D&D 5E Curse of Strahd: Roleplaying as Strahd

Bladecoder

First Post
Hi,
So Im running Curse of Strahd for a group of 5 players and I think I've got everything pretty much prepaired, but I am unsure how to roleplay Strahd. I can easily treat him like any other NPC but that is kind of lame, I want him to be special and some what terrifying, and this is where I am stuck. I have also read and adapted the suggestions in the Roleplaying Strahd section of the book, but it doesn't really touch on how to make him seem intimidatingly scary. If you have any way that you made him scary or just general tips please leave them in the section below. Thanks in advance.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The players will make jokes about him sparkling in the sunlight or how easy it was to throw him a beating, so my advice is to just embrace the silliness and roleplay him how I intend to:

CT-p0001-ST.jpg
 

jrowland

First Post
Strahd can say things like,

"I will make Barovia great Again!"
"Adventurers just raided my castle! Sad!"
"I know lots of smart wizards, believe me."
"I will throw a Yuuuge party for Tatyana when she returns."
"I built the mist wall and I had the Vistani pay for it"


Terrifying
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I think the best thing you can do to make him formidable is to actually have him treat the party as if they are visitors to his realm. Have him welcome them to his home with an invitation to the castle, and then when there, have him not be overtly threatening in any way.

While they are there, though, you should have him reveal some tidbits about the characters and their backgrounds and tactics and things like that. Just have him make an offhand comment about something that reveals he knows much more about the players than they would expect. That will catch them off guard.

Then, once their visit is finished, have him send them on their way. The fact that he'll invite them into his lair and chat with them and then send them on their way will go a long way to showing the PCs how little he thinnks of the threat they pose him. If they don't get that, you can have Rahadin or one of Strahd's other henchmen drive that home a little more directly.
 

pukunui

Legend
I'm two sessions into my campaign, and I've had Strahd show up a couple of times already.

The first time was while they were fighting some of his zombies on the road to Barovia Village. He showed up in his carriage and watched, then gave them a slow clap when they'd finished. He warned them that Ireena was his and then charmed the sole female PC in the group and gave her a good once-over before releasing her and driving off again.

The second was while they were burying Ireena's father in the graveyard. Strahd tried to lure Ireena to him while the PCs were busy fighting off some wolves. When they stopped her from going to him, he withdrew.

Not once have the players tried to attack him. I have had them tell me that they enjoy having him pop in from time to time, rather than just waiting for them at the end, as it were.
 

Ganymede81

First Post
I've done lots of fun stuff.

He commissioned and paid for graves for the PCs in the Vallaki graveyard.

He constantly insinuates that one of the PCs is secretly a traitor.

He paid Blinksy to put on a creepy puppet show with the PCs as puppets.

And worst of all, he gave the PCs a Deck of Many Things.
 

JangPotatoes

Villager
I've done lots of fun stuff.

He commissioned and paid for graves for the PCs in the Vallaki graveyard.

He constantly insinuates that one of the PCs is secretly a traitor.

He paid Blinksy to put on a creepy puppet show with the PCs as puppets.

And worst of all, he gave the PCs a Deck of Many Things.
You monster.

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
 

Yaztromo

Explorer
Have you thought about having two groups playing against each other (one group will be made of Strahd and hi lieges) or at least having one player impersonating Strahd?
This was very common at the beginning of D&D...
 

corwyn77

Adventurer
Have you thought about having two groups playing against each other (one group will be made of Strahd and hi lieges) or at least having one player impersonating Strahd?
This was very common at the beginning of D&D...

One of my players played a bard who gave a puppet show starring Strahd. That drew much nervous laughter from the crowd. Unfortunately he had to drop out of the game before anything really terrible happened to him.
 

evilbob

Explorer
The truth is: most of your ability to RP Strahd during the moment is going to be hamstrung by the obvious nature of the plot and the infinite vampire tropes you have to work with and against. I wouldn't sweat it too badly because there's just no way you can really play him up at your table without being a professional actor. However! This isn't a bad thing; it's actually quite freeing. My suggestion is to not focus on making him scary in RP, but do things in-game that make him scary, and just allow the RP to compliment that.

For example: the only thing that has terrified my players is the idea that Strahd is so strong he doesn't even have to kill them. He makes it very clear he's toying with them and could kill them if he wanted at any time. They fought him once (at the hill) where they went all-out and did some serious damage to him, killed his horse, and he retreated. He mostly used simple tactics, they knew he was coming, and he even tried to wade into melee (big mistake with this group). This made them feel pretty cool. Within the hour he attacked them again (scryed them from something he'd gotten earlier) using all his powers and spells and never even tried to hit any of them, although one of his lackeys dropped one of the players in one hit. He moved through the group without them being able to do anything about it, without them hardly even seeing him, charmed Irena, and took off without leaving tracks. They found her wandering through the woods a few minutes later, mumbling about needing to head home to the castle, and then breaking down into tears. The entire point of the attack was to show that he was not even remotely hurt, he could move through them at will, he still had a massive amount of power to throw around, he could take any one of them any time he wanted to, and he was letting them live at his pleasure (and also his lackey managed to steal the Holy Symbol, which was the primary focus of the attack but which was downplayed by all the rest of it). This was terrifying to them, and my bumbling attempts at RP during the attack were at least good enough to compliment this - which is all I needed.
 

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