Curse of Strahd: What is Straud von Zarovich's Title? [SPOILERS ALERT]

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm curious what Strahd's title was before his undeath? Also:


  • Does he still use a title for himself? (Apparently not, he does not sign his invitations using a title, for example)
  • What titles would those loyal to him use? (Probably "Count")

5e's Curse of Strahd campaign does not explicitly state Strahd's current title. The only instance of his name used with a title is in the description of treasure in N4q:

Five scrolls — notarized deeds for parcels of land given to the Wachter family by Count Strahd von Zarovich nearly four centuries ago
It is established in Chapter 2 that the current year is 735. "Nearly four centuries ago" is vague, but would be later than the date 335. Strahd conquered the valley in 347, completed the construction of Castle Ravenloft in 350 and died and became a Vampire in 351. It is most likely that the deeds were written between 347 and 350. The land likely granted to the Wachtel family, shortly after he conquered Barovia.

That indicates that he uses the title "Count" right up to before his death. Also the 5e Dungeon Masters Guide, in chapter 2, states:

In remote corners of the Shadowfell, it is easy to reach horrific demiplanes ruled over by accursed beings of terrible evil. The best known of these is the valley of Barovia, overlooked by the towering spires of Castle Ravenloft and ruled by Count Strahd von Zarovich, the first vampire.
This indicates that his title remains "Count.'

But his father was already dead at time Strahd conquered Barovia. Why wouldn't he be King Strahd von Zarovich?

The location names in Castle Ravenloft confuse matters: Map 4 is titled "Court of the Count." Yet there are rooms in the "Court of the Count" named the "King's Hall", the "King's Balcony", the "King's Accountant" (an NPC that acts as Strahd's accountant), and the "King's Apartment" stair. In other areas, there is the "Dining Hall of the Count" but the "Kings Bedchamber". There is nothing to indicate that the names on the map are the names that Srahd actually uses. This could just be Chris Perkins being purposefully vague.

In the "Vampire's History" section of Chapter 1, the books states that "n life, Strahd von Zarovich was a count, a prince, a soldier, and a conqueror."

"Was": Was a "prince", was a "count". But not was a "king." A "count" in continental European countries is analogous to an English "Duke". It is possible to be both a prince and a count. The politics here are a bit beyond me, but I know that the Prince of Wales is referred to as the Duke of Rothesay when visiting Scotland. I suppose, therefore, Strahd could be both a Count, Prince, and heir-apparent to the Barov throne while his father lived. The book goes on to state that:

[a]fter the death of his father, King Barov, Strahd waged long, bloody wars against his family’s enemies. He and his army cornered the last of these enemies in a remote mountain valley before slaying them all. Strahd named the valley Barovia, after his deceased father, and was so struck by its scenic beauty that he decided to settle there.
Also:

I called for my family, long unseated from their ancient thrones, and brought them here to settle in the castle Ravenloft. --Tome of Strahd
The implication here is that the King was assassinated or overthrown, which is confirmed in the Tome of Strahd handout:

I called for my family, long unseated from their ancient thrones, and brought them here to settle in the castle Ravenloft.
Nowhere does it state that Strahd became King. Perhaps he was not the heir-apparent. We know that he had a younger brother, but even though no other brothers were mentioned, the book doesn't explicitly state that he was the eldest son. Yet, given that he could order his family to move to Barovia, it seems likely that he was.

Another option is that when his father was killed, and his family unseated from their ancient thrones, King Barov's kingdom came to an end. Perhaps Strahd had allied with another King to take vengeance on his enemies and Barovia became a county of the allied Kingdom with Strahd as its Count. That seems unlikely because the book talks about Barovia being settled by people from the many lands he conquered. It seems he once ruled a realm far larger than Barovia.

One can argue that when he became undead, he lost his title (though the DMG entry implies it still applies). A stronger argument would be when Barovia moved to its own demiplane, the old titles were no longer relevant. That is why Barovia is never referred to as "Kingdom" or "County", but simply the "land of Barovia". Perhaps Strahd is beyond titles. He is simply of the land. He is the land.

My assumption when running the adventure is that after his father's kingdom was overthrown, he was able to raise the forces necessary to destroy his families enemies--ending with the slaughter of all remaining enemies in Barovia, which he repopulated with different peoples from the other lands he conquered. He did not have time to properly establish a Kingdom ( a stretch ) - OR - some custom, treaty, prevented him from doing so.

I'm interested in other folks' take on this.
 
The definition of the various ranks of the peerage (Including "Prince") vary from country to country and age to age.

In the original Ravenloft module he is referred to as Count, but not Prince. But Prince does not necessarily refer to the offspring of a monarch. Machiavelli's book, "The Prince" is really about the Medici - who ruled Milan by virtue of owning everything, rather than hereditary.

If you trace the character back to Vlad the Impaler (Via Count Dracula), Vlad III was definitely a prince in the usual sense, as he was a son of the ruler of Wallachia.
 

Coroc

Explorer
Well classically it was always Count.
Barovia (prime) has ist origins in FR, it would be helpful and interesting to check wether it was a kingdom in FR.
The last two adventures in the hyskosa hexad give some clue where prime barovia is in the FR, i just cannot recall it from Memory atm.
 
Barovia was never explicitly part of the Forgotten Realms.

The original module makes no mention of the Realms, and suggests that Barovia be located in whatever campaign setting the DM is using.

And I don't believe Barovia was ever mentioned in 2nd edition Forgotten Realms material, It's official location became "The Demiplane of Dread" only a couple of years after the first two adventures where published.

I don't know if it was ever suggested where Barovia was before it was absorbed into the demiplane.
 
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Meh. Barovia is a County, not a country.
It has been ripped from the prime material plane as is.
Nothing to say he is any kind of heir to whatever country his County belonged to.
As for King’s this and King’s that - maybe guest rooms originally? As for King’s Accountant, perhaps every county had such a position to levy taxes ultimately for the King.
 
In order to be a king, the place your rule has to be a kingdom (and visa versa). Historically they have been many, in modern terms, would be considered nation-states, which where not kingdoms.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I don’t know what the laws of Barovia are, but presumably he’s both.
 

Coroc

Explorer
[MENTION=6906155]Paul Farquhar[/MENTION] well i cannot find the exact source and maybe i am wrong, maybe i only read somewhere where to put Barovia in FR, but there is one weak and one very strong indicator that Barovia is connected to FR and maybe had ist prime material roots there (which come into Play in roots of evil it is not exactly drawn into the mists but there exists a prime material Barovia parallel), see the cite from FR Wiki below for the indicators i found in a rush:



Cite Form FR Wiki:

The Svalich Woods of Barovia also briefly merged with the Quivering Forest and Twilight Marsh near Phlan in the late 15th century DR.[10] The Vistani nomads of Barovia were known to frequent parts of Faerûn and shared similarities with some Gur, suggesting that the two peoples may be related.

Before it became part of the Demiplane of Dread, one of the two gods worshiped in Barovia was Lathander, though he no longer had any power there after the rise of Strahd, and didn't answer the prayers of his few remaining followers, who remembered only his title of Morninglord since his name has been almost completely forgotten over the centuries of his silence.

End cite
 
Barovia (prime) has ist origins in FR, it would be helpful and interesting to check wether it was a kingdom in FR.
That's highly unlikely. The original Ravenloft module was published in 1983, some four years before TSR published FR (although it had been mentioned in Dragon before then). It's rather more likely that Ravenloft came out of Tracy Hickman's own home campaign rather than FR (or, indeed, Greyhawk).
 
In terms of his title, it looks like his family were "long unseated from their ancestral thrones". So it's likely that his family were rulers of a kingdom once upon a time, but that the throne passed to another family.

That being the case, it seems likely that Strahd was given the title of Count when he conquered Barovia (by whoever was the current king), but that he considered himself to be a prince. Or it's possibly that his family retained a 'dormant' title of prince (in the same way that an ex-president is still referred to by that title), but used the title of Count within Barovia.

Or maybe there's an as-yet-unmentioned older brother out there who's even more of a monster...
 

Coroc

Explorer
well here i found something [MENTION=3547]Matrix Sorcica[/MENTION] posted in a 2016 thread http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?480668-Curse-of-Strahd-Can-Borovia-be-situated-in-Forgotten-Realms/page3

"IIRC, there's advice in Expedition to Castle Ravenloft on placing it in FR. I seem to recall it's somewhere in the Galena Mountains in Damara. "

So maybe not in the original module but later on. Is I6 mentioning Lathander or only morning Lord? I have got the module but at home so not accessable atm
[MENTION=22424]delericho[/MENTION]
 
well here i found something [MENTION=3547]Matrix Sorcica[/MENTION] posted in a 2016 thread http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?480668-Curse-of-Strahd-Can-Borovia-be-situated-in-Forgotten-Realms/page3

"IIRC, there's advice in Expedition to Castle Ravenloft on placing it in FR. I seem to recall it's somewhere in the Galena Mountains in Damara. "

So maybe not in the original module but later on.
Yep, that seems likely.

Of course, it's relatively easy to set any Ravenloft adventure in almost any other setting - just rule that the relevant bit of the demiplane has come into conjunction with the other plane. :)

Is I6 mentioning Lathander or only morning Lord? I have got the module but at home so not accessable atm
I'm afraid I don't have the adventure to hand either, for the same reason. I looked up the publication dates online. :)
 

jasper

Rotten DM
The counts titles.
The Big Sucker
Vanity Vamp
Needle teeth needle teeth never brushes his teeth.
Yellow Teeth
The Sucking Count
Silly Strahd
von von von von von von BAT man!
I hear you knocking but you can't coming!
Count in Black.
 
I think the first mention of Lathander in connection with Barovia is in one of the spin-off novels. The artefacts are deity non-specific in the original module. I suspect that is where some of the other information on the Forgotten Realms wiki comes from.
 

Pauper

Villager
I think the first mention of Lathander in connection with Barovia is in one of the spin-off novels.
Nice catch! The first mention of the Morninglord was, in fact, in Vampire of the Mists, the first Ravenloft novel. That novel includes Jander Sunstar, a character from the Forgotten Realms.

The Domains of Dread book from the Ravenloft campaign setting incorporated the Morninglord into Ravenloft proper. The reference doesn't come from I6.

The artefacts are deity non-specific in the original module. I suspect that is where some of the other information on the Forgotten Realms wiki comes from.
The note provided by Coroc above comes from the 3E hardcover adventure Expedition to Castle Ravenloft as part of the notes to adapt the adventure to different settings.

I suspect that Strahd is a Count because vampire; it's likely as simple as that.

--
Pauper
 

Seramus

Adventurer
In order to be a king, the place your rule has to be a kingdom (and visa versa). Historically they have been many, in modern terms, would be considered nation-states, which where not kingdoms.
In order to be a king, you conquer everyone who says otherwise. Strahd certainly falls into that category. If he chooses to call himself king is another matter.
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
It's all poor editing about his parents, but all modules and supplements, including the 5e material, refer to Strahd as "Count." Per AD&D Domains of Dread, this appears by choice (describing Strahd as choosing not to rule like a prince or king).

So here's the inconsistencies about his parents:

First, there may be confusion about Prime Material Barovia and Dark Domain Barovia. Per the "Roots of Evil" AD&D module, there is a modern day Barovia and whatever exists in the Shadowfell is a carbon copy. They have Castle Ravenloft and the village of Vallki, etc., but Vallaki, for example, is an unwalled peaceful "resort" town and the Prime Material castle is quite nice. There are a lot of parallels, despite the centuries, such as both have a Blue Water Inn, an Arasek stockyard, and a Father Lucian. The modern Barovians believe Strahd is a hero who vanished when a dark fog settled on the castle and took the wedding party, including most of the royal family (except Strahd's brother Sturm, who wasn't there). The Domain of Dread AD&D supplement describes people who left the wedding early but were still grabbed by the mists (e.g. the Dilisnya family, which has a century long grudge with the von Zarovich line).

The Ravenloft Black Box AD&D set and Gazetteer create a timeline for Barovia and its history. Using a Barovian calendar (BC), Barovia was established Year 1 on an "outlander world" of unknown name. The Gazetteer describes it as an alliance of "independent city states."

299 BC, Strahd is born to Count Barov von Zarovich and Countess Ravenia van Roeyen. (per the Gazeteer). This conflicts with I6, the AD&D module that started it all, and the AD&D 2e reprint House of Strahd, which both call Strahd's parents "King" and "Queen" and spell the queen's name as Ravenonia. The first Ravenloft novel has a scene where Jander Sunstar is looking at a portrait of Strahd's parents, listed as "Barov and Ravenonia von Zarovich." And you've got "King's" rooms in the castle, and the burial vaults in every incarnation of Castle Ravenloft that have "Kings" buried there.

346 BC, his parents are killed by Terg invaders, and he takes over the army.

351 BC, Strahd's actions draws the land of Barovia into the mists (but as "Roots of Evil" and the nature of the Shadowfell show, it's people that were taken, everything else was copied).

740 BC, the Grand Conjunction occurs (big event where the Dark domains of Ravenloft spilled into the Prime Material plane). At this time, there is a Barovia Kingdom on the prime material plane ruled by King Barov von Zarovich VI and Queen Kristiana von Zarovich. The AD&D module "Roots of Evil" covers this. Not all the von Zarovich line were captured by the mists.

Conclusion: Strahd's parents were a King and Queen and the Gazetteer is an outlier error. Despite conquering his homeland after his parents' deaths, he never elevated himself to the title of King, likely due to his military heritage and lack of desire for the day-to-day management of a King. Back on Prime Material Barovia, they continued the practice of having a King and Queen using the von Zarovich lineage.
 

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