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Masque of the Red Death Player's Guide
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Masque of the Red Death Player's Guide

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Try a new campaign in the New Year: From now through January 18th, this digital title has been marked down by up to 25%! For more savings, visit our New Year, New Campaign sale page.

Gothic Earth, first revealed in 1994 with the release of the Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales boxed set, allows D&D players to enter a dark vision of our own world in the 1890s. Now, this classic setting comes to 5th Edition with the release of the Masque of the Red Death Player's Guide!

Everything you need to create a Gothic Earth character or campaign waits within the pages of this tome, which explores the core themes of the setting and provides rules to implement them in the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Discover a benighted mirror of Earth at the end of the 19th Century, where nations old and new arise beyond the reach of Europe’s fading empires. Railroads, firearms, electric power, and other wondrous inventions spread across the globe, while magic is a lost secret, tainted forever by an ancient evil.

Thousands of ago, an alien force invaded Gothic Earth: the Red Death. It manipulates and corrupts humankind, while its minions—vampires, werewolves, doppelgangers, and worse—thrive in the shadows. Now, this terrible entity’s carefully-woven plans come together. A few brave investigators risk their lives against the darkness… Will you be one of them?

These rules usher you into the tales of Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, and Bram Stoker. Here you will find tools to oppose the Red Death’s agents, from Jack the Ripper and Professor Moriarty to Mr. Hyde and Count Dracula himself. Join hidden qabals, rediscover forbidden lore and spells, and explore the most dangerous D&D campaign setting of all with the Masque of the Red Death Player's Guide.

Email if you have any questions about this product, or to inquire about discounted or complimentary PDFs for reviews or other purposes, or if you find yourself unable to purchase at full price due to financial hardship.

Just as the original boxed set provided new classes, character options, and other rules that brought the world's most popular roleplaying game into this unique era, this 5E conversion presents a whole new way of playing D&D, including:

  • 5 new classes—ranging from the highly observant, mystery-solving Sleuth to the unmatched combat expertise of the Soldier—designed for versatility and customization, allowing you to portray any Gothic Earth character concept you can imagine;
  • 16 new archetypes, all usable with any Masque of the Red Death character class, including  spellcasters such as the Adept, Medium, and Mystic, alongside fierce investigators like the Artifact Hunter, Gunslinger, Outrider, and Spy;
  • New rules for firearms, explosives, and other 19th Century gear, as well as expanded combat options that model everything from brutal urban firefights to subtle battles of will between rivals in high society;
  • A custom character sheet specially designed for making your own Gothic Earth heroes;
  • Updated versions of the classic Ravenloft rules for Fear, Horror, and the temptations of Dark Powers—as well as new rules for Resolve, the personal reserve of willpower you rely on to resist these influences and achieve heroic exploits;
  • A whole chapter on qabals, secret societies that preserve the secrets of magic in a world where spellcasting risks corruption, madness, and supernatural transformation;
  • A guide to 1890s London, the bustling center of both the British Empire and a dark web of supernatural conspiracies;
  • A separate file with a collection of printer-friendly pre-generated Masque of the Red Death characters, which includes all the rules players need in a quick-and-easy format, to allow play with minimal reference to the book itself at the table;
  • New feats, spells, backgrounds, and more...

Developed over years of design and revision, the mechanics in this product take great care to weave Gothic Earth elements such as firearms, explosives, rare spellcasting, and more while still maintaining the balance between characters and encounters established in the base D&D 5E ruleset. The text has been edited by R P Davis, and proofread by other prominent DMsGuild creators, and the rules were the subject of a massive playtest by DMs and players all over the world.

UPDATE: In addition to the normal quick and full-size previews above and the page images below, you can now download our package of pregenerated characters, the character sheet, quick rules summaries for players and DMs and more (included special permission and guidance for other DMs Guild creators to use the pregens and these rules in their own products), all for FREE at this link:

A new world of D&D horror beckons. Enter freely and of your own will, and prepare to face some of literature's most iconic evils with the Masque of the Red Death Player's Guide for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons!

Table of Contents from Masque of the Red Death Player's GuideMasque of the Red Death Player's Guide IntroductionThe Scion class from Masque of the Red Death Player's GuideArchetype List from Masque of the Red Death Player's GuideAdept archetype from Masque of the Red Death Player's GuideExpert archetype from Masque of the Red Death Player's Guide

Content Warning: While this book emphasizes fantasy horrors like vampires and evil curses rather than real 1890s issues like bigotry and colonialism, some elements may still be sensitive for some readers. Violence is frequently mentioned (as in most D&D games), especially gun violence, and there is also discussion of extreme poverty, traumatic injuries, real-world religious traditions, and certain (fictionalized) mental health conditions. In most cases, the amount of attention these subjects receive here is equivalent to their treatment in the D&D fifth edition Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide. Tools for handling sensitive subjects are discussed in the text.

If you enjoy this product, please check out these and other DM's Guild titles by author Jeremy Forbing, whose Ravenloft Archetypes product prompted praise from Critical Role creator Matt Mercer as being "Really grand content! Well thought out, well presented, and a fantastic supplement to any campaign... Highly recommended!"

Cover of Unearthed Archetypes ICover of Ravenloft Archetypes IICover of Eberron Archetypes

If you think this product could be improved, please Review or at least leave a comment-- all input is read and considered, and feedback often results in new updates!

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Reviews (4)
Discussions (10)
Customer avatar
hhbhbh R January 06, 2021 1:54 pm UTC
Hey, loving the book so far. Question: Does this system not have extra attack? Couldnt find any mention, maybe im missing something.
Customer avatar
John M January 01, 2021 3:08 am UTC
An absolutely fantastic adaptation of MotRD to 5th Edition that I plan on using to bring many, many newer D&D players into the realms of historical-ish horror. Kudos, can't wait for my physical copy to come in the mail, the PDF is great in and of itself!
Customer avatar
Charles B December 11, 2020 1:56 pm UTC
Do you have any plans for a GM's guide type situation? Something containing more of the Qabals, more advice for running Gothic Earth, more information about the setting in general, or is that a matter of infringing on decades out of print boxed set (or worse, RPGA modules that are IMPOSSIBLE to find) work?
Customer avatar
Christopher L September 27, 2020 3:59 pm UTC
As someone who has been playing this setting off/on ever since the 90's (Yes, I'm old. I started with the Red Box in 83'. lol) I'm ecstatic that someone was able to convert it over to 5e. I tried to figure out how to do it myself, but gave up as it seemed too daunting of a task. I think you did a great job on this Jeremy. For me personally, I'm having a little bit of a hard time understanding the classes/archetypes though. I'm used to playing this in 2nd Edition (was not even remotely a fan of 3.0/3.5) which uses Soldier, Tradesman, Adept, etc. as classes, and then the kits underneath those. I just got to get used to the new vocabulary. :) I love the addition of the "resolve points." That's a really ingenious addition to the game. I've been a fan of Gothic horror since I was a teenager, and for me, Masque of the Red Death brought my favorite genre into my favorite setting/time period. Gothic Horror in the Victorian Era 1890's. So please let me say "Thank you!" to Jeremy, and to...See more
Customer avatar
Matthew M September 14, 2020 2:56 am UTC
Have you ever considered reviving the Masque of the Jade Dragon/Horror? The Gothic Earth setting fit for the far east? I'd love to see how some eastern cultures like Japan would be dealing with the influence of the Red Death, or perhaps a possible rival for it's evil.
Customer avatar
Jeremy F September 18, 2020 2:35 am UTC
I often think about the plans for that setting, which never quite came to be, but I wouldn't be the one to adapt it to 5E. I am hoping someone with a real connection to Asian culture will come along and write that up.
Customer avatar
Joshua G June 22, 2020 4:25 am UTC
I really love the effort put into this and I can tell there was certainly love for this setting. As a fan of gothic horror I am happy there is other settings being brought into 5e. Though one thing I am curious about is could this be used to roleplay in the 18th century? I really like the idea of playing with a Sleepy Hollow/Brotherhood of the Wolf game.
Customer avatar
Jeremy F September 18, 2020 2:33 am UTC
I thought I replied to this, but I guess I never did. Apologies! These rules actually do work well for an 18th century setting, though obviously some things need to be left out (dynamite and photography weren't invented yet, for example). All in all, it is a pretty simple conversion.
Customer avatar
Jonathon C April 25, 2020 7:12 am UTC
Are there any other "Official" Masque of the Red Death 5e products coming from this author/team? As a player's guide, this is solid enough, but Masque feels like a setting that warrants at least some kind of expansion beyond that.
Customer avatar
Jeremy F May 01, 2020 7:41 am UTC
Our editor has just released an adventure for these rules: The Mummy Rises! Set in gaslamp-era London and including some very special guest appearances, this new tale of Gothic Earth sets player investigators against the menace of an evil qabal, whose members are eager to revive the ancient evils waiting within certain sarcophagi in the British Museum...

Check out The Mummy Rises here:
Customer avatar
Adam C January 01, 2020 9:10 pm UTC

I love this book!

There are a few typos and grammar errors here and there that I assume will be revised in future printings, but the content is so up my alley that it's hard to find fault with the book.

I have 2 questions...
1) If you're dual wielding handguns and are proficient, you get advantage within normal range against medium/heavy armor, but your secondary handgun has disadvantage, thus cancelling out the advantage for a normal shot? Also, do you add your primary stat to damage with the mainhand or offhand weapons?
2) I bought the softcover version of this book before the PDF became available. May I get the PDF for the same price as if I had bought both at the same time? I'd like to send this to my remote DND buddies!

Thanks again for such a juicy setting book!
Customer avatar
Jeremy F January 02, 2020 11:50 pm UTC
Hi Adam,
Thanks for your kind words about the book, and for your questions. I am going to respond to your rules question in more detail when I'm not replying from my phone (short answer on that is: yes and yes). But as far as getting a discount on the PDF, just email and let us know the email address you use for your DMs Guild account, forwarding the original confirmation email from when you purchased the softcover if possible, and we will take care of you.
Thanks again,
Customer avatar
Jeremy F January 07, 2020 12:55 am UTC
On your rules question: The secondary weapon only has disadvantage if you have already made another weapon attack that turn (presumably with a different weapon, unless you are wielding the gun with one hand for some other reason). As per the normal rules, disadvantage and advantage always cancel each other out, including when the advantage or disadvantage comes from a weapon property.

The PHB rules for two-weapon fighting (page 195) don't apply here, because they only work for a light melee weapon, not a ranged weapon like a handgun. So the rule about not adding your ability modifier to damage is not relevant.

The purpose of the secondary property is to enable (from 1st level on) the archetypal combat tactic of wielding two handguns (which is not normally for ranged weapons in the regular D&D rules unless you have a special feat or feature) without making the ability to do so overpowered (since firearm damage tends to be higher than that of other weapons). Also, while the rules abstract...See more
Customer avatar
Thomas W December 05, 2019 1:21 pm UTC
How do the Fear and Horror rules work? Are they based on will save like 5e or more like the 2e and 3e saving throws? (Are there madness rules linked to horror saves?)
Also what about Resolve? Is it like action points?
Customer avatar
Thomas W December 05, 2019 2:39 pm UTC
Actually, it looks like the preview provides some answers to the questions. Although I'm still curious to see how madness is treated.
Customer avatar
Jeremy F December 08, 2019 6:24 am UTC
Hi Thomas. The basic approach is somewhat similar to the optional Madness rules described in chapter 8 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, but there are some key differences. We try to draw a very clear line between the fictionalized states of mind on the Red Death Madness Effects table and real-world mental health issues, so all the entries on our table are original to this document. Each is filtered through the flawed understandings of "alienism" (the 1890s equivalent of psychology).

These madness effects are also partly described as supernatural conditions. On Gothic Earth, evil and horror are tangible cosmic forces, and the Red Death uses its supernatural influence over these forces to inflict these effects, as consequences of confronting the unreal terrors of fantasy horror. There is also some advice related to discussing the use of the madness rules before play and getting the consent of every participant, with rules options for not using this part of the book at all.

When...See more
Customer avatar
Tom C December 04, 2019 1:30 am UTC
Do you need the 1994 book for setting fluff to properly use the 5e Guide?
Customer avatar
Jeremy F December 05, 2019 12:05 am UTC
Thanks for the question! While the details in the original boxed set or the classic Gothic Earth Gazetteer (which is a steal on DMs Guild for just $4.99 in PDF!) can greatly inform a Masque of the Red Death, I think the Player's Guide for 5E tells you enough about the setting to run a campaign with a lot of lore coming in the Qabals chapter and a whole appendix detailed London in the setting. And realistically, with a setting that is a variant of our own world, the most useful information is actually recorded history, and so can be found online via Wikipedia and other free resources.

Let me know if that answers your question. Happy to clarify further!
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File Last Updated:
December 04, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on December 02, 2019.