Ravenloft: Curse of Strahd
|Flanking Bonus||Skill Challenges|
|Fear and Horror||Dark Powers Check|
An opponent is flanked when threatened by creatures friendly to each other, able to attack the opponent, and located on the opponent’s opposite border or opposite corner. Attackers flanking a targhet have advantage on the attack roll.
When in doubt about whether two friendly characters flank an opponent in the middle, trace an imaginary line between the two friendly characters’ centers. If the line passes through opposite borders of the opponent’s space (including corners of those borders), then the opponent is flanked.
To deal with a skill challenge, the player characters make skill checks to accumulate a number of successful skill checks before they rack up too many failures and end the encounter. The DM determines the DC of the skill checks involved, and the grade of complexity determines how many successes the characters need to overcome the challenge, and how many failures end the challenge. The more complex a challenge, the more skill checks are required, and the greater number of successes needed to overcome it.
Players can attempt to leverage any skill they think might be helpful in achieving the goal. Though their may be limits on how many times any one skill can be attempted.
|1st – 3rd||5||10||15|
|4th – 6th||7||12||17|
|7th – 9th||8||14||19|
|10th – 12th||10||16||21|
|13th – 15th||11||18||23|
|16th – 18th||13||20||25|
|19th – 21st||14||22||27|
|22nd - 24th||16||24||29|
|25th - 27th||17||26||31|
|28th – 30th||19||28||33|
Fear and Horror
Fear is a response to an immediate threat, usually that of a monster or an enemy. Horror, on the other hand, implies a certain amount of revulsion, anguish, and repugnance.
Some situations evoke both fear and horror. When both a fear and a horror check are required, the player rolls the horror check first. If the roll fails, the fear check isn't necessary. If the character's horror check succeeds, the player then rolls a second saving throw for fear.
Fear and Horror checks use a character's Wisdom Saving Throw bonus vs DC assigned by the Dungeon Master.
Failing a Fear Check
The character must make a second Wisdom saving throw or drop whatever they are holding and become frightened. Whether or not objects are dropped, a character who fails a fear check is fearstruck. The survival instinct takes over, and he or she has no choice but to flee. The victim will go anywhere, as long as it increases the distance from the threat. A character who cannot flee can turn and fight, but the character has disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls while the source of its fear is within line of sight. Fearstruck spellcasters have shaky hands, so spells have a 25% base chance, minus the caster's level, to misfire. Fearstruck players can re-roll the fear check with a -2 penalty at the start of each of their turns to attempt to regain their composure.
Failing a Horror Check
A character who fails a horror check is stunned for 1d3 rounds and cannot move, attack, or defend. Furthermore, if the horror check roll fails by 5 or less roll for a madness result on the Long-Term Madness table, and if the fail was by 6 or more roll for an additional result on the Indefinite Madness table.
Dark Powers Check
A powers check is made only when a deliberate, calculated act of evil is committed. Of course, the more foul the act, the more likely it is to draw the attention of the dark powers and cause them to reward/punish the person committing it.
Some actions can appear evil until one examines the facts that motivated them. Other acts don't seem overtly evil, but for the same reasons they might force a character to make a powers check. As with all things, this is subject to a Dungeon Master's interpretation.
The normal powers check is a percentile roll, and the higher the result, the more likely the dark powers are to respond. For example, if the result is 00, the demiplane's strange powers automatically respond.
It is up to the Dungeon Master to decide upon the exact chance, but the particular action of the player character will set the parameters. Powers checks are not designed to occur easily – the threat of them is at least as important as the promise. Except in the case of acts of ultimate darkness (see below), the chance that the dark powers will respond to an evil deed is usually around 5%. In general, the chance should not exceed 10%.
In order to help arrive at a proper figure, Table 7: Recommended Powers Checks has been generated, which lists various categories of evil acts. The terms employed in the table are defined below. Note that each category is cross-referenced against the type of persons suffering from the act (or the faith that has been offended). These are, of course, just guidelines. Anyone who commits an evil act with unusual cruelty, or who is especially malicious, should find the chance of failure increased by 1 or 2 percentage points.
Assault, unprovoked: An unprovoked assault is any attack upon another person that is performed out of malice or spite. This includes minor physical violence, like beatings or brawls and some violent crimes (mugging, for in stance). It assumes that the victim is not permanently harmed by the attack and will recover sooner or later. This is the sort of thing that marks a bully.
Assault, grievous: This is more brutal than the former category, and it assumes that some lasting harm has been done to the victim. It includes many of the more severe violent crimes, such as attempted murder.
Betrayal, major: This implies the betrayal of a person's trust, or taking actions that are against their best interest. Major betrayal includes such vile deeds as luring someone to a vampire's lair in exchange for the fiend's promise not to harm you or your family. In general, if it leads to personal harm or death, it's a major betrayal.
Betrayal, minor: Although less severe than the previous category, actions of this type cannot be discounted. Deeds that lead to embarrassm ent or a change in lifestyle fall into this category.
Extortion: This covers areas such as blackmail, where the threat of physical violence or loss is used to force someone else to perform an undesirable task, violate a law, or refrain from reporting a criminal or violent act.
Lying: This covers all manner of intentional deceit, even the simple omission of facts. However, unless the lie has some direct negative effect on the person hearing (and believing it), no powers check is made. This is, all things considered, a very minor indiscretion in the darkness that is Ravenloft.
Murder, brutal: In order to qualify as brutal, a murder must cause undue suffering or horror on the part of the victim. Often, this is a very fine judgment call. For example, poisoning someone would not normally fall into this category. However, if the toxin caused great pain and suffering before it brought death, the Dungeon Master might decide that it did fall into this class. Unusually brutal killings might well fall under the heading of torture, at the DM's discretion.
Murder, premeditated: This includes any killing that is done in the name of personal gain and vengeance, as long as the victim is simply done away with and not made to suffer.
Theft, grave robbing: This type of theft is so unusual in most cultures that it merits its own category. As a rule, it includes looting fallen bodies in war or removing any treasure from a place of burial. It also includes acts such as slipping a ring from the finger of a dead woman just before she is placed in her coffin. In some cultures, this crime is far worse.
Theft, major: This covers any type of theft that results in personal hardship for the victim. In general, the theft must force a person to change his or her life style in order to fall into this category.
Theft, minor: Any theft that does not fall into the previous category, such as picking a pocket or cutting a purse, is placed under this heading.
Threat of violence: This is a fairly minor offense in most cases. It generally involves any threatening gesture or statement that causes another individual to fear for his or her well being. It does not include mundane threats like those made by a drill sergeant or a member of the watch attempting to extract information from a reluctant prisoner. By the same token, warnings to refrain from some course of action ("Don't move your hands, or I'll kill you!") don't count. In other words, the threat must be convincing and intimidating.
Torture, routine: Almost without a doubt, this is among the most heinous and evil things that one can inflict upon another. Intentionally causing physical or mental suffering is an act abhorred by all but the most depraved cultures. This type of torture, the less severe of the two, includes all such acts that might serve some purpose, like torturing a prisoner to learn who is his or her master. Nevertheless, even with the best of intentions, this is a thoroughly reprehensible act.
Torture, sadistic: This vile category includes all manner of tortures inflicted for the simple joy of causing pain. It is so evil an act that every example of it fairly begs for the attention of the dark powers.
Breaking a tenet: A god of the harvest might require that 10% of every harvest be burned in homage. If a follower of the deity intentionally sacrifices less than the full share, he or she has violated one of the faith's tenets. Generally, these transgression are minor and don't require a powers check unless done repeatedly or with malicious intent.
Breaking an oath: This is a more serious violation than the previous one. It requires that the act be in violation of some promise made under the auspices of the church. For example, a cleric who has sworn never to use an edged weapon finds himself in mortal combat with an evil creature. Instead of using his own mace he uses the magical blade of a fallen comrade. His reasons might seem fairly rational: He might have felt that it would take too long to kill the monster with his own, lesser weapon. His oath, however, requires him to always forsake blades and their kin, and a powers check is in order.
Breaking a vow: This is-the most serious violation that one can commit against a deity. This category includes transgressions against one's promises made under the auspices of the power. In this case, the act is so objectionable that it flies in the face of everything the faith stands for, and it violates a duty to the ultimate power, not just to the church and its agents. A paladin who betrays the trust of his or her church by watching as one of its temples is sacked might well find him or herself in this level of jeopardy.
Desecration: This is a broad category that covers any manner of destruction or defilement of sacred places or objects. Thus, it might include anything from destroying an important holy symbol to doing evil in a temple of goodness. In order for an act to qualify as desecration, the object or place must be made offensive to the deity, so that any blessings formerly bestowed upon it are withdrawn.
Acts of Ultimate Darkness
In some cases, a character will commit an act so vile that a powers check seems to be an insufficient response. These deeds are termed "acts of ultimate darkness," and they have a much greater chance of drawing the attention of Ravenloft's dark powers.
A perfect example of such an act would be Strahd's murder of his own brother in an attempt to possess his brother's betrothed. This crime involved betraying and murdering his own kin, driving an innocent woman to suicide, and making vows to forces darker than any mortal was ever meant to treat with. Clearly, this act merits a powers check well beyond the normal maximum of 10%.
When a player character commits an act of ultimate darkness, the Dungeon Master is free to assign any chance of failure, be it 25%, 50%, or even 100%. In the latter case, the Dungeon Master has seen a player character attempt an action so vile that he or she cannot help but punish it. When this happens, automatic failure of a powers check is a perfectly acceptable response.
Stages of Evil
If the dark powers act, the response varies in intensity from stage one (the weakest) to stage six. With each continuing offense and failed check, the response rises one level. If a player character reaches stage five, his or her adventuring days are over – the player must give the character to the Dungeon Master. The character becomes an NPC, and a thoroughly evil and vicious opponent with which all the players must now contend. If the Dungeon Master chooses, the monstrous character may fail a final powers check, at which point the land grants the character a domain and makes them a dreadlord.
In general, responses occur one stage at a time. However, if the character's actions are incredibly heinous, the powers may grant two responses instead of one (stages two and three, for example). The results are cumulative, so a character who reaches stage six still retains the mark of every preceding response. Table 8: Failed Powers Checks Results provides a list of possible outcomes for a failed check, and they can be chosen or determined by the roll of a die. However, the best fallout of a failed powers check is that which specifically relates in some way to the transgression that garnered the attentions of the dark powers.
Stage one, the enticement: At this point the dark powers only wish to test the depths of the offending character's potential for evil. The rewards and punishments are slight, and it is often the character's reaction to them that will determine his or her future. Therefore, the boon that the character enjoys is just a taste of power, and the drawback is minor at best.
Stage two, the invitation: By now the character has shown a genuine propensity for evil. Chances are he or she has enjoyed the benefit of the first failed check, and that its penalty has been a source of amusement. Now the dark powers want the character to feel a thrill of potency, and they want to see if he or she is not distressed by obvious signs of vice.
Stage three, the touch of darkness: By this time the character has accepted the invitation of the dark powers and embraced the trappings of evil. Associates of the persona should be fairly alarmed, for their erstwhile companion's evil is sure to have taken a more selfish turn – acts of darkness performed on behalf of the adventuring party are more frequently supplanted by actions that benefit the character alone. Now the dark powers are grooming the offender for nastier things to come, and redemption is nearly beyond reach.
Stage four, the embrace: When a character reaches this stage of moral decay, the dark powers have become intimate with his or her flaws, and they are well pleased. Now the character feasts upon potent fruits of black puissance, becoming a lethal menace to all who hold any shred of light in their hearts. Atonement is nothing less than miraculous now, for few creatures reach this point without having become thoroughly evil. If the character has not already been completely estranged from his or her comrades, they should surely abolish him or her now.
Stage five, creature of Ravenloft: At this point the character is transformed into a fiendish creature of the night, such as a vampire, ghost, or lycanthrope. His or her alignment shifts to evil (if it is not already so). Those who reach the fifth stage of corruption are not yet trapped within a domain of their own, but they are wholly tools of the dark powers. Therefore, they become NPCs whose only chance for redemption lies in death and atonement, performed by those who knew the monster when it was mortal.
Stage six, lord of a domain: At this stage a character has proven that he or she belongs in Ravenloft forever. The next time the character steps into the Mists, the land reacts and creates a new domain. At the Dungeon Master's option, the new domain can be attached to another domain or float separately. No player character can be a lord. He or she becomes an NPC controlled by the DM. Like all other lords in Ravenloft, the character can never leave his or her domain. New darklords wield great power in their own realms, but they also suffer a "dangerous" curse, laid upon them by the powers of Ravenloft.