Here’s a blast from the past. Going through an old attic box I randomly picked up Master of Ravenloft, and since Curse of Strahd is the 5e campaign I’m currently running, it seemed quite the coincidink. Or…it as FATE would have it. Which seems much more appropriate to Ravenloft. I posted the other day too about the new Ravenloft campaign setting from WotC, so this is just Barovia-lovin’ left and right.
I actually don’t remember reading this one. I’m sure I did, but the details escape me. I recall the earlier D&D Endless Quest books with more clarity, like Return to Brookmere and Dungeon of Dread. I do think I’m going to give Master of Ravenloft a looksee though. I wonder how it compares to the module itself – I6 – or if it is a fairly watered down version. Flipping through I noticed an entry about the fabled Sunsword, and my 7th level PCs just newly acquired the lightsaber from the Amber Temple (after a terrifying trip through its halls).
Well, of course the Choose Your Own Adventure is watered down. You play a lone paladin named Jeren Sureblade (snicker-snicker, Really, Jean?) who is determined to face the Lord of Ravenloft and prevail. Which, we know is absolutely impossible in just about any edition of Dungeons & Dragons unless you’re a super high level warrior or cleric decked out with more magic items than in Demogorgon’s treasure vault.
WELL, , looking at the inserted character sheet (AD&D gamebooks had character stats, unlike the simpler Endless Quest books) Mr. Sureblade is a 15th level friggin’ paladin. So ok, he’s badass. In D&D that’s damn near demi-god status. He’s also got a Rod of Lordly Might in his back pocket, not a shabby weapon at all, no not at all.
This makes me wonder how a 15th level paladin in 5th edition D&D would fare against Count Strahd von Zarovich with the Sunsword and a Rod of Lordly Might and no backup. Would he stand a fighting chance? Could he actually KILL the vampire? In a straight up fight, in a closed environment with no escape – yes. Yes he could. But a smart and clever Strahd has many escape routes, many contingency plans, and many, many, many allies to cover his escape. Ideally anyway.
My party hasn’t reached Castle Ravenloft yet. They did meet Strahd once at a very formal and entertaining dinner where the vampire told them some of his dark history. The PCs were treated well enough, and in a way they gained a deeper understanding of their foe, and a small amount of sympathy. But not too much. They still want him dead, if for no other reason than that they can’t leave Barovia until his grip on the demi-plane of dread is released.
But that final confrontation is coming. It is well nigh, bustling at the horizon like dark storm clouds. Can they defeat the devil of Barovia and find their way home, or will their souls be forever tormented in the Mists of Ravenloft?