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Ravenloft Dungeon Master's Guide

Authors: Brain Campbell, Carla Hollar, Rucht Lilavivat, John W. Mangrum, Anthony Pryor, Peter Woodworth, Andrew Wyatt
Type: DM Guide
Format: 240 pages, hardback
Release date: July 2003

Summary of content:
This is a collection of campaign advice, new rules, and techniques for creating an atmosphere of horror in your Ravenloft games. The book uses the 3.5 D&D revised rules.
Chapter One: Techniques of Terror (Crossover campaigns weekend in hell, creating atmosphere, 13 dramatic techniques, pacing, cut scenes, music) 
Chapter Two: The World and its Horrors (Creating domains of darkness, Where shadows dwell: communities of Ravenloft, sinkholes of evil, sample NPCs, psionics, psilich)
Chapter Three: Structuring the campaign (starting realm, secrets, type of adventurers, foes type)
Chapter Four: Parting the Mists (Telling the future: tarokka and dikesha)
Chapter Five: Magic in Ravenloft (Magic items, Cursed items of Ravenloft)


Jol Paquin

Odd book. Because it is composed of many heterogeneous parts, and because it is excellent. Heterogeneous, because this book is more a 'guide to designing Ravenloft adventure' then a DM guide. While I was expecting much more rules for the Ravenloft DM, I got mostly guidelines and advice!

That said, I highly recommend this book. It is a priceless guide for DM in Ravenloft.

Chapter One: the 13 dramatic techniques are great, simple and useable in any game. The 'cut scenes' is something new for me, a veteran DM, and I used it with success since. The part on music suggestions is very good - I hunted many of these suggestions with the pleasure of finding gems to set the right mood in my games.

Chapter Two: The collection of advice on creating new domains is well made. I hope people submitting to our netbooks will use them! The cultural level expansion is great and well explained. Developing the sinkholes of evil was cool (especially the ethereal 'taint' ;) ). I can't judge the psionic expansion for Ravenloft, as do not know (or care) a lot on this topic. But I heard only good comments on this part of the book, so I'll take their word for it.

Chapter Three: Chapter Three is full of advice on creating a campaign. Very solid stuff !

Chapter Four: Chapter Four, on tarokka and dikesha use is interesting, especially the tarokka part. The Prophet NPC class seem odd to me - those NPC are very rare and mostly DM plot devices, did we need rules on creating them ?

Chapter Five: Chapter Five ends the book and is a little feeble, IMHO. Some of the proposed magic items are not very imaginative ('Barkskin Furs') and the section should be seen as items to enrich some domains description and atmosphere, not unique items driving plot like the ill-fated 2nd ed. Forged of Darkness was. However, interesting bits here and there and the potion section is presenting weird and cool liquids.

Strong book. I enjoyed reading it during my summer vacation (it was out in July 03, and I bought a copy the day before we left for the seaside). 4 on 5.


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