Welcome to Raven
A Gothic Horror and Cursed Magic role-playing game inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe and created by Daniel P. Espinosa
Raven – A Gothic Horror Roleplaying Game is the brand-new RPG line from Shadowlands Games.
Inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Raven transports you to an evocative and dangerous fictional world of gothic horror and cursed magic.
Raven – A Gothic Horror Roleplaying Game is the brand-new RPG line from Shadowlands Games. Inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Raven transports you to an evocative and dangerous fictional world of gothic horror and cursed magic. The precise design of the Maelstrom game system allows you to live your own games steeped in the mystery, curses, passions, despairs, and longings of E. A. Poe-style stories.
The game is set in a fictional world centered in the ancient aristocratic city of Raven. The city bears a certain resemblance to 19th-century North America. Its streets are shrouded in an eternal mist and plagued by specters. The city of Raven is a great mystery itself, harboring many secrets that date back to its founding… and before.
Raven is essentially a game about…
Dark Stories and ghosts, providing players with a classic horror setting of haunted mansions, fascinations with specters and curses from beyond the grave, all accompanied by Poe’s poetic and sinister tone.
Hidden mysteries and cursed ruins that harbor the long-forgotten history of Raven — the eerie Lodge and its destruction, the curse of the mist, the sinister protector Order and what it is hiding, your family, its doomed blood inheritance, and your sinister mansion full of secrets.
Ancient Conspiracies that are very much alive and are threatening to destroy the city, the Order and your family, the Corvus family.
The Corvus Characters
In Raven, you play members of the aristocrat Corvus family. You are descendants of Lord Poe Corvus, founder of the Order of the Mist and the very city of Raven. Your family is cursed, that is why you feel attracted to the forbidden arts. It has been ever since Lord Poe was corrupted by the cursed magic of the mist and the original members of the Order killed him.
As a Corvus family member, you have a tenebrous occupation. In your family, there are cursed poets, tormented necromancers, obsessed summoners, guilt-ridden demented, the soulless ones, immortal mesmerizers… As you can see, there is an obsessive streak that runs in your family, as well as decidedly questionable vocations. It runs in your blood. That is why The Order is watching you.
Your family mansion is so big that you have your own laboratory or studio where you throw yourself into your experiments and passions in the way you want it —a morgue for a necromancer if desired, or an enormous glazed studio for a painter and their cursed works of art.
But being a Corvus also means living with a curse that haunts you day after day: the descent into perdition, the struggle against death, a confrontation with your own evil… Oh, and there is also more: Your mother and father, tenebrous and dangerous people that love you… even if that love may lead them to your deaths. Your particular relationships with different factions in Raven, immersed in the struggle for the ancient secrets of the city... as your Corvus family is. And of course your loved one, the person that consumes your days… This is no ordinary person, but rather a dark figure, or lovely, or in danger perhaps because of your own curse. They even can be dead or be a specter. They have their own secrets and motivations, and you are obsessed by their fate, which may be a total mystery to you. Could it also be part of the family curse?
What do you do in Raven?
As a Corvus, you and your kin have inherited the curse. The way it manifests can vary, but is related with an ominous attraction to the forbidden arts and the dark magic of the Mist. Will you explore your tenebrous occupation? Will you try to resist walking the tempting path of the Mist to the Other Side? Or may you play with its dangerous powers and knowledge that can doom your soul? Your personal motivations and passions may drive part of your stories. But beware, the Order is watching.
Because of your family past, you are both respected and feared members of the society of Raven. Some of the inhabitants fear you, others have curiosity or even love you. The factions of Raven, such as the Order, the Guild, the Society of Explorers, the Lodge… may try to have business with you, or even use you. Conspiracies, receptions, interests and threats will be part of your games.
Dare to explore the secrets lurking in the shadows, behind the corners, in the ruins, forests and threatening places of Raven. There is so much to experience while creating you own family story.
The Rules of Raven
The game rules of Raven are based of the Maelstrom system. The narrative pushes, the characters and the consequences of their actions are in the center of the table — this is not a game system that focuses on tactical simulationist elements but in living the story of your character.
The Maelstrom system revolves around two central concepts:
1. THE PLOT TWISTS GUIDE THE STORY
The core mechanic is straight-forward: When PCs face a threat that could change history, you grab a number of Corvus dice (favorable – symbolized by cats) for your personality aspect, advantageous conditions and special qualities. Then you grab a number of Mist dice (unfavorable – symbolized by ravens) for the opponent level threat, difficulty and narrative tension of the story —a regular roll would have from 3 to 6 dice final pool. Successes in Corvus and Mist dice cancel each other out, yielding three possible outcomes:
- Favorable Twist in the story if they are successful, thereby overcoming the Threat.
- A Twist with Complications if they are partly successful, overcoming the threat but also complicating the story.
- Or a Tenebrous Twist against them if the throw is unsuccessful, meaning either that they do not overcome the Threat or that they do, but at a high cost.
In Raven, a dice roll always resolves a whole scene along with its threat. There are no rolls for each single action. Just a quick and satisfactory scene. Also, a twist always leads to something interesting, enriching the dark lives of your Corvus characters, even if it is harmful to them. The tenebrous consequences of your actions influence your surroundings, but yourselves too. Scars produced by their sacrifices, pacts and betrayals, the danger of unleashing your curse… Players look to solve the mystery, but the story will be far more satisfying if they have enjoyed unexpected twists on the way. In Raven you don’t play to win. You play to enjoy this tenebrous world.
2. THE CORVUS CHARACTERS ARE AT THE CENTRE OF EVERYTHING
- All the stories are connected to your Corvus Characters. You are not a visitor here resolving another’s problems. They are indeed your problems. You somehow provoke them: maybe because of your curse; perhaps something is coming at you in a twisted and unexpected way; or possibly you’ve done something dark on purpose.
The City of Raven
The first time you set eyes on Raven is both a fascinating and unnerving experience. Built on a peninsula surrounded by a sea covered in a blanket of mist, its old buildings shine with the strange white stone with which they have been built. Emanating from everything is the smell of damp, the sweet and heady scent of an ancient and solemn mausoleum. It is the smell of the mist that floods the streets at night.
The city of Raven is aristocratic, filled with mansions and parks, dominated by the powerful and watchful red marble building of the Vigilant Order of the Mist. At the center of the city, surrounded by an old and high wall, there is a thick, mist-filled forest scattered with ruins and specters. Hidden inside it is an enormous mansion with innumerable rooms, its facade, doors and windows all painted a deep black. This is your home. The Corvus mansion. The most cursed place in all of Raven.
But the most disturbing thing about the city are the ravens themselves. They can be found on all the rooftops, in all the windows, perched on all the gas street lamps. Black and silent, they observe and wait. Until the mist rises at night and the souls of careless wanderers are carried away.
Raven is plagued by murky threats. When you wander through the streets of the city, walk the corridors of the Corvus mansion or enter the perilous land of the dead souls in the Other Side, danger is always looming. It permeates what you see, what you hear, what you touch, what you feel. It is both the reason for and purpose of the shadows that surround you.
Every part of lore you may need is included in Raven: history of the city, its obscure secrets, the different areas that conform Raven, cursed places, important characters and its factions, their conspiracies and mysteries, the Corvus family and its mansion, a spectral encyclopedia with the different beings of Raven… You see. Whatever you need is in this book.
The supernatural can be manipulated, but it also has the power to corrupt. Now it is the Order that is looking to take charge of the specters and the mist, to put an end to the curse that has settled over this land. The Order reigns and watches over the city, having destroyed the previous ruler, the evil Lodge, and banning and persecuting what remained of it. And before this, it was the so-called Ancestral Power that is said to have controlled Raven, although nothing is known about that, except its scant, incomprehensible vestiges. The Order keeps a close eye on anything supernatural, on anyone using magic and on the advancing mist. According to rumor, what remains of the Lodge is lying in wait, out of sight, biding its time for its moment of revenge.
The Ravens and the Cats
The ravens are everywhere and gave the city its name. They keep watch, day and night, from the rooftops, observing, waiting like psychopomps to carry off the souls of the dead… or of people they have been sent to follow. It is said that they may be messengers from the old Lodge, or perhaps something worse. A raven that looks at you or comes near is always a bad omen.
The Threats of Raven
The cats inhabit the cursed home of the founder and betrayer of Raven, the Corvus mansion, which is also where your characters were born and now live. Black and antisocial, the cats are not easily found. Not even your family knows what they are, although they have repeatedly warned you against disturbing any you may happen upon. There is something unnerving in their razor-sharp stare that penetrates into the deepest part of the human soul. Fortunately, they are nearly always sleeping.
This is Raven’s greatest evil. When night falls, the streets fill with a bright white, thick and glistening mist, swarming with the silhouettes of ghosts. It devours the souls of any who are foolish enough to go outside when it is there, drawn by its perfume and irresistible allure. It seeps in through the cracks of houses, lying in wait in cursed places, and with every sunset it threatens to take back the city and restore the control it had before the protection of the Order.
The Spectral Beings
These are the monsters of Raven. There are no vampires or werewolves here. All beings are spectral or have been brought back to life. The shadow lurking in your bedroom in the mansion that watches you while you sleep might be the ghost of someone who has unfinished business with you. The cold draught on the back of your neck could be a parasite sucking your life after you invoked something you shouldn’t have. What appears to be a person looking at you from across the street is actually a larva, and if its eyes are locked on you then your fate will be a painful one. The love of your life may no longer be who you think they are, but rather something that replaced them a long time ago.
The Other Side
This is the land of dead souls, the place they go when they die. But it is also a white and shadowy reflection of what exists in the world of the living, the streets of Raven, its buildings, its cursed places… Surrounded by an immense sea of mist, everything there is pale, translucent, beautiful and eerie. It is populated by all kinds of specters, from dead beings to dangerous larvae. This is where the mist and the ravens come from. In the world of the living there are cracks through which those from the Other Side can slip, cracks that can also be opened by magic practitioners who risk their souls and their sanity.
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