Ravenloft Player's Handbook
Just to make sure there's no confusion, I'd like to say that John, Andrew, and I, though credited as "authors" of the Ravenloft PHB, are only authors to the extent that it was based on our original work, the 3E Campaign Setting. We didn't make any of the changes in the PHB or know about them ahead of time.
I, personally, find the idea of making a character make a Powers Check for advancing a level, or for learning any Evocation spell, to be... (well, let me just say that I would never use it in my own campaigns).
John W. Mangrum
It's my understanding that it was the developers who wrote that new material. It wasn't Cermak, Wyatt, or myself; our contributions are limited to the original R3E text, about a page's worth of suggestions, and apparently some material we wrote for Secrets of the Dread Realms (new spells).
Jackie Cassada and Nicky Rea
These explanation notes have been posted by the DarkDuo (Jackie Cassada and Nicky Rea - Ravenloft Developers) on the WotC board, in November 2003, when the new controversial rules introduced in the RL PHB were discussed by posters there:
If you would read the entire text on the Magic Ratings, you would notice that on page 31, we state that this system is optional and should be used by DMs and players who like it. It made sense for us that in realms with different cultural levels and approaches to magic, there should be some differences in how magic worked and which magics worked and which did not. The Magic Ratings address that difference. If you don't like it, don't use it. We even say that in writing!
Second, to say that powers checks are "required" for fighters with each level is to give the pertinent paragraph a superficial reading. What we actually say is that powers checks reflect what happens to an individual who spends most of his life killing creatures -- whether monsters or brigands or evil wizards or whatever. Bringing death to creatures has a long-term effect on those who are the deathbringers, whether they are soldiers, executioners or adventurers.
Again, this is not a mandatory process. The sentence reads as follows: "As fighters advance in levels and kill more monsters and people, the DM might also call for powers checks to indicate the hardening or deadening of the character's soul as he becomes inured to dealing out death." Please notice the word "might." This means that a DM also might NOT call for powers checks as fighters advance. Please read what's actually written before you denigrate it...
We also hope that DMs will use some common sense with wizards and powers checks -- obviously leaning Tenser's floating disc will not require a powers check; however, spells that "manipulate and control others, evoke deadly effects or meddle with the powers of life, death and undeath" would potentially call for a powers check.
As for the credits -- Nicky and I wrote and are responsible for most of the new material. Andrew Bates and Aaron Voss developed the Monster Hunter class because they are both fans of Ravenloft and we liked their suggestion for expanding the Witch Hunter class.
The decision to change the name of the core rule book to the Ravenloft Player's Handbook was made to emphasize it's "official" nature. Unlike other d20 products, Ravenloft is an officially licensed product, done by Arthaus as licensed by Wizards of the Coast. Thus, the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide.
Again, we must mention that we had to update our basic rulebooks due to our license. We could not just post the 3.5 revisions online.
We have mentioned in our pre-publication material that this book was not an entirely new book -- we never claimed that it was completely different from the original book, but that it was, in fact, a revision.
As far as including optional rules instead of hard and fast, "official" rules, we have to say that in most of the products put out by Arthaus, White Wolf and, lately, by Wizards of the Coast, even the official rules are referred to as guidelines. The whole idea is to give Dungeon Masters as many opportunities to customize their campaigns as possible, while still providing some structure to the game (i.e., rules) that help define it and differentiate it from other games (i.e., powers checks and Madness Checks in Ravenloft are NOT the same as similar checks are in other horror games).
Our experience is that DMs and players will change the rules anyway, and that even the most inoffensive rules will bother some people. (My personal bugbear is the short shrift given to half-orcs in D&D...)
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