D&D 2E Looking back at the Monstrous Compendia: the MC appendices, Monstrous Manual, and more!

Orius

Legend
I'll be honest, I don't share @Alzrius's enthusiasm for Ravenloft, anything but. It's the one 2e setting I have the least interest in and the only thing I am interested in doing with it is running good old I6 as a special Halloween game. I don't like horror or find it scary, after all my favorite vampire movie is Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Of course, I've stated before my opinion that D&D is unsuitable for horror and my general contempt for the genre, so combined with the focus on more narrative gameplay which is something else I have little interest in, it's no stretch that Ravenloft isn't really to my taste. That whole intro about making monsters more scary rolls my eyes today, but that's the MCA1 version which seemed impressive when I was 19, but not anymore. They're just ogres, and being coy about things was a trend of the times I don't agree with. To keep players on their toes, I prefer digging through lots and lots of monsters and using unusual stuff than pretending standard MM stuff is something different. Maybe in the context of a Ravenloft game it works though.

OTOH, I actually like MC10. There's a decent selection of monsters in here, and they don't feel like they're confined to Ravenloft. While I dislike horror, I do like some of the aesthetics of Gothic horror that Ravenloft does. I'd use that in the game, but not really expect the players to be frightened by it. I mean they have a cleric, right? Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by this one, enough to regret not picking up the softback reprint when it was released.

Side note: AI typing suggestions continue to be stupid, my tablet keeps suggesting "truck" after monster. Not as bad as the iPad that thought "turtle" was the best follow up to ninja though. (Which interestingly enough was in Alzrius's first retrospective thread.)
 
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Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
WotC has never really "got" Ravenloft, and it shows.
I think WotC gets the horror themes of the original module and later products just fine. However, I'd agree that they don't get the 2nd/3rd Edition setting, which has been largely abandoned. The 5e Ravenloft products do a good job of facilitating horror-themed D&D games. They do a terrible job of representing the original campaign setting, but to be fair, I don't think that was the objective.
 

I think WotC gets the horror themes of the original module and later products just fine. However, I'd agree that they don't get the 2nd/3rd Edition setting, which has been largely abandoned. The 5e Ravenloft products do a good job of facilitating horror-themed D&D games. They do a terrible job of representing the original campaign setting, but to be fair, I don't think that was the objective.
I disagree. They are incapable of correctly delivering the themes, mostly due to Jeremy Crawford's heavy-handed "this is what D&D is". It's a refusal to pair settings with rule variations which leads to 5E Ravenloft being not particularly horrific because the rules behind it just aren't supporting the concept.
 

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
I disagree. They are incapable of correctly delivering the themes, mostly due to Jeremy Crawford's heavy-handed "this is what D&D is". It's a refusal to pair settings with rule variations which leads to 5E Ravenloft being not particularly horrific because the rules behind it just aren't supporting the concept.
That's fair. I tend to agree with Orius that D&D is innately not a good fit for the horror genre. If I'm in the mood for horror RPG, I'm going to pick another system. So I also agree with your point that adding rules variations would mean that the horror element is better supported. But within the constraint of keeping things D&D-like, and not introducing any substantial variant rules, I thought the 5e books were decent.
 

delericho

Legend
As it is, I've had to stop myself from going on at length about how Ravenloft was my favorite of AD&D 2E's many campaign settings. I've long since collected all of its offerings (notwithstanding a few of the novels that have somehow slipped by me over the years, as well as the computer games), plus the 3E products as well, and while they're not all made of solid gold, they have far and away more hits than misses.
If you're looking for a topic for your next thread, I think we might have a winner. :)
 

Voadam

Legend
The only 2e entry where I got the monster book in the 2e era for my games and did not just use my 1e books or skim through friends copies or the ones in the game store.

I really like the fleshed out variants of classic horror monsters for D&D. Also Ravenloft became my setting for DMing after it came out all the way into the beginning of 3e.

The greater mummy is particularly interesting, it started in this MC as creations and servants of the dark lord Ankhtepot, got reprinted in the 2e Monstrous Compendium hardcover with that same origin, then made it into 3e and on as a core MM mummy lord minus the Ravenloft story and connections but as a generic greater mummy/mummy lord.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I think WotC gets the horror themes of the original module and later products just fine. However, I'd agree that they don't get the 2nd/3rd Edition setting, which has been largely abandoned. The 5e Ravenloft products do a good job of facilitating horror-themed D&D games. They do a terrible job of representing the original campaign setting, but to be fair, I don't think that was the objective.
It would have been nice if they had been clear about that.
 

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
It would have been nice if they had been clear about that.
Were they cagey about the extent of the changes to earlier lore for the setting prior to release? I can recall being aware that a lot of the setting had changed well before I got Van Richten's, but I have to admit that I wasn't paying too much attention to D&D product release news at the time, so my impression might have come from early reviews.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Were they cagey about the extent of the changes to earlier lore for the setting prior to release? I can recall being aware that a lot of the setting had changed well before I got Van Richten's, but I have to admit that I wasn't paying too much attention to D&D product release news at the time, so my impression might have come from early reviews.
All I have to offer is an anecdote, but I distinctly recall being excited when VRGtR was announced, because I (perhaps naively) thought that it was going to continue with the advancement of the setting that Ravenloft 3E had put forward, which included things like showcasing that the human darklords were eventually going to die, and that new potential candidates for their positions were waiting in the wings (also, I never saw any indication that WotC couldn't use the White Wolf material, whereas there seemed to be circumstantial evidence to the contrary in how several of those supplements are now on DTRPG with Wizards of the Coast listed as their publisher).

Needless to say, when it was clarified (shortly after the initial announcement, I think) that Ravenloft 5E was a reboot rather than a continuation, I was beyond disappointed (and I find no evidence to suggest that the Dark Powers have done an in-character restructuring of the Demiplane...notwithstanding the possibility that this is confirmed in the Mist Hunters Adventurers League series, as I've heard that third-hand but have yet to pick it up and see if it's true or not).

Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
All I have to offer is an anecdote, but I distinctly recall being excited when VRGtR was announced, because I (perhaps naively) thought that it was going to continue with the advancement of the setting that Ravenloft 3E had put forward, which included things like showcasing that the human darklords were eventually going to die, and that new potential candidates for their positions were waiting in the wings (also, I never saw any indication that WotC couldn't use the White Wolf material, whereas there seemed to be circumstantial evidence to the contrary in how several of those supplements are now on DTRPG with Wizards of the Coast listed as their publisher).

Needless to say, when it was clarified (shortly after the initial announcement, I think) that Ravenloft 5E was a reboot rather than a continuation, I was beyond disappointed (and I find no evidence to suggest that the Dark Powers have done an in-character restructuring of the Demiplane...notwithstanding the possibility that this is confirmed in the Mist Hunters Adventurers League series, as I've heard that third-hand but have yet to pick it up and see if it's true or not).

Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
Couldn't agree more with any of this.
 

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