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Castles Forlorn (2e)

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Time Is Meaningless in Castle Tristenoira Forlorn has long remained hidden in the shadows of notorious Barovia and Kartakass, yet the tiniest domain in the lands of the core is nearly as old as Ravenloft itself. This land is sick with evil, a twisted mockery of the place it once was. It is filled with creatures of despair who were drawn into the demiplane of dread....

Within Castle Tristenoira lies oblivion. The crumbling keep slips in and out of time, carrying its unwary explorers across the centuries, where they may be abandoned to the cold winds of eternity - and to the ghosts in the castle! Spirits both innocent and guilty haunt the timeless passages, whispering tales of murder and vengeance. Escape is for the lucky...or the hopelessly mad.

The Castles Forlorn adventure set provides the DUNGEON MASTER with a rich and complex domain in which to set a campaign of any size and duration. It includes a 96-page sourcebook, The Weeping Land, which reveals the complete history of the domain and the strange and terrible lord who rules over it. Descriptions of the living and dead who call this lonely land home abound, as do details of the forbidding Tristenoira castle, where adventures may spend an evening or an age.

After learning Forlorn's history of sorrow, the DM can lead player characters into Melancholy Meetings, a 32-page collection of encounters that provide adventure in every corner of the domain.

Finally, only Eve of Sorrows remains, which is a 32-page assortment of mysteries and nightmares within the castle itself. This deluxe boxed adventure set completes the portrait of Forlorn with a highly detailed, double-sided poster map of the castle, a poster map of the domain, and a special wall poster created by award-winning artist Robh Ruppel - all in full color.

Product History

Castles Forlorn (1993), by Lisa Smedman, is a boxed supplement for Ravenloft. It was published in September 1993.

About the Cover. Doesn't that look a lot like the Loch Ness Monster on the cover? In fact it's Aggie, a denizen of Forlorn who points toward the Scottish origin of the realm.

Origins: Continuing Ravenloft. Castles Forlorn is the third boxed set for the Ravenloft line, following Ravenloft: Realm of Terror (1990) and Forbidden Lore. However, where the two previous boxed sets were core references for the setting, Castles Forlorn is instead a detailed description of a single domain (along with adventures set in that domain). This is the only such book-length depiction of a whole domain, though the seventh box, The Nightmare Lands (1995), comes close.

Adventure Styles: Sandbox. The first adventure, "Eve of Sorrows", is very freeform. The players explore Castle Tristenoira. There are piles of haunting events and suggested encounters for the various NPCs, but the GMs (and players) get to decide how to fit it all together.

Adventure Tropes: Explore the Castle. Exploring a castle, as opposed to a more traditional dungeon, is a Ravenloft trope going back to I6: "Ravenloft" (1983).

Adventure Tropes: Timey Wimey. The most amazing element of "Eve of Sorrows" is that it's heavily focused on time travel — and time travel at its most timey-wimey. The players will iterate between three different time period as they explore the castle(s) and may even change the past and influence future events, all based on what they do in the different eras. If anything, this trope makes the adventure more of a sandbox, because of the high-level of agency involved with changing time.

Adventure Styles: Formatted Encounters. The last book in Castles Forlorn, "Melancholy Meetings" contains a number of standalone encounters, each carefully organized with "background", "setup", "complications", and "resolutions" — an idea perhaps linked to the Dark Sun flipbooks (1991+) which had similar organizations.

About the Miniatures Tie-In. Ral Partha produced D&D miniatures from 1987-1997 and in that time produced three boxed sets for the Ravenloft line as well as about 25 blister packs. One of those was linked directly to a Ravenloft product, the Raveloft: Castle Forlorn set. Though it's missing an "s", it's clearly tied to Castles Forlorn, as it includes figures for Tristen ApBlanc, Mark ApBlanc, Shelaugh the Druid, and others.

Eras of Ravenloft: 735 BC. Parts of the adventure are set in earlier time periods, including the era after the second castle entered Ravenloft, from 547 BC to 622 BC.

Exploring Ravenloft: Forlorn. Forlorn first appeared as a core domain in Ravenloft: Realm of Terror (1990), where it got a rather terse description, noting that it was ruled by a ghost and was otherwise largely empty. Here, Forlorn gets a rather comprehensive description. In fact, with a full 96-page sorucebook, it's the most extensive description of a Ravenloft domain around. The lands of the domain are extensively detailed, as is its history, its lord, and it denizens. Castle Tristenoira, within Forlorn, gets a room-by-room description.

Blowing Up the Canon. The Scottish Castle of Forfarmax, which would appear in "Castles of the Night: Ghost" (1997) sure feels like it has a lot in common with Forlorn. It even shares the original name of the domain: Forfar. However, it's not explicitly set in this domain. White Wplf's Ravenloft Gazetteer Volume I (2002) would incorporate the second castle into the setting, on the borders of Forlorn.

Monsters of Note: Ghosts & Goblyns. Castle Forlorn obviously offers a spotlight for the ghosts of Ravenloft, from ghostly lord Tristen ApBlanc on down. Van Richten's Guide to Ghosts (1992) is even suggested as an important resource. However, the domain is also home to goblyns, the hideously transformed original inhabitants of the land.

NPCs of Note. Tristen ApBlanc, the ghostly lord of Forlorn is at the heart of the domain (and its adventures) — offering Ravenloft players yet another opportunity to test the mettle of a dark lord. Numerous other NPCs are detailed in the extensive sourcebook, including druid Shelaugh and a variety of Forlorn ghosts.

About the Creators. Smedman was Ravenloft's most prolific adventure writer for Ravenloft in the mid '90s, following her debut on Castles Forlorn (1993). Her work would continue into 1996 with the Grim Harvest trilogy.

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (4)
Discussions (4)
Customer avatar
Quinn P April 27, 2019 8:58 pm UTC
Is the text in the .pdf selectable?
Customer avatar
Michael S July 26, 2018 12:38 am UTC
I love this product. I have the POD print on demand version. This WOC did an AWESOME job on the print. It's the entire Forlorn box set with perfect ink tone, great high lighting, nice vived maps. High Quality. If only WOC publisher did this good of a job on their other POD Ravenloft products. As for the contents it's everything except the hang up poster so np :) The stories for your characters inside are great. This is 2nd edition so Goblyns in this do the full amount of damage with their face XXX mawl attack! The dmg is not watered down like the 3.5/3.0 products. If you prefer those systems painstakingly transfer it. This is a great book. PS if you are a pc dont drink the water ;) throat leeches
Customer avatar
Sc O February 22, 2018 2:51 pm UTC
The maps in the .pdf are illegible.
Customer avatar
Eric S November 03, 2017 1:22 pm UTC
Does the printed version include map(s)?
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