• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is LIVE! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

Wizards Goes Big with Vecna: Eve of Ruin

For its first book of D&D's 50th anniversary year, Wizards is going big with a multiverse-spanning, multiverse-threatening adventure where players will face off against one of the game’s most legendary villains.

For its first book of D&D's 50th anniversary year, Wizards is going big with a multiverse-spanning, multiverse-threatening adventure where players will face off against one of the game’s most legendary villains. Designed for characters level 10-20, Vecna: Eve of Ruin is a 256-page book that takes players from the Forgotten Realms, Spelljammer's Astral Sea, Eberron, Ravenloft, Krynn, Greyhawk, Avernus, Pandemonium, and Sigil for a grand adventure.

Vecna Alt Cover Front Back Hydro74 cropped.png

Very High Stakes​

While the Vecna from Stranger Things is firmly a villain in the horror mold, V:EoR is more a high stakes – very high stakes – adventure with horror elements. It's also a ticking time-clock adventure, so while players will visit many D&D realms, they won't have time for the scenic tour.

V:EoR is a little different than many 5E adventures, though. First, it doesn't have any new options for players. Because the adventure is so big and player characters can be from any setting, including homebrew, there already is a wealth of options.

Second, the entire book is under a spoiler warning, with this admonishment right at the beginning: “The information in this book is intended for the Dungeon Master only. If you’re planning to play through the adventure with someone else as your DM, stop reading now!”

As a result, I'm going to go lighter on describing the story than I usually would because putting this entire review under a spoiler mask seems a little excessive. But I will discuss things about the initial premise and a few major points that have already been revealed in the Wizards' own promotional videos.

Aside from the story, V:EoR has 43 monster stat blocks, some quite creepy like the mirror shade and the spiderdragon. It also has nine stat blocks for the 11 famous NPCs in the Character Dossier. Why only nine? D&D 5E does not stat out gods, though it makes an exception for Vecna, since he's the big bad.

Tasha gets a new stat block from the one she has in The Wild Beyond the Witchlight because she sends a younger version of herself from her timeline to help – more on that in a minute. So V:EoR features Tasha the Witch, with early versions of the spells she is so famous for with a lower CR stat block. Strahd also gets a new stat block.

The Character Dossier ensures that even newcomers to D&D or returning DMs, will have the information they need about iconic characters at their fingertips. It includes Miska the Wolf-Spider's first 5E stat block. I'm purposely not naming all of the characters in the dossier to avoid spoilers.

Mirrorshade from Pandamonium cropped.png

A Vecna Refresher​

If you think Vecna is just the psychic bad guy from Stranger Things, you're missing out. The “real” Vecna is one of the most infamous villains in D&D.

Vecna began in the earliest days of the game as a brief comment about magical artifacts called the “Hand and Eye of Vecna” in 1976's Eldritch Wizardry by Brian Blume. Vecna was likely inspired by Michael Moorcock's first trilogy of short novels about the eternal hero Corum: The Knight of the Swords, The Queen of the Swords, and The King of the Swords. Corum is the last survivor of his race, a vaguely elf-like people hunted by humans. Corum himself is captured but escapes, but not before the humans torture him by gouging out his left eye and chopping off his left hand. As for Vecna's name, it's an anagram for Jack Vance, who was hugely influential on D&D's magic system.

Vecna started out in Greyhawk as a wizard so evil, Orcus, the demon prince of undeath, taught him the spell to become a lich. Later, however, Vecna gave Kas, the warrior at his right hand, an evil intelligent sword that helped to turn Kas against Vecna, or just accelerated his betrayal.

In an epic battle, depicted in art within V:EoR, Kas cut off Vecna's hand and eye, which became the infamous artifacts. But despite being gone for centuries, Vecna was not dead but gathering strength to re-emerge. The devotion of his cultists led to his ascension as god of secrets.

Wizards Three by Irina Nordsol.jpg

Starting a High-Level Adventure​

If your party is already at or near 10th level, your group can switch over to V:EoR fairly easily or with a precursor adventure to fill the gap between their current level and 10th. The current setting for your group doesn't matter due to how the adventure begins, and they'll be traveling between realms anyway.

If you're starting entirely fresh, pick an adventure to run first (assuming you don't want to just jump to 10th level), that will take the characters from 1st to 10th. Curse of Strahd is one option, since the players will end up at Death House and face off against Strahd. Having some history between them could be interesting, especially since Strahd doesn't necessarily have to be defeated for the V:EoR to succeed in their objective.

And, of course, another option would be a sort of mashup approach. Pick a combination of shorter adventures from anthologies like Candlekeep Mysteries, Keys from the Golden Vault, and Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel; any of these adventures can set the stage for V:EoR.

V:EoR
also provides instructions on how to run the first chapter for characters that are 7th, 8th, or 9th level, which is a bit of a preamble for the characters before they know Vecna's involvement. This way if you have established characters short of 10th level but want to dive straight into V:EoR, you can.

Eberron by Claudio Pozas.PNG

Vecna's Scheme​

Alustriel Silverhand, one of the Seven Sisters and daughter of Mystra, goddess of magic, makes her first appearance in 5E in V:EoR. Closely connected to the weave of magic, she has noticed something is very wrong and that Vecna is involved. She summons her allies Tasha and Mordenkainen to her sanctum in Sigil, the City of Doors.

Together, the three wizards discover that Vecna is trying to rewrite the entire multiverse to his will, so they cast a wish spell in the hopes of reversing his progress and revealing the location where he is performing the ritual. The trio is surprised when the player characters appear before them.

While the wizards have been working to uncover Vecna's plan, the player characters have been pursuing the culprit behind the kidnappings of notable people in town. This segment is set in Neverwinter, with some juicy political secrets, but it wouldn't take much effort to relocate to an equivalent city in another D&D realm or your own homebrew campaign. It's also fairly easy to keep the action in Neverwinter yet work out why characters from Eberron, Spelljammer, etc. are there, if you wish.

A “Purpose in Neverwinter” table provides ideas for why the characters are in the city. A “10th Level Backstory” table also provides inspiration if needed.

What the players discover is that Vecna's cultists are behind the kidnappings, magically pulling the secrets from their victim and transferring that power to their lich god. Vecna, in turn, plans to use the power of those secrets for his Ritual of Remaking to recreate the multiverse.

rod of 7 parts.PNG

Thwarting a God​

It is during their rescue attempt that the wizards' wish spell takes effect while the players are disrupting a ritual to send Eldon Keyward's secrets to Vecna. This creates a psychic link between Vecna and the player characters, which makes them the perfect heroes to thwart Vecna's plans.

Because of this Link, the party are literally the only people in the multiverse who can stop Vecna and save the multiverse. Even better, Vecna is unaware of the link. Since Vecna is the god of secrets, the players gain the Vecna's Link benefit. It allows them to collect and “spend” secrets to gain a boon. Any unspent secret at finale of the adventure can be used in the fight against Vecna.

Meanwhile, Mordenkainen has figured out where the first piece of a very powerful artifact is, one he says has defeated Vecna in the past. The Rod of 7 Parts is a legendary magic item, first appearing in a 2nd Edition module called The Rod of 7 Parts. The back of the alternate V:EoR cover by Hydro74 depicts symbols for each of the seven parts.

The rod was created by the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, a.k.a. the Vaati, beings of ultimate law, to fight a demon lord called Miska the Wolfspider. The Rod, then known as the Rod of Law, was used by the Wind Dukes used it to imprison Miska in a demiplane. But the Rod shattered into seven pieces and scattered throughout the multiverse.

Most of the adventure consists of traveling from realm to realm to collect the seven pieces, through combat or other means. The D&D team didn't skimp on imagination for these excursions. For example, the Eberron portion mostly takes place inside a gigantic, ancient, bipedal warmachine.

Recreation of Dragon Magazine 402 cropped.png

Art & Maps​

Wizards gave V:EoR a larger art budget than usual, and it shows. From magic item illustrations by Couple of Kooks that almost look like you could pick them up, to epic artwork of Kas and Vecna's legendary fight by Chris Rahn (or a perversely cheery piece of art of the then-living Vecna and Kas plotting to take over Oerth by Lily Abullina), and everything in between, the book looks great.

Monster art ranges from the appropriately creepy Miska the Wolf-Spider by David Auden Nash to the unnerving Mirror Shade by Zuzanna Wuzek. The portrait artwork of the NPCs, like one image of Tasha, Mordenkainen, and Alustriel by Irina Nordsol, presumably after they realize the scope of Vecna's plans, is just lovely.

Both versions of the cover are very effective for setting the mood. The regular/mass market cover by Kieran Yanner is Vecna in “rage-enta” tones, furious, vile, and intimidating. The metallic gold and silver inks on matte black of the limited release cover for game stores by Hydro74 is striking.

The maps by Francesca Baerald and Dyson Logos are detailed and complex without sacrificing clarity. Baerald made full-color maps that are eye catching, including one for a magical sailing ship from the Spelljammer section. Logos' work is just as impressive, though in different ways. For example, his map of the damaged Eberron warmachine features fluid dripping down through the structure, an imaginative and almost whimsical choice that adds flavor to the map. His redo of the CoS Death House maps are faithful yet fresh.

Greyhawk NPC by Nikki Dawes.PNG

Is It Worth It?​

Overall, I like V:EoR. It has a grand sweep appropriate for the 50th anniversary of the game and the 10th anniversary of 5E. As a high-level adventure for an edition that rarely went above 10th level, it works well, with some epic fights at the end. Yet the book doesn't rely only on combat. It has a nice mix of moral dilemmas and juicy role-playing opportunities. And while the initial setup seems straightforward, there's enough mystery and betrayal to keep players guessing.

I really like that lead designer Amanda Hamon and the team thought about little details that make the adventure more playable. The Character Dossier provides much-needed background material instead of having to root through D&D wikis or older books. A Secret Tracker helps manage that mechanic. The tables to help explain why the characters are in Neverwinter and possible backstories are also helpful.

But I hate the ticking clock aspect of the adventure. I understand the game design purpose for it, and I think it works much better here than it did in Tomb of Annihilation, but I still find "progress clock" scenarios annoying. I'm also not fond of Vecna as a villain or a plot device.

And yet Vecna: Eve of Ruin is a really well-crafted adventure. I rate Vecna: Eve of Ruin as an A-. If you're a fan of Vecna and don't mind progress clock mechanics, it might be an A.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
But I mean, is it what moat people do? WotC current style has been huge for a decade now, in terms of sales and play, and the D&D brand name sis not have the effect for 3E or 4E Adventures (or 2E, for that matter).

I would posit that it is quite logical that WotC is actually designing based around audience desires, and effectively.
Again, you make this claim like its true and yet there is no actual proof this is how most people use adventures. Sure, some people do, especially experienced GMs, but most? I am skeptical.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Again, you make this claim like its true and yet there is no actual proof this is how most people use adventures. Sure, some people do, especially experienced GMs, but most? I am skeptical.
Well, sure, neither you nor I have any data based evidence on how most people approach using and buying Adventures.

But Chris Perkins does.

I am skeptical that Perkins has headed a decade of campaign book development with historical high watermark commercial and fan reception, all while making them in a way different from how most people who want Advebture books approach them.

Dragon Heist, for all its admitted flaws, is still one of the best selling Adventures of all time (based on last ywara bookscan data). While the name probably has a lot to do with that...maybe it works for the way most people approach Adventure books?

It is a valid hypothesis, that fits the known facts.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I am beginning to think that Wizards, should make more use of D&DBeyond tie ins with these adventures. additional lore, DM advice and a few extra Adeventures to cover the gaps. I have not gone through the locations with a fine look but on my first read through it need more Vecna. Some foreshadowing and more use made of the Wizards.

The twist in chapter 9 needs some foreshadowing and an alternate path if the characters figure out what is happening beforehand. The resolution of it is lame in my opinion. It is the weakest link in the whole thing.

I think if that chapter was better, I would be happy with the whole thing. As it is, I now want to improve it.
Something I miss from the 3E days is the "web enhancement". Many of the D&D 3E books had extra content available to download online, usually in PDF format. Some of the extras weren't terribly exciting or useful, but some of it was pretty awesome. Some of it was "cut for space" material, others were specifically designed as extra content. I'd love a return to that, but don't really expect one.

The DM's Guild has taken over this niche, even if the products available are "fan products" rather than "official" products.
 

Why bother with WOTC adventures when ENPublishing puts out absolute bangers on a regular basis? It's like people would rather choke down gruel then cross the street to reach a five star restaurant??
 


JEB

Legend
Something I miss from the 3E days is the "web enhancement". Many of the D&D 3E books had extra content available to download online, usually in PDF format. Some of the extras weren't terribly exciting or useful, but some of it was pretty awesome. Some of it was "cut for space" material, others were specifically designed as extra content. I'd love a return to that, but don't really expect one.

The DM's Guild has taken over this niche, even if the products available are "fan products" rather than "official" products.
I suspect Wizards actually sees the D&D Beyond exclusive products (like the Eve of Ruin prequel adventure) as filling the "web enhancement" niche.
 

pukunui

Legend
Is it just me, or is there more art in the DDB version of Vecna: Eve of Ruin than what is in the physical book? I had skimmed the DDB version when it first came out, but I only recently got my physical copy, and as I've been reading through the Eberron chapter, I remember thinking there was more art featuring colored warforged than what's in the book. (I can only find the picture of Glaive, who has orange and black plating; but Mercy is described as having purple plating, and her friend Filch has blue and red plating.)

I just went and checked the DDB version, and sure enough, there is art of both Mercy and Filch in the Eberron chapter there! There's also a picture of Kalyth the Cyran veteran that isn't in the physical book.

Has this ever happened before, or is this the first time there's art on DDB that isn't in the physical book?
 

Is it just me, or is there more art in the DDB version of Vecna: Eve of Ruin than what is in the physical book? I had skimmed the DDB version when it first came out, but I only recently got my physical copy, and as I've been reading through the Eberron chapter, I remember thinking there was more art featuring colored warforged than what's in the book. (I can only find the picture of Glaive, who has orange and black plating; but Mercy is described as having purple plating, and her friend Filch has blue and red plating.)

I just went and checked the DDB version, and sure enough, there is art of both Mercy and Filch in the Eberron chapter there! There's also a picture of Kalyth the Cyran veteran that isn't in the physical book.

Has this ever happened before, or is this the first time there's art on DDB that isn't in the physical book?
First I am aware of.

D&D Beyond also has art of all the Spyder-Fiend types while the book just has the Kakkuu
 

pukunui

Legend
First I am aware of.

D&D Beyond also has art of all the Spyder-Fiend types while the book just has the Kakkuu
Web enhancement by stealth?

@Morrus is this worth investigating? I suspect it's a case of "we couldn't fit this art in the book but we can include it here since space isn't an issue", but I'd be interested to know if this is the first time they've included extra art in the digital version and whether they've said anything about it officially.
 
Last edited:

Mournblade94

Adventurer
The idea that nobody at WotC has any knowledge of the older settings is complete and utter nonsense. That the designers at WotC do not feel beholden to minor canon issues and are willing to reinvent older settings may not be to your liking, and that's fine, but it doesn't mean the current team "doesn't know the settings". This is the exact type of negativity that I find so tiresome.

It's a "basic" level of understanding of the Dragonlance campaign that "werewolves don't exist in Krynn" . . . even though they show up in multiple Dragonlance products? Even though they work just fine in Krynn (YMMV) and don't break the settings themes in the slightest? Okay. Agree to disagree.

Rigid adherence to inconsistent and outdated canon is important to SOME hobbyists. Not to me, and I've been doing this thing since '83.
So find it Tiresome then. I find it Tiresome they can't showcase settings correctly. I too Agree to Disagree on your assessment.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top