Janisar early v.3.5
(Link to more Janisar Information)

This represents a version of this NPC which was designed for use in the Rookhausen setting as I created it for the Sword and Sorcery RPG chats.

Janisar "von Terg" - Darklord of Rookhausen
Male human ancient vampire Barbarian 15
CR 18
SZ M Undead (6 ft. 5 in. tall)
HD 15d12 (103 hp)
Init +9 (Improved Initiative +4, Dex +5)
Spd 60
AC 22 (+7 natural, +5 Dex, -2 [AC 20] if he is raged)
Atk: +23/+18/+13 melee (1d6+8 and energy drain, slam) or +24/+19/+14 melee (1d12+9, greataxe) or +20/+15/+10 ranged (1d8, longbow) [+3 additional melee attack and damage bonus if raged]
SA Blood drain, children of the night, command undead, create spawn, create thrall, dominate, energy drain, frightful presence, greater rage
SQ Alternate form, cold and electricity resistance 20, damage reduction 25/silver and magic plus 3/-, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 6, fast movement, gaseous form, illiteracy, improved uncanny dodge, indomitable will, light sleep, scent, spider climb, trap sense, turn resistance +9, uncanny dodge, undead type, vampire weaknesses
SR 20?? (see below)
SV Fort +9, Ref +12, Will +8
Str 26 (+8), Dex 21(+5), Con -, Int 17(+3), Wis 16(+3), Cha 18(+4)

Skills: Appraise +3, Balance +5, Bluff* +12, Climb+13/+16, Concentration +4, Craft(armorsmithing) +4, Craft(bowmaking) +4, Craft(trapmaking) +4, Craft(weaponsmithing) +4, Diplomacy +11, Disguise +4, Escape Artist +5, Gather Information +4, Handle Animal +9, Heal +3, Hide* +13, Intimidate +19, Jump +13/+16, Knowledge(history) +6, Knowledge(local) +6, Knowledge(nature) +6, Knowledge(nobility) +4, Knowledge(religion) +6, Knowledge(the planes) +5, Listen** +22, Move Silently* +13, Perform +4, Profession(mercenary) +6, Ride +13, Search* +11, Sense Motive* +11, Spot** +18, Survival +10, Swim +9/+12, Use Rope +5

* - Skills marked with an asterisk include a +8 racial bonus for being a vampire.
** - Skills marked with a double asterisk include a +8 racial bonus and the Alertness feat bonus.
+X/+Y - For skills with a split value, the second value applies only when he is using Rage.

Feats: Alertness*, Cleave, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes*, Dodge*, Ghost Sight, Great Cleave, Improved Initiative*, Improved Sunder, Leadership, Lightning Reflexes*, Power Attack, Scent.
* - Feats marked with the asterisk are bonus feats gained by virtue of vampire template.

Languages: Terg*, Balok, Sylvan and Luktar.

Signature Possessions: +1 greataxe, [I think this should be a life-drinker from the DMG or alternately have the wailing property from the Ravenloft DMG, or be the vampire axe from the Ravenloft DMG], scarab of protection (shaped like a snarling wolf head) with only one charge remaining [this was the source of the SR 15 in the 3.0 version of Janisar, but if the sword isn't a life-drinker then it is not a necessary thing, though some sort of SR that fit the character's origin would be nice, SR 20 is the new value], kickass light armor [mithril breastplate +1 improved shadow was the best suggestion from the DM egroup, though that might be a bit elf-centric for the Tergs that Strahd fought. If I can settle upon an appropriate defense against magic, a suitable suit of armor, and a nasty weapon, I really don't see any reason to add much else. I put "improved shadow" because that is the equal of the original 3.0 shadow power whereas 3.5 has more degrees than one.]


Janisar was a young boy when Strahd's soldiers destroyed the last Terg strongholds in Barovia and drove them into the freezing mountain passes fleeing for their lives. He grew up with a hatred for the devil Strahd that exceeded even that of his elders and playmates. As he grew older, the young barbarian began to gather those around him who desired to gain revenge upon the Barovian people and Strahd in particular. Terg priests favored Janisar and lent him protection. Armed with holy might and inspired by a seemingly bottomless reservoir of hatred, Janisar forged together the tribes and marched upon Barovia. The rest is history.

Current Sketch

Janisar remains illiterate because part of his curse remains feeling trapped in a culture different from his. His ghost sight feat forces him to see the dead souls of those who remain from the slaughter of the sacking of Rookhausen a few hundred years ago.

Janisar hates Strahd with a passion, but cannot reach him directly. Currently he sponsors the mysterious blood cult which has arisen in the Low City. Made up primarily of Gundarakites who fled their land when it became part of Barovia and settled here, the blood cult is basically a recruiting ground for guerrilla fighters who return to Barovia, armed and trained, in effort to free Gundar from Barovia and Invidia again. Of course Janisar just wants them to help him destroy Strahd, but that's not what he tells them.


Combat with Janisar may vary considerably. If he is busy skulking about the Lower City looking for blood to feed upon, he may not be wearing armor or even carrying a weapon. Should he be in the mood for death, he is likely to be armed to a degree that is technically illegal in the city. He wears the heaviest armor he can find which doesn't interfere with his speed and bears the mighty great axe of his mortal days. The fiend of Rookhausen is certainly not above turning victims to his cause, whether by making them into vampires or via his powerful charm. Many of those who serve him do so inadvertently through the various Low City crime syndicates, and do so more out of fear and greed than anything else.

Special Attacks: Command Undead (Su): Janisar can command or rebuke undead as a 12th level cleric.

Create Thrall: Due to his capture of a Kargat vampire, he learned the secrets of creating thralls (see Ravenloft Gazetteer II).

Frightful Presence (Su): If Janisar snarls and reveals his fangs, opponents within range must make a Will save (DC 21) or become frightened. Range and duration as per Monster Manual. See the rules for the frightened condition in the PHB or the DMG.

Rage (greater): When Janisar is using rage, his Strength rises by +6 (to 32), giving him an additional +3 to hit and damage normally, and +3 to Strength based skill checks. He also adds +3 morale bonus to Will saves and suffers a -2 to AC. He can Rage up to 4 times per day. Janisar's rage only lasts 3 rounds, but as an undead it does not exhaust him.

Vampire Abilities: The save versus Janisar's vampire abilities is DC 21.

Special Qualities: Barbarian Abilities: Janisar has all of the normal abilities of a 15th level barbarian, including improved uncanny dodge, fast movement and trap sense.

Damage Reduction: It is worth noting that Janisar's barbarian damage reduction operates independently of, yet in conjunction with, that he gains for being a vampire, and that it does not fade even when magic or silver is employed.

Darklord: Janisar is the darklord of Rookhausen. As such he gains various special powers and penalties accordingly, including increased resistance to turning, the ability to close the domain borders and the like. As part of his curse, he cannot leave the Lower City, though the domain of Rookhausen extends beyond those boundaries.

Indomitable Will: As a vampire, Janisar is immune to enchantments. If somebody somehow targets him with an enchantment that affected undead, his indomitable will gives him +4 additional bonus to his save.

Light Sleep (Ex): Unlike most vampires, Janisar is not helpless during daylight hours. See the Ravenloft Players Handbook for details of this salient power.

Scent (Ex): Janisar's incredibly sharp senses include an acute sense of smell. This gives him the Scent feat (see the DMG) and forces him to endure the foul airs of the Lower City in a way incomprehensible to normal men.

Undead Type: Janisar enjoys the special powers of all undead, and suffers their special penalties.

Vampire Weaknesses: Age has strengthened the fiend of Rookhausen against some of the standard weaknesses of vampires. Garlic no longer repels him. While his reflection still does not appear in mirrors, they do not frighten him. Holy symbols mean nothing to him unless wielded by a stout priest. Running water will damage him, but he may cross it. Even sunlight takes 10 rounds now to destroy him. (See ancient vampire rules in Van Richten's Arsenal Volume I).


Janisar can no longer leave the Lower City district of Rookhausen. It fills him with rancor that the Lord Protector now uses the fortress he once claimed as prize for the city's gate-keep and outrider garrison. He now lairs in a twisted wreck of tunnels beneath the rotting warehouses of Fish Head Row. These tunnels once served as the stronghold of the city's strongest organized crime guild, but most such groups have been slain or turned to Janisar's ends.

Closing the Borders

When Janisar wants to close the borders of his domain, Mists surround the entirety of it, and anyone who tries to exit inevitably finds herself turned around in the fog. Janisar cannot personally leave the Lower City, yet his domain stretches from a bit north of Northfen to the south of Southmoor and from west of Wight Hill to somewhat east as Devil's Rock. Within the regions which fall inside his domain but outside the Lower City, he must try to enforce his will via proxy, such as charmed servants, rebuked undead or the children of the night.

Janisar's Evil

Check out the evil and curse of Janisar Here

Behind the Curtain

I created Janisar using the 28 point buy, rather than the 25 point Standard Buy. His original mortal shell at 1st level therefore had Strength 15, Dexterity 13, Constitution 12, Intelligence 13, Wisdom 10, Charisma 12. Not bad, but I am sure we have all played more powerful characters before, no?

Janisar possessed 13 Intelligence until he became a vampire, and he would have been a 12th level Barbarian mortal, having gained 1 level each time he gained a vampire age category. Thus he had 24 skill points at 1st level, gained 6 per level for levels 2-12 as 4 +1 for human +1 for Intelligence (for 66 more), gained 7 more for level 13 (his Intelligence had raised to 15 for being a vampire) and gained 8 each level for levels 14 & 15 as 4 + 1 human + 3 Intelligence (Intelligence raised to 17 by 2nd vampire age rank). That is a total of 113 skill points. I also figured him as maximum hit points at first level, but average (real average, not DMG table average) thereafter, thus giving him 103 hp. A good chunk of his skills listed actually have 0 ranks spent on them but have high bonuses due to his vampirically improved stats.

Appraise 0 +3 (intelligence)
Balance 0 +5 (dexterity)
(cc)Bluff 0 +8 (vampire) +4 (charisma)
Climb 5 +8 (strength)
(cc)Concentration 0 +4 (charisma, undead type rule)
Craft (armorsmithing) 1 +3 (intelligence)
Craft (bowmaking) 1 +3 (intelligence)
Craft (weaponsmithing) 1 +3 (intelligence)
Craft (trapmaking) 1 +3 (intelligence)
(cc)Diplomacy 7 +4 (charisma) [Maximum cross class for 12th level barbarian which was his final level as a mortal leader of men]
Disguise 0 +4 (charisma)
Escape Artist 0 +5 (dexterity)
Gather Information 0 +4 (charisma)
Handle Animal 5 +4 (charisma)
Heal 0 +3 (wisdom)
(cc)Hide 0 +8 (vampire) +5 (dexterity)
Intimidate 15 +4 (charisma) [Maximum in-class for 12th level barbarian]
Jump 5 +8 (strength)
(cc)Knowledge (history) 3 +3 (intelligence)
(cc)Knowledge (local) 3 +3 (intelligence) [It would be nice to raise this to 5 ranks in order to get the synergy bonus to Gather Information, given that he has been trapped in the Lower City for a few hundred years, but I haven't figured out where to take points away]
(cc)Knowledge (nature) 1 +3 (intelligence) +2 (synergy from Survival)
(cc)Knowledge (nobility) 1 +3 (intelligence)
(cc)Knowledge (religion) 3 +3 (intelligence) [I wish I could get this up to a total of +10 so that he had a bonus equal to that of 10 ranks to match the knowledge a typical vampire hunter prestige class should have, but again I haven't figured out where to take points away]
(cc)Knowledge (the planes) 2 +3 (intelligence) [See notes below]
Listen 9 +8 (vampire) +2 (alertness) +3 (wisdom)
Move Silently 0 +8 (vampire) +5 (dexterity)
Perform (any) 0 +4 (charisma)
(cc)Profession (mercenary) 3 +3 (wisdom) [This is one that I debated lowering to a single rank plus bonus. He probably didn't pursue it very heavily once he became a leader among his people.]
Ride 6 +5 (dexterity) +2 (synergy Handle Animal) [Ride 5 is probably all that is necessary, so here's 1 point, or 1/2 cross class point. I set it at 6 originally to equal the Night Lord prestige class minimum]
Search 0 +8 (vampire) +3 (intelligence)
Sense Motive 0 +8 (vampire) +3 (wisdom)
(cc)Spot 5 +8 (vampire) +2 (alertness) +3 (wisdom)
Survival 7 +3 (wisdom)
Swim 1 +8 (strength) [Another potential point. D&D Swim is an untrained skill - which is actually rather absurd as anyone who has ever swam knows - so he could have always used Strength]
Use Rope 0 +5 (dexterity)

I'd really like to give Janisar 1 or 2 ranks in the Knowledge (the planes) skill. He's actually been a darklord for longer than most darklords in the books, even though he is much less powerful than a good number of them. With his Intelligence bonus, this would give him a rating of Knowledge (the planes) +4 or +5. +4 would give us the freedom/excuse to introduce a Night Lord NPC (from Champions of Darkness) that was loyal to Janisar some day if we wanted to do so. Technically the night lord requires 4 ranks of the knowledge in order to be a night lord, but in a roleplaying sense at least if Janisar had the equivalent of +4 he could theoretically teach a corrupted mind the necessary things. Furthermore, the new Ravenloft PHB lists 5 ranks of the skill for the Monster Hunter class, and this would give us excuse for Janisar to perhaps train some of those he sends to Barovia as such. Janisar has been trying to break out of "Strahd's prison" for some time now, and I think that more than 1 or 2 ranks would represent _too much_ information given his skewed vision of the Dread Realm.

Axe ideas - Great axe + 1. I favor it either being a life drinker (normal DMG), a wailing axe (property from the Ravenloft DMG that is very cool and thematic) or a vampiric axe (Ravenloft DMG, probably created by Strahd and taken by Janisar or his people long ago?).

Armor - want to make sure it is the best possible light armor that I can muster without being ridiculous, in order to keep his fast predator image.

Spell Resistance - the Scarab of Protection is most thematic if he was wielding a life drinker back when he was still a living man. Otherwise it is less so, but it would be nice to have some sort of protection IF such can be fitting.

Other than that, I don't see any need for any more magic items. In combination with his own personal power, and that of his charmed or undead followers (and their followers) he doesn't need it.

Regarding languages, I am less convinced of Sylvan now, though it was previously chosen due to potential ties to the Wolf God's cult, lycanthropes are no longer specifically listed as speaking the tongue; thus far the only vaguely suitable replacement I have found is Worg. Wolfweres are still listed with Sylvan though. I also see that there would be ancient elves in the city who were alive when he sacked it. Having learned Sylvan from the Wolf god's priests, he might speak that tongue on occasion to a decrepit elven elder or two, forcing them to recount to him the glorious tales of the sack of the city.

Bloodlust: In the 3.0 version, I had it so that the sight or smell of blood drove Janisar into a frenzy as per the weakness available in the Ravenloft Campaign Setting. I am concerned that this gives us zero excuse for players to ever survive his attacks, and I am also concerned that there are probably too many times this would be triggered in the Lower City. On the other hand, it would assure that usually he only killed one person out of a group, as he would pause to drain that person dry before even thinking of proceeding onwards.

Janisar is written and copyright Conrad Hubbard. Ravenloft is published by Arthaus and Sword & Sorcery under license from Wizards of the Coast. Nothing on this page is meant to contest their copyrights.

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