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Context

Von Stroheim was the endgame boss of Fatal Fury 2, a 1992 brawling game originally released on Neo-Geo  .

The Fatal Fury games continued through the 1990s, and the characters were absorbed by the King of Fighters franchise. Yet von Stroheim only had one canon appearance after FF2.

He’s an old-fashioned power house and had one of the most towering boss statuses in any fighting game. He also had a full a backstory and complex motivation.

He cannot, nay – must not be forgotten!

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Background

  • Real Name: Wolfgang Krauser von Stroheim.
  • Known Relatives: Micheal Stroheim (great-grandfather, deceased), Rudolph Krauser Von Stroheim (father, deceased by his own hand), Elza Stroheim (mother, deceased), Geese Howard (half-brother, deceased), Rock Howard (nephew).
  • Group Affiliation: Stroheim nobility; Boss Team.
  • Base Of Operations: Stroheim Castle, Germany.
  • Height: 6’7″ (2m). Weight: 320 lbs. (145 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Purple. Hair: Purple.

Powers and Abilities

Krauser fights using the Stroheim System. It is a mixture of Kampfringen  , pankration  and US-style professional wrestling.

His special status as a towering boss at the end of a fighting game is well founded. He is enormously strong, yet surprisingly agile for his size. Furthermore, he can channel energy to emit fire – or generic energy projectiles.

Krauser seems to be perfect at everything. He’s led a charmed existence as a rich nobleman and he was born an immensely powerful fighter. His wealth and keen intellect have allowed him to build an empire of his own.

Furthermore he’s also said to be a skilled gambler. This applies to him building his own criminal enterprise, as well as playing mind games with fighters inside the ring.

Wolfgang von Stroheim (Fatal Fury video games) adjusting his gauntlets

Soundtrack

Obvs.

History

Roughly 40 years before Fatal Fury happened there once lived a man named Michael von Stroheim.

He was the head of his noble house in Germany, but the lineage became jeopardized when his wife and son died in a plane crash.

The only remaining member of his lineage was his granddaughter Elza. She had fallen hopelessly in love with a martial arts champion named Rudolf. Elza pleaded with her grandfather to approve of their union.

However, Michael despised Rudolf. He thought of him as nothing more than a low born thug.

Yet, he eventually had to come to terms with the fact that his headstrong granddaughter was dead set on marrying her love. This likely was the only chance for both his lineage and title to continue.

The two got married shortly thereafter. They had a son who would grow up big and strong.

The House of Stroheim

However, Rudolf’s background as an American martial arts champion wasn’t the only contention point. Rudolf had left his wife and child — Maria and Geese Howard — behind in America.

Years later, Maria died of illness after Rudolf refused to help come to her aid. A nine-year-old Geese tracked down his deadbeat dad and attempted to assassinate him.

However, his younger brother Krauser soundly thrashed him. Krauser likely would have killed Geese if he hadn’t have been restrained by his father.

Rudolf still felt guilty about leaving his previous family. But he saw no way to rectify the situation without giving up his charmed noble life. So he sent Geese back to America, likely out of shame.

Wolfgang von Stroheim (Fatal Fury video games)

Weltanschauung

It can be said that two monsters were born that day. They would go on to ruin countless lives in the decades to come.

The incident led young Krauser to conclude that the world was a ruthless place, where the strong preyed upon the weak.

Furthermore, he now saw his father for what he was – an unworthy man who would leave his own wife and family behind to live a better life.

But Krauser was still just a boy. He would have to bide his time.

The Ascension

The incident also led Elza to drink heavily. One imagines that she really did love Rudolf, but that he had lied about his former family and their ability to sustain themselves. Or simply hid their existence.

Struck by a deep depression, Elza drank herself to death shortly after that. This likely fueled further resentment from Krauser towards his father.

Years after that, Michael finally succumbed to old age. Rudolf could now become the heir to the von Stroheim fortune and title.

However, a 16-year-old Krauser would not let that stand. In accordance with the family’s ancient traditions he challenged his father for the title in single combat.

The duel

This amused both his father, and nobles in Germany and neabry countries. While a bit past his prime Rudolf was a former world class martial arts champion. And his son was thought naught to be nothing more than an angsty teenager.

Yet, at the start of the match Krauser killed his father with a single blow, and became head of the House.

From this day forward the rest of the world would know and fear his name.

Years after that Krauser fought Jeff Bogard (Terry’s father) and Hanzo Shiranui (Mai’s grandfather) in unrevealed circumstances. All that is known is that the two managed to strike him in the forehead, leaving a small scar.

Fatal Fury 1

The Von Stroheim fortune grew both legally and illegally. He acquired several successful companies, using them to hide his underworld activities. He could thus appear as a successful philanthropist and pillar of the community.

Von Stroheim also used his money to bribe or eliminate anyone who got in his way.

Soon, his half-brother Geese created a similar empire, using the same methods. This amused Krauser, but there was no clash. Their empires were in different hemispheres and unlikely to interact – much less fight over turf. He did however keep his ears peeled in case their paths cross again.

Which is how Krauser learned about Geese organising the very first King of Fighters Tournament.

Von Stroheim sent a letter challenging his older half brother to another fight. He never received a response. At first, Geese had his hands full with the new crop of challengers. Then, he was ultimately toppled by Terry Bogard.

(These events are retconsMaking changes to a character or story after the fact, introduced in FF2 to flesh von Stroheim out. They weren’t mentioned in FF1.)

Wolfgang von Stroheim (Fatal Fury video games) fan art by aa

Art by ddd111  .

Fatal Fury 2

(I’ve chosen to include some elements of Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle. It’s not canon, but it certainly helps flesh out his one and only canon appearance. And the story makes a hell of a lot more sense with it.)

Krauser was so intrigued by Terry’s victory that he went to South Town and announced his own King of Fighters Tournament. He then began beating the crap out of other local, strong fighters. It is rumored, but not confirmed that any fighters in FF1 that didn’t make a return appearance were absent because Krauser put them in the hospital.

Terry was among these fighters. Krauser suddenly appeared, challenged him and soundly thrashed him.

FF2 – additional TNB material

In the anime, Terry was minding his own business when he was challenged by the Tae Kwon Do champion Kim Kaphwan. He saw no harm in a friendly sparring match, so the two faced off in a construction area.

The match attracted several young street urchins as onlookers, but also knocked loose some I-beams.

The two fighters kicked the beam to save the kids. Although Terry badly injured his leg in so doing, he was still able to best Kaphwan. The TKD champ praised him for being both a valiant warrior and an honorable fighter. The two parted ways on friendly terms.

Bogard was then accosted by Krauser, who also challenged him. Despite his injuries Terry was never one to turn down a good fight, so the two went at it. But Krauser dominated the match from the get go.

Hurricane punch!

Terry then used his ace in the hole – his ultimate technique, the Hurricane Punch. But Krauser countered using the exact same technique and Terry was soundly thrashed. Krauser then mocked him, saying he was hoping for a much better match from the one who was able to best his older half-brother Geese Howard.

At this point, one of the street kids that had befriended Terry earlier jumped out. He called Krauser both a coward and a bully for picking a fight with Bogard after he had previously been injured in his match with Kim.

Terry then goes through a bout of alcoholism due to this defeat.

Krauser von Stroheim advancing menacingly (Fatal Fury)

Back to canon FF2

These events kicked off a worldwide tournament not unlike Street Fighter II. Fighters traveled internationally to face other contenders and hopefully advance to fight the champion – Krauser.

The nobleman also hired three fighters, to only allow the truly worthy warriors a chance to fight him.

  1. Billy Kane, a bo staff fighter and former right hand man to Geese Howard. Due to his extreme loyalty to Geese, it seems likely that Billy was acting as Howard’s spy.
  2. Axel Hawk, a former champion boxer.
  3. Laurence Blood, a Spanish matador/sword fighter. Blood was a long term loyal servant of Von Stroheim.

Terry’s brother Andy and best friend Joe Higashi were enraged by this. They set out to find and punish Krauser.

(In the anime, Joe locates Krauser’s rented penthouse, and gets in by posing as room service. But the bemused Krauser beat him within an inch of his life. This snaps Terry out of the bottle, and he resumes training. Then enters the tournament.)

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Showdown

After a long recovery and many adventures Terry finally felt that he was ready to challenge Krauser again. He went to his castle and ascended to the highest tower to fight him.

In an awesome and very close battle that destroyed the tower, Terry managed to gravely wound Krauser.

The nobleman was shocked by this. He had never been wounded so badly before. The physical pain triggered all the memories of all the pain that he had caused. That included killing his own father.

Both the shock and shame were too much for him and he decided to end his own life. His seeming demise led to the exposure and fall of his crime empire.

(In the movie he actually threw himself off the tower, presumably to his death.)

King of Fighters ’96

(FF and KoF are set in different, but somewhat similar timelinesUsed here in the sense of an alternate history, where events unfold differently. Krauser’s crossover doesn’t conflict with anything either way, so… take it, leave it, or do what you may…)

Krauser actually survived his suicide attempt. He became a much humbler man. He recognized that there were indeed low born fighters who could best him. He strove to improve himself and fight more honorably.

He was later approached by Geese, who had caught wind of the KoF ’96 tournament. Mr. Howard was interested in obtaining the ancient Orochi power to resume his place as a powerful crime boss.

Howard had also recruited Mr. Big – a former lieutenant of his, who was also looking to get back on top after being bested by Ryo Sakazaki. Their team needed a third fighter and Krauser was the ideal choice.

Krauser von Stroheim playing an organ

KoF ’96 – boss team

The fallen nobleman was amused by the idea.

He thought that artificially obtaining power by exploiting some mystical demons, which was basically what the Orochi were, was completely foolish. But he did recognize this as the perfect opportunity to challenge other world class fighters. And thus improve his own skills.

Their appearance at the tournament caused quite a stir. Both Geese and Krauser had been presumed dead for years, and Mr. Big had long since faded into obscurity. So here were the three bosses of the previous games. Their might would’ve likely dominated the tournament, but it was not to be.

Big resented Geese for stripping him of his power and wealth after Big failed to defeat Ryo Sakazaki. He had been plotting revenge ever since Geese was himself brought down by Terry.

He tried to shoot Geese in the back, but Billy Kane used his staff to block the bullet. Realizing that he wouldn’t be able to face Geese head on, Mr. Big fled.

Krauser was amused by this and merely stayed out of their spat. He was disappointed that he would no longer be able to participate in the tournament as their team had fallen into disarray.

(This makes little sense as they could have easily recruited Billy to fill Big’s spot. Or any one of other thugs still on Geese’s payroll. But once again SNK disregarded yet another capable team to focus on the Japanese Team.)

Epilogue

That’s basically it for him. Where is he now? Presumably he’s still training to get better, in the ruins of his old castle.

He made the occasional appearance in a stage background. But for all we know these are just Easter eggs and not actually canon that he was present to observe a match. After 15 years of him not making a single playable appearance, his return seems unlikely… or is it.

His last two appearances were in the previous two King of Fighters titles, so perhaps SNK is considering bringing him back. Time will tell…

Anime version of Krauser von Stroheim (Fatal Fury)

Additional context

Krauser’s claim to nobility seems more than a little questionable. This is chiefly because the Japanese creators of the character likely had insufficient notions of how German nobility actually works.

Abolishment

The German nobility was officially abolished in 1919 after WWI. However this only abolished the special rights and privileges that nobles had been granted in the past. They retained all inherited possessions including their castles, wealth, and land.

Most noble families then annexed their titles into their names. In Krauser’s case “von” would have been the title and Stroheim the last name, but the two would be combined to form the family surname after 1919.

“Earl”

The “Earl” title is only used in England. Germans had “continental counts” who bore the title of “graf.” His correctly annexed name should be Wolfgang Krauser Graf von Stroheim. With Krauser being the inherited family name and Graf von Stroheim being the title annexed into this.

The title or even the word “graf” is not found in any of his appearances or any SNK publication AFICT. I think it’s safe to assume that “Earl of Stroheim” is either inaccurate or loosely translated.

In either case this can be handwaved.

“Von”

German noble families who retained their castles and lands later start adding von und zu (although several other variations exist) to their ancestral last name.

The fact that the von Stroheim have not added this to their title implies that they at some point lost their castle and thus their (no longer legally official) title.

Do bear in mind though that many nobles do regard themselves as the divinely born rulers regardless of what the law says. And that a loss of a family’s estate is an act of shame that would cast the family out of such an elite society.

The von Stroheim do indeed have a castles called Castle von Stroheim. But it seems questionable whether this was their ancestral estate or merely one purchased and renamed after the original was lost.

Lineage, part 1

Women were allowed to be nobles in Germany (and most other places in the world that has nobility) either by being born into a noble family or marrying into one. A very important right that they are not granted is the ability to pass that title on.

As stated in the history section 40 years before the events of Fatal Fury Michael, the then-current head of the house of von Stroheim lost his wife and only son in a plane crash. It seems implied that he was too old to father another male heir to carry on the von Stroheim name and title.

His only other child was his daughter Elza. But while still nobility (most likely a countess) was a woman and therefore unable to pass on the title to any children she bore.

Furthermore she married a commoner. It’s generally accepted that any nobility who marry a commoner forfeit their title.

Lineage, part 2

Thus Krauser, her son, would be unable to inherit the title, even if he did kill his father to obtain it. In more modern times the punishment for claiming a title outside of proper lineage is generally less severe, but still looked upon with disdain.

Regardless of all these technicalities, Krauser very much does cultivate the old fashioned European nobility. The legitimacy of this claim may be questionable, but how it is portrayed is not.

Then again in a fictional martial arts universe all of this could merely be handwaved.

On a further side note since German nobility no longer exists as it once did it is highly likely that Krauser has some sort of actual job. He is a world class renowned fighter so it’s entirely possible that the does collect prize money. Or at the very least his assets are managed by financial advisors to maintain the upkeep of all his holdings.

Krauser in his armor (Fatal Fury)

Ye Olden Country

The subject of what country Krauser hailed from also came up in a bit of debate. With a title like “earl” he might be from England. There are also German nobles in Austria, Switzerland, and of course Germany.

England would not be possible, because all German nobles lost their English titles during WWI.

Switzerland is also not possible, because they have no nobility. The Principality of Lichtenstein is not a part of Switzerland, but one of the two surviving monarchies of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation, which dissolved in 1806. The other one is the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg.

If Stroheim is in Austria, then the surname would only be Krauser-Stroheim, because Austria banned all noble titles from becoming part of the surname.

So he can only be from Germany. To further support this claim he is officially stated to have come from Germany and the map seems to indicate likewise.

King of His Castle

The location of Castle Stroheim is unrevealed. It’s somewhere in the German country side and that’s about all we know.

Bear in mind it’s only appearance was in Fatal Fury 2, a game firmly rooted in the 16-bit era. The graphics on the map are not clear enough to even begin to guess where he’s from.

We also see very little of his castle in the game – like only a room or two. That’s hardly enough to guess where it’s located. The Fatal Fury 2nd and 3rd animated series showed us a little more, but near as I can tell it’s just a generic European looking castle. It’s not based off of any actual site.

Description

Krauser is a huge hulking beast of a man.

He typically wears red wrestling style tights and heavy armored boots as well as his armor and cape which he casts off before battle. Despite all this it is immediately obvious that he still has the air of refined nobility around him.

His hair is long and purple and he sports a mustache as well.

Quotes

“I’ll chisel your grave. Sleep well.”

“You fought well.”

Krauser responds to a challenge (Fatal Fury Special)

DC Heroes RPG

Wolfgang Krauser von Stroheim

Dex: 07 Str: 06 Bod: 06
Int: 08 Wil: 06 Min: 07
Inf: 08 Aur: 06 Spi: 08
Init: 024 HP: 090

Powers:

Adaptation: 06, Adrenaline Surge: 05, Air Control: 05, Energy Blast: 06, Flame Projection: 06, Growth: 01, Jumping: 03, Running: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Adaptation is Catastrophically Marginal. He’s only used it once, but to great effect, to copy Terry’s Hurricane Punch during a match.
  • Adrenaline Surge only works with Air Control, Energy Blast, Running, and Martial Artist.
  • Air Control has range of Touch and can only be used to make tornadoes.
  • Growth is also on, innate, and already factored in.

Skills:

Animal Handling (Riding): 05, Artist (Organ): 05, Martial Artist: 12

Advantages:

Attractive, Connoisseur, Languages (German), Schtick (stance assessment).

Connections:

Laurence Blood (High), German nobility (Low), Geese Howard (Low), Billy Kane (Low), Axel Hawk (Low), Mr. Big (Low).

Drawbacks:

Distinct Appearance (huge size, and cross scar on forehead).

Motivation:

Anti-heroic Thrill of Adventure.

Occupation:

Earl of Stroheim?

Wealth:

013

Equipment:

ARMOR [/BODY/06, Invulnerability: 05, Skin armor: 02, Limitation : Skin armor only vs slashing and piercing Descriptors ; Partial Coverage: can be bypassed with a -1CS trick shot].


Previous Stats

During his Fatal Fury 2 appearance he had MIA (overconfidence).

Writeups.org writer avatar Tom Eilers

By Tom Eilers.

Source of Character: Fatal Fury and King of Fighters video games.

Helper(s): SNK wiki  , Sébastien Andrivet, Darci, Barbarossa Rotbart, Tiago Quintana, Wikipedia on peerage  , wikipedia on German nobility  .