Ravenloft Novels

I like to visit my local Half Price Books store from time to time, and lately, I picked up some old fantasy novels, including a few from the Ravenloft series:

The Ravenloft setting is a very famous gothic setting in Dungeons and Dragons that has been around all the way back to 2nd edition AD&D which I played as a kid. Back then, I only tangentially knew about Ravenloft (I played Dark Sun a lot), but it’s popularity has not diminished over time. In fact, Ravenloft as a setting has a fandom all its own.

TSR, which originally owned Dungeons and Dragons, commissioned a series of novels featuring different domains within Ravenloft, and whatever Darklord ruled over them. Some novels focus on that domain’s Darklord themselves, others make cameos only, shifting focus to whatever main character has to traverse that domain. In either case, the collection as a whole is a fascinating tour of the Ravenloft setting and provides canonical and non-canonical lore for fans.

I have enjoyed the Curse of Strahd campaign for years, but never branched out into the rest of the Ravenloft setting until recently through friends online (whom I’ll call “The Twitterloft” despite Twitter’s demise).1

Enter the Ravenloft series of novels. The core series has about fourteen or fifteen novels, as well as some spinoffs. I heard them discussed a number of times, and decided to pick up a couple of them at my local HPB, as well as a couple old Forgotten Realms novels I needed to fill out my collections. D&D novels don’t always rise to the level of fantasy I expect from someone like Roger Zelazny, but some of them can be very enjoyable.

They’re also hard to get a hold of since they’re out of print. You can buy them online for $20-$30 or more depending on the book, but I was lucky to find these in my local used bookstore for a lot less. If you want a guaranteed thing, you have to pay more online, but if you’re patient, you can build your collection the old-fashioned way. It’ll cost more time, but save money and support your local businesses too. I also have Vampire of the Mists coming in the mail as well.

I finished Heart of Midnight already over Thanksgiving Weekend,2 and it was a good exploration of the domain of Kartakass with its werewolves (and wolfweres, yes they are different), and it’s darklord Harkon Lukas. I definitely enjoyed the novel, even with a few foibles.

Currently I am reading Mordenheim now, and while some parts make me squeamish (the novel is definitely inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), it is interesting to see how the domain of Lamordia works too, and has inspired some one-shot campaign ideas that I might try.

Old fantasy novels such as the Driz’zt series, Dragonlance (another series I started re-reading lately) and Ravenloft are all good, fun light reading that you can find easily enough in a used bookstore. It’s fun to build or rebuild a collection, and is a great way to stimulate ideas for your Dungeons and Dragons campaign too.

P.S. If you are looking for excellent, write-ups about Ravenloft lore and reviews of Darklords, I highly recommend this page by another member of the Twitterloft.

P.P.S. my book arrived in the mail right after I posted this. 😌

1 Now, we are tentatively the Tumblrloft, Hiverloft, or whatever social media we will eventually settle down on . Speaking of Tumblr, feel free to follow my Barovian content here.

2 It’s been a long, long time since I was able to enjoy a novel over a weekend. It was a very relaxing, nice weekend.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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