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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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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
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.
Yea, but that just means I roll up a new character, which...sure? Even in lethal campaigns, character death has never bothered me.
 


jasper

Rotten DM
from D&D beyond
Pre-order Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft on D&D Beyond to unlock exclusive bonuses: character sheet cosmetics and special horror-themed digital dice to roll on the game log
FACE YOUR FEARS
Terror stalks the nightmare realms of Ravenloft. No one knows this better than monster scholar Rudolph Van Richten. To arm a new generation against the creatures of the night, Van Richten--along with other heroes of Ravenloft like Ezmerelda d’Avenir and the Weathermay-Foxgrove Twins--shares his correspondence and case files in this tome of eerie tales and chilling truths about the Lands of the Mists.
Discover the mysteries of Ravenloft, mist-shrouded lands where infamous Darklords lurk among ageless vampires, zombie hordes, cosmic terrors, and worse. Then make your choice. Will you create your own Domains of Dread, settings to host endless terrifying adventures? Or will you join the ranks of haunted heroes who embrace macabre lineages, dual-edged Dark Gifts, haunted subclasses, and other forbidden powers? The mists of Ravenloft are rising. Overcome your dread or forever be its prisoner!
Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft contains macabre resources for fifth edition players and Dungeon Masters alike:
For Players:
  • 2 new subclasses, the College of Spirits for bards and the Undead pact for warlocks for use in our D&D Beyond Character Builder
  • New character lineages, including dhampir, hexblood, and reborn, which provide altered abilities and traits to your character
  • Dark Gifts for characters that flesh out your place among the Domains of Dread in your D&D Beyond character sheet
  • New backgrounds and trinkets themed specifically for a horror setting
For Dungeon Masters:
  • Everything a Dungeon Master needs to craft a horror-themed campaign for Dungeons & Dragons, including rules and advice for building custom domains and Darklords using established horror tropes--or create your own sinister blend
  • More than 30 new and familiar Domains of Dread beyond Barovia like Lamordia, Dementlieu, Kalakeri and Falkovnia, appearing for the first time in fifth edition
  • A brand-new haunted adventure sure to add thrills and chills
  • A horrific assortment of creatures and monsters like carrionettes, vampiric mind flayers, and other nightmares to terrify your players with the D&D Beyond Encounter Builder
  • Unleash a treasure trove of new story hooks, character options, and campaign customization to bring one of the most exciting D&D settings to life!
Get these other spooky essentials:



This purchase unlocks the contents of this adventure for use with D&D Beyond, including the book in digital format in the game compendium and access options from the book in the searchable listings, encounter builder, character builder, and digital sheet.
https://www.dndbeyond.com/cart/add/299538622/3475
 


dave2008

Legend
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.
Sure, it all depends on how much you get invested in your character, or if there is a penalty for death. I tend to run horror as one-shots if I do them. So if your character dies, well that is it - your getting snacks for everyone else the rest night ;) JK, I actually have them join me on the DM side and it helps me ratchet up the danger on the remaining PCs. If it gets to be more DMs than PCs, well the group is usually doomed. I find it adds some tension for the players to see the threat visibly increase with the addition of more monsters - I mean DMs.
 
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SMHWorlds

Explorer
I am interested in how they are going to remove the overt racism and how they recapitulate the native folk. And will the other domains be interesting? I do not think this will be useful to me unless it has a legitimate framework for horror that can be expressed in worls other than Ravenloft.
 

Hatmatter

Adventurer
Alas neither I or my PC have not.
Sure, it all depends on how much you get invested in your character, or if there is a penalty for death. I tend to run horror as one-shots if I do them. So if your character dies, well that is it - your getting snacks for everyone else the rest night ;) JK, I actually have them join my on the DM side and it helps me ratchet up the danger on the remaining PCs. If it gets to be more DMs than PCs, well the group is usually doomed. I find it adds some tension for the players to see the threat visibly increase with the addition of more monsters - I mean DMs.
I love that idea!
 


jgsugden

Legend
Kalakeri?
Apparently a Jungle Setting.


I'm guessing it might be Acererak's Domain, tied to the Tomb of Annihilation Adventure Path. Perhaps.
 


Sure, it all depends on how much you get invested in your character, or if there is a penalty for death. I tend to run horror as one-shots if I do them. So if your character dies, well that is it - your getting snacks for everyone else the rest night ;) JK, I actually have them join my on the DM side and it helps me ratchet up the danger on the remaining PCs. If it gets to be more DMs than PCs, well the group is usually doomed. I find it adds some tension for the players to see the threat visibly increase with the addition of more monsters - I mean DMs.
Its not that I'm uninvensted in my characters (then again I havent played one in close to 20 years) to me its a game and I dont take it overly serious. If my character dies or has something bad happen its not that big of a deal. I get the horror one shots. To me thats the only way they work, anything more than that becomes boring and lacks variety. And it does take player buy in which sometimes is hard to get if they just want to hang out and roll dice for a few hours. Im sure there is value in this book but I wouldnt run a Ravenloft campaign these days.
 



embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
A more robust Sanity system would be nice for running in this setting. Even calling its treatment in DMG "short shrift" is being generous.
 

Hatmatter

Adventurer
Its not that I'm uninvensted in my characters (then again I havent played one in close to 20 years) to me its a game and I dont take it overly serious. If my character dies or has something bad happen its not that big of a deal. I get the horror one shots. To me thats the only way they work, anything more than that becomes boring and lacks variety. And it does take player buy in which sometimes is hard to get if they just want to hang out and roll dice for a few hours. Im sure there is value in this book but I wouldnt run a Ravenloft campaign these days.
I think your cool, RJ, keep it up. Speaking for myself, I have played with, and even sought out, players who suspend their disbelief and exhibit the ability to vicariously inhabit their characters. Therefore, in both table-top and live action role-playing games, I have played with people who have wept, freaked out, been terrified, been enraged, and so forth in the midst of role-playing. One of the nice things about role-playing games is that there is ample berth for many different styles that can generate fun for different folks.
 

iltharanos

Explorer
So already seeing some radical reimagining. I'm down. Eager to see more.
The fact that it's a jungle setting isn't radical reimagining. Older editions of Ravenloft had at least one "jungle" setting: Sri Raji. Sri Raji was Indian-inspired, which judging from Kalakeri, might be something similar.
 

Reynard

Legend
from D&D beyond
Pre-order Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft on D&D Beyond to unlock exclusive bonuses: character sheet cosmetics and special horror-themed digital dice to roll on the game log
FACE YOUR FEARS
Terror stalks the nightmare realms of Ravenloft. No one knows this better than monster scholar Rudolph Van Richten. To arm a new generation against the creatures of the night, Van Richten--along with other heroes of Ravenloft like Ezmerelda d’Avenir and the Weathermay-Foxgrove Twins--shares his correspondence and case files in this tome of eerie tales and chilling truths about the Lands of the Mists.
Discover the mysteries of Ravenloft, mist-shrouded lands where infamous Darklords lurk among ageless vampires, zombie hordes, cosmic terrors, and worse. Then make your choice. Will you create your own Domains of Dread, settings to host endless terrifying adventures? Or will you join the ranks of haunted heroes who embrace macabre lineages, dual-edged Dark Gifts, haunted subclasses, and other forbidden powers? The mists of Ravenloft are rising. Overcome your dread or forever be its prisoner!
Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft contains macabre resources for fifth edition players and Dungeon Masters alike:
For Players:
  • 2 new subclasses, the College of Spirits for bards and the Undead pact for warlocks for use in our D&D Beyond Character Builder
  • New character lineages, including dhampir, hexblood, and reborn, which provide altered abilities and traits to your character
  • Dark Gifts for characters that flesh out your place among the Domains of Dread in your D&D Beyond character sheet
  • New backgrounds and trinkets themed specifically for a horror setting
For Dungeon Masters:
  • Everything a Dungeon Master needs to craft a horror-themed campaign for Dungeons & Dragons, including rules and advice for building custom domains and Darklords using established horror tropes--or create your own sinister blend
  • More than 30 new and familiar Domains of Dread beyond Barovia like Lamordia, Dementlieu, Kalakeri and Falkovnia, appearing for the first time in fifth edition
  • A brand-new haunted adventure sure to add thrills and chills
  • A horrific assortment of creatures and monsters like carrionettes, vampiric mind flayers, and other nightmares to terrify your players with the D&D Beyond Encounter Builder
  • Unleash a treasure trove of new story hooks, character options, and campaign customization to bring one of the most exciting D&D settings to life!
Get these other spooky essentials:



This purchase unlocks the contents of this adventure for use with D&D Beyond, including the book in digital format in the game compendium and access options from the book in the searchable listings, encounter builder, character builder, and digital sheet.
D&D Beyond
This looks like a paint job rather than a focused modification of the rules to make horror possible in 5E. That's not unexpected, but mildly disappointing anyway.
 


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