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Ravenloft Gazetteer II

Author's notes

Ryan Naylor

The Necropolis Gazetteer was my second professional writing piece, and it is here that my inexperience really begins to show. I have to thank John on my hands and knees, because the chapter would have been a lot more crap without him and his edits and suggestions.

The first problem was that I overwrote by an huge degree, which I never do, so I had to go back and prune all my carefully written Art. Trying to keep the words down actually led to a few bad decisions—I originally decided that Death had found the Black Vault and used its treasures to create the Shroud during Azalin’s absence, because that way I could tell people about the Vault in a sentence not a paragraph. In its present form, it’s still not much more than a sentence.

Another major problem was the appendix. I wanted to have templates for all of the Slain (although calling them the Slain was actually John’s idea I think). I also wanted to detail Salizarr, from RLMCII. I turned him into a flesh-eating vampire, because I thought a meazel ghoul was too weak. I had a shadow template that divided them into five ranks and had dozens of salient abilities. I had Death. I was drowning in prose. Then John swept in like a merciful angel and re-edited everything for me, into basically its present form. And the world is better for it. I did tamper with the Wight template a little, so now the same template can create Wights, Dread Wights and super-Dread Wights from DoDark. I like tying up loose ends that no one else can see, so now two new and pointless monsters are one template.

Actually coming up with enough interesting NPCs in the Slain section was really hard. With Salizarr taking up too much space, I hacked him to pieces and made him a ghoul anyway. I think Chris pointed out I made no mention of the Baron of Il Aluk, who used to be one step down from Azalin, or the Undertaker, so I created Marasyk and Jadis. Neither are terribly inspiring in my opinion. Jacques the wight arose because I wanted to have a member of the Unholy Order fully described; for the trainspotters, I think he is my second sadist. Finally, my favourite is Hadron, the ogre mage zombie. He seemed to annoy a lot of people, ogre mages not being common in RL, but I stand by my creation. They’re meant to be interesting people, and I was running out of ideas for humans. Learn to cope. He’s still a useful NPC, and I think the fact that you can cut him into pieces which will still try to kill you is nifty.

What else can I say? Trying to match up the three maps of Il Aluk that have appeared in RL products was a nightmare, so I gave up and my map is now the definitive one; in the version I sent to the editors, the city map had major landmarks on it, but they seem to have vanished somewhere. Another strange change is Necropolitan amaranth. Originally this was a rose, which was a nod to the Rose of Ravenloft from some old adventure somewhere. How it became a grain I don’t know, but the change annoy me for quite a while. Finally, none of the Latin is mine. I had invented a whole linguistic backstory—in the Il Alukian dialect of Darkonese, the Vuchar was pronounced “Lukar”, and “Il Aluk” meant “South of the Lukar”. Aluk Septentrion was Sar Aluk, which meant “North of the Lukar”. I think they’re a little more colourful than the Latin, but I’m biased. I also spent days trying to think of a name for the unnamed satellite village. All of the others started with D, sounded Latin and meant nasty things. I chose well enough I now can’t remember which were the original three and which I named.

Overall, I think this is the weakest thing I’ve written. It’s trying too hard, and is poorly written, although it does have bits I’m proud of. Three cheers for John, without which it would have been a lot worse.


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