“I’ve been to better places in this world, safer places. I’ve been to places with prettier people, more civilized people, to cities that astound you. But you know? I’ve never been to a place that is so harsh and unforgiving; wastelands filled with colossal peaks; primordial forests that have presence; treacherous seas of quicksand; the damp and fog draped moors where the quiet itself seems alive.
Yet there is history here, and opportunity too, for the land is dotted with strange, mystical sites and great monuments from empires before the Age of Darkness. Few alive today can guess at what untold treasures lie fallow. What ancient ruins lie devoured by the deep forest? What lies buried in the fetid swamps? What created the vast stretch of barren lands dotted with hundreds of thousands of broken statues?
Beyond this, the land itself is a treasure, the gigantic Darkwood beckoning those of an opportunistic ilk, not to mention the unique flora and fauna, both dangerous and profitable; where the worst predators and foulest threats are the human tribes, savages, who live there—and those who, in many cases, pass themselves off as humans. This vastness and the sense of isolation have earned the region its name; this is the Razor Coast."
-Dario Argent, Explorer and Silver Agent of the Aspis Consortium, addressing the Absalom Mercantile League, before his disappearance along Arcadia's Razor Coast in 4706 AR
Timeline of the Razor Coast:
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown:
First, I'd keep it as the kind of tour through several lands that it's set up to be in Ustalav, so the following would be best for parties that don't mind walking.
I'd probably start things of in "The Haunting of Harrowstone" in Mordent, having the PCs drawn to Mordentshire or other town not on the map (even Ravengro itself) in much the same way as it's set up in the Carrion Crown Player's Guide, having them be related in some way to a scholarly ally in town, whether it be Van Richten or one of his near equally learned allies. From there, it'd be an easy thing to place Harrowstone outside of the town or nearby. The adventure could proceed pretty much as normal from there.
From there, we get into "Trial of the Beast", which starts with a good long overland journey and some encounters along the way. The PCs could meet the traveling freak show while they're passing through Dementlieu then go on to Ludendorf, which would take the place of Lepidstadt. From there the adventure can progress pretty much as normal, subbing in Schloss Mordenheim for Schloss Caromarc. (Whoa, that's all fits creepily well... I SWEAR it wasn't planned like that and that this is TOTALLY the first time I'm thinking about this. *awkward chuckle* Anyway.)
After that we get into "Broken Moon" territory, but there's no way I'd have the campaign swing all the way back down to Verbrek. Rather, I think I'd use the Forest of Shadows as the Shudderwood and use Corvin or a community on Lake Placid or Redleaf Lake as the Ascanor Lodge. From there I'd swing south to use the City of the Dead as Felgrau.
Departing from there there's another good long journey to the coast with "Wake of the Watcher". The problem here is that the closet coast is way farther away in Ravenloft than it is in Ustalav. I'd probably just hunker down and use Nevuchar Springs as Thrushmoor and then put Illmarsh farther away to the south, somewhere halfway between Nevuchar Springs and the border with Nova Vaasa on the coast of the Nocturnal Sea.
With the trip to Ravenloft Illmarsh taking us halfway down the coast, the closet cosmopolitan center to sub in for Caliphas in "Ashes at Dawn" would be Egertus. That adventure could play out there with little trouble nearly unchanged if you don't mind giving the city a bit of a vampire problem. Though, since it's already set up as a serial killer murder mystery, you might be able to spin Malken in there somewhere.
For the climax with "Shadows of Gallowspire" things get a little trickier. Thinks wrap up in a cursed mountainous wasteland. If you want to play things close to the way the AP presents them heading into Barovia and Mount Sawtooth might be a good place to drop Renchurch and Gallowspire, or even on to Forlorn, or even the mountains of Hazlik since that seems like good grounds for liches. This close to Castle Ravenloft, though, it gets pretty tempting to pull Strahd into the mix, and I might start thinking about respinning the whole plot as some new gambit by Strahd to escape the Demiplane of Dread by collecting and distilling essences from points of power across the domains into an elixir that would allow him to transcend, escape, or even become one of the Dark Powers. Runchurch could be near the village of Barovia and then you could sub in Castle Ravenloft and a fight with Strahd as the big badness at the end.
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown: An Introduction:
Ravenloft is not the name of the planet, or even a land. It is the name of an ancient castle in the land of Barovia, a nation that lies at the heart of the continent known as the Core.
The world itself has no name, being merely "the world" but is often called the Land of the Mists. Travellers from distant lands sometimes name it the Demiplane of Dread but most locals laugh at that hyperbole. Others have called the world such things as a prison for the damned, a crucible to test the virtuous, or a world of fear and horror. But, to you, it is simply called home.
10 Facts About the World
2 – People Are Isolated: The average person lives their entire life within thirty miles of where they were born. The farthest most folk travel is the neighbouring town or village.
3 – Monsters Are Real: The majority of people die a natural death never having encountered a creature of the night. Regardless, it is agreed that monsters are very real and dangers lurk in the shadows.
4 – Superstitions Work: As monsters are real and dangerous, adherence to rituals is what keeps people safe. People strictly adhered to traditions and thus tragedy is avoided.
5 – Humanity Is Predominant: The various inhuman races are rare, almost unknown in many lands. At best they are viewed as less than human, and at worst they are seen as animals or monsters.
6 – Technology Advances: The progress of science has created modern wonders, such as clockworks, firearms, gaslights, and some steam power.
7 – The Gods Are Silent: While prayers are sometimes answered, the gods themselves do not talk to mortals. Some claim to hear the voice of god, but these are called madmen as often as they are called prophets.
8 – Do Not Anger The Vistani: These wandering vagabonds are often considered thieves, but Vistani gypsies can also be entertainers, traders, craftsmen, and mystics. However, the potency of their curses and use of the Evil Eye keep the Vistani from being barred from towns.
9 – Be Wary Of The Mists: Cool white fogs borders the known lands. It is easy to become lost in the Mists, which have been known to snatch travellers, depositing them in faraway lands or even other times.
10 – Magic Is Unreliable: Outlanders from distant lands complain that magic does not work as it should: it cannot detect morality, travel between nations, accurately divine the future, or cross into other worlds. Even those spells that do work often have unintended consequences.
Theme and Tone
A good Ravenloft campaign is a combination of gothic horror and gritty fantasy. This campaign also adds elements of dark Fairy Tales and modern Urban Fantasy to the mix. Dracula and the Brothers Grimm meet the Dresden Files and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
My players do not begin as heroes: they are not the champions of the people or the chosen of the gods. Instead, they are common folk with daydreams of glory or pushed to greatness by desperate times... if they survive.
Adventures will frequently be investigative and the villains more powerful than the PCs. Charging into combat without a plan or knowledge of the enemy will likely result in severe injury or death.
The campaign will also be low magic. PC spell-casters will be among the rare magic users in the Mists. To reinforce this, magic in combat will be discouraged and much more risky. Magic items will also be rarer but not unknown, simply special and unique.
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown: Character Creation:
The rules for creating characters are similar to those found in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, with a number of changes referenced below.
Races are divided into four categories: common, uncommon, rare, and very rare. At the start of the campaign, only races from the first three categories can be chosen. Additionally, at the start of the campaign, I will only select one player with a rare race and two with an uncommon race.
Race - Category
Players can choose alternate Favoured Class options from the Advanced Player's Guide or the Advanced Races Guide.
All core and base classes are available, however there are minor changes for some classes. See the Class section for how existing classes fits into the world as well as any possible changes.
Players who elect to take the commoner NPC class also gain an additional trait of their choice and begin play with a draw from the Tarokka Deck. In addition, their minimum hand size is increased from 0 to 1, so they always have a Tarokka card.
Character advancement begins using the Fast XP advancement chart. Once characters reach level 3, advancement will switch to the Medium XP chart (with XP increased to reach the new minimum of level 3). At level four your NPC class will convert to the PC class of your choice that you currently have the most PC levels in.
Starting Ability Scores
Aristocrat -> Any Class
Starting Skills & Day Jobs
PCs begin with 50 gp worth of goods and equipment with the exception of the aristocrat who begins with 100 gp. This equipment is not new, and represents handed down weaponry, heirlooms, or work-assigned gear. Extra funds are kept but converted into silver pieces (sp). This represents a character’s life saving.
Available content includes the Core Rulebook, the Advanced Player's Guide, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Combat, and the Advanced Race Guide.
Players choose where their characters ally themselves both moral and legally: Good vs. Evil and Lawful vs. Chaotic. If a character does not strongly identify with an option they are Neutral or otherwise unaligned.
Players choose the order of their alignment – which part takes priority. A character can be Lawful Good (where what is legal trumps what is right) or Good Lawful (where the law must be obeyed, but not at the cost of what is right).
See the Language section for details on who speaks what language and what alphabet is used.
Background & Questions
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown: Notes:
Mistfinder: Carrion Crown: Magic in the Mists:
The Semblance of Reason
As noted above, the supernatural has little overt role in the lives of most of those living in the Land of the Mists.
Users of divine magic, for example, should not obviously cast spells. That is, while a priest may stop in combat to bless a companion or pray for protection, the prayer is not answered by a glowing aura over said companion or the appearance of an enormous fiery shield. Wherever possible, I would like PC's to minimise the visual effects of these spells. They have full effect in terms of the game mechanics, but are able to be passed off as coincidence by Doubting Thomases in the world itself. It should be emphasised though that characters who are affected by magic (especially those who pass their saves) are aware of what’s happened.
Similarly, the effect of magical weapons with properties such as flaming, brilliant or related powers will be downplayed. Instead of a visual corona of flames, the sword might project an aura of unnaturalness that warns opponents to stay clear, and invisible flames do fire damage to those struck by it, but from a distance, all but the most powerful or corrupt magical items are not obviously supernaturally empowered.
It is important to for characters to understand with that hit points are just as much luck as physical toughness. A prayer for healing is much more believably ambiguous if you the player presents it as discovering that your characters wounds weren't as bad as first thought, or returning someone to consciousness by slapping their cheek and praying for mercy, rather than describing wounds closing and people rising from near-fatal injuries.
In a similar vein, it is easier to conceal the alignment and nature of opponents from effects like Alignment Channel if you imagine the effect is, in essence, making their luck run out, rather than damaging them. In this mould, a lack of hit points means it is more likely that a fatal blow will be struck, not that a holy word or similar is actually physically damaging.
Finally, magical items are not typically overtly sold as magical items. They might be seen as priceless heirlooms or dwarf-crafted weapons. They might be simple folk remedies prepared by village wise women, or blessed water from a holy font, instead of potions of healing. These items are still available, but they are not thought of as magical items.