Ravenloft is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, which combines elements of the standard D&D game with the trappings of gothic horror. To quote from the original Ravenloft Black box set:
"Dark, gloomy castles, desolate landscapes, black clouds racing against the moon - these are the trappings of the Gothic tradition. Early Gothics were stories of mystery, and desire - of heroines imprisoned in a fortress, their purity and sanity assaulted by the evil lord of the manor. Later novels, such as 'Dracula' and 'Frankenstein', toss the heroine to the sidelines, and "evil" takes center stage. This is the classic horror in which Ravenloft has its roots."
For the appropriate gaming atmosphere imagine playing D&D on a dark rainy evening by candlelight. Not only that, but in a frightening place filled with phantom sounds, strange noises and horrors of the night. It is a world of haunted mansions, cursed bloodlines, with undead and primal beasts and yet with humans being the worst of all. The Ravenloft setting is often also referred to as the Demiplane of Dread or the Land of Mists. It is standard to refer to the RAVENLOFT product line in caps (although this FAQ often does not. Sorry); if Ravenloft is merely capitalised, it refers the setting itself.
Ravenloft is a Dungeons & Dragons role-playing type game, so you need a D&D Third Edition (or the revised 3.5 edition) Player's Handbook and a Dungeon Master's Guide, both published by Wizards of the Coast, to get the standard D&D rules. The Monster Manual is also of use. A copy of the Ravenloft campaign setting is also required. This is found in either the Ravenloft Campaign Setting book (published in October 2001) or its reprint/update to 3.5 the Ravenloft Players Handbook. If 2nd Edition D&D is still being used then the most recent (and some say best) campaign setting is Domains of Dread (released by TSR/WotC in 1997).
At GenCon 2010, it was announced that the Ravenloft setting would be revived for a 4th Edition D&D boxed set in 2011. But at the 2011 D&D expo, it was announced that the product has been shelved indefinitely. (See Section V of the FAQ) In the meantime, Jester of the Fraternity has released an extensive unofficial collection of 4th Edition Ravenloft rules:
With your chosen edition of D&D rules and Ravenloft Campaign Setting, you could start to play. However, we suggest that you also get the other Ravenloft Third Edition products, as most of them should be of use in some way (see our review page here for more information). Especially useful for a campaign in Ravenloft are the Ravenloft Dungeon Master’s Guide, Denizens of Dread and the Ravenloft Gazetteers. As an option, if you have access to them, many Second Edition Ravenloft products can also be very interesting for your campaign. They are quite useful for background information, NPCs and adventure hooks.
Back in 1st edition, two adventures inspired the Ravenloft setting: the original I6: Ravenloft module published in 1983 and its sequel, I10: The House on Gryphon Hill in 1986. Both were written by Tracy & Laura Hickman. This led to the first Ravenloft setting the Realm of Terror Boxed Set (nicknamed “The Black Box” by the fans), which was released in 1990 and defined the basics of the gothic setting. This first set of rules was written by Bruce Nesmith with Andria Hayday. More then 90 Ravenloft adventures, accessories, games and novels followed in the 90’s, all using Second Edition D&D rules. The last book with any Ravenloft content in 2nd edition is Die Vecna Die, a cataclysmic adventure where the D&D multiverse is threatened.
Click here to get the complete list of Ravenloft products in 1st or 2nd edition D&D. The Third Edition D&D setting was launched by Wizards of the Coast in summer 2000, but it is only in October 2001 that Ravenloft was adapted to 3rd edition. Click here to get to the Third Edition Ravenloft books reviews.
Ravenloft is ruled by the darklords, also known as domain lords, people or creatures so tragic and evil that the Dark Powers of Ravenloft have granted them power and domain over a region. Typically, there is but one darklord in each land; they do not share power well. These individuals posses great power in their own domain but the Dark Powers also torment them and burden each darklord with a terrible price for their power. Each endures a curse designed to frustrate their most basic desires. Strahd, the lord of Barovia, suffers an endless search for his lost love Tatyana; this is the classic and most famous example of the Dark Powers’ touch.
Darklords are powerful forces of darkness in the Land of Mists; they have great power and influence and most have large numbers of minions and servants. However, darklords are not always an obvious political ruler. Many prefer to act from behind the scenes, enacting their plans with guile and cunning. In Second Edition, Domains of Dread divided domain lords into several categories: demilords rule pocket domains, lords rule islands of terror, overlords rule within clusters and darklords rule the domains of the Core. This breakdown has been dropped in Ravenloft Third Edition - all are simply "darklords". With very limited exceptions, denizens of Ravenloft do not use the word "darklord."
The Core is the main group of nations that makes up the major continent in Ravenloft. It is considered the "heart" of the setting. Lands that fit the traditional European style of gothic horror were designed to be part of the Core, while the other more exotic lands are generally Islands or part of a Cluster. Large bodies of water are located on the Core’s East and West coasts. In each of these seas many islands are found, most of them being small domains, each with their own darklords.
An Island domain (also known as an Island of Terror) is a single land, completely surrounded by the Mists (note that the islands located in the two seas surrounding the Core are not usually considered Islands of Terror as they are not isolated and surrounded by Mists). They are not bordered by any other lands and are isolated from the rest of the world. Clusters are small groups of domains that have joined together, Islands that border other islands instead of simply being separated. The lands within Clusters usually share a cultural, climate or thematic link. Clusters can be thought of as much smaller versions of the Core.
Pocket domains are small domains that are completely contained within another larger domain but are able to move around, changing their position. This may be shifting around a region or radically moving across the entire continent without warning. True Pocket domains should be differentiated from smaller enclave domains such as Castle Island, which is entirely contained within another land (see Ravenloft Gazetteer V). Castle Island and the like are rooted in place and have never moved from their position; they are as much a part of the land as Barovia. Pockets, however, can move from land to land, temporarily displacing part of another domain, (even if they very seldom do so, such as the House of Lament). Pocket domains are diverse and come in many shapes, from a small theatre to a land contained entirely within a dagger to a place that exists only within a sleeper’s mind.
Many! About Fifty. The list of all domains that have been mentioned by name in the Ravenloft Third edition line is found by clicking here.
You may want to try the Ravenloft Catalogue - an online database that allows you to find out what products refer to a particular domain or NPC within the setting. Originally a product of the Kargatane website, you can now get to the latest version of the catalogue here at the Fraternity of Shadows website. Otherwise, why not ask on our message board, the Café de Nuit, or the RAVENLOFT-L Mailing List (See Section VI of the FAQ) to see if anyone else has created their own details on that subject?
In Manual of the Planes terms, Ravenloft is a demiplane on the Deep Ethereal (as presented as an option on pg. 55 of MotP). The Deep Ethereal is a transitive plane connecting the Ethereal Planes of the multiverse. Essentially it is tucked away in a dark and unremarkable corner of the universe where no one can see it. What the Manual of the Planes calls the Ethereal Plane, Ravenloft names the Near Ethereal, to differentiate it from the Deep Ethereal. The Near Ethereal is the part of the Ethereal Plane that is coexistent with other planes. In Second Edition, Domains of Dread offered that the Ravenloft pocket-plane is "a self contained pocket dimension that hangs suspended in the ethereal plane".
In 4th Edition, it is unclear where the Ravenloft setting proper fits in the new cosmology. The 4E Manual of the Planes presents Domains of Dread as pockets in the Shadowfell, but since each world has its own, unconnected Shadowfell, walking from a Taladas-Shadowfell Falkovnia to an Oerth-Shadowfell Darkon would be impossible. The only classic Ravenloft domain to get a full 4th edition update has been Kalidnay in Dungeon #190, and it mentioned no links to any other domains.
At the edge of any land not directly bordered by another land, the Mists rise up in a Misty Border, a pale whiteness so thick it is almost impossible to see through. The Misty Borders of domains are nebulous boundaries stretching back and forth, sometimes moving inward by miles and other times pulling back, revealing previously obscured features. The Mists have also been known to spontaneously rise within domains as well.
Legends speak of people who have walked into Mists only to find themselves moved elsewhere, emerging dozens miles from where they entered or even in a different time. Rarer still are the rumours of people being moved out of the Dread Realms, but this is so rare it is almost unheard of.
The Mists of Ravenloft, like the Dark Powers, are a Dungeon Master tool and complete subject to their whims. They can be as mysterious or real as the story dictates. In some distant and faraway lands the Mists take on other appearances appearing as thick blizzards, blistering sandstorms or flickering waves of heat.
You walk across the border. As long as two domains touch each other there is nothing preventing someone from walking from one to the other. This can be done on the Core and on Clusters. On Islands one must simply step into the bank of the Misty Border and eventually it will lead to another land. Eventually. It should be noted that some darklords have the power to magically close the borders of their realm and prevent anyone from leaving (or sometimes even entering).
No. All darklords are all but beyond redemption. They have done horrible and hideous deeds to earn their power and the powers that grant it do not reward nor punish those of light hearts with such power. Even if one becomes a darklord by killing the previous lord that individual must still be evil.
The Grand Conjunction was a devastating event that occurred in the year 740 (on the Barovian calendar, the usual reference for time in Ravenloft). The Vistani seer Hyskosa foresaw this in a hexad of prophecies. Over the course of five years, the verses were fulfilled until the wizard-king Azalin (in an attempt to leave the Demiplane of Dread) forced the Conjunction to occur early. For a brief time the darklords were freed from their curses and prisons in the Mists before the Conjunction collapsed - but not before many changes were made to both the lands of the Core and the Islands of Terror.
The developers of RAVENLOFT used the Grand Conjunction to ‘tweak’ the world and correct what they saw as errors in the Land. They removed lands seen as superfluous with roles that were better filled elsewhere (Gundarak, Arkandale) and removed lands that seemed inappropriate for the gothic and folklore tone of Ravenloft (Arak, Vechor). Within the game world of Ravenloft, the Grand Conjunction is commonly referred to as the Great Upheaval.
The changes during the Grand Conjunction are detailed in the second boxed Campaign Setting (the "Red Box", published in 1994). To quickly summarise:
In 1997, Domains of Dread revealed that "aftershocks" of the Grand Conjunction had continued to reshape the demiplane in following years. This is most notable in the appearance of Clusters. Briefly:
There were 6 adventures leading up to, and detailing, the Grand Conjunction (in order of release):
These Grand Conjunction adventures have been released online, and can be downloaded for free at the Wizards of the Coast Web Site. Also, many DMs have noticed that if they run the adventures in the order written, they end up needing PCs of level 8-10 for the second sign of the hexad, yet PCs of level 3-5 for the third sign of the hexad (etc.). The solution to this continuity problem is to simply change the order of the hexad to suit the levels. This results in the adventure order being:
Just change the order of the hexad verses to match this, and you will be able to run a Grand Conjunction campaign without this problem. It should be noted that the hexad and notion of the Grand Conjunction was started after the first few modules had already been published and the prophecy was retroactively applied to those.
The Grim Harvest was the result of another one of the wizard-king Azalin's grand schemes - this time to escape the Demiplane by attaining a higher state of evolution. While the effects were not as far-reaching as the Grand Conjunction, Darkon was significantly changed. After Azalin’s disappearance a figure known only as Death ruled over all Darkon. During the reign of Death the entire land was renamed Necropolis and several quasi-lords fought over territory. After five years, Azalin returned and Death's dominion was shrunk to just the former capital city of Darkon, Il-Aluk, which still retains the name Necropolis.
At the time of the event, no one knew; Azalin might have achieved his goal, but he might equally have been destroyed in the process. The novel Lord of the Necropolis provided some details about Azalin's fate, however much of this novel has been declared "non-canon", due to many inconsistencies with established Ravenloft lore. After his return it was revealed Azalin had indeed survived although the wizard-king’s memories and essence had been scattered across the land.
There were 3 products leading up to, and detailing, the Grim Harvest:
Death Undaunted was to be the fourth and final Grim Harvest adventure, produced and published strictly online by the Kargatane and would detail Azalin’s resurrection and return to the throne. However, this product was delayed by the transition to D&D Third Edition rules which necessitated a complete re-write. Then the Kargatane, the official Ravenloft website at the time, lost the privilege of producing the first official 3rd edition RAVENLOFT products when the line was licensed to Arthaus and Swords & Sorcery. They were hired to write the next few published books for Arthaus. However, the Dark Powers decided on a different course then the one that was planned, and this product will likely never be finished let alone released. Hints at what could have been can be found in some current Ravenloft products. The Third Edition’s timeline notes that five years after his ‘death’: "Heroes restore Azalin to power, foiling a traitorous attempt to enslave his spirit." Further hints can be found in Ravenloft Gazetteer II.
John W. Mangrum, the primary author of the adventure, kindly shared his unfinished manuscript for Death Undaunted with us, which is available in the Library.
Earlier books have the main landmass of the Core at around 180 miles by 200 miles. The Sea of Sorrows and the Nocturnal Sea add about 80 and 90 miles respectively (based on Domains of Dread). Using this size on the inside cover maps in the Ravenloft Campaign Setting and the Ravenloft Player’s Handbook puts the scale at 20-25 miles per inch. However, this is prone to change as the Mists that border the known land ebb in and out. Distance is quite relative in the Land of the Mists. In short, the size of the Core and most Domains has been purposely left out to allow Dungeon Masters to set the size to fit their Campaigns; the Core can be left small for a more claustrophobic feel or enlarged to whatever size is deemed appropriate. The populations can be adjusted accordingly.
Outlanders are anyone who enters Ravenloft from the outside. The Mists can snatch them up at random or they could have been too close to a person of great darkness when they are drawn in. Newcomers could also have accidentally entered via magical spells gone awry, stepping through a one-way portal, or sometimes even entered on purpose. Outlanders are not always believed by the locals and often spend most of their time looking for a way back home. Earlier RAVENLOFT adventures presumed the party was composed entirely of Outlanders who were brought in for a single session of horror. This was known as a “weekend-in-hell” adventure. In later products, such as Domains of Dread and most Third Edition products, the emphasis was shifted to native characters.
Van Richten's Guide to the Vistani introduced the Dukkar, a legendary foe of the Vistani. The Dukkar is said to be a male Vistana born with the Second Sight, who - if allowed to live - is fated to destroy his people. He is also rumoured to be able break the curses of the darklords and possibly destroy the land. Malocchio Aderre who emerged in the adventure The Evil Eye, is currently the only known living Dukkar. The seer Hyskosa, author of the hexad foreseeing the Grand Conjunction, was retroactively identified as an earlier Dukkar.
Co-Created by Steve Miller, the Gentleman Caller is a mysterious fiendish individual wandering the Mists of Ravenloft. For many years, virtually nothing was known about this character, beyond allusions to his possible inhuman nature and the appearance that he was carrying out some dire plan far beyond the comprehension of any mortal.
The Gentleman Caller would simply set his plans in motion and move on, never waiting to see the results of his efforts. By the time the player character could come on the scene, the Gentleman Caller would be long gone.
There are seven products so far where the Gentleman Caller definitely appears, and a couple inconclusive references. Note, however, that he is seldom more than a catalyst for the story - by the time the PCs get involved in the adventure, the Gentleman Caller is typically long gone. However, in more recent products, he has been slowly edging towards the limelight...
It is worth noting the reference to the “mysterious gentleman” Tavelia planed to marry in the Darkon entry of Gazetteer II is NOT the Gentleman Caller as was once speculated.
This topic is hotly debated one on the various Message Boards dedicated to Ravenloft. Only three, Malocchio of Invidia, Chezna of Nova Vaasa, and the Beast of the Hills (from Gaz I, whose Dread Possibility was edited out for space), are confirmed, while Vigo Drakov (Gazetteer II) is a very a good suspect. The Jongleur of Borca is heavily suspected
Originally, the Kargatane planned to have one child in each of the (proposed thirteen) Gazetteers. Plans went awry with Gazetteer III when Borca was delayed and thus does not have a child of the Caller while Gaz IV has two.
It is known that the children are all reputed to have Vistani mothers and the proof of each child's fiendish ancestry - physical or mental - is a reflection of his or her mother's personality.
Author John W. Mangrum confirmed on our forum that Chezna was the Gazetteer V child.
Doctor Van Richten was a healer until a family tragedy prompted him to put down his medical instruments and pick up a sword and a pen. Van Richten published eight works on identifying, hunting, and slaying monsters that stalk the Land of the Mists. Included were Van Richten’s Guide to: Vampires, Ghosts, the Created, Werebeasts, the Lich, the Ancient Dead, Fiends/Demons, and the Vistani. These were later re-published by his ‘nieces’ (see below) as the Monster Hunter Compendiums Volumes 1-3 including an unpublished tome, Van Richten’s Guide to Witches.
The adventure Bleak House possibly killed off the good doctor. However, it contains several endings, so Van Richten is not necessarily dead, depending on which of these outcomes occurs in your campaign. It has not been revealed which ending is considered "official," and no answer is likely to be revealed in the near future. All outcomes, though, do result in Van Richten being trapped or staying within Bleak House, in preparation for the dark days to come. However, it is worth noting that all of these options provide for a situation in which Van Richten (alive or dead) can be around in 25 years time to help deal with the Time of Unparalleled Darkness.
Laurie and Gennifer are young adventurers determined to follow in the footsteps of both their uncles. They view their friend, mentor and adopted-uncle Rudolph Van Richten as a great champion and have vowed to continue his reputed work. Their blood-uncle is George Weathermay, a renowned hunter of monsters and champion of the people.
Like van Richten they believe that the greatest weapon a hunter can have is not a big sword but knowledge. They continue his chronicling of the nature of evil as well as educating fellow heroes on how to hunt creatures of darkness. The pair republished Van Richten’s various guides along with an unpublished one detailing hags. Since then they have started writing new guides in the name of Van Richten. They first wrote Van Richten's Arsenal, Vol I, a collection of general monster hunting techniques. Their first specific Guide was the Guide to the Walking Dead and this is has been followed by the Guide to the Shadow Fey, and the Guide to the Mists. (The real life version of the latter book was cancelled and released only online).
S is the unnamed and mysterious writer of the Doomsday Gazetteers, published as the Ravenloft Gazetteers. Little is known about her save that she is a female and presumably a wizard of some skill. Her patron, whose identity is only hinted at - albeit strongly - in Gazetteer 1 is revealed in Gazetteer II to be Azalin, the wizard-king of Darkon.
Fan consensus seems to be that S is one of the clones Azalin made of himself during the Grim Harvest. Since many of the clones went awry due to being magically warped, it's not impossible that one simply became female. The authors have not confirmed this directly, but they haven't denied it either, even when the theory has been stated as fact in the middle of threads where they've refuted other fan misconceptions. The closest to confirmations that we've gotten are the following two quotes: From John Mangrum, in this forum thread, "Her character was designed as a reflection of Azalin, both literally and symbolically." And Ryan Naylor adds (in this thread), "She's cold and arrogant, with no time for stupidity or social niceties. She seems to have turned into a borderline alcoholic, which was I think unintentional and moderately amusing. Despite all this, she is quite good at getting people to talk to her. She's driven by curiosity/lust for knowledge. Does this sound like anyone we know yet?
"She is the illegitimate daughter of a Darkonese nobleman (erm, that is, the people who raised her are Darkonese nobles--so who is her real father? Go on, it's not that hard). She tried to get in to the Fraternity of Shadows but, being a woman, they wouldn't let her in. For some reason, Azalin is interested in her and holds high hopes for her progress around the Core."
In Gazetteer IV, S finds herself in a house in Valachan, having seemingly been slain by werewolves in Verbrek two weeks earlier. She surmises that her mysterious rescue is somehow related to the bracer that Azalin gave her in Darkon in Gazetteer II. As confirmed by authors Ryan Naylor and John Mangrum here, the bracer transferred her soul at the moment of death to a receptacle in Avernus, where it was placed into a clone body, which was brought to Valachan by Kargat minions of Azalin.
The authors have never completely laid out their plans, though they have dropped tantalizing hints, especially in this forum thread. It is dangerous to make assumptions based on taking these revelations out of context, of course, and the plans could potentially have changed as the series went on, but here's what we think we know for certain:
Tristen Hiregaard has the worst continuity of any character in the RAVENLOFT setting. There are no less than three versions of the character’s history, from the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix II, the novel The Enemy Within, and the various campaign sets (such as Domains of Dread). Even the domain itself has had a checkered history, at one point being said to have five moons (The Awakening). The official word is that the version of Hiregaard presented in Domains of Dread and Gazetteer V is the correct version of Hiregaard; The Enemy Within and the RMCA II entries are non-canon. But, of course, if you prefer any of the other versions of Tristen's history for your campaign, you should feel free to use it!
When Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (creators of the DRAGONLANCE® Saga) returned to TSR, there were reports of them saying that, as far as they were concerned, Soth never left Krynn for Ravenloft. To make their point, they even made Soth an "extra" in the novel Dragons of Summer Flame, released in 1995. This created a lot of (useless) confusion as to where Soth really is.
The official word from Wizards of the Coast is that Soth definitely did enter Ravenloft after the events of the novel Test of the Twins. And he definitely returned to Krynn in the autumn of 752 BC, during the events of the novel Spectre of the Black Rose, written by James Lowder. The in-game reasons behind Soth's escape, however, are nebulous and open to reader interpretation. Many interpreted it as a consequence of the fact that Soth was no longer feeling imprisoned and the Dark Powers decided to let go of their dull toy.
Also, although Soth definitely left Ravenloft in 752 BC, it has not been definitively stated when he reappeared on Krynn. Time flows strangely in Ravenloft when compared to other worlds and Soth could easily have reappeared in Dargaard Keep mere moments after he left it. Since then, Soth briefly appeared in other DRAGONLANCE novels before the authors of that setting eventually killed him off. In Third Edition products, you can find references to this character when the name "The Black Rose" is mentioned.
From James Lowder's own words on the Worlds of D&D forums:
It was always my intention to have Soth's stay in Ravenloft a temporary one, and there was no pressure from WotC for me to plot the end of Spectre a certain way. I was on board with the idea of Soth returning to Krynn from the start.
When Knight of the Black Rose was planned, Margaret and Tracy were on bad terms with TSR, not working on anything with the company. As RL fiction line editor, I offered them both the chance to have input on the project, and Tracy the chance to write the book, but they declined. I understand why.
But I made it clear to them at the time Knight was proposed that I would do all I could to make certain Soth was not changed in such a way that he would be undermined when, or if, they came back to TSR to work on the DL line. When I could not find a writer who was capable of writing Knight without monkeying with Soth, the head of the department (Mary Kirchoff again) stepped in and asked me to take the assignment. It was an assignment I accepted somewhat reluctantly, I must admit. But it worked out for the best, I think.
In terms of continuity, I don't think it matters when Soth returns to Krynn in the DL timeline. Time works differently in the Mists, so he could be gone five minutes from Krynn, yet spend decades in the Dark Domains.
Jander Sunstar is a several-hundred-year-old outlander vampire and possibly one of the oldest vampires in Ravenloft. He is from the world of Faerûn, home of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. He is featured prominently in the first Ravenloft novel, Vampire of the Mists. When the Dark Powers find a toy that they like, they do not let go of it that easily! Although Jander wanted to die in rays of the sun, the Mists of Ravenloft snatched him away before he could be burned, determined to keep him alive in his tortured existence. You can find out more about Jander's current status in Children of the Night: Vampires. Jander is also updated to 3rd Edition in Champions of Darkness. While Jander never actually appeared in any FORGOTTEN REALMS products prior to his creation for Vampire of the Mists (1991), the character proved popular enough that three short stories were written by Christie Golden, detailing his pre-Ravenloft life in Faerûn, in the FORGOTTEN REALMS fiction anthologies: Realms of Valor (1993), Realms of Infamy (1994), and Realms of Magic (1995). He was also included in the FORGOTTEN REALMS Villians Lorebook (1998).
The Shadow Rift is where Markovia and G’henna existed before the Grand Conjunction wrenched them from the Core. It is a deep chasm filled with thick swirling Mist that obscures the bottom from sight. The edges are steep and reputed to be impossible to scale. In fact, the Mists only conceal the land below and the cliffs do in fact have a bottom. There, far below and shaded by the Mists, is a sunless realm of dark fey. It is ruled by a trapped, unknowable entity called Gwydion.
The Shadow Rift is the revamping and ret-conning of the domain of Arak that vanished during the Grand Conjunction. Arak was reputed to be a land ruled by the dark-skinned elves known as drow. Although products such as Servants of Darkness seemed to imply that the Shadow Elves were effectively dark-skinned elves like the drow the term actually applies to a whole range of creatures collectively known as the Arak, shadow elves or shadow fey. There are many types of shadow fey, ranging from human sized Sith, to the tiny Alven. More details are contained in The Shadow Rift adventure, Van Richten's Guide to the Shadow Fey, and Gazetteer V.
While the Second Edition RAVENLOFT line refers to them as “shadow elves” the Third Edition line refers to the inhabitants of the Shadow Rift as "shadow fey" to clarify their nature and prevent any confusion with the Shadow Elves of Mystara.
The names of both the days and the months are the same in Ravenloft as they are in the ‘real’ world. There are twelve months and 365 days per year. The standard calendar in the Core is the Barovian Calendar, currently (as of 2009) at the year 763. Isolated lands such as Clusters or Islands may have separate calendars and date names or even vary in their method of measuring the passage of time. Forlorn in particular is noted for having its own list of years although, as the name suggests, there is precious little communication between that land and its neighbours. A calendar for the year 758 is available for download in the Mausoleum (look next to the embalming fluid).
There is no common tongue or trade language in Ravenloft. While there is a limited overlap between some nations, such as Mordent and Dementlieu, most lands have their own separate and distinct language. The Ravenloft Player’s Handbook has more detail on this, including lists of languages. Alternately, the Ravenloft Gazetteers give information of the most commonly known dialects in the details lands and even include samples of the predominant language(s).
Here is a list of some instances of domains being based off of real world lands and cultures.
Here is a list of some of the langauges of Ravenloft that are based on real world dialects.
The common people of Ravenloft have a limited understanding of the world they live in. The Mists have the ability to manipulate the minds of most of the inhabitants of Ravenloft, and to implant false memories. For example, when a domain is first created, the Mists create a "false history", a fake past that is believed by all the people who were created with the domain. As such, common people will not understand the concepts of "domains", "Darklords" or the demiplane itself.
The Dungeon Master should adjust commoner knowledge to fit his or her campaign, but in general, the following are examples of what a common person would know:
Common knowledge varies from domain to domain; certain peoples have more experience with phenomena such as magic and divine clerics, while others do not. The following is a short list of exceptions to general knowledge:
The Dark Powers are the mysterious force that has - presumably - created the demiplane of Ravenloft, both empowering and cursing the darklords. It has been declared that the Dark Powers will never be defined by the Kargat or writers of the line. They are provided simply as a rationale for the existence of Ravenloft, and as a tool for DMs to individualise their Ravenloft campaigns. Simply, the Dark Powers are whatever you need them to be for your campaign style. The novel Lord of the Necropolis, saw fit to define the nature of the Dark Powers. However, this act of defining the Dark Powers (and other incongruous aspects) greatly contributed to the decision to label the novel non-canon.
The mysterious Vistani are Ravenloft's version of the gypsies found in Gothic fiction like Bram Stoker's Dracula. They are an exaggeration and interpretation of the gypsies of literature and folklore with the magical and shadowy powers. Only full-blooded Vistani are considered Vistani; those with even a drop of mixed blood are considered Giomorgo, or Half-Vistani. Almost all non-Vistani are called Giorgio. Those few Giorgio who prove that they are worthy of the friendship of the Vistani are awarded the title of Giogoto. The Vistani can be either friends or foes to the player characters, or both, according to their own interests.
Note that in the 3rd Edition Ravenloft Campaign Setting, half-Vistani were erroneously called giogoto. This was corrected to giomorgo in the Ravenloft Player's Handbook.
The Vistani are in no way intended to be a reflection of the real Romani people. For more information on the Vistani, see Van Richten’s Guide to the Vistani (published separately or in the Monster Hunter’s Compendium Vol. 3). The 3E campaign settings also contain condensed information on the Vistani as well as rules for playing a Half-Vistani character.
When a domain is created, it is generally either:
Generally one of three things:
The Dark Powers appear to be able to create entire cities' worth of people who seem as real as you or I, and who possess complete memories; this leads to the populations of some domains having "false histories" of events which took place before their land ever existed. This presents one of the deepest metaphysical conundrums of the RAVENLOFT setting: Are the people there real, or just manifestations of the Mists? This mystery becomes even more puzzling when one takes into account that several founders and darklords are also native to the world.
Differing theories have compared the population of the Demiplane of Dread to "dreams within dreams" or "holodeck simulations." Taken to its most extreme, this comparison can lead to the decision that the denizens of Ravenloft are merely illusions; therefore, there should be no more moral compunction in killing them than in killing enemies in a video game. Opposing theories have postulated that all people and places in Ravenloft are drawn in from other worlds. If these people have no memory of a life elsewhere, it is merely because the Dark Powers have altered their memories to suit their purposes.
The ultimate truth has been long debated, but will likely never be known. However, regardless of their origin, the residents of the Demiplane of Dread are as demonstrably "real" as anyone who enters the demiplane from another world (or who has the memory of doing so, at any rate).
Since Ravenloft is infamous as a place of imprisonment there is a question whether even the souls of the dead can escape to pass on to their final rest. There is no official answer for this, nor is there any consensus among the Kargat or among the fans. Some believe that the souls of the truly dead are free to drift off to their destinations in the outer planes; others believe the souls of the dead remain trapped in the demiplane, or even worse are devoured by the Dark Powers (or perhaps merely recycled back into the Mists, depending on one's view). The final truth is left to the judgement of the DM.
Apart from the known Mistways (somewhat reliable paths of travel) any party that intentionally enters the Mists as a way to travel (without a Vistani escort) is dooming itself to wandering for quite a while, possibly even meeting up with a few nasty creatures, and most-likely running adrift on an Island of Terror. Using the Mists for travel between Core domains is foolish at best; it is faster and safer just to hitch up a wagon and ride, unless you have pressure to quickly cross a domain with closed border. Be careful too, as the Mists can sometimes become a passageway through time… Powerful (i.e. high level) anchorites can also safely Mist Travel, a divine gift from their goddess in the Mists.
Religion in Ravenloft is just as important as in other campaign worlds, but there are marked differences. Given the difficulty that Divine Powers have in reaching the Demiplane of Dread there are a far higher numbers of priests who are unable to cast spells. The gods also do not communicate directly with their followers in Ravenloft; it is unknown if they have truly abandoned their followers or if they cannot penetrate the Mists. Outlanders often feel cut off from their gods or ignored as their prayers go unanswered. Ravenloft Third Edition provides a list of thirteen major deities in the demiplane, including the Church of Ezra and the Cult of the Morninglord. Additional religions have been mentioned in the Ravenloft Gazetteers as well as expanded information on the existing faiths.
It has been foreseen that there will come a Time of Unparalleled Darkness to Ravenloft that will reach a climax in the year 775 (on the Barovian calendar). This concept is alluded to in The Evil Eye in relation to the Gentleman Caller as well as in the introduction to Domains of Dread. It is first mentioned by name in one of the endings to Bleak House. Van Richten is clearly going to be involved, but at the moment little else is known about what might occur during this period.
It was rumoured that at one point there was a definite plan among the Kargat for the ToUD, but in reality no one expected the product line to last long enough to reach the year 775. It was always meant to be a shadowy event in the far future. A ToUD module was proposed as the final RAVENLOFT product and was to involve travel through time with the heroes journeying to the year 775 before returning with the foreknowledge and the possibility of changing things. However, this proposal was rejected. Any plans they did have ended with the line as well as the change in publishers and developers.
For now, the Time of Unparalleled Darkness remains a nebulous event in the far future. Like the Dark Powers and the Gentleman Caller's ultimate plan, the ToUD is a tool for DMs to develop as they see fit.
Ideally, the sky and celestial bodies remain the same between "groups" of domains in the Mists. That is, the sky above the Core looks the same regardless of what domain you are in, though this may be different to the sky above the Amber Wastes. However, a couple of anomalies do exist. For example, until the events of Spectre of the Black Rose, Sithicus only had the black moon Nuitari, while Nova Vaasa may have five moons (as mentioned in The Awakening, but neither Domains of Dread or Gazetteer V confirm this).
According to The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook, no. Any spelljammer flying up to the stars quickly enters the Mists. To quote from this book:
“Ravenloft is a demiplane. As such, it is fundamentally different from any spelljamming world. Ravenloft lies within no crystal sphere. It cannot be reached by traveling through the phlogiston. A spell-jamming ship sailing into Ravenloft's night soon enters the Mists at the border of the demiplane and is quickly turned back.
"Although spelljamming provides no escape from Ravenloft, outside spelljammers are not safe from the Demiplane of Dread. The Mists of Ravenloft can appear even in wildspace, where they take the form of a jet-black cloud that arises before the victim vessel. Ships that sail into Ravenloft through the Mists are as trapped as any other entrant to the demiplane. Only in the phlogiston, which blocks all planar travel, can one remain safe from the reaching tentacles of the Demiplane of Dread.”
Ravenloft being a prison at the bottom of the tornado of evils of the multiverse, its domains got many tenants from other D&D settings. Just a few have been developed in their former setting, while most are new inventions for Ravenloft. The following is a short list of the most well-known of these borrowings, for trivia purpose and for possible adventure hooks with outsiders PCs. Most of the sources are from Domains of Dread and/or the Black Box, unless otherwise corrected.
Masque of the Red Death (MotRD) is a variant on the standard RAVENLOFT campaign. It is set on an alternate version of our Earth where a supernatural force (the Red Death) has insinuated itself, causing everything that is merely superstition on our world to become real. The campaign is set in the 1890s and so it is much more modern than the standard RAVENLOFT setting. To account for this, MotRD uses a variation on the standard AD&D/d20 rules. More modern firearms are introduced, magic becomes much rarer, and the standard character classes are changed to reflect the different social make-up of this time period. There are also few -if any- demihumans present in the Gothic Earth. It was originally released as a Boxed set in 1994 with two follow-up accessories. It has since been updated to d20 with the release of a hardcover rulebook.
The Red Death is a powerful bodiless entity that was pulled or banished from another world by the mad-mage Imhotep in his quest for immortality. The entity bonded itself with the magic of the world, corrupting it. That is all that is known, save for the fact that the Vistani followed the Red Death through the opened portal. This could mean Imhotep opened a two-way gate into the Land of the Mists. Or it could be the world the Vistani originated from. It could mean the Red Death is a Dark Power or it could be something else entirely. What? Were you expecting easy answers? Let’s just say it’s a strong possibility and leave it at that. The undefined nature of the Dark Powers (Are they good? Are they evil?) makes it impossible to say for sure.
Masque author William W. Connors shared his opinion on these matter in an interview, available here in the Parlor.
The rules for gaining domains were accidentally omitted from the book. A Mystic, and all the sub-classes of Mystic, can either learn a new domain or master one they currently possess at each level. The Message Boards member ‘Igor the Henchman’ coined the term ‘domain slots’ to describe the acquisition of new domains. One slot is gained at each level starting at level one; a single slot grants minor access to a domain and a second slot permits major access.
Additionally each Mystic class gains a free minor access to a bonus domain. These bonus domains bend the normal rules restricting when they can be improved and major access can be gained after first level (or presumably whenever major access is wanted for this domain). When a new level is gained you either choose to get a new domain or expand on a domain you already have (ie: gain major access). At early levels, when you gain domains you only have two or three spells so gaining major access to a domain gets you nothing, not until higher levels anyway. So instead of gaining a whole new spell from a new domain every level you gain a new spell every second level.
At the time of this writing little is known regarding this now defunct product. It was to be a Masque (as described in the RL: PHB) and a possible sub-campaign similar to Masque of the Red Death. It was to set in the Orient of the ‘real world’ and presumably covered such regions as China, Japan and possibly even the Philippines. Additionally, it is set in a period earlier than MotRD.
According to the developers, MotJD would have been usable either in conjunction with the Red Death or separately on the wish of the Dungeon Master.
With ArtHaus and White Wolf returning the rights to RAVENLOFT to Wizards of the Coast it is very unlikely this book will now ever see print.
Author Notes from this lost project are now available in The Parlor.
As often as you need to.
Both Fear and Horror saves are provided as an aid to role-playing, not a replacement. If you think your players are responding appropriately to a horrific situation then do not ask them to make saves. If they are not responding then use the saves more liberally. Fear saves and their like were called Fear checks in Second Edition. The term was changed to reflect d20's new terminology.
Fear is the simpler of the two, being a response to a direct threat, when one’s life is at stake. Horror is much more subtle and varied. Threats to others, such as loved ones, are horrifying, as is anything that upsets someone’s worldview or beliefs; the realisation that something is wrong -insidiously wrong- is terrifying without being actually frightening. Generally speaking, anything that prompts concern or fear without involving a direct physical threat to the character is grounds for being horrified.
No. Paladins are immune to magical fear but are still required to make Fear checks. See the Ravenloft Player’s Handbook for more information. Horror, as stated above, is different from fear and no one is immune to that.
Rules for playing vampires (and, indeed, all types of undead creatures) in 2nd Edition AD&D are contained in Requiem: The Grim Harvest (the final part of the Grim Harvest series). In Third Edition the Level Adjustment system or Savage Species book will suffice.
For Third Edition use the Level Adjustment system or consult the book Savage Species published by WotC. John W Mangrum has written a comprehensive set of rules for playing lycanthropic PCs in 2nd Edition D&D. These are available in the Book of Souls, the first Ravenloft Netbook at the Secrets of the Kargatane website here.
An approved expansion to these rules, written by Andrew Wyatt, can be found at The Lonesome Road.
A matter of taste, obviously, but we advise against it. Keep in mind that the aim of RAVENLOFT is to instill fear in the player characters and that many darklords and foes would be easily defeated by epic characters. PLANESCAPE® characters come from a place where fiends are met in the local bar, half-fiends (tieflings) are likely to be counted among your friends, and you are only a portal away from planes where the unending Blood War has seen countless people slaughtered. A single werewolf terrorising a village is unlikely to raise an eyebrow (though swords may raise with speed). To paraphrase the old song, "Once they've seen Sigil, how are you gonna keep them down on the farm?"
DARK SUN® characters might be scared enough, but the European-style setting is fairly inappropriate for them (apart from Kalidnay, the DARK SUN inspired domain in Ravenloft. And that domain is considered lost in the Mists and likely will not be detailed in Third Edition). Ravenloft natives would probably react badly to people as alien-looking as DARK SUN characters, too (especially if the party is comprised of thri-kreen and half-giants!).
Reality wrinkles act as a miniature domain that covers and overlaps the existing land. An outsider with a reality wrinkle can walk right up to a darklord without confusion (as long as the lord permits them). On this often misunderstood ability, we will let Azalin from the lost ‘Ask Azalin’ forum make his summary for us:
“An outsider receives a reality wrinkle if it has either the Good or the Evil descriptor and it does not have the Mists descriptor. An outsider loses its reality wrinkle if it "maxes out" its Corruption points (22+) or binds itself to a mortal (as in the case of outsider familiars). Once an outsider loses its reality wrinkle, it can fail powers checks and even become a darklord just like anyone else. (Mists outsiders are an exception; they never make powers check because they are simply a malign extension of Ravenloft's planar fabric.)
"A mortal who uses magic or special abilities (aka, "mortal magic") to temporarily change his creature type to "outsider" does not gain a reality wrinkle. A mortal who permanently becomes an outsider as a class ability (such as a 20th-level monk) is considered to have "ascended" to true outsider status. Such a character gains any applicable alignment descriptors (Chaotic, Evil, Good, Lawful) and, if the ascended outsider gains either the Good or Evil descriptors, then the character does gain a reality wrinkle, just like a monk. The character is considered an outsider in all ways.
"Evil outsiders (fiends) can perform power rituals and thus gain land-based powers. Good outsiders (celestials) can also perform power rituals, but they cannot gain land-based powers; all they accomplish is to reduce the size of their reality wrinkle. And yes, in the previous two paragraphs I am referring specifically to the alignment descriptors.”
This has been frequently discussed on the Ravenloft Mailing List, with little in the way of conclusions being drawn. Some of the main points to consider include:
Ultimately, the decision is the DM's, and should be made to suit each individual campaign.
There were no Prestige Classes included in the Ravenloft Campaign Setting, although when this was reprinted as the Ravenloft Player’s Handbook the Monster Hunter PrC was updated from Secrets of the Dread Realms. Prestige Classes can be found in VanRichten’s Arsenal, Champions of Darkness, and Heroes of Light. Other PrC can be found in most of the Ravenloft Gazetteers. Classes specifically for select bloodlines can be found in Legacy of the Blood. For a complete list of PrC click here.
The modified rules for Psionics can be found in the Ravenloft Dungeon Master’s Guide. These are not complete ability-by-ability changes but instead rough guidelines on how the powers are affected. It should be noted that these changes were made before the publication of the Revised Psionics Handbook and may not be entirely accurate.
If you have bought the Third Edition Ravenloft Campaign Setting or Ravenloft Player’s Handbook you may be surprised with the lack of NPCs including all the darklords. It was decided these were for Dungeon Master eyes only and moved elsewhere. The early drafts of 3.0 versions of the statistics along with short descriptions can be found in the accessory Secrets of the Dread Realm bundled along with the DM’s Screen. Updated stats can be found in the appropriate Ravenloft Gazetteers. Gazetteer statistics supersede those found in Secrets of the Dread Realm. The early Gazetteers (I-III) were also produced prior to 3.5 Edition and may require some minor updating.
While everyone has a favorite domain, some domains are accepted as being easier to start campaigns in than others.
Players new to the setting but with a background in fantasy gaming often find Darkon an easy transition land as it is a mixing of the fantastic and the horrific.
Other popular starting domains include Mordent, as the countryside is peaceful and familiar, and Barovia, due to its history with the setting and familiarity in popular culture. Nova Vassa, Dementlieu, and Richemulot are also common starting points for a campaign.
Darklings, outcast Vistani who've been stripped of their powers, are cursed to be forever confined to a specific region. The size of this region is in dispute, since the two canon sources on the subject disagree. Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium, Vol. I is the original source for darklings, and it says that the darkling is "unable to cross the Misty Borders between domains." It further says the darkling is trapped in a single domain. But the most recent source, Champions of Darkness, says they are confined to a single Mist-bound region (i.e., the Core, a cluster, or a single island domain.) The Champions of Darkness reference is quite clear, but the RLMCI reference is muddied a bit, as it seems to imply that all domain borders are Misty Borders, which we know is not true.
Some DMs prefer more mobile darklings and see the ban on entering the Mists to be poetic justice. Some prefer more confined darklings, as it is more of a real punishment. Until another product breaks the tie, both camps have an equal claim on correctness.
There are no more official products being released for RAVENLOFT.
Wizards of the Coast has announced no plans regarding RAVENLOFT and ArtHaus has declined to renew their licensed WotC product lines. Thus, there are no new products announced and none expected at this moment.
Unknown. The last Ravenloft novel released by TSR was Spectre of the Black Rose. While they still published books under it, the licensing deal ArtHaus had with WotC did not include the possibility of releasing novels. After the license reverted to WotC, several of the TSR-era novels were reprinted with new cover art as the "Ravenloft Covenant" line. In 2008, three new novels were announced in the "Ravenloft: Dominion" line, Black Crusade, Heaven's Bones, and Mithras Court. All three would involve crossovers between Ravenloft and the "real world" of Earth. After several delays and a few name changes, Black Crusade was cancelled, and the other two novels were released, but with no mention of Ravenloft or the Dominion label on the covers. However, since both books mention clearly Ravenloft-related concepts (such as Vistani and Kartakass) in their text, both are widely regarded as Ravenloft novels.
In 2009, WotC began releasing Black Crusade online in serial form, prominently labelled as a "tale of Ravenloft." Beyond that, it is unclear if Wizards of the Coast has any intention of releasing any Ravenloft novels in the foreseeable future or continuing the former "Ravenloft: Dominion" line.
The fact that Ravenloft products have been written by many authors over many years means that occasionally a product will contain irreconcilable conflicts with other material. TSR has ruled some products "non-canonical" - that is, they are not part of the official Ravenloft timeline. To date, the products that have been ruled non-canonical are:
And yes, both Spectre of the Black Rose and Champions of Darkness are canon. However, many fans choose to ignore large sections of those books for example keeping Soth in Ravenloft.
Out of print material can sometimes be found on eBay, you can start there if you look for a paper copy. Until recently, most (if not all) old out-of-print Ravenloft products were available for purchase online as downloadable PDFs at drivethrurpg. Wizards has decided to end this practice and has asked drivethrurpg to stop selling them. In case they decide to reverse this decision in the future, click here for a list of Ravenloft products available through drivethrurpg.
The Role-Playing Gamers Association (RPGA) created 7 extremely limited edition tournament modules set in Ravenloft, as part of their Adventurer's Guild series. Each adventure was meant as a companion to a specific TSR product, and they could only be purchased directly by game stores, with the intent that they be played in-store, partially to advertise the companion product. The adventures are exceedingly rare because TSR only printed enough to mail to the stores that bought them. The adventures have been known to individually fetch over $100 at auction.
Released between 1998 and 1999, they are:
Heart's Final Beat was reprinted as part of TSR Jam 1999, along with 6 other, non-Ravenloft Adventurer's Guild modules. No statement has been made as to whether they are considered canon. The only place one might find them now is on the secondary market, such as eBay.
In addition, several Ravenloft modules were written for RPGA tournments, run at gaming conventions. These are also likely extremely rare, as they were never published to the public. They are almost certainly non-canon. Here is the full list, originally from the Kargatane website:Ravenloft RPGA Modules
There are several low-level adventures available for Ravenloft, including The Created, Neither Man Nor Beast, and Night of the Walking Dead. In addition, a few good low-level adventures are available for free in the Kargatane netbook The Forgotten Children (www.kargatane.com), such as the adventures for Dunkel Kralle and Barton DeForet.
Just one: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, which is an update and extensive revision of the original I6: Ravenloft adventure, and as such does not directly fit into Ravenloft, the setting. As this was intended solely as an update of the classic adventure, no regard was made to make it conform with anything that has come afterward, and several elements of the adventure directly conflict with the setting proper.
Arthaus did not intend to release any adventures for Ravenloft under 3rd Edition rules. Adventures rarely turn a profit, and so their focus was to be on player and DM supplements. Likewise, with the discontinuation of the line, it is unlikely WotC will be producing new adventures although there is now the possibility, albeit unlikely, that Ravenloft articles may appear in either Dragon or Dungeon magazine.
However, many of the 3rd Edtion books had lengthy adventure hooks and the book Dark Tales and Disturbing Legends contained several stories that function nicely as adventures or inspiration.
In the case of the RL: PHB about four pages. And some new art.
Due to the licensing agreement between Wizards of the Coast and ArtHaus, when WotC upgraded to 3.5 ArtHaus was obliged to reprint their Core Books, such as the Campaign Setting and the monster supplement. These were done hastily by only the developers of the line at the time.
The RL: PHB had a new Prestige Class added (the Monster Hunter, which was updated from the 3.0E Witch Hunter from Secrets of the Dread Realms, where accidentally only half of its information was published), updated monster information, the new Magic Rating rules and additional class weaknesses.
Unfortunately, the new optional rules for Class Weaknesses were not well received and generally considered badly conceived at best and a mistake. Thus, by extension, the book has been reviled and disliked despite otherwise being 98.4% identical to the Ravenloft Campaign Setting. Most people recommend new players to buy whichever they can get cheaper.
Denizens of Darkness and DoDread are similar to the above with the latter being the update. It contains a few pages of previously released material (a Web Enhancement), and a few extra monsters and a few pieces of new art, but otherwise just updates the monsters. However, the first version of the book was considered by some to be a bad update of 2nd Edition monsters and a mix-mash of the two rule systems, while the new update was equally hastily done and did not fully complete many monsters, leaving it unfinished in places.
Officially, White Wolf declared they had done all they wanted to with the line and declined to renew their licence to either of the WotC product lines (both RAVENLOFT and GAMMA WORLD). Without the renewal, the rights reverted back to their owner, Wizards of the Coast.
There has been much speculation that this decision was prompted by poor sales or a desire to focus on other lines such as ones wholly owned by White Wolf and those RPG products relating to the online games EverQuest and World of Warcraft. However, this remains pure speculation!
Yes! But it is unknown in exactly what form.
After the glut of Campaign Settings following the popularity of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms caused a decline in sales by fragmenting the audience, WotC decided not to focus on multiple settings with Third Edition D&D. Instead, they focused primarily on a single world, Eberron, while also continuing to publish products in the popular Forgotten Realms setting. They have licensed other settings to third party publishers, as they did Ravenloft and are doing with Dragonlance, but have not published or licensed all their prior campaign settings.
Thus far in 4th Edition, elements of Ravenloft have surfaced, apparently folded into the "core setting" of 4th Edition D&D. Notably, the Domain of Dread concept has been described in the Manual of the Planes as a pocket of the Shadowfell ruled by a darklord. Articles in Dragon have described new domains, such as Sunderheart. From these sources, it appears that 4E Domains of Dread are most similar to early 2nd Edition Islands of Terror, focused on "weekend in hell," escape-driven adventures. It is unclear where a cluster or the Core would fit in the new cosmology, since each world's Shadowfell is separate. The undead sourcebook Open Grave presents the 4E version of Strahd, with no mention of his darklordhood. Presumably, this is the "prime material" version of Strahd from the original I6 module (and its assorted updates), though his background does include some details first written in the ArtHaus products.
Wizards has said that they plan to release one old setting per year for 4th Edition. The first such setting was Dark Sun in 2010, and it was announced at Gencon 2010 that Ravenloft was to be the 2011 setting, however this decision was reversed, as announced at D&D Expo 2011, and Neverwinter became the 2011 setting. This situation could still change, and it unknown how many products will be released for these settings. Otherwise, the most likely source of new Ravenloft material will be the publications Dragon and Dungeon, which have devoted issues to defunct settings in the past. The only known product in the cancelled 2011 Ravenloft setting was a Ravenloft setting boxed set that was to be released in the 4th quarter, including rules for playing monsters as PCs. The set was touted as a standalone game (like Gamma World) that can also be incorporated into standard D&D. But this product has been shelved indefinitely
It is worth nothing that Wizards of the Coast's only 3.x Edition Ravenloft product, Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, was a redesign of the original Ravenloft adventure, rather than a continuation of the Ravenloft campaign setting. As such, the "changes" to Ravenloft as we know it in that product should not be considered the definitive direction that WotC would take the setting, when they revive it.
Wizards of the Coast has an official website at http://www.wizards.com/dnd/.
They still have a Message Board devoted to Ravenloft here.
Arthaus’ website is www.arthausgames.com.
Swords and Sorcery can be found online at www.swordsorcery.com
Both sites’ Ravenloft page can be found at www.swordsorcery.com/ravenloft/
Yes! To subscribe, just send an email to LISTSERV@ORACLE.WIZARDS.COM with: subscribe RAVENLOFT-L Your_Name_Here in the body of the message. The list is now administered by Wizards of the Coast and does not see much traffic anymore.
Also, all posts to the old Ravenloft mailing list are archived at: http://oracle.wizards.com/archives/ravenloft-l.html
Ravenloft was published under a special license between Wizards of the Coast and Arthaus and thus does not use the OGL at all. This means that Ravenloft products contain no OGL content that can be used in other OGL products. This also means that what other WotC books and products Ravenloft products can reference are quite different to the restrictions placed on other OGL products. In short – do not assume that the rules that apply to other d20 publishers also apply to Ravenloft! That is the main reason that the FoS will not accept any d20 OGL material in our netbooks.
The Malodorous Goat Tavern was the name of the message board at the Kargatane website. Set in a fictitious Barovian Tavern, it closed its doors when the Tavern was "destroyed by fire" on October 31st, 2003.
We, the Fraternity of Shadows, took our name from a (cool) secret society of evil Ravenloft scholars. Our group, fictitiously set in the domain of Souragne, is composed of persons previously from two different netbook editing teams (the Undead Sea Scrolls and Quoth the Raven). The two teams decided to join their efforts just days prior to Halloween 2003. When the Malodorous Goat was absorbed by the Mists on Halloween 2003, our team naturally decided to fill the e-void and build a new Ravenloft web site, www.FraternityOfShadows.com.
Today, the Fraternity of Shadows numbers seven (six and a half really) who are: David (a.k.a. Jester), Joël Paquin (a.k.a. Gotten on the WotC board), Sharon Dornhoff (a.k.a. Rotipher), Stephen Sutton (a.k.a. ScS), Leyshon Campbell (a.k.a. DeepShadow), and Ron Laufer (a.k.a. gonzoron). We never really accepted Nathan Okerlund (aka Dmitri Stanislaus)'s resignation so he came back with us.
These are the members that left the Fraternity for other futile real life tasks: Dion Fernandez (of Midway Haven), Eddie Brennan (aka Wiccy), Jason True (aka Javier), and Luiz Eduardo Perret (Lord Arijani, who departed before the founding of the Fraternity website). They still owe us a lot of money so if you see them, let us know.
For your info, we made an interview for a Ravenloft web site in Czech in April 2007. In this interview, you can read a little more on us. You can also refer to Quoth the Raven #10, in the Library section of this site, to read scientifically generated game information for the Fraternity and its members.
The ‘canon’ secret society is devoted to the acquisition of knowledge regarding the Dread Realms. The FoS is detailed in: Domains of Dread, Van Richten’s Arsenal and Ravenloft Gazetteer II. Also, you can find more on the Fraternity of Shadows secret society by reading Nathan's Okerlund article "Scholars of Darkness" in the USS 2002 as well as Quoth the Raven #10 (see the Library section of this site).
The Undead Sea Scrolls and Quoth the Raven are netbooks published by the Fraternity of Shadows. These books are compilations of articles written by the fan community. Both netbooks can be downloaded from the Library.
The USS and QtR accept all kinds of articles pretaining to Ravenloft. To contribute to these netbooks, contact any member of the Fraternity of Shadows, or post on the message board, Le Cafe de Nuit.
Here is a little history of these netbooks:
Our netbook activities, as long as things go as planned, are to continue with Quoth the Raven being an annual publication. More FoS domain reports (a.k.a. Gazetteers) are also in the works.
Please see our message boards for more information on how to collaborate with us on these great projects.
Unfortunately, the FoS restricts its numbers to seven persons. To have any more members would make the editing and compilation of the netbooks far too difficult! If a FoS member was to leave (usually after a strange disappearance), entry to the FoS will be by invitation only. If you would like to be considered for membership in the event of that happening, the best way to get our attention is to submit high-quality works to the FoS netbooks and other FoS works!
No. The Fraternity is not affiliated with either although they respect both. The Kargat, other than being the secret police of Darkon that enforce the will of Azalin and maintain his laws, was also the nickname for the writers of the RAVENLOFT product line when TSR and Wizards of the Coast produced it. Members included David Wise, William W. Connors, and Steve Miller, writer of stuff. The Kargatane are a subgroup of the Kargat, entry into which usually resulted in death for the applicant. This was also the nickname for a group of individuals from the Ravenloft mailing list who got together to write netbooks (the famous Book of S__ series) and eventually started a website, the Secrets of the Kargatane. Their site was the first Official site approved by WotC. It closed, mostly due to several members of the Kargatane being busy writing official Ravenloft products, but you can read their farewell announcement here.
Le Manoir de Penombre was the fictitious home of the Richemulot branch of the Fraternity of Shadows, the setting for this website from its launch until Halloween of 2005. On the two-year anniversary of the closing of the Kargatane site, an event was held where the Manoir was invaded by a traitorous former member of the Fraternity and the Manoir was burnt to the ground.
Since then the Fraternity has moved in-game to another location.
The event, coming shortly after the cessation of the RAVENLOFT line by White Wolf, was designed to herald in a new era for the Fraternity with a bang, while also playing a cruel trick on the fans.
We’re evil, remember?
La Maison Soulombre is the new fictitious home of the Fraternity of Shadows in Souragne, the current setting for this website. An isolated plantation just south of Port d'Elhour, near a huge cemetary, La Maison is the perfect hiding place for the Fraternity, as they pose as somewhat retired merchants.
Please send further questions to firstname.lastname@example.org