R2 2

RM4: House of Strahd (1993)

You can’t keep a good vampire (or vampire-themed module) down. This is House of Strahd (1993) and it updates the original Tracy and Laura Hickman module (1983’s I6: Ravenloft) for both 2E D&D and the Ravenloft campaign setting.

Essentially, it is the same module, polished up and tweaked by Bruce Nesmith for then-modern audiences. It incorporates the various setting-specific rules from the Ravenloft box sets (including reworking the randomization elements to use Forbidden Lore’s Tarokka deck) and beefs Strahd’s stats up to reflect his power and position as a central Darklord (though the original stats are included to give DMs the option to run it at the original difficulty).

But because I6 has been reprinted and reworked so many times over the years, it works as an interesting portrait of a broader, history of D&D sort of way. The original Ravenloft module was groundbreaking for the time, but ten years later, you can compare it to other Ravenloft campaign setting modules and see how it sticks out like a sore thumb – this is a funhouse dungeon crawl in the old mode existing amid a line of story-focused adventures with grand metaplots.

Nesmith was aware of this and dialed back a lot of the original encounters to bring them in line with contemporary player expectations. Remember the infamous entry hall with four red dragons? That was fine back in ‘83 but no way it was gonna fly in ‘93. They’re gargoyle golems now (and even if you look at the included stats for the original difficulty, they’ve replaced the dragons with margoyles).

Still, its feels strange, perhaps more so now with the much more dynamic Curse of Strahd on so many shelves.

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