Jim Zub And Nelson Daniel Take Minsc (And Boo) To Ravenloft In ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ #1
For those of you who aren’t quite up to speed on the specifics of D&D settings and characters, here’s what you need to know: Ravenloft, originally published in 1990, is a realm of gothic horror, a misty, vaguely Bavarian dimension ruled over by the Draculesque Strahd von Zarovich. Minsc, who first appeared in 1998’s Baldur’s Gate video game, is a good-hearted berserker with a pet miniature giant space hamster named Boo.
When IDW relaunches Dungeons & Dragons this April, Jim Zub and Nelson Daniel are slamming those two concepts into each other, and hijinx, one assumes, will ensue. To set the stage, I spoke to Zub — who returns to Minsc’s adventures after last year’s Legends of Baldur’s Gate — about what this spooky new setting means for the character and his adventures!
ComicsAlliance: Taking Minsc and Boo into Ravenloft seems like a pretty great recipe for comedy. How does a berserker like Minsc fit into that spooky, foggy world of supernatural horror?
Jim Zub: For all his bombast and strangeness, Minsc is still a hero. He cares deeply for his friends and always tries to fight for what he thinks is right. Testing his boisterous idealism against the dreary despair inherent in the Ravenloft setting is a fun way to create both humor and dramatic tension. Add in the rest of our Baldur’s Gate adventuring crew, and a new cleric as well, and it becomes a really fun dynamic to work with.
CA: Is there any reason beyond that obvious comedy that you wanted to head into Ravenloft?
JZ: The synergy with the D&D 5th edition release of Curse of Strahd is obvious but, to be honest, I was the one who pushed for it. When I spoke to the Wizards of the Coast crew about their upcoming plans for the D&D line and they mentioned Ravenloft, I knew we had to take the gang there. It’s such an evocative Dungeons & Dragons location, one of my absolute favorite adventures, and it’s jam-packed with weird and wonderful possibilities. The darkness and light of the setting and our cast creates a lot of exciting contrast.
Like I did with the Legends of Baldur’s Gate mini-series, I want to channel the kind of energy and banter you get at the gaming table while still telling a sword & sorcery story both gamers and non-gamers alike can enjoy.
CA: How does it all start? Is it one of those “character gets lost in the mists and winds up dealing with vampires” situations that the original adventure module suggests, or something else?
JZ: Our heroes agree to help a small temple dedicated to Kelemvor, the God of the Dead in the Forgotten Realms, and they get pulled into a nasty caper that involves werewolves, skeletons, vampire servants, and a troublesome relic taken from Ravenloft. From there it’s just a misty moment away from being pulled into the Realm of Terror, and all that entails…
CA: Not to get too inside baseball — or inside dungeons, as the case may be — but how does writing Ravenloft differ from the Forgotten Realms?
JZ: It’s all D&D to me, so I don’t think they’re extremely different, all things considered. Role-Playing Games channel many different types of stories depending on the group you’re playing with and the mood they’re in.
There’s definitely a goth-drenched bleakness at the forefront of Ravenloft, so that’s something I’m obviously keeping in mind. They don’t call ’em the “Domains of Dread” for nothin’! That said, in Ravenloft there are still moments of levity, friendship, and heroism to explore. Even in a setting filled to the brim with undead gothic-horror you need to mix things up to keep it entertaining.