Heroes of Hunkstead
Up north? Are you havin’ a laugh? I’d rather rot here in Luskan than follow some fool with a death wish through that fog. I see folks like you every now and then, thinking that a bag of gold and some honeyed words can buy enough loyalty to get a man to leave his stale bread and warm ale for some ill thought out venture into hell. Tell you what friend, I never see them coming back.
Arvan Cobbe, sell-sword
Barovia is nestled at the foot of the Balinok Mountains, north of the Winterbole Forest (called the Svalich woods by Barovians.) It is heavily forested and filled with treacherous mountain roads.
The largest settlement in the region is the village of Barovia. It is surrounded by a wooden palisade and was once a safer and more prosperous village.
From almost anywhere in Barovia, save the deep forests and some mountain roads the Raven’s Perch can be seen upon which the grand Castle Ravenloft sits.
The frigid climate, uneven craggy land and thick fog make Barovia a hazardous environment for would be travellers in the region.
I curse you, for you let the blood of your own spill on these cold stones. I curse the stone stained with the blood of my love. I curse the stones they rest upon, the soil beneath, the trees, the rivers, the air and the whole land itself for it is here that you let my Sergei die.
Tatyana Grosnach, on her wedding day.
Barovia’s history is shrouded by the thick fog that prevents all word of the inside reaching out. Some dusty works detailing the history of Barovia have managed to escape the forbidding land.
Prior to its formation as a united county Barovia was an untamed land with numerous tribes vying for control of the region. Boasting fine hunting grounds and fertile mines it was considered a rough jewel in the north. However, the region saw little peace in its early years as the competing tribes often quarrelled and warred over woodlands and resources. The natives worshipped a variety of nature spirits and no deities are present in Barovia’s early history.
Approximately 900 years ago the land was united by an officer from the Nerath Empire. To protect his own interests and seeing an opportunity the God Emperor sent a promising young officer, Strahd von Zarovich, north to defend the region from invasion. A barbarian horde known as the Tergs had been building in the inhospitable north and it was no secret that they lusted after Barovia.
Strahd was not only able to unite the warring tribes as a whole, now known as the Vistani, but to repel the Tergs whom were pursued from Barovia and ultimately exterminated. After his successful military campaign Strahd returned a hero of the people and was granted the title Count. The God Emperor commissioned the construction of a vast castle for him to rule from and the county of Barovia was born.
Barovia had a short but fruitful life as part of the Nerath Empire and saw non-Vistani settlers migrating into the exciting new frontier for its lumber, ores, furs and rich hunting grounds. However this golden age was cut short when Strahd’s young brother brought his betrothed to be we’d in the family castle.
Preparations were made for a grand wedding but on the day of the wedding an assassination attempt was made on the life of Count Strahd. Strahd fought the would be assassins with his personal guard and Sergei. The assassins were slain but at the cost of his brother’s life. Tatyana, Sergei’s bride to be, blamed Strahd for failing to defend his brother in the fight and cursed him and the land that saw Sergei’s death before throwing herself from the castle and into the Tser Falls to her death. Shortly after this the dread fog rose from the ground and Barovia became a forgotten and despised land.
The von Zarovich dynasty rules to this day through Count Strahd von Zarovich XII, a weak willed and anxious ruler.