epic level Strahd von Zarovich

My players voted for a Gothic Horror themed campaign so will be playing a heavily modified Curse of Strahd.  Heavily modified because I will have 8 players all starting at level 14.  Will also be adding a lot more Lovecraftian (ala Bloodborne) touches to expand the adventure beyond just Strahd.  Publishing this draft version for review by other DMs.  If you are playing in my game don’t spoil yourself 🙂

STRAHD von ZAROVICH
Medium humanoid (shapechanger), lawful evil
Armor Class 20 (natural)
Hit Points 500/100 (the heart of sorrow)
Speed 40 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
19 (+4) 18 (+4) 18 (+4) 20 (+5) 16 (+3) 18 (+4)

Saving Throws DEX +10, WIS +9, CHA +10
Skills Arcana +17, Perception +13, Religion +9, Stealth +16
Damage Resistances necrotic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities poison
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 22
Languages Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Elvish, Giant, Infernal
Challenge 20 (25,000 XP)

Action Surge (2/Day). Strahd may take a second Action this turn.
Epic Contingency. When Strahd enters combat mirror image automatically triggers.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If Strahd fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.
Magic Weapons. Strahd’s weapon attacks are considered magical for overcoming resistances.
Misty Escape. When Strahd drops to 0 hit points outside his coffin, he transforms into a cloud of mist (as in the Shapechanger trait) instead of falling unconscious, provided that he isn’t in running water or sunlight. If he can’t transform, he is destroyed. While he has 0 hit points in mist form, he can’t revert to his vampire form, and he must reach his coffin within 2 hours or be destroyed. Once in his coffin, he reverts to his vampire form. He is then paralyzed until he regains at least 1 hit point. After 1 hour in his coffin with 0 hit points, he regains 1 hit point.
Regeneration. Strahd regains 20 hit points at the start of his turn if he has at least 1 hit point and isn’t in running water or sunlight. If he takes radiant damage or damage from holy water, this trait doesn’t function at the start of his next turn.
Preternatural Speed. Strahd can use a bonus action to take the Dash or Disengage action.
Shapechanger. If Strahd isn’t in running water or sunlight, he can use his action to polymorph into a Tiny bat, a Medium wolf, or a Medium cloud of mist, or back into his true form. While in bat or wolf form, Strahd can’t speak. In bat form, his walking speed is 5 feet, and he has a flying speed of 30 feet. In wolf form, his walking speed is 40 feet. His statistics, other than his size and speed, are unchanged. Anything he is wearing transforms with him, but nothing he is carrying does. He reverts to his true form if he dies. While in mist form, Strahd can’t take any actions, speak, or manipulate objects. He is weightless, has a flying speed of 20 feet, can hover, and can enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there. In addition, if air can pass through a space, the mist can do so without squeezing, and he can’t pass through water. He has advantage on Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution saving throws, and he is immune to all nonmagical damage, except the damage he takes from sunlight.
Scent of Blood. Strahd has advantage on attack rolls against living, bloodied foes.
Special Equipment. Burial Blade.  TBD
Spider Climb. Strahd can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without having to make an ability check.
Unholy Persistence. Strahd has advantage on rolls against effects that turn undead.
Vampiric Weaknesses. Strahd has the following flaws:

  • He can’t enter a residence without an invitation from one of the occupants.
  • Harmed by Running Water.He takes 20 acid damage if he ends his turn in running water.
  • Stake to the Heart. If a piercing weapon made of wood is driven into his heart while he is incapacitatedin his coffin, he is paralyzed until the stake is removed.
  • Sunlight Hypersensitivity.While in sunlight, Strahd takes 20 radiant damage at the start of his turn, and he has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.

Spellcasting. Strahd is a 9th-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 19, +11 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following wizard spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): mage handprestidigitationray of frost
1st level (4 slots):  fog cloud, longstrider*, shield
2nd level (3 slots): detect thoughtsgust of windmirror image
3rd level (3 slots): counterspellfireballnondetection (cast each day at dawn).
4th level (3 slots): fire shield*greater invisibility, polymorph (Strahd turns into a huge bipedal bat. See below).
5th level (1 slot): scrying, telekinesis

* Spell is already cast before any combat and included in his statblock where applicable.

ACTIONS
Multiattack. Strahd makes three attacks, only one of which can be a bite attack.

Crippling Strike (Vampire Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 20 (3d10 + 4) bludgeoning damage plus 21 (6d6) necrotic damage. If the target is a creature, Strahd can grapple it (escape DC 18) instead of dealing the bludgeoning damage. In either case the target must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or become slowed until the end of Strahd’s next turn.

Blood Drain. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one willing creature, or a creature that is grappled by Strahd, incapacitated, or restrained.
Hit: 20 (3d10 + 4) piercing damage plus 21 (6d6) necrotic damage. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and Strahd regains hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if its hit point maximum is reduced to 0. A humanoid slain in this way and then buried in the ground rises the following night as a vampire spawn under Strahd’s control. A creature drained of blood must make a DC XX Constitution saving throw or become weakened only dealing half damage with physical attacks until they receive magical healing or take a long rest.

Dominating Gaze. Strahd targets one humanoid he can see within 30 feet of him. If the target can see Strahd, the target must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or be charmed. The charmed target regards Strahd as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. The target isn’t under Strahd’s control, but it takes Strahd’s requests and actions in the most favourable way and lets Strahd bite it.

Each time Strahd or his companions do anything harmful to the target, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success. Otherwise, the effect lasts 24 hours or until Strahd is destroyed, is on a different plane of existence than the target or takes a bonus action to end the effect.

A creature that successfully saves against the charm after initially failing is dazed gaining disadvantage on attack rolls. The creature also takes ongoing 5 psychic damage at the start of its turn. It may repeat the Wisdom saving throw to end this effect. If a target succeeds on the initial saving throw Strahd can perform his Multiattack action.

Children of the Night (1/Day). Strahd magically calls 2d4 swarms of bats or swarms of rats, provided that the sun isn’t up. While outdoors, Strahd can call 3d6 wolves instead. The called creatures arrive in 1d4 rounds, acting as allies of Strahd and obeying his spoken commands. The beasts remain for 1 hour, until Strahd dies, or until he dismisses them as a bonus action.

Second Wind (1/Day). As a bonus action Strahd regains 232 hit points. Strahd gains a +2 bonus to AC and Saving Throws until the start of his next turn.

Strahd’s Choking Fog. A crawling green mist arises from the ground at a point Strahd can see within line of sight. Each creature in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on that point must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw. A target takes 14 (4d6) poison damage and 14 (4d6) acid damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The fog persists for 1 minute and can be directed to move up to 25 feet as a bonus action if Strahd so wishes. Any creature that enters or starts its turn in the choking fog automatically takes 10 (1d10 +5) poison damage and ongoing 5 poison damage when they leave the mist. Repeating the Constitution saving throw ends the ongoing damage.

REACTIONS
Quickstep. Strahd adds 5 to his AC against one melee attack that would hit him. To do so, Strahd must see the attacker.

LEGENDARY ACTIONS
Strahd can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Strahd regains spent legendary actions at the start of his turn. Strahd gains the following additional Legendary actions as an epic level opponent.

  • Second Wind. Strahd uses second wind.
  • Bite.  Strahd makes one blood drain attack. This replaces his CR 15 legendary action of the same name.
  • Frighten Foe. Strahd targets one enemy he can see within 30 feet of him. If the target can see and hear him, the target must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened until the end of Strahd’s next turn.

 


STRAHD’S TACTICS
Over four hundred years as a vampire have taught Strahd the value of patience. Today, he is colder and calculating than he once was. Strahd supplemented his martial skills with a study of the necromantic arts. With his vampiric abilities and access to a vast library of spells and rituals, Strahd is a formidable opponent. Though he tends to use is spells as a utility option and not for combat. Always a warrior, he still depends on his formidable natural ability as a consummate warlord to win through any combat encounter.

In combat, Strahd uses dominating gaze, blood drain, and crippling strike while he looks for a good opportunity to unleash Strahd’s choking fog. As combat unfolds, Strahd develops strategies to incapacitate the characters most dangerous to him, such as those wielding radiant attacks or who can immobilize him. He attempts to delay or harass PCs by sending his allies to engage them. He can summon these allies with a mental command, and he usually has at least a few creatures available. Strahd uses second wind once he becomes bloodied, and he employs his animal form only if it offers a new advantage. Strahd is aware when a fight turns against him or when he has lost the advantage, and he usually has a contingency plan.

These tactics should be supplemented with puzzle rooms and how he will deal with the various holy items brought against him as well as general vampire engagement rules for himself and his spawn.  A key point to keep in mind is that Strahd’s blood drain works in any of his forms.


ENCOUNTER GROUPS
Though Strahd is a Legendary opponent, he always has a few allies on hand, and he gladly sends them at foes if it benefits him.

Level 22 Encounter
✦  Count Strahd von Zarovich
✦  12 Strahd’s dread zombies
✦  1 tombstone golem

Level 22 Encounter
✦  Count Strahd von Zarovich
✦  2 death knight, human fighters
✦  2 slaughter wights
✦  8 Strahd’s dread zombies


LOOT
Castle Ravenloft.


STRAHD MANBAT FORM
Huge beast, unaligned
Armour Class 13 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points 208 (13d12 + 52)
Speed 10 ft., fly 50 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
25 (+7) 10(+0) 19 (+4) 20 (+5) 16 (+3) 18 (+4)

Skills Perception +6
Senses Blindsight 60 ft., Passive Perception 16
Languages —
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
Echolocation. Strahd can’t use his blindsight while deafened.
Keen Hearing. Strahd has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.

ACTIONS
Multiattack. Strahd makes two attacks: one with his bite and one with his wings. He can’t make both attacks against the same target.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target.
Hit: 33 (4d12 + 7) piercing damage and 21 (6d6) necrotic damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 17). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and Strahd can’t bite another target.

Wing. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target.
Hit: 20 (3d8 + 7) bludgeoning damage.

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