Creating a Curse of Strahd Character

It’s time for the fourth season of the D&D Adventurers League to begin. It’s title? Curse of Strahd. As in previous seasons, this is my article about the guidelines for creating a legal character to play in official D&D Adventurers League adventures. The naming conventions for those adventures has changed a little bit, but the same types of adventures are still available: Big multi-table Epics at conventions, the hardcover adventure releases from Wizards of the Coast, and the shorter D&D Adventurers League adventures (DDAL) that once were known as Expeditions, which are now available at the DMs Guild. The adventures once known as D&D Encounters have been replaced by D&D Launch Events. The first one, Death House, is available to play at participating stores.

The primary source for the rules is the D&D Adventurers League Player’s Guide – Curse of Strahd. In case of a discrepancy between this article or the guide, it’s the guide that is correct. The Guide is in effect from March 4th, 2016 until August 25th, 2016, when the next season will begin.

You can find a free Player’s Pack (including the log sheet, character sheet and table tent) at the DMs Guild.

Story Origin

The first step to creating a character to play in the Curse of Strahd season is to choose a story origin. You are not limited to just choosing the current season; all characters, regardless of story origin, may play in any legal D&D Adventurers League adventure. The story origin you choose limits your character creation and advancement options.

Here are your options:

Curse of Strahd story origin

  • D&D Basic Rules
  • D&D Player’s Handbook
  • Monster Manual, appendix A (beasts only)
  • Curse of Strahd, appendix A (free download)
  • Sword Coast Adventurers’ Guide (limitations apply)
  • Curse of Strahd: Optional Backgrounds (free download)

Rage of Demons story origin

  • D&D Basic Rules
  • D&D Player’s Handbook
  • Monster Manual appendix A (beasts only)
  • Appendix A of Out of the Abyss
  • Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (limitations apply)
  • Hillsfar Bonds & Backgrounds.

Elemental Evil story origin

  • D&D Basic Rules
  • D&D Player’s Handbook
  • Monster Manual appendix A (beasts only)
  • Mulmaster Bonds & Backgrounds
  • Choose one of these options:
    • Appendix A and B of Princes of the Apocalypse, and Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (all rules except aarakocra – you can’t play an aarakocra in DDAL).
    • Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (limitations apply)

Tyranny of Dragons story origin

  • D&D Basic Rules
  • D&D Player’s Handbook
  • Monster Manual appendix A (beasts only)
  • Hoard of the Dragon Queen appendix A
  • Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (limitations apply)

Some certification may lift some of the limitations or provide additional options.

Beginning Level and Experience

All characters begin at Level 1 and have 0 Experience Points.

Some games require a character of higher levels. You won’t be able to play those adventures until your character has reached those levels – but there are lots of other adventures you can play!

You can gain experience points by playing adventures. You can also gain experience points for your characters by running adventures. Talk to your local organiser about helping out!

Ability Scores

Players do not roll their character’s ability scores. They may use a default array (such as 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) or use the point-buy system described in the rules.

Hit Points

Players do not roll their character’s hit points. At first level you take the maximum; at later levels you gain the set amount as printed in the rulebook.


Characters start with the starting equipment determined by your class and background. You do not roll for starting wealth. Any gold you have left over can be used to purchase mundane gear in the Player’s Handbook.

You may choose or randomly determine one trinket. Additional gothic trinkets are available in Curse of Strahd appendix A for those using that rules source.

In the first edition of the Player’s Guide during the Tyranny season, characters could start with maximum gold and select their own equipment. This is no longer the case: all new characters just start with the background and class equipment packages listed in the Player’s Handbook or Basic Rules.


You may only select spells from legal rules sources according to your story origin. During their adventures, Wizards may copy new spells into their spellbooks from scrolls they find that don’t come from a rules source outside of their Story Origin, but no character can otherwise select a spell not from a legal source.


Players may choose any non-evil alignment for their character. Members of the Zhentarim or Lords’ Alliance may choose to be Lawful Evil. No-one can be Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil.

Background and Personality Traits, Flaws, Bonds and Ideals

You must choose a legal background according to your story origin. You may modify its name, traits, flaws, bonds and ideals as you like, but you must keep its starting equipment package, skills and features. (Make a note of its original name in case the DM needs to check the original version).


It is generally recommended you choose a faction for your character. The five factions are:

  • The Harpers – A scattered network of spellcasters and spies who advocate equality and covertly oppose the abuse of power.
  • The Order of the Gauntlet – Faithful and vigilant seekers of justice who protect others from the depredations of evil doers.
  • The Emerald Enclave – A widespread group of wilderness survivalists who preserve the natural order by rooting out unnatural threats.
  • The Lord’s Alliance – A loose coalition of established political powers concerned with mutual security and prosperity.
  • The Zhentarim – An unscrupulous shadow network that seeks to expand its influence and power throughout Faerûn.

You may find your faction sending you on special or secret missions during adventures. Characters gain renown through completing missions for their factions, which allows additional opportunities for your characters.

Factions are likely to take a lesser part of the Curse of Strahd storyline, but are still important if you play through adventures from other seasons.


Humans may use the variant human traits from the Player’s Handbook. All races in the Player’s Handbook are legal. Depending on your story origin, additional races are available through either the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion or the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. Note that Aarakocra are not legal.

If the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide is a legal source for you, the following restrictions apply:

  • The Winged variant giving a fly speed for tieflings is not legal. (Having non-functional wings is fine).
  • You may indicate you belong to a rare subrace of elves, but you only gain the regular benefits of elves found in the Player’s Handbook.
  • A few races are mentioned in the guide whose full statistics appear in another source (Aasimar and Genasi): you may not play those races without legal documentation. Just the mention of the race isn’t enough, you need to have access to the full rules, and you are not allowed to use the SCAG and EEPC together.


Most characters in the Forgotten Realms follow a deity. Choose one from the Forgotten Realms or Non-human Deity list in the Player’s Handbook or the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (you can use a SCAG deity even if it isn’t otherwise a valid rules source). Here’s an overview of the gods commonly worshipped around Hillsfar and Elventree for if you’re playing the D&D Expeditions games. Note that you still have to worship a deity in the PHB appendix – other gods that are described in those articles are not yet available.

What adventures can I play with my character?

If you have a D&D Adventurers League character, you can play it in any D&D AL adventure. Just make sure you keep an up-to-date log sheet of any and all experience points and gold you gain!

At present, legal adventures (and where you can play them) are as follows:

  • The Lost Mine of Phandelver (Starter Set) – anywhere
  • Hoard of the Dragon Queen – anywhere
  • The Rise of Tiamat – anywhere
  • Princes of the Apocalypse – anywhere
  • Out of the Abyss – anywhere
  • Curse of Strahd – anywhere
  • Death House – CoS Launch event version – in stores
  • Death House – Dragon+ version – anywhere
  • D&D Epics – conventions only
  • D&D Adventurers League adventures (DDEX, DDAL, DDAO codes) – any season – anywhere

You can find a list of the D&D Expeditions adventures on my individual season pages.

Your character can move between the adventures as you like (although it’s strongly recommended you finish one adventure with your character before starting a new adventure).

If you’re interested in online play, here’s the official facebook group: D&D Adventurers League Online Play.

Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide – Additional Restrictions

All sidebars and optional rules in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide are legal for D&D Adventurers League play, with the exceptions noted here. The following rules options are either not allowed, or are restricted in some way:

• The Winged variant granting a fly speed for tieflings is not legal for D&D Adventurers League play. Cosmetic wings from the Appearance variant that don’t grant a fly speed are fine.

• Races or other options that are mentioned but whose rules are found in another source (for example, aasimar and genasi) do not become legal without other campaign documentation unless that source is also legal for your character’s story origin.

• You can indicate that you are a member of a rare elf subrace for the purpose of roleplaying, but you can use only the subrace traits for elves given in the Player’s Handbook. The rare elf subrace gives you no mechanical benefits.

• You must be a dwarf to take the Path of the Battlerager primal path, and you must be an elf or half-elf to take the Bladesinging arcane tradition.

• The inheritor background requires additional guidance. You can roll on the random table provided in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide as normal, but any item you choose must be a nonconsumable item found in the Player’s Handbook worth 75 gp or less. Whether you choose to roll randomly or to pick your inheritance, your inheritance can be entirely mundane or possess a minor magical quirk. If you wish your item to have a minor magical quirk, you can choose either to have it glow with the light of a candle, or you can select an option from the What Quirk Does It Have? table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Under “equipment”, substitute “any items with which you are proficient” for “any one gaming set or musical instrument with which you are proficient”.

• All human languages listed on page 112 are legal options.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s