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    Castle Ravenloft in Greyhawk
    Posted on Wed, November 23, 2011 by LordCeb
    masterarminas writes "
    Ravenloft is one of the most beloved AD&D adventures.  Here, we look at how it might be fully integrated into the Greyhawk Campaign Setting. 

    From its founding during the height of the Great Kingdom, to the fall of Strahd, we present this adventure location in a manner that ties it into the history and timeline of the World of Greyhawk.

    Led by Count Barov von Zarovich, the expedition departed from Rauxes in C.Y. 86 and included not only the members of House Zarovich, but the common people who owed them allegiance and their Flan, Suel, and demi-human slaves.  Several thousand strong, the expedition traveled for more than two years before they left behind the civilized realms and entered the domains claimed by the Frutzii, the Frost Barbarians.  Although harried by these barbaric, degenerate Suel, the House of Zarovich reached their destination early in the summer of C.Y. 87.

    This valley, which would become the County of Barovia, was surrounded on all sides by spurs of the Griff Mountains, both high and impassable without the aid of magic.  Only a narrow pass, thick with ancient forest allowed entrance to the new dominion of the House of Zarovich.  Using the old tongue of Aerdi, Count Barov named the pass the Svalich Pass, and the woods that surrounded it as the Old Svalich Woods.  A settlement, named Barovia in honor of the Count, was established.

    For the next century, the House of Zarovich slowly expanded, and—as the Archbarony of Ratik grew—once again was connected to the lands of the Great Kingdom.  By C.Y. 149, the County of Barovia included six townships:  Barovia, Immol, Krezk, Teueldorf, Vallaki, and Zeidenberg.  Count Barov III had also begun construction on a great castle overlooking the village of Barovia, a fortress that would be named after the symbol of his House, a dread Raven.

    In C.Y. 172, rumors of the wealth of the House of Zarovich reached the ears of the Overking in Rauxes.  To Barovia he sent tax-collectors to recover for himself the collected taxes of the past century and reaffirm the fealty of the House of Zarovich.  This ambassador removed from Barovia the eldest son of the Count Barov III, Prince Strahd, and returned with him to Rauxes, where the young man was inducted into the Knights of the Great Kingdom.

    After serving the Knights for thirty years, Strahd refused the invitation of Sir Kargoth to become one of his death knights.  Soon thereafter, Strahd petitioned the Overking to return to his home, for news had arrived that his father had died, and he was needed to assume the title of Count von Zarovich.

    Released from the Overking’s service as a Knight-Protector, Strahd made his long journey home.  Upon arriving in C.Y. 205, he found that his memories had given way to a thriving community, filled with wealth and laughter.  In the decades that he had been absent, his homeland and his younger siblings (Strum and Sergei) had flourished, while he had grown old and weary.  Matters came to a head shortly after Strahd’s coronation as Count von Zarovich.  Becoming jealous of his youngest brothers betrothal to a young woman, Strahd convinced himself that she should marry the Count and bear his own children.  She refused, and he and his brothers exchanged sharp words.

    Regretting his earlier decision not to join with Sir Kargoth and wishing that he had stayed in Rauxes, Strahd retired to his chambers the night before the wedding ceremony.  It is not known precisely what happened during the night, but by Count Strahd’s own recollections, it is recounted that some dark power offered to grant him eternal youth—and the hand of his brother’s pledged wife.

    The next evening, as the bride waited for the ceremony to begin, a strangely youthful and limber Strahd confronted his brothers, Strum and Sergei.  They argued, they quarreled, and then Strahd struck Sergei—but he did not know of his own vast strength.  Flung over a balcony, the young priest fell thirty feet and broke his neck on the flagstones of the court-yard below, dying before anyone could aid him.

    Shocked by the death of the charismatic young cleric, the guards below aimed their crossbows at this strange creature who wore the face of their Count.  His body pierced by several bolts, Strahd flew into a horrid rage, and began to slaughter the guards and guests alike.  Chaos reigned in Castle Ravenloft as Strum and the loyal soldiers fought with Strahd, but the powers which the Count had pledged himself to proved too strong.  Finally, the Count confronted his murdered brother’s bride-to-be, and asked for—demanded—her hand in marriage.  She hurled herself away from the horrific, blood-stained creature, leaping from the overlook of the Chapel and plunging hundreds of feet to her death on the rock-filled river beneath.

    Filled with rage and fury, the macabre Count slacked his unnatural thirst on all those who had so far evaded him within the castle, until it was an empty abattoir, bereft of all living creatures.

    Over the following decades, the people of Barovia were terrorized by Strahd, but in C.Y. 243, he discovered that the dark power which had transformed him had not (completely) lied.  The woman for which he so desperately longed had been reincarnated in the village below.  But again, he was denied, as she resisted him and was stolen away once more.

    From this point onward, Strahd became more circumspect, not knowing when or if she would return.  But every generation she is born again and he pursues her endlessly in his quest for a forbidden lust.

    Had the Great Kingdom not suffered its own difficulties, the Overking would have put down this creature long ago.  But faced with internal strife, and open rebellion, the Malachite Throne had no interest in sending an army north of the borders of Ratik.  Gradually, all knowledge of the County of Barovia faded from the men of the south.

    Today, Barovia is only a rumor spoken of in the taverns of Ratik and the halls of the Frutzii; a legend of horror and terror.  Only the bravest of warriors dare to pass the Svalich Gates and enter that dark wood—and of those that do, only a handful return, their spirits shattered and bodies broken by what lies beyond.

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    Re: Castle Ravenloft in Greyhawk (Score: 1)
    by Flint on Wed, November 23, 2011
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    Great work! Had always wanted to weave Ravenloft into Greyhawk but had never developed a story. This is excellent.

    Re: Castle Ravenloft in Greyhawk (Score: 1)
    by SirXaris on Thu, November 24, 2011
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    Yep, nice stuff, masterarminas.  :)

    I place Ravenloft in the northern clatspurs near the forested hills of the Vesve, but that's because my campaign focuses on that area of the Flanaess.

    I like how you tied in Greyhawk's own, Saint Kargoth, too.  That kind of reference always adds great flavor to an article.  :)


    Re: Castle Ravenloft in Greyhawk (Score: 1)
    by Argon on Mon, December 26, 2011
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    Definitely a very interesting read.

    I like how you incorporated ways to include RL in the GH setting.



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