Expidition to Castle Ravenloft - Spoilers and Answers

Swedish Chef

Explorer
Greetings all.

I received my copy of Expedition to Castle Ravenloft two days ago and have been happily reading through it. I've seen mention in a couple of threads that people are waiting for it to be available for perusal before purchasing. I'd like to help those in need of information.

First, it is a "re-imagining" of I6, basically expanding and updating the original AD&D module. It is not a separate campaign booklet, so fans of the Ravenloft Campaign from 2nd Ed will be a bit disappointed.

The biggest change is that the castle is no longer in its own demi-plane. Mind you, this is not a huge deal. If you want it to be a demi-plane, it is. However, the book gives locations in which the village and castle could be placed in Eberron, Forgotten Realms and d20 Modern.

As well, someone seems to have been watching the George Romero "...of the Dead" films. One of the hooks is a Zombie invasion. Like the films, any character killed by one of these zombies arises as a newly infected zombie within 1d4 rounds. And these zombies are not easy to kill, weighing in at 6HD (42HP), with DR 5/slashing.

Most of the original encounters still exist, just updated to d20 stats. One interesting point is that Ireena is now a Lvl4 Fighter, and not just a damsel in distress.

The village has been fleshed out some more, with more NPCs for the party to interact with.

The biggest item to remain the same is the random generation of relic location via the Tarot reading. Happily, that has been expanded upon, allowing for even greater re-playability (is that even a word?).

As for the combats, that is the biggest change I am getting used to. Every encounter is discussed in the adventure, but it is not fleshed out right away. Instead, it is detailed in a separate section. This is strange to me in that I'm used to the information being right there, but I think it's a good thing in that the amount of information provided for each enounter (stat blocks, background information, scaling information and even miniature deployment on maps) is easily referenced without having to flip pages. Each encounter gets a two page layout for ease of use for the DM.

If you have any other questions, feel free to post them. I will try to answer them throughout the weekend!
 

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Crothian

First Post
How tough is the big bad Vampire? Do they have any special rules ofr the place lit something to make turning less effective?
 

Swedish Chef

Explorer
Strahd weighs in as a CR15. He's a Lvl 10 mage. They have changed him a bit in that he has "performed some rituals to tie him to three sacred sites, increasing his power". This means that the party can drop his CR by 3 points by performing counter-rituals at the three sacred sites. All in all, if the party tries to bypass things and take him out early, they will die messy deaths. If everyone levels up to Level 9 (the max for the adventure), takes out the three sites, they might last long enough to defeat him.

Oh, and he's now got daylight immunity. :]

Edit: Level 10 Necromancer, not mage.
 
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Swedish Chef said:
Strahd weighs in as a CR15. He's a Lvl 10 mage. They have changed him a bit in that he has "performed some rituals to tie him to three sacred sites, increasing his power". This means that the party can drop his CR by 3 points by performing counter-rituals at the three sacred sites.

Do they provide four different stat blocks for Strahd? Or does the book just give rules for modifying the existing stat block, based on which counter-rituals the PCs perform?
 


Swedish Chef

Explorer
Mouseferatu said:
Do they provide four different stat blocks for Strahd? Or does the book just give rules for modifying the existing stat block, based on which counter-rituals the PCs perform?

They provide different stat blocks for his alternate forms, and information on how to modify the main stat block after the party completes a counter-ritual.

Crothian said:
Does each counter ritual do something different to him? Or is doing one as good as doing another?

Each ritual removes 1 CR from him. There are some stat modifications and immunities lost by each ritual. Each one does something slightly different. Cumulatively, they remove 3 from the CR of Strahd.

Edit: Now that I have more time to answer this fully: Each ritual removes specific bonuses and/or immunities from Strahd. For example, completing the Mountain Ritual removes 6 from his AC (dropping it to 21 from 27), and the PC that completes the ritual gains the bonus to his/her AC, as long as they remain in Barovia.
 
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Swedish Chef said:
The biggest change is that the castle is no longer in its own demi-plane. Mind you, this is not a huge deal. If you want it to be a demi-plane, it is. However, the book gives locations in which the village and castle could be placed in Eberron, Forgotten Realms and d20 Modern.

Hardly a big change, since Ravenloft wasn't a separate plane to begin with. That was a later 2E perversion.

So how are the maps? Did we get 3D map goodness? The original I6 had the best maps of any TSR/WOTC product that I can think of, before or since.
 

Swedish Chef

Explorer
Olgar Shiverstone said:
Hardly a big change, since Ravenloft wasn't a separate plane to begin with. That was a later 2E perversion.

So how are the maps? Did we get 3D map goodness? The original I6 had the best maps of any TSR/WOTC product that I can think of, before or since.

The maps are a mixture. There are full colour 3d maps that show the layout of the castle. They look very nice, but they are small (most being 1/3 of the page or smaller). For specific encounters, there are small maps on each page similar to those found in the miniatures game. These maps also include tactical locations of any monsters, furniture, etc.

I am a bit disappointed that the maps are so small. I was hoping for at least a couple of full page maps. There is only one, and that is the one that can be found in the preview on the WotC site.

There are some nice 3d renderings of the exterior of the castle, but again, the pictures are less than 1/3 of a page.

From the looks of things, they tried to save page count by reducing the size of maps. Although I understand the reasoning behind it, it is a bit disappointing. Maybe a future web enhancement will include larger downloadable maps.
 

Swedish Chef said:
From the looks of things, they tried to save page count by reducing the size of maps. Although I understand the reasoning behind it, it is a bit disappointing. Maybe a future web enhancement will include larger downloadable maps.

Disappointing, since the original had six full pages of maps, two in full color.

How is the Fortunes of Ravenloft (the random element for Strahd's motivations, etc) handled?
 

Aeric

First Post
I've never played or even read the original module, but I am thinking of running this for my group. My only concern is Castle Ravenloft. According to the ToC, an entire chapter of the book is dedicated to it. How "dungeony" is it? I don't want to set up this exciting adventure, only to have the last half of it bogged down by the old room-by-room routine all too common in dungeon adventures.
 

What about the other crunch in the module? Did I hear right that there's a prestige class in there? New monsters, spells, and so on?

Do the legacy weapons receive a non-legacy write-up as well?

Is the silly stuff from the first module (punny names, silly locations in the crypts) still there, or was it snipped to create a more even tone?
 


Swedish Chef

Explorer
Olgar Shiverstone said:
Disappointing, since the original had six full pages of maps, two in full color.
How is the Fortunes of Ravenloft (the random element for Strahd's motivations, etc) handled?

The Fortunes of Ravenloft have slightly expanded in that there are a few more locations for the various items to be located, based on the results of the cards. Instructions are provided for using cards from one of three decks - Three Dragon Ante, standard Tarot and standard poker decks. I have not read that section fully, but it looks to be relatively unchanged.

Whizbang Dustyboots said:
What about the other crunch in the module? Did I hear right that there's a prestige class in there? New monsters, spells, and so on?

Do the legacy weapons receive a non-legacy write-up as well?

Is the silly stuff from the first module (punny names, silly locations in the crypts) still there, or was it snipped to create a more even tone?

1) There are two new Prestige Classes, one new spell, two new feats, some new alchemical items, and 23 new magical items (weapons, armour, etc).
2) The weapons are presented in a basic form, but require a ritual to "bond" them to a character. Stats are provided should you wish to use the module without the Legacy rules. Further instructions are available to increase the weapon's powers, should you wish to play with the Legacy rules. Basically, if you're running a short or one night adventure, you ignore the rules. If it's part of an on-going campaign, you can use the Legacy rules.

3) I have not read the whole thing, but skimming through, I do not see any silly stuff. It looks like it was "cleaned up" to allow it to be a more truly "horrifying" adventure.

Klaus said:
Okay, I HAVE to ask:

What are the suggestions to setting this in d20 Modern?

The suggested locale is somewhere in Eastern Europe. It does not get any more specific than that. It does mention that any non-humans in the adventure (halflings, elf lycanthropes) be presented as human, either of shorter stature or more feral appearance.

There is also a side bar for Action Points (Eberron and d20 Modern). Basically, it suggests that when a PC spends an AP, yet still fails the roll, Strahd is gifted with an AP of his own. He starts with 5, and can gain an unlimited amount from the PCs. This only occurs when the PCs are in the Castle proper.

Aeric said:
I've never played or even read the original module, but I am thinking of running this for my group. My only concern is Castle Ravenloft. According to the ToC, an entire chapter of the book is dedicated to it. How "dungeony" is it? I don't want to set up this exciting adventure, only to have the last half of it bogged down by the old room-by-room routine all too common in dungeon adventures.

The Castle is a major feature of the adventure. It is Strahd's stronghold and source of power. He can only be fully destroyed while in the Castle. There is a fair amount of encounters keyed to the castle. However, the overall design is not one of a castle with 1000 rooms. The rooms are large, and many encounter keys are actually several in one area. For example, the main entry encounter is actually keyed to 3 sets of creatures, and possibly a fourth. So, yes, there would be a lot of combat to get through certain areas, but overall, there are not a lot of rooms.

Having said that, my experience with previous incarnations of this adventure tell me that it will be a great adventure. And very, very dangerous for any party that isn't fully prepared.
 

Kunimatyu

First Post
Are there any non-core MM monsters, particularly MM3, MM4, or new monsters in the book, or is it mostly vampires, zombies, mummies, and the like?
 

Felon

First Post
Swedish Chef said:
One interesting point is that Ireena is now a Lvl4 Fighter, and not just a damsel in distress.

Actually, Ireena was a level 4 fighter in the original Ravenloft module as well. and cut a pretty imposing figure in one outstanding illustration.
 

frankthedm

First Post
Kunimatyu said:
Are there any non-core MM monsters, particularly MM3, MM4, or new monsters in the book, or is it mostly vampires, zombies, mummies, and the like?
This is still D&D, wierd monsters are still the specialty. :D

100554.jpg
Very Castlevania feel to those critters.

The original 1E castle had 4 red dragons to char broil those who went in the front door.

Looks like the cover is pretty heavy artistic license. The Elf look is a lot like Dragon Magazine 315.

I wonder if this is what has become of the original ruby necklace Strahd had in 1E.

Wotc has posted the Count’s stats. I’ll see about advance him a touch in a few days. [sblock=---SPOILER--- 3.5 Strahd] Count Strahd von Zarovich CR 15
Male vampire (human) necromancer 10
LE Medium undead (augmented humanoid)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +13, Spot +13
Languages Common, Draconic, Elven, Giant, Infernal

AC 27, touch 15, flat-footed 24; Dodge
hp 70 (10 HD); fast healing 5; DR 10/silver and magic
Immune sunlight; undead immunities
Resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10, positive energy 10, sonic 10; +4 turn resistance; ring of counterspells (dispel magic), nondetection
Fort +6, Ref +11, Will +13
Weakness vampire vulnerabilities (except sunlight)

Speed 30 ft. (6 squares), spider climb 20 ft.
Melee slam +9 (1d6+4 plus energy drain)
Base Atk +5; Grp +9
Atk Options Combat Reflexes, energy drain, magic strike
Special Actions alternate form, blood drain 1d4 Con, children of the night 1/night, dominate (Will DC 18), gaseous form
Combat Gear bead of force, lesser Silent metamagic rod, ring of counterspells
Wizard Spells Prepared (CL 10th; prohibited schools abjuration and illusion):
5th -- cloudkill (DC 20), fell draining lightning bolt (DC 18; creatures that take damage also gain one negative level), mind fog (DC 20), waves of fatigue
4th -- dimension door, enervation (+8 ranged touch), fear (DC 19), enervated scorching ray (+8 ranged touch, +50% damage to living creatures, half damage to unliving), scrying (DC 19)
3rd -- deep slumber (DC 18), fireball (DC 18), haste, fell draining magic missile (creatures that take damage also gain one negative level), ray of exhaustion (+8 ranged touch, DC 18)
2nd -- blindness/deafness (DC 17), false life, fog cloud, scorching ray (+8 ranged touch), see invisibility, spectral hand
1st -- chill touch (+9 melee touch, DC 16), expeditious retreat, mage armor (2), magic missile, ray of enfeeblement (+8 ranged touch), true strike
0 -- detect magic (2), ghost sound (DC 15), message, touch of fatigue (+9 melee touch, DC 15)

Abilities Str 18, Dex 16, Con --, Int 20, Wis 17, Cha 16
SQ create spawn, forest sign, mountain sign, swamp sign
Feats Alertness, Combat Casting*, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Enervate Spell**, Fell Drain**, Improved Energy Drain**, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Positive Energy Resistance**, Scribe Scroll, Spell Drain**
*If you are using the taint rules in Heroes of Horror, replace Combat Casting with the Touch of Taint feat from that book.
**Feats described in Libris Mortis.
Skills Bluff +17, Concentration +16, Diplomacy +7, Disguise +3 (+5 acting), Hide +13, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (arcana) +18, Knowledge (religion) +18, Listen +13, Move Silently +17, Search +13, Sense Motive +17, Spellcraft +20, Spot +13
Possessions combat gear plus ring of protection +2, cloak of resistance +3
Spellbooks See "Strahd's Spellbooks," below.

Fast Healing (Ex) If reduced to 0 hp in combat, Strahd automatically and immediately assumes gaseous form and makes his way toward his crypt (area K86).
Vampire Vulnerabilities As long as the Dayheart remains intact, Strahd suffers no ill effects from sunlight.
Energy Drain (Su) Living creatures hit by Strahd's slam attack gain two negative levels. At the same time, Strahd gains 10 temporary hit points and a +2 bonus on skill checks, ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws for 1 hour. (This bonus derives from his Improved Energy Drain feat.)
Whenever a spellcaster opponent loses a prepared spell due to energy drain, Strahd gains the ability to cast that spell once (as if he had prepared it). The spell's effect is treated as if the original spellcaster had cast it. The spell remains in Strahd's mind for up to 1 hour, and he can keep up to three stolen spells at a time. This ability has no effect on spellcasters who don't prepare spells or on characters who have no spells prepared. (This ability comes from his Spell Drain feat.) If you are using the taint rules in Heroes of Horror, Strahd's energy drain also increases the target's depravity score by 2 points or its corruption and depravity scores by 1 point each (because of his Touch of Taint feat).
Magic Strike (Su) If Strahd hits with his slam attack, the attack is treated as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Alternate Form (Su) See below for Strahd's statistics in his animal forms. In animal form, Strahd cannot use his equipment or cast spells, nor can he use his dominate ability.
Blood Drain (Ex) If you are using the taint rules in Heroes of Horror, Strahd's blood drain also increases the target's corruption score by 2 points (because of his Touch of Taint feat).
Gaseous Form (Su) Strahd's Armor Class in gaseous form is 15 (19 with mage armor active), touch 15, flat-footed 12.
Forest Sign (Su) As a result of his connection to the forests of Barovia, Strahd benefits from a constant nondetection effect on himself and his gear, as the spell (caster level check DC 19). If Strahd's connection to the Forest Fane is severed, Strahd loses this benefit and his CR is reduced by 1.
Mountain Sign (Su) As a result of his connection to the mountains of Barovia, Strahd is surrounded by a field of force armor that grants him a +6 armor bonus to AC. Because it is made of force, this armor protects him against incorporeal attacks and applies when Strahd is in gaseous form. If Strahd's connection to the Mountain Fane is severed, his Armor Class is reduced to 21 and his CR is reduced by 1.
Swamp Sign (Su) As a result of his connection to the swamps of Barovia, Strahd has resistance to acid 10, fire 10, and sonic 10. If his connection to the Swamp Fane is severed, Strahd loses these resistances and his CR is reduced by 1.
When in bat form, Strahd has the following changed statistics:
Bat Form CR 15
LE Diminutive undead (augmented humanoid)

AC 22, touch 16, flat-footed 20
Ref +7

Speed 5 ft. (1 square), fly 40 ft. (good)
Melee --
Grp -12

Abilities Str 1, Dex 15
Skills Disguise +3 (+13 to mimic bat), Hide +24, Move Silently +16
When in dire bat form, Strahd has the following changed statistics:
Dire Bat Form CR 15
LE Large undead (augmented humanoid)

AC 26, touch 15, flat-footed 20
Ref +11

Speed 20 ft. (4 squares), fly 40 ft. (good)
Melee bite +7 (1d8+4 plus energy drain)
Grp +12

Abilities Str 17, Dex 22
Skills Disguise +3 (+13 to mimic dire bat), Hide +12, Move Silently +20
When in dire wolf form, Strahd has the following changed statistics:
Dire Wolf Form CR 15
LE Large undead (augmented humanoid)

AC 20, touch 11, flat-footed 18
Ref +7

Speed 50 ft. (10 squares)
Melee bite +11 (1d8+10 plus energy drain)
Grp +16
Atk Options trip +11

Abilities Str 25, Dex 15
Skills Disguise +3 (+13 to mimic dire wolf), Hide +8, Move Silently +16
Trip (Ex) In dire wolf form, Strahd can attempt to trip an opponent he hits with a bite attack.

Strahd calls himself the "first vampire," but the claim seems unlikely. The details of his story are set down in the Tome of Strahd, with key excerpts presented on page 22. Strahd is a tall man, standing just over 6 feet. His body is lean and hard, and his gaunt face has strong features and prominent cheekbones. His eyes are dark and hypnotic, like deep pools with subtle reflections of red light, but when he is enraged they burn like red-hot coals. His skin is usually pale, but it becomes flushed with each feeding and retains that healthy-looking color for several hours. His elongated and thin fingers have long, sharp nails. His fangs are not obvious unless he wants them to be noticed -- he can speak and even yawn without revealing his true nature. When he attacks, however, the fangs lengthen to protrude from his mouth. Strahd prefers to wear black with touches of white and red. His clothing style is the tailored, layered look common to the nobility.
[sblock=special notes]
SPECIAL STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Strahd differs from standard vampires in a few key respects. He enjoys an unnatural connection with the land of Barovia (see below), which has given him three significant defensive abilities: force armor, energy resistance, and a constant nondetection effect. Strahd has no aversion to garlic or mirrors. Though he can be turned, characters cannot keep him at bay simply by presenting a holy symbol. He can enter any building in Barovia, whether he is invited or not. Finally, the artifact known as the Dayheart (see below) grants Strahd immunity to the destructive effects of sunlight.
In addition to the standard alternate forms assumed by vampires, Strahd can take the shape of a batlike humanoid ("werebat" form) and a bestial humanoid with wolfish characteristics (feral form). These special forms appear in Strahd's statistics block for encounters in which he assumes them.

The Wilderness Fanes: In the countryside of Barovia stand ancient sites of worship. Strahd appropriated three such wilderness fanes located near his castle -- one in the Svalich Woods, one in the swamp to the east, and one high in the mountains. Performing dark rituals at each once-sanctified altar, Strahd bound himself to the land and the land to him, gaining great powers in the bargain. Stripping him of those powers requires visiting each fane and performing specific rituals to sever his connection to the land.

The Dayheart: This massive crystal, fed by dreadful energies, grants vampires linked to it immunity from the effects of sunlight. The Dayheart occupies the highest part of one of the castle's spires. For more information about this artifact, see area 60A in Castle Ravenloft (page 158) and the Appendix.

Legacy Items: Two legendary magic items of great power can overcome many of Strahd's defenses. The Holy Symbol of Ravenkind predates the arrival of Strahd's family in Barovia and is a potent tool against vampires, but has been lost for centuries. The Sunsword, the original model for all sun blades, is the bane of undead. Strahd attempted to have the weapon destroyed, but unknown to him, its blade survives. For more about these two items, and the rituals needed to fully awaken their powers, see the Appendix.
IREENA
Strahd believes that Ireena Kolyana (see page 31) is the reincarnation of Tatyana von Zarovich, wife of Strahd's brother Sergei. Strahd's unrequited love for Tatyana drove him to madness and plunged him over the precipice into irredeemable evil. Having seen Ireena in Barovia, Strahd believes his ancient love has returned to him, and he seeks to claim her. This obsession is the primary motivation for everything he does.

Strahd wants to "win the love" of Ireena, but in the evil manner of a corrupt immortal, such wooing occurs over the course of three visits. He believes that in this way he is "building a relationship." During the first two visits, Strahd lulled Ireena into complacency through domination. He maneuvered her into being alone with him so he could bite her neck and drain some of her blood. He hopes to deliver the last bite during their third meeting, making her his vampire consort.

Strahd never directly attacks Ireena, nor does any creature under his command. However, he had her father, the burgomaster, killed for attempting to interfere in their romantic "destiny." He keeps an eye out for any opportunity to separate Ireena from the PCs, should she join them, then bring her into a new realm of existence. Domination is Strahd's ace in the hole -- ten days remain before the effect ends, though Ireena doesn't realize she is under the vampire's control. Strahd calls upon this advantage only when he deems the time is ripe to bring his bride-to-be into the fold.

[/sblock][sblock=3.5 Strahd Spelbook] The following lists additional spells that Strahd knows in addition to those he has prepared. Feel free to substitute different prepared spells to account for the party's capabilities and weaknesses. If you have access to sources other than the Player's Handbook, particularly Spell Compendium, you can substitute spells from those books for others in Strahd's repertoire.

5th -- cone of cold, hold monster, magic jar, prying eyes, teleport, wall of force.

4th -- animate dead, arcane eye, bestow curse, confusion, contagion, detect scrying, Otiluke's resilient sphere, solid fog.

3rd -- clairaudience/clairvoyance, gentle repose, hold person, slow, stinking cloud, vampiric touch, wind wall.

2nd -- bull's strength, cat's grace, command undead, darkness, detect thoughts, glitterdust, gust of wind, Melf's acid arrow, see invisibility, Tasha's hideous laughter, touch of idiocy, web.

1st -- burning hands, cause fear, charm person, comprehend languages, identify, obscuring mist, shocking grasp, sleep, unseen servant.

0 -- all except abjuration and illusion[/sblock][/sblock]
 
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Joël of the FoS

First Post
*lol* well I guess it's the same drawer as when Strahd made the cover of Dragon magazine. In "I, Strahd", or elsewhere, it was said that he had slightly pointed elfin hears, for a human.

This is slightly exagerated :)

Doesn't he look like Fabio? :D

But I prefer this to the dead look on the cover.

And overall, I prefer the way he looked before - in his late 40's, mature and mean.

Joël
 

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