D&D: An Adventurer’s Guide To Strahd
Strahd von Zarovich is ancient. He is the land. A brooding, cursed Darklord, this vampire is perhaps the most infamous dracula in all D&D.
“I am ancient, I am the Land. My beginnings are lost in the darkness of the past. I am not dead. Nor am I alive. I am undead, forever.”
So begins the Tome of Strahd, a book dedicated to the life of the dark prince of Barovia, Strahd von Zarovich. This tortured vampire was one of the first Darklords of Ravenloft. He ruled over the shadowed lands of Barovia with a bloody fist. From his castle he lamented a lost love.
But he was once a man. Mortal as your or I. How did he become the tortured Darklord of Barovia? Why was he ensnared by the Mists of Ravenloft? To answer these questions, we must visit Strahd’s mortal past.
Strahd Von Zarovich – Origins
In his life, Strahd was a prince and conquerer, a regal figure who settled the valley of Barovia. Strahd and his brother, Sergei von Zarovich, came to the valley of Barovia. There they drove out bandits and marauders, and settled in to rule.
But Strahd was jealous. Sergei had a beautiful wife, Tatyana. And in Strahd’s envious rage, he began to feel as though she was his.
As the story goes, Strahd slew his brother and took his wife. Some say that this jealous act was enough to damn him, others say that the elder von Zarovich had made a pact with Dark Powers for immortality. Either way, after the murder of Sergei von Zarovich, his wife Tatyana took her own life, and Strahd was turned into a vampire.
Depending on whom you speak to, Strahd is the first Vampire, transformed by the Dark Powers of Ravenloft. But such legends may be exaggerations.
This dark transformation was enough to sweep the entire valley of Barovia into the Mists of Ravenloft where it now resides, with Strahd its ruler and its prisoner. Now his existence is torment itself. He spends his life looking for the soul of Tatyana, whom he believes will one day be reincarnated in Barovia, so that they may once again be reunited.
Strahd is a powerful vampire, more capable than most. Like all vampires, Strahd can change his shape, using an action to polymorph into a bat, a wolf, or a cloud of mist (which is immune to all nonmagical damage). He uses this ability to stalk the lands of Barovia.
His vampiric regeneration protects him from most harm, but where Strahd differs from most vampires is the magic he’s learned over his many years as a creature of the night. Strahd, in addition to being a vampire, is a 9th-level wizard and can cast spells that allow him to render his enemies unconscious, turn himself invisible, and if need be fireball anyone and anything that gets in his way.
The Darklord of Barovia is a shadow on the land, but he longs to be reunited with his lost love. Wary adventurers may be able to exploit his most burning desire, but be warned–he was willing to murder before, now that he is an immortal monster, there’s no telling to what lengths Strahd might go to once again be with the love of his life.
Or what he might do if he finds out what Tatyana truly thinks of him…