Tonight my live gaming group created characters for Ravenloft. It's my first time venturing into third party resources for the purposes of character creation, and the end result looks intriguing.
The group consists of five players. Three of them played in the previous Ravenloft campaign I ran, but only one has opted to play a returning role. This character is a halfling rogue, using the Assassin archetype, and is one of two completely core-rules characters. Next up we have a sorcerer with the Draconic bloodline, fairly standard as rules go, but new to the group and possessed of a fun backstory that will work really well with the goings-on in Barovia.
For the other three players, we delve elsewhere.
I've been fascinated by the stuff being put out via the DM's Guild. I admit, I had some serious concerns with the quality of products that would get churned out en masse by every Tanis, Drizzt, and Elminster (I mean, they let just any old marsupial create and blog about crap these days, right?), but the cream really does seem to rise to the top.
As it pertains to Ravenloft, there are two great products I found, the Ravenloft Archetypes: Nightmares of Barovia and Ravenloft Archetypes II: Core Domains Adventurer's Guide. The former is a fairly light document and contains the Oath of Blood for paladins, which one of the players picked. In short, you play as someone fighting the curse of vampirism, though it does have some pretty damn powerful elements for consideration (you are SUPER durable once you hit 3rd level). I might have to do some house ruling if it gets to be too much, but this guy is the front-liner of the group and there's no healing-capable character in the party.
The latter book, though, was really impressive. It's a bonafide Ravenloft version of the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, exactly what its creator set out to make it. Within there is a new class, the metaphysicist, which another of the players picked because of the character concept she had in mind. It makes some interesting blends of arcane and psychic powers. It's one part Van Helsing, one part Faust, and one part Miss Cleo. It's actually kind of fascinating conceptually, but I have no idea how it will play out mechanically yet in comparison to the two core classes in the group.
Finally, there exists a pugilist put out by Sterling Vermin that the final player was very interested in playing. It's a riff off of monk, and has gone through a number of iterations. The final product is pretty solid, though there are a few things that have been points of contention among my friends in the blogosphere. There's an archetype (fight clubs, in pugilist vernacular) in their second product that smacks of Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes, being focused around investigation and then punching things when they get out of hand.
There's a lot that can go wrong here, mind you, given that I have allowed the tabletop equivalent of a pot luck to happen. But all of the assembled players are veteran gamers, and I'm confident there will be responsible play.
I did have the opportunity to do the initial Tarokka reading to determine some aspects of the campaign as well, and Strahd ends up making his stand in the perfect and most fitting place.
My excitement grows.