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Curse of Strahd: A Dungeons & Dragons Sourcebook Hardcover – Illustrated, 15 March 2016
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- ASIN : 0786965983
- Publisher : Wizards of the Coast; Illustrated edition (15 March 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0786966009
- ISBN-13 : 978-0786965984
- Dimensions : 21.69 x 1.85 x 28.27 cm
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Top reviews from Australia
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This adventure is very much in the Gothic Horror or Dark Fantasy genres, rather than the traditional High Fantasy D&D usually is. If that is your interest, this is perfect for you.
As a DM you need to know what you are getting into though, as this campaign is quite open in its scope and you need to be able to pull multiple threads together.
The artwork and design of this book is just lovely, including a full poster map at the end of the book.
Normally I’m not a big fan of pre-written adventures, but this one looks great even if I don’t DM the campaign exactly there are so many great ideas and elements here to use.
Highly recommended for anyone wanting something grim and Gothic in their 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons.
On a side note, having been used to the sluggish delivery from the US site, I was very pleased when this arrived within only a couple of days.
I would however be aware of some of the more deadly encounters in the book and be prepared to nerf them, or simply try scare of the party (looking at you Old Bone Grinder)
Top reviews from other countries
I will say that there is a lot of information you as a DM will need to read well - and have notes on - before running the campaign; there are many NPCs, locations, and relations you'll need to be on top of. So, it's a bit daunting to run.
You can, of course, tweak it to a different style of play - dole out additional magic items, mix it up, de-power a few monsters, and run a more standard fantasy "the hero's are going to go hero!"... but I think you can get that in most other adventures. Treat this one like the dark brooding horror it is and see how that changes your game. Just don't forget to offset it with humour from time to time.
After receiving the book and reading through, I honestly can not wait to run this adventure.
Firstly, the quality of the book itself is excellent. The accompanying artwork, layout, color scheme and maps are all beautifully thought out, well ordered and presented on very good quality paper. DnD books obviously cost a good amount of cash and, thankfully, this book feels like you are really getting your money's worth.
The campaign is very well written with solid characters, lore and locations. Strahd himself is described well, he is a fun villain and there are plenty of tips on how to make him a diabolical, scheming foe for your players. There's also an interesting semi-random element to the campaign structure, which I won't go into detail about for spoiler reasons, but it's a novel idea that I think will be a lot of fun, especially if you end up running this adventure again.
This is a pretty open ended game which means you, as a DM, will need to put the work in beforehand to get it all ready, but every step of the story is well explained and laid out so once the work is done I think even new DMs will be able to run this easily. Again, the book guides you with helpful tips and details on how to create the atmosphere of horror, run the monsters and role play all of the non-player characters.
The only minor gripe I have is Castle Ravenloft. Though the included map is beautiful, expansive and will make for an incredibly memorable location, the map is isometric and highly stylized. This means it is quite impractical as a battle map if you want to use it like that, either online or with miniatures. With all of the maps in the book being really wonderful Mike Schley top-down examples, the jarring difference for Castle Ravenloft, the finale and main focus of the entire game, is a big shame. Saying that, the map is still usable, even if just for reference and flavor but personally I am going to re-draw it in a more practical format for when my players decide to visit.
The book itself is a sandbox, with the chapters set out to describe and details areas places and people that all tie together for the confrontation with Strahd. It is not set out in a linear fashion, which may confuse some first time GMs and it takes you on a journey into the gothic horror that is Barovia.
There are many enhancements to be found online at the DMs Guild web store which really can help to add flavour and horror to the setting.
My players are on their 3rd session and have barely scratched the surface. I'd recommend getting the Tarrokka cards if you feel they will be helpful. We play online so they weren't really going to be helpful to me. The book has good guidelines on how to effectively use them for the storyline plot hook, and to give the players their own nightmarish future readings.
Considering this is an updated version of the original Ravenloft box set, I have already thrown them through the opening village of Barovia, encounters in the mists and "Old Bonegrinder". They began with the classic "Death House" which was made even better using Roll20 and the vast library of sound effects - believe me, creepy music box playing with ghostly whispers and child like giggling really set the tone and freaked the players out.
This is widely regarded as the current number 1 D&D campaign setting for 5th Edition by many GMs and players alike. Reviews on youtube really do not hype it, Curse of Strahd is a MUST for any GM who wants to throw their players into a challenging, unique setting against a villain who doesn't just wait til the end to appear. Oh no, you are encouraged to allow the Vampire Lord of Barovia to travel his lands as he sees fit and to appear at the most unfortunate times - for the players - and to instill fear in them that he really is unbeatable.
10/10 Fantastic retelling of a classic tale.