An Observation....



Feb 23, 2004 15:30:55
Looking back through various posts, I'm amazed at how many start on one thread and eventually turn into a Champions of Darkness thread. The feelings people have for this book, pro or con, are so INTENSE. I don't own it and really didn't plan to buy it, but with all the emotion around it I'm tempted to just go out and grab a copy. Since I'm struggling through my last semester of grad school and $ is not a luxury right now, the chances of me doing so are slim. But it does invoke my curiosity....
I've been with Ravenloft since the beginning (yes, I DM'd the original I6 module when it was published) and even though I have not been an active player/DM in many years now, I still try to keep up with the world of Ravenloft, both fictional and among its fans. I've had concerns about the roads and themes line producers have followed in the past, but have usually accepted their decisions. I have my favorites among the products, my favorites among the Kargatane, and my favorites among the free-lancers, liked some products and shrugged my shoulders at others. But this Champions of Darkness fervor...I don't remember encountering anything like that before (although pursuing a degree can limit your focus somewhat--I've been hearing a lot about this guy named Bush lately....) The feelings and passion so many of you feel toward this fantasy realm makes me want to get back into it all the more when I'm finally able to. See you after graduation everyone.!


Feb 24, 2004 0:58:03
I've had concerns about the roads and themes line producers have followed in the past, but have usually accepted their decisions.

What do you consider the high point and low point until now?


Feb 24, 2004 18:00:44
Slightly off the subject, but it has occured to me that by throwing scathing remarks at a book continually, all it's serving to do is advertise it and have people ask, " bad could it be?" and growing curious enough that they go and buy it just to see how horrid it is, while so-so and decent books lag in sales because no one talks about them, despite their superiority to, say, Champions of Darkness.

I've gone so far as to curtail my references to bad books due to the realization that I think too many people buy bad books just to see how bad they are. When, really, books such as Champions of Darkness shouldn't even break even. Otherwise, it's just going to cause those in charge to re-hire those same atrocious writers (which is the case with some of those who penned Champions of Darkness), or those in charge to not care about the quality of the books they print (which is my current prediction for future Ravenloft products), or potentially to purposely make bad books just for the bad press that will bring in sales (I don't see this being common, but, still...).

I think people have the wrong type of reaction to bad press at times. Though I take some small pride in a pair of reviews I wrote that others commented on cementing that they wouldn't buy the books...

Do yourself a favor: Don't buy Champions of Darkness before you've read it. Borrow a copy. Plunk yourself down in Borders or the like and settle in for a long stay to read. Sociologically innovate instead of buying it beforehand.

If you're an impoverished student, which I can certainly understand, being one myself, save those pennies for the Gazetteers or Van Richten's Arsenal. There's the quality writing, which may (may) be short-lived or scant in supply for the future Ravenloft products.

In either case, good luck and premature congratulations with the graduation and all that.


Feb 24, 2004 18:30:15
Originally posted by Writer of Stuff
What do you consider the high point and low point until now?

Is that an open question?


Feb 24, 2004 19:35:40
Originally posted by Drinnik Shoehorn
Is that an open question?

Of course! That's why it was asked in an open forum.

(I can see from the look of these threads that I'm not terribly adept at using the controls on these messageboards. No big deal, though.)


Feb 24, 2004 19:41:47
Cool, so before CoD:

High Points: VRGt the Created/VRGt Fiends(Demons)

Teewyn(sp?) Woodruff captured the feel of Van Richten better than anyone before or since.

Low Points: VRGt Werebeasts, Shadowborn

Not to downplay Nigel Findley's writing skills, the man was a genius (Dirk from 2XS and House of the Sun was superb), but VRGt Werebeasts fell short for me, and Shadowborn was too high fantasy for my tastes, but, again, Bill Connors is a fantastic writer (I love A Light in the Belfry, the Shadowrift and CotN: Vampires)


Feb 25, 2004 9:47:31
Well I'll add some thoughts. I haven't read near as much old material as I'd like, but Bleak House might possible rate as one of the best adventures I've ever seen. And the Nightmare Lands boxed set is awesome. All in all I'd rate the Gazetteer series as the high point of RL to date. Consistent value and quality really distinguishing the setting from others.

Low point: I'd have to say for me unquestionably the whole Soth debacle going back to when he was first included in the setting. I'm not sure that anyone is overly to blame, but the bad blood that developed and spilled over from designers to players and fans is just ridiculous. Lots of people tuning out without actually determing whether they like the products or not.


Feb 25, 2004 10:37:24
I don't know, I kinda liked having Soth around when DragonLance took a dirt-dive. Plus, now we have Sithicus (Awesome domain!) and Inza! Azrael is one of the major low points but not the deepest low.

Hmmmm....high points for me: Every product released from I6 to the Black Box in 1990 through 91 and 92 until Thoughts of Darkness. I've never liked Bluetspur and Mind Flayers in Ravenloft take the Lovecraftian potential of the setting and turn it into High Fantasy. That gets a big thumbs-down from me.

Demi-humans, in general, add too much of a high fantasy flare to the setting for my liking. I've avoided them for the most part, leaving them all in Darkon, and excluding them from every other domain. Which is why I'm so anxiously anticipating the Guide to the Shadow Fey. Finally, some more ideas on how to do it properly.

Next big low for me was the Guide to the Lich. Not a bad product overall - I just hate liches in general.

-Dark of the Moon was brilliant. More Vorostokov!!!Wintery domains kick bum!!!
-Guide to the Created was one of the most imagination-fueling products I've ever read.
-Didn't care for Adam's Wrath, but I never did enjoy Frankenstein very much.

I still have mixed feelings on the Guide to Fiends. I'm not sure if I like the idea of demons in Ravenloft. Sinister cults and the Dark Powers were always enough for me as a DM. I've never used any demons or devils in my campaigns. It's just one of those things that should have been left unsaid, in my opinion.

Circle of Darkness was brilliant, mostly because Tepest is one of my faves. More Tepest!!!

Ahhhhh, here we are: Anything involving Vecna was a dumbass idea. Good Lord but that was a terrible decision. Kaz I didn't mind so much, but Vecna and Cavitius were just plain overkill that had no business being included in the setting. The reasons are endless and would require a brand new ranting thread, which I'm sure everyone is tired of by now. Vecna Reborn and Die Vecna Die were okay products, but should have been left in MunchkinLoft, I mean Greyhawk.
(The Holy D&D Triumvirate - Ravenloft, Gods&MagicLoft (Realms) and MunchkinLoft (Greyhawk) - see: the Mini-Onions of Set in the oldschool Castle Greyhawk adventure. Ugh.)

The Monster Hunter's Compendiums also seemed a tad redundant to me, but then, I haven't flipped through them yet so I'm just speaking from a "Don't I already have those in VRG format?" standpoint.

Aside from all that - I've loved every product. (Yes, even Secrets of the Dread Realms, CoD and HoL)

I'm still waiting for a nice big colour wall map, though.....


Feb 25, 2004 10:44:05
High Points-Carnival, VR guide to Fiends, VR Guide to Witches, the Gazeteers I-III

Low Points-The Forgotten Terror, Ship of Horror, Death of a Darklord

My 2 cents


Feb 25, 2004 12:55:36
high points of 2e for me were right towards the end. Evil Eye, Carnival, VRGVistani, (no, I'm not sucking up to Steve ), Nightmare Lands, To Sleep with Evil, The Children of the Night series. Around 1995-1997, tapering off to Carnival in 1999.. When characterization became very prominent, and whole new ideas seemed rampant.

Players could no longer expect just generic Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghosts, straight from the Monsterous Manual. The NPC's were often unique forms of those monsters or something else entirely (cursed humans, darklings, carnival "freaks", The Nightmare Court)

The low point would probably be shortly thereafter around 1997-2000. The Requiem trilogy, A light in the belfry, Vecna, The VRMHC's (I liked VRGWitches more than I expected to, but would've prefered it to be released seperately). A bunch of gimmicky feeling stuff, culminating in the end of the line. Dark times.


Feb 26, 2004 3:50:55
High points product-wise are a repeat of what most have already listed: the VR guides, Carnival, the Gazetteers, plus Bleak House and The Nightmare Lands were absolutely awesome.

As far as "themes" go: I didn't care for "big name" characters from existing worlds (Soth and Vecna) showing up in Ravenloft (although I came to accept Soth--enjoyed the novels, and really like Sithicus); I get nervous when domains leave the Core (I usually assume this designates that no more products involving these domains will be forthcoming); I hated (initially) Arak being sucked up by Darkon 'cuz I really liked the Drow being in Ravenloft (although I've come to grudgingly like the Shadow Fey); hated when Azalin appeared to have "escaped" and was replaced by Death (although I think the domain of Necropolis is intriguing).

And thanks for the kind words TricksterGod...I know to actually function without lugging a backpack full of books around or to go through a day without molding my butt to a hard plastic chair will be quite the system shock, but I am ready to give it a go nonetheless!