D&D General Reading Ravenloft the setting

So "a woman was involved, so it can't be sexist"? Seriously?

That. Is. Not. What. I. Said.

I am trying to have a real conversation with you. I feel like though, no matter what I say, because I don't agree with some of your core media analysis assumptions, that you are consistently trying to paint me a certain way and reacting to my posts in a certain way. And I think the characterization that you are projecting onto me, is deeply unfair. I will continue to talk about this with you, if we can do with without remarks like "Seriously?" and the others you have lobbed at me. But I am not here to be your bad guy, nor am I trying to be mean to you. I simply, genuinely, honestly, disagree with you about this stuff. Clearly we are coming from very different perspectives. But I don't think I am coming from a morally bad perspective.
 

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
With very few exceptions, the type of character that leaps to my mind is almost invariably female.

(Take a look at fairy tales. Snow white is good and beautiful. The stepmother is not as beautiful, so out of jealousy, she becomes evil, murderous, and ugly when she disguises herself. Cinderella is good and beautiful. The stepmother and stepsisters start out as evil bullies.)

If "at the time" they would be male, that was because of the prevailing sexism of the times where men were usually the main characters in the story and the woman was there to be the love interest.
Not only is there a trope devoted to monstrous looking characters who are rejected on that fact it comes with a ton of male and female characters listed in the examples. It's not that the grotesque is invariably female so much as nobody raises a fuss when he' not. As to the jealousy thing, it's usually called things like narcism (names after the greek male hunter Narcissus) or some horrible form of psycho stalker not fit for being the protagonist of fairy tales which is why the 1958 movie the fly ends not with the fly finding the love of his wife so much as being killed out of mercy.... cinderella would have been a whole lot different if it ended with her asking the prince to kill her sisters out of mercy & him doing so...
 


Faolyn

(she/her)
This seems a very uncharitable conclusion to reach based on a name being shared in two entries. I think it probably is a Claude Rains reference (he did also play the phantom of the opera after all) AND it was a sign these characters were mirrored. There is a lot there that suggests they are complimentary entries (right down to the curse).
And again, while they have similar curses, Dominic still has a far more active writeup and current activities, and he has a woman who's willing to pretend she likes him (as of the Gazetteer) for political reasons--they even have a son together--even though I'd say that he's performed more acts of evil than Jacqueline has. Jacqueline, as a wererat, is evil by default using the old alignment system. Dominic, as a human, had to choose to use his powers for evil (yes, I know, it's difficult to use mind control for good, but still). She killed someone who taught her (likely via emotional abuse) to being even more evil (and who probably was thinking "ah, she took my lessons to heart" as he died). He killed (by manipulating her into suicide) a strict nanny. The text doesn't say, but I like to imagine it involved a lack of cookies before dinner.

Note this line from DoD: He was a handsome child, especially flirtatious with the ladies, who found his behavior harmless and charming. These women lavished affection on the poor, motherless boy, not suspecting how twisted and advanced his little mind actually was.

And from GazIV: Deprived of his mother at birth, Dominic has an insatiable need for female affection and attention. The women in his early life (with one exception noted above [the nanny]) spoiled him relentlessly.

Oh those women! If only they had been stronger and able to resist this charming little boy, they might have realized how awful they were and not doted on him. This not-so-subtly blames the women for giving into him. But where was his father in all of this? The next time he's mentioned, it's when Dominic makes him relocate the family to a new country. I'd bet hard cash that his father's reaction was along the lines of "that little scamp! Well, boys will be boys!"

Also, there's a subtle difference between the two characters. As the screenshot I posted in an earlier post shows, Jacqueline wants romantic love. But Dominic? Dominic wants "female affection and attention" because he didn't have a mother growing up. He's equating love and sex because, well, lots of people do, but he might be happy if he found a new mother willing to dote on him despite his seeming hideousness.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Ever hear cuban expats eastern european expats or expats from some parts of asia talk about how back home there were certain things you just did not talk about or show interest in supporting because bad things happen to those people & nobody wants one of their coworkers/employees to be one of those people without showing proactive efforts to distance the company at the expense of that guy either.
...And?

These are gaming books, not novels. They're supposed to provide that information.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
The black box was a masterpiece.
It was the barest of bones. A good place to start, but not even remotely perfect. It was a place that expected you to come in, kill the Darklord, and leave.

Hell, it didn't even give several darklords actual writeups.

I mean do I have to include all the stuff from when white wolf published ravenloft? That stuff was terrible IMO.
Most of it built on DoD and it wasn't terrible at all. It made Ravenloft into an actual place, filled with people and events and life.
 

Shadowedeyes

Adventurer
I don't think that is why it is there though. I really don't. The type of character who leaps to mind when you read about someone who is in love but rejected because they are too monstrous, especially at that time, would be male. Not to sound like a broken record, but phantom of the opera or beauty and the beast. There are plenty of examples of male characters who suffer that kind of affliction. As another poster pointed out, her curse mirrors the curse of Dominic D'Honaire, who is cursed to become ugly and unappealing to any woman who becomes attracted to. It is also worth noting both had paternal figures named Claude. Both have vaguely French domains. The mirroring is probably intentional. And Dominic, to me is a compelling character on the page but doesn't pop off the page the way Gabrielle or Jacqueline do. Just personal preference I think. He was also simply born evil. Again, I think with these entries, for what they were trying to do, not every curse needed to tightly align with the background. I'd have to sit down and think and the Renier entry to see if there is a visible reason in her background for that entry (there may be something you can intuit through theorizing). But the other female lord detailed in the book, Gabriele Aderre's curse does tie perfectly to her background. I think the one part I agree on is there were not enough female entries in the original boxed set. A few of the entries are extremely long and I think trimming these, probably could have made more room for them. They also have a lot of characters in who's doomed (a couple female) who are not lords). I am sure they were working in a word count limitation that hindered how many entries they were able to do (and the stock cards pick up some of the slack) but it would have been nice to have a full entry for Ivana Boritsi (especially since she became one of the more popular dark lords) and to have more female domain lords. At the same time, there are female characters in there. There are a number of female darklords (most don't get NPC entries). And in my opinion they are all really well done and fit the tone of the book quite well.
I was only really commenting on Jacqueline Reiner's curse specifically in my post. With Dominic, it sounds like there is a lot more in his backstory and motivations involving his view of women. While in Reiner's case it feels more like the Dark Powers just kinda were lazy that day and threw whatever curse they had on deck for the new Darklord. It just feels, to someone (ie, me) learning about the setting now, to be an unnecessary element that muddies the themes of the character, and could be construed as a bit sexist under the right light.

Mind you, I don't claim to be well versed in Ravenloft lore, so I'm coming at this from an outside perspective during the present time. You were introduced to it differently, and are certainly more passionate about the setting, at least for the Black Box, which I presume is the first setting product for Ravenloft, outside of the one off adventures like I6. Which is great, but nostalgia can sometimes blind us to shortcomings in things we remember fondly. I'm certainly not immune to doing that for the things I like in D&D. Ultimately, I guess what I'm rambling on about is that when Ravenloft is updated to 5e, it probably should change to some degree with the times as well. If it can't do that without remaining staunchly Ravenloft, well, the Black Box is still there for those who enjoy it.
 

It was the barest of bones. A good place to start, but not even remotely perfect. It was a place that expected you to come in, kill the Darklord, and leave.

Hell, it didn't even give several darklords actual writeups.


Most of it built on DoD and it wasn't terrible at all. It made Ravenloft into an actual place, filled with people and events and life.
This is obviously preference but I can say for sure, Ravenloft wasn’t about that with the black box. Especially when you apply the van Richten books (the seeds of which were in the RoT boxed set). The charm of the black box is it is highly evocative, gives great broad stroke descriptions of the works while leaving plenty of room for the GM to invent and add. It is minimal but that design works. That it is more ‘bare bones’ is what I like about it. The WE material felt off in tone, made it too much like a typical setting and the content just seemed not very impressive to me (more isn’t necessarily better). Ravenloft is a gothic, dreamy, demiplane. It has real people in it but it isn’t the sort of setting like forgetting realms where endlessly producing more setting canon adds to it: IMO it takes away. I did run the WW Ravenloft but it never resonated with me like the earlier material (and I never found it as successful in play). I know lots of people like it. I just can’t
 

And again, while they have similar curses, Dominic still has a far more active writeup and current activities, and he has a woman who's willing to pretend she likes him (as of the Gazetteer) for political reasons--they even have a son together--even though I'd say that he's performed more acts of evil than Jacqueline has. Jacqueline, as a wererat, is evil by default using the old alignment system. Dominic, as a human, had to choose to use his powers for evil (yes, I know, it's difficult to use mind control for good, but still). She killed someone who taught her (likely via emotional abuse) to being even more evil (and who probably was thinking "ah, she took my lessons to heart" as he died). He killed (by manipulating her into suicide) a strict nanny. The text doesn't say, but I like to imagine it involved a lack of cookies before dinner.

Note this line from DoD: He was a handsome child, especially flirtatious with the ladies, who found his behavior harmless and charming. These women lavished affection on the poor, motherless boy, not suspecting how twisted and advanced his little mind actually was.

And from GazIV: Deprived of his mother at birth, Dominic has an insatiable need for female affection and attention. The women in his early life (with one exception noted above [the nanny]) spoiled him relentlessly.

Oh those women! If only they had been stronger and able to resist this charming little boy, they might have realized how awful they were and not doted on him. This not-so-subtly blames the women for giving into him. But where was his father in all of this? The next time he's mentioned, it's when Dominic makes him relocate the family to a new country. I'd bet hard cash that his father's reaction was along the lines of "that little scamp! Well, boys will be boys!"

Also, there's a subtle difference between the two characters. As the screenshot I posted in an earlier post shows, Jacqueline wants romantic love. But Dominic? Dominic wants "female affection and attention" because he didn't have a mother growing up. He's equating love and sex because, well, lots of people do, but he might be happy if he found a new mother willing to dote on him despite his seeming hideousness.

when I have time will comment on rest but I would say wanting live is arguably a more relatable and interesting motive than equating love and sex (though again even in her entry you can see it does seem to emerge from sex because it follows reference to were rats being lusty). Dominic is an interesting character, I just found Jacqueline to be a better, and starker, villain. It was always difficult for me to figure out how to incorporate and play Dominic. Jacqueline was a lot easier for me to get
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
...And?

These are gaming books, not novels. They're supposed to provide that information.
They did by describing around the black pit of "this book was banned in x country" as southpark recently showed, you just seem to lack the cultural & media exposure to connect it A description can only go so far in describing how brutal & capricious rulers impact the common people of their nation before it starts getting into very problematic territory. Simply describing it to someone who doesn't really grasp the bigger picture is how you get kick the dog evil societies.
 

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