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Dungeons and Dragons’ New Ravenloft Book Will Ditch Some Old Tropes

Dungeons and Dragons is going back to one of its most popular settings ever, Ravenloft. Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft brings more depth for Ravenloft in Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition following the well-received Curse of Strahd adventure.

The Ravenloft setting came to Dungeons and Dragons in 1983 as an adventure for the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. It was well-received when it released, and has become a staple of Dungeons and Dragons settings ever since. However, it has also attracted criticism in recent years due to its derivative nature of vampire tropes as well as its use of Roma stereotypes that has seen some players hoping that Ravenloft will see some changes in fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons.

Many of the changes come to one of Ravenloft’s Domain of Dread named Har’Akir. In the past, Har’Akir has utilized Orientalist tropes, and has been largely inspired by ancient Egypt. In speaking with Polygon, lead designer Wes Schneider went into what efforts the Dungeons and Dragons team took to leave those tropes behind in the newest sourcebook. One of the biggest changes being made is in regards to Har’Akir’s darklord – the mummy Anhktepot. Where before Ankhtepot was largely inspired by Boris Karloff’s The Mummy, the team has redesigned the mummy to look more like a high fantasy creature and less like a white actor in mummy garb.

Another big change is that Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft will give Dungeons and Dragons players the tools to make characters native to Har’Akir so that they are fighting for their home rather than being outsiders coming to save the locals. Schneider also says that to distance the domain from real-world Egypt the team has given it more of a “nightmare logic” feel to it. The entire domain is keeping its true form hidden from its denizens, allowing the team to make crazier and less logical design decisions like some of Dungeons and Dragons‘ more crazy settings.

Of course, there are many other changes likely in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. The book is 256 pages filled with world information, lore, and Dungeon Master resources. It is great to see the Dungeons and Dragons team working to modernize their settings so that everyone feels welcome playing in them. It also will be great to see what other settings Dungeons and Dragons brings to fifth edition next, as there is a lot of them out there that have yet to make an appearance.

Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft releases May 18th, in physical and digital formats.