The 3.0 era was on us. I had just come back to D&D from a long hiatus and to my surprise we were getting a new Ravenloft setting and it was going to be penned by Swords & Sorcery Studios/Arthaus/White Wolf. Say what you like about WW, they do know vampires.
Ravenloft 3.0 was one of my favorite books I bought in the new 3.x era and I loved how it looked. I splurged and grabbed the limited edition version from my favorite local game store.
I thought the art was fantastic and loved how well it adapted itself to the 3.0 rules. But I had already had some experiences with 3.0 and even had pictured up some Swords & Sorcery Studios books and enjoyed those as well. The races were a nice treat to be honest. For the first time I really felt like I could run a Ravenloft game with the likes of gnomes, halflings and especially half-orcs, now rebranded as Calibans and the new Giogoto.
I think though I was expecting more at the time. SSS was part of White Wolf like I mentioned and I was hoping for some of what made Vampire: The Masquerade so good to be here. In re-reading it now, so many years later, I find I had unrealistic expectations. In truth this book is a much better organized and updated version of the 2e Domains of Dread book. The nice thing about Ravenloft (and many of the D&D worlds) is that the plot kept moving along despite edition changes. Though there is also a nice timeline included so DMs can do what they want.
This book has a black and white interior when most others were going full color. To me this is a feature, not a bug. Ravenloft is world of shades of grey and the art here is helps convey this. The book is a basic campaign guide including the people, the lands and most important for Ravenloft, the horrors of the lands. There are some new feats and skills. No new spells, but suggestions on how magic will be altered by the Mists. There is even a section on the Gods of Ravenloft.
Since most of this book covers the lands, their inhabitants and the Cultural Level of each, there is not a lot of crunch. Translation: You can use this with any other version of D&D you like. Even the feats look like they would work well with 5e still. Even the section on "Fear, Horror and Madness" would work well.
It lacks large foldout maps of the 2e days, but it is a surprisingly good resource to me these days.
Well worth picking up.
[5 of 5 Stars!]