Sunday, August 7, 2022

Dungeons & Dragons Returns to the Demiplane of Dread in “Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft”

“Dungeons & Dragons” features a vast multiverse that spans planes and settings. One such classic setting is Ravenloft, the Demiplane of Dread. Players in 5th edition were first brought to it in “Curse of Strahd,” where they explored Barovia and faced the vampire lord Strahd Von Zarovich. Yet as iconic as Barovia is, it is only one section of Ravenloft as a whole.

Now D&D 5e is exploring the iconic Demiplane in “Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.” Wizards of the Coast first teased this with a tweet showing an oujia board spelling out “The mist beckons,” a reference to the magical mists that draw people into Ravenloft. With the official announcement, we now know more about what the next sourcebook holds.

Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

“Terror stalks the nightmare realms of Ravenloft. No one knows this better than monster scholar Rudolph Van Richten. To arm a new generation against the creatures of the night, Van Richten has compiled his correspondence and case files into this tome of eerie tales and chilling truths.”

“Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft” will go beyond Barovia, including information on exploring locations in Ravenloft like the dark jungles of Valachan or the twisted fairy tale world that is Dementlieu. DMs who want to add their own Demiplane locations and Darklords to rule them will find instructions for doing that as well.

Additionally, the book will include new backgrounds, trinkets, and player options. Dungeons & Dragons has been playtesting several races and classes that fit with the dark and gothic theme of Ravenloft, such as new race options called “Gothic Lineages,” which include half-vampiric Dhampir and partially-undead Reborn archetypes. Other variants we will see in this book based off past Unearthed Arcana playtests are the College of Spirit bards and a new Undead patron for warlocks (not to be mistaken for the Undying patron, which was introduced in “Sword Coast Adventurers Guide.”)

“Van Richten’s Guide” will also include new Dark Gifts for characters, which can grant new abilities or bonuses at a price. For DMs, there is a new bestiary of monstrous foes, and a new adventure to run players through.

Who Is Van Richten?

Rudolph Van Richten is a familiar name to those who have played adventures in Barovia. He’s a vampire hunter who has fought against Strahd, in addition to appearing in many Ravenloft modules from past editions. As such, he’s a fitting choice as the title character for a sourcebook based around Barovia, similar to “Volo’s Guide to Monsters” or “Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.”

It is not yet known if this sourcebook will be allowed in D&D Adventurers League, the organized play system. Normally, only books set within Faerun are allowed, so “Volo’s Guide to Monsters” is acceptable, while “Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount” is not.

However, Adventurers League players have already visited Ravenloft in season 4’s “Curse of Strahd” book and related modules, so there is an established connection. This announcement comes as AL players continue to wait for a rules update to allow “Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything” to be used in modules from past seasons (referred to as the “Historic” campaign) after the organized play system split into “Seasonal” and “Historic” with “Rime of the Frost Maiden.”

A recent tweet announces that “we’ll have more information in the weeks to come on including Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft in DDAL play.”

Release Date

“Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft” will be released on May 18th, 2021, and will retail for $49.95. You can pre-order copies at your friendly local game store, including a store-only alternate cover.

Are you excited to return to Ravenloft? Let us know in the comments, and keep an eye on G33k-HQ for more “Dungeons & Dragons” news.

Robbie is a lifelong nerd and a familiar face in the Northern California convention-going community. In addition to writing convention reports, interviews, and nerdy news updates for G33k-HQ, he’s an ENnie Award-winning adventure writer, and a comic/TV show reviewer at Multiversity Comics.

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