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D&D General Reading Ravenloft the setting


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Welp, this is in an interesting thread. Interesting enough to get me to sign back up to this forum for the first time in, like, I dunno, 20 years. Anyhoo, AMA about the Gazetteers and I'll answer, to the extent I can, respectfully.

Oh wow, well if you've read the thread then you've already probably seen about 400 questions! And to be honest, even a stream-of-consciousness reaction to any random bits of the stuff in the thread that catches your attention would be awesome. But as for some of the ones I've been particularly curious about...

The adherence to prior canon of the Gazetteer line. How much scope for deviating from the pre-3e line did Arthaus have? Obviously the timeline advanced a bit and there were the inevitable changes resulting from that, but if you wanted to could you have, for instance, replaced darklords, or had a new upheaval along the lines of the Grand Conjunction and rearranged domains, or similar? Or could you have even retconned some of the cities to be bigger? (Demographics and the lack of a really major urban centre in the Core is something we've discussed in the thread at length)

Similarly, with Sithicus, were there limits on what Dragonlance-y material you were or were not able to use?

Thoughts on the place of demihumans and magic in the setting in general? There always seemed to be a tension between the humanocentric and low-magic gaslamp Gothic aesthetic that RL was emulating, and the mechanical realities of D&D where there's probably going to be a wizard and a dwarf or whatever in most parties, and the fighter is much more likely to be wearing full plate than greatcoat and tricorn. Did that ever bother you in the development process, and if so, how did you square the circle?

Any ideas on the origin/purpose of the memory-rewriting effect that happened to people who stayed in Darkon for too long?

Where DOES Strahd get his opera cloaks from, given he wears them all the time while there's no opera houses closer than Dementlieu?
 

Castle Island

Was this even a domain pre-3e? I know it existed as a side-trip in the Servants of Darkness module, but i don't remember it being a self-contained domain. I remember the Lady of the Lake as a significantly powerful monster in the context of the module, but not much more than that.

Castle Island in situated in Lake Kronov, a large, deep, monster-ridden and storm-prone freshwater lake in the middle of Tepest. It's a tiny domain, basically just the island and a small amount of the surrounding lake. The island is really just a craggy rock spur topped with the shattered ruins of a castle. The sole inhabitant is the darklord. One thing I really like about this domain is the Lady's means of closing the borders. Specifically, she can't literally stop people leaving, but anyone crossing the borders while they're 'closed' is afflicted with suicidal madness until they return (as if via a standard failed Madness check). That's creepy, atmospheric, and rich in plot hooks, and I'd love to have seen similar less black-and-white border closing mechanisms used for more domains, especially the smaller pocket domains or the ones like Falkovnia where the darklord didn't have conscious control of the borders. There's a reasonable Tepestani population in the villages etc that ring the lake, they're all aware of the place but steer clear in terror. Even the Inquisition and Wyan don't get close, though there's no real in-character explanation as to why. Surely Finn and the rest would be itching to clear the place out?

Our darklord is a sirene, once the guardian of the lake, who fell in love with a mortal hermit. When she was pregnant with their child, he fell foul of a powerful fey and was turned into a monster that haunted the lake, although he retained his mind in the beast's shape. Eventually the hermit was slain in beast-form by a paladin who mistook him for a real monster. The Lady of the Lake then devoted herself to vengeance in a very extreme, fey-like way - her daughter grew to adulthood and then seduced the paladin to ruin his marriage, the Lady charmed and drowned his wife as she fled, and then later, the caliban child of that union mortally wounded the paladin, dying in the process. The Lady intended to keep the paladin barely alive to suffer indefinitely, but was whisked off by the mists before that could happen. Now she's trapped with the ruins of the paladin's keep as her domain, deprived of the revenge that she sacrificed her daughter and grandson for. And the Dark Powers have replaced her beast-shaped lover with a genuine monster in the same form, so she is reminded all the time of what she lost.

Obviously there's not really enough going on here to spin a full campaign out of. It's a mini-domain after all (not strictly a pocket domain, but similar in size to most of them). I do like the backstory, it's very fey-like in both the characterisation of the Lady and of the fey who cursed her lover in the first place, and the paladin's mistaken slaying of the avanc-hermit is classic medieval tragedy. But the Lady's modern attitude is just one of angry omnicidal psycho unfortunately, and there's not really any obvious way to bring all of the interesting backstory to the fore in an actual game. Perhaps via a familial legacy, PC descended from the paladin etc? The hook presented is that if anyone slays the avanc, another man becomes the new avanc, and so seeking out and slaying the Lady is the only way to get your party member or relative or whatever back. But again, that skips over a lot of the interest in the story. Perhaps a ghost in the Castle, the paladin's wife maybe? Or maybe the Lady's daughter is another victim, she might have had a family and life of her own before being thrown away in search of her mother's vengeance. She could possibly be a Fathomless warlock patron, now i think of it. Or even Ione the paladin himself - the Lady never saw him actually die, could he be roaming the Mists somewhere, having more children, training up squires intent on his own revenge in turn? Has he realised that his hasty sword bears some responsibility for everything that happened? There needs to be a hook in here, to get the PCs involved in the backstory. At the moment, you just go kick down the door and kill the siren and go home, counting your XP.

I'm in two minds about how well this odd but flavourful domain fits in Tepest. The fey themes suit nicely, but there's a sort of quasi-medieval and near-Arthurian vibe about it as well, and maybe it'd fit better somewhere more chivalric? Mind you, the core is short of those. Sithicus could work, or Mordent at a stretch if you're willing to have all this seminal tragedy happen further in the past (canonically, it's only 14 years since the paladin Ione died). Or the Shadowborn cluser somewhere? Though actually, Forlorn could be a really good option. The tech level is about right, as is the cultural match if you date all these events before the fall of Tristan and the transition of the place into Ravenloft, and the Forlorn lake monster doesn't really do much of anything interesting. The Lady's avanc could be a good substitution for Aggie. Or hell, it could be a pocket domain in any sea you care to name, really.

No PC pic for this domain. Other than the darklord, the domain literally has a population of zero! I wonder in fact, if this was going to be a preview of how the small and pocket domains were going to be treated in future Gazetteer books. The Core is made of large domains on the whole, but once you get outside the Core, there's a lot of little ones. Even in the Sea of Sorrows, how much can you really write about Ghastria or Blaustein, which are basically one building on an island each? Or going forward, Scaena, Leederick's Tower, The Endless Road, Shadowborn Manor? There's really not a lot of territory to write about in these domains, were they going to be covered, like Castle Island, as asides from bigger domains? The House of Lament was merely mentioned in passing in Gaz IV as being situated in Borca, and S didn't visit it or cover it in detail at all, and unlike Castle Island its darklord didn't even get a back-of-the-book writeup. But especially for Gaz VI and VII, covering the seas east and west of the core, if you're not writing about tiny domains, there's not much to write about at all...

Next up, Keening.
 
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Voadam

Legend
Welp, this is in an interesting thread. Interesting enough to get me to sign back up to this forum for the first time in, like, I dunno, 20 years. Anyhoo, AMA about the Gazetteers and I'll answer, to the extent I can, respectfully.
Hazlik's new lore was a big change for him and how he was presented in the three 2e setting books and the 3.0 Secrets book. It did not contradict any of his old lore, but his old lore had no indication of any of the directions of the new lore.

What was the motivation for adding this kind of new lore to his character story? Was he considered too boring or flat and this was a way to add a new dimension to him? Was it themes a specific author wanted to see in a D&D character/story and this was an opportunity to do so? Something else?
 

The adherence to prior canon of the Gazetteer line. How much scope for deviating from the pre-3e line did Arthaus have? Obviously the timeline advanced a bit and there were the inevitable changes resulting from that, but if you wanted to could you have, for instance, replaced darklords, or had a new upheaval along the lines of the Grand Conjunction and rearranged domains, or similar? Or could you have even retconned some of the cities to be bigger? (Demographics and the lack of a really major urban centre in the Core is something we've discussed in the thread at length)

We (the Kargatane) had an extremely free hand, in a sense. More or less we were just told not to reference other settings and then left to our own devices. Our initial developer (who handed off to the developer team we had for the rest of run) actually gave us one creative note: to break up the Core into separate domains, the 5E approach. However, none of us wanted to do that, and we were handed such an extremely short deadline on the core setting book that we more or less just ignored it. (More on scope for using other settings in the next question.)

But to answer a lot of questions with one answer: While it's true that "White Wolf" published Ravenloft 3E, they did so under their Arthaus line. Arthaus was their "studio" for low-budget, small-audience books. To get RL 3E going, Arthaus hired us, the Kargatane, thanks to recommendations from various TSR/WotC folks who were familiar with us. And generally speaking, the Kargatane were a bunch of D&D 2E nerds with limited to no exposure to White Wolf's RPGs. So a lot of speculation about the "White Wolf" feel of the Arthaus RL books always tickles me.

Similarly, with Sithicus, were there limits on what Dragonlance-y material you were or were not able to use?

The thing about not using other settings is that there were instances - Soth most obviously - when we had to reference them. Ignoring a lot of Domains of Dread's tie-darklords-to-other-settings-for-its-own-sake policy was easy. But you literally can't talk about Sithicus without involving Dragonlance (though the removal of Soth himself did make that easier). And the other thing about not using other settings is that we never received any specific guidelines about what we could and couldn't use. So over time, we realized that the only way to figure out where the boundaries were was to start tapping the ground with sticks and seeing if we hit any landmines. (We never did.) So, in Sithicus, we used the names of Krynn's moons on purpose, basically just to see what would happen. Paladine being mentioned by name was probably an oversight that slipped through the cracks (I say without checking my notes); by then we'd well established (and preferred) our use of formal titles for "outlander" gods.

Thoughts on the place of demihumans and magic in the setting in general? There always seemed to be a tension between the humanocentric and low-magic gaslamp Gothic aesthetic that RL was emulating, and the mechanical realities of D&D where there's probably going to be a wizard and a dwarf or whatever in most parties, and the fighter is much more likely to be wearing full plate than greatcoat and tricorn. Did that ever bother you in the development process, and if so, how did you square the circle?

We basically had two primary creative principles when approaching Ravenloft:

1. We viewed Ravenloft 3E as a direct continuation and synthesis of 2E Ravenloft's continuity. The inability to directly incorporate other settings ended up being far more a tool that we could lean on to pursue our primary goal (of codifying Ravenloft into an adventure setting that made some kind of logical sense from a moment-to-moment basis) far more than it was ever any kind of "contractual obligation" that we had to work around.

2. Be as open as possible (from our POV) to incorporating as much of 3E D&D as possible.

So in the case of both setting continuity and rules options, our goal was to "say yes" in an internally consistent form. Keep in mind that we were coming out of the 2E era, which simply said "no" to a lot of PC concepts.

On top of that, we were, as I mentioned, deep lore nerds who wanted to bring to the fore some ideas we thought the setting had been playing around, as well as some ideas which, well, how to put this. Some ideas that were intended to be progressive at the time but haven't aged well. In the late 1990s-early 2000, pushing the idea that "Vistani are individuals; they're just people, like everyone else" felt important; looking back now, well, there's a lot of "half-blooded ethnic group" talk that wouldn't fly. When Curse of Strahd's depiction of the Vistani stirred up some controversy, several of us in the Kargatane chatted a bit, looking back at our own work, and generally speaking, our sense was "We did our best at the time; we'd do things differently now."

Any ideas on the origin/purpose of the memory-rewriting effect that happened to people who stayed in Darkon for too long?

That was part of Darkon from its first appearance, with extra details (the book) being added during the Grand Conjunction modules. With 3E Ravenloft, we wanted to incorporate as much lore as possible, so basically we would've made efforts to grandfather in everything we could. Rewriting as necessary when that lore was disjointed or wildly inconsistent of course. (Part of this is that, as with Nova Vaasa, if you just ignore the incompatible backstories that have come before while maintaining the overall continuity, then you're just adding a fourth incompatible backstory to the pile.)

Which is to say, Darkon's memory-leeching power is something we inherited, and I can't speak to the Black Box authors' specific creative decisions. However, as a manifestation of Azalin's obsessive control freak personality, it worked for me.

Where DOES Strahd get his opera cloaks from, given he wears them all the time while there's no opera houses closer than Dementlieu?

Vistani, man. (The real reason, of course, is that Strahd's 1E-2E-3E look was based on the classic Lugosi/Lee Dracula, which was in turn based on the stage play of Dracula, in which Dracula is basically only ever seen attending dinner parties in England; he never wears the fashions of his homeland.)
 

Hazlik's new lore was a big change for him and how he was presented in the three 2e setting books and the 3.0 Secrets book. It did not contradict any of his old lore, but his old lore had no indication of any of the directions of the new lore.

What was the motivation for adding this kind of new lore to his character story? Was he considered too boring or flat and this was a way to add a new dimension to him? Was it themes a specific author wanted to see in a D&D character/story and this was an opportunity to do so? Something else?

A. Yes, we thought he was kind of boring, and B. As I dimly recall at this late date, while discussing the details of his backstory, I think it literally came down to us looking around and saying, "Guys, I think Hazlik is gay. So why don't we just say that." It was, of course, important to us that Hazlik's sexuality was the root of the cruelties he suffered (which then provoked his revenge), not the root of his damnation.
 

Faolyn

Hero
We (the Kargatane) had an extremely free hand, in a sense. More or less we were just told not to reference other settings and then left to our own devices. Our initial developer (who handed off to the developer team we had for the rest of run) actually gave us one creative note: to break up the Core into separate domains, the 5E approach. However, none of us wanted to do that, and we were handed such an extremely short deadline on the core setting book that we more or less just ignored it. (More on scope for using other settings in the next question.)
Y'know, I always wondered why so much stuff from the Book of S__ series was in the Gazetteers. I always assumed you were both drawing from adventures and novels, since I don't read either of those.
 

Y'know, I always wondered why so much stuff from the Book of S__ series was in the Gazetteers. I always assumed you were both drawing from adventures and novels, since I don't read either of those.

The Gazetteers are chock-a-block full of references to adventures and novels. And, yes, the Kargatane went straight from writing/producing the Book of S netbooks to holding the keys to the setting; of course we were going to use a lot of our own ideas. (When I say our own, I specifically mean we, the Kargatane who were getting paid; we considered it inappropriate to include concepts submitted to the netbooks by fans, since that would mean taking their ideas, for free, for use in commercial works. Creative "no no," for us. Of course, one of those "unpaid fans" is now behind Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, which is great.)

The only source of "canon" we more or less straight-up ignored were the trading cards, and even then because we didn't have access to them.
 

Welp, this is in an interesting thread. Interesting enough to get me to sign back up to this forum for the first time in, like, I dunno, 20 years. Anyhoo, AMA about the Gazetteers and I'll answer, to the extent I can, respectfully.
Did you have a plan or schedule for including the small or pocket domains in the Gazetteers? The books mentioned the House of Lament, and also Castle Island as discussed above, but so many of Ravenlofts domains are tiny. Shadowborn Manor was going to get it's own writeup according the the Gaz overview document that's been floating around online for ever (I have no idea how S was going to do that...) but any thoughts about the others? Was there any sort of plan to touch on places like Scaena, the Endless Road, Leederick's Tower, the Richten Haus etc etc? Or would it have more likely been a case of 'we'll slip them in at the time of writing if we can'?

Nosos is one I'm particularly interested in. In Islands of Terror it was actually quite a sizeable place, with industries and mines and shantytowns and vanishing forests, but Domains of Dread kinda shrank it to a garbage dump mini-domain. I have to admit i never liked the darklord much but the pre-DoD iteration of the domain itself was very evocative.
 

M.L. Martin

Adventurer
A. Yes, we thought he was kind of boring, and B. As I dimly recall at this late date, while discussing the details of his backstory, I think it literally came down to us looking around and saying, "Guys, I think Hazlik is gay. So why don't we just say that." It was, of course, important to us that Hazlik's sexuality was the root of the cruelties he suffered (which then provoked his revenge), not the root of his damnation.

I think Hazlik’s sexuality was first floated on the Ravenloft mailing list in the mid-90s by one of the designers, and fans sort of picked it up and ran with it. Sadly, my archives of the list are in a format I can't unpack right now.
 

Did you have a plan or schedule for including the small or pocket domains in the Gazetteers? The books mentioned the House of Lament, and also Castle Island as discussed above, but so many of Ravenlofts domains are tiny. Shadowborn Manor was going to get it's own writeup according the the Gaz overview document that's been floating around online for ever (I have no idea how S was going to do that...) but any thoughts about the others? Was there any sort of plan to touch on places like Scaena, the Endless Road, Leederick's Tower, the Richten Haus etc etc? Or would it have more likely been a case of 'we'll slip them in at the time of writing if we can'?

It never made it onto the official release schedule, but I'd planned on a book dedicated to pocket domains. A brief intro laying out the concept (tiny domains that move), and then an Islands of Terror-style collection of example domains, some old, some new. Hopefully presented out of character as adventuring sites, with maps and stats and hooks and such. Never made it past the scratch notes stage, though.

Nosos is one I'm particularly interested in. In Islands of Terror it was actually quite a sizeable place, with industries and mines and shantytowns and vanishing forests, but Domains of Dread kinda shrank it to a garbage dump mini-domain. I have to admit i never liked the darklord much but the pre-DoD iteration of the domain itself was very evocative.

I don't think I have access to any of my old notes anymore, but I dimly recall wanting to treat Nosos as being at the high end of the scale for pocket domains - roughly the size of an island of terror, but one that would appear at the Misty Border of an existing domain or even in Prime Material worlds, sending workers out to ravage the neighboring land like locusts.
 

Keening.

Keening (and to some degree the Shadow Rift) aren't even domains like Forlorn or Markovia or the like. which exist primarily to provide a venue for one particular adventure to pan out. These are domains that are actually adventure sites in themselves and not much else. They've got no local PCs, are dominated by undead and shadow fey respectively, and what societes that do exist here are very, very inhuman. Your PCs are not going here to help hunt a monster that's preying on the locals, you're going here in search of something while the majority of the locals do their best to hunt you. Even Verbrek is friendlier.

We only get about 10 pages on the domain, plus the darklord profile for Tristessa (a name that very roughly translates as 'woman of tears' I think - TSR occasionally tended towards the Games Workshop School of Extremely Obvious Names). Which isn't much of a surprise, given how desolate and unpopulated the place is.

Keening is roughly rectangular and surrounded on two sides by Tepest (which does not make the Tepestani happy), one side by the Shadow Rift (the Shadow Rift doesn't make ANYBODY happy), and one side by Darkon (in particular, one of the least-well-documented and most isolated areas of Darkon in the far northwest corner of the Mountains of Madness, so most Darkonians are far enough away that they've got other more pressing sources of unhappiness than Keening)

Ecologically, the place is dead. Nothing more complex than lichen lives here, clinging to rocks in the stark mountains. Every single creature listed in the suggested encounters sidebar is undead. The land is rugged and barren, an extension of the Mountains of Madness with all life scoured out - bare gritty soil and cold crumbling rock. The lone peak of Mount Lament (and the tunnels beneath it where Tristessa dwells) stands in a flat wasteland.

(Why is there no really high-altitude domain? Perhaps a Himalayan-inspired one? I recently read the excellent 1920s-set mountaineering horror novel Thin Air by Michelle Paver, and that's begging to be made into a domain. Do not waste your time on Abominable by Dan Simmons though - I loved The Terror, but Abominable is one of the legitimately worst-conceived books I've ever read. But seriously, obsessively gloryhungry imperial explorers, abandoning your stricken friends in pursuit of fanatical ambition, yetis, high-altitude monasteries, the callous exploitation of local porters, sky burials, frostbite, horrible slow deaths and sudden precipices, the frozen corpses of failed mountaineers slowly emerging from ice or being ground down by glaciers - and if Jeremy Wade is to be believed, down the mountain a bit in the meltwater rivers lurk massive man-eating catfish. This stuff is Ravenloft gold...)

I'm a little unsure about the origin of this geography, probably because I'm not very well across how this place worked before the Great Upheaval. S recognises the geology of Keening as resembling bits of the Mountains of Madness, which I BELIEVE was once part of a bigger domain called Arak which spanned both parts of what is currently Darkon and the Shadow Rift. The Tepestani talk about seeing the mountains shift and rise as Keening emerged, so obviously Keening is no longer in its original place, but Tristessa's backstory is integrally entwined with Loht and the Arak (the fey people who call themselves by that name, not the defunct domain), who live in the Shadow Rift. If I had a pre-DoD map of the core I could probably figure it out, but the geography remains confusing and unintutive to me, and to be honest this (and similar occurrences is Valachan, Gundarak, Verbrek/Arkandale etc) is a bit of a barrier to entry for a new reader. Metaplot getting in the way of gaming setting.

There are exactly two places of any interest here. One is a small village once populated by humans, but the unnatural scouring sandstorm that heralded the domain's creation slew them all, and now they're all skeletons mindlessly aping the activities of their daily lives. Which is a creepy image, though it's one we've already done in Necropolis, though when it comes to using it in an actual game Keening has the advantage in that your PCs won't drop dead within a minute of crossing the border.

Second if Mt Lament itself, Tristessa's lair and the lair of the undead fey she draws magnetically to herself. If you want an eerie and eldritch dungeon, this certainly might fit the bill. Labyrinths of tunnels, quicksilver-mirror pools of memory, lost artworks, ennhanted mushroom groves, elegantly carved locust statues that offer prophesy in exchange for riddles, weapons and forges of the shadow elves who dwelt here before Tristessa's ascension. It's probably more of a conventional D&D monster-bashing dungeon rather than anything particularly Ravenlofty, you'd need to weird it up a bit. Perhaps Van Richten's Guide to the Shadow Fey might have some ideas? It's been a while since i read it, though i thing it was primarily written for parties hunting a single roaming fey rather than planning to assault their underground fortress.

Tristessa is a bit confused, racially. Originally written as a drow, then later retconned to a 'shadow elf' when the Powers That Be decided they didn't want drow in Ravenloft, but unlike basically every single other of the zillion elf subspecies spawned over 2e and 3e, shadow elves are literally fey rather than PC-type elves. I think this is a missed opportunity, to be honest. Making Tristessa a regular elf (before she became a banshee) at least potentially gives PCs an angle to want to interact with her, or perhaps you could link her with the elves of Nevuchar Springs, or even Sithicus if you're playing fast and loose with canonical Ravenloft elf-lore? Even someone plausibly knowing a bit about her might be useful, and might set PCs on the track of actually investigating her rather than avoidance or beatdown. As it is, she's a monster who was murdered by another monster for her monstrous deeds in the service of a monster-deity and became more monstrous as a result, and she lives in a deadly dungeon under a deadly mountain the middle of an isolated desolate wasteland with basically no reason for sane people to ever want to come here.

Tristessa was a member of the Arak fey, and a really nasty priestess of not-Lloth. This drew the ire of other shadow fey, and in a vicious proxy war (proxy because Arak are forbidden from slaying other Arak by ancient law), she was defeated and cast out. Loht, the prince of the Arak, violated the sacred law and staked her and her newborn half-fiend child out to die in the sun. Oddly, this vastly transgressive act AGAINST her rather than by her, was the event that triggered the formation of the domain of Keening and Tristessa's becoming its darklord. I really don't understand that. Them wacky ol' Dark Powers, amirite? Currently she is (unhelpfully) pretty much mad, although she'd incurably vicious and tyrannical into the bargain. She WAS a high-level priestess of not-Lloth after all, you don't get to that status by being warm and fuzzy. You can distract her for a few days by bringing her a live child that she can mistake for her own for a while (this is what S does, to the pangs of her own underutilised conscience - S has something of a regretted history of sending children off to play with undead creatures after all...), but as soon as the child inevitably dies Tristessa is not going to be happy with you, or anyone in the world for that matter. She's not an active Darklord, she mostly just lurks in her cave or wanders melodramatically across the mountain barrens, sending out her slavish undead-fey minions in the vain hope of finding her (long dead) child alive.

Using Keening in a game. Hmmm. That's a tough one. Obvious way to have a Keening one-shot is to have a party in Tepest or southern Darkon and have undead fey steal all (or some, or a particular one) of the local babies, and for the PCs to have to try to rescue mount a rescue before Tristessa (who has a touch attack) cuddles it/them to death. But that's a fairly straight up-and-down plotline. To actually explore the motivations and origin of Tristessa, you're going to have to deeply involve the Shadow rift and learn secrets that Loht would murder anyone, much less a bunch of smelly mortals, for knowing. Keening doesn't stand alone well, you do need Loht here too, and you need to know about the Law of Arak. The dynamic is very odd. Are there any other domains which clearly originated in the act of someone other than their founding darklord? Or which you have to travel to another domain to learn about? Necropolis, maybe. The other reason you might come here is to seek a prophesy from the Locust King, but jeez, if you can survive under Mt Lament long enough to do that without feeding babies to Tristessa, then you could probably just cast Commune or Legend Lore and save yourself the trouble. And here we run into the Shadow Fey problem again - basically no mortal knows the Locust King exists at all. If Tristessa had been an elf, even a weird one, then it'd be more plausible to learn than information. Or maybe you could seek something in the now-dead human village? But jeez, it seems odd to come to Keening and visit a minor village full of mundane and relatively inoffensive skeletons and studiously avoid everything that makes Keening Keening...

I'm not in love with the place, fairly clearly. It's a horrible out of the way part of the world, and despite its atmospheric underground fortress, you actually need to travel to the next domain and learn basically all its most shameful secrets if you're planning to treat the darklord as anything other than a boss monster to be punched. Mt Lament is a strong point, and the ghostly processions of slain fey as they troop glumly into Tristessa's enslavement is a creepy picture too. But ... how do you get here? Why do you come here? Honestly, if there's anything that cried out to become a pocket domain, it's this. It's a FEY domain, and the fey are known for appearing and disappearing weirdly. If Tristessa and her dead faeries trooped across the lands on the night of the half moon, stealing babies and taking them into her domain via otherworldly doors that opened in local cliffsides and would only exist for one night ... THAT would be a better use of the concept.

Again, no PC pic here. Everyone who ever lived here is dead.

Next, the Shadow Rift. Cos what low-magic gothy investigative Ravenloft really needs is a CR 40 darklord...
 


JEB

Hero
Honestly, it's kind of surprising Keening made it into the new book. Wouldn't be surprised if it got a radical overhaul. (Though it is one of the short "other" domains, so maybe not.)
 

Remathilis

Legend
Honestly, it's kind of surprising Keening made it into the new book. Wouldn't be surprised if it got a radical overhaul. (Though it is one of the short "other" domains, so maybe not.)
My guess from what has been spoiled is that the paragraph domains are really just stripping domains down to basic essence and allowing the DM to fill in the details. Keening as presented is kinda one-track, but a lonely mountain with a banshee looking for her lost child is a good La Llorona adventure seed.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Honestly, it's kind of surprising Keening made it into the new book. Wouldn't be surprised if it got a radical overhaul. (Though it is one of the short "other" domains, so maybe not.)
Since I don't think they're including the Shadow Rift (I'd have to go back and check the ToC), maybe they're turning it into the new fey realm.
 



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