D&D 5E [Updated with cover!] The D&D Book Is.... Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft!

Yesterday's hints that a new D&D book would be announced today have born fruit -- we now have a product description and a title! It's a Ravenloft setting book, with tools and new rules for horror-themed games, and new horror-themed character options. I'll update this post with a product image as soon as one is revealed -- the official announcement allegedly comes today!


Here’s some info on Dr. Rudolph Van Richten! He's a vampire hunter (he appeared in Curse of Strahd, and he's been around in the Ravenloft setting for decades) and is basically Van Helsing to Strahd's Dracula. His name appears on a whole pile of 2nd Edition D&D sourcebooks, all titled "Van Richten's Guide to.... Vampires/Ghosts/Werebeasts, etc."

The Ravenloft setting, of course, features a bunch of 'domains' other than Barovia itself, each ruled by its own Dark Lord. Strahd rules Barovia, but even other signature D&D villains like Lord Soth and Vecna have been placed in Ravenloft ruling dread domains of their own, along with an assortment of other domain rulers.

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The Mist Beckons



The image below is not of the upcoming book, but of one of the many D&D 2nd Edition Van Richten's Guides.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


I dunno. I ran Curse of Strahd and it just felt listless and unhorrifying, even though it was strictly better than the earlier Castle Ravenloft module. Maybe if they really go in on the degeneration/dark powers rules for doing evil acts and using negative energy, disempower paladins and positive energy effects, add beefed-up mechanics for the mists, it might be interesting.

But if it's just the blancmange stuff they already have with some frilly wrought iron, then I'll just sadly walk on.

Actually, I need to stop being so negative with this stuff -- it's a new game for a new generation, and they're clearly dong something right!
I see, My first though would be if that's what you want you can always add it in yourself. I am also new in comparison to yourself I started with 5e so I am a young pup. I am starting my homebrew Ravenloft campaign using CoS 5e as my skeleton frame work this week and a number of people in the community have pointed me to some really great sources from older editions that I'm putting into my CoS. Such as "Night of the leaving dead" which I think is great. I have been reading a number of older material to suck up all the lore I can to really feel immerse in the setting. I take things I like and throw out others I don't such as the amber temple in the module I find it a little confusing how the vestiges and the dark powers are 2 different things. I found some great resources on DM's guild and I will implement the corruption from older editions as well. I have a cleric and a paladin player and your idea of maybe effecting there channel divinity powers a little bit not to much which kind of sounds like your disempower paladins? If you have other recommendations I'm all ears. I am looking forward to the new book for Ravenloft. If you are not that's cool to its not your type of D&D everyone has a different game in there mind. 👍🙌

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Zombie apocalypse? Hmm. I missed that on my initial skim of the contents. Now I'm interested.

I think D&D is far better suited to "zombie apocalypse" horror than to Gothic horror. D&D is built around hacking your problems away with a big ol' meat cleaver, and that tends to wreck the Gothic atmosphere. But in zombie apocalypse, it wrecks the atmosphere if you don't hack up zombies on the reg.

That isn't to say there aren't any challenges involved. Having run a zombie apocalypse campaign, there are definitely some issues, such as "5E zombies are a major pain to run in large numbers." But that's just a mechanical glitch, solvable with a custom statblock or three. A tougher problem is the prevalence of magic that can solve supply problems, since "running out of supplies" is a major sub-theme in apocalyptic settings, but it still isn't (heh) the end of the world.
Can always change the supply issues with a twist I know with spells like create food and water being the most for front. The domain of dread could have adverse effects on creation type magic and the yield is lower then normal as an example. Also bare in mind that spell is a 3rd level spell which is still taxations on the parties resources if they have to rely on that and not every class can do that if I remember correctly. Also can throw in npc's that the party have to protect and feed that are survivors so really then puts on more stress 😁

Surely any Mystara guide whit be framed by the Princess Ark, not a dead evil mage?
Known World/Mystara fandom splits into two camps: Bargle (or the Isle of Dread) for the folks who were introduced into it earlier in the setting. The Princess Ark stuff came much later and was part of a much more detailed version of the setting.

I don't know which audience is larger -- certainly the BD&D dungeon was seen by a ton of people when it came out, and the Princess Ark ran in Dragon during the magazine's height -- but I don't think either group is "wrong" in think their Mystara is the right one.

(I also think the chance that WotC will ever do anything with Mystara is close to zero. They have a kitchen sink setting with gonzo elements and regular intervention by immortal figures already.)

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