Vhaeraun (Vay-rawn), also known as the Masked Lord, the Masked God of Night, and The Shadow, was the drow god of drow males, territory, thievery, and of evil activities on the surface, aimed to further drow goals, interests and power there. A slur to describe him among the followers of Eilistraee was the Sly Savage. He was the patron deity of 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.
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. 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. 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.
During the 1370s DR, he attempted to murder his sister, Eilistraee, but his failure led to his defeat and disappearance. It lasted for about a century, until the Second Sundering (circa 1480s DR) saw his return to life.
As an avatar, Vhaeraun appeared as a handsome male drow, with a slim, graceful, and toned physique. He never used armor, but always wore a black (or purple) mask, and a long cloak of the same hue. His eyes and hair could change color to reflect his emotions (red for anger, gold for triumph, blue for amusement, green for puzzlement and curiosity). He spoke High Drow. When he appeared to Inthracis in 1373 DR, he was missing a hand.
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. Despite these harsh traits, he was also willing to cooperate, when it came to undermining and fighting his mother, Lolth.
Vhaeraun was actively involved in the lives of his followers, answering their requests of assistance more often than not.  Because of this, some followers saw Vhaeraun as an entity closer to them than a deity would generally be.[speculation] Such worshipers even referred to their god as a tool to reach their goals, and were not afraid to discuss his weaknesses.
Vhaeraun detested to see the drow wither because of the pointless infighting and division that she 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.
The Masked Lord taught subtle opposition of the priestesses of Lolth and their ideals. 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. 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 subtley and secrecy as possible.
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.
Vhaeraun preferred to appear in his avatar form (see below) when possible, but he could manifest and communicate his will in various ways. For example, the most common manifestation was a region of total, impenetrable darkness, that the Masked God used as a sign of his presence. He could also 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 magic, to move silently and without leaving any trace, and couldn't fall or fail any leap. A single creature could only be blessed like this once per day.
Another manifestation consisted of a floating half-mask, made up of insubstantial shadow. It could pass through any obstacle, magical or not, 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.
Vhaeraun could also let his favor (or displeasure) be known, by sending animals (like black cats and ravens), or by making his followers find dead spiders, or certain gemstones (mostly black opals, black sapphires, black-hued jasper, pearls, chalcedony, marble, and onyx; or yet crown of silver, hematite, horn coral, obsidian, jet, ravenar, and samarskite).
Vhaeraun's avatar appeared as the deity himself, described above. He sent his avatar whenever an adequate summoning ritual was performed by his priests.
In this form, Vhaeraun was a terrific warrior and assassin. He fought combining his martial prowess with the ability to become invisible (melding in the shadows) with exceptional ease, and to never leave any trace of his passage. In battle, he wielded two swords: Nightshadow and Shadowflash. The former was a black long sword which could turn invisible in the darkness, and allowed Vhaeraun to magically twist the shape of any blade, to strike with maximum force and accuracy every few seconds. Shadowflash was a short sword that could emit a flash of eerie light, capable of blinding those who looked at it. 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.
Even though in his avatar form Vhaeraun wasn't proficient in magic, he was able to duplicate any divine or arcane spell cast within 180 feet from him, and could wield any magic item provided by his followers, as long as they could be used by evil individuals. Furthermore, Vhaeraun couldn't be affected by illusion or charm spells, and could only be wounded if hit with a magical weapon.
Before the Second Sundering, he used to hate his sister Eilistraee, both for having been the favored child of Corellon, and for having hindered his efforts to become the mainstream religion in Ilythiir (as the conflict between the two siblings helped Ghaunadaur and Lolth to gain influence and lead the Ilythiiri to their fall). However, post 1489 DR, after the time spent as the Masked Lady, and after their return during the 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.
The object of his true enmity and hatred was his mother Lolth. Due to him lacking the power for a frontal fight, he tried to undermine her in secret and to unite the other drow powers against her.
Vhaeraun enjoyed a working relationship with Mask, Shar, and Talona. The relationship with Mask was interesting in that while Mask was interested in absorbing him to compensate his loss of power to Cyric, 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.
About -30000 DR, Lolth (at that time called Araushnee) tried to overthrow her husband as the head of the elven pantheon. Vhaeraun supported this plan by capturing Sehanine Moonbow, while one of his sister's arrow almost killed her father, drawn to his chest by the magic of Araushnee.. After the failed coup, mother and son were banished from the elven pantheon, while the Dark Dancer willingly chose the exile, to bring her support to the dark elves in the dark times that she had foreseen.
After their exile, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun chose to wander on Toril, home of the dark elves (and of many other elven people, later). Vhaeraun gained a strong influence in the southern Faerun, among the drow of Ilythiir, despite Eilistraee's efforts against his and Ghaunadaur's influence over the Ilythiiri dark elves. With time, his faith became the most widespread in the southern empire, but in -17,600 DR, the Ever'Sakkatien (the first Sundering) caused the destruction of great part of Ilythiir (including its capital, Atorrnash), and the death of many of his followers with it. The Masked Lord's influence ebbed with the loss of his worshipers, leveling the playing field for Lolth (whose attention had been brought to Toril by the unaware moon elf Kethryllia Amarillis, and who had already gained followers in Ilythiir).
The Crown Wars saw a great increase of Lolth's influence over Ilythiir. Her worship began to spread among the southern dark elves, particularly among the nobles, and the Sethomiir family (the rulers of the empire), who were corrupted by the Balor Wendonai, Lolth's champion and emissary, during the Second Crown War. This culminated in -10,000 DR, when, after realizing that Lolth's influence had started to spread among the Ilythiiri, the Seldarine and the elves gathered at the Elven Court, and banished all dark elves (including those who weren't corrupted by Lolth and Wendonai), turning them into drow. Despite their efforts, 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.
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. For about one year, she stopped granting spells to her followers and became effectively inactive, leading a considerable number of her followers to seek alternatives in the other deities of the Dark Seldarine, especially Eilistraee, Vhaeraun and Kiaransalee, who gained followers and influence.
In the same year, the drow of Menzoberranzan, through Triel Baenre, sent a group of powerful adventurers (initially Quenthel Baenre, Pharaun Mizzrym, Ryld Argith, Valas Hune and the Draegloth Jeggred 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 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. Selvetarm appeared to battle Vhaeraun but both fell off the web and plummeted into the darkness below.
Vhaeraun himself started to plot against his sister, working to devise a method to slay her. As a result, his worshipers planned to cast a High Magic spell to allow Vhaeraun to enter his sister's realm and assassinate her. 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 (a technique which they called "soultheft"), in order to use them as a fuel for the ritual. Furthermore, unusually for drow, the Nightshadows that were working to prepare the spell also managed to reach the reciprocal trust needed for High Magic to work.
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.
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.[note 2][note 3]
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.
Vhaeraun managed to return to life during the event known as the Second Sundering., in Flamerule, 1489 DR.. Vhaeraun and Eilistraee were separate entities again, but after the time spent as the Masked Lady, they reached a reciprocal understanding, and the enmity between them was no more. Both siblings made their return be known, manifesting through their avatars to their followers, who enthusiastically spread the word.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Vhaeraun forbade his priests to use spells to summon any servant creatures, as he expected them to only perform rituals to summon his avatar. The Vhaerath--petitioners of Ellaniath (the deity's realm) who gained additional abilities in stealth--were an exception, as they could be called to help, if the proper key was known. The Masked Lord was personally served by creatures like gehreleths (farastu, kelubar, and shator); mephits (air, smoke, and earth), shadow dragons, shadow fiend, and undead shadows.
Under the Great Wheel cosmology, Vhaeraun's home was in Ellaniath, within Colothys, the fourth layer of Carceri. It was his hiding place, the whereabouts of which were unknown, as the Masked Lord wiped the memories of any visitor.
Under the World Tree cosmology, Ellaniath could be found in the Demonweb Pits. It was however removed from the Demonweb when Lolth ripped it from the Abyss in 1373 DR, and, after Vhaeraun's portfolio was taken by Eilistraee, their realms were merged together.
- ↑ 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 Sundering are the same as before the Sundering"
- ↑ The Grand History of the Realms explicitly says that Vhaeraun's assassination attempt failed and Eilistraee killed him, though his continued existence suggests otherwise.
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 114. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Ari Marmell, Anthony Pryor, Robert J. Schwalb, Greg A. Vaughan (May 2007). Drow of the Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 42. ISBN 978-0-7869-4151-3.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Colin McComb (1996). On Hallowed Ground. (TSR, Inc), p. 101. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 158. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 23, 108. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-17). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-11-14). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 1-56076-132-6.
- ↑ Colin McComb (1996). On Hallowed Ground. (TSR, Inc), pp. 94, 100–101, 173. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 36, 37. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- ↑ Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-17). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (2004). Silverfall. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 66. ISBN 0-7869-3572-3.
- ↑ 16.00 16.01 16.02 16.03 16.04 16.05 16.06 16.07 16.08 16.09 16.10 16.11 16.12 16.13 16.14 16.15 16.16 16.17 16.18 16.19 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 40–46. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 356. ISBN 0786932023.
- ↑ Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 8–11. ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 113. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-11-14). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 41. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 114. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-11-11). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ Warning: edition not specified for Condemnation
- ↑ Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 29. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 43. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 51. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 40–41. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 11. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 Elaine Cunningham (1999). Evermeet: Island of Elves. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1354-1.
- ↑ Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 29. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
- ↑ Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ 36.0 36.1 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Richard Lee Byers (August 2003). Dissolution. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2944-8.
- ↑ 39.0 39.1 Thomas M. Reid (December 2003). Insurrection. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3033-0.
- ↑ 40.0 40.1 Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0786932023.
- ↑ Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
- ↑ Philip Athans (August 2005). Annihilation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3752-1.
- ↑ 43.0 43.1 43.2 Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 158–159. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Doug Hyatt (July 2012). “Character Themes: Fringes of Drow Society”. Dragon #413 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 22–24.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-16). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
- ↑ Sean K. Reynolds (2004-08-18). Obsul Ssussun, "The Door to Light". Magic Books of Faerûn. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2016-05-19.
- ↑ Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 150. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- ↑ Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.
- ↑ Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.