The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

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KtA
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The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by KtA » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:10 am

Is every domain in 5E separate -- essentially an Island of Terror in 2E Ravenloft terms?

The 5E DMG says, “In remote corners of the Shadowfell, it is easy to reach horrific demiplanes ruled over by accursed beings of terrible evil. The best known of these is the valley of Barovia”

“Beings of the Shadowfell called the Dark Powers created these domains as prisons for these "darklords"”

Curse of Strahd says that:
“The land of Barovia resides in its own demiplane, isolated from all other planes, including the Material Plane.”

“It now exists within a demiplane formed by Strahd's consciousness and surrounded by a deadly fog.”

“In time, cursed Barovia was torn from its home world by the Dark Powers and bound in mist as one of the Domains of Dread in the Shadowfell.”

Does that imply that every Domain of Dread in 5E is its own isolated demiplane? That would be problematic for some – Falkovnia kind of has to share a border with other domains for its whole history of failed invasions and Vlad Drakov's curse to make sense.

Certainly Barovia isn't described as having any land borders with the other Core Domains, the way it used to – in Curse of Strahd it's completely surrounded by Mists. On the other hand, Van Richten is there, and he's specifically described as being from Darkon, with his traditional history intact.

I'm also a bit confused by the relationship with the Shadowfell. The DMG calls the Dark Powers “beings of the Shadowfell”, but Curse of Strahd says that the Dark Powers originate from the Amber Temple, which comes from Barovia's original world.

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by Big Mac » Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:28 pm

Hi KtA.

I see this is your first post. Welcome to The Piazza!

You might want to pop over to the Introduce Yourself Here topic, say hi to everyone and tell people about the sort of RPG stuff you like to talk about.
KtA wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:10 am
Is every domain in 5E separate -- essentially an Island of Terror in 2E Ravenloft terms?

The 5E DMG says, “In remote corners of the Shadowfell, it is easy to reach horrific demiplanes ruled over by accursed beings of terrible evil. The best known of these is the valley of Barovia”

“Beings of the Shadowfell called the Dark Powers created these domains as prisons for these "darklords"”

Curse of Strahd says that:
“The land of Barovia resides in its own demiplane, isolated from all other planes, including the Material Plane.”

“It now exists within a demiplane formed by Strahd's consciousness and surrounded by a deadly fog.”

“In time, cursed Barovia was torn from its home world by the Dark Powers and bound in mist as one of the Domains of Dread in the Shadowfell.”

Does that imply that every Domain of Dread in 5E is its own isolated demiplane? That would be problematic for some – Falkovnia kind of has to share a border with other domains for its whole history of failed invasions and Vlad Drakov's curse to make sense.

Certainly Barovia isn't described as having any land borders with the other Core Domains, the way it used to – in Curse of Strahd it's completely surrounded by Mists. On the other hand, Van Richten is there, and he's specifically described as being from Darkon, with his traditional history intact.

I'm also a bit confused by the relationship with the Shadowfell. The DMG calls the Dark Powers “beings of the Shadowfell”, but Curse of Strahd says that the Dark Powers originate from the Amber Temple, which comes from Barovia's original world.
I'm no expert on 5th Edition, so I wouldn't have known this was an issue, if you had not written a topic about this.

I'm not sure how things work in 5e, but in earlier editions campaign settings came along with things that were not necessarily 100 percent identical to the core rules....and things had to shift to accomodate the settings.

For example, 1e has talk of Alternate Material Planes, while Spelljammer puts all the crystal spheres and the Phlogiston down as being part of one Prime Material Plane.

In Spelljammer the gods (who are mostly in the Other Planes) are able to connect to priests/clerics in some crystal spheres...but not other crystal spheres.

So there are kind of two models of the universe, that suggest things work in different ways.

I know that 3e and 4e came up with a bunch of funky variations on how the Planes work. So you have other logical constructs there.

I believe that 5e was going for all models of the Planes appearing to work, meaning that the Great Wheel Cosmology is correct if you think it is and the World Axis Tree (not sure if that is the right name - not a 4e expert) works if you think that is.

So lets turn your question on it's head and ask it backwards.

If Barovia and Darkon were both different demiplanes or different Islands of Terror, would that stop anything from working?

Does Ravenloft need things to be a certain way to get stuff to function?

Because if anything in the DMG is going to break something in Ravenloft that you kind of need to work to have fun™, then I think you should tweak the rule to make sure that you keep having fun.

That's not really a proper answer, I suppose, as I'm no Ravenloft expert.

But I don't know what is at stake here, if you come down one way or the other...and think that if one decision or the other decision would be problematic, that you could have your answer right there.

I'll look forward to someone with more Ravenloft-fu coming along and saying what they think.
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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by Dread Delgath » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:43 pm

I have the original Ravenloft boxed sets, "Ravenloft" and "Forbidden Lore". There may have been more in the AD&D2e era, but if there are, I am unaware of them.

The Domains of Dread were originally in its very own pocket dimension (a demi-plane) where the land was divided up among several beings of power, Strahd being only one of those beings - but possibly the oldest and strongest, and the catalyst for the formation of the "Domains of Dread". Ravenloft, or "Barovia" was the first area to be enveloped and taken away to its own plane. Eventually other areas (what you call the Core Domains) were detached from their respective places (including other campaign settings!) in the Prime Material Plane and re-attached, as if surgically grafted to the borders of Barovia in the mists. So yes, if one was strong enough (based on DM whim or plot devices), one could pass through the mists surrounding Barovia to access the neighboring Domains.

Eventually, islands were accessible. The lords & ladies of those demesnes weren't as powerful as Strahd, Lord Soth or Azalin, among the others in the Domain proper, but were evil enough to be given an "island" in the mists. Travel from the mainland Domains of Dread to any of the islands was susceptible to the DM & plot.

I haven't really examined any of my old Ravenloft material in years, nor have I closely read "Curse of Strahd" to compare the differences between the two, and see exactly what changes, if any, were made. Therefore, I have no idea what role the Shadowfell plays in accessing the Domains of Dread, but if I were to use it, I'd say that accessing the Domains might be slightly easier done if one were in the Shadowfell, rather than on the Prime Material planes.
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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by willpell » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:45 pm

5E's cosmology is pretty much a big kludge of several contradictory past systems. It's best not to get too hung up on the fact that the details don't match; it's like complaining that Star Trek isn't perfectly scientifically accurate. They've chosen to go with what will make the game easy for people to get into, regardless of their background, rather than for something that exactly matches one and only one past version of the lore, which only hardcore grognards will even know about, let alone care. I have a hard time faulting them on that decision.

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by agathokles » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:26 am

As far as I understand it, the OP's assessment of the impact of moving the Domains to the Shadowfell, but as isolated demiplanes, on some domains. Falkovnia indeed would not work, not would other domains that leverage borders for their core history.

I think this was, as Willpell says, an effect of an attempt to make the game easier to get in. The side effect is to discard Ravenloft as a setting, which is probably part of the whole "making easier to get in", as it reduces the lore needed.

The contradictory details are likely part of this process -- Curse of Strahd is Strahd-centric, so making the Dark Powers come from Strahd's home plane simplifies things for that specific context.

For a 5e Ravenloft campaign, I'd simply ignore the 5e and 4e material, except for 5e stuff needed for conversion (i.e., stats).

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by willpell » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:35 pm

Ravenloft can still exist as a setting, if the Curse of Strahd overlay is effectively a Shadowfell illusion created by the Mists, copying from the template of the real Barovia. Abductees from FR etc. are probably not by default IN the true Ravenloft, but they could probably find a way to get there from the Misty fake version.

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by Corsair14 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:43 pm

I wouldn't change anything from the 2nd and 3rd material as far as world building goes. Simply ignore the dumbed down 5e fluff and run Ravenloft as effectively its own campaign world until the DM decides the PCs find a way out. This thread was the first I have heard about Barovia being the only domain of dread.

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by KtA » Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:14 am

Big Mac wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:28 pm
Hi KtA.

I see this is your first post. Welcome to The Piazza!
Thanks!
So lets turn your question on it's head and ask it backwards.

If Barovia and Darkon were both different demiplanes or different Islands of Terror, would that stop anything from working?

Does Ravenloft need things to be a certain way to get stuff to function?
Well, for the purposes of "Curse of Strahd" itself, it's not especially relevant. But I'm wondering whether the things that don't entirely match up with previous lore are intentional changes, or merely awkward explanations of things that aren't really directly relevant to the adventure.

Corsair14 wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:43 pm
This thread was the first I have heard about Barovia being the only domain of dread.
It's not said to be the only one; Curse of Strahd specifically says it's "one of the Domains of Dread". But it appears to be isolated from others, and is said to be its own demiplane as well.

However, Van RIchten's traditional history, including being from Darkon, is intact.

It isn't clear to me whether the intent was actually to make the domains all separate demiplanes, or whether it's simply explained confusingly, with the real intent being that Ravenloft as a whole is its own demiplane, and Barovia's borders are simply closed for the purposes of this adventure.

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by Cromstar » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:50 am

KtA wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:14 am
It's not said to be the only one; Curse of Strahd specifically says it's "one of the Domains of Dread". But it appears to be isolated from others, and is said to be its own demiplane as well.

However, Van RIchten's traditional history, including being from Darkon, is intact.

It isn't clear to me whether the intent was actually to make the domains all separate demiplanes, or whether it's simply explained confusingly, with the real intent being that Ravenloft as a whole is its own demiplane, and Barovia's borders are simply closed for the purposes of this adventure.
If I had to guess, I'd say it's a bit of both. It seems at times that WotC waffles between acknowledging discontinued settings and pretending they never existed, and this sometimes seeps into actual products, as in this case.

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by Dread Delgath » Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:25 pm

Cromstar wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:50 am
KtA wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:14 am
It's not said to be the only one; Curse of Strahd specifically says it's "one of the Domains of Dread". But it appears to be isolated from others, and is said to be its own demiplane as well.

However, Van RIchten's traditional history, including being from Darkon, is intact.

It isn't clear to me whether the intent was actually to make the domains all separate demiplanes, or whether it's simply explained confusingly, with the real intent being that Ravenloft as a whole is its own demiplane, and Barovia's borders are simply closed for the purposes of this adventure.
If I had to guess, I'd say it's a bit of both. It seems at times that WotC waffles between acknowledging discontinued settings and pretending they never existed, and this sometimes seeps into actual products, as in this case.
Its easier for a writer to access the newer canon than it is to hunt down all the relevant 2e canon material. I call this a lack of proper research. Material based on poorly researched old canon will always suffer in clarity, or default to the newer canon because its more readily available.

I'd just use the 2e stuff right out of the box, without messing about in the Shadowfell, but that's only because I still have the 2e boxed stuff, and my D&D cosmology doesn't really need the additional fluff on the Shadowfell.
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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by NJMystaraFan » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:36 am

From what I can see, Curse of Strahd is another re-imagining of the Ravenloft module. Just like 3e had Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, this is now 5e's version. As Cromstar said, WoTC doesn't seem to acknowledge past settings, (with the exception of the Realms). They want to cash in on the nostalgia but they seem slow to put out new (or retro) campaign settings. Curse of Strahd is technically a campaign set in Barovia. So yes, your assumption is correct, according to 5e lore, Barovia is an island of terror floating in the Shadowfell. If you follow that line of thought then yes, all the other domains are also islands of terror. Keep in mind, Curse of Strahd uses names and locations from various past Ravenloft products but retro fitted them to this new campaign. It seems 5e is going for the "weekend in hell" Ravenloft game. In other words, your players get trapped in one domain and then when they complete whatever quest you have set before them, they return to their home world. This is easily done by having each domain as its own island. Want to pit the players against Dr. Mordenheim and Adam? They are put in Lamordia and have at it. So you could run Adam's Wrath (which pretty much never leaves the domain) and then return to the prime material plane. But I also look at Curse of Strahd as WoTC showing you how to incorporate the various themes of Ravenloft into your 5e campaign. You can take the demiplane's Core and have the entire land mass floating in the Shadowfell and it still works. I'm running a Ravenloft 5e game and instead of the Etheral Plane, Ravenloft is now in the Shadowfell. Otherwise, it plays exactly the same. I just convert everything from 2nd or 3rd edition to 5th edition rules. I probably won't run Curse of Strahd as written, but I'll pull from it when I want to use it like I've used the original Ravenloft adventure in the past. Yes, the setting loses its meta-plot and the various darklords who war with each other wouldn't really work (i.e. Strahd and Azalin), but you could fix that if you like the island idea. Perhaps there are permanent mistways (as written in 3e) that connect certain islands? Or maybe this is Ravenloft after the Time of Unparalelled Darkness and whatever happened shattered the Core? Personally, I like Ravenloft the way it was originally and keep to the old campaign as it's own setting.

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by KtA » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:34 am

Cromstar wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:50 am
If I had to guess, I'd say it's a bit of both.
Probably so.
Dread Delgath wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:25 pm
I'd just use the 2e stuff right out of the box, without messing about in the Shadowfell, but that's only because I still have the 2e boxed stuff, and my D&D cosmology doesn't really need the additional fluff on the Shadowfell.
Well, my main interest in the question is because I was writing up 5E conversions of some of the old Darklords and their associated monsters and minions, but when describing their domains, I started wondering what, if anything, would need to be changed to make them fit in with what Curse of Strahd established.
NJMystaraFan wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:36 am
From what I can see, Curse of Strahd is another re-imagining of the Ravenloft module. Just like 3e had Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, this is now 5e's version. As Cromstar said, WoTC doesn't seem to acknowledge past settings, (with the exception of the Realms).
Well, it seems more like they acknowledge them but not in detail. They keep throwing in references (eg Spelljammer ship in "Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage", Mordenkainen, etc.) but not much actual material.
It seems 5e is going for the "weekend in hell" Ravenloft game. In other words, your players get trapped in one domain and then when they complete whatever quest you have set before them, they return to their home world. This is easily done by having each domain as its own island. Want to pit the players against Dr. Mordenheim and Adam? They are put in Lamordia and have at it. So you could run Adam's Wrath (which pretty much never leaves the domain)
Good point. For a lot of the material, the question isn't terribly relevant. It mostly affects Azalin/Darkon, Drakov/Falkovnia, etc.
Or maybe this is Ravenloft after the Time of Unparalelled Darkness and whatever happened shattered the Core? Personally, I like Ravenloft the way it was originally and keep to the old campaign as it's own setting.
If they didn't specifically give the year in Curse of Strahd, I would have just assumed this was set before the other Core domains arrived.

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by Big Mac » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:18 pm

KtA wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:14 am
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:28 pm
So lets turn your question on it's head and ask it backwards.

If Barovia and Darkon were both different demiplanes or different Islands of Terror, would that stop anything from working?

Does Ravenloft need things to be a certain way to get stuff to function?
Well, for the purposes of "Curse of Strahd" itself, it's not especially relevant. But I'm wondering whether the things that don't entirely match up with previous lore are intentional changes, or merely awkward explanations of things that aren't really directly relevant to the adventure.
Sadly my Ravenloft-fu is so weak I don't understand the implications myself.

But I'm glad you brought this up, as I've learned something.

Has anyone observed a trend in the DMs Guild material for Ravenloft?

Are the fans selling content there going with the original nature of the Domains of Dread or the new one?
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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by Dread Delgath » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:04 pm

KtA: Kudos for diligent research! :)
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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by The Dark » Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:10 pm

It sounds like WotC went with the 4e cosmology for Ravenloft in 5e, where the Domains of Dread are pocket realms within the Shadowfell. It affects some domains not at all (the various islands of terror), some a small bit (Richemulot is mostly immigrants from Falkovnia, Invidia, or Dementlieu in 2e, Dementlieu was formed when a family emigrated from Mordent, the Darklord of Invidia has been recruiting wolfweres from Kartakass, etc), and a few greatly (Cavitius and Tovag, which rely on the antipathy between Kas and Vecna; the stacked realms of Paridon and Timor; the pocket realms of Scaena, House of Lament, or Davion).

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by KtA » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:02 am

The Dark wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:10 pm
and a few greatly (Cavitius and Tovag, which rely on the antipathy between Kas and Vecna; the stacked realms of Paridon and Timor; the pocket realms of Scaena, House of Lament, or Davion).
Yeah, Cavitius/Tovag absolutely require each other. They'd have to be one pocket containing both (IIRC they were called the "Burning Peaks cluster" in late 2E Ravenloft and not attached to the Core). A similar solution might work for Paridon and Timor, though I'm not as familiar with those.

The Falkovnia situation bothers me more in this model because Darkon, for example, isn't about its relationship with Falkovnia the way Cavitius/Tovag are essentially about fighting each other. It's core to Falkovnia, but not to Darkon.

I think the pocket realms could be made to fit into a model of individual demiplanes (with occasional connections between them) more easily than the relationships between Core Domains, though. I mean, even in Curse of Strahd the Vistani can bring van Richten from Darkon to Barovia, so "special" travel is still a thing even if land borders aren't; the Headless Horseman's road or Scaena appearing in Barovia or Darkon or wherever could be the same sort of thing.
Dread Delgath wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:04 pm
KtA: Kudos for diligent research! :)
Thanks!

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by Dread Delgath » Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:54 pm

Late mention: Its been weeks since I visited this topic, but when it first came up, I took a look at the AD&D2e Domains of Dread map and the map in the back of Curse of Strahd for 5e. They are similar, but the 5th edition version is smaller & a little 'simpler' with some complex nuances of the original no longer in existence.

I will try to remember this next time I have a few moments to spare and compare them side-by-side & note the specific differences.
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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by Tim Baker » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:47 pm

Dread Delgath wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:54 pm
I will try to remember this next time I have a few moments to spare and compare them side-by-side & note the specific differences.
I'd be interested in seeing a side-by-side comparison like this.

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Re: The nature of Domains of Dread in 5E

Post by The Dark » Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:10 am

KtA wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:02 am
The Dark wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:10 pm
and a few greatly (Cavitius and Tovag, which rely on the antipathy between Kas and Vecna; the stacked realms of Paridon and Timor; the pocket realms of Scaena, House of Lament, or Davion).
Yeah, Cavitius/Tovag absolutely require each other. They'd have to be one pocket containing both (IIRC they were called the "Burning Peaks cluster" in late 2E Ravenloft and not attached to the Core). A similar solution might work for Paridon and Timor, though I'm not as familiar with those.
Paridon is a Renaissance-tech city where dopplegangers and jackalweres feed off the population; one of the 'gangers is the Lord, and he feeds on pain and terror using his ESP power. After the Conjunction, its sewers were replaced by the realm of Timor, which is filled with marikith ruled by their Hive Queen. Timor needs a city to terrify, and adding it to a city that already is being fed on makes a lot of sense.

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