For the Dungeon Master here is an outline of how to run Curse of Strahd as Ravenloft, as a one session adventure.
DM use I6 Ravenloft adventure which can be purchased on Ebay (used or reprint) or downloaded here: Ravenloft I6 Adventure – DnD Ink Dungeons & Dragons Articles
Any party levels work, just scale down Strahd and all encounters around the characters’ level adventuring. Use the “scaling” button for guidance: Strahd von Zarovich – DnDink see image to find “CR scaling” button:
Note: CR = 4 adventures equal to it in levels: for example, a CR 15 means 4 players at level 15 each, will find Strahd challenging.
And here is an “Encounter Builder” to help guide the Dungeon Master with difficulty levels relative to party size and levels.
Players start off in the night, at an inn’s tavern. They’ve been traveling through this small farming community for several days: the folks are weary, superstitious, and not the friendliest. Players start out with 20% less gear than they currently have (they haven’t been to a town or city in a couple of weeks).
They are met by an old (or young) lady, who is actually Madam Eva, but she doesn’t give them any information except she needs their help and to seek out a fog that glows to find her. This is the Ravenloft fog that will take them into the Lands of Barovia that is a demiplane.
When players travel the road, unexpectedly a fog rolls in and they are now at the entrance of Ravenloft, The Gates of Barovia (see your map on I6 Dungeon Master).
They must seek her out after entering, there is no turning back – the fog forbids them (see adventure module for details, but basically it chokes them to death).
After entering, you, the Dungeon Master, can make any encounter occur – at your discretion.
But party will end up in a haunted ghost town called Barovia. Make it scary and interesting.
Traveling away from the town (or in the outskirts of the town), on a dirt road, the see a caravan, guarded, Madam Eva is there.
There she unveils herself and pleads with party for their help.
Rictavio, the greatest monster hunter, will strike soon and could use their assistance, as he is getting older, but he’s been tracking and studying Strahd, and is ready to strike to kill him. She wants to help Rictavio to alleviate Strahd’s pain – his curse.
When party agrees, she gives them a map of the interior of Castle Ravenloft (she couldn’t give them the map earlier, outside of Barovia, in case they didn’t commit to helping kill Strahd, her work and intentions would be in jeopardy).
She explains that Rictavio has a map of the interior of the castle too.
She tells them to meet him outside the castle’s drawbridge.
Party departs to meet up with Rictavio, and they wait, and wait, but he never shows. Dungeon Master, you could have a random Barovian approach them and explain, “Rictavio was here earlier. But that was two days ago.”
Party must go to the castle alone, without Rictavio.
Later party discovers Rictavio is dead, hanging upside down on a wall with his guts removed, or heart removed, it really is up to the Dungeon Master to decide the details (when and how Rictavio died).
Note to the Dungeon Master
The synopsis given above compliments the I6 / Curse of Strahd story.
Use I6 adventure module to read to players incidents in the adventure story (map and castle), add in your own encounters and details too, if you like.
You, the Dungeon Master, can add many more details, but the outline I gave you, we played this adventure twice and each session lasted no more than 5 hours.
Remember to use the map from I6 and Curse of Strahd, they are nearly identical, but read from I6 map call out sections.
NOTE: players will be excited to see the large map handed over to them when Madam Eva (you) give it to them, trust.
Any questions or comments, either comment below or contact me.
Poster images of Castle Ravenloft from both editions are available below.
These poster size images can be zoomed in for details.