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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > October 2019 (#35) > Hello Darkness: Horror in Dungeons & Dragons

Hello Darkness: Horror in Dungeons & Dragons

Lead writer Chris Perkins reveals how the vampiric villains and delightful dread of Ravenloft and Curse of Strahd helped the RPG’s adventures discover a dark side

You stumble through the mists, lost inside a valley of eternal rain. In the distance, the vast crooked spectre of Ravenloft castle glowers. A mad, irredeemably murderous vampire prowls its corridors – and you can’t shake the feeling he’s watching you. Waiting. Welcome to Barovia, the location of fifth-edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign Curse of Strahd, released in 2016. Unlike classic insta-death bonanza module Tomb of Horrors from 1978, Curse of Strahd invokes a diffierent sort of horror entirely. Influenced by all things Gothic, Barovia is packed full of dread and yearning.

“It’s a beautiful gloom,” says Curse of Strahd designer and lead writer Chris Perkins. “Barovia strikes a balance between beauty and ghastliness. It’s a study of contrasts. It’s also very isolated; characters learn quickly that noone can save them – they’re on their own.”

A far cry from other places in the Dungeons & Dragons world, Barovia has no tangible economy, and no welcoming party for the heroes. As you’d expect in a land where witches, wizards, flesh golems and psychotic angels run amok, the people have seen it all before.

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