Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
Curse of Strahd is Ravenloft for 5th Edition Dungeon and Dragons. This module revisits this classic adventure and gives you ways to add more horror to your current campaign.
Curse of Strahd begins with some history about the original adventure and the introduction of running this new one. It includes some tips for DMing in a horror setting.
The first chapter of the book tells you how to play Strahd and what his goals are. It also shows you how to set up the adventure using tarroka or normal playing cards. This exercise determines where important items are and Strahd’s location. It also includes adventure hooks to get your PCs into Barovia.
Chapter two is full of information on Barovia, the area where the adventure takes place. It gives details about the area’s effect on magic, the people you might meet and the random encounters you might have while there.
The meat of the adventure runs from chapters three to fifteen. Each chapter details a location the PCs may explore to learn more information, gain experience and find items to help against Strahd. Chapter four details Castle Ravenloft and the adventurers are sure to visit it at least a few times before their final standoff with Strahd. The epilogue tells you how to resolve victory or defeat over the vampire.
Appendix A has a couple new character options including the Haunted One background and Gothic Trinkets.
Appendix B is Death House an adventure you can run for first level characters. Once finished with this adventure the PCs will be at level three and more prepared for their adventures in Barovia. You can download a free PDF of this adventure here.
In appendix C you find all the treasures and magic items found in the module. The locations of Tome of Strahd, Holy Symbol of Ravenkind and Sunsword are determined by the card reading detailed in the first chapter.
The NPCs, baddies and monsters are in appendix D. While appendix E gives details on the tarokka deck. The last appendix is F and it has handwritten handouts for the PCs. They can be downloaded here.
The book also includes a large colored map with Barovia on one side and Castle Ravenloft on the other. You can download unmarked maps here.
Curse of Strahd is a fantasy-horror adventure that revisits the classic Castle Ravenloft. It incorporates elements from the original and adds to it. It is meant to bring characters from first to tenth level.
The book looks great and is full of lots of information. I like the card reading and how it determines the location of important elements in the story. The tips for running a horror-themed adventure are nice too.
If you are unsure if you or your group would enjoy a fantasy-horror adventure you can give Death House a try. It is a great way to introduce you and your players to the setting and genre of this module.
This may not be for newer DMs as it is very much a sandbox. You need to be comfortable with that and the possibilities it will introduce and open up to your players.
If you enjoyed the original Castle Ravenloft you should enjoy Castle of Strahd. Even if you’d just like to try a gothic adventure in 5e, you should pick this up.