D&D General The thread where I review a ton of Ravenloft modules

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Yeah Ravenloft didn't have much logic but the point isn't to be rational but to play the tropes - overwrought squires, inns filled with paranoid villagers who don't question the weirdness of the manor and unsavory traumatic acts. Unfortunately DnD doesn't have a system of compulsions v madness so it really does need to be agreed at the start that the game will run on nightmare logic and PCs can die.

It's also to be remembered that Ravenloft is a demiplane, so even if the PCs are trapped that doesn't mean those Wolfweres are - maybe the mist regularly let's them hunt in the Prime world before taking them back.

Anyway I like Howls in the Night and regularly use Bog hounds. The old Ravenloft fan site also had lots of suggested fixes
 
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der_kluge

Adventurer
I agree that Ravenloft is kind of an odd bird... the meta-description of it is intentionally vague in the books. But it does almost feel like it's a world created by some sort of sick DM just for the purpose of having a weird little power trip. But it's more than that. The world only takes in evil things, or demented things, but it can't do that in isolation. Like, it can't just pull in Strahd, because he'd be lonely, and also he'd eventually die (I guess?) because he needs something to feed on. Maybe Strahd is a bad example, since he's undead, but any of the mad doctor types, or the werewolves, yea, they'll starve if the world brings just those people in. So, the world has to bring enough innocent people from the surrounding area in as well just to make the whole place function. It's almost like a self-sufficient evil terrarium. That seems like the best way to describe it.

I've also landed on Renaissance-era technology. You can't really have mad scientists and steamboats if you're using the default sort of dark ages technological levels without some serious mental heavy lifting. So, my version is kind of Renaissance-era, with crude plumbing, some industrial processes, etc. Not quite Victorian, but close. Early 1700s, I guess. That seems to work well in my mind. But I would also imagine that, given the variety of things that Ravenloft drags in, it's got a wide variety of technology. So, some places might very much be fairly primitive, but other places might be higher tech levels. I'm planning on allowing guns, but also planning on making ammunition kind of hard to find. So, swords will still be in demand, because they're more reliable.
 

But it does almost feel like it's a world created by some sort of sick DM just for the purpose of having a weird little power trip.
True-ish, just like a standard horror movie. Running a Ravenloft campaign is a delicate balance between blatant unfairness and giving the PCs a final-girl chance.
The world only takes in evil things
Not true. The Dark Powers like nothing better than corrupting something Good.
he'd eventually die (I guess?) because he needs something to feed on.
Not even true for standard vampires. Not even true in the original book (Dracula). Vampires weaken/age if the don't feed, but they cannot die.
It's almost like a self-sufficient evil terrarium.
Correct.
I've also landed on Renaissance-era technology. You can't really have mad scientists and steamboats if you're using the default sort of dark ages technological levels without some serious mental heavy lifting.
The various domains of Ravenloft have different technology levels, from stone age to sci-fi. Barovia, of course, is based on a Victorian novel, describing a less-than-modern part of the Europe. The gothic style is what it is because it was largely defined by 19th century fiction.


To understand Ravenloft you really need to read/watch the fiction that inspired it. And if you don't like that kind of fiction, you aren't going to enjoy Ravenloft.
 
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TiQuinn

Registered User
I'm working on a Ravenloft campaign (not CoS), and using a lot of these modules to form the basis of my game.
I appreciate threads like this as a Ravenloft fan even if it’s bashing the overwrought and outright bad portions of the modules, and hope that when you do start playing your campaign, you share what you changed. I love that stuff!
 

Remathilis

Legend
@der_kluge , if you don't mind me asking (and at the risk of opening the can it worms all Ravenloft threads end up) are you basing your Ravenloft on the classic era (Black box/red box), DoD era (Domains of Dread/3e Arthaus) or 5e era? The setting has different assumptions based on which one you use as the base.

I'd rather discuss things in the lens of which version you are using, because there is such a risk of using one versions assumptions to argue anothers.
 

Related thread from a while back - D&D General - Reading Ravenloft the setting which you may find interesting or a useful supplement to this one (it was pre-VRGtR though)

Going through the setting domain by domain, using the 3rd ed Arthaus Gazetteers as our guide (because as @Remathilis correctly says, Ravenloft varies a hell of a lot from edition to edition and product to product, and your chosen source material will affect your experience)
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
@der_kluge , if you don't mind me asking (and at the risk of opening the can it worms all Ravenloft threads end up) are you basing your Ravenloft on the classic era (Black box/red box), DoD era (Domains of Dread/3e Arthaus) or 5e era? The setting has different assumptions based on which one you use as the base.

I'd rather discuss things in the lens of which version you are using, because there is such a risk of using one versions assumptions to argue anothers.
Did the Arthaus 3e material ever produce any adventure modules?
 

Remathilis

Legend
Did the Arthaus 3e material ever produce any adventure modules?
Not that I'm aware of? I didn't follow closely during that era as I remember the mechanics they produced were subpar and the fact that they spread the line so thin (player book, DM book, monster book, gazetteers) made collecting it difficult for me. In hindsight, I find the gazetteers are a wonderful source of inspiration and lore, but I'd rather use DoD as a start point than the Arthaus core books.

(Full disclosure, my current game is 5e VRGR based with lots pulled from wikis and the gazzes.)
 


Voadam

Legend
The closest I have from the Arthaus era is the two page adventure outlines in the back of Champions of Darkness.

There was apparently Dark Tales and Disturbing Legends with five adventures:

"Dark Tales and Disturbing Legends presents five classic tales of horror with a Ravenloft twist. Track down a rampaging killer, look behind the scenes of a tragic wedding night or flush out a creature from the darkest imaginings. DMs and players can find new magic items, feats and spells as well as new opportunities to explore the darkest corners of Ravenloft."

There was also the 3.5 WotC very non-Arthaus Expedition to Castle Ravenloft.
 

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