The scariest battle in Dungeons and Dragons is also one of the best

If you have been thinking about playing Dungeons and Dragons, you may have noticed that there are many materials to choose from. There are currently no less than three starter sets, more than six rock-solid published adventures, and a content market created by fans. However, an activity is usually recommended first-especially for beginners.It is called Strad’s curse, And it may just be the most popular and adaptable way in the original role-playing game.

Due to its popularity, there are currently three great buying options Strad’s curseThey range from old-fashioned do-it-yourself storytelling to luxury collectors with high production value. I will help you find out which one is right for you.

But first, a small background story to stimulate appetite.

Why is this vampire?

Back in the 1970s, when D&D was still young, the game focused mainly on exploration, combat, and loot. Rolling dice with friends means crawling in underground dungeons, killing strange monsters, and getting some magic items. Then, in 1983, Lavin Loft The module has been released. Written by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman, it adds a rich sense of storytelling to D&D. The secret is a charming vampire named Strad von Zarovich.

Lavin Loft It is the first D&D adventure that really feels like a complete narrative. It centers on Strahd, a complex villain with its own motives. Strahd does not simply describe the action from a distance, but lets the dungeon master (DM) personally participate in the material with Join the players on the table through combat and non-combat encounters. Published in 2016, Strad’s curse These mechanisms have been modernized and expanded from a meager 32 pages to 256 pages. Its Strahd version is as threatening as the original version, and it is more fun to play.

The retro art of Strahd von Varovich shows him lurking among the towers of Castle Ravenloft.
Image: Wizards of the Coast

Why is Strade such a great villain? Don’t reveal too much, but the return of his personal arc is definitely worth spending time against him. He is not just an ordinary B-rated movie vampire. Strahd is a fully realized character with a Shakespearean background story and enough tricks and cunning to fight against any adventurer.

Where Strad’s curse In my opinion, the difference between it and the original is that it enriches its settings. The action takes place in the sinister pocket dimension called the Barovian Valley, which means you can enter or exit the battle from anywhere in the D&D multiverse. The structure of the valley itself is very much like a modern open world video game. Players can explore the environment during their leisure time and peruse many of its side missions. The ghost of Strahd has always haunted them—sometimes literally—as a beacon that irreversibly pulls them back to the main task line.

There is even a mini-adventure bundled with the campaign, designed to quickly upgrade new characters and accustom players to modern D&D mechanics. simply put, Strad’s curse It is a complete package.

So, now that I have sold it to you, let’s talk about three different ways to actually buy this thing.

Basic knowledge

Strad’s curse Originally published as a hardcover book, the most basic version of the book is still in printing.You can easily find one Friendly local game store Or online in places like that AmazonIndependent booksellers with D&D may have one, as do large retailers such as Barnes & Noble.

There are now many digital options for D&D books, and the version you want to get depends largely on the platform you choose.The best choice for newcomers will be Beyond D&D, It sells events and gives players access to an online character builder.There are also virtual desktops (VTT), such as Volume 20 with Fantasyland, It provides more options to use virtual models and dice to represent the combat encounters of the game. VTT tends to slow down the speed of newcomers, so please pay attention to the learning tool set before the party.

Of course, you also need three other books that form the core of D&D: Player’s Manual, this Dungeon Master’s Guide,as well as Monster Manual. These three can also be Beyond D&D.

upgrade

Strad’s curse Now also sold as a boxed set called The Curse of Strahd: Revised Premium EditionIt was first released in October 2020 with a price tag of $99.99. Considering the contents of the box, it is difficult to recommend it at this price.Thankfully, you can now find its online sales in the following places Amazon a little less.

The box itself is actually very smart. It is shaped like a coffin and includes a full-color portrait of Strahd, so you can let him rest intermittently in it for your players to discover. Another benefit of the premium version is that it includes a more powerful version of the two-sided battle map (the same version as the basic hardcover book).

A black box with a crow on its cover opened, revealing a heavily armed vampire lying on red satin.

The other side of Strahd’s portrait includes the statistical blocks needed to run him on the table.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

However, the downside is that this boxed campaign book is a paperback, not a hardback like the original.

My favorite boxed part is a convenient set of fictional tarot cards called Tarokka. The oversized aluminum foil embossed deck will come in handy at a major plot point in the campaign.Of course, you can also collect a set of Tarokka cards separately-the normal size, non-foil stamped version Only $10.

Selected materials are included in the advanced version of Strahd Curse of Strahd.

Clockwise from the top, you have an oversized Tarokka deck, a map, a set of postcards, handouts written in Strahd and a four-panel DM screen.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

In my opinion, what the Premium Edition really lacks is the correct two-dimensional map of the castle Ravenloft, Strahd’s lair, and the final battle scene. One side of the battle map contains a 3D isometric version of the floor plan (you will remember that the floor plan was included in the original hardcover and premium editions). But the DM draws a 2D floor plan for the players on the table. This requires pen and paper, and may significantly slow down the game speed.

If you are using a VTT solution, drawing a map of Castle Ravenloft may also be troublesome. Fortunately, Volume 20 The campaign version comes with 30 pre-rendered battle maps-including a 2D floor plan of the entire castle.

and also A very good 2D map of the castle Ravenloft It can be obtained from the Dungeon Master’s Guild. For only $10, you can get everything you need to print the floor plan on a commercial printer as multiple large maps or print it on dozens of sheets of plain paper at home. There is even a version of the map formatted for use with VTT software such as Fantasy Grounds.

In my family activities, I printed every inch of the castle Ravenloft in black and white, and then installed the tiles on the black foam core. After working with glue sticks and box openers for a few nights, I stacked up Strad’s entire lair and placed it in a paper bag.

High level play

For those looking for the most luxurious way of experience Strad’s curse, Check out Beadle & Grimm’s. The company has produced authorized deluxe versions of many official D&D events, and its performance in the Barovia Valley is extraordinary.Is called Strahd’s cursed legendAnd it runs 399 USD This is the second printing.

2D map of dungeon and dungeon dragon tomb

Beadle & Grimm’s Castle Ravenloft has a large map and features a smooth linen finish.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Banquet hall full of bones

The collection of gray walls, which may be monotonous, has been given many textures and details throughout the process.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

What makes Legendary Edition Being so special—except for the full-color prints of the entire Castle Ravenloft and many other key battlefields in the game—is short-lived. It not only contains well-made paper handouts, including weathered letters from Strahd himself, but also includes many mixed media items that can be passed around the table. There are some artificial wax seals with Strad’s personal stamp; a set of fictitious labels for real wine bottles; a few kingdom coins with Strad’s head portrait; and even a set of fictional toy finger puppets.

A clown, vampire, and werewolf finger puppet.

Do you need Ravenloft-themed finger puppets to run Strad’s curse? No, but they are cute.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The sun-shaped pendant on a long gold chain is located on three artificial coins and a felt bag.

The key item that the player will search for in Barovia is next to the three coins in the field.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Admittedly, the $399 price tag may seem extravagant.But I ran for a whole year by myself, I can’t tell you how much time and energy you have Legendary Edition Will save me.