The Mistlands (Ravenloft)
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In any world, mists and fog can plague travelers, blurring senses, concealing terrors, blurring senses, concealing terrors, and leading ships to watery graves. Ravenloft has such ordinary vapors, too. But, it is also home to the Ravenloft Mists; a force more deadly than any natural phenomenon. The Mists of Ravenloft appear to be a manifestation of the border ethereal.

They surround the demiplane at all times, creating the Misty Border. They do not radiate an aura of magic, nor reveal any alignment or sign of life. To all eyes, they appear to be normal fog. But they are anything but “normal.” The Mists can reach into the material plane and transport unsuspecting characters into Ravenloft. With time, they can surround an entire portion of land and consume it. No one can command the Mist to perform in this fashion. Where the Mists appear in the prime material plane and who they carry into Ravenloft is beyond the control of anyone living or dead. But when a character has a great enough need or desire, Ravenloft may respond to him. Usually the mists are content to transport a few hapless travelers, leaving others behind. On Corwyn, sages speak of entire armies and whole regions that vanished in the mists.

The Mists are the most common method of of entering Ravenloft. According to legend, a few permanent gates or portals also lead to the demi-plane. Most portals exist in the prime material plane, where they are rare and well-hidden. Others open or exists only at certain times or when certain circumstances are true. Most appear to lead into the Misty Border. All are one-way gates. Each permanent gate provides an entrance to Ravenloft, but none provide an escape.

The most well-known Gate to Ravenloft on Corwyn is located within Ravenwood forest.

HISTORY


Many centuries past, in a world which is now forgotten, the warrior noble Strahd Von Zarovich settled in a land called Barovia, in a castle known as Ravenloft. That castle, and the horrid events which took place there, Dawned an entire realm of terror. As these words are recorded, Castle Ravenloft now lies deep within the ethereal plane, in a demiplane of dread and desire. The fortress sits in the center of the realm like a beating heart, pumping evil and sorrow to even the most distant fingers of land. The realm has taken the name of the castle; “Ravenloft” has become synonymous with the entire demiplane. “Castle Ravenloft” now refers to the fortress itself. The notes below are excerpted from an ancient journal, penned in the hand of Count Strahd Von Zarovich. The daring thieves who obtained this information now walk the demiplane of Ravenloft as mindless undead. Do not let their efforts come to naught. Read this passage and you shall know the origins of the shadowy realm of terror.

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The Tome of Strahd
"I am The Ancient, I am The Land. My beginnings are lost in the darkness of the I past. I was the warrior, I was good and just. I thundered across the land like the wrath of a just god, but the war years and the killing years wore down my soul as the wind wears stone into sand. “All goodness slipped from my life; I found my youth and strength gone and all I had left was death. My army settled in the valley of Barovia and took power of the people in the name of a just god, but with none of a gods grace or justice. “I called for my family, long unseated from their ancient thrones, and brought them here to settle in the Castle Ravenloft. They came with a younger brother of mine, Sergei. He was handsome and youthful. I hated him for both. “From the families of the valley, one spirit shone above all others. A rare beauty, who was called “perfection,” “joy,” and “treasure.” Her name was Tatyana and I longed for her to be mine. her youth. I loved her for her joy. But she spurned me! “Old One” was my name to her- “I loved her with all my heart. I loved her for “elder” and “brother” also. Her heart went to Sergei. They were betrothed. The date was set. “With words she called me “brother,” but when I looked into her eyes they reflected another name—“death:’ It was the death of the aged that she saw in me. She loved her youth and enjoyed it. But I had squandered mine. “The death she saw in me turned her from me. And so I came to hate death and life both. My hate is very strong; I would not be called “death so soon. “I made a pact with death, a pact of blood. On the day of the wedding, I killed Sergei, my brother. My pact was sealed with his blood. “I found Tatyana weeping in the garden east of the Chapel. She fled from me. She would not let me explain, and a great anger swelled within me. She had to understand the pact I made for her. I pursued her. Finally, in despair, she flung herself from the walls of Ravenloft and I watched everything I ever wanted fall from my grasp forever. “It was a thousand feet through the mists. No trace of her was ever found. Not even 1 know her final fate. to my soul, but I did not die.Nor did I live. I became undead, forever… .” “Arrows from the castle guards pierced me"

When Strahd made his mysterious pact with “death,” the fate of his land and his people was irrevocably changed. He had opened a door. The lands of Barovia were drawn through that portal and became part of the Ravenloft demiplane. Strahd became its "Dark-lord." No one knows exactly how or why these events occurred. Was it a curse on Barovia or the castle itself? The work of the dark power (or powers) with whom Strahd made his pact? Or was it the rage and sorrow that followed, as Tatyana was lost and Strahd vented his torment by murdering all those within the castle walls? Perhaps it was all of these reasons; perhaps it was none. Many scholars consider it unwise to ponder the question long.

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The Growth of the Demi-plane
For centuries, Barovia was the only land in Ravenloft. The unfortunates who were drawn into the demiplane with Strahd were the only creatures living or dead. The domain was surrounded by a misty border, which imprisoned them all in the demiplane. Soon, others stepped out of the mists. Some were good and some were evil, not all of them were men. Azalin, a powerful lich, was one of the first evil powers to enter Strahd's realm. Eventually, Azalin discovered what many have learned since. The land of Ravenloft was indeed 'alive.' It did not breathe, as a creature does, or move, or mate, or eat. But it responded to the life within it. It could grow and change, and would create new earth for those whose evil or desire was strong enough to capture its attention. Azalin stepped into the misty border and began to wander through the vapors like a lost child. In time, new lands before him. He became lord of his own domain. Like Strahd, he was imprisoned within it. Other inhabitants could travel across the border from one domain to the next. But he and Strahd would never stand face to face again. In the ensuing years, other domains have formed. Bit by bit, the demiplane has spread.

Sages now believe the Deni-plane of Ravenloft contains more than thirty domains. Each was created for one man, woman, or creature, or for an inseparable pair or trio. Sometimes, like Strahd, a lord is drawn from another world. In other cases, he or she is a native of the demiplane Ravenloft. In every instance, the lord receives tremendous powers from the land, but it is a land in which he or she is condemned to remain forever.