Secrets of the Dread Realms
Secrets of the Dread Realms Capsule Review by William B. Haddon on 06/01/02
Style: 3 (Average)
Substance: 1 (I Wasted My Money)
The first of what appears to be a series of Game Master referrence books for the Ravenloft line.
Product: Secrets of the Dread Realms
Author: Andrew Cermak, John W. Mangrum and Andrew Wyatt
Page count: 62
Year published: 2001
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by William B. Haddon on 06/01/02
Genre tags: Horror Gothic
Being familiar with the Ravenloft Core Rulebook published earlier in the year, I was looking forward to Secrets of the Dread Realms. I expected it to finally allow me to run a full Ravenloft campaign (should I want to). Having read the advertisement in the back of the Core Rulebook, I was looking forward to “information on the domains…including details on their lords” and especially “advice on creating campaigns of various scope.”
When I read on the Ravenloft website that the volume was available for 11.95 through amazon.com, I ordered it immediately. When it arrived, it came with the Ravenloft Dungeon Master’s Screen, both of which I opened immediately. Although the screen was of some interest, having on it many Ravenloft-specific tables that would be a definite aid, it was the Secrets book that I had actually wanted.
The book, a disappointing (what should I have expected for 11.95?) 62 double-column pages, still did not complete the Ravenloft picture. It did not include all the domains or all of the darklords. It included no additional advice for dungeon masters and had a single Prestige Class, the Witch Hunter a five-level PrC of little value or imagination. The worst part was when I read the phrase, “Other Darklords will be presented in future releases.” Oh no.
The presented Darklords are presented very factually. All their salient abilities, relevant attributes and statistics are there. A fair attempt is made at giving them personality, but there is nothing there as evocative as the original Realm of Terror descriptions. The interior artwork, too, fails to evoke, although it is certainly good artwork.
All in all, a very disappointing effort on Arthaus’ part. It reminds me of the old T$R days when it seemed that nothing was complete without further purchase. I would have preferred to wait an additional six months and pay 20.00 for a complete Dungeon Master’s reference, than have to build my collection one pamphlet at a time. If you do feel you have to buy it, get it through amazon instead of paying the suggested 14.95 cover price.