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The night is eerily quiet, you walk past toppled gravestones on the dirt path going to some, yet unknown, destination. The sound of a howling wolf pierces your concentration on the path. You look up and see a tall castle on the hilltop, silhouetted by a full moon. Across the moon is flock (a murder?) of crows or blackbirds who come home to perch atop the roof. You have officially been welcomed to Ravenloft...

This module will not disappear or be considered "finished" until Cthulhu, the Ancient One decides it or players end it perfectly. That is all.

Notes and DM Notes are kind of the same, but DM notes share a little bit of "keep it secret vibe between DMs" where other stuff might become lore to players.

This article is a STUB.

Curse of Strahd by Tracy and Laura Hickman, following addenda by CedrictheBard on D&Dbeyond.

Alignment Vector: (Crimson, 0.6, 0.8, -0.4)
Setting: Ravenloft, perpetual darkness outdoors, gloomy sky, separate timeline from the FR, probably a future in about 1920s but no cars, electricity or motors.
Climax: STUB Figuring out how to resolve the dillema with a large (LVL50) boss who rules the realm.
Entanglements: The gods of the realms are curious how the humans will deal with Strahd. The presence of Strahd affects magic negatively (as you see from the alignment vector). If they resolve the ravenloft realm positively, the g dimension of the vector increased +0.4 to 0 -- neutral as Ravenloft is a separate plane to the FR where the gods dominate. Each time a party "kills" Strahd the alignment goes downward -1/10 of the vampire's XP. Death House should be tried if things get stagnant.
Stage Direction: Mists, darkened pertpetual twilight, (when the sunsword is in the realm). If the sunsword is not in the realm (talk to the DM or AL), then there may be sun above the gloomy, cloudy weather.
Sound: Howling wolves, distant crows/ravens, eerie insect sounds, occasional random clap of something unknown. When the gods are with the players, there's a wind in the trees, otherwise the trees are motionless and only the crawling of a wererat might be heard in them.
NPCs or Key Characters: vampires and spawn; were-forms of various kinds; skeletons, zombies, ghouls. Rhandin?
Dice: Obsidian or Crimson with black numbering. Gothic(?).


A voice from the Vistani calls to you: "When the real world moon is full during your adventure, expect bad luck…." The purpose of this module is test players and hone them until they are classy. Mature players that can take on the world.

“The mists separate intermittently, everything is still, as if every living thing is wondernig if it is safe to return to normal. Or maybe Time itself has stopped. The answer, I suspect they’ll ultimately find and from the smell of graveyard dirt, friends, is, “no”. You’ve entered the realm of Ravenloft, the Count of the Undead presiding. Your scrolls of teleport won’t work here, except to take you to the lowest pit in Hell. There is no exit, yet everything continues onward as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Up ahead, it seems the tavern is open and is serving pints of ale. Welcome to Eternity…”

SPOIOLERS: NOT written properly to protect the innocent (your players). If you are a DM, the best way to set up this campaign is to simply inform your players about it, and see if they show interest. Give no hints that they may be missing out or not, and quietly tuck your campaign book away. You can have a raven show up on FR, sitting in a tree and cawing at them. (The cover reveals too much about the realm. It should just have a raven in the foreground and the castle under a full moon silouetted in the darkness… or something mysterious).

The exact form of the BBEG ('Strahd') n this case is variable. There are four main forms: werewolves, vampire, headless horseman, and the asylum characters. The variable should be dependent on AL info: did some other party try to behead the vampire-form, for example? Did someone seduce Strahd into more primitive forms? What hell leads to strahd[s vampire form turning into joke/frank?

The Dark Lords feed off of the emotion of fear, it is their lifeblood. In the case of Strahd, he feeds off dread, for he has mastered that much more.

Note1: WHen Strahd is said by the cards to be outside the castle (or actually recovering from some adventurer's sunblade/blade), dark mantles generally take home in the castle until he returns, hiding in his place so that the castle is protected.

Note: This campaign (with christian overtones) is counterpoised to any containing arabian tones, such that if one is encountered, the other is not in the larger [metagame]. Also there could be a “witch house” of hags that have parked themselves in the realm at the opposite end (West) of Ravenloft. These witches may be critical for the final end-game.

Strahd and Ravenloft, the Dark Side of King Arthur and Camelot, shrouded in the mists of Avalon. King Arthur lost his kingdom to the old hag, jealous of his love for Guinevere in the First Age. Quoth the Raven: "Nevermore". Now he haunts the fallen kingdom in gross despair. ...where the Ravens come home to rest. Combine Edgar Allen Poe, Dracula, Sleepy Hollow, Werewolves, a pinch of the post=-apocalypse from Savage Worlds, and perhaps even... the Batman (Get it? Muhahaha.) and you've pretty much have the landscape of this campaign. Our Strahd is a vicious character when moved to rage, but a contemplative one who observes everything when not. Barovia, a once-utopian idyll, now transformed into a dark wasteland of confusion, horror, and disease. You should probably play with silver dice when you're in this campaign. The silver shows your commitment to Strhad's aims (not in an evil way), which you have not yet divined. And you should definitely play with them if you go into the Underdark -- which you might need to if you want to finish this campaign in its ultimate finish. What do you find in the darkness of this campaign? Only what you take with you.

And perhaps a shard of the sunsword…. There’s always a little light in the darkness. (Like Darth Vader…)

The Sword of Excalibur can be found rusting among the ruins of this campaign (educated guess from this bard: hidden compartment gathering spiderwebs and dust in his castle), which provides a hint to it`s (the campaign`s) nature. Perhaps it is stored amongst his abandoned treasures at the castle or cast away like a piece of sadness: a dream that never became a reality. In order to find this one-of-a-kind item, you must have a lawful good cleric with you (and somehow the party must be affiliated with the Knights Templar or Christian Church). Otherwise, you can see the Sunsword as a re-glorification of Excalibur. Meditate on this to understand this module. Depending on the state of other campaigns and players in relation to this campaign, the sword may disappear from Strahd’s inventory to be reborn as the sunsword found by the Tarokka deck. This happens, thoough, only when players are much stronger than Strahd, spiritually speaking, for the sword looks for the proper home in which to reside as a semi- or fully sentient object. If GMs use the “shards of the sunsword” game idea (whereby there is no whole sunsword (which could be too powerful), but about 20 shards scattered throughout the realms), then part of Excalibur deteriorates to become that shard. In other words, Excalibur and the sunsword are mutually exclusive in a superposition of states (akin to Quantum Mechanics): once one is claimed, the other disappears from the universe.

Somewhere in the Barovia, btw, is a dairy farm. It is a special type of source for Strahd for the feminine energy. The commoners just deliver it, though it is rather pecular for an adult to be suckling from the breasts of a beast.

Strahd von Zarovich, a tortured soul, after having been cursed by tragic events which ended in the loss of his beloved, now stays vigilant for vengeance. The Countess (FIXME Ilsa?) was his yin to his yang. Imagine a woman equal in power and prestige to Strahd (before his loss), and you'll start to understand the significance. This is how to understand it`s diseased state. For it was the love of those two that kept the power of the realm in balance, allowing the creation of advanced items unseen in any other realm (note to DMs: items up to our ~1850s, mechanical calculators, pocket watches, iron age beauties). If you happen to bring in the colored crystals from the Dark Geode and show them to Strahd, he will be very intrigued as he's never seen them before. By doing so, you can win Strahd's favor and gain interesting passage through the realm from Strahd himself. The were-animals shouldn't bother you, unless you do something stupid (in Strahd's eyes). He may, unbeknownst to you, share some piece of seemingly-uninteresting arcana, that actually may prove valuable.

Now the realm is in complete disarray and confusion. If you're a DM, this campaign is good to throw onto your players when they get too wily and annoying ("All of a sudden a mist envelops you and the party!"). You can channel all of your passive-aggressive anger you've kept in reserve into Strahd. Omit the encounter with the gypsy caravan and save it for after the encounter with the women's chanting circle. The gypsy caravan should reveal to them that they are in Avalon, not Bovaria and that they don't know about a character named "Strahd", but they do know there's a tortured soul in the castle who once tried to unite a kingdom, but lost it.

The realm of Strhad knows of no elves. If Strahd sees one in your party, he may find it quite intriguing and ask about his background. Other commoners in Ravenloft, though also foreign to them, have gotten used to strange characters roaming around. If you did meet gypsy caravan in the campaign, you might find out that the kingdom got lost because someone took his wife, someone named .... Lance.

The campaign book lists Strahd at level 18 or something, but no NPC that is capable of holding a whole realm like Ravenloft could be merely LVL18. No, to hold a realm puts the power at level 50, at least. But, it is probably a combination of levels: 25 for Strahd and 25 for Ilsa. Since his wife is dead, that power is now held in/by the moon, and she gets more power when it waxes to full and the moon conjures problem across Barovia. When it wanes, the foggy mist creeps in and holds the land in its stasis, and he gets the power concentrated in his person. In fact, you should use the state of the moon in RL for choosing how to start the campaign. A player with PER >= 15 might notice it.

In a glade West of Vallaki and south of Krezk, when conditions are favorable, players might find a lone unicorn eating the grass.

XXXFinish the ending for when the head turns to the player….!!!

Strahd mostly ignores the characters, automatically noticing and anticipating any physical or magical attack by his finely-tuned perception of other’s somatic motions. In other words, he’s highly attuned to movements that push flesh against bone — that pretty much means everything, doesn’t it?

Spiral downward For more on the main character, see Strahd. Since Strahd rules over the realm, like any demi-god, he confers AC and DAM benefits to NPCs of his alignment, an amount dependent on the moon phase.

His manor is dark because it is devoid of life. His area is lit. It has a permanent "lair" curse spell for anyone that enters. It causes those who enter (when not detected first) to fumble all of their objects. It's just an easy way not to listen all of the time for intruders. It also prevents incanting any spells. If anyone tries a psionic act, he immediately looks over to pinpoint the source of the intrusion.

Imagined scenario: The door open automatically when you arrive. It opens into the darkness, but there's no one there. He's known you were coming for some time. You follow a faint light where you catch a glimpse of Strahd sitting at a table, eyes cast downward at something upon it. He showed no sign of seeing you, but (if you were trying to be quiet in any way, otherwise he gazes right into you) he speaks with complete calm without moving his gaze from the table: "...And why didn't you accept my invitation?"

Any hesitation in your answer and he immediately throws a critical roll -- because he caught you off-guard. What that is (a weapon, a spell) -- he gets because you're in his territory and he set up the context for engagement.

An unspoken gesture calls his team of helpers (2 giants per party member), who immediately grab you and overpower you to such a degree that you can't even draw your weapon or get an attack. If you wish to, you can scream. If you are holding some magic protection, he utters a few words which you don't quite hear and the spell is dispelled. If your weapon is already drawn he parries all strikes like he was a master of the elemental planes. If you attempt to strike the helpers with some especially hyper specific attack that affects the NPC too directly, Strahd sneaks in and calmly dissipates the attack "Now, now, we don't need that." You are forced down some steps and thrown in to a dungeon.

You aren't told anything: what you did, how long you will be kept there, whether he's going to eat you for dinner, or anything. Players have to figure out something to do. Watch carefully what ideas they come up with. Do they see if they can break the lock or do something magical to get free? Do they use the time to get a long rest and charge up? The dungeon is in his territory and automatically protected by the force of his presence -- you probably won't find an easy way out. He is playing a cat and mouse game. Build up the characters fight if you wish, but the sure way to failure is to fight him.

If your players start banging on stuff, Strahd gets interested in the commotion and goes downstairs to talk to you. He eyes you from the other side of the bars and asks calmly: "Are you attempting to wear the bars down with your chicken pecking? Of course you want out, but what is there out there? Hobgoblins to make you feel like a real warrior? Hmmm? Why don't you just sleep for awhile until we figure out what to do with you."

Characters are thrown some foodstuffs from the pantry of their host once a day. Hogfat, carrots and vittles, creamed corn and stuff like that. They probably aren't poisoned (lol). Waste elimination happens down a grating if the players choose, but if they start losing hope or drive, they may start eliminating in the corners of their cell. After a second day or more and if the players calm down and accept their fate, a rat comes outside the cell and just rests, peering at you. It ignores any offers of food. IF you shew it away, it walks away calmly, as if you aren't the first to be held up in the cell and won't be causing fear anytime soon. If you peer back and the player has a INT score that's not a total DOLT, you wonder: "Does Strahd see me with this creature?", otherwise you probably wonder "Should I eat it?"

You might find a note: "If you're a fellow adventurer from D&D, Strahd has figured you out how to see into your plane. We've lost 3 adventurers already from madness. They apparently found a connection to the Underdark (follow the catecombs downward). It's generally a one-way entrance. I'm writing this and do not know how I'll survive. Strahd is upstairs roaming about again. Best of luck." (At this point the candles at your gaming table might blow out. HAHA!)

PCs are kept decently comfortable, in other words, but if some PC starts whining about something inane akin to some "medical condition" they must attend to or other such weak and cowardly drivel, he moves them into another cell more appropriate for the wererats to have a chance at winning the game. If they're muttering spells, he puts an iron mask on them. If they're trying to bust the castle down, he shackles all four limbs. The other players are in hearing distance.

Strahd subconsiously hears all their thinking-out-loud through psionic perception. And DM need to think along with him as they mutually must decide how to resolve the situation. He doesn't want to kill them except for the most inane behaviors. But yet will they rise to the challenge and make themselves into something more than monkeys with swords? Even the great wizard Gandalf would have a hard time figuring out what to do and be left with trying magic for what? To return to the dreary Barovia? So rest as long as you want.... "We only have eternity...", Strahd thinks.

XXX The DM has to wait, try a few diversions to get players out of any ruts, until the team comes together with something TRULY UNIQUE. You know it when they have it. At that point, YOU must be the master of Strahd and how he counters it. You may even have to quit for the night so you can meditate on just what and how Strahd would react. XXX This is now revised with a new endgame scenario involving going into the Underdark, see below.

XXXHere's a possible quick win: Players accept invite, get thrown in dungeon. Some time later, when the players are at their wits end, some stranger comes up from below with a latern. Said stranger doesn't know where he is. Says he came out of a portal from below where there's caverns. PLayers talk to him about finding keys. This allows them to go deep into the Dark Geode level, and then further into the special entrance into the Underdark to seek out his wife.

If the players think they can kill Strahd, remind them he knows all of their plans already. He'll be prepared -- even if they try writing them silently. Nope, they'll need to try something else. What you'll find, is that there is no solution to strategizing an offensive move if your enemy can hear (or see) your plans.

If your gaming party is playing on a full moon (or you want one in-game), the party hears the faint play of midieval organ music coming from upstairs. Not the frail, bleating of some pedal organ, but the full-blown epicness of a giant cathedral pipe organ, powered by some machine you know not (a river-powered, dual-bellows, pump). Gothic, of course, and four-limbed. Sounds vaguely like the organ tune in "Thriller" by Michael Jackson. During this time, at least one member of the party falls into a slumber which can only be woken on a DC 17 (CON?) check. Is it benign, only Strahd knows. Even, you, the DM may not be able to divine what is taking place during sleep. In whatever case, you can be sure the master plan of some obscure plan is being dreamed.

Note the characters level of paranoia vs calm: do they magically test every item as if Strahd is attacking them or do they simply accept their fate and rest? A whole gaming session should probably go by to break them down a little. That's right, nothing for the night but sitting in the dungeon hatching up worthless plans.

If the characters stay there for a week, Strahd invites them up again for dinner -- after they are hosed off with a leather hose, presumably fed by a cistern or river water, probably on a new moon (in or out of game). The cold water feels brisk but refreshing -- a unlikely find in a world gone mad: fresh water.

If the PCs have spoiled their clothing, the characters are given a fresh set of linens to wear so they can attend dinner without appearing like wet dogs.

Now that you've had time to rest, have you thought about what you might be doing here besides going on some heroic, masterbatory adventure of self-glorification? Are some kind of nerd in real life? Check the gaming table: what are the reactions of your players to this comment? IF they react with a tinge of fear, continue "If you are some kind of masterbators trying to cast and slash in my realm, you can forget ever leaving here alive." The hint is that they could possibly leave here alive...

Strahd has inherent divination from his vampiric condition. If your players are tuned and the moon is right, he may hover over the gaming table as a blanket feeling of something like a seance might give. Finally, he mutters out of nowhere: "...Are you in some kind of 'Adventurer's League'?" The intonation is vague enough that the players shouldn't be able to tell whether he (you) are referring to something out-of-game or merely playing his cards very smartly. But the players should get some chill down their spine. Strahd is indeed watching and using the arena of the gaming table to solve his problem. Perhaps there is a woman there who could be a candidate. "How do you feel you're doing in solving my little puzzle?" "Puzzle?", they may ask. "Of what you may be doing in my land!"

When the players have reached the expected lull in their (in)ability to hold a conversation with the Baron, Strahd asks them: What do you know about my land? And how is it that you came to think you could sneak/barge into my house without any manners? Have I shown you the slightest unfriendliness or impoliteness?

You think you came into my land by accident? You think all of this is just for show, for your adventuring pleasure? No, "wanderer”., You, now are entangled with my fate. Perhaps you wound up here because you TOOK something from me, from my land, from my creatures that hadn't hurt you, from my dreams. You may not know it, but I will. Perhaps you wanted to be a great warrior, eh? or a great mage, eh? You (points to one of the party), you wanted to be a thief?? You may not remember the days of old, and the prophesy of gods dead long ago, but I remember them. Days of gems the size of your fist, forged by warriors four times as great as you. Those gods of old were slain by the heathen likes of your kind. Those gods weren't gods of power you have now, those gods were gods of silent wisdom, of futures were everything could be perfect. The kinds of futures YOU don't believe in, little warriors. But then, no one does. That is why we are here, now, aren’t we?

No, the most the likes of you hope for, is some king's ransom and a castle upon the hill. But... as you see, I've already accomplished that. I have all the riches, but what use are they, when no one is worthy to spend them on? What use is a castle, when there is no love? In your world, you have those "choose your own adventure" books, yes? Well, now is the time for you to choose. So tell me, heathen, what land did you arrive from before you tripped up into mine? No, there is no “forgotten realms”, I mean, WHERE ARE YOU FROM??? (The DM, upon registering the surprise on their faces, tells them about the distant cackle they hear as if from a long, far away tunnel.)

The DM can consider madness affects for this camper

The realm you call "forgotten realms" was a realm of much promise -- people were as children, but they had every bit of potential to become gods. Bah! My pain is too deep for you to understand.

Those days you call forgotten, but I tell you... You took those days down, and you owe. In that age was prophesy of greatness, that a great dragon-princess(?) would come and unite the land and make it free. You can hardly imagine it. [Possible tie-in to Game of Thrones world, and prophesy of a future where dragons and men share the world together. Avatar film, too.]

that didn't belong to you, you got here because you owe me? For what? How many jewels did you take from lawful good creatures?. You don't like my wererats and wolves? They bit you? Please. (what is that like a 1d10 or something?) Has it ever occurred to you that these animals were perfect before the likes of your land came barging in and pillaging for treasures and now they wander in darkness for the love and paradise that they've lost?? Has it?? What, has your DM father told that they're some kind of evil creature or something? No, they aren't. They are chaotic, lawful creatures of my land."

Encourage the players to explore this. Players might ask "what do you mean?". Strahd would say: "Consider this: how would you know whether a creature is merely chaotic or truly evil?" Player says: "if they try to kill me!" (or something to this extent) "But you kill, do you not? And have you not killed lawful, good creatures? Are you evil?" "But they follow no higher purpose." you (they) might say. He immediately retorts: "But are you pious enough to know the purposes of the GOD who made this creature? Do you think you know whether the wererat strikes you out of evil or whether he or she follows some higher law that merely seems chaotic to you and that you cannot divine through your crude, rudimentary mind?" Players may contemplate this. See if they do. It's called philosophy.

If the players instead get hostile, Strahd asks them: "Tell me, how do you suppose your adventuring through the land would go if you lost your ability to see?" At that, Strahd chooses the most hostile combatant and strikes him/her with blindness. This is a permanent blindness that only a mage of higher level than Strahd can dispel. It completely removes their ability to see. They will have to be led around, until Strahd himself lifts it. Yet if someone else does dispel this, they will be stricken with the "curse of Strahd" -- bad luck and the possibility that they may get stuck in his land as well.

When the players have reached a new understanding, Strahd peers at them, giving them one short chance at a response (already determined: unlikely) and utters: "Dismissed." If they speak further, he raises his hand and ignores you. The helpers put you back into the cell. They are dismissed back into the dungeon to think about it. They find their quarters washed and cleaned of any debris they may have left. Dry mats are placed on the stone floors for their sleeping.

Somewhere, when the players are getting exhausted, one finds a note, perhaps behind a brick that seems looser after someone slept on it. On the note it shows a map of dungeons, perhaps a layer down. It also says that Strahd could never "see" you down here, that the only question is does IT have a way out?

Playing Strahd demands a very sophisticated level of game play. Letting Strahd get defeated is not be the wisest strategy. Strahd is a mastermind. Players can learn from him, about his meticulous composure, to his precision of language and timing, such as this. If you play your cards (ahem) right, you could restore sanity to the land and get access to unique and valuable steam-punkish/industrial game items. OR perhaps you'll be given a permanent residence, and gifted with elite EQ items that couldn't simply be reproduced or stolen, like the sun-sword -- for its power comes from the gods. Remember this is a level 50 character. Various puzzles may allow you to spin it back into the light. Can you see if the players are starting to appreciate Strahd's level of understanding of the players? His fine manners and politeness. Being thrown into a cell isn't impolite if you barged into his home hoping to slash him open.


  • “Why did you bring us here?” A: The forces that brought you here are, perhaps surprisingly, bigger than me. I, like you, am a bit trapped. I can only surmise that perhaps you might help me (or Barovia?) in some way…” Bring the sister of _
  • “What do you wnat from us?” A: It’s what you can do to create a new channel of Time, a new trajectory of the future. You see, time goes in a circle here, had you noticed? Perhaps you will be the line of consciousness which will brings in new life. I think the sister is one way, but perhaps you will dream up another. OR…. maybe you’ll try to kill me…. HAHAH”

Strahd knows when you're being honest and quietly favors those few who show purity rather than bravado. The DM must listen for it acutely in the players and how they play their PC. But, may it be known, that the true secret to winning this campaign can only be found by searching in the underdark, the realm of death itself... Can you figure it out: why this might be the key to winning this campaign?

So, the moon belongs to his world, not ours. When it wanes, the her forces are less and the anger of Strahd increases and he gets a positive +HIT bonus. When it waxes, players get more latitude. In fact, you could choose which campaign start scenario by the phase of the moon. I think the mist start is for the new/missing moon. You can play that and see if the characters notice. Perhaps an NPC will. In a way Strahd is trapped like the characters. He's only undead rather than dead because the hands of Fate have dealt him this. already and the only way for him to get back the kingdom is to remake the love. He knows that only through

Coptic Cross of Strahd... Here's some background arcana. The story of dracula and vampires is all related to the pain body of the Christ. When society doesn't respect the pain of the Cross, the vampire stories swell. It is essentially, Christ getting back his own blood waiting for the Creator of the land to get Justice. STUB... to be integrated... Using the map of the Dark Geode from User:Cedric/Princes of the Apocalypse, the DM can help lead the party to XXXfix this so no revealsXXX. This is called "the catacombs" in Strahd`s world. He may or may not know the Approached this way, it drops directly into the nets, goonies-style, of the beginning of Underdark campaign. There is no way out except the witches circle. Otherwise, if you do re-engage the portal at G17, just roll a d8. On even rolls it leads to the elemental planes, on odd rolls, it transforms back into the staircase. Depending on the odd number, the time that you re-enter Strahd's campaign may have changed. (In order for this to happen, you had to have fallen through the portal to the Underdark, the realm of Death where Time stops, though?) On a 1, you enter as if you never met Strahd and he acts like he never saw you before. ON a 7, you come back as you were, in the same time period and moon phase. On a 5, you encounter Strahd in a rage, on a 3, you encounter him at his table or organ, and you slip away as you wish. He may or may not reveal that he knows you. The Underdark can be entered in a semi-controlled fashion via a very narrow, steeply-slanted chasm-tunnel that is only as comfortably wide as a single human character of sleight build. AT about four feet is the first, narrow (2 1/2") step that descends downward for about 20 more, each step about a foot and a half apart from each other. Without knowing beforehand or putting a torch down the hole, they may not know that there is a steep stairway cut into the hole. Each step requires a DC6 (PTY?) difficulty check. At a fail, most will simply slip and fall, as the wet/smooth surfaces don't lend themselves for catching any missteps (as if the corridor were made for use by a single person alone, who knows each nook). A DC12 dexterity check will allow themselves to catch themselves if they start falling. Once they fail there, they fall the 100 or more feet into the spiders webs at the start of Underdark/Velkenvelve. If they succeed to the final step, there is a hole in the wall. Therein, lies a rope ladder than rolls out to swing themselves to the ledge of the Lolth's den. Depending on the (real-life) phase of the moon, the players should be presented to the Underdark in different ways. If it is a fullmoon they go straight to the published beginning, where they find Lolth (aka Ilvara?) herself immediately. If it is a new moon, they find Drizz't Durden who finds them trapped in the Velkenvelve and tempts them to find a way out of the Underdark before any encounter with Lolth. In between are days of confusion and other exploration possibly. This is a little character test to try on your players: will they take the possibility of leaving the whole campaign with Drizz't or will they stay on task and try to set the process rolling to recover Strahd's wife from the Underdark, thereby possibly rescuing the whole realm??

If the players make it to the Underdark (which they can find by way of the Black Geode map in the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign), they will need to get out. By no means should they be allowed to do this by "normal" means (if there were a "normal" way out then those who've died would find a way, too — DeRP!) and leave the karmic bonds that brought them there. The DM must look for the players to lose stimulation from the Underdark (that means they're probably asleep and a moment of quiet has come), after they've set processes in motion for Ilvara to transform Lolth back into a beautiful power woman. Once they're asleep, a moon circle (consisting of 8-12 women) will call them back into the land of Strahd. It should be a full moon. The characters will simply wake up, feeling much better for their time in the Underdark only to find themselves mysteriously laying on the grass surrounded by the women chanting with their eyes closed. Players may simply leave quietly, grateful to be out of the Underdark, or may risk interrupting the women's chant. If they ate any mushroom's and interrupt the chant, they will stay "sickened" throughout their stay or 1 month, whichever is less. This is Abyssal sickness which happens when above surface dwellers who are not sea creature races of any kind go under to the realm of death. The chanting was to simply ensure that none of it followed you out. Lesson learned?

Whatever the case, after they've started the process rolling, they should find a way to revisit Strahd and approach him from the point of view of knight for his kingdom. If he asks how the prisoners got out, simply say "We were called by your late wife. We have visited her in the Underdark and you should await her possible resurrection." Nothing more need to be done: you have delivered the message. Past that you can pass the time looking for the secret runes that belong to the wizard Merlin that is associated with the Count -- or at least the land.

The sunsword is a very powerful weapon, but it takes exceedingly good alignment to wield it otherwise it will burn you from it's righteousness (if you've killed a good-aligned character for example, or without giving piety to their gods, in the case of animals). To wield it in it`s original form would take angelic alignment of a level 100 character. So, instead it is suggested that any such sword is a part of the original sword of which now exists in approximately 20 different pieces (different swords which are in other games). These could be kept by a Magic, the Gathering type card collectible with a serial number to know how many have been released.

A much saner weapon is Dawnbringer. Such a sword could be gifted by Strahd himself upon reaching some mutual agreement, occuring after a major milestone.

If such a sword were ever brought back together in its totality, it would be a formidible weapon capable of defeating any negative character with a single blow. In other words, this sabre of light is probably the most prized weapon of the whole game, of any realm. The length of any given diminished sunsword is equal to the number of such swords combined into one. So it's becomes a piercing, short-ranged weapon until all the pieces are brought together.

Unless you checked for any spies before gathering the sun sword, one of his familiars most certianly saw that you have it, so of course Strahd knows you have it. That will steal your thunder when you whip it out to try to slaughter him and cost you any surprise attack you hoped you had packed along with you. Further, it will strangely malfunction in his presence without light.

So if you accepted the invitation, you may be greeted with a variety of dinner courses which may not suit you and are a test of sorts of your will, all reflective of the pain endured and the . During dinner Strahd is going to test you because he is looking for partners that are capable of partnering his world -- not in the dark ways it is now of Ravenloft, but transformed into the light to be a beacon rivaling Waterdeep and surrounding territory.

But if you are small potatoes, he may decide to put you on an errand. Declining that, he is likely to kill you. That means, most likely, TPK. Here, the Tarroka deck may be employed by the DM to bring elements that the DM knows about the players in the outer world into the game-world, "breaking the fourth-wall" barrier in a n acceptible way between the two worlds. As a small example, the DM may know that you took something from another player in the real world, and bring it half-up (half-up because he couldn’t divine all the details of your world (having never seen it), but where a player has been concealing something, THAT is what triggers a recognition—for Strahd has long since catalogued all the nuances of petty human foibles) during dinner or other encounter that would provoke an association with taking something. Honesty may be important here to keep your life. "And what makes you think you deserve X?" Or as a more diabolical example, he may bring elements that players have kept secret in real life and bring them out in the open. This requires a high degree of mastery of the DM to not reveal his or her hand as a person in the players world, but as the game master creating the world within. Yes, Strahd is a powerful enough neuromancer that he may know your thoughts even now...

Here's something a sadistic DM might do: be the familiar to Strahd himself. It's the ultimate horror: The trust the player's put in the DM takes on a new form. As for breaking the 4th wall: Strahd may even start pining for one of the female players, not female PC, mind you, but the player herself.

But Strahd is also a victim of his own success. He would take delight in clever and cunning uses of theatre. If a DM can get a player to leave the gaming table in fear, for example, that would be a true sign of success and the DM should surely be awarded some fine prize.

The mist separate and are gone, just like they came…”

A lesson can be made in this realm about the dangers of acquisitiveness. Perhaps Sergei got greedy and hoped to run off with the riches of the kingdom. And charmed Ireena in the process so he could create a coup of Barovia. If players are greedy or acquisitive, they may have to learn this lesson before they can truly complete the module. XXX: this is done somewhere already...

If there is sunlight in the realm, then the sunsword is not in Ravenloft. The sunsword exists to provide a little light in a world full of darkness. It is otherwise twilight alone and darkness, punctuated perhaps by moonlight. The physics of that, you'll have to figure out for yourselfs, but have you ever heard of a Calabi-Yau manifold???

INTEGRATE: Baptised people of the realms stay semi-free of Strahd, otherwise get harassment from his familiars who are looking for the flesh.

Mt. Ghakis[edit]

The mountain of the realm is the home of the reward for whatever party learns all of the secrets of Ravenloft. First-time players will probably have a mountain only about 10,000ft high. Each time they leave and return, it gains 1000ft.

There is a Yeti that lives on the mountain and will attack anyone who threatens the mountain's secrets. Further, the User:Cedric/gods make weather difficult as a sign of their position on the matter.


The Vistani are wanderers who are just there for the flippin' wierdness. They don't really know much, and you can have some of their wine (who knows what it's spiked with), and they can tell you all sorts of rumors, and feel free to listen to it all.

But then, there is also Madame Eva who will do a reading for you, if you wish.

DM notes:

  • in the card reading of Madame Eva, this is where can use all of your suspicions about each player and hide these suspicions in the interpretations of the cards -- if they are favorable to you, of course. That is to say, the cards see through space on a full moon of your world, especially, and will tell things about the players themselves, even more than their characters, depending on how well each player embodies and immerses themselves in their character. The more they immerse themselves, the more they are immune to the card's probes.


Somewhere in town, there is a shop with devices for torture. This town is harrassed by a masked figure that rides a black carriage.

DM Notes:

  • The masked figure is Ichibod Crane. His carriage is pulled by the nightmare steed Beucephalus. When players approach him or attempt dialog, he shouts: "You have betrayed my land!" or, "You have broken our agreement!".
  • If the players are playing humans (possibly elves), the steed's heavy, rage-breathing make the players nervous. They may have a panic attack and be struck "Frightened".
  • If players threaten the figure, he will brandish his sword, hanging by his side. If an an attack is made but misses, he will throw daggers he carries at his side, inside his dark cloak.
  • If players strike the figure, he collapses into a pile of clothes with nothing there.
  • Players who inspect the carriage find that it is a hearse. Inside the hearse is a coffin, marked with the Coptic Cross and holds the corpse of the brother (or something like this). If the players approach the coffin with an intention of opening it, they get struck by fear and take the condition "Frightened". Should they continue to open it --despite their fear, they are struck with the curse: "Curse of Strahd" (adventure card).
  • If players mount the carriage as some sort of joke, the steeds take off westward to the edge of the map, upon which they enter a plane of darkness which eventually lands them in some alternate universe: 1780's England, where they are fine gentleman/ladies trotting down a cobblestone street in London. Good luck finding a path back -- you'll need an alternate RPG. (OR pay the author some big bucks to figure it out for you.)

AL notes:

  • Consider devices:
  • This figure is connected to "V", of Alan Moore's "V, for Vendetta" comics.

WotC notes:

  • There are other, more satanic devices of torture that will not be mentioned here, if you look.

Lake Vallaki[edit]

A source of mystery. But if players are going to be snooping around, there's vqrious fun tricks to pull out of your hat.

DM Notes:

  • Jason of Friday 13th can be found in some cabin here. He represents the desire for sexual gratification and need for physical affection where these two get conflated, but an incapacity to get those needs met through conventional dialog. No chainsaw or anhthing modern. You must dress these characters down (up?) into the setting. A hockey mask might be a masquerade mask?

Vampire Spawn[edit]

Each time the old vamp gets a victim by BITE, they inherit some of his intelligence (but not independent intelligence that can be used against him), for he now has some control over them, but where Strahd is at INT20, each they become INT 19. If the spawn then take victims their INT becomes 18, until once it gets down to INT 1, they become vile creatures incapable of human (or animal) emotion and intelligence. This is where vampire "hunters" have to come and clean up the mess. If the whole realm gets infected thusly (like your players), you, as DM and lord of the game, must shut down the realm and throw it away... You, and they, have failed your maker.

Once you are vampire spawn, your mind is not your own. This is part of Strahd's system of adventurer-mining. He can sit back and rest most of the time. Most, indeed, are timid souls, and won't break out of their state, but instead stay intrigued about their new state of being where their guilty pleasures now get freedom from all prior judgements. They aren't quite undead. This little remainder of free-will allows Strahd to feast freely, for after they have partaken in such a venal (or mortal) sin, he can feast upon them without guilt.

A unusually moral person might break out of their state -- just enough, however, to warn others of the danger of the realm. Strahd's link to them, however, allows him to know when this occurs, and he will come out of nowhere to swoop down and abduct them for a feast.

These spawn are like wandering cattle to him. They are given free range, knowing they can't leave.

St. Andral Church[edit]

There's a graveyard there. If players try to "speak with the dead", the player's own lives (not their PC) show up and the DM has to imagine what their person would say. That is to say: they are buried there.

Mike Myer's may be found here (draw a Broken Man card to figure out where), dressed in a bedsheet with eyes cut out of them. He holds a large cleaver and stands in the path.

DM Notes:

  • On "speak with the dead": the players may or may not figure it out from DM cues, but somewhere, deep down in their consciousness, given that it is their own lives -- that they are imagined DEAD -- they are not at ease.
  • If players cast speak with the dead on the Mike Myer's visage, it will talk to them like a small child.
  • The bats NPCs hang around the Church. They will tend to hang around Churches in the belfrys. They will probably attack any human players and fly off before the player can even get a hit. These "little crits" are just the price for admission of being in Barovia.
  • If the Halloween NPC is in your world it gets 1 round of advance knowledge of players actions. That is, the DM can allow him to act as if he already knew what they were doing. (They can't sneak up on him.)
  • Halloween NPC: It doesn't speak(?). it only gestures. It won't run (or even walk fast), unless players run. It only has karma towards human PCs, not dwarves, maybe elves. It will ignore or not even see dragonborn. It is not immune to magic. It won't be able to be struck in melee combat since it anticipates. Beheading is probably all that would work to defeat this NPC, but since he anticipates it might need to be an accident.
  • If by some quirk of fate, the NPC gets to talk (maybe speak to animals?), he issues direct, confrontational, minimal utterances designed to provoke fear or guilt. Note: speak with the dead spell will allow this NPC to talk, but it talks as a (lonely/frightened) child: broken sentences, childish terms ("mommy").
  • If players get up in the face of the NPC (with any intent to kill or harm), the NPC will stab them viscerally for a victory. Natives of Barovia might be immune to such attack or if you're a vampire spawn? If a women tries it without intent to kill, he will use his knife to undo her dressings.



  • Underneath the mask is the persona of V, for Vendetta - a grotesque visage of skull and blood.

Baba Lysaga's Hut[edit]

If they try to do any nefarious deeds here they will be met with the finger of death and other high-level spells from the old lady:

She stands upright and stares at you, her hand and long bony finger pointed towards you (with knuckles the size of radishes). She utters a few words you do not understand in Strahd's native tongue and suddenly the room changes. The sounds outside can't be heard and the whole universe closes. It is but you (on DC25 CHR fail: the rest of the party is too stunned to really understand what's going on, on success, the party member also is able to watch her DC25 INT and they can say something to try to break the spell) and her, everything is still, but it is she who is in control. Not you. And she points her eyes at you and you know you've been cursed and there's nothing at all that you can do. She turns, suddenly, as if nothing happened, and you come to as if everything is normal. You feel a chill run up your spine and suddenly the sounds of the swamp invite you outside. Attempts to engage her and she ignores you. You don't exist. Feeling disoriented, you feel you better take this invitation.

The curse: Hex dice, d30, triple disadvantage on all things that require intelligence -- you take the lowest roll of 3 dice. (Effectively, you're done for).

Ye Old Bonegrinder replaces the need for this little "injection" or domain. This area is located in a swamp. Perhaps it is wrong to be here, but there are Yuan-Ti and the general idea is that even though this is Strahd's domain, he doesn't have all the power to control it all.

DM Notes:

  • Baba Lysaga is the aged mother of Strahd. Consider it slightly related to the relationship between Norman Bates and his mother at the Bate's Hotel.
  • IN NO CASE are you, the DM, to comment negatively about the boney fingers of Baba Lysaga or you, too, will be cursed. (Dice lose any advantage that is called for in the campaign books.)
  • In times like this, with spell of baba lysaga, the normal rules for speed and combat do not apply. Time stops. She summons the unvierse itself to some degree and holds time in abeyance through the power in which all men are born. You will simply need to acquiesce. This is DC25-30 power here, depending on the moon. Full moons, give more power.
  • If anyone attempts to divine knowledge about her, she senses it and interrupts their spell and says, flatly and a bit gruff: "What?! Just ask me. What do you want to know?"
  • If anyone casts arcane knowledge to find out about the tree, they may find that the tree was once a great sequoia, and that it existed before the fall of Zarovich, when Barovia was a nice, teeming village swinging iwth activity.
  • IF they use arcane knowledge to ask about the skull of the hut DC15 WIS, it belonged to the god that once served over the land, now dead. A chill is felt up every human, turami, or fairy player's spine, and they no longer wonder why this land is cursed. If Shou, they wish to get out of there, fast.

AL ni9tes:

  • If the DM gets cursed for transgressing Baba Lysaga, s/he loses any advantage that is otherwise granted by the campaign books, or worse...

WotC notes:

  • The large knuckles on Baba Lysaga's fingers are from catching the love that was lost when Barovia fell. She holds that love there, waiting for some time when this cursed realm is resolved.

Amber Temple[edit]

If they have not attained the "All Hallow's Eve" ending for Strahd:

Serious snowstorms confront anyone who travels on the path up the mountain past the forks. DC(altitude/50?) or DC20 checks each round to see if they've made progress. A LVL 50 yeti

In the temple is a statue of Vecna. No further explaination has been offered. Whatever the case, the trip should leave them feeling with that foreboding but perfect feeling of "We shouldn't have come here.".

If they finished the all hallows eve:

Mountains of gold. The eye of Vecna becomes the Diamind of _? The rusty sword in the closet of Strahd becomes the Sword of Excalibur (rarity: legendary) and can be placed in the Amber Temple (leaving Strahd to stay as a lord of his own domain). The statue become Strahd i....X?


They shouldn't encounter the Temple until they've had some interaction with Strahd OR they already have some divined arcana about the realm and for whatever reason, they don't need to talk to Strahd.

DM Notes:

  • The Temple is guarded by a high-level yeti. The LVL of the yeti is calculated by the sum of player alignment, taken from 1000, and divided by X? LVL80 by now...
  • On the Temple Door (fi they make it that far), is a huge, graven (if they are antagonists to Strahd and wish to kill him) face of a Man, as large as the door, split in two, by the two mauve-colored stone doors. Attempts to get divine arcana on the door fail.
  • Herein lies a portal to a futuristic world. It's connection to Barovia or why it is here is yet unknown. It's exact location must be discovered.

AL Notes:

  • The location of the portal is in room X. It leads to the cyberpunk universe of game_company_X? (which is also connected to Alien RPG by Free League).

Yester Hill[edit]

This scenario opens up if players are ambivalent about Strahd, otherwise the trail is unseen. It might be that the proper form of Strahd here is the headless horseman scenario (a variant of the "broken man" card) -- occurs when players try to decapitate Strahd (maybe on a prior visit to Barovia, eh?). The hill's name possibly, conceivably comes from the word "yesterday" -- the day before decapitation (when all the troubles seemed so far away -- how did the DM/demigod of Ravenloft actually let such a crime happen? 'Is the DM, too, against me[Strahd] -- the very force charged to represent my[his] realm?').

If the higher-god's conditions are well (they are well and optimistic about the players), the stone is emerald as RAW, otherwise it is amber.

The conditions for this event, involve the phase of the moon. This provides some alternative to biting people for MANA. The amber gem provides 1000? units of MANA per round under a full moon. Since Strahd wont' be making offensive or defensive moves during the action, it will provide a net of extra 800? MANA per round, which Strahd's body can store as extra HP. XXXThis shoudl probably be mroe to make it worth the time of travel, etc. Also different realm variables can make this go up or down to teach DMs about realm-mechanics (not just dungeon or player mechanics).

DM Notes:

  • When Strahd is using these mechanics for mana, the werewolves don't show up and are silent.

AL Notes:

  • Characters may find Strahd here "charging up". But there's no green gem, it is amber. And during the full moon, he stands naked before the effigy and charges up from it`s light. Most likely no one will ever see or know this, because Strahd is in charge of his land.


For folks that wanted to stay near the mountain. Prone to flooding. If locals are asked about the mountain (like if anything is to be found there), they're informed that they should probably stay away from it. The only thing you'll find there is bitter coldness and perhaps a starving yeti.

Diary of Strahd[edit]

The diary should have notes that give personal detail on secret, hidden paths of the realm. Like the path down the castle rock.

Abbey of St. Markovia[edit]

The Abbot holds onto the idea that there is good to be had in Barovia. He doesn't really know what to think about the goings on in the Asylum. He has turned a blind eye to it all. The Dr. there seems to be in control and he can't fight it off. There are no police to call and Strahd seemed to be amused by the conflict. This should be the general condition.

If asked, the Abbott will probably defend and justify Strahd, considering him a victim ("Betrayed by his own family!"). He's part of a long succession of abbots that have been there since the fall of Barovia. The abbey is kept alive by unmarked donations (probably from Strahd) and the "blessings" from the gods (or are they Dark Powers?) He may give arguement that the gods themselves must keep him, "for what other power could keep him alive?" (DM Note: the Dark Powers would exact a price.). Anyway, the abbott probably won't think mjch of any outside adventurer's opinions.

However, depending other variables in the game, the Abbott could be considered insane, blindly clutching onto his faith and in a position of weakness, rather than strength. Which one the Abbott is in depends on the power Strahd has and other things the Dakr Power might cling to.


SPOILERS!!! DM's only (like nearly everything on this page)...

When citizens of Barovia act up, get too violent, resistant to Strahd, or whatever, they are rounded up and taken to the Asylum for "behavior modification". Behaviors that are more appropriate. There are needles, scaples, probes, and other devices, to assist in this effort, but in Strahd's world, the needles take the form of 1/8" wide, scary jobs that aren't going to be painless. Pain killers? This will be a shot of red wine, after the fact. Until then, you will bite down on a piece of animal leather, for the doctor has already anticipated this dilemma and knows that if you break your teeth from the pain, you will die not long after, as your immune system gets shot from being bedridden and your teeth were the only thing left holding you together.

Besides the RAW, two possible NPCs of interest here.

Here they may find that there was a scientist experimenting with the dead. It seems this scientist is no longer around anymore, (Spoiler alert:) but there are rumors that he contracted lycantropy and became a werewolf.

Upon investigation they may find that there are bodies of former criminals. In one of the rooms, laying on a gurney, is a strange looking man. He appears to be dead. There are no orderlies or anyone around. He or it seems to just be abandoned. There is a metal helmut of sorts on his head with wires protruding out of it.

The second possibility is just a man laughing in the bed, hair unkempt, eyes gone wild. He won't acknowledge any attempt at conversing with them, though he keeps track of what they're saying and might pop out (i.e. speak about) something that shows this. But here's the interesting thing. Once in a while he might break out from nowhere some piece of data that relates to the player at the table -- not the PC in the game-universe. If queried about it further, he will just go on with insane talk, perhaps a minor clarification to cement the fact in their mind that HE KNOWS, otherwise the player is just left with the question of "Did this NPC really just nail me or are we just confused?" The DM should just look on and shrug his/her shoulders if asked.

This character is known as "the Joker" or "space cowboy", not to Barovia or anything else, just because we don't have a name. Dr. Jameson Dolittle, perhaps.

DM notes:

  • The scientist is none other than Dr. Jekyll and is quite qualified for various kinds of experimentation on the human as subject. In Barovia, his state (whether Jekyll or Hyde) is triggered on the phase of the moon. The insidious Mr Hyde comes out when the moon is waxing. HOWEVER, if Strahd has been beheaded, the Plague Doctor is a dominant presence in the realm, not by force, but by sheer oddity.
  • The behavior modification techniques used at the Asylum include lobotomies, and even an experimental, "electroshock" treatment. There is, of course, various "medicants" of various kinds attempted.
  • If, somehow, the players are in a universe that is anti-science, then instead of the Doctor, they find the Joker/Pennywhistle?. If Joker is found, then Batman is his opposite. This will be in the realm as eitehr Strahd (acting as a Dark Lord that secretly helps his own ken) or a player (who is then Strahd's nemesis, as much as Joker, who for purposes of this module stays mostly undetected by Strahd, an alter-ego of Strahd).
  • Frankenstein:
    • if queried, he simply stares at them, wondering if they are food or not.
    • If he is threatened, he will rush or charge the PCs.
    • He can adjust his rage through a bolt on his neck; however, this makes his limbs more spastic.
    • He doesn't feel pain, so HPs don't get dropped, instead he continues fighting until all extremities are gone.
    • If led outside, he'll be disoriented, and seek water to soothe the internal pain that he's in (to soak in it, yet if he does it short circuits things in his dubious, nervous-system rewire/overhaul/patch-job).
    • If the moon is out, he'll be enchanted by it and just stare(?). Attempts to talk to him will annoy him.
    • If there is a girl in the group, he may try to lay down with her and close the world off. Or a female PC may try to be an angel and lay with him. If this is successful, Strahd becomes subdued in the realm, rather than aggressive and annoyed, unless players do something stupid. They can roam through Barovia unmolested. If they approach him in his castle, he will attempt to get rid of them, shoo them away -- for their own good (which he will inform them clearly). If they still pursue it, then the subdued state is removed.
    • He is in some way the effigy on Yester Hill, so if this NPC is in the game, then the effigy isn't there. Also, if they observe this NPC, they trigger an event within the Dark Lords: Strahd disappears from the realm, but the player's don't get know this. They simply wander a gloomy landscape with no hope -- unless you, the DM, cheat or intervene wisely and save them. WITH UNKNOWN RAMIFICATIONS.
  • The Joker:
    • In no case, should any player get the upper-hand intellectually on the Joker. He should be considered INT stat 20, like Strahd, but a CON of only 5.
    • Players will hear screams, moans, and maniacal laughing during the night if they camp nearby. Within 1/2 mile on foggy/gloomy nights or 1mi on clear nights (strange, yes?). If this area houses elves, any elven players in the group will hear and be woken up by it. For dwarves, if any pain is being subjected to them, fellow dwarves will have an intuition about it and be woken up (but for no reason, unless their wisdom is above average (succeed on a DC21 check). Relavent?: Female screams will put male players into a state of anxiety. Male screams, the female PCs, unless they're dwarves. The CONstituion of dwarves doesn't allow them to get frightened by screaming humans.
    • The Joker refers to Frankenstein as "Frank" -- this is so that you, the DM, don't give it away.
    • If the Joker is asked his/her name, s/he replies "Penny" and laughs.
    • The Joker can get very lewd, has no indiscretions, and will even grope for any women in the party -- only if they are scantilly-clad. If the player acts up ("I'm going to be tough!"), the Joker lays himself back on the table, in a mock g3sture of cruxifiction, and stares at her: "Aren't you going to chop me up, like a good little psychopath?". "How many points am I worth, psychogirl? You'd love to get a kill, wouldn't you?" "I groped YOU? Aren't you in MY universe, girlfriend?? What did you expect with your tits hanging out? Are you breastfeeding?". If, OTOH the player...
    • If a female PC tries to lie with the Joker as some angel, this surprises the Joker ("Oooh, yes!"), but the gap from the Joker's level to the PCs is so high, she would have to be 1000 (perfect) alignment for it to work and subdue the realm. Instead the Joker wants to touch her, sexually, and will immediately grope her. It is up to you, the DM, to determine how to handle this at your table, but I suggest you don't explore your own fascinations with the idea, even if for amusement -- it will reveal far too much about YOU.
    • When Strahd has the upper hand, the Joker gets into manic fits of hysteria and will rant on about "All paths lead back to the Castle!", "There's no way to win and reign victorious!" and such. Because of hte semi-magical nature of quasi-shamanic manic fits, he may reveal things about the players motives that they have not revealed. "You can't win!" (if their secret plan is to try to defeat Strahd, for example, and the DM "listened in" on player stategy.)
    • In the rare case where players goof around with the Joker in any lewd fashion (trying to be "smart"), he takes off his clothes and parades around them holding his/her genitalia.
    • The Joker will make side comments that suggest he knows that there are players at a game table interacting with him through the planes. The DM should try to get the players frightened at the game table ("Is the DM toying with us? Help(!)". Once they get frightened enough, they may try to kill the joker. He offers no resistance. When his round comes, he just stares at them for the round, palms out, in a posture of cruxifiction. Other times, he may look at his wounds and make a joke about it. He may ask them if they are "Jason". When he's nearly closest to death (OHP), he uses his final mana that he stored up form inaction, and stares at them with taunt and says "KILL, KiLL, kIll, kill" and then falls dead onto the gurney. If they keep going, they succeed in killing him: "He falls limp on the gurney, You can't tell if he has a smile on his face still or not, from your current angle. Blood drips to the tile floors into a pool. You feel somehow uneasy about this kill." Their moral character is a question to you, the DM. IF they try to examine the joker further by arranging themselves to look at his face, he has a spasm and lets out an unearthly gargle/moan directed, acoustically, at their inner selves. They feel their HP turn to 0 for a round and may fall faint, but you don't have to tell them that part.
  • Michael Meyers:
    • This halloween (the movie) character acts upon players beliefs. He should just be standing on the trail inert with a knife in his hand looking "scary", but in truth, while he sees them, he won't act unless they get agitated (forming the urge within him). His act will be a direct result of the thigns the players believe which have intensity to move this urge within him, otherwise he will simply turn as they walk by, continuing to stare. The basic urge he is expressing is to belong.

AL Notes:

  • the random screams come from villagers that might have wandered off at night. The moans come from Frankenstein or various interned asylum members. Maniacal laughter will be the Joker. He tends to laugh at the weirdest moments when the players make some faux pas in the realm (and are in close range of the Abbey). If they play their cards well, they won't get taunted like this.

Old Bonegrinder[edit]

The witches there are trying to defeat Strahd. They may or may not try to ally with the adventurers. They have a large cauldron brewing and they don't want anyone to see what's in it, but it smells horrible.

Generally, the witches will probably try to get you out of there. They work alone -- unless you're a [[User:Cedric/ Witch]].

The bonegrinder represents an attempt to defeat Strahd through astral means, using his ancient soul.

DM Notes:

  • If the players take the gem from the effigy at Yester Hill and it gets placed in the special recepticle at the Bonegrinder (?), it unlocks Death House (otherwise, this area is not available nor interesting, except as an Addam's Family anomaly). See next section...

AL Notes:

  • The name for this area comes from the notion of grinding a person's bones to understand what they knew. Somehow the witches are trying to divine some wierd knowledge through the use of such evil techniques. But whose bones?

Death House[edit]

NOTE: This area remains locked until someone steals the gem found at Yester Hill.... However if they happen to stumble upon the house (without the morose kids), they may find some freakish thing like the Addam's Family living there (though they don't, of course, know that)...

Durst Manor is a gothic-architected house set upon a small hill overlooking the town. "The kids stare at you with a hint of blame..."

This is an adventure for the DMs.

DM Notes:

  • Consider it the Addam's Family House. There are many "surprises" in store..., but don't make it too janky or vaudvillean. The idea of integrating these ideas is to make it more gothic and, through the surprise, more horror.
  • Without discovering the gem and giving it to the witches at the Old Bonegrinder, this house is merely connected to the Addam's Family House scenario, where they are very hospitable, but completely alien and macabre. Such that, if asked, the girl might say her name is "Wednesday", etc. There may also be a hand (Thing) or other macabre items found about the house.
  • IF the hand is found, it will scurry away from the PCs, unless they are evil aligned, in which case the hand might be curious and investigate their belongings to try to initiate more data...
  • The girl in this section was or is called "It".
  • Crumpled on the ground, clothed in red and white clothes is a large, but dead, man. Around him lay unopened gifts littered around him, their paperboard boxes soaked and sagging in moisture. If the players reach the basement and get to room 36, among the prisoners is a man crumpled up in red and white clothing. His fat decaying body is in a lump on a floor, his face gray and sagging in a horrifying grimace, soaked in the moisture of the damp prison. Littered around him are unopened presents soaking on the wet floor, wrapped in bows, their paper-board bottoms now crumbling from the damp mass.
  • In an adjadent room, a basket of teeth is half-spilled on the ground. If they look closer, they see that it is children's teeth.
  • If any of the players is especially good-aligned and human race, then one box scattered among the body seems to draw them in to take and open it (the smallest scattered among them). Upon tearing the wet pieces of paperboard, they see inside is a beautiful (fabregeTM) egg with very fine filegree and detail. (Dilemma: do the players accept the expensive (but useless) gift, or not?).
  • If player's cast "animate dead" or "speak with the dead", the character gets up, dazed (of course), perhaps mentions that he was delivering gifts to the kids when a dark shadow seemed to overcome him filled with pain, sorrow, and confusion.
  • If the players say anything to condescending, the kids will cleanch their teeth and hiss.

AL Notes:

  • The basement, if they find there way there, is filled with none other than the rotting corpses of Santa Claus.
  • Note: The teeth in the room 37(?) have no roots on them.
  • This is where the DM could spring a shocking surprise (if and when appropriate) -- the players believe they're wandering some fantasy land, only to find that it is our own world.
  • If asked if he is Santa Claus he will answer "yes". Upon such revelation, the spell is only for a moment more as a demiurge appears and tell them "You can keep him in this realm, if you'd like, where he will live as he had before, but you must give a permanent sacrifice of 5 of your HP." If any players ask where this demi-urge comes from, you can tell them it is a fragment of the (Dark) Lord which maintains the domain of Ravenloft, until it is resolved. Their casting of animate dead on this speial NPC had triggered it.

WotC only:

  • The teeth are from the Tooth Fairy. The man is Santa Claus or St. Nick. These basement findings represent the dreams of children that have been lost in Barovia.

Castle Ravenloft[edit]

As you approach the castle, a wererat scurries off around the wall that leads to the castle. (If players have tried to sneak and are hostile to strahd, it hisses first.) Any number of problems can occur if STrahd doesn't want you there yet.

Castle Path[edit]

There is a hidden path that Strahd takes for walks once in awhile that doesn't require him to fraternize with the local Barovians. This path leads to an iron gate NE of the Castle (though the small unmarked clearing that meanders through the woods.

Past the gate lies the mists, and VRGtR might be the way to incorporate what lies beyond Northward.

As for the actual, proper path to the Castle, you might instill feelings of dread-unease, envious-curiosity, disdain by approaching the castle. If so, you might make use of the Pennywise scenario below. Depending on your immersive, imaginative goals, you may dress-down or up the character as much as you like. Perhaps he appears in the form of a simple codger, who just strangely is sitting at the edge of the road to the Castle (or was hidden beyind the wall, "what was he doing?" these open qwuestions can make for suspence).

DM Notes:

  • Under the castle is the Black Geode (from Princes of the Apocalypse, perhaps Strahd is one of these "princes", eh?). The strange box in the NE (rm ?) corner of the map is a portal called "The Tumbler". On a 0 of a mod 5 1d20 roll (divide by 5, if the remainder is 0:), you are taken to 1 of 4 different other RPGs (different universes). Some rolls (or if the DM feels you aren't fit for Barovia anymore) will spit you out of Barovia into FR. Others (any prime number) will teleport you somewhere else in Barovia (perhaps somewhere you wanted the party to get to, but the party never discovered).
  • On the road to the castle proper, might appear (conditions: you don't really know what you're doing OR Barovia really doesn't really want you up there yet) a strange character (Pennywise, the clown, if you wish to use the halloween/horror connections). This characters is in your face about what you're doing, and players can't quite put it into the neat categories of "good guy" or "bad guy". Play that up by pushing hard without actually tipping your hand. If players start to think that he's bad, you give him an excuse to make them calm down. It won't harm the players unless the character has been put in an extremely "needy" spot (energy/mana isn't free, ya know). Stick with whatever the movie shows as it's likely techniques of "mana gathering".

AL Notes:

  • What someone called the "Sunsword" is really an injection from a Seventh Age of the Star Wars universe and is WAY TOO powerful to blithely set in the realm of Barovia or anywhere else. Learn the lesson from the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy". It shalt be hidden far from even Strahd's knoweldge and if he doesn't know, then the players chance of finding it are even less.

Player Death[edit]

Unlike most of the time in FR, Ravenloft has a different relationship to death. Because why get rid of a useful piece of meat only to have it be buried in the ground by puny, human sentiment? Why not allow the player to become part of the landscape, the circus, wandering Barovia like the lost people that they are (until Strahd wishes to take them himself, of course)? Of course, if they are in any WORTHY of Strahd, he will play them around until he checks it out himself. When they inevitably fail his (impeccible?) sense of perfection, he will take the opportunity to take their life himself. This means he usually goes for the strongest/wisest member of the group.

The issue of whether some cleric can resurrect your player depends on the gods relationship to Barovia. Most gods eschew any such relationship, as they don't quite know what to do with him (and he's smarter than many of them), so will not help their loyal devotee resurrect a player.

To the players, PC's "die" as normal and their party should even give them a burial. But after a diurnal cycle has completed and a long rest by the players, the dead player resurrects as (partly) UNDEAD with 5ft less SPEED/round. Everything else about them functions as normal, except they have a gray pallor to their skin (and perhaps the smell of graveyard dirt if they haven't bathed). This dirt won't bother them since their body died once in it, but any feywild creature will be uncomfortable. They may roam the lands, looking for their party, and get especially interested in finding them (an "eager beaver"-type mania). (DM note: one could use these death mechanics in FR, but generally the 1st gate of Hell is closed and these forms are not allowed in the realms. They must be kept closed by pious (high-PTY/WIS) leaders who hold dominion over the realms, otherwise they such could leak into FR.)

So, after every death, they lose another 5ft of SPEED. They may get accustomed to taking chances with death and strike out before considering the risks, like a normal person. But they won't turn on their friends, if there are other options (they do have considerable competition, though)...

Stages of soul decay (note: need to rework this for the newer 400/mana per round mechanics):

  • 6/6: normal consciousness, 1 offensive 1 defensive action (+regular perception/cognition/digestion). No deaths have occurred.
  • 5/6: sketchy: You have mostly normal actions, but face is pale and loses pallor. You feel vulnerable. Everything costs a little more effort (lose 1HP for every action except basic things). Standard elimination (outside some official commode) is extremely stressful -- as if there's some judge overhead criticizing you (You shouldn't be peeing there!). Cooked food just takes so much saliva and processing. You can help your friends, but your mind wanders off, but you catch yourself and attempt to brighten up your situation. However this little "hitch" creates suspicion amidst your buddies -- are you trying to sabotage them, they wonder? Is this the reason you don't seem to be with them as a team? You wonder: "Is it really me, or is it my friends whom are guilty of this situation?" (This state happens anytime the player has succumbed to a bite from a werewolf, a vampire or spawn, or any animal were-form -- part of you is now dead and you don't have full control -- it goes to the form which got you.)
  • 4/6 : fiend: You still try to act like a normal human, and you can contribute when there's a need, but you're always craving fresh meat or blood, and when no ones looking you'll grab the first bite like any fiend -- without concern for others (for this you can gain back that 1HP you lost from the round). Parts of your body have become numb to sensations like smell or taste, and even atrophied. (DM note: Spinach, however, seems to work rather well to fend off some of this -- when you can find it.)
  • 3/6: zombie, stage I: You don't try to act normal, ostracized with only half of a normal human, you're not very useful to your friends anymore. You've let go of the idea that you're alive like the others--it makes it easier to eliminate without proper facilities (because you don't have to care if you're dead and latent survival mechanisms act to prevent elimination needs altogether -- as long as you're eating raw flesh). They're reluctant to abandon you, despite your refusal to talk, except in grunts and obscene eye gestures (takes mana to form the words -- the food you crave). Parts of your body that were atrophied have become decayed from lack of care. You inevitably start to feel like baggage and wander off, despite their attempts and desire to help and stay loyal to their old friend (the extent of which depends on how much shared struggle you had in battle and adventure). You'll probably wander the landscape feasting on animals and flora (flowers, grass) available, to remind yourself of what it felt to be normal. The normal planning for animal slaughter and respect for their life is gone, however. You take shortcuts because there's no one around to judge you anymore. Right? Right!? However, feeding off crude vegetable and animal matter makes you feel less human. You defecate less frequently as you eat living tissue that becomes partly a substitute for your own (i.e. complex foods are out of your diet -- there's less to process in your more primitive culinary routines). Urine soils your pants -- you don't bother to keep hygiene. Your connection to your own humanity atrophies.
  • 2/6: zombie, stage II: Now things have turned really dark. No more moral code! Woop! It simply consumes too much of your energy to cross-check your needs with your mind's (aka human) history. You're hardly recognizable as yourself anymore. Your body is too much in decay, part of your limbs don't respond to your nervous system's commands, so get contorted. You tried to reach for something, but your arm didn't respond, for example, and now your shoulder is displaced. Your friends have completely disassociated with you -- even if they see you again -- they look away and keep onward. Instead of walking about, tou strategize on where to hangout to prey on passers-by to get "food", minimizing energy expended until you hear sound of a human voice or wandering animal which has a new "pleasantness" in this new state (DM: a consequence of the players desire to survive turns into a strange, distorted pride).
  • 1/6: ghoul: Can hardly move, even to eat. Your flesh just falls off from necrotic damage, showing exposed bone, but you're too numb to care. Must now lie on the ground (unless some wizard props you up) opportunistically waiting for someone to pass by where you might get a bite at their heel... Fun note: ghoul and goulash are related, the latter relating to the collection of ingredients mashed together like guts.
  • 0/6: dead: No more for nibbles for our former hero, your soul goes to the Underdark if you committed a mortal sin (like eating the flesh of humans). You can no longer partake in the world of the living anymore. Bye bye.

This SPEED loss means players lose a defensive or offensive move each round. If players wish to get normal abilities back, they will have to eat of the flesh. This generally means domesticed animals or freshly dead animals (and/or humans, of course). Cooking the flesh isn't as useful, as their body won't need the flavor, only the lifeblood. If they eat cooked flesh, the value is half of the norm. Read below.

Players get the XP of the sacrifice converted to MANA to compensate for the lack of SPEED. The conversion rate is 100XP (from the NPCs death) = 100MANA = 5ft of SPEED. So to get 10 rounds of normal function with 25ft of speed (1 death, if they've died 3 times, their SPEED is 15ft/round), you'll need 10x100XP = 1000XP sacrifice. You'll digest any sacrifice at the rate needed to keep your speed under your normal (30ft). This is the rate for eating living flesh. If the flesh is of another undead creature (or cooked, as mentioned), divide this by half (unless RAW say otherwise).

This modules takes several "runs" to get right (much like the movie Groundhog Day where the main character keeps dying to learn how to love), so players may keep their player wandering Barovia between runs, until their friends find them again in the realms. How this reunion happens and the events in-between will be left up to the DM.

When players get to sketchy, they are preyed upon by vampire spawn which come out of the woodwork -- if there're no other players protecting them. This makes dealing with elimination stressful (private time defecating). If all players are sketchy or worse, Strahd himself comes around and harvests them.

Players, like clerics, can use resurrection to heal the player, but each time it costs some XP from the "killed" player, starting at 1k for the first resurrection (then the normal 5k, 25k, etc: see death page, but without the gold cost), incurring a 10HP (1HP per 100XP countered from the healer, which means 50HP for the next level of healing, if they allowed their friend to get 2levels down. This means there is a "slippery slope" if their friends neglect to heal their friend. Players might be better healing their friend each time they go to "sketchy" to avoid the 5x penalty) healing cost from the healer who resurrected them. Of course, they themselves get penalized each time they must resurrect their friend, doubling the HP cost for healing (a tax from the gods, don't blame me) until they too are exhausted and, *gulp*, vulnerable...

LEAVING Barovia: If the players are undead and they haven't committed a mortal sin by killing another human, they can get transformed by the gods from undead to LIVING upon crossing the Mists of Ravenloft into the normal (FR) realm. This transformation and healing by the gods will cost them most of their material goods (at least thier coinage). However, if they killed a good human or consumed the flesh of a non-good human, they remain undead. Sorry, that's just the cost of your choices.

Text: "You tear at the flesh of the dead human that is before you to satisfy your hunger. Deep down, you know that a barrier has been crossed, but the deed is done. You can't go back, and the slippery slope gets faster as you go. You feel giddy. It tastes strangely the same as any other raw meat that you've consumed, but sweeter. But, you ruminate: "I no longer need to avoid the skin, like on animal flesh, since there's no animal fur to worry about. Sweet even, yes, the skin issss...." With that, the meal was devoured...

That's it. Will your players succumb? Or will they hold onto their human soul that remains, waiting for some heroic intervention?

Also, hidden in one of the storage rooms with the dead nursemaid, she's clutching an orange Jack O'Lantern for kids to fill up treats.

DM Note:

  • goblins are an especially-animated type of ghoul that get its energy, generally, from some demi-god (or deity) which is acting on behalf of one of their aims or another. Otherwise, they lie in wait, just the same, for some sound that lets them know food is coming... They don't like to lie directly on rock and will prefer dirt or a pile of bones because their flesh is not healthy enough to stay on their bones, if weight is placed upon it.
  • "Orc" is the elven name for "goblin", which again, as Ravenloft is te4ching you, is actually a ghoul getting animated (aka "mana dispensation") by other forces.

AL Notes:

  • Orcs derive from demi-gods related to Sauron and have a purplish hue, but when mixed with the darkness becomes plum. Goblins have a slightly different hue but are adjacent on the color wheel, getting a reddish hue from the Dark Lords affiliated with Strahd (which, you'll note, has the color crimson). Ghouls (OTOH) don't get fed with these extra mana energies and have a fading color of whatever type that animated them when they were still human.

End Games[edit]

The speaker has concocted some end-games for CoS that I'll offer here, unasked. There's actually four very cool endings, but I need to look in my campaign manual to see if I'm stepping too much on existing game designers. DMs only.

Note: Dms should strive to have Strahd should only appear once per game and just one day (either because he's so far ahead of the players and calculated his denoument or because some other force has assembled the event for resolution). That everything resolves on that day -- however he may appear (by coach, at the castle, whatever). Once done, with whatever end result, that game is finished and they have to go back and start again if they want to try. The idea is that the game universe is setting up the resolution for the encounter. Strahd's a powerful character and personality so, it's all finished within the day. Take as much time as you want beforehand or even leave everything of STrahd behind if you don't have a particularly good/revealing encounter with him. He won't show up again (unless players are gaming the system and wreaking havoc to the his attention) with one exception -- he may be performing his recharging ritual at Yester Hill if they linger around long enough, they might get a glimpse.

  1. near -TPK because players are just too confused, disorganized, or guilty. Strahd has no patience for imbeciles in his realm. He ambushes them when they least expect it and drains the life out of them (takes their XP up to 1000*Strahd_HP available. Player XP regenerates HP in strahd at the rate of 1000XP=1HP regained. The players and DM can role-play this out or just accept the loss). All but one die from this, perhaps as an intervention by the gods to keep wisdom growing throughout the realms (they live to tell others the tale). Roll a d2. On a 2, the survivor awakens in the ForgottenRealms, uncursed, as if from a dream in a village stable, sleeping on the hay. Ale bottles may be scattered nearby. They don't remember their friends or the realm. On a 1, they wake up in an isolated area and are cursed. They remember their friends were killed horribly, but don't know where, for it was no place heard of in the realms. They think they know how to get there, but upon visiting, it's just a regular glade/forest/whereever they started.
  2. The players take out Strahd and his head (--body if they didn’t do a decap) rolls to reveal who will be cursed. The reveal becomes horrific, as it is not Strahd nor the player-character's face that is shown, but the player him/herself sitting at the game table! Then, the mists descend, delivering both Strahd and the players back to their realm, going their separate ways. If the party is disunified (because of personality conflicts or direction), they may also be placed in different places in the Forgotten Realms and scattered. This leaves the true fate of Strahd ambiguous (as it should be), but suggests that Strahd is really themselves.
  3. The players befriend Strahd, who eventually allows them to leave his realm, just as he said it was up to him. However, everything has it's price and one player must be taken by his bite and he times it so well near the gate and explains his dilemma so nonchalantly that the other players don't dare make a fight about it (he has checkmated their every move in advance for he has seen such adventurers a hundred times), lest they get trapped there forever. He knows them so well, too. --He takes the powerful player that every other player thought was kind of a dick or overpowered, glamourous. You know who it is.
  4. The “All Hallows Eve” ending, whereby the realm turns to the light and returns to our world. Von Richten has a beeming smile on his face as he stands by his small business in Vallaki. This ending is too epic to reveal here at the moment, but involves the Princes of the Apocalypse and the Underdark campaigns. Contact me if you're interested in this one or look around on this page where the information is scattered. The only true ending if you want to end the cycle(s) of darkness and banish the dark lords for good.

Jenga variant (with thanks to Facebook DM: Tallyn Rhoades). The DM and players should consider using a Jenga tower to represent Strahd's soul. The players lose half of their HP upon entering the domain of dread. Each defeat of an NPC by a player allows the player to remove one piece. If they remove it successfully, they gain a HP for their MAX_HP and Strahd loses one(?). If Strahd's HP goes to 0 before the others or any other appearance, he goes to sleep in the realm. If the tower falls before Strahd makes an appearance, Strahd is gone from the realms and they can roam it semi-freely. The nasties still remain, and eventualliy the mysts will remove them as they no longer serve the purpose.

DM and others notes:[edit]

  • This is a cursed realm. Dice get -1 on rolls, unless you are evil-aligned (or maybe vampyr in your group). This -DAM/HIT affect can be removed after player's have had the courage to go to the Castle. Afterall, they were invited, so the -1 affect is a reasonable cost and incentive to actually respond. So this number really represents Strahd's disposition to the player-group. If they do some egregious wrong to Strahd's sensibilities, it might go to -2 or -3(5?). In the All-Hallow-'s-Eve ending, it goes up to +3(5?).
  • Vampire mechanics: they get mana from drinking the blood, perhaps half of the victims XP. If they consume the whole body (minus hair?), in theory, they could get all of the XP. The vampire is different in this regard: he can get mana from bones, where other individuals must discard them.
  • Weather: the moon. For each good deed players do in the realms (makes a little more happiness in the world), add one to the "light" side of a double-sided score-card. For each bad deed add one to the dark side. If they attempt a good deed and it fails, this does not count towards anything. When the score is positive, the clouds will part and the moon will come out, otherwise it stays gloomy in the realm. If they hurt an (ultimately) good character, it will rain in this gloominess.
  • When players get too haughty and proud, after a failed encounter with Strahd, they enter one of 1) Savage Worlds or 2) Pandemic RPGs, where we will all see just how cool they really are. T/Here they will encounter drugs use, like freebasing, living in the cold, surviving without their gear (that they probably didn't carry anyway). "You slink down the abandoned city street, yet they are not quite abandoned. Every block seems to host several "junkies" sitting on the sidewalk in dirty or torn clothes, sometimes in small groups, sometimes alone. You can see a small square of aluminum foil in their hands. Do you wish to join them? In their other hand, they crush a small pill. There's blue, red, or pink. Which do you choose?" "You gaze around as [(break)] the hit stuns your brain. The world recedes, yet everything is still there. It's just you who has receded. You smell the stink of the pill and wonder if you should care, but you decide that it's easier just to sit back and relax..." (DM Note: this is the players laziness. When their not lazy, they won't just sit back, they will wonder what tf they're doing. It is at this turning point, that the player (/PC) starts taking responsibility for their world. When this happens, the mists return before midnight, and the player returns to Barovia. IF they encounter Strahd, he has a new-found aloofness to himself. He does not go on the offensive unless they still show signs of lack of understanding... in which case, no mercy should be given unless the gods point otherwise...)
  • If players survive death house (and explored the basement secrets and discovered the connection to their own (real) world), Strahd has a subconscious respect for the party. He will not attack, unless provoked, which will simply confuse him. He may try to dialog to understand their survival, for even he is troubled by the children there. For the players to leave Barovia in this condition of the realm, the gods will have to part the mists... (Of course, if they cheated, then "no dice" (pun intended). He will be even more subconsciously vicious.)
  • Plague Doctor: In lieu of Strahd dominating over Barovia (and only AFTER players were "successful" in killing Strahd a previous time), some parties may encounter the Plague Doctor. Tall, dark, bird-masked icon, with a top-hat, over-coat and cane, he presents himself as mostly silent, but will answer any questions about the realm, if asked. His voice is deep and gravelly, as if he were an orc once, and slightly obscured by the mask which does not move when he speaks. If they ask about Strahd, he tells them essentially what the RAW tell them, but with complete equanimity and without judgement against Shrahd. His tone is calm, matter-of-fact, and without any hesitation or bias against the man/vampire. If players try to attack or show any offensive posture (removing the mask, attacking, condescending tones), he will simply turn around and walk away. He has complete immunity to all magic, except by elves. However, if a high mage (higher level than 75) tries to attack, he will summon the will to speak with him/her about their offense.
  • The plague doctor will tend to be found around the Abbey, the Asylum, walking around the effigy of Yester Hill and other such calming areas. If Strahd was killed during a full moon of the real world, the characters will tend to be drawn to this character -- no matter where he might be. So, for example, they may be walking westward down the road and you, the DM, may tell them that, but they still end up eastward. The map doesn't change -- they simply haven't been observant enough to notice that they actually "changed channels". This is an effect of the dark lord above.
  • Since this doctor only shows up after some party "kills" Strahd, the Plague Doctor will happily answer questions that remind them of their transgressions, but won't know anything magically (like that this was the party that did the deed, for example). Why are you here? or What do you represent "Some group of vagabonds apparently tried to kill the lord of this realm." What do you think about Strahd? "He represents something important or the gods wouldn't keep him alive. What do you think about him?" And here, you can see, the gods probing the characters for their carnal knowledge and raison d'etre. I.e. For what reason to they play at all? Is it noble enough? Do they deserve to go back from whence they came, unscathed? Subtle are the [highest] gods, but neither malicious [nor benign], they are not. They cannot stay neutral about it all, yet they cannot be unjust. You know the backstory of our main character. Figure this out in your gameplay.
  • The plague doctor answers questions like a Jedi. If asked where he comes from, he responds with something like "You don't need to know that." OR "There's no use for that information." In other words, he knows so much more than they, that they shouldn't suggest any agenda beyond his own. Yet there are things he will want to answer. He won't answer without an awesome response that leaves them dumbstruck. So in answer to where he came from he might say "I have come from the Abyss, and through some quirk of fate, find myself near you." or other such affects. If asked about his mask (did players actually see it), he will say "It is my interface to the world. It protects you as well as me." If they try to rip if off, his form drops (much like Strahd) like Obiwan Kenobi into a pile of clothes. A mist carries it away...
  • While the plague doctor isn't immune to melee attacks, players will simply find that he isn't there when they try to strike them. He has moved 20ft ahead when they finish their swing.
  • Q: "Can we follow you?" A: "Doubtful." However, despite his demeanor (his INT/WIS/SPEED), he is extremely vulnerable. If players try to follow him, he moves at 4x the speed as they, though without a comical speed-gait. They simply do not SEE him move. When they see him, he walks normally, but when they follow him, their attention is interrupted such that he has moved far ahead of them. This phenomenon has been understood by the author, User:Cedric, having been face-to-face with the dark lord, Cthulhu through some incident from a lifetime in the 1920s.
  • If players somehow land a strike, his clothing simply drops to the ground, much as Obiwan in Star Wars IV.
  • Playing a INT 20 character is a serious challenge for DMs. It represents an IQ of about 200: 1 in a billion. If players say something threatening that you can't figure out a good comeback for, Strahd can simply laugh. However, Strahd will keep a hidden tally of how many times players insulted him. He may also just silently saddle up next to the player, without any visible threat, and put his hand on their shoulder. This move should paralyze the player for a moment (i.e. no "Get your [creepy] hand off me!" from the player).
  • There doesn't need to be any daylight in your campaign, however the twilight probably recharges Strahd. If actual sun is present, there are clouds and pissy rain. IT's possible that Strahd roams like a friendly gentleman during this time as well, like a landlord checking on hit province, but everyone knows something's up.
  • The sunsword should only appear when there is extreme darkness in your Ravenloft campaign. This means no daylight, wererats and ghouls who will eat your party in the middle of the night, and so forth. The gods always balance the light with the darkness. Remember this.
  • The werewolves are are spawns of Strahd and Strahd himself. You may know this from the canines teeth in the mouth of Strahd, associated with vampires. It comes about from a deep need for love (in the human) and the rage in the soul of its absence -- a violation of its nature. Blood is as close as it gets -- whether from an animal or a human. Apparently, the Wizards of the Coast missed this little detail (which means they get h(a)unted by the were-form until they DO).
  • Strahd doesn't wish to appear immoral to the soul of the elves/aryans (and possibly other humans), if any are present. To this end he may use the lycanthropic transformation to feed, so as to remain anonymous to their eyes. (He will at all times attempt perfect reasonableness.)
  • Time runs in a circle, instead of a line here, relative to the Forgotten Realms. Much like groundhog day. The period of this cycle is 28 days — the length of the moon. When the players return, the time will have not have advanced in FR.
  • The best way probably to finish this module is to have the players wake up in FR and see it as a dream. But as they gather their wits about them and feel like it was "all a dream", a raven caws in the distance. The important point here is timing.
  • If the PCs join him for dinner, you can plan that ol' Strahd will take one of them. The rest will be hypnotized or poisoned by the food into a death lethagy, like getting a roofie, so that they can't come to the defense of their friend. Strahd will choose the tastiest of the bunch -- high XP, generally. Then he will dump these lethargic players somewhere in the woods. Their friend, alas, will not be among them.
  • Strahd (really the Dark Lords, like the Nazgul) has something like a Death Touch where he can suck the XP out of the player, even making them lose a level. It comes from his the aberration of his existence of being on the dead side of life (yet still animated with a type of anti-matter energy?). This can be especially effective on players who "levelled up" too fast. It should work like a fast-time speed, almost like chronomancy: he simple descends upon you before anyone notices because he exists in a different timeline that most(?) of your PCs -- but he won't do it until the player slips up and their attention lapses. The spiritual mechanics run something like this (if you don't want to consider the chronomancy angle), if he can drop the HP below 50%, the player is in a state of shock from the bite and their consciousness can't "reboot" as long as Strahd remains connected to the player. He can pretty much do anything he wants as long as his concentration isn't interrupted. This concentration also accounts for the chronomancy: their minds simply cannot increment forward as long as Strahd's mind is above them, so they do not experience time, despite the movement in their eyes (which again since their mind doesn't increment forward, effectively is charmed and unable to record the event, until later perhaps as a recall and auto-correction event).
  • Player’s and/or DM should use silver, metal dice for this campaign, to avoid him hexing you from within Ravenloft (where you typically get bad-luck on dice). (<g>)

Silver is immune to his influence because it represents the purity of what was lost of his world. It may not matter, but… if you don’t have them, the AL may and they can override any roll if they have purer, nobler dice. If you notice bad luck with resin dice during certain times of the moon cycle, you can be sure that you’re being hexed.

  • Mesmerizing voice. Once per event, Strahd can enrapture players with his voice. A successful DC 20 INT check can break the spell, which can be checked once per round, unless weakened by some other force. Once enraptured, players cannot use their action slots -- they are consumed by Strahd himself and are spellbound.
  • Wererats need to eat. At night, the wererats smell/hear new activity and wait until they fall asleep (a DC 22 check beforehand can warn them of such dangers, but not alleviate the burden from them). On waxing moons, these wererats emit a neurotoxin upon a simple bite (which may be unnoticed as a simple insect) and numb their victim. After 3 rounds or so, the rats then feed on the body of their victim without their notice.
  • The days are always cloudy, rainy, gloomy, dark. If a beam of light ever does shine, it is at sunset or dawn for highly-aligned beings to keep their spirits raised (and only they notice this private view) or because the gods are pointing something out to such. The only time otherwise that the clouds may part and reveal the sky are during the moon’s appearance.
  • Strahd always gets a critical roll (double the face value), UNLESS the players execute their moves perfectly (without hesitation or wishy-washy play) or it’s a new moon if YOUR world ( 7day period). You don’t need to tell them this. A LVL40 wizard might be intelligent enough to ask the question or LVL40 Explorer aware enough to notice from months of stay that the power changes with the moon.
  • If there are any women in the party, Strahd may size them up: “tasty bite”, or comment on how they’d no doubt betray him, too.
  • Werewolves can be transformed by the love of a woman (if male) or man (if female). But the players have to take the risk.
  • This campaign is best use as a “choke” to throttle players back a bit, so that other dynamics in the (actually, a multiple, tournament-style play) realm can be put in place. Strahd can bargain with the strong players to see if they’ll turn if a party is too strong. Since he has learned something about their realm, he starts using their language: “I’ll give you +15 more levels than what you are now along with the eXPerience, if you give your allegiance to me.” If they take the deal, they’re separated from the party.
  • Perhaps you thought that the players could just kill the boss and that’s it. But then, how do they get out? No, they will be trapped forever. Like Hotel California, you can check in, but you can never leave. Nope, the only way to finish this campaign if you find yourself drawn into it, is to set everything right. But don’t interfere by informing them of this. Let them play it as they wish. True horror is always set up by the people themselves — they realize that THEY are the perpetrators, not some other villain.
  • Because of the chaos in this realm, it can be treated a bit like a “fun house”, with a bit of randomness and unpredictability just as the campaign manual speaks on p7 (Humor). If you do this, you might want to try doing it in the spirit of horror though: a biting cynicism of someone who’s truly lost, and no longer cares. Do this only after you’ve prepared them with other shocks, so it doesn’t come off as crude and DM-centric.
  • Let the players act out as they are wont to do, don’t guide them too much. The key is must to provide information and let them choose who they become under the realm. Players decide to get the sun sword and chop Strahd to piece. Fine, but here is where you must be a master of theatre: “The body of Strahd collapses to the floor, but the head {You (the DM) stand up, dramatis, in shock}, it’s rolled around to reveal your own face!” NOT the PC, but their real-life face. XXXSlashing your style of play? You will find it. Characters think that they have killed Strahd? No, they are only deluded in their own dreamworld, for he is already dead. They must have dreamed their victory. His head rolls around on the floor, only to reveal (like Yoda's Darth Vader in Luke's underworld) the horror: it's you. DM's should use the player`s real-world face. If it’s a female, the tables turn and still reveals a perfect replica of her own body in Strahd’s clothing. Once the character has absorbed this little horror and its message, the body dissipates into a mist and a breeze carries away. The characters must roll a d12, anything less than an even number and they contract the plague, transmitting it to others bringing the land into another spiral of darkness to try try again. They remain trapped.XXX
  • Under the dungeons are the catacombs and crypts. The actual result is a wave function. That is what is under them depend on what choice you make, like a choose-your-own-adventure. If the players come upon the Strahd family’s coffins, on one of them (his mother), there is a secret lever (a handle on the coffin itself) that, when pulled, opens a trap door leading to "the Black Geode") in PotA. A rogue or DEX class in the group may notice how smooth it’’ functioning is, as if machined from the smoothest glass (it is made of metal: just high-precision and craftsmanship). Alternatively, there can be a Book of Invocation, that reveals the trap door when read in the presence of the Strahd family crypts. A secret entrance there into the Underdark can ONLY be explained by someone putting it there. And who would else but Strahd, an undead? (For that bit of arcana, you’ll have to be AL or above….)
  • If the players haven’t disturbed any of the crypts, a trapdoor could reveal itself through some subtle noise or gust of wind.
  • The darkness of Strahd is what creates the PotA campaign. Integrate as you wish.
  • Von Richten is really the character (or later becomes) Van Helsing: the fighter against such horrors.
  • The werewolf comes out on the full moon once twilight has passed and the transformation is fueled by rage. This is where Strahd goes out to feed. He will not be found at the castle until after midnight, most likely, possibly with a stain of blood on his lips.
  • Near the swamp or abbey? there is a garden of sorts, consisting of pumpkins (and various other squash0, bell peppers, tomatos, and eggplants. The dish of the realms of the locals? G(h)oulash of these ingredients.
  • If player’s have found Ilya’s grave and distrubed it in anyway, the positive endgame solutions are locked away and lost to them.
  • There could be a larger meta-game integration that includes the Amber Temple. If the players find the library, they unlock other interactions that change the integration and interactions with the dragons (Orange dragon becomes more active and violent) and the giants (they’ll probably appear to sniff your shin out — if the players got the sunsword the giants must take it away from them somehow… make sure of it).
  • If the players have managed to get the engine of Strahd's wife started by recovering her spirit in the Underworld, and gotten transported into the moon circle to be free of the Underworld, told Strahd that "it is done" (to something to that effect), then you enter the end games called "All Hallow's Eve". Find MARCOS.
  • If they go to the asylum, they can earn extra bonus XP. It goes like this: players are tested for their compassion. They mustn’t approach an opposite sex patient in the hopes of any romantic interest (meaning the player, not the PC, must not display any preference based on gender), but if they give an earnest effort to help a patient, they get 10,000XP per each patient.
  • If characters bring a particularly nice bounty of purple crystals to Strahd, he will let them leave his kingdom. There must be at least several 10caret samples, or 1 50 caret sample with flawless character and color. This doesn't complete the game proper, but it does gain them freedom and the experience they gained there.
  • The connection of Ravenloft to Forgotten Realms is what has made Tiamat stir in this particular time period. What this exactly means needs to be "teased" out, but it is certain and connects also the Princes of the Apocalypse, which links to Strahd's world through that Black Geode campaign map (and the portal).
  • If the players visit the insane asylum, they can get a lot of information from the patients there about what the realm of Strahd was like before his wife died, about his castle, and perhaps some other things.
  • The DM should record Strahd’s “suspicion” level, whereby any suspicious behavior on the part of the player-characters (like not acting in character or matching the portrait he sees in game with the behavior of the player’s actions) makes Strahd start getting suspicious. Each event increases the probability by 1 point (or 10%). The suspicion can be measured on the scale of 1-10, with 1 being no suspicion and he sees you much like any other NPC in the game. But upon getting to 5, he starts wondering what you represent being in his uiniverse. After about 7, the Tarokka deck starts divining the player’s lives themselves and where THEY can be found (heheh, one of many possibilities if the DM knows personal details about the players). Strahd knows of other planes, so this isn’t so disturbing or unusual to him. He might see the whole party at the gaming table, for example, in a vague or cloudy sort of way — depending on the phase of the moon. The things players might be hiding about their personal lives are EXACTLY the kind of things Strahd might see inter-planarly. Try to use this to create the horror effect (whereby a player might “bolt” from the gaming table), rather than harrass other players though. (N.B.: Not responding to his invitation, however, automatically increases his suspicion level by 1).
  • He knows for example, that the is a realm outside his own, from other players who have strayed in (from past games?). “Where are you from?” he might be curious about divining the origin of these new people in his realm. The text here suggests that he might even be smart enough to see that you’re playing a game, trivializing his world, toying with it. “And would you cut me down for your ambitions, adventurer?” Whether Strahd gets to this level of insight depends on how much time the players have spent lollying around in his world. The more imperfect their gameplay, the more he can divine about their true essence.
  • Player’s trying to dig their way out back to ground level? If the metal isn’t noble enough, it blunts and becomes useless if continued after 1d20 rounds. If it was noble, however, it is now tarnished and loses half of it`s value.
  • If players inspect Strahd’s pantry, they may find an unusal amounts of goat and cow milk/cream.
  • Equipment: Bell of Opening, Candelabraum (gives sanctuary when lit against fiends and other undead), Book of the Dead (for finding the entrance into the Black Geode and beyond)..
  • If the players attempt to leave the area by way of going downstream of River Ivlis, they end up in the modern, ugly culvert in LA or Nebraska or some such ending. Whether the player or their character is now lost in our plane, is up to you. For how will the player get his PC back into the Forgotten Realms? and the planes of RPG?
  • The Amber Temple should be the grand prize of Ravenloft, so it should not be easy to find. The commoners should know nothing of it. The Vistani might only know of a grand treasure (which they might read in the card), but not much more. It can be located any mountain of the realm and you only get through the main gate/entrance, if you know the answer to a question. If players start up the Mount Ghakis and you don’t feel they should enter the Amber Temple, but are heading up the fork in the (Tsolenka Pass) road they can get lost on the nearly-impossible to track, faint trail (need a ranger at least). Or the Temple can be hidden in any moutnain, like Baratok. If the players insist upon getting to the Temple (because someone LEAKED the knowledge of it), you get to imagine some interest alternative, maybe a very large cavern with a crystal pedestal center (Oooooo). Certain times of day the light enters, hits the crystal and scatters light around the cavern. A LVL 50 player might notice a shift in wind, however, at the boundary between worlds (or any level of Explorer/Ranger).
  • In the realm are electrum pieces (and perhaps others) with the visage of Strqhd. This should garner some respect (as well as questions) if the players ever make it back into the realms. Tradeable like regular ep, but a collector's item.
  • In the case of a faery race with teh group, Strahd willl take notice unless players have attempted to hide the creature, and fin dit very curious. When Strahd take sthe players to prison, knowing that the creature can fit through the bars, he asks it directly “Fey creature, do you wish to stay with them or go with me?” putting the faery in a dilemma? Is it better or not? At this point the DM will have to imagine any ensuing diolog for no one has imagined such an exchange. in a way the creature belongs to his land, the imagined utopia that never came into its existence. Subconsciously, he we be drawn to this.
  • In ye Castle Rafenloft there is a library. In this library are tomes on lycanthropy, swamp creatures, HP Lovecraft, ?!?, faery lore is of particular intrigue to the Count.
  • If the party goes sneaking around Castle, exploring upwards will generally require DC checks on stealth each round due to creaky floorboards (unless the Count is playing on his organ). Exploring downards, less so.
  • A player with darkvision will see a deep purple halo of sorts around Strahd and emanating around the wings of bats in ravenloft
  • Strahd has command over canine forms, just in case you have any players using them as assistants. But if they are rabid, Strahd won't be so dark. It will be purely practical ("Do you have business in my land?", "Why have the gods pestered me with commoners who can't find their way out of [a paper bag] Barovia?" "Please stay out of "Berez" and limit your use of magic. We had another wizard/goofball around here, confusing and scaring the commoners and it's not appreciated. Around here we appreciate hard work, not your witchcraft.").
  • The areas between lands (VRGtR) are the Mists: zones of randomness. See p168 of the Guide.XXX Roll a d20 to decide what domain they end up when they traverse the Mists. NEEDS UPDATED: On a 1, the DM But you could also get directed to areas the DM considers "unfinished" or not understood in the realm. Roll a d8, say. On 2-8 you end up close to where you intended (but might get a werewolf from the mists, or be 10-300ft off where you thought you should be, for example), but on a 1, roll a d20. On a quarter of the numbers, you end up in a random place in Ravenloft (outside), on another quarter you go back to some important area you did not understand or finish (even if you ended up there before), on another quarter of the numbers you end up somewhere on the road to the amber temple, yet you do not have any orientation or direction of where you are (further there's no one hardly ever on that road to ask). On a 10 you end up in the Black Geode (PotA), on a 1 in Strahd's bedroom where he's sleeping (however: he will awake at the slightest sound), and on a 20 you end up where you began before entering Ravenloft (where-ever they were in FR before "into the mists"). The players don't necessarily know they've been tranferred outside the realm if it isn't daylight (however, the air will feel/smell more like home). Further, they don't know the way back to Barovia!!!! First they were trapped, and now they want to go back and complete the module but can't! Muhahahah!
  • Keys to roplaying Strahd: embody the idea that ur DEAD, but have been still ruminating and accumulating massive knowledge of human behavior as various people have tried to defeat you. This allows you (if you can embody the darkness) to understand and anticipate PC motivations more than they themselves, generally.
  • In some configurations of Ravenloft (von Richten?), chaos is the norm. Do-gooders are trying to tame the darkness and take the power from Strahd, but sometimes it is better to keep the "devil you know" than let it all be taken by unknown agendas. This can be one of the lessons of this campaign: is it always better to interfere in the case of darkness? Can light overcome all darkness?
  • Remember, any time a strong NPC that PCs or players are entangled with, is a moment of a critical. But Strahd probably won't use it to make a weapon-based move, no, he'll use the moment like a witch does to grab you before you can react and in so doing he gets the equivalent of a critical hit: a free round. So his need for blood will revolve around creating such moments where all the players are stupified for a moment, and then he grabs one.
  • If players try to leave Ravenloft the way they came, they find an endless sea of fog in the Mists. If they are dumb enough to venture far and lose track of where they came, they may never find Ravenloft again and die in the fog. Attempts to teleport are successful and put them in another area of the fog, equal to the last, such that they won't even notice unless they're like LVL60 or something.
  • DEATH: This modules takes several "runs" to get right (much like the movie Groundhog Day). If a PC dies in Barovia, they can merely turn undead after a day cycle ends. They get 100 less mana/round for each death. However they can compensate for this by eating only living foods/flesh without cooking it to get the extra mana (2000raw mana means 20 rounds of restored time-slots). They lose their pallor and the flesh turns gray. They maybe act a little sketchy, but they still seem to be your friend. They know deep down that something has been violated (but is it them or their friends who's to blame?). Each death they lose another 100 mana/round. After 2 times, they pretty much become a fiend, unwilling to care for themselves and their body's upkeep. After 3 times, they become like a zombie, moving only for their needs to feed. After 4 times, they're just an undead on the ground, perhaps lying or crawling into to the forest to hide the shame of themselves. After 5 times they become ghouls, pretty much dead, barely breathing or able to move to eat. From this, they generally lie on the ground, waiting for the opportunity for someone to pass by where they can get a nibble. This is pretty much where Strahd is, yet he rests and rejuvenates, so that he can live again for a day. ...So, they'll have to find fresh meat in the realms to get back and maintain their normal functioning. This eventually probably means stealing a cow and sacrificing it or finding some other mammal... (will they kill a human to get the mana when the cows run out?)
  • LEAVING: If the players are undead and they haven't committed a mortal sin by killing another human, they can get transformed by the gods from undead to living upon crossing the barrier of Ravenloft to the normal realm. However, if they killed a good human or consumed the flesh of a non-good human, they remain undead.
  • "You knwo that a barrier has been crossed. (eating human flesh) You feel giddy. It taste strangly the same as anything else raw, perhaps a bit sweeter, as you're no longer avoiding the skin, since there's no animal fur to worry about. Sweet even, yes...."
  • The howling wolf comes about because during the full moon, foolish people get adventurous, and it knows that yet another set of fools will enter in and the cycle of karma will continue....
  • It is entirely possible that PCs will wander for so long that they will be seduced into the land and forget that they were adventurers. Players can effectively retire their PCs in the land until they wake up and remember some many years later (real world or whatever). Players, could, be in a dream world, and you might explore that the PCs continue in the FR unfettered except by one thing: their "dream self" or soul is now trapped in Barovia. They will have a calling to enter the Mists. And their thoughts and passions may have dissappeared for anything not related to Barovia. Setting this up and managing this is up to the DM. I suggest that crows or ravens are always nearby in the explorations elsewhere...
  • If you want to use the bagman, hide the bag of holding somewhere, and let them feel like they're the big winners of Barovia. But, then, alas, no. When they start getting too cocky, he comes out with a shriek and pulls them into the darkness. If the case might be that they are not being cocky, if they sleep too close to their bag of stuff, the man eventually starts smelling them...
  • In the small clearing SE of the castle, if the players ever adventure there, there is a chance of spotting a unicorn. This is for those time when the darkness gets too great in Barovia. If the players don't have the purity of alignment (or intentions -- for even the darkest of felons have a chance of redemption), the unicorn disappears into the forest after they've witnessed one. DM rolls a 1d20. On a 20, the DM see Strahd on his balcony also observing the same phenomenon. If players look up, too, he disappears back into the castle. Such an event (antogonists - protagonists, and a significant 3rd party is called a 2nd level conjunction. A first level is just an antagonist and protagonist.) The unicorn will flee, generally, but when the characters are pure-hearted enough, a gemstone will be left at the site. You should get the gods direct the players to this location.
  • The transformation into a bat is an expensive decision for Strahd and he loses most of his HP which must be regenerated slowly from death...
  • In the All Hallows Eve ending, if the kids are smiling and happy, they notice the player's characters in the game (elven wizard, or whatever) and comment on them: "Nice costume!". "I like your elf ears!" "Neat Gimli costume (any dwarven warriors), etc. (Upon the moment of confusion the players feel at their own identity, the world around them circles into a haze, and they find themselves back in the Forgotten Realms, where they left.)
  • Random fact: an ancient white dragon set foot on the mountaintop of Mt. Ghakis, for reasons unknown, but those who know the language of dragons, know that nothing is arbitrary — all has meaning.
  • The lycanthropes are rumored to be the frenzied remaining form of former Doctor of the asylum.
  • If, you, the DM, cheats and moves the players out of Ravenloft because you're bored or the players just "want to do something else", there must be a cost. The players gain a disability (-STR or -DEX), lose an INT, for their lack of creativity and courage in a world for adventure.... The DM may also take a disadvantage, but we leave this for the Adventurer's League to decide. /FAIL
  • Players find 10k silvers in the Amber Temple.
  • One can integrate the Cthulhu mythos and Arkham story into this one, if they do so with respect to Strahd. It is Cthulhu that holds the realm of Ravenloft and no other demi-god will get a chance to do a darn thing about it. Not Odin, for example, and not your puny little DM.
  • The other realms connected to Von Richten will either be absorbed or dissolved into Ravenloft/Barovia, as the Dark Lords see fit. You shall not just "goof around" unless you, too, wish to be absorbed or dissolved by the higher demi-gods of Wizards of the Coast, and perhaps even further up than they, yes. This means, by the way, in the case of "dissolution" that you will cease to be a DM and must roll up a PC to enter the realm of Barovia yourself, being trapped, as you know, until you understand.
  • If players use one of the gods against Strahd somehow, this will invite a "bleedthrough" beyond the dimensions into our own. The DM can ask for the player's character sheets and place a few drops of "blood" onto the page, depending on how vile the transgression. The blood would probably be Strahd's or the PC's and, if one is working at god-level DMing, one can think about where on the character sheet it would land, and what side, etc.
  • The difficult question you the DM (and players will be asking) is: is Strahd evil? Each of the clowns, for example, hides a note of sadness. He himself was a victim of lost love and betrayal. Can any foe be turned, forgiven, made whole? ...Victim or villian?

AL notes (GM):

  • VRichten probably won't be encountered by players unless they're interested in the full end-game scenario (The "all hallow's eve" ending) or their doing something very edgy which garners his investigative powers to go check out. Then, for the endgame scenario listed, they will find the technique to find his wife.
  • Regarding the Death House, a parties survival signifies that either they gained the support of the children there (and stole his own childhood purity) or his soul got destroyed and is now in the Asylum in various forms, not in the Castle. The adventure still continues....
  • If the plague doctor is in the realm, then Strahd is in recovery (because some idiot tried to kill him, ONCE AGAIN) and will not turn up no matter how much the players desire it. He roams freely, much as Strahd, perhaps for this reason -- he isn't around and somehow this doctor knows it. Everyone else in the realm stays paranoid.
  • ON the map of Castle Ravenloft is a room inside the wide stairwell which has no discernable entrance, secret or otherwise. There is no room description in the campaign guide. It is labeled ?S1?. In this room is a wooden table at the bottom of the cylindrical room, from which it appears someone can be tied. There is a swinging pendulum on the bottom of which is a curved blade. It swings from the top of the cylindrical room from a rafter.
  • The werewolf transformation of Strahd comes about from the need for love. As human, he still has a deep need for love and in absence of it, rage and feeding off the meat is the only alternative for his soul to continue.
  • The bloodstone: while unique and powerful, while it is possessed, you cannot gain a full victory over Strahd.
  • The reason the lycanthrope appears with the full moon is the reminder of his beloved and the rage of her absence/not having her.
  • The bloodstone, which can be used to control werewolves and perhaps other beasts, is the lost heart of Strahd.
  • During endgame where they decap Strahd, the face that is revealed could be the DM rather than one of the players. Use this option if there is something you believe the DM needs to learn and good vs. evil.
  • Turning undead. If a player is killed in the Borovian realms, they turn undead as noted, above, in the DM notes. However, this transformation requires that their friends leave them behind, so the body can recover from death by the detachment of their awareness. If they are buried, they raise through the dirt and can get free (starting with the hands, mechanics???). If shackled, they are able to break free. If magically contained, this will trigger the awareness of the magician who contained them (at this point they may teleport to them or whatever to see how their magic is being defeated). If they are cremated, they will not re-arise unless the gods are willing to do the work (and donate their own life force).
  • The capacities of degraation of function as they lose 100mana/round are liek this. After losing 200 mana they must sacrifice a full action. After losing another 200 mana, they can no longer perform any action unless they sacrifice their ability to think. And after dropping to 100 mana per round, they will be spending it on breathing, perception, digestion, and their friends may have to make the choice: do they kill their friend out of mercy?
  • The white dragon that landed atop Mt. Ghakis is connected to a portal in the Amber Temple, East (rm ?, 2nd level). This portal will take players into another RPG's universe (Cyberpunk, BladeRunner, Alien RPGs). However, if their DEX score is less than 15 (for non-Shou), or the INT score is less than 13 (Shou), they get shunted to another domain of dread perhaps Ruins of Undermountain or another demi-plane in Van Richten's Guide.
  • The squash found in the realms is a hint of one of the possible endgame scenarios.
  • The clouds part at night for the moon (when the moon phase is c0rrect, of course). This shows Strahd’s dedication to his beloved. You probably shouldn’t reveal this, but when Strahd is in harmony with the female, the sky will have clarity. Rarely, Strahd may be resentful of women, and the sky will stay cloudy despite the moon. So depending on the moon in OUR world, affects the weather in Strahds. Full moon means clear but cloudy skies and new moons mean gloomy darkness. At boundaries between quarters, expect showers and thunderstorms. There are no werewolves if Strahd is active, otherwise full moons expect them to come out.
  • In the crypts, under the Queen’s coffin (if Strahd is not favored) or King’s coffin (when Strahd is favored), there is a stairway leading down. Whether this stairway is revealed depends on how well Strahd has treated the players. If he has treated them harshly, then the coffin stirs and lowers the DC down by 1 to see or suspect someth8ing underneath. The stairway leads to Black Geode, area G17.
  • This realm can be consdiered the dark side of King Arthur and Camelot after it went wrong. It seems the issue of women broke up that kingdom. So somewher ein the castle you will find the Sword of Excalibur rusting in the closet and a round table now used as a dinner table. Also the “All Hallows Eve”, the wife is found to actually be Guinivere (whoever it was in King Arthur) in the Underdark, confused and disfigured.
  • Any hags in this campaign are figments of the darkness of Barovia. If the players make it back from the Underdark, they’ll be transformed into lovely maidens: their dream of themselves before the darkness set in.
  • If players are in Ravenloft playing with the moon in waxing phase in their world, Strahd’s plays are more aggressive, rather than passive. If in the waning phase, he is more relaxed and waits for them like a spider.
  • If players have the orb of radiance (sp?), they only get to keep it if they keep Strahd happy and make it out of Ravenloft (like the “Just One Bite” scenario). Otherwise, AL might wish to reclaim and redistribute it from lower DMs.
  • If Strahd dialogs with the feary, know that s/he belongs to his world and can seek to ask how s/he might be of aid in remedying his cursed land.
  • :Little known to most, Strahd has a werewolf form that he takes on the full moon. Here he slakes his sexual desires by prowling as a different form and spying on women. But get this: Madame Eva has learned this and invites him where she releases her own.
  • Every time players enter the world of Ravenloft and return without resolving the darkness and riddle of Strahd, a raven is seen upon reentering their FR world and flies off. If they tried to kill Strahd (offended him, really, to a point of powerlessness), it caws before doing so.
  • roleplaying strahd: Besides the DM notes, further, you, Keeper of Barovia, know you could get out of your cursed position, if people could understand the higher knowledge that would allow the world to return.
  • Sometimes a greater light is needed to overcome darkness. The campaign books tell of "irredeemible" individuals, yet there is always a bit of light that keeps them animated or alive, so why is it that the gods have kept them? Here is the lesson of this campaign.
  • Proper handling of the interaction and relationshiop between Strahd and Death House can trigger the All-Hallow's Eve ending.
  • HUMANDEATH: The feeling they're getting when eating the human flesh of giddiness comes from their vital connection to Strahd, having been bitten by him. It is his own giddiness, for he knows now that he has captured another soul and there will be no turning back! (Insert distant laughter here...)
  • Players can learn to control the Mists by holding a talisman related to the Mists they are going -- they can only do so from a road that first led them there. If they have not travelled into the Mists to that specific destination before, the Mists will generally comply and send them there by way of the talisman, unless there is some counter-force averting them.
  • Wolfmen or were-wolves are connected to the castration of dogs in their rabidity.
  • The DM can set the rate of death found in the realm; that is the rate of death the players are prone to just be being in the realm, walking around or sleeping without keeping watch, perhaps operating in cycles of the moon. 1:5days per day a life might be taken, for example. Strahd's sister Eva keeps things from getting too out of hand. As long as people don't explore the Unknown (the very thing that adventurers are prone to do :), they risk very little. That means the town dwellers of Ravenloft stick to themselves, don't get involved in big debates or other controversy, never wander to far except for a particular well-worn purpose (bringing in an animal, for example). It should be a challenge, then, for players to find commoners who are willing to talk about what's going on in the realm or much about its master. As long as the people stay in this well-known paths, very little is likely to happen to them. Too bad our little adventurers have to find a way out of their predicament....
  • Time could be split within the realm, such that different areas don't count time in the same way, yet the people seem to rationalize the time, such that if the stronger or more charismatic person says that it is Day 45, of the Year xxxx, then the others will slap themselves as if they just figured it out as well.
  • Within the mists, both time and space shift. Be wary of this as player may get trapped in these places for, practically, forever.
  • You must make a ruling for any player which takes inventory out of the Amber Temple with a curses or blessing card.
  • Vampirism source (for the sake of this game could be considered the Ravenloft module) was a deal struck between a Dark Lord and Strahd -- an exchange of immortality that he would become a vampire.
  • Ultimately, all of the extra horror characters (from hollywood: Jason, Pennywise, Joker, Mike Myers, etc): these are all facets of Strahd, that through his intelligence (20), he holds it together seamlessly. His personality should be (near-)flawless (for the characters have hardly any connection to his pain).

WotC (TSR?):

  • Arcana: The deal struck for Strahd that turned him into a vampire was a demon Grazz't coupled with Asmodeus.
  • The Plague Doctor is me and is a remnant of the Messiah that was co-opted by the christians (whether Coptic as the Barovian symbol uses or not, will not be revealed). You will have to find me to get more detailed responses to player gameplay. It is a result of essentially re-crucifying the heart of Man and wears a mask because it is no personal identity but all of Man (Adam). It both carries the Plague and is the Cure for it. Tread carefully. (Also, the Mike Myers character in the Halloween movie series could be integrated into this character...)
  • The secret room is a symbol of the arcane forces which originate the vampire. Consider for the moment, why immortal torment? Why not celebrate immortality and find a new love given this fate? The gods have sealed the room for the MYSTery to be solved. It is probably Odin (Norse pantheon) which connected this realm of Ravenloft to the Faerun. The adventure continues...
  • There's very little reason for Strahd to leave his castle. As long as he has his servants, everything he needs is provided for him. Except for one thing: if you look at the portrait on page 8, you'll see that he's holding a glass of wine. Strahd doesn't have the patience to cultivate this himself, so he must trek to X every so often to fetch a barrel(?). This little "addiction" of his makes him human and he can be killed by this.
  • The background data given in CoS is the best data that DMs have accumulated about the realm. However, your players won't necessarily know (or even shouldn't know) any of it, and it may be quite fun for them to put all the pieces together through talking to inhabitants scattered about.
  • Those attempting the perfect endgame (The All Hallow’s Eve), find the Black Geode and the interdimensional portal in the upper-right area. Normally there is no exit, except the Abyss or back to Strahd. However, if two parties happen to be in the same place (The Black Geode) at the same time from two different portal end-points (Strahd’s and the Forgotten Realms), they may switch, such that the one party goes into the other’s realm. After they witness the transformation into their own world, a mist comes over them “making everything disappear. After a short bewilderment, the mist separates, and they find themselves back where they started, as if it was all a dream….”
  • If players are in Ravelloft playing during a full moon in their world, all their rolls get disadvantage.
  • The goulash is actually a strange illiteration(sp?) of the “lash of the ghouls”: where the soul punishes thee for forgetting thy origin. The nightshades are made by sadness (tomatos) and hate (bell peppers) within the soul. The hot peppers are a signal from hell itself.
  • Every-time players (at any table presumably) "kill" Strahd, 1/4 of his weight gets turned into saltpeter. Half of this appears in the Amber Temple and another half below the crypts of Castle Ravenloft. Also, a crow or raven is generated which will follow them outside of Ravenloft.
  • It is not easy for players to role-play such a dark and intelligent character. Help them understand how to do it. Intelligence turned into biting cynicism which leads to his violence whenever there's a need to feed his soul, for he is involuntarily immortal. This little situation is what creates the raven as a go-between between FR and Ravenloft, so use it wisely as a subtle indicator both of players compatibility/darkness and the realm`s needs for resolution.
  • Two endings can bring in the real finality of this module (All-Hallow's Eve): 1) Restoring the history of the realm with the union between Strahd and Tatiana OR 2) helping the kids from Death House somehow restore happiness to Strahd.
  • An idea from VRGtR: upon the d100 roll on p168 whereby the DM rolls where the next encounter in the Mists will be, they come upon a land empty of people, containing an forest with an abandoned castle. Inside a room in the castle is a large, round table, different from the usual rectangular tables. They have happened upon what remains of King Arthur and his Knights. Somewhere, collecting dust, is a sword....
  • The traps in the castle are magic turned into reality by Strahd's late wife. Her heart makes the traps appear because she longs for Barovia as it was....
  • Rather than the tenday of FR, Ravenloft and the people therein observea 7day cycle. The point of this is to get players to think that time might be different here.
  • The DMs should see themselves as a sort of were-raven that follows their players through Barovia, perched on top of things.
  • Dark Mantles are also in the realms, but there's no need to tell everything, right?
  • The white dragon, as mentioned in the AL, DM notes is connected to a portal in the Amber Temple. Unlike most realms connected to Barovia, this one is not connected through the Mists, because this realm is related to Strahd in a future. As WotC, you can decide what happens to players given that you are holdig the designs of the (n)Amman, the all-father/all-mother. They can be obliterated, transferred back to FR because they failed their mission in Barovia, or other things.
  • The only real blessing of the hoard for AT, is the All Hallow's Eve ending... Everything else is cursed.

Gamemaster Xenocath(y):

  • The all-hallow’s-eve ending entually can turn the Castle Ravenloft into Hogwarts in a future Age.
  • 7 day cycle here in Ravenloft, *wink-wink*.
  • All the realms are connected together in come way. For some (like Pandemic and Savage Worlds), it is through the Mists, while the portal in the Amber Temple is a portal to Cyberpunk universe 2077 or Blade Runner). Star Wars is connected though a future Age of FR. In any event, players may not be able to get back and remain struck in those other games or timelines.
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