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D&D Returns To Gothic Horror With Ravenloft Setting

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Wizards of the Coast today announced the imminent arrival of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, which will arrive to D&D players on May 18. Older Dungeons & Dragons players will not need to be familiar with the concept of Ravenloft; the setting saw its creation in an early AD&D adventure mod from 1983, before a later set released in 1990 for the game’s second edition. The setting had a much more recent appearance in the well-received Curse of Strahd adventure which was released in 2016, but fans know there’s a lot more than Strahd’s Barovia to Ravenloft’s sprawling horror landscape.

As in the original set, the new Ravenloft set for the 5th edition takes an innovative approach to showcasing the different styles of horror storytelling. Creeping mists surround the individual “Dread Domains” within Ravenloft, including the dark Barovia of the vampire Strahd, and individuals are sometimes drawn through the mists to new locations. Each realm exploits different angles on horror adventures, and it looks like we can expect a mix of the two established realms, as well as some new surprises.

D&D groups will be able to visit places inspired by Frankenstein, wasted lands dominated by hordes of walking undead and lands of fairy-tale masquerades, among a total of over 30 distinct lands. Van Richten’s guide also offers rules for DMs to create their own horror settings and new areas for PCs to visit.

On the player side, the new configuration book features rules for playing as a vampire-created dhampir, or hex blood that is in direct ancestral lineage of a witch, as well as new subclasses – the College of spirits for bards and the walking dead pact for warlocks – to enable the creation of unique characters in the midst of the horror Ravenloft.

As has become the norm for these new D&D books, Wizards of the Coast is releasing two separate covers for Ravenloft’s tuning book. One remains consistent with the visual design of most other 5th edition books, while the alternate cover is more distinct and only available at game stores. Check out both below.

Ravenloft is a rich and nuanced setting, and it’s wonderful to see Wizards of the Coast update the established dynamics of this place with a more modern twist. For RPG players who want to stick to the familiar rules of D&D 5E, rather than launching into dedicated horror RPGs to scare themselves off, this product promises to be a wonderful addition to the growing game.

To learn more about D&D and other role-playing and tabletop board games, feel free to browse our Top of the Table hub, including our lists of the best board games of 2020 and the best versions. tabletop RPG game of 2020.

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