Barovia: Domain of the First Vampire

The original Domain of Dread

Barovia is the first Domain of Dread. It is ruled by the Darklord, Strahd Von Zarovich, the very first vampire. Like all the Domains of Dread of Ravenloft, its denizens are trapped in the Shadowfell with Barovia’s borders blocked by an impenetrable mist.

The denizens of Barovia are in a constant state of fear as Strahd’s agents roam the land seeking to fulfill his evil plans and help him escape his eternal torture. It is a land in which vampires are common and enjoy elevated status while the people suffer in isolated villages amidst a landscape that is too dangerous to traverse due to roving packs of wolves and other more terrifying creatures.

Information About Barovia

DarklordCount Strahd Von Zarovich
Domain CharacteristicDomain of the First Vampire
GenreGothic Horror
HallmarksUndead despot, notorious haunted stronghold, tragic resurrection
PopulationAbout 27,700
RacesMainly human
SettlementsCastle Ravenloft
Village of Barovia

Characteristics of Barovia

Barovia is a land of rolling valleys dotted with small villages between which are dense forests. The forests are home to visious packs of wolves and other dangers making travelling Barovia’s lands a perilous endeavour. The wolves of the land are under the protection of Von Zarovich who will take retribution upon any foolish enough to harm these creatures.

The nights of Barovia are dread filled, from the howling of wolves to the swarms of ravens, but even these are less terrifying than Strahd’s nocturnal, vampiric servants and the other creatures he uses to exact his will. Castle Ravenloft overlioks the land, looming as a reminder to any that would choose to cross Strahd or get in the way of his plans.

Darklord: Count Strahd Von Zarovich

In mortality, Strahd was born of King Barov and Queen Ravenovia. Once of age, he led armies in the conquest of lands and people until he was able to settle in the nation that he dubbed Barovia, after his parents. The fortress home he settled in was named after his mother, being called Castle Ravenloft.

In his new home, he invited his family to live with him including his younger, kinder brother, Sergei. Strahd resented Sergei for his charming personality, but also because he was able to find love easily where Strahd had always struggled. Strahd’s bitterness grew when he met Sergei’s betrothed, Tatyana, a villager of the kingdom of Barovia. Having experienced her pureness of character, Strahd fell in love with her, though she never reciprocated, and this turned his obsession with her dark.

In this obsession, Strahd strove to gain power beyond that of normal mortal men, feeling that this would impress Tatyana. In his search for power, he came across the Amber Temple, a place in which evil, dark powers had been entrapped. He subsequently freed the Dark Powers (the same ones that now rule Ravenloft) and made a bargain with them that he might regain his youthfulness and win Tatyana’s heart. Part of this bargain however, involved killing his brother on his wedding day and drinking his blood. This act transformed Strahd into a vampire, giving him his youthfulness and great power, but also cursing him with a vampiric undeath.

Tatyana was unsurprisingly horrified by Strahd’s terrifying actions and ran away from him. At this same point, traitor’s among Strahd’s guards attempted to assassinate him. Strahd was gravely wounded in a way that no mortal man should survive, but he was no longer mortal and he proceeded to kill every single one of the wedding guests.

This evil act ensnared Strahd and the entirety of Barovia in the mists of Ravenloft creating the Domain of Dread known as Barovia along with its inhabitants. Strahd remains eternally tortured by the reincarnation of Tatyana as a new individual over the centuries and though he consistently attempts to win her heart, she inevitably always declines his love sending him spiralling into increasing fits of rage.

Strahd’s connection to the land of Barovia is far deeper even than most Darklords. He can sense harm to his agents, the wolves and knows when they’ve been harmed, taking vengeance on those that do so. He can also project his voice through the wind and manipulate the weather to terrifying effect when he chooses.

Locations in Barovia

Castle Ravenloft

Castle Ravenloft is Strahd’s home and also a haunted fortress. It is here that he has committed all of his bloodiest acts, including killing all his brother’s wedding guests. The spirits of his victims linger here, under his control and they defend the castle from intruders.

Castle Ravenloft also contains Strahd’s coffin which he protects fiercely as it is the key to his immortality. he also keeps relics safe within the castle walls where few dare take them.


Krezk is a hardy and independent village on the outskirts of Barovia. the Burgomaster there (Dmitri Krezkov) attempts to look after his villagers as best he can by scouring the land for luxuries, like wine, that can bring a small amount of happiness to his dreary village. Krezk’s Abbey of Saint Markovia, stands on a nearby cliff where a fallen celestial serves as abbot. Some believe him to be Strahd in disguise, though that is not his true identity.


On the surface, Vallaki appears as an anomaly within Barovia as it appears a joyful place full of festivities. In reality, the malignant sadness that permeates the village is simply covered up by made up festival after made up festival that the Burgomaster, Baron Vargas, puts on, believing happiness to be the key to Vallaki’s salvation.

Village of Barovia

In the shadow of Castle Ravenloft is the village of Barovia, a place paralysed by fear, where villagers are often afraid to leave their homes as vampires and other evils regularly stalk the streets of Barovia, many as agents of Strahd passing through or even dwelling in the convenience of the village. The one place of hope in the village is the local tavern, “Blood of the Vine” where those who fight against the evils of the village will meet and secretly hatch plans.

The Amber Temple

The Amber Temple was once cared for by virtuous wizards that had trapped the Dark Powers and other entities of evil within its sarcophagi; that is, until Strahd released the Dark Powers from their tomb. The temple is now watched over by the lich Exethanter, though he is not the true evil that dwells here. Within the temple’s sarcophagi rest the spirits of evil gods now trapped that plot incredible evil should they ever be released back into the world.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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