Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft
“My son was dead.
Yet still he walked! Life in death, death in life-such was his destiny. The Baron was a vampire, and he had passed on that dark gift to my only son! I wept there in the night, cried the inconsolable tears of a terrified child. But the worst was yet to come. My son had something to ask of me.
Erasmus begged me to save him from this fate. He begged me to destroy him, right then, that very night. He had even brought with him a sharpened wooden stake and a mallet with which to pound it through his chest! I doubt that anyone can ever truly understand the torment I suffered. My son was dead; in my mind I knew that to be true. But here he was still, standing before me, talking to me. How could I find the capacity in my heart to kill him? And how could I not? How could I damn him to an eternity of torment?
It has been almost three decades since that fateful day. Over the intervening years, I have learned much about my quarry, about the enemies that threaten us all. Today, I feel my advancing age and I can sense the chill wind of mortality blowing through my soul. It is time to pass on what I have learned, so future generations may pick up the stake and mallet when I am forced to lay them down. Thus, I am setting pen to paper in the hope that this tome will preserve what I have learned at such great cost."
—From the Van Richten’s Guide
Pick one of the Backgrounds from the list.
Choose your power source Divine, Martial or Shadow. All classes gain Multiclass Versatility with regard to the Shadow Power source, meaning that they may take Shadow multiclass feats in addition to multiclass feats for any one other class.
- Avenger (striker)
- Cleric (leader)
- Invoker (controller)
- Paladin (defender)
- Runepriest (leader)
- Assassin (striker, executioner build)
- Fighter (defender or striker)
- Ranger (striker or controller)
- Rogue (striker)
- Warlord (leader)
- Assassin (striker)
- Blackguard (striker)
- Vampire (striker)
Primal, and Psionic power source classes are off the table for this game (however you may still take multiclass feats/paragon paths if you wish but you cannot begin play with them). The banned list also includes the Dark Sun Campaign setting, Eberron Players Guide, and Forgotten Realms Players Guide. If you really must play an Arcane power source character such as a wizard or artificer, please take an Evil alignment, even if your alignment later changes the people of Barovia are mistrustful of spell casters and associate them with the Master of the Castle. Magic ranging from foul necromancy, to charms and illusion, all the way to dangerous evocations are all things to be feared and despised in Barovia, where even Divine characters are subject to suspicion.
The only unrestricted race is Human.
Obviously monstrous races are not recommended, though neither they nor any other non-human race is outright banned. Instead non-human races are limited to one of the following arrays:
- 18, 12, 12, 10, 10, 10
- 18, 13, 13, 10, 10, 8
- 18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 8
Finally characters of races that can’t easily pass as human will have to overcome substantial prejudices in most small villages and towns, although their heroism may shine through and convince the frightened villagers of their virtue, should they put the effort in to do so. They also gain a +4 bonus to Intimidate checks but suffer a -3 penalty to Bluff and Diplomacy checks with humans unless those humans have overcome their innate fear/prejudice of the character.
All Martial classed Human characters gain either Great Fortitude, [Implement] Expertise, Improved Defenses, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes or [Weapon] Expertise as a bonus feat at 1st level, and one additional feat from this list every 4 levels thereafter as encouragement to play a human character of a Martial class.