Ravenloft: Curse of Strahd
Domain of Barovia
The progenitor Domain of the demiplane of Ravenloft is Barovia, ruled by Count Strahd Von Zarovich.
This 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 here with the slaughter of hundreds. He made the scenic valley his home and named it for his late father, King Barov.
The land now called Borovia is no longer part of the same world that Strahd once tried to conquer. It now exists within a demiplane surrounded by a deadly fog. No creature can leave, and those that try become lost in The Mists.
Native Barovians have been terrorized for centuries by the one they call "the devil Strahd". 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.
After his armies occupied the valley and slew its inhabitants, 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 pre-dominantly 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. The only non-humans most Barovians are familiar with are the adventurers occasionally pulled into the demiplane. Barovians thus react to nonhuman characters the same way most humans in the real world would react to elf, dwarf, or half-orc adventurers suddenly walking the streets. Most such outsiders are scorned, feared, or shunned.
Barovians are deeply invested in their homes and their traditions. They are wary of strange peoples and customs. The way Barovians deal with strangers can be unsettling to 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 (thrust upon them by their weird circumstances) that can make them act together against outsiders if a Barovian and is mistreated.
Barovians were a happy people once, but their history and current conditions aren't pleasant. Barovian children are raised in a culture of fear and told time and again not to wander too far from their homes or enter the woods. They experience little hope or joy, and they are taught to fear the devil Strahd above all.
Barovian adults 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 attract unwanted attention.
Barovians live within a closed ecosystem. Every Barovian adult is expected to learn a trade or serve a function. Barovians stitch their own clothing, craft their own furniture, grow their own food, and make their own wine. With fewer than 3000 people living in the entire valley, finding the perfect mate isn't easy, so Barovians have learned to settle for what they can get.
Barovia has its own calendar, and Barovians are accustomed to measuring the passage of time in "moons" instead of months. As a measurement of time, each moon begins on the first night of a full moon and lasts a full lunar cycle. A year consists of twelve moons, or twelve lunar cycles.
Strahd was born in 306. In 346, he inherited his father's crown, lands, and army. Strahd conquered the valley in 347, finished construction of Castle Ravenloft in 350, and died and became a vampire in 351 . The current year is 735.
Typical Barovians know certain facts, or have certain beliefs, about their existence and their surroundings. This common lore is summarized here.
The Devil Strahd
About Strahd and vampires, the Barovians believe the following:
- Strahd von Zarovich is a vampire, and he dwells in Castle Ravenloft. No one is welcome at the castle.
- The devil Strahd is a curse placed on the land because of a forgotten sin of the Barovians' ancestors.
- A vampire must rest in its coffin during the day. At night, it can summon wolves and vermin to do its bidding.
- A vampire can transform into a bat, a wolf, or a cloud of mist. In its humanoid form, it can dominate you with its powerful gaze.
- A vampire can't enter a residence without an invitation from one of the occupants.
- Running water burns a vampire like acid, and sunlight causes a vampire to burst into flame.
The Land of Barovia
Barovians know the following facts about their homeland:
- Anyone who attempts to leave the land of Barovia begins to choke on the fog. Those who don't turn back perish.
- Many strangers have been drawn to Barovia over the years, but they all die or disappear before long.
- Wolves, dire wolves, ahd werewolves prowl the Svalich Woods, and hungry bats fill the skies at night.
- The village of Barovia sits at the east end of the valley. Its burgomaster is named Kolyan Indirovich.
- The town of Vallaki lies in the heart of the valley. Its burgomaster is named Baron Vargas Vallakovich.
- The fortified village of Krezk lies at the west end of the valley and is built around an old abbey. The village burgomaster is named Dmitri Krezkov.
- Wine is the lifeblood of Barovia – for some, it is the only reason to keep living. Barovian taverns get their wine from the Wizard of Wines winery near Krezk.
- A mad wizard of great power haunts the foothills of Mount Baratok. He is an outsider and no friend of the vampire's.
Beliefs and Superstitions
Barovians have deep-rooted religious beliefs and superstitions that they pass down from one generation to the next:
- Two divine forces watch over the Barovian people: the Morninglord and Mother Night.
- Before the curse of Strahd befell the land, the Morninglord watched over the Barovian people from sunrise until sundown. Now, the sun has not shone unobscured for centuries, and the Morninglord no longer answers their prayers.
- The presence of Mother Night is felt most strongly between dusk and dawn, although nighttime prayers to her go unanswered. It is widely believed that she has forsaken the Barovian people and sent the devil Strahd to punish them for their ancestors' offenses.
- Spirits drift along the Old Svalich Road toward Castle Ravenloft in the dead of night. These phantoms are all that remain of Strahd's enemies, and this damnable fate awaits anyone who opposes him.
- The Vistani serve the devil Strahd. They alone are allowed to leave Barovia.
- Never harm a raven, lest ill fortune befall you!