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She is the Ancient: A Genderbent Curse of Strahd
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She is the Ancient: A Genderbent Curse of Strahd

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She is the Ancient: A Genderbent Curse of Strahd

Re-imagined NPCs, backstories, and concepts for your Curse of Strahd campaign!

When I first picked up Curse of Strahd, I wondered how exciting it might be if this Count were instead a Countess. Here is the visual culmination of what's been swirling around in my mind and at my tables. 

This guide is a reference to the NPCs of Curse of Strahd. You'll find that each character has helpful descriptions, connections, and suggestions for roleplay. I've included story changes and alternate encounters as well. Not every NPC has been gender-bent, but many have. Some characters simply swapped backstories or societal roles. While I market this as "A Genderbent Curse of Strahd," it's a bit more than that. There are changes to how horror gets depicted, and there are alternatives to the characters centered around racial slurs and ableist language. 

Maybe you'd like to see more women represented as more than just desired objects or hags? Perhaps you'd like to play a classic Dracula story with less targeted sexual violence? We can have TTRPG horror without the repeated use of prominent real-life horror. After all, as my good friend Casual Campbell states, "Vampires should understand consent better than any monster. They literally have to ask for permission to enter a home."


What you’ll find in this 157-page, full color guide: 

  • My playtested changes to Strahd’s backstory
  • New story concepts
  • Over 85 NPC descriptions
  • Digital NPC portrait tokens
  • And more!

This guide includes web-page access to plain text for e-reader purposes.

Page previews for She is the Ancient including faction information, NPC map, NPC description pages, handouts, encounter changes, and location changes.

Page previews for She is the Ancient including faction information, NPC map, NPC description pages, handouts, encounter changes, and location changes.

Digital tokens

Want to see some of this content in action?

You can watch Beth the Bard DM for Casual Campbell, Fenway Jones, Jesse Jay, and Ty Stone! Where? On Satine Phoenix's Gilding Light TV, each Tuesday evening from 5-7pm Pacific @ twitch.tv/GildingLight. More information on SheIsTheAncient.com.

Ginny Di Video Transcript:

“Imagine Strahd von Zarovich as a woman — a powerful, female vampire holding Barovia in her grip.

“There’s been plenty of talk of genderbending Strahd online, but in Beth the Bard’s new book, She is the Ancient, you’ll find a lot more than swapped-out pronouns. Beth has completely rethought Curse of Strahd, one of the most popular D&D adventures of all time, to come at its themes of abuse and control from a totally different angle.

“Countess Strahd has her own version of the original backstory, and her own relationships with other characters, different but parallel to the narrative laid out in the original. NPCs have had their genders and stories rethought as well. She is the Ancient gives you everything you need to run this module with a flipped script that puts women of all kinds into the driver’s seat while also cutting out sexist tropes, targeted violence against women and children, racism, and ableism.”


 
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Reviews (6)
Discussions (15)
Customer avatar
Robert L September 26, 2021 8:28 pm UTC
At this stage of my gaming life I've been trying to check off multiple boxes in my gaming bucket list if I try to fire up something long term. For Curse of Strahd I got the idea to run it in Innistrad because of the Plane Shift, which would check off the "run game in a MtG setting" as well. Also I've run the Dracula Dossier, so I've kinda been there and done that with the antagonist being a suave scary Vampire Lord. Since I'd have to change a ton of stuff around anyway by moving the setting, I'm curious if this would product would make my job easier. Thoughts from people who have purchased it?
Customer avatar
Elliott B September 26, 2021 9:18 am UTC
PURCHASER
Really liking this so far! Would it be possible to upload a new version with bookmarks for each chapter? Being such an expansive document it would help a lot if I could locate and get to what I need easier. Love the content.
Customer avatar
Dave M September 20, 2021 1:07 am UTC
PURCHASER
Re: The Lady of Trollskull Priory (https://www.dmsguild.com/product/252105/The-Lady-of-Trollskull-Priory) (LoTP)

LoTP is intended as a teaser from Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (W:DH) to Curse of Strahd (CoS) -- either to hint at where the campaign will go next, or just as a CoS Easter Egg inside W:DH. As such, it has Mongrelfolk, which She is the Ancient (SitA) changes. In SitA, they're referred to as "Patients" or "Experiments," but without any link to Mordenheim those don't make a whole lot of sense.

My suggestion would be, instead of linking to Mordenheim and Lamordia and Mordenheim's Flesh Golems, link to Dr. Markov (of Markovia) and his Broken Ones, which are a gross merging of humanoids and animals. As it's the Abbey of St. Markovia, it's already in the name, and "Broken One" is a bit more generic than "Patients" or "Experiments." (Bluetspur also has psychic versions of the Broken Ones which they call Shattered Brethren)
...See more
Customer avatar
Dave M September 19, 2021 6:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I have not purchased this yet -- we're quite a few months, minimum, from starting CoS -- but I'm working on getting my major campaign tweaks out of the way in advance. How well will this work with Curse of Strahd: Reloaded ( https://www.reddit.com/r/CurseofStrahd/comments/9bpzbh/curse_of_strahd_reloaded_compilation_thread/ ) ?
Customer avatar
Jared M September 16, 2021 10:23 pm UTC
"She is the Ancient."

Good for her! Most women are uncomfortable talking about their age, but admitting to be ancient? Confidence.

Bad joke aside, this does look like fun and probably will help me throw my players a loop when we come back to our Strahd One-shot. Especially the young edgelord punk. Oh yes...
Customer avatar
James L September 11, 2021 4:22 pm UTC
Ok, I'm reading your introduction with my mouth hanging open.. Strahd is the D&D equivalent of Dracula.. WHY in the name of God didn't you make a D&D version of Countess Elizabeth Bathory https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Countess+Elizabeth+Bathory and pencil her in to her very own domain in the Ravenloft realm?!

I mean, holy crap, that would be a shoe in for the next Dark Lord of Ravenloft!! Well.. if you spent the time to polish it up and make it truly remarkable.

I MIGHT buy this some day. I mean, Madame Eva is literally the Eve to Strahd = Adam in this game, you should have played her up rather than bending Strahd.. in my humble opinion. None the less, if you have other strong female NPCs in your content (that you put forethought in to, not just bending them to bend them) those could be very useful. I'd like to hear your comments first though. If you will consider making a Countess Bathory for D&D in her own realm.. I'd buy that in a heartbeat! #InstantPurchase :D

THIS...See more
Customer avatar
Cassie J September 13, 2021 11:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Wow that's a lot of opinion for somebody who hasn't read it.
Customer avatar
Cassie J September 10, 2021 7:51 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This is one of the most comprehensively ready-to-roll and inclusively genderbent versions of any campaign I've ever read. I am so excited to run this - as a new DM the thought and care that have gone into this are amazing! It goes way beyond just flipping some pronouns and is a complete reimagining of Strahd that feels like a completely new experience, even for seasoned denizens of Barovia!
Customer avatar
Beth S September 19, 2021 5:14 pm UTC
CREATOR
Thank you so much for this comment!
Customer avatar
Dix D September 10, 2021 2:15 am UTC
PURCHASER
I thought 20$ was a bit expensive but after buying it I can tell, it is totally worth ! This is so nice, I thought about making Strahd a Countess and change others bad stereotypes to improve the story but go overwhelmed… You made it !! Every new backgrounds, goals and links with other NPCs are super clear and ready to use.

Do you think it is possible to get full quality NPC portrait? I would like to make my own token and show wide images to my players.

Thank you :)
Customer avatar
Beth S September 10, 2021 2:20 am UTC
CREATOR
Thanks so so much for this comment! I really appreciate it! I could get you larger pictures but they aren’t wide, they’re still 1:1 ratio. What you see on the NPC pages in the book are as wide as they go. If you’re still interested, reach out to me via ItsBethTheBard @ gmail . com and I can help you out with that!
Customer avatar
Dix D September 10, 2021 2:42 am UTC
PURCHASER
Oh yes, I see... when I copy the portrait from the PDF I get a 1050x1050 image. This is so nice !

Thank you very much for the work and your help :D
Customer avatar
Joshua S September 07, 2021 3:59 am UTC
PURCHASER
I started DMing CoS at the beginning of last year, but we got put on hold due to life issues, so we're planning on starting over next month and I was just getting ready to start prepping and I saw this come across my FB feed. Absolutely gonna grab this ASAP. Does this do anything with Death House, or possibly House of Lament from Van Richten's Guide?
Customer avatar
Beth S September 07, 2021 4:57 am UTC
CREATOR
There is definitely some re-vamping to Death House, from a social and backstory perspective! (Not a meat grinder encounter perspective.) I haven’t touched on House of Lament yet but plan to include it in volume two when this is updated down the road!
Customer avatar
Christopher D September 05, 2021 11:10 pm UTC
I'm currently playing in a CoS campaign now. My DM and a few co players are cool with also playing CoS. Will this feel sufficiently different to them?
Customer avatar
Beth S September 06, 2021 1:02 am UTC
CREATOR
I’m not sure I totally understand the question BUT this has all the characters from Curse of Strahd. Their names/genders/roles have been changed. My backstory changes are also different from the original, but parallel. If you’ve already started a story and established the NPCs, I’d say you could still pull inspiration for adding more balance to the future of the story! I hope that helps. Thanks for asking! :)
Customer avatar
Christopher D September 06, 2021 1:23 am UTC
Sorry if it wasn't clear. I was saying I'm currently a player in a Curse of Strahd campaign. My DM and a few other players have said they wouldn't mind playing it again in the future with me as DM. I was asking if this would feel different enough to run it for them.
Customer avatar
Beth S September 06, 2021 2:28 am UTC
CREATOR
OHHH, got it! No, this guide follows the original CoS. It’s meant to be a supplement to use with the original CoS book itself, to change characters while following the general structure of this sandbox. That said, there are some extra story concepts that could be used but, in general, it’d be a repeat. (Vampire overlord, prison realm, reincarnation, fortune telling, horcrux hunt, etc.) Thanks for asking!
Customer avatar
Christopher D September 06, 2021 3:02 am UTC
Okie dokie. Thanks for answering :)
Customer avatar
Chad L September 02, 2021 12:40 am UTC
Hi there! Any thoughts about adding this to fantasy grounds vtt? Think this would be a great addition and would love to talk with you about it! I actually started running CoS not to long ago and decided to make him a woman, so this would be a great addition!

feel free to join the grim press discord at https://discord.gg/gyTK9g8QHJ if you have any questions, my name is Engorgio on there.

Thank you
Customer avatar
Vesper B September 01, 2021 7:10 pm UTC
This looks great, but would you consider making a few pages available in full-size preview?
Customer avatar
Beth S September 01, 2021 7:37 pm UTC
CREATOR
Absolutely! I didn’t realize I could do that! (New to this.)
I’ll go figure that out. :)
Customer avatar
Vesper B September 03, 2021 7:08 pm UTC
Should be under Edit Title : She is the Ancient : Automatic Previews : Full-Size PDF Preview! Congrats on your success with this title btw!
Customer avatar
Jonas N September 01, 2021 9:02 am UTC
So... let me get this straight, this is a beautiful, incredibly well-made supplement for the module I just started running with an idea I absolutely love and it is ADHD-friendly? TAKE MY MONEY!

I am not sure if you would want to but I, personally, would love if you added the "ADHD-friendly" part into the description somewhere, I know quite a few GMs with ADHD ;D
Customer avatar
Beth S September 01, 2021 5:26 pm UTC
CREATOR
Haha, thanks so much for this comment! Yeah, I have ADHD and so I create most things from that perspective. This is also why I’m also making a video series to go with this book as soon as I’m able because I know that’ll help even more! <3
Customer avatar
Hallie S August 31, 2021 1:45 am UTC
What if you are a complete dinosaur and really would rather have a print copy of this. Will there be an option for that, or is my printer going to have to work overtime?
Customer avatar
Beth S August 31, 2021 2:58 am UTC
CREATOR
That is an excellent inquiry. There may be a feasible option here… The PDF is very printer unfriendly, aside from maybe the NPC pages. I designed the whole thing with my ADHD in mind so it has a LOT of color and artwork. Even the NPC pages have portraits of almost every character in full color. THAT BEING SAID, if you look at page 2 or page 157 there is a link and password to an accessibility page on my website that takes all the text from the book and lays it out so it can easily be used by e-readers. This would work well for printers as well! (If that’s not a great solution, let me know and I may work on a more printer friendly copy of the pdf itself.) Thanks for your question.
Customer avatar
Tim K September 01, 2021 9:15 pm UTC
PURCHASER
What if we want to read it in print, but also enjoy the beautiful layout and art as well? Any chance that Print-on-Demand in hard or softcover? I would absolutely love to have this at my table during a game.
Customer avatar
Beth S September 01, 2021 10:33 pm UTC
CREATOR
I’m learning how to offer this in print! I’ll update as soon as I know more.
Customer avatar
Beth S September 03, 2021 2:34 pm UTC
CREATOR
It turns out we’ll have to make it to platinum before we’re eligible for Print of Demand!
Customer avatar
Tim K September 09, 2021 4:00 pm UTC
PURCHASER
oh wow, that is a high bar to clear. Well I'll be grabbing a PDF copy until we get there!

Looking forward to running these mods in my CoS group. Thanks for making this product.
Customer avatar
Daniel M August 31, 2021 12:05 am UTC
Do you still need a copy of Curse of Strahd to use this?
Customer avatar
Beth S August 31, 2021 12:39 am UTC
CREATOR
Yes! I don’t think I would be allowed to make something so complete that one could bypass the original book it focuses on. Otherwise, I would have loved to! It’s a supplement so you’ll need CoS. It’s recommended (but not necessary) to have Van Richten’s Guide and Monster Manual as well!
Customer avatar
Daniel M August 31, 2021 2:35 am UTC
I figured as much, but thought I'd ask.

Looks very cool, might actually get me to run a published adventure. XD
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on August 29, 2021.