Dungeons & Dragons: Vecna – Eve of Ruin

Vecna – Eve of Ruin. Some people are calling this the final full-length D&D 5E adventure. Whether or not that’s true will largely depend on how the new One D&D handbooks are received later this year. What can be said for sure is that this is the last adventure of the original 5E era (if you don’t count what’s going to be included in Quests from the Infinite Staircase when it drops next month). It also lines up with D&D’s 50th anniversary. To celebrate both of these achievements, WotC has promised that Vecna – Eve of Ruin is not your average adventure. In fact, it was designed to explore and celebrate fifty years of D&D’s history.

Vecna is a name that most D&D fans will recognize. In recent years the name was also popularized when it was adopted as the name of the villain for Netflix’s Stranger Things. But the real Vecna of Dungeons & Dragons goes back quite a long way, all the way to 1976. Originally, the name “Vecna” was only mentioned in passing to describe two magical artifacts. However, over time, lore was established that portrayed Vecna as an evil lich of fantastic power. Eventually, during the days of 2E, the character of Vecna finally saw the light of day with the release of Vecna Lives!, an adventure published for the Greyhawk campaign setting. Since then, the character has taken on an almost mythical status, appearing in a number of adventures and supplements that span both official and homebrew campaign settings. Eventually the character achieved a state of godhood and to this day is considered one of the Powers in D&D’s official pantheon.

In this adventure, Vecna has formulated a plan to literally unravel all of existence so that he can rebuild the entire D&D multiverse according to his own desires. Yes, I said multiverse. It’s not just the world of Oerth (Greyhawk), but the worlds of Toril (from the Forgotten Realms), Mystara, Kyrnn, etc. Even all of the planes of existence. Every world, plane, and realm imaginable would suffer from the fate of Vecna’s latest plot.

As you might expect after reading the summary above, Vecna – Eve of Ruin is not your average D&D adventure. It is designed for experienced players with characters starting at level 10 and it will take them all the way to level 20. The storyline focuses on a truly apocalyptic event that will send the players on a tour of D&D’s locales and history. By default, the adventure starts in the Forgotten Realms, but over the course of the campaign players will visit Sigil in the Outer Planes, Barovia, Hell, and the worlds of Eberron, Krynn, and Oerth. Pretty ambitious! Usually world-hopping in this manner is discouraged since players tend to get bogged down and often want to linger in new areas (something that most DMs are ill prepared for). However, since this adventure is a race against the clock, there’s a special timer mechanic built-in to the story that should prevent players from straying too much. Aside from visiting a number of worlds, a handful of D&D’s most famous characters are also present in the book. For example, Mordenkainen, Strahd, Lolth, Tasha, and even Lord Soth make an appearance. It’s a showcase of D&D’s greatest heroes and villains.

Unlike several recent D&D adventures, there’s no new character options or backgrounds included with this adventure. But, to be honest, due to the scope of this module, none were really needed. There are plenty of new monsters and even a number of the characters mentioned above have stat blocks included in this book.

The quality of the adventure itself is very well done. I feel like it was designed to highlight all of the things that have made D&D famous over the years. There’s plenty of classic dungeon-crawl action for us older players. But there’s a lot of colorful NPC interaction as well (something that tends to appeal to the modern audience). Each aspect mentioned above is very well done and it all makes for an epic adventure that players are unlikely to forget. A part of me wants to really go into detail about many of the things included over the course of this adventure. But in doing so, I would quickly become longwinded. Plus, I can’t help but feel that a lot of what’s included here is best experienced by either playing or running the adventure.

My final thoughts on this product are twofold. First, Vecna – Eve of Ruin is the perfect playground in which to showcase much of the magic that has made D&D such a special thing to so many people. It’s a fitting romp for the hobby’s 50th anniversary. Second, it also easily acts as the perfect sendoff to 5E and also a great set up to explain many of the differences that One D&D is about to bring to the hobby. At this point in time, no one really knows exactly how D&D is about to change. Sure, we’ve seen playtest material and WotC continues to claim that all 5E products will remain compatible with the new One D&D material. But, many of us older players are skeptical at worst and cautiously optimistic at best. We have no choice but to sit by and see what the future holds. Until then, Eve of Ruin should certainly be on your radar as something to experience while we wait for the future of Dungeons & Dragons to reach our gaming table.

 

Tabletop

Old Game Hermit

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