Dungeons & Dragons has a fantastic new shows that explores the dark corners of Ravenloft.
The Ravenloft campaign setting is the famous "gothic horror" world of Dungeons & Dragons, a place where vampires, werewolves, and other classic horror creatures lurk within the mists. Although Barovia (the home of the famed vampire Strahd and the setting for the D&D adventure Curse of Strahd) is the best known part of Ravenloft, there are many other Demiplanes of Dread waiting to be explored.
A new streaming series called Tales from the Mists is exploring some of the lesser known corners of Ravenloft in haunting fashion. DMed by TK Johnson, the series features a core cast of four players (Lysa Chen, Kayla Cline, Hadeel Al-Massari, and Ashley Warren) plus two rotating party slots filled by new players every four episodes.
The first arc is set in Kartakiss, a demiplane that somewhat resembles the Black Forest. Johnson crafts a haunting and unsettling ambiance each episode, setting the mood with a brief recap/introduction that reminds me of the introduction of the classic horror series Tales from the Crypt.
One of Tales from the Mists' greatest strengths is that it feels very much like a gothic horror story, with an emphasis on death, the macabre, and terror lurking right around the corner. Johnson does a fantastic job of setting the mood, to the point where the players and their characters seem very hesitant to move forward, as if they know even more danger awaits them as they moved deeper into Kartakass. The show is very much a horror story, with exploration and social interactions prioritized over combat. While Dungeons & Dragons is perhaps best known for its combat encounters, Tales from the Mists seems to take its gothic horror roots seriously. After all, Dracula featured very little fighting even though Van Helsing was known as a vampire hunter. This might be an adjustment from how some people think of Dungeons & Dragons, but Tales from the Mists is a masterclass on how to run a horror campaign using mood and environment to set the tone instead of a constant parade of scary monsters.
Like many other shows streamed on D&D's official Twitch channel, the players of Tales from the Mists all play remotely from the comforts of their homes. If you're only used to watching Critical Role, this style can take a little bit of getting used to as the production quality is a little lower and there's a few moments of dead air due to what I'm assuming is video delay between the players. But that doesn't really take away from the fantastic and frightening ambiance of Tales from the Mists, and sometimes that silence can be a bit unsettling as you wait to see what the players will do next.
Tales from the Mists airs every Friday night at 6 PM on D&D's Twitch channel. Episodes are also posted on the official Dungeons & Dragons YouTube channel. You can view the first episode in the video above.