Many, many years ago while I was still deeply involved in the online Ravenloft community I postulated that Barovia, the home of Strahd in Ravenloft, is a domain taken from the Known World of Mystara, and Glantri in particular.
I was very active on the old MYSTARA-L and RAVENLOFT-L listservs.
Here is a post from 2001 where I talk about it. This might be the first time I even mention it.
Yeah I was still going by "Web Warlock" online all the time is a vain attempt to keep my academic persona (Timothy S. Brannan) seperate from my gamer geek one. Finally I said screw it and embraced my inner and outer geek.
Hold on a sec I have my combined Ravenloft-Mystrara-Greyhawk Time line here.
Now keep in mind that Ravenloft has funky time. So Ravenloft uses the
Barovian Calendar (BC) and the present day is 751 (according to the books)
or 753 (according to the kargatane). That would make it 1,346 AC. On *my*
This also coincides with 1,370 DR in the Realms (but who cares about that!).
I am correlating my dates based on the "fact" that the two Blackmoors are
the same in Greyhawk and Mystara and were destroyed at the same time,
possibly splitting Mystara and Oerth (and D&D from AD&D!). Then I use
Azalin from Ravenloft since we know when he entered the mists and when he
was a king on Greyhawk.
Barovia is founded in "an unknown world" in year 1 BC, or 596 AC. So what
areas were still ripe for conquest or settlement then?
Strahd is born in 299 BC (894 AC)
The "Tergs" invade Barovia 320 BC (915 AC)
Strahd pushes them back 321 BC (916 AC)
Strahd kills his family, Barovia is "cloned" and sucked into the demi plane
351 BC (946 AC).
So the world that Barovia is from, never knows it is gone since an exact
copy with out people is left behind. Well, some of Strahd's family remains.
800 AC to 1000 AC is a fairly well documented period of time.
Castle Amber (X2) has some amazing "Ravenloft like" elements. After all,
Old Averoigne *IS* from Gothic Earth! ;)
As does the Glantri Gazetteer.
Other modules from Mystara also have a very heavy Ravenloft feel to them,
more so than other worlds ("Death's Ride" anyone?)
There is an adventure where the character go to the Prime Material Barovia
around 740 BC (or 1,335 AC). Barovia of this time and place is rules by a
If I go with my "Holy Lands of Glantri" future Time line, 1,335 is a blank
period of time for me. A time between the "true" kings in which a regent sat
on the throne. It was an attempt by the mage guild to bring back the rule
of the Princes. They had assassinated the true king and his heirs, but one
escaped not to be "discovered" again till 1,496 AC.
SO, given my time line, I'd say Barovia is/was a principality of Glantri.
Granted this is not conclusive evidence, but it fills the holes I have.
What else do we have?
Author, the Netbooks of Witches and Warlocks
The Other Side: http://www.rpghost.com/WebWarlock
The DnD Community Council: http://www.dndcommunitycouncil.org/~nbownw
There is more here and elsewhere. With James Mishler online now I should ask him what his theories were.
Here is something I posted years ago that I can't find the original of online anymore. Though it was quoted at Dragonsfoot. I have the original Word doc here at home still.
Barovia is from MystaraBTW I still have Draconis laying around here somewhere. I reused large portions of it for my Dragon Ilse in my kids 3.x game.
While Ravenloft may be my favorite game world, it is not my first. No that (dubious) honor belongs to Mystara. So here is how I have used my two worlds together. We really don't know what world Strahd's homeland came from. Other lands are clearly defined as being from Oerth (Greyhawk), Toril (Forgotten Realms), Athas (Dark Sun) or Krynn (Dragonlance). That leaves both Barovia and Mystara obvious by their absence. So. I speculate that Barovia is a darker version of one the Principalities of Glantri. Of course this long before the Princes ruled. We know that from the adventure "Roots of Evil" that the original Barovia still remains on it's home world. Well Glantri has a principality called Boldavia that is surprisingly like Barovia. It is possible that they were nieghbors, but when Strahd and his Barovia was pulled into the mists, the lord of Boldavia took over the unprotected Barovia.
There are plenty of other clues of a Ravenloft-Mystara link.
The classic module, X2 Castle Amber, takes place in Glantri and the module reads like a proto-Ravenloft setting complete with mists and lands being pulled into demi-planes. X2 was based on the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, one of Lovecraft's inner circle, and both writers have contributed a lot to what makes up D&D and Ravenloft today.
Glantri has a very European feel to it. It is higher tech and higher magic than most of the other lands on Mystara and there is definantly a darker edge to it. Since Ravenloft also uses psuedo-European cultures, the ties fit rather nicely.
Demi-Plane or World
Ravenloft is a demi-plane. Or so they tell us. But this has never been a satifactory world for me. In my mind this only emphasizes the "weekend in Hell" feel of the world. So. With the latest edition of the Ravenloft rules, I have decided that Ravenloft is in fact it's own world. Granted it is a haunted world, but not much different than the "World of Darkness" of White Wolf. This has certain advantages for me. Worlds are easier to deal with. I can have a place that can seem real to it inhabitants and give me a reason to have native players. Plus if I want, I can use my Call of Cyhulhu, White Wolf, or Witchcraft RPG stuff to modernize the world, or give it a future. This is what I liked best about Gothic Earth. With 3E Ravenloft I could do a Gothic Mystara or a Gothic Oerth.
Personally I rather move the lot to Earth. But that is a topic for another time.
Plus this helps bring other ideas from the Ravenloft-list into line for me. Ravenloft has a mostly human population, but there are monsters. So a world can support a larger ecosystem. Monsters can run about. Another idea is move the mind flayers, Illithids, to the moon. This give them a more alien feel and ties in very nicely with Lovecraft. Plus I have the new d20 Call of Cthulhu book sitting on my self next to my Ravenloft one. So I am sure I can get something from their unholy union.
Another idea to flesh out this "world" is to use some of the new d20 products out there. Sword and Sorcery studios has some great books, like the Creature Collections and Relics and Rituals. The Scarred Lands of those books has the dark and gritty feel I like to inject into my games. I also have a few good official Wizards of the Coast products that also make a nice addition. Monsters of Faerun is a good example.
The Dark Powers
Who or what are the dark powers and what do they wnat? That is question that has been bugging players and DM of Ravenloft for a long time. We have had some clues. They could be evil outsiders, or gods. Or they could be Good and Ravenloft is a prison. Or maybe they started out as good and became evil. Who knows. The truth be told. I don't deal with them much in my games. While I dislike the idea of Ravenloft being a giant roach motel of evil, I also like to keep the players and the Dark Lords in check.
Plus there are the Dark Lords. Very powerful, not very mobile. I like to use a bit more flexibility with my Dark Lords and Powers. Granted this has not always worked out as well as I would have liked. But I'll keep experimenting. Normally I like to take a page out of the Masque of Red Death and not have Dark Lords at all. Or rather, they are there, but they are significantly weaker when they leave their area of control.
How is it there are no dragons in Ravenloft, a Dungeons and Dragons game? Well I have added them. Yes they are evil and there is even a Dragon dark lord. The realm is Draconis, and it is also from Mystara. It is currently an island. It too has it's roots in Glantri. You can download it from PlanetADnD.com. Draconis.
If I continue the world metaphor then there are plenty of places for Dragon Dark Lords and Dragons. While Draconis is based on Glantri, it has it roots in the mystical "Dragon Isle" of so many fantasy stories, including the tales of Michael Moorcock's Elric.
I'll have to see what else I have laying around.