Today, we’re updating the Main Floor of Castle Ravenloft in Curse of Strahd! As an added bonus, we’ll go ahead and toss in the Heart of Sorrow area and a brand new boss fight with Volenta Popofsky!
As always, you can get all the information from the video below, the text further down, or you can get a full color PDF over on Patreon!
Get the full color PDF over on Patreon!
Castle Ravenloft Main Floor
The main floor of Castle Ravenloft is a dangerous area filled with intriguing elements. From the dining hall, to the chapel, to the Heart of Sorrow itself, there’s no shortage of interesting rooms to explore. This chapter of the guide aims to add a bit more flavor to some of the less fleshed-out areas, as well as a dangerous fight against one of Strahd’s brides.
K9. Guest Hall
The suit of armor here gleams with shines with great beauty.
Veins of ruby red run along the legs and arms of this suit of armor, as if outlining blood vessels. Against the light, you could swear you see them pulsate slowly with an inner glow.
Close inspection reveals that it is clearly magical full plate armor, conferring a +1 to AC. Inside the armor are adjustable straps that allow it to fit nearly any medium humanoid.
The armor is not all it seems, however. At will, Strahd may cast command on any character wearing this armor, and the wearer automatically fails their saving throw against the spell. Strahd uses this ability sparingly, waiting for the moment of maximum effect. The curse cannot be revealed by any magic, including the identify spell.
K10. Dining Hall
After a significant event in your adventure, Strahd may invite the characters to dine with him in this area of Castle Ravenloft. The specifics of running the dinner event are beyond the scope of this chapter, and will be handled in a separate Dinner with the Devil chapter.
If characters arrive here without an invitation from Strahd, they find one of two things: either a dark and silent dining hall, or one filled with music played by Strahd himself. In the latter case, Strahd is immediately aware of the character’s arrival. He either stops playing music, or plays quietly enough that he may converse with the characters.
Where this encounter with Strahd goes is up to you, and depends largely on his disposition toward the characters at the time of the meeting.
If the characters have arrived with their items of power with the goal of killing Strahd, then he commands the lights in the castle to go out and the doors to shut. He then phases through a wall and out of the reach of the characters until they encounter him again in the location determined by the Tarokka reading.
On the other hand, if the characters have arrived earlier in the game or are in Strahd’s good graces (for now), then you may want to run an impromptu dinner session. See the “Dinner with the Devil” chapter.
K11. South Archers’ Post
When a character looks into a mirror, they see themselves—dead. Perhaps they are impaled on a spike, or burnt (but not beyond recognition), or drained of all blood with two puncture wounds on their neck. Possibly their reflection is carrying their own head under one arm. One vision is more horrifying than the next. After the blink of an eye, their reflection returns to normal, leaving them wondering if it was merely a figment of their imagination.
The reflections in the mirrors here are meant to scare and intimidate the characters, but are otherwise harmless.
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K14. Hall of Faith
This hall bears its name because it has tested the faith and the force of conviction of many adventurers who came before. Those who enter this hall have the very essence of their soul weighed and measured against their actions inside of Barovia.
Because Barovia is a demiplane cut off from the realms of the gods, the source of this area’s power is a mystery even to Strahd himself. Nevertheless, something great and mysterious is at work here. Any character who enters this area falls subject to the judgment of a mysterious force.
As the Dungeon Master, examine the ideals, bonds, and flaws of the characters in this area. If their time in Barovia has been spent in accordance with those character traits, award them a point of inspiration. Alternatively, you might choose to award inspiration to a character who has changed or evolved significantly, for good or ill. The goal of the area is not to provide a trap or a setback, but to reward those who have done well from a narrative and character standpoint.
Gustav Herrenghast’s spirit has not accepted his fate. It yearns to return and take revenge, but his body was burned by the radiant energy of the icon of Ravenloft. When the characters enter the chapel, they become aware of the restless spirit.
A pile of ashes spills from the altar to the ground, and a black mace lies on the floor in the ashes. A strange chill runs down your spine as a voice like the rustling of robes and the screams of the pyre speaks to you. “It should not have been like this! I do not accept this! There should be nothing good, no light, here to burn like this! Now, YOU shall be my vessel!”
The spirit of Gustav attempts to possess one of the characters. They have to succeed on a DC 13 Charisma saving throw or Gustav takes over. If they succeed, they only feel a tremendous chill running from their scalp down their spine before Gustav tries the next character. A character who succeeds on their saving throw cannot be possessed by Gustav again.
Should Gustav succeed, the possessed character assumes the statistics of a revenant and turns hostile. In order to keep the player involved, consider allowing them to control their character in this battle.
Gustav leaves a character’s body when it drops to 0 hit points or when a protection from evil and good or remove curse spell is cast on the possessed character. Gustav’s spirit departs if he is expelled from a body or cannot possess anyone.
K20. Heart of Sorrow
Update the boxed text of this area to the following, adjusting as necessary depending on where the party enters into the tower.
As you enter into this area, you are bathed in the flickering glow of a thousand candles. Set into irregularly spaced alcoves along the spiral staircase that hugs the outer wall, each candle stands above a brass name plate—some faded with the centuries, others gleaming as if installed yesterday.
Each name plate bears the name of an adventurer who died attempting to best Strahd inside of Castle Ravenloft.
When the characters begin to climb the stairs, read the following:
As you set foot on the stairs, you are plunged into darkness as the candles in the wall each go out at once. Your eyes adjust moments later; the only light left in the tower is the dull red glow of the heart above, and faint flicker right next to you. As you turn to read the name plate, you realize that it carries your own. The candle burns, but its flame is feeble, and seems ready to flicker out at any moment—much like your own life.
Instead of the encounter with the animated halberds, Volenta Popofsky (see sidebar) makes her stand here. One of Strahd’s brides, she a master trapper and assassin tasked by her lord with the defense of the Heart of Sorrow.
When the encounter begins, Volenta has two traps of her choice active. She does not intend to kill the characters; that is up to her Lord Strahd—but she protects the Heart of Sorrows at all cost.
K23. Servant’s Entrance
Instead of the inanimate skeletons assembled by Cyrus, the characters find two animated skeletons here. Much like the skeleton guards that this guide placed in area K26, these skeletons are going about a mockery of their former lives as servants.
You can hear strange noises coming from this room, a faint scratching, brushing, and clattering. As you open the door, you find three skeletons shuffling about, dressed in moth-eaten rags. One is sweeping the same spot over and over, while another attempts to scratch something into a dusty ledger, dunking its quill into a dry ink well between invisible words. Another stirs an empty pot, its wooden spoon thumping the sides of the empty pots.
As you enter, the skeletons stop, turn, and curtsy to you. They look at you expectantly for a few seconds before going back to their duties.
The skeletons are not hostile. If attacked, they cower and gesture as if begging for mercy.
K24. Servant’s Quarters
The stairs here lead to area K34, the room that this guide turned into Tatyana’s quarters. A character with a passive Perception of 12 or more can read two words that have been scratched faintly into the stone wall at the foot of the stairs: “harlot’s nest.” This was done by a servant girl who was jealous of Tatyana’s elevation as a commoner.