We report a detailed theoretical and experimental study on the vanadium monotelluride VTe, which crystallizes in the NiAs hexagonal structure. First-principles calculations reveal a complex hierarchy of magnetic interactions and energy scales, with the ground state theoretically determined as an (12, 0, 12) antiferromagnetic ordering with insulating character and a band gap of 0.5 eV. Experimental synthesis and characterization efforts find a substantially off-stoichiometric orthorhombic structure (a defect NiAs structure) with composition V0.85Te, and an apparent Néel point of some 45 K. First-principles calculations find good agreement with the observed Néel point. We also give an extended examination of the effects of off-stoichiometry on the calculated energetics, finding significant volume-related effects. Our first-principles calculations find the stoichiometric phase VTe to have a negative vanadium defect formation energy of over 1 eV, thus explaining the formation of the off-stoichiometric phase. Finally, we provide a structural explanation for the formation of defect structures in this and numerous other NiAs-structure materials.