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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.

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.




 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Faolyn

Hero
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.
I suggest going through some of the Netbooks I linked, and the Quoth the Raven netzines. Unless you have some money going spare, in which case I suggest the actual books. Especially the Van Richten Guides, which are good reads and can work in any setting. The final one, Van Richten's Guide to the Mists, was released legally for free because S&S lost the license before they could publish it. No art, and it's "written" by the Foxgrove-Weathermay twins who are not my favorite people in the setting, but it's a decent book anyway. And free! (I put the Mistlings from there to really good use one session.)

The main thing about the setting is that--as is emphasized in the Van Richten's books--each creature is very much a unique individual, and who they were before they became a monster informs so much of what they're like as monsters. There is no Hobgoblin Cleric #3 in Ravenloft.

Edit: Updated QtR link.
 
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The main thing about the setting is that--as is emphasized in the Van Richten's books--each creature is very much a unique individual, and who they were before they became a monster informs so much of what they're like as monsters. There is no Hobgoblin Cleric #3 in Ravenloft.

And related to this, one thing that the various RL lines have NOT always sufficiently emphasised is that this affects how the game is played. A Ravenloft game played in the spirit of what I see as the 'flavour bibles' of the setting - Van Richten's guides, and the Gazetteers - is going to be slow and investigative and combat-light by the standards of most D&D games. The combats that do occur will likely be more dangerous and higher-CR in comparison to the PCS (no curbstomping orc warbands at 7th level, like my SKT party is in the process of doing currently), and running away will sometimes be necessary.

If you're using a model where advancement is keyed purely to killing monsters in combat, leveling in RL is going to be slooooow. Story XP awards are pretty much a necessity (as well as players buying into the whole concept and feel of the game).

And this also ties into why i prefer the RL-as-living-world implementation, rather than a reductive, small-domain model where everything is tightly tied to the Darklord, like CoS gave us. It gives PCs lesser threats to handle and genuinely eliminate as they advance through the levels, without everything just being a facet of one overarching bad guy pulling all the strings (which let's face it, doesn't make a lot of sense in Lamordia or Mordent, or Nova Vaasa, or Paridon). Maybe they eventually face a Darklord, maybe they don't, but they do get a chance to hopefully make a difference to some people in the meantime - and it rubs in that evil and horror is everywhere and in everyone, not just sprouting from Strahd or whoever.
 

Aldarc

Legend
And this also ties into why i prefer the RL-as-living-world implementation, rather than a reductive, small-domain model where everything is tightly tied to the Darklord, like CoS gave us. It gives PCs lesser threats to handle and genuinely eliminate as they advance through the levels, without everything just being a facet of one overarching bad guy pulling all the strings (which let's face it, doesn't make a lot of sense in Lamordia or Mordent, or Nova Vaasa, or Paridon). Maybe they eventually face a Darklord, maybe they don't, but they do get a chance to hopefully make a difference to some people in the meantime - and it rubs in that evil and horror is everywhere and in everyone, not just sprouting from Strahd or whoever.
Here, I think that there will obviously be a difference of tone and play options between an adventure focusing on "All About Strahd" and a non-AP campaign for "My Adventures in Barovia."
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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
That is a fun idea, but I think I would enjoy that sort of thing exactly once, and then only if there is then a way out of the loop, and an actual final conclusion with consequences that aren't effectively erased later because "there has to be a dreadlord of Borovia".

The whole thing doesn't even make sense, to me. If Borovia is a Dread Domain because Strahd needs to be punished, it is nonsensical for the consequence of his death to be...someone else becomes the dread lord....dark lord? whatever.

The whole adventure is pointless if there is no possible ending wherein the people of Barovia aren't saved.
 

Aldarc

Legend
@doctorbadwolf, I think that plays into what gives Ravenloft a bit of a theme park feel for me. The drama of the various Dark Lords mostly repeats itself artificially as a result of the Dark Powers' machinations. The adventure happens and then the "ride" resets for the next group of attendees. Alternatively go to a different domain (e.g., Frontier Land, Adventure Land, Tomorrow Land, Fantasy Land, etc.) for a different "ride" or set of "rides." Occasionally new rides or theme park areas are added or removed, but the pattern continues.
 

a reductive, small-domain model where everything is tightly tied to the Darklord, like CoS gave us.
There is no reason you have to run CoS as "all about Strahd". There is plenty going on in Barovia, and plenty of room to add more. You could easily turn CoS into a Barovian sandbox adventure and ignore Strahd. He just aint interested in this group of adventurers.
 

The Domains were treated seriously, most of the time, even if the source material wasn't.

Now, Curse of Strahd having a crypt for "Sir Klutz Tripalotsky: He fell on his own sword"--that's corny. And stupid.
Read the original I6 module. It is full of corny jokes of this nature. Indeed I think that one came from there. The Hickmans recognised the inherent silliness of the source material and incorporated it.
 
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Voadam

Legend
There is no reason you have to run CoS as "all about Strahd". There is plenty going on in Barovia, and plenty of room to add more. You could easily turn CoS into a Barovian sandbox adventure and ignore Strahd. He just aint interested in this group of adventurers.

You could say he is currently taking a year to isolate himself for a new magical research project, but you would definitely have to change the basic setup as presented for him not to find out and get involved in playing cat and mouse with PCs at any point as they go through most of the stuff in CoS.

The default is that he is actively looking for dangerous outsider adventurers to pit himself against as his ongoing hobby and he has a network of informants and a connection to most every other element in the adventure. A lot of elements as written also point back to him actively. The default is very much an adventure all about Strahd and designed to support that.
 

You could say he is currently taking a year to isolate himself for a new magical research project, but you would definitely have to change the basic setup as presented for him not to find out and get involved in playing cat and mouse with PCs at any point as they go through most of the stuff in CoS.

The default is that he is actively looking for dangerous outsider adventurers to pit himself against as his ongoing hobby and he has a network of informants and a connection to most every other element in the adventure. A lot of elements as written also point back to him actively. The default is very much an adventure all about Strahd and designed to support that.
Maybe he is catching up on WandaVision?

The simplest way to do it would be for the PCs not to be outsiders. Just a bunch of native Barovians with no knowledge of other lands trying to sort out local problems.

Alternatively, you could use the tarokka. Replace the standard meanings with a bunch of objectives and have the PCs select what they have to do at random. They could relate to individual quests within CoS (and any others you might care to add) or more general things like "perform one good dead" or "kill your dearest friend".
 


M.L. Martin

Adventurer
Sure, its not like he has a history of messing with native Barovian clerics or such. ;)

That usually only happens when the clerics start staking his playthings or running interference against his latest attempt to claim "Tatyana," though. According to the older material (I'm not intimately familiar with CoS), Strahd typically cares little for the Barovians beyond a food source, so long as they don't get in his way.
 


One thing I hope for the book is that it has suggestions for playing RL natives, rather than assuming the party is trapped adventurers from other planes.

What I think would be a great way to go is to provide enough setting material to play natives, but also for them to clearly lay out the different approaches and how to do them (i.e. talk about weekends in hell, talk about long campaigns where players are from other campaign worlds and trying to escape but will be adventuring in ravenloft for a long time, talk about playing natives, etc). It is one of these settings that registered in different ways for different peoples, and a good overview of the different experiences of Ravenloft would probably be very useful to folks just being introduced to it.
 

Faolyn

Hero
The whole thing doesn't even make sense, to me. If Borovia is a Dread Domain because Strahd needs to be punished, it is nonsensical for the consequence of his death to be...someone else becomes the dread lord....dark lord? whatever.
If Strahd dies, completely, then the Dark Powers would likely consider his punishment over. Or, the Dark Powers might just bring him back into unlife somehow. They do that sometimes.

The whole adventure is pointless if there is no possible ending wherein the people of Barovia aren't saved.
Horror doesn't need a happy ending.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Read the original I6 module. It is full of corny jokes of this nature. Indeed I think that one came from there. The Hickmans recognised the inherent silliness of the source material and incorporated it.
Good thing I never read that module then. It would have turned me off Ravenloft completely.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If Strahd dies, completely, then the Dark Powers would likely consider his punishment over. Or, the Dark Powers might just bring him back into unlife somehow. They do that sometimes.
Yes, that is the thing I'm criticizing. Thanks for rewording it, I guess?
Horror doesn't need a happy ending.
I don't care about what horror needs or doesn't need, nor was my post related to happy endings.

A horror story wherein it is known to the audience from the jump that nothing the characters do can ever matter, where there are not multiple possible outcomes, where there is no element that if the characters do everything right they can get out alive and win the day, and the tension lies in seeing what choices lead them further and further away from that possibility, is pointlessly boring.

Why should I give a damn about what happens in literally any Ravenloft game, ever?
 

Faolyn

Hero
Yes, that is the thing I'm criticizing. Thanks for rewording it, I guess?
I guess I don't understand what the criticism is, then.

If Strahd dies, they might find someone more interesting to take his place.

I don't care about what horror needs or doesn't need, nor was my post related to happy endings.
You said "The whole adventure is pointless if there is no possible ending wherein the people of Barovia aren't saved."

If The People Of Barovia are saved, that's a happy ending.

Also, there are small victories. You don't have to save "The People Of Barovia." You can save Farmer Bob from the horror that's going after him--or if not Farmer Bob, then other people who might be affected by the same horror later on.

A horror story wherein it is known to the audience from the jump that nothing the characters do can ever matter, where there are not multiple possible outcomes, where there is no element that if the characters do everything right they can get out alive and win the day, and the tension lies in seeing what choices lead them further and further away from that possibility, is pointlessly boring.

Why should I give a damn about what happens in literally any Ravenloft game, ever?
Because horror is fun? If you don't think that, then it's probably not the setting for you. It's like with Call of Cthulhu. You can't destroy all of the cosmic horror. You probably can't even kill a single shoggoth. You know your character is going to go insane and die. You either enjoy the game for that, or you can just play in a different setting. Either is fine.
 

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