Back in the day, roleplaying game books came in boxes. This was partially a legacy of their board game and strategy game origins but also a touch of marketing; back in the 70s people still weren’t ready for the idea that a tabletop game didn’t need counters or a board. Classic D&D boxes came jammed full with artwork, softcover rule books, and game pieces.
Beadle and Grimm’s range of luxury Dungeons and Dragons supplements recaptures that vibe by taking existing D&D expansions and turning them into very specialist boxed sets. Their latest offering is The Shadowy Silver Edition of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.
We already reviewed the core book here (and we really liked it), but for the uninitiated, Ravenloft is D&D’s much-lauded horror setting and the Van Richten’s Guide brought it up to date, both in terms of rules and modern standards. The boxed set splits the hardcover book into four separate softcovers, plus an adventure module called Dread Tales from the Warehouse which is unique to the box. This is a solid adventure with plenty of room to expand and tinker if needs be, exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from this sort of boxed set.
We also get very detailed maps; not only of the Dread Realms of Ravenloft but also ten battle-maps for playing various adventures. (Sometimes it is just nice to put minis on the board and roll dice, even if this is a game powered by the imagination.) These look nice, are a good size and a different enough to be novel when presented to the players the first time, but re-usable for other scenarios.
We also get a full poster version of the spirit board which can be found in the back of the hardcover. This goes well with the raven-themed planchet, a solid chunk of metal with a magnifying stone in the middle. Appropriately spooky and also pretty chunky. We get another two ‘feelies’ in the box; a lovely-looking Raven talisman and a signet style ring with a skull on it. All of these items can be used as part of the storytelling experience, and they look nice on a shelf afterwards.
In addition, it comes with bits of parchment, wine labels, and so on. These weathered bits of paper are mostly designed as clues and story hooks to hand out to players. The attention to detail is strong and they’re really nice.
Finally, art cards and encounter cards. The art cards are pieces drawn from the book itself (with some unique pieces added) which are nice and add atmosphere. The encounter cards have a picture of the monster on one side and the stats at the back; dead useful if you’re trying to describe to the players what’s biting your face.
Overall, this is a loving mix of modern gaming and nostalgic fun. You don’t need this box, but if you can afford it, then it is lovely to have.