Classics Unboxed: Ravenloft

Posted on October 9, 2010 by


I’ve been wanting to do a series here on the blog where I take old boxed sets and open them up to look at what’s inside, for the benefit of those of you that have either never seen them, or wish to take a nostalgia trip and check them out again.

This being October, and with Halloween being just around the corner, I thought it would be necessary to start with the “Ravenloft:  Realm of Terror” boxed set for AD&D 2nd Edition.

Ravenloft has been making a lot of noise lately:  a board game based on the 4e D&D rules was just released, and a 4e campaign setting/stand alone rpg was announced at Gencon this past summer.  That game is slated for release in late 2011.

The original Ravenloft was a module for  1st Ed. AD&D published in 1983.  It was written by Tracy Hickman (of Dragonlance fame) and his wife Laura, who ran it for their players every Halloween for 5 years as a playtest before the module was published.

In a nutshell, 2nd Edition Ravenloft consists of the “Domains of Dread”, a pocket dimension where each domain is ruled by a Darklord.  The Darklords are extremely evil beings trapped within their own domains, forever tortured by that which they desire the most in life.  The boxed set mentions that there are over 30 of these domains.  The most iconic of the Darklords is of course, our cover boy Count Strahd Von Zarovich, clearly modeled after Dracula.  He is not the most powerful of the Darklords, but he was the first.

Player characters are transported to Ravenloft through the Ravenloft Mists, ethereal fog that manifests itself in the Prime Material Plane, and carries its victims to the Domains of Dread, where they then have to find a way out, usually forming the basis of adventures in the setting.

The “black box”, as it is commonly known as, was released in 1990 by TSR.  The game design is credited to Bruce Nesmith, with Andria Hayday doing additional design work.  So what’s in the box?  Lets take a look:

  • 144 page book detailing the setting and it also includes tips on creating Gothic horror for the game
  • 4 poster maps
  • 24 cardstock color sheets (castles, npc’s, spell charts, etc)
  • 1 transparent hex overlay for determining distances on the maps

Here’s the actual box:











Here is the book:











Here are some of the cardstock sheets:

And the four poster maps (notice the transparent hex overlay on the bottom right picture):





















So there you go, that’s what’s inside the “Ravenloft:  Realm of Terror” black box for the 2nd Ed. AD&D game.  In 1990, the box had a price tag of $18.00.  Today, you can pick it up on Ebay for more or less the same price, if not cheaper.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and I look forward to opening more classic boxes.  The next one will be everyone’s favorite plane hopping setting:  Planescape.


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