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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!


It has four big full-colour poster maps!


And tons of colorful card handouts.


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


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


Some things just work different in Ravenloft.


Rawr! I'm a monster!


It's the good old doctor himself!


Dark gifts....


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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.
As I think about it, I’m wondering if maybe he’s a “Heart of Darkness” reference, but I don’t know anything about that story besides a sidelong reference to the book in PJ’s King Kong.

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The EN World kitten
As I think about it, I’m wondering if maybe he’s a “Heart of Darkness” reference, but I don’t know anything about that story besides a sidelong reference to the book in PJ’s King Kong.
Unlikely; I read that book years ago, and Nathan Timothy and Kurtz are very different in both circumstances and disposition.

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.
Ivan Dilisnya seems like he was modeled after John Hurt playing Caligula in I, Claudius to me. Agree on your assessment on both fronts there (were rats were fun)

My favorite domain was always Kartakass. That just worked for me in play so much (I think the volume of material in Feast of Goblyns was a big help, but also it just connected to so many of the werewolf movies I was watching at the time). Was also a big fan of Mordent even though the lord wasn't all that compelling (the domain just worked well as a backdrop for adventures). Falkovnia was cool and terrifying but had to be used in the right way. Liked Valachan, Verbrek, Forlorn and Tepest. Lamordia was also a lot of fun as a backdrop. Generally I didn't use the lords all that much (they usually only came up if the players made a point of interacting with them).

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. ;)
I think there's a hope that some setting-specific "crunch" gets translated, and that a 5e setting book for various settings would include setting-specific subclasses, feats, spells, monsters etc.

Also, for settings that have heavy metaplot, like Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance, a metaplot update on the state of the world in a new era is something fans would generally ask for.


Works 60% of the time, every time
I like the old box set.


I think I would like a $400 version more, let's get ol' Matty Lillard on the case!


Moderator Emeritus
Now I am wondering if I still have this down in the game room and if so, if I can adapt the "dark gifts" thing as something to go along with tiefling's infernal legacy.

Aaron L

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.

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.
I think Timothy would have been much better served if he was portrayed as a kind of New England/Lovecraft Country fishing boat captain who was secretly a monstrous fishman hybrid who captured outsiders who wandered into his grasp, slaughtering and eating some, and sacrificing the rest to his alien Gods of the Deep (perhaps a Half Kua-Toa in D&D terms?) in the vein of Obed Marsh and the Deep Ones from The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The recent movie The Lighthouse with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson is the vibe I'm going for (weird, creepy movie that has lots of great moments but ultimately fell apart, IMO.)

He would be pretty famous locally for keeping the townspeople fed by being assured to always haul in a bountiful harvest of fish, even when all the other captains come back with empty nets ("Thar goes ol' Cap'n Timothy; ah kin rem'mber when he single-handed kep' awl o' us fed back durin' the drought o' ought fahve! Shoor is strange how he dun't seem to nevah age none, but ah jus' gess that's b'cuz o' all tha' healthy salt watah ayuh he'ez alwuz breathun'.")

(The thick, mangled Lovecraftian/Kingian phonetic New England hick accent is mandatory.)

He would also always have lots of strange golden trinkets for sale that he "finds" in his travels, which he is happy to sell to all comers for a pittance ("Ah'm a fishahman, not a goldmongah! I jes' peck awl ah these up outta the watah easy as kin be, so ye kin have wun fer jes' fahve peices ah coppah... ") Trinkets that are covered with mysterious alien runes, and give anyone who possesses them weird, hauntingly inviting dreams of casting off their land-bound mortal existence to revel in eternal ecstasy with strange, tentacled beings in the deep dark waters off the coast.

After a while a number of townsfolk gave-in to the dreams of Timothy's golden trinkets and started interbreeding with the denizens of an unholy Kuo-Toa city just off the coast, and now a large segment of the townsfolk are secretly Kuo-Toa Hybrids, who all gather to worship at a strange new church that sprang up in the region called the Esoteric Order of the Magna Mater (Blibdoolpoolp.)

Anyway, that was the story I had thought up for him if I ever used him in a campaign, all ready to go with The Shadow Over Verbrek. It works much better to my mind than the ill-fitting and shoehorned "werewolf ship captain" idea, which I think just doesn't jibe.
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THAT'S IT!!! That's my old boxed set that got lost/stolen/disappeared many years ago... (It's been so long- since the 1990s- I forget why I no longer own it, lol) We got a lot of use out of it- really expanded the scope of our campaign.

I remember having the MC suppliment for it too. I may still have that- the binder all the pages were in was returned to me years ago, and it sits on my bottom shelf.

Aside from the Moldvay boxed sets, this was probably the best, and most used set I ever bought. What a cool expansion to the game it was back then.

I'll have to go haunt E-Bay, and my local game shop, and see if I can get my hands on a used copy. And speaking of which, I'd love to get my hands on Mystara as well. As others have said, The 5E mechanics aren't important here- I want the fluff and lore of the original settings. The crunchy bits can always be converted.

Also have to agree with the sentiment that new edition releases of old favorite settings are often disappointing. Rarely does it resemble the world we adventured in and loved- so much was changed, to update the "official" timeline, or to make it "new and improved!" for the new edition. Perfect example: Dragonlance. 5th age, especially, bore very little resemblance to what I knew and loved about it... The Realms, too- with the "Spellplague" and Shar (attempting to) knocking off Midnight, etc.

But that's fine- I have the OG hardcovers for both (Greyhawk, too), and all the 2nd edition stuff I could get my hands on. Plus, the 3rd ed FR setting, Faiths and Pantheons; and several of the magic and regional expansions- and all the stuff printed in Dragon and Dungeon magazines. I think I got enough material and lore to work with! lol. I've got enough adventures- and adventure starters- to run games for the rest of my life and then some...

And also the Kingdoms of Kalamar setting; Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed setting; and everything I could get my hands on from Swords and Sorcery studios and Necromancer games. The 3 5E core rulebooks give me all the crunch I need to play, and stock whatever worlds I want to put my players through. Being an adult with a life- and somewhat lazy- I'll never sneer at any interesting monster manual expansions, though! I'd love to get the Level Up! MM, if I ever get the chance. (hard cover- I like books, not pdf's)


The EN World kitten
Now where's the Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death boxed set? Was a big fan of that as well. D&D and Ravenloft's Cthulu attempt.
Why, it's right over here (affiliate link). Or did you mean a 5E version? :p

All joking aside, I wish they'd at least re-release the 3E version of the book. What I really would like would be for them to start releasing the Living Death organized play modules as PDFs, since it actually brought the story of Gothic Earth to a proper conclusion, but I know that will probably never happen.


Slumbering in Tsar
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 loved running Feast of Goblyns and introducing my players to Ravenloft. My munchkin players didn't like Ravenloft so much. :LOL:


Everything is always new to somebody. Not everybody is middle-aged, you know!
And to add on top of that, not everyone got Ravenloft stuff when it came out.

I know very little about Ravenloft in that arena, and never really got into it so if I get the Ravenloft stuff for 5e, most of it will be completely new to someone like me.


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
In theory they should be a
I used to own it. Never ran anything using it though. I have no idea what became of it.

Our group all bought different stuff. One player had Darksun, I went for FR and Mystara but mate had the FR boxed set.

Another one had Ravenloft another bought Birthright. After 1999 everyone went their own way.


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. ;)
Complain perhaps. :)

But WotC have name dropped Greyhawk, Mystara and Spelljammer enough through 5E books, videos etc that some newcomers are going to be curious about them.

This is how a much younger version of me discovered Blackmoor, through scattered hints here and there.


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