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In the text of Strahd's Unarmed Strike, it says (emphasis mine):

If the target is a creature, Strahd can grapple it [...] instead of dealing bludgeoning damage.

This seems to be copy/pasted from the vampire stat block, which makes sense since a vampire deals bludgeoning damage with its unarmed strike.

However, Strahd's unarmed strike deals slashing and necrotic damage.

Should Strahd's stat block say he can grapple instead of dealing the slashing damage, or is he supposed to be able to do full damage and grapple since he's the "final boss" of the campaign?

Has this been addressed in any errata?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you using Roll20? The quote in Kirt's answer seems to suggest that that might be the source of your confusion. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 27 '20 at 6:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, I just have a physical copy of the book. \$\endgroup\$ – Steven Jeffries Jul 27 '20 at 12:26
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My printing of Curse of Strahd (purchased new this year) states that unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage:

enter image description here

Therefore, Strahd’s grapple would still deal the 4d6 necrotic and not the bludgeoning.

This is notably inconsistent with DnDBeyond which says that Strahd’s unarmed strike deals slashing.

Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) slashing damage plus 14 (4d6) necrotic damage. If the target is a creature, Strahd can grapple it (escape DC 18) instead of dealing the slashing damage.

But, DnDBeyond also says “instead of dealing slashing damage”, so according to these two sources, Strahd’s grapple only deals necrotic damage.

User David Coffron has reported that the first printing of Curse of Strahd is also consistent with the image of my recent printing shown above.

The discrepancy between DnDBeyond and the printed sourcebook can be attributed to this errata posted by DnDBeyond on June 19, 2020:

Strahd von Zarovich (p. 240). In the stat block, change "Unarmed Strike (Vampire Form Only)" to "Unarmed Strike (Vampire or Wolf Form Only)," and in the unarmed strike, change "bludgeoning" to "slashing." Also change "Bite (Bat or Vampire Form Only)" to "Bite."

This errata from DnDBeyond coincides with this statement from WoTC that they intend to make some changes to Curse of Strahd. It seems likely that DndBeyond’s errata is a preview of what will eventually appear in the printed sourcebook.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That makes sense as intended. I must have an older printing of the book then. \$\endgroup\$ – Steven Jeffries Jul 22 '20 at 1:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StevenJeffries When did you purchase yours? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jul 22 '20 at 1:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas Markov I also purchased my CoS this year. I ordered it through Amazon, but received a 2016 printing. Knowing what year your printing is might be more useful than the purchase date itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Jul 26 '20 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Strahd's statblock has listed "bludgeoning damage" since the first printing of CoS. DDB's version is the most up to date based on the official "errata"/changes given to them by WotC, as mentioned in this post in their errata thread detailing the changes made to CoS this past June following WotC's Diversity & Dungeons & Dragons post. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 27 '20 at 5:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas Markov. I'm confused. In my answer below you commented that "The answer to the question 'has this been addressed in any errata?' is 'No, because there is no error in the printed material to address.'" And then you, in your own answer, added a link to, and quote of, errata that you said did not exist because the printed material was not in error? \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Jul 27 '20 at 7:49
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In the Roll20 electronic version of Curse of Strahd, Strahd's stat block has been updated at least twice, in patches 1.9 (June 2020) and 1.3.

The current version (June 2020) reads:

Unarmed Strike (Vampire or Wolf Form Only)
Melee Weapon Attack: +9, Reach 5 ft, one target
Hit: (1d8+4) slashing damage plus 14 (4d6) necrotic damage
If the target is a creature, Strahd can grapple it (escape DC18) instead of dealing the bludgeoning damage.

This appears to me to follow the most recent revision of CoS, 6th Printing, published 06/17/2020, available at https://www.dndbeyond.com/forums/dungeons-dragons-discussion/rules-game-mechanics/8760-official-wizards-of-the-coast-errata#c16.

That this version matches yours, and is different from the earlier print version of CoS shown in Thomas Markov's answer, may mean that yours is actually the currently most correct version, but does little to clarify whether Strahd should be doing slashing or bludgeoning damage. However, I think it is safe to say that the "instead of" indicates that Strahd's grapple should do necrotic damage, only, regardless of what his unarmed strike does.

For reference, the current version of the Vampire statblock reads:

Unarmed Strike (Vampire Form Only): Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage. Instead of dealing damage, the vampire can grapple the target (escape DC 18).

(The 5th Edition SRD and the Vampire stat block within CoS differ only in some punctuation.)

The current version of Vampire Spawn reads:

Claws: Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
Hit: 8 (2d4 + 3) slashing damage. Instead of dealing damage, the Vampire can grapple the target (escape DC 13).

(The 5th Edition SRD and the Vampire Spawn stat block within CoS differ only in some punctuation)

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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn’t actually answer the question. The question is about how to rule Strahd’s unarmed strikes. This answer only provides citations to material that is inconsistent with the printed edition of Curse of Strahd. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jul 27 '20 at 1:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas Markov: I was answering the part of the question "Has this been addressed in any errata?" by showing that even in the most recent update available, two months ago, an apparent error in slashing vs. bludgeoning damage remained. Thus, the answer to that part of the OP's question was, "no". \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Jul 27 '20 at 2:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ You’ve shown that roll20 is wrong, which doesn’t answer either question. The answer to the question “has this been addressed in any errata?” is “No, because there is no error in the printed material to address.” \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jul 27 '20 at 2:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think a main issue that Thomas is presuming but not stating is that Roll20 is an unofficial and sometimes unreliable source. Generally the most recent printed text with errata is considered official and it doesn't seem like any such official errata has been issued. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 27 '20 at 3:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov: I think this answer correctly identifies the source of OP's confusion as Roll20, though it fails to recognize that Roll20's version is wrong... (To clarify: the version on Roll20 fixed the damage type in the first sentence after "Hit", but failed to fix the damage type in the last sentence.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 27 '20 at 6:00

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