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

Helena Real

bit.ly/ato-qs (she/her)
Totally doable, but you'll want to limit access to magic weapons and/or silver weapons.

I'd only limit the access to silver weapons. Magic weapons or spells shouldn't get any benefit against classic horror monsters' resistances/immunities, IMO. A vampire shouldn't care more about magic missile than they do the swing of a steel sword.
 

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der_kluge

Adventurer
I'd only limit the access to silver weapons. Magic weapons or spells shouldn't get any benefit against classic horror monsters' resistances/immunities, IMO. A vampire shouldn't care more about magic missile than they do the swing of a steel sword.

A silver weapon would likely be far more common than a magic one. Especially since you could just melt down silver coins and coat a blade with it. In theory, at least. Silver arrows would also be similarly easy to make.
 

Helena Real

bit.ly/ato-qs (she/her)
A silver weapon would likely be far more common than a magic one. Especially since you could just melt down silver coins and coat a blade with it. In theory, at least. Silver arrows would also be similarly easy to make.

Perhaps you're right. I was thinking about asking for fully silver weapons (not only silvered), thus making silver very valuable in Ravenloft.
 


der_kluge

Adventurer
Book of Crypts – Corrupted Innocents ⭐

Another in the, mostly terrible, Book of Crypts. For 5th-7th level characters, this module is basically a railroad for the first 3 of its 10 total pages. The group is lost in the woods (whether they are all rangers and druids is irrelevant) and they hear the cries of a girl. They can ignore the girl, but then the girl finds them (and the boxed text for this doesn’t make a lot of sense, either, since it implies that the PCs know what horror it is she’s witnessed). If the PCs go to the screams, they encounter the girl in a clearing, and a man in the clutches of an evil treant. If the PCs attack the treant, the man dies. If the PCs take damage from the treant, the man dies. It doesn’t indicate who the man is, or if he can even talk. Heaven forbid the PCs ask for his name or anything like that.

The girl is an Ermordenung, basically venomous lawful evil humanoids, mostly found in Borca. This particular one has a ring of mind shielding, and conveniently resists every possible form of detection magic one might throw at her. She begs them to take her to her uncle’s house. Also, she doesn’t seem to care about the man that was literally just eaten by an evil tree. At camp, Elenia casts a Dream spell on each PC. The section is a little weird. It says each PC gets no save for this effect, but any PC with an alignment closest to, or Lawful Good “fails”. Maybe the failure causes the dream to be different? It’s confusing. Anyway, the dreams all show Elenia as this bastion of hope and purity, except for a single PC who is lawful good (or close to it), which shows them that she needs to die. It doesn’t say what to do if the party is mostly neutral. Presumably the last dream should be assigned to someone regardless.

The party then encounter a Vistani woman who can read their fortune. The fortune reveals that “one among you must be slain to save the others….” The PCs can opt to skip the fortune if they wish, which moves directly into an attack by wolves. Apparently, while the PCs are having their fortunes read, they leave the girl outside so she can get attacked by wolves?? Also, she summons the wolves herself, and apparently no one notices that this has happened.

In the 2nd night, the girl attacks the party. She tries a number of tactics, including casting sleep on everyone (pretty sure that’s not going to work), and also stoneskin on herself, and at some point this little girl tries to kiss some PC on the lips (t’s a poison) attack which of course, isn’t creepy or just plain wrong at all. The PCs can kill her of course, and the DM can use the victory as a means of returning the party back to their home world. Also, the girl’s doll is a kind of golem that can also fight. She also has a fairly complex backstory, which the PCs will basically never learn.

There is little, if any, redeeming quality in this adventure. Admittedly, the image of this little girl being a hideous monster with a doll golem is kind of interesting. But at no point is this kid fooling anyone. But lest the PCs incur a powers check, they can’t just outright kill her without good reason. The girl tries to convince someone to be her parent, and then she poisons them with her kiss of death. It’s not really clear what the whole dream sequence is even for – to sow discord among the party? You might be able to salvage this somehow, but it would take a decent amount of work, and you’d have to scrap, you know, pretty much all of it.



Laughing Man (Dungeon #52) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This adventure is short and is basically just a single encounter. It’s fantastic, however. Basically, the PCs are camped in the woods when a man emerges in the camp, spins some fanciful, “kind of” believable tale about how he was sent to fetch a dagger for his wizard master, but then almost died in the process. If the PCs start poking holes in his story, he offers to give them the dagger to check it out for themselves, or to detect magic on it, or just to have it since it’s his only weapon. Once the dagger is unsheathed, the group hears laughter coming from somewhere. And any time a PC gets anywhere near taking the dagger, the volume of the laughter increases.

The backstory on this is marvelous. The man is a ghost, and so is the source of the laughter. The “Laughing Man” – a ghost by the name of Hugo, has haunted Mordal (the other man) for quite a while now, since Mordal was the one who had originally killed Hugo and his friends. Now Mordal has been cursed by this dagger, and his spirit won’t rest until he is rid of the dagger but has to find someone to take it off his hands.

If a PC takes the dagger, Hugo attacks, angry that he can no longer torment Mordal. If no one takes the dagger, Mordal attacks until he’s slain everyone, or he is dead. If he dies, the dagger falls to the ground. Hugo reappears and recommends that no one take the dagger, and then he, too, fades away. The dagger is strong, but obviously cursed.

If you’re going to run this, I would recommend finding a YouTube video of someone laughing (I’m sure such a thing exists) and turn the volume up from soft to loud as dictated by events. You could even scale the CR down on these ghosts if you wished, and then you could reduce the level range on this module, since you’re only fighting one ghost or the other.
 


D&D is a terrible system for true horror. PCs are too powerful, abilities are too consistent, and magic too plentiful, even in 2e, to replicate true horror
You can’t frighten players by threatening their character, but you can certainly horrify them when they (for example) gradually discover the gruesome fate of that NPC they met earlier. NPCs are vulnerable in ways the PCs are not. Indeed, you can easily push it too far if the NPCs are children.

That’s why story elements and characters are so important in a Ravenloft adventure, and monster stat blocks are not.
 
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Stormonu

Legend
You can’t frighten players by threatening their character, but you can certainly horrify them when they (for example) gradually discover the gruesome fate of that NPC they met earlier. NPCs are vulnerable in ways the PCs are not. Indeed, you can easily push it too far if the NPCs are children.

That’s why story elements and characters are so important in a Ravenloft adventure, and monster stat blocks are not.
As the old adage goes, "if it has hit points, we can kill it."

Ravenloft is about building up to getting to that scene where you get the chance to kill it. The fear and tension is in not knowing what it is that's following you and herding you along, or having an inkling what is after you and successfully tracking down before it strikes first against you. It's about the fiend hitting you when you can't hit it back, and not hitting your hit points but your character's well-being (and ability to control/use your character effectively). Attacking not you, but everyone who could have helped you. Killing not you, but torturing you by killing those around you care about. Taking your best-laid plans and tearing them to shreds. Taking you out of familiar territory and putting you into places that are as deadly, if not deadlier than the opponents you face. If players go toe-to-toe with a stat block, they will destroy it and get some (final) relief. Ravenloft is about making you work hard for that final confrontation. Often, by the time you get to that final encounter, you're in pretty rough shape and what should have been a walk in the park can be a fight for one's life or turning around and running the other way.

Sadly, a lot of these 2E adventures fail to do that. They're short stories written for the DM's entertainment and just don't play out with the same aura they're meant to evoke unless the DM is really good about evoking the proper framing to the players (and the players buy in, which I find they tend to be really resistant to).
 

Helena Real

bit.ly/ato-qs (she/her)
Fully silver weapons would be too soft to work as weapons.
Maybe normal silver is, what about moonsilver, the valued metal brought from the moon itself and highly valued by craftspeople and jewelers alike? It's fantasy, after all. We're supposed to invent and think outside the box, aren't we?
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
In my games, mithral is functionally the same as silver for triggering vulnerabilities- gives mithral weapons a reason to exist.
 

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