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Item - Master of Ravenloft

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Series: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Gamebooks — no. 6
Translated Into: Ankoku jou no ryoushu [暗黒城の領主] (Japanese)
Il signore di Ravenloft (Italian)
El vampiro de Ravenloft (Spanish)
Adapted From: Ravenloft (Role-Playing Material)
Author: Blashfield, Jean (F.)
Illustrators: Caldwell, Clyde (cover)
Williams, Gary (interior)
Date: January, 1986
ISBN: 0880382619 / 9780880382618
Length: 189 pages (345 sections)
Number of Endings: 15
User Summary: You are Jeren Sureblade, a high-level paladin. You must defeat the evil vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich in his dangerous home in order to save a young girl from becoming one of the undead.
Demian's Thoughts:

This excellent gamebook, based on a classic AD&D module by Tracy and Laura Hickman, actually manages to make up for the failure of Blashfield's earlier entry in this series, The Ghost Tower. This well-designed book is pleasantly non-linear and surprisingly replayable due to the randomization of encounters and object locations... There are a few flaws, including some strangely distributed instructions and a tendency for the reader to get lost in the sections of the book due to the complexity caused by the story's non-linear nature, but these are more than made up for by the book's enjoyable design.

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Fireguard's Thoughts:

As a rule, gothic and fantasy aren't a combination that go down well with me, so I was unsure how to approach Master of Ravenloft. The feature of losing levels if you're wounded by the undead was also bizarre, but maybe that would make sense if I knew more about AD&D.

The book mainly consists of a scavenger hunt for magical weapons to help you topple the evil vampire lord. Doesn't sound like anything new, I know, but the thing is the contents of rooms are determined by random die rolls. It sounds annoying, but it's not a bad idea really. Even after you win once and try again, you won't think, "No point checking out this room, there's nothing but a monster guarding an empty chest in there." This kept the narrative from being that immersive, but it's fun to explore Ravenloft again once in a while not knowing what I'll find.

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Guillermo's Thoughts:

(review based on the Spanish translation)

This is the only book in this series based on the Ravenloft campaign setting, and for several years was the only gamebook set on this world (until the appearance of the second Endless Quest series). In this book, your mission is to journey to Castle Ravenloft and destroy Count Strahd once and for all. The book has several features that make it fun to play. One is that, as a high-level paladin, you have several clerical spells and abilities at your disposal. Moreover, most of the adventure includes exploring the castle for magical items which can be used later, thus increasing the number of gameplay options.

The book is also made interesting by a clever design scheme. Encounters and items are randomly allocated in each attempt, so it's possible to replay the book several times without playing the exact same game. The player has complete freedom of movement to explore the castle, which gives this book a high degree of flexibility. The writing, while not exceptional, is atmospheric and engaging.

However, over the years I've come to enjoy this book less due to the fact that almost all the battles are way too easy to win. Even Strahd can be ridiculously easy to defeat if you use a certain item. Also, the book may be made frustrating by the presence of several continuity errors. Overall, I consider it to be average.

Errata: "Pregame Rolls" are not explained in the original version of the book. According to the Spanish translation, the player has to roll one die three times before beginning the adventure and note down the results as "A", "B" and "C" for later reference. These are random seeds which determine the locations of encounters and items in the book for each play-through.

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Kveto's Thoughts:

As with issue #2 based on The Ghost Tower of Inverness, the publishers of D&D realized that they had lots of great adventure modules and could therefore pull "double duty" by using those scenarios as gamebooks as well. It's a great idea.

This one is based on the popular "Ravenloft" series, a kind of gothic style D&D module and one of the most popular. I haven't read the module so I can't compare the two. But both involve defeating the vampire count Strahd in his castle.

In this you play a high level Paladin called Jeren Sureblade (surely the stupidest name in a long line of stupid adventure book names - Bern Vallenshield, Derek Shadowalker, why do they feel the need to provide these doofus surnames?). That aside, this is a good book with lots to explore. You meet a young girl, the target of the vampire's affection, and there are hints at romance. It is very random, often rolling to see if the room has an encounter or not. You are a powerful character with a magic staff that can pretty much do anything. A good thing about playing a paladin is that you don't really need an adventure motivation. There's a vampire, I'll go kill it.

Overall a decent read for this series.

More reviews by Kveto

Users Who Own This Item: arcaril, Ardennes, auximenes, B0N0V0X, BarefootJimmy, bigcobra, bookwormjeff, Crazyscotsman, CSquared, dArtagnan, dave2002a, Dronak, Eamonn McCusker, egokun, Fireguard, Himynameistony, horrorbusiness, jdreller, karalynn, katzcollection, kinderstef, knginatl, le maudit, marnaudo, mattender, mlvoss, NEMO, Nomad, ooklathemokk, outspaced, Pirrakas, Robert Mammone, Ryuran333, Sheridan77, Sir Olli, sireeyore, spragmatic, StagQuests, Tremendez, truce57, twar, Von Scotty, waktool (US 1st), Yalius
Users Who Want This Item: 8Trax, aleeg96, BobaGabe (Good free movement, Random encouters !), bonhomme, Braldt, Cyan, Ebichuman, Erikwinslow, Ffghtermedic, Gartax, Grifter, Hyperbog (This is the last 1e product I need to complete the 1e Ravenloft set. Please message me if you have a copy preferably with the character sheet. Thanks!), Khellendros, Lambchop, lek, LordJR, momaw27, nelsondesign, odo_ital, PlanewalkerGroup (Seeking a 1st printing in Near-Fine or better condition.), Pseudo_Intellectual, rob-jr, Seizure, snakefire77, SonicBlaze, Surcal, wonderfly
Users with Extra Copies: twar - 1 copy shows a bit of shelf wear, has pencil markings on character card. Good copy.

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