Traversing the mists with Mistfactor Press

I’ve been in chats with the fine creators at Mistfactor Press, a group effort to properly update the Ravenloft Campaign Setting for the D&D 5th Edition DM’s Guild. Despite my misgivings towards the current edition, they’ve done a fantastic job and are more than deserving of a look over. They’ve even made 400 page volumes examining said domains in great detail. By all means, consider at least the digital copies. You can find more on their user page, looking under Van Richten’s Encyclopedia of Darklords and Domains.

And with the project leader’s permission, I’m also helping to launch an effort to convert mechanics to 2nd and 3rd Editions. This will only cover things not found in each respective edition, not the entirety of the books (as much of Volume 1 alone can be found in each respective edition). Furthermore, this project will not include any lore that isn’t tied into the mechanics somehow (such as the Darklord’s curses). And as a slight disclaimer, this project is not meant to take away energy or success from Mistfactor, but only help to spread interest and attention by opening the gates to classic fans who might not otherwise be interested in 5th Edition. Stay tuned as always, including for Threshold Mystara Magazine #29. This too will involve Ravenloft.

Dread possibilities and other heresies – A Last Look into The Mists

One last trek through the mists, friends.  One last trek is all it takes.  Will it spell the end?  A new land?  Unsure.  May something out there pity us.

Author’s Note: The year is ending and it’s almost Christmas…  Will I do more Ravenloftian goodness?  Well, someone has to in the face of Poseurloft!  But really, we’ll see.  I’m tired of D&D, as has been noted by the lack of crunch for a long time.  The good thing about a lot of my creations is that I can rebrand them as something else, if it came down to it.  Anyway, hope your days were jolly and nice.  Or at least, more so than in the Lands of the Mists.  Perhaps this is goodbye to the Demiplane of Dread, at least for now.  Likewise, a few more metaplots are looked at here for now.

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Rumors in Mists, Endless Whispers

skulls | Skeleton art, Art, Skull art

Autumn harvest draws towards a close as the heat dies down.  A dull wind wraps along the lands, bringing in disquieting eeriness and a spine-chilling cold.  The time of phantoms returns, as the bridge between worlds living and dead lowers once again.  This is a time when spirits observe our realm, or so the stories say.  Those within Darkon are clever enough to document and comment on such things.  You would be wise to as well.  Beware, for upsetting the souls of the damned is a fool’s task!

Author’s Note: Whispers of secrets always travel the mists, at least as long as I can think of cool characters and places.  Also, more Prisoners of the Mists references.  Likewise, my homage to the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.  On one more note, please pardon the previous post, I was on vacation and was very tired.  Hopefully, all of the goodies in here make up for it.

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Mist-cloaked Ways – Traditions, stories and beliefs of the Lands

Ravenloft by Stephen Fabian | Fantasy art, Concept art, Painting

Storytelling, it is a tradition.  For Vistani wanderers, there is no exception.  The spoken story has helped keep tribes and clans together.  And by all means, those of different clans have collected countless tales across travels.  Some speak of taboos, others of strange secrets, others purely bizarre.  Tonight, you are invited to hear some of these tales and decipher what is fact and what is mere myth peddled along for entertainment.

Author’s Note: Huge thanks to Matt Doyle alias “strahdsbuddy”.  His own creation got my own creative juices flowing, even if a few ideas were looted.  This one is a bit shorter, but that’s partially because I’m on vacation and need a break from life for a little bit.

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Within Doors of Darkness Everlasting – Misty Prisons within a Misty Plane

Horror House by Metalius666 on DeviantArt

Dare you seek shelter in places where solace cannot be found?  They have roofs and walls, but they are not homes.  They are prisons all their own, where cries of horror and derangement mix with the maniacal methods of their overseers.  Enter through these doors and never leave, for your caretakers have other plans for you now.  Below are a few buildings designed to ensnare, persecute and afflict.  They are not prisons in the traditional sense, but the dark powers have a habit of changing all to accommodate the punishment of another.  Some existed prior, such as a place of holy contrition and a house of state security.  Others came about as domains are built from a darklord’s sins or as a consequence of them.

Author’s Note:  This one slides a bit into mature content, warranting a word of warning.  As it is, one of the domains was built on a dare to make something quite disturbing.  It is disturbing.  Is it wholly original?  Not really, it’s basically The Golden Cat from Dishonored meets dark aspects of Planescape and Ravenloft; plus the House of Lament.  Will I use it for something?  I don’t really know, but it’s now a piece of the Demiplane either way.  Likewise a few other things slide well into proper Ravenloftian grimdark.  Debauchery, zealotry and totalitarian horror await.  For what it’s worth, more Planescape and Mystara references are here as well.  And while I’m at it, very very few WotC-era references, hehe.  But, even if this version is slightly tamed down, some viewer’s discretion is advised.

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The Cluster Sphere: Spelljammer… in the Mists?

Image

Fantastical Space would be one of the last things people associate the Demiplane of Dread with, but it exists even there.  The recently discovered “Castle Darkspace” is a testament to that.  While T’laan stews and broods in nihilistic apathy, he knows that it’s possible to break the veil into greater space.  But, this is but a facade meant to give false hope.  And by all means, others who have touched a Spelljammer have fallen to the Dark Powers.  Even the maligned and much ignored “Port Barmy” has its roots in a Spelljammer ship.  Save for the latter domain, all things Spelljammer have found their way into a unique “Cluster” or rather “Mist Sphere”.  The Mist Sphere works much like a Crystal Sphere, complete with Wildspace connecting the worlds.  However, there is no true world, solely the domain and lands trailing off into mists.  However, they can be accessed by spelljamming.

Be warned though, for those who sail their incredible ships in this sphere cannot leave normally.  Trying to seek the Phlogistan has disastrous results.  Consistently, a spelljammer will explode upon impact.  Likewise, entering other domains and clusters beyond this one spells doom.  Doom already comes for all who dare to trifle with the mists.  As of 740, even arcane space (excluding the phlogiston beyond) was not immune.  Tower Darkspace was taken into the mists.  By 743, Rogerport and Gnomonia had joined.  Primordium Station was taken in 748 and The Chariot fell in 757.  By 758, these were no longer islands of terror.  The Mists unveiled that the spelljamming days of yore had returned, but with a dark twist.  A new Sphere of sorts revealed itself, but those within were very much trapped.  And worse, new locales and minor domains continued to appear, such as the Sparkling Halls in 759.  Perhaps the Arcane Space is doomed to fall to the Dark Powers in due time?

Author’s Note: Spelljammer in the Mists! They said it couldn’t be done, but I proved them wrong! Ahahahahah!  I know Ravenspace has been a thing for years, but here is my own take on a cluster in the style of a Crystal Sphere.  Also, there is plenty of opportunity to reference bits of space horror, such as System Shock!  Also, more Eberron crossover!  And even more crazy, Returned Blackmoor makes a cameo as a domain all its own.  Is it canon for my Threshold series?  Hard to say, but it’s certainly a possible ending for it!  Also, Port Barmy remains a joke.  I have no plans to do much else with it, maybe I’ll add it to here one day.

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Lost Chapters of the Mists – More Domains of Dread Part 4

Alanik Ray - Dungeons & Dragons Board-Game Campaign (house-rules)

“Alanik, come quickly! I have found yet another one.”

A man in physician’s finery beckoned another to his side. A well-dressed man of elven descent followed, emerging from the darkness and into the lantern light. The two gazed down, a crumpled body laid at their feet, hastily disposes upon a cobblestone street corner. Alanik hunched closer, while reaching for a small viewing glass. His gaze met a symbol etched into the body’s shoulder, revealed through a series of gash marks.

“Indeed, it’s the same accursed occult symbol. But, what does it mean? All of these victims have similar traits in common. Each body was struck down in some means of brutal combat, holds torn up or destroyed parchments and carries this accursed mark upon their flesh. From what I can gather, they are some sort of messengers. Given the common origins of the clothing styles and some adorned belongings, they all likely share a common ancestry in Darkon.”

Joining Alanik the detective, the physician stoops forward with tools at the ready.  With tools in hand, he too examines the corpse and does so with medical precision.

“Astute observation, detective. But, the deaths. I must know. From a glance over at the wounds, it seems to follow yet another trend. All of these bodies faced similar slashing wounds from a particularly long blade. The marks indicate a similar fighting style or means of combat. Or at least, it would seem someone is good at replicating them. Did you know I’ve taken up a fair bit of swordplay in my youth? I’ve even had some goes at fencing. And… what’s this? A parchment that hasn’t been destroyed! It’s hidden in an insular breast pocket.”

The physician’s face rapidly changes from excitement to a rather grim shock. The letter addresses a Dr. Arthur Sedgewick, that the body before him was once compelled into the service of a scribe who serves the mighty Wizard-King Azalin. Even when not under control, he feels the tugging presence of magic upon his mind and that he isn’t alone. Countless other glorified slaves have found themselves gathering information in the name of a mad wizard and his lackeys. In the night before his death, he desired to seek the doctor out in hope that non-magical means could break his curse, since attempts from spellcasters have failed.

Author’s Note: Alas, poor scroll trader, now another victim of The Mists. And with that, let’s look at some more canon domains within the setting. Many of these are ones typically overlooked to some degree.  Joining them are some new domains, fit around various fan ideas as well.  Also, big thanks to the Fraternity of Shadows community as always, especially Ryan Naylor and John W. Mangrum.  Likewise, the extra eyes who brought a Philippines horror inspired domain to life.  And on that note, this is probably the longest concept for a domain I’ve made.  And yes, I used the silly trading card over the goofy looking new art, I’m aware.

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Of Lands beyond Castle Ravenloft: Forgotten Domains and other Tales

These 5 Haunted Libraries Will Give You the Heebie Jeebies

“Bard’s tales for sale!  Scripted and sold by an honest book keeper!  All of the stories in these tomes are completely real!  I offer tales of bravery, terror, exploration and more!  Please, step inside for more!”  A familiar Darkonese man hocks various loud proclamations in the light of day, a fine market square acts as his stage.

Author’s Note: The setting is no stranger to B-Movie trash and neither am I…  So, there is plenty of that here too.  You have blobs of rotten food, plant hybrids, murderous ball ghosts and more.

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Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – Mad Plots and Grim Conspiracy

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Sitting around a polished oaken table, an assortment of well-dressed individuals act locked in place upon simple chairs.  Only when one shadowy figure emerged into dim lamplight do the other figures seem to respond.  A woman clad in red finery more suited to a special gathering or wedding emerges forward, the wrinkles on her face accentuated through her sneering expression.

“I’ve long awaited this gathering here.  Influences of the supernatural want to have their way with the villages, precious cities, establishments of higher learning.  Such things are abominations that attack Reason itself.  Despite my origins elsewhere, you know my dedication to Lamordia.  My aspirations of Ludendorf Academy of Science cannot occur without your aid, even with its rivals.  While nestled in a quiet land, the school would bring enlightenment to those who seek it.”

She glances around, none of the other members of this meeting look in particular disagreement or contradiction.  One figure arises to meet her gaze, raising from his chair.  His garb is far less ornate, but still of quality and professionalism.

“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Natalya Bogdanoff, former headmistress of Kantora University.  Fear not L’Académie des Sciences of Dementlieu either.  We are researching them as we speak…  But, where are my manners?  We welcome you to our organization and acknowledge your concerns wholeheartedly.  You are a friend here in Lamordia, and a friend of the Syndicate of Enlightened Citizens.  The Academy has had our backing since its announcement.  Should you be concerned about suspicious influences among staff and students, say no more.  We’re happy to provide you assistance.  And everyone else in attendance, let us please applaud our newest member.  No longer are you merely a guest of honor.”

The gathered company arise to clap for Natalya, who clasps her hands and twists her face into a devilish smirk.  After an appreciative nod, everyone returns to their seats.  Natalya unveils documents from a case, one of which entailing plans for the Academy of Science.  Passing the documents around, the members of the syndicate nod and chatter with each other in excitement.  As the papers make their way back to their owner, the mood turns from welcoming excitement to a sinister cabal of shadowy plots.

Author’s Note: 4 posts in a row?  I guess my disappointment and frustration is a good motivator after all.  Not a long-term one, but I’ve certainly felt pretty damn creative.  But in all seriousness, I’ve been more motivated to read the books I do like and it has inspired me.  Also, let me bring in some more Dawnsveil content from my prior DM’s Guild version.  And on a final note, let’s explore some of the motivations behind past weirdness, shall we?

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Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – Of Awe and Contempt

Horrific Facts About Bedlam, History's Most Notorious Mental Institution

“I tell you, we are prisoners!  There is no such hope for us!  The governor holds us in an endless war against an eternal foe.  There can be no salvation in this doomed colony!  There is no hope and the divine has abandoned us!  Lock me up all you wish, in time you all will know the grim reality that you suffer from!  May the rats eat your eyes!  I am now lost to your cause, the darkness comes!  IT WILL DAMN US ALL!!” – Eustace L. Flanagan, Scholar within the colony of Dawnsveil, upon being sent to  Trinity’s Passing Hospital for the Mentally Ailing.

The Demiplane of Dread is a grim place, but its darkest secrets are indeed hidden for the better.  Even the doomed and imprisoned are largely unaware of the full details.  And those who are?  They are drawn into madness and obsession, in hopes of escaping or destroying the demiplane as a whole.  However, there is something to be said for ignorance being bliss.  While life in the Lands of the Mists is hard, those who don’t know full truth exist within their own lives and internal dramas.  But, what is known is that the strange and supernatural lurk just beyond reach.  And from those places, eyes stare back at you.  Dare you stare too long, you might see even more eyes.

Author’s Note: I’ve been thinking about ideas for the future, but I always do that.  If I get ambitious enough, maybe I’ll get around to making an OSR bootleg of some “Dominions of Darkness” or something.  I wonder what that would be?  But for now, just mad musings.  In the meantime, I give you more gothic goodies to greatly enjoy, including my own take on new ideas.  By the way, Dawnsveil is a custom domain.  Check the Doc’s Multiverse tab above for more.  Also, more looks into the future of the Time of Unparalleled Darkness, as potential plot hooks in time are fun.  Also, I was waiting to squeeze a reference to Eternal Darkness somewhere.

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