Sunday, 18 October 2015

Castle Ravenloft Vampires 01

Having shown you the heroes of the Castle Ravenloft board-game last time it is now time to start my reviews of the game's monsters and villains. Villains are unique and powerful opponents, whilst monsters are low level and can appear in groups. I simply had to start at the top with the ruler of Castle Ravenloft - the vampire count, Strahd Von Zarovich. Also shown here is an unnamed Young Vampire.
Wizards of the Coast, who produce this game, included the figure shown at the left of my two photos to use as both a Young Vampire and Strahd Von Zarovich, a decision which did not sit well with me. Why? Of all the figures in the game, Strahd should be the most impressive. To me, their vampire is the worst-looking figure in the set. He looks like a young policeman directing traffic and nothing at all like the mighty Strahd. So I found a replacement figure to use as Strahd (see below for full details). I'm perfectly happy to use the WotC figure as Strahd's Young Vampire lackey, but no way will I use him as Strahd.
The Young Vampire is a Level 5 villain. Villains and monsters only have two stats - Armour Class (AC) and Hit Points (HP). The Young Vampire has AC16 and 8HP. Villains and monsters move and attack according to one of a number of tactics listed on their cards. Each possible maneuver for a monster or villain starts with a statement. If the statement is true follow the tactics listed. Otherwise, go on to the next statement. The final entry in the list will be the default action if nothing else is true.
To show this in more detail here are the tactics for the Young Vampire.
The Young Vampire activates at the start of each Villain Phase.
If the Young Vampire is adjacent to a Hero, it attacks that Hero with Fangs.
If the Young Vampire is within 1 tile of two or more Heroes, it attacks each hero within 1 tile of it with a hypnotic Gaze.
If the Young Vampire is on a Start tile, the active Hero takes 1 damage.
Otherwise, the Young vampire moves 1 tile in the direction of the tile's arrow.
A Fangs attack gives the Young Vampire a +8 bonus to hit on 1d20 and causes 2 damage. In addition, the Young Vampire regains 1HP and moves 1 tile in the direction of the tile's arrow.
A hypnotic Gaze attack gives the Young Vampire a +6 bonus to hit and causes 2 damage. In addition, place the Hero attacked 1 tile deeper into the dungeon.
The figure of Strahd Von Zarovich that I chose is an old Ral Partha 28mm scale figure of Strahd himself from the boxed set of Castle Ravenloft figures that were produced for the Castle Ravenloft role-playing game way back in the early 1990's. I was a big fan of that game and I collected nearly all of the figures that Ral Partha produced for it. This figure looks exactly like Strahd and so is far more appropriate for use than the uninspiring Young Vampire figure.
A man of noble birth, Strahd spent much of his life serving causes of goodness and law, most notably as a warrior and leader of armies. Years of such service took their toll upon him however, and by the time he reached middle age, Strahd came to believe he had squandered his life and his youth. With this dark mood upon him, he came to conquer the region known as Barovia, and assumed lord-ship there, taking as his residence the pre-existing castle known as Ravenloft. From this position of power and security, he called for members of his family "long unseated from their ancestral thrones" to join him, including a younger brother named Sergei.
Some time after this reunion, the Count himself fell in love with a young Barovian woman, Tatyana, though she rejected his affections in favour of the younger Sergei. Filled with despair and jealousy, and brooding a growing hatred for Sergei, Strahd sought magical means to restore his youth. In a moment of desperate frustration, he "made a pact with death - a pact of blood." On the day of Sergei and Tatyana's wedding, Strahd murdered his brother and pursued the grieving Tatyana until she flung herself from the walls of Ravenloft. Strahd himself was shot down by the arrows of the castle guard. Even so, he did not die, but went on to rule the land of Barovia as a vampire. The master of Castle Ravenloft is known as "the Devil" to the villagers of Barovia.
Strahd is one of the two most powerful villains in this game (the other being Gravestorm the Dracolich) and his stats reflect this. He is a Level 6 villain with AC19 and 12HP. In D&D terms he is classed as being an Ancient Vampire, having lived as a vampire for 400-499 years. As well as being a skilled warrior he is also a master necromancer. As you would expect from so powerful a villain, he has more tactics to choose from (five in all) than any other villain. I shan't list them all but he has two possible attacks - Bite and Magical Ball of Fire. Bite grants him a +8 bonus to hit and does 2 damage. In addition, Strahd regains 1HP. Magical Ball of Fire also grants him a +8 bonus to hit and does 2 damage if it hits or 1 damage if it misses.
This painting of Strahd by Clyde Caldwell for the Castle Ravenloft RPG clearly influenced the sculptor of the Ral Partha figure I'm using. THAT is how Strahd Von Zarovich should look like! Sadly, the figure is long out of production.

23 comments:

  1. Hmmm... What an enigma the minis which come with this game clearly are, Bryan. Like you I'm not overly impressed with the bizarrely dressed vampire model and much prefer your classic sculpt. Interestingly "Marvel Comics" have done the selfsame changes to their Dracula, who is now a well-armoured warrior with a long-white ponytail as opposed to the classic version I grew up with up. Very disconcerting. Personally I'd be using my "Heroclix" re-paint for the game, so you haven't put me off purchasing this game at all - though it does seem rather odd that the boardgame doesn't contain a mini of so iconic a horror figure?

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    1. Simon, the vast majority of the figures supplied with this game are excellent and some are downright awesome. Sadly, the figure for the Young Vampire and Strahd is downright awful! If you can find a proxy figure to stand in for Strahd then do so. I can't fathom why WotC did not include a separate figure for Strahd. When all is said and done, he is the single most important character in Castle Ravenloft!

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  2. I see why you chose to go with your own version of Strahd Von Zarovich *coughs... Dracula*

    so much more dynamic, imposing and full of dark dignity. I shake my head in disbelief every time I look at my official D&D Adventure System Boardgame version of Strahd and think to myself "why oh WHY did they do that?" Policeman directing traffic haha, very apt. I can only imagine the `navvy` who sculpted this piece, then the team who allowed it to pass muster must have really hated vampires with a passion.

    Yours is much better Bryan. Nice paint job too ^^

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    1. For sure, my figure of Strahd owes a lot to Dracula. That's no bad thing in my view because it is such a beautiful sculpt and it fairly screams "vampire". I totally agree that he is "so much more dynamic, imposing and full of dark dignity." You also raise another interesting point - what were WotC thinking when they commissioned this sculpt? It defies belief.

      Thanks for the kind words, Steve.

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  3. Classic looking figures, "the children of the night, what sweet music they make!"

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  4. Nicely done. They both look good to me.
    I am entreated, in folk lore do Vampires age? I thought they stayed the age they were bitten, but when it comes to vampire I really do not know what I am talking about, it is just what other people have told me in passing. It may well be different in different folklore's. I just do not know!

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    1. Let me enlighten you, Clint. Vampires do not age. They look as young or as old as when they were turned. It is generally accepted that the older a vampire is (i.e. the number of years they have been a vampire) the more powerful they become. So a vampire who has lived for 500 years will be vastly more powerful than one who has only been a vampire for one day. Vampire Lore 101. ;-)

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  5. Lovely paintwork Bryan! Your proxy figure is indeed far superior to the one that comes with the game. Designed by commitee perhaps?

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    1. Thanks, Bob, I'm glad I'm not the only one who dislikes the "official" figure of Strahd. Yes, I could well see him being designed by a committee. Chuckle!

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  6. "Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!" Count Strahd von Zarovich is one of the most iconic Ravenloft villains and the novel "I, Strahd" probably oneof the better novels to come from this setting. Good job on both figures, Bryan. Have to agree with your choice of alternative to what appears to be a Romulan.
    Wizards of the Coast do seem to be rather good at getting things 'almost' right, but then falling at the last hurdle.
    Regards Jez

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    1. Thanks, Jez. I have read "I, Strahd" as well as the other Castle Ravenloft novels and enjoyed them all. I can see where you're coming from in suggesting the WotC vampire is in fact a Romulan! Good call!

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  7. Yep, the head vampire really does need to look like Bela Lugosi, doesn't he? None of this new-fangled nonsense of designed shades, ornate armour or (*shudder*) ponytails!

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    1. There are plenty of great artistic renditions of what Strahd should look like. This horrible plastic version looks nothing like Strahd.

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  8. Lovely! You're making me want to play this game!

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    1. Cheers, Adam. Wait until you see the rest of the figures. They get a LOT better!

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  9. I've been out of touch for a long time. Looks like you have been busy. I too am about to embark on painting a ton of game pieces. I just received my Blood Rage Kickstarter and have several more coming. I now wish I had been paying more attention on the Battle systems one.

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    1. Thanks, Sean. It's good to have you back. I hope you enjoy your Blood Rage KS stuff. The Battle System KS was truly epic. So much good stuff was on offer.

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  10. {{Let me enlighten you, Clint. Vampires do not age. They look as young or as old as when they were turned.}}

    I was always fascinated by two vampires of literature who`s authors indeed obeyed that kinda `unwritten` law. Anne Rice`s Interview with a Vampire, where the character Lestat turns a child (Claudia) into a Vampire, and for the next 60 years she remains childlike to look at. The other is Jack Yeovil`s amazing dark gothic novels about Genevieve the Vampire... who again, stays looking like a 14 year old young woman, but is in reality an old and powerful vampire (who takes many, many lovers over the years).

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    1. Thanks, Steve. I am very familiar with Anne Rice's Lestat novels and Jack Yeovil's Genevieve novels. I liked Genevieve but Lestat was a whining shit and I never warmed to him. He was the epitome of the angst-ridden vampire. Bleurgh!!

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  11. HAHAHAHAHA, I hear you there, about Lestat.

    Glad to hear you liked Genevieve. I know she was turned when very young (a genius yet provocatively controversial decision by the author... considering how sexual she became over the years as she remained looking 14 but possessed the heart of a succulent, nubile highly sensual woman of `high` veracious appetite and experience).

    I think she is probably my all time favourite female heroine of any gothic novel I have ever read. My absolute fav of those books was Drachenfels.

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