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Tamerath
08-11-2008, 05:43 PM
So I'm putting together a Ravenloft campaign and seeing as it's not going to be released for awhile (if at all) I'm not going to hold my breath and wait.

Reading on another message board I grew a little frustrated with what people were saying. Everyone was like, "Ravenloft in 4th? No chance!...Heroes are too heroic, there isn't any fear there, monsters are push overs, you couldn't build it properly...etc."

My aim is to stimulate a recreation of Ravenloft, and I would like to invite you all in helping me if you are so inclined. So right now I have just the basics...and I'll share them with you now.

I'd say that Ravenloft is a demiplane located inside the Shadowfell. Rather than having towns as points of light. It is the players themselves that are the only points of light in Ravenloft.

I'd say that monsters have the upper hand in Ravenloft over the PCs. (hard encounters)

Maybe the Vistani in 4th Edition would be a large group of gypsy Shadar-kai?

I can't do a recreation of Castle Ravenloft or House on Gryphon Hill till sometime after 6th level so what would be a good way towards heading in that direction?

Can't wait to hear your thoughts. There will probably be a campaign evolution posted on my blog in the future for those interested.

Dimthar
08-11-2008, 06:48 PM
So I'm putting together a Ravenloft campaign and seeing as it's not going to be released for awhile (if at all) I'm not going to hold my breath and wait.

Reading on another message board I grew a little frustrated with what people were saying. Everyone was like, "Ravenloft in 4th? No chance!...Heroes are too heroic, there isn't any fear there, monsters are push overs, you couldn't build it properly...etc."


I do too want/plan to run "Ravenloft" under the 4E, although it is going to be a mix of Forgotten Realms / Ravenloft (See thread: Around the Realms in 20 Levels in the Campaign Resources). So I am waiting for the FR Players Guide so they have more options in Classes/Races.

While working in my first time as GM of Call of Cthulhu I realized that even with the darkest, evilest and most horrific environment I will be able to describe, if the players are not willing to play their part, use their imagination and "pretend" they are scared, there is nothing I can do.

The scenario should be presented to scare the PCs, not the players. The players job is to react accordingly . The game mechanics (fear and horror checks) are there only to define the consequences of it.

I assume you either have the 2nd or 3.X Ed of Ravenloft, both have a fair amount of suggestions to overcome your concerns of the players being to heroic. In 2nd Edition there was even a "Domain" from Dark Sun, and there were some recommendations to "scare" those though Dark Sun Players.

The Van Ritchen's Guides are great resources to put the players in the investigator mode (Guide to Ghosts is the best one in that matter IMHO).

.

ronpyatt
08-11-2008, 06:57 PM
I remember there being something about negative levels or level drain, which can be simulated with weakened condition, post-resurrection conditions, or extended loss of healing surges.

4e suggests using zones where powers with keywords get special attention. (Like at a graveyard, the castle, near the drinking well.) This can be to the detriment of the PC's, but can also bring a glimmer of hope in the most dire of circumstances.

Webhead
08-11-2008, 10:49 PM
While working in my first time as GM of Call of Cthulhu I realized that even with the darkest, evilest and most horrific environment I will be able to describe, if the players are not willing to play their part, use their imagination and "pretend" they are scared, there is nothing I can do.

The scenario should be presented to scare the PCs, not the players. The players job is to react accordingly . The game mechanics (fear and horror checks) are there only to define the consequences of it.

True. Horror is tough. Atmosphere can really do wonders. Call of Cthulhu is a tough game to do real justice because to really get players "feeling it", it's best to indulge the atmosphere (playing at night in an empty room, with candle light and glow-in-the-dark dice). But you can still have a successful (and spooky) game. You just have to help you and your players get into the spirit of it and remind them that they should be acting scared.

Webhead
08-11-2008, 11:02 PM
One of the most effective means of communicating "horror" in an RPG is by maintaining "surprise". By surprising your players with unforseen situations, you shake the foundations of their "expectancy" for the game. People fear the unknown. You can't prepare for what you don't know is coming...and players are afraid of nothing more than being unprepared (and thus feeling vulnerable).

Tamerath
08-12-2008, 12:03 AM
I had thoughts personally of what made the original Ravenloft adventures I ran when I was younger awesome.

In 4th Edition I could make a werewolf (or anything really) solo or elite of higher level than the party and have the sucker chase them through the whole module

Also I was thinking about taking Expedition to Castle Ravenloft OR it's original I6 module and remaking it 4th Edition style. I think I'd make it Paragon tier though...hmm....don't know.

As Wizards and Swords and Sorcery really didn't do overly much to advance the timeline beyond 2nd edition (only a guess...I didn't get into the white wolf stuff for Ravenloft) I could do anything really...have the pc's experience the Grand Conjunction or go through the Grim Harvest Series!!


On a side note: I just talked to one of my players today...he asked to play the preview Artificer from Ebberon...at first I was like..hmmmm...I don't know..then he Really upted his ante. "Ravenloft draws from all worlds right? Why not Ebberon now? Imagine Van Richten instead of a rogue class...being able to do what Artificers do? Or Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hallow. A real scientist that learns more about the Demiplane of Dread's horrors and sets about to understand them." Well, after this I got hooked.

Tamerath
08-13-2008, 12:53 AM
I found most of the grand conjunction series online! That's great! Now that I have a base I can build and 4th Edition jazz it up!

tesral
08-13-2008, 01:23 AM
Reading on another message board I grew a little frustrated with what people were saying. Everyone was like, "Ravenloft in 4th? No chance!...Heroes are too heroic, there isn't any fear there, monsters are push overs, you couldn't build it properly...etc."


I've been of the opinion that heroes are too "Heroic" in Ravenloft for some time. Forry isn't new in that respect.

The problem AISI is the nature of Gothic Horror and the nature of Heroic Fantasy are at cross purposes. Gothic Horror predisposes that there are powers and things "greater" than the nearly helpless Protagonists. "Things man was not meant to know" type stuff. Heroic Fantasy predisposes that the heroes can handle nearly anything with pluck and a good sword. The Genres violate each other's trops.

Can Gothic Horror be done in D&D. I really don't think so. It's more than lots of arches and dark halls. Can Horror be done in D&D? Certainly. You might be able to give it a Gothic flavor with enough mood lighting and organ music.

Not to rain on the parade, but if you understand what you are up against you have a better chance of overcoming the difficulties.. Read a lot of Gothic Horror, get an idea for the flavor and how mostly helpless everyone really is. Now, add the canon four D&D classes to that book.

Recommendation? Ditch D&D. If d20 you must have go d20 Modern and severally limit access to magic. Guns are fine (mostly useless against classic Gothic monsters), but you need to go super low magic to get the Gothic feel. Magic is what the bad guys use.

Tamerath
08-13-2008, 01:39 AM
Not to rain on the parade, but if you understand what you are up against you have a better chance of overcoming the difficulties.. Read a lot of Gothic Horror, get an idea for the flavor and how mostly helpless everyone really is. Now, add the canon four D&D classes to that book.

You know Tesral, that's really good advice. I actually think I would definately go the other way with my games...More Horror over Gothic Horror. I know Ravenloft was known for Gothic Horror but my flavor kinda overshoots that and goes staight for the fear. This might seem funny but even reading old Conan the Barbarian literature inspires a darker tone that I channel into my game. Some of H.P. Lovecraft also adds some flavor to the game.

Where I actually think I'm going to break some of Ravenloft's old rules is when it comes to magic. Old Ravenloft had a lot of changes to powers of mages and clerics...but I really think this can be overcome if you properly prepare against what the PC's typically have at their disposal.

All the same Tesral, sincerely I appreciate the advice and look forward to anything else you bring to the table.

gdmcbride
08-13-2008, 02:27 AM
If you really want to get the Gothic Horror vibe ... and I agree with Tesral that D&D is ill suited to the genre ... there is one definite strong undeniable choice.

Basic Roleplaying. (http://catalog.chaosium.com/product_info.php?cPath=37&products_id=1256)

And besides its a great book.

Gary

Dimthar
08-13-2008, 08:53 AM
Can Gothic Horror be done in D&D. I really don't think so. It's more than lots of arches and dark halls. Can Horror be done in D&D? Certainly. You might be able to give it a Gothic flavor with enough mood lighting and organ music.


I agree with Tesral. My assumption is that you and/or your players want to play DnD 4E and you want your campaign have the "Ravenloft Mood/Theme".

The first approach of the designers was to strip the PCs of a lot of their powers and abilities. The obvious victims were magic users, psionics and paladins. They tried to do it in 2 ways: The power simply did not work (e.g. detect evil) or the results were diminished or corrupted. It was a hell of a work for the GM to keep track of these changes, but they paid off.

The trick is not to make them feel that you gave them a powerful sword and now you remove it because is to powerful.

The second one (for not Ravenloft Natives) was the "Outlandish" feel. Here Language Barriers, Customs and Racism play a major part. This is pure Role-playing.

- I'll burn that tiefling at the stake! (Sorry George, you know how important to me others "specially angry mobs" opinions are, we'll resurrect you in the next town ... as a Zombie!).

The third one and here is where the Van Ritchen's Guide come into play, was not to make the monsters uber-powerful, but instead to make them immune to "Common Powers". Each villain had to be done special in some way, and the way to defeat their "Immunity" was by doing "research / investigation" on the history and motives of the monster. A Ghost could be defeated with a sword (non-magic) plated with Gold from his chest treasure (perhaps was a former "Scrooge"). I am over simplifying.

Anyway, Good Luck!

.

tesral
08-13-2008, 09:49 AM
If you really want to get the Gothic Horror vibe ... and I agree with Tesral that D&D is ill suited to the genre ... there is one definite strong undeniable choice.

Basic Roleplaying. (http://catalog.chaosium.com/product_info.php?cPath=37&products_id=1256)

And besides its a great book.

Gary

My second least favorite system. But I won't refuse to play it. Call of Cluthlu has the right flavor in general, it is easy enough to give that a Gothic overlay. Frankly almost anything but D&D (Or other High Fantasy game) Chill, if you can find a copy. GURPS would certainly allow you to build the right flavor.

The basic system isn't the problem you can do Gothic Horror d20 style. It is the balance between monsters and PCs.

Eliminate Paladins right off the bat. Wizards and Clerics have to go as well. Healing surges make it way too easy. Access to any magic has to be curbed to the extreme, items or spells. By the time you are done making Forry (or any edition of D&D) suitable to Gothic Horror there isn't much system left.

Webhead
08-13-2008, 11:16 AM
For horror to really work, the characters need to feel alone and vulnerable. They can't have anyone that they can go to for help (or else those that they do go to are discovered to be either incompetent, corrupted or dead) and they can't feel as though they can stand toe-to-toe with their enemies and come away unscathed. Generally, the ominous threat that they face should be considerably more powerful than they are, meaning that they need more than muscle and a stroke of luck to be victorious (assuming total victory is even possible). The true heroism in horror stems from the concept that the characters are prepared to risk everything in order to put an end to whatever is happening, even accepting their own inferiority in the face of it. And that risk needs to feel real. Without risk, it feels like "just another job".

In horror, even if the heroes survive and manage to stop the "big bad", they have to carry scars. Characters in horror are never quite the same at the end of the story as at the beginning. They've lost something, perhaps innocence or optimism, perhaps determination or faith, perhaps a friend or loved one or even a profound spiritual or psychological belief. The point is, when the job is done, the heroes in horror have paid a high price...one that they will probably live with for the rest of their lives.

My 2 cents.

tesral
08-13-2008, 12:49 PM
In horror, even if the heroes survive and manage to stop the "big bad", they have to carry scars. [snip] The point is, when the job is done, the heroes in horror have paid a high price...one that they will probably live with for the rest of their lives.

And that makes a campaign of it difficult. How many scars can you canny before you fall apart?

ronpyatt
08-13-2008, 06:48 PM
But if someone really wanted to run it with 4eD&D anyway, might there be a circumstance in which it could be done?

In horror, starting strong is where heroes begin fresh in the morning, but eventually loose ground bit by bit only to find that their last hope was used up this morning. Then hope is harder to come by. Monsters will often want the party to live so that they may feed on them again later.

Perhaps the ability to slow progression of 4e characters can be turned to this effect by reflecting the difficulties of this environment.
1) After an extended rest recover only half your healing surges due to the restlessness of the atmosphere.
2) Extended rests take 2 hours longer due to the draining atmosphere.
3) Milestones require 4 encounters (if any milestones are allowed) due to the feeling of helplessness that tries to swallow you.
4) You start with one less action point after an extended rest (if action points are used) due to the hopelessness overwhelming your drive.
5) At the end of an encounter where you were Bloodied sometime during the encounter, make a save or loose a healing surge due to the environment sapping your strength.
6) Characters cannot level up while in the Ravenloft sphere of influence.

Watch as the Cleric and Paladin go a little insane with their inability to keep up with healing and drain, where just hours ago they felt they could beat this place.

DMMike
08-13-2008, 07:12 PM
If you guys aren't too 4E hardcore, open up 3E's Heroes of Horror. Fantastic book. Loaded with ideas, and a taint system that might (or might not) convert to 4E.

I'm disagreeing with Dimthar. The players should be scared. Saying that only the characters should be scared is passing up an opportunity for some great and memorable sessions. Now creating a scary atmosphere isn't easy or possible for all groups. But a little nervousness isn't too much to ask.

Webhead
08-13-2008, 09:21 PM
And that makes a campaign of it difficult. How many scars can you canny before you fall apart?

Very true. Most horror campaigns have more limited longevity and that's probably as it should be. Take Call of Cthulhu. If a character is still alive and (mostly) sane after 4 or 5 adventures, he's either deep in denial, lives in a box, or has a player who is very, very lucky with dice. An average CoC adventure ends with most of the party seeking some psychiatric help or very good sleeping pills to cope with their unraveling sense of reality.

But that's part of the fun of horror. The light that shines brightest shines half as long. CoC is full of its own kinds of heroes...heroes who are completely outmatched but who refuse to succumb to despair.

tesral
08-13-2008, 09:23 PM
Is that going to engender horror or player frustration? Take backs at least for my part are annoying.

I'll stick by my statement. Gothic Horror with a Heroic Fantasy system is starting with a severe handicap.

Webhead
08-13-2008, 09:37 PM
Is that going to engender horror or player frustration? Take backs at least for my part are annoying.

I'm a little hazy...please elaborate...


I'll stick by my statement. Gothic Horror with a Heroic Fantasy system is starting with a severe handicap.

Agreed. Horror, as delicate as it is, is best when the system supports it.

tesral
08-13-2008, 10:07 PM
I'm a little hazy...please elaborate...

Agreed. Horror, as delicate as it is, is best when the system supports it.

Truncating the D&D system to get the proper helpless feel would frustrate players of the characters created with the usual Heroic Fantasy in mind.

"OK, it's Horror so you don't get you use even half the cool powers you have."

Better I think to start with a system that supports the necessary tropes than to hack a system that does not support them. Any time you find yourself taking a figurative machete to the system to get the feel right, that is telling you something. It's telling you to stop, and start with something else. You can make a Sport Utility out of a Sports Car, all the parts are present, you just need to rip it apart and totally rebuild it. There is nothing wrong with a sports car, but it is lousy for off road work. D&D has limits. It is created with a certain type of gaming feel in mind and it does that best. Horror is not the gaming feel it is created for.

I've played in Ravenloft games and run them. D&D is a bad fit for Horror.

And I agree that you need to instill unease in the player. In system fear does not translate to a real Horror experience. Horror is work. It's theater, it is mood and setting. Horror is the one time I would dress the part as the DM.

Webhead
08-13-2008, 10:34 PM
Truncating the D&D system to get the proper helpless feel would frustrate players of the characters created with the usual Heroic Fantasy in mind.

"OK, it's Horror so you don't get you use even half the cool powers you have."

Better I think to start with a system that supports the necessary tropes than to hack a system that does not support them. Any time you find yourself taking a figurative machete to the system to get the feel right, that is telling you something. It's telling you to stop, and start with something else. You can make a Sport Utility out of a Sports Car, all the parts are present, you just need to rip it apart and totally rebuild it. There is nothing wrong with a sports car, but it is lousy for off road work. D&D has limits. It is created with a certain type of gaming feel in mind and it does that best. Horror is not the gaming feel it is created for.

Oh, okay. I totally agree.


I've played in Ravenloft games and run them. D&D is a bad fit for Horror.

I've never actually run or played in the Ravenloft campaign setting. I've only ever had the original I6 module. But yeah, I don't see D&D being terribly effective at enforcing "horror". More like, "creepy action-adventure" which is a totally different beast.

ronpyatt
08-13-2008, 11:40 PM
Although, I would not recommend reducing their powers, other nerfing is recommended in the core 4e rules for just these types of circumstances. Besides that, limiting to one level is an ideal way of playing horror in other game systems that don't use levels. I might even make the Cleric and Paladin powers do a little extra - hope in small packages, ya know. Hacking the system is what some of us like to do, and the DMG gives guidelines on how to do it. So, not really seeing a problem there.

If the players know it's a horror game, and they know that house rules are designed to reflect the horror elements of the setting, they will never ever ever in a million thousand years get frustrated. If they do, then the game or setting will end for them, right? I understand that some people have played D&D horror and didn't like it or could see that it didn't work, but we're talking 4e now. I say go for it, and give it a chance to fail or succeed. I'd like to see the results. In fact, since I've done this on a small scale with 4e, I may even do this on a major quest with my group.

Tamerath, good luck with Ravenloft!
Thanks everyone. Your experiences with D&D horror are insightful and give me a challenge to work with!

Tamerath
08-14-2008, 12:34 AM
Although, I would not recommend reducing their powers, other nerfing is recommended in the core 4e rules for just these types of circumstances. Besides that, limiting to one level is an ideal way of playing horror in other game systems that don't use levels. I might even make the Cleric and Paladin powers do a little extra - hope in small packages, ya know. Hacking the system is what some of us like to do, and the DMG gives guidelines on how to do it. So, not really seeing a problem there.

If the players know it's a horror game, and they know that house rules are designed to reflect the horror elements of the setting, they will never ever ever in a million thousand years get frustrated. If they do, then the game or setting will end for them, right? I understand that some people have played D&D horror and didn't like it or could see that it didn't work, but we're talking 4e now. I say go for it, and give it a chance to fail or succeed. I'd like to see the results. In fact, since I've done this on a small scale with 4e, I may even do this on a major quest with my group.

Tamerath, good luck with Ravenloft!
Thanks everyone. Your experiences with D&D horror are insightful and give me a challenge to work with!

First off I'd like to thank everyone for their opinions thus far. I laugh to myself because had this been started on another board I could just see the heated remarks that would rage forth from it. Everyone has really given me a lot of good ideas.

I know a lot of people will dissagree with me. I know Ravenloft has some hardcore fans out there (I'm one of them), but getting away from D&D or even the d20 system is too far away from my goal. I'm going to run it. I don't doubt for a moment my ability to tell a good story OR the horror part (as I've done this without the Ravenloft tagline in my Twilight Realm setting homebrew). Now as for it's original conception I'm going to have to break tradition...I'm not going to do low magic, take out any classes, take away feats or any of that. My aim is to keep 4th Edition as is...and add a Horror element to it. I think I'm definately considering adding some of ronpyatt's suggestions to the mix as well as DMMike's suggestion of looking into the Heroes of Horror book for 3.5 (already owed that sucker and now I'm going to have the chance to put it to good use). Tesral even really gave me a good idea of researching the "feel" of the campaign a bit more. So maybe to some of you it's not Ravenloft...and I can understand your sentiment. To me though, Ravenloft was about feeling...and I think my group will be just fine with it. Every one of them I've seen thus far have zero problems roleplaying and adding their own part and flavor to the story. (Another part of why I think Ravenloft will go over well). Thanks for wishing me good luck ronpyatt! I wish you good luck with your ideas as well! :)

Here's something that's really cool with this community. Inspiration. You all inspire me and I hope, in some small way, that I inspire you. You all have a wonderful night.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
08-14-2008, 01:14 AM
First off I'd like to thank everyone for their opinions thus far. I laugh to myself because had this been started on another board I could just see the heated remarks that would rage forth from it. Everyone has really given me a lot of good ideas.

I know a lot of people will dissagree with me. I know Ravenloft has some hardcore fans out there (I'm one of them), but getting away from D&D or even the d20 system is too far away from my goal. I'm going to run it. I don't doubt for a moment my ability to tell a good story OR the horror part (as I've done this without the Ravenloft tagline in my Twilight Realm setting homebrew). Now as for it's original conception I'm going to have to break tradition...I'm not going to do low magic, take out any classes, take away feats or any of that. My aim is to keep 4th Edition as is...and add a Horror element to it. I think I'm definately considering adding some of ronpyatt's suggestions to the mix as well as DMMike's suggestion of looking into the Heroes of Horror book for 3.5 (already owed that sucker and now I'm going to have the chance to put it to good use). Tesral even really gave me a good idea of researching the "feel" of the campaign a bit more. So maybe to some of you it's not Ravenloft...and I can understand your sentiment. To me though, Ravenloft was about feeling...and I think my group will be just fine with it. Every one of them I've seen thus far have zero problems roleplaying and adding their own part and flavor to the story. (Another part of why I think Ravenloft will go over well). Thanks for wishing me good luck ronpyatt! I wish you good luck with your ideas as well! :)

Here's something that's really cool with this community. Inspiration. You all inspire me and I hope, in some small way, that I inspire you. You all have a wonderful night.
It does not matter how you prepare, Tamerath, for the Great Thoth-Amon will always prevail.

Thoth-Amon

Webhead
08-14-2008, 08:46 AM
I hope my latter comments were not construed as me trying to discourage you from running your horror game with 4e. Far from it, I wish you the best of luck in really pulling your players in. I was just sharing some of my insights on "horror" which is one of my favorite RPG genres when it's done right, for all the reasons I mentioned.

I have a player who outright refuses to play Call of Cthulhu, which is tragic because that is one of those games that I'm always interested in.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
08-14-2008, 10:36 AM
I've played in a previous campaign with Tamerath and can tell you that if anyone can pull it off, he can. In fact, his upcoming Ravenloft campaign has so many interested players, he had to create a waiting list.

I'll ask him to post updates on this site to share experiences with said campaign. All this adventuring goodness begins first Saturday in October. Cant wait.

Thoth-Amon

Webhead
08-14-2008, 12:23 PM
I've played in a previous campaign with Tamerath and can tell you that if anyone can pull it off, he can. In fact, his upcoming Ravenloft campaign has so many interested players, he had to create a waiting list.

I'll ask him to post updates on this site to share experiences with said campaign. All this adventuring goodness begins first Saturday in October. Cant wait.

Thoth-Amon

Very cool. Keep us updated...I'd like to hear how it goes. Horror can be a lot of fun.

Tamerath
08-14-2008, 04:25 PM
I hope my latter comments were not construed as me trying to discourage you from running your horror game with 4e. Far from it, I wish you the best of luck in really pulling your players in. I was just sharing some of my insights on "horror" which is one of my favorite RPG genres when it's done right, for all the reasons I mentioned.

I have a player who outright refuses to play Call of Cthulhu, which is tragic because that is one of those games that I'm always interested in.

Oh sincerely guys, I've never taken constructive comments posted here as "You can't do this." or discouraging at all. Sincerely, a grand majority of this site does nothing but try to help each other (which is why I love posting here). As I said in my last post...you guys do the complete opposite from discouragement...you inspire me. I have till October to lay down some incredible foundation work, try to work out all the bugs of the system, and write (or rewrite in some cases) some really incredible adventures. I can't wait. And Yes, for sure, I'll definately post a campaign journal on here for the good or bad. In part to help other DMs like me.

DMMike
08-15-2008, 02:16 AM
October...starting on Halloween, by any chance? I'm aching for you, Tamerath, to ask how to make scary encounters (which doesn't fall under the thread title). Probably because I just took a psychology class, and I'm itching to screw with people's heads. Plus, I suspect I'll learn some awesome ideas from the community too.

Tamerath
08-15-2008, 02:05 PM
October...starting on Halloween, by any chance? I'm aching for you, Tamerath, to ask how to make scary encounters (which doesn't fall under the thread title). Probably because I just took a psychology class, and I'm itching to screw with people's heads. Plus, I suspect I'll learn some awesome ideas from the community too.

Nah, I want the whole month of October to run my game :) As for the scary encounters...wow..there's been so many I've created over the years. I think that'd definately be a good thread to start in October as well. Just for a teaser though I'll post one of my old encounters for you.

I was running "The Apocalypse Stone" adventure for the 2nd Edition campaign ender (just prior to when they released 3rd Edition). So one part of the module, if I remember correctly, said that because of the pc's actions it caused a demon to be stuck on the prime material plane...and he's pissed off. So the pc's return home for a break in the adventure...they drink some ale, eat great food, hang out with their families...and then the Demon strikes (actually he strikes before that...as all this is an illusion). The food and drink is blood and gore...the townsfolk are dead, and their families...well Their families were murdered, stitched together, and sent after them as flesh golems. Now keep in mind, flesh golems in 2nd Edition were not a challenge at all to a party of level 19+ pc's....the Fear here...is them fighting their loved ones..and knowing they couldn't do anything to save them (because as oppossed to a "Your loved one is in dire peril...you better race to save them)...this senario...they are dead, animated, and have only one desire...Kill you. You should have seen my PC's. It was definately one for the record books.

NOW DISCLAIMER: I'd say any group running a horror game should talk to their group prior...and get their views on it. There's a line you don't want to cross and you don't want to blunder over that line as a DM and make it unfun for everyone at the table. My players are pretty open minded so they didn't have a problem with this encounter.

Webhead
08-17-2008, 09:59 AM
I was running "The Apocalypse Stone" adventure for the 2nd Edition campaign ender...

Just out of curiousity, how was "The Apocalypse Stone" overall in quality and fun factor? I ask because I have the opportunity to buy it cheap and have been considering it, but I'd like to know what other people's opinion of it was before I do. I may like to run it at some point and wonder if it would be worth the money.

Tamerath
08-17-2008, 04:24 PM
Webhead...it was great. I totally recommend it for a campaign ender (that's what it is). There's a disclaimer at the beginning of the adventure that says, "This adventure will destroy your world" and although it does give some suggestions for different endings...it really does work best with the one they suggest. I, personally, went over it a full two months before running it and added a lot more...there's places where you can "take a break" from the main story and run your own adventures (as not to raise suspicion) and that's exactly what I did...further pc's story goals, get a level or two...I'd say it's a great piece of writing and 2nd edition campaigns would benefit from it. :) I've also heard decent reviews from the "DIE! Vecna DIE!" module. You'd love it my friend :)

Webhead
08-18-2008, 09:30 AM
Webhead...it was great. I totally recommend it for a campaign ender (that's what it is). There's a disclaimer at the beginning of the adventure that says, "This adventure will destroy your world" and although it does give some suggestions for different endings...it really does work best with the one they suggest. I, personally, went over it a full two months before running it and added a lot more...there's places where you can "take a break" from the main story and run your own adventures (as not to raise suspicion) and that's exactly what I did...further pc's story goals, get a level or two...I'd say it's a great piece of writing and 2nd edition campaigns would benefit from it. :) I've also heard decent reviews from the "DIE! Vecna DIE!" module. You'd love it my friend :)

Very cool. I may pick it up then. I've also heard good things about "DIE! Vecna DIE!" and I have always wanted to get my hands on "Reverse Dungeon". Now that one sounds cool!

Dimthar
04-18-2009, 09:20 PM
So I'm putting together a Ravenloft campaign and seeing as it's not going to be released for awhile (if at all) I'm not going to hold my breath and wait.

....

Can't wait to hear your thoughts. There will probably be a campaign evolution posted on my blog in the future for those interested.

I was just wondering how successful were you in setting the Horror / Dark mood in the campaign? Did the players felt at some point hopeless (not frustrated)? Desolate? Horrified?

Specially with the bunnies in a field of clovers :)/

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
04-18-2009, 10:13 PM
Very cool. I may pick it up then. I've also heard good things about "DIE! Vecna DIE!" and I have always wanted to get my hands on "Reverse Dungeon". Now that one sounds cool!
Also always wanted to get Die Vecna Die and either play or run it... but preferably play it. Get ready to get jealous: I own The Reverse Dungeon. It's kind of cool. I actually wrote an campaign based of the idea. Last i checked, it's pretty inexpensive on Ebay.

Here's one with two days left at $4.99, plus shipping: http://cgi.ebay.com/Dungeons-and-Dragons-DIE-VECNA-DIE-Module-TSR_W0QQitemZ350190328352QQihZ022QQcategoryZ44113Q QssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

or Ebay # 350190328352

Tamerath
04-19-2009, 12:50 PM
Also always wanted to get Die Vecna Die and either play or run it... but preferably play it. Get ready to get jealous: I own The Reverse Dungeon. It's kind of cool. I actually wrote an campaign based of the idea. Last i checked, it's pretty inexpensive on Ebay.

Here's one with two days left at $4.99, plus shipping: http://cgi.ebay.com/Dungeons-and-Dragons-DIE-VECNA-DIE-Module-TSR_W0QQitemZ350190328352QQihZ022QQcategoryZ44113Q QssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

or Ebay # 350190328352

Very Cool :) I am jealous. Wow, talk about digging up my old ravenloft thread. Well, on subject since this thread has been down for awhile. Ravenloft is going very well. For more campaign notes check out my blog. AND...we're still looking for 2 good players when we start up again in a couple of weeks

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
04-19-2009, 05:22 PM
If i had an really economical and reliable car, I'd seriously consider driving down twice a month for that game. But as it is, the vette aint gonna hack it.

tesral
04-19-2009, 05:47 PM
I'm having a hard time picturing Forry Ravenloft. Classic D&D has the heroes as too competent for Gothic horror. Forry is not going to improve that imbalance in the least.

I'll go on record as liking the Ravenloft setting, and owning most of the 1st/2nd Ed stuff for it. But I don't think it makes a good D&D setting without doing some serious damage to the D&D power structure.

Tamerath
04-19-2009, 10:12 PM
I'm having a hard time picturing Forry Ravenloft. Classic D&D has the heroes as too competent for Gothic horror. Forry is not going to improve that imbalance in the least.

I'll go on record as liking the Ravenloft setting, and owning most of the 1st/2nd Ed stuff for it. But I don't think it makes a good D&D setting without doing some serious damage to the D&D power structure.

Oh I do agree with you on a few notes here Tesral. Even if I really banged my head against the wall, did a complete reworking on the Dark Power Checks, Fear, Horror, and Maddness rolls....it'd be a big process that still (even in my mind) not add up to what Ravenloft was in second edition. I started thinking about this heavily before my conversions. The thing is...no matter your edition of choice...there isn't any going back. I can't recreate the dynamics of Ravenloft putting in 1st, 2nd, and 3.5 versions of a ruleset into 4th...nor did I really want to. I think it has to be approached differently...a fresh slate so to speak.

In my game...it's not about the misc. checks and whatnot that the previous ediitons had. I've gotten my mood across or feeling of Ravenloft without doing that at all. Even with all the heroics of 4th...when they come across a Dread Werewolf they still quake in their boots. When they had to match wits and find Jean and Marcel Tarascon in Night of the Walking Dead...they really had a cinematic experience...ask my friend Frank that was pulled through the window in the plantation encounter with the ghouls :) CLASSIC and he still remembers it and has that "Ravenloft" fear. Expedition to Ravenloft wasn't bad. I've heard it's not a great revision to I6: Ravenloft...but my group is enjoying it. Hell, I have a Shadar-kai Swordmage native of Barovia that has just found out Strahd's a vampire and not a decendant of the first Strahd von Zarovich. I have an artificer of Ebberon that was pulled into the mist in search of his mentor...only to find he's been dead and cursed for a good 20 years now...he modeled his character after Van Helsing so he's ready for anything, I have a Elven Ranger from the "generic" setting that just found out that the werewolf he's been hunting has actually been him all along, and I have a wizard that is soon to become allies with minions of Azalin working against Strahd for his release from the Demiplane of Dread....but he's soon to find out afterward that working for Azalin is just another type of bondage to the Shadowfell. The Key Note: No one at the table trusts the other party members...they work together because they have to...and with all the npc's I've thrown into the mix...they aren't the only ones. You have the remenants of the Lightbringer's Guild, and the Knights of the Raven....you have about 60 people in town that have fought against the zombies of Strahd and lived....and only a handful actually CAN fight. I've brought a lot to the table in this campaign and I think my players know it. Now weather or not it's TRUE Ravenloft...well...who really cares? I thought in the beginning it'd matter more...but it's all about mood and your group. If there's one thing I can sell in D&D it's terror..and it doesn't need to exactly be me killing off characters (only one has died so far), or overpowered monsters (though if there has been one hunting the party it's been Strahd)...That's the great thing about DMing...if you are good at it...you can really tell a fantastic story.

Grimwell
04-20-2009, 12:33 AM
I don't think edition even matters. Let alone system. Ravenloft is about the inevitable horrors waiting to consume you at the end. :)

If you are letting any system get in the way of the brooding darkness that should be hovering in the back of your players minds; you are doing something wrong. Systems are just tools, and even systems that pack a lot of bang can be used to make one feel small and powerless.

tesral
04-20-2009, 08:09 AM
The Key Note: No one at the table trusts the other party members...they work together because they have to...and with all the npc's I've thrown into the mix...they aren't the only ones.

That is a unique approach from what I have seen, making the characters both part of the problem and the solution. The horror lies in finding out they are their own targets.

Part of the general problem with horror in D&D period is the "cowboy up and fight it" attitude of the D&D player. D&D is very into direct confrontation. Horror, and most certainly Gothic horror is not. The Hero in a Gothic horror peace would love to bring the power of the average D&D party to the table. Working magic, healing? Great stuff. Too bad they don't have any.

Two, I don't like the idea that failure is the only option, fight as you will you can never win. Why fight? There has to be a glimmer of hope. There has to be a way you can succeed. The light may be dim and difficult to see, but it needs to be there. Without hope, despair is worthless.

Grimwell
04-20-2009, 09:02 AM
Most of the Ravenloft games I've been a part of have offered hope either in the form of escape from the demiplane (against the theme, but hey..), or in doing something awesome and having a huge moment of glory as one goes out.

A good death has often been the hope of warriors on real battlefields; offering it as the hope for an imagined one isn't so bad.

You are right though, most folks have no interest in a good death for their characters. :)

ronpyatt
04-20-2009, 09:24 AM
But when your character hopes for death, the horror has just begun.

Tamerath, it sounds like a lot of fun.

Dimthar
04-20-2009, 02:33 PM
If we specifically talk about playing in Ravenloft, there is this "Mythical Force" called the Dark Powers.

Although the hole "Demi-plane" is supposed to have a strong presence of "Elemental Evil" glorified mostly in the "Domain Dark Lords". The Dark Lords themselves are victims, first by being trapped in their realms, and each of them bearing some type of curse.

It seems to me that in a "Ravenloftian" Campaign, Heroes are not necessarily doomed to fail, in some way they are there or brought in to harass / punish / frustrate the actions of the forces of evil.

I always thought that the dark powers enjoy suffering, but do not necessarily favor the suffering of "Good People", but will gladly accept the rage of a Werewolf when his victim is safely taken away from him or Strahad's lament when his bride to be is lost again one more time.

On the other hands, heroes like Van Ritchen although they achieve victory after victory, have a sense of hopelessness because no matter how many vampires, werwolfs, mummies, hags and lichs you have destroyed, there's always seem to be many more somewhere else.

It doesn't mean they do not enjoy the little victories, but each battle leaves a scar. I do prefer "Foreign" heroes and escaping the Demiplane their final victory, although they may always ponder if good people's only hope had just fled the land and left them alone.

.

tesral
04-20-2009, 03:34 PM
I
It doesn't mean they do not enjoy the little victories, but each battle leaves a scar. I do prefer "Foreign" heroes and escaping the Demiplane their final victory, although they may always ponder if good people's only hope had just fled the land and left them alone.

.

I've touched on the Demiplane, but never built a game there. For me that is the better use of Ravenloft. A place you end up and your chief goal is to get out. Victory comes when you get out.

So yes it has seen play in my game. You're never going to cure the place. You're best bet is to escape.

Grimwell
04-21-2009, 12:42 AM
Tangentally relevant: I've always found it comforting to view Ravenloft as an evil trap. The Dark Powers aren't really defined by any of the source I've seen (I stopped seeing source in 2E mind you), and there's no reason they can't actually be forces interested in concentrating the evil in one place instead of letting it hang all about the multiverse.

Never you mind the Abyss or Hells, theology in gaming is indistinct! ;)

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
04-21-2009, 12:46 AM
Evil minds work in mysterious ways. That's actually a good point/great perspective, grimwell.

kirksmithicus
04-21-2009, 02:18 PM
As for using 4e, it may not be the best game suited to the genre. There are things you can do to make it a little harder for the PC's. Hit them hard and don't let up. Make most of the encounters 2 or 3 levels higher than them. They can normally only use one healing surge during combat. So don't let them take 5 minutes to rest and heal before throwing another encounter at them, or maybe only let them use one healing surge etc between encounters. Make them the hunted. Also Ravenloft itself might be a Font of Power that radiates an aura of fear. Fonts of Power normally grant a +5 bonus to per tier to damage, but since fear doesn't do damage in most cases, I think it would not be unreasonable to impose a -5 penalty to attack rolls while in the Ravenloft setting. You might do a saving throw at the beginning of each encounter vs. fear, those who save muster up the courage, overcome their fear and don't have the penalty.

the -5 penalty to attack makes things extremely hard and gives the characters reason to fear. Even if you only give the bonus to creatures that have fear effects (like a Bodak). Attack bonuses, are all bonuses plus 1/2 a characters level. So in effect, with a -5 penalty a character has just lost 10 levels. At the Paragon tier the penalty would be -10, or minus 20 levels. I'm not sure if you can combine Fonts of Power, but if you do, you could add in Necrotic and those attacks then do an extra 5 damage per tier.


Just a few thought on adapting the 4e system.

tesral
04-21-2009, 03:01 PM
Still not horror. Terror yes, but not horror.

kirksmithicus
04-21-2009, 04:36 PM
Still not horror. Terror yes, but not horror.

It still has the ..rror in common. :thumb:

Tamerath
04-22-2009, 12:12 PM
Just a random thought...I know that Azalin didn't make an appearance in Raveloft till House on Griffon Hill...but I'm toying with the idea that maybe he was still working for Strahd before this time...

In Expedition to Ravenloft there is a Necromancer that isn't overly impressed with the idea of working for Strahd anymore...and will help the pc's in enchange for their help in return.

This would work out as one of my pc's characters just wants to return to the Forgotten Realms and get the hell out of Ravenloft...as does Azalin because he's stuck at a certain level.

Easily this could be converted over to an earlier version of Azalin....now to find some decent Necromancer stats for 4th Edition...hmmm...just a random thought popping into my mind.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
04-22-2009, 12:22 PM
Actually, i like the idea. Also, i believe they are releasing soon, if they havent recently already, a 4E sourcebook for undead. May be some ideas in there for you.

Windstar
04-27-2009, 07:21 PM
I enjoyed the original Ravenloft, but didn't like the move to its own plane. I always thought of it as a valley that was hidden in a shroud of fog in the FR setting best. But am frothing at the mouth to see an updayed ver.

tesral
04-27-2009, 09:29 PM
The beauty of it is you could put it anywhere.

I have issues with the whole Demiplane of dread thing as well. I use it as a demiplane, but not one that is one huge piece. Rather each situation is its own little isolated haven of horror. Ravenloft by the slices. You fall into a given situation and you have to deal with it to get out.

Like I don't treat undead as a hierarchy of standard creatures. I adjust them to the circumstances and location. Things like "The Frozen" people that died of hypothermia in this one mountain range. I treat them as zombies with double damage. They only want to be warm. Merchants passing through the mountains never refuse the fire to anyone. Many times in the morning there will be a body by the fire, an old one. If you don't stand between the fire and them they don't attack you.

Baron_Samedi
04-28-2009, 07:01 AM
There is a well thought out 'patches' posted by jester on the fraternityofshadows.com site. it covers players guide, dungeon master's guide, monster manual, not to mention a cheat sheet for horror and madness rules. it may not be what you're looking for, but it might serve as a useful guideline for the basics to get started. my group has been using it for the past month or so with great success. just thought i'd throw that out there.

Malruhn
04-28-2009, 08:03 PM
I grew to despise the Ravenloft setting after the initial module. If played properly and using all of his powers, there is no way a party of even DOUBLE expected level can defeat Strahd. I've challenged groups in the past, and was ALWAYS victorious.

And I don't think I have the same IQ as Strahd.

This means that the main bad-guy is even worse than I am capable of copying.

This makes the the module even more stupid as a TKP than the stupid Tomb of Horrors module.

Other than some interesting monsters, Ravenloft leaves me totally cold... DEAD cold, not even UNdead cold.

Baron_Samedi
04-29-2009, 02:43 PM
The Demiplane of Dread is the both the most simple, and most complex of the Realms. The Mists have combined to form a world of its own with the Core, but also draws from other realms creating Pocket Domains and Islands of Terror. At last count there are over 100 known with their Darklords. Some of their domains are as large as a nation, but can also be as small as a jewel, or a wayward road. Taking some advice from my thread on converting Dark Sun, the simplest modification tends to be the way to go. The best thing to do is to implement an adventure where the Mists have come into contact with whatever setting you have.
The horror element(s) doesn't mean that all of the encounters have to have monsters, vampires, or undead. Ravenloft's Darklords for the most part are ordinary people who carry burdens of guilt or curses that have condemned them to exist in this plane. Lord Soth was cursed for his inactions of Krynn that led to the death of millions. Strahd, because of his murderous jealousy of his brother.
Its horror and madness stats hold characters accountable for their actions, the more they fight the system, the worse they are in the long run. Even the original boxed sets state that the village of Barovia, and the House on Gryphon Hill were just places that the adventurers encounter on their way after passing through a wall of mist. Maybe the solution should be a return to the basics...have your group walk into a situation or village, or whatever that bears a dark and sinister overtone. Heroes of Horror and Ghostwalk are both excellent resources, but you can also takes elements from the 4e Manual of the Planes with regards to the Shadowfell...there was something of particular interest with the Feydark that might work well for Forgotten Realms....

Windstar
04-30-2009, 06:43 AM
I grew to despise the Ravenloft setting after the initial module. If played properly and using all of his powers, there is no way a party of even DOUBLE expected level can defeat Strahd. I've challenged groups in the past, and was ALWAYS victorious.

And I don't think I have the same IQ as Strahd.

This means that the main bad-guy is even worse than I am capable of copying.

This makes the the module even more stupid as a TKP than the stupid Tomb of Horrors module.

Other than some interesting monsters, Ravenloft leaves me totally cold... DEAD cold, not even UNdead cold.

As a player in the original module, our made it out of Ravenloft loosing only one PC, didn't kill Strahd and never went due to a a few players moving. But when I DM'd it I completely wiped one party and the other escaped barely. They planned on going back but then I transfered out. And I played ToH and loved it, can't wait for current players to get high enough to run it for them.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
04-30-2009, 10:20 AM
As a player in the original module, our made it out of Ravenloft loosing only one PC, didn't kill Strahd and never went due to a a few players moving. But when I DM'd it I completely wiped one party and the other escaped barely. They planned on going back but then I transfered out. And I played ToH and loved it, can't wait for current players to get high enough to run it for them.
Played Ravenloft and loved it. I've also played ToH and loved it, most of the party surviving the adventure. I just wish i was down south to play the 4E Ravenloft, though there is a chance i will sit in if it's being played on the weekend i'm there.

Btw, last i read ToH4E has a planned release. Very cool.