First Dive into Ravenloft



Jan 21, 2004 3:10:47
Im a huge fan of Forgotten Realms... in fact i swear by those books and only those books in my campaigns alone :D
Lately iv been looking to change things up a little bit, and dry something new out there, and while reading the post about "your favorite darklord", i came across someone saying that there was a wizard of Thay that got caught in the mists of ravenloft.
I know a little bit about ravenloft to know that there is no escaping the mists once your in there, and that it is a super gothic world where undead run rampant and the dark lords rain suprime, but i really dont feel as if i know enough to run a campaign successfully.

Soooo in a nut shell, can u guys gimi info on books/novels and the sort to help me get the mood of ravenloft. I dont even own a copy of the core ravenloft book yet, so i gues thats going to be first on my list.

PS. my players just recently completed the City of the Spider Queen module, and any concepts of them being sucked into ravenloft i think would be awesome to say the least, so any of you have a good idea that you have been sleeping on, or waiting for your party to get around 18th level, just throw it out there too.


Jan 21, 2004 3:28:40
Okay, I'd hardly say that undead run rampant or the like. They're not anymore common than in other worlds, all the other creatures are just rarer.
Ravenloft is just a tad more 'real-world' with an emphasis on low-magic, atmosphere, and character.

You'll need one of the Campaign settings (The Ravenloft Players Handbok is the most recent although some of the new rules are questionable). There are other books that add to the background such as the Gazetteers. I recomend #1 as it features the Realm ruled by the wizard of Thay (Hazlik, ruler of Hazlan). #2 might be good as well as the domain of Darkon is half-way between fantasy and reality. Plus its ruled by a lich so the power level of the possibly villaisn is higher.

18th level might be a tad high for a good Ravenloft campaign, but you could do a story introducing the heroes to the land and having them try to escape. If they enjoy themselves you could start a campaign in RL with fresh characters.

Given you're just experimenting though you may want to try getting a used campaign setting from a used bookstore of seller if you can. No need to spend $30 only to find you or your players hate the setting. Shouldn't be too hard to convert some of it.


Jan 21, 2004 4:27:19
Sounds good Jester,
One of the main reasons i was hesetent to buy the Ravenloft core book is because i didnt see the stats of really any of the dark lords when i flipped through it, except for straud of course.

I gues my ideas of ravenloft being filled with udead just appear that way because the first module i ever embarked on was the 2ed classic strauds castle.

Im still bouncing between the idea of bringing their characters into this world, but a hard antagonist is still in need. I plan on taking them well over epic if they survive whatever i throw at them, and escaping would probably be a cool idea. having them try to find their way home

One thing that really confuses me about Ravenloft is how all these evil darklords, like Hazlik, and Lord Soth, from classic Dragon lance novels im familular with him too. But does ravenloft just have a thing for swallowing up the most evil people ever to rule its lands?


Jan 22, 2004 4:05:02
Well unfortunetly there are no Darklord stats in the main campaign setting, it was designed to be loosely player-friendly so serveral of the dirty-dark secrets (such as the identities of the darklords) were kept hidden for a DM-only book. This is slowly being updated by the Gazetteers.
They're really not need for a campaign, especially since most are smart enough to stick to the shadows or work through underlings. Or are too vastly powerful for most heroes to even attempt to fight (although groups of level 10+ can give some a run for their money, to say nothing of 18!).

As for Ravenloft swallowing people up, yeah pretty much. The 'creators' snatch up evil people who are above and beyond evil (but who also damned them selves and chose to be evil instead of good) and made them lords of their own personal hell. Given great power but also horrible curses, forever denied their heart's desires and tormented by their worst nightmares.
Like Hazlik who is tormented at night by dreams of people who humiliated him and who are beyond his reach of revenge, which drives him constantly to failure and ruins his plans. Or Soth who is tormented by imperfections in his memory and the inconsistancy of his realm while haunted by phantom memories of what are, were, and could have been.

Since each Domain has a 'theme' as it were, based on personality of the darklord, some are undead heavy while others are less so.
There is a land of haunted manors and ghosts where the mists cling tightly to the hills and moors. There is a cold and wind-blasted land of unfeeling science and man-made monsters. There is a land of tall mountains and thick woods were the supersticious people bar their doors at night in fear of the creatures that stalk the darkness. And there is a vast rolling wilderness where the dominant species is not man and villiages are grim forts under siege. And there are plenty more.


Jan 22, 2004 10:26:00
The problem remains that Ravenloft isn't all that great for near-epic PCs, but a "weekend in hell" adventure might suit for them. After all, Ravenloft is far more about RPing than any other campaign setting I've seen.

Still, you'd want an adversary who can actually hurt them, and I can only think of a few domains where such creatures are right now:

Barovia... of course. Strahd von Zarovich is always a threat, and you might just run the PCs through the classic Ravenloft module, perhaps following up with "House on Gryphon Hill" After all, Strahd never is as dead as he appears to be.
Info on Barovia is in Gaz 1.

Darkon. As Jester said, it's the most fantasy-ish domain there is, with the humanoid races more common and magic not that feared... then again, Azalin, its darklord, is quite indefeatable, as he can animate every corpse in his domain with a thought as well as quite a lot of other nasty abilities. If you want to be really mean, you could put them against Ebb and Gloom, two Shadow Dragons living in the Mountains of Misery. Your PCs may have fought dragons before, but have they fought two working as a team?
Info on Darkon is in Gaz 2.

Necropolis. The Slain City stands in Darkon, ruled by a spectral entity called Death. The problem with this domain, apart from its nigh-immortal darklord, is that anyone who enters it dies without sufficient protection. It might be interesting if you want an adventure where they must complete it before the time runs out, though.
Info on Necropolis is in Gaz 2.

The Shadow Rift. An unnatural rift spreading many miles, it is ruled by the unknowable entity known as Gwydion, and populated by the strange Shadow Fey. I've never seen Gwydion's stats, but I'd guess that he's bizarrely powerful. The Rift itself will be difficult to enter, as anything which tries to fly etc. into it fades from existence, but there are some ways, such as natural caves. The Rift is an alien landscape, well suited to freak your players out, but the Fey aren't evil as such, although some of them hates mortals and will destroy them given any chance.
Info on the Rift will be in Gaz 5, and info on the Fey will be in Van Richten's Guid to Shadow Fey, both coming soon.

Shadowborn Manor. It's a house completely controlled by a fiend trapped inside the sword Ebonbane. Apparently, he/it controls all swords and knives in the house, might be a nasty surprise for the fighter with a vorpal sword... besides this, I don't really know much abnout it, nor do I know where you can find any info on it.

Bluetspur. An Island of Terror floating in the Mists, Bluetspur is an alien, sunless, bizarre landscape ruled by Illithids deep underground. The God Brain, possibly the most powerful darklord, rules it. There's no real info on it in any Gazetteers, but the adventure "Thoughts of Darkness" is suitable for a group of high-level PCs. If you want some info on how to create the alien-ness and creepiness of the domain, check out the mini-adventure "The man who lost his mind" in the Kargatane netbook "The Forgotten Children" at

As for the realm ruled by the Red Wizard (he is, in fact, called that), namely Hazlan, there's a few nice things for high-level PCs to do. Hazlik himself is only... 14th level, I think, but he's got quite a lot of other mages. There's the lodestone, buried deep beneath a city... can't remember it's name, though, and a lot of ancient dungeons leading down towards this massive artifact, suitable for some major high-level action. Info on Hazlan is in Gaz 1.

Hope this helps, and sorry for making such a long post.


Jan 26, 2004 5:21:22
I am currently GMing a Dementlieu campaign, The players love it, We'd previously campaigned in Borca and wanted a change from hack and bask. So Dementlieu tech level (9) seemed Perfect. The Darklord may be a little ineffectual there, but there is much more going for it in my opinion, The Unversity, the Temple of Ezra. Also theirs the Elitest class which thumb their nose at anyone less than themselves, makes for a great setting.

I am also in the process of adding another domain, its still in progress but available at the URL in my signiture

Cheers All