Question for the Ravenloft experts

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I´m trying to run a new short adventure in Ravenloft using Strahd as a main Villain. 

In my original idea, one of the characters is a sort of hired killer who is up for a last job before quitting the business. He makes a sort of pact with a dark figure who hires him to kill someone who's identity is unknown until the last moment, but he is assured their victim are about to get justice, as they have wronged the hirer many years in the ago... The PC finally discovers the victims are their parents … as he made a sort of pact, he is most likely not allowed to go back with this. He must kill his parents or face the consequences. 

This is one adventure’s plots, I have chosen Strahd to be the dark figure who hires him. The reason for that being that his father, a boaird, was part of a rebelion in the past, which took the life of several of the Zarovich family. Strahd was too busy chasing a reincarnation of Tatiana in the occasion, and didn´t shown any interest in the situation. 20 years after that  Strahd realizes it is time for the revenge. 

There is another plot, which is the murder of Barovia’s only priest, which is replaced by a PC, that must face Strahds attempt to disrupt the Church.

Another plot line is that one of the PCs gets pregnant and the baby is a devilish creature, a gargoile Strahd magically created to be the new chief amongst his militia. Stopping the pregnancy is an urgent matter for the PCs.

I played Ravenloft very loose in the past, this time I am trying to run something as close to the original as possible. After starting to read a novel, I realize Strahd is the type of vampire that does things himself, I´m not sure if the first idea, him sending someone to avenge a person who supposedly committed a crime against him would be plausible, or if Strahd would do it himself. Also in the novel (I Strahd, second book) It feels like they painted Strahd as a kind of hero, I mean, he does his vampire stuff, but out of necessity for he is cursed and all… but he protects his land, and usually kill only those who committed crimes… after starting the book I was in doubt about having the characters works for Strahd rather than working against him.

The pregnancy idea is in the intention of torturing the players a bit, but also, I´m not sure if this holds together with Strahds personality, or would he just create such gargoyle himself. 

For those of you that know Strahd well, let me know how you use him and what you think of this ideas, thanks!


Needless to say this is a conversion for 4E, but I have no problems with the conversion, my question is about the RP aspect alone.

Well, I never read the novels, but Strahd can and does use messengers. I6 starts with a gypsy messenger being sent to lure adventurers back to Barovia. The gypsies have been given a potion that allows them to travel through the mists. 
Thanks Frothsof! I´m thinking on sticking with the idea.

I red both Strahd's novels several years ago. I remember enjoying them very much (which for me is rare with D&D-based fiction). I was playing Ravenloft in 2nd Ed at the time.

Your plotlines all look good and plausible to me. Strahd is indeed a complext character. Perhaps he really is a 'lesser evil', when compared to the likes of Azalin or Vecna. This may be an intersting plot twist, where the PCs initially have him as an opponent, but then would have to chose to form an alliance or a truce in order to fight someone/thing even worse. I could be that the assassination and the pregnancy are act of 'necessary evil', who knows?

On a general note, I think 4e (perhps with a LV 20 cap) would make a better fit to Ravenloft that 2e or 3e, because characters' power never really escalate to earth-shattering level. I would consider making things even grittier, like limiting the number of healing surges or recovery rate for them. Another thing would be limiting power sources or classes; for instance I'd like to try a martial-only compaign for instance, reserving magic to NPCs as a dark and dangerous force, but I understand that's a bit extreme. Also it would be good to have a mechanic for dark power levels check in 4E.

Hey Urkglass, thanks for your reply, it´s good to hear from someone who read Strahd’s novels. Yes the character has many layers... I like your idea of making him an adversary, and later shift things around to make them allies. This looks awesome, if at least I had the time to make is a campaign. We plan to make it a one shot adventure, what happens latter who knows... 

Yes we are using 4E, i did some changes to incorporate fear, horror and power checks, also limited healing surges considerably. Lets see how it works out. 

I'd recommend looking at the Gloomwrought supplement stuff if you can find it. I am currently running a campaign set in the Shadowfell (4E game) and I use the despair cards regularly. They provide a nice game mechanic to represent the oppressive feeling of being in the Shadowfell.

I've not read any of the Strahd novels (I can't get in to any of the D&D themed novels at all). But I absolutely love the Ravenloft setting. I'm using it as an inspiration for the Shadowfell in general in my campaign.

Overall, I think you have some good story plot lines. And the ideas of allowing Strahd to move from villain to ally is a good one. Be careful not to force a particular plot line as that sometimes takes away from the verisimilitude of the story. But perhaps that advice is unnecessary as you seem to have a good grasp on story!

Anyway, I'd love to hear how all of this turns out! 

Hey skwyd42, thanks for your comments... yes I have the Gloomwrought box, it´s pretty neat. I didn´t use the despair deck this time yet, as I choose to emulate the horror, fear and powers checks exactly as it was in the original Ravenloft rules. We were doing a one shot adventure, but definitely if I get to go for a long term think, a larger adventure or campaign, I might definitely add the despair deck and other sweeties from the Gloomwrought supplement.

We played this adventure over the past weekend, it was super fun, I used the plots I mentioned mixing with the Ravebloft I-6 adventure basically for the locations and some of the encounters. The assassination plot worked out really well... the pregnancy thing was beautiful, players got really scared! I spent basically half of the time setting up the scenes and the mood for them to be really pissed with Strahd and decide to go after him in his castle. I favored quick encounters, we had 5 encounters over 8 hours and it it was great. The whole story is too long, but I will try and post the whole thing into our group’s blog, which is in Portuguese, but I will work out on an English version of it as well, so if you like you can read how it developed!

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