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Curse of Strahd takes place in Ravenloft a Gothic Horror setting. Your heroes will start out in a Gothic/Late Renaissance/Victorianesque setting. Higher technology and lower magic by far (but not unknown. People have heard of magic in the world, but few if any have actually seen it practiced or met a real magician. While there is no restriction on character concepts, Gothic Horror frequently revolves around the idea of normal people coming across bizarre and unnerving situations. Magic should be considered low in your character’s background (In the realm of Ravenloft magic will become more common, but this will be shocking to your character). In addition with the sharp chiaroscuro of the setting the forces of the divine are remote and wholly good and pure. Crypto-Christian Clerics and Paladins will work very well for the feel of the campaign.

Go to this site for good Gothic German names.

Almost all backgrounds are appropriate, from Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and the PHB. Additionally, the Haunted One Background is a Ravenloft specific option.
Look at the Burgundria page for languages (but don’t stress out these will be mostly fluff, if they even come up at all)

We will be starting at level 3. This represents that you have already had some adventures before the game starts. Feel free to describe your background as having accomplished something, since you would have been able to have taken on a significant mundane challenge before rising to 3rd level. Look at the table below to get a sense of what kinds of class options would work well in a Gothic setting. Again I’m not saying the discouraged archetypes are outright bans, but I would urge you to consider playing a low-magic character who is shadowy, without being outright evil. It is an undead heavy campaign so think of that when considering archetypes, spells, and features

Warriors (Barbarians, Fighters, Monks, Paladins, and Rangers)
Cads (Rogues and Bards)
The Faithful (Clerics, Druids)
Arcanists (Warlocks, Wizards, and Sorcerers)

There is no adjustment to starting equipment at 3rd level.
As a quasi-victorian smashed up with a high-renaissance setting you have access to blackpowder weapons (specifically the renaissance pistols and muskets offered in the Dungeon Master’s Guide). For the sake of proficiencies and starting equipment the musket is a martial weapon and the pistol is a simple weapon. If you have access to specifically light crossbows in your starting package you can instead choose a pistol. Clerics and Paladins are forbidden from using firearms and if they willingly attack with a firearm lose their spellcasting and channel divinity traits until they spend a point of inspiration during a long rest to regain their spell casting.

Roll for your trinket on the Curse of Strahd table

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