Job: Wizards of the Coast Character
STRAHD VON ZAROVICH
Franchise: Dungeons & Dragons
In the world of Ravenloft, exists the Dark Domains of the dreaded Darklords. Sectioned off by enchanted mists, each border exists to entrap a Darklord within their domain, granting them no proper escape... until now, as the Hasbro universe verges on the brink of collapse.
In the Domain of Barovia, exists one Darklord who is feared by all. The cursed Strahd Von Zarovich
; A man driven mad by love and life, he cursed himself to retain immortality. Killing his brother to activate the curse, Strahd was now an immortal man, walking the planes of Barovia; Unfortunately, the curse took it's proper toll. The love of his life committed suicide seeing how much of a monster Strahd has become; Upon doing the same, he was transformed into a Vampire, becoming the ultimate lifeform in a cold, lonely void of a town. But now, Strahd has a means of escape; Now, he seeks to inflict pain on suffering on all those who exists in the Hasbro multiverse, in the name of his love.
IMPACT OF STRAHD
Strahd is a hugely
popular canonical D&D character, much like Drizzt is, but not in the same vein.
He was introduced in a module as a start to a new campaign setting: The Ravenloft
campaign. In this first adventure module, Strahd (played by the Dungeon Master) was the central antagonist to the players; The plot centered around them traveling to Barovia (and by extension, Castle Ravenloft), and finding a woman named Ireena Kolyana, and then accomplishing either one of two goals; Escorting her out of Barovia to escape Strahd, or kill the Count himself using magical holy weapons and discovering his backstory. The entire module is essentially a long-winded battle between the Player Characters and Strahd, which is one of the first times a D&D campaign utilized canon in a dedicated module.
This module ended up being a smash
hit, and starting an expansion to the entire Ravenloft campaign beyond just Strahd; but of course, he is the star character of Ravenloft, and you can bet he saw a lot of marketing and spikes in popularity as the campaign continued to blow up and receive multiple Strahd-centered sequels. Much like Drizzt, the Count also became the central character in a lot of ancillary media, including books and comics. In fact, he is the most recurring D&D Villain in the game's entire history, as he essentially has an entire campaign dedicated to him.*
*Speaking of dedication, there is also a subreddit dedicated to Strahd's campaign that is over 65K members. I find this to be really interesting, given that it's Reddit of all places.
The character has become the most popular D&D Canonical villain and his campaign module is still regarded as one of Ravenloft's best, especially in regards to it's customization, as Strahd has a series of motivations and ways to be defeated that are entirely dependent on how the campaign runs. It's a really interesting idea in of itself.
POWERS & ABILITIES
Of course, in the context of a fighting game, what's most important is that a character would simply be interesting as a fighter. And believe me, Strahd comes in spades with unique abilities.
Strahd's DnD class is listed as a Necromancer; This in itself is interesting, though Strahd is already very unconventional as far as D&D characters go by virtue of being a Vampire. Nonetheless, it's very unlikely any future D&D character will have the same class, canon or avatar, so this is something I would like to include. Now, with his class out of the way, his abilities include...
Necromancy: Given his class, this is obvious. He can summon an army of undead creatures, such as skeletons or vampires, at will; He himself is listed as a 16th Level Wizard in the Necromancy class, so he has a lot of range with this abilitiy.
Shapeshifting: Strahd can shapeshift into a Wolf, Bat, or simply just a cloud of Smoke. Pretty typical Vampire transformations, really!
Mind Manipulation: Strahd can mind control and take the body of his opponents, which itself was one of the presentable motivations in the original Ravenloft campaign. He can also trap them in a never-ending nightmare created by their own mind. Spooky.
Elemental Control: Strahd can control the local weather and terrain, which can manifest into a variety of different attacks, including lightning strikes, ice or fire blasts, forming stone walls at will, fog manipulation, and the whole nine yards.
Phasing: He can Phase through solid objects at will.
Debuffs: Strahd can inflict multiple debuffs on the opposing party, through a variety of different attacks; This stat difference makes Strahd a
Ultra-Sensory Abilities: Strahd can sense where his opponent is at any given moment
Note that this is only about half
of what he can do. The dude is absolutely armed to the teeth in terms of magic and is absolutely something I wanna tap into for a potential fighter.
REASONS FOR INCLUSION
I definitely feel like a playable D&D villain is in the cards, and Strahd is the most iconic one of them all. His range of abilities and his unique vampire status just make him stand-out from any other canon character in the catalogue, and this is an easy way to represent a campaign outside of the Forgotten Realms
, which I think is desperately needed before we delve too dip into just the one setting and the catch-all content.
This could also easily mimic his playability from the original module itself, which was then controlled by the Dungeon Master; This is something very easily adaptable into a fighting game and can be taken advantage of.
I also just think, as far as villains go, Strahd can really represent a type of evil that some other villains possibly won't. His backstory is tragic but he is equally deranged and innately evil, and this is a type of villain I want to throw in as it's a nice balance of all the desire-able traits in a typical antagonist.