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Nosferatu: Lords of the Night

Optional Rules for 1st & 2nd Edition D&D

Count Strahd Von Zarovich and victim. Vampires, called Nosferatu in much of eastern Europe, are by legend the very powerful, very cunning and very mysterious rulers of the night. Unfortunately, much of the mystery is gone in the AD&D universe, as vampires seem to have been demoted by the rules to simply a set of Hit Dice and Armor Class values. If you are interested in beefing up your vampire or vampires (both in power and character) and catching your players off guard, try the following rules when using the mysterious vampire as an encounter. These rules are especially useful, and I believe necessary, when you plan to have a vampire or vampires as a main encounter or villain during an adventure.

Because these rules are quite different, you may want to warn experienced players ahead of time not that there will be new vampire rules (you don't want necessarily to tip them off that vampires will be involved in the campaign) but just that you will be implementing some new rules, and that they shouldn't expect everything they've read in the rule books to necessarily apply. This approach will hopefully help you to avoid the annoying "...but the Monster Manual says..." arguments with your players.

My sources for these new rules were Bram Stoker's Dracula, Stephen King's Salem's Lot and various books on the myth and legend of vampires.


Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 1-4 *
Armor Class: (plus any magical protection)
Move: 24" (or as twice per animal form);
Optionally 24" at night, and 12" in the day (see below)
Hit Dice: 10 (5 for lesser vampires. See below)
% in Lair: 25% (100% in day unless far underground)
Treasure Type: F as a guideline, but whatever is appropriate
No. of Attacks: 2 (claw/claw) or by class/weapon
Damage/Attack: 1d6 + Strength bonus, or by weapon + Strength bonus
Special Attacks: Energy Drain (& Others, see below)
Special Defense: +1 or better, or holy weapons, to hit
Magic Resistance: See below
Intelligence: Exceptional to Supra-Genius, generally
Alignment: Any evil, tend towards lawful
Size: M (Size of original creature)
Psionic Ability: Nil
          Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Vampire Abilities (10 Hit Dice)

Vampires are very strong, by legend having the strength of 20 men, so a strength value of around 19-21 points would not be unreasonable. This strength value gives the vampire all bonuses to hit and damage as indicated for the value. Thus, even without a weapon, their ability to do two attacks at 1d6 + Strength bonuses makes them very formidable opponents. This, of course, is not to mention their ability to use negative force to drain 2 life energy levels (however, please see the section, "New Rules For Level Drain," below for how these rules may treat level drain differently). In addition to their claw/claw attacks, they may also use any weapon allowable by their class (see "Vampire Character Classes" below). They are furthermore able to regenerate 3 hit points per round at night or in darkness.

Vampires are immune to Sleep, Charm and Hold spells, as well as poisons and paralysis. They take only half damage form electrical and cold based attacks. They furthermore can only be hit by +1 or better magical weapons, holy weapons or by spells able to affect them.

If a vampire is brought to 0 hit points or less by mundane means (i.e. magic weapons or spells) it does not die, but is forced to take gaseous form. At this point, and in this form, it must make its way back to its lair within 12 turns (after this it must rest for 8 hours to reform a corporeal body, or die forever).

Vampires have many inate abilities, usable at will. They have the command of all other lesser undead, such as skeletons, wraiths, banshees, etc (i.e any undead that is lower than Vampire on the Priest's Turn Undead chart), including 5 hit dice vampires. They also have command over creatures of the night, such as rats, owls, bats, moths, foxes, wolves and other similar creatures (DM's discretion). The type of creatures summoned will depend on the locale in which the vampire resides. The number of creatures summoned is from 100 to 1000 for insects such as moths (which obscure sight), from 10 to 100 for small creatures (such as bats and rats, the former which obscure sight) and from 3-18 for larger creatures (such as wolves and foxes). These creatures come withing 2-12 melee rounds (this is due to the fact that these kinds of creatures tend to be somewhat nearby, drawn toward their "master"). Furthermore, vampires have direct power over the elements, such as storm, wind, fog, thunder, etc (though lightning itself, or hurricanes, tornadoes and other destructive elements are out of their realm of control).

Vampires can, at will, also use the following inate powers. A vampire may Polymorph Self into many assorted animal shapes (though this is usually restricted to only a few animal types, per individual vampire). These have traditionally been creatures such as wolves and bats, however, the region in which the vampire resides may flavor the types of creatures it may become (DM's discretion). Similarly, vampires have the power to look more youthful or more elderly. They have the power of Enlarge ( or Shrink), as the Wizard/Magic User's spell, at tenth level of ability, once per day. They have the power to take Gaseous Form at will. They have the power to Spider Climb at will for as long as desired. They also move very silently, since they are not wholly on the Prime Material Plane, and thus surprise victims on a roll of 19 or less on a d20 if they are trying to do so (characters with better than normal senses, such as elves, Rangers and Thieves are surprised on an 18 or less). Vampires have limited ultravision out to a range of 240 feet.

Vampires have two very powerful offensive capabilities other than their level drain ability. They can also use Telekenesis at will, controlling one object (or person!) at any one time (i.e. per melee round) of up to 250 pounds of weight. A vampire must wait one melee round, however, after abandoning control of one object and choosing another. If an intelligent creature, such as a character, is chosen as an object to be thrown or moved, that creature is allowed a saving throw vs spell at a penalty of -2. However, they are not allowed a saving throw if an object controlled by the vampire is "thrown" at them! Instead, the vampire must make a successful "to hit" roll against the character's armor class, using the same chances to hit as if the vampire had thrown the object by hand. The damage of being thrown or having an object thrown at a creature is up to DM's discretion, but probably should not generally exceed 4d4 points of damage for blunt objects, or 3d8 points of damage for sharp or pointy objects.

A final, very powerful, ability is the vampire's Charm power. By gazing into an individual's eyes they cause the character to save vs spells at a penalty of 2 or be Charmed and under the suggestion of the vampire. The vampire may attempt to Charm once per round, but it requires the vampires full concentration. Not only must this Charm attempt be the vampire's only action that round, but the charm is also spoiled if the vampire is attacked or otherwise distracted anytime during that round. Furthermore, there is a chance that the victim is able to avoid eye contact. This is simulated using the chart below:

Character is...
Chance of eye contact
Completely surprised or actively meeting vampire's gaze 9 in 10
Surprised/Unwary 7 in 10
Casually viewing/in same area/not paying attention 5 in 10
Attacking normally 3 in 10
Actively avoiding gaze (-4 to all attacks) 1 in 10

Vampire Abilities (5 Hit Dice)

These vampires have most of the abilities as the 10 Hit Dice vampires, with some exceptions. See "How One Becomes A Vampire & Vampire Hierarchy" below.

Vampire Character Classes

Vampires keep all knowledge of their mortal professions. Thus, a 6th level thief who became a vampire would be a 5 Hit Dice vampire, with all the appropriate vampiric abilities, but also with the mental and physical abilities of a 6th level thief. A vampire may furthermore gain experience and go up in levels in this profession, but all experience neded to gain a level is doubled unless the vampire can actually get a the proper training (most people probably wouldn't knowingly or willfully train a vampire...). Note that becoming a free-willed, 10 Hit Dice vampire does not change the experience level or experience points of the vampire's character class in any way, shape or form.

Vampire Personality

Vampires can have any personae that the DM sees fit to put into his or her campaign. However, the following is a guideline for traditional vampires.

According to legend, vampires are very cunning. They all have an intelligence of at least 15 or 16, but many (especially very long lived ones) have scores in this ability up to 20. Vampires can be of any evil alignment, but most old and powerful ones are Lawful Evil (about 85%). Most traditional, powerful vampires in literature have had lawful tendencies, having their own code of honor (Bram Stoker's Dracula and Stephen King's Barlow in Salem's Lot, for examples). Furthermore, vampires who live in undeath for a long time do not stop learning at the time they become vampires, knowing only what they new at the time of their mortal death; instead, they can continue to grow in knowledge, so you should take into account that a 1000 year old vampire has just that much more knowledge and experience as a normal human.

Vampire Weaknesses

Sunlight Weakness - Option 1:

One of the most basic weaknesses of vampires is their need to rest during the hours between sunrise and sunset. During this resting they must be in contact with the soil of their original grave site or of their homeland (where they became a vampire, not where they were mortally born), for it is contact with this soil which gives them their powers. In their homeland they may merely rest directly on this soil, but if they decide or are forced to move from their homeland, they must bring some amount of soil with them on which to "sleep" (the particularly intelligent vampire will have several caches of soil in case one or more are "desecrated" by a Bless spell, holy water or similar action; see "Permanantly Destroying A Vampire" below). Many vampires prefer to sleep in a coffin or crypt, and if this is done outside of their homeland, some of the soil mentioned above must be contained inside of it. The only loophole that a vampire can use to get around having to sleep during the day is by having their "lair" very deep (100 feet or more) underground. There, they may roam free, but cannot leave the underdark until sundown.

Under this option, direct sunlight has a very profound effect on the vampire. Under direct sunlight, the vampire becomes immediately helpless, unable to attack or move, even to move out of the light (though conservation of motion applies), and it will immediately begin to burn and fall into dust. For every round it stays in the light it takes 1/10th of its permanent hit points in damage (permanently!), so that at the end of one turn it will have lost all hit points and be nothing more than a pile of dust. Only if the creature is somehow removed from the sunlight before the turn is up can the creature live, and then it must retreat directly to its lair for a 24 hour rest period, after which it can again roam the earth, with all it's normal powers; however, the hit points it lost during exposure to the sunlight are permanently subtracted from its total permanent hit points.

Sunlight Weakness - Option 2:

One of the most basic weaknesses of vampires is their need to rest for at least 8 hours during the day. During this resting they must be in contact with the soil of their original grave site or of their homeland (where they became a vampire, not where they were mortally born), for it is contact with this soil which gives them their powers. In their homeland they may merely rest directly on this soil, but if they decide or are forced to move from their homeland, they must bring some amount of soil with them on which to "sleep" (the particularly intelligent vampire will have several caches of soil in case one or more are "desecrated" by a Bless spell, holy water or similar action; see "Permanantly Destroying A Vampire" below). Many vampires prefer to sleep in a coffin or crypt, and if this is done outside of their homeland, some of the soil mentioned above must be contained inside of it. The only loophole that a vampire can use to get around having to sleep during the day is by having their "lair" very deep (100 feet or more) underground. There, they may roam free and still gain their "rest."

However, unlike popular belief, under this option a vampire may move around in daylight hours. This is in a rather weakened state, where all vampire powers are lost except their ability to Charm, the ability to turn gaseous if brought to 0 hit points, the ability to control weather, the ability to look younger or older and and the ability to Spider Climb (see "Vampire Abilities (10 Hit Dice)" above). Note, however, that this loss of power applies only to vampiric powers and that any class-based abilities are retained, so that a magic using vampire may still have the ability to summon creatures, control weather, etc.

The only way in which the vampire may retain its powers during the day is if it stays or is encountered within its "lair," and that lair is very deep (100 feet or more) underground. There, a vampire may roam free with its full powers, but upon leaving such a lair, the aforementioned loss of power is afflicted upon the creature.

Under this option, direct sunlight does not damage the vampire or weaken it in any other way. Bram Stoker's Dracula was able to move around as this option allows.

General Weaknesses:

A vampire's coffin, crypt or cache of soil may be made unusable in one of four ways.

In all cases, once the vampire's coffin and/or cache of soil becomes holy and the vampire is unable to reverse the blessing in some way, the vampire may neither use it to rest upon nor even approach such soil or enter the coffin or crypt it is contained within, within 20 feet. If all the vampire's caches of soil are treated in this manner, and the vampire cannot reverse the blessings, the vampire has until the next sun up to live (unless the vampire is otherwise killed). In these last hours, the vampire will most likely use all means in an attempt to destroy those who have ultimately destroyed it. None of this, of course, truly affects the vampire if it is residing in its native land, as the vampire can always find dirt to rest upon, whether it be under a house, in a deserted mineshaft, a dried up well, or whatever.

Vampires are allergic to garlic, and will be repelled by such for 1-4 rounds.

A single fresh rose on top of a coffin or crypt opening will keep the vampire within until the rose wilts (generally one day).

Vampires will not travel over moving water, unless within a container or using a bridge (see "Permanantly Destroying A Vampire" below).

A faithful (DM's discretion), Good character of any class may keep a vampire at bay (but not Turn them) for 1d4 melee rounds if using a Holy Symbol, although a vampire may order one or more of its servants or creatures to attempt to remove such an object (or simply attack the character), or the vampire may attempt to move to a spot where the object is no longer between it and its intended victim (vampires tend to not have any qualms about "backstabbing"). Very devout and faithful characters of Good-aligned religious orders, such as Priests and Paladins, can keep vampires at bay in this manner as well for 1d8 melee rounds, or drive them off by using their normal ability to Turn Undead (see "New Rules for Turning Undead" below). Furthermore, any faithful (DM's discretion), Good-aligned character may do 1d2 points of damage to a vampire if their holy symbol comes in contact with its flesh. When this occurs, the vampire's flesh is burned into a scar in the shape of the Holy Symbol for a period of one full month, and the vampire is driven off for 1d4 melee rounds (or longer if the vampire decides to retreat).

Vampires may not enter a household or other building owned by another unless someone who lives, or is living, in that household bids him to enter (an option to this is to limit this even more by requiring that the one who owns the household or building must be the one to invite the vampire in). Upon being invited once, the vampire may thereafter come and go as it pleases, unless the house is cleansed and blessed by a Good-aligned Priest or Paladin of level 5 or higher.

A vampire may be identified as being as such, as they do not cast a shadow, nor do they cast a reflection in any type of mirror (most castles, houses and crypts in which a vampire resides will be oddly devoid of such objects).

If somehow prevented from feeding for more than 7 days, the vampire goes into stasis until fresh blood is poured or dripped into its mouth.

Permanently Destroying A Vampire:

There are several ways to permanently destroy a vampire.

  1. One of the simplest ways is to expose the vampire to direct sunlight (see "Sunlight Weakness - Option 1" above for details),. However, this method does not work and is only an annoyance for the vampire under "Sunlight Weakness - Option 2."
  2. Water is a spiritual cleansing agent as well as a physical one, so another way to destroy a vampire is to submerse it into running water, thus "cleansing" its soul and destroying its evil power. Immediately after being immersed it begins to dissolve as if in acid, and takes 1/20th of its permanent hit points per melee round, though it has the ability to struggle, fight back and try to escape using any of its powers, except that it cannot assume any alternate form, be it gaseous form or polymorph self, as far as vampiric abilities are concerned (though, for instance a ring of polymorph self is totally usable). After 10 rounds (one turn) of immersion, it loses all of its vampiric abilities, and after 20 rounds (two turns) it is dissolved completely, forever destroyed. If the vampire somehow escapes, it must immediately retreat to it's lair or homeland soil and once there rest for 24 hours before again being able to roam free. It is this reason that vampires will not travel over moving water such as streams and rivers without being carried in a container or using a bridge.
  3. Another, and probably most legendary, way of destroying a vampire is the use of a wooden stake or similar object (sword, large knife, etc). Peircing the heart of a vampire with such an object immobilizes it, so long as the object is in its heart (if the object is thereafter removed, without taking further precautions, the vampire is immediately freed and able to roam once again...). To finish the job, the vampire killer must cut off the creature's head, place a Holy Symbol in its mouth, and then pour Holy Water down its throat and over its body. Upon completion of this last step, the body of the vampire will quickly deteriorate to the state which it would naturally be in. For example, a 400 year old vampire, if killed in this manner, would take on 400 years worth of decay in a matter of a few moments; a 3 day old vampire would, on the other hand, decay very little. If no Holy Symbol or Water is available and "Sunlight Weakness - Option 1" is being observed, then the vampire killer could instead, once immobilizing the vampire with a stake in the heart, simply drag the vampire into sunlight (if, instead, "Sunlight Weakness - Option 2" is being observed, dragging the vampire out into the sunlight will accomplish very little).

    Note that shoving a stake of any kind directly into a vampire's heart is not as easy as most people think. To begin with, contrary to popular belief a vampire's chest is not made of mush. Even though they are partially non-corporeal, they still have a rib cage and a sternum that are both very real. Therefore, a character trying to pound a stake into a sleeping, non-moving vampire must both be very quiet (a vampire may awaken to defend itself), make a successful to hit attack on Armor Class 5 + any magical protection, then must do a total of 15 hit points of damage to fully penetrate the sternum/rib cage and enter the heart. A wooden stake does 1d4 + Strength bonus if the character is merely thrusting the stake with his or her bare hands; using a mallot/hammer adds another 1d4 of damage. Other thrusting weapons do normal damage. Any hit near the heart with such a weapon doing 8 or more hit points of damage in one attack will Stun the vampire for 3 segments, just enough time to give the stake a second thrust (attempting to push the stake or weapon further with bare hands does only half damage, using a mallot/hammer give full damage). However, any attack of this sort for less than 8 points of damage merely awakens the vampire to full mobility and power, and gains the vampire an automatic surprise action round, during which the vampire may do whatever it likes, either attacking, removing the stake, or retreating (and removing the stake). Thereafter, it can continue to attack or move normally.

    Hitting a vampire's heart during combat is even more difficult, and in fact, if you think about it, nearly impossible. A character attempting this must make a successful "called shot" at a total penalty of -6 (or according to whatever rules the DM employs for hitting a rather small object, taking into account also the 24" move rate). If the attack is successful, the damage must again equal or exceed an 8 to at least stun the vampire, or it is inadequate - the vampire can simply remove the foreign object with ease, and doesn't even forfeit a round to do this. The damage for a wooden stake in combat is 1d2 + Strength bonus.

    Unless the stake or weapon was magical or holy, the damage done by it to the vampire is not truly harmful, and is not subtracted from its Hit Points in any way. If the stake is removed by the vampire before it penetrates its heart, or by another being before its head is cut off and the proper blessing ritual is performed (see above), the vampire is totally unharmed in the case of a normal stake or weapon, or only takes normal damage in the case of a magical or holy stake or weapon.

New Rules For Turning Undead (An Optional Rule)

Under this optional rule, any character with the ability to Turn Undead (Priest, Paladin, etc) may use their "To Turn" chances normally with the use of their Holy Symbol. In addition to this, there is also a chance that they can turn any undead (not just vampires) without the aid of their Holy Symbol, but since this is a greater test of their faith, these rolls are made at a penalty of 4. This allows these characters the chance to perform a full Turn if their Holy Symbol is lost, destroyed or otherwise made unavailable.

New Rules for Level Draining Attacks (An Optional Rule)

This optional rule applies to all level draining creatures. The present rules, although obviously created to make a dificult time for players or to "prune" overly powerful characters, just don't make a whole lot of sense. Instead of losing the levels themselves, under this rule the character hit by any level drain instead permanently loses only the hit points associated with the levels "lost" -- this way, the character loses part of his or her strength and ability to survive (hit points) due to blood loss and supernatural contact, but not their knowledge of their profession. The character furthermore loses 2 points of constitution.

The Hit Points and Constitution points may later be Restored in the normal means, depending, of course, on whether the character survives long enough...

Another, even optional, way in which vampires may drain levels is discussed in the following section, "What Happened To The Bite?"

What Happened To The Bite? (An Optional Rule)

Here's a question for all you DM's out there (including me) who enjoy traditional vampires: Have you ever wondered just what happened to the vampire's fangs? Are they just there for show? Of course not! So, if you want to add some traditional gothic vampire flavor to your vampire, use the following optional rule.

Along with the need for contact with soil during its daily rest, nightly a vampire also needs another commodity to survive: Blood.

To this end, a vampire will generally try to find a lone victim, charm it and then suck its blood. A vampire feels best if it receives 1d4 life levels worth of blood (Hit Points and Constitution points) per night, though 1 life level will sate it's thirst and sustain it at full power. For every night that a vampire does not drink at least 1 life level worth of blood, it begins to lose its ability to rationally think, losing 1/5 of it's total intelligence points per night unsated. Furthermore, each night its thirst goes unsated, its desire for blood increases by 1d4 life levels cumulatively. It also loses 1d10 Hit Points per night after the first until sated. Any night at which its Intelligence drops below 5 or its thirst for life levels exceeds 10, the vampire will go on an uncontrolled killing spree, feeding on anyone it comes into contact with until it has fed on the number of life levels equal to the thirst it has built up. If somehow prevented from feeding for more than 7 days, the vampire goes into a stasis until fresh blood is either poured or merely dripped into its mouth (servants will remain loyal, but sub-vampires under its control may take advantage of such a situtation...). It goes without saying that long lived vampires make sure to never go without a meal.

A vampire may suck (drain) 1 life level per round in this manner, and may drain blood from any portion of the body, most often from a major artery such as in the neck, shoulder or inner thigh, and will feed until either it is satisfied, it is attacked or the victim runs out of life levels (dies) -- though older vampires often have the restraint to stop feeding well before the victim dies, either to refrain from causing too much horror or outcry in the local community or as a means of keeping the "cattle" alive. The victim can die, as mentioned previously, if the victim has life levels less than or equal to the number of life levels the vampire drains. For the purposes of this rule, every human or humanoid has one more life level than they have character levels, so that even a zero level character has one life level, and a 10th level character has 11 life levels.

When the victim's life levels drops to zero, the victim thereafter becomes a vampire as described in the section below, "How One Becomes A Vampire & Vampire Hierarchy."

If the character did not have enough life levels to sate the vampire's thirst, the vampire may choose another victim; again, though, as long as the vampire is able to drain at least 1 life level per night, at this point it may go on about it's other nightly affairs.

To further the traditional tilt of this rule, it is advisable that you also ignore the normal level drain ability of the vampire's claw/claw attack. It is also advisable to use this rule in conjunction with the optional New Rules For Level Draining Attacks above to give it it's full, more traditional effect. Note that, if you keep the vampire's claw/claw level drain ability, you should NOT allow this drain to sate its thirst for blood (though it may choose to suck on wounds created in this manner to sate its thirst). At your discretion as the DM, if you take away the vampire's ability to drain levels by claw/claw attack, you may also want to keep the balance of power between the vampire and the players by limiting the weapons that can affect the vampire to only holy weapons and items, spells, magic items and artifacts, or by at least raising the magical bonus requirement of weapons to +2 or +3.

How One Becomes A Vampire & Vampire Hierarchy

Any humanoid (human, elf, gnome, orc, etc) either drained by a vampire of all its Hit Points or all of its Constitution points, whichever comes first, dies. Then, unless the vampire guilty of the deed is killed by the following sunrise, the victim becomes a 5 Hit Dice vampire under control of the master, 10 Hit Dice vampire - even if drained by a 5 Hit Dice vampire. If the vampire is killed before the following sunrise, the victim merely dies (able to be Raised, Resurrected or Reincarnated normally - if the vampire is not killed by sunrise, the character can never be Raised, Resurrected or Reincarnated). Rising at the next sundown, this new vampire has only 5 Hit Dice, but has most other powers listed. They cannot, however, control other undead, the weather or night creatures, nor can they use telekinesis; these powers are reserved for the master 10 Hit Dice vampire only (though 10 Hit Dice vampires have been known to endow a close and trusted 5 Hit Dice vampire companion or consort with these vampiric abilities as well).

If the vampire is not killed by the next sun up, the character may be prevented from raising as a vampire by destroying it as one would any vampire (see "Permanently Destroying A Vampire" under "Vampire Weaknesses" above).

(Optionally, it may be required that the victim be buried before it can become a vampire. This is more traditional; however, it isn't always best to have this as a requirement for becoming a vampire in an adventure, due to the fact that most adventuring parties won't bury their comrades because of the hopes of raising them in some way...)

All lesser 5 Hit Dice vampires are more or less under direct control of a master 10 Hit Dice vampire. Though often left to their own, they often have pre-determined boundaries, such as "stay within this area" or "never attack so-and-so," etc. They do have their own will, but have little resistance to their master's desires of them.

If the master 10 Hit Dice vampire is destroyed, one of two things can happen, which is left up to the DM's discretion. Either all remaining 5 Hit Dice vampires die, their bodies rapidly decaying, or they all become free-willed, 10 HD vampires, able to do and use their powers as they wish. Again, this is up to the DM's discretion; however, the latter option seems more likely since how else could there be so many vampires in the world???

The homeland of any vampire is the place in which it lost its mortal life and became a vampire.


I hope that this optional rule set helps you develop a more rounded, traditional vampire character for you campaign. Please send me any comments or suggestions at sodabob@sodabob.com.

I leave you with a quote from the most famous, most powerful and most traditional of all vampires in the AD&DÔ universe (from the original Ravenloft module).

Count Strahd von Zarovich, The first Vampyr
"I am The Ancient, I am The Land.
My beginnings are lost in the darkness of the past.
I am not dead. Nor am I alive. I am undead, forever."
- Count Strahd von Zarovich