Players created two characters who were retainers of Lord Dhelt of Elturel. An assassin attempts to kill Lord Dhelt, and the players give pursuit. They manage to kill the assassin, but as they are retrieving Dhelt's holy symbol, mists envelope the party and bring them to Barovia, a land surrounded in poison mist. The party must attempt to find their way back home before the cursed land overtakes them.
Strahd's possession had a sequel released in the following year, called Ravenloft: Stone Prophet, set in the desert world of Har'Akir, where the party gets trapped there after a strange aurora fills the skies of Elturel. The same protagonists from the first could be imported into the second adventure, but aside from a few Continuity Nod, the adventures are not linked.
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: You need a mere fifteen gold pieces to buy a potion to go through the Mists of Ravenloft. There is almost no money in the game. You only find fifteen, and only fifteen, gold in one of the final dungeons.
- Affably Evil: Strahd is incredibly polite, particularly on his first encounter. Even when you encounter him as a vampire, he is quite civil.
- Beef Gate: Generally avoided through the use of Broken Bridge, but the Western Forest can be painful if you encounter the werewolves at night too early.
- Broken Bridge: Many doors are locked with keys. While a thief (or a mage with the right spell) can open some doors, most need the keys to open. Vladislav will also block the path into the Caverns beneath the Ivlis, and he is required for that dungeon.
- Creepy Cathedral: The Church of Lathander, given that it's cursed and full of monsters.
- Creepy Cemetery: The church's graveyard. Very creepy given how the dead have risen as ghouls and vampires, even during the day.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mostly Bray Martikova, the sarcastic innkeep. But a number of characters as well.
- Dem Bones: Most notably in the Ivlis Caverns, given that the only monsters there are skeletons and Bone Golems. But quite literally, there are only two places in the game where one will not encounter undead.
- Dirty Coward: A brigand will attack you, but if you defeat him, he begs you to spare his life, and gives up his band's hideout.
- Excuse Plot: You are on a quest to find your lord's holy symbol. This leads to a massive battle with a vampire lord.
- Evil is Petty: Strahd's reason for keeping Lord Dhelt's holy symbol is not petty at firstnote , but he later learns the truth and still keeps it, deciding to destroy the party because their willful behavior could make the peasants not afraid of the world.
- Ghost Town: Barovia is full of people, but they hide in their homes and don't talk to strangers. A lot of the Flavor Text from the protagonists mentions how they've seen scarred battlefields with more life in them.
- Kill It with Fire: Oils of Fiery Burning are plentiful and thrown as grenades. Burning Hands is also the go-to circumstance for dealing with most mooks.
- MacGuffin: Lord Dhelt's Holy Symbol of Helm. As it turns out, the assassin falsely believed that the symbol was actually the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind. The real Holy Symbol of Ravenkind is found much later.
- Memento Macguffin: The elven signet from the tomb.
- Obvious Trap: The walls in many dungeons are lined with them. Mostly they shoot fireballs or lightning bolts in a straight line. While they are easy to avoid, it can be difficult to avoid if the path is narrow.
- Pixel Hunt: Common in an Adventure Game made in the 1990's, there are a number of buttons to press on the walls. Most are fairly simple, but they can be missed.
- Plot Coupon: Aside from the Holy Symbol of Helm, there are five other items needed to beat the game: Trimia's Catalogue of the Planes and the four other items to activate it: A priceless fire ruby, an ancient elven crown, a tarot card, and the feather of a wereraven. Most are encountered as the game goes along, only the crown requires a jaunt on a sidequest.
- Taken for Granite: The elven sisters outside of the tomb are cursed to be statues until the signet is returned to the ghost of their brother-in-law.
- Underground Level: The caverns beneath the Ivlis, and the lesser and greater catacombs beneath Barovia.
- Unfinished Business: Two versions. The jeweler's ghost cannot cross to the afterlife until Grymig is killed, and the four elves in the tomb cannot cross until the signet is returned.