Greetings and Salutations!
This glossary contains short descriptions, backgrounds, and ramblings in an attempt to put my train of thought on the creation of the Coat of Arms of Barovia on paper.
As I began to prepare for my first and current Curse of Strahd Campaign as a DM, I felt the need to expand the tiny world of Barovia that we were given in the RAW campaign from WotC. As an off again on again DnD player since the 90s as well as being an old “Grognard” I always loved the ability to create a keep-castle-tower-etc as well as generate followers or other NPCs for my characters that were originally found in the old ADD books. Additionally, I have a soft spot for the Ravenloft campaign setting, the Demi-planes of Dread, and the old accompanying book series. As a first time DM – funny that I say that as I’ve been a player for over 30 years, I came across our wonderful Reddit group and was blown away with the community as well as all of the additional content found within . Using theses as my muse in addition to incorporating Matt Coleville’s Strongholds and Followers 5e supplement I began to craft my expanded Barovia.
As for my campaign, the other Demi-planes or the “Greater Ravenloft” do exist as found in the earlier works, but with one caveat; that the Mists will randomly open and close the borders between these lands. Strahd has been a vampire lord for generations between 400-500 years. Around 250 years ago the Mists started to open the borders allowing travel within the greater Ravenloft world, the borders would close randomly sometimes for months, others for decades. 40 years ago, Strahd seeing an opportunity invaded the southern realm of Gundarak incorporating much of it into Bravoia, including the towns of Ziedenburg and Teufeldorf. Ismark’s father served in Strahd’s army as a young officer during this conflict. It was around this time that early gunpowder muskets such as the blunderbuss started to appear within Barovia. They are rare with and while there was some advancement in tech to a early musket, they are still novel and are seen as a form of magic even though they are not. 10 years ago, the Mists closed the borders of the realms once more, though this time the recently acquired territories from Gundarak remain.
Once you have reviewed this list, you may have noticed the addition of various factions to the campaign setting, either new, or variations of older pre5e groups. I did this as I wanted a Spanish-Civil-War feel in terms of the fractious parties within the chaotic and dreadful realm of Barovia. My campaign is equal hack and slash as well as sleuthing and RPing with a level of COIN (if you are familiar with the GMT game series) to boot, my party knows there are multiple ways of dealing with Strahd, one of which depending on how they play their hand is an open revolt and military confrontation before they storm the Castle.
I will be detailing the military formations at a later post, primarily the Raven’s Guard (the Barovian Standing Army), the Barovian Militia Brigade, City Guard forces, as well as the various para-military forces (The KDLV, The Keepers of the Feather, The Cult of Strahd, the Mountain Clans, etc.), and Strahd’s Legion of the Damned.
Note on the technical side for the Coat of Arms creation –
I am by no means an good artist. For the creation of these Coats of Arms I used the following resources:
The Game of Thrones “Join the Realm” Family Arms creator – Yep, it’s still up – http://www.jointherealm.com/
Roll for Fantasy – Coat of Arms Generator – for the Shields – https://rollforfantasy.com/tools/coat-of-arms-creator.php
All were compiled with the free paint.net app
Thank you for support and for the chance for me to share this with you.
The Coat of Arms of Barovia
I.Count Strahd von Zarovich
new vs. old
To create the new CoA I drew on the original seal for inspiration; particularly the Wolf’s head, Crown, and Raven. In older works before he became a vampire, Strahd wore a helm with a wolf's head into battle. In the new CoA, the wolf’s head is Strahd’s personal emblem. The raven is a symbol of Zarovichs, and the crown the symbol of their title and civil power. I used a Raven symbol from Warhammer 40k, and turned the sunburst from red to gold as a symbol of the Zarovich’s allegiance to the Church of the Morning Lord, as they brought the church with them to the valley. The red and purple colors were used as a mere thematic tone, and in my campaign the colors are that of the Zarovich family.
II.Villages and Towns
This village was created by Strahd when he conquered the valley. In my campaign roughly half of all the crops of the county are produced within the surrounding basin. Its population is roughly 500. It has a single sheriff and deputy as its law enforcement.
The CoA has a split field of red and green. Green representing the fertile basin, and red the blood Strahd’s forces gave in conquering it. The Sun of the Morning Lord is depicted in the upper left-hand corner as Strahd’s forces brought the faith to the valley. The crossed axes symbolize Strahd’s victory.
The village of Berez met its doom when it's burgomeister attempted to thwart Strahd’s obsession over a reincarnation of Tatyana who lived there. The village also appears in the Ravenloft novel “I, Strahd”. In the novel it references a dilapidated summer home of a distant Lord, I am assuming was used for inspiration to create Argynvostholt as in the RAW it is nearby. In my campaign Pre-Strahd, Berez was given to the Order as land for a source of income.
The CoA for Berez is split in two. One half is that of the Order of the Silver Dragon, representing its connection to it. The second has three fleur-de-lises on a field of green, representing the flower that Berez was…before Strahd.
In my campaign, Immol has always been a part of Baroiva. It is the most secluded of locales. It has an archive started by the current burgomeister in the old keep of the Knights of the Scarlet Cross, a long forgotten holy knightly order. Additionally, folklore from the town include references to the Silent Masters or Four Fingered Ones (Ie, mindflayers). Both the Scarlet Cross and the Silent Masters are referenced in the 3e Ravenloft Gazetteer. In my campaign I am incorporating a new adventure found in the DMG, Immol is in a state of ruin and madness, with a population of less than 50.
For the CoA I used a red cross on a field of grey to reference the old keep of the Knights of the Scarlet Cross. The shield variation is a nod to the Sawtooth Mountains where Immol is located at the base of.
This is a walled village and home to the Abbey of Markovia. In my campaign it has a population of roughly 350. It should be noted that the 3e population was as high as 2,000. It’s required complement to the Barovian Militia Brigade is 1 platoon of Rangers (Light Infantry/Scouts). The Rangers also serve as the village’s law enforcement.
The CoA is split in two. The upper half is a golden sun of a field of black, representing the Church of the Morninglord bringing light to the darkness. The lower half is a black fortress on a golden field representing the walled village and Abbey.
This village was created for the Into the Mists Adventuring League campaign. In that it was another minor town located north of Castle Ravenloft in the mountains. In my campaign it is a blue-collar mining town with a small higher class who own or supervise the mines. It has a population roughly the same size as Barovia (500) and has a Vistani encampment nearby.
Its CoA is a divided field of brown and white. The left half has three white mountain peaks on a field of brown, representing the Northern Balinok mountain range. The right side is a brown shield and helm on a field of white, representing the ore mined and the military might it generates.
This village is found in the Ravenloft book “I, Strahd”. The village was destroyed after its burgomeister tried to avoid paying Strahd his required tax. In my campaign it has the same fate, but is now home to the villainous witch from the Into the Mist campaign instead of the former keep in that campaigns RAW, as I have turned that into the base of the KLDV the underground resistance movement formed from the remnant of the OSD who fled or went into hiding.
As there was not much to go on I just created this CoA randomly from what I thought looked interesting and that was a contrast to the other CoA already created.
Found in older Ravenloft sourcebooks, this is a larger town of roughly 1,500. It is home to the Barovian headquarters of the Church of Ezra – a temple named The Refuge of Quite Diligence. They are a small but vocal proselytizing faith that worships a lawful good female deity (Ezra). The town has had waves of rebellion against Strahd’s rule and even attempted to assassinate him. The town is currently under martial law by a compliment from Strahd’s standing army, the Raven’s Guard.
The CoA is heavily based on the sigil of the Church of Ezra – the Sword and Branch on white. The red star signifies that Teufeldorf is the last town along the Crimson Road. The shield variation signifies that this town was originally from the land of Gundarak.
In older reference material Vallaki was at once a resort town, the valley hub, as well as home to an old fortress that predates Strahd. In my campaign the Church of St. Andral is now a Cathedral and is also the headquarters of the Church of the Morning Lord in the County of Barovia. It has a population of 2,500. The town has 100 guards and can call upon the militia for additional troops.
The CoA is divided into two halves. The upper half is a golden sun representing the Church of the Morning Lord and the Cathedral of St. Andral on a field of white. The lower half is a golden fish on a field of blue representing the town's primary source of export, and Lake Zarovich.
This is the largest town in the County of Barovia with a population of 3,500. It is found at two great junctions: where the Luna River falls into the Gundar river, and where the Tsolenka Pass meets the Crimson road, connecting old Barovia to the recently conquered lands of Gundarak. Zeidenburg is a major trading town, especially when the mists are open. Additionally, Ziedenburg exports beer and various sausages to old Barovia when Tsolenka Pass is open. The pass is closed 4 months out of the year due to bad weather. The town has 150 guards and can call upon the militia for additional troops if needed.
The CoA is a field of Blue and Gold divided by a red stripe. The blue represents the two rivers that border the town. The red stripe represents the Crimson Road. The field of gold represents the fertile fields and ore rich mountains. The twin bows represent the two hunters that founded the town (my own creation), and the golden griffon represents the mythical creature that folklore says lives in the mountains north of town – IE the Roc of Mt. Ghakis. The shield variation signifies that this town was originally from the land of Gundarak.
III.Misc. Groups and Cults
A.The Arcane Fist of the Wasserspeir
This is an amalgamation of various groups both pre 5e, as well as fan made one. Wasserspeir is German for Gargoyle. The variation of the name is a nod to the Ebon Gargoyle, a Secret Police force Strahd used in various pre 5e books. In my campaign the Amber Temple was created by an order of both Wizards and Monks. When the dark powers or visages began to corrupt the group instead of them all dying as in RAW, some fled to regroup. My party’s monk is the last in the line of this escaped group and has taken upon himself the task of finding and securing the temple. Another group fled as well but stayed in the valley, they were partially corrupted and view the Temple, the Dark Powers, etc as a necessary evil, they continue to protect the temple but also want to keep Strahd in power as they view this as his rightful prison, no matter the cost of life elsewhere. They attempt to find and hid all any reference to the Amber Temple and continue to seek arcane knowledge. This group is made up of monks and warlocks. My party’s monk doesn’t know of them yet and will be facing off against them “Iron Fist Style”.
The CoA is a purple field with a pinkish sunburst and teal flame. It represents the dark and arcane knowledge that they hold secret.
B.The Cult of Strahd
This is my take on the Watchers. They are larger than just her “book club” with groups locate in other towns and villages. They could possibly be linked to the Dursts and the Death House.
The CoA is a split field of red and black. A black bat represents the Vampire Lord, while the infinity symbol represents the group's belief that Strahd’s power is eternal and never ending.
C.The Druids of Yester Hill
Similar to the Watchers, this is my take on the corrupted Druids.
The CoA is a field of black, with a white bat representing Strahd as their savior, with a red tree representing Strahd’s power over the land.
The ok?ídlené dyky legie Argynvost (Czech-ish) or The Winged Daggers of Argynvost’s Legion. This is the remnant of the Order of the Silver Dragon. They are made up of families from the old order as well as others who wish to overthrow Strahd’s reign. They operate in semi-autonomous “cells” or groups ala the French underground. They are headquartered in the ruins of a former OSD keep located in the northern Balinok mountains at the edge of the mists. The cells are often disorganized or quarrel with on another resulting in only minor operations that do nothing to move Strahd. The leader of the Ravenloft cell operating out of the Village of Barovia was murdered (By Father Donavich to feed his son) when the Party arrived. A member of the Keepers of the Feather attempted to intervene to no avail, though raven feathers were found on the body (as a means of misdirect for the party, and to stoke Feather/KDLV suspicions)
The CoA is on a grey field representing the former OSD, with a red winged black dagger representing the avenging mission of the KDLV. The Winged Dagger symbol comes from the US Army Special Operations Aviation Command Combat Service Identification Badge.
E.The Keepers of the Feather
In CoS they are one of the only true organizations that oppose Strahd when the party enters Barovia. There was a similar organization called The Keepers of the Black Feather who were also wereravens or ravenkind based out of the Blood on the Vine tavern in older works. In my campaign they pretty much follow the same path as in CoS with only minor adjustments, primarily that they view the KDLV with suspicion as unorganized hot heads that are quick to temper but weak in action/planning. My KotK are playing the long game, they also may have loose connections to the Raven Queen – but I have not solidified that into it as of yet.
Their CoA is simple, I used a bluish/purple feather on a faded green background.
F.The Mountain Clans
The clans are made up of a combination of druids and barbarians that follow the old gods. In my campaign I have incorporated much of what the community has added – their village near Mt. Ghakis, as well as adding 1 larger village near Luna Lake that trades periodically at the market in Vallaki.
The CoA is a blue field with a white variation of the Norse or Viking “Web of Wyrd” or “Skuld’s Net”, the Nore matrix of fate. I chose this symbol as the clans follow the old gods and are interconnected to fate and the three fanes.
G.The Order of the Silver Dragon
The OSD. In my campaign, Argynvost had a child with a human woman, that child was hidden away when Strahd came. The child and a few survivors were able to escape through the mists with Argnvost’s sword and made their way to the Sword Coast. The 7 OSD knights built a small tower in the Mountains near Daggersford and defended the locals from Goblins and Orcs for a few decades until they died out. The child would grow and move elsewhere, passing on his fathers’ sword to each following generation. My party’s Battlemaster is the last in the line of Argnvost’s descendants, though time (500 – 600 years) has wiped his draconic heritage from his and his family’s knowledge. The party found the OSD tower near Daggersford and found a statue that bore the fighter’s resemblance. When they met Madam Eva, the fighter was told that he had “his eyes”….his ancestral sword has also begun to show magical/draconic properties.
Nothing changes from the RAW.
H.The Sons of Gundar
This is a rebel faction in the former lands of Gundar that seek freedom from Strahd and an independent Gundarak. They are found in the old 3e reference books. So here, they want to break free from both Strahd and Barovia in general.
The CoA bears a resemblance to the CoA of Ziedenburg. Notable changes are the red griffin symbolizing the blood of Gundar shed under Strahd’s regime, and a red lighting bolt representing the determination for freedom and revenge.
I.The Werewolf Pack
The pack is nominally loyal to Strahd and also worships Mother Night.
The CoA is on a split field. The white moon on black represents Mother Night, while the red wolf’s head on grey symbolizing their loyalty to Strahd, and the location of their den in the foothills of the Balinoks.
J.The Wizard of Wines
The CoA is a wizard on a yellow field with three wine glasses. The yellow field represents the wheat fields, and the three glasses the various vintages of wine they produce.
I feel that this may not be complete. I could add or include a few notable family crests, Dusk Elf emblems as they were once a mighty kingdom unto themselves…. as well as something for the Vistani too….