I bought the classic Ravenloft DnD module the other day and dropped it into my normally zero-prep campaign. The first hour or so was just normal improv heavy DW with the normal laughing and enthusiastic player participation. Then they entered the castle and I opened the pdf on my laptop. The players were suddenly much less involved, their eyes sort of glazed over.

Was it me or the idea that we were playing from a book? Or maybe coincidence?

Any ideas? Should I stop looking at a map or should I continue? There is at least one more session, maybe even two left in count’s castle.

12 thoughts on “#Ravenloft”

  1. I enjoyed the castle very much! I was just peeved with the barbarian making a ruckus. And remember this was after the O.P debate so I think it was mostly coincidence.

  2. One of the principles of DW is “leave blanks,” right? And big part of that is so you can ask players questions (“Shar, what horrors is the Count notorious for inflicting on your people?”) without their answers derailing your prep.

    But when you start referring to a book like Ravenloft, those blanks get smaller (or disappear entirely) and your prep gets more tightly wound.  You’re more likely to present it as “this is how it is” rather than ask “hey, Ovid, you recognize this sun-motif symbol, what’s it mean and where have you seen it before.”

    If your group has had a very active hand in filling-in-the-blanks, I think it’s natural that they get a little less engaged when those blanks start to fill in without them. 

  3. David Guyll, that’s largely the approach I’d use, too.  Use the map, cuz it’s a sweet map.  Maybe use the details on the map (including what useful things are hidden in each room) as inspiration to fall back on, but don’t stay beholden to it at all. 

    Beyond that, I’d get a feel for the denizens of the Castle (and nearby town… Barovia is it?) and write them up as dangers & grim portents and maybe steadings and all that. 

  4. Something I’ve done a few times now using old D&D modules is this; read the module two or three times but then do not bring the module to the table or reference it during play. I tend to remember enough to run the adventure and ask interesting questions, but there are enough blank spaces in my aging memory to leave things open for the players to fill.

  5. Plenty of good & well detailed Ravenloft stuff out there with ver2.5, might work better than the classic one & give you enough setting stuff where you can fill the world without much problem. Main idea to remember as it’s a game so when there’s only narration without a lot of involvement, then it will get dull. Paint the setting loosely then detail if the players want but keep them involved.

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