• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

Do good Ravenloft / horror adventures exist? Any ghost horror adventures?

Zeea

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Okay, this sounds more negative than I mean for it to sound, but I couldn't figure out a less blunt way to word it.

Ravenloft II is kinda clunky and hard to run, but kinda cool. Other than that, my experience has been that most of them are railroads with bad plots (railroads with good plots would be fine) or hack and slash megadungeons (Ravenloft I and its eighty retreads). I've tried really hard to like them, and I have fond memories of some of them, and some were influential, but I'd be hard-pressed to say any of them except Ravenloft II were actually good adventures. Most of them are fun to read but absolutely awful to try to run.

But I haven't played them all. Are any of the official adventures any good? Are there any netbook adventures that are good? Are there any Ravenloft-like adventures that aren't technically Ravenloft that could be recommended? (I kinda like House on Harrow Hill from First Quest, for instance.)

Also, on a second but related thing, other than the one old magazine adventure with the M.R. James monsters, are there any ghost horror adventures with stuff along the lines of M.R. James ghosts or the scarier ones from Netflix's Haunting of Hill House? I've seen plenty of D&D modules with ghosts, but usually of the misunderstood spirit or hack and slash adversary stuff. Are there any with really scary ghosts?
 

Allandaros

Validated Parking
Validated User
The micro-adventures in Children of the Night: Vampires seemed to have some promise, IIRC. Each adventure had a different (and generally interesting) twist on a type of vampire, a suggested reasonably horror-y adventure (written in just a few pages, so bloat was low for a 2e product) and the flexibility to be used in many campaigns. I'm not a full horror aficionado, so I can't grade it that effectively, but the scenarios seemed to be a) much more interesting than the hack-and-slash stuff you're trying to avoid, and b) have a few decent spooky concepts.

There were several books in the CotN format, each with a different type. I'd definitely check out Children of the Night: Ghosts and see how you feel about it.
 

DarkMoc

Registered User
Validated User
I'm working my way through my Dungeon magazine collection. There are surprisingly few Ravenloft adventures, and I'm not sure I have all of the issues they're in (*edit* upon review, I don't have the first three issues below, but I do have the last five):
Issue #31, Bane of the Shadowborn
Issue #38, Horror's Harvest
Issue #42, The Price of Revenge
Issue #50, Felkovic's Cat
Issue #52, Laughing Man
Issue #58, The Baron's Eyrie
Issue #64, Last Dance
Issue #76, The House on the Edge of Midnight

I've read the last three in the distant past. Baron's Eyrie is pretty much a hack-and-slash from what I recall. The other two I don't really remember off the top of my head, other than Last Dance has a creepy ballroom with mannequin corpses.

There's even less for Masque of the Red Death, but I do have all of them:
Issue #55, The Sea Wolf
Issue #61, Jigsaw
Issue #67, Falls Run
Issue #71, Dark Magic in New Orleans

I remember Jigsaw being pretty good, and it could fit into any of the Renaissance-level Domains. Sea Wolf is a not-terrible murder mystery on a riverboat, though it would need a lot of massaging from the DM for it to play fair. Falls Run is OK, but felt a bit aimless. Dark Magic I don't remember details of without rereading.
 
Last edited:

Dr. Rudolf von Richten

Registered User
Validated User
I have all of those Ravenloft Dungeon magazine adventures except the last one. Without going into SpoilerMcSpoilery Territory:

- Bane of the Shadowborn is meh. It's a themed dungeon with a halfway decent backstory
- Horror's Harvest is great! It's set in a small village where things, and people, are not as they seem ... Incidentally, it has a very WFRP-vibe to me.
- The Price of Revenge is also very good. Set in a town in winter, it is very atmospheric, an the bad guys are actually 'out an about' and can be met peacefully, at first ...
- Felkovic Cat is decent. It's got a nice setup, but ultimately is a dungeon. Nice if players don't realize Ravenloft versions of ... can be quite different.
- Laughing man is just a side trek, but for what it is, it's not bad.
- The Baron's Eyrie is meh; the location is cool, but way too 'high fantasy' for Ravenloft, and so is the adventure in general.
- Last Dance is genuinely creepy and tragic and mad, but only is the players are willing to immerse themselves in it's atmosphere. Otherwise, It'll fall flat.

I Could give more details if you want, but I don't know how to do the Spoilerblock thing.
 

Zeea

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Thanks for the recommendations.

1) I had no idea that there were Children of the Night books for creatures other than vampires. *facepalms* Thanks for the recommendation.
2) Thanks for those summaries, Dr. van Richten. Those are really useful.
3) I have skimmed the last one, House on the Edge of Midnight. I don't know much about it other than it's the one that has the M.R. James monsters in it.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
Not an adventure, but a sextet of templates for haunting based adventures is found in Dragon 336. They can help in putting the S in scary.

Bane of the Shadowborn is in one of the very first Dungeons I ever owned and gave me a very incorrect idea on what Ravenloft was. It is not so much scary as creepy, much like a Nightmare on Elm Street film (the better ones obviously) or one of the Silent Hill games. Hmm, actually it is very much like Silent Hill. And the villain is rather different from pretty much all the other Dark Lords- it is a spirit possessing a sword.
 

DarkMoc

Registered User
Validated User
"The Vaka's Curse" from Dungeon #50 could be a good one. It's about a haunted ship, with a backstory that's perfect for Ravenloft.
 

Zeea

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Not an adventure, but a sextet of templates for haunting based adventures is found in Dragon 336. They can help in putting the S in scary.

Bane of the Shadowborn is in one of the very first Dungeons I ever owned and gave me a very incorrect idea on what Ravenloft was. It is not so much scary as creepy, much like a Nightmare on Elm Street film (the better ones obviously) or one of the Silent Hill games. Hmm, actually it is very much like Silent Hill. And the villain is rather different from pretty much all the other Dark Lords- it is a spirit possessing a sword.
Honestly, that's a pretty good summary of every good Ravenloft adventure I've read. The bad ones are just utterly ridiculous and don't even seem to attempt to be scary. Maybe Ravenloft would have been better if they'd kinda accepted the limitations of the medium and played up the eerie and weird side of things, and not done that thing where every dark lord had to have a tragic past. Bluetspur and Timor were scarier before they tried to give tragic backgrounds for the elder brain and the marikith queen.

The campaign core books go on and on about how Ravenloft is not just hack and slash dungeons except with zombies instead of goblins, and then almost every single adventure module (including the original) is a hack and slash dungeon with zombies instead of goblins. I remember as a kid trying so hard to obey all those rules for good horror design and feeling bad when the adventures turned out cheesy and ridiculous and railroaded, and then later on as an adult figured out the published adventures were often worse.

Really, I think going for a creepy atmosphere is probably best, so maybe I'll look into Bane of the Shadowborn. I remember the 3e description of the domain around it seemed actually eerie. But the 3e third-party stuff was generally creepy and they dodged the issues of the previous edition by simply never releasing any adventures that I recall.
 
Top Bottom