log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Everything We Know About The Ravenloft Book

Here is a list of everything we know so far about the upcoming Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft.

rav_art.jpg

Art by Paul Scott Canavan​
  • May 18th, 256 pages
  • 30 domains (with 30 villainous darklords)
  • Barovia (Strahd), Dementlieu (twisted fairly tales), Lamordia (flesh golem), Falkovnia (zombies), Kalakeri (Indian folklore, dark rainforests), Valachan (hunting PCs for sport), Lamordia (mad science)
  • NPCs include Esmerelda de’Avenir, Weathermay-Foxgrove twins, traveling detective Alanik Ray.
  • Large section on setting safe boundaries.
  • Dark Gifts are character traits with a cost.
  • College of Spirits (bard storytellers who manipulate spirits of folklore) and Undead Patron (warlock) subclasses.
  • Dhampir, Reborn, and Hexblood lineages.
  • Cultural consultants used.
  • Fresh take on Vistani.
  • 40 pages of monsters. Also nautical monsters in Sea of Sorrows.
  • 20 page adventure called The House of Lament - haunted house, spirits, seances.




 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Remathilis

Legend
As a final note: I hope all the domains that were "X campaign setting, but EVIL" are left on the cutting room floor. Sithicus is already confirmed to be, and I can't see Hazlin (both because a red wizard isn't scary and there are some real homophobic undertones in his origin) coming either. The rest is easy enough to exorcise (Nova Vaasa doesn't really need a link to Faerun, same with Azalin and Oerth) and some are retcons anyway (Meredoth and Mystara, same with Vorostokov and Birthright). Ravenloft doesn't need specific reflections of the other TSR/WotC worlds; let it breathe a bit as its own thing.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

So, changing tracts for a moment.

I hope as part of the revision of Ravenloft is an expansion in racial/lineage diversity. Too many domains were not just human-centric, they were human ONLY. That worked in the 1990's when a.) Ravenloft's PCs were assumed to come from outside the demiplane and b.) they were probably going to be from the six PHB races that more-or-less could pass as human with a clever enough disguise. Unfortunately, this carried over to the "campaign setting" version, and while the other races were playable in theory, in reality unless you were in Darkon it was a liability. I don't see that flying as well in 2021.

Fortunately, there is some indication that the "humans only in practice" model might be shifting. There has been some artwork of a tiefling already (and 4e did have a tiefling-focused domain in Dragon Magazine) and Curse of Strahd didn't inherently penalize any race moreso than any other (every stranger in Barovia was given the same unwelcome treatment, regardless of birth). Further, I don't imagine racial discrimination is going to work post-Orcgate. Lastly, there is no reason why most of those domains couldn't have other races in them (except for the fact several of them are carbon-copies of gothic novel setttings with minimal work done to them).

I'm looking forward to seeing if any non-human-origin Darklords make appearances as well. There isn't a single dwarf, gnome, or dragonborn in the multiverse who was evil enough to warrant a domain? Pshaw!

the point of humans only was to make it less fantasy, more gothic horror
 

Remathilis

Legend
when I have time, will provide lengthier response. But this is horror and is going to draw on dark history to resonate. People will have very different reactions to that. The character of Drakov evolved over the line. Strahd is based on Vlad the impaler too.

Strahd is based on Count Dracula, who Bram Stoker borrowed elements of Vlad Tepes to form. In the century since Stoker, Count Dracula has borrowed more of his origin and identity from Vlad Dracul, culminating in works like FFC's Bram Stoker's Dracula and Dracula Unchained using Vlad the Impaler's life story as the origin for Count Dracula, but that was never an explicit part of Stoker's novel (much like how sunlight harming vampires has more to do with Nosrferatu than the novel).

In short, the link between Strahd and Vlad is weaker than it appears, and it certainly doesn't influence the classic depiction of Strahd in any way.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
when I have time, will provide lengthier response. But this is horror and is going to draw on dark history to resonate. People will have very different reactions to that. The character of Drakov evolved over the line. Strahd is based on Vlad the impaler too.
Strahd is “based on” Vlad Tepes through like at least three layers of abstraction. There’s a big difference between having a villain who’s a reinterpretation of a reinterpretation of a fictional character loosely inspired by a historical figure and having a villain who’s inspired by a combination of two historical figures, one of whom is controversial but has a lot of support, and the other of whom is widely considered one of the most evil people ever to have lived.
 

Y'all really can't see the pontential MINEFIELD associatate with a domain who's a mixture of Vlad Tepes (a controversial and brutal figure, but a still a hero to certain areas of the Slavic world) and Hitler, complete with racial discrimination, super-soldiers, and "branding"?

Seriously, World War Z is a far easier sell than Fascist Utopia. Esp for an "all ages" market they are attempting to reach.
Well, daleks are very thinly disguised Nazis, and Doctor Who is considered suitable for children (although the ghost of Mary Whitehouse wouldn't agree).
 

Remathilis

Legend
Well, daleks are very thinly disguised Nazis, and Doctor Who is considered suitable for children (although the ghost of Mary Whitehouse wouldn't agree).
They're also rubbish-cans with plungers stuck on them, not actual people doing the atrocities. You can get away with a little more when your enemy are shouty pepperpots.

Personally, I thope they are going to set it up where Falkovia is mostly a guerilla war between survivors and zombie hordes. A perpetual war against a foe you can't defeat. It will play up the (literal) inhuman element of their enemies, but also allow for the brutal tactics of the survivors as a reflection of man's cruelty in the face of extinction. It gives the new Drakov an enemy to fight without relying on pointless border wars, and allows her some measure of sympathy (something I could never give the old Drakov). Closers to I am Legend more than 28 Day Later.
 

MGibster

Legend
I hope as part of the revision of Ravenloft is an expansion in racial/lineage diversity. Too many domains were not just human-centric, they were human ONLY. That worked in the 1990's when a.) Ravenloft's PCs were assumed to come from outside the demiplane and b.) they were probably going to be from the six PHB races that more-or-less could pass as human with a clever enough disguise. Unfortunately, this carried over to the "campaign setting" version, and while the other races were playable in theory, in reality unless you were in Darkon it was a liability. I don't see that flying as well in 2021.
I would prefer if Ravenloft were a place where most outsiders felt unwelcome, especially those who look radically different from the general population. Barovia, Darkon, and Valachan are not nice places. I don't want Ravenloft to be like every other setting where everyone gets along. Why bother having different settings at all if they're going to play pretty much like all the other settings?
 

Aldarc

Legend
Yeah, Exandria’s pantheon is Matt Mercer’s take on the 4e pantheon, which takes some liberties, but is actually much closer to 4e canon than Mike Mearls’ version of Nentir Vale he used for Heroes of the Veil.

It could, but dear lord I hope they don’t put her in. I feel like that would be upsetting to both Ravenloft fans and Nentir Vale fans, and possibly even Critical Role fans. She’s just the polar opposite of everything people like about the Raven Queen.
The MToF depiction of the RQ did not seem all that warmly received. I do think that this version disappointed the CR and Nentir Vale fans, as I don't think that it honored what people generally liked about the Raven Queen. But I'm not sure if WotC really has any real grasp of what people liked about 4e or the lore that this edition actually contributed.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Well, daleks are very thinly disguised Nazis, and Doctor Who is considered suitable for children (although the ghost of Mary Whitehouse wouldn't agree).
Having fascist villains isn’t inherently a bad or child-unfriendly thing. In fact, fascists make for pretty convenient villains in simple, good vs. evil narratives because they’re easily identifiable by their uniforms, and they’re unambiguously evil, but as a result of ideology rather than biology.

Where it gets hairy is when you try to use them as morally ambiguous, or worse, sympathetic villains.

At any rate, my understanding of the potential issue with Falkovnia and Drakov isn’t that it would involve depicting fascism, but with associating it with a character who’s based on a real historical figure who is still seen as a hero by many.
 

Closers to I am Legend more than 28 Day Later.

They can go this way if they want to, and there is meta plot to justify it, but it is very far from the original concept IMO (and I think there is a real danger of making realms unnameable when you do that). There is definitely a place for zombies and zombie realms, but it my opinion what happened with Darkon made it almost unusable for me later in the line. I think a better way to go about it is something like you had in the Night of the Walking Dead module.
 

Shardstone

Adventurer
Publisher
Wow! I think this is the first time I've ever disagreed with one of your posts, since I generally just lurk here.

I think the 5E Raven Queen is amazing. She's forgotten what she needs to do to become a god and restore no just her own humanity, but the joy/love/humanity of the Shadar-Kai as well. In order to find it, she uses her shadar-kai to collect tragedies, negative emotions, and terrible memories, knowing that somewhere in there she'll find herself, and therefore her followers, allowing them to enter into the cycle of Reincarnation once more as she ascends to godhood. Its very much a corrupted, almost Buddhist-spin on her old ideas, but one that I think is very, very interesting.

That being said, I don't think she is a dark power either.
In 4e, yeah. She’s the Lawful Neutral* goddess of death, fate, and winter, and she’s very much about maintaining natural cycles. She hates undead and is pretty brutal in exterminating them, but trapping people in their own hell-dimensions definitely doesn’t seem like her thing.

*ok, technically Unaligned because 5e had a 5-alignment system instead of 9 and Lawful Neutral didn’t exist. But she would absolutely be LN in the 9-alignment system, and the table of Dawn War pantheon deities in the 5e DMG backs this up.


Yeah, so that’s the 5e reinterpretation of the Raven Queen. In 5e they rewrote her because her original lore was specific to 4e’s default setting and pretty incompatible with 5e’s sort of meta-cosmology. She isn’t Chaotic Neutral in 5e either though, she’s supposed to be inscrutable and to sit outside the alignment chart. Most 4e fans I know hate the 5e re-interpretation of the Raven Queen, as she’s kind of the opposite of her original incarnation. Instead of a neutral but ultimately necessary force actively working to preserve the natural order of life and death, choice and consequence, summer and winter, she’s become a mysterious interloper who meddles with the souls of the dead for some unspecified purpose.

I could just about see the 5e Raven Queen as a dark power, but I really hope they don’t go that route. The less of that awful rewrite we see published, the better.
 

Strahd is “based on” Vlad Tepes through like at least three layers of abstraction. There’s a big difference between having a villain who’s a reinterpretation of a reinterpretation of a fictional character loosely inspired by a historical figure and having a villain who’s inspired by a combination of two historical figures, one of whom is controversial but has a lot of support, and the other of whom is widely considered one of the most evil people ever to have lived.

It supposed to be a land of evil people though. It makes sense to model them after figures like that. History if filled with terrible people who did terrible things, and I think it is fair for a horror game to find inspiration there.

In terms of Strahd, everyone knew he was based on Dracula and by the time of the black box release at least, the connection to Vlad the Impaler and Dracula was quite well known.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I would prefer if Ravenloft were a place where most outsiders felt unwelcome, especially those who look radically different from the general population. Barovia, Darkon, and Valachan are not nice places. I don't want Ravenloft to be like every other setting where everyone gets along. Why bother having different settings at all if they're going to play pretty much like all the other settings?
You can have xenophobia without it drifting into racism. Just treat all outsiders as unwelcome without calling out their racial heritage (or worse, try to measure it like Outcast rating did) and allow some native other races into the larger or more urban domains. No reason why an elf can't live in Mordent or dwarves live in Nova Vaasa.

And if you think allowing elves in Ravenloft to walk down the street unmolested = pretty much like every other setting, you are so wrong it hurts.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Wow! I think this is the first time I've ever disagreed with one of your posts, since I generally just lurk here.

I think the 5E Raven Queen is amazing. She's forgotten what she needs to do to become a god and restore no just her own humanity, but the joy/love/humanity of the Shadar-Kai as well. In order to find it, she uses her shadar-kai to collect tragedies, negative emotions, and terrible memories, knowing that somewhere in there she'll find herself, and therefore her followers, allowing them to enter into the cycle of Reincarnation once more as she ascends to godhood. Its very much a corrupted, almost Buddhist-spin on her old ideas, but one that I think is very, very interesting.

That being said, I don't think she is a dark power either.
Nothing wrong with liking the re-interpretation, of course. It’s just very much not for me.
 

But D&D is a FANTASY RPG, not a Horror one. You want human's only, go play Call of Cthulhu. Which is why I say Ravenloft is better for Dark Fantasy than True Horror.

The second edition line was very experimental in terms of settings and many of them moved away from fantasy. Ravenloft was an attempt to push D&D to into gothic and classic horror. It was meant for people who were not as enthused about stuff like the Forgotten Realms. Personally, as a kid who grew up watching tons of old horror movies, when I read Knight of the Black rose (which I read because I was a dragon lance fan), I was instantly in love with the setting concept. And I thought it was a good fit for the game, a good direction to go. There was always a tug of war over how much ravenloft should include fantasy elements. I was always in the 'as few fantasy elements as possible' camp.
 

MGibster

Legend
And if you think allowing elves in Ravenloft to walk down the street unmolested = pretty much like every other setting, you are so wrong it hurts.
Am I? I don't recall many other D&D settings where being an elf was a problem. Oh, I suppose it might be a problem is some very specific areas. But in the setting as a whole? If I'm hurting please let me know.
 


Remathilis

Legend
They can go this way if they want to, and there is meta plot to justify it, but it is very far from the original concept IMO (and I think there is a real danger of making realms unnameable when you do that). There is definitely a place for zombies and zombie realms, but it my opinion what happened with Darkon made it almost unusable for me later in the line. I think a better way to go about it is something like you had in the Night of the Walking Dead module.
Ironic, since my next campaign was going to be Darkon between the Requiem and Azalin's return, where there was no Darklord in control and things were spiraling out of control with multiple factions fighting to gain control. It captured everything I wanted from Ravenloft: limited Darklord interference (Azalin was gone, Death had limited reach), a huge area that made some geographical sense, normal D&D races and magic, multiple factions to fight, and an overall sense of gloom that ratcheted up as time worn on.

I guess we are bound to eternally disagree on what the best part of Ravenloft actually is.
 

Y'all really can't see the pontential MINEFIELD associatate with a domain who's a mixture of Vlad Tepes (a controversial and brutal figure, but a still a hero to certain areas of the Slavic world) and Hitler, complete with racial discrimination, super-soldiers, and "branding"?

Seriously, World War Z is a far easier sell than Fascist Utopia. Esp for an "all ages" market they are attempting to reach.

Everyone is going to feel differently about this. It may be safer to not use these kinds of sources as inspiration. I also feel not drawing on real world examples like that for inspiration, leads to less flavor, less potency, and generally just doesn't appeal to me as much. One of the reasons Falkovnia resonated was because it tapped into powerful feelings around historical events. When I first played ravenloft we were a generation whose grandparents fought in the war in question, many of the people at my table, myself included, had family backgrounds where people were affected by the atrocities in question or had to flee them, and we were in a community where these atrocities were dealt with in school (I am trying to answer your question clearly without violating the real world politics rule, so sorry if I have to talk around events). I get that people will have different reactions to that stuff. To me, it had resonance because we were still living in the echo of some of the things it was drawing on. That said it is important to understand Drakov evolved over the course of the line. I do feel some of it got too on the nose toward the end (you could kind of project a wider range of historical figures onto Drakov early on I feel: though I am going largely by memory here). But it is like the other poster said about Daleks. You can invoke that stuff and it will be impactful. In fact I think there is more danger in not invoking it, and in avoiding it entirely. Much better to acknowledge those kinds of real world evils in a setting in my opinion when you are trying to do horror.
 

Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top