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Vecna “just the beginning” of iconic villains returning for Dungeons & Dragons’ next narrative phase

The popular RPG increasingly looks beyond the tabletop to inspire its official books.

Screenshot of Vecna from the March 28th D&D Direct stream
Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Dungeons & Dragons ended its March 28th livestream of announcements with a look forward into the next few years of books and official VTT updates for the popular tabletop RPG. Chief among the reveals was the return of Vecna, but the lich-turned-god is apparently just the tip of the evil spear about to be tossed in players’ direction.

Jeremy Crawford and Chris Perkins, two senior creatives at Wizards of the Coast largely associated with D&D’s design, bookended the event by detailing what roleplayers can expect through the rest of the year and into the broad future. Remember that the next iteration of the massively successful tabletop RPG, codenamed OneD&D, is still expected to arrive sometime in 2024. So, much of what Crawford and Perkins shared will apply to that nebulous future ruleset.

Bigby’s Glory of the Giants, releasing sometime in mid-2023, will contain a wealth of knowledge on the towering peoples of the hills, mountains, sea and sky, along with a past and present accounting of their inner struggles. The giants featured heavily in the Storm King’s Thunder campaign, but this sourcebook will lean more towards a supplement and aid for adding giants to homebrew narratives.

Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk will take players back to the ostensible beginning of their relationship with D&D 5E to cash a certain check regarding black obelisks dotting the Forgotten Realms’ myriad landscapes. Closing out 2023 will be an adventure centering on the notorious and/or beloved Deck of Many Things. Crawford said that while the legendary magic item has popped up throughout D&D’s history, this book will be the first and deepest dive into its mysterious origins.

Wizards plans to start 2024 with a bang by publishing an official campaign focused on Vecna, an undead and seemingly immortal force of evil who last cropped up in Stranger Things’ latest season. Crawford and Perkins only said that the “world-hopping adventure” would sow the seeds for D&D’s next phase of storytelling, which might hint at more settings joining the Forgotten Realms. Connected universes are all the rage, from Marvel to Magic: The Gathering. D&D: Honor Among Thieves is positioning the tabletop RPG brand to jump directly onto that bandwagon.

Speaking of, we also received a promise that the Red Wizards of Thay will star as the antagonists of an adventure currently planned for 2025. That villain spotlight will be shortly shared by Venger, the goofy and melodramatic sorcerer from the 1980s D&D cartoon, and the very bluntly named League of Malevolence, who last appeared in The Wilds Beyond the Witchlight.

D&D’s connected worlds plans will likely kick off with the eventual release of Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse, the previously announced guide to the weird planar connective tissue between worlds. Today’s stream didn’t offer any new information regarding the book beyond saying that it will take place in Sigil, the city at the heart of the multiverse. But given the reduced focus on a single world in favour of a massively broad branding push from parent company Hasbro, expect D&D to embrace as many concurrent iterations as fans can swallow - as long as Wizards of the Coast is in control of the property rights.

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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.
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