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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 (7)
Discussions (20)
Customer avatar
Edward W October 21, 2021 9:42 am UTC
Yeah. No.
Customer avatar
Jason P October 20, 2021 2:43 am UTC
Definitely would buy a FG conversion of this! After my DiA compaign, I'll be doing a CoS campaign and this would be ideal! *crosses fingers*
Customer avatar
Alex D October 19, 2021 8:28 pm UTC
I previously mentioned this on Twitter, but I can't help but see Laura Bailey in your Lady Strahd.
Customer avatar
Stuart K October 13, 2021 1:09 pm UTC
I'm curious - was the art for most of the NPCs made on Artbreeder.com?
Customer avatar
Beth S October 14, 2021 6:04 pm UTC
CREATOR
Yes! For each NPC, I created multiple portraits to get each feature I wanted and then combined and edited everything in Adobe Photoshop. :)
Customer avatar
Stuart K October 14, 2021 7:20 pm UTC
Neat, ArtBreeder is a great site. Might be worth giving them a shout-out in the credits if you ever revise the document?

By sheer coincidence I'm working on something Ravenlofty and DM-Guildy that involves swapping genders around and I've found Artbreeder to be amazing. I even uploaded a sketch and got a complete piece of art back.
Customer avatar
Michael O October 12, 2021 4:03 pm UTC
Amazing art and interesting idea. I like that the changes made to the story in order to accommodate the gender changes are thought out and details are provided in how to run the adapted campaign. I did find that it didn't truly seem genderbent from a 1:1 perspective as some important figures just have their roles reversed, some just partially reversed, and some genders have changed. It's not a straight male to female, female to male thing change. It did also seem like there are more male to female/nonbinary conversions than female to male conversions. Additionally, the changes made can make it feel weird for people since there is a noticeable inclusivity bent to the changes that can feel a little forced. This would make it less immersive for me.

In summary, this is something that I'd read out of curiosity and to enjoy the art and layout. I would not fully use it in its entirety in actual play. However, if I wanted to play a genderbent Strahd campaign, there is some good stuff in here and I would...See more
Customer avatar
goose S October 10, 2021 9:33 am UTC
PURCHASER
Only the gender of the characters and some background stories have been changed.
The whole book is quite unimaginative and extremely boring.
After changing the gender, the whole story is exactly the same as the old version,What is the significance of this book? Just to hear a few meaningless background descriptions?
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
PURCHASER
"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
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 :)
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File Last Updated:
August 30, 2021
This title was added to our catalog on August 29, 2021.