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D&D 5E Ravenloft Campaign Expectations

So, I am wondering if my expectations are off regarding Ravenloft. By way of history, I bought the 2nd edition original box set way back in the 90s. I used it a little and shelved it, and have ignored any other editions. But the threads here have gotten me excited to get this, and even put the Beadle & Grimm Silver version on my Father's day wish list.

But, I have been thinking I would pick a realm, come up with some good arcs are run a campaign (like the Curse of Stroud) . Looking at the table of contents where each domain only gets a few pages, and listening to Lore You Should Know I am getting the feeling that the book itself is not really supported of that.

So I was wondering what are others planning? Longer term campaign in a single domain? or moving between domains with smaller arcs? One and done arcs in Ravenloft then back to whatever setting the characters were from before entering the mist?


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Getting the impression it's being designs as a series of adventures
Your characters get yanked into Ravenloft by the Mists, do the one key story for that Domain, kill the Dark Lord and escape
A few Domains might have more going on, but you'll likely have to invent that yourself. Cause they've all changed so much even the old sourcebooks aren't really useful anymore

But people told decade long campaigns set in Greyhawk based on a single paragraph on a kingdom in a folio. So you can do whatever you want


If I was going to run a campaign there I'd also pick up any other of the 2E products that would apply to the domains I'd be using. When I ran Curse of Strahd I incorporated parts of Expedition to Castle Ravenloft as well as the Dungeon adventure Fair Barovia to give me more ideas and plots and extended NPC backgrounds to use.

In my opinion there is absolutely no reason to only use the 5E product by itself. We have all this other info available from 40 years of production... no reason to ignore it all.
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Unserious gamer
Got me. I'll see what parts of the book excite my players and go from there. Tying it in to our Eberron game via the Mourning Rail seems a likely starting point.


I'm going to try a little of both, but I think I'll start with a one-shot or short adventure to see if I feel like I can do something longer on the lines of a full-blown campaign. If it's not to the group's liking, I get the feeling it will still be good for "Weekend in Hell" use or as extended one-shots (especially during Halloween).

I think the first game I'm going to do is going to be set in Dementiliu, as a Phantom of the Opera Masquerade Ball / Masque of the Red Death ball where the PCs have been invited to the ball (except for one of the PC's, who has their own agenda as a party crasher) to settle a long-standing feud with a NPC, only to be united when they discover they've gone from predators to prey.


I'm going to eat crow as I said a few months back that I couldn't see myself ever running another Ravenloft campaign again but it looks like that's what's going to happen. I was curious to see if the WotC 5E adventures were any good so I decided to run Curse of Strahd starting soon based on reviews. Surprising Im looking forward to the new setting book, I didnt think Id really care, but my players seem excited for CoS. Obviously Im going to start in Barovia but whether we finish the adventure or not or continue the campaign in Barovia or another domain only time will tell. I started reading I, Strahd yesterday before prepping the adventure, so far its pretty good but not too far in yet.

My opinion is in the short run the metaplot about Ravenloft will be totally frozen or stopped, and one of the reasons is this will be not continued by WotC game designers but scrippt-writters by Entertaiment-One because, I have said it some times, Hasbro wants Ravenloft to be adapted into action-live productions.

The modules serie about the Grand Conjuction are going to be totally rebooted, and this may be right to avoid "spoilers" when some players have seen the ones from AD&D 2nd Ed, allowing to add new surprises. Maybe there are possible plans about the original Barovia from the material plane as a "noir-punk" (1920-30) spin-off (ok, here you could use machine guns, but they are heavy, noisy, expensive, difficult to be hidden and too many times useless against supernatural creatures with bulletproof traits). This spin-off set in a fictional world will replaced the death of the red mask because our reality could be too controversial about the colonial age.
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My thoughts are similar to Stormonu. Write a one shot adventure that would span a level or two. Then decide about a larger campaign.

Other thoughts. I think it would be challenging to set an extended campaign across a large number of levels. Barovia was extended a great deal to be able to do that. It pretty much involves exploring the entire domain.

I’d pick the elements that intrigue you most and the domains that sing to you and focus on a few of them.

A larger campaign would involve finding secrets either about Strahd, or about the wider truth of Ravenloft... in order to escape.

Darklords would definitely feature heavily in each domain but wouldn’t necessarily be killed. Sometimes evaded, trapped or tricked.

A lot of Ravenloft setting material in older editions seems to have been written on the unspoken assumption of a Ghostbusters (or Scooby Doo...) type campaign, where PCs are a wandering group of investigative monster hunters. The choice of making Van Richten and the Weathermay-Foxgroves (and to a lesser degree S) the faces of the setting tended to emphasise this, as this is pretty much exactly the sort of people that they were. Whereas the modules were generally of the 'you had a reason to be travelling to place X, and on the way, by complete coincidence Y happened (which often left you temporarily dead or turned into a monster in a shamelessly railroady way...) which led to adventure Z'.

Personally, I'd probably focus on a small group of thematically and aethetically similar domains. Probably go with a vaguely British theme, using Paridon/Zherisia, Mordent, Lamordia, maybe Nosos, with Forlorn acting the part of Scotland, a version of Sithicus tweaked to be Arthurian rather than Dragonlancey, and perhaps an anglicised Dementlieu (with travellers, traders and so on from Souragne, I'Cath, the new Indian-themed domain whose name I can't remember, Har'Akir etc to add a bit of variety).

What I'd be looking to do in a Ravenloft campaign is to really deeply establish recurring NPCs. Make the PCs deal with mundania like property management, family issues, the Mordent marriage market, making a living. Horror is more effective if it threatens people you care about, and darkness has more impact when it's contrasted with light. If the players were agreeable i'd even suggest they might consider creating PCs from a common background because starting small in a closed enviroment would make it easier to establish a solid group of familiar NPCs for later. The Ravenloft Bennett family, or the girls of Ravenloft St Trinians, or soldiers in Ravenloft Sharpe's regiment, or the crew of the Ravenloft Black Pearl, etc. Have the PCs as regular people who become immersed in the world of monsters progressively and by accident rather than have them be a stereotypical D&D party full of friendless orphans who decide to 'go adventuring' one day.

Probably have a sandbox-type game initially, maaaaaybe working up to maybe confronting a darklord as a campaign climax, but only if that's with what the PCs seem to be most interested in and the decisions they make (probably combined with a pre-campaign survey). The long-term plot should grow from PCs decisions rather than be a choice the DM makes at the start. Ravenloft is all about the consequences of one's own actions, after all, and a customised plot that grows organically has more room to integrate treasured NPCs into. If a darklord confrontation was required, Godefroy might be a good possibility if that's the way it went, or Tristan apBlanc, or even Soth or whatever Jack the Ripper analog is the 5e Zherisia darklord (Sodo never really did anything for me,, to be honest).

Thanks all. Some very good ideas and my assumptions are changing. Heck, I can never pull off a full campaign anyway, so a short arc is probably has the highest chance of success anyway.


Personally, if I was going to run an adventure of campaign in the mists I would hold off until I see what the creative people on DMsGuild come up with to support this product. I am pretty confident there will be a good bit of support on DMsGuild once this hits the street.


I am going to adapt what I am currently doing, which is essentially the same since the start of 4E and the first time I played Keep on the Shadowfell.

The Shadowfell is a reflective plane, constantly warping to become a dark version of the prime material plane. However, when something horrific happens on the prime material plane - catastrophically horrific - the reflection on the dark plane is so profound that it gives life to that section of the plane, and a new Dark Domain is formed. A Death God that resides in that plane detects these changes and seals them off in the mists to protect the rest of the Shadowfell from these 'cancers'.

What exists in these Dark Domains is not the horrific being, location, magical item, or event that was such a catastrophe on the prime, but an even darker shadowy reflection. It is a scar on reality left behind by the wound. It isn't whole, either - it is more like a ghost. It is only the essence of the thing that has been manifested, sometimes in extremely twisted ways. However, when creatures find their ways into these realms, they become intertwined with these scars in ways that slowly allow the scar to become more and more whole. Mortals, and especially their emotions, are used to develop the realm and make the scar into a whole being. Eventually, these scars will usually seek release from their misty prison (although some are quite content to stay within their bubble and enjoy torturing those that fall prey to them). When they do manage to escape, really bad things happen.

When I get the new book, I'll be looking at the rules ideas, and considering using some of the Domains provided as inspiration for other realms in my world that PCs might visit (although I have over 50 Dark Domains already - while the tie to the Shadowfell came about with 4E, I've had Ravenloft Dread Domains in my homebrew cosmology since the first boxed set). I'll also steal monsters, etc... However, I won't use it as a campaign sourcebook as a whole.

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