As Dungeons & Dragons expands its playership and branches out into new genres, I found myself wondering how I could take these new games, specifically the D&D board games, and use them as a tool to enhance my home campaign. Today I’d like to share a few ideas about how to integrate the Castle Ravenloft board game into your home DnD campaign to create a dynamic encounter.
My players had been investigating the nefarious dealings of Ramander the Wise and his attempts to undermine the Lady of Pain in the planner hub of Sigil. Ultimately, they needed to gain the Lady’s favor to be granted permission to use a closely guarded portal to the Planner Weavers where they hope to acquire a patch of space-time fabric. After defeating Ramander on his own demi-plane and upsetting his plans, they found that the plane they were on was being held together by Ramander’s will alone, and was quickly falling apart. They passed through a portal and found themselves on a levitating platform of rough stone. Debris drifted everywhere and in the distance the party could see several other floating platforms, one of which bore a gateway back to Sigil, the other two held chests guarded by four pillars of crackling electricity.
I selected several Castle Ravenloft Dungeon Tiles from the board game and stuck them to a flip mat (the flip mat was used simply for determining range of attacks). I used the “Start” tile as the party’s goal and placed the “Arcane Circle” tile at the opposite end of the flip mat as the entrance. Between these two tiles I placed two tiles with no walls and put a d4 on each corner to represent the energy pillars that guard the loot.
I then picked an assortment of 4 white triangle dungeon tiles and 7 black triangle dungeon tiles, shuffled them and placed the stack face-down near the board.
For the encounter I used the following monsters but changed their descriptions and attack types to physical or electrical.
The Pillars – Lich Remnant (level 16 minion); I only used the Orb of Obliteration power from one pillar, with the other pillars “charging” it using the Obliteration Empowerment effect. The pillars can fire once, then require a turn to recharge, thus this powerful attack can only happen once every 2 turns. Alternately, you could assign a recharge 5 or 6 to the firing pillar
Black Triangle Tile Defenders (Minions)- Lich Remnants described as crackling lightning beings. Change damage types to lightning – or – Angel of Valor Veteran. I took away their fly speed.
White Triangle Tile Defenders – Angel of Battle described as an animated heap of the drifting debris, held together by crackling energy. Again, no fly speed and their devastating Storm of Blades attack reduced their move speed to 2. – or – Drider Shadowspinner. Throwing nets of clinging energy and shooting bolts of electricity.
To move across the game board, a player must stand at the edge of a tile and make either an Arcana, Wisdom or Charisma check (moderate DC) to exert their will on the drifting debris and form another platform. The player draws the top tile from the stack and places it with the arrow facing their character, just as in the Ravenloft board game. Depending on the color of the triangle, the DM determines which monster to place on the new tile’s bone pile. The first time this occurred, I had players roll initiative, then kept them acting in initiative order for the rest of the encounter, even when no monsters were present.
Like the board game, this method of tile placement creates a random dungeon with often inconvenient turns or dead ends. More often than not, as players work their way toward the exit, their path will be forced to meander. They can intentionally reset a tile either by making an Arcana, Wisdom or Charisma check (difficult DC) while adjacent to a tile to discard it, or by moving away from it. If there are no monsters or players on a tile or on an adjacent tile, that tile is discarded and shuffled back into the draw stack.
This setup created a dynamic, but lengthy encounter with 5 standard monsters and about 14 minions. The experience reward was significant, but they deserved it for defeating the climactic battle of the adventure.
Of course the party’s actions were appreciated. So much so that the Lady of Pain made a rare appearance, accompanied by her Dabus minions, to grant the players their wish: a blade from her headpiece that functions as a single-use key to the Planner Weavers. Once used, the key converts to a powerful magical dagger.