Dare the Domains of Dread With Beadle & Grimm’s Shadowy Silver Edition of ‘Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft’

Beadle & Grimm’s is back with another stunning edition of a Dungeons & Dragons 5e book. But rather than the campaigns I’ve previously covered such as the Legendary Edition of Curse of Strahd, this is a Silver Edition of the latest D&D sourcebook, Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. As with my previous Beadle & Grimm’s reviews, I’ll be taking a look at the contents of the box itself, as opposed to the quality of the sourcebook (which, by the way, is also included in the box). For a review of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft itself, you’ll have to wait until GeekDad’s Rory Bristol delivers his verdict.

The four different box covers for Van Richten’s Guide. Image by Beadle & Grimms.

What’s Is Beadle & Grimm’s Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft?

Right off the bat, one of the things that distinguish the Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft from other Beadle & Grimms editions is that you get your choice of one of four different box cover designs. These covers each represent different types of horror: gothic, folk, body, and cosmic. As a fan of Lovecraftian horror, I was very pleased that a tentacle-laden cosmic horror box arrived at my door for review.

Cracking open the box, one of the first things that you’ll find is a translucent grey sheet bearing a raven’s feather. This has no function when running a Ravenloft game, but definitely sets the tone for the rest of the contents.

A feathered box insert. Image by Paul Benson.

Much like any other Beadle & Grimm’s release, the Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft features some fantastic artifacts, crafted especially for this edition by jewelry designer Han Cholo. Among these are the Amulet of the Raven, which can be used to represent a Mist Talisman, and the Ring of Osybus, straight out of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft’s short included adventure.

The Amulet of the Raven and the Ring of Osybus. Image by Paul Benson.

The third artifact in the box is a metal and glass planchette, designed to be used with the included Spirit Board.

Reading the spirit board. Image by Paul Benson.

While the Spirit Board appears in the index of Van Richten’s Guide, Beadle & Grimm’s has blown up the artwork into a 24″ x 30″ poster-sized piece, ready to use in your campaign.

The oversized Spirit Board. Image by Paul Benson.

Another highly useful item that makes an appearance in the Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft is the Encounter Cards. In this case, there are 40 different cards, including some from the bonus encounter book, Dread Tales From the Warehouse (more on that later).

Some of the monsters you will encounter in the Dread Domains. Image by Paul Benson.

The cards are double-sided and designed so that the Dungeon Master can hang them over the side of the DM screen, with the illustration of the encounter facing the players and the stat block for running the encounter facing the DM.

Some of the encounter cards. Image by Paul Benson.

Very helpful for setting the scene are the dozens of included art cards. Featuring artwork directly from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, these cards are also designed to hang over the Dungeon Master screen.

A few of the many artwork cards found in the box. Image by Paul Benson.

The Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft includes a full copy of Wizards of the Coast’s latest book, but as usual, Beadle & Grimm’s has “exploded” the hardcover book into 4 separate softcover books. This makes things more convenient for the Dungeon Master, and in this particular case, also convenient for the players. The first of the four softcover books contain all of the new character lineages and backgrounds and can be handed to the players during player creation. This way they can avoid spoilers, especially from the 4th book, which includes a short (levels 1-3) adventure, “The House of Lament.”

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While Beadle & Grimm’s usually provides some original bonus encounters in their editions, with the Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft they’ve gone above and beyond. Beadle & Grimm’s created 4 additional fully-fleshed out encounters, which can be played individually but are designed to allow players to seamlessly flow from “The House of Lament” directly into these bonus encounters, collectively known as Dread Tales From the Warehouse.

The book of bonus encounters. Image by Paul Benson.

Each of the 4 encounters is set in a different Domain of Dread, and should you play through all of them, then the player characters will be at level 8 by the conclusion of the final encounter, “The Tomb of Tashkatali.”

From the pages of the 6th-level bonus encounter, “Wayward Child.” Image by Paul Benson.

One of the signature components for a Beadle & Grimm’s edition is the in-world handouts. And one of my favorites is actually a returning item from Curse of Strahd: wine bottle labels. One of the labels is even a “Purple Grapemash no. 3,” a wine that appeared in the Curse of Strahd Legendary Edition. But keen eyes will note that this is a different vintage of the same wine, dated a year after the wine found in the Strahd box.

Some wine labels for your gaming sessions. Image by Paul Benson.

Besides the wine labels, there is an assortment of notes, certificates, battlemaps, and mini maps for use not just in “The House of Lament” and Dread Tales From the Warehouse, but also in running original campaigns in the various Domains of Dread.

Domain maps
more handouts
smaller maps to encounters
One of the battlemaps

Finally, the Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft includes 5 pre-generated characters designed especially for this edition. There are characters with the new dhampir, hexblood, and reborn lineages, as well as a warlock with the new Pact of the Undead subclass.

These characters are definitely ready for their horror-themed adventures. Image by Paul Benson.

The Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft: The Verdict

Having previously only reviewed Beadle & Grimm’s editions of campaign books like Curse of Strahd and Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, it was interesting to see what changes one might find in Van Richten’s Guide. Certainly, something like the Legendary Edition of Curse of Strahd provides a singular gaming experience when playing through that campaign. But there’s also a lot more focused content in that edition, with a corresponding price tag over double the $185 of the Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.

The Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft supplies plenty of additional material for playing through the included “The House of Lament” and Dread Tales From the Warehouse, while also providing a lot of tools to the Dungeon Master who’s looking to build his own original horror campaign. Having mini maps of all the Domains of Dread is very useful in this regard, as are the many Encounter Cards.

If you’re looking to play a horror-themed game of Dungeons & Dragons, then Beadle & Grimm’s Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft is a great toolbox for the DM. However, if you’re not planning on running the included adventures from both Van Richten’s Guide and/or the bonus encounters, then you may find it all a bit overkill, as the bulk of the edition’s content is geared towards those encounters. As always, though, Beadle & Grimm’s delivers a terrific tabletop RPG experience right out of the box.

You can purchase the Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft from Beadle & Grimm’s webstore. And if you’d like a closer look at the contents, you can take a look at my unboxing video:

Disclaimer: GeekDad received a copy of Beadle & Grimm’s Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft for review purposes.

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This post was last modified on July 24, 2021 1:18 pm

Paul Benson

Paul is a comic book writer, screenwriter, an avid board and tabletop gamer, reader of comics and collector of statues and figures. He is the creator of the webcomic "Heroines for Hire" and co-writer of "Disaster!: The Movie." He currently writes "E.I.: Earth Invasion" for Wunderman Comics.

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