|#1zombiegleemaxMar 19, 2004 19:33:52||I am a recently converted Ravenloft player who would like to try my hand at DM'ing a Ravenloft game. I have 3 core source books, I believe all of which are canon. The Ravenloft PHB, the Ravenloft DM's Guide, and the Denizens of Darkness Compendium. My problem is I'm having trouble getting started on how to introduce a party of 1st level adventurers into the world of Ravenloft. I would very much like to run an "organic" campaign, one that begins, and ends in Ravenloft. The "weekend in hell" concept is interesting, but I want all the PC's to be actually from Ravenloft proper. If anyone has any ideas, advice, or strategies at how to begin a 1st level Ravenloft adventure, please respond in this post. I realize this is a somewhat vauge and general question, but I'm hoping that some of the vetern Ravenloft players around here will contribute they're wisdom and input. I think I have all the elements to make a decent campaign, I just am having trouble getting into it. Any help would be greatly appricated.|
|#2quentingeorgeMar 19, 2004 20:54:19||You've got all you need to start playing, except possibly Dark Lord descriptions and stats (though these aren't totally vital, they are nice to have - the RL DMG has basic descriptions)|
One of the easiest ways to start a new campaign if you and your players are new to Ravenloft is to set it in the domain of Darkon.
The advantages of this are that
A) All PHB races (except Half-Orcs) are available to play, and the citizens of the domain won't automatically "freak out" when seeing them.
B) The Dark Lord (Azalin Rex) rules the land, but generally stays out of people's lives.
C) Magic and magic-users are more common than other domains (but still not as common as generic D&D)
All in all, Darkon gives you a start in Ravenloft that is as close to standard D&D as possible. Once your players have begun to get into the 'mood' you can take them to other domains and introduce the less 'standard' elements of Ravenloft.
With minor modifcation (trimming of magic and magic items, removal of non-Ravenloft monsters - eg orcs), generic D&D adventures can quite happily slot into Darkon.
If you have money to spend, some good resources are the Gazetters. (Darkon is in no 2).
Also, the netbooks at the kargatane website (www.kargatane.com) have some starting adventures, and the new Fraternity of the Shadows Website (http://www.fraternityofshadows.com) probably does too.
I'm not sure how helpful this has been.
|#3zombiegleemaxMar 19, 2004 21:12:58||Thank you Quentin George, your comments were most appriciated. I agree that Darkon looks like a good place to begin a Ravenloft adventure. I know at least one the PC's is planning on being a wizard (mage) so setting the game in Darkon should give them the freedom they need in that department. Also one of the things about Ravenloft that I have always been somewhat dismayed about, is the significant lack of racial diversity in the world. Save for Darkon, and a few others (Sithicus and Barovia come to mind) there vast majority of Ravenloft inhabitants are of the human variety. While this certainly fits the overall concept and design idea behind Ravenloft, it seems a bit limiting as far as adventuring is concerned. But as you say Darkon doesn't really have as much of an issue with that. Perhaps it wil ljust take me some time to adjust to Ravenloft and all its intricisies. Thanks for the info though, it will be most helpful.|
|#4zombiegleemaxMar 20, 2004 2:10:32||One thing which could *really* bring home the freaky nature of Ravenloft, but which is something you shouldn't just spring on players unless you know them well enough to think they wouldn't resent it-- is that Darkon has a memory altering effect that makes everyone who stays long enough come to regard it as their native land.|
It would be very unsettling for PCs who start the game in Darkon to decide to explore, step into another domain-- and suddenly remember their *real* life...
|#5quentingeorgeMar 20, 2004 3:13:04||No problem slayergirl.|
As an additional, it may also be appropriate, if you want, to allow non-human PCs to worship the demi-human gods of the PHB (eg Moradin, Garl Glittergold etc), as Darkon draws heavily on the Greyhawk world. These gods are even very, very subtly referred to in Gazetter II:
"Most nonhumans revere the hearth gods of their people..."
|#6zombiegleemaxMar 20, 2004 10:34:17||Beginning the game in Darkon sounds promising, I'll definitely give that some serious thought. Though I would like to at some point bring the game down to the "cultured" domains, of Dementlieu, Richemulot, and Mordent. Any ideas on how I could work these realms into the game?|
|#7quentingeorgeMar 20, 2004 15:42:21||There are a couple of ways, an interesting way would be to follow Brandi's suggestion above.|
The PCs may also go there to buy "advanced" equipment, like firearms.
|#8zombiegleemaxMar 20, 2004 18:00:37||I would wait with the exploring until the party has risen to an higher level.|
To simplify things, I think it would be best if the party stayed in one domain, Darkon would be a good place.
Since these are 1st level characters, we will keep the darklord away from the adventure, so start out with a local problem.
Try to find the ravenloft feeling without using all of ravenlofts secrets in one campaign.
A local problem:
In the village the local herbalist (Jansen) is found murdered in his house, one midsummer morning.
Strangely enough the next day a farmer from the other side of town dissappears. People say he was taken by the mists.
Is there a connection?
who murdered Jansen, his son? the bastard daughter no one knows about? his neighboor? the farmer who went missing?
The fat merchant who come into town two days ago?
Is the murderer just a puppet for an insane serial killer, who takes pleasure in collecting decapitated limps?
What about the abandoned cabin in the southern parts of the woods?
It is a local problem, only a villager has disappear and a person has died, it isn't something that the army will take care of. So the players have to do it, before something more happens.
Remember, every night brings new horrors!
Start with the small things, then let them grow slowly larger. A well planed murder investigation could be an entire campaign to begin with.
|#9zombiegleemaxMar 20, 2004 22:55:35||Thanks to everyone who posted with ideas on this topic. I now have a reasonably good start to this game which I have gone over with the player's as well. We're going to run the first session on Sunday and I will see how it goes. Whether to expand the game beyond the borders of Darkon will depend on how things are progressing and of course if any of them survive. Thanks again for the help to all who provided it.|
|#10zombiegleemaxMar 23, 2004 5:00:22||"One thing which could *really* bring home the freaky nature of Ravenloft, but which is something you shouldn't just spring on players unless you know them well enough to think they wouldn't resent it-- is that Darkon has a memory altering effect that makes everyone who stays long enough come to regard it as their native land.|
It would be very unsettling for PCs who start the game in Darkon to decide to explore, step into another domain-- and suddenly remember their *real* life..."
I love this idea! I thought about it before, Ijust haven't figured out the best way to do it....because all of the low level Ravenloft modules take place somewhere other then Darkon. It would be best if it took awhile before they remembered!
|#11zombiegleemaxMar 23, 2004 9:11:32||Let me just re-iterate: you gotta know your players well if you're going to pull that particular plot twist. If they think the 'remembered life' thing is an attempt to railroad the game or screw their characters they WILL resent it.|
Edited to add: perhaps this is why it was not presented as a suggestion in the RLDMG?
|#12gonzoronMar 23, 2004 13:55:58|
Originally posted by slayergirl
No one is stopping you from adding in demihumans where you see fit. (In fact the 3rd edition RL products have a bit more halflings and gnomes in otherwise human towns than I personally would care for.) But remember: Ravenloft is based on gothic horror, and most gothic horror takes place in our own human world. Stoker, Shelley, Lovecraft, etc. didn't seem to find it limiting to work with only humans.
Demihumans tend to be exaggerated versions of human traits anyway. Nearly anything you need to do with an elf could be done by an agile and cultured Borcan dandy, or a nature-loving reclusive Forfaran Druid. The stereotypical dwarf could be a gruff Barovian miner or Lamordian Jeweler. Halflings can often be replaced with inquisitive children, or simple comfort-loving peasants. Gnomes become reclusive Dementlieuse crackpot inventors or old human pranksters, etc.
|#13geomarshalMar 23, 2004 14:05:25|
Originally posted by Brandi
I started a Ravenloft campaign in Darkon with a very similar concept. One of the characters was a tailor who remembered burying her father and living a simple life.
In reality, her father was a fairly powerful wizard who sent her there with one of his retainers to hide her after he crossed a darklord. The retainer was the one that she remembered as her "father". Her illusions were dispelled when her shop was attacked one day by her father's enemies and she was rescued by a local rogue (my other player).
It turned out that the rogue had been hired to protect her by her father's familar. The familiar had the ability to use mage hand and ventriloquism a couple of times a day. He used it to hire the rogue without the rogue knowing he was hired by a cat. The familar needed to rescue the wizard and wanted his daughter to help.
The players thought the storyline was great but the campaign was ended before we could finish the storyline.