Monster Analysis: Vecna the Ascended, Part 2

Thanks to @PettyArtist for this art piece! Follow the link to see the rest of the comic!

 

In Part 1, we focused on the usual stats, discussed Vecna’s build and abilities, and explained how the setting and encounter were designed the from a dungeon master’s perspective. Here, we’ll analyze the battle itself, round by round, focusing on Vox Machina’s shifting strategy and their individual contributions to this marathon of a battle.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

We detailed all of Vox Machina’s pre-114 preparation for their final showdown with Vecna, though they took their final 30 seconds to take care of a few details. Vex dipped a needle arrow in holy oil, Vax kissed Keyleth, Scanlan made an Unseen Servant to give his simulacrum notification of when to join the fray, Pike cast Holy Aura, and Grog cast Enlarge. Those spells would prove to be immediately useful in...

Round 1

Like Raishan before him, Vecna opened the battle with a devastating Meteor Swarm. Also like Raishan, Vecna’s Meteor Swarm goal was threefold: deal a lot of damage very quickly, kill the prepared concentration spells, and quake their resolve. Vecna specifically aimed for the temples in Vasselheim belonging to the gods that would have the most meaning to Vox Machina: Sarenrae, Kord, and the Raven Queen. Vecna’s Swarm also broke apart the battlefield itself, sending Vox Machina flying (and Scanlan falling).

Vox Machina was ready, however, opening the round with the weapon that Vecna feared most: the Sword of Kas. Despite trying to intimidate Keyleth by telling her “It won’t help,” Vecna was so worried about the sword that he spent his first two legendary action sending Grog to a labyrinth (courtesy of an 8th level Maze spell) and burned his first four legendary resistances to keep him there.

This round was the only time we got to see Scanlan 2 (the simulacrum) act, but he made the most of his time. First, his attempt at damaging Vecna with a level five Bigby’s Hand revealed Vecna’s immunity to 5th level and lower spell damage (which was new from last go-round). Second, he gave Keyleth the inspiration she would need to later succeed against Feeblemind, and third, used a Counterspell against Vecna’s 6th level first attempt to Dispel him, making Vecna burn a 5th level spell later to succeed.

Keyleth, knowing that Velora could be resurrected later and that keeping her in Vecna’s chest longer would prevent the spellcasters from dealing area of effect damage (or risk a catastrophic hit from a stray arrow, bullet, sword, or dagger), ripped the metaphorical bandaid off and cast a Sunburst. This released Velora from his chest and dealt an impressive amount of radiant damage to Vecna.

Percy figured out in this round that the lair action skeletons could be easily one-shotted, which would allow him to grit farm and then deal more damage to Vecna. This also ensured that the nuisance skeletons were largely kept at bay throughout the battle.

Round 2

Round 2 went squarely in Vox Machina’s favor. Both of Vecna’s Feeblemind attempts failed thanks to Scanlan (Counterspell for the first, inspiration on Keyleth’s roll for the second). Keyleth Shapechanged into a Planetar, a move that was beneficial for her health, the health of others, and the eventual sealing of Vecna. Grog returned from Vecna’s Maze thanks to a Violent Shot critical hit by Percy, but was forced to burn a vital round of Haste after a failed intelligence check. Pike got a 6th level Guiding Bolt critical hit, and with these first two crits, we got to see the first cracks in Vecna’s avatar form.

Notably, everyone’s favorite leader of Ank’Harel, Devo’ssa, barrelled their way through the cyclone to reach the top of Entropis. They not only dealt their only attack, a powerful fire breath attack, but gave Vox Machina a reminder that they were not alone in this battle.

Round 3

Meteor Swarm The Sequel: Still terrible! Thankfully, Vex was able to avoid this one while she was chasing after her sister’s falling body and stashing it safely away for a later resurrection.

This round was an emotional rollercoaster. After kicking off with Meteor Swarm, Vecna Forcecaged Devo’ssa (neatly avoiding any of the ancient brass dragon’s legendary resistances) and knocked Scanlan unconscious. The tide then turned in Vox Machina’s favor with a round of devastating attacks from Vax and the healing of Scanlan. This round also marked the arrival of Zahra and Kashaw, who dealt and healed damage, respectively. Zahra also Hexed Vecna, which would prevent Vecna from successfully counterspelling Pike’s amazing Mass Heal spell. Pike put that 9th level spell slot to good use to put every single member of Vox Machina (except for poor Trinket) back to full hit points. Love your clerics, folks.

Thanks to @TriaElf9 for this art piece!

Round 4

Right as Vox Machina was feeling renewed, Vecna got angry, and took care of Vox Machina’s new friends with Hold Monster, causing them to plummet into the unknown. He then burned two legendary actions to move a platform up in the air, to everyone’s confusion, until...

Meteor Swarm The Third: You won’t believe this, but it’s still awful!

After that, Vex, Vax, Keyleth, and Grog all went to town damaging Vecna, while Percy focused on the skeleton and gloomstalker combatants, in an attempt to regenerate grit and give both Scanlan and himself a much-needed reprieve. Scanlan healed and put himself in a sphere, while Pike healed herself, Scanlan, and Percy. Finally, Arkhan, fresh off of his beheading of the Death Knight, joined the fray!

Round 5

Here’s where things really started to go downhill for Vecna. He managed to get off a nasty Circle of Death on Keyleth, Vax, and Grog, and a Finger of Death on Vex, but was forced to burn a 6th level Disintegrate to get Scanlan out of his sphere. He also took a lot of damage, as Vax, Vex, Grog, Percy, and Arkhan all focused fire on him. Grog and Arkhan both crit once this round, and Percy, thanks to his extended crit range, got off two nasty Sharpshooter crits on the avatar form.

In addition to his crit, Grog also successfully applied Pelor’s trammel to Vecna’s head, just barely matching the required DC. Vax, upon seeing that driving the trammels into Vecna would require a significant amount of strength, passed off the Raven Queen’s trammel to Grog’s belt, where it was then picked up by Keyleth in her planetar form. Her application of the trammel did not go as well, and the weakened trammel snapped in half when it slammed into Vecna’s form, missing the crack in the “semi-god’s” shoulder.

Both Pike and Scanlan spent their turns repositioning themselves; Pike flew up to Grog and prepared to pass off Ioun’s trammel, while Scanlan cast Bigby’s Hand and had it fly him closer to Vecna.

Round 6

Vecna opened this round with an attempt to Banish Grog and Pike. To his frustration, a now much-closer Scanlan prevented this with another Counterspell. Enraged, he spent the rest of the round focusing on the gnome bard, first with a Finger of Death, then with a Polymorph, turning Scanlan into a fox. A quick attack from Vax’s Flametongue Dagger returned him to gnome form, then Team Half-Elf spent the rest of the round healing their favorite bard.

Unfortunately for Grog, this was also when Gilmore’s Haste spell wore off, so he spent the round frozen, still holding on to Vecna. Vecna did manage to banish both Grog and Scanlan with legendary actions, but Arkhan took on the primary damage-dealing role this round, breaking Vecna’s concentration before either goliath or gnome was forced to burn a turn elsewhere.

Thanks to @AnnaLandin for this art piece!

Rounds 7 and 8

By the final two rounds, the fight had turned into one of attrition. Both Vox Machina and Vecna were running low on spells. The physical combatants were restrained from dealing any more damage, lest they send Vecna to his phylactery to reform, plan, and strike back harder. Vecna, finally feeling the pressure, attempted to flee using the Hand’s Teleport spell, but Scanlan, still within Counterspell range, sacrificed his all-important 9th level spell slot to keep him where Vox Machina could see him. This allowed Grog, now unfrozen from the aftereffects of Haste, to apply Ioun’s trammel. Scanlan then attempted to read the book, forcing Vecna to burn his fifth and last legendary resistance to stay on the Material Plane.

In desperation, Vecna used yet-another Banishment spell to attempt to get rid of Scanlan, who had turned from an annoyance into an actual physical danger with the book. Grog managed to break Vecna’s concentration yet again while still managing to refrain from killing him (barely). Since Vox Machina was avoiding finishing the battle, Vecna decided to impose a deadline. At the start of Round 8, the shadow of the titan’s hand began to rise up above the battlefield. Had it smashed down, Vecna would have died (to escape to his phylactery), and he likely would have taken both Vox Machina and the remains of the tower with him. Scanlan spent Round 8 unable to read the book, but Keyleth’s planetar form once again proved useful, as her ability to read all languages allowed her to perform the final ritual and seal Vecna away for good, with a mere 10 HP to his name.

Aftermath

Vox Machina was prepared to go down swinging against Vecna, so they’re walking away with few of their rechargable abilities left. All of their blessings will expire within the next ten minutes (Pike) to an hour (Vex and Scanlan), and will then be unusable for the next seven days. Of the limited spell slots they have left, most notable is Pike, who potentially has a 7th level spell left. This can be used to resurrect Velora, who remains carefully hidden away thanks to Vex. Keyleth, who spent most of the battle in planetar form, has all of her 3rd, 5th, and 6th level spells left. Scanlan is all but tapped out, with two 1st level, a 2nd level, and two 3rd level spells (though he potentially has an additional 6th level spell if he’s reached 19th level).

Zahra and Kashaw’s whereabouts are currently unknown, though it’s safe to say that, as tall as Entropis is, it is entirely possible that once Vecna lost concentration on Hold Monster (or before that if either of them saved from the spell) they had some means of saving themselves. Devo’ssa remains in a Forcecage for the next 59 minutes, unless they somehow find the means to teleport out and succeed a charisma save, since Forcecage cannot be Dispelled or destroyed. Vasselheim suffered serious damage, but still stands with a brand new Titan lawn ornament! We shall see what Vox Machina’s next steps will be in a world free of Vecna.

Upon Vecna’s isolation, the Hand of Vecna fell to the battlefield, severed from its master. Arkhan, taking advantage of Vox Machina’s exhaustion and shell-shock after the battle, attached the hand and teleported away, because evil. Interestingly, the Sword of Kas has a particular hatred not just for Vecna, but also for anyone that wields the Hand or Eye. Last we heard from the sword, it was ecstatically yelling about how it wanted to destroy and replace Vecna. Because Arkhan the Cruel is now wandering the world with the Hand, and because Vecna’s not technically destroyed, Grog might have some… tasks required of him by the sword unless he decides to put it aside (or Vox Machina decides to take it from him). But that's a tale for another time.