Domain of the Month
This week's domain is Blaustein, a tiny island domain in the sea of Sorrows, ruled by the tyrannical Blue Beard. Blue Beard is a charming man who uses his charisma to command the undying respect of his subjects and woo foreign women. However, this darklord hides a horrible secret, for in his castle is a magically locked room in which he hides the bodies of his wives. Unfaithful in life, these women are frantically devoted to Blue Beard in death; each night they haunt his castle, caressing him with their phantasmal embrace. Blue Beard loathes these phantoms and tries to avoid spending the night in his castle, yet he must return every three days or suffer from crippling insomnia. A despotic Lord, Blue Beard has ordered his people to force all visitors to appear before him or else drive them off.
More information on Blue Beard and Blaustein can be found in the Darklords campaign accessory, the short story "Sight and Sound" in the book Tales of Ravenloft and in Domains of Dread. For more inspiration on the domain lord of Blaustein, please read the annotated Blue Beard story found here.
Igor the Henchman
A terrified sailor has reached Blaustein, with a rare, expensive jewel for sale. The item has since changed hands several times. Soon after, the sailor and all those who have possessed the item are being killed in strange circumstances. The jewel seems to have a curse of some sort laid on it. Unfortunate, seeing that the item has come into the hands of the PCs...
Taking some time off the regular adventuring, the PCs are hired on as crew for a sailing/whaling vessel--the idea they have is to avoid ghosts and ghoulies and long-leggety beasties and bury their fears and frustrations under some honest hard work.
Somewhere in the Sea of Sorrows, they encounter another ship--badly damaged and limping along on one sail--which hails them and drops anchor alongside their ship. The captain is dead, and the first mate on board the second ship requests aid from the PCs' captain, who of course provides it (as all sailors are brothers in the Sea of Sorrows).
The first mate is thunderstruck when he spies a female PC (chosen at random by the DM)--she looks very similar to another adventurer, formerly of his crew. The resemblance, he says, is almost eerie.
The story continues--several days earlier, the adventurer was captured in a raid of another ship by seamen who sailed under the skull-and-crossbones. The pirate ship departed for places unknown, but was last seen heading in the general direction of the island of Blaustein.
Who is this mysterious adventurer-woman? A long-lost relative of the PC? A clone? A doppleganger?
Regardless of her true origin, she is also something else.
Bluebeard's newest wife...
The PCs are in a fairly seedy port town on their way to someplace else and have checked into a low-quality inn to preserve their shrinking funds. When they awaken, they are on board a ship headed for Blaustein - they've been rounded up by a pirate crew press gang! The PCs now have the option of working with the reprehensible scum that have kidnapped them or trying to offer resistance without any of their equipment (which is now in the pirates' treasure hold). PCs that capitulates will likely still regret it, as these pirates are thoroughly dedicated to looting and pillaging any ships they find. Still, it could give them a chance to survive until the ship reaches Blaustein; solid land would give them more places to run.
Joël of the Fraternity
Start of it inspired wildly by to Sleep with Evil:
A lady known to the PC have been 'chosen' by the vistani as the future bride of a well to do island Lord. This Lord hired the vistanis to find his bride. The criteria list was large, but she is definitevely a good woman to marry as she is intelligent and nice looking, perhaps a lady a PC had his eyes on ?
They tell her tales of a magnificent manor located on a lush island.
Tempted and intrigued, she nonetheless ask the PCs to investigate. Or perhaps to travel with them to the island (following unwilling vistani in the mist can be an adventure in itself). There, the visit, the Lord and everything is charming and, charmed, she becomes his next wife. Later, the PCs somehow get an 'help' message from her ...
PS: in this scenario, we have to find another name for Bluebeard, as the name is quite well known to most players and would spoil the surprise ...
The PCs arrive in Blaustein, and spend the evening at a local tavern. Two drunks take it upon themselves to regale the PCs with a tale about a fearsome sea serpent that looks not unlike a shark with a turtle's head. Legend has it that "Le Monstre de Tortue-Tęte" holds a diamond the size of a child in its gizzard. This beast, the two drunks claim, tore their ship in half, and devoured over half of the crew in but three bites...
And if or when the PCs laugh off the tale, the two drunks reveal the stumps that used to be their legs.
When the PCs return to their ship in the morning, they find it at the bottom of the harbor, as it seems that a "beaked shark" bit holes into the ship's hull during the night in order to get at the sailors on board.
Igor the Henchman
Along the coast, the crabs seem to be affected by a strange phenomenon. Legions after legions of them spread out to mainland, more numerous each night, to cause havoc in the community, almost as though guided by a malign intelligence. After a few nights of this, a mysterious stranger comes fourth, claiming he can stop the menace… but he demands a great price in return. Does the stranger truly have the power to stop the calamity? And even if he does, can he be trusted?
That's exactly why I love seeing it here in the Domain of the Month. This is an opportunity to expand the domain, so that it becomes more than what it has been so far.
For the record, Sight and Sound was one of my favourite Tales of Ravenloft, so much so that I tried to recreate it once in my games. I didn't have the exact scenario, but I had a person who couldn't speak in the same room as someone who couldn't see, and the one who couldn't speak was trying to give a warning to his friend, but the one who couldn't see was unable to understand. The mounting horror as the threat got nearer was excellent.
Sight and Sound is an excellent example of how Bluebeard is a unique villain. He's strong, and tends to use his physical force a lot, but he does so guided by a malign instinct, tailoring his physical threats to the person. Even in his Darklords write up, Bluebeard displays a kind of "dark empathy" for his wives, being able to get into their heads and know what will cause their downfall.
IMO, the thing that keeps Bluebeard from being an easily playable DL is that his goals are focused into a narrow spectrum that DM's aren't likely to delve into. Like the Phantom Lover, Bluebeard can reach into other domains, seducing women and luring them to Blaustein...and like the Phantom Lover, he's hardly ever used by DM's....
Since he isn't going to marry a native, it makes sense that he would want to increase his prospects of finding a suitable woman in other domains. Why not give him a crystal ball, so that he can scry on lands and peoples far away?
On the other hand, who's answering these summons to go marry? It says in Darklords that they include the overly greedy and vain, so what about a hag, or a red widow, eager to marry some rich old brute and then kill him and inherit his estate? Imagine the PC's chasing their archenemy to Blaustein, determined to unmask her and prevent this gullible nobleman from becoming next in a long line of victims, only to barge blundering right into a fight between two villains?
Perhaps they tip off Bluebeard before finding out he's a diabolical swine, and together they dispose of the creature he was about to marry. He thanks them (sincerely!) and confesses that all he wants is some sweet young thing to come keep him company for the last few years of his life. He seems nice...and he promises to provide comfortably for the woman, and whoever was kind enough to bring her to him....
On the other hand, perhaps they find Bluebeard's secret room in the course of searching for their archenemy, and through talking with his wives they get the details of his wretchedness. Now all they want to do is leave and let the baddies duke it out, but Bluebeard knows they know his secret, so he seals the borders and does his best to do away with them. Finally their archenemy comes to them with an offer they can't refuse....
Speaking of conflict between two baddies, how about between two darklords? Here's some thoughts:
Reginald de Curry
The PCs are investigating the haunting of a port warehouse by two ghosts: a boy of age ten or so, and a huge alligator.
Could do a Shadow over Innsmouth (Dagon) type adventure, where the seedier part of town are people who worship a evil seagod and hope to become creatures of the sea themselves. Think something like this been done before in Ravenloft, either a Children of the Night adventure or Requiem entry. But this type would be great for this isle.
Could pull off 1000 leagues under the sea adventure, having mad scientist invent a bit-more primitive submarine that plague the waters and use the island as a base of operations and maybe Bluebeard is privately funding him.
As for original ideas, why not have Blaustein as base of operations for the players funded by Bluebeard, and they get their adventures starts from the rumours of recently docked sailors or maybe Bluebeard himself showing a interest of using the players to attract people to the island instead of resorting to kidnapping his wives.
Blaustein the suburbs of Ravenloft, a family friendly place don't forget to bring your beautiful wife and daughter to the party at Bluebeard's castle And the players are what the people of Ravenloft can thank for this idea!
Wiccy of the Fraternity
For years, the waters about Blaustein have been mercilessly haunted by Jolly Rogers, these cadaverous sailors attack ships at random, plundering what treasure they can find and sinking the ships and their crews to a watery grave. The Jolly Rogers are not attacking at random but seeking out what was stolen from them at the time of their death, a group of magical medallions, one for each of the Jolly Rogers. These medallions will allow them to rest in the ocean and give them what they want most, eternal rest. Blue Beard, some years ago happened on the possession of a group of such medallions and wears one at all times, the others remains locked in his hidden vaults.
The other medallions are currently possessed by sailors and pirates throughout Blaustein and the rest of the Sea of Sorrows and finding them all is a mammoth task all to itself.
To contribute to the Domain of the Month, post on the forum.
Send your adventure hooks to Joel@fraternityofshadows.com