From the depths of antiquity, he arises. . . . Trapped in a mockery of his former kingdom, he broods. . . . In hatred and spite against the one who betrayed him, he schemes. . . . The other lords of Ravenloft
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may possess horrific power. . . but Vecna is god. Trapped by the Mists of Ravenloft, the lich lord Vecna plots his escape and revenge against Kas the Destroyer, his traitorous former lieutenant. Vecna Reborn takes brave heroes into the dark, oppressed domain of Tor Gorak, where Kas whips his subjects into submission to serve in his never-ending war against Vecna and Cavitius, a realm in the grip of ancient magic and malevolent undeath. The heroes must struggle to stop arcane rituals, insane cultists, and monstrous abominations form granting Vecna Reborn presents a terrifying tale of betrayal, madness, and sorcery that may tear apart the Demiplane of Dread itself.
'Vecna Reborn' (1998), by Monte Cook, is the second adventure in the Vecna trilogy. It was published in August 1998.
Origins (I): The Story of Vecna. Throughout the '70s and '80s, Vecna was one of the best-known names in D&D lore, but that was solely due to his eponymous artifacts. Vecna only became an actual character with the publication of WGA4: Vecna Lives! (1991), which upgraded Vecna from evil spirit to demigod and which recorded the story of his offense against the Circle of Eight and his cult's plans for Greyhawk. The most likely end of that adventure involves the players pushing Vecna through a gate to a 'random plane'.
After that, Vecna disappeared throughout the rest of the '90s, until Domains of Dread (1997) revealed his new location: the realm of Ravenloft. 'Vecna Reborn' is not exactly a sequel, as Vecna's boot from Greyhawk in Vecna Lives! may not actually have been the event that caused the creation of the Burning Peaks cluster in Domains of Dread . But, the events are definitely connected chronologically, and it's fun to think of them as connected casually as well, to better solidify the connection between the first two adventures of this loose trilogy.
Origins (II): The Story of Ravenloft. Given Vecna's new home address, it's no surprise that 'Vecna Reborn' is a Ravenloft supplement. Following the metaplot events of 'Requiem: The Grim Harvest' (1996), the setting had entered its third and final phase of major publication, heralded by the new Domains of Dread (1997) rulebook. Though Vecna and Kas had been a part of this new incarnation of Ravenloft from the start, it took a year and a half for Wizards to take advantage of that fact with a full supplement.
They published 'Vecna Reborn' just in time. The third incarnation of Ravenloft only some one other, minor publication, 'Children of the Night: Werebeasts' (1998). After that, Ravenloft became a line of reprints and more generic, horror-themed books, as Wizards began to prune back the extensive product lines that had been one of TSR's major problems in its final days.
Adventure Tropes. As with most Ravenloft adventures, 'Vecna Reborn' is a story-based adventure made of sequential encounters. It features the infiltration of an enemy city trope, not once but twice — though the two cities aren't nearly as unfriendly as some of the other enemy cities that players were infiltrating in the '90s. 'Vecna Reborn' also contains a climatic Ravenloftian moral dilemma , as the players must decide whether to kill an innocent-ish victim to stop the rebirth of Vecna.
Exploring Ravenloft. 'Vecna Reborn' adds considerable detail to the Burning Peaks cluster in Ravenloft, including maps and information for Cavitius, the castle of Citadel Cavitius, Tovag, and the city of Tor Gorak.
NPCs of Note. As the name suggests, 'Vecna Reborn' is a new spotlight for Vecna , revealing his place in Ravenloft and how he's trying to escape through a clever plot of rebirth.
'Vecna Reborn' is also the book that introduces the Serpent to Vecna's lore. The references are very vague in this first appearance. They say that the Serpent is the source of magic and that it talks directly to Vecna. Though some might suspect this voice to be insanity, the Serepent seems to reveal things that Vecna could not know — such as how to escape Ravenloft by speaking the Three Words of Creation Once Spoken .
Kas is the other character of note in 'Vecna Reborn'. Like Vecna, he's a ruler of a domain.
Unlike in the other adventures is the Vecna trilogy, neither Vecna nor Kas should come on stage unless the players do something very, very wrong — which is fitting, as it's a much lower level adventure than its brethren.
Future History. The Vecna trilogy concludes with Die Vecna Die! (2000), which does a better job of tying everything together.
About the Creators. David Cook wrote 'Vecna Lives!', while Monte Cook picked up the writing reins for 'Vecna Reborn'. There's no relationship. 'Vecna Reborn' was written during a year that Monte Cook was mostly focused on his last Planescape products. He'd soon be focusing instead on D&D 3e (2000).
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the depths of antiquity, he arises. . . . Trapped in a mockery of his former kingdom, he broods. . . . In hatred and spite against the one who betrayed him, he schemes. . . . The other lords of (...)