Synopsis: “Enter the dark world of Ravenloft as a veteran Dungeon Master and horror fan delves into the history, lore and secrets of the D&D Ravenloft Campaign Setting. New episodes every week.”
Review: First rearing its horrific head in a 1983 adventure module of the same name, the Ravenloft campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons is a popular Gothic Demiplane focused on classic horror troupes like vampires, werewolves and other Dark Powers. Each Demiplane of Dread in this pocket dimension consists of a collection of lands called domains, brought about by mysterious forces.
Gabriel Damião Jansen, a Brazilian lawyer by day and gamer and horror fanatic all the time who lives in Belo Horizonte/MG, delves into this terrifyingly horrific setting on his YouTube series Hour of the Raven. With a weekly release schedule, he shines a bit of light on these Dark realms. Detailing histories and little known secrets about specific areas in these misty lands, he delivers an engaging series about a much-beloved setting in both English and Portuguese. Despite his weekly schedule, he was awesome enough to give some insight into his channel through a few, less than horrific questions.
How did you get into Dungeons and Dragons?
Since childhood I was drawn to fantasy and horror, and my first contact with Dungeons and Dragons was when I was 10 years old, in 1994, when my cousin got the original D&D box set (the original box was released in Brazil only in 1992) as a Christmas gift.
While my cousins didn’t like or understand the game, I immediately fell in love with RPG and D&D. In the following years I got my hands on the AD&D core rulebooks, and began to narrate to my friends at school.
I have been playing and specially narrating RPG since then, and nowadays I have current campaign in the Ravenloft setting that it’s almost 15 years old.
Why Ravenloft? Why Horror?
When I was young I spent my summer vacations at my grandmother’s house, with all my cousins. I was one of the youngest of the kids around, and we all loved to watch horror movies. Even before I got into RPG, I guess I was already an early horror fan.
As much as I appreciate high fantasy settings, my characters or adventures as a Dungeon Master always tend to horror themes.
My passion for gothic and horror themes were a perfect match with Ravenloft, and it was always my favorite setting of D&D. Since I discovered the setting in the 90’s, I have narrated a bunch of adventures in the lands of the mist, and became obsessed with the setting.
Since then, I have read all the novels and supplements, and have narrated as a Dungeon Master almost all official modules to my group of players. My current ongoing campaign started as project to narrate the original modules of the Grand Conjunction series, interspersed with other official modules and some of my own design, and in the last 15 years we have played almost all of the official modules, and cover many of the great events in the demiplane of dread.
The idea for a YouTube channel started after I realized that there wasn’t much online content about the Ravenloft campaign world. You can find in a brief search on YouTube a large amount of content about Forgotten Realms, and Dungeons and Dragons lore, but almost nothing about the lore of the Ravenloft setting (besides the recent Curse of Strahd adventure).
So, I decided to fill that gap, and share some of my knowledge on my Hour of the Raven YouTube channel. I also decided to make it a bilingual channel, with videos in english and Portuguese, since Brazil gets very little products of D&D translated to Portuguese language.
What episode that you have done so far is your favorite?
My favorite video so far is the History of Barovia. The domain of Barovia is the original and classic scenario of the I6 Ravenloft module, and one of the most well developed locations of the demiplane of dread.
Count Strahd is an iconic and memorable villain, and to delve into the tragic history of his kingdom was really interesting.
What area in Ravenloft are you most excited about featuring next?
I am a huge fan of ghost stories, so I am really looking forward to cover Mordent, a realm cursed by many ghosts and tragic gothic tales.
I also look forward to do some videos covering some big events in the Demiplane of Dread, as the Grand Conjunction and the Grim Harvest.
What has been your personal favorite Ravenloft character?
Most of the times I am the selected Dungeon Master of my group, so I have a lot of fun when I have to play the role of a Dark Lord, such as Strahd or Azalin, when dealing with the players.
When I played Ravenloft, my favorite class was the Arcanist, from the Domains of Dread core book, 2nd Edition of AD&D. A character drawn to occult dealings and aiming to discover the mysteries of the demiplane of dread was the deal for me, and I used a bit of Van Helsing and the lovecraftian doomed hero/scholar for inspiration.
Do you have any other D&D projects you are working on?
Me and my group of D&D players keep an website with the campaign journal of our current campaign in the Ravenloft setting. The campaign is called The Caravan of Doom (Caravana da Desgraça, in Portuguese), and it’s now in adventure 126.
The site is in Portuguese, but you can check it out at: https://caravanadadesgraca.wordpress.com/
I am old grognard, and I am still learning the rules for 5th edition D&D (my current campaign is still in the AD&D 2nd edition rules, with a few house rules). As soon as I became familiar with the rules, I intend to launch a few adventures and resources of my own creation in the DMs Guild, and see how they fare.
Hour of the Raven is a delightful delve into a horrific setting and a great channel to add to your subscriptions- so head over (and click the little bell so you get notices) and enjoy!