Last May, Wizards of the Coast expanded upon the idea of Ravenloft and the domains of dread releasing Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, a new Dungeons & Dragons Source Book. Strahd and Barovia were forced to step out of the spotlight to make way for other Domains of Dread such as Darkon, Har'Akir, and Tepest. Wizkids sent us their upcoming Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft D&D Miniatures Collector's Edition so that we could take a look at what horrific minis we might be able to include in our next sessions.
Included within this box are 60 different miniatures (and some not so miniature) that span the contents of the bestiary of Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft. Some of the highlights are how many of the Domain of Dread Darklords are included, even if you fill your horror campaign with a variety of monsters from other sources you'll at least have a high-quality mini of your potential 'big bad'. On top of that, there's a variety of large-scale miniatures that are a sight to behold.
Before we get to some of the bigger creatures included in this box let's take the first chance to look at some of the basic enemies. From left to right we have the Skeleton Archer, Boneless, Split Skull Thug, Chain Thug, and Gouged Eye Thug. The action poses on the Archer and Boneless are excellent showing the Archer is ready for action. The Boneless matches its official artwork one for one as it tries to reach out with loose flesh. The blue plastic on the three ghosts does clearly define to any player from a distance that they're ghosts, but a lot of the detail does get lost in this flat color. Getting up close to the Gouged Eye Thug they have managed to demonstrate with deeper shading the lack of eyes in this mini, but from a distance, it could be difficult to see.
Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft D&D Miniatures That Go Bump In the Night
From the realms of body horror, the Wax Replica is an incredible miniature. Handsome and well dressed from the torso up as your eyes follow the miniature down his form begins to drip and glow capturing the reveal of his true nature. The Carrionette and its Jack-in-the-Box variant are recognizable horror twists on children's toys, specifically smaller to be less assuming before they strike. A unique feature of the Headless Monster in the back, here pictured with a head, is that this miniature has detachable features. Included in the box is an additional female head allowing for the introduction of a truly headless monster, or a monster whose form could be altered during the course of battle. Interestingly this Headless Monster is the same size as the other Medium minis, yet has a base set to a large size. If you're planning for this to be a large monster it will sit correctly in your combat encounters, if you're playing it as a medium though it might require the need for placing other minis on top of the Headless Monster's footprint.
The first of the oversized minis that accompanies the Body Horror theme is the Zombie Clot. Pictured here next to the Wax Figure you can get an idea of the size of this piece. There's something interesting to see over every inch of this mini. Skeletons and zombie forms congeal together to form this mass of decayed flesh and bone. Some nice extra touches are the extra outstretched limbs of the individual zombies from the fist of the greater form.
I've always been a huge fan of cosmic horror and to see these kinds of minis got me very excited. This photo includes the Greater Star Spawn Emissary, Vampiric Mind Flayer, the Unspeakable Horror, and the Whistling Fiend. Each of these will make you uneasy in one way or another. Too many teeth, too many eyes, a creature that holds its own heart literally in its hand. I'm not sure there's really too much to say here that the impressive minis don't say for themselves.
Out of the cosmos and into fantasy these miniatures are a Necricor, Displacer Beast, Gremishka, and a Death Knight. The Necricor is a feat in itself, in its official artwork you see a shadowy figure in the middle of a crimson red vial, everything down to the pose of the skeletal frame within the vial has been perfectly recreated. The somewhat distorted view of the creature within the vial also adds to the fear that will set into players as this is placed on the table. The small scale of the Gremishka is a good representation of what this small feline-like creature is, unfortunately, a byproduct of this is a lot of the details such as the razor teeth or the crunching bone in its mouth aren't very well represented. This is the one case where the determination to align with the official artwork might be a detriment.
Folk Horror is represented by the Jiagshi, Bodytaker Plant, and the Bagman. The Bodytaker Plant immediately draws your eyes. Its central body showed clear plastic bile oozing out along with the central body standing in the gap. Surrounding the body is a number of tentacles, each made out of a softer plastic to still maintain the overall shape but allow for more natural movement as it turns and takes movement. These vines also do a great job demonstrating just how fearful this Huge monster's 20ft reach is. The hunched-over Bagman is one of my favorite minis of the set. This folklore monster is said to live in bags of holding only coming out to surprise its victims. While the bagman is still to get completely out of its bag of holding the gaunt and hunched over form spreads out to cover the entire size of its base.
The Gallows Speaker here is a ghostly and ethereal being. As opposed to being clear plastic Wizkids has given it a physical form but represents the chilling breath as clear plastic. Here less does a lot more. It's hard to spend too much time looking at the Gallows Speaker when put next to Dullahan and his Nightmare steed. Included in the box is a seated set of legs for Dullahan allowing you to merge and disassemble these two miniatures. Modular miniatures are an incredible next step to upping your mini game and it's such a simple and elegant solution. Swapping these characters takes only a few seconds.
Gothic and Slasher Horror
These miniatures show the Wereraven, Nosferatu, Relentless Killer, and the Loup Garou. Each of these minis is so expressive in its action and stance. While the action wings of the Wereraven might look the coolest the stocky block frame of the Relentless Killer might be my favorite of this four. The name alone evokes the mental image of characters like Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers and this position of confidence, scythe in hand, is an intimidating one.
Those who wander the Mist in Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft D&D Miniatures
All that moves through the mist isn't antagonistic to your party thankfully. This box also includes minis of Arthur Sedgwick, the ghost of Erasmus Van Richten, Alanik Ray, Laurie Weathermay-Forxgrove, and Gennifer Weathermay-Foxgrove. Each of these NPC designs is extremely varied in their characteristics, weapons, and poses, and it's always good to see a representation of differently able-bodied characters in Dungeons & Dragons, especially when your chosen profession is "Monster Hunter".
The one environmental prop for the box is the Amber Monolith, this large gemstone is the central focus of the Level 1 adventure included within Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft. It will be a stunning centerpiece as the players descend into the basement and are greeted with this monolith wrapped in dark tendrils.
Exploring the Domains of Dread through Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft D&D Miniatures
Barovia - Domain of the First Vampire
A Vampire and their Vampire Hunter, a tale as old as time. Strahd is shown here in all of his glory dressed up in his finest with his blade drawn and ready. Surrounding him is a cloud of bats, due to the black-on-black of the bats and the way that they connect to one another it can be a bit difficult to understand what they are. Joining Strahd is a vampiric version of his tragic love, Tatyana.
Across from the Darklord of Barovia is Rudolph Van Richten, the namesake for the book, and Ezmeralda D'Avernir his student and fellow monster hunter. The details on Van Richten's figure are fascinating to look deep into. The straps, buttons, and buckles all stand defined from his clothing to give you an extremely clear look at who Rudolph Van Richten is.
Borca - Domain of Desire and Deceit
The two Darklords of Borca each have their own unique mini. Ivana Boritsi, the renowned poisoner, is shown with a glass of wine in hand and pale sickly skin. The gown that she wears immediately conveys the idea of money, power, and danger. The view of Ivan, a man who grew up physically but never grey up mentally is a much different one. Here we see an aged man in his spiderlike clockwork crib. With pale eyes, Ivan evokes the same kind of unease as some of the Cosmic Horror minis from above brought forward.
The Carnival and Darkon - Domains of Wonder and of the Brink of Destruction
Traveling further through the domains is Isolde of The Carnival, Azalin Rex and Alcio "Baron" Metus of Darkon. Isolde wields her holy avenger Nepenthe ready to dispatch justice on any criminals she comes across. The glow of this blade draws your eye immediately.
Azalin Rex demands the attention of the table both with the eye-popping red of its garb, and his powerful pose. There's nothing quite like the look of this Wizard King. Azalin in this form is the next step for something like the Necricor that was featured earlier in this piece. The evolution from one to the next is clear and thematic.
Dementlieu, Har'Akir, and Hazlan - Domains of Decadent Delusion, Ancient Dead, and one Doomed by Magic
These minis come from worlds of deserts and decadence. Starting from the left we have the Crocodile Headed Mummy, Ankhteport, Duchess D'Honaire, and Hazlik. The Crocodile Headed Mummy has amazing detail in his bandages, at no point across his surface is the smooth giving it a real "lived-in" mummy feel. Next to him is the Darklord of Har'Akir Ankhteport. Dressed in ceremonial garb he is the embodiment of the head of the religion of his own creation. He holds in his hand the missing piece of his soul that he's been searching for. It's represented here as a skull with wings. Like the ghosts we looked at earlier, the features of the Ka are somewhat obscured in the single tone coloring but nonetheless the glowing orb in his hand displays power.
The flamboyant character in the center is Duchess D'Honaire of Dementlieu. Under this flamboyant mask and dress lies an undead wraith. Always wanting to be born into grandeur in her afterlife the Duchess takes this very seriously. Clear blocks have been used to give this mini a slight lift with the swish of her dress it helps create the illusion of levitation.
As you might have noticed in the previous photo there's something more to Hazlik the wizard and that's the other monstrosity that resides in his domain. The Gravedrinker is an exceptionally large mini, reaching up and over to face down at its prey. Multiple rows of teeth extend into its gaping maw, and sigils not too dissimilar to Hazlik's display upon its side. This is the largest monster included within the box and boy is it something special. Without a true statblock in Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft whether as a deterrent from the main path or as an ultimate fight this is a setpiece that players will be talking about for a while.
On top of all of the Darklords already seen in this set, there's also Tsien Chiang of L'Cath, Maharani Ramya Vasavadan of Kalakeri, Harkon Lukas of Kartakass, Dr. Viktra Modenheim of Lamordia, Lord Godefroy of Mordent, Mother Lorinda of Tepest, and Chakuna of Valachan. Practically all of the Domains that have a Darklord associated with them are represented in this box. This is an excellent way to set up any player for success no matter what path they wish to take. Lord Godefroy, in his ghostly blue, does suffer the same flat color issue as other ghosts, but transparent plastic and its use for Mother Lorinda's silvery wispy hairs is an excellent use of it.
What Are Our Final Thoughts On Wizkids' Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft Miniatures Collector's Edition?
This box certainly has a larger focus on the big encounters your players might have playing through each of these Domains of Dread. For each small encounter, you'll definitely need to find substitutes or create your own fights, but the quality of these minis will absolutely enhance larger encounters. The use of colored and clear plastics does have a few moments of being overdone, but when used sparingly enhances these minis allowing players to create a clearer idea of what they're facing. Whether the mini has an action-fueled pose, or is standing stoic, each has been selected so perfectly for what it's representing. Needless to say, the Huge and larger figures to be found in this box will absolutely blow your table away.
Should I buy Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft Miniatures Collector's Edition?
There's a lot of really fantastic content in this box, not only for use in a Van Richten's themed campaign but a lot of versatility in their use as well. Whether you're running through a basic dungeon, the hallways of a castle, or into an eldritch domain you'll probably find something for almost any situation. There is a smaller pool of what's available in each of these smaller use sets though. If you know that you'll only be in dungeons for the next few years of your campaign then you may need to recycle these minis a lot. As for pricing, the entire Van Richten's special edition collector's set (which includes Ezmerelda and Van Richten, himself) comes in at $787 dollars, but Booster Boxes are $20 each, and the massive Grave Drinker is $95.
The miniatures used in the creation of this review were provided by WizKids.