In a rain-soaked graveyard, a small group of men stands round a coffin bound with heavy chains. "We are here to mourn the passing of Jean de Cardeau," intones the village priest. " Let us pray that his rest is eternal, and that he never returns."
As the pallbearers lift the coffin, something scrapes on the wood from inside. Quickly and without emotion, the attendants slide the casket into a crypt. Then they seal the door and flee. Behind them, unheard, a dull thudding begins, growing louder with the onset of twilight. There can be no peace for those who linger in the earthly realm after death. And there can be no sanctuary on the Night of the Walking Dead!
Set in a zombie-infested swampland, "Night of the Walking Dead" is an ideal first-time Ravenloft adventure. Players must unravel the mystery behind a string of murders and disappearances in a village plagued by ambulant undead—and all is not as simple as it seems!
The hour of fear is upon us. Are you ready to face the Demiplane of Dread?
For 4 to 6 players, levels 1st-3rd.
RQ1: "Night of the Walking Dead" (1992), by Bill Slavicsek, is the fourth Ravenloft adventure. It was published in February 1992.
Continuing the Ravenloft Adventures. By 1992, TSR had grown quite serious in its belief that high-numbered module codes decreased sales. So, they started to frequently reboot their adventure numbering, sometimes right in the middle of a campaign. As a result, the fourth Ravenloft adventure was given the brand-new code "RQ1" (for Ravenloft Quest #1), even though it (slightly) continued on from the previous three. Like its predecessor RA3: "Touch of Death" (1991), "Night of the Walking Dead" was just a 32-page adventure module, though the page counts would start rising again after this publication.
Plotting Along. RA3: "Touch of Death" had introduced the idea of "Hyskosa's Six Signs", a fragmentary prophecy that foretold an apocalypse based on six events — one each of which had appeared in RA1: "Feast of Goblyns" (1990), RA2: "Ship of Horror" (1991), and RA3: "Touch of Death" (1991). "Night of the Walking Dead" adds a fifth verse to the prophecy (leaving just one unknown) and as usual ties one of the verses into the happenings of the adventure, revealing a zombie-filled eclipse:
The light of the sky shining over the deadshall gutter and fail, turning all to red.
These verses were elements of the six-part Grand Conjunction metaplot. Unfortunately, the fact that the Hyskosa prophecy had only appeared in the story's third adventure resulted in one big problem: the order that the adventures were published in didn't match the levels that they were intended for! Some fans suggest that different characters could play in different parts of the Grand Conjunction metaplot. However the more popular response is to reorder the six adventures by level. This has almost no effect on the overall arc since the first four parts of it are very loosely connected:
- RQ1: Night of the Walking Dead, levels 1-3
- RA3: Touch of Death, Levels 3-5
- RA1: Feast of Goblyns, Levels 4-7
- RA2: Ship of Horror, Levels 8-10
- RQ3: From the Shadows, Levels 9-12
- RM1: Roots of Evil, Levels 9-12
Adventuring Tropes. Like "Touch of Death" before it, "Night of the Walking Dead" reveals the exotic breeds of horror possible in the demiplane of Ravenloft. By once more traveling to the Islands of Terror, "Night of the Walking Dead" is able to highlight a more Caribbean-influenced horror, unlike anything previously seen in Ravenloft.
The actual adventure is one of the better blends of plotted adventures and old-school adventuring found in the '90s. Though, there's a deep, underlying story, it's not a railroad. Instead, players must investigate and interact with NPCs to figure out what's happening. Some events act as set encounters, but there's also a big dungeon (cemetary) to crawl through at adventure's end. The result maintains player agency while still telling a real story.
Expanding Ravenloft. "Night of the Walking Dead" details another Island of Terror: Souragne, including the village Marais d' Tarascon. It had previously been touched upon in Ravenloft: Realm of Terror (1990), but hadn't received any additional attention since.
Monsters of Note. Zombies had been present throughout the Ravenloft line, but "Night of the Walking Dead" offered a new twist on them by featuring hordes of Caribbean-influenced zombies led by the new zombie lord monster.
About the Creators. In the early '90s, Bill Slavicsek was just starting to work with TSR, following a 4-year stint at West End Games that began his roleplaying career. "Night of the Walking Dead" was his second published work for D&D, following DSR1: "Slave Tribes" (1992), which came out in January.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.