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Dungeons & Dragons returns to an iconic setting with Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

Strahd is bat it again.

The next sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons 5E has been revealed as Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, a title that returns to the classic D&D setting.

Based on the knowledge and experiences of famed vampire hunter Rudolph Van Richten - a character that appears in the iconic Curse of Strahd D&D campaign - the upcoming roleplaying game sourcebook is set to invite players back to the shadowy lands of Ravenloft. Infested with the undead, Ravenloft is the setting for the Curse of Strahd campaign originally released for first-edition Dungeons & Dragons in 1983.

Van Richten has created a collection of case files and correspondence to pass onto the next generation of hunters, with the hopes of imparting enough knowledge to enable them to defeat vampires and other unholy creatures. Within Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft players and dungeon masters can find everything they need to create their own stories set in the haunted lands of Ravenloft.

Cover image for YouTube video

The newest sourcebook for D&D features content that will be both new and familiar to players and DMs, with pages on domains included in past sourcebooks and entirely fresh areas for parties to explore. DMs can even create their own domains using the rules and advice found within Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft - as well as the deadly vampiric foes to populate it, as Ravenloft is notorious for hosting powerful vampires called Darklords.

Players will be able to grant their own characters with horrific abilities and powers in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, with options for new backgrounds, starting items and character lineages. The lineages include opportunities to create a dhamphir - the child of a vampire and a human - alongside dreaded hexblood and reborn characters. Players can use the two subclasses featured in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft to further develop their characters in the ways of dark arts. Bards can acquire powers of the afterlife with The College of Spirits, whilst Warlocks can risk the path of Undead pacts.

Alternatively, players can augment their characters with a variety of Dark Gifts to establish their standing within the Domains of Dread. New or customised characters can then experience an entirely new adventure set within Ravenloft and face off against the creatures found in the Montorious Bestiary.

On Twitter, Ajit George - a writer and director of operations for Shanti Bhavan, a school for disadvantaged children living in India - confirmed that they contributed to Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, becoming the “first Indian to write India-inspired setting and character material in the 47 years of D&D’s epic history”. Banana Chan, the co-creator of Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall, was also confirmed as being one of the collaborators on the sourcebook.

Wizards of the Coast’s announcement of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft follows the release of a revised version of the Curse of Strahd campaign last year. Curse of Strahd Revamped was a new edition of the classic campaign updated to work with D&D 5E. Besides the changes in system, Curse of Strahd Revamped introduced a Creatures of Horror booklet featuring a collection of new monsters for DMs to use in their campaign.

The Vistani people included in the original campaign were revised for the latest edition of Curse of Strahd, altering their description and presentation to steer them away from the harmful racial stereotypes of being travellers with chaotic natures and a fondness for jewelry. It is not confirmed whether the Vistani people feature in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.

Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft is set to be released on May 18th at a retail price of $49.95 (£35).

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About the Author
Alex Meehan avatar

Alex Meehan

Senior Staff Writer

After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.

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