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     " Mass murderers, evil despots, producers of bad pop star movies, all the evil folk...They all get their own time share of doom! "

      Title: Ravenloft Campaign Setting by Sword and Sorcery

      Format: Gothic Horror Table Top Role Playing

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: Remember Ravenloft? The land of the damned for the D&D universe, a misty domain, drawing evildoers from about the cosmos. Well Sword & Sorcery have picked it up and updated it for 3rd edition, d20 rules. Now the tales of horror and dread can begin again. You can begin by dreading this review…

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Story and Drama: Over 700 years ago, Count Strahd von Zarovich was committed an act of utter evil. It was not his first and it won't be his last. In response, dark powers pulled him and his land into another plane. Creating the place known as Ravenloft, where the damned dwell to this day. Don't you just hate it when that happens? Since that time, many souls have joined the doomed count in Ravenloft, many domains have opened their doors, and the people go about their lives. Horror looms about the corner for those few brave souls willing to risk life and limb to adventure in this land. Essentially every domain has a ruler, and each ruler has his story. Some of those stories have changed since the last time we saw a Ravenloft supplement. The designers did however look to the books, and used them to design the further history of the dread realm. The only real beef I have with the story of Ravenloft is the lord of Sithicus, my all time favorite dread knight was replaced due to legal battles. Aside from that the stories and drama are appropriately epic and gothic. 5 out of 5

      Layout and Presentation: The book is laid out quite well. Anyone familiar with White Wolf books should recognize a few things. They explain the timeline, explain character class differences, and continue through game rule information. The book goes through all of the domains in the realm (domains are like countries). It finishes off with some good tips for playing or DMing. The artwork is fine, with both good and bad examples. All together it comes off fairly well. 4.5 out of 5

      Playability: For those who don't know how Ravenloft works, here's the low down. Essentially the "dark powers" (that's all the name we get, they're supposed to be mysterious) reach out into other dimensions and capture evildoers. Mass murderers, evil despots, producers of bad pop star movies, all the evil folk. They take them in, and if they're evil enough, give them their own time-share… OF DOOM! The reason this is great is because bystanders sometimes get drawn into the fray as well. That means that no matter where your players are, they can always be caught up into a Ravenloft campaign. Making it one of the more easily playable worlds for an established group. Rules-wise, the game plays just like D&D, with the addition of Fear, Horror, and Madness checks. These checks are to help with the horror part of the Gothic Horror feel. They're basically just saving throws and don't complicate things any. A few additional things are added in; differences in civilizations, and outcast ratings to represent the xenophobia of the native folk. None of the additions are complicated, and can actually enhance role-play. It's essentially just as playable as D&D 3rd edition. 4 out of 5

      Desired Content: As with all D20 games, you'll need the D&D player's guide, so make sure you have it or you won't be able to make characters. Otherwise, this book has everything a D&D group needs to start playing Ravenloft. All of the minor differences between playing a normal world and playing in the dread realm are detailed within. Plenty of information (for the players anyway) can be found on all of the domains in the land. The DM will have to look to the Secrets of the Dread Realm for more information on the Darklords, but that is as it should be. This book has what's needed; it's just not a starter book. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       If you remember the coolness that was Ravenloft, get this book. They've done a great job bringing everything up to date. For those of you who don't know Ravenloft, but want to spice up your D&D games with some gothic horror, come get some. For those of you interested in neither D&D, nor Horror… why the hell are you reading this review?

      The Good: Easily playable gothic horror.

      The Bad: Yet another D20 book.

      The Overall Ugly: NO MORE SOTH!? Stupid copyright laws. Good game world, I recommend it highly

      What it's Worth: $25-$30

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