Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft

Creating domains of dread

settings rpg dnd 5e

I picked up Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft and have been reading it cover to cover. This is my review of the book, chapter by chapter.

Chapter 2 is about creating your own domain of dread. I love story starters, plot seeds, and D&D and horror, and that's mostly what this chapter is. I have to admit, though, I don't anticipate creating a domain of dread, so this chapter is just a bunch of inspiration for when I need it.


As a Dungeon Master, I tend to be lazy. I enjoy reading RPG adventures in the way many other people read books, and once I've bought an adventure module it only makes sense for me to use it. I have a book shelf full of adventures I still need to run, and they're really really good, written by people who sit around and think up fun ideas and mechanics all day long. I may love to sketch out dungeons in my graph paper notebook, and I do run those regularly, but I appreciate the expertise of really good game designers. I run adventures as written, because they require less work from me for a really good experience for the group.

Gaming is also a social experience for me. It's one of the few social experiences I seek out, in fact. I like bonding with other gamers over famous D&D adventures, like the Tomb of Horrors or Curse of Strahd or Tomb of Annihilation or Out of the Abyss.

I'm not by any means against the idea of creating a domain of dread, I just know that, realistically, I'm not likely to go to the trouble. There are over 30 of them in this very book, and I want to play in every singly one of them. I don't have time in my schedule to create my own.

Having said that, though, I always appreciate inspiration and plot guidance. Even if I'm just going to sit down and run my own dungeon, or a dungeon I create as I go, I'm inevitably going to need at least a suggestion of a story. The Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG) has great tables for building stories around dungeons, but it's nice to have a little extra material in this book for additional concepts.

Into the mists

This was a fun and engrossing chapter, even though I don't expect to use it for its stated purpose. The last 10 pages are full of tables with plot ideas, sorted by horror genre.

The next chapter plunges straight into the mists and details each domain of Ravenloft, and there are literally over 30 of them. Hopefully it'll be horrible.

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