Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A to Z of How I Learned to Love DnD: R is for Ravenloft

Ravenloft.  Count Strahd Von Zarovich's Castle.  The Demiplane of Dread and Desire.  Both are DnD's merging with gothic dark fantasy.  Where the monsters are more and less human than a hook horror, rust monster, or kobold.  It is, distinctly, my favorite setting in DnD.

Growing up though, I was the kid who was too scared to watch Bela Lugosi's Dracula and could barely sit through Lon Chaney Jr.'s The Wolfman.  Night of the Living Dead and Halloween both game me nightmares for days.  And I was too scared to watch The Howling or An American Werewolf in London.  To this day, I'm not much on gore or splatter punk.

But horror is my favorite genre of fiction.  Stephen King's Salem's Lot is one of my all time great novels, I love and collect the works of Brian Lumley, and I'm a huge Cthulhu Mythos fan.

Somehow, the kid who was too scared of a horror story, grew up in to a man who loves reading it, but is not so keen on watching it on the screen.

Ravenloft is that wonderful compromise of story and action.  Of dark temptations and championing the light.  I've rising to the occasion and falling into the abyss.

I'd probably be content with just Strahd Von Zarovich, the vampire lord of Castle Ravenloft, both one of TSR's classic modules and the inspiration for the setting of the Demiplane of Dread and Desire.  Strahd is one of many Dark Lords imprisoned within Ravenloft, as much  a prisoner of the swirling mists as the adventurers who find their way there.

But the Demiplane gave us Death Knights, Lichs, Flesh Golems, and many other monstrous villains as Dark Lords.

It even spawned a setting, Masques of the Red Death, that was a Victorian setting on Earth.

I'm lucky that I collected many of those books, even though I never felt ADnD was a good fit for the setting.

Ravenloft's novels were also my favorite gaming fiction for many years.

Sadly, I've never run a game in Ravenloft for any real length of time.  I think I need to change that.

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