“The last conscious effort which imagination made was to show me a livid white face bending over me out of the mist. I must be careful of such dreams, for they would unseat one’s reason if there were too much of them.”
— Mina Harker’s journal, 1 October (26 July 1894)
Dracula isn’t the only vampire in the Balkans with unresolved issues. Strahd von Zarovich can be the head of the Conspyramid or a frustrating “third force” in a regular Night’s Black Agents campaign. In The Dracula Dossier he’s definitely a possible third force, another variable like Orlok, Elizabeth Bathory, or the American Vampire to keep the pot stirring. Or perhaps he’s just another one of Dracula’s feared lieutenants, left behind to run things while Dracula invaded England in 1897 and who perhaps got too much of a taste for power while the Lord of Vampires lay quiescent until 1940.
When the agents encounter him, he seems like another Romanian mafioso, ruling his city from one of a dozen interchangeable black Escalades with impossibly dark-tinted windows. Like any mobster, he runs guns, drugs, girls, and rackets, keeping cops bribed and complaisant. Although he probably has a hotel or a nightclub as his base of power in the city, his real strength lies deep in the countryside in a former Hapsburg castle called Corvinistâncă, or “Raven’s Loft.”
His name provides a clue to his actual origins: “strah” (with a hard h, strach’) means “fear” or “dread” in Croatian, and Žarović is a small town in Croatian Dalmatia near Zadar. Transylvania and Dalmatia were joined under the Kingdom of Hungary in 1097, and repeatedly under Ottoman and then Habsburg rule down to World War One. At some point during these tumultuous centuries, a Croatian count became a Romanian vampire.
His specific domain (usually a city plus most of the surrounding province) depends on your campaign’s needs. If he’s the lord of Bistrita (where Harker stops before heading to Castle Dracula) he may draw Renfields and servants from the “Raven’s town” Corvineşti to the southwest, and retreat to his castle 45 km further north (known as Cetatea Ciceului on the maps, meaning “Castle Lofty”). If instead he dominates Pietra Neamt (near Zalmoxis’ grave in the Cehalu Massif) then perhaps his native soil lies in the Bârjoveni district 25 km eastward. He may dominate any large city in Romania with soldiers from remote villages such as Baroianu (over the southeastern Carpathians from Brasov) or Băroiu even deeper in the mountains to the west.
Independent: Strahd is actually a murony, a vampire who sends his mist form out of his grave to roam his domain. He has complete control over his mist form, usually appearing as a dark-haired Balkan man or, in confrontations or hunts or dreams, as a “conventional” vampire. His castle flickers between the realm of dreams and the Romanian mountainside it occupies, always surrounded by a cold, strength-sapping fog.
Thanks to his mastery of dreams and the difficulty of attacking his physical body, he maintains both his independence and his rule over his dread domain. He doesn’t leave it, because Dracula or something else prevents him.
Ally: Strahd doesn’t work for Edom, not least because they work with Dracula. He guided the Russian team that staked the Countess Dolingen’s tomb the first time, in 1801. If the agents show a similar desire for dramatic, foolhardy action, he gladly aims them at his great rival.
Conspiracy: Dracula has broken Strahd to his will, probably by finding his body and settling his own guardians over it in Corvinistâncă. (Or Dracula turned Strahd into a murony in 1783 and still holds the bloody strings.) Strahd has two functions for Dracula: as a scout and spy in the dreams of his enemies or other targets, and as a diversion: a vampire whose legend in the Băroiu countryside might even resemble Dracula’s to non-Balkan hunters. Strahd sends mists to misdirect Dracula’s foes, draws them into his castle on the borderland of dreams, and there he toys with and drains them.
Powers and Statistics
Strahd von Zarovich appears here as a roughly 250-year-old murony, turned in the early 18th century. Values in brackets indicate an older Strahd, turned during the medieval era (specifically during the Venetian razing of Žarović in 1204), before even Vlad Tepes. Likewise, powers in italics apply to the older Strahd.
He can use his abilities in dreams, spending from their pools or from Aberrance.
As with all murony, these statistics apply solely to Strahd’s projected form. Treat his corpse as a vorthr (NBA, p. 153) if dug up and encountered.
General Abilities: Aberrance 31 , Hand-to-Hand 16 , Health 16 , Shooting 8 , Weapons 13 
Hit Threshold: 5
Alertness Modifier: +0
Stealth Modifier: +2
Damage Modifier: +3 (sword), +1 (bite; ice-cold mouth), +0 (hurled object)
Armor: physical weapons do no damage; fire does 1 point (Immaterial); can be damaged in dreams with an attack that spends Stability
Free Powers: Darkvision, Drain, Levitation, Psychic Vampirism, Regeneration (all damage recovers at next sunset)
Other Powers: Apportation (anywhere in domain or where a sleeper dreams of him), Cloud Men’s Minds, Dominance, Enter Dreams (victim must spend Stability on all attacks while dreaming), Extra Attacks (first extra attack is free, further attacks in a round cost 2 Aberrance or Hand-to-Hand points each), Heat Drain (drained Athletics do add to his Health), Illusionary Shape (vampire, cloud of mist, raven, bat, wolf, bear), Infection, Magic (especially weather magic), Mesmerism, Necromancy, Send to Sleep, Stifling Air (damage adds to his Health; as mental attack), Summoning (moths, ravens, wolves), Telekinesis, Vampiric Speed
Banes: direct sunlight (+2 damage each round); atomized silver iodide (+2) or liquid propane (+1) or table salt (+1) (cloud-seeding chemicals, listed damage each round to mist form as ice precipitates out); destroying his body by beheading, staking, and burning destroys his spirit
Blocks: direct sunlight, garlic, not invited into the building, open running water
Compulsions: pursue sexually attractive target
Dreads: crucifixes and holy objects, direct sunlight
Requirements: drink blood, must return to his body at cock-crow
This work includes material taken from p. 30 of the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD 5.1”) by Wizards of the Coast LLC and available at https://dnd.wizards.com/resources/systems-reference-document. The SRD 5.1 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode.
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