D&D 5E Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft Art Preview

SageAdvice.eu has compiled a bunch of art shots from the upcoming Ravenloft setting book. I've featured a handful below, but click through to the link for the full set of nearly 30 pieces.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Bitbrain

Glory to Ka!
Kinda gobsmacked by people knocking the art. I think it is amazing.

A lot of D’Terlizzi’s work was monochrome sketches. Bron created the art for Dark Sun but it ironically made the non-Bron stuff look jarring. Not to mention the fact that only really his amazing front covers were full colour.

Yes Darksun had this...

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But remember, 90% of the art was this...

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Here in Van Richten’s Guide we have dozens of amazing full colour artworks. Throughout the book. They are dramatically better than the art for Tasha’s. That actually made me cringe...

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Compared to...

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No contest!

Setting aside the issue of Brom & Baxa (because I like both of them and thought their different styles complemented each other), I prefer the Tasha’s example over the Van Richten’s.

On the one from Tasha’s, I can clearly distinguish each individual character and piece of armor, while on the one from Van Richten all I see is a human face floating in a sea of blurry gray stuff.
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Obviously not anything as extreme as H.R. Giger, but I agree that some art styles seen here "feel" a little too... clean? Safe? Some are great and atmospheric, but that image of Strahd and Azalin (?) just feels cartoony and lacks any of the moody atmosphere I'd expect from Ravenloft books.
I’m kinda with you. The art is amazing in itself. It just doesn’t feel like horror. It feels like your typical D&D art. With maybe a monster. Where’s the fear? Where’s the blood? Where’s the viscera?
 

TheSword

Legend
Setting aside the issue of Brom & Baxa (because I like both of them and thought their different styles complemented each other), I prefer the Tasha’s example over the Van Richten’s.

On the one from Tasha’s, I can clearly distinguish each individual character and piece of armor, while on the one from Van Richten all I see is a human face floating in a sea of blurry gray stuff.
I don’t want to knock peoples work more. They can draw a damn sight better than me. But the reason you can see every piece of armor is that it looks like a cartoon. The inane grins on the heroes faces is also pretty out of context.

The Ravenloft art I posted clearly shows zombie hordes coming over the castle walls as defenders try vainly to push them back.

In terms of quality art, I’m pretty amazed you’ve taken the position you have. Though as has been said, art is very subjective.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I’m kinda with you. The art is amazing in itself. It just doesn’t feel like horror. It feels like your typical D&D art. With maybe a monster. Where’s the fear? Where’s the blood? Where’s the viscera?
This is a book that is aimed at young teens through adults; gore was never going to be an option.

This is Spirit Halloween decorations level, not Hollywood horror movie level.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
This is a book that is aimed at young teens through adults; gore was never going to be an option.
There are a lot of young teens who go ape for Hollywood horror movies. That’s one of the main target demographics. You know that, right?
This is Spirit Halloween decorations level, not Hollywood horror movie level.
I’m beginning to suspect even Spirit Halloween might be over selling the “horror”.
 

Remathilis

Legend
There are a lot of young teens who go ape for Hollywood horror movies. That’s one of the main target demographics. You know that, right?

I’m beginning to suspect even Spirit Halloween might be over selling the “horror”.
Granted, but they're are some who don't and WotC wants to hit the largest demographic. You surely get that they can't determine what is a reader's line or threshold when publishing a mass market book and must aim for the lowest common denominator?
 


TheSword

Legend
I’m kinda with you. The art is amazing in itself. It just doesn’t feel like horror. It feels like your typical D&D art. With maybe a monster. Where’s the fear? Where’s the blood? Where’s the viscera?
If you look at Ravenloft art... has there EVER been blood and viscera?

Anyone who tries to use blood and viscera to evoke horror has failed at the first hurdle. We are well beyond that.

The beleaguered defenders on the walls, the man dragged back by black slime, the unnatural movement of the eastern vampire. These convey terrific horror situations.

Im not gonna judge the Azalin vs Unknown Vampire preview as it’s clearly part of a larger piece.

Awesome to see a ghostly lightning rail. Could Cyre have been sucked into Ravenloft? Now that is an exciting idea?
 

If you look at Ravenloft art... has there EVER been blood and viscera?

Anyone who tries to use blood and viscera to evoke horror has failed at the first hurdle. We are well beyond that.

I believe there were some instance of it to be fair in some of the art (the art really varied a lot depending on the book and the artist), but generally Ravenloft was about not showing lots of blood and gore. There are of course exceptions, but I think those exceptions, when they were introduced, were done because the person viewing them felt they fit for the purposes of the Horror side of fear and horror. I am thinking of stuff like how Gobylyns ate your face, the living wall (which I suppose is potentially gory but not in a slasher way). I think overall the setting works best when the art is suggestive of things and evocative rather than done for shock value
 

TheSword

Legend
I totally agree.
I believe there were some instance of it to be fair in some of the art (the art really varied a lot depending on the book and the artist), but generally Ravenloft was about not showing lots of blood and gore. There are of course exceptions, but I think those exceptions, when they were introduced, were done because the person viewing them felt they fit for the purposes of the Horror side of fear and horror. I am thinking of stuff like how Gobylyns ate your face, the living wall (which I suppose is potentially gory but not in a slasher way). I think overall the setting works best when the art is suggestive of things and evocative rather than done for shock value
I totally agree. I don’t think they every had art of these more gory situations. Goblyn face eating was very much theatre of the mind.
 

I totally agree.

I totally agree. I don’t think they every had art of these more gory situations. Goblyn face eating was very much theatre of the mind.

Yes, I agree. I would have to comb through Castles Forlorn to be sure, but I don't think they got too deep into that on the art front (I could be wrong though, I seem to have a memory of an image of a goblyn feasting on a character's face, but it might just be me remembering the description.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Granted, but they're are some who don't and WotC wants to hit the largest demographic. You surely get that they can't determine what is a reader's line or threshold when publishing a mass market book and must aim for the lowest common denominator?
But surely a target audience for a "horror" D&D book is not the entire D&D fanbase. Not everyone likes horror. So by making the "horror" book less of a "horror" thing than a trip to Spirit Halloween you're going to explicitly not appeal to the very subset of the fanbase you're trying to appeal to. The people who don't like horror are not going to jump on this book anyway. The people who do like horror are going to see this as the kid-friendly Disney summer camp version of horror...and not jump on this book.
And most have parents who decide what is and is not suitable for them, your know that, right?
Yes, I know that most parents are overly puritanical with their domineering of their children's choices.
Anyone who tries to use blood and viscera to evoke horror has failed at the first hurdle. We are well beyond that.
LOL. So you don't watch modern horror movie like at all then. Got it.
 

TheSword

Legend
But surely a target audience for a "horror" D&D book is not the entire D&D fanbase. Not everyone likes horror. So by making the "horror" book less of a "horror" thing than a trip to Spirit Halloween you're going to explicitly not appeal to the very subset of the fanbase you're trying to appeal to. The people who don't like horror are not going to jump on this book anyway. The people who do like horror are going to see this as the kid-friendly Disney summer camp version of horror...and not jump on this book.

Yes, I know that most parents are overly puritanical with their domineering of their children's choices.

LOL. So you don't watch modern horror movie like at all then. Got it.
TTRPG isn’t a horror movie. What works on screen doesn’t necessarily work in a book at the table.

Gore can turn off as many people as it attracts. It’s optional, but once added can’t be erased. So keep it away from me and you can add all the gore you like in your own living room.

I personally reject a great deal the Saw genre, gore-porn films.

I enjoyed the spookier Conjuring Type films. Was also very impressed with Them.

I tolerate the gore in Walking Dead because it’s so unrealistic, and in some cases flat out funny.
 


Remathilis

Legend
But surely a target audience for a "horror" D&D book is not the entire D&D fanbase. Not everyone likes horror. So by making the "horror" book less of a "horror" thing than a trip to Spirit Halloween you're going to explicitly not appeal to the very subset of the fanbase you're trying to appeal to. The people who don't like horror are not going to jump on this book anyway. The people who do like horror are going to see this as the kid-friendly Disney summer camp version of horror...and not jump on this book.

Yes, I know that most parents are overly puritanical with their domineering of their children's choices.

LOL. So you don't watch modern horror movie like at all then. Got it.
Different strokes Mate. I like the classic gothic horror of Universal Monster movies, but get squicky with the "bloody horror" of a Fulci movie. I absolutely detest Saw torture porn and it's ilk. A book covered in blood splatter and gouged eyes trade dress is a large turnoff.

YMMV, but I think if you are aiming for a large swath of horror, you are better off going minimal than oot.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
TTRPG isn’t a horror movie. What works on screen doesn’t necessarily work in a book at the table.

Gore can turn off as many people as it attracts. It’s optional, but once added can’t be erased. So keep it away from me and you can add all the gore you like in your own living room.

I personally reject a great deal the Saw genre, gore-porn films.

I enjoyed the spookier Conjuring Type films. Was also very impressed with Them.

I tolerate the gore in Walking Dead because it’s so unrealistic, and in some cases flat out funny.
So at your table players don't describe the blood and guts of combat or describe killing blows in graphic detail?
 

TheSword

Legend
So at your table players don't describe the blood and guts of combat or describe killing blows in graphic detail?
I describe attacks. I don’t revel in the description of the stink guts sliding from open bellies to pool on the floor. PG13 mate PG13.

Think Jurassic Park and you have my style. No problem with people being dismembered and eaten alive, I just don’t want to see it.

You’re also materially misunderstanding the difference between something being described in game and then drawn in vivid technicolor on the front page of a book.

This is one of those occasions when tell-don’t-show is actually more appropriate.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Different strokes Mate. I like the classic gothic horror of Universal Monster movies, but get squicky with the "bloody horror" of a Fulci movie. I absolutely detest Saw torture porn and it's ilk. A book covered in blood splatter and gouged eyes trade dress is a large turnoff.

YMMV, but I think if you are aiming for a large swath of horror, you are better off going minimal than oot.
Sure. Absolutely. Saw can screw. That's the extreme edge of the mainstream version of the genre. I'm not after that. But there's only what...2-3 of the pictures that evoke horror or fear in any way. Some tired defenders on a wall. One person being pulled at by hands. The rest could easily be from any other 5E book published to date. They don't stand out. There's nothing that screams horror. Some of them barely whisper Ravenloft.
 

TheSword

Legend
Sure. Absolutely. Saw can screw. That's the extreme edge of the mainstream version of the genre. I'm not after that. But there's only what...2-3 of the pictures that evoke horror or fear in any way. Some tired defenders on a wall. One person being pulled at by hands. The rest could easily be from any other 5E book published to date. They don't stand out. There's nothing that screams horror. Some of them barely whisper Ravenloft.
Perhaps you have a different standard to other people. I think they fit very well and are evocative.

Don’t forget a lot of those images are heavily cropped though. The dancing sprite and the sleeping figure are from the same picture for instance.
 

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