The Last D&D Campaign Before Everything Changes Is a Wild Ride

Wizards of the Coast is a few months away from some big changes to the Dungeons & Dragons Player Handbook, but before that happens, the team is releasing a campaign aimed at giving veteran players a unique and exciting challenge. Where many D&D books released in the last two years have gone out of their way to make sure anyone can easily jump in and start playing, Vecna: Eve of Ruin is clearly built for players and DMs with a fair bit of experience under their collective belts. And after my first full playthrough, I truly hope more campaigns like this are on the way.

The announcement for Vecna: Eve of Ruin made it clear this is a big campaign with big fights and bigger personalities. In addition to fighting Vecna himself, easily one of the most dangerous ever villains in D&D, this campaign promised to take players across the multiverse in order to save it. Important and historic D&D locations like Sigil, Krynn, Death House and even a giant floating head in deep space show up in this campaign. There are also stat blocks for interacting with epic characters like Tasha and Strahd. It’s a lot; this paragraph only scratches the surface. That’s why I heard the same thing from almost every player I described this campaign to before playing: “That book must be massive.”

Wizards of the Coast

If you have the opportunity to grab the alternate cover version of this campaign book, you should absolutely do so. 

The truth is, Vecna: Eve of Ruin is only 25 pages longer than the average campaign Wizards of the Coast has released in the last two years. And while it’s technically possible to play through this campaign without using books from all of the different places your party travels to, doing so would be a significant disservice to those pieces of D&D history. Vecna: Eve or Ruin is a massive fetch quest at its core, with each area containing a piece of the tool you need to beat Vecna. So the game can be played as a series of smash-and-grabs where your party runs in and fights and moves on to the next part of the puzzle, but what a shame that would be. You can, and absolutely should, expand on every chapter in this book using other books. 

The one place in the campaign that feels the least fleshed out is, in my opinion, one of the most important. Wizards of the Coast made a lot of fans happy with the restoration of Dragonlance to modern gameplay rules. Unlike many other D&D worlds, the Dragonlance world of Krynn has a wildly different set of rules which govern it. Krynn is its own planet in its own time and there are significant differences in how most things work in this world. It’s tough to cram all of that in to a section of the campaign you’re most likely to only experience for 3 to 4 hours, so this book only skims the surface. You can easily supplement this with concepts from Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, but if you are accustomed to only needing the campaign book to run a campaign it’s likely the Krynn part of the story will feel pretty slim.

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The greatest strength to Vecna: Eve of Ruin is how little the book tries to hold your hand through much of anything. Gone are the helpful little blocks with things like “this is a good place for your party to rest” like you would find in Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk. There’s a general expectation that both DM and player have enough experience to take a few lines of text and run with it, which is great. In each section you’ll find big fights with some truly difficult monsters, complete with more than one well-written twist to ensure your players are paying attention. Players will grow from level 10 to level 20 in this campaign, and the fights scale to match well, right up to the big showdown at the end.

If you’re a DM and you go into Vecna: Eve of Ruin prepared to do a little more prep work each session than you’ve needed to do with other campaign books in recent memory, this is an incredible campaign to play. And in my view, D&D (and all TTRPGs) need campaign books like this, designed for more experienced players who are a little more excited about a series of increasingly challenging fights than they are an emotional story arc with a focus on character development. That balance is challenging to strike in the best of circumstances, but in my opinion this campaign gets closer to that goal than anything else I’ve played in the last couple of years. I’d happily recommend this to folks who love a good fight.

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