So, here we are at Day 4 of the D&D 30 Challenge, and today the request is to consider a favorite game world. This is legitimately a tough one.
In retrospect, I probably played more Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk as settings than anything else. However, I have a special place in my heart for Ravenloft. D&D’s gothic horror stole my heart in my early days of gaming, and I can’t ever understate how cool I thought it was.
Way back when I was a pre-teen, and in my early teens I devoured every fantasy novel I could get my hands on, as well as horror and science fiction. However, I’ve always felt like stumbling onto Ravenloft was a significant point.
Up till then, I had always viewed fantasy through the lens one might look at anything that adheres to a formula. Probably predictable, but good just the same. When I discovered Ravenloft, I had reached a point where I had become frustrated with fantasy tropes. Don’t get me wrong, I love this stuff, but the epic destined hero prevailing against evil felt a bit tired after a while.
Enter Ravenloft. I read book number two in the series for that setting Knight of the Black Rose, and I was floored. Spoiler alert, but the book didn’t have a happy ending. Furthermore, I’d never read anything like it. I had no idea there were books where the heroes didn’t prevail. It absolutely floored me.
To this day, I’ve let it inform my choices in leisure reading, as well as gaming. Sometimes the characters don’t win. That’s ok. Sometimes they do, but reading Ravenloft reminded me that even fantasy can have noble ambitions that bear no fruit.