Defender of the Secrets of Castle Grayskull
- May 13, 2017
- Reaction score
Alt XP is an interesting discussion...
I think the big key for me is resonating to Ravenloft's aesthetics (it is very Hammer horror). Ravenloft box set (was it Domain of Dread or Original?) suggests to keep the world in a state of passionate extremes: lush natural beauty contrasted with primal forces of nature; clannish, provincial people who celebrate with an almost desperate zest; the allure of evil's power with its chastizing curse; etc. Basically Romanticism.
Original. Unfortunately, it wasn't well-presented by many fans and followup products. There might be a variety of reasons for this:
- I6 casts a long shadow over the setting, and that's a pretty relentlessly grim environment. Hickman, at the very least, interpreted the setting as a whole as hopeless and miserable, which is one of the reasons for his expressed dislike. Ironically, the darkest version of Barovia is arguably the one in Curse of Strahd, where he had the most influence since the original, and the most room to play.
- The zeitgeist of the era tended to the grimdark--remember, cyberpunk was just getting started, and the World of Darkness would hit a year later.
- I"m not sure how many of the designers were on board. William Connors almost certainly was--he's quoted in Dragon #315 as saying that "the moral choice is more important than the valiant choice" in Ravenloft--and I expect Andria Hayday was as well. On the other hand, I think Bruce Nesmith was more of a 'scare the players by threatening the PCs' type.
- Evil, dark and nasty are easy for many creatives, especially in this hobby. Good, beautiful and sublime seem a lot harder to pull off.