View Full Version : Expedition to Castle Ravenloft

2007-02-22, 01:48 AM
I'm about to start running Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, and was just wondering if anyone had any advice on running it.

purple gelatinous cube o' Doom
2007-02-22, 01:59 AM
seeing as it's a module, I would think following the prompts laid out for you should be find. But I don't know what your party's like so I really can't say for certain. I'm curious, how much experience do you have DMing?

2007-02-22, 10:06 AM
A fair amount, mostly in Living Greyhawk lately. I was just wondering if other people had run it, and found that there were particular places where the players got stuck, or ways in which they tweaked the module to make it more entertaining. Or things they thought would be really cool but failed miserably :).

2007-02-22, 12:09 PM
I haven't played it, though I have considered it a few times. Once you finish, come back and let us know how it goes :)

2007-02-22, 12:12 PM
Don't gimp the players.

That module is particularly deadly in the early stages, if the players aren't tricked out for undead.

2007-03-09, 01:48 AM
Well, the first combat's this weekend, so we'll see how it goes.

Renegade Paladin
2007-03-09, 03:17 AM
We're eventually going to run it; someone else in the group is going to try her hand at DMing for the first time with that one.

She banned paladins and anything that alleviates fear effects.


Jack Mann
2007-03-09, 03:35 AM
She probably helped you in the long run. Paladins don't last very long in Ravenloft.

Renegade Paladin
2007-03-09, 03:37 AM
I dislike it when my characters piss their pants and run away. This probably stems from my first DM having my first character panic at the presence of a white dragon despite his hit dice being waaaaaay the hell above the limit that makes you shaken rather than panicked.

2007-03-09, 06:45 AM
It is dangerous. You must put fear into their PCs, by you know who....
I had a DM who ran the master Vampire excellently to the point I miss that campaign of all the ones I played in. {though this was an older version of the game}

We ended up having many encounters with him.

PnP Fan
2007-03-09, 09:17 AM
Ahhh Ravenloft. . . there's a reason it keeps getting published over and over again. For the character levels it is designed for, it can be a really challenging experience. I've not run it myself, but from friends who have run it, it is as much of a challenge to the DM as it is to the playerrs. You really need to read the whole module to make sure you are familiar with the different times and places that Strahd shows up. The castle is fairly complex, so you might also want to study the maps a bit. Channel your inner goth, and ignore the emo parts. ;-)

2007-03-09, 09:56 AM

With the new version of the campaign, there are a number of critters who are going to give you trouble.

Without giving too much away, I can recommend some steps:

1) You must have a dedicated arcane (Wizard preferred, either evocation or conjuration master specialist. Drop necro and enchantments as undead are mostly immune to those schools regardless) and a dedicated divine (Cleric/Radiant Servant of Pelor: Heal/Sun Domains).

Rogues and SAish dependent builds are worse than useless in ravenloft - they are baggage, unless they have the spells that let them sneak undead.

2) If you have a tank, he should have goad or an equivalent: something to stick the bad guy, and hopefully keep him meleeing, as opposed to casting or whacking the casters.

3) An offensive caster needs to have force spells if he plans on dealing damage.
1. Magic Missile, Persistent Blade (Spell Compendium)
2. Blast of force (Spell Compendium)
3. Manyjaws (Spell COmpendium)
4. Orb of Force
5. Wall of Force

I would also recommend Otiluke's sphere and Dimension door as a defensive measure.


Extended rope trick - Not just a good idea, but in my book an actual MUST HAVE. Remember, the bad guys love the night life, while if you don't get enough/any rest, it'll be game over in a hurry as your casters run out of spells. Rope trick can help take care of this, but you'll need to extend it if you're going to get the full benefit as soon as possible.

Mage Armor/Greater mage armor - You're going to want the highest possible ac for this, especially against touch attacks. In many cases in this adventure mage armor is superior to any physical armor you might find/own.

Bigby's forceful hand - I can't stress this enough: you do NOT want the big bad to touch your casters. If you don't have a goad-fighter, you'd better have this or Otiluke's...and Otty can be bypassed by a dimension door if the DM gets smart.

DEATH WARD and it's 5th level cousin from the Spell Compendium (can't recall the name without my books) are frickin' priceless.

Protection from Evil and Magic Circle against evil, especially when cast on your low will-save party members, can save the group.

The 'Light of' line of spells from Spell Compendium + RSoP = win. Y'know, just FYI.

Break Enchantment/Remove curse capability (scroll, preferably). Trust me. Don't use it unless your arcane caster gets paralyzed. It's there to keep you from have three days of vulnerabilty as a result of a specific encounter, and nothing else, but well worth it. You do not want to get caught with your pants down in ravenloft, and this is the DMs biggest opportunity to make it happen.

Vigor, etc., post combat, become far better than the cure spells at the same level very quickly.

Good combos to remember:
Exploding Runes + Dispel Magic - If you get really smart, and you're having trouble with the campaign, you can use these two spells in combination to help turn tthe tide, especially if you have a summoned monster or a mount spell handy.

First, simply make as many exploding runes scrolls as you can. It's fairly simple and inexpensive to do this, especially with a pair of extended rope tricks memorized. You can basically take as much time as you need to prepare, by using the first trick to do the runes, and the second to rest and remorize. Repeat as necessary.

Second, pack as many ERs as you can into a big sack.

Third, summon a mount or a monster and tie the sack to it's back/have it carry it. Send the mount/monster up to the bad guy, and cast dispel magic on the sack.

I'll give you a sec to go read explosive runes. Remember you can choose to fail any roll.

Sure the bad guy saves for half, but next to none of the guys in here have evasion, although almost all of them have some kind of resistance.

Summon Swarm + Invisibility: At lower levels in this campaign, it's a deal-breaker. Given enough time, the spider swarm you can get can kill just about anything, since it deals (IIRC) a flat d6 untyped (slashing?) damage automatically, to as many as four opponents simultaneously. Invisibility will buy you that time. Make sure you'r team has some way to get off the ground level, and then watch as the bugs eat your foes.

Otiluke's Sphere + Manyjaws/Persistent Blade, etc. + Dimension Door: At higher levels, it's otty and whatever indirect damage spell you happen to like. (As long as it doesn't travel from you to the target, it could be eligible for use with Otty). Manyjaws is great, because you deal up to 10d6 of force effect damage that can be split up in d6 packets against multiple enemies, and sticks around for up to 3 rounds of concentration. So it's 30d6 of damage anyway you want it for a 1 third level spell.

Remember: people can dimension door into an otiluke's, so you need to be able to dimension door out (this has the nice side effect of trapping them if they don't have more than one DD/teleport prepped).

2007-03-09, 10:26 AM
In Ravenloft, Paladins are only immune to magical fear, not "Oh, snap. ZOMBIES!" fear.