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

aco175

Legend
I think this is the capstone of 2014 D&D. It needs to come out before the 2024/25 books.

It does feel like that, but, in fairness, at PAX East Perkins & Crawford did tout the Vecna book as "the first adventure featuring the new rules." I think folks are understandably confused. The messaging has been messy.
Either way, it is not getting me excited for the new stuff. If it is a capstone of 5.0, then what is the new campaign coming out with the new books? If it is like they said and first taste of the new 5.5 stuff, then I should have the new stuff at the same time.

I would also argue that a high-level book of world-spanning, outer space - mush everything together might not be something to bring in new players to the new (backwards compatible) edition.
 

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Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Inserting time travel into this feels like opening up a real can of worms. If we can meet Strahd before CoS, doesn't that mean player characters could go kill him before he ever becomes a darklord? I don't think D&D is remotely set up for these kinds of shenanigans.

As written in Curse of Strahd, even if the players kill him, Strahd just returns a few months later courtesy of the Dark Powers, and the status quo is essentially re-set in Barovia. They definitely wrote it that way so that "canonically" Strahd is always there in Barovia.
 
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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Either way, it is not getting me excited for the new stuff. If it is a capstone of 5.0, then what is the new campaign coming out with the new books?
I really, really hope we're getting a new starter box and, immediately after, a new 5-13 campaign book early in 2025.

That said, if I were a DMs Guild or third party publisher, I would probably be planning to release something like this in fall 2024, since WotC has left that door open.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Either way, it is not getting me excited for the new stuff. If it is a capstone of 5.0, then what is the new campaign coming out with the new books? If it is like they said and first taste of the new 5.5 stuff, then I should have the new stuff at the same time.

I would also argue that a high-level book of world-spanning, outer space - mush everything together might not be something to bring in new players to the new (backwards compatible) edition.

It definitely feels more like a victory lap/greatest hits of 2014-2023 5E, especially with re-visiting locations & characters used in 5E adventures.
 

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
It does feel like that, but, in fairness, at PAX East Perkins & Crawford did tout the Vecna book as "the first adventure featuring the new rules." I think folks are understandably confused. The messaging has been messy.
Their messaging has been very clear.
People have either ignored it or insisted they're lying.

There's no hard demarcation between the rule sets. A very large portion of what will be in core 2024 has already been released because WotC isn't lying to you when they say it's not a new edition, but merely a progression of the rules that are in use.

That's why this isn't a capstone adventure, because there's nothing to cap off.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
As written in Curse of Srahd, even if the players kill him, Strahd just returns a few months later courtesy of the Dark Powers, and the status quo is essntially re-set in Barovia. They definitely wrote it that way so that "canonically" Strahd is always there in Barovia.
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 hope the adventure is fun for the people who pick it up with the aim of running it. High stakes storytelling can be very compelling. But I mean, I have seen this before. The transitional storyline for 2nd to 3rd editions, "Die, Vecna, Die" feels like its basically this exact same concept, if with different details and story beats. Vecna doesn't do anything for me personally as a villain. Part of that is that I tend to make my own antagonists. Just about the only old school baddie I have used is Tharizdun.
 


Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Their messaging has been very clear.
People have either ignored it or insisted they're lying.

There's no hard demarcation between the rule sets. A very large portion of what will be in core 2024 has already been released because WotC isn't lying to you when they say it's not a new edition, but merely a progression of the rules that are in use.

That's why this isn't a capstone adventure, because there's nothing to cap off.

I mean, Perkins said "it's the first adventure using the new rules."

They muddy the messaging and contradict themselves a lot. Apologists either ignore the mistakes or maintain that anyone who points them out is lying.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Their messaging has been very clear.
People have either ignored it or insisted they're lying.

There's no hard demarcation between the rule sets. A very large portion of what will be in core 2024 has already been released because WotC isn't lying to you when they say it's not a new edition, but merely a progression of the rules that are in use.

That's why this isn't a capstone adventure, because there's nothing to cap off.
Emphasis mine.

1000 pages of new rule books and you think the playtests make up a "very large portion" of that material? Okay.

I am not quibbling with the idea of compatibility. it is clear that WotC doesn't have the interest to change the game in any meaningful way, but your statement is pure hyperbole.

And, yes, it is obviously a capstone adventure.
 

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