The Dreadful Winter
Ravenloft is a descriptive name for the setting, but entirely an Out-Of-Character term. In-character, “Ravenloft” refers to the castle where Count Strahd, darklord of Barovia, resides.
Darklord is the term for the evil master and ultimate prisoner of a domain. This is a descriptive term very few use in the setting—only those with Knowledge (Ravenloft) know what a “darklord” is. Some darklords act as the rulers of their domain, such as Count Strahd of Barovia and wizard-king Azalin of Darkon. Others are more subtle, to the extent that their domains’ inhabitants might not even know they exist.
Domain is the term for a pocket dimension created to imprison and torment a singular evil creature, its darklord. Domains may contain sizeable populations, or might be quite small. Domains possess borders that, when closed by their darklord, become perfectly impossible to traverse—the form of these borders can vary from walls of toxic gas to more tangible barriers, but the result is the same. “Domain” is a descriptive term very few use in the setting—only those with Knowledge (Ravenloft) know what a domain is.
The Core: The largest and oldest cluster of domains in Ravenloft. This is where the majority of action takes place.
Island of Terror: A term for a domain entirely surrounded by the Mists, with no nearby neighbors.
Cluster: A patchwork collection of domains in a single Mist-bound region.
The Mists: As the Misty Border, these banks of unnatural fog separate clusters of domains and Islands of Terror. The mists can also appear at any place or time within Ravenloft. They are presumed to be the agents of the Dark Powers and can twist time and space, though the Vistani tribes are able to navigate them.
Cultural Level (CL): A rough measurement of a domain’s tech level.
Near Ethereal: The borderland between Ravenloft and the Ethereal Plane.
Ethereal Resonance: The landscape of the Near Ethereal, shaped by the echoes of emotionally charged events.
The Great Upheaval: Known to mages as the Grand Conjunction, this was a cataclysmic event fifteen years ago that nearly destroyed and permanently reshaped the Land of Mists.