Count Zarovich von Strahd

The Story of Strahd

Strahd the Vampire

A man of noble birth, Strahd spent much of his life serving causes of goodness and law, most notably as a warrior and leader of armies. Years of such service took their toll upon him however, and by the time he reached middle age, Strahd came to believe he had squandered his life and his youth. With this dark mood upon him, he came to conquer the region known as Barovia, and assumed lordship there, taking as his residence the pre-existing castle known as Ravenloft. From this position of power and security, he called for members of his family “long unseated from their ancestral thrones” to join him, including a younger brother named Sergei.

Some time after this reunion, the Count himself fell in love with a young Barovian woman, Tatyana, though she rejected his affections in favor of the younger Sergei. Filled with despair and jealousy, and brooding a growing hatred for Sergei, Strahd sought magical means to restore his youth. In a moment of desperate frustration, he “made a pact with death - a pact of blood.” On the day of Sergei and Tatyana’s wedding, Strahd murdered his brother and pursued the grieving Tatyana until she flung herself from the walls of Ravenloft. Strahd himself was shot down by the arrows of the castle guard. Even so, he did not die, but went on to rule the land of Barovia as a vampire.

Many years later, a group of adventurers risked everything to storm the castle of Strahd and stake the evil vampire. These adventurers looted the castle and left the people of Borovia in peace. But it was not to last.

The Strahd Family Returns

Twenty six years after the death of Strahd, a young nobleman, a distant cousin of the Count, was appointed to take ancestral seat of the Strahds. This young man, whose resemblance to the old Count awakened the latent fear of the long dead Count that had lain dormant for generation. Despite warnings from the older folk of the village and valley, many decided to give their new lord a chance to prove himself.

A month before the arrival of the Prophets, young Strahd led the Army of Borovia, four hundred strong, on a raid to curtail raiders who had been pillaging the high country. Neither he nor his army returned.

The Prophets Ride Into Town and Hell Follows With Them

The Prophets arrived in Borovia to recover an item believed hidden in the ruins of Castle Ravenloft. After combating a zombie plague and the three witches of Borovia, they finally faced the master of the castle: Strahd.

Strahd had not perished in the raid up north; on the contrary, he was the sole survivor from either side. Filled with the pride and eloquence of his noble upbringing, Strahd taunted the Prophets with his story during their epic battle in the castle’s church.

His story is one of unremitting evil and lust for power:

For years, Strahd had been aligned with the Others. His undead nature meant he was a creature of the Material Plane, and therefore had no fear of the Others’ plans. Whatever soul he may have possessed as a man was long corrupted and no longer connected to the Spirit World. He allowed the Others to use Borovia as a base of operations for decades. In return, they had created a clone of Strahd, kept safe outside the valley.

When Strahd was slain by a group of adventurers, the Others began to grow the clone of Strahd. The clone, although not a true vampire, had much of the tainted blood of his “father” in him. He was, in essence, a half-vampire. The clone grew quickly into manhood, and awaiting the right time, learned much in the ways of arcane magic.

Finally the day came when Strahd, in the guise of a distant relative, could reclaim his throne in the Castle Ravenloft. Unfortunately for him, many hundreds of miles to the south, the Council of Patriarchs discovered that an item they desperately sought to aid them in their war with the Others was in Castle Ravenloft. This discovery led to the eventual downfall of Strahd - for the Prophets had been tasked with recovery. And those who oppose the Prophets have a nasty habit of ending up dead.

Through his work with the Others, Strahd knew that eventually someone would be sent to investigate. He needed a plan to isolate the valley and prevent agents working against him access to his lair. His plan was cunning and brutal.

Strahd led all of the military eligible males north to attack a gang of raiders who had build a hall in the wooded upcountry. This attack was never expected to succeed. Seeing the raiders as a potential entry point or cover for agents inimical to his plans, he wiped them out to a person - men, women, children, and livestock slain by the monstrous power of Strahd. His own army suffered the same fate. Now, he was free to return to Ravenloft in secret with hope that word would spread outside Borovia - Strahd was dead.

The only ones who know that Strahd is still alive and holed up in his castle were his minions. The witches, especially Madam Eva, suspected that he was still alive, but Zeeleena was too content with trying to control the valley in Strahd’s absence (and destroy Eva) and the Drowned Lady was too insane to care. But to the rest of Borovia, their lord had died protecting him and he was given a lavish funeral.

In the meantime, Strahd secretly returned to the castle where he began setting his plan in motion. First, he conjured the dreaded “Fog of Borovia” - a fog that clings to the valley, obscuring vision and magic for all that enter. Using a disguise, he hired a mercenary company to guard the only pass into Borovia. Now that Borovia was sealed, he began the next phase of his plan - to drive out those in Borovia who could oppose him. Dominating the village priest, Danovich, he used his nefarious magic to convince Danovich that he could save the life of his recently deceased son. Giving Danovich a corrupted tome, the Libris Blaspheme, Strahd instructed Danovich to perform a ritual from that accursed tome: The ritual of zombification.

The town and countryside of Borovia was soon overcome by a zombie plague. The villagers were able to send word out through the Vistani, gypsies of the valley, for help. Eventually, Ashlynn, a Lightbringer paladin, came to town with her two cohorts. Strahd delighted in the deaths of the two cohorts, knowing that Ashlynn will never forgive herself for their deaths. Strahd knew that the town would be overrun within days and that all humans in the valley would be dead or flee and that the stories of those that fled would dissuade outsiders from interfering with his long term plans with the Others.

However, two things happened that changed everything. Strahd, scrying on the village, saw Ireena, the daughter of the now dead mayor. She was a beautiful and headstrong woman, but that’s not what caught Strahd’s eye: She was the spitting image of his long dead Tatyana, the woman he joined the ranks of the undead to have. Strahd put a spell of protection on her house, saving her and her brother from the hordes of undead. Strahd then planned to approach the mercenary company guarding the pass and ride to Ireena’s rescue.

The Others, Strahd’s true masters, prevented his reappearance. Instead Strahd turned a blind eye to the Prophet’s appearance, knowing that they could eventually save his Ireena. Then Strahd knew he could lure the group to Ravenloft and destroy them.

This he boasted as he attempted to make good on his plan; except he failed in one regard - the Prophets were not destroyed, and instead they slew Strahd, destroyed the Others’ base beneath Ravenloft, and recovered the object of their quest.