If you thought the almighty Curse Of Strahd adventure that was recently resurrected for modern Dungeons and Dragons fans was a terrifying gem, then you'll no doubt be screaming with delight at the knowledge that "Van Richten's Guide To Ravenloft" is clawing its way into your local game store very soon.
The book, which returns once more to the ever-popular Horror-Themed area of Ravenloft, is sure to be a hit with those looking to inject a bit of Gothic N' Ghosts into their adventures, but before you start popping in your false vampire teeth and dusting off that supremely snazzy cloak, maybe you should take a look at the other Domains Of Dread that are featured in this project.
For you see there are THIRTY, yes that's right THIRTY, different Domains to explore with your group, each of which acting as a type of micro-plane of existence all of which are ruled over by a different Dark Lord.
As a result, each of the domains feels completely different and unique, ranging from a zombie apocalypse-inspired one to today's EXCLUSIVE preview of Valachan!
Valachan is also known as The Domain Of The Hunter, and is pretty apt a title, seeing as it's ruled over by the Dark Lord Chakuna, a fiercely devoted seeker of prey who hunts down the local wildlife for sport.
However, even the monstrous beasts that roam through the thick jungles grow tiresome for Chakuna from time to time, and so she uses her powers to lure in outsiders, be they foolhardy prospectors looking to mine the area for plants and resources, or brave adventurers seeking to down mighty animals themselves.
As you might expect, being a hunter isn't so much about direct confrontation, but about traps, subterfuge, and using the environment to your surroundings. The party will have to be careful not to trigger rusted bear traps, fall prey to poisonous fauna, and blend into the canopy as best they can.
However, something tells us that thanks to this area having high numbers of Displacer Beasts, some foes may indeed wear their skins to serve as active camouflage in a manner that would make The Predator proud. Either way, players will have to tread lightly and know their plantlife if they're to even survive a day in this oppressive jungle hunting ground.
Yet don't be too scared to venture out into the dark, for there are blessings to be found in amidst all the evil along with two new subclasses to level the unholy playing field.
Speaking with F. Wesley Schneider, Senior Games Designer for Dungeons & Dragons, he discussed the nature of these classes in more detail:
"The Undead Patron warlock opens up a spectrum of creepily morbid abilities, as well as opportunities to explore just what deathless terror inspires your powers—perhaps even one of Ravenloft's more monstrous Darklords. The College of Spirits for the bard also provides exciting versatility, as the spirits you summon and the tales they share might be conveyed by all manner of mysterious beings. Maybe your bard calls forth archetypes from the tarokka fortune-telling cards, or personas from history or fiction, or manifestations of folkloric beings. What apparitions answer your call are entirely up to you"
Ghosts summoned to help battle other ghosts? Sign us up! In fact, while you're at it, maybe take a look at the new Dark Gifts, which bestow magical and otherworldy powers upon those who take up their offerings, but do so at the cost of the user's sanity, wellbeing, or even their soul.
We asked F. Wesley Schnieder's opinion on which of the Dark Gifts appeal the most and which were the most fun to design for the new expansion:
"The whole team did amazing work on the rules throughout the book, but if I had to pick one Dark Gift—for a character, not for myself—I'd probably go with Symbiotic Being, which lets you create all manner of helpful horrors to infest the cosier, less organ-packed basements and attics of your physical form. Once they're moved in, your symbiote is all too eager to share its aberrant insights—whether you want it to or not."
Imagine that, a swarm of bugs in your brain all chittering away at once. Sounds maddening, but also potentially life-saving if the creatures offer advice in dire times of need.
Van Richten's Guide To Ravenloft appears to be chock full of content, both in its sprawling locales and its horrible new boons, meaning that your play sessions are never going to be the same once you pry open this casket of goodies and peer within.