9d12 insults, backhanded compliments and veiled threats from Strahd von Zarovich

April 23, 2024

Whether you are running the original Ravenloft module or Curse of Strahd, the master of Barovia is more than just a villain to defeat. He's a presence to be felt throughout your entire campaign. And when your party encounters him face to face, it's essential that he comes across as cunning, manipulative, and terrifying.

To that end, we present six common situations, each with it's own a collection of insults, backhanded compliments, and veiled (or not so veiled) threats. Whether you just read over the list for something appropriate or divine the answer with your trusty d12, there's something here for everyone.

The Collection

When Strahd First Meets the Party

The first encounter with Strahd sets the tone for the entire adventure. He should seem sophisticated, confident, and completely untroubled about any threat the party might pose.

  1. "I admire your courage, if not your wisdom, for coming here."

  2. "You wear your hopes like armor. How quaint."

  3. "Come, let us exchange pleasantries before darker deeds unfold."

  4. "You're a long way from home, aren't you? I do hope you enjoy your stay...however long it may last."

  5. "Barovia has a way of breaking even the most stalwart adventurers. But please, do try your best."

  6. "I see the spark of hope in your eyes. It's adorable, really. Savor it while you can."

  7. "I've seen countless heroes come and go. What makes you think you'll be any different?"

  8. "Ah, the sweet scent of new playthings. I do so love a good diversion."

  9. "Welcome to Barovia, my dear guests. I trust you'll find your accommodations...sufficient."

  10. "I've watched you since you first set foot in Barovia. I must say, I'm not impressed."

  11. "Ah, new blood in Barovia. How refreshing. I do hope you'll provide more entertainment than the last group."

  12. "May I offer you the hospitality of the damned? We are all friends here."

Dinner at Castle Ravenloft

For some adventurers, dinner may be their first encounter with Strahd. For others it is a distinct event. But regardless, it presents unique opportunities to reinforce Strahd's threat and casual disdain.

  1. "Wine, like blood, is best when aged and shared reluctantly."

  2. "Do enjoy the food, it’s the least of your worries tonight."

  3. "Conversation is a lost art, but your attempts are amusing."

  4. "To dine with one’s prey is an acquired taste. Indulge me."

  5. "Your manners are as refined as your lineage, no doubt."

  6. "Do make yourselves at home. After all, you may be staying longer than you anticipated."

  7. "You really should try the blood sausage. It's a specialty of the house."

  8. "The conversation is riveting, truly. Almost enough to keep me from dozing off."

  9. "I cherish these moments of civil discourse amidst the savagery of existence."

  10. "Let us toast to your health, fleeting though it may be."

  11. "I see you've brought your weapons to the table. How delightfully paranoid."

  12. "I'd offer you a tour of the castle, but I fear you may not...appreciate the sights."

A Dance at Castle Ravenloft

The excellent Shall We Dance? mini-game provides another opportunity to engage with the elegant and urbane side of Count von Zarovich.

  1. "Your footwork, it's charmingly rustic. I've not seen anything quite like it before."

  2. "Such refreshing simplicity to your movements. Who needs grace when one has... enthusiasm?"

  3. "Ah, the waltz. If only your tactics were as coordinated."

  4. "You spin as the world spins, heedlessly, towards oblivion."

  5. "Dance, dance! The night is long and full of terrors."

  6. "I've seen dead men with more rhythm than you, my dear."

  7. "Seeing you dance is a reminder of why I keep my hopes for mortals so terribly low."

  8. "I must commend your bravery, accepting an invitation to dance with the devil."

  9. "Keep stepping on her toes and you may find it difficult to step at all."

  10. "Dancing with mortals. I really must find better ways to amuse myself."

  11. "Such energy, and yet, I fear, it leads you only in circles."

  12. "You move with such grace. It's a pity your time here will be so short-lived."

When the Party Has Interfered with His Pursuit of Ireena

If the party decides to help Ireena, they will inevitably interfere with Strahd's plans for her. For this, Strahd will likely begin to view the party less as an amusement and more as an inconvenience.

  1. "Your meddling is as tiresome as it is futile."

  2. "Such champions you are, to decide another’s fate."

  3. "Ireena is but a chapter in a book you cannot read."

  4. "Your interference has been noted and will be rewarded accordingly."

  5. "You think yourselves her saviors, yet you are but barriers to her true salvation."

  6. "How quaint, you presume to alter the course of destiny itself."

  7. "Every action you take but entwines your fates more tightly with mine."

  8. "Your gallantry is as misguided as your quest."

  9. "Ah, I see you've taken an interest in my beloved Ireena. How...unfortunate for you."

  10. "Ireena is mine, and mine alone. You'd do well to remember that."

  11. "I must applaud your courage, standing between me and what's mine. Foolish, but brave."

  12. "I've been patient thus far, but my patience has its limits. And you are testing them."

After the Party Has Fended Off Strahd's Minions

Strahd may not care about the loss of his servants, but he certainly wouldn't want to let the party's victory go to their heads.

  1. "Oh, the triumph you must feel! Savor it, for it fades swiftly."

  2. "Well done. You’ve earned a respite, fleeting though it shall be."

  3. "Those you defeated are but shadows; it is the darkness from which they spring which you should fear."

  4. "Celebrate your victories, small as they are. They are but pauses in your requiem."

  5. "Bravo! The play goes on, and the puppets believe they have won."

  6. "You fight the waves and fancy yourself conquerors of the sea."

  7. "Savor this moment, for it will be your last taste of victory."

  8. "Your victories are but a minor setback. I have all the time in the world."

  9. "You have proven yourselves worthy adversaries. I shall enjoy breaking you."

  10. "Such fortitude. It will make your eventual surrender all the more bitter."

  11. "You still stand, for the moment, but do not imagine that you are alone. My will is legion."

  12. "I suppose I should thank you for culling the weak from my ranks. You've saved me the trouble."

When the Party Tries to Negotiate with Strahd

Not every party tries to negotiate with Strahd. After all, it's hard to find a win-win situation in Barovia. But if they do, Strahd will certainly take the opportunity to further his psychological war against them.

  1. "Your terms are as amusing as your presumption in offering them."

  2. "So, you choose diplomacy. The last refuge of the desperate."

  3. "Speak your piece, then. Such comedy is rare in these halls."

  4. "Your offers are dust in the scales, but weigh them we shall."

  5. "Ah, to negotiate with food. How it stirs the appetite."

  6. "What can you offer that time will not grant me freely?"

  7. "Ah, the arrogance of the living. Thinking they can bargain with the lord of the dead."

  8. "I must admit, I'm intrigued. What could you possibly offer that I don't already have?"

  9. "I've heard countless pleas and bargains over the centuries. Yours are no different."

  10. "I admire your audacity, trying to strike a deal with me. But I hold all the cards."

  11. "I'll hear your proposal, but do not expect mercy. Mercy is for the deserving."

  12. "You have nothing to offer me that I cannot simply take. But please, do try."

When Strahd Has Caught the Party Trespassing in Castle Ravenloft

Castle Ravenloft is not only Strahd's home. It is also one of the places the party may need to explore in their quest to defeat him. Unfortunately, Strahd doesn't take well to trespass.

  1. "Here you are, mice in a cat’s lair. Shall we play?"

  2. "Your footsteps echo in these halls like the whispers of the damned."

  3. "How bold, or foolish, must one be to enter the dragon’s nest?"

  4. "This castle holds many secrets, none of them kind to intruders."

  5. "You wander my corridors as if they will not be your tomb."

  6. "I admire your curiosity. It will look lovely, mounted on my wall."

  7. "Well, well, well. What have we here? Uninvited guests, it would seem."

  8. "I see you've made yourselves at home. I do hope you're prepared to stay...indefinitely."

  9. "Trespassing is such an ugly word. I prefer to think of it as...an unexpected visit."

  10. "You've shown remarkable skill in infiltrating my castle. A shame it was all for naught."

  11. "You've saved me the trouble of hunting you down. How considerate."

When Strahd Feels Truly Threatened by the Party

Feeling truly threatened is extraordinarily rare for Strahd. But that does not make him falter. After all, in life he was a great warrior and conqueror. Rather, it prompts him to stop holding back.

  1. "Your prowess is commendable; it will make your fall all the more tragic."

  2. "You rise higher than I anticipated. The fall will break you."

  3. "You think to challenge the night? The darkness is vast."

  4. "Impressive. Most burn out before reaching such heights of audacity."

  5. "Such fire in your hearts. I shall enjoy extinguishing it."

  6. "You dare much. It will be a pleasure to teach you fear."

  7. "You have become a thorn in my side. And thorns must be plucked."

  8. "To threaten me is to court death itself. Are you prepared?"

  9. "You wield power you scarce understand, like children with a sword."

  10. "I must admit, I underestimated you. A mistake I won't make again."

  11. "You stir the beast. Pray you survive the wrath you awaken."

  12. "I have tolerated your insolence thus far, but no more. You will learn your place."

During the Climactic Battle

Even at the last, Strahd von Zarovich does not doubt his own victory. He is the eternal Lord of Barovia. His victory is assured.

  1. "Fight then, heroes! Cling to your fleeting hope!"

  2. "This battle shall be sung of, in whispers, as a cautionary tale."

  3. "Your resistance is but sparks against the storm."

  4. "How brightly you burn. Ashes will be your remnant."

  5. "Clash against me, but know this—every empire falls, every hero dies."

  6. "Savor these moments; they are your last, and my victory is nigh."

  7. "You've fought bravely to get here. But bravery alone will not save you."

  8. "I've waited centuries for a challenge like this. Do not disappoint me."

  9. "I will give you a warrior's death. It's more than you deserve."

  10. "I've danced this dance a thousand times. You're just another partner to be discarded."

  11. "Your blood will paint these walls, and your screams will echo through these halls for eternity."

  12. "In the end, you will beg for death. And I, being a merciful lord, will grant it."

Wrapping up

We hope you find this collection a useful addition to your Curse of Strahd resources. If you like this, you may also enjoy Haunting Harmonies - 10 albums and playlists for your Curse of Strahd campaign.

example portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portraitexample portrait
Want to bring your D&D characters to life?

With RPG Portrait you can create stunning character images in 3 minutes or less.

Get 16 free credits to start!