For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Ravenloft...
A Brief Primer for the Realm of Dread*
Beyond mortal senses, beyond your reality, there lurks a boundless plane. It permeates your world and fills the void between worlds. It is the border between the lands of the living and of the dead. There, mind and matter become one; thought and passion, fear and yearning, can become more tangible than iron. It is the Ethereal Plane.
Somewhere, lurking deep within those etheric mists, a dark and nameless dimension is ruled by dark and nameless powers. Some say it is a prison for the damned; some say it is a crucible to test the virtuous. Others simply call it home. It is a land of mist and shadow, love and death, sacrifice and seduction, beauty and horror. It is a land of whispered fears made manifest. It is the Realm of Dread.
Perhaps you have sensed its touch. At the bidding of the Dark Powers, tendrils of the ethereal Mists that bind this land reach out to caress the Material Plane. They stroke the skin at the back of your neck when a creaking floorboard warns that you are not alone in the dark. Their invisible fingers crawl down your spine when inhuman shadows rustle at the edges of your vision.
The Mists do more than merely caress. The Dark Powers are drawn to innocence and villainy, to loathing and desire, to obsession and to despair. They seek out squandered dreams and inner demons. They savor the decay of the spirit. Their Mists snatch up fiends at the moment of their ruin and steal upon heroes in times of doubt.
To what end do the Dark Powers add these souls to their tarnished collection? To torment them? To purify them? None can say, for few souls drawn into the Realm of Dread ever leave to tell the tale. Yet perhaps you will soon learn for yourself, for tonight, the Mists have come for you.
Welcome to the Land of Mists. Welcome to the crucible of virtue and the spoils of damnation. Welcome to the Realm of Dread.
Welcome to Ravenloft.
To put it in very basic terms, Ravenloft is a collection of realms or domains, ranging from as large as a large kingdom to as small as a mansion and its grounds or even smaller. Each of these domains is in some way connected to a monster or villain known as a Dark Lord who is at the same time the realm's master and prisoner. These Dark Lords, the vast majority of which had no designs on becoming such, were, for the most part, either drawn into the Mists unwittingly or wandered into them on their own. When they did so, typically one of two things happened: a portion of their home world came with them, ripped from the very fabric of the Material Plane or, more commonly, a replica of their home world formed around them. In both cases however, this "home world" became twisted in ways, sometimes subtle and other times not so subtle, by the Dark Powers of this world. And while the Dark Lords were granted certain powers over their domains they are also tormented by these same domains in ways as varied as the Dark Lords themselves.
Some of these Dark Lords are the actual political rulers of these domains while others have no political power at all and are even hunted by the citizens of their domains. One thing they all have in common however is that the vast majority of the citizens and visitors to these realms, have no idea that they are Dark Lords or even know what a Dark Lord is. In fact, for the most part, these citizens are even unaware that the Dark Lords are monsters of any kind. Part of the reason why this is so is that the Mists have an effect upon the minds of those who live in the Dread Realms, which even newcomers eventually become susceptible to, that causes them to lose interest in the mysteries of their lands, including lost histories and other inconsistencies or apparent contradictions of which there are many (Adventurers are a different breed however and are effectively immune to this mental apathy).
This means that, probably more than any other campaign world ever created for D&D, the difference between player knowledge and character knowledge is often vast. In fact, there are some domains in Ravenloft where the people might scoff at the idea of vampires, ghosts and werewolves - something that every player who has ever played Ravenloft is well aware exists (at least in Ravenloft). That is why players of Ravenloft must keep in mind and have a clear understanding of the difference between what they know and what their characters know. And it is because of this fact that a new player to Ravenloft can be the best kind, for a new player doesn't already know it all, and most things in Ravenloft are a mystery to him or her - as it should be. And it is for this reason, in part, that I intend to say very little else here that your characters would not know. I would also ask that those who have no intention of ever DMing a Ravenloft campaign, to please refrain from reading any material about Ravenloft unless it is specifically intended for players. To do otherwise would only spoil some of the fun and surprises. However, I will add that should any player do so anyway, it would give them no benefit here, because I will use nothing in this play by post that could be ruined by an over inquisitive player or even a DM who is knowledgeable about Ravenloft.
* The following paragraph is an excerpt from the Ravenloft Player's Handbook
And now on to our starting place, which will be the kingdom of Darkon, a suitable place as it will be one of the more easily understood of the domains for anyone familiar with fantasy worlds, plus the fact that it is one of of the few places where demihumans are common.
Darkon is a feudal hereditary monarchy though its only ruler for the past 160 years has been the grim wizard-king Azalin Rex who rules from his throne at Castle Avernus. Unknown to the citizens of Darkon, King Azalin was once the king of the Great Kingdom of Oerth (World of Greyhawk) back in the days when the Great Kingdom was much more powerful than it is today. It is because of this fact that Darkon is very much like the Flanaess (World of Greyhawk) and a large percentage of the population consists of demihumans. Oddly enough however, many of the humanoid races such as orcs and ogres are completely non-existent (though goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds and jermlaine are present) as are giants and many of the creatures typically found in a fantasy world.
The cultural and technological level of the kingdom ranges from the more advanced Chavalric level in the western portions to the more primitive Dark Age level in the Mountains of Misery in the southeastern corner of the land. As for religion, "Darkonian spirituality is deeply rooted in a myriad of folktales and traditions surrounding < something known as > the Gray Realm and Darkon's mythic origins", which are a bit involved to go into detail here. Many of the deities typically worshiped by demihumans on other worlds have been long forgotten about in Ravenloft, though in the more remote areas a number of these 'pagan' deities are still worshiped. However, the "official" religion, or the state religion which was basically created by King Azalin is known as the Eternal Order, and is a more rigid version of the pre-existing folklore of the people. Another religion which has recently been gaining popularity though, particularly in Nevuchar Springs (where we'll be starting) is that of Ezra. I'll say more about Ezra later.
The population of Darkon varies depending on the city, and though there are always at least some members of every race in each city they have a majority in one race as follows:
Nevuchar Springs - elves
Maykle - humans
Delagia - halflings
Sidnar - elves
Karg - humans
Tempe Falls - dwarves
Mayvin - gnomes
Corvia - dwarves
Viaki - humans
Neblus - elves
Martira Bay - humans
Nartok - humans
Rivalis - halflings
Il Aluk (by far the largest city) - mixed (no majority)
Last edited by Arkhemedes; 07-25-2009 at 05:44 PM.
Reason: Automerged Double Post
"Plan?...There ain't no plan!" - Pigkiller