View Full Version : Don't let them tell you it cannot be done!

05-23-2009, 04:10 PM
Well, to start this group out right I thought I'd help by saying this "Don't let them tell you it cannot be done!"

First off, let's put put aside all the "unfun" stuff that Ravenloft had into a corner (Don't worry...you can take it out of the corner if it works for you and your group).

So we got low-magic, lots of older spells don't work the way you want them to, dark power, fear, horror, and madness checks, familiars were controlled by dark powers....etc.

Now I'm not saying they were completely unfun...they WERE part of the setting after all...but some of that stuff in 4th Edition is difficult to pull off. Can it be done in a better way...absolutely...can I help you with some of it...definately.

My Approach: I've had a whole year to learn from my mistakes and playtest what works and doesn't in my group when it comes to Ravenloft. The main thing you want to capture from the original setting is the FEELING of the modules / setting. Some of the modules were creepy enough...and actually...the Domains of Dread that Wizards has been putting out lately has been top notch (especially that new one Graefmotte or something like that....GREAT stories to be told there all at level 8 and below).

So here’s a small disclaimer for you faint of heart DMs out there: You will be challenged in every direction creatively. Right now I’m challenged with changing an elf into a werewolf…and my player can tell you I’ve tried everything from going a multiclass route and switching out powers for more “werewolf-like” powers to granting him shifter powers instead of his elven accuracy powers….to starting a paragon path for him. Now note, yes…he’s a playtest for me, he knows this…and I’ve already told him that if it starts to be a bad experience or not how he sees his character…then we’ll cure it some how some way…but this playtest isn’t designed to make his “DnD time” a bad experience…just as a testing board for me to try to use lycanthropy not as a monster but as a player….so again creativity is a constant if you plan to write for the Domains of Dread.

Mixing the Old with the New: What you will hear from people on these boards…or others is that you can’t do it because 1) 4th edition is too heroic and 2) It’s not gothic and low magic enough.

Well, 4th Edition is heroic for sure…but that doesn’t mean your monsters can’t be scary or that you need to cut heroes power or abilities or whatever. Secondly, it CAN be Gothic and low magic…your heroes for example travel to a place like (to steal from the online novel “Black Crusade”) old Jeruseum during the crusades…for that matter NO NPC needs to use magic at all…maybe the fact that if there’s an arcane powered pc in the party will trigger all kinds of xenophobic behavior. For that matter, lol, anything that isn’t martial powered, like your primal classes, psionic (PHB 3), and perhaps high level Divine characters as well…No this doesn’t mean repeatedly torture those that take those classes…but it can mean that you could add a crazed mob for one encounter, or that they have to make a skill challenge to win some folks over…perhaps winning over said scared town folk involve doing things that the towns folk are afraid to do themselves…like hunt the savage creatures that have prowled their woods killing livestock, hunters, farmers, and stopping all trade along those roads alike.

Also, as the title of this subcategory suggests you CAN add some old with the new. If you find Fear, Horror, and Madness Checks are going to add to the tension of your game it isn’t overly hard to do. I came up with a system where you make a check to save against anything else DC 10...but for rolling lower than 10 would net you a status effect (immobilization 9-6, stunned 5-2, or if you roll a 1 unconsciousness).
All in all there’s nothing you can’t accomplish if you are creative and you have a good group of players that cheer you on, and are willing to try changes at least a couple of times and give you constructive feedback on what works for them and what doesn’t.

So I’m going to leave this post to open discussion, but also to remind any that feel frustrated of the challenges that go with it….that you can do it…have faith in yourself and your players…and what’s the worst that can happen?…Your player’s hate your game, boot you from the group, and you are left playing in the shadows of your own room while the dark powers whisper into your ears how you failed…and you will fail again and again…till you finally find a group that will like your demented mind….only then to find out that it’s all too late and the Dark Powers have claimed control of that husk you called a body. …yeah…that would suck. Hehehe…well…Good Luck.

05-29-2009, 12:48 PM
One could argue that Ravenloft has the greatest potential for difficulty out of any campaign setting in the D&D universe. Not only with the mechanics of the Mist, being able to crawl into other settings, merge with them, and pull things back, the appearance of any and all characters from any plane, the appearance, disappearance, amalgamation, and dissolution of landmasses, the people distraught, the Darklords are mad...etc. Not only do the adventurers seek to complete their quests, they seek to survive just getting down the road. It becomes quite difficult to manage all of this, let alone the dangers that hide in the dark. Many players who have tried the setting, love playing it, but don't want to make it their primary game. Rather they touch upon it every once and a while...usually on Halloween. The main attraction, at least for me, is the versatility...cultural settings ranging from the stone age to the industrial...various levels of magic and the open nature of everything in general make it my personal choice. Although the road is difficult it can be rewarding...just keep at it...