Quick start guide to Ravenloft

3 posts / 0 new
Last post
So I'm starting a game tonight set in Ravenloft, but I don't own the old books (everything I know I've learned from talking about the setting, and the wikipedia page). So it will be more inspired by Ravenloft rather than set in RL, but I'm including everything in the game that I know is in the setting (e.g. Strahd and Barovia, Vecna, the Dark Powers, domains).
I have a few questions if someone can help;
- How many Dark Lords are there? Names and brief descriptions would be neat, if possible.
- How large are the domains of dread? How self contained can they get?
- How large is the world? Is it indeed on a globe? Or is it left unknown for the added terror?
- High magic setting? Is a RL game supposed to be tough, like Darksun?
- Anything else I need to know?
- What makes a RL game an RL game? I know what a FR game feels like, and what a DS game feels like, but I'm not completely certain what RL is supposed to feel like.

I realize I should go get an old RL setting book, but I have enough ideas stockpiled that I can create whatever I don't already know. Still, I want to include as much actual RL stuff as possible. 

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

So I'm starting a game tonight set in Ravenloft, but I don't own the old books (everything I know I've learned from talking about the setting, and the wikipedia page). So it will be more inspired by Ravenloft rather than set in RL, but I'm including everything in the game that I know is in the setting (e.g. Strahd and Barovia, Vecna, the Dark Powers, domains).
I have a few questions if someone can help;
- How many Dark Lords are there? Names and brief descriptions would be neat, if possible.
- How large are the domains of dread? How self contained can they get?
- How large is the world? Is it indeed on a globe? Or is it left unknown for the added terror?
- High magic setting? Is a RL game supposed to be tough, like Darksun?
- Anything else I need to know?
- What makes a RL game an RL game? I know what a FR game feels like, and what a DS game feels like, but I'm not completely certain what RL is supposed to feel like.

I realize I should go get an old RL setting book, but I have enough ideas stockpiled that I can create whatever I don't already know. Still, I want to include as much actual RL stuff as possible. 

Reg,

First things first; if you haven't already done so, go here:

www.fraternityofshadows.com/wiki

It will answer MANY, MANY questions that you have, including in-depth descriptions of all the domains and their Dark Lords, even the ones no longer around (Azalin and Lord Soth, for example.) 

Each domain has their own "culture level" which determines how magic and technology are seen by the population, (as an example Barovia would be considered to be a Medieval domain, whereas Lamordia would be considered Renaissance.)

The most important things that make it a Ravenloft game, in my opinion, are three things:

1) A sense of dread. Things may not end with the whole "guy gets the princess, monster is vanquished, and everyone lives happily ever after" kind of thing. Things are out to GET the PCs, and your job as the DM is to make sure that the players really feel that. In the movies sense, try to make the game more like "Se7en" or "Psycho" rather than "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Gore is good, but use it in specific situations so that the players dont get inured to it.

2) Roleplay! Encourage your players to roleplay fear. Can the big strong heroes somehow feel that all their powers and skills may not be enough to save them and their friends, in the end? What makes the characters (or the players) really afraid? Bugs? Snakes? The Dark? Reward good role playing and try to set up asn environment that makes it easy for them (low lights, mood music, role play the NPCs as well as possible). At the same time, encourage fun! It's fun to be scared! 

3) The Dark Powers. As good as any PC is, after a time, the Dark Powers will try to warp them into dark reflections of themselves by giving them impossible choices to make, revealing the dark inside. Can a lawful priest tolerate the sacrifice of a child to his god, if it will somehow save the entire town from falling to a necrotic plague? Would a PC destroy an innocent man's livelyhood in order to vanquish a demon? The further that a PC falls from grace, the stronger the Dark Powers hold is on them, manifesting in powerful, sometimes nefarious ways.

If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me an email!

Good luck! 

-M 
I think it's important that your villains be dark and evil but feel like they're doing what they're doing for a good reason.  The villains are tragic and the players should be able to see that if I had made choice X, Y or Z in my past I could very well be just like this guy.  As M said above, you want the characters to have to make hard choices.  They need to decide what is the lesser of two evils, where both choices have negative consequences.  So a runaway burning cart with gunpowder will destroy the town and possibly kill dozens if not allowed to drop off the cliff - but if it does drop off, the PC's love interest, some innocent children, etc. that are tied up on the cart will surely die.  They can rescue the town or the loved ones but not both.  Beyond that, include a lot of the classic gothic horror monsters and tropes - vampires, werewolves, ghosts, haunted castles, mad scientists, etc. and you're good to go.

L