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The Raven Queen, also commonly known as the Matron of Ravens or the Matron of Death, is the goddess of death, fate, and winter; she's also considered the goddess of twilight, inevitability and the passage of time, presiding over the transition between life and death.[6] Originally a mortal woman in the Age of Arcanum, she ascended to godhood and destroyed the previous god of death. After her ascension, her true name has long been lost. Her devotees seek her favor to guide them in death and prevent the curse of undeath from falling on them.

Because of her hatred of undeath, she and the Demon Prince of Undeath, Orcus, are fierce enemies. The Duskmeadow District of Vasselheim is devoted to worshiping her and is also where her temple, Raven's Crest, is located.[7]

As an NPC, the Raven Queen is played by Matthew Mercer.

Description

Appearance

The Raven Queen is described as a tall and slender woman, with flowing black hair and pale, porcelain skin. She almost always wears a blank, porcelain mask. On the rare occasions she removes it, she is described as a beautiful woman with red irises.[8]

Her general iconography in Issylra, Tal'Dorei and Wildemount represents the way in which the goddess appears to mortals, almost always adding elements of black feathers such as a cape or wings. However, certain sects in Marquet (in which she is worshiped as Duskmaven) depict her as a keen-eyed vulture with plumage varying from the shades of a sunset to the black of midnight; in this representation the goddess also covers her face, in this case with a golden funerary mask.[9]

Personality

As a mortal, the Raven Queen developed the Ritual of Seeding and wrested a position in the pantheon from the previous god of death.[10]

Not long before Vox Machina's final confrontation with Vecna, Vax'ildan visited the Raven Queen to ask for a bead of divinity, used in the creation of weapons that could banish the ascended Vecna.[11] The Raven Queen noted that giving of her essence in this way would expose her already-precarious position in the pantheon to even greater risk:

The Raven Queen: Am I to believe that this is not some ploy to diminish my power and leave me vulnerable to cast me from my seat?
Vax'ildan: I thought you knew me inside and out.
The Raven Queen: I know you, but do you know them? Do you think I've been welcome since I entered this pantheon? My existence is a perpetual threat to the creators. If anything, part of this burden that we all face lies on my shoulders as well. Why should they not think to strike at two birds with one stone?
– 
Vax'ildan seeks a bead of divinity from the Raven Queen [12]

For the Prime Deities, she portends the possibility of another Calamity, which Vecna's apotheosis realizes to an extent.[13] Despite her reservations, in Exandria's hour of need, her faithful servant Vax'ildan persuaded her to overcome her anxiety and sacrifice a measure of her power to contribute the bead of divinity.[14]

Biography

Background

Official art of the Raven Queen's ascension to godhood, by Jessica Nguyen from "Exandria: An Intimate History" (Sx61) at 3:24.[art 3]

The Raven Queen was originally a mortal mage who lived during the Age of Arcanum, theorized to have been Ruidusborn.[15] She was a follower and partner of the previous god of death,[16] but she developed rites that allowed her to destroy him and take his place, becoming the first mortal to achieve godhood.[17] Her rise to godhood is variously described as either involving her challenging her predecessor and overtaking him[17] or as having instantly destroyed him upon her ascension.[18]

In fear, the remainder of the pantheon swiftly destroyed and prohibited these rites.[18] Her name was subsequently either lost to or removed from historical record.[17] However, another powerful mage of the Age of Arcanum, Vecna, reconstructed the Ritual of Seeding and attempted it, but the ritual was interrupted and he was all but destroyed.[19][20] The Raven Queen's ascension also inspired Vespin Chloras to release the imprisoned Betrayer Gods back into the Material Plane, leading to the Calamity.[17] Several centuries later, in 812 PD, Vecna returned and successfully completed the ritual.

"The Sunken Tomb" (1x44)

The Raven Queen first appeared as a spectre during the revivification spell of Vex'ahlia, summoned by the opening of her late champion's casket. At first, the party mistook her for Vesh (due to Kashaw's part in the ritual), but she was revealed during Vax'ildan's contribution to be, in fact, the Raven Queen. Vax offered his life to her in place of his sister's. The Raven Queen reached her hand out to Vax and nodded, agreeing to the offer. At that point, Vax unwittingly became her new champion.

"Those Who Walk Away" (1x45)

While Vax'ildan and Keyleth discussed the Raven Queen, a raven appeared at Keyleth's window, cawed at the two, then disappeared. It was insinuated to be sent by the Goddess.

"The Family Business" (1x47)

In his sleep, Vax'ildan had a brief vision of the Raven Queen and the tapestry of threads she oversees. She identified him as "fate-touched," and told him he could be anything.

"Best Laid Plans..." (1x50)

The Raven Queen was summoned during Grog's revivification by Vax'ildan. As a second form of aid, Vax pledged to serve the Raven Queen unconditionally and with conviction. The Raven Queen sent Vax a vision, seemingly agreeing to the offer.

After these events, Vax found a raven's feather laying on his pillow which he symbolically put in his hair, similar to the blue feathers worn by his sister.

"Duskmeadow" (1x57)

Fan art of the Raven Queen and Vax'ildan, by Mikael.[art 4]

Vax visited the Raven's Crest temple in Vasselheim and communed with The Raven Queen in a pool of ice-cold blood. He saw a spark of white and it widened to be the mask of the Raven Queen as she approached him. He realized he was being held by her in the endless plane.

Vax asked if this was always supposed to happen, but the Raven Queen said that he guided his own path. She called him "fate-touched" and said that he was interesting to her because of how he bent his own destiny. She said that he was interesting to many and she was the one who seized the opportunity. The Raven Queen knew of his hatred and fear of her, but she dismissed it as most hate her due to lack of understanding. Vax agreed to learn to understand and serve. She explained that her gift is to safeguard the passage between life and death - a charge that Vax' now shared. She warned him to be careful with his own bending of destiny and rebuked those who would try to live indefinitely like undead and wayward necromancy. But she understood that an individual may not always be meant to die in one moment and that their destiny went beyond one death.

Vax accepted that this was his cause. She told him his dual nature was what interested her; half recklessness and half instinct. She believed that he had been preparing for this his entire life, unconsciously. She set him down and they were suddenly in the room where Vax left. For a moment Vax saw her as the woman she was before she was a god and she removed her mask. She kissed him on the forehead in parting.

Later that same day, Percy also went to the Raven Queen’s temple and communed with her. He entered the void and saw the white porcelain face of the Raven Queen. Percy asked if they could stop it. She told him to ask the right questions. He asked if he was chosen because he was broken or if it broke him, (likely referring to Orthax). She told him that he was always broken and was preyed upon. She said that his deeds would determine whether he could be fixed. He asked for help in getting rid of it and she said she had already helped. The Raven Queen told him that he had to watch himself or he may stray from their side. He asked if he could look for healing. She told him that life is broken from the start and there is no perfection, that finding ways to better yourself before the end is what gives life purpose. She assured him that mortals could achieve great things, just like she did.

"Trust" (1x70)

Vax went to the Raven Queen’s temple and communed with her once more, asking for advice. She told him that the path they walked to the Sphinx gave them what they needed, and told him to stay alive.

"Curious Tides" (1x89)

First, the Raven Queen directly appeared to Vax'ildan, now dead, in a space similar to the first time he communed with her. She then asked him what his destined thread is.

Later, as a part of Vax's resurrection ritual, Vex'ahlia made a bargain with the Raven Queen to hunt down Orcus in return for her brother. Apparently seeing this to be favorable, the Raven Queen manifested in some physical way,[21] allowing Vax to be brought back to life and calling Vox Machina "to meet [her] behind the Divine Gate".[22] Seeming to have disappeared to the rest of Vox Machina, the Raven Queen was still seen by Vax as she gave him an ominous message about future activities of his employment[23] before actually leaving.

"Voice of the Tempest" (1x90)

Vax'ildan was visited in his sleep by a vision of the Raven Queen. She told him that she sensed some villainy on the horizon, although she could not see the cause of it. What she could see was greatness in Vax’s future, and that the fates of his friends were possibly tied to his own. She asked him if he could shoulder that burden, and told him to be patient. She encouraged him to enjoy the time he had, as soon she would call upon his purpose.

"Thar Amphala" (1x101)

Vax communed with the Raven Queen, sensing that his deal with her was coming to a head. She told him to follow his instincts, and mused that their paths may meet soon enough.

"The Fate-Touched" (1x103)

Vax’s soul was in limbo after he was killed by Vecna. The Raven Queen appeared to him and asked what he had seen, revealing that Vecna had “blocked her sight”. He told her about the fight, and the Raven Queen offered him the eternal rest that she said he had earned. Vax protested, saying he still wanted to help his friends. She made him an offer: he could return to life as her champion, for the sole purpose of hunting down Vecna, so long as he returned to her forever when he had finished that task. Vax accepted, and he was raised from the dead as a revenant.

"The Endless Atheneum" (1x106)

Vax'ildan communed with the Raven Queen in the Raven's Crest temple in Vasselheim, informing her of Vecna's ascension. Vax compared the two gods, but the Raven Queen insisted there was a difference: he ascended for selfish reasons, she was simply doing as fate willed. Vax asked if he was her enemy, and she confirmed he was the enemy of all. Vax asked her for a third bead of divinity to use in crafting the trammels they would use to banish Vecna. She hesitated, fearing the other gods of the pantheon would take advantage of her weakened state, and that this was some ploy devised by them to do so. Vax asked her how much she wanted Vecna destroyed, and the Raven Queen relented, putting her faith in Vax and asking for his faith in return. When Vax emerged from the vision, he found a small black opal in his hand.

"The Chapter Closes" (1x115)

Vox Machina returned to the Platinum Sanctuary in Vasselheim after defeating Vecna and sealing him away beyond the Divine Gate. As Keyleth finished addressing the crowd, the Raven Queen appeared behind Vax'ildan and put her hands on his shoulders. Percy tried to get in between the two of them, but she froze him in place.

You have done well, my champion. The skein of destiny has tugged in your wake, and even this victory culminates with the crossing of a few fate-touched souls. By your hand, your bravery, your sacrifice, you ensure a future for all you love and all who will come to love you and what you've done. You may never know the import of your time here, but take solace in the knowledge that you will see the ripples of your actions carry hope for generations to come.
– 
The Raven Queen comes to claim Vax'ildan's soul[24]

Keyleth, Scanlan, and Vex asked the Raven Queen for more time. The Raven Queen gently sympathized with their grief but insists that a deal was a deal. Vax said goodbye to each member of Vox Machina, promising that he would see them again. Vax used Druidcraft to create snowdrops out from him to Vox Machina and walked to the Raven Queen. Vax saw a bright light from inside the Raven Queen's cloak. In the light was his mother, telling her son she is proud of him. As Vax walked towards the Raven Queen, her cloak faded, the snowdrops continued until they turned into feathers and both were gone.[25]

Relationships

Fan art of Vax'ildan and the Raven Queen, by NLN4.[art 5]

Vax'ildan

Vax'ildan offered his life to the Raven Queen in place of his sister, Vex'ahlia, as part of a Revivify spell. The goddess appeared before him and seemed to agree to those terms.[26] Not long afterward, Vax became a paladin devoted to her cause.[27] After Vax was killed by Vecna, he made a bargain with her to defeat him in return for continued life as a revenant.[28] Once Vecna had been banished, the Raven Queen immediately came to collect Vax'ildan, who became her champion. A year later, she allowed him to return to the mortal realm to speak at Vex'ahlia's wedding, thanks to a Wish spell cast by Scanlan.

Commandments of the Matron of Ravens

Commandments of the Matron of Ravens


  • Death is the natural end of life. Grieve the fallen, but do not pity them. Exult in the time that they were granted.

  • The path of Fate is sacrosanct. Those who pridefully cast off destiny must be punished.

  • Undeath is an atrocity. Death is too good a punishment for those who pervert the rightful transition of the soul.

Known worshippers

Appearances and mentions

Quotations

  • "All life is inherently broken from the start, Percival. Take solace in that. There is no perfection in life. Otherwise, what would be the purpose of death? It's to try to find ways to better yourself before the end that gives us purpose. You are all broken, but also understand - mortals can achieve great things. I did."[34]

Trivia

  • Liam and Matt discussed the relationship between the Raven Queen and her Champion, Vax'ildan, on Talks Machina on February 21st, 2017. Matt said that the Raven Queen and Vax'ildan did not have a typical cleric-deity relationship, but that she had told Vax the road she wanted him to take and is now just letting him walk the path on his own. If he strays from that path, she will intervene.[35]
  • The Raven Queen is typically categorized with the Prime Deities,[4][36] a group usually defined by its actions during the Founding,[37][38] even though she was not present during the Founding.
  • The Raven Queen's holy day is the Night of Ascension, celebrated on the thirteenth of Cuersaar. Some in Tal'Dorei also associate her with Winter's Crest.[4]
  • The Raven Queen's alternate title of the Matron of Ravens in the original Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting[4] is modified to the Matron of Death in the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount,[39] presumably to avoid redundancy.

Art gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 21.
  2. See "Make It Fashion" (3x12) at 2:33:29.
  3. 3.0 3.1 See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 25.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 17.
  5. 5.0 5.1 See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 33.
  6. See Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep, p. 87.
  7. See "Trial of the Take: Part 3" (1x20) from 0:51:54 through 52:52.
  8. See "Duskmeadow" (1x57) at 1:15:02.
  9. See Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep, pp. 87–21.
  10. See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 15. See also Ritual of Seeding.
  11. See "The Fear of Isolation" (1x105) from 21:43 through 22:25.  Matt explains that "there wasn't really a name for [the shards] more than they're small pieces of essence of the deity" and that the shards are "bead size." This wiki uses the term "bead of divinity." For example, see the page: The Endless Atheneum (episode).
  12. See "The Endless Atheneum" (1x106) at 2:41:08.
  13. See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 24.
  14. See "The Endless Atheneum" (1x106) from 2:42:55 through 2:45:10.
  15. See "Omens Above" (3x19) at 33:50.
  16. See "Duskmeadow" (1x57) at 0:57:06.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 6. Also Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 12.
  18. 18.0 18.1 See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 17. Also Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 25.
  19. See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 29.
  20. See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 38.
  21. See "Curious Tides" (1x89) at 0:56:22.
  22. See "Curious Tides" (1x89) at 0:57:54.
  23. See "Curious Tides" (1x89) at 1:01:17.
  24. See "The Chapter Closes" (1x115) at 1:29:59.
  25. See "The Chapter Closes" (1x115) from 1:27:42 through 1:42:40.
  26. See "The Sunken Tomb" (1x44).[citation needed]
  27. See "Umbrasyl" (1x55).[citation needed]
  28. See "The Fate-Touched" (1x103).[citation needed]
  29. See "Rime and Reason" (2x75) at 2:09:55.  Caduceus explains the history of his family.
  30. See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 3:29:24.
  31. See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 213.
  32. See "Vox Machina Go to Hell" (1x91) at 0:32:37.  The Raven Queen was mentioned.
  33. See "Deals in the Dark" (1x92) at 0:21:42.
  34. See "Duskmeadow" (1x57) at 2:03:26.
  35. See "Talks Machina #13: 'A Bard's Lament' and 'Daring Days'" (TMx13).[citation needed]
  36. See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 21. See also pp. 24–25.
  37. See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 14.
  38. But note that the language changes from "The circle of Prime Deities involves the leaders and luminary creators that battled the Primordial Titans and instigated the Founding, forging the mortal races of Exandria" to "The circle of Prime Deities includes the leaders and luminary creators" etc. See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 20.
  39. See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 24.

Art:

  1. Symbol of the Raven Queen from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting.
  2. Symbol of the Raven Queen from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount by Claudio Pozas. (source)
  3. Official art of the Raven Queen's ascension to godhood, by Jessica Nguyen from "Exandria: An Intimate History" (Sx61) at 3:24. Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of the Raven Queen and Vax'ildan, by Mikael (source). Used with permission.
  5. Fan art of Vax'ildan and the Raven Queen, by NLN4 (source). Used with permission.
  6. Fan art of the Raven Queen, by NLN4 (source). Used with permission.
  7. Fan art of the Raven Queen without her mask, by MargaretChurchA (source). Used with permission.
  8. Fan art of the Raven Queen and Vax'ildan, by advocatingAvian (source). Used with permission.


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