11
\$\begingroup\$

In the Curse of Strahd adventure, in Amber Temple, area X42, the following is described (p. 196):

West Sarcophagus. The vestige within this sarcophagus offers "the dark gift of the Vampyr" to any humanoid creature of evil alignment that touches it. The Vampyr's gift is the immortality of undeath.

Reading on, this vestige grants any creature who accepts its gift the option of becoming a vampire if its conditions are met. Clearly this is the entity referred to in the opening description of the Amber Temple chapter (p. 181):

Strahd communed with these evil vestiges and forged a pact with them. When Strahd later murdered his brother Sergei, that pact was sealed with blood. Strahd transformed into a vampire, and the Dark Powers turned his land into a prison.

Although it mentioned "evil vestiges" (plural), the one who transformed him into a vampire must have been The Vampyr. But beyond its name, and the fact that this entity can transform people into vampires via a very specific method, the adventure does not further expand on The Vampyr. I've found basically nothing regarding lore on The Vampyr online, so I am at a loss learning more about it.

The reason I assume this to be an entity is that, based on the other gifts (at the very least, those in X42), each gift seems to be from an entity, such as Zhudon or Tenebrous.

Is there any official lore on The Vampyr? I'll happily accept lore from earlier editions of D&D if there is no further mentioning of The Vampyr in D&D 5e. It might also be worth mentioning that this adventure is the only thing I know regarding Strahd/Ravenloft.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Can downvoters explain what is wrong with this question? It might be obvious to you that "Vampyr" isn't an entity (as per RevenantBacon's answer), but without knowing that before asking, the context of the adventure implies it might be an entity. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jan 13 at 16:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ While now rather old and not tied directly to the adventure "I, Strahd" tells the story of Strahd's transformation. Of course, in addition to long predating 5E, it is largely told in first person so be wary of unreliable narrators. \$\endgroup\$ – TimothyAWiseman Jan 13 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ All your strahd questions are fascinating, but really put me off running it as a DM because so much seems incomplete. Leaving all this to the DM just smacks of lazy writing to me and across 5 editions of dnd I would have expected them to fix these holes. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jan 13 at 22:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri Honesty? I also avoided Curse of Strahd for similar reasons for quite some time, it's only a few months ago that I decided to give it a look and decided I wanted to run it. In the adventure's defence, there are things that don't need explanations (either the unknown is scarier, or it just doesn't come up) but for the fact that I'm changing things to extend the adventure beyond the end of the campaign, so some of these questions that I've asked are so that I know how best to change something... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jan 14 at 8:36
10
\$\begingroup\$

In the original 1983 module I6 Ravenloft, the players can find the Tome of Strahd which the party finds largely unreadable except for the following passage (pg 32):

I made a pact with death, a pact of blood. On the day of the wedding, I killed Sergei, my brother. My pact was sealed with his blood.

[...] I did not die. Nor did I live. I became undead, forever. I have studied much since then.''Vampyr" is my new name. I still lust for life and youth, and I curse the living that took them from me.

While Strahd refers to himself as "the Vampyr," the entity with which he makes his pact is called "Death."

Subsequent revisions to the original 1983 campaign did not change the Tome's text (pg 62 of RM4 House of Strahd [1993], pg 22 of Expedition to Castle Ravenloft [2006])

In the novel I, Strahd the entity that gives Strahd the gift of vampirism is also called a manifestation of Death itself:

I rolled on my back, clawing at my chest where iron bands yet seemed to squeeze upon me and felt... nothing. No broken ribs, no burst heart - Not yet. But the next time. The thing would return and crush me into - I knew it now. Knew what it was. We were old, old friends.

Death was in the room with me. [...]

"You have fed me well," it continued. [...]

"You are due your reward."

Yes, I thought bitterly. Another death for Death.

Of course, Strahd is the narrator of I, Strahd and it is entirely possible that he is referring to the entity as "Death" incorrectly (or as shorthand) when its real name is, in fact "Vampyr."

The fact that he calls himself by this name may suggest that he has taken on not just its aspects but also its name and identity.

It would be up to a DM to assume this interpretation, though (but, given the evil nature of Strahd, it's not unreasonable to assume that he is an unreliable narrator or simply can't reveal information that he himself is unaware of).


The Amber Temple and dark vestiges only exist in the 5th edition campaign and did not feature in earlier modules/campaigns. However, the 2006 update Expedition to Castle Ravenloft expanded the setting beyond the castle and town of Barovia to the land of the same name. In that version, Strahd draws his powers from three "fanes" (witches) in Barovia: Forest, Swamp, and Mountain.

The Mountain Fane, Baba Zelenna, and her lair (a tower) are the closest thing to a predecessor of the Amber Temple and dark vestiges.


In short, while Strahd has historically refers to himself as "the Vampyr," the entity is said to be "Death." Fifth Edition's use of the Amber Temple and its dark vestiges, including the Vampyr entity, is sort of a "remix" of names, entities, and places from the pre-existing lore.

Therefore, because of the ambiguous nature of the Vampyr vestige and Strahd's relationship to it, the DM has a lot of leeway to play with it for their particular campaign.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ It's also possible that it's describing a class of entity and not really referring to a specific individual. I've encountered a similar phrase "the curse of the Werewolf" used to describe anyone who is a werewolf and not necessarily a curse derived from some person styled "the Werewolf". I'd suspect an effort at vague exoticism through odd syntax is at play, as it's common in "canon" Western vampire stories to get information from characters for whom English is a second language (Transylvanian peasants, Roma, or similar without much depth or detail). \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Jan 13 at 21:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Upper Absolutely, that thought had occurred to me as well. I've revised that sentence a little to expand its meaning. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jan 13 at 21:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. In first edition (1983 ISBN 088038042X) Tome of Strahd is more expansive, but players have only 30% chance to read any given paragraph. For example, it says "I have studied much since then.''Vampyr" is my new name. I still lust for life and youth, and I curse the living that took them from me. Even the sun is against me. It is the sun and light I fear the most. But little else can harm me now." \$\endgroup\$ – Revolver_Ocelot Jan 14 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rev Thanks for pointing out that I had the wrong date on the I6 module and for the fact that Strahd uses "vampyr" to refer to himself. I've updated the answer to include these. I really appreciate it! \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jan 14 at 17:29
4
\$\begingroup\$

You can't find anything that expands on it because you are looking for something that doesn't exist.

"The Vampyr" is not a specific entity. It isn't a name or title, which is why you can't find anything on it. In this case, it's a description of a set of powers that can be accessed by certain kinds of creatures. There is no "one who transformed [Strahd]", he was, as the description states, transformed by the "evil vestiges". What those are vestiges of is left intentionally vague. It could be the remains of a (or maybe several) vampire(s), or perhaps some other powerful entity that is somehow tied to undeath, but it wasn't The Vampyr, because there isn't one.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ May also be worth pointing out that, in English, "vampyr" is an archaic spelling of "vampire" (probably from German "Vampir" though there are possibly other origins). I've noticed it is often used in modern literature to make vampires sound a bit more exotic! \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Jan 13 at 16:32
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ IIRC only mention of vampyr (in this spelling) in Ravenloft lore before CoS was in I6: Ravenloft where Count Strahd Von Zarovich was called The First Vampyr in his statblock, and a few mentions of him being called vampyr by NPC and Strahd himself. \$\endgroup\$ – Revolver_Ocelot Jan 13 at 16:37
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think the statement about it being purely a description of a set of powers is correct here. The rest of the sarcophagi in the Amber temple offer the "dark gift of (some dead god)". For example, in the same room as the Vampyr sarcophagus there's another that offers the "gift of Zhudun, the Corpse Star". Following this pattern it's reasonable to assume that Vampyr is an entity, not just a description of powers. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrendire Jan 13 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're statement is basically "because A is equal to B, C should also be equal to B". The second sarcophagus that you mention is, in fact, named after a particular entity, but vampires are not a specific entity in of themselves, and given that the creature becomes a vampire, we can further reason that it is specifically referencing the set of powers they are granted. \$\endgroup\$ – RevenantBacon Jan 13 at 20:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.