Tome of the Stilled Tongue: Vecna’s Most Underrated Magic Item? 

Last Updated on November 8, 2023

Tome of the Stilled Tongue 

Wondrous item, legendary

These hefty leatherbound books are recognizable by the withered human tongue pinned to their covers. The tongues belong to spellcasters who crossed or failed the lich-god Vecna, creator of the tome. The first few pages of each tome are filled with indecipherable scrawls. The remaining pages are blank and pristine.

If you can attune to this item, you can use it as a spellbook and an arcane focus. In addition, while holding the tome, you can use a bonus action to cast a spell you have written in this tome without expending a spell slot or using any verbal or somatic components. Once used, this property of the tome can’t be used again until the next dawn. 

While attuned to the book, you can remove the tongue from the book’s cover. If you do so, all spells written in the book are permanently erased.

Vecna watches anyone using this tome. He can also write cryptic messages in the book. These messages appear at midnight and fade away after they are read.

Source: Dungeon Master’s Guide, pg. 208

What Is the Tome of the Stilled Tongue? 

Created by the powerful lich Vecna, the Tome of the Stilled Tongue is a spellbook that allows a wizard who attunes to it to cast one spell written within the tome as a bonus action once per long rest. 

The Tome of the Stilled Tongue traces its origins back to 3.5e’s Complete Divine (ironically, a supplement full of deities and divine magical rules) and, in addition to containing 6d4 powerful spells, also provided instructions on creating a lich’s phylactery. 

The first Tome of the Stilled Tongue was created by Vecna as a punishment when one of his servants (a powerful sorcerer herself) betrayed him (or failed to keep one of his secrets if you’re going by the older edition’s lore). 

Vecna has since created four more tomes, made with the tongues of magic users who cross him. In addition to being powerful magical artifacts that dramatically improve the abilities of a spellcaster, Tomes of the Stilled Tongue are also tools that Vecna uses to spy on (and even communicate with) those who wield them. 

How Powerful Is the Tome of the Stilled Tongue?

The Tome of the Stilled Tongue is a fantastic magic item and one of the stronger Legendary magic items that a wizard can get their hands on. 

Not only is an extra spell (or the highest level you can cast) per day fantastic, but the fact you can cast it as a bonus action (rather than being constrained by the casting time of the spell itself) is huge. 

That means you could cast the 7th-level spell Simulacrum (with a casting time of 12 hours) as a bonus action, as well as Clone, Glyph of Warding, or Planar Binding (all 1-hour spells). 

Alternatively, you could just keep an extra Fireball in your back pocket or something like Power Word Kill, especially since the spells you cast from the Tome of the Stilled Tongue appropriately have no verbal or somatic components. Perfect if you’re in a tight spot and need a quick exit with Teleportation Circle

Interestingly, even though the tome is a legendary magic item, I would have no qualms about letting it fall into the hands of a low-level character. This is because other powerful magic items designed for spellcasters give specific extra spells (usually high-level ones as well) that you can cast with the item a number of times per day. 

Giving a 1st-level wizard a Wand of Fireballs is almost certainly going to mess with your game. 

However, giving that same wizard a Tome of the Stilled Tongue doesn’t actually throw the game’s balance too far out of whack because, at the end of the day, they just get another free spell slot, and those slots are limited to the level of the caster. 

A 1st-level wizard is going to get an extra use of Thunderwave or Magic Missile out of the tome; great to have, but it’s not game-breaking. It’s only when this tome falls into the hands of a seriously powerful magic user that things start to get scary. 

Making sure that a Tome of the Stilled Tongue falls into the hands of a low-level wizard who doesn’t know what they have, only to slowly reveal that they are actually holding one of Vecna’s dark artifacts would be amazing. 

I’d enjoy it even more if I got the chance to set a powerful wizard on the PCs’ trail trying to steal the book in order to put it to proper use. 

DM’s Corner: What Does Vecna Want?   

The fact that this magic item lets me, as a dungeon master, give Vecna a direct line to one of my player characters is just exquisite. Trapped as he might still be in his skull fortress on the blasted plains of Cavitius, Vecna is almost certainly bored. 

The opportunity to observe a gaggle of fresh-faced adventurers get out into the world and go on adventures is probably akin to watching TV… except Vecna isn’t a powerless observer. 

He likely can’t leave his prison in the domains of dread, but he can certainly manipulate the players into playing a part in his release. 

Vecna is very, very smart and should be more than capable of playing on a character’s insecurities and desires, slowly poisoning them against their allies. 

He should also win the character’s trust — perhaps he could reveal important information about the party’s rivals, the location of valuable treasure, or how to bypass an ancient trap. 

Vecna is powerful, wise, and experienced, and I know of absolutely no player who wouldn’t immediately use as much of the cursed book’s information as possible. 

From there, it’s just a matter of pushing the players toward finding the cursed relic, spell, or gateway and inadvertently bring the big bad to end all big bads back from the grave.

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