Building an (AD&D) Ravenloft Campaign - or - Have I Made a Big Mistake?

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Chaotic Wooster

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I found an AD&D 2E PHB and DMG in good condition, at a fair price (£30 for both and nothing is falling apart) and I want to do something with them. I haven't used AD&D before, but I've used other editions. A friend referees AD&D 2E by preference and convinced me 2E was worth buying.

I looked at what was available PoD and opted for Ravenloft's Domains of Dread Realm of Terror. I've played some Ravenloft scenarios in other editions, but never in it's 'original form' in AD&D. The rules changes seem reasonable, the book is moody and stylish, and I like the overall gothic horror vibe.

However... 1st-Level scenarios are few (three, none PoD) and focus on taking characters from elsewhere and throwing them into instantly deadly situations. That's not what I'm looking for.

So I'm going to kick off the campaign with my own scenarios (with blackjack and hookers). I will add modules later if they fit and are worth the investment. I'm making more work for myself. A new game, new setting, and new campaign. I don't mind. I'm just aware it's adding more to the prep time.

My idea is to set the campaign in Arkandale. It's a little-used domain, one that is replaced in later material when it's Darklord sails off. It's mountains and forests, (were)wolves and goblins, with small communities along the major river. It's Darklord isn't much of a factor, so the scenarios don't have to focus on him. It also allows my players to easily have Ravenloft-native characters. It allows me to start small (monster/villain of the week, etc.) in a little-used corner of the setting.

Am I howling at the wrong moon by taking this approach?

I know Ravenloft has it's fans and would like to know about experiences of playing or refereeing the game. Or simply which modules and supplements are worth buying.

EDIT: I bought Ravenloft - Realm of Terror, not Domains of Dread.
 
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Tommy Brownell

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One thing to remember is that a lot of those old modules were about A Weekend in Hell more than an actual, viable campaign type setup. Doesn't mean they're bad, just means you're probably not going to a get a lot of utility out of them for what you're trying to do.

I think your idea sounds quite fun, really.
 

VisionStorm

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I tend to start D&D characters at level 3, given the pitiful amount of HP starting characters have in D&D—specially for a setting like Ravenloft. Though, what you have planned out sounds like it might work if you want to start fresh and by the book. Maybe focus more on investigative stuff early on before you throw them to the (were) wolves. :wink:
 

opaopajr

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Taking a small slice of the world and making it your is exactly expected. You're doing it right! :thumbsup:

The choice is whether to make it a Weekend in Hell or a full on campaign focus is the next big step. Since Ravenloft is in the Deep Ethereal I favor playing up that dream-like quality. This way it can happen anywhere, anytime, and last however long. (e.g. dungeon shaft fills with mist which leads to the surface of a bucolic forested hill, overlooking lush plantations, and a beautiful maiden up here fetching spring water for her "lil' holler down yonder...")

Next keep the atmosphere tense with contradictions, like a dream vs nightmare. You want slices of Ravenloft to feel desirable, safe, worth fighting for, almost attainable if it wasn't for problems that intrude in. That way when the Weekend or Campaign ends players want to return, yet a frission of fear still climbs up their spine at the thought what lies in wait there. Unrelenting horror without safety is exhausting and difficult to become attached to.
 

Chaotic Wooster

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One thing to remember is that a lot of those old modules were about A Weekend in Hell more than an actual, viable campaign type setup. Doesn't mean they're bad, just means you're probably not going to a get a lot of utility out of them for what you're trying to do.

I think your idea sounds quite fun, really.

Yes, I've downloaded some modules and they seem quite lethal. I don't mind character death, but Neither Man not Beast (for example) seems determined to kill everyone. I want the threat of death, not the constant reality of it. My players respond well to the former but would lose interest in the campaign with too much of the latter.

I tend to start D&D characters at level 3, given the pitiful amount of HP starting characters have in D&D—specially for a setting like Ravenloft. Though, what you have planned out sounds like it might work if you want to start fresh and by the book. Maybe focus more on investigative stuff early on before you throw them to the (were) wolves. :wink:

I know "start at 3rd-Level" is common thinking for AD&D. But I don't want to. It's my first time refereeing the system, I don't want to skip that early step. I've found suitable monsters for 1st-Level characters (Madmen, Ravenloft Scarecrows, etc.) to be suitable and appropriate threats.

Nothing in Arkandale that I have seen is high level (the Darklord is just a werewolf with a boat), so it seems a good place to do this. That the domain canonically vanishes in a few years means I'm treading on nobodies toes as far as modules go.


If this is wrong I don’t want to be right.

I'm hoping that's the right attitude too.

Taking a small slice of the world and making it your is exactly expected. You're doing it right! :thumbsup:

The choice is whether to make it a Weekend in Hell or a full on campaign focus is the next big step. Since Ravenloft is in the Deep Ethereal I favor playing up that dream-like quality. This way it can happen anywhere, anytime, and last however long. (e.g. dungeon shaft fills with mist which leads to the surface of a bucolic forested hill, overlooking lush plantations, and a beautiful maiden up here fetching spring water for her "lil' holler down yonder...")

Next keep the atmosphere tense with contradictions, like a dream vs nightmare. You want slices of Ravenloft to feel desirable, safe, worth fighting for, almost attainable if it wasn't for problems that intrude in. That way when the Weekend or Campaign ends players want to return, yet a frission of fear still climbs up their spine at the thought what lies in wait there. Unrelenting horror without safety is exhausting and difficult to become attached to.

I was initially drawn to Tempet, with it's dark fairytale quality and hag trinity Darklords. But I didn't want to deal with fey excessively to begin with. So the wild and savage wolf-stalked Arkandale is where I've landed.

It's odd to see how some of these domains have changed for 5e. Arkandale is long gone, and Tempet is supposed to be more about folk horror. I say supposed to be, because I find the write-up poor. Sadly, nice art and maps aside, Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft was a big bland letdown for me. Realm of Terror is better suited to me.
 

lgm

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Night of the Walking Dead was the best entry level adventure for Ravenloft IMO.

With a few exceptions, I heavily adjusted most other Ravenloft adventures initial setup and reworked how they played out. Most heavily force the players through the plot. Night of the Walking Dead can be dropped into almost any domain and is easy to run.

I've also used Hour of the Knife to good effect. Feast of Goblyns is probably the best of the bunch. I also made great use of Circle of Darkness for a sandbox style game in G'Henna.


Otherwise, your approach is better than running modules. Make the demiplane yours and you'll have more fun than any of the prewritten adventures.
 

BedrockBrendan

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Agree with Night of the Walking Dead suggestion. That is a pretty solid one. Ravenloft modules are best used to strip mine for material as needed (I used Ship of Horror for example for about 10 different adventures, don't even know if I ran the full adventure once). Some work great though. It depends on if they fit what you are doing.

Recommend picking up the Guide to Werewolves, and you might also want to check out Book of Crypts as that has some short low level adventures in it.

Feast of Goblyns is also very worth picking up if you are doing werewolves.
 

Chaotic Wooster

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What is the opinion of the Grand Conjunction? Are the rejigged Domains of Dread improved by it, or was it a needless point of separation for the revision of AD&D 2nd Edition?

Agree with Night of the Walking Dead suggestion. That is a pretty solid one. Ravenloft modules are best used to strip mine for material as needed (I used Ship of Horror for example for about 10 different adventures, don't even know if I ran the full adventure once). Some work great though. It depends on if they fit what you are doing.

Recommend picking up the Guide to Werewolves, and you might also want to check out Book of Crypts as that has some short low level adventures in it.

Feast of Goblyns is also very worth picking up if you are doing werewolves.

I've bought some pre-revision .pdfs already, including Night of the Walking Dead and Book of Crypts. Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts is sat in my cart. I may add Feast of Goblyns since it is an early favourite. I suspect I will steal liberally from modules rather than run them as written.

My idea is to stick to Arkandale for at least levels 1-3, then look at the modules I have and let the players' characters move elsewhere. Castles Forlorn is PoD and looks good. I hope Dungeon Master's Guild will get back to more Ravenloft PoD soon, since the focus seems to be Planescape and Dragonlance right now.
 
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lgm

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I hated the Grand Conjunction. Ravenloft had to be the easiest of game worlds to add in new content of any kind but they decided to break everything for no real reason. I use the additional material as additional 'islands of terror' but ignore everything else. I thought Darkon was completely ruined. I'd preferred having a second 'core' if they just wanted to add additional content.

I was sold on the prophecy when it was first hinted at but I really thought it was leading to an almost inevitable event that PCs could prevent. Alas, they hammered it through in two terrible modules where the players watch it all go down.

Again, make the game yours and use the adventures for ideas, not for direction.
 

BedrockBrendan

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What is the opinion of the Grand Conjunction? Are the rejigged Domains of Dread improved by it, or was it a needless point of separation for the revision of AD&D 2nd Edition?

I wasn't a huge fan of that change. The core becomes more culturally consistent, but I preferred it with some of the more peculiar domains there like G'henna, Bluetspur, and the Nightmare Lands. Arak, etc. I also liked Dorvinia as a separate Domain and the Shadow Rift wasn't something that ever really added much for me. A lot of people liked the change though so it is a matter of taste. I think in a lot of ways they used the grand conduction to revise and 'fix' the setting, but it worked better prior to the change in my opinion. That said, Ravenloft isn't static, so the change is very much in keeping with the setting cosmology and even if you don't have a grand conjunction, the GM is supposed to be adjusting the setting over time (adding domains, that sort of thing).


I've bought some pre-revision .pdfs already, including Night of the Walking Dead and Book of Crypts. Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts is sat in my cart. I may add Feast of Goblyns since it is an early favourite. I suspect I will steal liberally from modules rather than run them as written.

My idea is to stick to Arkandale for at least levels 1-3, then look at the modules I have and let the players' characters move elsewhere. Castles Forlorn is PoD and looks good. I hope Dungeon Master's Guild will get back to more Ravenloft PoD soon, since the focus seems to be Planescape and Dragonlance right now.

The only challenge you might face in Arkandale for that long is it is such a backwater, there isn't much on the map for it. But that might be a plus because it gives you plenty of space to work with creatively and add what you want. But it is also situated near some cool domains if you need a change of pace at all.

My only advice is be careful about falling into the trap of always making adventures about the darklord in question. You can have a campaign structured around defeating individual dark lords if you want, but I find that isn't as interesting as focusing more on other villains that you create for the setting (one way to look at it is a dark lords are a template that can be applied to pretty much any villain you want to make: they are just at the apex of being changed and cursed by the land, but there are plenty of creatures who were warped by the setting into something monstrous who haven't achieved dark lord status.

Castles Forlorn is one of my favorites, and it pairs well with Feast of Goblyns because they are geographically near one another. It is an odd module. The core adventure is cool if you care to run it, but it is also just good to have the information in case the players ever go venturing into Forlorn. It comes with an interesting book of encounters. There aren't many Ravenloft products like it. Lisa Smedman, who wrote it, did a number of modules I remember really liking (again many of them I often cannibalized to make into numerous other adventures). I wish more of her adventures had the Fabian art.

Ravenloft modules kind of come in two types: ones that are great for running beginning to end, and ones that are good because they have so many useful things in them, even if the adventure itself isn't the best thing to run from beginning to end. I actually often preferred the latter as, as a GM, mostly you are going to be running your own adventures anyways.

Also a lot of these books are products of their time there may be stylistic thing you will want to adjust. For example the module the Created is a lot of fun, but it has some odd railroady things in it (which were not uncommon then). So there is a character in the module and it basically says the GM shouldn't' allow this character to be killed, no matter what the PCs do.

Another useful source is the novels. They are a good way to get more material for the domains themselves. Hit or miss but I found stuff like Knight of the Black Rose and Tapestry of Dark Souls (brought Tepest to life) useful. Knight of the Black rose is probably the best book in the series
 

BedrockBrendan

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I hated the Grand Conjunction. Ravenloft had to be the easiest of game worlds to add in new content of any kind but they decided to break everything for no real reason. I use the additional material as additional 'islands of terror' but ignore everything else. I thought Darkon was completely ruined. I'd preferred having a second 'core' if they just wanted to add additional content.

They did add clusters which was cool (pretty sure those came with the red box but I could be mistaken as they might have come with DoD). But I agree largely. When I ran my campaigns I often made additional cores. It actually is a really good approach if you have any issues with the core itself. Personally I like the core but I didn't need two oceans on it, and didn't need the changes to it. Also some of the incongruity of the original core was something I found very helpful for forcing me to be a little more creative (it is easy to slip into autopilot when the world is more homogenous-vaguely European), but when you get some of those odd domains, you have to really think about what they are like at the ground level. And they added an important and useful contrast (stepping into the Nightmare Lands was a distinct experience, passing through G'Henna was memorable).
 

Chaotic Wooster

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I wasn't a huge fan of that change. The core becomes more culturally consistent, but I preferred it with some of the more peculiar domains there like G'henna, Bluetspur, and the Nightmare Lands. Arak, etc. I also liked Dorvinia as a separate Domain and the Shadow Rift wasn't something that ever really added much for me. A lot of people liked the change though so it is a matter of taste. I think in a lot of ways they used the grand conduction to revise and 'fix' the setting, but it worked better prior to the change in my opinion. That said, Ravenloft isn't static, so the change is very much in keeping with the setting cosmology and even if you don't have a grand conjunction, the GM is supposed to be adjusting the setting over time (adding domains, that sort of thing).




The only challenge you might face in Arkandale for that long is it is such a backwater, there isn't much on the map for it. But that might be a plus because it gives you plenty of space to work with creatively and add what you want. But it is also situated near some cool domains if you need a change of pace at all.

My only advice is be careful about falling into the trap of always making adventures about the darklord in question. You can have a campaign structured around defeating individual dark lords if you want, but I find that isn't as interesting as focusing more on other villains that you create for the setting (one way to look at it is a dark lords are a template that can be applied to pretty much any villain you want to make: they are just at the apex of being changed and cursed by the land, but there are plenty of creatures who were warped by the setting into something monstrous who haven't achieved dark lord status.

Castles Forlorn is one of my favorites, and it pairs well with Feast of Goblyns because they are geographically near one another. It is an odd module. The core adventure is cool if you care to run it, but it is also just good to have the information in case the players ever go venturing into Forlorn. It comes with an interesting book of encounters. There aren't many Ravenloft products like it. Lisa Smedman, who wrote it, did a number of modules I remember really liking (again many of them I often cannibalized to make into numerous other adventures). I wish more of her adventures had the Fabian art.

Ravenloft modules kind of come in two types: ones that are great for running beginning to end, and ones that are good because they have so many useful things in them, even if the adventure itself isn't the best thing to run from beginning to end. I actually often preferred the latter as, as a GM, mostly you are going to be running your own adventures anyways.

Also a lot of these books are products of their time there may be stylistic thing you will want to adjust. For example the module the Created is a lot of fun, but it has some odd railroady things in it (which were not uncommon then). So there is a character in the module and it basically says the GM shouldn't' allow this character to be killed, no matter what the PCs do.

Another useful source is the novels. They are a good way to get more material for the domains themselves. Hit or miss but I found stuff like Knight of the Black Rose and Tapestry of Dark Souls (brought Tepest to life) useful. Knight of the Black rose is probably the best book in the series

Not a lot of love for the Grand Conjunction then? It did seem needless given the everchanging nature of Ravenloft. I will see if/when it comes up.

Arkandale's backwater nature is ideal for me. I prefer small settlements to begin with. And Nathan Timothy (aside from being a werewolf) is more likely to appear in his role as river trader than werewolf.

I will look into the novels on Kindle. A glance on e-bay suggests the paperbacks are out of my price range.
 

lgm

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they added an important and useful contrast (stepping into the Nightmare Lands was a distinct experience, passing through G'Henna was memorable).

This is one of the features of Ravenloft I like the most. The sudden shift of scenery and players scrambling to adjust to a vastly different (or dangerous) culture made it easier for me to include the various nuances of each domain. It hadn't occurred to me to make an additional Core but sounds very intriguing. I did use the Nightmare lands as an eastern border of sorts and had it stretch more northward to fill the entire east border of Darkon. I just had the domain continue forever like a dreamscape would so there never was mists east of the Core.

I never hear much talk about the Book of Crypts. I really like it for having a large number of short adventures from low to high level in one book. It would be a good way to get ahold of lots of ideas to pull and only paying for a single book. I don't believe I ever ran the adventures at the level suggested. I took them as they fit my group and adjusted the numbers as needed or made changes that made sense.
 

BedrockBrendan

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This is one of the features of Ravenloft I like the most. The sudden shift of scenery and players scrambling to adjust to a vastly different (or dangerous) culture made it easier for me to include the various nuances of each domain. It hadn't occurred to me to make an additional Core but sounds very intriguing. I did use the Nightmare lands as an eastern border of sorts and had it stretch more northward to fill the entire east border of Darkon. I just had the domain continue forever like a dreamscape would so there never was mists east of the Core.

I never hear much talk about the Book of Crypts. I really like it for having a large number of short adventures from low to high level in one book. It would be a good way to get ahold of lots of ideas to pull and only paying for a single book. I don't believe I ever ran the adventures at the level suggested. I took them as they fit my group and adjusted the numbers as needed or made changes that made sense.

Book of Crypts was one of my favorites. Part of it was the short adventures could easily be reworked as needed. But I remember running Blood in Moondale, The Dark Minstrel and Bride of Mordenheim frequently as one shots for new players. The Dark Minstrel is also a good example of an adventure that is almost entirely RP and mystery driven (it is the kind of adventure you can play without ever rolling a die). And I think that helped set a blue print in my mind for where to focus play

I also like the sudden shifts in scenery. I think I always liked embracing the disjointed aspect of the setting and the dreamlike aspect because those both flow from the cosmology pretty well (it doesn't make sense to me that the domains would be neatly clustered together to resemble 'not Europe'). But I think there are two major fan camps: the surrealists (people who want that disjointed, dreamy quality) and the realists (who want a more naturalistic setting). I don't think either approach is better or worse. If you want the more naturalistic approach, DoD is a very good bet. If you want the surrealist approach, the black boxed set is a very good fit.

I think my second core started as a pirate bay and just turned into its own thing (it was also a good way to get more regular use out of islands you liked because you just just stick them there). It was probably the clusters that gave me the idea but I can't remember it has been so long.
 

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Not a lot of love for the Grand Conjunction then? It did seem needless given the everchanging nature of Ravenloft. I will see if/when it comes up.

Arkandale's backwater nature is ideal for me. I prefer small settlements to begin with. And Nathan Timothy (aside from being a werewolf) is more likely to appear in his role as river trader than werewolf.

I will look into the novels on Kindle. A glance on e-bay suggests the paperbacks are out of my price range.

Take my opinion with a grain of salt. Plenty of people liked it. The changes all are revealed in the Red Boxed set. And I did enjoy the Hyskosa Hexad leading up to it (though I do agree with the other posters assessment of the last two modules). It was a good idea, it was neat that they laid the ground work so early (starting with the very first module for the 2E line: Feast of Goblyns. In case you are interested in this, these are the modules (double checked online to make sure): Feast of Goblyns, Ship of Horror, Touch of Death, Night of the Walking Dead, From the Shadows and Roots of Evil.

It has been a while but my memory is the last two modules were kind of odd. I liked portions of From the Shadows but remember really having a hard time with Roots of Evil. However it has been so long, I would have to run them again to give a fair assessment. I recall a kind of railroady hook with the players losing their heads. But you also got a nice map of Castle Avernus. The first four modules are good. Touch of Death is one that I don't think has been recommended yet that is probably worth looking into.

If you like Backwaters then Arkandale and Verbrek are good (Sithicus and Valachan might also be worth thinking about as they are nearby). Invidia was always one of my personal favorites (I liked the darklord there and prior to the Evil Eye module it was kind of a blank canvas for the GM, which I also preferred). Richemulot might also fit what you are doing because it has cities but they are very underpopulated and kind of desolate, with lots of lycanthropes (were rats). Kartakass (via Feast of Goblyns) is another one you might want to look into because it has so much werewolf and wolf were material (if you need anything to port into Arkandale, there is a lot there, including a pretty cool homestead encounter and the Kartakan Inn)

Unfortunately the paperbacks shot up in price (I managed to get another copy of Knight of the Black Rose back when amazon prices for older TSR stuff was wicked cheap: I bought books for pennies and dollars from the early 2000s to sometime around 2010). Unfortunately I had a complete library of the Ravenloft TSR books but threw them away in a move to make space (our new apartment only had one closet and there just wasn't any room for my old gaming books). If you can get them on kindle that is probably the best bet (and it is a convenient medium because you can read books easily wherever you are).

Also the Van Richten books are absolutely essential. Those will really open up the setting. They are very good reads too
 

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From my reading, I like the nightmarish quality where the Domains are not supposed to fit together neatly or logically. To my eyes Ravenloft is 'real' but it is not constant or natural. It does raise the question of how the 0-Level population view their existence, especially in 'young' domains like Arkandale.

I'm sticking with pre-revision material; 1990-1993 (Realm of Terror through Dark of the Moon). That is plenty and it ought to be consistent enough for my purposes.

These other domains sound interesting, and I will look at them as time to read and prepare allows. I doubt I'll keep my players wandering Ravenloft's backwaters forever, Arkandale simply seems the most appropriate starting domain for my purposes. Richemulot is a likely stop along the campaign and Forlorn is all but certain.

I ordered Castles Forlorn and Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts PoD this morning, along with some more .pdfs. That should be enough for now.
 

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From my reading, I like the nightmarish quality where the Domains are not supposed to fit together neatly or logically. To my eyes Ravenloft is 'real' but it is not constant or natural. It does raise the question of how the 0-Level population view their existence, especially in 'young' domains like Arkandale.

I think when you get into the territory of making them non-people, or figments, it becomes a little too ephemeral. I tend to leave their precise nature mysterious (perhaps they are real souls drawn in when the realm is formed, who knows), but treat them as real. Totally a YMMV thing though
 

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From visiting the very small town my parents were born, I totally understand the villagers of various domains remaining in place and continuing to do the few jobs they know how to do. Currently, it's easy for people to leave hometowns for college, jobs, and other opportunities. Societal mobility in medieval times and earlier was so much harder. Surviving usually meant staying in place and continuing the work of your parents. With a few exceptions (such as bigger cities of Darkon), villagers and townfolk don't have, or don't feel, they have opportunity to get out of their bad situation. They just deal with it the best they can. With Dark Lords that make their presence known, it's the same fear as living under a despot ruler.

I imagine when a new domain enters Ravenloft, there may be a handful of courageous people that attempt to stand against evil. Subjugation of the citizens likely follows soon afterwards when that handful of people disappear or die. The supernatural and monsters will quell the resilient folk easy enough as well.

Anyways, that's how I always played it straight!
 

Chaotic Wooster

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My thinking is that Arkanvale, a young domain, has people who remember always living there. There is no recorded history, but families will recall ancestors and the villages will seem old. Anyone over 40 years old must have come from somewhere or been conjoured from nothing by the Dark Powers when they created the domain, but no-one recalls it.

Arkanvale has a small population. If you view the domains as a realistic setting, it's a stretch of wilderness along a river used for trade, nothing more. So I doubt there is more than half a dozen villages. Again, ideal for my 'small world' start. The Arkanvalites have simply "always been there" and don't question it.
 
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My thinking is that Arkanvale, a young domain, has people who remember always living there. There is no recorded history, but families will recall ancestors and the villages will seem old. Anyone over 40 years old must have come from somewhere or been conjoured from nothing by the Dark Powers when they created the domain, but no-one recalls it.

Arkanvale has a small population. If you view the domains as a realistic setting, it's a stretch of wilderness along a river used for trade, nothing more. So I doubt there is more than half a dozen villages. Again, ideal for my 'small world' start. The Arkanvalites have simply "always been there" and don't question it.

Note that Arkandale has ties to two domains that may help your campaign--the Timothy clan extends back to its roots in Mordent (Nathan's father Eowin is still living there, despite having shown up in I10 Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill--one of several reasons I think that module was supposed to be more recent in Ravenloft's history until the 11th hour), and Verbrek's culture and religion are inspired by Arkandalish myth and folklore.
 

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I never hear much talk about the Book of Crypts. I really like it for having a large number of short adventures from low to high level in one book.

I plan on using Book of Crypts adventures for Cryptworld someday. A really valuable gothic horror resource.
 

Andrew J. Luther

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Castles Forlorn is great.

Another suggestion, though you’d have to do some conversion work, is some of the “novice” level adventures for Shadow of the Demon Lord. There are some good ones set in small villages that could be dropped into a Ravenloft campaign with almost no work (other than choosing the D&D stats for whatever monsters are in the adventure).
 

Chaotic Wooster

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Note that Arkandale has ties to two domains that may help your campaign--the Timothy clan extends back to its roots in Mordent (Nathan's father Eowin is still living there, despite having shown up in I10 Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill--one of several reasons I think that module was supposed to be more recent in Ravenloft's history until the 11th hour), and Verbrek's culture and religion are inspired by Arkandalish myth and folklore.

Yes, I saw that the Timothy's come from Mordent, but don't have Raveloft 2 yet. Verbrek's a likely excursion too. If I play to the point of the conjunction, it absorbs Arkandale entirely, which might be interesting to the players if they've wandered far by that point and return to find everyone living in fear of werewolves.
 

opaopajr

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This has been a great buying guide topic. I would also recommend the old 1980s horror movie "Waxwork" because it captures the vibe of transitioning into another world surprisingly well. In general find a few horror media that captures your aesthetic and keep that as your Inspiration File.

I further recommend digging into your Halloween musical playlist to tease out inspiration. Same with art and costumes, like cosplayers, just buckets of images and sounds to keep your headspace focused on task. All these bits and pieces make like a dreamboard which may puzzle itself out in your head into an unexpected storyboard.

That way you create your own personalized content: applying the shared pool of recommendations with your desired elements and let stuff bubble up from your mind's murky depths.
 

Chaotic Wooster

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This has been a great buying guide topic. I would also recommend the old 1980s horror movie "Waxwork" because it captures the vibe of transitioning into another world surprisingly well. In general find a few horror media that captures your aesthetic and keep that as your Inspiration File.

I further recommend digging into your Halloween musical playlist to tease out inspiration. Same with art and costumes, like cosplayers, just buckets of images and sounds to keep your headspace focused on task. All these bits and pieces make like a dreamboard which may puzzle itself out in your head into an unexpected storyboard.

That way you create your own personalized content: applying the shared pool of recommendations with your desired elements and let stuff bubble up from your mind's murky depths.

It has indeed. A pity that more of the classic Ravenloft material remains .pdf only, but at least it is available. I received Castles Forlorn and Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts today. I haven't had a chance to read them yet, but the quality of the scan and print is top notch. The style of the Ravenloft layouts lends itself to reprinting, it seems.

I'm trying to decide if I want Forbidden Lore and Van Richten's Guide to Vampires too...

As a lover of Hammer Horror movies, horror in general, and a fan of movie soundtracks, I have plenty I can use for Ravenloft.
 

Armchair Gamer

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I'm trying to decide if I want Forbidden Lore and Van Richten's Guide to Vampires too...
Based on what you've said, I'd hold off on Forbidden Lore. It's a collection of various topics--Vistani fortune-telling, rules for using psionics and the Tome of Magic spells in Ravenloft, secret societies, and curses and powers checks--and I'm not sure how useful most of it would be for the campaign you've described. It's good, just not especially relevant to your needs as I understand them.

Van Richten's Guide to Vampires was the first Van Richten's Guide, a work by the late lamented Nigel Findley, and the first Ravenloft game product I owned and read. It's definitely worth the money if you have any intent to using vampires in your game.
 

Chaotic Wooster

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I will use vampires. It's Ravenloft, I'll have to at some point, right?

But I doubt I'll use them too early, so it's more for my own reading pleasure and generally useful information.
 

BedrockBrendan

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I will use vampires. It's Ravenloft, I'll have to at some point, right?

But I doubt I'll use them too early, so it's more for my own reading pleasure and generally useful information.

If I remember, you get a much fuller sense of Van Richten's backstory in the guide to vampires. It also sets down the blue print for all the van richten books. The only thing different is they hadn't quite set the whole separating mechanical text in gray boxes written in a different voice (so you have these weird moments where Van Richten talks to the GM about game mechanics in his voice). They may have revised that in later printings so it is possible that isn't in the one that is on Drivethru, but definitely recall something like this in the original release.
 

Voros

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I see the Van Richten Guide compendiums are up on Drivethru and on sale. I really enjoyed the guides for vampires, ghosts and liches.

Any opinions on the later guides for Fiends, Vistani and Witches in vol 3?
 

BedrockBrendan

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I see the Van Richten Guide compendiums are up on Drivethru and on sale. I really enjoyed the guides for vampires, ghosts and liches.

Any opinions on the later guides for Fiends, Vistani and Witches in vol 3?

I didn't like the volume compendiums where they put three together (I think they had a lot of the same info, maybe even all of it, but it felt so different to me and I definitely remember the art being different in those). I preferred them in their original 96 page format with all the Fabian art. I did like the original guide to the Vistani. I wasn't too into the guide to fiends (but plenty of people liked it). Mechanically I think you are fine getting the compendiums if it is more economical, but I would recommend getting individual 96 page guides if you want them as they originally appeared when they first came out
 

Voros

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I didn't like the volume compendiums where they put three together (I think they had a lot of the same info, maybe even all of it, but it felt so different to me and I definitely remember the art being different in those). I preferred them in their original 96 page format with all the Fabian art. I did like the original guide to the Vistani. I wasn't too into the guide to fiends (but plenty of people liked it). Mechanically I think you are fine getting the compendiums if it is more economical, but I would recommend getting individual 96 page guides if you want them as they originally appeared when they first came out

Thanks, I really like the layout and art of the originals so I'll stick with those. I also see the VR guides to vampires and werebeasts are POD so I'll save up for those. Just put in a big POD order with Drivethru so they'll have to wait.

Too bad the Vistani guide isn't POD as the cover is great.

17511.jpg
 

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I have all the Van Ritchen guides (and almost everything 2e Ravenloft!) and I really enjoyed them. I've used them all to created unique foes and allow PCs to really get into hunting them down. I can't speak on the compendiums though. I recommend to get a specific one if you want to build an adventure around that type of villain.

On the plus side, I enjoy reading them even when not using them for a current game.
 

Armchair Gamer

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I see the Van Richten Guide compendiums are up on Drivethru and on sale. I really enjoyed the guides for vampires, ghosts and liches.

Any opinions on the later guides for Fiends, Vistani and Witches in vol 3?

Fiends is a personal favorite, but that's because it's one of the few sources to do D&D fiends right, IMO--forces of alien mind, implacable evil, and both spiritual and physical destructiveness. Vistani and Witches I can take or leave, for various reasons.
 

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Not really a whole lot to add, other than AD&D 2e is great. I think it's the best iteration of D&D. I think it's got a little bit of everything, and you can use whatever you want to make it your own. As mentioned, Night of the Walking Dead and Feast of Goblyns are two of the best modules, as is Castles Forlorn. If you can track down a copy of Dungeon Magazine #31, I suggest what I think is one of the best Ravenloft adventures, Bane of the Shadowborn.
 

Chaotic Wooster

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Not really a whole lot to add, other than AD&D 2e is great. I think it's the best iteration of D&D. I think it's got a little bit of everything, and you can use whatever you want to make it your own. As mentioned, Night of the Walking Dead and Feast of Goblyns are two of the best modules, as is Castles Forlorn. If you can track down a copy of Dungeon Magazine #31, I suggest what I think is one of the best Ravenloft adventures, Bane of the Shadowborn.

I'm sure I can find it digitally, don't they have the Dungeon magazines on Drivethru these days?
 
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