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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Wooly Rupert Posted - 16 Jun 2021 : 13:49:29
So I got my copy of Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft... I've not had a lot of time to read it, yet, but I'd read a few bits.

I read the entry on Darkon. I'll give them credit, I liked this one.

I read the entry on Barovia... And I was irritated. They retconned how Strahd became a vampire, they made him the first vampire in the multiverse, and other than a single mention of spellcasting, they don't even reference him being a wizard as well as a vampire. Sure, the vampire thing is what defines him more, but since his introduction in I6, him having wizard levels on top of being a vampire was one of the things that always set him apart.

I also found and read the entry on Jander Sunstar. And they retconned him, as well, making him less of a tragic character and more him more of a monster.

On top of that, I don't get why the designers just keep using him -- he was introduced in a novel that ended with him waiting to watch the sun rise. The novel didn't address what happened after that, but as a vampire, watching the sun rise isn't exactly a good idea. This book ignores that, makes him more of a monster with the retcon, and -- as so often happens, of late -- utterly ignores the chance to make a new character and do something with them, rather than mangling an existing one. They actually double down on refusing to create something new, here, by tossing in an explanation for how Jander can turn up elsewhere whilst still being in Ravenloft. I'll give them points for that explanation, but it doesn't forgive the retcon or their insistence on re-using a one-off character over and over and over again.

And we've already previously discussed how the designers decided to change Falkovnia by chucking its Darklord out the window to get rid of a similarity that literally did not exist, and then hit the domain with an overdone cliché...

It's probably a good thing that I'm not overly attached to Ravenloft, or this stuff would piss me oft as much as the pointless retcons and manglings they've done to the Realms.

I'm beginning to fear the idea of a proper FR campaign book -- at least by this bunch.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
sleyvas Posted - 24 Jun 2021 : 00:22:52
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

For me it's not as much about running it right to get the tone -- it's that I'm not a fan of the tone. Like I say, the setting is interesting, but that's it -- other than a few specific exceptions (Shaun of the Dead, the Ex-Heroes books, couple other things), I don't do horror.



What I will also add is that getting that tone right along with an idea of everyone being accepting of differently looking outsiders just seems at odd with itself. A party with a dragonborn, a tiefling, a half-vampire, and a frankenstein looking person .... it just seems weird to me that the common folk of Ravenloft would not just lynch them on sight out of fear.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 21 Jun 2021 : 21:15:34
quote:
Originally posted by Diffan

I have to say, I'm woefully disappointed in what I'm reading from the content yinz are talking about. While I've only read a few novels (I, Strhad; Vampire of the Mists; Knight of the Black Rose; Spectre of the Black Rose; & Dance of the Dead) I had really hoped to see some updated elements such as Sithicus (Deadlord Soth's domain) and more info on Barovia but....it's all so underwhelming. Sithicus isn't even a thing, at all (my biggest disappointment) and now they're doing one of my favorite Realms elves dirty......again!!

Nah, not for me



Yeah, I was expecting an update, myself, instead of a reboot.

As I understand it, though, Lord Soth had already exited Ravenloft a while ago -- in-setting, apparently the Dark Powers couldn't torture him any more than he was torturing himself, or somesuch, so he was allowed to escape.

I seem to recall reading, though, that it was because no one talked to Weis & Hickman before tossing Soth into Ravenloft. W eis & Hickman still had plans for him and weren't cool with him being in Ravenloft, so that was quickly undone.
Diffan Posted - 21 Jun 2021 : 17:34:36
I have to say, I'm woefully disappointed in what I'm reading from the content yinz are talking about. While I've only read a few novels (I, Strhad; Vampire of the Mists; Knight of the Black Rose; Spectre of the Black Rose; & Dance of the Dead) I had really hoped to see some updated elements such as Sithicus (Deadlord Soth's domain) and more info on Barovia but....it's all so underwhelming. Sithicus isn't even a thing, at all (my biggest disappointment) and now they're doing one of my favorite Realms elves dirty......again!!

Nah, not for me
Wooly Rupert Posted - 21 Jun 2021 : 16:51:32
For me it's not as much about running it right to get the tone -- it's that I'm not a fan of the tone. Like I say, the setting is interesting, but that's it -- other than a few specific exceptions (Shaun of the Dead, the Ex-Heroes books, couple other things), I don't do horror.
sleyvas Posted - 21 Jun 2021 : 15:46:13
Yeah, I have to say, conveying the proper tone in Ravenloft can be really hard, and I've only tried it once when I was maybe 20 years old. Ironically, that was also the first time I used Sleyvas as an NPC (with another group, he was one of my first PC's.... I used him as an NPC because I knew how to play him). It was right after the Time of Troubles came out, and I modified the domain wherein Bane had been forced into a high priest's body in whatever domain it was that had Bane as a priesthood. Sleyvas was his militant arm that the player's faced off against (I think he was still less than 10th level, but dual classed as fighter first for several levels). However, that campaign went WAY off the rails. One of the player's turned from paladin into anti-paladin, embraced the worship of Bane, and turned against the party by joining with Sleyvas in return for power. Back then, I was really on a Bane kick, and was all about "Bane's not dead". Then I started seeing Xvim in a new light.... and gradually I started to realize I liked the idea of Leira not actually being dead a whole, whole lot more.

When it comes to horror fantasy, I guess I much more enjoy reading it than playing it. I could probably get into a well scripted CRPG when I was younger, but probably wouldn't hold me now.

EDIT: Also kind of ironic now that I think upon it, but I've used several instances where I've had players involved with gods on a direct level in weird ways. There was this Bane, in which a player embraced his worship. There was the campaign where I assumed that people didn't know it but Orcus had been cast down during the ToT in Vaasa/Damara (so they played through the "background" of the Bloodstone wars during the ToT as Gareth and company rose to power in other parts of the country). In that SAME campaign, I had players actually meet Velsharoon on his path to ascendance in the astral as they went to face off against some githyanki invading Orcus' astral corpse on orders of their lich queen, but ironically not a single one of them was enough of a realms-o-phile to catch the name drop.
Gelcur Posted - 21 Jun 2021 : 08:25:12
Running "horror" is not easy. The first few Ravenloft one shots I ran failed, some epically. Then I found the Call of Cthulhu line of RPG products and it really helped me make for a scary and thrilling quest.

I always had intentions of using Ravenloft at some point as a side quest for a Realms campaign but it never came to fruition. Its great if characters need to "break" the rules at the cost that they have to endure Ravenloft. If I remember right Vecna did something of the sort to break the rules of Sigil? I think another domain had a device that could turn back time.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 21 Jun 2021 : 03:48:07
quote:
Originally posted by Renin

I'll sound the old grognard here. Anything written about Ravenloft post Swords & Sorcery content in 3.5 is not needed by me. I don't care for any of these changes 'just because.' they choose to use the history of Azalin trying to break prophecy for himself to escape, but then cherry pick and change dark Lords and domains just because? Bah.



I've got kind of mixed thoughts on this.

As I said before, I'm all about continuity, so I don't care so much if something is changed, so long as there is a logical explanation for how A became B. I'm quite bugged by this being a reboot instead of them actually trying to develop something approximating a story.

That said, there is also the fact that it's Ravenloft -- some aspects of it are pretty much hardwired to be unchanging. Mortal Darklords could grow old and die (assuming the Dark Powers let them), but immortal ones are going to be the same no matter how much the timeline is moved. Strahd will always be lord of Barovia.

And also, as much as I hate to admit it, some of these changes do work. Lamordia is better for moving away from the Frankenstein cliché it was before. Darkon being a broken land is interesting.

If I was going to run a Ravenloft campaign, I'd most likely pick and choose. I'd go with 2E Barovia and Falkovnia, but 5E Lamordia and Darkon, for example.

However, it is quite unlikely I'll ever DM in Ravenloft, for two reasons: I've never even tried DM'ing, and while I find Ravenloft interesting, in general, horror is not my thing. I think if Ravenloft is run right, the best thing players could hope for is to go down fighting, handing the BBEG a devastating defeat -- and maybe, if they're really lucky, even taking the BBEG down with them. I don't mind the idea of characters dying in pursuit of a noble goal -- but I want more than that being the best possible option. Sure, escape from Ravenloft is possible, but it's very difficult, and that, too, is not an appealing story to me: "Okay, your characters have through no fault of their own been dropped into an insanely scary place, so if you work really, really hard and are very lucky, you can go home!"
Renin Posted - 21 Jun 2021 : 03:10:08
I'll sound the old grognard here. Anything written about Ravenloft post Swords & Sorcery content in 3.5 is not needed by me. I don't care for any of these changes 'just because.' they choose to use the history of Azalin trying to break prophecy for himself to escape, but then cherry pick and change dark Lords and domains just because? Bah.
Lord Karsus Posted - 18 Jun 2021 : 16:36:21
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Jander was a really great character -- perhaps my favorite character from the Ravenloft setting.

And because I like the character so much, that's why my headcanon is that he was destroyed in that sunrise he decided to watch. It's not as happy an ending as somehow regaining his mortality or anything like that, but it's a good ending, and a true death is pretty much the best thing anyone in Ravenloft can hope for.


-Same, same. It's a tragic story where almost every time he's in a situation where he needs to make a decision, he makes what we would generally consider the "moral" choice, he is somehow screwed over. Very relatable lol.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 18 Jun 2021 : 04:10:42
quote:
Originally posted by Baltas

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

So after reading the Lamordia entry, I am forced to conclude that my expectations were wrong, on this book.

With the SCAG, we got an updated setting -- they moved the timeline forward, and made the necessary changes to accommodate a new ruleset.

With the Eberron book, we got an adapted setting -- no changes to the timeline; we got a new version of a prior book.

This one is neither of those things. It's not giving us a prior version of Ravenloft, modified for 5E. It's not providing updates for a prior version, with a timeline that has moved forward.

Instead, this is a new Ravenloft, disconnected from anything that came before.




Yeah, I thought about adressing this is a reboot, as I was not sure if it was clear when we discussed.


It was not at all clear to me that this was a reboot.

Now that I realize that, I shall be complaining less. I'll not be any happier, but I won't be as vocal about it.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 18 Jun 2021 : 03:50:31
quote:
Originally posted by Lord Karsus

-Jander Sunstar is one of my favorite Forgotten Realms characters. Every time I see anything new that involves him, my mind immediately goes to The Simpsons scene "Stop! Stop! He's already dead!" (and in this case, literally and figuratively)



Jander was a really great character -- perhaps my favorite character from the Ravenloft setting.

And because I like the character so much, that's why my headcanon is that he was destroyed in that sunrise he decided to watch. It's not as happy an ending as somehow regaining his mortality or anything like that, but it's a good ending, and a true death is pretty much the best thing anyone in Ravenloft can hope for.
Lord Karsus Posted - 18 Jun 2021 : 03:35:12
-Jander Sunstar is one of my favorite Forgotten Realms characters. Every time I see anything new that involves him, my mind immediately goes to The Simpsons scene "Stop! Stop! He's already dead!" (and in this case, literally and figuratively)
Baltas Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 20:54:47
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Regarding continuity and Ravenloft.... just something to consider.... and I guess my continual questioning of whether what we're told for the realms is true (and that includes anything that's presented as "known fact") leads me to think this way.... in Ravenloft, history subjectively changes. Memories of people change. So nothing that's presented is necessarily "true". Its just what is "believed" at that time. Only mentioning it because from a game perspective, it should be believable that the story changes over time and the players don't even realize the changes.



Yup, one of the more intersting things about House on the Gryphon Hill (and suggested in 2E Domains of Dread campaign setting book and 3E Ravenloft Gazetter Volume 1), was the idea the whole events of events of I6-Ravenloft, were a dream the PCs had, reliving the last adventure of doomed heroes from past.:
https://www.reddit.com/r/CurseofStrahd/comments/88xy87/when_in_the_timeline_should_curse_of_strahd/
Baltas Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 19:11:58
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

So after reading the Lamordia entry, I am forced to conclude that my expectations were wrong, on this book.

With the SCAG, we got an updated setting -- they moved the timeline forward, and made the necessary changes to accommodate a new ruleset.

With the Eberron book, we got an adapted setting -- no changes to the timeline; we got a new version of a prior book.

This one is neither of those things. It's not giving us a prior version of Ravenloft, modified for 5E. It's not providing updates for a prior version, with a timeline that has moved forward.

Instead, this is a new Ravenloft, disconnected from anything that came before.




Yeah, I thought about adressing this is a reboot, as I was not sure if it was clear when we discussed.

The reboot kinda started with the Curse of Strahd, though they creators and WoTC did decide to continue it in this book.

quote:
Lamordia's Darklord was originally Adam, Ravenloft's version of Frankenstein's monster. Now it's Viktra Mordenheim. I think they should have made the risen Elise the Darklord, but had her stay in the shadows -- or maybe some other construct that was supposed to have been destroyed or that turned out to be more powerful than expected. Viktra is more of a mad scientist type, and while she's certainly evil, it doesn't seem like the kind of evil that should appeal to the Dark Powers. Strahd chose to slay his own brother. Viktra? She's just too wrapped up in science to worry about morals.

And oh gods, while I'll let the genderflip slide on this one (because it is a better story), why Viktra? Why throw out old material and then make a point of keeping the name? It would have been better to go all in and come up with another name entirely.


Well, with Viktra Mordenheim, many argued Victor Mordenheim should be the Darklord, and Adam part of his curse, which probably influenced the decision for Viktra to be Darklord of Lamordia.

Viktra could be seen as quite evil, though I agree her evil is not really from malice, but being amoral, and killed many, many people, if largelly to save a person she loved. Still, I can see it could be seen as not a type of person who interests the Dark Powers.

I'm glas you like Viktra (as she's also one of my more liked parts of the book). I agree though they could be more imaginitive with her name.
sleyvas Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 17:12:12
Regarding continuity and Ravenloft.... just something to consider.... and I guess my continual questioning of whether what we're told for the realms is true (and that includes anything that's presented as "known fact") leads me to think this way.... in Ravenloft, history subjectively changes. Memories of people change. So nothing that's presented is necessarily "true". Its just what is "believed" at that time. Only mentioning it because from a game perspective, it should be believable that the story changes over time and the players don't even realize the changes.
Gelcur Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 16:09:57
Huh I was unaware that a new Ravenloft project had been in the works.

Reading through all this I have mixed emotions. Mainly with the changes made that reach beyond Ravenloft. Though I am a stickler for canon 99% of the time, Ravenloft feels like it falls under that 1%. I used to use the setting every Halloween to run a yearly one shot. I took my time as I did before running my first FR campaign and read all the 2E material and then the 3E. The picture that was painted for me was the Demiplane of Dread and the Dark Powers gave me the ability to do whatever I wanted.

The first thing that came to mind was Ravenloft was the focus on personal horrors. And I thought what better than allow players to bring ANY PC from ANY quest into a one shot. They get to run that character they loved and I got to "Torture" their favorite characters. My players were shocked when I told them this they know how much I'm a stickler for continuity. Slew of questions followed, what about dead characters, what about non-D&D settings, etc, etc. They didn't know we were going to play in Ravenloft. Way I saw it the mists can literally pluck anyone out of any place, it reaches into places that normal travel can't often reach Athas, no problem, the Phlogiston, yep. And it can very well places them back with no one being the wiser, snatch someone a moment before death, place them in Ravenloft for ages and plop them back.

Then I decided some of their character needed to be altered a bit. And I had mixed feelings, de-leveling was fine, they could have been snatched from an earlier part of their adventuring career. But then I remembered the part where Domains often changed locations and came in and out of being. And it occurred to me inside these Domains nothing could be real, a grand simulation. Maybe Barovia is sitting nicely on some prime still and a template of Barovia was lifted into Ravenloft OR maybe not. Maybe only certain things or people were taken. That's the great thing, unlike the gods, the Dark Powers are so "alien" that anything can happen with no reason.

I wonder if someone at WotC was thinking the same thing when they worked on this book? Ravenloft can be anything and multiple things at once, no reason why there can't be two version of Falkovnia or anything else existing at the same time, going back to how I envisioned my home setting as a computer simulation, unload Falkovnia 1.0, load 2.0, revert changes, see what happens, load both, etc. Maybe I'm giving WotC to much goodwill that they haven't earned in the last decade or two...

Sorry for the rambling, just felt oddly reminiscent.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 15:10:37
So after reading the Lamordia entry, I am forced to conclude that my expectations were wrong, on this book.

With the SCAG, we got an updated setting -- they moved the timeline forward, and made the necessary changes to accommodate a new ruleset.

With the Eberron book, we got an adapted setting -- no changes to the timeline; we got a new version of a prior book.

This one is neither of those things. It's not giving us a prior version of Ravenloft, modified for 5E. It's not providing updates for a prior version, with a timeline that has moved forward.

Instead, this is a new Ravenloft, disconnected from anything that came before.

I'm not sure I would have bought it, had I known that. For me, continuity is hugely important. I like a setting where things happen, and I like that these things have an impact on later events and are not ignored. Any setting that is static and/or that doesn't adhere to its own continuity loses a lot of the potential appeal, for me.

Because I love continuity, all these retcons just bug the crap out of me -- even in cases like Lamordia, where the new version is actually an improvement. I'd rather see how A became B, rather than this approach of "It was always B! A never existed, despite all the material that says otherwise!"

Lamordia was always something of an issue, because even though we had other horror rip-offs in the setting, those rip-offs were more than just filing the serial numbers off. Strahd is the literary Dracula, sure, but there have been so many others like him that another spin wasn't really that much of a thing. And tying him to the land and having Tatyana continuously respawn changed it up somewhat. Vlad Drakov was a blatant rip-off of the real Dracula, but playing up the military angle helped differentiate it, and the real Dracula isn't as well-known as the literary one (and he was more known for the impalements than his military prowess). Lamordia, though -- Frankenstein is tough to recreate without being a blatant rip-off.

But this new version does work well for that. They changed it enough that it's no longer just a direct lift, and it's actually a more interesting background, now.

However, this is still frustrating: it shows that there is some creative ability, here, when the designers choose to use it. Knowing that these folks can be creative, but seeing them choose to do things like continuously mangle and re-use Jander Sunstar rather than make a new character, makes it worse: it makes it look like they are either too lazy to or just don't care about creating something new, instead of stomping all over older material.

Lamordia's Darklord was originally Adam, Ravenloft's version of Frankenstein's monster. Now it's Viktra Mordenheim. I think they should have made the risen Elise the Darklord, but had her stay in the shadows -- or maybe some other construct that was supposed to have been destroyed or that turned out to be more powerful than expected. Viktra is more of a mad scientist type, and while she's certainly evil, it doesn't seem like the kind of evil that should appeal to the Dark Powers. Strahd chose to slay his own brother. Viktra? She's just too wrapped up in science to worry about morals.

And oh gods, while I'll let the genderflip slide on this one (because it is a better story), why Viktra? Why throw out old material and then make a point of keeping the name? It would have been better to go all in and come up with another name entirely.
Baltas Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 02:36:53
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

The original Vlad Drakov was a falcon-themed military commander, too, who kept trying to attack other domains. All they've done here is remove having Falkovnia's Darklord enjoy watching impalements during dinner. They acted like they were making some major change to this domain, but all they did was swap the bad guy's gender and tweak his backstory, and then throw a cliché on top of it. They didn't even remove the Vlad the Impaler vibe that they claimed was such a problem.




Well yes, but I think the zombies, do give her a nice foil in the way of zombies, them being a literal result of her atrocities. That despite Vladeska Drakov not being (as of now now at least) a rapist and bigot, she is present as throughfully evil character (even if she justifies her actions to herself, it is presented as empty). She is still an impaler, but it's proobably to not divorce her completelly from the original. Again, even quote about Vlad Drakov was not that some of his traits like impaling being neversarily bad, just that to differente him/her more from Strahd, with both being kinda based on Vlad III Tepes Dracula (again, parts of Strahd's life, especially those elaborated in 2E-3E were visibly inspired by the reall Vlad Tepes). As opposed to Vlad originally, she was also at cusp of attaining her ambitions fully, before being taken by the Mists. Making her punishment that more painful (and appropriate). An there is also the fact, the players are forced to work with Vladeska, for their and others survival, if also possibly try to subvert her cruelty, while maintaining this fragile alliance.

[EDIT]
Also, dunno the zombie lord story, or fight of Darklords story, would undermine the dead coming for revenge motive. I also think the fact people in Falkovnia struggle directly with the treat of extinction, which makes it different from other domains. Though the implications are that the strugle itself will probably theoretically last forever, at least for Vladeska.

But of course, on all of it YMMV.

quote:
They also say that the one in Ravenloft is "seeking a peace he'll never deserve." You know, because remaining a good guy even after becoming a vampire, hunting other vampires, helping people work against evil -- yeah, that is so very much not deserving of any reward!


Yeah, I agree that part of Jander's entry is bad, or at least badly worded.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 02:16:13
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

Wait, they used Jander in the Descent to Avernus and ignored it in this Ravenloft product? What?

-- George Krashos



Well, what they did was say that he used the Apparatus to try to cure his vampirism, and it "created myriad copies of him, scattered across the planes."

So they give themselves a way to just keep using the same character over and over and over again, because creating new characters is just too hard.

They also say that the one in Ravenloft is "seeking a peace he'll never deserve." You know, because remaining a good guy even after becoming a vampire, hunting other vampires, helping people work against evil -- yeah, that is so very much not deserving of any reward!

In my headcanon, Jander was destroyed at the end of Vampire of the Mists -- slain by the sunrise he stayed up to watch, knowing it could mean his end. Given the nature of Ravenloft, it's perhaps the best ending he could hope for.

I would entirely redesign, if not just remove, any of these cheap Jander knockoffs that the current design crew seems so enamored of torturing.
Baltas Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 02:07:52
Well not really - it is aknoweleged, but it suggested it might be a "splinter" of Jander Sunstar that got imprisoned in Avernus in Descent into Avernus. Jander tried to use Apparatus in Mordent to cure his vampirism by splitting it from him, among many methods of trying to free himself from vampirism. But it went wrong and split him into many versions/copies of himself, and sending them scattered across the planes.

It's actually not clear that the Jander who remained trapped in the Domains of Dread is the original (if it's suggested) - each copy/version thinks they are the original (and to some level, they are, seeing they are essentially parts of the same being). Jander in Descent into Avernus, is either indeed the original, or more probably one of the splinters/copies of Jander.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 02:06:28
quote:
Originally posted by Baltas

Well, they do kinda differenate Vladeska Drakov, by focusing more on her being an evil military commander in style of antagonist like Captain Henry Rhodes of Day of the Living Dead III, Major Henry West from 28 Days Latter, Colonel Sinclair of Return of the Living Dead, or Governor of The Walking Dead. Which kinda fit's the idea of "Humans (Mortals?) Are the Real Monsters" trope present in zombie movies, that was present with Vlad Drakov.

The undead also fitting, as they are essentially all people Vladeska caused death of, hounding her, the zombiesies of people whose faces she knows (or reshaped to look so by the Dark Powers), hounding her specifically, and her knowing deep down, that in realiy the undead are after her. The zombies also being a possibility of having a humanizing element.

It's also suggested the zombies can be exchanged with other undead, or even other non-undead creatures, like giants.

Though I can see why people like you (who dislike the zombie genre) would dislike it, even with changing of creatures, as the tropes/motives kinda stay the same can dislike it.

I also admit the gender change for Vlad and Gondegal wasn't really needed.



The original Vlad Drakov was a falcon-themed military commander, too, who kept trying to attack other domains. All they've done here is remove having Falkovnia's Darklord enjoy watching impalements during dinner. They acted like they were making some major change to this domain, but all they did was swap the bad guy's gender and tweak his backstory, and then throw a cliché on top of it. They didn't even remove the Vlad the Impaler vibe that they claimed was such a problem.

I can tolerate the zombie apocalypse if it's done well (I really enjoyed the aforementioned 28 Days Later, and I love the Ex-Heroes novels), but this wasn't a case of doing it well.

I likely wouldn't have been nearly as bugged by it if they didn't retcon the Darklord and the domain's origin, and then throw in the zombies. Rename "Vlad but as a woman!" and have them overthrow the original, and you've got something there. Have the zombies originally under the new Darklord's control, but then they lose that control. Or Maybe after being overthrow, the original Darklord comes back with his own zombie army. Do something to avoid the "everyone's gonna die!" trope, and you've got something a lot more interesting.
George Krashos Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 01:52:26
Wait, they used Jander in the Descent to Avernus and ignored it in this Ravenloft product? What?

-- George Krashos
keftiu Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 01:09:15
Having not read the original, Falkovnia was one of my favorite parts of the book. “Lawful Evil military commander crumbling in the face of a horde of undead” is a fun way to do D&D horror.
Baltas Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 00:39:30
Well, they do kinda differenate Vladeska Drakov, by focusing more on her being an evil military commander in style of antagonist like Captain Henry Rhodes of Day of the Living Dead III, Major Henry West from 28 Days Latter, Colonel Sinclair of Return of the Living Dead, or Governor of The Walking Dead. Which kinda fit's the idea of "Humans (Mortals?) Are the Real Monsters" trope present in zombie movies, that was present with Vlad Drakov.

The undead also fitting, as they are essentially all people Vladeska caused death of, the undead having their faces (or reshaped to look so by the Dark Powers), hounding her specifically, and her knowing deep down, that in realiy the undead are after her, and all this is her fault. The zombies also being given a possibility of having a humanizing element, - possibly trying to return to their former lives, or at least following the memories of their life.

It's also suggested the zombies can be exchanged with other undead, or even other non-undead creatures, like giants.

Though I can see why people like you (who dislike the zombie genre) would dislike it, even with changing of creatures, as the tropes/motives kinda stay the same can dislike it.

I also admit the gender change for Vlad and Gondegal wasn't really needed.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 17 Jun 2021 : 00:01:27
“Many of the domains get a modern-day brush up. We took the setting’s characters, locations, monsters, and other pieces, shook them up, and took some new directions. For example, in the ’90s, the domain of Falkovnia was a totalitarian regime ruled by a Darklord named Vlad Drakov, who had a Vlad the Impaler vibe. Well, we already have a Vlad-type figure in residence at Castle Ravenloft in Barovia, so we saw this as the perfect opportunity to give the domain a stronger identity and embrace a different brand of horror. In its new form, Falkovnia is ruled by a Darklord named Vladeska Drakov, a notorious military commander who’s struggling to defend its last surviving city against a domain-wide zombie apocalypse.”

I just read the Falkovnia entry. Not only does it act like Falkovnia didn't exist until Vladeska Drakov showed up, she's still the same character. They added "-eska" and tweaked the backstory, but it's essentially the same story and she's pretty much the same person. She may not sit back and watch the impalements like the original did, but the book says that the only punishment for crime is impalement. So they got rid of the "Vlad the Impaler vibe" by replacing it with a Vlad the Impaler vibe, and added a zombie apocalypse on top of it -- one of the horror shticks I most strongly can't stand.

So half of their big change was a retcon for a genderflip, and the other half was another horror cliché.

Oh, and Gondegal the Lost King is now a woman, it seems.

I continue to be quite underwhelmed.

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