I first came across Dungeon Module I6 Ravenloft in 1983 at a bookstore (Bookworld on S. Illinois Ave) in Carbondale Illinois. The Clyde Caldwell cover art is what drew me to the adventure and the listed level Range (5-7) was perfect for the Gaming Groups I played in.Back then the maps of Castle Ravenloft completely blew me away, isometric maps! Incredible! it was so 3-D. I destroyed most of the decks of playing cards my folks owned to tell fortunes as Madame Eva (sorry, Mom).
And dayum! Strahd was freakiin’ cool! He was what a Vampire/ super-cool NPC was supposed to be. I remember boosting him up a little bit (maybe a lot-bit) to take on our super-powerful characters (we’d call them “munchkins” today). When I DM’ed the adventure, I honestly wanted Strand to win, I wanted him to rediscover his lost Tatyana and for him to be happy (hey, I was a teenager and discovering romance.) I’d never run across an adventure that had a real Antagonist before. We’ve had what are called Boss Monsters today which were mainly piles of hit points with some special attacks and a pile of loot for adventurers to get rich off of.
Strahd was different, Ravenloft gave strategies and tactics to use against the player-characters. Tracey and Laura Hickman went way beyond just telling the DM to “play Strahd smart” but they told us how he operates, right on PAGE 3! That’s right, Strahd is introduced to the DM before the adventure even begins. I’m sad to say that at age 13-14 I didn’t know how to take full advantage of Strahd, but my friends and I all knew, that I6 was something special as adventures are concerned.
So special, in fact that Ravenloft has taken on an (un)life of it’s own. For over 30 years, Campaign settings, novels, adventures, and a board game have been written and experienced by a community now well into its second (and third) generation. For a more comprehensive (and dare I say better written) history, read the Wikipedia page on Ravenloft
This campaign, Curse of Strahd, is the latest, 5th Edition D&D campaign for Ravenloft. Written by Tracy and Laura Hickman. And through the campaign, I hope to reintroduce those of you who remember Dungeon Module I6, and those new to D&D to a 21st century retelling of a classic adventure.
… welcome, the Master of Ravenloft is pleased you have arrived.