Curse of Strahd FAQ

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Is this Subreddit/Discord player friendly? Are there spoilers?

A: Both the Subreddit and the Discord are very spoiler heavy, and intended for DM use only. 

Q: First time running CoS, any tips?

A: We heavily suggest you read through this primer by u/DragnaCarta first. Curse of Strahd is a very sandbox adventure compared to many other published adventures with a lot of interconnecting parts. We recommend you read through the whole book before starting the adventure to have a better feel of how everything connects. Then, we encourage you to check out the appropriate megathreads available on our subreddit as well as the wonderful Curse of Strahd: Reloaded guide by u/DragnaCarta and the Fleshing out CoS series by u/MandyMod.

Q: What hook should I use/how should I start the campaign?

A: There are plenty of various hooks available for your disposal depending on the feel you want for your campaign. We encourage you to check out u/DragnaCarta’s Madam Eva’s adventure hook as well as the Adventure Hook and Session 0 megathread

Q: Should any of the NPCs be playable characters?

A: Generally put, Ismark, Ezmeralda, Van Richten, Father Donnavich, Vasili make great player/guest characters. Though opinions vary, it is often advised to not use Ireena as a playable character in order not to put too much spotlight on a single player.

Q: My player chose an unusual race, what should I do?

A: The only races presented in the adventure are humans and elves and as such, you may choose to have the NPCs remark on the unusual appearance of the character. Whether you want to portray a dark and grim world with people afraid of others who look different or simply keep it to passing remarks is up to you.

Q: My party is evil, what should I do?

A: It is usually advised against having an evil party for this campaign as most default quests assume that players are interested in helping the NPCs. However, if you do end up with an evil party, we suggest leaning into the aspect of Dark Powers and replacing Strahd eventually or scrapping the initial concept of the adventure and only using the locations as the story is unlikely to work for evil parties.

Q: What’s the suggested number of adventurers for this adventure?

A: Encounters in WotC books are usually balanced for 4 players but in this adventure, we especially advise you against having more than 4-5 PCs if you want to give spotlight to each of them while retaining the aspect of horror.

Q: How do I handle character deaths?

A: In order to prevent a lot of deaths in the early game DMs can use a variation of the Dark Power resurrection rules presented in the Adventurer’s League document.

Q: How early should I first introduce Strahd?

A: Try to think about your personal vision of him. Is he playful with the adventurers? Trying to court Ireena? Depending on his goals and personality his first appearance might be during the burgomaster’s funeral, the Feast of Saint Andral, the dinner at castle Ravenloft, the ritual at Yester Hill, or in the form of Vasili von Holtz, testing out the party.

Q: What would Strahd do in X situation?

A: This is largely dependant on multiple factors, but we encourage you to check out the Strahd von Zarovich megathread and this wonderful guide by u/guildsbounty.

Q: Who is Vasili von Holtz?

A: Vasili von Holtz is an alter-ego of Strahd, that he uses as a disguise. He is briefly mentioned in pages 114, 117 and 225.

Q: Should I rig the card reading?

A: Absolutely. Where you put the items is up to you, but it is usually advised to put the Tome early, the Sunsword late, use locations that you want your players to go to and avoid putting everything in the Castle.

Q: When should I give my players a map?

A: Common locations to purchase one include Bildrath’s, the Vistani, shops in Vallaki. It is generally advised to save the default full map until your players meet with Van Richten or Ezmeralda.

Q: Any tips on travelling distances and random encounters?

A: It is common advice to at least double the distances between towns and handpick your random encounters to accommodate your story and current location.

Q: What are the Dark Powers or the Vestiges? Are they the same?

A: Whether Dark Powers and the Vestiges are one and the same is left up to the DM to decide. The interpretations vary between users of the subreddit and we encourage you to choose the interpretation you feel most comfortable with. To read more about Dark Powers and/or Vestiges, check out the Dark Powers megathread.

Q: How do I handle all the stuff going on in Vallaki?

A: Don’t panic, choose the events you want to,  go at your own pace. u/DragnaCarta’s guide to Vallaki has several helpful flowcharts and tables for you to use. Remember, that it isn’t necessary for all events to happen.

Q: Where is the third Winery gem?

A: This is never addressed in the book. Some DMs use it to power the Heart of Sorrow or to animate a shadow version of Argynvost.

Q: What are these “Fanes” people keep talking about?

A: The Fanes of Barovia are three sites of Old Magic scattered throughout Barovia, sacred to the Ladies of the Fanes, the Rozana, who comprise the Seeker, the Huntress, and the Weaver. The Fanes were originally created as part of a previous edition of Curse of Strahd in D&D 3.5e. However, in the earlier edition, the "Fanes" were three specific individuals in Barovia who were magically or metaphysically powerful (including among them Madam Eva).

The modern Fanes were first developed by /u/DragnaCarta, codified by/u/morisian, and expanded by /u/MandyMod, with additional details added by the members of the r/CurseOfStrahd community. This version is heavily influenced by the Ladies of the Wood of The Witcher 3, and the temperaments of the Rozana, or "Ladies Three," can range from cruelly capricious to warmly compassionate, though it is not uncommon for the Ladies to be depicted as somewhere in the middle, or as an alien lifeform that derives its rules from Fae morality, not the ethics of mortals. You can find more information on the Fanes and how to implement them in the Ladies of the Fanes megathread.

Q: Any help navigating Castle Ravenloft?

A: Check out the Castle Ravenloft megathread for additional maps and navigation tools.

Q: Which parts of the Adventurer’s League modules are worth adding?

A: We feel that the adventure is already quite well fleshed out with all of the community additions so that adding AL content isn’t necessary. If you do want to adapt certain parts, feel free to search the subreddit for discussion on specific modules.

Q: Are there any additional resources (books, movies) that I should check out?

A: There are multiple Ravenloft novels published, the one most commonly recommended would be “I, Strahd”.

Q: What should I do to run this campaign to level 20?

A: DMs looking to run this adventure to level 20 should probably look into other Dread Domains and the Dark powers. To learn more about the Ravenloft setting and other Dread Domains check out r/Ravenloft.

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