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D&D 2E Let’s Look At The Old Ravenloft Boxed Set!

I pulled this old gem off my shelves and delved inside for the first time in years. Let's take a quick look at the Ravenloft boxed set for AD&D 2E, from way back in 1990!

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It has four big full-colour poster maps!

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And tons of colorful card handouts.

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The back of the cards have tons of useful information. NPCs, maps, charts.

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Poster map of Ravenloft. You can see Barovia just below the centre.

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Some things just work different in Ravenloft.

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Rawr! I'm a monster!

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It's the good old doctor himself!

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Dark gifts....

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey



Alzrius

The EN World kitten
My first introduction to Ravenloft was via the Revised Boxed Set (aka the Red Boxed Set, though I know most people use that term for either Moldvay or Mentzer's Basic Set), which essentially combined the prior Realm of Terror and Forbidden Lore boxed sets into one (though a few things weren't included).

Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I wonder how many complaints we are going to get that the lore of the 30 domains in the new 5E book doesn't end up equaling the amount of lore you got from the 2E boxed set. But yet if anyone then just says "Well, then buy the 2E boxed set on DMs Guild and you can use it to supplement the lore from Van Richten's Guide"... they're gonna say "No! I shouldn't HAVE to!"

Basically complain they aren't getting what they want, without actually doing anything to get what they want. ;)
 

I loved this boxed set. It is where I got my real start GMing. And Ravenloft was the thing that really got me into reading more than anything else. What I like about the content is it gave just enough material to get your imagination going, but left plenty of room for you to invent inside that space (so Ravenloft always felt different from one table to the next). This boxed set was truly well done in my opinion.
 

I wonder how many complaints we are going to get that the lore of the 30 domains in the new 5E book doesn't end up equaling the amount of lore you got from the 2E boxed set. But yet if anyone then just says "Well, then buy the 2E boxed set on DMs Guild and you can use it to supplement the lore from Van Richten's Guide"... they're gonna say "No! I shouldn't HAVE to!"

Basically complain they aren't getting what they want, without actually doing anything to get what they want. ;)

Whether someone wants the new ravenloft is very much a matter of personal taste. Personally I haven't been a big fan of any of the ravenloft material under WOTC (or any of the material under S&S). Just my opinion. I like the classic stuff more, and I feel the 2E rules actually fit the feel better as well (I ran it with d20 for ages and noticed a massive difference when I switched back to 2E for Ravenloft). In my mind, you just can't beat stuff like what they had in the black box, in the original van richten series and in Feast of Goblyns (just an amazing adventure/supplement).
 

Unf, that Stephen Fabian art! So good!

I still have my copy from back in the day, in pretty good condition. The DMing advice on setting the scene and mood was a big part of my progression as a DM. I think it's worth noting that the Ravenloft boxed set came out a year before Vampire: The Masquerade, too.

My original Ravenloft campaign probably owed more to Castlevania than anything else, though by then I was already familiar with a number of gothic lit classics. The campaign ended in a PvP TPK that in hindsight fit the high gothic drama, though at the time everyone was a little salty about it.
 

schneeland

Explorer
...
Basically complain they aren't getting what they want, without actually doing anything to get what they want. ;)
With the constraint that you are limited to English material and all translations are lost in time (and licensing). Admittedly, the amount of Ravenloft material that was e.g. translated to German was also limited (as it was for all settings except for the Realms).
 


GlassJaw

Hero
Yup, it's amazing. Got it on my shelf right next to me. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

The majority of the 2ed Ravenloft stuff is awesome (some oddballs mixed in, but that was par for the course in the 2ed heyday). I sold a good chunk of my collection but kept the Raveloft stuff. The Van Richten Guides are great - SO much content. Maps galore too.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
With the constraint that you are limited to English material and all translations are lost in time (and licensing). Admittedly, the amount of Ravenloft material that was e.g. translated to German was also limited (as it was for all settings except for the Realms).
Well, sure. The English version of both products had to be assumed in order for my good-natured ribbing to make any sense. Obviously if someone could get a non-English version of the 2E boxed set but not of the 5E book, the complaints would make a bit more sense.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Whether someone wants the new ravenloft is very much a matter of personal taste. Personally I haven't been a big fan of any of the ravenloft material under WOTC (or any of the material under S&S). Just my opinion. I like the classic stuff more, and I feel the 2E rules actually fit the feel better as well (I ran it with d20 for ages and noticed a massive difference when I switched back to 2E for Ravenloft). In my mind, you just can't beat stuff like what they had in the black box, in the original van richten series and in Feast of Goblyns (just an amazing adventure/supplement).
I'm with you. I really don't get just how much some people feel like they need a 5E version of any of these older settings, when in truth once it gets printed they're going to find that there was much more in-depth and in-volume amounts of stuff they could get (and probably already own) from the earlier editions when the settings were first produced.

When I ran my 5E Eberron game, I supplemented the hell out of it with all the 3.5 books for the setting and I couldn't even think to not do that. And I have to believe that if/when Greyhawk gets published with a 5E book... people are going to wonder where all the lore went? When the book was unable to match or even come close to all the Greyhawk material that is already out there from the early 80s on.

I still believe that if you want to run a game in an old setting, the only thing you may want from a 5E book of that setting is the game mechanics for certain non-PHB items (although you probably could even build those mechanics for yourself right now without issue). All the other stuff (for lore, world-building and the like) you're much better off just using what you already own. You'll be much happier if you did (especially if the timelines of the setting have advanced over the years, because there's a pretty good chance the 5E book will get plopped down in a period of the timeline you ain't gonna like anyway.)
 

I was 16 at the time and I remember going for like 3 hour train trip mostly to just flip trough contents of this box and chat with a guy I met at convention before, and who was able to buy one (AD&D was really hard to get and expensive in post-communist countries). It was magical! I got my hands on photocopy of the RL first monstrous compendium, and later bought Red Box at the moment I could. I ran absolutely crappy games with it, players dying left and right before getting to third level, but because we didn't knew any better, we were loving it. I remember, that when I tried to spin campaign around leaving Demiplane, one of my players reacted: "No way we are leaving this place! We don't just get to slay monsters here, we get to talk with them first, and that is way better!" One of the better DMing lessons I received over the years!
 


Stormonu

Legend
should also include Forbidden Lore, aka Ravenloft supplement 1.1, with its Tarroka deck and dice.

As I recall, Lord Godfrey, master of Griffon House was perhaps the most pathetic domain lord in all the set.

On the other hand, the Dylynsias (poisoners) and Richelieu (wererats) [if I’m getting the names right] were among the more fascinating.

I never could figure out the origin of Timothy, the riverboat captain. Can anyone explain his gothic origins?
 

Voadam

Legend
I never could figure out the origin of Timothy, the riverboat captain. Can anyone explain his gothic origins?
I think he was just something they came up with, a werewolf with a specific curse tied into the story they created for him.

Some lords were distinct gothic horror analogues turned into Ravenloft D&D, some were D&Disms gothic horrified, and some were just original creations going with the theme. I think he was that last category.

I would love to be shown wrong and find out he was based on an obscure novel though.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'm with you. I really don't get just how much some people feel like they need a 5E version of any of these older settings, when in truth once it gets printed they're going to find that there was much more in-depth and in-volume amounts of stuff they could get (and probably already own) from the earlier editions when the settings were first produced.
Everything is always new to somebody. Not everybody is middle-aged, you know!
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Everything is always new to somebody. Not everybody is middle-aged, you know!
Heh heh, oh sure. But the people who are saying they wanted Greyhawk or Mystara or Spelljammer are the people who already know what Greyhawk and Mystara and Spelljammer are. And they're the ones who are going to complain when the 5E book that eventually comes out doesn't match up to what they thought they wanted back when they were asking for it. ;)
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
As I recall, Lord Godfrey, master of Griffon House was perhaps the most pathetic domain lord in all the set.
I seem to recall that later on (in the 3.5 release, I think) he got powered up a little more. As opposed to, say, Shinpi, the darklord of Rokushima Táiyoo, whose curse was being unable to do anything but watch as his children destroyed the empire he'd built.
I never could figure out the origin of Timothy, the riverboat captain. Can anyone explain his gothic origins?
In terms of him being a copy of a particular archetype, I don't think that Nathan Timothy had one. While his son, Alfred Timothy, was "the wolfman" (in that Alfred loved losing himself to the thrill of the hunt and the vicious dismemberment of his victims, making his darklord curse - that he turns back into his human form if he gives in to his predatory instincts, something he fears his pack finding out about - all the more ironic), Nathan Timothy's desire was simply to indulge his wanderlust and serial killer impulses, something he was still able to do (albeit in a limited fashion) while confined to the Musarde River. If that has a particular gothic inspiration (beyond simply serial killers in general), I'm not sure what it is.
 

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