Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft is full of dozens of new Domains of Dread, and today we’re getting a preview of three: Lamordia, Dementlieu, and Har’akir.
The upcoming book Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft is all about bringing horrors to light–whether that’s rebooting some of the “classic” Domains of Dread that were first explored back in 2nd Edition AD&D, if you can believe that we live in a world where 1994 happened…
…or introducing new, more modern ideas that update the setting with new attitudes about and ways to explore the genre of horror.
And today we’re getting a look at a mix of new and old as three previews of the new Dread Domains are out in the wild now, coming to you from Polygon, SyFy, and Forbes, which shows just how far Dungeons & Dragons tendrils have spread. It really is everywhere now.
First up, we’ve got the dread domain of Har’Akir, a dread domain of “haunted monuments and ruined pyramids” — but one that is trying to step away from harmful old stereotypes. TThe Darklord of the domain, Ankhtepot, is a symbol of the change–gone is the Boris Karloff-esque image, replaced with this
And a big part of the change comes from one of the writers brought in to update this dread domain, K. Tempest Bradford whose work in Clockwork Cairo served as inspiration for WotC’s new take. As lead designer Wes Schneider puts it:
“This time around […] we provide you all of the elements needed to be somebody from Har’Akir, and to have this world be your world. This isn’t necessarily a story about going into tombs and grave robbing and pillaging somebody else’s past. This can very easily be [a story about] your home. [Your character] can imagine a world where there are not these horrors, and it’s up to you to make them better. That’s a quite different proposition from what you see in many of these classic horror stories, but also nonetheless terrifying because now what’s happening is within your own home.”
Next there’s Lamordia, which is home to all of the Frankenstein stories you could possibly want to tell, but in the new book, it’s more than just a Frankenstein pastiche–there’s room for all kinds of weird science, grim reflections on the phrase “but at what cost” and of course, body horror enough for even Guillermo Del Toro. As Schneider puts it:
One of the terrifying possibilities explored by Lamordia is what happens when the players’ characters wake up on Mordenheim’s slab. We explore a few ways characters might find their very bodies held hostage while Mordenheim tasks them to fulfill her heartless whims. One of the new lineages in the book, the Reborn, even allows players to create characters who used to be dead, someone else, or maybe multiple something elses. Being one of Mordenheim’s creations is just one way such a character might come into being, either for a time or for the rest of a campaign.
Finally there’s Dementlieu, a new domain that looks to explore psychological horror, as well as dark fantasy, which are two great tastes that taste great together.
“The whole domain plays up elements of deception, psychological manipulation, and creepy fairy tales, all in a setting where the land itself changes in malicious and impossible ways.
Game designer Kira Magrann, who has a history of creating mind-bending games, worked with the team on Dementlieu and helped craft a place that’s a little bit Cinderella, a little bit ‘The Masque of the Red Death’, and a little bit Dark City. It’s a domain that leaves everyone paranoid and posturing to blend in with the crowd while being terrified that they’ll be exposed for not being in on the collective lie. Oh, and there’s murderous phantoms.”
The dread domain of Dementlieu is home to a manor, home to a Grand Masquerade hosted by Duchess Saidra d’Honaire on a private island–interlopers are, of course, killed immediately.