Book of Vile Darkness

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Greyhawk magic item
Book of Vile Darkness
Type Artifact
Body slot
Caster level
First appearance

The Book of Vile Darkness is a magical artifact, a reference work of black magic, evil deities, forbidden secrets, and sacrifice. Non-evil readers run the risk of becoming corrupted by its contents. Several copies exist, but some are more infamous (and powerful) than others.

Book of Vile Darkness is also the name of a sourcebook released in 2002. This article deals chiefly with the fictional work.


The first Book of Vile Darkness was originally a scroll penned millennia ago by a Vasharan spellcaster. This scroll contained the spellcaster's wicked thoughts and fell knowledge gained via study and experimentation. In these few thousand words, the Vasharan logged malevolent ideas and foul concepts that have yet to be matched.

Years later, a priestess of Nerull discovered the scroll. Adding her knowledge of evil divine magic, dark gods, and sacrifice, she tripled its length. These and subsequent additions soon expanded a single manuscript into a collection of scrolls. Over the years, several other priests used these scrolls to expand their knowledge, adding their own knowledge and discoveries. Summoned fiends were questioned and their own words transcribed directly to the scrolls. Eventually the scrolls would find their way into the hands of great wizard and genocidal warlord known as Vecna.

Vecna expanded the scrolls with his own vile discoveries. After achieving lichdom, Vecna transcribed the scrolls into a bound codex, crafting its cover from the bones of a demon and the flesh of a human face, transformed by magic into a dull metal binding. The strange symbols on the cover are said to be understood only by those who've read the book from cover-to-cover. These runes are said to represent "a darkness so deep that it shames Hell itself," one reason why the book is so valued.

For several years, the Book of Vile Darkness was held in a dim vault by cultists of Erythnul, who used the book as a final initiation into their inner circle. A few copies of the Book were made during this period, though the majority were incomplete or otherwise flawed. Errors within these lesser copies usually drew the reader to one of the Lower Planes, lost to the world forever.

The original Book of Vile Darkness was stolen during a great war, and afterward passed through many hands. Some accounts state that the Book sat for a time in the personal library of the archdevil Baalzebul, who made further additions. Six complete copies of the Book of Vile Darkness are known to exist, at least one of those made after the archdevil's additions. At least eighteen flawed copies or outright forgeries also exist. These tomes are often found in dark libraries, wicked temples, and in the hands of evil collectors. Vecna's original also exists, and is coveted by nearly every priest of an evil deity.

In the second century CY, Aedorich of House Atirr discovered a copy of the Book of Vile Darkness in the dripping ruins of the Sinking Isle. This copy also functions as a libram of ineffable damnation, and contains secrets of a lost history as well as magical secrets.


  • Cook, Monte. Book of Vile Darkness. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2002.