* BaseBreaker: Some of the elements of Ravenloft are rather contentious amongst the fandom.
** Falkovnia is one of the biggest domains, being an important part of the Core, but is also one of the most contentious in the entire setting. The reason is its combination of HumansAreTheRealMonsters and Military Horror, which some fans find admirable -- emphasizing that one does not have to have dark powers to be a complete and utter ''bastard'' -- and other fans loathe. Haters of the domain derisively describe Falkovnia as a ham-fisted medieval-flavored land of NaziCommies being run by a one-dimensional Vlad the Impaler rip-off.
** The Vistani; some love them for their usefulness as convenient plot hooks and sources of things that the party needs at the moment, others dislike them for their perceived connection with Ravenloft's reputation for {{railroading}}, and others still loathe them for their perceived CreatorsPet stats. And then there's the ongoing cold war between those fans who defend the Vistani's existence because they are literally lifted wholesale from the "magical {{Roma}}" who featured repeatedly in Universal Horror and Hammer Horror films that are the backbone of Ravenloft, and those fans who find the Vistani to be too on the nose due to their UnfortunateImplications.
* BrokenBase: It goes without saying That Ravenloft is both loved and hated amongst fans of TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons. Some love it for its attempt to be a Gothic Horror Fantasy setting, others loathe it and deride it for its reputation as the NintendoHard setting that encourages {{Railroading}}.
** Even within the fandom of Ravenloft, there is a split between those who prefer to run it as more of a VideoGame/{{Castlevania}} style "High Fantasy with Gothic Backdrop" setting and those who favor a more purist, fantasy-downplaying straight Gothic Horror setting.
** The various changes to spells in an attempt to preserve the ability to offer mysteries and moral ambiguities (as well as to aid in {{railroading}}) are either loved or hated.
** By extension, the Powers Checks mechanics; some love them as being very thematic and a good way to reinforce the "descent into damnation" setting element, others think of them as a ScrappyMechanic.
* CryForTheDevil: It would be wrong to show any sympathy for any of the darklords (if they were capable of redemption, they would not be darklords), but some did, indeed, have tragic pasts. A few notable examples:
** Hazlik was once a member of a tyrannical society of wizards, but was really no worse than the typical member. But when he was framed for rape by his rival, he was stripped of his position and all his possessions, forcibly marked with tattoos that only women wear, and exiled with a warning that they not only had the right, but a legal obligation, to kill him on sight if he ever showed his face. In revenge, he killed his rival by ambush, cut his heart out, fed it to the woman he had been accused of raping, and then murdered her as well, thus [[MoralEventHorizon crossing the line]] and causing him to be drawn into Ravenloft.
*** Third edition retconned that Hazlik's ''rival'' was female and the apprentice he lusted after, and was subsequently framed as raping, was male.
** Esan the Mad of Vechor was a benign wizard who opposed evil, until he was taken prisoner by the cruel tyrant Iuz the Old. Esan told Iuz, to paraphrase, that EvilCannotComprehendGood. Iuz agreed, and in order to learn more, [[DemonicPossession bound a demonic spirit to Esanís soul]]. How much Iuz learned from this is unknown, but Esan was slowly driven mad by the demon, and trying to find a cure by using technology and studying spirit magic only made it worse, driving him AxeCrazy and causing him to commit horrendous acts, eventually drawing him into Ravenloft.
** The best example may be Sir Tristen Hiregaard of Nova Vaasa. He never really did ''anything'' wrong his entire life. The curse that turns him into the murderous madman Malken was inherited from his cruel father. (Of course, technically, Malken is the ''true'' darklord of Nova Vaasa, not Hiregaard, and he is [[SplitPersonality a different entity entirely]]. [[spoiler:And killing Hiregaard would not kill Malken; if that happened, the curse would be passed to Hiregaardís eldest son. Short of killing every male member of the family, WordOfGod mentions that Malken can be laid to rest if his current host was slain by a woman who truly loved him.]])
* EnsembleDarkhorse: [[KnightTemplar Elena]] [[FallenHero Faith-hold]] is ''very'' popular for a character who only really appeared in one book that was generally regarded as sub-par. She is seen as a well-written example of a different kind of evil than most other Darklords.
* IAmNotShazam: The ''product line'' is called "Ravenloft", but the ''place'' is called "the Land of Mists" by those of its inhabitants who actually call it something other than "the world". To them, "Ravenloft" is just a big old castle in Barovia. Those elsewhere in the multiverse that know anything about it call it the "Demiplane of Dread".
* MoralEventHorizon: Notable Acts of Ultimate Darkness by the setting's dreaded Darklords include:
** Count Strahd Von Zarovich's DealWithTheDevil to become a vampire, and his murder of his brother Sergei over Tatyana, the woman both men loved, on their wedding day, leading to Tatyana throwing herself off the wall of Ravenloft as Strahd pursued her.
** Lord Soth committed several major acts that would qualify as Acts of Ultimate Darkness:
*** He and his first wife, Lady Korrine of Gladria, had been trying to produce a son to be his heir, and Korrine had consulted a witch about the problem, who had agreed to help them, but had warned her that the child would be a representation of Soth's soul. Unfortunately, Korrine didn't know about the bad shit that her husband had done, including ordering the murders of his half-brother and sister by his seneschal Caradoc, else she would have known what would eventually transpire of the birth and would be of a mind to curse the witch. When she gave birth to the son in question, it had a face similar to that of dragon-kin with two arms on one side and a leg on the other, with the last leg placed at the bottom of the buttocks as if it were a tail. To say that Soth was pissed about this was a massive understatement, and thinking that she had cheated on him with some kind of demon, Soth murdered both Korrine and the monstrous child.
*** After marrying a second wife named Isolde, he set out on a quest to stop the Kingpriest from unleashing the Cataclysm upon Krynn by forcing the Rod of Omniscient Wisdom into his hands (according to Isolde's vision, it would take many tries, and each time he was killed, he'd rise with greater power) in return for redemption. When Soth and the thirteen knights with him found the Rod, he left his soul due to the curse on the coffer, and was now a type of {{Lich}}, with his soul residing in the coffer like a phylactery, astrally projecting into his body, and unaware of this new state. On his way to Istar, he came across three elf-maids who proceeded to poison his mind about Isolde, telling him lies about her infidelity and saying that she had sent him on this quest to die in order to get rid of him. Soth got pissed again, returned home and confronted his wife just as the Cataclysm began. A chandelier fell on Isolde and their newborn son, and she begged for him to save their son, but Soth stopped himself from doing so, just to prevent his own son from growing up as he himself had. With her final breath, Isolde cursed him to live the lifetime of every soul that he had caused to die on that day, and as Soth's keep burned down, Soth became a Death Knight, and his retainers became undead.
*** Strangely, subverted later. See CrowningMomentOfAwesome.
** Azalin Rex's execution of his own son after catching him freeing political prisoners.
** Lord Wilfred Godefroy beat his wife and daughter to death with his walking stick because his wife hadn't given him the son he wanted.
** Harkon Lukas abusing his position of the "Grandfather Wolf" in order to bring civilization to his homelands, driving out [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent his own people]] in the process. Interestingly, that Act wasn't enough to catapult him to Darklord-dom. Rather, it was using the colonists [[ImAHumanitarian as a food source]], which isn't normally a powers-check worthy act for wolfweres- it was the betrayal of trust that was the main reason for his fall.
* MyRealDaddy: Malus Sceleris's original write-up was simultaneously a one-dimensional [[WesternAnimation/CaptainPlanetAndThePlaneteers Captain Planet-esque]] "pollution villain" with no real curse and an inferior rip-off of the Borca Darklords. Later writers are responsible for everything about him that makes him unique and compelling, including his backstory, his motivations, and his realm being larger than a single city with no reliable trading partners.
* TheScrappy:
** Tristen [=ApBlanc=] isn't too well regarded by fans, who regard him as one of the most ridiculous and stupidly complicated of the Darklords. The fact that his domain is almost solely empty of everything besides Goblyns and beasts (as well as being conveniently small and out-of-the-way) means most simply avoid Forlorn, in universe and out.
*** The Arthaus Gazetteer entry for Forlorn attempts to undo some of this by adding a modest population of humans-- many who are druids trying to undo the damage the goblyns do-- and a third faction of baddies (an evil druid circle of treants), as well as having possibly-desirable resources to harvest in the plants.
** The darklord Death's domain is nigh-unusable due to that it's surrounded by a barrier that ''kills'' and reanimates the victims into an undead monster under Death's control. In general, he is seen as an inferior spin-off villain to Azalin.
** Tsien Chiang, Darklord of I'Cath, is a bland, super-powerful villainess with no curse, no ability to seal her tiny three-building realm, and no reason for the [=PC=]s to remain once it becomes clear it's a dangerous place. Her backstory is weak, her motivations unexplained, and [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking her write-up requires a lot of supplementary books for Asian and Middle Eastern expansions to play]].
*** To wit, her Ravenloft-based writeups are almost entirely based on metaphor. For instance, her home tower is described as having been constructed [[WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs 'from the broken promises of men']], with very little clear historical information about her. The information from her [[TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms Forgotten Realms]] sources are little better, as she was a very minor bit player even there.
** Malignio makes most Ravenloft fans roll their eyes; his entire characterization can be summed up as "what if Pinocchio was evil?" and his name is literally Italian for "evil".
* ScrappyMechanic: Several prominent examples.
** The Arcanist kit for wizards is a specialist wizard who can turn undead like a cleric, which is a very handy trick in Ravenloft. The problem? It only has decent access to two schools of magic, Divination and Necromancy, and both of those are effectively unusable in Ravenloft[[note]]the vast majority of Divination spells flat out ''don't work'' in Ravenloft, whilst casting ''any'' Necromancy spell provokes a Powers Check[[/note]]. Plus, it has to make increasingly difficult Powers Checks every time it gains a level. The result is a class with an awesome theme that is literally unplayable in its native setting.
** The Class Weaknesses mechanics introduced in the 3.5 Ravenloft Player's Handbook are such a strong example of this that they have universally been rendered FanonDiscontinuity. Except for a handful of classes[[note]]Barbarians are more vulnerable to Horror & Madness checks, especially if provoked by arcane magic; Bards have a 50% failure rate on healing spells that decreases as they level up[[/note]], all of these weaknesses revolve around an increased vulnerability to Powers Checks in some way -- Clerics and Paladins double their chances of failing Powers Checks; Druids, Fighters, Monks, Rangers and Rogues have a chance of automatically having to take a Powers Check whenever they level up, and Sorcerers & Wizards have to make Powers Checks whenever they learn a spell from the Enchantment, Evocation or Necromancy school.
* SerialNumbersFiledOff:
** The Japanese and USA covers of ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaIISimonsQuest'' clearly [[http://www.castlevaniadungeon.net/games/cv2.html copied]] the original ''Ravenloft'' cover image in the background, only replacing Strahd's head. The background was removed entirely from the European cover, making it obvious that someone realized what was going on at some point.
** ''Many'' of the Darklords are blatantly ripped off from Gothic Horror novel characters. Dr. Mordheim and Adam are Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster, Tristan Hiregaard and Malken are Jekyll and Hyde, Dr. Markov is Dr. Moreau, Dr. Dominari is Dr. Caligari... Bluebeard is ''literally'' the same Bluebeard as in the fairy tale.
* SpiritualLicensee: Ravenloft got often compared to ''Franchise/SilentHill'' being a horror flavoured game set in a world full of mists where the characters gets psychologically tortured for the sins they have committed.
* ValuesDissonance: Some of Ravenloft's backstory and thematic elements are... problematic in the modern age.
** One could argue that the underlying Gothic Horror morality the setting depends on is a case of this, as many of its defining elements and moral rules now fall under this trope, as what was acceptable (and encouraged) in Gothic Horror's heyday is ''not'' acceptable now..
** The Vistani are heavily stereotypical {{Roma}} straight out of black & white horror film. They're enigmatic, mysterious, mystical beings who hold truck with dark powers and are connected to supernatural forces beyond the comprehension, who have a reputation as thieves, kidnappers and willing agents of evil. Add in that being half-Vistani is treated as being as inhuman as being, say, a half-elf, complete with traits like going mad on nights of the full moon, and they are just ''full'' of problematic elements.
** By extension, the existence of a "Gypsy kit" for thieves was very swiftly dropped and has been staunchly ignored since third edition.
** Baron Kharkov, the most prominent "African" Darklord, is basically "What if Film/{{Blackula}} was also a were-panther?" He's a panther who was turned into a man by an evil wizard that used him to assassinate a woman. Through a long string of events, he wound up as a panther who turns into a man, who is also a vampire, who constantly seeks human brides, but invariably murders them out of paranoia that they've figured out he's not human.
** Hazlik is a non-heterosexual man who was framed for raping another man, punished with stigmatic tattoos that denounce him as effeminate, and is plotting to avoid being caught in his spell that will commit genocide on his own race by switching bodies with his ''female'' apprentice. His depravity and his homosexuality aren't connected, and he's a rare inversion of the TransEqualsGay trope, but still, a lot of people find him rather uncomfortable.

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