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

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Well we don't actually know the quality yet do we?

Not that I have had any issue with the 5e adventures so far. Heck I have more 5e adventures than 1e, 2e, 3e, & 4e combined! Now, the funny thing is I don't run published adventures!
Even so, the 5E books have lots of salvageable bits and bobs modules.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
However, Vecna has not been mentioned in connection with them until relatively recently.
Not saying that you are wrong about Perkins approach likely being "drop hooks and make up a reason later", but even relatively 4 years is a long time: I have had two kids since Rime of the Frost Maiden dropped!
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I like the sound of this adventure, except for the introduction where the PCs are summoned to work for the 3 Awesome NPCs you've heard about from Other Products, especially the Super Awesome Witch Tasha who broke the rules of time and space just so she could be here and let you experience how Awesome she is. Did we mention how Awesome the NPCs are, and how much you're going to Enjoy doing the work they can't be bothered doing themselves?
Actually, the art piece showing the three Wizards terrified and stressed out of their gourd plus the PCs being the result of their casting a Wish Spell is a pretty strong hook: the big cosmic wizards aren't handling the problem instead of the PCs, because the PCs are the cosmic wizards plan to handle the problem.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
The ToA reference is an aside "Although he is powerful enough to pursue godhood as other liches have done (Vecna being a prime example) Acererak has no interest in being a god..."

I wouldn't qualify that as an appearance!
Qualifies as a hook, though: and they have definitely been hinting at Vecna as a Big Deal since the DMG dropped.
 

If we can time travel to an earlier point in Ravenloft, what's to stop us from time traveling to get Strahd pre-Ravenloft, before the Dark Powers know who he is?

The Doctor Who RPG has an answer for it. @Piratecat's TimeWatch game has an answer for it. Canonically having PCs do this kind of time travel without having an answer for how this works in D&D feels ill-advised to me. YMMV
I'm not assuming that PCs have control over being able to choose what multi-versal timelines they can visit. They don't have a TARDIS they control. They can only go where the opportunities lie, which are set up by the story/DM.
 

mamba

Legend
To the credit of the other 5E campaign books, IMO. They have had a good decade.
however you stand on it, they were pretty consistent in quality (I like some better than others, but that is mostly thematically). I see no reason for this one to not follow suit, for better or for worse

I do think they were better at avoiding complete duds compared to 1e / 2e however (skipped 3 and 4). That can also be because it is much easier to write 32 pages with little to redeem them than 200 ;)
 
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I'm not assuming that PCs have control over being able to choose what multi-versal timelines they can visit. They don't have a TARDIS they control. They can only go where the opportunities lie, which are set up by the story/DM.
Are you sure they don’t have a TARDIS, because going where set up by the story is exactly how it works?
 


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