The master of Ravenloft is having guests for dinner... and you are invited.
A dark shape emerges from the shadow of Castle Ravenloft. A flash of lightning reveals the sneering countenance of Count Strahd von Zarovich. His eyes burn with eternal hunger and a contempt for life. From a narrow balcony, he peers out into the drizzling twilight at the few sad lights of the village below and mutters a single name: "Ireena..."
Based on the classic adventure by Tracy and Laura Hickman, the Expedition to Castle Ravenloft campaign adventure updates the original 1st Edition "Ravenloft" module, retaining the Gothic flavor and familiar elements while expanding and reimagining some of the locations to create a deeper, richer adventure experience. This adventure is designed for characters of levels 6-10 and features a new, easy-to-use combat encounter format. This book also presents new magic items, feats, and prestige classes for player characters.
For use with these Dungeons & Dragons core books: Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual.
Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (2006) by Bruce Cordell and James Wyatt is a reworking of Tracy and Laura Hickman's 1st edition classic for D&D 3.5. I can imagine the meeting. "Hey, Bruce? We'd like you to update one of the bestselling adventures in D&D history, one with rabid fans and a ton of nostalgia, an adventure so good that it spawned its own campaign setting. Oh, and we want you to make it even better. You and James can do that, right?"
And holy cow, they pulled it off.
Back to the Original. This adventure updates the original classic adventure and, as such, doesn't involve the Ravenloft campaign setting at all. Not a surprise, considering that I6: "Ravenloft" is what inspired the campaign setting. Expedition to Castle Ravenloft takes place in the mist-shrouded village of Barovia, where the PCs meet and confront the infamous vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich. Everything about the original that made it so wonderful was recognized and included: the complex castle with orthagonal maps; the roleplaying-intensive fortunetelling by a local gypsy that sets events later in the module; and the very smary, very canny villain. Vampires have too often been used as mere fodder for adventurers.
I6: "Ravenloft" made it clear that a clever vampire was something players should be terrified of. Cordell and Wyatt took all of these huge strengths and built off of them.
Better Than Ever. The four chapters detail adventures in Barovia, the local lands, the village itself, and of course Castle Ravenloft. They're packed with information, ideas, encounters, and gorgeous maps. There are a lot of things to love about this version of the adventure, making it even stronger than the original. The new information-rich, two-page Encounter format was debuted here, and it works very well for fast reference during each encounter. Additional plot hooks and adventuring opportunities are woven into the adventure, giving the players context and options before learning all about Strahd. There are even guidelines for using the adventure as a mini-campaign, a long adventure, or a short adventure - whichever works best for the DM and her group.
A Vital Appendix. While Strahd himself takes front and center in the first chapter, as you'd want from your major antagonist, the 21-page appendix is filled with player handouts, new weapons and magic items, a new spell, alchemical items, new feats, and two new prestige classes. Your players will need these things to have a chance of defeating Strahd, but the game design on display is both fun and well balanced.
Strong on Every Level. It's hard to find anything bad to say about this adventure. It's creepy and fun and dangerous from start to finish. Cordell and Wyatt managed to take one of the best experiences in gaming and update it for a new edition, making it even better than the original. And that's a rare thing.
About the Creators. Delving into horror here, ENnie Award-winning designer and author Bruce R. Cordell is just a few years away from two decades of working on D&D, but continues to show no sign of aging. What dark pacts he has made, we will surely never know. His most recent novel in the Spinner of Lies series is Sword of the Gods.
James Wyatt is a novelist and former minister who has worked at Wizards of the Coast since 2000, long after he began writing for Dungeon Magazine. He has won Origins Awards for City of the Spider Queen (2003) and the Eberron Campaign setting (2005), as well as an ENnie for Oriental Adventures (2002).
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.