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I6 Ravenloft (1e)

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Under raging stormclouds, a lone figure stands silhouetted against the ancient walls of castle Ravenloft. Count Strahd von Zarovich stares down a sheer cliff at the village below. A cold, bitter wind spins dead leaves around him, billowing his cape in the darkness. Lightning splits the clouds overhead, casting stark white light across him. Strahd turns to the sky, revealing the angular muscles of his face and hands. He has a look of power - and of madness. His once-handsome face is contorted by a tragedy darker than the night itself.

Rumbling thunder pounds the castle spires. The wind's howling increases as Strahd turns his gaze back to the village. Far below, yet not beyond his keen eyesight, a party of adventurers has just entered his domain. Strahd's face forms a twisted smile as his dark plan unfolds. He knew they were coming, and he knows why they came - all according to his plan. He, the master of Ravenloft, will attend to them.

Another lightning flash rips through the darkness, its thunder echoing through the castle's towers. But Strahd is gone. Only the howling of the wind - or perhaps a lone wolf - fills the midnight air. The master of Ravenloft is having guests for dinner. And you are invited.


Product History

I6: "Ravenloft," by Tracy and Laura Hickman, is the sixth module in the long-running Intermediate series of adventures for AD&D. It was released in October 1983.

Sources. "Ravenloft" describes itself as "a classic gothic horror story." Tracy Hickman says that he and his wife took particular inspiration "from the original Brahm Stoker Dracula text and the old classic films."

A Gothic Adventure. Prior to the release of "Ravenloft," TSR's D&D adventures were almost all straight fantasies - with a bit of the pulp genre slipping into adventures produced by David "Zeb" Cook and Tom Moldvay. Thus, the appearance of a gothic horror adventure for AD&D was something entirely new.

Of course that raises the question of how gothic the adventure really was. There's certainly a lot of great atmosphere - beginning with the gorgeous cover painting by Clyde Caldwell and continuing on through the descriptions by the Hickmans. However, "Ravenloft" also includes a dungeon (crypt) and a few monsters like rust monsters and red dragons that aren't really gothic in flavor. In the end, "Ravenloft" is probably best classified as a fantasy adventure with a few gothic trappings - just like Cook & Moldvay's modules were often fantasy adventures with bits of pulp.

DayStar Origins. The story of "Ravenloft" begins at DayStar West Media, the small-press company that the Hickmans ran before joining TSR. They published just two adventures - which TSR later reprinted as I3: "Pharaoh" (1982) and RPGA1: "Rahasia" (1982) / B7: "Rahasia" (1984).

However, DayStar had two other adventures underway when they decided to close up shop. One of them was "Vampyr." The Hickmans had started working on it after a friend ran an adventure where a vampire showed up in a dungeon room. Laura and Tracy felt like this didn't give vampires the proper respect (or motivation), so they decided to create an adventure built entirely around a vampire. The result was "Vampyr," which they playtested a few times at Halloween, but didn't publish... until after Tracy Hickman joined TSR.

A Dynamic Adventure. "Ravenloft" begins with a rather unique section called "Fortunes of Ravenloft." This is a "gypsy card reading" that determines where several things are located in Castle Ravenloft and also sets the goals of the Count himself. This reading clearly makes the adventure less prone to player spoiling and also makes it more replayable - but TSR hadn't really worried about adventure modules getting spoiled since the late 70s. The card reading is thus probably more notable because it allows the players to experience a non-stacked card reading that genuinely and dynamically predicts the future of the adventure.

A Different Sort of Adventure. When the Hickmans published their original adventures through DayStar West Media, they included a "manifesto" of adventure requirements that explained how their adventures would both expand the medium and stand out from the crowd. One of these requirements was "an intriguing story that is intricately woven into the play itself."

Here, "Ravenloft" delivers in spades. It's an adventure focusing on one NPC, "Count Strahd von Zarovich," who has his own goals and agenda, and who will spend the adventure both pursuing those goals and bedeviling the PCs. As a result, "Ravenloft" is a clear predecessor to the Dragonlance saga (1984-86) that would soon follow - and which would have an even greater emphasis on story. In turn, these adventures would help to define the adventure style of D&D in the 90s.

A Different Sort of Map. "Ravenloft" includes beautiful isometric maps by Dave Sutherland which depict an interconnected three-dimensional castle. These maps tied back to another of the Hickman's "requirements" for adventures: "dungeons with some sort of architectural sense." GMs would later get the opportunity to mimic the style when TSR included blank isometric maps in Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (1986).

Future History. "Ravenloft" was reprinted in RM4: "House of Strahd" (1993) and "Ravenloft Silver Anniversary Edition" (1999) - both of which updated and revised the adventure for AD&D second edition. A facsimile of the original adventure was also included in the TSR Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition slipcase (1999); it was the newest adventure in that box, which mostly included releases from the 70s.

The Hickmans outlined a sequel to "Ravenloft," I10: "Ravenloft II" (1986), but more notably this adventure led to an entire horror-oriented setting (1990-99) that was extensively supported during the years of second edition. More recently, the original castle has appeared in Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (2006) for 3e and in the Castle Ravenloft Board Game (2010).

About the Creators. Tracy Hickman wrote four of the I-series adventures in a row - from I3: "Pharaoh" to I6: "Ravenloft." Shortly afterward, he moved on to Dragonlance. Laura Hickman coauthored all three of the adventures which came out of DayStar West Media, as well as DL8: "Dragons of War" (1985).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (20)
Discussions (10)
Customer avatar
Evan D February 27, 2020 10:22 am UTC
The new scan seems like a general improvement. The blacks are much blacker and everything is a little more crisp. A couple of issues: the cover seems to be a scan of a cover in worse condition than the cover of the previous scan. Seems kinda pointless to rescan a worse quality cover. The colour on the Lands of Barovia map are much more vibrant than before, but the different elevation colours are harder to tell apart. I feel like the colour accuracy is off.
Customer avatar
Jeffrey B February 22, 2020 3:36 am UTC
Where is the print version?
Customer avatar
Benjamin S February 16, 2020 1:55 am UTC
please bring back the print version
Customer avatar
NÉMETH E January 13, 2019 1:11 am UTC
This version i come in one book? Not like the original what has a cover a book and a map inside its all in one?
Customer avatar
October 25, 2018 7:29 am UTC
*Sigh* Yet another product with two different files and no indication of which one is current. DD1_I6_Ravenloft.pdf is larger and has all the maps as single pages, so I *think* it's the more current/better file, but I just don't know. This happens all the time, with numerous publishers, and it gets more annoying the more products I buy . . .
Customer avatar
Tymion K December 06, 2018 2:32 pm UTC
Could you figure out which versions the different PDFs are?

Is one a scan and the other one a digital remastered version?
Customer avatar
Dietmar K April 08, 2018 12:14 pm UTC
I've been interested in playing the module for decades, but honestly, I never got over the name "Strahd von Zarovich". I mean, it probably sounds somewhat badass for 12 year olds, and we Europeans probably used to to the same thing to american names when we were 12, but it's just such a cheesy mashup. "Von" is german meaning "of" and indicates nobility. "Zarovich" sounds like it's derived from "tsarevitch" which is a russian title for "the Tsar's oldest son", with the "-vic" or "-vitch" suffix turning up in many slavic names. So you have a german-russian-slavic last name preceded by a somewhat slavic sounding but actually meaningless first name. *sigh* I guess I'll just call him Steve.
Customer avatar
David C April 30, 2018 2:46 pm UTC
Yes, this!
Customer avatar
Edward O November 22, 2017 1:46 am UTC
On page 7 in section 6 it says "after 3 turns...", how are turns outside of combat supposed to work?
Customer avatar
Greg T February 06, 2018 5:11 am UTC
Turns in AD&D 1E / 2E are a unit of time, not a measure of gameplay agency. 1 round = 1 minute, 1 turn (10 rounds) = 10 minutes.
Customer avatar
Spencer S August 27, 2017 2:51 pm UTC
Has anyone bought the PoD for this one, and are the maps still in color or was everything converted to black and white for the printed version?
Customer avatar
Greg T February 06, 2018 5:13 am UTC
Maps in the PoD are in colour, but the colour quality is nothing to brag about. I don't have the original module for contrast but these appear to be no more than five-colour printing. All detail is present though. They're also bound as part of the book rather than detchable.

Cover is full glossy colour though and looks great.
Customer avatar
Ted W June 17, 2016 2:44 pm UTC
I have bought this already. When it first came out. I hate paying for the same content multiple times. It it a fantastic module though, and I may just add it to may Castles & Crusades campaign when the characters are high enough level.
Customer avatar
Ozzie O July 02, 2014 7:47 am UTC
Easily one of my favorite 1E modules. Maybe even taking the top spot. Nothing compares to a supremely smart villain taking the heroes off their guard, putting them in his realm, and watching them struggle to solve the mysteries and defeat him. A ton of fun to run. I almost wish there'd be an adaptation to the D&D Next rules just so I could put my new group of players through it.
Customer avatar
Oliver K June 04, 2016 2:32 pm UTC
Well, by now we have "Curse of Strahd". Sadly, it is only released as hardcover with no PDF option.

The maps of Ravenloft are the same, down to the numbering. The I6 version is easier to read, the "Curse" version a bit more artsy, but no real changes have been made. I like referring back to I6 for comparing the 5e text to the 1e maps.

"Curse" expands the lands of Barovia a lot, still including the village of Barovia and the castle region intact as depicted in I6. The map in I6 can actually help understand the lay of the land because it shows elevation. The new module comes with beautifully done foldout map. I recommend to get both and compare.
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This title was added to our catalog on October 08, 2013.