dungeonS & draGoNs: The Curse of Strahd
Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here…
Here’s a place where we can keep useful info on our D&D campaign, such as recaps, game schedules, character and NPC info, and background details. The forum will have in-and-out-of-character threads, so we can further the story even when not meeting up for game!
A Brief History of Barovia
The idyllic valley nestled in the Balinok Mountains was a slice of heaven to those who knew of its existence before Strahd’s arrival. The serenity of the place was forever shattered when Strahd led a bloody crusade against the enemies of his family that ended with the slaughter of hundreds. Struck by the scenic beauty of his most recent conquest and eager to escape the shadow of his father’s legacy, Strahd made the valley his home and named it Barovia after the late King Barov, his father.
The Lay of the Land
The land now called Barovia is no longer part of the world that Strahd once tried to conquer (in our case, Faerun, the Forgotten Realms setting). It now exists within a demiplane formed by Strahd’s consciousness and surrounded by a deadly fog. No creature can leave without Strahd’s permission, and those that try become lost in the mist.
Native Barovians have been terrorized for centuries by the one they call “the devil Strahd”. Only a handful of them have the will to oppose him. Barovians congregate in the valley’s three main settlements – the villages of Barovia and Krezk and the town of Vallaki – for fear of falling prey to wolves and other beasts that prowl the woods.
Rolling thunderclouds cast a gray pall over the land of Barovia. A dethly stillness hangs over the dark woods, which are patrolled constantly by Strahd’s wolves and other servitors.
The evergreen trees of the Svalich Woods climb the sides of the mountains that enclose the valley. The largest of these peaks is Mount Baratok, with its snow-covered cap and rugged slopes. Baratok’s slightly smaller twin, Mount Ghakis, is mostly bald with tufts of trees here and there. Between these two mountains stands Lake Zarovich, which is fed by streams of ice-cold water pouring down the face of Mount Baratok. On the south side of the lake rests the sown of Vallaki, enclosed by a pallisade. West of the two mountains, atop a hill, stands the Abbey of Saint Markovia, around which the Barovians built the walled village of Krezk. Between Vallaki and Krezk lie the ruins of Argynvostholt, the fallen bastion of a knightly order called the Order of the Silver Dragon, wiped out by Strahd and his army. East of the mountains lies the village of Barovia, shrouded in the mist and bereft of walls or defenses. The dark silhouette of Castle Ravenloft looks down on this village from its perch atop a 1,00-foot-high column of rock known as the Pillarstone of Ravenloft.
After his armies occupied the valley and slew its inhabitands, Strahd repopulated the area with human subjects drawn from his other conquered lands. As a result, Barovians have a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds.
Barovians are deeply invested in their homes and traditions. They are wary of strange peoples and customs. The way Barovians deal with strangers can be unsettling to those newcomers. Barovians have a tendency to stare openly, in silence, thereby expressing their disapproval of anything that isn’t familiar to them. Barovians aren’t talkative with strangers, to the extent of being pointedly rude. Most barovians have violent tempers that boil up through their customary silence when they are provoked. They also have a social cohesiveness that can make them act together against outsiders.
Barovians were happy once, but their history and current conditions aren’t pleasant. If one manages towin the trust of a Barovian, one has a friend for life and a stalwart ally.
Barovians eke out modest livings. With no new wealth pouring into the valley, they trade in old coins that bear the profile of their dark lord, Strahd, as he looked when he was alive. They hide their precious baubles in their houses and dress plainly outdoors, so as not to draw the attention of Strahd and his spies.
Barovians are human. Although they know that dwarves, elves, halflings, and other civilized races exist, few living Barovians have seen such “creatures” let alone interacted with them. Barovians thus react to nonhumans the same way most humans in our world would react to an elf, half-orc, or dwarf suddenly walking the streets — most such outsiders are scorned, feared, and shunned.
The Vistani (singular: Vistana) are wanderers who live outside civilization, traveling in horse-drawn vardos. Compared to Barovians, they are flamboyant. Vistani dress in bright clothes, laugh often, and drink heartily.