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Domain of the Month

Vechor

Adventure Hooks

 

More information can be found on Easan and Vechor in the core rule books Realm of Terror, Domains of Dread, and the 3rd edition books Ravenloft 3rd Edition, Ravenloft Dungeon Master's Guide, Ravenloft Players Handbook, and Secrets of the Dread Realms.

 

These are various comments and author notes on the FoS report about Vechor:

JoŽl

That chapter was written by Nathan (social), Sharon (nature) and me (geography, with Nathan as Shadowcloak's). Chris Nichols also helped with crazy ideas, as well as David who statted Easan.

cure

Ah yes, I would be one of those for whom Vechor was not well-loved. Still, it is improved.

The simplest and best change, not that the average visitor would notice, was the Dread Possibility that the demon possessed elf in charge of the place is not demon possessed at all. Thematically that is brilliant.

JoŽl of the FoS : Again, you have to thank Isabella for this great idea!

Father Shadowcloak's manor distinguished itself too. A pair of Mistways is nearly overkilll, but the place being stuck in perpetual autumn, with it being a lab of research into the shaping of matter by mind, and with Mistways linked to that very theme, in a domain that embodies it, is a very tight piece of work.

And Father Shadowcloak's whole involvement with the domain is to my eye the most successful use to which a Frat member has been put.

Adding a bit of temporal structure to the changes that afflict the land was helpful, making it feel a bit less like an LSD trip.

JoŽl of the FoS : One design choice we quickly made over canon was to establish that everything doesnít change. Canon was a little chaotic, well too much chaotic for our taste.

So we kept a few places immobile, and the main visible choice was the unmovable location of main landmarks. And as it was said, a few things that never changed, i.e. the everlasting autumn of Shadowcloakís manor.

Rotipher of the FoS : Besides, non-stop change is better represented in the Nightmare Lands. Vechor needed to be stable enough to sustain a comprehensible native culture, not a second bunch of Abber nomads.

Plus, it had to reflect the fact that Easan, though insane, wasn't born that way: he has lucid periods too, and (like most better darklords) has rare occasions when he's more to be pitied than feared.

JoŽl of the FoS : And Easan is creating those changes by his will, so if the domain was everchanging every seconds, he would not have time for eating, sleeping or his numerous lab experiments! :)

On the other hand, I wonder if a little inspiration might not have been borrowed from Dali and the surrealism of the place be lent a bit more weight. I guess I would prefer to a normal-people-in-an-abnormal-land rather a vision of degrees of madness and eccentricity throughout. Less a 3rd edition vision and more a 2nd edition weekend in Hell take I suppose. The domain is as much a wound upon the face of the Land of Mists as the Shadow Rift and as such might as well have its bizarreness emphasised rather than tamed.

Not that this was entirely the case. Madmen in Vechor now get their own reality wrinkles. Brilliant. A good DM can do so much with this . . . .

JoŽl : Blame Sharon for this fun idea!

Rotipher: Leyshon helped with the game mechanics, as well as the consequences of specific RLPHB Madness effects' unreality wrinkles.

Tykus

I think you (the Fraternity) did a very good job. You combined a number of (apparently) disparate themes and blended them quite well. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that you used ancient Greece as the cultural reference point (going off the name selections) but I could also see Roman, Indian (as in India), and Polynesian as possibilities.

Nathan of the FoS : It's a little bit of an odd mix, as you say. The language, architecture, and clothes are Greek, while the climate is Southeast Asian (as Roti said). The culture is more just invention, based on the canon descriptions of Vechor in Domains of Dread and the 3rd edition Ravenloft sourcebooks.

The addition of a 2-way door into RL (albeit from the Plane of Shadow) is inspired. I have an adventure idea waiting in the wings of my campaign that I wanted the PCs to enter RL willingly (It involves Gwydion).

Nathan: Boy, those two doors have gotten a lot of attention.

The door to the "Plane of Shadow" isn't intended to be an exit from Ravenloft per se; going through it puts you in the Umbral Curtain, which is the Plane of Shadows equivalent to the Near Ethereal. (It's still part of Ravenloft, just a different part--where you can see things and do things that aren't easy or possible in "Ravenloft proper".) Of course, it could be used by a DM as a way to leave Ravenloft; heaven knows it's hard enough to learn about and get to. (Presumably, in that case, the Shadowcloak doesn't use it to leave Ravenloft because that's not in accordance with his plans.)

The door to the Nightmare Lands was intended to be a sign of how closely connected the Nightmare Lands are to the Nocturnal Sea in general and Vechor in particular, and also to be a rather nasty joke by the Dark Powers on Father Shadowcloak--just a little reminder that he's not as in control of things as he might like to think. It's not that the door is particularly dangerous--in fact, it can be quite useful. But he didn't plan for it and can't get rid of it, and that's the kind of thing calculated to drive a paranoid-schizophrenic recluse archmage nuts.

The medieval menagerie approach was also inspired and works quite well for Vechor. Vechor's comparison to Markovia should be interesting.

ewancummins

You guys did a great job on this one! I've never much cared for Vechor in canon. Now I am converted. The barnacle geese and other werid classical/medieval bits really clicked with my sense of the uncanny. Vechor is a good place to have some of the more overtly fantastic stuff show up [along with the Nightmare Lands, another domain I'd love to see revamped by the fan community].

Bluebomber4evr

One problem I noticed is that it says that Davion's domain is in Vechor, when Domains of Dread listed it as being one of the dreamspheres in the Nightmare Lands

Sharon: That's the one Book of Crypts leftover that wound up being my baby (with a little psych-major advice from Leyshon), instead of Jester's.

The chief problem with the Domains of Dread view on Davion's location is that Davion's supposed "crime" -- killing the heroes who tried to cure him -- isn't even close to being worthy of a domain: if that were the case, then every villain who ever won at the end of a Ravenloft game would be a darklord! Indeed, in his original appearance from BoCrypts, Davion wasn't actually a darklord, just a weird bad guy. He has no curse or special powers derived from darklordship; all of the unusual traits he possesses came from his botched wish spell, not the Dark Powers.

Rather than leaving the DoD version as it stood -- which, essentially, said he'd become a darklord because of a freak accident and an act of lunacy, not any crime he could fairly be blamed for -- I opted to revise his status and split the difference between BoC and DoD. The real Davion is a multiple-personalitied maniac in Vechor, whose powers stem from his "unreality wrinkle" and unique, self-inflicted condition, not the Dark Powers. As his physical self is still present in the tangible world of the Core, that means DMs can run the original "Man With Three Faces" adventure if they want, without applying dream-combat rules, etc.

The dreamscape "domain" mentioned in DoD is nothing more than a wish-fulfilling dream which Davion calls into being, each time his original personality "falls asleep" and is supplanted by one of the other three. Because he envies Easan, he pictures himself as a darklord when he dreams; he can trap people within his dream, because he knows that Easan can trap people in Vechor. However, Davion doesn't know about darklord curses and other limitations, so he doesn't picture himself as having one ... hence, his lack of a DP-imposed curse in the Domains of Dread description.

DMs who prefer the dreamsphere "domain" can use it, too, under the assumption that dreamwalking PCs have stumbled into Davion's fantasy-domain. They can't kill him there, however; if they win, he'll just "wake up" -- i.e. revert to his real body in Vechor, where this guy could potentially be killed -- rather than permanently perish.

Jeremy16

As promised, here is part one of my ridiculously long review of Vechor...

Once again, this domain's treatment is a clever approach to a long-standing problem. How do you describe a land whose main characteristic is constant change? The answer is by making it have immutable features (such as the Swampland and River Deltas), but with mutable details. I liked the guide to the changes that was provided upfront, detailing both the minor and major alterations that could occur.

Geography

The Geography section that follows is the most frustrating to me, however. There are great details in here, but just not enough follow-up. I wanted to know more about those villages of ex-patriots and recluses.

I liked the mention of lava tubes, having the possibility of a volcanic eruption is a great metaphor for Easanís psyche. The Dreamstone Crater was also an interesting idea that I wasnít expecting, is that canon or something made up just for this project?

I now the locals probably donít have specific names for every bit of terrain, seeing as how it changes on a daily basis, but I would have liked a more official label for the swampy delta as well as the forests to the north and south of Abdok. I think itís little details like this that bring a setting to life. Or, that could just be my OCD acting up.

Abdok

The write-up for this city was great. There were some real good anecdotal bits that made it stand out (marking the doorways with chalk, the weird statues). I also appreciated the fact that there was no class system. After reading about the crushing poverty in most of the Core domains, itís nice to see a change in the way things are done here.

I only have one question. How do the warehouses at the port and the farms along the outskirts of town deal with the myriad changes that occur? It seems like that type of stuff would wreak havoc upon them.

Places of Interest

I think the waterfall at the base of the Veranis Plateau, as well as the cave systems, needed elaborating. I would have liked more ideas or options on how PCs could actually get up there if they so wanted to. We know Easan has some nasty critters running around, why not highlight a few here?

Rotipher of the FoS : We didn't have time or space for everything, and Vechor was delayed by a number of problems. Fortunately, alhoon's contribution of the Create Magical Beast and Create Aberration feats to the Appendix should help to expand the opportunities for DMs to stock Easan's turf. Plus, given how rapidly things change in his vicinity and how the Erl-King is always creating new monsters, any individual creatures we might've described would be supplanted by something nastier in a matter of months. Better to focus on information that won't be obsolete so quickly, eh?

The Plain of Wandering Stones sounded too much like the Standing Monoliths of Liffe. Was this just a case of great minds thinking alike?

Rotipher: Probably. Of course, one can always argue that Easan has heard stories of the SMoL, and duplicated the effect in his own domain, consciously or otherwise. (Hey, he stole Drakov's hawk-brand idea! )

I loved the otherworldly weirdness of the Vale of Stars, though. That was a really imaginative touch.

The description of Easanís manor was just the right mix of the creepy and the surreal. I also liked the House of Fallen Leaves, but having a doorway to the Plane of Shadow and a Mistway in the basement seemed a bit much. If you wanted to have a Mistway to the Nightmare Lands, why not use the Dreamstone Crater instead?

Flora & Fauna

This was the best entry of the entire chapter! I loved the fact that the farther into the wilderness you go the stranger things get. The animal descriptions and DM Tips were really useful, too. I only wish a map was provided delineating where one zone ends and the other begins.

Rotipher: Glad you like it! It's not every netbook-entry that lets me indulge my fondness for weird biology. (Did you spot the real organisms in the mix, BTW? ) The baseline ecology is Southeast Asian, with a little taste of Oceania and India thrown in. As a region where the wildlife of Central and East Asia collides with that of Australasia, that's a part of the world with a LOT of natural variety. Not many nature documentaries have been set there either, which means there's plenty of surprises for the average gamer that the DM won't have to invent.

Making things get more bizarre as you travel away from Abdok seemed necessary to spare the Vechorites' agriculture from constant sabotage by Mother Nature: it's hard to farm when your crops keep growing upside-down or wandering off.

People

I really like Classical civilizations, and think there should be more of them in Ravenloft. I can only think of two others Ė Sri Raji and HaríAkir Ė and those are hard to reach Islands of Terrors. Itís nice to have one close to the Core, with lots of valuable and exotic commodities. I also liked how you created a Pre-Columbian Central American feel for the people.

In that context, their attitudes toward magic and religion make even more sense. It reminded me in certain sections of The Golden Bough (using warding gestures to prevent evil, the belief that objects have souls, etc.).

Their feigned ambivalence was a nice illustration of how they have adapted their life to the landís and its masterís strange inclinations. With Easan able to read the mind of any inhabitant it isnít safe to dwell on unpleasant things too long.

Rotipher: Isabella's spin on Easan as a bit of a well-meaning social engineer helped inspire this ... that, and the ultra-creepy short story "It's A Good Life" (brrrr! ).

The Giamarga : For those - like me- who haven't read it yet, here's a link to the the short story.

All the Rest

Unreality Wrinkles are a fantastic idea! Imagine a doctor of psychology that learns of this effect and decides to bring group of delusional and paranoid patients to the island. By having their mental fears assume physical reality he hopes they would be able to face them better and heal their condition. Of course, this kind of scheme rarely goes as planÖ

Rotipher: Nice one! Too bad we didn't have time to write Dread Possibilities for the unreality wrinkles; they were a very late addition, and we knew you guys had already waited far, far too long for this netbook.

The Davion the Many-Souled sidebar was a great synthesis of NPC, using info from both Domains of Dread and the Book of Crypts. That only begs the question, did the idea for this come first, or the Unreality Wrinkles?

Rotipher: Davion has always been a pain in the posterior for Ravenloft continuity, and it was a relief to finally reconcile his presence and powers with the rest of the setting. The idea for Unreality Wrinkles came first, IIRC, but using this particular lunatic as an example seemed like a natural fit with the UW concept, particularly since Jester had already incorporated every other villainous bit-player from the Book of Crypts into Liffe. Nice to be able to give every "leftover" from that supplement a home.

(Hmmm. Jester = David. David, Davion ... a connection? Is there a fifth personality knocking around in there, who's so lamentably deluded that it thinks it's a gamer and website moderator...?)

 

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