We got an early look at the set from D&D’s Principal Narrative Designer Chris Perkins, which you can check out in the video and image gallery below.
“We don’t do a tremendous number of box sets,” Perkins said. “And we don’t always have the luxury of time or money to really test ourselves… You’d think that we’re just taking something that exists, we’re putting it in a fancy package and ‘Whoop!’ it’s done, but actually so much thought and so many people were involved in the concepting and the packaging and the design, the cards, the DM screen, and everything. It was actually a very time consuming – but fun – process.”
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The set retails for $99.99USD, comes in a coffin-shaped box with Ravenloft-inspired etchings and contains…
- 224-page softcover printing of the most up-to-date edition of Curse of Strahd, complete with all errata published since 2016.
- 20-page Creatures of Horror booklet, serving as an easily-accessible compendium for Strahd-specific monsters.
- A double-sided poster map featuring the realm of Barovia on one side and a detailed plan of Castle Ravenloft on the other.
- A new foil-stamped version of Gale Force Nine’s Tarokka deck to draw the Fortunes of Ravenloft from.
- 8-page Tarokka Deck booklet for reference when using the deck
- Physical handouts for DMs to provide their players.
- 12 illustrated postcards “from” Barovia for DMs to use when inviting players to their game.
- Dungeon Master’s screen with helpful information for running adventures in this gothic horror setting featuring postcard illustrations from CoupleOfKooks.
“It was always my wish that at some point we could put a version of the adventure together that actually had the cards with it, and it’s out of that idea that this boxed set emerged,” Perkins says. “We did want to make sure that if Beadle and Grimm [a company that specializes in high-end D&D box sets like this one or this one], for instance, were doing their own version of it, we wouldn’t eventually be duplicating what they would do. They tend to go, with their Platinum Editions, in the hundreds of dollars. So this is kind of filling in middle space between what they would normally do and what we would normally sell.”
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The updates to the adventure itself mostly consist of previously-published amendments to the book, such as tweaks to an additional character option or corrections of printing errors, but the most notable updates are to some items that were deemed insensitive or offensive after the original publishing, particularly in regard to a disabled character and the depiction of a group of nomadic NPCs known as Vistani. A recent post on the D&D website explains that, “regrettably, their depiction echoes some stereotypes associated with the Romani people in the real world,” and that the team wanted to avoid depicting them in a way that relied on “reductive tropes.”
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As such, several sections of explicitly problematic text have been removed and/or altered*. “Curse of Strahd [Revamped] specifically address pain points around the Vistani and around this disabled character, and there were small other issues to resolve as well,” Perkins said. “We wanted to clean that up a bit and remove some stuff that the fans didn’t particularly like in terms of representation and how they were depicted – it’s that sort of very granular-but-important change. More like surgical changes to the adventure than some sort of grand sweeping change.”
Perkins says this is something the entire D&D team is focused on, particularly in light of recent discussions centered around diversity in the tabletop roleplaying community. “I think every product that we do is trying to march us forward a step, as far as that goes,” he says. “We started this product in late or the middle of last year, so a lot of what Curse of Strahd Revamped addresses are issues that we saw long before the recent discussions on social media and stuff like that. The recent stuff is going to translate to changes to other products down the road past this one.”
Such projects, like the upcoming Rime of the Frostmaiden adventure and another still-to-be-revealed title, see constant iteration. Chris and the team were making tweaks and edits to the entries for how the book handles formerly “evil” races like Orcs and Drow right up until the book was recently sent off for printing. “Every product is an opportunity for us to get (A) more sensitive and more aware,” Perkins said. “And (B) to get more voices involved in our products and our product making in our product planning. And that means working with a broader range of freelancers, that means bringing people on staff who have different perspectives, different backgrounds and voices, and bigger, more fundamental steps than, you know, a change to a word here or a page there.”
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For more D&D on IGN, why not check out our guide to moving your game online during the time of social distancing, or if you’re just getting into the hobby have a look at our picks for the best Dungeons & Dragons starter sets or how to play D&D for free. Of course, if you’re thinking about giving tabletop role-playing a try but aren’t sure if D&D is the right fit, check out our guide to finding the right TRPG for you and your group.
JR is a Senior Editor at IGN who really misses playing D&D in person and constantly pines for it on Twitter.
* It’s worth noting that the book’s illustrations of the Vistani still evoke Romani culture, and some players may still associate certain abilities (such as their ability to cast curses or hypnotize players using an “Evil Eye”) with outdated cultural stereotypes.