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by Lisa Smedman

Death Ascendant

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The Ravenloft Campaign Setting for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (now the D&D d20 system) is called "dark fantasy", but it really is straight horror. The basic idea is that a "demiplane" has sprung up that traps beings of excessive evil for all eternity. Each of these evil beings is called a "darklord" and his area of control is called his "domain". The "Dark Forces" behind Ravenloft bind these evil creatures to the land, and they cannot leave the domain they rule over. The size of the darklord's domain usually depends on how evil the darklord was. In addition to the "Core" continent bordered my impenetrable mists, their are "islands of evil". These darklords tend to have been less evil in real life. And lastly there are "pocket domains", small areas such as a house and its grounds (or something similar in size) for the least evil of the darklords. Adventurers in Ravenloft have added disadvantages from the start. Most darklords have some sway over their domains, and adventurers are forced in some cases to make horror checks, which if failed can place the character on the road to being a darklord! In most cases, the darklords and their domains are based on literary characters and other horror icons from the real world. For instance, Strahd Von Zarovich of Barovia is loosely based on Count Dracula, while Dr. Mordenheim and his monster Adam of Lamordia are based on Frankenstein and his monster. Their are substitutes for witches, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, ghosts, real-life monsters such as Vlad Tepes (the real-life Dracula), Bluebeard, Countess Bathory, and others. In addition to great evils, there are some heroes, none greater than Rudolph Van Richten, a Doctor modeled closely after Abraham Van Helsing of Dracula fame.

"Death Ascendant" (TSR 9526) is a Ravenloft adventure and is part of the Grim Harvest series which includes Death Unchained and Requiem: Grim Harvest. Death Ascendant finds the adventurers following the trail of the mysterious Ebon Fold from Falkovnia into Darkon. The Adventurers begin to see that the Ebon Fold is connected to Azalin, the powerful Lich darklord of Darkon. He has some horrific plans in store for his domain. 64 pp.

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