D&D 5E [Let's Read] DM's Guild Ravenloft Sourcebooks



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Product Type: Adventure

CoS-Required? No, but is written with it in mind

It’s October, and you know what that means: time for some more reviews of fan-made Ravenloft products! I’m happy to say that people are still churning out interesting content for this setting on the Dungeon Master’s Guild!

Our first product is the Dragon’s Breath Tavern, an adventure suited for 4-5 characters of levels 3rd to 5th. It takes place entirely in a tavern located alongside a road, ideally after the PCs had a tough day of journeying and would find such a place a welcome respite. But the tavern and surrounding area is ruled over by Baron Von Larr, a half-dragon who is building an army of werewolves for an even more powerful vampire lord…who is Strahd if this adventure is set in Barovia. The tavern itself has a dark secret, as its entire staff are lycanthropes (wererats or werewolves depending on PC level) and they have an underground complex where they keep captured travelers and a xorn to which they feed silver.

The adventure begins as the PCs end up in a run-down looking town, and the only comfy place to stay is the Dragon’s Breath Tavern, where a raspy-sounding old woman greets them between smokes of tobacco. Inside the tavern there are some other patrons that are mere commoners plus Pritch Redbeard, a dwarven knight wearing magical plate armor who complains loudly about the supposed poor quality of the ale. Pritch’s outburst triggers some boxed text as the Baron himself appears, who settles things by offering to have the finest drinks served, where his gnomish servant brings it out for him. There’s also Sveta, a human woman secretly tasked with assassinating the Baron, and the PCs can play a new minigame (with rules!) known as Demon Dice with the Baron and patrons. The food and drink is poisoned and will give such a condition upon PCs who fail a Constitution save.

You may already be thinking that this sounds a bit more…standard fantasy rather than the dark gothic atmosphere that Curse of Strahd is going for, and you’d be right. Barring the mention of the Baron working for a vampire and the ample number of lycanthropes, the Dragon’s Breath Tavern is more appropriate in your generic fantasy setting than the domain of Barovia.

The real adventure starts when the lycanthrope staff members barricade the doors when the sun sets, and lie about needing to keep safe from dangers outside. The PCs can still leave, although the DM has one last chance to rope them back in by mentioning sounds of screams and violence coming from the tavern as they exit. Pritch will start a fight with a staff member, triggering his lycanthrope transformation and the others will follow suit. And here is the first big flaw: the adventure doesn’t say the total number of lycanthrope staff members at the tavern. We have a waitress and a bartender who is actually not present during this encounter but you don’t find this out in the adventure text until later, so we have at least two. Thankfully the five performers are all normal people being kept hostage by the Baron holding their families under the tavern. Should the PCs overcome the lycanthropes, the performers will fill them in about all this.



The Dragon’s Breath Tavern is split into four general areas. The bar itself holds little more besides another lycanthrope (at least 3) caught in the act of dragging a commoner, an incriminating exchange of letters between Baron Von Larr and Strahd/Not-Strahd, and a locked door leading into the Bowels. The Bowels are the uppermost underground section, being mostly residential areas for the lycanthropes as well as a secret room with treasure and poison vial traps that create a Cloudkill effect when triggered and thus shattered. A pair of mimics shapeshifted into suits of armor guard the bedchambers of the Baron and his gnomish sidekick Mitchy. The old lady from earlier will also be sleeping in her hybrid form, but her old age gives her weaker stats than a typical lycanthrope. Mitchy will try to talk himself out of death by offering to bargain with the PCs on how to work the elevator to the lower levels. PCs who don’t know will need to do guesswork, which can possibly trigger a malfunction and cause a random table of dangerous effects. Mitchy is genuine, as the Baron treats him poorly and he’s grown to resent this.

The Forgotten Tunnel is a short section where the PCs can slip and take bludgeoning damage from bat guano, and fight one or two carrion crawlers (based on PC level) who eat the corpses of murdered guests. The lowest level is the Baron’s Playground, which is a prison and underground arena which Baron Von Larr uses to pit prisoners against each other for his amusement. One of the cells has a xorn which is fed silver by human servants; it hasn’t bothered escaping because it’s happy being fed, and the accumulated “food” contains quite a bit of treasure. The prisoners are mostly Commoners who are useless in a fight, although one of them (Cullen) has scout stats but a broken arm and will try to run for it when he can. PCs who go into the arena will be met with boxed text of the Baron sitting on a throne with a wyrmling white dragon and lycanthrope bodyguard next to him. Sveta and one of the commoners are pitted against each other. The Baron will offer to spare the latter’s life if one of the PCs takes her place to duel Sveta. Sveta will speak in Thieves’ Cant to see if anyone understands her, and will encourage such a character to do a fake-battle to try and move closer to the Baron to kill him.

Now, this sounds like a pretty clever ploy, and one to help reward a Rogue PC who has a language that otherwise won’t be used in Curse of Strahd. Sadly, the adventure enters Cutscene Mode and boxed text when Sveta attempts to attack the baron. This causes her to die from the wyrmling’s breath weapon, no save.

The winner of such a contest is deemed worthy to be infected with lycanthropy, and is sent to a nearby werewolf community to be trained. But something tells me a victorious PC is not going to agree to the deal. Or agree to the lycanthropy, but not the rest of it, that naughty powergamer!

In terms of stats Baron Von Larr is a melee fighter, with a multiattack rapier as his main melee tactic. He can use a breath weapon dealing cold damage, and is predictably immune to cold and vulnerable to fire. The Baron has a pretty low AC of 13, and he has two stat blocks based on party level which really only change his hit points (45 or 65) and skill modifiers. Paradoxically, the adventure mentions he is a White Half-Dragon Veteran, but when compared to the Half-Dragon Veteran stat block it’s clear he is unarmored, uses different weapons, and has different ability scores. So while I don’t think this is a big mark against the book, the adventure could be more clear that Baron Von Larr is very much a stat block all his own and not just “this stat block but with a cold breath weapon.”

The adventure has a variety of endings: a DM who wishes to have a recurring villain can have the Baron or Gleycera escape…wait, who is Gleycera? Ah, it’s Gleyceras, the white dragon wyrmling. This is the only other time it’s mentioned in the text, so I don’t know which version is correct.

PCs gain more experience points the more prisoners they free, including the xorn. It doesn’t say if such a monster will just flee, join the party, or refuse to budge unless a character convinces it otherwise. If he survived, Mitchy the gnome will inherit the tavern. The adventure mentions future hooks such as the vampire sending a representative to check on the Baron, the nearby lycanthropes expecting an arena winner and getting suspicious when one isn’t delivered, or the townsfolk hiring the PCs to hunt down Baron Von Larr if he escaped.

Overall Thoughts: Honestly, I’m not really feeling this adventure. First is the fact that it’s not really suitable for the gothic horror atmosphere of Curse of Strahd. And even then, there are things that bring it down, such as the exact number of lycanthrope wait staff, the vagueness of the xorn’s allegiance regarding the PCs given it’s suggested as a hostage to rescue, Sveta’s inevitable death during Cutscene Mode, and the likely easiness of several encounters due to action economy of potential allies. Taking our standard 4 person party, plus Pritch, Sveta, and perhaps the Xorn, this can tip the odds heavily in the party’s favor.

It’s for these reasons that I can’t recommend the adventure.

Join us next time as we try to cover up a Darklord’s death in Weekend at Strahd’s!
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Sparky McDibben


Product Link

Product Type: Adventure

CoS-Required? No, but is written with it in mind

It’s October, and you know what that means: time for some more reviews of fan-made Ravenloft products! I’m happy to say that people are still churning out interesting content for this setting on the Dungeon Master’s Guild!

Our first product is the Dragon’s Breath Tavern, an adventure suited for 4-5 characters of levels 3rd to 5th. It takes place entirely in a tavern located alongside a road, ideally located after the PCs had a tough day of journeying and would find such a place a welcome respite. But the tavern and surrounding area is ruled over by Baron Von Larr, a half-dragon who is building an army of werewolves for an even more powerful vampire lord…who is Strahd if this adventure is set in Barovia. The tavern itself has a dark secret, as its entire staff are lycanthropes (wererats or werewolves depending on PC level) and they have an underground complex where they keep captured travelers and a xorn to which they feed silver.
Yeah, this reads like someone trying to shoehorn non-Ravenloft content into Ravenloft. Pass. Very interested in Weekend at Strahd's, though!!



Product Link

Product Type: Adventure

CoS-Required? No

When it comes to the DM’s Guild, Oliver Clegg is one of the more prolific creators of Ravenloft material. However, he often veers between more serious works or outright parodies suitable for one-shots. Regardless, his books are nothing if not visually eye-catching.

Weekend at Strahd’s is a one-shot adventure designed for PCs of levels 5 to 10. One of the PCs takes on the role of Strahd who uses either the base vampire stat block or Strahd’s unique one based on what books to which the DM has access. The adventure also makes use of meta-material, from a sample soundtrack which is played for different scenes plus a punch bowl containing a mixture of beverages* someone can drink from in order to gain a benefit on a roll for their character. Additionally, each major scene has Pillars of Adventure, where modifications to the encounter trigger based on whether the DM wants to provide a challenge based on Combat, Exploration, or Social stuff.

*This mechanic is called New Koke, and the group is encouraged to do a mixture of drinks that would result in something downright disgusting.

The adventure starts out in Castle Ravenloft, where the PCs have vanquished the Darklord after an epic quest. Pidlwick II comes in on a small bicycle upon which is perched a miniature piano he’s playing, telling the party that they have two hours to dispose of Strahd’s corpse or else an apocalyptic event known as “the Final Credits” will occur. To make things easier, Pidlwick will offer to sing Axel F to reanimate Strahd’s corpse to make their job easier if each PC gives him their right pinky fingers. When so animated, Strahd cannot speak and can only move around by dancing. In order to get rid of Strahd’s body, the PCs must find five pieces of an artifact known as the Pentaforce scattered throughout Castle Ravenloft. There are 10 possible locations generated by dice rolls. Each such location has its own encounter-specific music, Pillars that impose an additional effect or complication, and a challenge to overcome in order to get the Pentaforce Piece.

Each such location is a reference to a piece of pop culture. For example, the Study holds a group of NPCs from the Village of Barovia plus Stella Wachter whose gathering is known as the Brunch Club. They’re waiting for the vampire’s arrival to let them leave, as they’re being punishment for violating various Barovian laws. The Pentaforce is located in a trapped book in a nearby bookshelf. If a piece is in the Chapel, the PCs will encounter Father Donavich dressed as Saint Elmo and is burning down the place with an alchemical substance. The PCs must fight Donavich (who has angel wings and a fly speed) as well as having to deal with environmental threats from the blazing inferno, and the Pentaforce piece is on the altar.

One of the weirder scenarios is in the Cauldron room, where green hags have captured game designer Jeremy Crawford and are seeking to boil him for brunch. Crawford has a Pentaforce in one of his pockets and will offer to give it to the PCs if they can rescue him. They can fight the hags as usual, but one other way they can conduct a rescue is to do a Dance Off skill challenge (Strahd is expected to participate), and there are meta options where a player who dances in real life will get advantage on rolls. Whoever rolls lowest can slip into the cauldron on a failed Dexterity save, dying instantly.* Another such encounter turns the Heart of Sorrow into a rave, where its lights are pulsing strobes that can cast the Confusion spell, and the Pillars are various traps and defenses the Heart uses to prevent PCs from smashing it open to get the Pentaforce piece contained within it. And the one I find the most amusing involves of Strahd’s consorts, Escher. He recently learned of a concept known as “prom” from a traveler who got sucked into Barovia by the Mists. He wants to experience such a wonderful custom, with Strahd as his date! The PCs have to set up a prom via a variety of skill checks (including having Strahd pass a convincing performance as a dream date) in order for Escher to give them his necklace with a Pentaforce piece in it.

*There’s no mention as to whether or not the adventure ends early if Strahd is the one who meets such an end.

In between Pentaforce challenges, the DM rolls for random encounters after the party collects two and four pieces of the artifact. They’re a small d4 table of pop culture references, such as human veterans hunting for ghosts who will give the PCs their business card in case they find any so they “know who to call.” Only one of the encounters is directly threatening to the PCs, where a group of dancing zombies will attack and eat the characters if they fail to impress them with dance moves.

Once the PCs collect all 5 Pentaforce pieces, they combine into a blinding light, summoning Christopher Perkins who tells the PCs to “hurry things up” as he offers to alter reality to end Strahd once and for all. The first is that he can rewind time before Strahd ever invaded Barovia, or gives a PC a golden stake in which to stake the vampire, causing him to explode into a million pieces. If the PCs pick the alternate timeline ending, Strahd will become a bard in a big-hair band instead of pursuing politics. If he explodes, his spirit will possess a wizard known as Christopher Zarathrustra…who is one of Chris Perkins’ pen names.

Overall Thoughts: This adventure is incredibly subjective for various reasons. First is the fact that the overall challenge and threat levels to the party can vary widely depending on the encounters and pillars used, along with the wide scale in power from 5th to 10th level…and having an honest-to-god Vampire on your team! Quite a bit of encounters don’t have any big threats that can tax the party’s resources, save perhaps the green hags who may form into a covey. The adventure doesn’t say if they do, but with 1 hag per PC one can assume.

Additionally, the other variant value of the module is its humor. I can see some groups laughing it up at all the pop culture references and egging each other on in drinking disgusting beverage mixtures in order to better succeed at tough rolls. But I can see others, myself included, finding the levity falling flat. Personally speaking, when I hear the title “Weekend at Strahd’s,” I’m expecting something closer to the PCs taking on the role of Strahd’s minions trying to keep up appearances so that the other power players in Barovia won’t try to take his place and thus put the PCs out of a job at best, executed at worst. The humor from Weekend at Bernie’s comes from Larry and Richard going to ever-more-ridiculous lengths of tricking people into thinking Bernie is alive, while the mobster hitman responsible for his death slowly goes insane after assassination attempt after assassination attempt fails. In Weekend at Strahd’s, only a few encounters have some kind of negative social consequence for people realizing Strahd is dead, and the whole thing of “collect the Pentaforce pieces or the world will end” feels like an unrelated thing tacked on that has no real place in the fiction.

Or maybe I’m overanalyzing a silly adventure. Humor is, after all, subjective.

Join us next time as we engage in another kind of deception, with a side of intrigue in The Real Housewives of Ravenloft!



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Product Type: Adventure

CoS-Required? Yes

This is a sourcebook dedicated to fleshing out the famous dinner scene at Castle Ravenloft. But with less eating and more catty infighting and drama. Designed for 4-6 PCs of levels 3rd to 11th, it can occur at virtually any time in Curse of Strahd’s plot. The adventure expands Strahd’s dinner date to a social and investigation scenario in Castle Ravenloft, where using the benefit of noblesse oblige the PCs have the ability to learn more about Strahd, Castle Ravenloft, and get involved in a traitorous consort’s plot that can end up with Barovia’s darklord giving them a reward of some kind!

The buildup to the adventure involves one of Strahd’s consorts having revealed sensitive information about the darklord to someone else. Information that Strahd would regard as a great betrayal. The reality of the situation is that the guilty party is doesn’t view what they’re doing is a betrayal. All of the consorts are desperate to please Strahd in constant games of one upmanship, for he is prone to staking and burying consorts he grows bored with in the crypts. As none can truly replace Tatyana as the apple in his eye, the consorts are thus trapped in a never-ending cycle of constant scheming.

Before the adventure begins, the DM must determine which of the consorts is guilty of this inadvertent betrayal. They also have an Accomplice, one of eight NPCs from elsewhere in the Curse of Strahd adventure. Some of them are allies of Strahd, such as Lady Wachter, while others are those who want to see him gone such as the Keepers of the Feather or Van Richten. Two particularly out-there Accomplices include the Dark Powers directly speaking to the consort with temptations of power, or the Mad Mage. Each Accomplice has their own motivations and favored tactics. For example, Baba Lysaga is akin to a doting mother who wants to keep tabs on her son, and makes use of scrying magic and a spell that causes the consort’s head to explode if she is forced to reveal the accomplice; Lady Wachter is motivated by realpolitik and wants to better find out what makes Strahd tick in order get on his good side, and makes use of a magic mirror in her bedroom or uses her cultists as envoys; the Keepers of the Feather want to learn ways of hampering Strahd’s reign, and make use of animal messengers and shape changing.

The adventure details various ways Strahd will deal with the Accomplice should he learn of their role in the conspiracy. For example, Strahd will offer a bounty for the head of Kirl Stoyanovich, the werewolf leader, figuring that the PCs will be motivated either by greed or “vanquishing a dangerous monster” to do his work for him. As for Lady Wachter, he will be impressed with her ambition and turn her into a vampire spawn to work for him directly in Castle Ravenloft. If it’s one of the Vistani groups who is the Accomplice, Strahd will arrange to have all of those in that clan killed, with only those with the gift of foresight managing to escape.

Finally, there are four major Methods that the Accomplice uses to communicate with the traitorous consort, along with specific rooms in the Castle where the communication takes place. This can be randomly determined by rolling a d4, but some Accomplices have suggested favored Methods, and in the Dark Powers’ case they only have one (Voice on the Wind). Animal Messenger makes use of mundane or enchanted animals to deliver messages or notes; Envoys makes use of human or human-looking messengers who can walk among Castle Ravenloft relatively freely; Magic Mirror is a two-way communication device; and Voice on the Wind has the Accomplice magically speak long-distance with the culprit.

Our adventure begins with the PCs receiving an invitation to have Dinner at Ravenloft, complete with an in-game handout in the back! They will meet Strahd at the front door, where he will lead them through the castle into the dining room. We get a modified boxed text of the Dining Hall area in Curse of Strahd, basically including seating arrangements with the PCs’ names at places on the table and Strahd playing the organ with two recommended song links from YouTube. After greeting the PCs, he will ask them various questions about their overall impressions of Barovia.

During the dinner the PCs have the opportunity to speak with the consorts, who have a list of various topics in which they take interest. Strahd himself sits back and lets the consorts guide the conversations. Once dinner is over, the consorts leave while Strahd stays behind, with Rahadin whispering something into his ear. This prompts the darklord to engage in conversation with the PCs. He explains that he met with Madam Eva several nights ago, and learned that one of his own consorts has betrayed him. He won’t go into detail on the specifics of the betrayal, but says that he wants the PCs to ferret out the traitor, why they turned against him, and find evidence or get a confession out of them. In exchange, Strahd offers to genuinely reward the party and give them limited reign in exploring Castle Ravenloft during the investigation, while giving them some useful information on how not to violate his vow of hospitality.

Should the PCs accept, Strahd will excuse himself in being “busy working on other projects”* and let Rahadin be their guide around the castle. Should the PCs refuse, he will express his disappointment with grace, has Rahadin escort them outside, and they are taken back to their original destination by carriage.

*In reality, he is resting in his tomb.

Strahd’s rewards are open-ended and based on negotiation with the PCs, but Strahd will not inform them about any item that can be harmful to him. However, a few rewards are given as suggestions: the Skull of Argynvost, releasing an NPC he has in his custody, letting one PC leave Barovia, or various kinds of information or magical items. Strahd is a man of his word regarding this bargain, and will give it to the party with no strings attached should they ferret out the traitor.

The adventure’s investigation part is rather freeform, and serves the useful purpose of letting the PCs get an early look around Castle Ravenloft in relative safety. It mentions what areas are closed-off, and that Rahadin or other castle guides will avoid using any secret passages or traps. PCs who get too greedy in looting the castle will have Strahd demand them to return any stolen items before they leave. Random encounters can still occur, but intelligent creatures working for Strahd will not initiate hostilities unless the PCs attack first, instead opting to step aside and let the party pass.

Should a PC accuse a consort (rightly or wrongly) of being the traitor, they will become enraged and attack the party. Should they reach 5 hit points or less (they are instead at 1 hit point if an attack would ordinarily kill them), Strahd shows up and demands a cessation of hostilities. The consort, if guilty, will confess. If the Accomplice is not Baba Lysaga, the consort will be staked and put in one of the empty crypts in Castle Ravenloft’s lowest level.



The last part of this adventure details the Consorts and Helpers. Each of Strahd’s consorts gets a detailed two-page writeup. The first half goes over general details and backstories, gossip they have on other people in the castle, their motive for the accidental betrayal, hobbies they like doing in their spare time, and where they can be found in the castle. They each get unique stat blocks to make them different from your run of the mill vampire spawn, including legendary actions. For example, Anastraya can cast spells like a 5th level bard with a preference for enchantment and can attain limited Invisibility as a legendary action. While Volenta can sneak attack, has some other abilities similar to a Rogue’s, and has bone dolls she can break as a legendary action dealing AoE psychic damage centered on her.

While brief, this book does a good job on expanding on the backstories and personalities of the consorts, making them feel more like unique characters and less like generic minions as they come off in the original adventure.

As for the helpers, they are secondary characters residing in the castle who can be of use to the PCs during their investigation. They have much less detail than the consorts and mostly aid the party via gossip on other castle inhabitants. Save for Rahadin, who has no gossip to share and is only reluctantly acting as a guide around the castle given he doesn’t approve of Strahd relying upon the PCs to solve internal problems.

Overall Thoughts: Although brief and open-ended, this sub-adventure has very strong potential for being a fun little mystery and packs a lot of information in a brief amount of space. I like how it expands on the consorts in terms of backstory and personality, and feel that this can be of use in the greater Curse of Strahd adventure. If I had any major criticisms, it would be that it doesn’t have a strong initial buy-in beyond what the DM comes up with themself: many gaming groups are unlikely to accept Strahd’s dinner invitation in the first place. Offering to help root out a traitor in the Castle is something even less groups would be willing to do without some strong incentive as this technically helps Strahd better secure his power base. The adventure doesn’t provide an alternate reward for PCs who decide to keep the traitor’s identity to themselves, or if they instead attempt to blackmail them. The adventure cuts off such choices as any accusation will make combat inevitable. I suppose learning who the Accomplice is can give the PCs leverage or an alliance with said character depending on their identity, but that’s a less tangential reward.

Join us next time as we recruit Ravenloft’s most famous NPCs as adventuring sidekicks in Allies Against the Night!



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Product Type: Character Options, DMing Tools

CoS-Required? No

Note: As this is an art-free book and this post is lengthy, I’m using portraits from various 3rd Edition Ravenloft products.

While horror campaigns shine under scarcity of numbers, the various Castle Ravenloft adventures match up the PCs with friendly faces. In Curse of Strahd, it is likely that a party will be accompanied by Ireena and a random NPC determined by Madam Eva’s Tarokka reading. Allies Against the Night has a similar concept, utilizing the sidekick rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything to turn various notable figures in Ravenloft into allied adventurers fighting alongside the party. In some cases they start higher than 1st level reflecting their existing experience, and some have unique features that aren’t part of the sidekick classes. The rationale for this is that certain characters can end up overshadowing PCs who are low level, but become a hindrance at higher levels if they don’t also progress in power. Each ally has a beginning stat block, a brief background, personality traits in the form of ideals, bonds, and flaws, and adventure hooks to bring them to the PCs’ attention.

Ezmerelda d’Avenir is our first ally, a Vistana monster hunter and protege of Rudolf Van Richten. Her default stat block is a weakened version of the one from Curse of Strahd, where she only has access to 1st level wizard spells, less hit points, and a +2 proficiency bonus. She uses her own unique progression, gaining access to spell levels in the vein of an Eldritch Knight or Arcane Trickster, along with extra attack, bonus skill proficiencies and expertise, along with supernatural divination abilities at higher levels such as casting Augury as a ritual or immunity to being surprised in combat.

Overall Ezmerelda is a pretty strong sidekick in comparison to the base classes in Tasha’s, gaining the best of various worlds: skill expertise of an expert, extra attack of the warrior, and spells of the spellcaster. She isn’t punching at the same level as a full-on PC, but she is one of the best choices in this book.

Agatha Clairmont is a philosopher of the Divinity of Mankind, an ideology dedicated to self-improvement. She has passing knowledge in supernatural affairs along with being a skilled martial artist. Agatha helped Dr. Van Richten when he was spending time in Paridon, giving him various alchemical solutions for hunting monsters. Her default stat block grants her the unarmed strike and unarmored defense of a monk, and she can take levels in one of the three Sidekick classes. If she’s a spellcaster, she trades Potent Cantrips for a d6 damage die with unarmed attacks and can make an unarmed attack as a bonus action.

Overall, Agatha’s default stat block is pretty strong for a Sidekick and is most comparable to the Thug. She has a better Armor Class and higher mental ability scores, but lacks Multiattack and Pack Tactics which brings her down a bit. Being an unarmed fighter is nifty as none of the other sidekicks can do this via class, but as she won’t ever punch more than a d6 she is rather weak in offensive capabilities even should she become a Warrior.

Dominic is a priest who came from a world beyond the Mists, joining the Order of the Guardians at a monastery that stood vigil over cursed artifacts. When the monastery was destroyed, he tried to settle into a less dangerous lifestyle, but he found himself in the Order’s service again when he came upon another dangerous relic.

Dominic’s default stat block is very weak. He has no casting capabilities, a quarterstaff, and high Constitution and mental ability scores but is only proficient in Religion. His unique capabilities include resistance to psychic damage, advantage on saves vs charmed, and adds double his proficiency bonus on checks to know about magic items. Should he take levels in Spellcaster, he can trade in Potent Cantrips for rerolling a limited number of dice when casting healing spells.

Dominic has some interesting passive features, but his usability in adventures are rather reliant on DM Fiat. As a sidekick he is limited in being built first and foremost as a spellcaster of some kind.

Ivan Dragonov is an experienced monster hunter who specializes in hunting lycanthropes. A rather unfortunate encounter saw him infected by a werewolf, and attempts to cure his condition only resulted in the deaths of others. Ivan came to terms with his new nature, choosing to use his monstrous abilities to fight other monsters.

Like Ezmerelda, Ivan uses his own pseudo-class as a sidekick. He doesn’t have the damage immunities of a typical werewolf, but he can shapeshift into a dire wolf or hybrid form. He begins at 4th level, and at higher levels he gains barbarian-style abilities such as extra attack, rage, a claw or bite as a bonus action, and can enter a rage automatically whenever changing into a wolf or dire wolf.

Ivan is first and foremost a melee fighter, and unlike Ezmerelda there is less customization in his abilities. He is surprisingly easy to hit (his highest AC being 15 in hybrid form), his rage doesn’t grant resistance to physical damage like a typical barbarian, and he has a d8 instead of d12 Hit Die which makes him rather fragile.


Gondegal was born in Cormyr in Faerûn, and was swallowed by the Mists during a war. He found himself in the military dictatorship of Falkovnia, whose cruel ways inspired the man to foment a revolution. He would soon join a secret order of knightly heroes known as the Circle and became a paladin.

Gondegal starts play at 4th level, and like Ezmerelda is a kind of hybrid sidekick with warrior-like features and low-level spellcasting. He has a weaker version of Lay on Hands and a unique magic longsword that deals bonus damage to shapechangers. At higher levels he gains more paladin-style features such as disease immunity, better lay on hands, and +2 AC when “fighting to directly defend or protect another creature.” Which is very broad in its wording!

Gondegal isn’t such a bad ally to have. He begins play with chain mail, meaning that he’s proficient in all armor types and his Great Weapon Fighting Style is one of the better ones. While he is limited in that his spells are known and not prepared, the Paladin spell list has some pretty good options even at 1st level. Unlike actual paladins he cannot smite, so Gondegal’s not going to be dealing big amounts of damage like the actual class.

Hermos is a human nearly ten feet tall and with no memory of his past life before joining a traveling carnival. Upon learning that the others in the freak show were the slaves of the carnival’s leader (who was also behind severely grisly murders), Hermos organized a rebellion. They later found themselves in Darkon, becoming traveling performers before gaining a new leader known as Isolde.

In terms of stats Hermos’ stat block revolves around him being a pseudo-giant, such as having a reach of 10 feet, counting one size larger for feats of strength and carrying capacity, and has high Strength and Constitution. He doesn’t have a lot of hit points at 13, but he’s practically begging to be turned into a Warrior. Imagine the havoc he can wreak with a reach weapon, the Enlarge spell, and the right feats!

Ireena Kolyana hopefully needs no introduction as the woman doomed to multiple reincarnations which Strahd tries and fails to claim. This version of Ireena’s stat block is different from the modified Noble in Curse of Strahd, beginning play with leather armor instead of a breastplate and having a higher Dexterity but lower Charisma both at 14. She has the unique Undying Soul trait, which grants her advantage on death saves, and spells that can restore her to life only require half the cost for material components.

Personally speaking I prefer the stat block in Curse of Strahd. She may not be as handy with a rapier, but it better reflects her background as a Barovian noblewoman with more of a focus on social skills.

Perhaps to make up for this, this book grants a new role only for her should she become a spellcaster: the Occult. This role draws from the sorcerer and warlock spell lists and uses Charisma. Which I’m not feeling: unless I’m forgetting some sourcebook out there, Ireena never struck me as a practitioner of the dark arts or one with a supernatural bloodline. There’s also a sidebar for Tara Kolyana, who was Tatyana’s reincarnation in the 2nd and 3rd Edition of Ravenloft as a priestess of Ezra. Tara has different ideals, bonds, and flaws along with recommending her be a Healer Spellcaster.

Perseyus Lathenna was a gnome who grew up in an isolated village in Valachan. When her left hand was cut off by one of the enforcers of the domain’s ruler, Perseus became depressed, for she was unable to cast spells with somatic gestures. Over time she made acquaintances with various monster hunters to learn how to do good in the world without magic. Recently she has started to regain her spellcasting capabilities.

Stat-wise Perseyus is locked into the Spellcaster class with the Mage role. Her default stat block points towards an offensive caster, with Shocking Grasp and Magic Missile, and as a bonus action she can cast a spell without somatic components. And despite being a gnome, she doesn’t have darkvision, which unfortunately is a recurring theme for the various nonhuman races in this sourcebook.

Perseus is pretty sturdy for a 1st-level spellcasting sidekick, with 16 hit points. The bonus action is the best thing going for her, as she can cast magic even while grappled or otherwise restrained.

Desmond LaRouche was a doctor in Nova Vaasa who made the horrifying discovery that Sir Tristan Hiregaard, the noble funding his clinic, was the serial killer he was trying to bring to justice as a vigilante. A failed attempt at breaking into the noble’s residence left Desmond captured, being changed into a golem-like creature in a laboratory. This traumatic event caused his memories to change, and Desmond is unsure of many details of his own past.

Desmond starts out at 6th level in a unique class progression, and he has various golem-like abilities such as advantage on saves vs disease and poison, immunity to magical sleep, and magic resistance. His divided mind has a 50% chance every time initiative is rolled of having either his human or golem side taking over, each of which has its own unique ability: +2 on attack rolls and can make slam attacks as a golem, or Help as a bonus action and can use weapons as a human. At higher levels he gets more golem-style features such as regenerating hit points as a bonus action over the span of one minute once per rest, use haste twice per long rest, and getting more damaging slam attacks.

Like Agatha Clairmont, Desmond makes a passable unarmed fighter, and with multiattack and higher damage dice he is better at her in this role. He isn’t really good at non-combat roles given he is proficient in only two skills (Arcana and Medicine), lacks spells, and most of his golem-like abilities are either passive defensive things such as immunities and higher Armor Class.


Eia Pax is your typical lawful good paladin who is unafraid to ride out on her signature white horse to defend the innocent from evil. She was trained at a monastery to the Morninglord in Tepest, as one of its priests had a vision that she would become the deity’s greatest paladin. Like Gondegal she starts at a higher level (3rd in this case) and has paladin-like abilities. But unlike Gondegal she can SMITE with spell slots, which makes her more of a straightforward offensive type. Instead of lay on hands, she gets aura-like abilities at higher levels.

Barring Smite Evil, the more unique abilities that separate her from Gondegal only come into play at the higher levels. Interestingly she fights with two weapons in each hand and gains +1 AC while doing so, which means that she can be a pretty good damage dealer by burning smites despite only getting up to 3rd level spells at 18th level.

Alanik Ray is one of Ravenloft’s greatest inquisitive minds, who saw the city he grew up in become such a hotbed of crime and corruption that even his own father was involved in the black market. During his time as a detective, he earned the enmity of Darkon’s secret police, forcing him to relocate to Port-a-Lucine in Dementlieu.

Ray uses a unique class progression, being sort of an Expert but brainier. He begins play at 3rd level with proficiency in four skills and expertise in two (Investigation and Perception). He gets the features of the Expert sidekick class at later levels or with a reduced progression, but has some new features: instead of Dashing or Hiding via Cunning Action, he can Search or Use an Object as a bonus action. At higher levels he gains better perception-related abilities, such as using a bonus action to use Perception to locate hidden things or Investigation to uncover or decipher clues,* gaining advantage on saves and checks vs disguises and illusions, and advantage on Insight checks to detect lies. There’s a sidebar reflecting his 5th edition version where he is a wheelchair user, which grants him various buffs such as immunity to the prone condition and treating his Strength as 5 higher for carrying capacity and what he can push, drag, or lift.

*This honestly sounds like a more limited version of Search which he can already do as a bonus action. There’s also an error in his stat block of having a passive Perception of 10 despite having the skill at +6.

Alanik Ray is very much a passive non-combative character. He isn’t sneaky like a thief as he isn’t proficient in Stealth, and without Dash or Hide he isn’t as mobile as even the typical Expert. His unique detective-style features are easily outclassed by divination spells at the levels a PC gets them once he attains them. As Ray gains Help, Coordinated Strike, and Inspiring Help at much later levels, he isn’t as good of a team player either. Overall a sadly weak ally.

“S” is a mage working for Azalin Rex, compiling comprehensive surveys on the domains as a set of books known as the Doomsday Gazetteers. Such Gazetteers are meant for the eyes of Rex and his trusted inner circle. S didn’t know who she was working for initially, but during her travels slowly came to the realization of her employer’s identity.

S uses the Spellcaster class with the Mage role and begins at 1st level. Her stat block is pretty good, with 19 hit points and begins play with a unique bracer that acts as Bracers of Defense. The bracer has one other unique feature: there are various clones of S scattered throughout the Land of Mists, triggered to transfer her memories to the nearest clone upon her death.

S works great as a sidekick, both for having a decent statblock and for having a built-in reason for adventuring. A DM doesn’t have to work very hard to come up with excuses for her to join the typical adventuring party.

Arthur Sedgewick is a doctor and one of Alanik Ray’s frequent sidekicks during his mystery-solving, making him the human Watson to the elven Holmes. He shies away from fame, leaving his partner to benefit from the reputation of solved cases. Arthur’s base stat block is pretty much a noncombatant whose unique ability grants him a Song of Rest style bonus hit points to allies during a short rest, but flavored as medical treatment. The book says that given his rather marginal role, he could be treated as a half-sidekick where the only thing he gains is hit points (boring!), but should he become a Warrior he is sort of a hybrid between that and an Expert. He gains Expertise in two skills instead of Improved Critical, and Battle Readiness and Indomitable are replaced with doctor-related abilities such as healing more hit points during a short rest, stabilizing dying creatures as a bonus action, and can let an adjacent ally reroll a failed saving throw once or twice per long rest.

Arthur Sedgewick isn’t a very strong sidekick. The Warrior suggestion is a particularly poor choice in spite of the book’s claims otherwise, as his highest physical ability score is a 12 Dexterity. Additionally, his healing capabilities aren’t very impressive in comparison to even a Spellcaster with the Healer role.

Johann Severin was a lay priest in the Church of Ezra in Borca, whose good reputation and charity helped him build a network of contacts among all social classes and a variety of influential secret organizations. His default stat block is a noncombatant, with above-average mental ability scores and a special ability akin to the Inspiring Leader feat but can only be used once per day, grants 2d6 plus proficiency bonus in temporary hit points, and takes 1 minute instead of 10 to do.

Like some of the other sidekicks in this product, Johann Severin is a character who is pretty ordinary save for one unique ability, and this one is…not so bad. The once per day limit and the die roll make it less reliable overall than Inspiring Leader at middle to higher levels, but for a low-level party it can be a pretty sweet deal.

Larissa Snowmane is a riverboat captain of the La Demoiselle du Musarde. She learned the ways of the druid from the Maiden of the Swamp and some necromancy from the darklord of Souragne, both of which she used to free captured magical creatures from Captain Raoul Dumon, the wicked former captain. She can be found plying the rivers of multiple domains, a useful means of travel for adventurers.

Snowmane starts play as a 6th level Spellcaster who draws from the druid list. Her lack of armor and 8 Constitution make her fragile, and she owns a unique magical whip known as the Lashing Viper which is a +1 weapon that deals a bonus 4d6 poison damage to struck targets on a failed save. It is also cursed to make its wielder evil over time (something Snowmane has yet to succumb to) and an unwillingness to part with it. Snowmane’s unique Dance of the Dead is an ability that, when she dances, she can cast any necromancy spell of a level she can cast, and as a ritual if appropriate. And if she dances for 1 minute, she can cast such spells without material components.

Snowmane can be a pretty good support caster with druid spells, and her Dance of the Dead can be useful depending on what necromancy spells are allowed in the game. Sadly there aren’t many good necromancy ritual spells in official material, and she won’t get the classic Animate/Summon/Speak With Dead until 9th level due to the Spellcaster slow progression in that regard.


Robin Stillwater is a half-elf from a small town seemingly free of the usual hard life of the Domains of Dread. He is almost out of genre, being your typical “hero in a starting village who wants to go out and see the world,” and his parents even encouraged him to do so! Robin still has an inexperienced view of life and its dangers, even if he knows how to fight and put down a few bad guys.

Robin starts at 1st level but uses a unique class progression that is akin to the ranger. He also begins play with Lucky, which has the effects of the feat of the same name, and has good physical ability scores as well as proficiency in 3 good skills (Perception, Stealth, and Survival). At higher levels he gains Ranger-like abilities such as extra attack, limited spellcasting, Expertise in two skills, and better mobility such as effortless movement through nonmagical difficult terrain. And like some of the other nonhumans who should have it, Robin doesn’t have darkvision.

Robin is one of the better sidekick options in this book. His Lucky ability is very strong, he makes for a decent backup fighter, and is also a pretty good scout.

Jander Sunstar is an elven vampire from the world of Faerûn who managed to hold onto his good nature in spite of becoming undead. While serving Strahd von Zarovich he ended up accidentally reviving worship of the Morninglord in Barovia, and tried and failed to slay the domain’s darklord with the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind. Now he seeks to destroy all vampires and feeds on those he deems wicked.

Jander begins play at 10th level, and has some of the less-powerful vampire features but most of their weaknesses. He is proficient in quite a few skills and has damage resistance to necrotic and nonmagical physical attacks. At higher levels he gains more vampire-style abilities such as transforming into bats, summoning swarms of bats, rats, or wolves, extra attack, and can charm at will like a vampire at 18th level.

Initially, Jander is a decent sidekick choice at 10th level. He isn’t very strong offensively and he has a useful mist form that is good for scouting. He can regenerate 10 hit points per round like a vampire, which makes him incredibly resilient. The at-will Charm is amazing, and by the time PCs can get it the campaign is already packed with crazy stuff like Wish and Meteor Swarm. Another of the stronger sidekick choices, but nce again no darkvision.

Shih Suren is a warrior from the Japanese-inspired domain of Rokushima Taiyoo, abandoned in the wilderness for being born with the head and fur of a tiger. He was raised by forest spirits, and upon becoming a man he was eager to prove to his parents and society that he was of noble heart. That didn’t take well, and after winning trial by combat Shih was exiled to other lands.

Shih’s base stat block is a pretty decent warrior. He begins play with studded leather and a shield, has an amazing 120 foot darkvision, a half-orc’s Savage Attacks (renamed Merciless), and good physical ability scores along with a 14 Wisdom and proficiency in Perception. If he takes levels in Warrior, he replaces Improved Critical with the ability to grant himself advantage on weapon attacks until the end of the next turn and temporary hit points a number of times per long rest equal to his proficiency bonus, and replaces Battle Readiness with proficiency with Wisdom saves and advantage on the first death save he makes in a day.

Shih is just packed with good abilities, and his higher than usual Perception and darkvision make him a decent sentry.

Rudolph Van Richten needs no introduction, as he has attained levels of fame in the DnD fandom alongside Elminster and Drizz’t as a legendary adventurer. He begins play at 4th level and uses his own unique progression. His base stat block is heavily weighted towards skill use, has a high Intelligence and Wisdom, Expert like abilities such as Expertise, Help as a bonus action, and the Clever Action variant of Alanik Ray. Van Richten deals additional damage to undead equal to his proficiency bonus once per turn, and is “cursed” to automatically stabilize whenever he hits 0 hit points (so he can live and suffer more). At higher levels he gains some of the Expert sidekick class abilities, plus two unique ones: Hunter’s Knowledge is a 7th level ability that grants him information on the game stats of monsters as an action a number of times per long rest equal to his proficiency bonus, and at 18th level he can grant an adjacent ally advantage on saves and resistance against a chosen creature’s offensive abilities once per short or long rest.

There’s also an alternate version of Van Richten as a Cleric like in Curse of Strahd and the D&D Miniatures game line that ran during 3rd Edition. This too is a unique class that is a hybrid of Expert and Spellcaster, gaining up to 4th level spells, Expertise, Inspiring Help, and can perform a Divine Strike that grants +1d8 or +2d8 radiant damage (at 10th and 15th levels) to his melee weapon attacks once per turn.

This Van Richten is similar to the one in Curse of Strahd in being more of a support character, but without the cleric spells of that one his support is more in knowing and finding out useful facts and weaknesses about monsters. The alternative Cleric progression is actually weaker than the Curse of Strahd counterpart, as this one’s capabilities as a 10th level sidekick (the max level in that adventure) only gets up to 2nd level spells, doesn’t have multiattack, and his bonus radiant damage is broader than Undead Slayer but deals less damage.

George Weathermay is an ally of Rudolph Van Richten and a fellow monster hunter. Like his more famous counterpart, George begins play at 4th level and has a unique class progression. His base stat block is like a low-level ranger, with favored enemy against undead, Beast Bond and Hunter’s Mark, fights with two weapons, and has some rangerish skills. George has a unique magic longsword, Gossamer, which can negate a struck undead’s incorporeal movement for one turn. He gains Ranger-like abilities as he levels up, but is more offensive than Robin Stillwater, such as gaining favored enemies and at 15th level has a rather situational Shapechanger’s Bane where he gains advantage on attack rolls for one turn against a creature he sees polymorph into another form.*

*This can be exploited by a PC with the Polymorph spell.

As a sidekick, I don’t have many complaints for George Weathermay. He feels a lot more like the brawny slayer of monster hunter vs Van Richten’s tactician nature, which is a good way of making them feel different. George isn’t proficient in Investigation or Perception, so he’s not very good at detecting enemies or finding clues.


The Weathermay-Foxgrove Twins are monster hunters in training, inspired by their biological uncle George Weathermay and their uncle-in-spirit Rudolph Van Richten. They continued publishing the latter’s unfinished Guides after his mysterious disappearance, and their father hopes to discourage their dangerous lifestyle by finding them suitors to wed and settle down with.

Both of the twins are 1st level and progress in typical Sidekick classes. Gennifer’s base statblock is a noncombatant with the Prestidigitation cantrip and once per day can become resistant to nonsilvered, nonmagical weapons as a reaction due to her latent lycanthropy. Laurie is more offensively inclined, wielding a rapier and pistol and doesn’t suffer disadvantage on ranged attacks versus adjacent hostile creatures. Gennifer, predictably, is designed to level up as a Spellcaster Mage, but can trade in Potent Cantrips and Empowered Spells to cast ritual spells, cast them faster, and with higher level slots. Laurie is intended to become a Warrior, and trades in some class features to better supplement her role as a swashbuckler with Unarmored Defense replacing Second Wind, can make a ranged attack when she Disengages replacing Battle Readiness, and at 20th level can make a weapon attack as a bonus attack if she hits in melee and treats the bonus attack as a critical hit.

The Weathermay-Foxgrove Twins aren’t very powerful in comparison to other mage/warrior sidekicks in this supplement, even ones who begin at 1st level. Gennifer’s mastery of ritual spells is neat for flavor but not very useful if the party already has a wizard. Laurie’s meager physical stats make her a pretty fragile warrior, and her AC isn’t very high when unarmored so she’s actually best with a breastplate.

Andrez Weisritter is a distant relative to Strahd Von Zarovich. Having been raised on tales of his terror, Andrez was horrified upon learning of their shared bloodline. Horrified enough to go the opposite route of Strahd and become Weissritter, the White Knight of justice! However, the would-be hero finds himself loving battle a little too much, resulting in a near-uncontrollable rage that causes him to tear up corpses of enemies long after the battle is over. This has given him a rather sordid reputation and causes a few would-be allies to not want to work with him.

Andrez’s stat block is a straightforward heavily-armored fighter. He has advantage on saves vs the charmed and frightened conditions, is proficient in Wisdom saves, has good physical stats and proficiency in Athletics, and starts play with some good gear: breastplate, shield, and a longsword. He is designed to be a warrior, and at 7th level he can replace Battle Readiness with Reckless Attack as per a barbarian.

Andrez is well-optimized to be a martial sidekick, and his unique ability and Wisdom proficiency gives him an edge in resisting most mind-affecting abilities.

Adventuring Groups is one of the final two sections of the book. Whereas most of the new allies were detailed individual entries, these people are spoken of as a group and given base stat blocks without progression.

Grave Wardens are adventurers who work for the Order of the Guardians in retrieving evil artifacts that cannot be destroyed. They are all 5th level and include some rather typical adventurer types, such as Caligino Blanc (former Kargat Agent who is a roguish expert), Brother Boris (stereotypical good guy priest of the Morninglord, mislabeled as a 45th level spellcaster with the healer role), and Marie DuChance (mage who got trapped temporarily in the Ethereal Plane after encountering an artifact during her arcane studies). All of the Grave Wardens were pregenerated PCs for an RPGA adventure, Heart’s Final Beast, and the book mentions this in a nifty sidebar.

The Wanderers are a ragtag group of Vistani from various tasques and tribes, united by escaping destruction from the tyrants Duke Gundar of Gundarak and Malocchio Aderre of Invidia. They operate in the Southern Core, former reluctant servants of Lord Soth of Sithicus in escaping persecution. They were later betrayed by a conspiracy of one of their own and Soth’s seneschal. With Soth deposed, they hunt Inza, the traitor Vistana, while also doing good works as they travel.

The Wanderers are mostly 6th level Warriors with the exception of Piotr, roguish expert and the only one who has stereotypical Vistani curses and evil eye in his stat block. Nabon is the odd one out in terms of race, being a goliath instead of a human, along with features of said race.

New Heroes is our final entry in this book, detailing eight new sidekicks. They come with base stat blocks and no unique or locked-in class progressions. Overall none of them are really special in terms of stats save a nifty feature or two. Two are races from Eberron but reflavored for a more gothic style: Stitch is a frankenstein-style monster whose “warforged” nature reflects their deathless state and they can absorb some lightning damage once per short or long rest to heal themselves, while Alexander Wisener is a survivor of a lycanthropic attack who is a “shifter” in terms of mechanics. Tzing is a kenku reflavored as a ravenkin and a member of the Keeper of the Black Feather, attempting to make contact with the Gundarakite rebels of western Barovia. And finally, Alaina Felhaglion is a “drow” in terms of mechanics but lorewise an elven caliban.*

*Unique race in Ravenloft that are usually humans warped by dark magic or monstrous ancestry.

Overall Thoughts: Allies Against the Night gives you a lot of content for its price and page size, and making use of the sidekick rules makes it an easy process to introduce some of Ravenloft’s iconic NPCs as adventuring companions at all tiers of play. The book even mentions what novels and sourcebooks each of them is from, serving as a handy reference for DMs who wish to develop them further!

However, the allies themselves are a mixed bag in terms of balance and usefulness. Additionally, various errors in stats throughout the book occur frequently enough that it needs another editing pass, even if the stat blocks overall are readable.

Join us next time as we go shopping at Mimsy’s Ravenloft Shop of Treasures!

Sparky McDibben

Damn, that's a lot of sidekicks!

I did want to say I was disappointed by Weekend At Strahd's. I 100% thought that was going to be about the PCs impersonating Strahd to prevent Barovia from collapsing on itself, slowly driving Rudolf van Richten insane as he gets gaslit into thinking he's missed Strahd again. That would have been a fun friggin' adventure!


Damn, that's a lot of sidekicks!

I did want to say I was disappointed by Weekend At Strahd's. I 100% thought that was going to be about the PCs impersonating Strahd to prevent Barovia from collapsing on itself, slowly driving Rudolf van Richten insane as he gets gaslit into thinking he's missed Strahd again. That would have been a fun friggin' adventure!

Same. There is a part of me that is motivated to write a Weekend at Strahd's scenario more in line with what you suggested. It would be for free and not a professional work, but I am concerned it would come off as too much of a "Take That" at the person who wrote the original adventure.



Product Link

Product Type: Character Options

CoS-Required? No

The Domains of Dread are full of all sorts of horror and fantasy tropes: mages trafficking with dark forces, brave paladins doomed to grim ends, cursed lycanthropes who are equal parts victim and victimizer, and how sometimes the greatest monster is not a supernatural creature but one’s fellow man.

But what of the curious collector of antiquities, the little shop tucked in the corner of the city filled with strange trinkets each holding a story, and a shopkeeper who is just as enigmatic? Mimsy’s Ravenloft Shop of Treasures is just such a place, basically a magic item shop full of new gothic-flavored wares. Mimsy is the tiefling owner of the Wandering Shop, a mysterious figure who even the veteran Vistani either know nothing about or refuse to speculate on. She has been sighted in just about every domain, having supplied Rudolph van Richten with gear to better hunt monsters. The scholar Firan Zal’honan knows of a means to reliably find her, but such information isn’t given without cost.

In reality, Mimsy was a craftswoman and student at a famous school of magic, who was targeted for assassination during a dungeon delve after finding evidence of a demonic cult establishing itself in the school. Facing certain death, Mimsy made a bargain with the dungeon’s owner, a demon known as Obyroa, so that she may become a warlock, survive, and take revenge later. Mimsy was exiled from the school, and nobody took her claims of a demonic cult seriously. As it turned out later, Obyroa was the very demon that the cult worshiped, and he sought to call in Mimsy’s debt by making her help the cult. She refused, insteading becoming a wandering merchant, all the while on the lookout for a way out of her bargain and a means to stop Obyroa and the cult for good.

Mimsy eventually found a means of breaking the pact and saving the school, using power obtained from the spellbook of a “mad mage.” The spell’s side effect transported her through many realms of existence, stranding her in the Domains of Dread. Thankfully, the tiefling could still call upon the gateway into her Wandering Shop. Now, she continues on as she did before: traveling the lands, and buying and selling magic items.

Mimsy’s Wandering Shop is a demiplane accessible by a brass key on her person. She can change the appearance and layout of the shop, and the most valuable items are kept in a separate demiplane she shows only to customers with whom she has prior rapport and trust. Three helmed horrors stand guard in her shop, the display cases enchanted with alarm and glyph of warding spells, and an owl statuette acts as a magical security camera that records everything in its field of vision. The Shop’s front door won’t open in the presence of the Eye of Hazlik, as the Darklord of Hazlan would greatly covet her wares and stop at nothing to seize them. Last but not least, Mimsy is a formidable foe herself: a CR 12 character who is basically a gish. She can cast spells as part of a three-attack multiattack, specializes in battlefield control spells such as telekinesis, wall of force, and hold person, can disrupt a spellcaster’s casting as a reaction should they fail a Constitution save, and has a pocket watch enchanted to plane shift her to a safe area should she be reduced to 0 hit points…provided that she isn’t in an antimagic field. And Mimsy’s has lair actions on top of all that! Trying to rob the shop is a very risky endeavor.

Mimsy’s Wares is the meat of this book, providing 60 new magic items with histories unique to the Domains of Dread or have a feel congruent to gothic horror. They have an index in back sorting them by rarity, and each item has an in-character quote from Mimsy talking about it along with its history and functions. Unfortunately we don’t get any sample prices for them, which is a rather big oversight for this kind of book. For the sake of brevity I won’t cover all of the magic items, instead focusing on the ones I find most interesting.

Amulet of Memory is a Very Rare item that can be used to cast Modify Memory once every 24 hours. Memories altered or removed are absorbed inside the amulet and remain there until the target regains their original memories. The amulet’s wearer can touch it and view any stored memories as an action. Mimsy got the amulet off a mind flayer’s corpse in Bluetspur.

Antlered Skull is an Uncommon attunable item fashioned out of the skull of an elk. It has 3 charges per day which can be expended to let out a shriek only the target can hear as an action, causing them to be frightened for 1 minute on a failed Wisdom save. Mimsy claims that the creature the skull was fashioned from was the terror of a local village.

Cauldron of Regrowth is a Very Rare item that can grow a full duplicate of a corpse over 7 days if a piece of said corpse is placed inside the cauldron with hot water. The duplicate bodies created are valid targets for spells such as animate dead and can be of use in case of resurrection. But in this last case it doesn’t reset the time since the body died.

Coward’s Cuirass is an Uncommon attunable modification for any type of armor, granting the wearer +10 to their speed types. It is cursed, making the wearer suffer disadvantage on saves vs being frightened and the loss of any resistance/immunity to said condition. The curse is due to the fact that the armor is made from scavenged gear of deserters.

Dire Cloak is a Rare item which only druids can attune to. When the wearer wild shapes, they can choose to become a dire version of the animal, where they become Large if the base form is smaller, gain +3 AC and 4d8 temporary hit points, all of which last until the end of the transformation. The cloak is cursed so that each time the wearer changes into a dire beast, their Charisma is reduced by 1 (restored should the curse be broken). Should their Charisma fall to 0, they become permanently stuck as a random Beast and become hostile to all other species.

Dullahan’s Axe is a Rare attunable battleaxe with a +1 enhancement bonus. It has up to 3 charges, which can be expended whenever the wielder kills a large or smaller creature with a head. The creature is beheaded, with their severed head turning into a Death’s Head monster of the Gnashing Head type. The monster is loyal to the wielder and turns into sludge after 1 hour.

Effigy of Lorinda is a Very Rare straw doll with a strand of hag’s hair tied around its neck. If someone dies with the effigy on their person, their soul inhabits it which transforms into a Scarecrow monster. The Scarecrow uses the Size, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores of the original soul along with their overall personality and memory. The scarecrow is animated only for 24 hours, is reduced to 0 hit points, or the original corpse has a resurrection spell cast upon it.

Giesbrecht Firepipe is an Uncommon tank of flammable oil with a nozzle. It has 3 charges which can shoot an AoE cone dealing fire damage. It has a chance of exploding on a natural 1 on a d20 if its last charge is expended. Mimsy says that it’s a device from Lamordia used to melt ice and kill monsters which live in that cold land.


Grave Hammer is a Rare maul requiring attunement. It deals 2d8 bludgeoning damage and anyone with less than a 17 Strength suffers disadvantage on attack rolls with it. Once every 24 hours as an action, the attuned wielder can strike the ground, causing rotting, clawing arms to burst forth from the ground in a 20 foot radius up to 90 feet away, treated as difficult terrain and dealing 3d10 slashing damage to those that start theri turn in or move through the area. Dexterity saves can be made to halve the damage.

Incense of Privacy is an Uncommon consumable bundle of rosemary and sage prepared in holy water. When burned, it creates a smoke for 1 hour that causes everything in a 20 foot radius cloud to be immune to all forms of divination magic and can’t be perceived by sensors with a supernatural interface medium.

Living Heart is a Rare item that can only be attuned to by spellcasters. It grants the wielder +1 to spell save DCs and spell attack rolls, and whenever they deal damage with a spell they can expend up to 3 hit dice and add that as additional necrotic damage to a single target of the spell.

Mask of Uldun-Dar is a Very Rare item requiring attunement, its visage looking like a monstrous cat. As an action the mask’s wearer gains truesight out to 120 feet until the start of their next turn. They risk taking 4d8 psychic damage per use and cannot use the mask again should they fail a Wisdom save as they see nightmarish visions of other realms.

Mortal Chains are an Uncommon item with 20 hit points and are resistant to nonmagical damage. Incorporeal creatures cannot pass through them, and if such creatures are restrained by the chain they cannot enter or leave the Ethereal Plane. It requires a DC 20 Strength check to break, and undead have disadvantage on this check.

Potion of Mutation is a Rare potion that produces a random mutation and extra limb, both of which have their own 1d4 table and last for 1 hour or until the drinker is affected by Remove Curse or Greater Restoration. The mutations and limbs are all beneficial effects, like a bone blade which is basically a finesseable longsword that crits on a 19 or 20, or the ability to climb on difficult surfaces without needing to make an ability check.

Powder of Potency is a rare item with 1d4+1 doses. It cannot be used on its own, and is instead added to a potion as an action. It can improve such potions in one of three ways: double the base duration, +5 hit points for potions that grant healing or temporary hit point restoration, or increase a saving throw DC of the potion’s effect by 2. It has a curse, where the drinker’s hit point maximum is reduced by 1d10 for every 24 hours, turning them into a shambling mound hostile to all other creatures should they reach 0. Mimsy is unaware of the curse, but a PC knowledgeable in Borcan politics can realize something’s amiss when she mentions that the powder was created by Ivana Boritsi.

Ravenwing Staff is an Uncommon quarterstaff to which only monks can attune. One of the creations of the Keepers of the Feather, it grants a monk black wings and a flying speed equal to half their walking speed whenever they use Step of the Wind. As an action they can transform the quarterstaff into a raven like the Animal Messenger spell, but this function of the weapon can only be used once a week.

Scroll of Dark Freedom is a Very Rare scroll which bears a ritual that can break an Undead creature free of any bonds of control its creator or master has over it. The ritual has to be cast over the course of an hour, with the caster remaining within 30 feet of the Undead target at all times. The Undead also gains immunity to any other attempts of control by its master short of a Wish spell, and if the undead was reanimated by a spell with a limited duration then they can continue on being animated until they hit 0 hit points.

Soul-Snaring Doll is a Rare item. Whenever a creature within 30 feet of the doll’s wielder dies, they can spend a reaction to absorb the soul into the doll, where they cannot be returned to life by any means short of a Wish spell. Mimsy mentions that the trapped souls are freed should the doll break, but this isn’t listed anywhere in its game statistics.

Symbol of Ezra is a Rare shield that only a cleric or paladin can attune. It is a +1 shield, and as an action can summon magical mists covering a 20 foot radius centered on the wielder for 1 hour. The wielder can see normally through the mist and can designate up to 4 other creatures to gain this benefit. This mist can only be summoned once per day, with Channel Divinity capable of granting additional uses that day.

Tablet of the Mists is a Very Rare item that is permanently attuned to the Domain of Dread in which it is created. It can serve as a Mist Talisman for the purposes of finding and traveling to that domain, and as an action can be broken to summon a 10 foot radius of Mist, teleporting all creatures inside it into a random location of the attuned domain. Mimsy has 1d4 tablets of random Domains at any given time.

Tears of Ezra is a legendary potion of which Mimsy only has one of, and which she only shows to prospective customers via illusion. It is said to be made from the tears of Ezra, crying over the suffering of her worshipers. If someone has a Dark Gift, they lose it permanently upon drinking this potion and cannot regain such a Gift save by a Wish spell.


Tome of the Feather is a Very Rare item that can only be attuned to by a bard, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard. It grants +2 to the spell attack rolls and save DC of the wielder, and can be used as an arcane focus. It has 20 charges which can be used to cast a variety of spells, such as Arcane Eye, Fly, Legend Lore, or Detect Magic as an action with no charges. It can also be used to cast Summon Beast but only with the Air option by expending charges. The tome has a chance of losing all but its +2 properties whenever its last charge is expended. This is another creation of the Keepers of the Feather, and only a few tomes remain for most have been burned by Strahd.

Van Richten’s Pistol is a unique Uncommon +1 weapon that Mimsy won off the monster hunter in a game of dragonchess. Its default form is a silver pistol, and can change into a silver rapier and back again as a bonus action.

Watch of Aging is a Rare item requiring attunement. It has 3 charges which can be spent to curse a creature or object within 30 feet with rapid aging on a failed Wisdom save. For a creature, they suffer halved speed and disadvantage on Strength and Dexterity checks and saves, and for an object it suffers -5 to AC and grants attackers advantage on checks to break it for 1 minute. It also gives a curse to the attuned, where they age 1d4 years every time they use the watch, and only Greater Restoration and Wish spells can remove the aging. Like some of the other cursed items, Mimsy is unaware of this drawback.

Wildersung Fiddle is a Rare musical instrument to which only bards can attune. It grants +1 to spell save DC and spell attack rolls. Additionally, it grants the permanent ability to communicate with and understand canines, and can choose to substitute Performance in place of Animal Handling to influence animals. Mimsy notes that this fiddle was made in Kartakass.

Overall Thoughts: Many of the magic items are flavorful with useful effects, with quite a few baked into the setting in some tangible manner. But as an actual item shop, Mimsy’s is left wanting, where it’s up to DM Fiat on how much the items should be. In a gold and treasure-light adventure like Curse of Strahd, it can’t be so easily dropped in without some modifications.

Join us next time as we add a more classic Frankenstein element to Curse of Strahd in Laboratory of the Mad Abbot!



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Product Type: Adventure

CoS-Required? Yes

Dracula isn’t the only gothic monster Curse of Strahd deploys. Vasilka the flesh golem has a similar role to Frankenstein’s monster, but her creator, the Abbot, isn’t much of a mad scientist. He is closer to being a monster himself, as a corrupted celestial filled with a deluded plan to save Barovia via creating a new wife for Strahd. Laboratory of the Mad Abbot puts the character in the role of a demented researcher, and adds a new mini-dungeon in the form of a hidden laboratory below the Abbey of Saint Markovia. Here, the Abbot is building a secret army of monsters created from necromantic experiments for the eventual plan of going to war with Strahd.

The major changes this product makes to the default module are the removal of the Belview family and Vasilka, due to problematic ableist and racist implications of the former monsters and reworking the Abbot’s goals in the latter case. The adventure is meant to be a late-game scenario, for 3-5 PCs of 8th to 10th level.

The lab is a single-floor 10 room dungeon, with crude electrical light bulbs serving as omnipresent illumination. None of the rooms have descriptive boxed text, and while several do open up with describing the room’s environs it is part of the rest of the text. This leaves the DM to come up with descriptions themselves. Half of the rooms are occupied by creatures: a lightning elemental who is trapped to fuel the lab’s electricity and will ask to be freed if the PCs speak Primordial or Auran; a locked chimera in an otherwise empty prison guarding a chest with a Bag of Holding; mimics disguised as books in a library; a sanctum home to the Abbot; and a storage room of failed experiments and miscellaneous material containing an aquarium tank of animated brains who will attempt to ambush and attack the party. They can be reasoned with so that the party can gain more information about the Abbot and lab, as the brains are not very keen on their imprisoned status. The Abbot’s sanctum is the “boss chamber” of this dungeon, where the celestial is working in what appears to be a huge bloody medical facility, with three inert flesh golems strapped to gurneys. Upon noticing the PC’s presence (he does so automatically as part of this adventure’s only boxed text), he presumes the party to be agents of Strahd and will say that nobody can leave this room alive.

During the fight with the Abbot, each flesh golem can eventually activate and join the battle. But a character who deals enough damage to their connecting wires can prevent this before they activate. Once the foes are defeated, the PCs can recover a Ring of Mind Shielding and a key that opens up the chest that the chimera is guarding in the prison. Other treasures the party can recover in this dungeon can be found in a potions lab, where an Investigation check can locate some potions along with an Alchemy Jug; and a library containing a variety of books along with a Manual of Bodily Health. The books tend toward a more parodic element, such as the Bodily Health Manual being titled The Barovian Super Diet, a monster hunting manual written by a vampire hunter known as Arthur Fangsmith, and (groan) an adult novel written by Skellyanne Conway about two undead falling in love to defeat their necromancer creator.

Regarding the new monsters, the lightning elemental is a CR 5 elemental which can turn into an electric form that deals lightning damage to those it touches, can squeeze through small areas like an ooze, constantly sheds light, can deal lightning damage via melee slams, and paralyze targets wearing armor should they fail a Constitution save. And like many elementals, it comes with a variety of resistances and immunities. The Animated Brain Colony is a CR 8 swarm that is immobile in being confined to a stationary aquarium. It has psionic abilities such as sensing creatures within 120 feet, has a variety of innate spellcasting such as Hold Person, and a damaging Mind Blast that can stun targets on a failed Intelligence save. The Mind Blast says that it recharges on a 6-7, which is a typo as recharge abilities operate on a 1d6. The colony splits up into individual animated brains once it reaches 0 hit points, and the individual monsters are much weaker.

The lightning elemental looks fine for its CR, although its lack of a fly or any special movement speed feels weird for its association with lightning. The Animated Brain Colony has some long-range attacks and spells that can inconvenience the party, such as Dissonant Whispers and Enemies Abound, but its inability to move out of its tank means that PCs can easily kite it. However, its ability to sense minds mentions no limitations based on physical barriers, so it can still supposedly use its mind blast and other spells on PCs who run outside the room and break line of sight.

Overall Thoughts: While I do agree with removing or otherwise changing the Belviews, it feels weird to have a Dr. Frankenstein without Frankenstein’s monster. I suppose his monstrous army is intended to fill this function, but that removes the rather personal nature and tragedy of having an individual monster vs a bunch of them.

This product overall feels uninspired. There’s hardly anything in the way of setting the mood with boxed text besides the final room with the Abbot. And unlike in the default adventure, he cannot be reasoned with. I can definitely see some PCs of moral flexibility deciding that building up a monstrous army to fight Strahd is a viable idea. The adventure more or less leaves it up to the DM for groups who want to carry on his work, or repurpose the Abbot’s knowledge for their own pursuits. Additionally, the adventure doesn’t explain how this alters the Abbot’s relationship with the Village of Krezk. In the default adventure he was robbing graves to stitch the body parts of corpses in creating Vasilka. Is the Abbot still doing the same thing, but for generic flesh golems and brains? And what of the Fated Allies who can no longer be chosen in a Tarokka reading, such as Clovin Belview or Vasilka?

Join us next time as we help Van Richten arrange a night of carnival fun and games in Vallaki’s Got Talent!

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