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Thread: Ravenloft

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    Ravenloft

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamerath View Post
    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).

    .
    Saluti
    Carlos

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimthar View Post
    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.
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    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).
    HARRY DRESDEN WIZARD
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    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.

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    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!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamerath View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    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.

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    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.

    And besides its a great book.

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    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!

    .
    Last edited by Dimthar; 08-14-2008 at 04:50 PM.
    Saluti
    Carlos

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    Quote Originally Posted by gdmcbride View Post
    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.

    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.

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    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webhead View Post
    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?

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    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.
    Last edited by ronpyatt; 08-13-2008 at 08:06 PM.

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