Jan 19, 2016

D&D Goes Bump in the Night

Wizards of the Coast made an interesting announcement Monday, the ripples of which affect much of the official gaming content to be coming out over the next several months.

First, and foremost is the announcement that the next D&D module will be called Curse of Strahd. This represents the forth module to come out for 5th Edition since its launch (not including the module that was included in the Starter Set). Those previous modules have all touched on classic D&D adventures/themes, including Tyranny of Dragons/Rise of Tiamat (the evil dragon goddess Tiamat), Princes of the Apocalypse (Elemental Evil), and Out of the Abyss (Demons). Therefore it shouldn't come as a surprise that Strahd, the main villain of one of the most popular modules of any edition (I6 Ravenloft) should be the center of the latest offering.

While the original I6 module has been updated several times before for various editions of Dungeons and Dragons, see House of Strahd (2e) and Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (3.5e), this module claims to be the most expansive and open ended version of the classic storyline.

Some other little interesting tidbits about this module.
  • This is the first of the major module releases to be developed in house at WotC, instead of being outsourced as they have done for all their previous modules. 
  • This module was written by Chris Perkins, one of the most prolific module writers for Dungeon magazine before becoming a full time TSR/WotC employee. 
  • This is the first updated version of the module to include input from Tracy and Laura Hickman (authors of the original module). 
  • Unlike past 5e modules, this only offers enough content for players to reach level 10. I personally don't see this as a bad thing, part of the appeal of horror is the heroes being underpowered versus their opponent.
But there is more going on here than just the release of just this one module. Since all the previous seasons of D&D Adventures League have tied in to the current module release, it's not surprising that season 4 will also tie in to Curse of Strahd with approximately 14 AL modules that will have characters starting out in the Realms (per usual) and ending up in Barovia for the bulk of the season. As usual there will be some new rules (once a character starts season 4, that character can't play in other season's adventures - i.e. leave Barovia - until the end of the season). Also, while not officially stated yet, I would expect the module and/or the AL season to leverage the Fear and Horror checks from the Dungeon Masters Guide (page 266). For more details on Curse of Strahd and AL Season 4, check this official post here.

Random notes:

Anyone familiar with any version of the Ravenloft module knows that one of the key elements are tarokka card readings. The original version of the module provided charts to roll on, as well as instructions on how to modify a regular deck of cards to simulate a tarokka deck. Later, TSR or partners produced real tarokka decks for use in the game. For Curse of Strahd, WotC has licensed with Gail Force Nine for a new version of the deck.

As a way to generate more interest in Curse of Strahd, if you tweet to Madam Eva (@Wizards_DnD) with the hashtag #DnDFortune she will reply with a new "reading" each day!

Finally, if you are interested in reading more behind the scenes details about the creation of this module, check out this interview on Geek and Sundry's website with Chris Perkins, Tracy Hickman, and Laura Hickman.

So, until the module is release on March 15, 2016, beware of things that go bump in the night...