D&D 5E Curse of Strahd 'Revamped' Boxed Collector's Edition

If you're in the market for a revamped (geddit?) edition of Curse of Strahd (which is my favourite of all the D&D adventures so far) in a coffin-shaped box with additional material, you're in luck!

cos_box.png


This boxed set is coming out in October and costs $99.99.

There's a whole bunch of stuff included:
  • Updated softcover of the adventure itself, including errata and presumably some of the other adjustments to Vistani talked about recently.
  • A short 20-book of monsters called Creatures of Horror.
  • Double sided poster map of Barovia and Castle Ravenloft.
  • A Tarokka deck and 8-page booklet.
  • Handouts for players.
  • A dozen 'postcards' from Barovia.
  • A DMs Screen.
Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 7.37.59 PM.png


Updates to the original adventure include errata, minor tweaks, and sections of text which have been identified as problematic regarding the Vistani.

IGN has a video looking inside the box.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
I understand the need for some of the changes with the Vistani. I don't understand why living outside of civilization was bad. That's not the same as uncivilized.

Also the drunken part / scense. These are not all the Vistani, but one group who are stuck in the mists and living in that dreadful world probably had an effect on them. That's why they started to drink. Some of those scenses must have been really funny, a shame they changed them. Maybe a better change would have been to change them to non-vistani bandits and they could have left the drunkenness in.

By the way, ist the Roma being drunkards a real stereotype? I can't imagine that they drink more than the average European.

Also, these are one group of Vistani, but they're the only exposure 5e has to Vistani thus far. Your first encounter with a new group of people defines the baseline, from which later encounters can deviate.

For example, "All Dwarves are All the Same" emerged because Tolkien's 13 dwarves were interchangeable and had rhyming names, with the exception of Thorin, who was alone and different because he was the important one. The 1950s adaptation got rid of all the other dwarves. The 1970s adaptation made all the dwarves look interchangeable and hard to distinguish by sight. The 2010s adaptation made each Dwarf different and memorable in their own way, but at the cost of vastly expanding the early chapters of the book to take up an entire film (and then expanded the roles for Elves and Men later on to make this a trilogy rather than a single film). Likewise, in 2001-onward popular fiction, all Dwarves speak with Scottish accents because John Rhys Davies gave Gimli a Scottish accent and thereby set the standard for modern fantasy fiction depictions of Dwarves.

Early D&D players' first encounter with Drow was during G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King. The scheming, secretive force behind the Giants' alliance set the standard for their understanding of the Dark Elves. But ever since 1988, new fans have always thought of Drow instead as entirely Chaotic Good rebels, yearning to throw off the reputation of their evil kin, carrying standard issue dual scimitars. This speaks to the strength of archetype introduced to new players through Salvadore's writing (and through many cameo appearances in alternative media to TTRPGs).

D&D Orcs weren't usually green. But Warhammer Orks are, and by simile, Warcraft Orcs are. So now D&D Orcs are green, because that's what people expect Orcs to look like.

This box set (and reprinted book) is the first chance for many new players to meet the Vistani. It shouldn't be a racist caricature. This group needs to be representative, because it's going to be seen as representative regardless.
 

Reynard

Legend
Also, these are one group of Vistani, but they're the only exposure 5e has to Vistani thus far. Your first encounter with a new group of people defines the baseline, from which later encounters can deviate.

For example, "All Dwarves are All the Same" emerged because Tolkien's 13 dwarves were interchangeable and had rhyming names, with the exception of Thorin, who was alone and different because he was the important one. The 1950s adaptation got rid of all the other dwarves.

Wait, what?
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Also, these are one group of Vistani, but they're the only exposure 5e has to Vistani thus far. Your first encounter with a new group of people defines the baseline, from which later encounters can deviate.
To be fair, the adventure kind of expects Luvash’s camp to be the second or third group of Vistani the players encounter. By the time they get to Vallaki they should have at least encountered Madam Eva’s camp at Tser pool to get the Tarokka reading, and depending on which hook you use, they may have encountered a Vistani caravan before that who brought them to Barovia in the first place.
 

stadi

Explorer
Also, these are one group of Vistani, but they're the only exposure 5e has to Vistani thus far. Your first encounter with a new group of people defines the baseline, from which later encounters can deviate.

For example, "All Dwarves are All the Same" emerged because Tolkien's 13 dwarves were interchangeable and had rhyming names, with the exception of Thorin, who was alone and different because he was the important one. The 1950s adaptation got rid of all the other dwarves. The 1970s adaptation made all the dwarves look interchangeable and hard to distinguish by sight. The 2010s adaptation made each Dwarf different and memorable in their own way, but at the cost of vastly expanding the early chapters of the book to take up an entire film (and then expanded the roles for Elves and Men later on to make this a trilogy rather than a single film). Likewise, in 2001-onward popular fiction, all Dwarves speak with Scottish accents because John Rhys Davies gave Gimli a Scottish accent and thereby set the standard for modern fantasy fiction depictions of Dwarves.

Early D&D players' first encounter with Drow was during G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King. The scheming, secretive force behind the Giants' alliance set the standard for their understanding of the Dark Elves. But ever since 1988, new fans have always thought of Drow instead as entirely Chaotic Good rebels, yearning to throw off the reputation of their evil kin, carrying standard issue dual scimitars. This speaks to the strength of archetype introduced to new players through Salvadore's writing (and through many cameo appearances in alternative media to TTRPGs).

D&D Orcs weren't usually green. But Warhammer Orks are, and by simile, Warcraft Orcs are. So now D&D Orcs are green, because that's what people expect Orcs to look like.

This box set (and reprinted book) is the first chance for many new players to meet the Vistani. It shouldn't be a racist caricature. This group needs to be representative, because it's going to be seen as representative regardless.

This is great reasoning, I can get bihind this.
 

stadi

Explorer
6 of one, half a dozen of the other, if you ask me. It implies that their own culture doesn’t count as part of civilization.

Maybe I understand this differently. Civilization is the static thing (villages, towns) and outside of civilization are the wanderers who do not want to stay put. Back then (before the modern times) that was probably a conscious choice, not necessarily a good or a bad thing, just a different (like hunters / gatherers vs farmers). So actually, for me that's a synonym to wanderers. Be removing it, they not not take anything away. Being wanderers still means the same. And is still not a negative one in my eyes. But I might be naive here.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Maybe I understand this differently. Civilization is the static thing (villages, towns) and outside of civilization are the wanderers who do not want to stay put. Back then (before the modern times) that was probably a conscious choice, not necessarily a good or a bad thing, just a different (like hunters / gatherers vs farmers). So actually, for me that's a synonym to wanderers. Be removing it, they not not take anything away. Being wanderers still means the same. And is still not a negative one in my eyes. But I might be naive here.
The idea of romani “wanderlust,” traveling out of a desire to stay separate from “civilization” is a romanticized notion, which erases the reality that they are often forced out of “civilization.” It is very rare that people live on the road by choice, and far more common that it is a necessity due to generational poverty and racist policy. And it’s not as if the Vistani don’t have long-term settlements (see the camps at Tser Pool and Vallaki).
 




Windjammer

Adventurer
Your first encounter with a new group of people defines the baseline, from which later encounters can deviate.

Hahaha, this is really funny. I agree with you, when I watch an episode of Star Trek: Next Generation, that's how I set my expectations. The show is framed that way and I adapt my frame of mind accordingly.

In real life, of course, what I've learnt by living on three continents and 10+ countries is something rather different. There, the prudent thing to do is to not let the first group of people you meet (person who hands you house keys, mail man, neighbor, garbage collector) set your understanding of what "the Dutch" or "Californians" really are--a "baseline" stereotype from which "later encounters can deviate." Assuming that isn't so much racist/ethnicist/nationalist (take your pick), it's silly. It takes several months of immersing in a new country to really understand how people tick.

There's a UK publisher who ran a funny series of books called "(such and such nationality) for Xenophobes" that helps you short circuit the process, and instead adjust your initial encounter to broader realities. The books are written tongue-in-cheek, and when I met my wife, I gave her a copy of my EU nationality, and she retaliated by giving me "Americans for Xenophobes." Choice quote: "To many Americans, the fleeting social commitment is the most lasting form of social engagement."

Long story short, I get your point because many gaming tables follow the Star Trek story template: you meet and great (and, optionally, kill) the new monster/fantasy race of the week, then move on to Neighboring Country where people have blue skin and yellow ears, and there they don't have humor and take things literally. But there's no need for RPG campaigning to follow that weak-sauce template. I've made it a point in my own campaigns that the very people of a new group the PCs met are often counter-stereotypical, and that following the Star Trek mindset in that fantasy world is as much of a trap as it's in real life. Not because I think gamers need to be taught lessons in multicultural encounters (sorry, but I use RPGs as silly escapism devices, not pedagogical therapy sessions), but because the emerging stories are a lot more entertaining and challenging for everyone involved.

On that premise, re-writing the Vistani because they set the wrong "base line" when first encountered doesn't so much rectify an audience response: it betrays a pretty cynical understanding of how your readership operates, one that mandates a rewrite so the audience won't engage mistaken impulses. That's incredibly paternal and silly, but then that's what I've expected WotC to grope after when it comes to adjusting their product to current sensitivities. ("Warning label: this content may, in some way and manner we're to lazy to spell out, contain stereotypes of something we can't be bothered to explain, so let's just way there's a vague risk over here and you may wish to exercise caution. Or Something.")
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Long story short, I get your point because many gaming tables follow the Star Trek story template: you meet and great (and, optionally, kill) the new monster/fantasy race of the week, then move on to Neighboring Country where people have blue skin and yellow ears, and there they don't have humor and take things literally.

Chiss and/or Vedalken?

That said, I actually think what WotC is doing is the correct approach, short of writing new content with a myriad of different and complex Vistani cultures and peoples. You can't control how the players/readers/DM are going to react to your content, but you can predict the most common reactions and plan accordingly to usher their reactions towards a more inclusive gamer culture.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
I agree what what what 1950s version? IM Films Based on J. R. R. Tolkien's Novels - IMDb
Wait, what?

Sorry, 1966 version, my bad; misremembered the decade. It's not listed on that IMDB list, and it was a short film with no real animation, only created to maintain a license for later sale. You might notice some odd choices that strangely resemble some of the rejected ideas Tolkien himself came up with during the development of the book (as noted in History of the Hobbit). See the full film below:

 
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Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
To be fair, the adventure kind of expects Luvash’s camp to be the second or third group of Vistani the players encounter. By the time they get to Vallaki they should have at least encountered Madam Eva’s camp at Tser pool to get the Tarokka reading, and depending on which hook you use, they may have encountered a Vistani caravan before that who brought them to Barovia in the first place.

Good points, I had forgotten that. That said, all of these encounters need to be diffused of racist caricature. 5e is the first edition for most players of the game nowadays, so this module in its totality is how they're going to be introduced to Vistani - that's more of the point I was trying to point at, rather than any one particular group in the module.
 

MGibster

Legend
As someone whose family had to move constantly because my father was in the government, I find this a pretty odd definition. (I was in middle school before I ever lived anywhere more than two years and one year was the norm.)

My father was in the military and we also moved very often. But whether we were at Ft. Sam Houston or McGraw Kaserne, we were always in a fixed permanent dwelling within an urban center and moved to another fixed permanent dwelling located within another urban center. I wouldn't describe us as nomads though. But civilization is defined by having a fixed urban center.

Nomadic people have civilizations, too.

At best, it's really lazy writing.

Civilization, at least in this context, is defined by having fixed urban locations. The various nomadic peoples, both past and present, have cultures that are rich, complex, and deserving of respect, but if you don't have a permanent urban settlement you don't have a civilization.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
But civilization is defined by having a fixed urban center.
It literally is not.

You have to go six definitions down to get a single mention of cities.

noun
an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached.
those people or nations that have reached such a state.
any type of culture, society, etc., of a specific place, time, or group: Greek civilization.
the act or process of civilizing, as by bringing out of a savage, uneducated, or unrefined state, or of being civilized: Rome's civilization of barbaric tribes was admirable.
cultural refinement; refinement of thought and cultural appreciation: The letters of Madame de Sévigné reveal her wit and civilization.
cities or populated areas in general, as opposed to unpopulated or wilderness areas: The plane crashed in the jungle, hundreds of miles from civilization.

Dictionary definitions go in order of precedence. The Vistani, and other nomadic people, are civilized by everything but the very last one.

Deciding that "they have to act like us, the dictionary-makers, to count as 'civilized'" is a load of crap. And, as @Charlaquin has pointed out, it's a way of justifying driving out a minority from communities: "Oh, it's OK to drive out the Roma with violence and persecution; they're not civilized."

(Also, I encourage someone to tell a Bedouin they're not civilized. Your next of kin will have a heck of a story to tell.)
 

stadi

Explorer
It literally is not.

You have to go six definitions down to get a single mention of cities.



Dictionary definitions go in order of precedence. The Vistani, and other nomadic people, are civilized by everything but the very last one.

I don't agree. You always have to look at the context. If I tell you: "let's leave civilization for a couple of days", I mean let's leave "cities or populated areas" and go into the "wilderness" and not let's become uncivilized. Just because the first sentence in the dictionary if about being civilized, that's not how you need to understand it all the time.
 

MGibster

Legend
It literally is not.

You have to go six definitions down to get a single mention of cities.

The origin of the word civilization comes from civis (citizen) and civitas (city). And as with any word, I think you need to look at in in context. Have you ever played Sid Meier's Civilization computer games? They game revolves around building cities.

(Also, I encourage someone to tell a Bedouin they're not civilized. Your next of kin will have a heck of a story to tell.)

Honestly I wouldn't call anyone uncivilized as it as a similar connotation as barbarian.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I understand the need for some of the changes with the Vistani. I don't understand why living outside of civilization was bad. That's not the same as uncivilized.

Also the drunken part / scense. These are not all the Vistani, but one group who are stuck in the mists and living in that dreadful world probably had an effect on them. That's why they started to drink. Some of those scenses must have been really funny, a shame they changed them. Maybe a better change would have been to change them to non-vistani bandits and they could have left the drunkenness in.

By the way, ist the Roma being drunkards a real stereotype? I can't imagine that they drink more than the average European.

Well the Vistani in Barovia are the only folks who are free to come and go. They are not stuck there.

As for stereotypes, I don't know. But if I were to switch them with, say, an obviously native-american-inspired ethnic group, I can understand why that would be sensitive given how they would seem to play on negative stereotypes.
 

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