The Bookshelf: Are you ready for an adventure of gothic horror?

Logan Petty

It’s getting close to that time of year again, when fall is around the corner.

The leaves change colors as they relinquish their grasp on the trees. The days give way to night much sooner than you expected. The pale moon casts its silver light across the landscape as a chill gust of wind stirs the fallen leafage around your feet during your evening walk.

You glance over your shoulder and someone is there, when no one was a moment earlier! You double-take and the dark figure has vanished.

This time of year, I start daydreaming of ghost stories and dusting off my favorite monster movies. Of all the fictitious monsters, one of the most terrifying is the vampire. While the mythological Romantic vampire is misrepresented in popular culture most of the time, "Dungeons & Dragons" publisher Wizards of the Coast has an adventure that treats this master of the night with the terrifying respect he deserves.

“Curse of Strahd” is a fifth edition "Dungeons & Dragons" adaptation of the classic horror adventure “Ravenloft." Strahd Von Zarovich, Lord of Barovia and master of Castle Ravenloft, has beckoned you into his shadowy realm. He smiles cruelly from the highest tower in his lair as he watches you enter his domain in the thick of night. Once you arrive in the land of Barovia, the hunt is on, but are you the hunter or the prey?

The book contains everything a Dungeon Master needs to run this famous adventure of gothic horror. Discover the tragic history of Strahd and how his fate is tied to Barovia. From non-player characters to sinister locales and plenty of monsters to occupy them, the book features every element necessary to running a great game. It also includes handouts you can scan and print out for your players and printouts of the Tarokka cards needed for certain parts of the game.

The most interesting part of this adventure is its open-ended nature and re-playability. Randomized elements in the game and the Dungeon Master’s ability to start the adventure in a variety of ways keeps both new and experienced players on their toes. As it is a horror adventure, you never know what might happen even if you’ve visited the unhallowed halls of Castle Ravenloft before. Death is awaiting within every shadow, and yet is not the worst fate that can befall you in Strahd’s dreaded domain.

You can check out the book from the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library curbside service if you are interested in running this campaign. I would like to point out that if you are more interested in playing than Dungeon Mastering, this book is not for you, as it can ruin the surprises for players, so it’s better to talk your Dungeon Master into picking it up.

If you have a teen who is interested in playing, we will be running “Curse of Strahd” from the library’s Teen Discord Server in October. All new players are welcome to join our weekly game on Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Logan Petty is the young adult coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library.

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