• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General Reading Ravenloft the setting

My problem with the humancentric thing is that first, it's weird from a cosmology standpoint. I'm supposed to believe that the dark powers overwhelmingly only choose human evildoers and adventurers in a multiverse filled with other beings? The second is that it definitely feels like it is that way specifically because the source material didn't have non-humans, except for the monsters themselves. Even if you want to keep it more to a gothic/classic horror style, it might be novel to put a D&D spin on it rather than just trying to repackage the exact story of Dr. Frankenstein's monster into tabletop.

I actually really disliked the idea that everything had to be in the same multiverse in the first place, but I guess once you start having Plane Shift spells and Planescape as a setting and the like, someone's eventually gonna want to write a Marvel vs DC crossover. I liked Soth in RL because he fit so well, and Azalin's desire to escape at least gave him some motivation, but Kalid-ma and Thakok-An had no business being there imho, Vecna and Kas weren't much better, Hazlik didn't really add anything interesting, and most of the other lords who originated from other TSR settings could have just been Ravenloft locals. People like Lukas and Easan - is the fact that they are nominally from FR and Greyhawk actually relevant to their character or their domain? Does the setting they come from actually add anything? In most cases, no.

Sidenote - Dark Sun, with it's notion of the dwarven focus and being condemned to undeath if you died having neglected or failed it, is a far more Gothic take on conventional fantasy dwarfdom than anything in Ravenloft.

So personally while the humanocentric thing works for me from an aesthetic point of view, and I'd certainly run Ravenloft as a human-dominant setting, I just wish they'd commit one way or the other. If you're going to have non-humans in the setting, then at least use them and have towns etc where they live! Don't just blithely assume there's non-human PCs in the setting, then write a world guide that offers no explanations as to where they might come from.

If RL went all-human I'd be sorry to lose the Sithican elves, and I'd probably find an excuse to keep them, but everything else could go as far as I'm concerned (supernaturally 'altered' humans like calibans or dhampirs could stay too). If i'm playing a Ravenloft game, I'm not really interested in multiverse theory. It's a personal choice and everyone's going to have their own opinion, but i'd rather they stick as close to the gothic literary and film roots of the setting and for me it's easier to do that without having to fit in dragonborn and gnomes etc routinely living alongside humans.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

We are talking about that is the "orthodoxy" of Ravenloft canon and if we should allow other sources of inspiration from closer years. I say we do. The mummy is a classic monster, but it doesn't appear in the standar gothic literature.
Actually, The Jewel of the Seven Stars by Bram Stoker is the main source for mummy stories.
 

I have read it. I don't see what this has to do with my point about the Midnight Slasher being more rooted in that kind of literature than in Friday the 13th. My point was Midnight Slasher was meant more for detective style adventures, not slasher style adventures. You can have murderers in gothic horror and in classic horror and not have it be a slasher
You continue to miss the point. The reason for not having slashers in Ravenloft is purely practical. A slasher is only scary if you have no combat skills whatsoever. "Call that a knife?" Says Crocodile PC, pulling out his Greatsword. The focus is on psychological threats because a D&D character is well equipped to handle physical threats and does so every day.

But that doesn't mean you have to drag the whole 19th century baggage along with it.
 

I don't imagine Ravenloft's xenophobia would be considered a feature today. It cuts a little too close to real world racial discrimination and violence, something WotC isn't going to want in their game. In Curse of Strahd, the Barovian natives were mostly human, but other races didn't draw mobs when in town. I suspect VRGtR is going to continue that trend at the very least.
It cut close to real world racism in the 90s too. We talked about Falkovnia and it’s connection to the Holocaust and to Stalinist Russia: people in my campaigns had family killed in the Holocaust, and many of us had met survivors of it. Of course these horrors connect to real world things. You are always likely to be able to draw a line from fear of elves to something in society. Again though I don’t see this as a problem: it isn’t an endorsement of xenophobia: it is painting the fear of Demi humans as a bad thing. This is horror: it isn’t meant to be relaxing
 

But that doesn't mean you have to drag the whole 19th century baggage along with it.
and no one is saying you do. I think what we disagree on is what constitutes baggage. Are you seriously suggesting in your other post that I was intending for any anti-Mormonism to be the message if you take inspiration from the study in scarlet. It is a product of another time. You can still take inspiration from it. Doesn’t mean you hate Mormons
 

Remathilis

Legend
One thing that I'm not sure about with 5e ravenloft is what they're doing with Ezra. She really is the iconic deity of the setting, but it's hard to see what existing domains suit her, and there's no new cleric subclasses included in the book. I suspect there'll be a dozen 'Mist Domain' cleric subclasses up on DMGuild approximately twelve seconds after it is legally allowed. In the meantime, maybe Peace, or even Twilight (if your DM hasn't banned it) could work for Ezra? Belenus from the celtic pantheon is an easier one, Light and Order probably (I wonder if the Celtic pantheon will make it to the 5e book or will they try to move away from real-world religion and maybe merge Belenus into the Morninglord? And what about religion in places like Har-Akir and the new Indian-inspired domain?).

In Black Dice Society, one of the PCs is a cleric of Ezra with the grave domain. His faith is pure, but he's haunted by voices that tell him his deity is a lie. He's from Darkon too, if that helps but doesn't seem to fit the LE sect known of in that land.

And the Mists domain is already on DMsGuild; Ravenloft has been legal there since CoS.
 

You continue to miss the point. The reason for not having slashers in Ravenloft is purely practical. A slasher is only scary if you have no combat skills whatsoever. "Call that a knife?" Says Crocodile PC, pulling out his Greatsword. The focus is on psychological threats because a D&D character is well equipped to handle physical threats and does so every day.

No that isn't it at all. Read the black boxed set again. They are clearly not fans of modern slashers. The reason they don't have slasher, is because they considered it more on the gory, shock end of the horror spectrum (and Ravenloft wasn't about that). Again, I love slashers, but it is obvious many of their oblique criticisms are directed at the likes of Jason. It is very easy to do slasher in Ravenloft using the tools available if you want (all you need is a powerful monster or NPC who has invulnerablitlies, and a powerful knife of some kind: and Guide to the Created made a very good argument for using golems in this way---which I think you can do in Ravenloft). Ravenloft regularly had to deal with the hurdles of characters being more powerful and it suggested many tools and ways of working around those problems. The issue with slashers was a philosophical one, not one of practical need. I think stuff like zombies and serial killers work fine in Ravenloft. It is how you use them more than anything else. I'd be interested for example what Nesmith and Heyday thought of say taking inspiration from Halloween rather than Friday the 13th (as the former relies a lot more on classic techniques of building horror). I can't put words in their mouth (like I said I used to think Ravenloft was shaped by the TSR codes, but I asked someone who was there at the time and they said no). So I am just going by what they wrote and am open to being corrected here. My impression of the slasher thing, just as a fan at the time, was it wasn't until Guide to the Created that a case was made for slashers fitting into Ravenloft (and it was done a particular way)
 
Last edited:

Remathilis

Legend
It cut close to real world racism in the 90s too. We talked about Falkovnia and it’s connection to the Holocaust and to Stalinist Russia: people in my campaigns had family killed in the Holocaust, and many of us had met survivors of it. Of course these horrors connect to real world things. You are always likely to be able to draw a line from fear of elves to something in society. Again though I don’t see this as a problem: it isn’t an endorsement of xenophobia: it is painting the fear of Demi humans as a bad thing. This is horror: it isn’t meant to be relaxing
Yeah, but it's hard to paint the mob with torches and pitchforks who is hunting down your elf ranger and human diviner to burn at the stake as sympathetic locals you need to save from the vampire who is feasting on them. It only helped reinforce the notion that your primary goal is to getyoutheheckouttahere ASAP.
 


Yeah, but it's hard to paint the mob with torches and pitchforks who is hunting down your elf ranger and human diviner to burn at the stake as sympathetic locals you need to save from the vampire who is feasting on them. It only helped reinforce the notion that your primary goal is to getyoutheheckouttahere ASAP.

You can paint it however you want to. It can be these are good people, driven by fear and ignorance, or it can be something more sinister. And you don't have to have everyone starting a mob with torches. Ravenloft always struck me as a place where the folk are fearful, distrustful of outsiders, and affraid of the supernatural. That doesn't mean they are all going to throw an elf on the pyre. It does leave lots of room though for human evil in your adventures.
 

Remathilis

Legend
You can paint it however you want to. It can be these are good people, driven by fear and ignorance, or it can be something more sinister. And you don't have to have everyone starting a mob with torches. Ravenloft always struck me as a place where the folk are fearful, distrustful of outsiders, and affraid of the supernatural. That doesn't mean they are all going to throw an elf on the pyre. It does leave lots of room though for human evil in your adventures.
When I run Ravenloft again, I plan on making the distrustful aspect cultural rather than racial.

That group of travelers? They don't dress like Barovians. They speak foreign tongues or strange accent. They spend strange coins from distant realms we're not sure is real, and they are ignorant of the customs and rituals needed to protect themselves from the creatures of the dark. Best we avoid them and have them be on their way, lest they bring misfortune on us!

You can do all that to a human fighter. No need to bring in race to it.
 

When I run Ravenloft again, I plan on making the distrustful aspect cultural rather than racial.

That group of travelers? They don't dress like Barovians. They speak foreign tongues or strange accent. They spend strange coins from distant realms we're not sure is real, and they are ignorant of the customs and rituals needed to protect themselves from the creatures of the dark. Best we avoid them and have them be on their way, lest they bring misfortune on us!

You can do all that to a human fighter. No need to bring in race to it.
You can do that, and natives of Ravenloft probably would behave that way, but what you are describing is much more like real world racism and xenophobia than a distrust of elves for being magic and not human. Surely the parallel to say an immigrant experience nativist xenophobia is obvious? (Again content doesn’t equal message, having real world evils in a horrid setting makes sense, but I don’t see how you can object to the elf issue yet find this unobjectionable)
 

Remathilis

Legend
You can do that, and natives of Ravenloft probably would behave that way, but what you are describing is much more like real world racism and xenophobia than a distrust of elves for being magic and not human. Surely the parallel to say an immigrant experience nativist xenophobia is obvious? (Again content doesn’t equal message, having real world evils in a horrid setting makes sense, but I don’t see how you can object to the elf issue yet find this unobjectionable)
The difference though is theoretically a non-native Barovian could settle down, learn the language and customs, and integrate into Barovia society. The elf remains an elf and cannot change the circumstances of his birth without powerful magics. That's a huge difference in meaning even if method looks the same. Admittedly, it's still discrimination, but if you want to keep that isolated nature to Ravenloft, making it about outsiders disturbing local customs is less troublesome than hate and fear based on the appearance of a person due to their birth.
 

Voadam

Legend
The fact that they made the inquisition match up to the Celtic pantheon was always a weird mix in Ravenloft. Celts are usually associated more with druids and Ravenloft had both the Morninglord and Ezra as more Christianish stand in churches. It dates back to 2e mixing in more Legends and Lore and turning Celtic mythology into a standard medievalish fantasy D&D church.

2e Domains of Dread also associated the Celtic pantheon with default Ravenloft elves in general (Sithicus elves being their own different thing). I guess mostly from Darkon?

Its also ironic to have this be the anti-fey domain as fey lore is typically associated a lot with Celtic folklore so to have the Ravenloft Celtic realm be the place you don't leave out milk for the fey is a twist.
 

Remathilis

Legend
The fact that they made the inquisition match up to the Celtic pantheon was always a weird mix in Ravenloft. Celts are usually associated more with druids and Ravenloft had both the Morninglord and Ezra as more Christianish stand in churches. It dates back to 2e mixing in more Legends and Lore and turning Celtic mythology into a standard medievalish fantasy D&D church.

2e Domains of Dread also associated the Celtic pantheon with default Ravenloft elves in general (Sithicus elves being their own different thing). I guess mostly from Darkon?

Its also ironic to have this be the anti-fey domain as fey lore is typically associated a lot with Celtic folklore so to have the Ravenloft Celtic realm be the place you don't leave out milk for the fey is a twist.
I think the problem is that the domain originally was very Celtic/Scots/Macbeth inspired but they later added the Salem witch trials on top without adding a puritan church to guide it. Which if also why the hags have so little to do with the main plot.
 

Belenus tended to be the go-to when the writers wanted a 'good' church to spawn a bad guy, for some reason. Wasn't Elena Faith-Hold also a follower of Belenus? There was the LE extremist sect of Ezra from Darkon, but as far as i know there was never really much done with that.

Also, it's bloody silly that landlocked Tepest and Forlorn have a sea god in their pantheon.
 

I think the problem is that the domain originally was very Celtic/Scots/Macbeth inspired but they later added the Salem witch trials on top without adding a puritan church to guide it. Which if also why the hags have so little to do with the main plot.
A little fuzzy on the details of this one, been ten years since I ran the Tepest module, but is it definitely inspired by Salem and not by the European witch craze (the latter was much more extensive and killed way more people, and was the subject of horror movies)
 

The Tepest module is certainly Salem-inspired, but I'm not so sure about the domain itself. The three hags are obviously Macbethy, as is the pantheon. Was the inquisition etc significant in Tepest before the modules were published? I don't have any of the material prior to that.
 

Remathilis

Legend
The Tepest module is certainly Salem-inspired, but I'm not so sure about the domain itself. The three hags are obviously Macbethy, as is the pantheon. Was the inquisition etc significant in Tepest before the modules were published? I don't have any of the material prior to that.
I thought the inquisition was primarily a response to the Grand Conjunction and the Shadow Rift. Like everyone, I'm fuzzy on how much it was a factor prior to the GC, but it was The Driving Force after it.
 

and no one is saying you do.
No you don't. But the Black Box did it anyway.

And once you strip away the sexism, racism, classism and homophobia (not to mention repetition) from the Black Box, you need to find something else to replace it with.
Are you seriously suggesting in your other post that I was intending for any anti-Mormonism to be the message if you take inspiration from the study in scarlet. It is a product of another time.
No, I'm suggesting that in the oh so many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes there has been over the years, they have all managed to snip out Doyle's religious prejudice, to the extent that no one who hasn't read the original novel even knows it was there.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top