tarokka card deck curse of strahd destined allies

Destined Ally Tier List: Curse of Strahd D&D 5e Rankings

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**Spoiler warning for the Curse of Strahd adventure module for D&D 5e**

Madame Eva’s tent swirls with smoke as she reveals the cards to the would-be adventurers. As the party awaits their collective destiny to unfold, a sense of dread fills the tent, and a gust licks at their ankles. Several cards in, the fourth card, the one closest to the fortune’s recipients, flips to reveal a friend and ally to be made in Barovia. “Interesting, indeed…” muses Madam Eva with a smirk.

What Are Destined Allies in Curse of Strahd?

The book technically refers to this character as Strahd’s Enemy, but I’ll use Destined Ally (DA) for my terminology. I believe this is the common vernacular of CoS enthusiasts.

The tarokka deck reading is an iconic aspect of Curse of Strahd that identifies the locations and identities of important treasures and people for your players to interact with. Madam Eva is typically the fortune teller in this event, though the module implies that Ezmerelda could do it (some homebrew that Arabelle could, too). One of the cards will reveal Strahd’s Enemy, a Destined Ally for your players to recruit on their quest to defeat Strahd or escape Barovia. The NPC selected in the card reading becomes extraordinary, and any details from the card reading will take precedence over the NPC’s usual activities, attitudes, etc.

How Does a Character Change when Becoming Strahd’s Enemy?

Strahd will sense that the DA is a danger to him, so he’ll seek to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible. This is problematic for NPCs who can be one-shot by Strahd or his minions.

A character selected as the Destined Ally often becomes easier to recruit, but the players could reasonably recruit most of the characters on this list if they play their cards right. What sets apart the DA is that recruitment can mean a level up for the player characters, but that’s up to DM interpretation. The book suggests that allying with Ezmerelda could trigger a level up because it’s the accomplishment of something significant, for example. Since Ezmerelda is a potential DA, it stands to reason that this level-up could apply to the PCs when they recruit your campaign’s DA.

Additionally, a new action is added to the DA’s statblock: “Inspire.” “While within sight of Strahd, this character grants inspiration to one player character he or she can see.” I’ve homebrewed different abilities for the Destined Allies in my CoS games, but this is the RAW benefit.

Ranking “Strahd’s Enemy” (Destined Allies) from the Fortunes of Ravenloft Card Reading

Here is what each tier means, but keep in mind sidekick rules are not factored in for some of the weaker allies (that’s up to the DM). I’ve included notes on how cool and interesting a DA is from the DM perspective, but my tiers are based on how powerful, useful, and interesting the DAs will be from the angle of which ones will impact the game for the players.

  • S-tier: Strahd is getting wrecked. Easy mode. (1 ally in this tier)
  • A-tier: Extremely helpful and campaign-defining. (7 allies in this tier)
  • B-tier: Reliably helpful but not a standout. (5 allies in this tier)
  • C-tier: Helpful if you’re careful and clever. (4 allies in this tier)
  • D-tier: Bench warmers. Easily killed, not enough benefit. (2 allies in this tier)
  • F-tier: Suicide Squad, you’re all gonna die. This ally may hurt you more than help you. (1 ally in this tier)

Skip ahead to see how your favorite Destined Ally fared in the rankings:

Arabelle as Destined Ally

Tier: D

  • Card: Tempter A
  • Statblock: CR 0 – Commoner (Modified)
  • HP: 2
  • AC: 10
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Save her from drowning in Lake Baratok at the hands of Bluto. Keep her away from her father, Luvash, who will surely forbid her from spending time with the party.
  • Combat: Club attack (very weak). One hit and she’ll be dead.
  • Utility: Can be used as a disarming social presence. She may be useful in securing favors from Madam Eva since they share a heritage.
  • Baggage: Luvash may become a thorn in your side since he’ll seek to deprive the party of valuable items if he believes they’re of interest to Strahd. He’d even stalk and kill the player characters for ths cause. Arabelle is also a seven-year-old child, so you get all the baggage that comes with that.
  • Other Notes: She shares a heritage with Madam Eva, and therefore Strahd. Arabelle may help the players avoid Luvash’s snake-oil deception for his patented get-out-of-Barovia potions.

Arabelle’s Tier Explanation

This little lady is too fragile. Almost anything in this module can one-shot Arabelle. She lacks the connections and knowledge to be truly useful outside of combat, too. Remember, the module says Strahd will sense a Destined Ally to be his enemy, causing him to attempt to have them killed.

She may be good as bait for Night Hags. The party could pretend they’re willing to give her up to the Hags, and the Hags would be interested since they mostly want to corrupt adults into giving up their children. Night Hags are all about corrupting souls.

If the Feast of Saint Andral hasn’t happened yet, Arabelle may help gain information from the kids in town. Milivoj would be someone she might have luck interrogating. Kids tend to talk to other kids easily.

Homebrewing Arabelle

Arabelle’s heritage has prompted many Curse of Strahd DMs to gift Arabelle as a seer, allowing her powers that involve divination and clairvoyance.

Sidekick: The sidekick rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything could potentially apply to Arabelle since her CR is so low. This would lend to her survivability and usefulness when danger is afoot.

Arrigal as Strahd’s Enemy

Tier: A

  • Card: Horseman B
  • Statblock: CR 8 – Assassin
  • HP: 78
  • AC: 15
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: He will join the party if you tell him he is destined to aid you against Strahd. However, he plans on betraying them to become the new lord of Barovia.
  • Combat: Sneak Attack, poison damage, Evasion, Assassinate, Multiattack, melee and ranged attacks, Acrobatics +7. Resistance to poison damage.
  • Utility: Thieves’ Cant. Deception/Perception +4, Stealth +11. He can manipulate the Vistani by playing both sides.
  • Baggage: The Vistani may wonder where he is and what he’s doing. He has also acted as an agent of Strahd, so he may need to hide his intentions. Arrigal won’t be welcome in Vallaki because he’s a Vistana, though that may change depending on how the political power struggle resolves there. He may have other enemies in Barovia due to his past evil deeds.
  • Other Notes: Strahd does not resist poison damage, so Arrigal won’t be useless against Strahd. Arrigal does very poorly against constructs that are immune to poison and resistant to normal weapons, and there are several scary constucts in this module. Strahd also resists normal weapons. There are other undead creatures who resist poison damage and are immune to the poisoned condition.

Arrigal’s Tier Explanation

Arrigal makes an incredibly interesting Destined Ally. The party may naturally hate him if he was the one to deliver the letter to them that brought them to Barovia (if you chose that option for the beginning of the campaign). The distrust can make the party increasingly wary and skeptical of everything he does.

Roleplaying Arrigal came naturally to me, so I found him fun to use. I gave him something of a sinister Inigo Montoya vibe. I enjoyed Arrigal’s openness about the party’s distrust. He’d ask them if they didn’t trust him when they did something that implied misgivings. This made the party think he was on a legitimate redemption arc.

Arrigal can speak Thieves’ Cant with fellow Vistani to make the party nervous if they can’t understand it. He may also sneak away to deliver letters to Strahd or other Vistani, sowing distrust if the party notices him slipping away from time to time. His Stealth should definitely be utilized for ambushing enemies because he’s very good at it.

Homebrewing Arrigal

Though the book spells out how Arrigal will eventually betray the party with his rotten soul, you might decide that he can avoid this fate if the party is friendly and trusting to him specifically.

Clovin Belview as Destined Ally

Tier: F

  • Card: Marionette B
  • Statblock: CR 1/4 – Mongrelfolk
  • HP: 26
  • AC: 11
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Kill the Abbot and give wine to Clovin.
  • Combat: Advantage on Wisdom checks (so his Passive Perception is really 17), Multiattack, movement speed 20 feet. Advantage on Wisdom saving throws against being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned, or knocked unconscious.
  • Utility: Mimicry, plays the viol.
  • Baggage: Not warmly welcomed in towns, needs his viol if he’s to be useful.
  • Other Notes: Other mongrelfolk are unaligned, but Clovin is neutral evil. He is hated by the other mongrelfolk. Clovin requires wine to deal his madness, so he’ll become a loose cannon if you can’t get him more wine (he starts out possessing a few Grapemash bottles).

Clovin’s Tier Explanation

This is the worst result (apart from no Destined Ally). Clovin is socially unpopular in the towns because of his appearance. He’s no good in combat, and his skills are horribly circumstantial.

I might have placed him in the D-tier since he has more than twenty hitpoints, and I like that he can mimic voices, but his recruitment is the worst part. Fighting the Abbot is no joke, especially with Vasilka by his side. You’ll need to defeat them so you can recruit Clovin. That’s the definition of high risk, low reward. Clovin is a disloyal follower and a liability in every way.

I almost gave him the D-tier because I thought he could recruit the army of mongrelfolk, but they hate him. The only reason I’d use Clovin as the DA is if the players seem like they need a social dynamic like Gollum.

Homebrewing Clovin

To make him more useful, you may consider giving him Bard class features. He might make use of the Doss Lute in Area 36 of Castle Ravenloft.

Sidekick: Clovin can make a good sidekick as long as he has his viol (the book says he’s no use without it). He barely makes the cut to be a sidekick since the requirement is CR 1/2 or lower. You can reference rules for sidekicks in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

Davian Martikov as Destined Ally

Tier: B

  • Card: Reconcile with Urwin Martikov, trust winery to Adrian and Elvir.
  • Statblock: CR 2 – Wereraven
  • HP: 31
  • AC: 12
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Help him reconcile his relationship with his son, Urwin, in Vallaki. He’ll need to feel confident in leaving the winery to the care of his family.
  • Combat: Flying, Multiattack, immunity to nonmagical/nonsilvered weapons. Davian can bestow the lycanthropy curse on the player characters to make them immune to many enemy attacks in the campaign.
  • Utility: Passive Perception 16, leader of the Keepers of the Feather (excellent scouting and spying network), voice mimicry.
  • Baggage: Recruiting him means you’re putting his entire family in danger.
  • Other Notes: The Martikovs are related to the Krezkovs (of Krezk) through marriage, and that’s how they were tasked with caring for the winery long ago. To me, it makes sense that the scarecrows exist in the garden of the Abbey of Saint Markovia because the Martikov Wereravens probably scout around that area, causing Clovin to place scarecrows to scare the birds away. Maybe this would be a weird reason to have the Ravenkind destined item stuffed in the scarecrows there (it’s a twist, but could be fun).

Davian’s Tier Explanation

Davian has connections, durability, utility, and maneuverability. He can sway your PCs to interact with many NPCs in Barovia who would normally go to waste.

The ability to utilize the Martikovs as spies is a massive benefit. Parties can see Strahd’s minions coming or making movements around the valley if the ravens are on their side. Speaking of which, the party might request to become wereravens themselves. Flight without concentration is a game-changer. Immunity to mundane attacks is worth its weight in gold (even against Strahd, who may have to use his sword, Longtooth).

Players may enjoy utilizing a wereraven’s mimicry. Davian could potentially fool enemies into disadvantageous positions and situations if the party is clever. A Passive Perception of 16 is a formidable safeguard against ambushes, so Davian might save a party from disaster if they lack a perceptive adventurer.

Mundane weapons won’t harm him, but he’s not invincible (not even close). Davian can be one-shotted by Strahd’s Fireball spell, for example. The wereravens are better suited to spying and supporting the party than waging open war. Keep this in mind since he’ll probably push the party to attack Yester Hill and Berez.

Homebrewing Davian

If you’re featuring the vineyard’s magic gems as core features of your adventure (I used them to cleanse the megalith sites in my games), Davian is a natural fit for exposition dumps on the gems.

If Davian used to have a wife, she is not mentioned in the module. You may want to add a woman to his backstory. You might homebrew that his wife won’t leave her vigil in the swamp as she is stricken with grief at how many of her family members have died to Baba Lysaga. This would involve replacing or changing Muriel Vinshaw, who signals the players from the opposite side of the river approaching Berez.

A simpler concept would be the revelation that Baba Lysaga killed Davian’s wife, and her feathers and skull are featured in the swamp-dwelling of the evil Baba.

Donavich as Destined Ally

Tier: C

  • Card: Broken One B
  • Statblock: CR 1/4 – Acolyte
  • HP: 9
  • AC: 10
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Slay his vampire son, Doru.
  • Combat: Basic but always useful priestly spellcasting (Cure Wounds, Sanctuary, Bless of first level; Light, Sacred Flame, and Thaumaturgy for cantrips.).
  • Utility: Lore knowledge of the Abbey of Saint Markovia (though he doesn’t know its current status), the Morninglord, attempts to attack the castle, etc.
  • Baggage: Madness and suicidal thoughts (noose in the church).
  • Other Notes: Hoarse voice from praying all night for his son for so long.

Donavich’s Tier Explanation

Donavich could easily have been tiered higher with some survivability. He’s one-shotted by many creatures, so he’s essentially a backline spellcaster who must stay away from danger. His spells are awesome, however, so you still want to keep him around. Inexperienced players will likely get Donavich killed, so he has to sit at C-tier.

There’s a good chance that a player character gets killed by Doru if the players are cocky, low-level adventurers. The church undercroft can be a death trap for anyone who didn’t get the memo about the deadliness of the module.

Homebrewing Donavich

Some DMs make Donavich a murderer who kills people to feed them to Doru. He may justify this in his mind by only killing Dream Pastry junkies. This would severely darken his story.

You might homebrew who Doru’s mother is. I don’t believe the module says anything about her.

Sidekick: Donavich’s CR makes him a perfect sidekick to develop. He may become devoted to whoever puts down Doru, freeing his son’s tortured soul. Rules for sidekicks can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If Donavich becomes a sidekick to progress his usefulness and survivability, he becomes a B-tier Destined Ally.

Ezmerelda d’Avenir as Destined Ally

Tier: A

  • Card: Mists
  • Statblock: CR 8 – Human Custom Statblock
  • HP: 82
  • AC: 17
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Found in several possible locations in Barovia, and her recruitment is nearly guaranteed if the players aren’t hostile or reckless. She can even be encountered in Castle Ravenloft, so it’s easy to work her into the story at the right time for your stye.
  • Combat: Vistani curses (Curse and Evil Eye), spellcasting (DC 14, +6) up to fourth levels, Multiattack (3), and comprehensive knowledge of vampires, Vistani, and limited knowledge of many monsters. Passive Perception 16 is massive for avoiding ambushes and finding secrets.
  • Spells:
    • Cantrips: Fire Bolt, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation
    • First-Level Spells: Protection from Evil and Good, Magic Missile, Shield
    • Second-Level Spells: Darkvision, Knock, Mirror Image
    • Third-Level Spells: Clairvoyance, Lightning Bolt, Magic Circle
    • Fourth-Level Spells: Greater Invisibility
  • Utility: Helpful for recruiting Rictavio, and can function as an alternate person for the Tarokka Deck fortune reading.
  • Baggage: Uncertainty about the truth behind her history with Rudolph van Richten (her knowledge contradicts his journal).
  • Other Notes: Ezmerelda has heaps of magic items and a trove of useful equipment. If she dies, she has +1 studded leather armor and magic weapons. In this way, she’s useful even in death.

Ezmerelda’s Tier Explanation

Ezmerelda is undoubtedly one of the best allies for the players to recruit. She can cast spells like Magic Circle to assist the party with the Hags of Old Bonegrinder. Her Lightning Bolt is an excellent AOE spell or focused blast from range. Greater Invisibility can trivialize many encounters. She can even help humans in the party by casting Darkvision.

My main problem with Ezmerelda is that she probably is going to be recruited by the party anyway. Having her in the DA spot feels like a waste, but she’ll be great nonetheless. Even if she dies, her magic items will help the party.

The party may be tempted to have her cast Lightning Bolt on single enemies. This is a horrible idea. She can attack three times with her attacks, and Magic Missile is better for single targets. Unlike Rudolph van Richten, she can hold her own in close quarters thanks to her three attacks and Shield spell.

She isn’t campaign-defining, and she’d probably join the party anyway, but Ezmerelda is undoubtedly formidable in the fight against Strahd and the monsters of Barovia. Any party would be lucky to have her.

Ireena Kolyana as Destined Ally

Tier: C

  • Card: Innocent B
  • Statblock: CR 1/8 – Noble (more hp)
  • HP: 14
  • AC: 15
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Convince her that the party isn’t a horde of Strahd servants. Hold a funeral for Kolyan Indorovich (the father who adopted her, though she doesn’t recall her adoption).
  • Combat: Strahd may hold back his Fireballs while she’s in the area. She’s good for using the Inspire action of the Destined Ally. Plot armor.
  • Utility: Deception and Persuasion +5, Insight +4. Extra language.
  • Baggage: She’s the target of Strahd! The darklord Strahd seeks to “claim” her like a possession. She’ll also be noticed for her red hair in Barovia. One notable person who will notice her is her actual brother, Izek Strazni, who will detain her in Baron Vallakovich’s manor.
  • Other Notes: Recruiting her will probalby mean you recruit Ismark, too. They’re a pair. The upside is that Ismark normally would require Ireena to be kept somewhere safe while he accompanies the party to Castle Ravenloft, but I believe the implication here is that he’d stay by her side if she were to accompany the party as their DA during their assault on Castle Ravenloft to kill Strahd.

Ireena’s Tier Explanation

I might ruffle feathers with this rating. Ireena is not strong in combat, even if the module portrays her with a picture that makes her look like a paladin. She makes a decent DA because Strahd won’t kill her outright, so she can stay among the party in combat to hold herself hostage against AOE effects from Strahd and his minions. She might wield the Sunsword of her fallen love, Sergei. The sunlight alone is worth having her wield it. Ireena can use the Inspire ability of the DA in the final battle with Strahd since she can assume she won’t be attacked. Her confidence to not be harmed allows Ireena to inspire your party freely. Strahd may choose to knock her unconscious.

Ireena won’t be targeted by many of Barovia’s denizens. This can be used to your advantage as she becomes effectively invulnerable in many encounters. However, not everyone will avoid harming her, so be careful.

There’s a chance you’ll lose Ireena at the blessed pool in Krezk if the party stands by while she and Sergei are reunited. This would deny you a DigiDestined… I mean Destined Ally.

Homebrewing Ireena

There is so much homebrewing of Ireena on the internet, but I recommend keeping her as she is (mostly). There’s so much to be done with her in your campaign without having to make her a DMPC. You can give her Veteran stats like Ismark if you are actively avoiding “damsel” scenarios.

I do, however, like to give her a +10 bonus to her melee weapon attack rolls against Strahd while she wields the Sunsword. It’s really up to you, but I think she’s fun to roleplay as written.

Sidekick: Ireena makes an excellent sidekick. She’ll be far more useful and durable with sidekick levels. Rules for sidekicks can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

Ismark Kolyanovich as Destined Ally

Tier: B

  • Card: Executioner
  • Statblock: CR 3 – Veteran
  • HP: 58
  • AC: 17
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Ismark can be recruited if the party helps him escort Ireena to Vallaki. He won’t go to Castle Ravenloft to confront Strahd unless he believes Ireena is in a safe place.
  • Combat: Multiattack (3) with his longsword and shortsword (two longsword attacks if shortsword isn’t drawn), single attack with his heavy crossbow.
  • Utility: His nobility can open doors in Krezk and Vallaki.
  • Baggage: Feelings of inadequacy in the shadow of his late father. He may be drawn to the village of Barovia to fulfill his responsibilities.
  • Other Notes: Recruiting him early is a plus, but he’s someone that will likely be recruited anyway during the campaign. He can be extremely helpful for a low-level party. At higher levels, he may become a background fighter if the party doesn’t invest in upgrading his weapons or casting spells to help him. He’s good for grappling creatures with Athletics +5 if you don’t need him to attack.

Ismark’s Tier Explanation

Ismark can make three melee attacks in a round, and he has his ranged option, too. This is a substantial boost to the party’s action economy. He can only attempt grapples twice per turn since he’ll need a free hand. Creatures like Strahd will try to move around, so having someone who can attempt grapples is useful. He can use Inspire when Strahd’s around if he’s not close enough to attack or he’s maintaining a grapple.

Another reason he isn’t rated higher is that he’s a common recruit for parties anyway. He’s an excellent recruit at early levels! Helping him early on to escort Ireena to Vallaki is commonplace.

Kasimir Velikov as Destined Ally

Tier: A

  • Card: Seer
  • Statblock: CR 6 – Mage (Dusk Elf)
  • HP: 40
  • AC: 12 (15 with Mage Armor)
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Agree to help him go to the Amber Temple.
  • Combat: Spellcasting, Fey Ancestry
  • Spells: (note that his description in chapter 5 gives him more spells than the Mage statblock)
    • Cantrips: Fire Bolt, Light, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost.
    • First-level spells: Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Identify, Locate Object, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Protection from Evil and Good, Shield.
    • Second-level spells: Arcane Lock, Hold Person, Misty Step, Suggestion.
    • Third-level spells: Counterspell, Fireball, Fly, Nondetection.
    • Fourth-level spells: Greater Invisibility, Ice Storm, Polymorph.
    • Fifth-level spells: Cone of Cold, Wall of Stone.
  • Utility: Spellbook can help PC Wizards to learn spells. Several spells are useful out of combat, like Fly, Detect Magic, and Suggestion. Kasimir has been alive since the early days of Barovia, so he’ll surely know a thing or two about the demiplane’s history. Darkvision, advantage against charm (like Strahd’s charm abilities), can’t be forced into magical sleep. Arcana and History +6. A Wizard PC can learn spells from Kasimir’s spellbook.
  • Baggage: He will resurrect his sister, Patrina Velikovna, who may be extremely problematic or helpful.
  • Other Notes: Kasimir possesses a Ring of Warmth magic item, helpful in exploring the Amber Temple and traveling in the high mountains. You’ll also need to figure out which of Kasimir’s spells he prepares each day (unless you decide he has all of them prepared).

Kasimir’s Tier Explanation

Kasimir would be a candidate for S-tier if he had more hitpoints. As he stands, he can become a mangled mess if Strahd decides to dispatch him quickly. Kasimir will be invaluable if you can keep him alive, so try to keep him out of harm’s way so he can support with his excellent spell selection.

Kasimir’s history with characters like Rahadin is transformative to the roleplaying of the campaign. Characters who are already strong influences on the campaign can become even better for your adventure if you have someone in the party like Kasimir. He’s notably a friend to the Vistani, so he can help you get along with them. If you do something heinous to the Vistani before recruiting or meeting Kasimir, things may get complicated. However, he doesn’t see the current Vistani as the same caliber of people as Velikov centuries ago.

Assisting Kasimir with resurrecting Patrina will net you a potent, two-faced ally. She has ninth-level spell slots and can cast Wall of Force. Summoning sunlight with an item or spell while holding Strahd in a Wall of Force is probably the most reliable way to kill him. It’s an automatic win if Strahd fails to Counterspell Wall of Force. Patrina’s betrayal may sour the experience (especially if she sacrifices Kasimir in the Amber Temple to become a lich).

One of the hardest parts of getting Kasimir as your destined ally is the possible delay in recruiting him. He wants to go to the Amber Temple, so he may not settle for side quests until the party can go there. If you’re not careful, Kasimir’s prompting may convince the party to approach the temple prematurely when they’re likely to get spanked. That could be an opportunity or a dilemma, depending on your style.

Mordenkainen (Mad Mage of Mt. Baratok) as Destined Ally

Tier: B

  • Card: Broken One A
  • Statblock: CR 12 – Archmage (altered)
  • HP: 99
  • AC: 12 (15 with Mage Armor)
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Once the players find him, Greater Restoration can restore hit wits. He’ll only join the party for their final confrontation with Strahd.
  • Combat: Magic Resistance, resist damage from spells. Spellcasting 9th-level spells.
  • Spells:
    • Cantrips: Fire Bolt, Light, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation, Shocking Grasp
    • First-Level Spells: Detect Magic, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Shield
    • Second-Level Spells: Mirror Image, Misty Step, Web
    • Third-Level Spells: Counterspell, Fly, Lightning Bolt
    • Fourth-Level Spells: Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound, Polymorph, Stoneskin
    • Fifth-Level Spells: Bigby’s Hand, Cone of Cold, Scrying
    • Sixth-Level Spells: True Seeing
    • Seventh-Level Spells: Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion
    • Eighth-Level Spells: Mind Blank
    • Ninth-Level Spells: Time Stop
  • Utility: Six languages, spellcasting, Arcana/History +13.
  • Baggage: The strange nature of his presence in the game.
  • Other Notes: Wizard player characters may have time and funds to copy spells from Mordenkainen’s spellbook.

Mordenkainen’s Tier Explanation

The Mad Mage is one of the wonkiest, most difficult recruitments in the game. I find that telling the players about the rumored mage living on Mount Baratok isn’t organic, so it feels forced. One of the most difficult parts of using Mordenkainen is the meta-knowledge that he should probably know far more spells. Another massive challenge is allowing the party to use him without overshadowing them like a dreaded DMPC.

Mordenkainen may be useful before the final fight, even though he won’t join the party until then. He can cast Fly on the whole party to help them travel somewhere quickly. His Magnificent Mansion can house the player characters to keep them from harm. Polymorph can transform them into a massive Quetzalcoatlus to fly the entire party around the valley.

He’s not as useful as Patrina if she’s resurrected in Kasimir’s storyline because Mordenkainen cannot cast Wall of Force (can instantly win the fight with sunlight). Mordenkainen can try to restrain Strahd in sunlight with Bigby’s Hand (Strahd can’t turn to mist or otherwise transform while in sunlight). Polymorph can be critical for saving a party member from Strahd’s grapple+bite combo.

The party won’t worry about Mordenkainen becoming charmed by Strahd as long as he has Mind Blank active. It’s a great way to defend against a vampire’s charms. He can cast it on another member of the party who may be particularly vulnerable to charms due to weak Wisdom saving throws. Mordenkainen resists damage from spells and has advantage on saving throws against them, so he’s a juggernaut of arcane power. Strahd will be forced to focus on his melee attacks if he’s taking on Mordenkainen again.

Homebrewing Mordenkainen

Lunch Break Heroes suggests changing the Mad Mage of Mount Baratok not to be Mordenkainen. I’m inclined to agree with the suggestion. The campaign’s inclusion of Mordenkainen is strange, in my opinion.

In case you’re not versed in D&D / Forgotten Realms lore, Mordenkainen is a legacy character, a mage of great power. His character is the featured gimmick of the recent D&D 5e book Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.

Nikolai Wachter, Sr. as Destined Ally

Tier: C

  • Card: Horseman A
  • Statblock: CR 1/8 – Noble
  • HP: 9
  • AC: 15
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Nikolai must be raised from the dead, supplied by Rictavio by default. Abbot wedding dress quest for three Raise Dead spell castings.
  • Combat: Don’t let him fight.
  • Utility: Deception/Persuasion +5, Insight +4. Influence over Fiona and Vallaki. Wealthy.
  • Baggage: The political strife in Vallaki. Dealing with Fiona’s desire to serve Strahd.
  • Other Notes: Nikolai has been dead for a long time, but Fiona constantly preserves him with the Gentle Repose spell. Gentle Repose suspends the time limit on the Raise Dead spell, so you

Nikolai’s Tier Explanation

Nikolai would be D-tier, but his wealth and influence in Vallaki raise him (pun intended). His combat prowess is non-existent, but his social power is substantial.

Nikolai’s story is fascinating. His is a redemption story as he died when he questioned his lineage’s loyalty to Strahd. Fiona is still borderline worshipping Strahd, so the dynamic will be fascinating to behold when Nikolai returns. Interacting with Fiona is the core detail I’d look forward to with Nikolai as a Destined Ally. The DA relationship may be strained if Fiona or any other Wachters are dead when Nikolai is resurrected.

Homebrewing Nikolai

Sidekick: Nikolai qualifies to be a sidekick with his low Challenge Rating. Becoming a sidekick would make him much more useful in combat while giving him far more hitpoints. You can reference sidekick rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

Parriwimple (Parpol Cantemir) as Destined Ally

Tier: A

  • Card: Innocent A
  • Statblock: CR 5 – Gladiator (no shield, Intelligence 6)
  • HP: 112
  • AC: 14
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: You must convince Parriwimple that there is a good cause to go to accompany the party or go to Castle Ravenloft. The party must deal with employer Bildrath who won’t let him go to the castle for any reason.
  • Combat: Advantage on saving throws against becoming frightened (Brave). Brute for more damage. Multiattack for three attacks or two ranged. Parry reaction. Compatible with the Blood Spear if you already have someone who can use the Sunsword!
  • Utility: Athletics +10, Intimidation +5.
  • Baggage: Bildrath’s ire. It’s up to you whether you want to play up Parriwimple’s handler like he’s the hill-billy family from Pete’s Dragon.
  • Other Notes: He’s the nephew of Bildrath Cantemir of Bildrath’s Mercantile in the village of Barovia. Parriwimple works as his lawful good stockboy.

Parriwimple’s Tier Explanation

Parriwimple is an essential brawler for the party. He’s a simpleton with a heart of gold. He attacks three times per round with a melee weapon and twice with a ranged weapon, so you have an incentive to help him get advantage on attacks. His damage output with Brute is extremely impressive because all of his attacks feel like critical hits, and then they pop off with major damage on actual critical hits.

His +10 to Athletics makes him an incredible grappler. Monsters like Strahd need their mobility to stay alive, so Parriwimple can put Strahd in a tight spot by grappling him in sunlight effects so he can’t transform into mist to escape the grapple (watch out for Misty Step, though).

Parriwimple will probably be a victim of Strahd’s charm ability. This means your party would be wise to help Parriwimple with his saving throws. A Bard’s Countercharm ability might actually be key.

Homebrewing Parriwimple

Parriwimple’s family is unmentioned apart from his uncle Bildrath. I imagine Parriwimple could be part of a large family in Barovia village that he supports with his work. This might be a natural way to make the party care early on about Morgantha’s Dream Pastries if Parriwimple’s parents have become addicted. Parriwimple might leave with the party if he believes they’ll help him find his missing brother or sister.

Pidlwick II as Strahd’s Enemy

Tier: C

  • Card: Marionette A
  • Statblock: CR 1/4 – Construct (custom)
  • HP: 10
  • AC: 14
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Don’t mistreat or harm him; he’ll accompany you like a lost puppy.
  • Combat: Ambusher, poison damage immunity, immune to paralyzed/petrified/poisoned conditions.
  • Utility: Knowledge of Castle Ravenloft’s layout and dangers.
  • Baggage: Neutral evil puppet with performance issues. He was created to be funny like his creator, but nobody thinks he’s entertaining (they probably find him disturbing). Might harm people who mistreat or mock him, and it’ll probably be in secret.
  • Other Notes: Triggers unique interaction with Pidlwick’s ghost. Non-humanoids are immune to Strahd’s Charm ability.

Pidlwick’s Tier Explanation

I had Pidlwick II pegged as a D-tier ally, but then I realized he could know the layout of Castle Ravenloft. He may know its secrets, too. He has been there for hundreds of years since the beginning. However, to utilize him as your ally, you’ll need to navigate the castle somewhat already. Finding him in the castle will enable you to explore it further with a guide, though a silent one. Clever parties will put Pidlwick II to work!

He’s small enough to fit through tight spaces, including the arrow slits of Castle Ravenloft, Argynvostholt, and the Amber Temple. You might convince him to scout such areas for you.

Pidlwick II may be a source of interesting interactions with Gadof Blinsky, the toymaker, and Piccolo the monkey. Pidlwick and Piccolo may feud for Blinsky’s attention. After all, Blinsky is “a wizard of tiny wonders.” Healing spells and balms may fail on Pidlwick since he’s a construct (depends on descriptions and DMs), but he can recover with hit dice like other creatures. Blinsky may have the craftsmanship to fix Pidlwick when repairs are needed.

Overall, Pidlwick II is either completely useless or narrowly squeezes into useful niche moments. Clever parties can make use of him and make lasting memories. For that reason, he can settle in the C-tier.

Homebrewing Pidlwick II

If you decide to do more with the Blinsky dolls found in Barovia, you can work Pidlwick II into that storyline.

One way to push the players to meet Pidlwick would be on an errand from Cyrus Belview (Castle Ravenloft’s groundskeeper) to clear pigeons out of a tower. The players will find dead pigeons and an on-edge Pidlwick II.

Sidekick: Pidlwick II qualifies to be a sidekick with his low Challenge Rating. Becoming a sidekick would make him much more useful in combat while giving him far more hitpoints. You can reference sidekick rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

Rudolph van Richten (Rictavio) as Destined Ally

Tier: A

  • Card: Artifact
  • Statblock: CR 5 – Rictavio (custom human)
  • HP: 77
  • AC: 12
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Normally reluctant to reveal himself and assist the party, Rudolph is more inclined to form an alliance when he’s the Destined Ally.
  • Combat: Spellcasting (DC 15, +7) 5th-level spell slots, Undead Slayer 3d6, Multiattack, silvered cane, saber-toothed tiger in half-plate AC 17.
  • Spells:
    • Cantrips: Guidance, Light, Mending, Thaumaturgy
    • First-Level Spells: Cure Wounds, Detect Evil and Good, Protection from Evil and Good, Sanctuary
    • Second-Level Spells: Augury, Lesser Restoration, Protection from Poison
    • Third-Level Spells: Magic Circle, Remove Curse, Speak with Dead
    • Fourth-Level Spells: Death Ward, Freedom of Movement
    • Fifth-Level Spells: Dispel Evil and Good
  • Utility: Hat of Disguise, Ring of Mind Shielding, Raise Dead scroll, comprehensive knowledge of vampires and other monsters, Passive Perception 17. Arcana +9, Insight +7, Medicine +7, Perception +7, Religion +6, Sleight of Hand +4. Speaks Abyssal, Elvish, Infernal, and Common.
  • Baggage: Racism. Tragic outlook. Secret identity. Targeted by Strahd even before he became the DA.
  • Other Notes: Rudolph’s Saber-Toothed Tiger companion is a useful animal for combat or tracking by smell. Pounce is an excellent ability. Keen Smell can see through illusions and disguises when the eyes may be fooled.

Rudolph’s Tier Explanation

Similar to my ranking of Ezmerelda, Rudolph is an excellent ally, but there’s a good chance the party would recruit him anyway. His knowledge of monsters like Strahd is unmatched, and he does ok in combat. Keep in mind that he’s not a bruiser, so keep him off the frontlines if you can. He’s an excellent support character. Having said that, he doesn’t have ranged attack options. I recommend getting him a crossbow or something…

His spell selection is pretty good with standouts like Death Ward and Freedom of Movement. Strahd won’t be able to grapple and bite anyone who has Freedom of Movement, and Death Ward can mean life or death for an ally. Sanctuary is great for saves.

Do not forget about Rictavio’s saber-tooth tiger because it makes an amazing brute. It has half-plate outfitting for AC 17, so it can survive as well as most party members. Don’t forget to give the tiger a name you enjoy. Rictavio’s magic items are handy even if he dies, but it’s unclear what would happen with the tiger if Rudolph perishes.

Speaking of magic items, the Ring of Mind Shielding is fascinating. If Rudolph dies while wearing the ring, his soul will become trapped in it. Anyone who takes the ring at that point would be able to communicate with Rudolph after his demise.

Rudolph/Rictavio is a well-rounded ally for any party to partner with. Rudolph’s skill bonuses are formidable, particularly his Perception and Insight. These skills can help the party avoid ambushes or deceit.

Homebrewing Rudolph

You could decide to have a soul already trapped in the Ring of Mind Shielding. It would be up to you to decide what kind of person has been communicating with Rudolph via the ring all this time. Perhaps a Vistani he has interrogated along the way, a vampire lord, or another monster of note from his career.

Sir Godfrey Gwilym as Destined Ally

Tier: S

  • Card: Ghost A
  • Statblock: CR 6 – Revenant (spellcaster)
  • HP: 136
  • AC: 13
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Return the skull of Argynvost and light the beacon of Argynvostholt. You can also persuade him to join the party with a successful DC 15 Persuasion, but it will result in armed conflict with the other revenants.
  • Combat: (gotta do a huge list for this guy)
    • Rejuvenation (reborn in a new body 24 hours after he is slain)
    • Regeneration (regain 10 hp at the start of his turn)
    • Turn Immunity (immune to effects that turn undead)
    • Vengeful Tracker (always know where Strahd is)
    • Multiattack
    • Vengeful Glare (paralyze Strahd)
    • Resist necrotic/psychic damage, immunity to poison damage
    • Six condition immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned, stunned.
    • More reliable grapple attack using the Revenant’s Fist attack action.
    • Decent unarmed strike.
    • Spellcasting 4th-level slots Paladin (DC 15, +7).
    • Massive saving throw bonuses: Str +7, Con +7, Wis +6, Cha +7.
  • Spells:
    • First-Level Spells: Command, Detect Magic, Divine Favor, Thunderous Smite
    • Second-Level Spells: Aid, Branding Smite, Magic Weapon
    • Third-Level Spells: Blinding Smite, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse
    • Fourth-Level Spells: Aura of Purity, Staggering Smite
  • Utility: Darkvision 60 feet, knowledge of Strahd’s whereabouts. Cast Aura of Purity for anti-charm during Strahd interactions.
  • Baggage: The revenants who will violently object to him helping the party (assuming the beacon isn’t lit).
  • Other Notes: He will recognize the +2 shield in Castle Ravenloft’s treasury as it was pillaged from Argynvostholt. It can be fun to decide what body he returns in when slain. He’s old enough to interact with Dusk Elves like Rahadin and Kasimir in meaningful ways, but he may not recall those details since the module describes how the revenants of Argynvostholt have lost many of their memories to time. Non-humanoids are immune to Strahd’s Charm ability.

Godfrey’s Tier Explanation

Godfrey is god-tier. This guy is an insanely powerful ally. He can trivialize battles in the campaign, including the final fight with Strahd. The cons of getting Godfrey as a DA is that recruiting him can be one of the more dangerous DA recruitments, and he will be shunned among the living if his undeath is known. Maybe the party can get people to overlook that detail if they have a positive reputation in the towns. Actually, Godfrey could help in Intimidation checks if the party isn’t trying to be persuasive.

Why do I say he’s insanely powerful? He won’t stay dead for long, is extremely difficult to kill, always senses Strahd’s location, can potentially paralyze Strahd if his legendary resistances are used up, casts amazing spells, and much more than that. If that were all he could do, it’d be enough.

You may want to be careful giving Godfrey as the DA to your players. Keep that in mind because Godfrey is king! He can feel like a DM PC because he’s so strong and can trivialize tough encounters.

Sir Klutz as Destined Ally

Tier: A

  • Card: Ghost B
  • Statblock: CR 3 – Phantom Warrior (custom undead)
  • HP: 45
  • AC: 16
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: He’d usually join the party for one week then disappear, but as a Destined Ally he’ll stick around indefinitely. The hardest part of recruiting him is getting to the catacombs.
  • Combat: Resistance to damage from nonmagical weapons, immunity to cold/poison/necrotic damage, condition immunities (charmed, exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained), Multiattack with his Spectral Longsword (probably should count as a magical weapon), Incorporeal Movement to move through creatures, Spectral Armor and Shield, and Etherealness to peace out when he’s in trouble.
  • Utility: Etherealness, Incorporeal Movement, and Ethereal Sight! Darkvision 60 ft.
  • Baggage: Chip on his shoulder for the ignominious circumstance of his death.
  • Other Notes: He may fall prey to effects that turn undead, such as from a party’s Cleric. Non-humanoids are immune to Strahd’s Charm ability.

Sir Klutz’s Tier Explanation

Sir Klutz is more than comedic relief. He’s a formidable combatant and useful scout. His etherealness can be handy for exploring buildings. Phasing through walls might be annoying for DMs to deal with. Exploration through solid objects is beneficial, especially in Castle Ravenloft or the Amber Temple. He can move through creatures in combat, too. Enemies won’t bottleneck this guy.

One of the most infamous enemies in Curse of Strahd is Morgantha’s coven of Night Hags. They like to haunt the party like a gang of ghosts until they strike the party in their dreams. One of the most dangerous things about them is their ability to phase into the Ethereal Plane. Sir Klutz can see and move into the Ethereal Plane, a hard counter to the Night Hags’ tactics. He still needs to be careful that they don’t destroy him.

His spectral weapon and armor mean he’s not dependent on magic items but could use weapons like the Sunsword. He can’t be charmed, so the party won’t need to worry about him being mind-controlled with charms into giving it up a valuable item.

Sir Klutz is an excellent ally. He’s a bit shallow, so I recommend the DM add more to his character (see homebrewing below). DMs should be sure that they’re ok with working in a ghostly character who is not bound by normal walls and such.

Homebrewing Sir Klutz

The Phantom Warriors of Curse of Strahd are described as having faded memories of events predating their deaths. You can have fun inventing an expanded backstory for Sir Klutz that he can slowly rediscover during the campaign. He might realize how important and gallant he was before he accidentally killed himself with his own sword. You can show him he’s not a bumbling idiot, though he had bad luck in the end.

Stella Wachter as Destined Ally

Tier: D

  • Card: Donjon B
  • Statblock: CR 0 – Commoner
  • HP: 4
  • AC: 10
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Cure her madness with a Greater Restoration spell to recruit her. She’ll happily to accompany and leave her rotten family behind.
  • Combat: Club attack (very weak). One hit and she’ll be dead.
  • Utility: Social maneuvers can manipulate Fiona Wachter. She might have access to gold, but she doesn’t know Fiona’s secrets. Gain information about Victor Vallakovich and the layout of several building, like the burgomaster’s mansion or her home. Relates to children well. Fiona will tell the party about Fiona’s desire to overthrow the burgomaster, but that’s all she knows.
  • Baggage: Victor is a strong recruit, but you would have a hard time recruiting him with Stella as your DA.
  • Other Notes: You may need to ask the Abbot for help in restoring Stella’s mind.

Stella’s Tier Explanation

Stella’s circumstances are interesting, but there’s not much to her. She could have valuable information, but she lacks information about Fiona.

She may be good as bait for Night Hags. The party could pretend they’re willing to give her up to the Hags, and the Hags would be interested since they mostly want to corrupt adults into giving up their children. Night Hags are all about corrupting souls. Stella isn’t super young, so the Hags may not care for her.

If the Feast of Saint Andral hasn’t happened yet, Stella may help gain information from the kids in town. Milivoj would be someone she might have luck interrogating. She’s a similar age to him, and kids tend to talk to other kids easily.

Homebrewing Stella

Stella may retain cat-like features after her mind is restored. She may have keen senses for Perception, claws for attacking and climbing, decreased fall damage, or any other boon that makes sense to you.

Sidekick: The sidekick rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything could potentially apply to Stella since her CR is so low. This would lend to her survivability and usefulness when danger is afoot.

Vasilka as Destined Ally

Tier: A

  • Card: Tempter B
  • Statblock: CR 5 – Flesh Golem
  • HP: 93
  • AC: 9
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: The Abbot won’t risk Vasilka’s safety. The party will need to deal with the Abbot if they’re to take Vasilka with them. If they can get Vasilka on their side before a fight begins, the party will have a much better chance at success against the Abbot’s Deva form.
  • Combat: Immunity to poison and lightning damage, immunity to damage from non-magical or non-adamantine weapons. Lightning Absorption means lightning damage will actually heal her. Immune to conditions: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, and poisoned. The Berserk feature can be trouble when she’s below 40 hp (until dead or fully restored). Aversion of Fire can cause disadvantage. Immutable Form (no Polymorphing), Magic Resistance, attacks count as magical, no reliance on weapons, Multiattack (+7 to hit and average 13 damage per attack).
  • Utility: Darkvision 60 ft.
  • Baggage: Depression and without purpose, Vasilka may need paternal care from her allies so she can find her way. Issues with the Abbot.
  • Other Notes: Vasilka makes people feel uneasy due to her undead appearance, though she’s technically a construct. This is pronounced in Krezk when the people see she is made of the body parts of their dearly departed. Remember she’s a construct when someone uses an ability to turn undead; she’s immune as a construct. Non-humanoids are immune to Strahd’s Charm ability.

Vasilka’s Tier Explanation

Vasilka is the other Destined Ally I have experience with (the other is Arrigal). The party unanimously loved her! Recruiting her from the Abbot resulted in memorable combat where the Abbot attempted to fling party members from the abbey’s cliffside. Vasilka aided them in the fight as she raged against her creator.

The party had a special affection for Vasilka’s ability to heal from lightning damage. Our group had a Tempest Cleric who was casting Call Lightning often, and he could aim it perfectly to hit an enemy that Vasilka was fighting to damage the enemy and heal Vasilka. Ezmerelda’s signature Lightning Bolt pierced the enemy lines while rejuvenating Vasilka. It’d be a pity to have Vasilka as the party’s DA but have no lightning damage to pump her up. Enable your party to do that if they don’t inherently have lightning damage! A wand or scroll could do the trick.

She can be a liability if she berserks, but your party might avoid her losing many hitpoints. In my experience, Berserk was never triggered. Her aversion to fire is not a big deal, either. She has so much going for her that she is inarguably an absolute juggernaut that any party would be lucky to have. Her story is so interesting on top of her combat prowess that I have to give her the A-tier. I’m tempted to give her the S-tier, but Godfrey is the only ally who can claim that.

Homebrewing Vasilka

The book says Vasilka cannot speak (apart from an “unholy scream” when harmed), but I recommend giving her the ability to speak if she’s the Destined Ally. She can be limited in vocabulary and comprehension but able to talk nonetheless. She’ll become like other beloved fictional characters who learn from their protagonist counterparts. Examples of such characters include the Iron Giant, Data, Groot, and even Thor in his first film. I believe this is called the “fish out of water” trope.

My version of Vasilka (the DA in my first campaign) was a tragic bird in a cage who wanted to watch the snowfall. She felt depressed and confused. The party helped her see that Strahd was the source of that anger as she was created to be his plaything. This realization leads to her rebelling against the Abbot, too. The Abbot is like an abusive father when she acts out against him in this way. He will attempt to kill the player characters to calm Vasilka down and remind her of her purpose.

I homebrewed Vasilka to begin deteriorating once the Abbot was killed. The Abbot survived and fled the initial fight with him (flew away). Hence, the party worried about what he might do when he appeared again (he nearly caused a TPK ambush after recruiting the werewolves with the promise that Kiril could munch on the bones of Saint Andral). Once the Abbot was dead, Vasilka slowly lost her ability to speak, and she began to die when Strahd was dead. I allowed the party to cast Flesh to Stone on Vasilka despite her immunity to petrification, making her a statue in her final moments. Her form stood as a memorial to the children lost at Old Bonegrinder. Vasilka is epic.

Victor Vallakovich as Destined Ally

Tier: A

  • Card: Donjon A
  • Statblock: CR 6 – Mage
  • HP: 40
  • AC: 12 (15 with Mage Armor)
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Victor realizes the PCs are his key to salvation, so he happily leaves home to thwart Strahd at Castle Ravenloft. He’s desperate to leave Barovia.
  • Combat: Spellcasting (DC 14, +6)
  • Spells:
    • Cantrips: Acid Splash, Fire Bolt, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Prestidigitation.
    • First-Level spells: Detect Magic, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Shield, Thunderwave.
    • Second-Level spells: Darkvision, Levitate, Misty Step, Suggestion.
    • Third-Level spells: Animate Dead, Counterspell, Fireball, Fly, Glyph of Warding, Remove Curse.
    • Fourth-Level spells: Blight, Greater Invisibility, Ice Storm.
    • Fifth-Level spells: Cloudkill, Cone of Cold.
  • Utility: A player character Wizard can learn spells from Victor’s spellbook. As long as his father is in power, he may have political immunity with characters who care about that.
  • Baggage: Daddy issues, he murdered the servants in his teleportation experiments while he charmed them with Suggestion, and he shattered Stella Wachter’s mind. He’s also a rich brat who doesn’t bathe enough.
  • Other Notes: He has a bunch of skeletal cats hanging around that he dug up and raised from the Wachter House pet cemetery. Victor is content to avoid unwanted attention from his mother and disapproving glares from his father, so the book says. He’s the only person who disrespects his father and doesn’t end up in the stocks.

Victor’s Tier Explanation

Tier Explanation: I must compare Victor to Kasimir since they are variants of the Mage statblock in the Monster Manual. Kasimir is more useful because he’s not a childish liability, knows better spells (Polymorph is amazing), and can resist charms with his Fey Ancestry. However, Victor can be recruited very early in the campaign, and he doesn’t require a trip to the Amber Temple or the resurrection of a powerful, evil entity.

Victor doesn’t have Polymorph like Kasimir does, but it could be interesting to utilize Glyph of Warding if the party needs ways to spend their gold. Unfortunately, Victor doesn’t get Wall of Stone.

I think Kasimir is a better DA than Victor, but I think they can both sit in the A-tier together. They’re powerful mages that can open up possibilities for your campaigns due to their excellent spells known.

Homebrewing Victor

I believe Victor’s painted child-like wooden dolls indicate his need for childhood friends. He’s lonely. You could homebrew that the skeletal cats from the Wachter property were his attempt to cheer up Stella. He thought she could play with her cats again. Maybe the gesture was appreciated or rejected, but either result would lead to a botched spell that caused Stella’s feline madness.

I like to think Victor attempted a Polymorph spell on Stella (either to lash out or show off), but he had not perfected it (he still hasn’t mastered it). This would make him look up to a character like Kasimir, who can cast Polymorph. Victor may develop a father-and-son relationship with a character like Kasimir or a Wizard PC since Victor lacks a functional relationship with his parents.

Zuleika Toranescu as Destined Ally

Tier: B

  • Card: Beast
  • Statblock: CR 3 – Werewolf
  • HP: 58
  • AC: 11 (12 while transformed)
  • Recruiting as Destined Ally: Kill Kiril to avenge Emil’s imprisonment.
  • Combat: Multiattack, immunity to nonmagical/nonsilvered weapons, Shapechanger (creature classification), Shapechanger (lycanthrope shifting), greater movement speed when transformed (40 feet).
  • Utility: Can transform the player characters and their allies into Werewolves by giving them the lycanthropy curse. Keen Hearing and Smell with a Passive Perception of 14 (which can become 19 due to advantage from Keen Hearing and Smell).
  • Baggage: Mother Night, turning children into lycans, her imprisoned mate (Emil), and loyalty to her pack and its hierarchy.
  • Other Notes: Chaotic Evil!

Zuleika’s Tier Explanation

Zuleika as a DA can give players a reason to interact with the werewolves and the Werewolf Den. I found that the Werewolves were tricky to work into the campaign in a meaningful way, so Zuleika is a wonderful tug towards the pack as the party seeks their ally.

Zuleika can be a loose cannon. Her evil nature and lycanthropy curse can make her brash and impulsive, but she’s durable enough to last to the end of the campaign. She can solo some tough encounters with her damage immunities alone. She has enough hitpoints to survive Strahd’s Fireball spell, too.

Homebrewing Zuleika

I’m writing a summary of Krezk that will give the Werewolves more to do. I’ll link it here once I’ve finished writing it. Zuleika should have more to do! She and Emil need backstories, too.

Tier Summaries

Here is the tier breakdown for Strahd’s Enemies (Destined Allies) so you can review them in one place!

S-tier: Strahd is getting wrecked. Easy mode.

  • Sir Godfrey Gwilym (“S” stands for “Sir”)

A-tier: Extremely helpful and campaign-defining.

  • Arrigal
  • Ezmerelda d’Avenir
  • Kasimir Velikov
  • Parriwimple (Parpol Cantemir)
  • Rudolph van Richten (Rictavio)
  • Vasilka
  • Victor Vallakovich

B-tier: Reliably helpful but not a standout.

  • Davian Martikov
  • Ismark Kolyanovich
  • Mordenkainen (The Mad Mage)
  • Sir Klutz
  • Zuleika Toranescu

C-tier: Helpful if you’re careful and clever.

  • Donavich
  • Ireena Kolyana
  • Nikolai Wachter, Sr.
  • Pidlwick II

D-tier: Bench warmers. Easily killed, not enough benefit.

  • Arabelle
  • Stella Wachter

F-tier: Suicide Squad, you’re all gonna die. This ally may hurt you more than help you.

  • Clovin Belview

Conclusion: Destined Allies Are Fun

Curse of Strahd’s Fortunes of Ravenloft card reading can grant the party some compelling, powerful allies! Fortunes of Ravenloft makes each playthrough of this module interesting and different. It’s one of my favorite parts of the campaign.

DMs can embrace the randomness or tailor the results for the direction they’d like the campaign to progress. My overview will help DMs use Strahd’s Enemy in their campaign to the fullest. Sidekick mechanics and homebrewing are optional as I believe even the weakest Destined Ally can be interesting. After all, it’s a horror campaign, and one of the card reading results is to have no ally. One ally is better than none. Allies can present unique challenges for the party as they recruit and utilize them.

Which Destined Ally is your favorite? If you’re a former player, who was your Destined Ally, and how did they do? I love a good Curse of Strahd story, so cast Message in the comments section below to tell me yours.

Of course, let me know if this guide taught you something new or inspired you! I hope you’ll share this article with your circle of Strahd friends. Enjoy your adventure this weekend! Thanks for reading.

Before you leave Barovia through the mists, here are my other articles about the Curse of Strahd adventure:

Thanks for reading. Have a spooky adventure this weekend!

6 thoughts on “<b>Destined Ally Tier List</b>: Curse of Strahd D&D 5e Rankings”

  1. I wanted to leave a comment here, despite how old this post is, just because this is the best place I’ve found that has information on Vasilka. The module is annoyingly vague about her, with only one or two mentions of her overall. Not many other sites have much advice either and I nearly fell into despair until I found this. Thanks to your insight I can more confidently go into playing her.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting! I’m thrilled to hear that this article was helpful. Vasilka is a fantastic NPC, and I hope you enjoy having her in your game. 🙂

  2. This article has been very helpful to me! I’m currently running CoS for some new players, and they were mortified when they drew the Darklord. I’ve gone with the angle that Madame Eva’s interpretation of the card isn’t necessarily the best reading of it, and Arabelle has interpreted it in a “power over your own fate” sort of way for the party.

    On a side note, when I played through CoS as a player I actually ended up playing as Vasilka (in a manner of speaking, my characters soul was drawn from beyond Barovia’s borders by the Abbot accidentally while he was trying to fish for Tatyana’s soul to put in Vasilka, and ended up with my characters soul instead) and I have to agree that she is a fantastic character to explore!

    1. I’m glad you liked the article! And I’m jealous that you got to play as Vasilka. She’s awesome!
      I’m intrigued by the interpretation of the Darklord card allowing the players to choose their own ally. Very cool. 🙂

  3. I started my CoS campaign 2 years ago, and they just now found Pidlwick II. Having him such a late-game ally is rough, along with his CR. But DM’s need to get creative with crappy ally’s like this.

    First of all, Pidlwick II is an excuse to GIVE the players the isometric map of the castle. That map is a-freakin-amazing. He probably has it hidden on his person, or knows the secret location in the castle (and can’t access it since he is so short). That would be a big help to the party in this stage of the game. He also remembers a huge amount of ancient politics in his little mind, and if the party can figure out how to obtain it, that’s probably even better than the Tome of Strahd.

    Second, Pidlwick II’s combat ability is purely described as “likes to sneak around, snuff people out in their sleep, and push people down stairs and such”. So, I added sneak and acrobatics proficiency, and maybe will give him a feat for shoving. Large falls do 20d6 damage, remember. Note, I did not buff any of his other abilities, attacks, or stats. His meager 3d6 HP is fitting.

    Finally, my fated encounter with Strahd is on the Garden Balcony, overhanging the entirety of Village Barovia, that’s a 1000ft drop. If I can orchestrate enough charades and telegraph his abilities, maybe they will have him push Strahd off of that drop. Throw Pidlwick II on Strahd as a tactical knockback device. They can both die that way! It’d be a terrific redemption arc.

    1. Lol that would be a hilarious way to use Pildwick to take out Strahd. I love the idea of unlocking castle and political knowledge with Pidlwick as the ally!

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