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Vhaeraun (Vay-rawn), also called the Masked Lord, the Masked God of Night, The Shadow,[4] less frequently, the Masked Mage and the Lord of Shadow[5] was the drow god of drow males, territory, thievery,[4] shadow magic, spellfilchers[5] and evil activities on the surface, aimed to further drow goals, interests and power there.[4] A slur to describe him among the followers of Eilistraee was the Sly Savage.[17] He was primarily prayed to by those drow males who sought a better life than slavery under Lolth’s matriarchy, and that opposed it, believing that males and females were equally valuable.[18]

Vhaeraun was the son of Araushnee and Corellon Larethian, a proud and vindictive god, ruthless in pursuing his goals. During his youth, he chose to aid his mother in her attempt to overthrow Corellon, but their treachery was ultimately unmasked, and both were exiled from their former home in Arvandor.[18] In Toril, Vhaeraun gained many dark elven followers in the region of Ilythiir, becoming the most influent god among the Ilythiiri. However, during the Crown Wars, a series of events led to his decline and to the rise of Lolth, until, after the descent of the drow, the Spider Queen became the most powerful drow deity.[18] Despite that, Vhaeraun didn't stop fighting to undermine Lolth, and to incite the drow to rebel against her. He sought to bring gender-equality to his people, and unite them in forcibly reclaiming their rightful home in the Night Above.[18]

During the 1370s DR, he attempted to murder his sister, Eilistraee, but his failure led to his defeat and disappearance.[6] It lasted for about a century, until the Second Sundering (circa 1480s DR) saw his return to life.[7][16]

DescriptionEdit

… 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 –"

"Let me guess – when he's envious." "When he's puzzled, actually."

  — Sacrifice of the Widow

As an avatar, Vhaeraun appeared either as a normal male drow.[19] or as a handsome male drow, with a slim, graceful, and toned physique.[20] He never used armor, but always wore a black (or purple[21]) 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).[2][20][19] When he appeared to Inthracis in 1373 DR, he was missing a hand,[22] though it seemed that he came into contact with some kind of regeneration later, so he could hold two weapons in each hand.[23]

PersonalityEdit

Vhaeraun was a proud (at times vain) and vindictive drow, rarely forgiving any slight towards him or his followers. He was willing to use any tool to reach his goals (including treachery and underhandedness), but he didn't tolerate such ways being used against him, or his people, and would go any length to exact revenge.[4][24] Despite these harsh traits, he was also willing to cooperate, when it came to undermining and fighting his mother, Lolth.[14][18]

Vhaeraun was actively involved in the lives of his followers, answering their requests of assistance more often than not,[4] even in the form of tangible help in the case of real need.[24] He also seemed to be protective of his followers. He was seen providing protection to those in his vicinity when he could,[25] or the means to avert self-sacrifice while working for him,[26] and also trained the otherwise defenseless in his skills of a rogue.[27]

He and his followers shared a realistic understanding, regarding his strength. He knew, that he was too weak to kill his mother in a frontal attack,[1] thus worked against her in secretive ways directed at increasing his and his people’s power and decreasing those of his enemies,[28] including passive resistance by teaching ideas that contradicted Lolth’s dogma.[4] Open action was done when he thought himself to have realistic chances of victory and Vhaeraun was unusual for a deity in that he was ready to go to the front line himself when the scale was right, meaning when the target was a god.[29][30][31]

ActivitiesEdit

Vhaeraun laid out his goals in his dogma.

The shadows of the Masked Lord must cast off the tyranny of the Spider Queen and forcibly reclaim their birthright and rightful place in the Night Above. The existing drow matriarchy must be smashed, and the warring practices of twisted Lolth done away with, so that the drow are welded into a united people, not a squabbling gaggle of rival Houses, clans and aims. Vhaeraun will lead his followers into a society where drow once again reign supreme over the other, lesser races, and there is equality between males and females.[1]


Vhaeraun’s goal was to put his people back into the position of power they once held.[1] He detested to see the drow wither because of the pointless infighting and division that Lolth promoted. For that reason, one of his main goals was to undo the Spider Queen, her idea of "society", and to replace it with one where the drow would be united, and both genders treated with equality. He saw that as the only way to achieve his other goal: to lead the drow to forcibly reclaim their place in the Night Above, and conquer their rightful supremacy over all the other, lesser races. Elves represented an exception, as it was Vhaeraun's belief that all the Tel'Quessir needed to work together for the progress (and dominance) of the People as a whole.[18]

The Masked Lord taught subtle opposition of the priestesses of Lolth and their ideals.[18] He incited his followers--especially male drow--to rebel against the matriarchy (and constantly instigate rebellion) by using any tool available (like sabotage, assassination, intrigue, and spreading discontent among those drow who were tired of Lolth's tyranny). He promoted the same kind of activities on the surface, where he taught his followers to use both such underhanded methods, and trade (usually of stolen goods, or poisons, or of their service as mercenaries and assassins), to increase their influence.[18] After the Second Sundering, Vhaeraun slightly changed his modus operandi. He started to encourage his followers to behave as "good citizens", when it proved profitable and helped their relationship with other surface dwellers, and to practice shadier deeds with as much subtlety and secrecy as possible.[32]

The Masked Lord also gathered any particularly effective poisons, spells, and tactics devised by his followers, in order to share such tools with all of his people.[18]

ManifestationsEdit

Vhaeraun had a number of ways to manifest his powers.

Manifestations - CallingEdit

Vhaeraun was capable of creating avatars, and preferred to appear in his avatar form (see below) when possible,[20][note 2] and was easy to convince to send one of his servitors for help, provided the rituals were made in a proper manner in situations of real need.[24] “Real need“ didn’t seem to necessarily equate 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.[33]

Manifestations - Tangible EffectsEdit

EmpowermentEdit

For example, he could send a black shadow, which acted as a half-mask for a chosen individual for about one minute. During that time, the recipient of this blessing received minor healing, benefited from the true seeing spell, became able to hit creatures that could only be wounded by powerful magic, to move silently and without leaving any trace, as though under the pass without trace spell, and couldn't fall or fail any leap. A single creature could only be blessed like this once per day.[20]

IntimidationEdit

Another manifestation consisted of a floating half-mask, made up of insubstantial shadow. It could pass through any obstacle, magical or not and including divine boundaries, to reach any enemy of his people that the Masked Lord wished to confront, and then (twice per appearance) laugh mockingly and chillingly, inducing terror in those who heard it, as though with the fear spell.[20]

InterviewEdit

Vhaeraun could see into other people's minds, he used this ability to find people with compatible mind sets to recruit. Once a potential recruit was found, he used a manifestation of his, that looked like a shadowy black face mask. It was used by the deity for the inducement of potential recruits. This mask appeared before such a person and talked with it via telepathy. If someone caught such a private meeting, the mask used a number spells to destroy the intruders and left to come back later for another talk.[34]

Manifestations - InformationEdit

Vhaeraun had a number of minor manifestations, that required less expenditure of power from him and were thus far more common. These were generally directed at giving his followers information instead of a power boosts.[35] The general and interpretation heavy nature of these caused it to be misinterpreted from time to time.[36]

ColorEdit

Vhaeraun’s favored color was black.[37] This didn’t just mean that he liked black things. He could change the color of things into his favored color to make choices for his followers easier.[38]

AnimalsEdit

Another minor manifestation was the, real or illusory, appearance of animals.[35] He could cause black cats, ravens and/or dead spiders to appear[37] and make them act in some specific ways.[35]

GemsEdit

He could also let his favor (or displeasure) be known, by making his followers stumble on or change the quality of specific gemstones.[20][36] These were agni mani, black opals, black sapphires, black-hued jasper, black pearls, chalcedony, black marble, and black onyx; or yet crown of silver, hematite, horn coral, obsidian, jet, ravenar, and samarskite.[20][37]

OthersEdit

Apart from a deity’s standard creations of sudden smells, noises, lights, auras and visions,[35] including to several people through shared dreams,[39] up to possessions of people,[35] Vhaeraun could create unique forms of manifestations to relay informations like a half-mask made of shadow and flitting shadows.[37] Receiving such a manifestation was considered sometimes as a reason for improved standing among the followers,[36] as well as one to lay down suspicion against each other and cooperate. [40]

RelationshipsEdit

Vhaeraun was the elder twin of Corellon Larethian and Lolth,[41] the brother of Eilistraee[1] and the father of Selvetarm.[24] He opposed and was opposed by all of his family members.[4][42]

Relationships - SeldarineEdit

The relationship between him and the Seldarine, which he was formerly part of, were bad, in fact all members of the Seldarine considered him their enemy.[43]

He hated Sehanine Moonbow in particular for escaping his prison during the War of the Seldarine.[12]

Corellon Larethian gave up on the idea of turning his son Vhaeraun to abandon his ways.[44] The relationship between them started as one between father and his less favored child.[20] After Vhaeraun’s betrayal during the War of the Seldarine, he practically cut his son off with a shilling and exiled him.[45] He also promised to kill him, if he would ever hurt his sister,[46] though this seemed to be an empty threat, for his son did work against his sister and threatened her life without known action against him on Corellon’s part.[47] Interestingly the one type of magic, that Corellon considered too corrupt for the elves and thus suitable for drow, was the usage of the Shadow Weave,[48] was the niche Vhaeraun filled.[5]

Furthermore the elven pantheon had Shevarash, a deity who literally dedicated his life to hunt down drow, in particular, Vhaeraun and Lolth.[49]

Relationships - Dark SeldarineEdit

The relationship between him and the rest of the Dark Seldarine weren’t good either and mostly of completely hostile nature, particularly with Lolth. Even though, one of Vhaeraun’s goals was it to unite the rest of the drow powers against the Spider Queen.[20]

LolthEdit

Vhaeraun’s and Lolth’s relationship started as mother and son.[1] Vhaeraun shared her trait of ambition and became her confident in her betrayal against her husband. There was a big power gap between these two and the relationship wasn’t equal.[50] After the War of the Seldarine, they maintained thin ties to each other,[51] but went mostly different roads. She conquered a part of the Abyss[52] and he became the primarily worshipped deity in Ilythiir,[47] the first elven nation.[53] He helped these elves to expand their territory in careful and successful fashion.[12] When the moon elf Kethryllia Amarillis drew Lolth to Toril, the Spider Queen made inroads into the southern state and mother and son became rivals.[54]

When the Seldarine-following elves caused the First Sundering to create Evermeet, they literally sundered the continent and Vhaeraun’s followers were en masse as collateral damage.[55] With his salvage efforts being foiled by Eilistraee,[4] Lolth became the hegemonic deity in Ilythiir.[55] At latest after the Descent, the two were complete enemies. Vhaeraun calling her such by name and calling for her destruction and for the society she stood for.[1] Lolth by incorporating specific tenets against her son and his followers.[56]

“What I want … is my mother’s heart fed to demons and shat out for my amusement!“

Vhaeraun on Lolth

  — Resurrection

Apart from their different views regarding gender equality,[57] the major difference between mother and son was their respective view on progress.

Lolth knew that she was neither an attractive nor likable deity choice for drow.[58] Concerning progress, the observation was that where there was progress and freedom, the drow grew in power and with it in independence from her, which was why she and her clergy kept in general change and opportunities for growth, including those of territorial nature, in check,[59] whereas Vhaeraun was seriously interested in the advancement of the drow, preferably together with all types of elves,[60] and the promise of growth was one of the major reasons why drow shifted to Vhaeraun in the first place.[61] This difference turned the idea of Lolth’s forces and those from the surface to work together against Vhaeraun’s into something not completely impossible.[62]

EilistraeeEdit

Vhaeraun’s relationship with his sister Eilistraee was one, that also underwent big changes. Before the Second Sundering, he used to hate his sister Eilistraee, both for having been the favored child of Corellon Larethian, and for the aforementioned hindering of his efforts to salvage his position of hegemony in Ilythiir.[4] However, post 1489 DR, after the time spent as the Masked Lady, and after their return during the Second Sundering, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun deeply knew and understood each other. As a consequence, they became closer, and more open to each other's ways and goals. They reached a truce and even friendship, although some of their followers still remained foes.[63][9] How the alliance between the traitor of the Seldarine and an ally of the same affected their respective relationships with the elven pantheon wasn’t known.

“Eilistraee’s insipid wenches think only to dance in the moonlight and give aid to hapless passersby; we have a kingdom to build!“

Nisstyre on Eilistraee

  — Daughter of the Drow

A major difference between these two was their vision for their respective people. Eilistraee strove for harmony with everyone and taught to apply violence only as a means for retribution to swiftly eradicate threats.[64] Vhaeraun’s and his followers’ goal on the other hand was to conquer land and form power structures, in short states, to exert their will on others.[60]

SelvetarmEdit

“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

  — Resurrection

He was opposed by his son Selvetarm.[42] 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.[65]

Even though Selvetarm hated his grandmother[66] to whom he was practically enslaved,[24] 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.[67]

Vhaeraun had a very low opinion about Selvetarm’s intelligence but the aforementioned submissive trait of his son was what angered him.[68] It seemed that his position as patron of male drow was contended by the more comformist Selvetarm after the Second Sundering.[69]

OtherEdit

He was opposed to Ghaunadaur,[4] they used to guide the elves of Ilythiir together, during their time there,[70] though it wasn't clear whether they were on amicable terms. If Ka'Narlist was taken as a measure, followers of Ghaunadaur considered Vhaeraun an upstart[71] who wasn't attractive to those who were looking for life force as a power source.[72] 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 him only because they didn’t know about the god of thievery or his agenda.[73]

The only drow deity he was allied with was Kiaransalee, though she was also allied with Lolth.[74]

Relationship - EnemiesEdit

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 Blood Queen, the ixzan deity Ilxendren, the kuo-toa deity Blibdoolpoolp, the myconid deity Psilofyr and the troglodyte deity Laogzed.[4] Though this could be more due to the fact that in the Underdark, societies organized and identified themselves first through their racial identities and tended to enslave others who weren't of the same to make the generation and distribution of the (extremely) scarce resources easier,[75][76] than due to personal grudges.[speculation]

Other enemies of his were Sharess and the halfling deity Cyrrollalee.[4] 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 a home.[77] His enmity with Sharess had a more specific background. (see Age of Humanity)

Relationships - AlliesEdit

Vhaeraun enjoyed a working relationship with Mask, Shar, and Talona.[1]

Vhaeraun was the drow patron of shadow magic[5] and Shar was the owner of the Shadow Weave.[78] They worked together in projects that concerned this magic like the School of the Shadow Weave which had both followers of Vhaeraun[79][80] and Shar among them.[81] When Vhaeraun died, Shar was also one of the prime choices to convert to.[82]

The relationship with Mask was interesting in that while Mask was interested in absorbing him to compensate his loss of power to Cyric[14], there were also Vhaeraun's followers who used the resemblance in the two gods' symbols and methods to recruit followers among humans and half-elves.[28]

Relationships - FollowersEdit

Drow deities in general had a weird relationship with their followers. Followers were referred to in terms of belonging to one or the other deity like possessions,[79][83] which seemed to be meant in the literal sense for Lolth, Eilistraee[84] and Kiaransalee[85] were all capable of using their followers’ fate as a wager in their game;[86] while Vhaeraun meddled in this game, he didn’t wager his followers like the others,[84] which wasn’t necessary an indicator of a different stance.

They also had dogmas, that generally concerned itself with describing how to live a life that pleased them,[87] whereas Vhaeraun’s was unique in that his was used to outline the goal of his organization and the steps towards it.[1] He considered himself the leader of this endeavor.[1] He had an anything-goes mentality regarding his followers, with whom he had a business like relationship. His followers joined him for different reasons, from actually agreeing to his philosophy[28] to more personal reasons like the desire for change[20] or freedom[88] to completely personal reasons like the desire for revenge or simple madness.[28] He primarily valued his followers by 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,[89] and also for transgressions, like impersonating him, even in ways, that virtually meant their death, as it happened to Tellik Melarn,[90] and to hold people in high standing for their actions, despite their rebellious thoughts against him.[91] An example for this was Mauzzkyl Jaezred, the leader of the Jaezred Chaulssin.[92]

Relationships - MortalsEdit

Vhaeraun trained the otherwise defenseless in his skills of a rogue[27] and was seen providing protection to his followers in his vicinity when he could,[25] and when his followers were to conduct magic, that would kill them, he gave means to avert self-sacrifice (the divine spell soultheft) while working for him. These may sound like the actions of a kind person, he wasn’t one. For example, the aforementioned means to avert self-sacrifice consisted of burning other people’s souls instead those of his followers.[26]

His goal was to lead the drow back to their former position of power and saw a general need for advancement for elves, and encouraged cooperation including intermarrying. His goal also included the subjugation of everyone else.[60] Despite this, cooperation with other races was possible and while he had an unexplained dislike against dwarves and gnomes, which did hamper his followers’ ability at cooperation,[14] they did it anyway (see church of Vhaeraun)

WorshipersEdit

Main article: Church of Vhaeraun

The church of Vhaeraun mostly consisted of drow and half-drow wishing for their people to abandon the constant infighting and the existence of continuous strife, forced upon them by Lolth ( therefore hindering any possibilities of growth). They strove to make all drow work together, to finally be free from the Spider Queen, and reclaim their rightful place and dominance in the surface world (which they called the Night Above).[93]

Vhaeraun's faith was particularly appealing to drow and half drow males, who sought better opportunities in life than the near slavery that most of them experienced under Lolth's thumb. They saw a worthy cause in the promise of a gender-fair society, where both males and females would have the same opportunities and value.[93]

Vhaeraun had the second largest follower base among the drow as a whole and the largest one among surface dwelling drow. His church had a particularly strong presence in the northern part of the Forest of Mir, on the border between Tethyr and Calimshan.[93]

The most common form of worship of Vhaeraun consisted in melting (or burning) items like jewelry, weapons, or clothing, that had belonged to defeated enemies of the drow (or to female priestesses), in black altars shaped as a bowl.[93]

ServitorsEdit

The Masked Lord was personally served by his petitioners, the souls of his dead followers,[94] on his realm Ellaniath.[95] 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.[96]

Other servitor creatures were gehreleths (farastu, kelubar, and shator); mephits (air, smoke, and earth), shadow dragons, shadow fiends, shadows,[20] yeth hounds.[37] Petitioners who distinguished themselves in life through great service were turned by Vhaeraun into some type of his servitor creatures.[97]

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.[20] 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.[24] He also provided his followers access to his servitors for their summon monster and planar ally spells.[35] The vhaeraths were an exception, calling them required the knowledge outlined in the Obsul Ssussun.[96]

Divine RealmEdit

Vhaeraun’s home realm was called Ellaniath, the whereabouts of which were unknown, as the Masked Lord wiped the memories of any visitor.[3]

SymbolEdit

Vhaeraun's symbol consisted of two black lenses forming a mask.[4] There was also a slight variation of this symbol, which consisted of a black mask with two blue lenses.[7] Its similarity with Mask's symbol combined with the two the two gods' similarities of their methods allowed Vhaeraun's followers to recruit humans and half-elves who initially mistook the symbol for the human god of thieves.[28]

HistoryEdit

The Dawn AgeEdit

Vhaeraun was born as son of Corellon Larethian and Lolth,[1] as the elder twin brother of Eilistraee.[98]

“You are still willing to do these things?“…“After all, he is your father.“

“And he is your lord husband. If there is a difference, please explain it to me.…“

Vhaeraun and Lolth talking about their betrayal

  — Evermeet: Island of Elves

About -30000 DR, Lolth (at that time called Araushnee) tried to overthrow her husband as the head of the elven pantheon.[50][99] Vhaeraun was her confident in this betrayal.[4] He was unique in that he didn’t feel attachment to membership in the Seldarine, easily suggesting to just leave the group and also didn’t see inherent value in blood ties. 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, was what gave Araushnee the final nudge away from the Seldarine.[100]

The betrayal’s failure started with Araushnee conducting the very first step of her betrayal while being oblivious to Sehanine Moonbow observing her at it. When confronted by the moon goddess, Araushnee trapped her and Vhaeraun’s job was it to bring the captured Sehanine Moonbow to a place where she couldn’t escape. They harried their plan to attack the Seldarine with a coalition of deities opposed to the elven pantheon. The idea was to secretly take out Corellon Larethian and then rally the elven deities behind them and defeat the coalition.[101]

Vhaeraun’s sister Eilistraee unknowingly supported the plan. Her intended role was that of the unknowing murderer of her father,[102] and that of the scapegoat for the other family members,[98] so a crucial part of the plan was to get her in the vicinity of Corellon during the fight. She was granted the place at her father’s side for retrieving his sheath,[103] which Vhaeraun placed for her to find.[104] Eilistraee went looking for the sheath out of adoration for her father, hoping to be rewarded with more affection--[103]something that Araushnee was well aware of[105] and which made her absolutely certain that Eilistraee would have acted according to their plan.[104]

During the battle she shot an arrow, that almost killed her father, drawn to his chest by the magic[106] of the sheath, made by Araushnee, and retrieved by Eilistraee, for which she was struck unconscious by Aerdrie Faenya. Under the pretense of healing her husband, Araushnee tried to poison him with one of Eilistraee’s arrow-poisons, created for mortal elves, it was then that it turned out, that the place Vhaeraun chose for Sehanine Moonbow was insufficient for its purpose, she could escape, albeit at heavy costs to herself. Once she appeared, she prevented Araushnee’s poisoning, created Angharradh, Corellon’s second wife who took this position right after birth. Angharradh healed her husband.[107]

A trial was called in and banishment from Arvandor was the sentence for Araushnee and Vhaeraun.[45] Vhaeraun asked for the banishment of his sister to sate his grudge against her[98] and it was given, albeit not in the form he intended. The Dark Dancer willingly chose exile, to bring her support to the dark elves in the dark times that she had foreseen.[106] After receiving a death threat from his father, Vhaeraun carried his comatose sister away into banishment.[45]

The Time of DragonsEdit

The Time of Dragons, as the name suggested, was a time when dragons were the hegemons and non-dragons were secondary citizens at best.[108] This was the time the first elves came to Toril. All of them didn’t know about the Seldarine and mostly strove to live in scattered tribes with one exception, the ilythiiri.[53] Among these ilythiiri, Vhaeraun became the mainstream deity[47] in the first elven state Ilythiir.[53] He, and to a lesser degree Ghaunadaur, helped their people to carefully but successfully expand their territory throughout southern Faerûn[12] (at that time the name for the single continent on Toril),[109] and power, to a level that kept them from fearing dragons.[110] Eilistraee tried to stop Vhaeraun’s evil machinations,[111] and he tried to kill her.[47] Without any bad intentions, the moon elf Kethryllia Amarillis drew Lolth to Toril in -24400 DR,[109] the Spider Queen then made inroads in the southern state of Ilythiir.[54]

The First FloweringEdit

Vhaeraun’s became the most popular deity in the southern Ilythiir,[12] this changed in -17600 DR. The southern empire’s relationship with the younger elven nations worsened up to skirmishes,[109] and 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.[112] They used Elven High Magic, and while they succeeded at creating their island, Evermeet, with the timely intervention of their gods to keep them from destroying everything,[113] they destroyed the continent, with accompanying casualties, among them many citizens of Ilythiir, as collateral damage.[109] Among this collateral damage was a large part of the church of Vhaeraun.[55] The Masked Lord's influence ebbed with the loss of these and with his salvage efforts being foiled by Eilistraee,[4] Lolth became the hegemonic deity in Ilythiir,[55] allowing her to start her machinations to corrupt and destroy all elves which culminated in the Crown Wars.[70]

The Crown WarsEdit

Vhaeraun, no longer the main deity, had his part in providing aid in the form of his magic, servants and other support to the dark elves of Ilythiir during the Fourth Crown War.[114]

The Ilythiiri, who were still refining their worship of the Dark Seldarine, used to portray their gods as spider deities. Vhaeraun, for example, was depicted as a Masked Spider,[115], but--as far as known--he was never depicted in poses that could lead to think to subservience (like it happened for Eilistraee, who was sometimes depicted as singing praises to Lolth[116]), nor was he confused with another deity, like Eilistraee and Kiaransalee on occasion as an undead spider with a sword. However, all those depictions were only the results of how some Ilythiiri interpreted the relationships among their deities, and the main gods worshiped in Ilythiir (Vhaeraun, Lolth, Ghaunadaur and Kiaransalee) personally killed their followers for such depictions.[115] The Crown Wars destroyed most elven realms, among others Ilythiir, and after the Descent, Vhaeraun and his followers no longer had the power to directly oppose the Spider Queen. However, they kept fighting in secret to free the drow from her grasp and from the self-destructive lifestyle that she was forcing upon them.[93]

Age of HumanityEdit

At some point, some centuries before the 3rd century DR, Zandilar, a deity worshipped by the elves in the Yuirwood at that time, tried to seduce Vhaeraun.[117]

The background for this seduction attempt was that Lolth’s followers attacked the elves in the Yuirwood. The elves in the Yuirwood had generally problems to repel 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 was imprisoned in turn with the goal of stealing her power. Bast managed to create the opening for Zandilar to flee and she let her savior take the remnants of her power, so Bast could protect the elves in her place.[118] Selvetarm was born in the process of this merging as Vhaeraun's son.[31]

War of the Spider Queen - Silence of LolthEdit

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.[119] Vhaeraun gained influence through unfurling plans during this opportunity, his followers took over power by both legal[120] and violent means[121] and by being sought out as an alternative, for example by draegloths.[122]

Vhaeraun and Selvetarm Do Battle

Vhaeraun and his son, Selvetarm, dueling

In the 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,[123] 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.[124] After grievously wounding her, Selvetarm appeared to battle Vhaeraun but both fell off the web and plummeted into the darkness below. This battle caused a lot of damage to the fabric of the multiverse. Among others, it caused a part of the Nine Hells to seep into Toril.[125]

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 to enter 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 for Vhaeraun assassinating Inthracis’ superior, thus enabling the yugoloth’s promotion, as payment on confirmation of success. The attempt failed. Ultimately, the Silence ended with Lolth emerging from her slumber as a greater deity, but even then, the War of the Spider Queen was not over yet.[68]

War of the Spider Queen - After the SilenceEdit

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.[84][86]

He and his followers plotted 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, via elven high magic, for the god to walk through and assassinate his sister, so the surface drow could be united under a single banner, thus increasing the number of Vhaeraun’s followers and giving him the necessary power boost to kill his mother.[126]

However, that kind of magic was very taxing, and would have required the sacrifice of the souls of the casters. Because of that, the followers of the Masked Lord started to kill various priestesses of Eilistraee and collect their souls in their masks, via a spell called soultheft which they were taught, in order to use them as a fuel for the ritual.[26]

Eventually, Qilué Veladorn, leader of the church of Eilistraee, managed to learn about the plan and what was happening to her fellow priestesses, and started to work to disrupt it, alongside the drow mage Q'arlynd Melarn (who had turned to the faith of Eilistraee). Q'arlynd's task was to take the place of one of the Vhaerunites and try to disrupt their ritual.[127]

On Nightal 20 of the Year of Risen Elfkin, 1375 DR, Q'arlynd failed to accomplish his mission and Vhaeraun managed to enter his sister Eilistraee's realm and attempted to assassinate her. Despite that, the Dark Maiden did not receive her brother unprepared, as she had been warned by her priestesses about his intentions. No mortal actually witnessed the battle that ensued, so what happened remained largely unknown. However, Eilistraee emerged from the battle alive, suggesting that Vhaeraun had failed and perished at the hand of his sister. Chaos and despair spread among the followers of the Masked Lord, but some thought that their god was still alive, and that the twins had a plan and agreed to merge and work together against their mother for a time. Others were convinced that Vhaeraun had succeeded and was disguised as Eilistraee. Either way, it was certain that after the event, Eilistraee was changed: she became a deity known as "the Masked Lady", holding both the Dark Maiden's and the Masked Lord's portfolios and causing both their followers to cooperate, albeit uneasily.[128][127][note 3][note 4]

Post-SpellplagueEdit

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 worshipped 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 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.[15]

The Second SunderingEdit

Vhaeraun managed to return to life during the event known as the Second Sundering.[7][16], in Flamerule, 1489 DR.[9]. Vhaeraun and Eilistraee were separate entities again,[7][129] but after the time spent as the Masked Lady, they reached a reciprocal understanding, and the enmity between them was no more.[63] Both siblings made their return be known, manifesting through their avatars to their followers, who enthusiastically spread the word.[16]

AbilitiesEdit

(see lesser deity and his domains for more information on abilities of deities) Vhaeraun was a lesser deity.[24] He granted spells to his divine spellcasters,[130] and gave his clerics access to the abilities and spells of the chaos, drow, evil, travel and trickery domains.[24] Apart from other abilities, he was also capable of casting the spells of these domains as often as he wanted and also to use the abilities of these for a certain number of times at his discretion.[131] After the Second Sundering, he granted the new trickery domain to his clerics.[132]

He had all abilities of a lesser deity, but owned number of abilities unique to him or was unusually skilled in a number of abilities.

SensesEdit

(see lesser deity and his domains for more information on abilities of deities) Vhaeraun had sensing abilities, including the portfolio[130] and remote sense abilities. The former allowed him to sense events that concerned his portfolios, the latter to center his senses around his followers, sites and objects dedicated to him or places where his name or title was spoken.[133]

He could also look into people’s minds.[28]

He combined all theses abilities to be constantly on the look out for dissidents, rebels and generally dissatisfied people with potential to work for him against the Spider Queen in Lolth-ruled cities, where he had already at least some worshippers working against his mother like Menzoberranzan, Tlethtyrr or Waerglarn. Once someone was deemed compatible, the individual was approached by a manifestation of Vhaeraun[28] or sent clerics of his[88] to have an one-on-one inducement interview.[28]

CommunicationEdit

(see lesser deity and his domains for more information on abilities of deities) Vhaeraun could speak and read any language, including nonverbal languages,[134] but had a preference for High Drow,[22] and could create a telepathic link with people, follower or not, who lingered within proximity - scale was counted in miles - to a site dedicated to him. This link could be maintained for as long as Vhaeraun wished.[134] He regularly exchanged information with his clerics. Collecting strategy descriptions, poison formulas and magical knowledge from these clerics to spread them among the others of his faith.[1]

MovementsEdit

(see lesser deity and his domains for more information on abilities of deities) Vhaeraun owned a large number of abilities, among others to levitate,[21] that helped him to move around (see his domains, and lesser deity). Out of all his movement abilities, teleportation seemed come most naturally to him. He was shown casually teleporting around walking distance during his business negotiation with Inthracis.[68]

For all these movement abilities, he had his limits. For example, he couldn’t ignore Lolth’s ban during the Silence of Lolth on entering her place and needed outside help to do so.[21]

Base Abilities - UtilityEdit

(see lesser deity and his domains for more information on abilities of deities) He 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.[68]

He was also capable of creating gates to other places and once used it to dump Sehanine Moonbow away after changing the cage with her inside into portable size.[104]

Stealth AbilitiesEdit

(see lesser deity and his domains for more information on abilities of deities) Apart from always moving as though under pass without trace, Vhaeraun owned a number of abilities to fool the mundane senses of others.(see lesser deity and his domains for more information) Becoming invisible seem to be particularly easy for him and turning invisible through melding into shadow was a part of his fighting style.[20]

What made his abilities at stealth truly special, though wasn’t the kind but his skills at it. An entire branch of his church consisted of clerical double spies. This was possible because of his aforementioned skill. It was such, that Lolth, who was more powerful than him, couldn’t compete with him on the field of stealth and trickery, resulting into an entire per cent of Vhaeraun’s clergy to be masked traitors, in other words, clerics of whom Lolth believed they were under her employment.[28]

Base Abilities - OffensiveEdit

(see lesser deity and his domains for more information on abilities of deities) Vhaeraun could change his, alongside his equipments’, size[21] and fought as a warrior and as an assassin with two weapons, a longsword, Nightshadow, in one hand, a short sword, Shadowflash, in the other,[20] and owned the other abilities of a lesser deity.

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.[135]

His prowess in an open frontal fight wasn’t that of a war god. He fought once Selvetarm,[67] the drow demigod of battle prowess,[24] and was driven away, effectively losing against his son.[67]

Base Abilities - DefensiveEdit

(see lesser deity for more information) Some deities had additional immunities than those owned due to being a deity, he owned these, in his case against all kind of illusions and being charmed.[20] While immunities of deities were generally useless against a divine creature of higher status,[131] when it came down to the immunity against illusions, it was useless against any deity, the one against being charmed was under no such restrictions.[20]

Magical AbilitiesEdit

Vhaeraun was thought to be unable to cast spells by himself[20] but was shown making extensive use of spells.[67] He was able to duplicate any divine or arcane spell his followers within 180 feet (ca. 55m) and cast them while fighting physically at the same time.[20] His aura allowed him to strike fascination or fear and also bolster or crush the resolve of people.[130]

He was capable of generating heat, both in the form of magma[25] but also by converting blasts of shadowstuff into fire, the latter being hot enough to cause agony to deities.[136] He was able to create avatars,[20] duplicates with the same learned but less divine power than the original,[137] and as a lesser deity,[24] could create up to five duplicates,[137] who looked like the original. He often sent his avatar whenever an adequate summoning ritual was performed by his priests.[20]

PossessionsEdit

Vhaeraun could wield any magic item provided by his followers, as long as they could be used by evil individuals.[20]

In battle, he wielded two swords: Nightshadow and Shadowflash. The former was a black longsword of quickness,[20] which he could make appear out of nowhere in his hands[21] as well as turn invisible in the darkness, and allowed Vhaeraun to magically twist the shape of any blade held by his enemies, to strike with maximum force and accuracy its wielders, every few seconds. Shadowflash was a short sword made of silver that could emit a flash of eerie light, capable of blinding those who looked at it.[20] He also carried a dagger with himself, though that one’s properties were unknown.[68] The Masked Lord's cloak was able to absorb seven spells of any level 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.[20]

AppendixEdit

NotesEdit

  1. As said here, in answer to this question, 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. Thus far, Eilistraee’s teachings after the First Sundering are the same as before the First Sundering"
  2. Vhaeraun manifested an avatar 15% of the times; 20% if summoned through a proper ritual, as specified in Ed Greenwood's The Drow of the Underdark
  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. In one of his answers, 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 that 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. In the same answer it is suggested that, when Qilué Veladorn was killed (in 1379 DR), since the Masked Lady was inhabiting her body, a great part of both Eilistraee's and Vhaeraun's power was dragged into the Weave with the Chosen's soul (the souls of Mystra's chosen often become "Voices in the Weave" after their death, as explained in the novel Spellstorm, and their memories and experiences are shared by Mystra). 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
Sourcebooks

ReferencesEdit

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The Dark Seldarine
The drow pantheon

EilistraeeLolthVhaeraun
Dead Powers
KiaransaleeSelvetarmZinzerena
Ex-members
Ghaunadaur

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