5E Strahd Visitations


Well, that was fun
Staff member
For those of you who have run Curse of Strahd, how often and when did you have him visit the PCs prior to them going to the castle. How did he respond to aggression? And did you do an invite/social scene with him at the castle?

Savage Wombat

I haven't been as prone to visitations as the others on this site - it doesn't seem appropriate for what my PCs do, and I don't want to make him a "DM's Pet" villain.

I did have him show up at the end when the party was desperately stopping the ritual at Yester Hill - but they succeeded, so he rode in to "congratulate" them. The players reacted with appropriate fear and respect, so he did not have to beat on them.

I also had him use a Dream spell one time just to intimidate one player and pass on a bit of info.

I'm A Banana

For those of you who have run Curse of Strahd, how often and when did you have him visit the PCs prior to them going to the castle. How did he respond to aggression? And did you do an invite/social scene with him at the castle?
He showed up once - he wanted to grab Ireena in person, and the party brought her to a place he was planning on attacking anyway (the church in Vallaki). Since the party is essentially responsible for him being able to get a hold of Ireena, he's thankful - he's invited them to his castle. He doesn't hold much against them for fighting him - his stated motivation for dragging the party into Barovia in the first place is that they eventually supplant him, so he's more than content that they are eager and assertive. At the moment, he's very much in the "arrogance" stage.

The party's playing it safe, though, and following up with various plot threads around Barovia before going to the castle. Which is making him believe them to be quite rude.


Just implying that Strahd is near and watching is often quite enough. I'm still preparing that adventure but back in 1ed (AD&D), I used him a lot. Players knew he was out of their league when the count wasn't turned by the cleric, took the holy symbol the cleric was holding with a yawn, crushed it in his hand and said:"How rude, I thought I had gentlemen in front of me. Be happy dear friends that I'm not so easily slighted."

That scene set the tone for the whole adventure. Strahd was there when they were having a tough night. If it was too easy, a fireball, an ice storm or simply a few more wolves to toughen an encounter were his moves. The players were dreading his presence and they were always watching their back. One player was even blaming Strahd for bad die rolls! All random encounters were, of course, Strahd's fault.

Make Strahd appear once in a while in the distance when the players are fighting. Let him congratulate the players on their success. If they stay polite and act like gentlemen toward him; Stradh won't be an ass. If they sligth him, however small, he will show them proper respect.

1) Make him stay at extreme range for fire ball. If a player tries to attack him. Throw that fireball at all the players save the one that attacked. Your other players will go mad. I assure you.

2) If a random encounter goes very bad. Have Strahd recall the monster to him. "Dear friends, I really thought you could do better than that. How disapointing..." Strahd goes away with a smile.

3) Do not limit Strahd to the small spell list he has in the adventure. Have him stand in the sunlight! He'll use an illusion while he's inside a house. He will call the players, bathing in the sun. "Come on my friends! What are you waiting for? It's quite a nice day don't you think?" And make him transform into a bat and fly into the distance. Your players will start to fear that vampire.

4) Strahd has a nightmare. Make him do a flyby and throw an Ice Storm on the players (or whatever works for you) just prior to an encounter (no time to rest). Starting an adventuring day with less resource is always a strong incentive for prudence.

5) When the players are taking a short rest (or before a long rest); have Strahd attack them with a few zombies, vampire spawns, skeletons and wolves. Strahd stays in the back. Smiling with an evil grin. "I do not feel like resting, neither should you. You will have to earn that right my dear friends. (insert discrete evil laugh here)

6) Add monsters if Strahd needs them to make a strong impression. They have killed the gargoyles? Have them right back at their post the following day. Or have Strahd come to attack the players with double the number of gargoyles they defeated (make it out of the deadly range) and have Strahd say:"Now my pets, these are the ones that killed your brothers. You wanted revenge? Here you go." Make him turn toward the players "I am so very sorry for this show of violence and the inconvenience it might cause you. But you know how it is. I have to prove to my servants that I care for them." (Insert a good old evil laugh in here)

These were but a few of what I used back then. They are still very usable today. When my group finished my Desert of Desolation campaing, They will go on to CoS with new characters. I hope I have been useful.
The party thus far has had no direct interaction, merely they have seen him watching them from afar when they buried the first Burgomaster. They are in Vallaki at the moment and will likely not encounter him until either the church attack (if it happens) or at the castle via the invitation. I plan on having his first offer be genuine, short of him telling them why he brought them there, and offering to let them leave if they hand over Ireena (I expect they will either put her in the church in Vallaki or rush her to Krezk after getting the invitation). I'm going to have him give them roughly 3 days or so to hand her over before he comes to claim her himself while they are doing something (perhaps in Krezk or the Winery).

After that, they may either see him again, or nor until the castle, depending on how it ends up.


We are around half-way through CoS and my party has met Strahd three times. Once was just conversation but he summoned a pack of wolves to harass them as he left. Second time he was disguised so only our revenant PC knew and he kept his mouth shut because a fight would have been unwinnable and caused collateral damage. Third time was in Kresk when Ireena almost escaped. It was a running battle to get to her and the PC's to the safety of a house. So far I've run Strahd as a constant but uncommon threat so that the PC's never feel safe but aren't paralyzed by fear.


Playing Strahd is a question of dosage. Too much and he becomes boring. Too little and the players won't feel the dread they should.

Everytime he shows up, it must be something the pc remembers. Sometimes, just implying that he was there is enough.
IE: As you kill the last wolf. You hear a soft muffled mocking laughter. Or did you? You see nothing is around...


Strahd was standing outside of the Death House when my players emerged (battered and bruised). He wanted to welcome them to Barovia. Our rogue kept the deed to the house that was found inside and he claimed ownership of said house to Strahd. The next day, the party received an invitation to dinner at the castle to discuss the claim. Since that dinner, he had made his presence known, but has not been seen directly by the party.


That was brillant! I'd never thought of that one. Consider this idea borrowed.