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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

Keefe the Thief

Adventurer
What is the point of these comments? Is it to belittle people who in the past have had negative stereotypes perpetuated about them in D&D material? Is it to denigrate any company that tries to be more inclusive? I just don't get it.

Also please don't reply with "iT's JuSt A jOkE".

The point is to belittle attempts to be sensitive about specific themes and subjects. You know, like: "don´t think too hard about problematic stuff - let`s rather make jokes about those who try to do anything about them". I had people like that at my gaming table. Briefly. Very briefly.
 

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Sonny

Adventurer
My only complaint so far is that the intro adventure is another haunted house. We already got that with Death House. Surely there are other ways besides haunted houses to introduce people to horror adventures!
The House of Lament is essentially an Expy of Shirly Jackson's Hill House. It's not supposed to be a place where you walk in and start killing specter's.

It's a place that traps your party, then starts mentally and physically tearing them down and threatening them. Generally the only way to escape, is for the house to kill someone.

If the adventure is done properly it will be a good example of how Ravenloft horror is different then the standard D&D horror(which at times functions more as set dressing).
 

It is curious, but the saga Pax by Åsa Larsson, Ingela Korsell and Henrik Jonsson has been translated into Spanish, but I don't find a Enligsh language edition. I wanted to show it as an example of a kid-friendly urban fantasy/supernatural horror where all action is within a town.

Pax.JPG


There is a new video about dark gifts.


I imagine some cursed zones as pocket universe what not only travels about the different dread domains, but sometimes they are in the material plane for certain dates, for example the annyversary of a tragic event or a sun eclipse.

* I don't mind too much the lore because I am totally free to change it in my own stories, but.... the rebooted Ravenloft as multimedia franchise may be a serious challenge for authors. if the metaplot has to be altered, for example a dark lord dies.

* Some players want to play with their own little children a steampunk version of ghostbusters, something not too scary.

* If the new Ravenloft is a reboot, then the future Dark Sun will may be.... and the Pentand Prism saga to be rewritten? I wonder about add elflings like an artififical hybrid race created by the slavers.

If there is also a reboot of the Mask of the Red Death I suggest to use a 100% fictional world, to avoid potential controversies, for example dopplegangers infiltrated in the Sultan's harem, or antagonists as the reverend Henry Kane from Postergeist movies, or the "father" Joshep Seed (Far Cry 5). Maybe in the next year the audence doesn't want more antagonists as the cardenal Richelieu, sick of the abute of the trope of sinnister minister. And selling your own brand is easier if you don't share the lore while fiction based in our real world is "public domain". Don't you remember the mockbuster of Sherlock Holmes, for example?

And it is more thriling if this fantasy world is ruled secretly by supernatural factions, for example lodged controlled by vampires.

* I have thought about a new dark lord, Roberpyort, a revolutionary who killed the royal family to become a worse tyrant. He used his alchemy to create an army of "cyber-werefalcons" to fights against undeads and lycantropes. In his dread domain there are XX century firearms, even machine guns, but the curse is the gunslingers are defeated against beasts and troops with lower tech level...(do you know the story about the failed "war" of the Australian army against a plague emus, or the failed hunt day suffered by Napoleon by farm bunnies?). Let's imagine an army of supersoldiers who would be the nightmare of a Castle Wolfestein player but they can be defeated by monks and hand-to-hand fighters. The modern firearms can't work rightly in that dread domain. And if you can use that noisy weapon to kill, the killer can be haunted by the victim. "the guns are loaded by the devil". (this is an ersazt of the old Vlad Drakov).
 

The House of Lament is essentially an Expy of Shirly Jackson's Hill House. It's not supposed to be a place where you walk in and start killing specter's.

It's a place that traps your party, then starts mentally and physically tearing them down and threatening them. Generally the only way to escape, is for the house to kill someone.

If the adventure is done properly it will be a good example of how Ravenloft horror is different then the standard D&D horror(which at times functions more as set dressing).

The original 2e house of lament was quite a good location. I remember running that, I jazzed it up a bit and added some things. but one of the best adventures we had playing
 

Voadam

Legend
From the amazon description: "Unleash nightmarish monsters from an expanded bestiary,"

The monsters have always been a great part of Ravenloft from the 2e Ravenloft monstrous compendium appendices I, II (II is the one with fleshed out monstrous singular NPCs like the Brain in a Jar), and III to the 3e Denizens of Darkness and the 3.5 Denizens of Dread.

Ravenloft expanded the classic horror monsters with greater versions of undead, variant vampires, age categories for undead, flavorful golems, and lots of horror monster staples. They were great to read about and provided a lot of options for darker D&D.

It is something I hope is given more than a cursory treatment in 5e.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I think @MGibster & @Faolyn are arguing at loggerhead positions.

To me, for Ravenloft to be effective, it needs to be established in session 0 (or whatever session for a "Weekend in Hell") that it isn't using D&D's standard Heroic play. For there to be effective play on fear and terror, there needs to be some changes to playstyle. The players should often feel that the situation isn't in their control and that danger levels can easily be over their head.

What that entails will be different for each group, but what I would likely implement would be based on several of @TheSword 's suggestions.

  • There is no guarantee that encounters will be level appropriate. In fact, in many cases they are more likely to be Deadly or worse.
  • The default state of (monster) lore & (spell & magic item) knowledge is "unknown". Checks to reveal rule information may be more difficult, restricted, incorrect or unavailable.
  • Resource recovery is not automatic. For example, hit dice only refresh in "safe areas" and even in such areas, at a reduced rate (as designated by the DM). Hit point recovery is not automatic, and requires use of Hit Dice. Lingering injuries may be used. Rest times may modified (such as short rest = 1 day, long rest = 1 week, etc.)
  • Fear and terror checks may be used (but should be done sparingly) to convey character apprehension.

The DM can certainly use descriptions to create tension in the players (and I do for my games), but the rules should help the DM establish the mood and aid in creating a somewhat oppressive atmosphere of lingering dread and personal danger. It takes a certain type of mindset to do it effectively, and I wouldn't expect merely using descriptions SHOULD be the only way for DMs to inject a bit of the genre into play.
 
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Raduin711

Adventurer
Literally the first I’ve heard of any of this situation, these people, these characters, or this (now cancelled) show. Are you sure this is really some kind of controversy WotC is worried about rehashing? Is it a controversy if no one knows?
Anyone who would care enough to recognize the cameo would also very likely know about the controversy. And as someone who knew about the controversy before coming into the thread, Hello, I exist. o_O
 

I think @MGibster & @Faolyn are arguing at loggerhead positions.

To me, for Ravenloft to be effective, it needs to be established in session 0 (or whatever session for a "Weekend in Hell") that it isn't using D&D's standard Heroic play. For there to be effective play on fear and terror, there needs to be some changes to playstyle. The players should often feel that the situation isn't in their control and that danger levels can easily be over their head./
Or you could just play Call of Cthulhu.

Because player characters are superheroes is hard coded into the rules. Even more so in 5e than in previous editions.
  • The default state of (monster) lore & (spell & magic item) knowledge is "unknown". Checks to reveal rule information may be more difficult, restricted, incorrect or unavailable.
This is a case in point. Even if you can somehow persuade you players to forget their metagame knowledge (is there anyone on Earth who doesn't know how to deal with a vampire?) then the Monster Hunter ranger has a level 3 ability to automatically learn any monster's strengths and weaknesses just by looking at them.
 

TheSword

Legend
I think @MGibster & @Faolyn are arguing at loggerhead positions.

To me, for Ravenloft to be effective, it needs to be established in session 0 (or whatever session for a "Weekend in Hell") that it isn't using D&D's standard Heroic play. For there to be effective play on fear and terror, there needs to be some changes to playstyle. The players should often feel that the situation isn't in their control and that danger levels can easily be over their head.

What that entails will be different for each group, but what I would likely implement would be based on several of @TheSword 's suggestions.

  • There is no guarantee that encounters will be level appropriate. In fact, in many cases they are more likely to be Deadly or worse.
  • The default state of (monster) lore & (spell & magic item) knowledge is "unknown". Checks to reveal rule information may be more difficult, restricted, incorrect or unavailable.
  • Resource recovery is not automatic. For example, hit dice only refresh in "safe areas" and even in such areas, at a reduced rate (as designated by the DM). Hit point recovery is not automatic, and requires use of Hit Dice. Lingering injuries may be used. Rest times may modified (such as short rest = 1 day, long rest = 1 week, etc.)
  • Fear and terror checks may be used (but should be done sparingly) to convey character apprehension.

The DM can certainly use descriptions to create tension in the players (and I do for my games), but the rules should help the DM establish the mood and aid in creating a somewhat oppressive atmosphere of lingering dread and personal danger. It takes a certain type of mindset to do it effectively, and I wouldn't expect merely using descriptions SHOULD be the only way for DMs to inject a bit of the genre into play.
A few extra thoughts...

I remember seeing something somewhere that a typical adventure has a spread like this.

Encounter 1 = Level-1
Encounter 2 = Level+0
Encounter 3 = Level +1
Encounter 4 = Level +1
Encounter 5 = Level +3 (The BBEG)

Whereas in Ravenloft style games the structure might look like this

Encounter 1 = Level +3 (The BBEG)
Encounter 2 = Level +1
Encounter 3 = Level -1
Encounter 4 = Level +1
Encounter 5 = Level +3 (The BBEG)

I do think that the Dreadlords of Ravenloft are the key NPCs of the setting. I have no problem with the populations being low because the Dreadlords really are the hook that each domain hangs on.

I don’t care about demographics. I think Strahd made a very neat solutions for that by setting the precedent that the population can be a soul husk created by the domain with only proportion of true souls in the world.
 




Jezra Wagner (born 399 BC, died 426 BC)[1] is a spectre that resides on Mt. Baratak in Barovia.[2] Her expedition up the mountain was doomed by an avalanche, leaving her fellow climbers dead and trapping her in a cavern. There she began freezing to death, but seeing the image of her presumed dead brother Giorggio Wagner shortly before her death. She called out for help, but she was not given succor by his image, but rather by a darker power, transforming her into one of the undead.[3]

The menace of Jezra Wagner is not unknown. The Vistani song Regina d'Ghlaccio ("The Ice Queen") describes her awful fate.

---

I suggest some dark lords to become "demilords", and their "island of dread" a "floating demiplane", and this pocket universe sometimes can be closer to the material plane. Let's imagine a group of kenders exploring ruins of a haunted castle in the right time and place. Then they are abducted or sent to a region as Sithicus. This zone wouldn't be the true Sithicus in the demiplane of the dread, but a "clone demiplane". For a short time there is a "opened door" between Sithicus(Ravenloft) and Krynn(material plane), and this may be a double edged sword, because it may be an opportunity to escape but also menaces invading the material world. Usually local deities can se the future menaces with the gift of the prophecy and they agents to avoid it. Sometimes there is a planar gate between the death lands of Arthas (Dark Sun) and Sebua, the dessert dread domain ruled by the mummy Tiyet.

The (adventures in the) dread domains shouldn't be too linked to the darklords, because if Hasbro wants Ravenloft to become a multimedia franchise with their own action-live horror movies then the metaplot could be affected seriously. For example the final girl killing a low-level darklord, for example Maligno, the carionette darklord of Odiare (and I have added the dark talent to use children's bodies to create an army of doll half-golems. The good new is this can be almost totally reversible.

Maligno.JPG


I guess Diamabel, the darklord of Pharazia is an allegory of the falses prophets who fighted against Abu Bark, the first caliph, for the Ridda wars. I would rather to alter the background to be more like an eviler version of Paul Atreides, from Frank Herbert's Dune saga, to avoid potential troubles about politically correctness. And Diamabel's pagan polytheism has to be clear and explicit.

Other idea to add is Ravenloft with its own version of the afterlife, a mixture of Ghostwalk(D&D 3.5), Kult: Lost Divinity and "Wraith: the Olvidion". And also other world as Innistrad, with high-level technology, but firearms totally forbidden for civilians because it a distopian dictatorship, with mad scientifics always openin the wrong planar gate to other worlds tainted by the Far Realm and Lovecraftian creatures. And the most of machine guns start to work wronly within certain "haunted zones".

Some "petitioners" can escape this nightmare realm to go the "classic Ravenloft", but this would become a poisonous gifts. These beings are as "sources" for the monsters, suffering a fate like the mythologic Prometheus' punishment (being killed and eaten by an eagle everyday).

And something like the "ganado", the monsters from Resident Evil 4, a parasite infecting humans for mind-controll, and used by undeads and other creatures for "food-harvesting".
 

MGibster

Legend
To me, for Ravenloft to be effective, it needs to be established in session 0 (or whatever session for a "Weekend in Hell") that it isn't using D&D's standard Heroic play. For there to be effective play on fear and terror, there needs to be some changes to playstyle. The players should often feel that the situation isn't in their control and that danger levels can easily be over their head.
In D&D, the normal expectation is that the player characters are larger-than-life adventurers in a world of high fantasy. I like Ravenloft, it's probably my favorite D&D setting, but if I really want a game of fear and terror I'd pick something else. It's been said that Hammer horror movies served as an inspiration for setting but those movies never particularly scared me as a child. Ravenloft has all the trappings of a horror setting, but it's about as scary as the 1980 movie The Private Eyes. Which is fine, the Haunted Mansion Ride at Disney World might not be particularly scary but it's still a lot of fun. Just like Ravenloft.
 

Game of Thrones is a good example of how horror, tragedy and palace intrigues can be mixed with some piece of (crude) humor.

I was thinking about the relation between the dark powers and the rest of deities. It sounds as a truce, and one don't interfere in the others' domains. But there are at least two gods ready to break that no-agression pact.

One is Vecna, god of the secrets. Not only escaped the demiplane, but also he has got a second target, revenge against the dark powers. I guess he has got a secret plan, but I wouldn't be surprised by the Dark Powers themself faked their defeat and trick Vecna, allowing to become the supreme ruler of the demiplane, as a poisonous gift. If Vecna try to use time travel to change the past, avoiding Strand's curse, the Dark Powers could play the same card sending Kas the vampire to the past when Vecna was only an ordinary mortal. (I suspect the own demiplane of the dread is too special and they allowing alter the History without worries about time paradoxes).

The second god enough powerful and insane to dare to cause troubles in the demiplane is Tharizdun, the elder elemental eye who wants to destroy all the creation, and ready to be used as chess-piece between supernatural factions. But Tharizdun could cause a lot of troubles with his dark gift, the creation of dread elementals (grave, pyre, mist and blood) as weapon against undead and divine spellcasters. These creatures are perfect for videogames where monsters are as animated statues or constructs to avoid possible Chinese censorship about undead creatures

Dark Powers like the "Tantalean punishments" (like Tantalus' one from classic mythology), when they are good things are showed very near, causing a great wish to be got but not allowed to enjoy them. I imagine other worlds from the material plane as potential spin-off, like Gothic Earth from "the Mask of the Red Earth" but fictional (to avoid controversies about colonialism or Africa being invaded by the Europeans, and to avoid others using the same idea because they are public domain characters). These worlds can suffers "visitors" from the demiplane of the dread, refugees most of them, but sometimes some "predators" looking "fresh flesh". The irony is those cities with thousands or even millions of citizens (noir-punk tech level) have got enough ways to defend themself (even if the firearms are forbidden by the distopian dictadorship), or they are controlled by secret supernatural factions who don't like "intruders in the hunt territory".

* Have you imagined the afterlife in the demiplane like Estigia from Wraith: the Oblivion and the Hell/Labyrinth from Hellraiser franchise?

* Would you dare to bet about a Ravenloft-Innistrad crossover? And a crossover between Ravenloft of other no-D&D franchise?



 




Voadam

Legend
There is an adventure in Candlekeep Mysteries that discusses (in passing) the Vistani, Shadowfell, and Dark Powers/Domains of Dread. It's not much, but there is a bit more to give you an idea about the direction they are going in...

Care to spoiler any relevant information?
 

darjr

I crit!
There is an adventure in Candlekeep Mysteries that discusses (in passing) the Vistani, Shadowfell, and Dark Powers/Domains of Dread. It's not much, but there is a bit more to give you an idea about the direction they are going in...
It also includes planar travel.......
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The Vistani have the power—some say gift—to travel through the mists that lead to forlorn realms within the Shadowfell known as the Domains of Dread, where creatures born in darkness dwell. This “gift” was thrust upon them by mysterious entities called the Dark Powers, as a boon for their kindness toward strangers.
They've always had that.
 

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