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

Awesome to see a ghostly lightning rail. Could Cyre have been sucked into Ravenloft? Now that is an exciting idea?
That's actually an old theory, but (at least up until now) it has always been WotC policy to leave what befell Cyre up to the DM. It could just be an Artificer from Eberron who got sucked into Ravenloft and decided to recreate the lightning rail, but this time powered by the spirits of the dead rather than an air elemental. Because nothing could possibly go wrong with that!
 

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The Glen

Hero
Problem isn't the art the problem is the theme. Ravenloft is an amalgam setting, taking numerous locations and turning them into private prisons for all the dark Lords. This art doesn't seem to reflect the variety that made the setting so good. You get to feed the vampire lord of Transylvania walk through the mist and find yourself in the bayous of Louisiana or the Blasted desert of Egypt. The art keeps the Victorian look of forgotten Realms, complete with most characters clothed head to toe in every scene. Just feels formulaic.
 




Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Now I kinda hope that there's a domain based on cheap B-movies, grindhouse movies, where once you enter the borders of the domain, every single cut means you spray blood like a hose for 30 minutes! And the monsters just.wont.die.

Written in collaboration by Rob Shwalb and Rob Zombie!
 


TheSword

Legend
Problem isn't the art the problem is the theme. Ravenloft is an amalgam setting, taking numerous locations and turning them into private prisons for all the dark Lords. This art doesn't seem to reflect the variety that made the setting so good. You get to feed the vampire lord of Transylvania walk through the mist and find yourself in the bayous of Louisiana or the Blasted desert of Egypt. The art keeps the Victorian look of forgotten Realms, complete with most characters clothed head to toe in every scene. Just feels formulaic.
Really? I couldn’t disagree more.

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Right. So take those three images and remove the context of "it's a Ravenloft book". Now, do any of those three scream horror? To me, yes. Two of them do. Because in the top and bottom images a figure portrayed in the image is horrified or scared or afraid. The middle image looks like any other pre-action scene where a PC is facing off against undead. The look on his face suggests determination, not fear. So even excluding the blood and gore, most of these images are generic fantasy rather than even Ravenloft specific, much less actual horror...even with the minimal bar of "someone in the image looks scared".
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Right. So take those three images and remove the context of "it's a Ravenloft book". Now, do any of those three scream horror? To me, yes. Two of them do. Because in the top and bottom images a figure portrayed in the image is horrified or scared or afraid. The middle image looks like any other pre-action scene where a PC is facing off against undead. The look on his face suggests determination, not fear. So even excluding the blood and gore, most of these images are generic fantasy rather than even Ravenloft specific, much less actual horror...even with the minimal bar of "someone in the image looks scared".
It’s D&D. A game where fantastic heroism is baked into its very DNA. “Actual horror” was never on the table. You can make horror work in D&D if you really want to (though honestly you’d probably be better off picking a system that’s better suited to it), but for the most part what you’ll get from any official product is heroic fantasy with a horror tone, and maybe some horror themes.

All that said, the art is definitely evocative of horror. Again, it’s no H.R. Geiger, or Junji Ito, or what have you. But it was never going to be that. It was always going to be D&D in a horror-themed setting.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Personally, I can't recall ever being at a gaming table where this is normal or expected.
It's become more popular--probably thanks to Critical Role--to describe how you actually kill a creature when you succeed on that final attack roll. At my table, it's usually along the lines of "I drive my sword through his jaw and push upwards" or "my dagger sinks deeply into her kidney." I imagine that some people go deep into descriptions of viscera and arterial sprays, though.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Which domain includes things like jiangshi and other asian-inspired creatures of horror?

I had a dream a few months back were I Dm'ed a Curse of Strahd campaign, but instead of the usual Transylvania ripoff, the PC were stranded on an island between Koryo and Shou Long and they usual European gothic elements were replaced with things from the many Asia traditions. Like, having Strahd being a Jiangshi instead of your usual Dracula-like vampire (with a better name than Strahd).

Anyway, just a question I had.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
It’s D&D. A game where fantastic heroism is baked into its very DNA. “Actual horror” was never on the table.
They sure seem to be playing up the notion that "actual horror" is on the table. Considering they're talking about things like safety tools and genre guides and they're coding different domains as the gothic horror domain, the body horror domain, the cosmic horror domain. Wizards really seems to think they're putting out an "actual horror" book. You're probably right, but someone should tell their marketing department.
You can make horror work in D&D if you really want to (though honestly you’d probably be better off picking a system that’s better suited to it), but for the most part what you’ll get from any official product is heroic fantasy with a horror tone, and maybe some horror themes.
Yeah. I know. I'm running three Call of Cthulhu games. I also regularly run D&D horror games. It's not that hard to do, you just have to be willing to subvert some of the heroic fantasy expectations and your players have to be on board for that.
All that said, the art is definitely evocative of horror.
Only the ones with horrible/spooky things happening or depicting scared characters. The rest are generic D&D fantasy art. I'm not knocking the art. It's all top notch. But most of it's barely identifiable as even Ravenloft art, to say nothing of whatever faux-horror they're pushing with the book.
Again, it’s no H.R. Geiger, or Junji Ito, or what have you. But it was never going to be that. It was always going to be D&D in a horror-themed setting.
Right. The kid in a mask with spots of ketchup for blood at Halloween version of horror. Again, if that's what you expect them to deliver, and that's what they intend to deliver, someone should tell their marketing department, because what they're suggesting the book will be and what you expect the book to be are wildly different beasts.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
Personally, I can't recall ever being at a gaming table where this is normal or expected.
Has been at our table for decades. Not every swing and not every monster killed, but the big ones and the fight ending ones, yes.
It's become more popular--probably thanks to Critical Role--to describe how you actually kill a creature when you succeed on that final attack roll. At my table, it's usually along the lines of "I drive my sword through his jaw and push upwards" or "my dagger sinks deeply into her kidney."
Exactly. Though it predates CR for a lot of people.
I imagine that some people go deep into descriptions of viscera and arterial sprays, though.
Some do. Most don't in my experience.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
All that said, the art is definitely evocative of horror. Again, it’s no H.R. Geiger, or Junji Ito, or what have you. But it was never going to be that. It was always going to be D&D in a horror-themed setting.
To be fair, you can easily make Bleutspur into a Geiger-esque domain. And Junji Ito has such a wide variety of horror styles (compare The Hanging Balloons, The Intersection Pretty Boy, The Long Dream, Tomie, Gyo, The Town Without Streets, and Uzumaki) that you can fit him in almost anywhere. Honestly, I think The Town Without Streets would make for an amazing, if small, domain.
 

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