Citadel Cavitius

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Greyhawk Settlement
Citadel Cavitius
A map of Citadel Cavitius, from Vecna Lives!
Motto/Nickname Unknown
Realm Quasielemental Plane of Ash
Established "Eons ago" (prior to -358 CY)
Government Theocracy (currently unknown)
Alignment Neutral evil
Population 1,000 (living)
Races Varied (originally Flan, in Vecna's time)
Languages Flan, Common
Religions Vecna
Authority Figures Vecna, the Doorkeeper, Kas (currently unknown)

Citadel Cavitius is a fortress-city built on the border between the Quasielemental Plane of Ash and the Negative Energy Plane. It was once used by Vecna as a stronghold and prison.


The border region between the Plane of Ash and the Plane of Negative Energy is known as Empty Winter, a place of extreme cold and occasional diffuse clouds of drifting flakes of ash. In Empty Winter, the hungry plane drains away both body heat and life energy. Citadel Cavitius is built on a large pocket of solid ash, so that it seems to be surrounded by a plain covered in ashes about six inches deep. The effects of gravity in this area are apparently the same as gravity on Oerth.

Citadel Cavitius is protected from the inhospitable nature of its surrounding plane by a shimmering field of force, which connects it to a stone ring that acts as an interplanar gate (in 581 CY it is a one-way gate from Tovag Baragu). This field, which covers the ring, the citadel, and a narrow path between them, may be easily exited, upon which the effects of the surrounding plane (which is airless, and drains both body heat and life energy from living creatures) take hold. The field may be reentered by those quick enough to do so before dying.

Physically, the citadel resembles an enormous human skull, a slightly lighter gray shade than the surrounding ash of the plane. Upon closer inspection, it is clear that the substance of the walls is identical to bone, and the whole structure may indeed be a gigantic skull from some unknown humanoid-headed corpse. The walls of the version of Cavitius in the Demiplane of Dread, however (see below) were actually made of billions of smaller bones compressed together (Vecna Reborn, page 40). Only close examination reveals the individual bones and skulls, so this may (or may not) be true of the original Citadel Cavitius as well.

The streets of the city inside the skull are cold and dark. The 1,000 or so living inhabitants scavenge for fungi to eat or burn for warmth. Corporeal and (in the Demiplane of Dread version and in the city after Vecna's departure, at least) incorporeal undead roam the city; because of the proximity to the Negative Energy Plane, they do not need to feed on the living for energy, and many live among the city's living inhabitants as if they had never died.


The original creators of the place where Citadel Cavitius now lies are unknown. There are rumors (The Inner Planes, page 112) that it was constructed by some long-lost race who worshiped death in some incomprehensible way. Perhaps this is only a distorted recollection of Vecna and his followers, however.

Cavitius was controlled by Vecna by -358 CY, when he cast the treacherous Kas into it shortly before his body discorporated and his soul was cast into the Lower Planes. He had taken an interest in the location, and worked to make it less hostile and more useful to him over a period of centuries (Vecna Lives!, page 62). He used his magic to form a small pocket of solid matter and shaped it into the skull-shaped city that can be seen today, which certainly makes it sound like he created it, but what existed in that location that attracted him to it is unclear (unless it was a previous settlement, and/or the stone circle, or simply the rarity of solid ground to build on in this region). Rumors suggest that there were some parts of the city where even Vecna was afraid to go, though it's not clear if the rumors apply to the citadel when Vecna first claimed it, or after the Doomguard's tenure (see below).

Vecna's prisoners remained in the city for many centuries, evidently unable to escape. At some time (it is not clear how long) after -14 CY (the time of the Great Upheaval in the extraplanar city of Sigil), the planar faction known as the Doomguard claimed Citadel Cavitius as their own, also taking control of or building three other citadels on the border between the quasielemental planes and the Negative Energy Plane. Vecna's prisoners remained, perhaps in a part of the city separate from where the Doomguard resided.

Then, after centuries of banishment, the worship of his cultists summoned Vecna back into corporeal existence, granting him the powers of a demigod. Vecna retook control of Citadel Cavitius, driving the Doomguard out (where they established a new fortress, the Crumbling Citadel, nearby). Retreating from the demigod's wrath, the Doomguard were forced to abandon some of their most valued treasures, and they have since sought to retake the citadel.

During a period when Vecna was inactive, the Doomguard sent the cambion Ely Cromlich and a number of other skilled warriors to investigate the citadel. Only Cromlich returned alive; it has been speculated that the cambion encountered Vecna himself and was either forced to swear allegiance to the lich, or he had his spirit replaced by something more inclined toward obedience. Regardless of the truth, Ely Cromlich was a cultist of the Whispered One, Vecna, from that point on.

In 586 CY, after a failed attempt at overthrowing Oerth's gods in 581, Vecna and other inhabitants of Citadel Cavitius were imprisoned on the Demiplane of Dread by that plane's mysterious mists. The demiplane formed two new domains to host Vecna and his nemesis Kas, the so-called Burning Peaks Cluster. Vecna's new domain was named Cavitius, and its capital city was a copy of the citadel on the Plane of Ash. It's not clear how precise a copy it was, but both Cavitius in Ravenloft and the original Citadel Cavitius were cities built in what appear to be giant skulls.

The true Citadel Cavitius remained on the border between Negative Energy and Ash. The Inner Planes expansion for the Planescape campaign said that since Vecna's departure, some very powerful spirit came to power there, managing to tap directly into the the Negative Energy Plane to attain a might far beyond the other ghosts, spectres, and other incorporeal creatures who haunted the citadel.

Since Vecna's escape from the Demiplane of Dread in 591 CY, he has been said to dwell in various citadels hidden on the Prime Material Plane. The current ruler of Citadel Cavitius, if any, is unknown.


Cavitius03.jpg Cavitius02.jpg Cavitius.jpg


  • Connors, William, and Steve Miller. Domains of Dread. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1997.
  • Cook, David. Planescape Campaign Setting. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.
  • ----. Vecna Lives!. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1990.
  • Cook, Monte, with William W. Connors. The Inner Planes. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1998.
  • Noonan, David. Complete Divine. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004.