Vincent Darlage
United States
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One of my all-time favorite supplements is Van Richten's Gude to Ghosts, a Ravenloft accessory for AD&D 2nd Edition. This book revolutionized how I portrayed and played ghosts for all of my games, regardless of system, ever after.

This Ravenloft accessory is a 96-page, stapled, soft-cover booklet. A beautiful ghostly woman in front of a perched manor house is on the cover. The booklet is in black and white, with some red text here and there. This added to the atmosphere. The artwork is typical for the entire Ravenloft line for 2nd Edition AD&D, very stylized Gothic-style pictures. Mechanics based rules are in shaded text boxes, and the regular text is largely flavor text and explanation, mechanics-neutral, written as though Van Richten would write.

The Good Stuff
The best thing in this supplement is the typologies for the ghosts, offering Magnitudes of Power types, physical consistency types, physical appearance types, and even origin types. Anchors and triggers are also part of this discussion. These types, in various combinations, determine ordinary powers and, best of all, extraordinary powers - the ability to really generate not only unique NPC-worthy ghosts, but ghosts of sufficient power to really terrify the players! Just reading this book inspired me to create ghosts.

Another thing I liked was the section on speaking with the dead (Chapter V), which was about mediums. I had not really considered mediums in the game much before this. This opened up whole new ideas of games for me.

The book also includes ideas on investigating a haunting which was useful in designing adventures.

The Bad Stuff
This book was simply marvelous, so my comments about "bad stuff" is only a minor quibble - some of the artwork wasn't quite up to the level of, say, the Vampire book, and some of it, like the picture of the Vistani, is recycled from other Ravenloft books. While some of the pictures were good, the art overall was weaker in this book than the others. Again, a minor quibble, but it is a weak spot for the book.

This is a gem in the Ravenloft line of accessories, one of the best of the Van Richten's Guides - which is saying quite a bit given the general high quality of those guides. I recommend it without reservation to fans of Gothic gaming, of ghosts in RPGs, and of Ravenloft fans. This book can easily be used regardless of rule-set. I've used it with 1st edition AD&D, 2nd Edition AD&D, DnD 3e, Pathfinder, and Conan the Roleplaying Game.
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