R1 4

RQ1: Night of the Walking Dead (1991)

OK, so, in 1990, the Ravenloft campaign setting comes out and is immediately supported by RA1: Feast of Goblyns, which is a sort of deluxe disasters of a scenario that tries to fuse traditional D&D play with horror and the gothic narrative intrigues of the setting. It doesn’t really come together, but it is a noble first effort. RA2: Ship of Horror comes out in 1991. It’s a stand alone adventure that features a lot of nautical traversal. It’s OK, but TSR’s still not really figuring out the narrative play thing yet. I should note though, that the metaplot-focused Dark Sun also comes out in 1991. Later in 1991, RA3: Touch of Death comes out and suddenly there is a prophecy that retroactively accounts for the action of all three RA modules, indicating the coming of a Grand Conjunction, the first Ravenloft metaplot.

The Conjunction picks up again in RQ1: Night of the Walking Dead, which is weird, because it is intended for character levels 1-3. Penned by Bill Slavicsek (pretty fresh off his stint at West End Games), this module does a good job of balancing the requirements of the plot against the agency of the players. The plot is pretty deep, but none of it comes at the cost of player choice, which is a bar none of the other Grand Conjunction modules ever clear. It involves an island, an eclipse, a plague of zombies and a zombie lord. The romp through the cemetery at the end is quite nice and it is pleasing to not have to deal with the realm’s Darklord at all (a common complication). It even does a decent job of avoiding the pitfalls of the Epcot Voodoo Island vibe that is established for Souragne in the box set. Some nice Fabian art as well.

The fourth part of the prophecy fulfilled, the Grand Conjunction moves on. But not to RQ2, that would make too much sense! That super high level mind flayer-centric scenario has nothing to do with the Conjunction, so we’re going to pass it by till another October…

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