|Relatives||King Barov (Father), Queen Ravenovia (Mother), Sergei (Brother)|
Count Strahd von Zarovich is a vampiric wizard and ruler of Barovia, a kingdom located on a demi plane within Quelmar’s Shadowfell. He is known to be a ruthless and despotic ruler who terrorizes the people of his kingdom and any who dare enter the borders of his lands. It is believed that Strahd has formed a pact with dark deities that bind him to Barovia and prevent him from ever escaping the Shadowfell. In exchange, Strahd is immortal in his shadow kingdom, and will not be able to rest until his connection with the dark powers is severed.
History[edit | edit source]
In life, Strahd von Zarovich was a count, a prince, a soldier, and a conqueror. Strahd was the son of King Barov and Queen Ravenovia, members of one of the royal bloodlines in the Kingdom of Troverth. Strahd was a gifted child and a natural-born leader. His skills as a swordsman were legendary throughout Troverth and the surrounding lands, which served him well following the resumption of hostilities on Osugbo during the Realm Wars.
As a commander during the wars beginning in 2 PR, Strahd was responsible for defending Troverth’s northern and eastern borders with La Croix. As a Troverth soldier, Strahd was raised to adhere to a strict code of honor. During the early years of Realm War I Strahd managed to maintain Troverth’s borders by waging a primarily defensive campaign, minimizing his own losses. However, as the years dragged on, and Troverth’s victories in the early battles turned to defeats, Strahd became more reckless, leading his troops into certain death, sacrificing thousands of lives to secure a single acre of territory. His tactics became ruthless, and others within Troverth began to question his commitment to honor.
A Dangerous Affair[edit | edit source]
Throughout Realm War I, Strahd was primarily fighting on the eastern front against soldiers of the La Croix Kingdom. Strahd’s Troverthian forces always outnumbered his enemies, but the La Croix soldiers fought with a ferocity that often overwhelmed his much larger armies. This paradox caused Strahd to obsess over his enemies; he and his top military advisor, his brother, Sergei, spent many a sleepless night poring over scrolls of histories, folklore, and legends of the La Croix people. It was then that Strahd became convinced of a dark power lurking behind the La Croix royal family, and he was hellbent on finding out the truth.
In 25 PR, during the waning years of the war, but at a moment when La Croix’s armies were surging on the eastern borders and Troverth’s lands were shrinking, Strahd and Sergei managed to slip behind the La Croix lines and capture Tatyana, a consort of Count Edgar. The two Troverth princes brought Tatyana back to their camp and proceeded to interrogate her. She told them of the dark truths behind the La Croix’s powers—a vampiric dynasty behind the throne.
The brothers, knowing this would cause panic among the ranks, concealed this knowledge from their men, and from the other leaders of the Kingdom of Troverth. Strahd used this information to defeat the La Croix on the battlefield, gaining tremendous honors and accolades for his martial success.
A Dark Pact[edit | edit source]
These successes, though, were short-lived. Strahd’s father, King Barov, had been killed earlier in the war while fighting on the Phantom Front against Champerty. Strahd was tasked with leading his now-weakened kingdom against growing threats from Glendoveer and Steelhand, and by the conclusion of Realm War I in 33 PR it was clear that Strahd’s heroics and successes during the war did little to satiate his appetite for the battlefield.
He immediately began raiding the borderlands of Troverth, trying desperately to reconquer areas of the Kingdom that had been ceded during Realm War I. He renounced his oaths to Troverth Honor and began to wage an increasingly vicious and fanatical type of warfare, often murdering innocents and offering no quarter to prisoners. His rage at the loss of his father fueled these sorties into the borderlands.
Strahd’s need to conquer led him to seek darker avenues to power. He never forgot his encounters on the eastern front against the La Croix, and the revelations provided by Tatyana. He knew that the source of power lay in the realization of immortality. Luckily for Strahd, a dark deity of Quelmar also recognized his lust for power. Vecna, the deity of knowledge and secrets, sought to use Strahd as a tool to exert power within the Shadowfell. Vecna's cultists approached him with an offer of immortality that Strahd accepted wholeheartedly. But Vecna was not the only Quelmar Deity to notice Strahd and his ascension to lord of the demiplane of Barovia. The Raven Queen’s Shadar-Kai minions had monitored the events of Realm War I and witnessed Strahd’s bloodlust. After the wars, a small coven of Shadar-Kai approached their goddess and revealed the dark pact made between Strahd and Vecna.