A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Ravenloft Collection

And it is time for another suite of mediocre collection pictures (mediocre because I don't exactly have a professional lighting rig and its either giant flash flare or slightly faded pictures even though its right by the light..), this time covering my most beloved RPG setting ever: RAVENLOFT.  Based off an AD&D module of the same name from the early/mid 80s by Tracy and Laura Hickman (of Dragonlance fame), it is a demiplane of gothic horror, where powerful darklords control domains that both torment and make them incredibly powerful for eternity, or until heroes can end their curses forever.  Its a realm where people and lands from throughout the D&D multiverse can be brought into it.  And I love it.  Between the whole fantasy gothic horror setting and Steven Fabian's evocative artwork in most of the early books it just WORKS.  

Now let's see what I have eh?

My collection of novels.  Outside of the hardback "I, Strahd" by PN Elrod I read on the train to my ship in the Navy (and sadly lost) these are all of the novels up to the 15th or so in the line.  I remember really liking them, especially for being so dark and in most cases not having happy endings at all.  For D&D novels they were pretty good at melding horror and fantasy.  I wished I had more time so I could reread them.  And more money so I could get whichever ones I missed or lost.

 And most of my core rules for Ravenloft.  The original Realm of Terror boxed set that started it all.  Forbidden Lore was bought from a KB Toys clearance thing (clearance prices were the ONLY times to buy from them), while the other 4 books provide awesome extra information in the setting.  I especially recommend Darklords and Van Richten's Guide to Vampires.  They redid the Ravenloft setting twice more in 2nd ed AD&D times but I prefer to stick with the original version of the setting with Lord Soth still there and everything.

 Book of Crypts probably should have been up above but oh well.  The two Van Richten's Compendiums collect the series the above Vampires book is from into big books that are a bit cheaper to get, though they lose some of the awesome styling Fabian's art and the original Ravenloft book design had.  Hella cheaper though.  And if you care about the settting's metaplot it does make allowances to this.  I don't but YMMV.

 My general RL adventure modules!  House of Strahd is the redone version of the original 1st edition AD&D module with options to run it at a higher level as befits it if ran as part of the Ravenloft setting if you don't want to run it as originally done.    Ravenloft 2 was the second Ravenloft module.  I only own it as a legally purchased PDF from back when WOTC had them.  But its a lot cheaper and they did a good job on the scans.  Obviously I would get the Black Roses module as its about Lord Soth before Weiss & Hickman demanded Soth go back to Dragonlance so they could use him in their continuing series of killing off everyone from the Chronicles trilogy.  (Not that I am bitter about either part of that, nope.)  And then of course three other modules.  Vistani, the Indian setting as a module, and one involving those ever annoying Mind Flayers.

 And 5 out of the 6 modules that they used to modify the setting into what it would become, known as "Hykosa's Hexad".  They were kind of retconned into this though which is why the levels the PCs should be at really don't allow one to play them in the proper order as written.  But they are all packed with cool stuff and great maps and GM screens and whatnot.  TSR had really good production values back then and most of these modules are also fantastic for detailing wherever they take place in within the setting.  I still need the zombie module which completes the set even if WOTC made it a free PDF download.  Me and my stupid collector tendencies.

 And the 3.0-3.5 Ravenloft stuff I have.  Why so little?  It.. kind of sucks.  They changed many things for the worse even if White Wolf's "Sword and Sorcery" imprint had some hard core Ravenloft fans working on it.  See back in the 3.x days many D&D settings were licensed out to other companies to do.  This.. did not last very long.  Then what did WOTC do with Ravenloft?  Basically just that last book, Expedition to Castle Ravenloft.  Except.. it turned the original Ravenloft module into an expanded campaign.  That was a proto 4th edition style module where it was 90% battles against monsters with Count Strahd himself being turned into a ridiculous looking doofus that went from being a Lugosi Dracula which is what we all have come to know and love into something from the later "bishonen" Castlevania artwork that is so damned terrible there. The module just has NO SOUL.  (Yes the cover keeps Strahd mostly as we remember it.  He doesn't look like that in there.  Which we also see in the next entry.)

 And the first of a trilogy of 65 dollar big box cooperative RPGish boardgames using a version of the 4th ed D&D system.  This one of course taking place in Castle Ravenloft.  Its not bad and its good value for the money but it is far from the best RPGish boardgame ever made.  There is a reason I haven't picked up the other 2 games, or the new collectible (ish) PvP minis game WOTC has made that was also designed to expand these three sets.  (Also the price is part of it.)

The other pictures I have made smaller and more viewable (click for large as always), but these are the long out of print Ral Partha Ravenloft boxed set of miniatures I have, sadly loose, but primed in Armory Grey Spray Primer in one of the instances where the can didn't ruin miniatures for no reason.  The sculpts are all really good.  I should paint a couple of them one of these days.  While 25mm and slightly out of scale, I will use this Strahd mini when I play the above game rather than the stupid one it comes with.  I know, I know.  I am old and fear change or something.

And finally a setting/module for a subline in Ravenloft devoted to a Gothic Earth setting in a Victorian like timeframe called Masque of the Red Death.  I never bought any other products for that line and honestly I think it is only connected to Ravenloft as a way to sell it to people.  Its a very good book and it would be great for Call of Cthulhu 1890's play or any other Victorian era campaign that wants to use Count Dracula or Vlad the Impaler and Romania of that timeframe.  But.. its not really Ravenloft nor is the whole Masque setting outside of being about gothic horror.  I bought it for my Castlevania D&D 4th ed campaign that ended with a near TPK.  Its a LOT better of a book on that region and old Vlad Tepes than the Avalanche Press one that has their usual cheesecake skeevy cover and seems more infatuated with being creepy in the bad way.

(I also have both of the Ravenloft DOS era RPG computer games but they are shown in those collection pictures.  Also I have the Ravenloft Appendix Monstrous Compendium but its in the MC binders as it should be.)

So there we go, more of my game collection covered.  As always I hope this will inspire folks to share their collections or discover something they would like that they missed in the past.
Next time?  Let's engage our chain fire system and fire the main gun!

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