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Author Topic: Ravenloft 5E  (Read 2232 times)

Brigman

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #30 on: February 23, 2021, 03:39:53 PM »
I'm all for including more (interesting) female Darklords (Darkladies?).  Or genderless beings, or trans or what have you.  But this kind of ham-handed genderswap smites me as "woke-for-wokeness sake", and I'm not a fan. Do something new, instead of retconning things that have already been done to "erase" something you don't particularly like...
PEACE!
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Omega

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #31 on: February 23, 2021, 03:59:55 PM »
I disagree though that the original was humorous or had any Hammer/Universal/Lovecraftian tones.

The only real humour was mostly in the little titles of books on shelves and coffins in the crypt.

Now the boxed sets on the other hand had everything at some point and drew on alot of sources.

I mean we have stand ins for The Mummy, Frankenstein, Jack the Ripper, Jekyl/Hyde, Dr Moreau, the Wolfman and so much more.

BedrockBrendan

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #32 on: February 23, 2021, 04:05:39 PM »
I disagree though that the original was humorous or had any Hammer/Universal/Lovecraftian tones.

The only real humour was mostly in the little titles of books on shelves and coffins in the crypt.

Now the boxed sets on the other hand had everything at some point and drew on alot of sources.

I mean we have stand ins for The Mummy, Frankenstein, Jack the Ripper, Jekyl/Hyde, Dr Moreau, the Wolfman and so much more.

To be clear I am primarily talking about the line following the original module (not the original module itself)

There is a lot of dark humor in the van richten books.

The lovecraft stuff isn't lovecraftian horror, but that they use lovecraft's advice for achieving horror in the black box. It isn't lovecraftian setting. The setting material definitely drew pretty freely from hammer IMO. I can concede that the setting wasn't presented as a humorous one (though I do think it had a lot of camp and a lot of melodramatic flourishing), but I mean van richten is clearly modeled after Peter Cushing's Van Helsing, the Fabian Art looks like a composite of the Universal horror sets and the hammer sets. To me Ravenloft had the look and feel of Hammer (to the point that they even were borrowing from obscure hammer movies like the Lost Continent for domain ideas)

Shasarak

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #33 on: February 23, 2021, 06:25:37 PM »
The real horror is thinking that you know Ravenloft and then getting to experience the 5e version of it - subtly twisted to make you doubt your own memories.

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Slipshot762

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #34 on: February 23, 2021, 07:28:14 PM »
>Ravenloft
YES!
>5e
NO!

Omega

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #35 on: February 23, 2021, 08:18:59 PM »
eh, despite its virtue signalling at the start and low treatment of Mordenkainen, and one or two other possibly questionable insertions, it was overall not bad.

BedrockBrendan

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #36 on: February 24, 2021, 09:43:36 AM »
.

Now the boxed sets on the other hand had everything at some point and drew on alot of sources.



This is largely what I was talking about. I like the original module a lot. But the campaign setting to me, is really content like the black box, the red box, the van richten books, and adventure settings like Feast of Goblyns and Castles Forlorn. For me, the material that resonated was the universal and hammer inspired stuff because I grew up watching those movies.

Quote
I mean we have stand ins for The Mummy, Frankenstein, Jack the Ripper, Jekyl/Hyde, Dr Moreau, the Wolfman and so much more.

Definitely. I am not trying to reduce it to just hammer (I think calling it hammer horror inspired is good short hand for the vibe of the setting though). I see it as a blend of classic horror novels and classic horror movies.


jhkim

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #37 on: February 24, 2021, 11:35:31 AM »
I ran the original Ravenloft module for 5E and had a lot of fun with it.

I don't really like the Ravenloft demi-plane setting, though. I feel like it actually reduces the horror for it to be an isolated demi-plane as described, as compared to just having horror adventures in a fantasy setting.
I've always seen Ravenloft horror as more tied to the nature of a horror prison than traditional horror.

Not being able to escape the demiplane, and therefore having to be subjected to it without a glimmer of hope is pretty horrific. The corruption of the demiplane also tends to exacerbate the hopelessness that pervades the adventures. You can't escape and the longer you stay, the more likely it is you'll become corrupted.

In my experience, when shown that their characters are doomed without a glimmer of hope, then players are usually like "Whatever. Can we start a new campaign yet?" Character doom and death happens regularly in an RPG, so it's not actually horrific. I find that to get real horror flavor, there needs to be some actual hope -- and especially, there need to be things that the players care about.

But then you run into the problem that the demi-plane was set up to solve - how do you have horror when the PCs (and NPCs) can just leave? That's one of the tropes of horror, you can't escape. PCs have many ways to escape, so the (rather ham-fisted) approach of the demi-plane is there to prevent that. At least that's my take on it.

As you note, it's pretty ham-fisted -- which I think describes a lot of the Ravenloft demi-plane. The problem is that not just the PCs, but everyone in the demi-plane is doomed. I find that being doomed with no hope generally makes players bored and wanting to roll up new characters, rather than drawing them into the horror.

Along those lines, I'd note that most of the 2E Ravenloft modules were heavily railroaded. There was usually a scripted plot that players had no chance to change, including scripted boxed text. For similar reasons, I find that this railroading tends to make players disengaged rather than horrified.

I think something that gets lost is Ravenloft was a little on the campy side. It wasn't super serious horror all the time. It was more like a setting stitched together from universal, hammer and other classic sources of horror. If you grew up on that stuff, having a whole world that felt essentially like it was cobbled together from Hammer Film sets, was a wonderful foundation for adventures. But I think it did require a sense of that landscape to click.

Some of it might be that I'm not a big fan of Hammer films in terms of horror, but I did greatly enjoy the campiness of the original Ravenloft modules. I have run them multiple times under different editions, and they were always great fun. But the demi-plane background and railroaded adventures of the 2E setting did little for me. It seemed like it was more fun for GMs to read than for groups to actually play. The two times I played in the Ravenloft demi-plane setting, the players had pretty much exactly the reaction I would predict.

I've also run gothic horror in some other systems, which I found good fun.

robh

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #38 on: February 24, 2021, 11:42:34 AM »
I wonder if this bit from the 2e box gets left in the introduction?


Armchair Gamer

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #39 on: February 24, 2021, 11:49:45 AM »
I wonder if this bit from the 2e box gets left in the introduction?



  Doubtful. Jessica Price is working on the book and is trying to reassure people on Twitter that they're clearing out the 'problematic' bits.

Omega

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #40 on: February 24, 2021, 11:57:31 AM »
Oh thats good!

So the Wokenloft will not have any white people who are not villains. No vampires as vampires represent rape and rape is bad and should never be depicted in anything everrrrrrr! No deformed or handicapped people because thats mean. Dont be mean! And no minorities because thats Wacist! But oh we will put the poor oppreseded minorities in because MONEY! er Inclusion! yay!

So in Wokenloft we will all be playing BLACK ROMANIAN ANDROGENOUS WHEELCHAIR gerbils who like to knit, but had to stop even that because Knitler! and so we will all just stare whistfully at the stars and contemplate how good we are. Jury is still out on wether the wheelchair is abelist or not. We may have to kinda undulate along like seals in our freedom from oppression!
« Last Edit: February 24, 2021, 12:49:51 PM by Omega »

BedrockBrendan

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #41 on: February 24, 2021, 12:11:07 PM »

Some of it might be that I'm not a big fan of Hammer films in terms of horror, but I did greatly enjoy the campiness of the original Ravenloft modules. I have run them multiple times under different editions, and they were always great fun. But the demi-plane background and railroaded adventures of the 2E setting did little for me. It seemed like it was more fun for GMs to read than for groups to actually play. The two times I played in the Ravenloft demi-plane setting, the players had pretty much exactly the reaction I would predict.

I've also run gothic horror in some other systems, which I found good fun.

I think everyone responds to settings differently. For me, Ravenloft just resonated massively and I had no trouble running it (it was literally pretty much all I ran in high school and for several years after). I had long, ongoing campaigns. The ones that were more successful, tended to be based on the monster hunt investigations you could build using tools from the Van Richten books (but that was definitely not the only kind of campaign). Mostly I ran it with the player characters as outsiders (not as a weekend in hell, but as a campaign where the premise is they are from another setting and get pulled in). Occasionally ran it with them as natives (I personally found this didn't work as well for me, but I think that was just personal preference, not a problem with the premise itself). Ravenloft did suffer from some of the usual 90s problems with RPGs. But on the whole, I found it a lot better than stuff coming from WOTC in the 2000s.

The content was fun to read. I don't think it was as self indulgent though as other 90s RPGs I remember doing that. And the enjoyment of reading it, mainly helped fuel my interest in playing. If you look at the black boxed set itself, the domain entries are pretty sparse actually, so there isn't a massive wall of text to deal with there, but there is plenty of open space to add things yourself (I was always adding towns, villages, castles, etc). And the stock cards, some of them at least, did help simplify referencing some of the material. I basically read the black box in one sitting and was ready to run it that weekend. My first adventures were things from Book of Crypts followed by Feast of Goblyns, and after that mostly made my own adventures. There was an adventure site called House of Lament if I recall, and it was a cool premise but I do remember adding an enormous amount of content myself to make it more interesting (just details that helped out and a few new monsters).

Ravenloft works well if you start with the villain, or the threat. I found it was very easy to have long ongoing campaigns if I began there and worked around it. Also one of the cool things about Ravenloft is monsters were highly individualized, spells didn't operate as players expected them, the mists could mess with people...so you could have ten lycanthrope adventures back to back that were quite different, requiring different approaches from the players (same with vampires, mummies, golems, etc).

Obviously I can only say what worked for me, and what worked for me, might not work for others, but I truly had no problem running Ravenloft regularly and found it a  lot easier personally than something like Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance (which I did try to run and wasn't as successful with)

BedrockBrendan

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #42 on: February 24, 2021, 12:23:44 PM »


Along those lines, I'd note that most of the 2E Ravenloft modules were heavily railroaded. There was usually a scripted plot that players had no chance to change, including scripted boxed text. For similar reasons, I find that this railroading tends to make players disengaged rather than horrified.



Railroads were definitely present (as they were in lots of 90s modules) but it really did depend on the adventure. An adventure like Feast of Goblyns had an adventure laid out, and offered up the most likely course of events, but it was also a massive setting supplement for the domain of Kartakass, and you didn't need that adventure to even happen to make use of the material (and the book emphasized that the NPCs, including the villains, were living characters who could change plans and react to what players do....so with that module and many of the other modules from the ravenloft line, I found the 'living adventure' part helped push me away from railroading often.

Also much of the railroading had more to do with things like plot immunity than a linear adventure. The Created for Example, had a lot of room for the players to explore the domain, so you could easily run it without going linear, but it had some very annoying things like specifically making key NPCs immune to death no matter what the PCs do (and if I recall it wasn't like dark lord immunity, it was plot immunity).

The bright spots of the line were things like the Van Richten Books (which were just tools really and lent themselves to non-linear monster hunt/investigations----drop the players into a situation where a flesh golem is murdering villagers and let them figure out how to handle it), Castles Forlorn (this one was amazing), Feast of Goblyns (probably my favorite adventure ever), etc. Later in the line you did start to see more adventures structured around episodes and acts (and that was mostly after the Fabian art was gone in the mid to late 90s). Prior to that, I would say it really depended on the specific module and often it wasn't all just one big railroad if it ddid have that kind of thing (even adventures that were super railroady like From the Shadows---where the players must get their heads cut off by a headless rider so their heads can end up in Azalins lab) comes with a complete map of Castle Avernus. It was definitely quite hit or miss, but there was always useable content in most adventures. Walking Dead was pretty good as well, with a little mystery and a zombie plague. Ship of Horrors wasn't something I would like to run from beginning to end, but had tons of material that was great to pull into a campaign. Adam's Wrath had some really cool stuff too even if the art kind of blew. You certainly didn't have hex crawls in the line or sandboxes, but it wasn't all uniform either.

I mostly ignored boxed text, but that was pretty standard to TSR modules at the time. Not saying they were all great. There were plenty of bombs, there were definitely railroaded situations. Also it is probably important to keep in mind, a lot of people were running games very differently then. I certainly had my share of railroady adventures to start. But over time, I moved further and further away from that, and embraced more of the monster hunt, living adventure side of Raveloft. Still it isn't a setting I would run as a sandbox. I think it does work well for particular scenarios.

S'mon

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #43 on: February 24, 2021, 01:19:40 PM »
Jessica Price is working on the book

That's the most horrific thing I've heard all day - including the anonymous phone harrasser this afternoon.  :o
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S'mon

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Re: Ravenloft 5E
« Reply #44 on: February 24, 2021, 01:24:49 PM »
In my experience, when shown that their characters are doomed without a glimmer of hope, then players are usually like "Whatever. Can we start a new campaign yet?" Character doom and death happens regularly in an RPG, so it's not actually horrific. I find that to get real horror flavor, there needs to be some actual hope -- and especially, there need to be things that the players care about.

I agree strongly with this, and the Demiplane/Doomed/Dark Powers thing is a big turn off for me. 5e Curse of Strahd actually seems worse than the 1e Ravenloft module in this regard.
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