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

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Sorry. I realize I'm being an insufferable git about this. I'm coming at it from completely the wrong angle. I've been playing D&D for 37 years and Call of Cthulhu for 34 years. Where I'm at in regards to horror gaming is wildly different than a lot of people here and I'm likely not quite the target audience. I'm glad Ravenloft is getting a full setting book. Curse of Strahd was amazing. Here's to the world's most popular RPG doing more horror-themed stuff. Here's to more horror gaming and here's to hopefully some spill over of players to more horror-focused gaming and games.
You are a great person! :)
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
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.
First, I wouldn't say there is much Victorian about the Forgotten Realms in 5E art.

Also, ummm, what else would they be doing if not wearing clothes.......?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Sorry. I realize I'm being an insufferable git about this. I'm coming at it from completely the wrong angle. I've been playing D&D for 37 years and Call of Cthulhu for 34 years. Where I'm at in regards to horror gaming is wildly different than a lot of people here and I'm likely not quite the target audience. I'm glad Ravenloft is getting a full setting book. Curse of Strahd was amazing. Here's to the world's most popular RPG doing more horror-themed stuff. Here's to more horror gaming and here's to hopefully some spill over of players to more horror-focused gaming and games.
Yeah, they aren't going for Call of Cthulu, that's for sure: this is a horror-themed add on for a heroic fantasy game. A toolkit to add a flavor, not a different game.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
View attachment 136342 this is what I had in mind for ravenloft art for 5th edition. This art is purely G-rated there is nothing offensive about it. But there's something off with it. It's done with a blue tint so it makes you think that it's image at dusk, but there's something about the people that falls into uncanny valley.

A lot of them have animal motifs. They're staring straight at you in a predatory manner. They either have very angular features or very rounded features. Their clothing is impractical, but very stylish like they're trying too hard to look normal. It's unsettling but in a subtle way. It perfectly captures the feel of the setting. Bleak, off-putting and mysterious. Even if you don't like the art you have to admire it.

As much as I like this piece (Richard Witters I believe, who is I think D&D's art director), this style is a bit overused in Curse of Strahd, Out of the Abyss, and Princes of the Apocalypse. I would say 50% of all the NPCs in those books are drawn in that style, and though it is technically impressive, the style is so distinct (full symmetrical profile pic, looking directly at reader) it jars weirdly with every other artist's NPC depictions. Out of the Abyss below, for example. I am not surprised they have moved away from this style, even though Witters is of course a very talented artist.

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
As much as I like this piece (Richard Witters I believe, who is I think D&D's art director), this style is a bit overused in Curse of Strahd, Out of the Abyss, and Princes of the Apocalypse. I would say 50% of all the NPCs in those books are drawn in that style, and though it is technically impressive, the style is so distinct (full symmetrical profile pic, looking directly at reader) it jars weirdly with every other artist's NPC depictions. Out of the Abyss below, for example. I am not surprised they have moved away from this style, even though Witters is of course a very talented artist.

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I will say for that style, it made for great tokens for VTT play.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
As much as I like this piece (Richard Witters I believe, who is I think D&D's art director), this style is a bit overused in Curse of Strahd, Out of the Abyss, and Princes of the Apocalypse. I would say 50% of all the NPCs in those books are drawn in that style, and though it is technically impressive, the style is so distinct (full symmetrical profile pic, looking directly at reader) it jars weirdly with every other artist's NPC depictions. Out of the Abyss below, for example. I am not surprised they have moved away from this style, even though Witters is of course a very talented artist.

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Witters works in the Franchise Studio, so not on the RPG at this time.
 

To be fair, you can easily make Bleutspur into a Geiger-esque domain.
You could, but it has to work with the rest of the art in the book.
what I had in mind for ravenloft art for 5th edition.
It's fine. But it's a bit specifically gothic, and rather static. I can't see it working in not-gothic settings like Bluetspur, or when you want to depict action. They have chosen to go with an art style which can represent a wide range of different things.
 




I much, much, much prefer the way Tieflings were originally portrayed, as unique individual descendants of fiendish ancestors, each with their own unique individual deformity.

Seeing as how the idea behind Tieflings came from the Medieval idea that birth deformities were caused by the sins of the child's parents and/or ancestors, it makes a whole Hell of a lot more sense that they would each have unique deformities, rather than being a full race of uniformly red-skinned, goat-horned, and lizard-tailed Devilpeople. I just cannot stand that massive alteration. It just makes them... flatter and less interesting.
Totally agree. On a player level, I want the latitude to make a tiefling look like hellboy, some black skinned green eyed six fingered freak grazzt ripoff, a slightly off human with small horns and creepy eyes or whatever.

in mordenkainen’s we get all different tiefling except that all look the same? Despite different ancestry? Missed opportunity.
 

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!
That last pic is great. But I would never say no to brom, ever.

I like the last pic’s arrangement. Dynamic brutal battle...

I liked Elmore all these years but not a big fan of subjects statically posed for the camera...
 


Totally agree. On a player level, I want the latitude to make a tiefling look like hellboy, some black skinned green eyed six fingered freak grazzt ripoff, a slightly off human with small horns and creepy eyes or whatever.

in mordenkainen’s we get all different tiefling except that all look the same? Despite different ancestry? Missed opportunity.
shrug I don't give a damn what the books say, in my games tiefling players can make their characters look however they wish, as long as the fiendish attributes are pronounced enough to be visible unless painstakingly concealed.
 

shrug I don't give a damn what the books say, in my games tiefling players can make their characters look however they wish, as long as the fiendish attributes are pronounced enough to be visible unless painstakingly concealed.
Sure. Applied more broadly, does flavor ever matter in books? Or art? You can always change it and imagine what you want.

If I pay for the book, I usually want it to show some options I like or create inspiration for things I alter later.

carbon copy tiefling art and descriptions is a disappointment (I.e. not my preference). It’s cool that it doesn’t bother you. Doesn’t change my view that it could have been cooler.
 


Let’s be honest Brom made dark sun.
Everything he did was inherently cool.
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I never played dark sun. But the art was so cool it really sunk in! When art is so evocative and good, it actually aids my immersion as it seems this other place has a basis in reality. I mean, I am looking at it. It’s alien but has a reality to it!

i don’t judge a book or boxed set by the cover, but it helps me to enjoy the contents even more
 

Now, 5e moved away from the 4e assumed setting, so there’s no Bael Turath and no cursed bloodline, but for some reason they kept the appearance of 4e Tieflings despite not keeping the lore behind them. So, I agree that in the context of 5e where Tieflings are back to being people with fiendish heritage, the uniform appearance doesn’t make sense. But it did make sense in the context of their 4e lore, which is where the uniform appearance originated from.
I recently sprang for the Feral Tiefling race on D&D Beyond for this reason. Uniform tieflings are, frankly, boring, unless there's a setting-specific reason for them. I want a whole gamut, which the incredibly poorly named "feral" tieflings give us.
 


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