Monday, February 19, 2018

The Krevborna-Ravenloft Express

It's pretty cool to see people already getting excited and doing stuff with Krevborna: A Gothic Blood Opera. Over at The Gnomish Embassy, B. W. Mathers has a post about ways to import some of Ravenloft's setting material to Krevborna. All of his suggestions feel right-on to me, and there is precedent for importing Ravenloft stuff to Krevborna. For example, in this game I used the "Death House" adventure from Curse of Strahd to kick off a new campaign and eventually had Strahd come to Krevborna as a potentially usurping vampire lord out to annex this strange new land.

Meanwhile, over on 4chan:

Let's take the above quoted question seriously for a second.

Second part first: I think that all self-published projects have to involve a bit of ego. If you didn't think your game thing was worthwhile you wouldn't lavish time, money, and effort on it, nor would you place it before the public. If putting something you made out into the world is too audacious for you, I don't know what to tell you. I'm obviously too biased to judge whether the project is over-hyped, but so far the response has been very positive, it's turned a profit in under a week, and is the best-selling game book I've made. My ego is satisfied with that.

First part second: I've never been shy about admitting that Ravenloft is my favorite Dungeons & Dragons setting and I specifically mention Ravenloft as an inspiration in the Krevborna book because it shaped my ideas about the possibilities of mixing the Gothic with fantasy at a very formative period of my life. Nevertheless, as much of an inspiration Ravenloft has been, parts of Krevborna are a reaction against the setting rather than a retread of what's come before. 

I think there's a basic difference in outlook and purpose that's worth discussing. The original Realm of Terror boxed set from 1990 presented Ravenloft as a crazy-quilt setting designed for "weekend in hell" adventures; the assumption was that Ravenloft would be a place that characters from another campaign settings would be drawn into, encounter and defeat something horrible, and then be returned to their home world. Because it was designed for side treks rather than expanded campaigns, the setting itself feels cobbled-together, thin, and disjointed. Later revisions of the setting attempted to shift the default style of play to characters born and bred in Ravenloft engaging in more expansive, connected adventures, but even those additions were still burdened with some of the choices made in the setting's original execution.

Krevborna, on the other hand, is meant to be a stand-alone setting; the expectation is that the adventuring party is made up of characters from Krevborna who are fighting against the evils in the land because the country is their home--they have vested interests, personal ties, and emotional connections that make the land worth fighting for. 

Also, Ravenloft presents a very broad swath of horror and Gothic tropes, whereas Krevborna is more limited and focused. Ravenloft has domains analogous to just about any European nation you could care to name, but beyond that it also has its own versions of haunted Louisiana bayous, mummy-infested ancient Egypt, spooky-scary India, etc. Krevborna, on the other hand, centers around Eastern European influences instead of presenting a wide variety of cultural pastiche. If you're after the full salad bar, Krevborna will probably disappoint in that regard. So, yes, there is some Ravenloft influence at work in Krevborna, but the point was never to make a Ravenloft clone. 

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