R1 5

Chilling Tales (1995)

Chilling Tales (1995) is a bit unusual in that it is an anthology of short adventures for Ravenloft. I think there’s only one other of these in the line, the Book of Crypts. I like the idea of Scott Burdick’s cover but the execution is a bit murky for my tastes. For a cover. I think it’s a perfectly fine, moody piece in general. Mark Nelson does the interior illustrations. I’m a big fan of the white pencil and he does pretty great undead.

So, weird thing: the back cover insists there are seven adventures in the book, but I count eight. Fun thing: each of the eight is tied to one of the Van Richten’s guides, so you get adventures featuring the vistani, a vampire, a lich, a ghost, golems, a greater mummy, some werecritters and some fiends. See? Eight. I just recounted. Definitely eight.

Another neat thing is that Van Richten himself features in all the scenarios, at various levels of his career (they’re meant to be interspersed through an ongoing campaign, so Rudolph and the players generally meet at the same level). It’s nice for the PCs to have an occasional ally in Ravenloft and it is cool to see Rudolph develop over time.

The adventures are all written by Lisa Smedmen, so they feel consistent. They are short enough that none of them really wear out their welcome, but that cuts two ways because they also wind up feeling a bit ephemeral. I like the ghost-focused one best, because it is investigative. The lycanthropes one has good stalking horse twist. The mummy one is fun because mummy adventures are always a hoot on some level. The fiends one is surprisingly good, too, despite the fairly mortifying suggestion of using make-up and a cloak to set-up the big reveal. I’d rather die.

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