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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.

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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.




 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

But to answer this one: first I don't think pure sandbox is necessarily the best approach to Ravenloft. I ran Ravenloft with a certain amount of freedom of movement, but there were clear adventures to be had, and if there was a sandbox quality it was more contained to the scenario usually (nothing against sandboxes, I love running them, but for Ravenloft it isn't my cup of tea). I do know some people like to run Ravenloft as a sandbox though and I think generally it is probably going to be easier to do if ease of movement between domains is easier, but it certainly wouldn't be impossible to do without a single landmass. Whether it is using islands of terror as a model or an Earthsea version of Ravenloft it would be feasible. However it very much would depend on how they do it. In the classic island of terror model, travel from one island of terror to another was incredibly difficult, and not at all predictable. And how reliably you could count on Vistani would also not be clear. This evolved a lot though over time, so it would depend on how it was handled. Personally I am not saying a lack of sandbox is the reason why I would be wary of having it all be islands of terror.
Sandbox can work to a fine in ravenloft, but imo I think your probably right in that players need a goal in ravenloft moreso than most other settings where one could expect the world to always function with the same set of rules. Doesn't matter if that goal is fighting against a darklord, protecting a village by helping them build a wall, kickstarting a mine to support some construcion, clearing a road to that mine, or whatever. It's fine to have players take a goal & cook up sandbox solutions towards it, but it's tough for the gm to leverage Dark Powers & possibly a darklord to interfere with "lets go that way & just do whatever" in ways that feel interesting & dramatic or tie into the horror themes of a domain. That cottage with the bashed in door & bloodstains on the floor is probably not something players can comfortably stop to fully investigate but ignoring it will obviously become a problem too but without a goal there's no drama/tension to the choice.

To me, it’s much easier to say “The last time we ran CoS bears no relation to this time.” Than to say “Strahds back but let’s just pretend that what your characters did when John ran CoS still matters somehow.”
I's also entirely possible that Strahd looks at them, fixes the adjustments on their armor & says"back again? do a better job this visit" while wandering off laughing :D



So let me ask @Bedrockgames or @QuentinGeorge (or anyone else who want to chime in: a multi-part question:

You are in Barovia. Strahd hasn't sealed the borders. You walk up to the very Western edge of Barovia. What do you see.
I'll start out by saying that I hink the islands work well & would be using them
1614555611617.png
Kartakass is described as foresty so if there I'd say a road a forest or a misty wall.
Invidia I think is similar
Borca also has dales (valleys?)

If it were me GM'ing I'd say that the inbetween bit may or may not be in ravenloft & could instead be a similarly fitting stretch of land or obvious jarring transition into in any sphere at any point in that sphere's timeline. Granted a traveler wouldn't know how long they could stay without voluntarily attempting to go back before the mists snatch them. The attempt at returning may or may not be successful & may or may not influence how much longer one has.
1.) Invidia (or Borca, depending how North/South you are)
2.) A Wall of Mist

Step across the border "out" of Barovia, you are now see

1.) The adjunct domain you wanted to be in
Maybe
2.) A large white wall of fog and mist which obscures all sight.
Maybe
You look behind you, you see
same 3-4 possabilities imo
1.) Barovia, as you left it
maybe
2.) Nothing but Mist and Fog
maybe... Of course the type who wants to figure those kinds of questions out is just the kind of person ravenloft would take pleasure in toying with by giving just enough hope of understanding :D
You arrive at the next domain. You can be reasonably assured you are now in

1.) Eastern Invidia/Borca
Maybe
2.) Whatever domain the Mists decided to drop you into.
Maybe. Other spheres & points on their timelines are possible too
When you left Barovia, it was 12pm (noon) on Monday the 12th of January* (I don't recall if Ravenloft has a unique calendar, it's not discussed in any cannon books to my knowledge). Upon your arrival to your new destination, it is

1.) The same day, roughly the same time and you can account for any time discrepancy by travel time.
2.) The same day, but any random time later (dawn, dusk, midnight) which cannot simply be accounted for by travel time
3.) A completely different time, day or season. (8pm on August 19th).
4.) Different every time you cross the border.
any of the above, especially if doing so can put the screws to someone or serves he interests of instilling horror and/or just enough (but not too much) hope
I'm curious to see how you feel crossing the borders of the core works. Because
If the setting acts like a natural setting, all the answers should be 1. Leave the border from Barovia to Invidia should be like crossing the border of France and Germany or Kentucy to Tennesse. If the answers are mostly 2 or more, then travel between domains isn't much different between core to core neighbors and potentially traveling to any other domains; it's at the whim of DM/Mists and the "core" is merely a suggesiton. If it's the latter, it's not that much different in practice than isolated islands; you step into the Mists with a destination in mind and hope the Mists take you there.
 

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Remathilis

Legend
Realms of Terror Book one page 9: "The time line below is measured on the Barovian calendar. It was the year 351 when Barovia fully entered the Ravenloft demiplane."

The then-current campaign date is set at 735 Barovian Calendar.
Year wise, correct. However, there is no Calendar of Harptos-style "A year is X months, Y days in a week, Z weeks in a year".
 


I'm wondering how many of WotC's primary demographics have even seen a Hammer horror movie. I'm completely onboard with updating the setting to modern sensibilities. I don't expect any vampire movie released in 2021 to be like one released in 1992. Why should I expect Ravenloft to remain unchanged?

To be fair, you need to tweak Strahd very, very little to bring him in line with 2021 vampire movies or a modern zeitgeist. He's basically 'vampire as creepy obsessive stalker guy' already. The centuries-old vampire hanging around fixating on young mortal women and creeping on them relentlessly because THIS TIME she'll see the truth and decide to love him (or he'll get to own her, which is basically the same thing to him).

There's a LOT of Edward from Twilight in him, or vice versa.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
To be fair, you need to tweak Strahd very, very little to bring him in line with 2021 vampire movies or a modern zeitgeist. He's basically 'vampire as creepy obsessive stalker guy' already. The centuries-old vampire hanging around fixating on young mortal women and creeping on them relentlessly because THIS TIME she'll see the truth and decide to love him (or he'll get to own her, which is basically the same thing to him).

There's a LOT of Edward from Twilight in him, or vice versa.
Yeah, the real difference is in whether that’s presented as a positive, a sympathetic negative, or an unambiguous negative.
 

Keep in mind that almost nothing has been written about Farelle--there's a small write-up in the black box, but Jack Karn himself doesn't even get a writeup until the fan-made netbook The Book of Sacrifices (the Book of S series is pretty good). So that being said...

Jack doesn't care about the forest. He's not some sort of eco-warrior. He just hates humans (there are reasons). There may come a time when Farelle is completely deforested, but that hasn't happened yet; the humans are low tech and have simple iron axes, not chainsaws. (Also, there's the chance the Dark Powers would simply cause the trees to regrow quickly, or simply create or steal more forest.)

Jack's curse is threefold: he hates humans but is stuck in human or hybrid form and can't assume his much preferred jackal form for more than a short period of time. If he tries to personally harm a human, he suffers from crippling nausea. And, of course, despite his best efforts, humans breed like tribbles in Farelle and while he sends jackals, wild dogs, and jackalweres (but not wolves or werewolves, whom he also hates) to attack them en masse (which does a lot to keep the number of humans down), the humans are good hunters.

Ah, okay, see the more details I get the more sense this makes once again. This a very different type of presentation than I originally thought

Well, I'm willing to talk at length about any part of Ravenloft you might wish to know about, if you have more questions.

Honestly, it is becoming more and more that I know so little that I wouldn't even know what to ask about, and it seems that you really need those in-depth details to appreciate what is going on in each domain.
 

Honestly, it is becoming more and more that I know so little that I wouldn't even know what to ask about, and it seems that you really need those in-depth details to appreciate what is going on in each domain.
It's not pretty & with blue on black you almost need to highlight it to read a lot of the time but this might help get you started if you want to learn about the domains
 

I am allowed to respond when people respond to me Ruin Explorer. I am not trying to muck up the thread, but it is my favorite setting, of course I am going to have options. I don't ask others to shut up about their opinions. And I invite discussion with people who disagree with me, and only ever push back when it seems folks are not being cordial (and that isn't to be rude, but simply because I don't want to post an impulsive angry response, so my method is to clearly say to the poster: I can't engage you if you are going to post with me this way). I am happy to try to continue engaging with you. If you are going to attack my posting style, I won't be able to do so (at least for a time).

I don't want this to come across as an attack, because you have been very polite, but your posting style is making it incredibly hard to follow your lines of thought.

Like, just a bit ago...posts #815 and #816, you quoted Aldarac, quoting the exact same post both times. Your first post was to say that you weren't talking about that issue, your second post was to give an answer to his question. They are a bit apart, so maybe you came back later, but that could have easily been edited into your first post instead of quoting him again.

And then, posts #817, #818, #819, #820 and #821 were all responses to Aldarac, chopped up from one of his posts? Maybe two? And not only does that make it hard to respond to you (I actually started scrolling past other responses to find all your responses to me so I could reply cohesively) but it makes it incredibly hard to follow that conversation. Because I have to keep going back and seeing not only which post you are responding to, but which part of which post you are responding to. And there was that bit earlier today where you started responding to people, but no quoting them, so I had no idea what the context was for your points.

I'm not trying to say anything like "post our way or else" or something like that. But your posting style is far more erratic than most on this forum, and it is making it more difficult to follow your arguments and make sense of them
 

So let me ask @Bedrockgames or @QuentinGeorge (or anyone else who want to chime in: a multi-part question:

You are in Barovia. Strahd hasn't sealed the borders. You walk up to the very Western edge of Barovia. What do you see.

1.) Invidia (or Borca, depending how North/South you are)
2.) A Wall of Mist

Just to be clear here, I am going to answer these based on my own feelings about how I would like Ravenloft to work, rather than canon (which I think has been a little inconsistent over the years regarding borders):

My answer to this question is if Strahd hasn't sealed the border, I want to see 1. The village should be surrounded by mists, but I want 1, I just think it is more aesthetically pleasing.


Step across the border "out" of Barovia, you are now see

1.) The adjunct domain you wanted to be in
2.) A large white wall of fog and mist which obscures all sight.

I want to see 1 (though the caveat here is the dark powers reserve the right to bring you somewhere else in this case if they desire it)


You look behind you, you see

1.) Barovia, as you left it
2.) Nothing but Mist and Fog

1

You arrive at the next domain. You can be reasonably assured you are now in

1.) Eastern Invidia/Borca
2.) Whatever domain the Mists decided to drop you into.

1

When you left Barovia, it was 12pm (noon) on Monday the 12th of January* (I don't recall if Ravenloft has a unique calendar, it's not discussed in any cannon books to my knowledge). Upon your arrival to your new destination, it is

1.) The same day, roughly the same time and you can account for any time discrepancy by travel time.
2.) The same day, but any random time later (dawn, dusk, midnight) which cannot simply be accounted for by travel time
3.) A completely different time, day or season. (8pm on August 19th).
4.) Different every time you cross the border.
This one is more complicated. One I think it is fair for different domains to have different calendars (the Barovia calendar was the standard by the way, but I don't recall if they used different month names: I ended up making my own months when I ran it).

I would say mostly 1, but I think you can intrude some surrealness here on occasion. For example a domain that experiences time differently I think is okay, but it obviously can get wonky. Mostly I want this sort of thing to be reliable. I am okay with some individual domains being different (i.e. in this domain it is always twilight and the difference is jarring when you cross the border).

I'm curious to see how you feel crossing the borders of the core works. Because
If the setting acts like a natural setting, all the answers should be 1. Leave the border from Barovia to Invidia should be like crossing the border of France and Germany or Kentucy to Tennesse. If the answers are mostly 2 or more, then travel between domains isn't much different between core to core neighbors and potentially traveling to any other domains; it's at the whim of DM/Mists and the "core" is merely a suggesiton. If it's the latter, it's not that much different in practice than isolated islands; you step into the Mists with a destination in mind and hope the Mists take you there.

Like I have said, I think I want a balance of a natural feeling world with the surreal nature of the demi plane. Still I think I don't want to be too disoriented by it, and I think knowing up from down, east from west, is vital to have most of the time, so when it is shaken up, it has an impact. And I just think from a practical standpoint, I find it it a lot easier to have a long term ongoing campaign if I have a core to work with in this manner.
 

Like, just a bit ago...posts #815 and #816, you quoted Aldarac, quoting the exact same post both times. Your first post was to say that you weren't talking about that issue, your second post was to give an answer to his question. They are a bit apart, so maybe you came back later, but that could have easily been edited into your first post instead of quoting him again.

The reason is because I felt he misunderstood what I was saying and I wanted to offer a clarification. Then it occurred to me he raised a question in his post which I felt I should answer. Generally speaking I don't like editing my posts. If I edit, it is usually for correcting a major typo that changes the meaning of the post. Or I put a big bold edit: in it.
 

And then, posts #817, #818, #819, #820 and #821 were all responses to Aldarac, chopped up from one of his posts? Maybe two? And not only does that make it hard to respond to you (I actually started scrolling past other responses to find all your responses to me so I could reply cohesively) but it makes it incredibly hard to follow that conversation. Because I have to keep going back and seeing not only which post you are responding to, but which part of which post you are responding to. And there was that bit earlier today where you started responding to people, but no quoting them, so I had no idea what the context was for your points.

I do appolgize for this. I find it very time consuming to chop up posts like that into individual quotes. I just did it for the post asking questions about borders, and I just don't have the patience for it. I much prefer to answer individual sections one at a time (I also prefer focusing on that idea in the post). Again, if I am confusing you about anything, I am happy to clarify.
 


Remathilis

Legend
Just to be clear here, I am going to answer these based on my own feelings about how I would like Ravenloft to work, rather than canon (which I think has been a little inconsistent over the years regarding borders):
I asked partially because it's been years since I deep-dived into the lore (and thus memory could be a bit... foggy. I'll stop.) I was under the impression that domain borders were clear and crossing them was akin to crossing the county line or any given political border (barring times when the borders of closed or the Mists want to move you elsewhere) but the discussion about the Sea of Sorrows disappearing when you leave Mordent for Valachan really made me question if I remember it correctly or not.

To be honest, they could have fixed the core just as easily as removed it. You only need to make the two seas connect to all the coastal areas (even the ones above Darkon/Below Sithicus), fill the Shadow Rift with a proper landmass domain, and maybe Grand Conjunction a few domains onto/off-of the Core (Sithicus should be gone if Soth isn't there, replace it with Souragne or similar). Give a little more thought to inter-domain things like the calendar, faiths, and technology levels (and perhaps a greater tolerance for fantasy elements like races and magic) and you could have a Core if you wanted it.

But I get the reason they went with what they did. It doesn't create a hierarchy of domains (where a domain like Hal-Akir or Souragne is less prominent than Keening or Forlorn just because they are back in the islands section rather than the core) It allows them to add new ones and it allows DMs to pick the ones that interest them (for example, I found the Borca/Dementieu area dreadfully boring with its human-level Darklords and limited monster encounters; I'd gladly swap them out for a domain like Zherstia or the Shadowborn cluster.)

Ultimately, not having the Core isn't a dealbreaker for me. I plan on having my Ravenloft game move domains regardless of if it is done via Mist, Shadowfell, or mundane borders. They are keeping the main parts of Ravenloft I love, the funky map isn't one of them.
 

I asked partially because it's been years since I deep-dived into the lore (and thus memory could be a bit... foggy. I'll stop.) I was under the impression that domain borders were clear and crossing them was akin to crossing the county line or any given political border (barring times when the borders of closed or the Mists want to move you elsewhere) but the discussion about the Sea of Sorrows disappearing when you leave Mordent for Valachan really made me question if I remember it correctly or not.

To be honest, they could have fixed the core just as easily as removed it. You only need to make the two seas connect to all the coastal areas (even the ones above Darkon/Below Sithicus), fill the Shadow Rift with a proper landmass domain, and maybe Grand Conjunction a few domains onto/off-of the Core (Sithicus should be gone if Soth isn't there, replace it with Souragne or similar). Give a little more thought to inter-domain things like the calendar, faiths, and technology levels (and perhaps a greater tolerance for fantasy elements like races and magic) and you could have a Core if you wanted it.

But I get the reason they went with what they did. It doesn't create a hierarchy of domains (where a domain like Hal-Akir or Souragne is less prominent than Keening or Forlorn just because they are back in the islands section rather than the core) It allows them to add new ones and it allows DMs to pick the ones that interest them (for example, I found the Borca/Dementieu area dreadfully boring with its human-level Darklords and limited monster encounters; I'd gladly swap them out for a domain like Zherstia or the Shadowborn cluster.)

Ultimately, not having the Core isn't a dealbreaker for me. I plan on having my Ravenloft game move domains regardless of if it is done via Mist, Shadowfell, or mundane borders. They are keeping the main parts of Ravenloft I love, the funky map isn't one of them.
Sometimes
1614563945613.png
 

I asked partially because it's been years since I deep-dived into the lore (and thus memory could be a bit... foggy. I'll stop.) I was under the impression that domain borders were clear and crossing them was akin to crossing the county line or any given political border (barring times when the borders of closed or the Mists want to move you elsewhere) but the discussion about the Sea of Sorrows disappearing when you leave Mordent for Valachan really made me question if I remember it correctly or not.

as i recall domain borders are like natural borders most of the time, but the core is surrounded by the mists and the sea of sorrows ends before Valachan (so the Sea doesn't disappear from sight simply because you have crossed a border but because the misty borders to the sea of sorrows begin where Valachan begins.

1614564622248.png
 


Sometimes

Worth noting this stuff did evolve and was sometimes inconsistently applied over time.

This is the description of borders from Domains of Dread:

1614564999608.png


and its section on the mists:

1614565083980.png

1614565102556.png


Consistency has been an interesting issue with Ravenloft even within the same line with a lot of things. One I remember well is the name of the place. There is an adventure in book of Crypts where an NPC says to the party "Welcome to Ravenloft" but in another sourcebook from the time you are specifically told no one actually calls it Ravenloft.
 

I could be wrong but one major difference between the 2E line and the d20 version, is in 2E the core and islands had concrete distances (there was a map key with scale and even though this might have shifted from one version of the core to the next as the line evolved, it was something you could objectively measure. As a I remember it, the d20 version had no distance key, and just took the land to be more amorphous, with travel times varying a great deal. Personally I didn't really like the latter. Possible I am misremembering though
 

I could be wrong but one major difference between the 2E line and the d20 version, is in 2E the core and islands had concrete distances (there was a map key with scale and even though this might have shifted from one version of the core to the next as the line evolved, it was something you could objectively measure. As a I remember it, the d20 version had no distance key, and just took the land to be more amorphous, with travel times varying a great deal. Personally I didn't really like the latter. Possible I am misremembering though
I don't think it does. None of the maps seem to have a key like you noted, this is the closest I could find to a measurement & it's hardly concrete :D
1614566083890.png
 

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