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

In a weird way, I still don't think I've seen my perfect Ravenloft incarnation. If I wanted to really focus on the horror and the investigation, I'd probably go with 2e Masque but bring those rules into Ravenloft itself.

That seems easy enough to port in. It is basically modified 2E. And while it varies from boxed set to boxed set to book to book, Ravenloft was always trodding into gunpowder eras anyways (some of the illustrations look like they are meant to be 18th even 19th century)
 

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der_kluge

Adventurer
This may have been my review :) (HERE). Just to be clear about that one, it was one of my favorite adventures that I remembered running, but I also recalled needing to make a lot of adjustments to it to get it to function (it has a lot of issues, particularly with the way it structures things around its boxed text). Also the aim of those reviews were to run my players, who didn't live through that era, through Ravenloft as I remember running it at the time (to give them a sense of the history of play). So I was embracing even elements I would think of as bad today, like Railroads, while trying to extract the value that people would have seen in them in the time. Normally I am more of a sandbox GM. So going back and doing that, took a bit of discipline to run as written. What I learned was, even though this isn't how I would run things normally today, there were things the game could do well, if you leaned them (I think one thing I identified was the railroad in Mordenheim's Bride (the adventure that comes before) helps create a really strong sense of mood. Now that comes at the expense of player freedom, and at the cost of things being quite linear, so it isnt' what I would call ideal. But my aim was to approach the review more like history (so I wasn't saying if you take this adventure and run it as written with your current group it is going to be fire or anything)
Fascinating. I can't see how Blood in Moondale could be ran without the PCs just knowing like, immediately, the captain is a werewolf. That module only seems to serve as a kind of one-shot as well, because I can't possibly see how any D&D game works where the group is a militia serving under a captain.
 

der_kluge

Adventurer
I agree - though I would say that there's nothing wrong with restraining the options and the magic items in Ravenloft, even if you are keeping with the dark fantasy milieu. And sometimes even my approach undercuts some of the potential - one of my favorite concepts from the new Van Richten guide was the Bagman -- a boogeyman who lurks inside Bags of Holding and creeps out at night (shudder).

In a weird way, I still don't think I've seen my perfect Ravenloft incarnation. If I wanted to really focus on the horror and the investigation, I'd probably go with 2e Masque but bring those rules into Ravenloft itself.
OMG, I LOVE the bagman. So wonderful.

One of my GMs ran a scenario involving, what I can only assume was a "Hearth Fiend". We were tasked with finding a murderer, and ending up killing the town's mayor because we so strongly believed that he was behind it, even though it was a hearth fiend the entire time. So diabolical.
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
Fascinating. I can't see how Blood in Moondale could be ran without the PCs just knowing like, immediately, the captain is a werewolf. That module only seems to serve as a kind of one-shot as well, because I can't possibly see how any D&D game works where the group is a militia serving under a captain.
The way I'd run it is have the captain be an NPC well before you run Blood in Moondale so that he's not "Obvious New NPC Villain". I'd also throw in a couple of other NPCs for good measure as red herrings.
 

der_kluge

Adventurer
I want to add, once again, that I really appreciate your work and reviews @der_kluge While other people may want to bury their heads in the sand, metaphorically speaking, these reviews align with my own experience running some of these modules. I ran Feast of Goblyns as one of my first Ravenloft modules (after the brilliant Night of the Walking Dead) and it was an unmitigated DISASTER. That module is so bad that I agree with you to be unfixable without so much work that, in that case, you're better off writing your own.

Once again thanks for these reviews, as they really allow us to have a good perspective on whether these modules are usable (or not) in 202—
Thank you!
My hope is that this thread continues to live for a very long time, and the next poor sap who comes along with the intention of running these modules can get some value out of the work I'm putting into these reviews. I certainly know I could have benefited from having reviews of all these before I started this process. ENWorld used to actually be a reviews site, but that doesn't appear to be true anymore. Not sure why.

It's not always easy to gauge how successful a module will be just from the read. Certainly, I was called out by my 5-star review on House of Lament. Did I miss the mark? Perhaps. I'll know as much after I run it. But I think it's fairly easy to avoid the disasters from a thorough read-through.
 

der_kluge

Adventurer
Regarding D&D vs. Ravenloft I mostly agree but, if I had to use D&D for Ravenloft I'd use 5E as is (Level Up really, but you know what I mean) and, instead, make the monsters really tough. Werewolf? Resistant to all harm except from silver and regen 10 that can only be stopped by silver. Normal vampire? Immune to all physical harm that is not from fire or sunlight and regen 15 that can only be stopped by fire or sunlight. And so on and so forth. Make it so the monsters are really challenging to fight and defeat (and tell the tale) 😉
That's interesting to me. I'm actually leaning a bit the other way. Like, one of the things that frustrates me is that the lowest level vampire statblock I can find is still like CR 8. "A Scarlett's Kiss" literally just has one fight with a vampire in the entire module, which is why is has the range of 7-9. But if one were to find a way to make the vampire CR 5, for example, you could easily lower it.

Your approach isn't wrong, obviously, and it does seem like a lot of these modules have just one fight (mainly) and that fight should be memorable, because presumably the party is fully rested, and has most of their slots, etc. Sea Wolf = 1 werewolf; A Scarlett's Kiss = 1 vampire, Night of the Walking Dead = (basically) a zombie lord (plus some zombies), etc.

I've got like 14-15 modules in my list that I want to tie together into a campaign, and the last is like Light in the Belfry/Lady of the Mists/Castles Forlorn, and that's all in the 6-8 level range. My entire 1.5 yearlong campaign might not need to exceed level 8 as a result.
 

Voadam

Legend
That's interesting to me. I'm actually leaning a bit the other way. Like, one of the things that frustrates me is that the lowest level vampire statblock I can find is still like CR 8. "A Scarlett's Kiss" literally just has one fight with a vampire in the entire module, which is why is has the range of 7-9. But if one were to find a way to make the vampire CR 5, for example, you could easily lower it.
The 5e Vampire spawn is CR 5 and right in the MM. I used that as a vampire encounter for a low level party in my 5e Carrion Crown game and it went over well.
 

der_kluge

Adventurer
The 5e Vampire spawn is CR 5 and right in the MM. I used that as a vampire encounter for a low level party in my 5e Carrion Crown game and it went over well.
Yes. Not sure why I didn't think of that one. I intend to modify Scarlett's Kiss so that there's no combat at all, but if I do, I'll probably use something like the vampire spawn.
 

Helena Real

bit.ly/ato-qs (she/her)
That's interesting to me. I'm actually leaning a bit the other way. Like, one of the things that frustrates me is that the lowest level vampire statblock I can find is still like CR 8. "A Scarlett's Kiss" literally just has one fight with a vampire in the entire module, which is why is has the range of 7-9. But if one were to find a way to make the vampire CR 5, for example, you could easily lower it.

Your approach isn't wrong, obviously, and it does seem like a lot of these modules have just one fight (mainly) and that fight should be memorable, because presumably the party is fully rested, and has most of their slots, etc. Sea Wolf = 1 werewolf; A Scarlett's Kiss = 1 vampire, Night of the Walking Dead = (basically) a zombie lord (plus some zombies), etc.

I've got like 14-15 modules in my list that I want to tie together into a campaign, and the last is like Light in the Belfry/Lady of the Mists/Castles Forlorn, and that's all in the 6-8 level range. My entire 1.5 yearlong campaign might not need to exceed level 8 as a result.

I was actually thinking about making those changes without changing the monsters' CR. So that way you could still have werewolves at CR 3 and vampire spawn at CR 5, but have it so they feel difficult enough to put some fear in the hearts of the players facing them.
 

der_kluge

Adventurer
I was actually thinking about making those changes without changing the monsters' CR. So that way you could still have werewolves at CR 3 and vampire spawn at CR 5, but have it so they feel difficult enough to put some fear in the hearts of the players facing them.
Totally doable, but you'll want to limit access to magic weapons and/or silver weapons.
 

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