[ History | Culture | Barovian Player Characters | Flora and Fauna ]


Barovia’s early history is murky and incomplete, yet it is without a doubt the oldest nation of the core. The fact that the world calendar is based off of the Barovian Calendar (BC) is proof of this. One of the earliest known conflicts involved an invasion by a barbaric people known as the Neureni in 230 BC. Their hordes conquered and razed much of Barovia, until the legendary General-Princess Nicoleta von Zarovich halted the Neureni’s advances and sent them back out of the passes in the Balinok mountains that they had used to enter the valley.

Barovia enjoyed eight decades of peace and prosperity after the routing of the Neureni hordes, until court intrigues among the noble houses of Dilisnya, Katsky, and Petrovna sparked a bitter struggle called the War of the Silver Knives in 314 BC. This inter-family war of assassination and revenge lasted for two years before Count Barov von Zarovich intervened and ended it, placating the families with parcels of new land. Unfortunately, this conflict drastically weakened Barovia, and they were unprepared for the invasion of the Tergs some four years later in 320 BC.

Unlike the Neureni, the Tergs were not destroyers and raiders, but conquerors and settlers. In less than five years, the Tergs displaced many of Barovia’s noble families, including the von Zaroviches themselves. Their shame would not last long, however. Strahd von Zarovich, eldest son of Barov, vowed to drive the Tergs from Barovia and rebuild his parents’ nation at all costs. After twenty-seven grueling years, Strahd did just that, though his parents did not live to see the day. In their honor, he constructed Castle Ravenloft (named after his mother Ravenovia), and called to his family to settle in the castle.

In 351 BC, tragedy struck. On the day of the wedding of Strahd’s youngest brother Sergei, assassins struck and murdered all the guests, as well as Strahd and his brother. The assassins, known as the Ba’al Verzi, were under the employ of a noble from the Dilisnya family, Leo Dilisnya. Leo wished to usurp the throne of Barovia from the von Zarovich line, though his actions, according to legend, cast a curse upon Barovia that still lasts to this day. Fortunately for the von Zarovich family, Sturm von Zarovich, Strahd and Sergei’s brother, was unable to attend the wedding, and thus the von Zarovich family has lived on to this day.

The von Zaroviches have continued to rule Barovia, each one taking the name of Strahd in honor of the the man who freed their nation from the Tergs’ iron grip. Curiously, each one resembles him as well. In the centuries since the wedding massacre, Barovia has seemed dismal and stagnant, perhaps a result of the curse placed upon the land by Leo Dilisnya’s actions. Strahd’s heirs have become increasingly despotic, seizing control from the nobles until they had all but disappeared from Barovia.

In 470 BC the Vistani appeared in Barovia, and Strahd IV formed an allegiance with them that lasts to this very day. Strahd IV declared the life of the Vistani to be sacrosanct, and they were to be considered under his complete protection. It is assumed that in exchange for this the gypsies provide some sort of service to the von Zaroviches, but neither the Vistani nor the von Zarovich family will discuss the matter.

In the years directly following the tragedy of Sergei’s wedding, Barovia seemed to be surrounded by a thick, almost impenetrable white fog. In 542 BC, the wizard Azalin emerged from the mists, and formed an uneasy alliance with the von Zaroviches, though this alliance ended by 579. In 550 BC, the mists to the southwest of Barovia parted and revealed the land of Forlorn. In 585, the mists to the south parted to reveal the blasted landscape of Bluetspur. In 593, the western border revealed the nation of Gundarak, believed by many Barovians to be inhabited by the descendants of the Neureni. In 684, the mists to the northwest parted to reveal the nation of Borca, ruled by the descendants of Leo Dilisnya. To the north of Barovia, the nation of Markovia was revealed in 698 BC. To the east, Hazlan was revealed by the mists in 714. And in 715, the nation of Dorvinia appeared to the northwest, between Borca and Markovia, also ruled by Leo’s descendants. Rumors spread of other nations beyond the borders of Barovia’s neighbors, including one ruled by Azalin, far to the north.

This geographical arrangement was forever changed in 740 BC, during a powerful supernatural event called the Great Upheaval. The horrid land of Bluetspur disappeared from Barovia’s southern border, and Hazlan somehow moved from the east to take its place. The landmass that was once occupied by Hazlan was now part of the nation of Nova Vaasa, once Hazlan’s northern neighbor. The nations of Borca and Dorvinia merged into one nation, though it kept the name of Borca. The nation of Markovia disappeared from Barovia’s northern border, along with Markovia’s northern neighbor G’Henna. In their place was left a deep chasm called the Shadow Rift. No one knows exactly what lies at the bottom of the chasm’s festering black shadows, though many rumors persist of a land haunted by dark fey, where time flows differently. Finally, to the west, the nation of Gundarak lay in anarchy when its ruler, Duke Gundar, was assassinated. Strahd XI seized this opportunity by conquering much of Gundarak and annexing it into Barovia. After a brutal nine-month siege, half of Gundarak was annexed and brought under the rigid control of Barovia. The rest of Gundarak was seized by the nation of Invidia to the west.

The Gundarakites are an oppressed people. Openly resented by the Barovians, their spite has brewed over the last decade and a half into a full-blown rebellion. The rebellion’s leader, Ardonk Szerieza, believes in a vision of Gundarak that never truly was, often ignoring or revising history to fit his patriotic ideals. Ardonk moves back and forth between Barovia and Invidia, leading the rebellion in both nations.

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Barovian culture is dominated by the ethnic Barovians, who have lived in the area for seven and a half centuries. Their language, Balok, is one of the most widespread tongues throughout the southern Core. The second largest ethnic group in Barovia are the Gundarakites, who became second-class citizens (at best) of Barovia when Strahd XI annexed neighboring Gundarak during the Great Upheaval in 740 BC. The Gundarakites are an oppressed people, and mainly stay in the vestiges of their former homeland in the west of Barovia. There are also smaller groups of Forfarians, the descendants of refugees from Forlorn when it was revealed to Barovia in 550 BC, and the Thaani, who fled across Barovia’s southern border from the horrid realm of Bluetspur in 585 BC. These two minor ethnic groups have maintained their ethnic identity by refusing to intermarry with ethnic Barovians. Finally, the Vistani have a large presence in Barovia, largely due to the pact they have with the von Zarovich family. The Vistani are a nomadic people, but there are always some tribes to be found within Barovia’s borders, as it is the safest place for them throughout the Core.

Barovian society is largely medieval, and the majority of its populace are poor peasants and serfs, working the farmland of the von Zarovich family under the watchful eye of the local boyars. Those few who are free are mostly small farmers, herdsmen, and fishermen. The villages and cities are a different matter, with many craftsmen and merchants to be found.

Barovians tend to marry at a fairly young age, 16 for males and 13 for females, though they do not observe the practice of arranged marriages. Their customs do not allow for divorce or remarriage for widows or widowers. Since many Barovians work on farms, their families tend to be large, and women are expected to bear as many children as they can. As a consequence, many mothers die in childbirth and the infant mortality rate is high during the first two years of life. Barovians receive no formal schooling, and few, if any are literate. Wealthy children are taught by private tutors or are sent abroad to study.

The majority of travel is done on foot, as the mountainous terrain is ill-suited to horse-riding. As a result, the folk of Barovia are quite sedentary, with many never even leaving the village they were born in. Most of the rivers are too hazardous for boat travel, though Lake Zarovich’s deep waters have been a haven for fishermen for centuries.

The Barovian people, despite their varying ethnic backgrounds, all share at least one thing in common: a dislike of strangers, almost to the point of xenophobia. Their harsh glares and lack of hospitality are due to the years of living under the stern rule of Count Strahd. Barovians care little for the ways of others and prefer to mind their own business—and usually their own business consists of day-to-day survival.

All Barovians have an almost crippling fear of the supernatural. Their daily rituals involve locking every door and window at sunset. They regard magic with equal superstition. Arcane magic, in particular, is believed to be the gift of demons, and the foolhardy spellcaster in Barovia will likely find himself facing an angry mob.

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Barovian Player Characters

The following information is intended to assist players in making a native Barovian player character.


Humans are dominant, with large minority of half-Vistani. Calibans occur with increasing frequency. There are small populations of halflings in the western cities. Dwarves are rumored to live in the Balinoks and elves are believed to live in the Tepurich forest.


Clerics, fighters, rangers, rogues, and sorcerers are the most common. Druids and wizards are rare and feared. Bards are uncommon but welcomed. Paladins are looked upon as madmen by everyone except the faithful of the Morninglord. An occasional barbarian has wandered down out of the mountains, but monks are all but unknown among the native populace.

Recommended Skills

Bluff, Craft Armor, Craft Trap, Craft Weapon, Hide, Lore, Perform

Recommended Feats

Blind-Fight, Dodge, Endurance, Extra Turning, Great Fortitude, Spell Focus (Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Necromancy), Toughness, Weapon Focus (battleaxe, longsword, mace, scimitar, shortbow, throwing axe, warhammer)


Barovian Male Names: Alexandru, Bela, Cosmin, Dimitry, Horatiu, Ionache, Lucian, Mircea, Nicolae, Ovidiu, Petru, Radu, Sorin, Vasile, Zaharia

Barovian Female Names: Anica, Bianca, Costela, Draguta, Florica, Izabela, Lizuca, Marilena, Nadezdha, Nicoleta, Rodika, Simona, Uta, Viorela, Ylenia

Barovian Surnames: Amanar, Antonescu, Arcos, Balcescu, Ban, Belododia, Boboc, Bochinsky, Bogoescu, Capraru, Cardei, Cernea, Chisca, Ciobotaru, Ciorbea, Comanici, Cosmescu, Dalakis, Dimitru, Dobre, Dobrogeanu, Dragomir, Eliade, Eminescu, Florea, Iliescu, Lacusta, Leonte, Luca, Macek, Marinescu, Miklos, Milosovici, Murgu, Noica, Ovidiu, Pavlenco, Petri, Popa, Popovici, Radu, Saguna, Sima, Slabu, Stanescu, Ticmeanu, Tomescu, Tugurlan, Trandafir, Ungureanu, Ureche, Urzica, Vărzaru, Vladu, Zeklos. Also, any male first name with "ovich" added at the end (signifying "son of").

Gundarakite Male Names: Baltasar, Csepan, Demetrius, Elfric, Fredek, Gusztav, Istvan, Lazlo, Miklos, Paszkal, Rognvald, Stefano, Ubul, Varady, Zeteny

Gundarakite Female Names: Antonia, Boriska, Dominika, Ethelhild, Hortenzia, Ingrid, Jusztina, Mariska, Orzebet, Piroska, Serafin, Szabina, Tzigane, Vilhelmina, Zsofika

Gundarakite Surnames: Ajkler, Aladár, Andras, Artali, Balassa, Baltar, Cizinski, Corvinus, Csapek, Csurgo, Czako, Daroczy, Divos, Doczi, Dohnanyi, Dvorzsak, Egerszegi, Eötvös, Farkas, Födes, Foldenyi, Gabor, Gaspar, Goencz, Götz, Groditje, Gyorffy, Hlady, Horansky, Hrutka, Jaszi, Joska, Lajtha, Lerch, Liptak, Lugosi, Mandula, Mindszenty, Nagy, Nejedly, Nemeth, Noszaly, Palagyi, Petrahn, Pokolytsch, Pongratz, Rdzavolgygi, Rubik, Sandor, Sebok, Sjsiengel, Solti, Szabo, Szeman, Szokefagy, Temesvari, Tokody, Varga, Verboczy, Wajda, Zsivozky, Zsoldos

Thaani Male Names: Arjan, Bekim, Dritan, Ermal, Fatos, Gjon, Hysni, Jusuf, Klodi, Lulzim, Mirdon, Nuhi, Qamil, Sokol, Ysni

Thaani Female Names: Anjeza, Axhire, Blerta, Drita, Enkela, Fitore, Jorgji, Lejla, Mirsada, Nazibe, Rozafa, Shasine, Shpresa, Vona, Zhaklina

Thaani Surnames: Ahmetaj, Ajeti, Arbnori, Bajraktari, Bajramovic, Bazhunaishvili, Boshnjaku, Bytygi, Cacaj, Chocholi, Ciftja, Dejti, Demisovski, Fazliu, Gjika, Gjokaj, Hajdaraga, Halil, Harxhi, Hasangjekaj, Idrizi, Isufaj, Janazaj, Kiuprili, Korkizoglou, Krasniqi, Lamaj, Logoreci, Luzaj, Maxharraj, Mishaxhi, Mripa, Naçi, Nooja, Oseku, Paloka, Pllana, Prenkpalaj, Prifti, Qosja, Rugova, Sapunxiu, Sejko, Shkelyim, Smajlaj, Sylaj, Thaqi, Tolr, Tzeka, Vllasi, Xhaxhka, Ymeri, Zhuzumi, Zogjani

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Flora and Fauna


In the lower hills of Barovia, hardwoods such as beech and oak dominate, their roots deeply planted in the Barovian soil. In the higher elevations, trees such as spruce, fir and pines whisper in the wind – telling ancient tales of Barovia.

The meadows in the dales of Barovia are covered with a soft layer of green grass and wild flowers. The people of Barovia are particularly fond of daffodils and lilacs that break through the soil every year.

Even though the Vistani are quiet about their herbal traditions, a few selected people have had the honor of being told of the special plants the gypsies value most, such as “Bitterblood” – a large, pale green fruit that is related to the famous Barovian plums. It has a slightly tannic sweetness that prevents it from being cultivated commonly. It is said that the Vistani value this plant for divination. Another important plant is “Vistan’s tears”, a fine alpine plant, it has a flower that closely bears a resemblance to the famous bluebell, except for its dull white color. The common people believe this flower to be the basis for the legendary curing elixir made by the Vistani.


Wolves are particularly common in Barovia. They are extraordinarily fearless. Even though attacks on humans by wolves are as rare as in other lands, travelers can feel the wolves’ omnipresent stares as they venture into the Barovian wilderness.  Innumerable assortments of bat swarms often blot out the moon on otherwise clear nights. From time to time, plagues of wild rats surge out into the countryside of Barovia. In such times the pests are seen storming through the countryside in terrible, squealing packs. Barovians have learned that only fire can stop these masses of rodents.

Barovia is renowned for its myths of vampires, called the "vrolok" in Balok and the "voishlacka" in Luktar. Vampires are so integrated in the Barovian folklore that they are indivisible from the Barovian identity. Several other undead creatures are spoken of with fear as well, especially flesh eating ghouls, hobbling revenants and mindless zombies that are said to serve powerful vampires.  Lycanthropes are also common in the tales told by peasants. Though in many cases the characteristics of Lycanthropes and Vampires are utterly confused in the tales.

Other creatures, their origins more obscure, are said to exist. Among those the "veela", nymphs who lure men to drown themselves, the bloodsucking crone known as "nocnitsa", the "poludnitsa" – the orchard nymph that decapitates trespassers, and the "mahr" – the peculiar moth fiend.

More mundane animals exist in the realm as well, such as foxes, elk, otters and badgers.

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Sources: Ravenloft Gazetteer I