Oblig: That’s actually what I meant by “sharing DM duties” though I didn’t do a very good job explaining it. You run something non-ravenloft and I’ll run ravenloft. When I feel like I’m starting to wear thin or need a break, I’ll ask if you’re ready to start yours up for a session or two. I plan to give a couple of weeks notice, so it wouldn’t be a last minute thing, but we should all definitely have characters prepared for a seamless transition. I’m even cool with a pregen if it’ll make life easier on you.
LT: Sounds good. PH13 describes the Customizing Ability Scores variant and I’m a superfan of that one – let’s use that.
As far as the other parts of character creation goes, I’m going to say let’s stick to whatever’s in the 5e PH/DMG (because I’m still learning the system and don’t want to get overloaded with a glut of 3rd party esoterica). One exception I’ll make is if the material comes from the Fraternity of Shadows website. I’ll allow damn near anything from there because I can trust those guys not to break the setting with laser-beam shooting dragon-cyborg templates.
Is that okay with you two? If you feel strongly about a character concept that you’ve been itching to try out in a gothic fantasy milieu, then please don’t hesitate to run it by me.
You asked about custom backgrounds…I’m a big fan of the idea of an insulated Ravenloft campaign setting. Practically speaking, this means that PCs are native to the place and there is no concrete knowledge of anything beyond the misty boarders.
If you’re looking for inspiration, I’d recommend checking out any of the fantastic gazetteers’ that Arthaus put out a number of years ago or google “ravenloft + [domain name]”.
Another piece (a house-ruling, really) worth mentioning is that all references to deities in D&D products will be interpreted as an aspect of a singular creator-god known to the denizens of dread as the Lawgiver. For instance, what would normally be a cleric of the Forgotten Realms deity Oghma (god of knowledge) will be known by the denizens as a cleric. Period. All “clerics”, which is to say a playable class receiving spells from a deity, worship the Lawgiver and specialize in a specific area of expertise regarding the Lawgiver (think of it like the difference between the neuro-surgeon vs. plastic surgeon vs. cardiothoracic surgeon…they’re all surgeons that specialize). So the “cleric of Oghma” would be something like…Brother Thelonius an acolyte training at the cathedral in Levkarest studying the Lawgiver in his Knowledge aspect (Suggested Domains column under Oghma, god of knowledge PH294) as it pertains to raw knowledge (Deity column under Oghma, god of knowledge PH294). Another cleric may be studying the Lawgiver in his Knowledge aspect (Suggested Domains column under Azuth, god of wizards PH294) as it pertains to arcana (Suggested Domains column under Azuth, god of wizards PH294). If this is information overload then feel free to disregard and we’ll catch up on the whole Religion-in-Ravenloft concept at the table.
Any other questions? I’m always around to answer them if it’ll enrich the gaming experience.