Friday, December 30, 2016

Curse of Strahd, Abridged

Strahd is easily in the running for D&D's
most iconic villain.
Several of the Fifth Edition adventures released so far are based on adventures from earlier editions of D&D, and Curse of Strahd is no exception. In 1983, Tracy and Laura Hickman released Ravenloft for the first edition of "Advanced" D&D and the adventure became an instant classic. Ravenloft introduced the iconic villain Strahd von Zarovich - a vampire lord with a tragic background - and his domain, the cursed castle of Ravenloft.

Curse of Strahd is a compelling adventure. It's completely different from the hack-and-slash heroic fantasy of Tyranny of Dragons or the madcap adventure of Out of the Abyss. Instead, players must confront the depressed land of Barovia and a tragic yet irredeemably evil villain. However, the adventure also spans ten levels and likely months of play for a regular group.

As a DM, you might wish to run just the original Ravenloft adventure, getting a taste of the unique horror of Barovia without dedicating an entire campaign to it. The good news is that all the elements you need to run Castle Ravenloft as a one-shot are contained within Curse of Strahd. In this article, I'll walk through the changes you'll need to make in order to run just the "classic" portion of the adventure. Depending on your group's play speed, this might take from six to twelve hours - perfect fodder for a long day or a few sessions of adventuring. In this article I'll be referencing the Curse of Strahd book, as well as map locations on page 35.