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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

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Because it's exactly what you said?


I don't know how much Ravenloft lore you know, but historically, most of the domains are either copies of real places or are made whole-cloth by the Dark Powers. Killing Strahd won't send Barovia back to its original world because there is no original world for it to go back to.

Also, going by the lore, if Barovia is destroyed, there's the possibility that the entire demiplane would be destroyed as well. The Dark Powers aren't going to let that happen.

And finally, the Dark Powers are the ones in who are ultimately in charge, not Strahd.

So let's say your adventuring party decides to kill Strahd, succeeds, and takes over, determined to make Barovia into a better place. They can do that! There are other domains that are actually fairly nice places to live (the political ruler of Mordent is Lawful Good), so Barovia could be changed for the better. Your PCs could make it so that the Barovians no longer huddle in fear of the creatures of the night, that they have access to education and higher technology.

But, what would also happen is that the DPs would assign a new Darklord. If one of the PCs in the party was actually quite evil, it may be that person. Or it might be an NPC like Leo Dilisnya, Jaqueline Montarri, Lyssa von Zorovich, or Ardonk Szerieza--or someone completely different. Whoever became the Darklord would end up changing the horrors of Barovia, but not eliminating them.
You keep explaining the lore I’m criticizing as if I don’t know the lore. I know the lore.

You can’t justify the lore or dismiss criticism of it by citing the lore.

I say, “It’s bad that beating Strahd doesn’t matter because the world is such that it just resets, either bringing him back or replacing him. This makes PC action meaningless.”

Then you say, “You’re wrong because the lore states that if you kill Strahd he will either come back or be replaced, and the land will remain a horror story.”

Yes. I’m aware. That is literally what I’m saying is bad about the setting.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So between another DM my group used to play with and myself, we have run some iteration of Ravenloft three times (House of Strahd, Expedition, CoS). As an easter egg, there is a point where the group was asked to sign Strahd's "guest book" and amongst the names in the book I included the PCs from the previous two play-throughs. I included it as a handout, and each of the players "signed" the guestbook as their current PCs as well, nodding to the fact that perhaps those other times were cannon and the cycle has repeated before.

Of course, those other groups eventually escaped Ravenloft and went back to thier proper worlds and did other things, so to them, Strahd was defeated. But to the next group that wanders into the Mist?
Right, see...as a player I would just completely lose all interest in the story at that point, and it would sour my memories of the other two CoS games as well.

It’s a Dallas dream reveal.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So clearly, @doctorbadwolf, you don't like the setting. That's fine. You don't have to. There are plenty of D&D settings I don't like.

But you not liking it doesn't make it bad. It just means you don't like it.
You’re the one that decided that you needed to tell me my preference was wrong, bud.

I literally said that I’ll never use the setting as written, for these reasons, and will instead use parts of it for worldbuilding, and you jumped at the chance to tell me my preferences were somehow wrong “because lore.” 🤷‍♂️
 

Faolyn

Hero
You’re the one that decided that you needed to tell me my preference was wrong, bud.
No, I was trying to show you how your interpretation was canonically incorrect. Not that your preference was wrong. You say you know the lore, but your understanding of it didn't indicate that at all. Hence my correction.
 

Okay, I am now realizing there is a new feature of the forum where you can't see the quotes of the people who are blocking you. I didn't even realize I was being blocked, but it is the only explanation for this sudden madness where everyone is just speaking into the void and responding to nothing.

I am not a fan of how hard this makes it to follow any sort of conversation.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
No, I was trying to show you how your interpretation was canonically incorrect. Not that your preference was wrong. You say you know the lore, but your understanding of it didn't indicate that at all. Hence my correction.
You didn’t correct anything. You restated lore about how the world works that was literally what I had stated a preference against.
 

Domain lords can die, domains can be destroyed. It is really hard to kill important domain lords, but not impossible. Sometimes a domain is destroyed, or another person could become its new lord (that person doesn't morph into strahd though). It is essentially up to the GM. This hasn't always been consistently handled. The whole being reborn thing after death is when you don't kill them properly for the most part (it is also a horror movie trope). The way I see it, destruction and redemption should always be possible for a lord. It makes for more interesting outcomes.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Okay, I am now realizing there is a new feature of the forum where you can't see the quotes of the people who are blocking you. I didn't even realize I was being blocked, but it is the only explanation for this sudden madness where everyone is just speaking into the void and responding to nothing.

I am not a fan of how hard this makes it to follow any sort of conversation.
This could explain why I’ve been seeing a spike in people saying that the way someone quoting them is making it difficult for them to understand.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Right, see...as a player I would just completely lose all interest in the story at that point, and it would sour my memories of the other two CoS games as well.

It’s a Dallas dream reveal.
As I said, they knew it was a replay, and they were excited to see what the game was like in 5e (and with all the additions). The names were an easter-egg, not a plot-point.
 

Because it's exactly what you said?


I don't know how much Ravenloft lore you know, but historically, most of the domains are either copies of real places or are made whole-cloth by the Dark Powers. Killing Strahd won't send Barovia back to its original world because there is no original world for it to go back to.

Also, going by the lore, if Barovia is destroyed, there's the possibility that the entire demiplane would be destroyed as well. The Dark Powers aren't going to let that happen.

And finally, the Dark Powers are the ones in who are ultimately in charge, not Strahd.

So let's say your adventuring party decides to kill Strahd, succeeds, and takes over, determined to make Barovia into a better place. They can do that! There are other domains that are actually fairly nice places to live (the political ruler of Mordent is Lawful Good), so Barovia could be changed for the better. Your PCs could make it so that the Barovians no longer huddle in fear of the creatures of the night, that they have access to education and higher technology.

But, what would also happen is that the DPs would assign a new Darklord. If one of the PCs in the party was actually quite evil, it may be that person. Or it might be an NPC like Leo Dilisnya, Jaqueline Montarri, Lyssa von Zorovich, or Ardonk Szerieza--or someone completely different. Whoever became the Darklord would end up changing the horrors of Barovia, but not eliminating them.
I've had more than one group do just that & spend several months dacing for the Dark Powers trying to make ravenloft a nicer place only find themselves tickled pink on a later ravenloft game with new PCs when they were made aware of things like the vinyard<>Krezk<>hotspring lightningrail they basically got up & running was still in operation with new problems. I'm suspecting that the new zombie domain will be a fun twist for them. The Crapsack world that loves to use hope just to make the fall for someone that much worse makes for a great way to let players who want to make a meaningful mark on the world to really feel accomplished.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
And I'm sorry, but Hammer was always corny. My parents saw it was corny - it's something we talked about when Hammer stuff came back on the TV in the '90s here. They're in their 70s now. So don't be trying to tell me it wasn't corny at the time, that's revisionist nonsense, I've got people who were actually watching it in cinemas, mate. Parodies maybe not, but they bordered on them at times, again, even for the time.
It all depends on how old you were when you first saw it. Like Doctor Who. If you watch either when you're over 12, it's pure corny. If you watch either when you're under 12, it's amazing stuff. I was wee when I saw the first Hammer Dracula movie and it was terrifying. When I watched it later as an adult I couldn't stop laughing at Christopher Lee as he practically bounced down the stairs during his big entrance. Corny isn't objective, it's subjective. Still love both Who and Hammer, btw.
 

At the same time, I think it is easy to confuse atmosphere and use of horror oriented language (i.e. upping your adjectives and descriptions) for horror. Horror is an emotion, and it is a real challenge to pull off in a game whether it is a one shot or a years long string of adventures. I do think, like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get. After running Ravenloft for years and years, I felt like I got quite good at spotting the opportunities to scare the players, I got better at focusing on picking the right words (rather than lengthy descriptions because I felt like I had to paint the scene and involve all the sense or something), and I figured out more what works and what doesn't.
So you are suggesting that for games not set in Ravenloft the DM tries not to make descriptions atmospheric and emotional, and the monsters not sound scary?!

:unsure: 🤷‍♂️
 

It all depends on how old you were when you first saw it. Like Doctor Who. If you watch either when you're over 12, it's pure corny. If you watch either when you're under 12, it's amazing stuff. I was wee when I saw the first Hammer Dracula movie and it was terrifying. When I watched it later as an adult I couldn't stop laughing at Christopher Lee as he practically bounced down the stairs during his big entrance. Corny isn't objective, it's subjective. Still love both Who and Hammer, btw.
The difference is the Hammer films weren't made for a target audience of under 12s!
 

There are two Barovias, at least in the old canon. One in the demiplane of the dread, and the original from the prime material plane. Here in the second they don't know Strand became a vampire. I would say more things but it would be spoilers from one of the modules about the grand condjuction. But I guess the gods from Barovia(material plane) with the gift of the omen can know what is the future, or possible futures.

* If in the Call of Cthulhu the heroes or investigators save the world, even with their own sacrifice, then it may be a happy end.

* We need some good reason or excuse about how dark powers can cause troubles in some world of the material plane. Do you remember the 2002 horror movie "Deatwatch"? Sometimes I imagine a dread domain with a look of American 50's town, or maybe a East European village for the 20's years. The modern technology would work almost normally, but the machine guns.

* Ravenloft has got its own atmosphere, and we can notice if we compare for example Har'Akir and Kalidnay with the death lands from Athas. It is not only about "the bad big guys rule and the survival is hard", but also a supernatural fight against the fate, against the tragedy, and also a spiritual fight against the ow within darkness.

* Stephen King's the mist shows us some times the menace is not the monsters on the streets but ourself and our stupid actions.

* WotC's goal is to allow different tones in Ravenloft, even softer horror stories for teenage readers.

 

It all depends on how old you were when you first saw it. Like Doctor Who. If you watch either when you're over 12, it's pure corny. If you watch either when you're under 12, it's amazing stuff. I was wee when I saw the first Hammer Dracula movie and it was terrifying. When I watched it later as an adult I couldn't stop laughing at Christopher Lee as he practically bounced down the stairs during his big entrance. Corny isn't objective, it's subjective. Still love both Who and Hammer, btw.
I think we have to assume most people in this equation are over 12, especially as when released the movies had ratings ensuring on adults could watch them!

Who and Hammer both are notable as being sometimes still able to be creepy as hell despite being corny as hell though. Not all the time but some of it. NuWho has an a practically Ravenloft worthy monster with the Weeping Angels too, which were certainly both.
 

Who and Hammer both are notable as being sometimes still able to be creepy as hell despite being corny as hell though. Not all the time but some of it. NuWho has an a practically Ravenloft worthy monster with the Weeping Angels too, which were certainly both.
You are probably a little young to remember The Brain of Mobius and The Horror of Fang Rock (apart from re-runs). I, on the other hand, was 8 at the time... Probably why nothing in Ravenloft seems very frightening now!
 

You are probably a little young to remember The Brain of Mobius and The Horror of Fang Rock (apart from re-runs). I, on the other hand, was 8 at the time... Probably why nothing in Ravenloft seems very frightening now!

I do understand that, but I think it is fair to at least say that Ravenloft tries to be horror. Maybe you think it doesn't succeed, but that doesn't mean they weren't trying to a lot of old school horror vibes.

Horror is just about as hard as comedy, because one misstep and the entire thing turns funny instead. See about half to three-quarters of Steven King movies/shows. They try to be horror, the books are horror, but sometimes it just doesn't translate well from one medium to the next.
 

So you are suggesting that for games not set in Ravenloft the DM tries not to make descriptions atmospheric and emotional, and the monsters not sound scary?!

:unsure: 🤷‍♂️

no

Edit: I was trying to make the point that sometimes you can go overboard with description trying to achieve horror. And to be clear, this is just say own opinion about GMing based on my experience, I don't doubt people get different results doing different things (for example there may be a GM in this thread who has a really great voice like Vincent Price, and I think that person is going to get much different results giving rich involved descriptions than my much more dry delivery). I think this lesson applies to other types of campaigns. For horror things are going to be different because horror is the goal (and in a typical campaign you are not expected to deliver horror every single session: though you will certain still have moments of horror and some campaigns incorporate more horror than others). But the longer I GM, the more I move away from what I call 'writer advice for GMs', where the rules of what make a good description in a book, IMO, don't necessarily translate to good description at the GM chair. I notice that i tend to get bored for explore if GMs deliver long, atmospheric descriptions. So I aim for shorter descriptions and focus more on choosing the perfect word to describe key things
 
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