A Guide to Transylvania is an indispensable accessory for any Masque of the Red Death campaign - or for a campaign for any game system set in the 1890s. This 96-page book contains everything needed to explore the exotic, fear-filled country that is home to Dracula.
- Highlights of this volume:
- A survey of Transylvania's history and geography;
- an overview of the beliefs, practices, crafts, and language of the people of Transylvania, from the Romanians to the mysterious Gypsies, including a section on folklore and superstitions;
- the history of Vlad Draculs, the historical personality whose name has become synonymous with "vampire"; and
- maps showing Transylvania and the surrounding regions.
Additionally, A Guide to Transylvania presents sixteen personalities to enrich any Transylvania-based or -themed campaign, along with five new qabals, shadowy secret societies who either struggle with the heroes against the unnatural, or strive to strengthen it.
The Ravenloft campaign expansion A Guide to Transylvania (1996), a Masque of the Red Death accessory by Nicky Rea, is one of the most flexible and accessible horror game supplements you'll ever see from TSR. It's useful for any game that deals with 1890s real-world horror or with vampires (most of which aren't published by Wizards of the Coast nowadays). This book gives a wonderful breakdown of everything needed to explore the haunted mountains of the country that is home to Dracula.
Most of this 96-page book is system agnostic and can be used with whatever game you like.
Overall? This is a little-known supplement, written for a Ravenloft campaign set in the real world. If you are interested in horror games, from Night's Black Agents to Vampire: the Masquerade, and including also regular D&D horror, you'll find this a well-written and useful reference.
The History of Fear. Much of this supplement focuses on the historical and cultural framework of Transylvania, giving the DM everything she needs to convincingly and effectively set a horror game there. This sort of approach works wonderfully; it means that a DM can build a history of cabals, secrets, conspiracies and grudges when setting up her campaign. History starts with the Dacians in 1000 BCE, and continues, engagingly, up to the 1890s. Vlad Tepes' Turkish campaigns in the mid-15th century are covered in detail, and a “Forbidden Lore” section tells the in-game secrets that accompany true history.
Want to know about the land instead of the people? Chapter 2 lays out geography, cities, climate, transportation, and a number of historic sites. These are presented in a way to make them as accessible as possible for a game. The Forbidden Lore text gives plot hooks and occult secrets.
Following geography, the people of Transylvania are detailed. Romanians, Gypsies, Jews, Magyars, Szeklers, Germans... Knowing the people means knowing the customs, and the DM is given vampire lore and legends aplenty. Superstitions matter in a horror game, and A Guide to Transylvania doesn't skimp.
Engaging Personalities. Even the most rules-heavy section of the book, the sixteen personalities and NPCs the book provides are easily pillaged by a creative GM for use in other horror games. The important material here is the background, personalities, and roleplaying notes for each NPC. The sections on Forbidden Lore give secrets and plot hooks, tying each individual into a web of mysteries, adventures, or plots.
NPCs include the aged apothecary with an unnatural book; a cultured and sophisticated woman who may secretly be involved with a cabal against evil; a faithful librarian and monk who has seen far too much; a former embalmer turned megalomaniacal zombie lord; a wandering werewolf; and the most evil architect you could imagine. Classic characters such as Jonathan Harker and Vlad Tepes, Dracula himself, are also included. Oh, and so are Dracula's son Mihnea, along with Abraham Van Helsing.
Mystic societies and cabals are also listed, both evil secret societies and the hunted, desperate organizations that oppose them. There are five of these, and several are perfectly suited for inclusion into any secretive or investigative D&D game.
About the Creators. It's no surprise that Nicky Rea has written for White Wolf as well as Wizards of the Coast, with a tremendous amount of work in the late 90s on over 20 game supplements. She specializes in horror and designing worlds for things that go bump in the night, making her a perfect fit for Ravenloft – or vice versa.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.