel Baenre, sent a group of powerful adventurers, led by Quenthel Baenre, to discover the cause of Lolth's silence (or, as was then suspected, disfavor). During Uktar, Quenthel's company finally managed to gain the collaboration of a cleric of Vhaeraun,[70] Tzirik Jaelre, who could lead them to the Demonweb Pits with the help of his god. However, they were betrayed by their Vhaeraunite guide, who summoned the Masked Lord as part of a plan to attack the defenseless Lolth.[184] After Vhaeraun grievously wounded her, Selvetarm appeared to battle Vhaeraun, but both fell off the web and plummeted into the darkness below. This battle caused significant damage to the fabric of the multiverse. Among other things, it caused a part of the Nine Hells to seep into Toril.[185] Tzirik tried to create another gate but, luckily for Lolth, failed because Pharaun Mizzrym managed to cast a sending spell across the planes—something that didn't always work[186]—and managed to order Jeggred Baenre to kill the Vhaeraunite priest.[187]

Another attempt at Lolth's life was made through a bargain Vhaeraun made with the yugoloth Inthracis. He couldn't act personally because of Lolth's ban against divine creatures entering her realm. The bargain consisted of the yugoloth and his army killing the potential candidates for the position of Lolth's Chosen, the vital component for her successful rebirth. In exchange, Vhaeraun was to assassinate Inthracis' superior, Kexxon, the Oinoloth, thus enabling the yugoloth's promotion, as payment on confirmation of success.[188] The attempt, however, failed.[189]

After the Silence

After the Silence of Lolth, Eilistraee and Lolth started a divine game of sava over the destiny of the drow, Vhaeraun meddled with this game, though without wagering his life and those of his followers.[133][135] Nevertheless, he and his followers did plot another attempt against Lolth's life to end her reign. The idea was to open a gate between Ellaniath, Vhaeraun’s realm, and Eilistraee's portion of Arvandor, using elven high magic, so that the god could pass through and assassinate his sister. Then, the surface drow would be united under a single banner, increasing the number of Vhaeraun's followers and giving him the necessary power boost to kill his mother.[190]

However, such magic was very taxing and would have required the sacrifice of the souls of the casters. Because of this, the followers of the Masked Lord started to kill various priestesses of Eilistraee and collect their souls in their masks, using a spell called soultheft, to use the souls as a fuel for the ritual.[43]

On Nightal 20 of the Year of Risen Elfkin, 1375 DR, Vhaeraun managed to enter his sister Eilistraee's realm and attempted to assassinate her. The plan failed because of the machinations of Lolth, as conducted by Halisstra Melarn. She captured Malvag, the organizer of the undertaking and led Cavatina Xarann to him so he'd be killed and the soul in the mask freed by her. Halisstra tehn raised Malvag, so he could continue his undertaking. The church of Eilistraee had a program to revive every dead priestess because they were otherwise too small in number. Thus, the priestess whose soul was captured was revived; she conveyed her information, and The Dark Maiden was warned by Qilue Veladorn. As mentioned (see Abilities), Vhaeraun's combat abilities were not that of a war god like Eilistraee, the deity of swordplay. With the warning, his secure success chance as an assassin was forfeit, and he lost the fight.[191] No mortal actually witnessed the battle that ensued, so what happened remains largely unknown. However, Eilistraee emerged from the battle alive, suggesting that Vhaeraun had failed and perished at the hand of his sister.[192] Either way, Eilistraee was changed after the event; she now held both her brother's and her own portfolios, and gained the title of "Masked Lady".[192][note 3][note 4]

Vhaeraun's influence on Eilistraee was pervasive. Apart from outward changes, like his sister starting to wear clothes that hid her features, she experienced also a change in morale. Her Chosen began spreading lies for propaganda's sake; engaging in bribery or ordering assassinations to ensure the silence of those who knew the truth became acceptable to her.[193][194] Furthermore, she didn't seem to have full control over Vhaeraun's powers. To begin with, Vhaeraun's petitioners were capable of rejecting her.[195] His former clerics, even those who had actively worked against Eilistraee, were still able to receive spells, though not their strongest ones.[196] She also seemed unable to detect the betrayal of former clerics of Vhaeraun, whom she accepted as hers, when they joined forces with Ghaunadaur's to bring the doom of the Promenade of the Dark Maiden.[197]

Some of Vhaeraun's followers joined Eilistraee;[196] others refused to have anything to do with Eilistraee[198] and joined gods like Shar;[131] still others stayed with their old faith and/or never became aware that their god died, later forming the Skulkers of Vhaeraun.[199]

Post-SpellplagueEdit

Skulker of Vhaeraun

A skulker of Vhaeraun.

See also: Spellplague

Vhaeraun's death was a huge setback for the church, but it didn't kill his faith completely. Some drow who didn't believe his demise still worshiped him, and their prayers were actually answered. In fact, during that time, his followers (including lay worshipers) gained some divine abilities, (like that of producing poison, of disguising their appearance, or of small range teleportation,) which allowed them to complete dangerous tasks to further their cause and safely escape afterwards. They were called Skulkers of Vhaeraun and mostly consisted of disgruntled drow males but also included a few females. Speculations were that the entity answering their prayers could be identified as the remnants of Vhaeraun himself or possibly another god masquerading as the Masked Lord. Some believed that the fervor and faith of the followers were the source of their new powers.[199]

The Second SunderingEdit

Vhaeraun managed to return to life during the event known as the Second Sundering,[16][200][14][note 1] in Flamerule, 1489 DR.[14]. Vhaeraun and Eilistraee were separate entities again,[16][201] but they reached a reciprocal understanding, and the personal enmity between them was no more.[91] Both siblings let their return be known, manifesting through their avatars to their followers, who enthusiastically spread the word.[200] His Chosen was Phalar.[202]

AppendixEdit

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ed Greenwood explained that only the following lines of text in the last reference are to be considered canon: "After Flamerule 1489, Vhaeraun and Eilistraee are separate deities with the same powers and portfolios they had before 1375, but a new understanding, respect, and even friendship for each other. Some of their followers still war with each other, but the two deities do not."
  2. While Eilistraee took part in those events, she didn't do so for personal gain but with the purpose of freeing the drow from Lolth's poison once and for all, endangering herself for that goal (Sacrifice of the Widow, p. 3). The Dark Maiden didn't see her followers as possessions; she strove to never forcefully intervene in their lives and to instead help them find their own path (Demihuman Deities, p. 12).
  3. The Grand History of the Realms explicitly says that Vhaeraun's assassination attempt failed and Eilistraee killed him, though his continued existence suggests otherwise.
  4. Ed Greenwood suggests that Eilistraee actually spared her brother's life. The Dark Maiden defeated Vhaeraun with the indirect help of her ally Mystra, as the Weave frustrated the Masked Lord's magic while enhancing Eilistraee's. The goddess temporarily took her brother's portfolio, and trapped his sentience in the Weave, where it was enfolded in a dream by Mystra. The Lady of Mysteries did this to ensure that the two drow siblings would survive the cataclysm that she knew was coming—the Spellplague—in which she would be "killed" to renew the Weave and magic would go wild. After Mystra and the Weave were completely restored in 1487 DR, the goddess of magic could finally give Eilistraee her own lost power and do the same with Vhaeraun, after having awakened him from his dream.

AppearancesEdit

Novels

ReferencesEdit

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ConnectionsEdit

The Drow Pantheon
Lesser Deities
Lolth
Deities
EilistraeeKiaransaleeSelvetarmVhaeraun
Ex-Members
Ghaunadaur
Dead Powers
Zinzerena