Being a fan of Castles & Crusades, I’ve been attempting to catch up on buying some of their supplements. Over the last few weeks, I’ve ordered half a dozen different titles including the Tainted Lands box set; it’s roughly the C&C equivalent of the original Ravenloft boxed set.
Even though I’ve not read enough of it to give a full review yet, I have to admit that I’m having the same problem that I have with Ravenloft. The setting is eschewing traditional fantasy motifs in favor of stereotypical gothic horror elements. I find this trend rather odd as I would expect that anyone buying a horror supplement for a fantasy setting would expect just that – horror in a fantasy world. Instead, in each of these cases, the entire world is built around gothic horror conventions with standard C&C (or D&D) characters shoved into the mix.
I ran several mini-campaigns of Ravenloft when it was first released. The games were constructed in such a way as to almost preclude any form of traditional fantasy tropes. I understand the appeal of the gothic/Victorian setting; Victorian fiction is still a favorite of mine. But for a fantasy-based game, I didn’t find the idea to be nearly as appealing.
I eventually wound up creating my own setting with the elements I had hoped Ravenloft would offer. The process I wound up taking was to design a standard fantasy kingdom with the typical elements – the usual classes, races, etc – but with a flavor of horror that provides a slightly different taste to the adventures. The entire setting was constructed to use undead of varying degrees of strength as the defining thread. As the campaign progressed, the adventurers were slowly uncovering ever-greater dangers that are lurking within the kingdom.
Which leads me to ask, if you use horror in your fantasy games, how do you go about integrating the two?