D&D 5E The Domains of Dread, listed by the power of their Dark Lord (using their CR)


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Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Interesting. the 2e Ravenloft books said that if a Dark Lord dies, the next most evil person in the domain gets the job.

And they did in the 2e version as well, but if you read further into the domain lore, even though you the DM knew who was lord, the domain inhabitants sometimes didn't know who or even that there was a lord.

So Dark Lords now appear to be immortal (sort of).

Darklords Are Immortal. Darklords are casually immortal, many having no concept of how long they've lived, how many times they've died, or why they returned to life. Should a Darklord fall, the temporary defeat lasts until they're restored by the Dark Powers. In their absence, those who sought to escape or supplant them seize their chance.

Now, it does appear true that the inhabitants of the Domain are not always aware who the Dark Lord is (or even that there is one). For example, Harkon Lukas doesn't actually have much power in his Domain, and is constantly being forgotten by inhabitants.

Harkon is obsessed with spreading his fame and travels Kartakass endlessly. Whenever he returns to a community, though, he finds he has been forgotten. Semi-polite variations of "I thought you'd retired" ever torment him.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Just a thought; is there any mechanism (or implication) for PCs to become the Darklord of a Domain either by replacing an existing Darklord by getting the attention of the Dark Powers?

There isn't really a mechanism explained that I've noticed yet, but Chakuna replaced Ulrik von Kharkov in Valachan, so it's possible.

Chakuna swore to save her people. She entered the tournament freely, determined to turn the tables on von Kharkov or die. She vowed to sacrifice whatever it took to defeat the Darklord—but learned quickly that it takes monstrosity to beat a monster. Chakuna found von Kharkov's weakness, burned Castle Pantara to the ground, and kept the former Darklord's head.

So I suppose there is some implication that by "becoming a monster" you can replace a Dark Lord. This directly contradicts an earlier part which says Dark Lords are immortal and will eventually return, so it's not well explained.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I do think it would be difficult to build a high-level campaign in Ravenloft, but the reason has nothing to do with the CRs of the Darklords, and everything to do with the power curve of D&D itself.

Horror by its nature relies on the resonance of human fears which high-level PCs can generally blow off. The terror of sunset in "Dracula" is rather lessened when you can wave your hand and conjure sunlight. "The Masque of the Red Death" loses something when you can cure disease at will. Zombie apocalypse means little to the fighter who can cut down multiple zombies per round with barely a scratch.

Obviously, you can shut down the relevant abilities by fiat; but now you're playing whack-a-mole with the PCs' abilities, and the focus is on that instead of the intrinsic horror of the setting. I think Ravenloft would benefit immensely from an official 5E version of the "E6" system that people devised for 3.5.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So Dark Lords now appear to be immortal (sort of).

Darklords Are Immortal. Darklords are casually immortal, many having no concept of how long they've lived, how many times they've died, or why they returned to life. Should a Darklord fall, the temporary defeat lasts until they're restored by the Dark Powers. In their absence, those who sought to escape or supplant them seize their chance.

Now, it does appear true that the inhabitants of the Domain are not always aware who the Dark Lord is (or even that there is one). For example, Harkon Lukas doesn't actually have much power in his Domain, and is constantly being forgotten by inhabitants.

Harkon is obsessed with spreading his fame and travels Kartakass endlessly. Whenever he returns to a community, though, he finds he has been forgotten. Semi-polite variations of "I thought you'd retired" ever torment him.
So that begs the question. What happened to Azalin?
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
It’s an interesting point.

I certainly don’t intend Darklords to be the BBEG (Big Bad End Guy) of an adventure in each domain. Not in most cases anyway. It should be fairly obvious that the danger of Ivan Boritsi is not his attack and hp. It’s what he put in your dinner two nights ago. Lol

I largely agree here; fighting Ivana Boritsi in a straight fight would not be hard, even with the book's tweaks, for even a low-level party. I do personally believe though that it would be easier to place Borca as a setting for a low-level adventure, where the focus is navigating the intricate social politics of the realm, as opposed to say I'Cath, where dangerous Jiangshi (CR 9) are roaming every night.
 

I have a suspicion that the secret of high-level Ravenloft is to make the primary dilemma for the PCs not a particular fight, but a choice between two terrible options with large-scale consequences.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
So that begs the question. What happened to Azalin?

Well, the book not only doesn't answer... it gives several answers! There are numerous tables that give possible explanations for what happened to Azalin, so there is no "canonical" explanation. He could be dead, escaped, roaming the Domains... all that is clear is that Darkon is slowly being destroyed, and no one knows what happened to him.
 

PCs could be cursed and tricked to believe they are the new dark lord, but the true one is other.

My opinion is the levels of the most important nPCs aren't frozen or static, but you can add more levels like the rest of monsters because you think the PCs are too powerful.

Dark Lords can die or be destroyed forever if Dark Powers find a better candidate.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Just a thought; is there any mechanism (or implication) for PCs to become the Darklord of a Domain either by replacing an existing Darklord by getting the attention of the Dark Powers?

More details on how Chakuna pulled it off against Ulrik von Kharkov;

Heartless.
Chakuna has no heart—literally. At the height of her contest with von Kharkov, she ripped it out of her chest with her fingers and placed it at the center of the Yaguara Mountain maze, then replaced it by taking and eating von Kharkov's heart. Doing so, she co-opted von Kharkov's powers and accursed immortality and claimed Valachan as her own. Within Yaguara's Heart, the sacred nexus of the maze, Chakuna's heart still beats as one with the land, infinitely connected and as robust as the rain forest. But like anything that lives, her tie with the domain she's claimed must be maintained. Life eats life. And so Chakuna sacrifices the blood of the hunted to the land to maintain her grip on power. If she doesn't, the plants and animals of the domain grow hostile, threatening to wipe out all who dwell there.

So um... I guess if a PC did this, they could replace Chakuna. No idea what one would need to do in another Domain, as this seems very Domain specific. I suppose the idea is the PC needs to gain near-identical flaws to who they replace.
 

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