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My confusion with Madam Eva's motives comes from the following passage in the Curse of Strahd adventure, when describing the Vistani of the Tser Pool Encampment, which Madam Eva is one of (p. 36):

Although the Vistani in this camp are in league with Strahd, they attack only if the characters provoke them with threats or insults.

So, the Vistani of this encampment are in league with Strahd, but on the other hand, on p. 37, as part of the same section on the Tser Pool Encampment, it describes how Madam Eva helps you understand how to defeat Strahd via the Tarokka reading.

The Tarokka reading is a major plot point, as I understand it, since the party cannot know where to go/look out for or how to defeat Strahd otherwise. The Tarokka reading itself is described in detail on pages 11-18.

In other words, the Tarokka reading is a major part of the story, and Madam Eva is the means to deliver this information about how to defeat Strahd to the party... and yet she's in league with him.

How does that make any sense?


As a footnote, this is not a question because I do not require designer commentary to answer this question (although if there is anything from a designer out there that would provide some insight into Madam Eva's motivation and willingness to help the party, I won't turn it away either; the main point I'm making here is that I just want to understand what is written, not to specifically seek out more from the designers).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As someone who hasn't played this module: Isn't the title alone kind of a spoiler? \$\endgroup\$ – Mars Plastic Oct 30 '19 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarsPlastic I've noticed this a lot, back when I was asking questions about the OotA adventure and trying to come up with spoiler-free ambigious titles, but then they were edited to include the parts I was trying to avoid. I guess the title of the question still needs to actually reflect the question, although it does somewhat defeat the purpose of using the spoiler quotes, I agree. At the very least, Madam Eva's implied allegiances are hidden, so the only thing someone might perceive as a title spoiler is that Madam Eva might have reasons to not want to help the party for some reason... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Oct 30 '19 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ A simple title change would be "Why would this character help the party in Curse of Strahd?" \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Oct 30 '19 at 18:29
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Madam Eva's motives are complicated

First, regarding your notion that Madam Eva is in league in Strahd as she is a Vistani in the Tser Pool, note the description of Madam Eva from the appendix D:

The fortune-teller Madam Eva lives among the Vistani but isn't truly one of them.

Further, the true focus of Madam Eva seems to be to:

Find a worthy replacement for Strahd. From the appendix description: "She would rather help Strahd find someone else to succeed him, although she has grave doubts about her ability to locate such an individual."

Because of this, her actions and motives can seem to be a bit contradictory, note this description also in the same appendix (emphasis mine):

In the guise of Madam Eva, she uses this ability to help Strahd. She can send her Vistani out in their wagons to visit other worlds and bring adventurers to Strahd's domain, in hopes that they will find a way to destroy the vampire or set Strahd free.

So she does want to help him, but the way she wants to do so does entail helping the adventurers and you can't exactly say that she's in league with him in the same way the Vistani are.

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She wants to free Strahd

Sources for this answer can be found in the Curse of Strahd book, at Madame Eva's entry in Appendix D, Pg 233.

Madame Eva (real name Katarina) is Strahd's bastard half-sister. When he became a vampire (by killing his brother) she fled the castle and sought refuge among the Vistani. She then made a pact with the local deity Mother Night whereby she lost her youth in return for not aging and prescience. Since then, she helps adventurers in the hope that they'll be able to kill or free Strahd (by becoming his successor).

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