Vecna: Eve of Ruin Adventure -- An “Off the Rails” Adventure for D&D's Anniversary

Wizards' first book for its 50th anniversary year is aiming for the stars, which is appropriate for a multiverse-spanning adventure.

Wizards' first book for its 50th anniversary year is aiming for the stars, which is appropriate for a multiverse-spanning adventure.

3D Model Vecna-1-A by Adam Spizak smaller.png

The infamous lich Vecna has a plan to recreate the D&D Multiverse in his own image, with cultists on every plane of existence working toward that goal. That's the core concept behind a 256-page adventure called Vecna: Eve of Ruin, which travels the planes, features a big cast of NPCs, several of them iconic, and is designed for characters levels 10-20.

“This is a high level adventure.... The final confrontation with Vecna is at 20th level,” said Amanda Hamon, senior game designer. “It’s another detail that means this adventure is meant to be just off the rails – as high level, as we can get, and as epic as we can get, and hopefully as memorable as we can get.”

It makes sense. Vecna has a big pop culture profile now, thanks to Stranger Things. As the god of secrets, Vecna has tremendous reach within the D&D Multiverse, which sets the stage nicely for an epic plan that will require plane hopping to thwart. With fans clamoring for higher level adventures, an adversary like Vecna is the perfect foil.

“In this book, Vecna is this constant threat. He's this constant, epic, existential threat, literally existential threat,” said Hamon.

Vecna has instructed his cultists on every plane of existence to collect secrets, steal important documents, etc.

“This is not something the the authorities are aware of in any way,” continued Hamon, “and he's created a magical link between himself and his cults, and as they are extracting those secrets in a ritual, they're funneling that energy straight to Vecna, and... he's creating a ritual that we and he are calling 'The Ritual of Remaking.' What Vecna is trying to do is to remake the multiverse at his whim to his will... if you know anything about Vecna, you know that he craves ultimate power. He sees himself as the most powerful and only important being in existence and believes that the only reason that everybody doesn't already bow to him is because it just hasn't happened yet.”

Early in the adventure, the players will interrupt some cultists extracting secrets from a kidnapped noble. In the process, they will unknowingly be linked to Vecna, making them the only people who can stop the lich god.

Vecna Concept Art Bastiene Deharme.PNG

Searching the Multiverse

While the players won't realize their fate at first, some powerful spellcasters will have discovered Vecna's scheme. Alustriel Silverhand, along with Tasha and Mordenkainen, cast a wish spell to stop Vecna, only to be surprised when the player characters appear before them.

The trio of mages then realizes that the Rod of 7 Parts is needed to stop Vecna. This will be the first appearance of the Rod of 7 Parts in 5E, and you'll get full stats for it in the book. Once all the pieces are found an assembled, it can weaken Vecna enough to banish him to back to where he came (Greyhawk).

While Harmon promised lots of epic battles in V:EoR not every NPC encountered must be fought. For example, an inquisitor in Ravenloft could be an ally.

For that matter, Strahd doesn't have to be defeated to acquire his piece of the rod. If the players can find a way to make handing it over worth his while, that's an option, as he is an opportunist, and messing with heroes entertains Strahd. Of course, if the players who start at 10th level in V:EoR began their adventuring careers in Curse of Strahd, the encounter could be very interesting. Technically, though, the DM has the choice to use the Strahd before or after the events of CoS.

V:EoR features callbacks to various D&D adventures like the Death House in CoS, Acererek's Tomb of Wayward Souls on the Isle of Serpents in Greyhawk (a companion to the Tomb of Horrors), Spelljammer's Astral Sea, Teramini, an Elven wizard guarding the Three Moons Vault for Lord Soth (Dragonlance), and more. Raistlin does not make an appearance, but a DM could decide to insert him if they choose.

Recreation of Dragon Magazine 402.PNG

Epic Illustrations​

Because this is a special project, Wizards commissioned a lot of art for it, starting with concept art from Bastine DeHarme. The image of Vecna with the moon behind him is not in the book. Rather, that piece was given to the other artists to set the mood and illustrate the look Wizards was going for.

It also features the magenta color that's used in all of the Vecna promotional art. “Ragenta,” quipped Greg Tito, senior communications manager.

Art directors for the concept Kate Irwin and Josh Herman used DeHarme's images to create a solid foundation of foreboding, ominous images. From that, Adam Spizak then created 3D models of Vecna, emphasizing the eye and the hand. Some of those images ended up in a promotional trailer for V:EoR, and showcases a create deal of detail, especially in Vecna's skeletal armor.

V:EoR features 30 pages of bestiary and another 11 or 12 pages called a character dossier with writeups of famous characters appearing in the adventure or that are mentioned because they're important to the plot. Because V:EoR goes back to D&D's earliest history, the book's creators aren't expecting people to know every name. Instead, they promise that everything you need to know will be in this book – no need to read Wikipedia pages.

The appearance of those storied characters also gave the team an excuse to create beautiful new art of iconic characters.

“I'm really excited for people to get their hands on it,” said graphic designer Trystan Falcone. “D&D is celebrating its 50th year. This is a book that really encompasses a lot of love notes to notes throughout D&D's history, but it's accessible [to newcomers] if maybe you saw Vecna for the first time on your favorite TV show and you want to come and kind of interact with them here and maybe all these other things. It's a chance for people to get some high-level play, which is so fun, and then have some of these classic D&D experiences.”

Among the art commissioned for the book is a recreation of the cover of Dragon magazine #402, which depicts a fight with Kas the Bloody Handed that could be considered the start of “modern” Vecna. This is the iconic fight where Kas, who had been Vecna's follower, then his betrayer and now his eternal nemesis, defeats Vecna, taking his eye and severing his hand, but ultimately, they destroy each other. Vecna, of course, regenerates over the course of centuries. Kas is thrown into Ravenloft where he becomes a vampire for awhile.

The recreated cover by Chris Rahn calls up a lot of history, and probably a lot of nostalgia. It also signals that players are being thrown into a historic epic drama.

Acererak_Martin Mottet resized.png

Other Details

Around the time of Stranger Things season 4, the Vecna Dossier was released, along with a Vecna stat block putting him at CR26. For V:EoR the stat block is “similar with little things that are modernized for the current version of the roles that we're using,” said Harmon.

One of the key differences is “Vecna's Link,” which ties them metaphysically to Vecna, putting the players on a crash course to be the only ones to stop him because they absorbed a little bit of Vecna's power and the ability to harness secrets in a good way. For example, if an NPC willingly tells them a secret, the characters get a mechanical benefit in combat or can save them for the end when they're fighting Vecna himself.

V:EoR is not a horror book, Harmon said, though it has horror elements. Instead it's more of a high-stakes, ticking time clock adventure.

Among the new monsters in V:EoR is the false lich, which serves Acererak. Blazebears come from Krynn as a result of Lord Soth's corrupting influence. Mirrorshades come from the plane of Pandemonium and are manifestations of fear and anxiety.

While V:EoR officially says it's for characters of levels 10-20, the book does give the DM guidance for how to start with characters at 13th level, since some D&D adventures end there. It also has other suggestions for how to get PCs to the minimal level to start the campaign as well as how to integrate characters from all across the multiverse.

If you pre-order V:EoR from Wizards directly before May 7, you get a bonus adventure called Vecna: Nest of the Eldritch, which is another way to get characters to 10th level. V:NotE will not be available for individual sale.

May 7 is the early access release day for D&D Beyond access to V:EoR as well as the date that physical books, with the regular or alt cover, will be available at local brick-and-mortar game and hobby stories. May 21 is the release date for other North American retailers.
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Demogorgon was featured prominently in Out of the Abyss (2015) which was a full year before Stranger Things season 1.

The D&D product reacting to S1 of Stranger Things (2016), featuring a Stranger Things-style "Demogorgon" monster, was the Stranger Things Starter Set (2019).
Thinking about it,I'm kind of surprised Orcus hasn't been name dropped in ST yet.
 

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mamba

Legend
Well, zero adventures excluding Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden (page 255), Tomb of Annihilation (page 6), Call of the Netherdeep (p186), Phandelver and Beyond: The Shattered Obelisk (p201), and Turn of Fortune's Wheel (p26).
when I search for ‘Vecna’ on DDB it does not list Rime, ToA or Netherdeep

Planescape has the skull, not sure that really counts as Vecna, but even so that is so recent that they knew about the Vecna adventure at the time.

That leaves Phandelver and there he is mentioned in one paragraph in the backstory to the obelisks

“A mysterious group called the Weavers created the obelisks to undo great calamities—often by hurling a region or entire world back in time before the calamity occurred. One of these ancient Weaver obelisks appears in Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden.

No one knows anything about the Weavers because the evil wizard Vecna stole the secrets of the obelisks and used them to erase the knowledge of the Weavers from existence. The lore of how to create the artifacts then seeped throughout the world. The most notable obelisk builders were wizards from the now-fallen empire of Netheril.”

He is not some evil mastermind pulling the strings in all these adventures he is just some background noise / historical exposition. You are overselling him here, nothing would change in the adventures if he were not mentioned at all.

I don't actually disagree at all with your point that Vecna really hasn't played a prominent role in any D&D adventures until now
we agree on that ;)
 



Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
when I search for ‘Vecna’ on DDB it does not list Rime, ToA or Netherdeep
And yet there are mentions on the pages I cited. The questionable functionality of D&D Beyond's search facility is a known issue.
You are overselling him here, nothing would change in the adventures if he were not mentioned at all.
I'm not selling anything, thank you very much. I was merely disputing Burnside's claim that Vecna is mentioned in zero 5e adventures. He is, in fact, mentioned. My post was very clear that I nevertheless agree that Vecna has not played a significant role thus far in 5e.
I wouldn't qualify that as an appearance!
In my opinion, none of the mentions of Vecna counts as an appearance. They are only perfunctory mentions. Vecna isn't even mentioned in Hunt for the Thessalhydra, the only item from the Stranger Things starter set that was made available on DDB. Vecna has certainly not been a prominent entity for most of fifth edition.
 



Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Not really. He's always been a fairly big deal, and they did some build up prior to his adventure releasing.
What build up? We have established that he was mentioned off hand a couple of times in other adve tires, but has not been an active or looming threat.

Or are you just talking about the marketing?
 

What build up? We have established that he was mentioned off hand a couple of times in other adve tires, but has not been an active or looming threat.

Or are you just talking about the marketing?
Phandelver, and Planescape had some little sections building him up a bit and were hints that the Vecna adventure was coming. Not in universe build up.

By big deal I just mean he's been a big D&D arch villain for decades now.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Im in a bit of a quandary.
My group is finishing Curse of Strahd (3 years going!) around June/July, (we meet once a month in person and play a 6-7 hour mega session). I've already pitched Spelljammer for our next campaign and will incorporate. elements of Vecna/Rod of Seven parts into it. Should I stretch out this campaign until September or just ret-con characters once the new PHB drops? Im likely going. to do session 0 around July and can always create an in-character event to account for this.
Or do a mini-campaign. Since you only play once a month, for 6-17 hours per session, play something out of Yawning Portal, Keys From the Golden Vault, and/or Tales from the Infinite Staircase.
 

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