DP motivations

Post/Author/DateTimePost
#1

zombiegleemax

Jan 23, 2004 9:25:44
Since the DP's of RL are "purer" essences of evil they want to know if, and how, they can win their war against good. They want good stamped out as thoroughly as good wants evil to be eradicated. So they have alll kinds of wars go on in Ravenloft. Propaganda wars, normal war, all kinds of strategies, to see what will finally eradicate all of good kind once and for all.

That is it in a nutshell. There is lots more to say about it, but that is the bare essence of the DP's motiviations in my campaign.
#2

walden

Jan 23, 2004 11:48:25
Curious, I always thought of Ravenloft as a controlled experiment run by a huge bureaucracy and presided over by a council that represents good, evil, and neutrality more-or-less balanced.

(Someday, I'll elaborate fully.)
#3

zombiegleemax

Jan 23, 2004 12:36:45
First, my post was supposed to be a "reply", not a new thread.

Second, your concept can work too. It is one i considered but ultimately threw out. As it is I cannot see any of the DP's as being CE. So far they are only NE and LE, emphsis on E. I just can't see Good and Neutral beings helping Ravenloft exist as it is. If i could convince myself they would do this, then i could go with it.
#4

ylem

Jan 23, 2004 14:17:52
The following is a part of a post I just made a moment ago on another thread. Since it's directly relevant to the subject of this thread, I'll take the liberty of adding it to this thread as well.

My own personal theory about Ravenloft is that it is designed as a laboratory in which new types of Evil can evolve. The advantage of this theory is that it provides a coherent explaination for why the Dark Powers sometimes seem to help both Evil and Good Characters, and at other times seem to punish both Evil and Good characters.
The Dark Powers bring to Ravenloft the Darklords, each of whom represents a different type of Evil. Each Darklord is given a Domain in which his own unique style of Evil can flourish. But the DP's confine each Darklord to his or her Domain, and also impose a curse on the Darklord. Why? Most people can't seem to understand why the DP's would want to help the Darklords in some ways, while hindering them in others, and so become confused about whether the DP's are Good or Evil. But suppose the Darklords could wander freely thoughout Ravenloft. Wouldn't they likely come into direct conflict with one another? One imagines Strahd trying to kill Ivan and Ivana, and regain control of Borca, which used to belong to Barovia, before Ravenloft was created. Or Azalin marching his undead troops into Falknovia and "liberating" the Falknovian people, who would probably be pleased to replace Drakov with Azalin as their ruler. In other words, the way the DP's confine Darklords ISN'T just a form of punishment for the Darklords. It's a way the DP's can protect the Darklords, and thus preserve the investment the DP's have made in each Darklord.
Similarily, the curses the DP"s impose on the Darklords do far more than just punish the Darklords. I think each curse is designed to shape the Darklord's development in ways the DP's find desirable. So, for instance, Azalin can't learn new magic. If Azalin didn't have this curse, he would have spent most of the last few centuries by himself learning new spells. In other words, he would have spent his time in the same way as the average lich. But Azalin isn't the average lich, he's BETTER than the average lich, precisely because he's been forced to spend his time working to find ways around his curse.
For instance,since he became a Darklord, Azalin has developed the ability to read and alter the memories of everyone in Darkon. This is an incredibly powerful and versatile new talent, and one that I think makes Azalin far more powerful than he'd be if he'd spent his time learning 30 or 40 new spells.
The same principle apples to almost all the other Darklords. Drakov can't conquer new territory.If he could conquer new territory, he'd be satisfied, and wouldn't have any reason to try and improve Falknovia's military. Because he hasn't been successful, he's been forced to allow the Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Magic to explore new military techniques he otherwise wouldn't have considered.
Alfred Timothy would like to be able just leap into battle without thinking, like every other werewolf. But his curse forces him to learn to control his emotions and THINK about how he's going to defeat his foes. In other words, his curse forces him to be far more dangerous and cunning than he really wants to be.
Strahd wants Tatyana's love. Imagine how anticlimatic it would probably be for him if he ever got Tatyana. But instead, his curse is a constant goad, making him work to improve his abilites. He can think, each time he fails to get Tatyana, if only I'd been just a little, better, faster, more persuasive, more careful...THEN I would have succeeded. Why do you think Strahd has advanced so rapidly as a necromancer? Most vampires don't advance in level so rapidly. I think he dreams of finding a spell that will make Tatyana love him.
My theory explains why the Dark Powers sometimes bring heroes to Ravenloft. How else can they test the skills of the villains who are evolving in Ravenloft?
The fact that people who aren't Darklords can move between the different Domains makes them even better for breeding new hybrid forms of Evil. Dermentlieu has become a testing ground for the conflict between Dominic and the Living Brain, since the Brain was created by Mordenheim. Their conflict forces both to refine their talents for subtle, hidden manipulation. And it makes Dermentilue even better as a breeding ground for new evil villains who use similar methods, such as Helena.
I think the first perfect illustration of how Ravenloft is well designed to allow the evolution of new forms of evil was the module, Thoughts of Darkness, in which Lyssa von Zarovitch and a Illithid master of Psionics work together to create vampire mind flayers.
#5

zombiegleemax

Jan 23, 2004 15:10:16
Ylem,

I totally agree. Much of your idea is in my "creation history" for Ravenloft as well. Plus i leave my ideas of the DP's open ended, because until i run a game where a group actually becomes powerful enough to challenge the DP's, they can change.
#6

zombiegleemax

Jan 23, 2004 18:44:50
I have many theories and I alternate freely between the campaigns.

There's the game in which the powers are experimenters with feelings, they observe reactions to situations, and have made evil tempting.

Then there's the idea of Ravenloft being a supreme creature in whose mind the world blossoms, that could explain the shifting landscapes and disappearing lands. Even the escape is barred due to the fact that the Ravenloft creature is mistaken into a plane of existence and upon transporting there you cease to exist in material form.

And also there's the popular theory that Ravenloft is hell. Meant to punsh the evil, but camouflaged into a plane of existence. This is the case in my other game.
#7

ylem

Jan 23, 2004 19:38:21
Here's another (slightly tongue in cheek) theory about what Ravenloft is. Have you ever wondered where Evil Gods come from? Perhaps Ravenloft is a school for beings with the potential to become Evil Gods. Perhaps Madame Eva is the school's headmistress. I can just imagine her being questioned by S...
S: "Did Ravenloft exist before Strahd became a Darklord?"
ME: "Absolutely. Our alumni includes some of the most important Evil Gods in all existence. Among the graduates who have passed thorugh our demiplane are Loki, Set, and Lolth. We are really very proud of some of the graduating classes of eons past. They have done so much to make the multiverse the place of horror and dispair that it is today."
S: "How does the current class of students measure up to their predecessors?"
ME: "Very well. For instance, Dr. Mordenheim has the making of a first rate God of Evil Science, Azalin is almost sure to make a wonderful God of Evil Schemers, and the Twins, Ivan and Ivana show great promise as a dual God of Poison. And of course Strahd has the potential to become one of the all time great Evil Gods."
S: "Do all of your students succeed as Evil Gods?"
ME: "Well, of course there are occasional disappointments. A student may seem to have makings of an absolutely woinderful Evil God, but still somehow fall short. We recently had to expell a Deathknight named..."
S: "Please don't mention his name! Remember the legal ramifications."
ME: "Oh, right. But my point is, that student seemed to have the makings of an absolutely wonderful Evil God. After all, millions of people had died because of his neglect. But he spent his time watching magic mirrors, and neglected his education, to the point where we had to let him go."
S: "That must have been disappointing."
ME: "Well, happily, we have a new student who shows promise as a God of Evil Shadows."
S: "I understand there is another strudent who left recently, a God named Vecna..."
ME: "Of course Vecna is a special case. He was already a demigod before he came to Ravenloft. So he was able to graduate ahead of the rest of his class."
S: "When will graduation day arrive?"
ME: "Graduation day, or the Time of Unparalleled Darkness, as we like to call it, is still several decades away."
S: "Do all your succesful students become Evil Gods,are do any of them become Good Gods?"
ME: "Van Richten might have some potential as a Good God...but we are not really set up to produce Good Gods here at Ravenloft."
S: "Do I have a chance to become the God of Evil Gazetteer Writers?"
ME: We like to think all of our students have the potential to become a truely great Evil God, if they apply themselves."
#8

Pauper

Jan 23, 2004 22:40:45
Originally posted by Ylem
Perhaps Ravenloft is a school for beings with the potential to become Evil Gods. Perhaps Madame Eva is the school's headmistress.

Okay, sorry to have to share this, but I just got an image of Ravenloft as 'reform school' for evil gods.

I'm really looking forward to the shower scene between Ivana Boritsi and Gabrielle Aderre...

--
Pauper
#9

tec-goblin

Jan 24, 2004 1:10:04
I don't think the DP as pure evil. They let Ezra become a deity and give spells to good clerics. You could say that it is to present appropriate challenges to the darklords, but somebody could say it's the other way round.
There are many types of heroism in Ravenloft, many books of lore and advanced technology. I see the DP as neutral with a very strange idea of law and almost sadistic punishments. They punish you if you stray from the path of goodness (giving you benefits that could lure you to it, though). They stop the gods from interfering (I don't see why Faerun is thought to be a better world, when any time any crazy cleric of Talos, or Talos' Avatar can burn your home to ashes), which has good and bad aspects.
IMC the possible neutrality of the Mists is the main theme.
#10

zombiegleemax

Jan 24, 2004 1:16:42
I can definitely see the neutral angle. Maybe they are all neutral in one aspect and this is their little play world of balance. Then they look to see how evil can mess with the balance. The reason they domn't mess with good so much is because they have already done that. Lots of possibilities with Ravenloft.
#11

The_Jester

Jan 24, 2004 13:29:47
Never done anything with them in my Campaign. But if I did it might be this:
The Dark Powers are trying to distill the purest good and nobelest heroes.
Not the mightiest or strongest or with the most magic. The ones who have stood up against overwhelming odds against unstoppable foes and temptation and still triumphed albiet smally.

Anyone can be a hero in the Forgotten Realms, and many are heroes in Dragonlance. You just need a good sword and some luck and hope that everyone looks away when you're really off.
But in a world where you have no back-up and have to struggle and there is someone always watching when you stumble and make mistakes... then those who remain good are really special.
#12

ylem

Jan 25, 2004 11:58:47
Jester, the problem I have with assuming that the DP's goal is to create heroes is that the basic design of Ravenloft doesn't seem to include any mechanism for the replication of new heroes that is analogous to the way the demiplane's creation of new Darklords leads directly to the creation of new villains with some of the characteristics of that new Darklord. New villains who have evil styles similar to the Darklords arise in each of the Domains, because the culture and in some cases natural or magical laws of each Domain specifically encourages that particular sort of Evil. So, for example, in Barovia we get vampires such as Lyssa van Zarovich. In Falknovia, we get a whole subculture of evil soldiers. In Darkon, we got Azalin's clone, Death. Sometimes the new villains who imitate the Darklords are even better at being Evil than the original Darklord, and they manage to replace the old Darklord, as in the cases of Alfred Timothy and Ivana. Sometimes, as in Dermentlieu, an environment which is well suited for one sort of evil also turns out to be well suited for the development of another, different sort of evil, as in the case of the Living Brain. The two different types of evil can then compete, to find out which is most effective in that specific environment. These examples show how Ravenloft allows the evolution of Evil through natural selection. They show how a Domain is Ravenloft's way of creating new Darklords. Now admittedly, some heroes do arise in Ravenloft, either spontaniously or because the DP's have explictily imported them from other worlds, as in the case of Gondegal. And there is a certain amount of imitation of the most successful heroes, such as the Weathermay twins following in the footsteps of van Richten. But Ravenloft doesn't seem designed at a fundamental level to replicate new heroes, with characteristics similar to those of the best old heroes, in the same way it replicates new villains, with characteristics similar to those of the best old villains. I think you will agree that there would be far more heroes in Ravenloft if there were such things as Brightlords. If the DP's want better heroes, why didn't they create a new Domain for Brightlord van Richten; one which had a culture and environment specifically designed to create new heroes like van Richten? If they had, some of the new heroes produced by the distinctive culture of "Van Richtenia" might have proved even better heroes than Van Richten. Then they too could have been made Brightlords, allowing their replication, thus producing some even better heroes, and so on.
#13

zombiegleemax

Jan 25, 2004 13:30:09
I have also considered solidifying the idea that the vast majority of Ravenloft's "normal" citizens are truly created. So heroes can only arise from imported people or newborn persons, ie born after a given storyline begins. Since I haven't thought of a good plot twist to go along with this idea i haven't developed it beyond this kernal of an idea.
#14

zombiegleemax

Jan 25, 2004 20:00:53
Originally posted by tec-goblin
I don't think the DP as pure evil. They let Ezra become a deity and give spells to good clerics. You could say that it is to present appropriate challenges to the darklords, but somebody could say it's the other way round.
There are many types of heroism in Ravenloft, many books of lore and advanced technology. I see the DP as neutral with a very strange idea of law and almost sadistic punishments. They punish you if you stray from the path of goodness (giving you benefits that could lure you to it, though). They stop the gods from interfering (I don't see why Faerun is thought to be a better world, when any time any crazy cleric of Talos, or Talos' Avatar can burn your home to ashes), which has good and bad aspects.
IMC the possible neutrality of the Mists is the main theme.

What?, What have I missed, have Ezra not always been a god, please explain?


I would say that the ordinary people of ravenloft are created.
Since the Lords' domains are usually a perverted twisted version of their homes, dreams or desires, the people must be created in order to make a working prison.
If domains were phisically torn from their homeworlds, people would have a lot harder functioning "normally". The mist have always been there in their minds. With the possible exception of Barovia.
#15

zombiegleemax

Jan 25, 2004 21:21:40
I do not remember if this is canon or something written on the Kargatane website, but Ezra was given permission to enter the domains of Ravenloft and establish a religion. It may have been in one of the first 3 Gazeteers for 3.0, but I do not remember.
#16

tec-goblin

Jan 26, 2004 3:31:36
Originally posted by King of Atyar
I do not remember if this is canon or something written on the Kargatane website, but Ezra was given permission to enter the domains of Ravenloft and establish a religion. It may have been in one of the first 3 Gazeteers for 3.0, but I do not remember.

Official word about Ezra (see both Heroes of Light and Gaz III) is that her people believe she was a mortal woman who sacrificed her mortality and made a pact with the Mists to stay forever trapped there and protect the world.
#17

zombiegleemax

Jan 26, 2004 4:59:03
Ylem: The point is that heroes arise out of adversity, that a place were evil rules is indeed the best breeding place for true heroes.
#18

zombiegleemax

Jan 26, 2004 5:45:17
What I found helped me Understand how Ravenloft works best for me is this: I took the Concept from the book of Vile Darkness, that Pit lords can ascend or descent to other planes, but in doing so it Costs them usually quite greatly. This concept if applied not up and down works similarly. Domain Lords are bound by a series of interrealed geas, when the DP is at a point of flux that is just right then the Domain Lord , can move Hense the Falkovian Move against Dementlieu p11 to 36 Gaz3. Albeit this is a light explaination, Maybe some of us should come up with a book of theology of the mists and if anyone wants to follow up or PM please do

The Origin of the Myth of Ezra (p 111) Gaz3 According to the Gaz3 statement Ezra was a mortal healer who came to the mists
#19

ylem

Jan 26, 2004 12:31:58
Originally posted by Arilou_skiff
Ylem: The point is that heroes arise out of adversity, that a place were evil rules is indeed the best breeding place for true heroes.

If there were a direct relationship between adversity and heroism, then all the greatest heroes in the d20 multiverse would come from the Lower Planes, because that's where Evil "really" rules. In reality, of course, the development of heroism requires a combination of factors. For example, Van Richten's life was not greatly influenced by Evil until he met the gypsies who stole his son. I think he was about 40 at that time. The hypothetical domain of "Van Richtenia", if it existed, would be certainly contain some evils for the developing heroes of the domain to confront. However, the prorportions of Evil to Good would be different from that found in the domains of darklords, because the domain would be designed to encourage its inhabitants to develop in the same ways that Van Richten did.
#20

zombiegleemax

Jan 28, 2004 6:36:11
Originally posted by Ylem
If there were a direct relationship between adversity and heroism, then all the greatest heroes in the d20 multiverse would come from the Lower Planes, because that's where Evil "really" rules. In reality, of course, the development of heroism requires a combination of factors. For example, Van Richten's life was not greatly influenced by Evil until he met the gypsies who stole his son. I think he was about 40 at that time. The hypothetical domain of "Van Richtenia", if it existed, would be certainly contain some evils for the developing heroes of the domain to confront. However, the prorportions of Evil to Good would be different from that found in the domains of darklords, because the domain would be designed to encourage its inhabitants to develop in the same ways that Van Richten did.

And that's something of the point of PS, really. The lower planes really aren't where heroes arise. They might start there, and a whole lot of them ENDS there, but they arise on the battlefields against Evil on the Prime or on the Planes.
#21

The_Stray

Feb 01, 2004 16:50:51
This is the theory that I'm working with for my game:

Once upon a time, there were seven lords of creation. These beings were the first gods, and created the multiverse and, for ages, ruled over it. But over time, the Seven fell to their own flaws, seven deadly sins that they nurtured that eventually consumed them, twisting them into forces of evil. Under their rule, the world became a dark and depressing place. Eventually, nine mortal heroes evolved, and challenged the Seven. After a mighty battle, the Seven were defeated, and driven to the outer planes, where they lair and plot their revenge.

To fight the Heroes, the Seven wanted to find out just how they managed to arise, given that the Seven were holding all the cards, so to speak. So they created a realm with which to model the ways heores can be formed. Some of them also wanted to study the process of redemption, to see just how far a person could go before he was too far gone to ever return to the light (perhaps wishing that they could follow the process and redeem themselves). To do this, they formed Ravenloft, and took different types of villainy from across the multiverse to study, choosing the personalities that interested them (the Darklords).

This is my interpretation.
#22

zombiegleemax

Feb 01, 2004 19:25:54
Stray,

That is definitely workable, even with what i have worked up so far.
#23

The_Stray

Feb 02, 2004 19:13:37
Thanks! I like it...:D
#24

zombiegleemax

Feb 07, 2004 18:42:52
I have thought about the concept that Jester has outlined before. I think the Dark Powers could be good. As an analogy, many bacteria today are resistant to antibiotics. This is because we create an envrionment hostile to them. In order to survive, the bacteria had to adapt and become stronger. This would not have happened without our excesive use of antiboitics. While his analogy may have a few flaws, it basicly illustrates my point. When a good person dies in Ravenloft, they more than likely have a greater deal of moral fortitute than their non Ravenloft counterparts. As far as the Dark Powers seemingly helping evil and not good, the greater the evil your hero defeats the greater your hero is in the end. Thats why Batman fights the Joker and not people who dub video tapes. How heroic would that be? Sorry about the long paragraph of text. My Enter key isn't working. Imagine if Ravenloft was created to breed heros for an epic battle between good and evil.
#25

zombiegleemax

Feb 08, 2004 5:02:28
Personally I'm more into the sadistic ├╝berpower aspect: The Dark Powers simply like to see people squirm. [Cue Freedom Force] "We will find the most vile, the most evil and the most terrible among them and increase their power a hundred-fold! [/Freedom Force] They basically enjoy watching the struggles of mortals, be they evil or good. In a sense they're cosmic movie-goers except that they make movies with real people.
#26

Pauper

Feb 10, 2004 15:37:44
My own feeling about the DP and about the 'core concept' behind Ravenloft itself is well summed-up in the sidebar for Ravenloft in Dragon #315:

"Sometimes charging up and fighting the villain is the worst thing you can do, [William W.] Connors says. Characters in Ravenloft would often be faced with situations where there was no clear good choice and bad choice. In fact, the point was to put them in situations where the most expedient way to solve a problem did not turn out to be the best course of action. "Ravenloft was designed as a world where making the moral choice was more important than making the valiant choice."

If you want that distilled into a one-sentence statement:

Making the moral choice is more important than making the expedient or desirable choice.

Most of the darklords in Ravenloft can be classified as those who took the expedient or selfish path over the moral one and followed that path to its ultimate end.

--
Pauper
#27

john_w._mangrum

Feb 11, 2004 2:32:04
Originally posted by Pauper
If you want that distilled into a one-sentence statement:

Making the moral choice is more important than making the expedient or desirable choice.

Not to quote myself, but...

R3E, pg. 82: "Evil comes in many forms, but it is never so dangerous as when it is convenient."