D&D’s Vecna: Eve of Ruin has some of the best cards of this generation

For a game of Dungeons & Dragons, you only need a few things: dice, some idea of ​​a possible encounter, and a few other people with characters in hand. So when I approach the game’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast, for one of their campaigns, I expect a lot for my money: an excellent hook, to begin with, but also a long track record with lots of extras to take advantage of. my players in it.

Vecna: the eve of ruinthe latest adventure released for the original 5th edition rules, is full of these kinds of extras, and the best elements by far are the cards.

The first D&D adventures were little more than maps, carefully annotated on loose-leaf graph paper in three-ring binders by Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, and a handful of the game’s original designers and artists. These were strictly two-dimensional affairs, presented from a bird’s eye view. A good example is the infamous Tomb of Horrors, a deadly but concise arena originally created for tournament-style play. It is an elaborate series of corridors and antechambers, most of which are on the exact same level of the dungeon.

The original, first edition Tomb of Horrors 1978 map.
Image: Wizards of the Coast

Vecna: the eve of ruin‘s cards are designed very similarly, but they are anything but flat.

(Ed. note: This story will spoil key elements of Vecna: the eve of ruin.)

Part of a map of the Lambent Zenith, a Spelljamming ship featured in Chapter 3 of Vecna: the eve of ruin.
Image: Francesca Baerald/Wizards of the Coast

Take, for example, the map in chapter three titled “The Last Voyage of the Lambent Zenith.” Created by cartographer Francesca Baerald, it depicts a magical sailboat that has crashed into the side of a dead god. Here is the official description, one version of which is what they probably had to work with in the commission:

The stony mass is not a planet or an asteroid, but a colossal creature that appears lifeless. Broken ribs curve over the creature’s mossy spine, and the air crackles with decaying magic.

Among the bones is the wreck of a large galleon broken into three large pieces: the rear castle, nestled in the corpse’s hip bones; the starboard section, embedded in the ribcage; and the bow, stabbed into the hearts of the creatures.

To make this description make visual sense to the player, Baerald created an elevation view that details in broad strokes the location of each part of the ship in relation to the others. You can see it on the right side of the map above. But each piece itself rests against and, in some places, inside the dead god in a different way. So each of the three pieces of the galleon has its own cross section for clarity.

These are the kinds of details that add immersion to an already excellent campaign. They also increase the value of the digital version of the game, available exclusively on D&D Beyond. With it, you have access to a high-resolution version of the map – a 61.6 megabyte JPG file, rendered at 72 pixels per inch. There is enough detail that the texture of Baerald’s individual watercolor brushstrokes helps enhance the experience. All you have to do is print it at the local photocopier.

Of course, you can also support Baerald directly through his website, which includes a link to where you can purchase more of his work online. This includes maps from the recent Planescape and Dragonlance reboots.

While Baerald’s color maps Vecna: the eve of ruin are real essentials, the work of the Dyson Logos cartographer is much more abundant and no less complex. My favorite comes from chapter four, “The Ruined Colossus.” It depicts a massive bipedal war machine, as large as anything from the world of Warhammer 40,000, trapped entirely within a mountain. To emphasize the adventure’s goals, there’s even a delicate flow of brain fluids that flows in rivulets throughout the structure – like bread crumbs left behind by wayward children.

Vecna: The Eve of Ruin, D&D

Logos uses cheerful arrows to show how the different segments of the colossus are connected, and it also includes an elevation view to help the characters orient themselves. Although its resolution is not as high as Baerald’s, it can still be printed directly from the files in the digital version.

You can find more of Logos’ work on his website where many other cards are available for download. He also runs a Patreon where you can support his work and purchase additional card bundles.

Of course, if you’re not interested in spending the money to print copies of these cards yourself, most of the important ones are printed on a double-sided poster in the back of the physical book. The problem is that only one of them is large enough to accommodate miniatures. The rest is printed much smaller. Meanwhile, Beadle & Grimm’s is working on a lavish box set that should include most, if not all, of the best, as well as plenty of other ephemera. Just watch out for the $509 price tag – and the fact that it won’t ship until August.

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