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Masque of the Red Death (Ravenloft)

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Masque of the Red Death
Cover art by Stephen Fabian and Robh Ruppel
DesignersWilliam W. Connors
PublishersTSR, White Wolf
GenresUrban fantasy
SystemsAD&D 2nd Edition

Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales, subtitled "Terror in the 1890s", was published by TSR in 1994 as an alternate campaign setting for the horror role-playing game Ravenloft, which itself uses the rules from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.


Masque of the Red Death, which takes its name from the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, is set on Earth in the 1890s in a setting called "Gothic Earth."[1] The characters, as members of the secret society "Enlightened Age", fight incarnations of an ancient evil power called the Red Death that first appeared in Ancient Egypt and has been slowly gaining power and influence through the undead and the insane.[1]

Although the game uses rules similar to the previously published Ravenloft, this is a completely new setting, with no carry-over in characters or storylines from the original setting.

The boxed set includes

  • "A Guide to Gothic Earth", a 132-page book that gives a history of Gothic Earth, the evil that is uprising, character creation, skills, money & equipment, magic, combat, and an atlas.[2]
  • Three 32-page adventure modules: "Red Jack", set in Boston as the characters investigate a serial killer; "Red Death" involves a haunted mansion; and "Red Tide", set in San Francisco and involving Count Dracula.[2]
  • A gamemaster's screen.
  • A map of Gothic Earth.[1]

The usual character classes for AD&D (fighter, wizard, cleric, thief) have been modified for the 1890 setting to soldier, merchant, adept and mystic, with several subclasses for each such as athlete, detective and explorer.[2]

Publication history[edit]

TSR published the horror campaign setting Ravenloft in 1983 that combined traditional AD&D with a gothic horror vampire-centered setting similar to Bram Stoker's Dracula. In 1994, TSR released an alternative Ravenloft setting, Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales, a boxed set designed by William W. Connors, DJ Heinrich, Shane Lacy Hensley, and Colin Moulder-McComb, with cover art by Stephen Fabian and Robh Ruppel, interior art by Ned Dameron, and cartography by David Sutherland III.[2]

TSR subsequently released two supplements, The Gothic Earth Gazetteer (1995), and A Guide to Transylvania (1996).[3]

In 2004, White Wolf Games released a D20 System version of the setting in hardback under the Sword and Sorcery imprint.


In Issue 21 of Australian Realms, Colin Taber commented that the boxed set was "packed with high quality bits and pieces." Taber also felt the three adventure modules were "good value and a great starting point for a Red Death Ravenloft campaign." However Taber did point out the map of Gothic Earth included "the Commonwealth of Australia, a nation which didn't yet exist." Taber concluded that this game had revived his interest in the Ravenloft setting, and suggested, "For those interested in this genre, give it a good look over."[1]

In the April 1995 issue of Realms of Fantasy, Mark Sumner felt that Masque of the Red Death fixed what he thought was the problem of the original Ravenloft game, "the poor fit between TSR's traditional sword-swinging dungeon crawling AD&D universe and the very Victorian horror elements of Ravenloft ... this is what Ravenloft should have been in the first place." Sumner was enthused about this game, saying, "Finally, finally, I can send a character out with a cross in one pocket and a revolver in another ... this is the gaming experience I had been hoping to find ever since horror RPGs started landing on the shelves." Sumner concluded, "It takes [Ravenloft] from near the bottom of my Favorite Game World list to right up to the top."[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Taber, Colin (January 1995). "Opinions and Views". Australian Realms. No. 21. p. 6.
  2. ^ a b c d "Masque of the Red Death". Guide du Rôliste Galactique (in French). 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  3. ^ "AD&D: Masque of the Red Death". Guide du Rôliste Galactique (in French). 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2023-12-21.
  4. ^ Sumner, Mark (April 1995). "Games". Realms of Fantasy. Vol. 1, no. 4. p. 74.

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