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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!

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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


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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


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Hatmatter

Adventurer
Okay. looks interesting. Would have preferred Spelljammer / Mystara etc. etc. (Maybe next time...) but will probably get this.
Presumably Van Richten predates Van Helsing?
I am still hoping for Spelljammer too, Happy Larry, and Mystara, with Hollow World included, would be super cool. But, as someone who used Ravenloft extensively in the 1990s, and who still has his characters visit a Domain of Dread that I created, I am interested to read this.
 



Hatmatter

Adventurer
Disappointed. I have no interest in Ravenloft. Didn't buy the adventure book and the campaign I played in folded before the end of Curse of Strahd.

If they keep following this pattern, I'm hoping for a Greyhawk setting book to go with Ghost of Saltmarsh.
They may do that, Marc. But, Mike Mearls is quite interesting to hear discuss Greyhawk, of which he is both quite knowledgable and also a big fan. He claims that treating Greyhawk as a setting with a campaign sourcebook in the past has done a disservice to its unique aspects. He never mentioned anything specific, but in interviews it sounded like he had ideas that would deliver Greyhawk in a way that would capture its uniqueness. I like the idea of producing different kinds of books for different settings in a way that conveys and highlights their unique elements. What that might look like, though, I do not know.
 
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dave2008

Legend
I like the setting but my players would never go for the cheap parlor tricks and gimmicks needed to achieve horror tone. Pretty sure theyd just laugh.
To me the best thing to set the mood for horror is a real fear of character death. That can be easily achieved without gimmicks and parlor tricks (as I understand the phrase). You do need player buy-in as that kind of fear doesn't work for everyone.

I'm mean, that is really the biggest "horror" aspect of Call of Cthulhu back when I played it in the 80s. It was the fear of my player dying or going insane. Nothing else mechanically really set the mood IMO. The idea that you are not heroes is different than most D&D, but it is pretty easy to achieve in D&D.
 

Nightbeat84

Explorer
Hopefully we will get some good monster and lycantropy rules.

This news makes me sad about what happened to Bloodlines 2.
Grim Hollow by ghostfire games has a great book about Lycantrhopy, vampirism, Lichdom and some others. Its a great book for horror if you want something now vs the official material. Its up to your preference as well
 

Hatmatter

Adventurer
I like the setting but my players would never go for the cheap parlor tricks and gimmicks needed to achieve horror tone. Pretty sure theyd just laugh.
One feels horror when the most precious thing that one values is threatened, first with it being stolen away, then with it being defiled, and then with its slow and painful destruction. No parlor trick there. Unless, of course, it is the parlor that one holds most precious.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
I like the setting but my players would never go for the cheap parlor tricks and gimmicks needed to achieve horror tone. Pretty sure theyd just laugh.
Yeah. I think think you have to know your group. My lifelong buddy hates undead with a passion. Hard pass for him. I am not into ravenloft and never was.

I think for me it was the imagery. I like more medieval Europe and less renaissance which means the realms is hit or miss for me generally.

that said I’d the put out variety we can all get some goodies. I would snap up greyhawk and would likely buy dark sun though I never played it before!

a little variety would be good for me. It’s ok. I bought xanathars and tashas and mordenkainens and Volos.

skipping the one is no big issue! Some people will love it which is cool.
 

Hatmatter

Adventurer
To me the best thing to set the mood for horror is a real fear of character death. That can be easily achieved without gimmicks and parlor tricks (as I understand the phrase). You do need player buy-in as that kind of fear doesn't work for everyone.

I'm mean, that is really the biggest "horror" aspect of Call of Cthulhu back when I played it in the 80s. It was the fear of my player dying or going insane. Nothing else mechanically really set the mood IMO. The idea that you are not heroes is different than most D&D, but it is pretty easy to achieve in D&D.
I agree entirely, Dave. I ran an adventure where characters slipped into the Feywild without knowing it -- it was partially inspired by the film Annihilation -- and I managed to freak them out. It was a blast. The more players inhabit the mind of their characters and the less they use the game speak of the game aspect of D&D, the more a wonderful palette of emotions expands. Once one has experienced that at a table, the gamey stuff becomes less attractive.
 


One feels horror when the most precious thing that one values is threatened, first with it being stolen away, then with it being defiled, and then with its slow and painful destruction. No parlor trick there. Unless, of course, it is the parlor that one holds most precious.
I have never once felt horrified or threatened playing D&D or any other RPG for that matter. Probably why this setting was used more as a standard setting the few times we did play in it rather than playing up the horror aspect.
 

As much as I want to see a Dragonlance 5e book, I'm really happy with Ravenloft getting a setting book. And honestly, I think the timing was just not right for Dragonlance. With the first novel coming out in summer, putting a Dragonlance game book out in the spring would've had all sorts of problems - you'd be pretty much stuck either ignoring the events of the novels or spoiling the events of the novels.

I would have preferred a Dragonlance setting "World of Krynn" book,

I hope so. Can't say I'm feeling the standard cover.

Will there be an alternative cover to this? So far I haven't noticed such announcement.

I am heartily excited to run a campaign in Ravenloft. Undead are some of my favorite monsters to use and I've long been a fan of the Domains of Dread.
 

Hatmatter

Adventurer
One feels horror when the most precious thing that one values is threatened, first with it being stolen away, then with it being defiled, and then with its slow and painful destruction. No parlor trick there. Unless, of course, it is the parlor that one holds most precious.
I have never once felt horrified or threatened playing D&D or any other RPG for that matter. Probably why this setting was used more as a standard setting the few times we did play in it rather than playing up the horror aspect.
Then it sounds like you or your character(s) have never felt your or their most precious thing that you or they valued threatened, first with being stolen away, then with being defiled, and then with its slow and painful destruction while playing D&D or any other role-playing game. :LOL:
 

For me, it's mostly systems that interest me. A revamp of the Demiplane could be good, but if I dont like the changes, I still have a good amount of the WW 3.5 materials for setting. I need 5th ed rules for fear/horror/madness and dark powers checks the most. The game Im running right now is already altered from the previous setting, with ignoring most of the race issues from previous editions.
 

Yeah. I think think you have to know your group. My lifelong buddy hates undead with a passion. Hard pass for him. I am not into ravenloft and never was.

I think for me it was the imagery. I like more medieval Europe and less renaissance which means the realms is hit or miss for me generally.

that said I’d the put out variety we can all get some goodies. I would snap up greyhawk and would likely buy dark sun though I never played it before!

a little variety would be good for me. It’s ok. I bought xanathars and tashas and mordenkainens and Volos.

skipping the one is no big issue! Some people will love it which is cool.
I'll pick it up for the monsters and a few other things but id have preferred something else myself.
 



Hatmatter

Adventurer
As much as I want to see a Dragonlance 5e book, I'm really happy with Ravenloft getting a setting book. And honestly, I think the timing was just not right for Dragonlance. With the first novel coming out in summer, putting a Dragonlance game book out in the spring would've had all sorts of problems - you'd be pretty much stuck either ignoring the events of the novels or spoiling the events of the novels.



I hope so. Can't say I'm feeling the standard cover.



I am heartily excited to run a campaign in Ravenloft. Undead are some of my favorite monsters to use and I've long been a fan of the Domains of Dread.
I am surprised at all the interest in Dragonlance. It is a good thing, by the way, that I am surprised, I like that. I read the first two series (six books) not long after they were published in the 1980s and liked them. All the while I was playing D&D. I read the Dragonlance Campaign book in the 1980s and liked it, but I never wanted to play in that setting and I never met any who exhibited an interest in role-playing in that setting (and I attended many conventions in the last 1980s and early 1990s)...but the setting as a campaign book gets a lot of love here. I am all for it because I would like to see people get their favorite settings published...but I would not have guessed all the love Dragonlance gets here on Enworld. It is cool to discover that.
 


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