When writing about the adventure Hoard of the Dragon Queen we right here at Sly grow wrote chapter-by-chapter deep dives of the whole publication to assist DMs operation this adventure. With much more recent adventures, Sean McGovern over at the strength Score has written fantasic guides of each of the Wizards of the coast published adventures that placed our Sly prosper chapter-by-chapter writeups to shame. The same is absolutely true v his excellent guide to the Curse that Strahd also obtainable on the DM"s Guild. For the reason, we"re not writing thorough coverage the the entire Curse the Strahd adventure. Go read his in that place.
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Instead, we"re going to cover a few big thoughts and also a couple of concepts that can make running Curse of Strahd much more fun. This isn"t a deep dive right into the adventures. This is more of a "what if" scenario. These principles aren"t because that everyone and likely every DM will have actually their own thoughts on how to operation it. That is, the course, how adventures operation best.
I"ve written a bunch of other articles around Curse that Strahd that could be worth your time. Here"s a list:
These every cover particular pieces of the adventure and offer devices to aid run Curse that Strahd. This article, however, will cover some larger all at once thoughts and ideas top top this large campaign adventure. Let"s destruction in.
Strahd, the Omnipresent Villain
This adventure is all around Strahd. Based on his motivations and potential interactions v the characters, he"s practically the perfect D&D villain. He"s powerful but his goal isn"t to just wipe the characters out. We don"t need to worry about the hypocrisy of not killing characters the minute they step right into Barovia. That"s not his goal. Strahd brought the personalities to Barovia due to the fact that he"s bored. He desires to add some excitement to the land, some brand-new variables, and those variables room our heroes.
When we operation Curse that Strahd, it functions really well when Strahd is in their deals with a lot. Together I discussed in the writeup of fatality House, i recommend having Strahd in the very first encounter, having shapeshifted into a direwolf and watching together a bunch of his wolf children attack the characters. This can happen right before the characters discover the their journey to Barovia was a ruse. He desires to see them an initial hand. If they shot to assault him? Great! He"s no really going come fight back but he"s not past throwing up a counterspell or shield to present them the he"s no basic direwolf himself.
We can bring Strahd in favor this a lot throughout the adventure. In graveyards, hovering over ancient bridges, standing in ~ the top of destroyed towers, whenever castle think castle just had actually a large victory—there that is laugh at them.
You deserve to do a most this exterior the watch of the characters as well, v some well-placed flash fiction to provide players the impression the he"s constantly paying attention also if the character"s don"t recognize it. Monitor Alfred Hitchcock"s rules for suspense here. A surprise is once the viewer doesn"t recognize if there"s a bomb under the chair of the hero. Suspense is when the viewer sees the bomb under the seat yet the character doesn"t recognize it"s there.
Make Strahd"s Plot your Own
Strahd"s plot may readjust depending ~ above what the personalities do. Together the game evolves, together we look at the backgrounds the the characters, Strahd"s actions can change. For example, Strahd might style a much more dastardly plot by attempting to convert Ireena not just into a vampire, yet into THE vampire—the Red Queen! He can know the his time in Barovia is done and also it"s time to put a new leader in charge, one much more benevolent, one much more lawful, than he.
It"s also feasible that, have to they go to the Amber Temple, the personalities awaken a darkness or one evil even worse 보다 Strahd. This could be unleashing the lich, Exethanter. It can be awakening a being of fear yet unseen in the worlds. It could even it is in the ancient One, the first vampire born a 4 minutes 1 of a million years back whose blood developed Strahd in the Amber Temple.
Any of these risks can change the landscape of Barovia and adjust Strahd"s motivations and also interactions v the characters. With an old One loose in Barovia, it"s possible Strahd self becomes a quest-giving NPC rather of the major villain.
When you operation Curse that Strahd, you have full authority to adjust Strahd"s motivations and actions however the circulation of the story goes. That is always watching and constantly reacting.
Choose her Favorite Locations
Curse that Strahd is a huge book through a many of locations in it. You certainly don"t have to run lock all. It"s worth her time to check out through the adventure and also decide which components of the adventure resonate v you and which persons don"t. Sean McGovern, for example, didn"t feel like the Amber temple fit through the remainder of the storyline when I thought it to be a neat way to check out Strahd"s origins and include a brand-new powerful villain, the lich Exethanter, into the mix.
I, on the other hand, didn"t destruction the whole Island of physician Moreau layout going on over at Krezk. Tiny baby heads cultivation out the the backs of deformed mongrel-men creeped me out.
The point is, each of united state gets to select which parts we desire to run. It help if you understand which of these parts you"re going to desire to run prior to you dig into the game, that course.
A Sandbox of Sandboxes
Like out of the Abyss, each chapter in Curse the Strahd is that own tiny sandbox with amazing NPCs, strange happenings, cool locations, an effective events, and also lots the potential plot hooks. Feel free to fill them the end as little or as much as girlfriend want.
Keep in psychic that, together your characters travel with Barovia, you"ll need to stay two procedures ahead the them. If they are just about to head into Vallaki, read up front of time ~ above the damages of Berez, the sorcerer’s of Wines, or the old wizard"s tower so you"re prepared to drop in the hooks to go to these areas as the personalities wander around Vallaki.
This is a good general rule of ignorance for adventure prep. Always be two actions ahead the the characters so you can drop in following session"s plot hooks now.
Tie In the Backgrounds that the Characters
Right from the beginning we deserve to tie in the backgrounds that the characters into the game. Maybe among the personalities is a previous werewolf who looks for redemption in ~ the wall surfaces of Ravenloft. Maybe another character seeks her former mentor, the remarkable Rictavio, who became lost in the fog. Maybe a character seeks to get rid of the cursed barbarian tribe of the Dire Wolf who have end up being the servants that the adversary Strahd.
We have the right to incorporate these backgrounds by changing some of the occasions that take ar in the adventure. Instead of vampires attack the town of Vallaki, perhaps it"s a pack of werewolves to which among the characters formerly belonged. Maybe the barbarian character learns the the Dire Wolf barbaric clan worships the twisted tree containing among the 3 gems of the magician of Wines. Maybe the younger sister of among the personalities had been kidnapped and also drawn come Barovia to serve as Baba Lysaga"s maid two years earlier.
The more we deserve to tie in the backgrounds of the characters to pieces of the adventure and also into the evolving story that Strahd, the more investment our players will have in the game. Start and end through the backgrounds that the characters and we"ll re-publishing a story everyone will certainly remember.
The order of the silver Dragon
When us think around the miscellaneous factions in Barovia, there"s one an ext we can include that can develop quite a little of fun. What if, over the years, members the the villages of Barovia banned together under the banner of the Knights the the silver- Dragon? this self-ordaned knights can act as crusaders of the light, seeking those who have fallen under Strahd"s corruption and bringing those castle deem "corrupted" come the torch.
Though this Knights the the silver Dragon revere the revenants in ~ Argynvostholt, the revenants themselves treatment none at every for these false knights. As the personalities travel through Barovia, they might find us fighting with, or fighting against, the Order. If the characters can get the revenants at Argynvostholt to vouch for them, the characters might discover themselves in a position to direct and also lead the knights.
Vallaki, a home Base
Depending on what wake up in Vallaki, it can come to be a home-base of sorts because that the characters throughout many of the game. If they come to be allies with the bespeak of the Raven, castle will discover respite at the Blue Water Inn. Relying on how things go v the mayor, they could find themselves in service to the leader or city hall his corpse hang from a nearby tree by angry villagers. As occasions in Barovia unfold, its possible the stimulate of the silver Dragon take away over, fortifying the town and also instating martial law. Together a main town, Vallaki renders for a quite spot to return to as the personalities explore the remainder of Barovia.
The Wilds of the southerly Mountains
South the Argynvostholt and also the damages of Berez the lands end up being wild. The icy hills hide a chaos well beyond the structured madness uncovered in the more "civilized" domains under Strahd"s control. We have the right to make this southern mountains our very own by placing lengthy forgotten ruins within them. These ruins deserve to hold secrets of the human being of Barovia before Strahd. They have the right to speak of the vampire"s origins and also the origins of those he ruined upon his ascendancy. They have the right to speak that the noble knights and also adventurers who attempted come guard against the evils of the Amber holy place centuries ago.
There is a most room for broadening the depth that Barovia in these lost lands if we desire to take it it. And, if us don"t, there"s much to be claimed for focusing in top top the main point story the Curse of Strahd.
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Making the Curse the Strahd our Own
When we sit under to operation it, Curse that Strahd is our very own campaign. We have the right to use every little thing in this book or usage nothing at all. Us can pick what piece speak to us and our players and discard those that don"t. Each of united state builds the adventure we want from Curse the Strahd and each story, as it unfolds, i do not care something filled through beauty and horror. Do this beautiful horror your own.