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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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dynath

Villager
I'm pretty disappointed personally. I mean the curse of straad adventure covered 90% of the original boxed set. I can't even remember another adventure set in ravenloft, I know there were several just can't remember them. I was sincerely hoping one of the as yet untouched settings would get a book. Ravenloft is fine I guess, its just... fine... I hope the vampire fans will enjoy it. I'm sure it will be good quality, most of the stuff for 5e has been just fine. This will be... fine... just... ugh... fine... I don't know why I expected something else.
 



Setting books may have replaced Monster books at this point in the Edition, frankly.
Yeah I love a good monster book, but we have a solid enough base right now that I'm fine with monsters being part of setting books (it would have been infuriating if they'd tried to run the whole edition this way, but they didn't).

I do miss 4E's incredibly time-efficient and math-correct DDI monster builder, but that's kind of a different topic!

Also yeah as @Whizbang Dustyboots says, the third-party monster book scene is pretty good too for 5E.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Yeah I love a good monster book, but we have a solid enough base right now that I'm fine with monsters being part of setting books (it would have been infuriating if they'd tried to run the whole edition this way, but they didn't).

I do miss 4E's incredibly time-efficient and math-correct DDI monster builder, but that's kind of a different topic!

Also yeah as @Whizbang Dustyboots says, the third-party monster book scene is pretty good too for 5E.

Between the MM, VGtM, MToF, and Kobold Press's two books....and all the campaign settings...I have a lot of Monsters. More are always welcome, but WotC might not want to compete with themselves for pure Monster books anymore with three currently selling.

Of course, if they drop the Draconomicon, I'm buying it because I also have a problem.
 

I'm pretty disappointed personally. I mean the curse of straad adventure covered 90% of the original boxed set. I can't even remember another adventure set in ravenloft, I know there were several just can't remember them. I was sincerely hoping one of the as yet untouched settings would get a book. Ravenloft is fine I guess, its just... fine... I hope the vampire fans will enjoy it. I'm sure it will be good quality, most of the stuff for 5e has been just fine. This will be... fine... just... ugh... fine... I don't know why I expected something else.

Well, it seems the book has far more than vampires.

A Zombie Apocalypse setting
A setting with Lycan's attacking towns (picture)
A setting where you are in the jungle being hunted by the Dark Lord


And rules to create your own dread domains. Maybe a setting where ghosts never leave but always linger, feeding off of each other and possessing the living to continue their own existence. There was a setting mentioned about mad science, creatures altered and experimented upon to make new, horrifying existences.

There is a lot of good potential here beyond vampires and strahd

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I do though worry, having recently gone through a rather painful experience where someone tried to run us through a module based in the Dread Domain of Vecna and Kas about the... tone is perhaps the right word.

An huge issue with that temporary mini-campaign that just drained the enthusiasm from the players (who to note, were never asked if they wanted this style of game, we just let the guy take the DM chair for a bit) was that it came down to obey Kas the evil Tyrant or Vecna the Mad Lich.

Now, if you present the players with this at session 0 and they agree to it, awesome, but it is incredibly difficult to get players to pick between two bad options. "Which end of the world do you help bring about" is a very bleak way of approaching a game, and not one that I've seen garner a lot of enthusiasm outside of an evil game.
 

Between the MM, VGtM, MToF, and Kobold Press's two books....and all the campaign settings...I have a lot of Monsters. More are always welcome, but WotC might not want to compete with themselves for pure Monster books anymore with three currently selling.

Of course, if they drop the Draconomicon, I'm buying it because I also have a problem.
Volo's did state that there would likely be undead and dragon "monster" books in the future. The question is if the undead one got merged into this Ravenloft book and the dragon one with a likely upcoming Dragonlance one, or if we'll still be seeing separate monster books later...
 



MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
My first reaction was disinterest. I love I6 and Curse of Strahd, but have no interest in the domains of dread. But the artwork with some more modern-looking themes, other horror styles than gothic (e.g. zombie apocalypse), have piqued my interest. I don't think I'll car for any Domains of Dread canon, but rules to run different styles of D&D, including gun fighting, zombie hordes, etc. could be worth getting the book for.
 



willrali

Explorer
What was pasteurized in the Curse of Strahd book? Pray tell.

What do you mean ?

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!
 


Parmandur

Legend
Volo's did state that there would likely be undead and dragon "monster" books in the future. The question is if the undead one got merged into this Ravenloft book and the dragon one with a likely upcoming Dragonlance one, or if we'll still be seeing separate monster books later...

Could see it going either way, really: could be they started putting together a Volo's style book of Undead & Such, but found it was only about half the material for a full monster book...and kind of perfect for a Ravenloft Setting.
 

Dausuul

Legend
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.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I'm just hoping that they don't make any of the darklords into sympathetic figures. Some of them are tragic villains, to be sure, but they're still villains through and through, who ultimately damned themselves because of their own choices. None of them should have potential redemptive arcs, for instance. You don't get to be a darklord unless you're past that point. (I think the closest thing Ravenloft ever had to someone who was tormented without having done anything to deserve it was Isolde, leader of the Carnival (affiliate link), but that was because she was
a celestial.)
 

Volo's did state that there would likely be undead and dragon "monster" books in the future. The question is if the undead one got merged into this Ravenloft book and the dragon one with a likely upcoming Dragonlance one, or if we'll still be seeing separate monster books later...
Once we get the table of contents and see what monsters are included, I think we'll have a pretty good idea if a Libris Mortis 5E, or whatever, is coming.
 

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