D&D 5E Boosting Strahd

1) Anything in the castle the players have not taken is fair game for Strahd to use. That includes Sergei's Armor, the Staff, and even the paralysis chest. It's his castle. He knows where his stuff is.

2) Nothing stops Stahd from using the lair action to stay inside the walls or floor and attack through them. Play it fair - Strahd cannot see through stone and needs to peek out / attacks at disadvantage.

Those two combined make Strahd almost unkillable in his castle, especially if the players don't do a good job looting. Just don't have him hang out in the stone too much, things need to stay exciting.
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Also, the Tarrokka cards said he would be encountered in the Study, heavily implying that he wouldn't just stay there for six seconds and run away. What would be the point of finding a spot for a generic ambush that means nothing?
The point of the reading I always took to be that is the one location where he definitely CAN be found. If/when the party ever entered the Castle, they could easily run into him everywhere, whenever he decided to pop out and attack them (if he chose to.) So there could be little in the way of ever finding him to take him out-- except the reading told the party that the Study is the one location they WILL be able to find him. He might hit and run anywhere else through the Castle... but you'll definitely find him in his Study (lost in thought staring at Ireenya's painting.)

But he is by no means tethered to the room. He can certainly leave if he finds himself de-powered from the Sunsword and/or Holy Symbol of Ravenkind and getting hurt badly. I do agree that him bolting immediately would be kind of lame-- there is an arrogance about him that would let him take the party on for at least a round or two (which is much easier to survive if you go with one of the beefed-up Strahd statblocks from above)-- but once he discovers that his regeneration no longer works due to the sunlight and holy symbol... there's no reason he wouldn't use his Lair Action to go through walls to escape.

That being said... if a wild goose chase through the Castle isn't what would be interesting or fun for you or your players... that's why I think even just going through the back of the fireplace to recuperate in the belfry or Treasury might be the best way to go. It gives the final battle a "two-part" feeling to it... the party has a big fight with Strahd in the Study, he phases through the back of the fireplace once he's gotten hurt very badly (maybe when he becomes 'Bloodied', to use a 4E phrase), the party then has to solve a few secret door puzzles to get through the fireplace and the false treasury to keep up the chase (giving Strahd gets several minutes to heal himself back up), and then the final-final battle can occur in the back are of the Treasury. And you have your "extra minions" already there in the half-dozen giant spiders up in the rafters. Strahd + giant spiders versus the party would be the ending you might want. And on top of that... the party is now right there at the Treasury to get rewarded for all their hard work after defeating Strahd. It's a win-win.
 
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toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
2) Nothing stops Stahd from using the lair action to stay inside the walls or floor and attack through them. Play it fair - Strahd cannot see through stone and needs to peek out / attacks at disadvantage.
If the party keeps moving, this can frustrate Strahd for a little bit and buy some time, especially if they did some damage and he has to spend rounds regenerating.

Right. If he keeps running through walls, he would be unbeatable. But it's a cheat.
Also, the Tarrokka cards said he would be encountered in the Study, heavily implying that he wouldn't just stay there for six seconds and run away. What would be the point of finding a spot for a generic ambush that means nothing?
I don't see Strahd playing dumber than players, however, given his nature. If a player has a winning strategy, they don't just abandon it to make the fight "fair" for the bad guys. As to the cards, it starts the "timer." If you want to guarantee your finale in this vast labyrinth of a castle, head to the study.
 

He's a genius tactician and general. He can run through a wall, regenerate 100%, and come back. I played him hit and run. He'd come running through a ceiling, floor or wall, taking an Attack of Opportunity (maybe) to strafe a PC, preferably a caster. If he misses, he just comes back after he's healed up.

If the PCs tried resting, he'd summon minions to create enough noise and havoc that they couldn't (Leomund's Hut helps, but they'll just be waiting outside). Same if they tried to wall themselves up somewhere strategic. He can wait them out. He's eternal.
I really want to highlight this as great advice. Getting Ireena involved is the easiest plot coupon the players have to make Strahd fly into a rage and abandon his wall/floor hit and run tactics. It absolutely justifies this immortal despot getting sloppy and sticking around in a fight to the death.

In fact, if Ireena has not been permanently saved the tarokka card location is the perfect place to put Ireena in the final confrontation.
 

Retreater

Legend
I really want to highlight this as great advice. Getting Ireena involved is the easiest plot coupon the players have to make Strahd fly into a rage and abandon his wall/floor hit and run tactics. It absolutely justifies this immortal despot getting sloppy and sticking around in a fight to the death.

In fact, if Ireena has not been permanently saved the tarokka card location is the perfect place to put Ireena in the final confrontation.
I did a swap of Strahd's motivations because a love for Ireena was expected and cliché (not to mention someone in the group had already played Curse of Strahd - and I wanted a curveball). In my campaign, I made Strahd's focus be on Bismark, because Strahd thinks he is the reincarnation of Sergei, and he wants to make amends to his brother, thinking it will end his "curse."
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I did a swap of Strahd's motivations because a love for Ireena was expected and cliché (not to mention someone in the group had already played Curse of Strahd - and I wanted a curveball). In my campaign, I made Strahd's focus be on Bismark, because Strahd thinks he is the reincarnation of Sergei, and he wants to make amends to his brother, thinking it will end his "curse."
It does not really change @Seramus point, though. Have your players bring Ismark to the study. Strahd goes berserk because he wants ''Sergei's'' forgiveness, but he cant because those meddling adventurers turned Ismark against him. Grrrrrrr.
 

Retreater

Legend
It does not really change @Seramus point, though. Have your players bring Ismark to the study. Strahd goes berserk because he wants ''Sergei's'' forgiveness, but he cant because those meddling adventurers turned Ismark against him. Grrrrrrr.
What is changed is that the players don't care about Strahd's relationship with Ismark. After they learned about it, they just left him behind in Barovia village, and kinda laughed about the whole situation. They just want to "kill a vampire" - which is disappointing after I tried to inject some real horror and story into the game.
So that's why I'm focusing on giving them a really good fight. That's all they want.
 


Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
What is changed is that the players don't care about Strahd's relationship with Ismark. After they learned about it, they just left him behind in Barovia village, and kinda laughed about the whole situation. They just want to "kill a vampire" - which is disappointing after I tried to inject some real horror and story into the game.
So that's why I'm focusing on giving them a really good fight. That's all they want.
Then go all in with a multi sectional fight agaisnt an ever evolving menace. The players will regret botching the aventure when the 3rd phase douse the sunblade and crack their symbol!
 

Retreater

Legend
So what is your plan? You have been given some good advice, what are you going to try?
I think the "ever-evolving" Strahd is a good idea. I'll bring in the animated armor to join the fight. And the sunlight from the holy symbol and Sunsword will only be effective in his vampire form. When he turns into a second form (I'm thinking a big werewolf) it won't affect him. The rogue has a silvered short sword, so she'll get a chance to shine in that portion. I'll need to keep an eye on all the character's HP and spells - and then just adjust to make sure I'm not completely overpowering them.
 

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