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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Dec 2015

    Default Re: CoS: Should players be allowed to take short rests in Castle Ravenloft?

    But what about the summon monsters at will?

    What I am trying to clear up is whether that subsystem is already covered by the wandering monster/encounter chart?

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    willdaBEAST's Avatar

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    Default Re: CoS: Should players be allowed to take short rests in Castle Ravenloft?

    Like others have written, how Strahd is played is ultimately up to the DM.

    My own interpretation is that Strahd is fickle and ultimately cares more about psychologically breaking the PCs before he puts them out of their misery. To capture that dynamic, I would run a string of harassment encounters of Strahd hitting and running until the party is limping on their last legs. However, all these attacks have been shepherding them to something like a once opulent bed chamber. The party has been conditioned to expect attacks at any point they try to rest or recover and now find themselves in a situation that feels like a trap. I think Strahd would delight in watching a battered party argue about whether it's safe or not to rest in a room that feels too good to be true.

    Unlike most horror villains, Strahd is very present. He's not the monster you get fleeting glimpses of until the climax. He makes frequent appearances, so I think highlighting the psychological aspects of his personality and how he treats his prey is critical. One aspect of his intelligence to me is that he likes to show off and would likely torment the PCs in a variety of ways, not sticking to one strategy.
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  3. - Top - End - #33
    Retired Mod in the Playground Retired Moderator
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    Default Re: CoS: Should players be allowed to take short rests in Castle Ravenloft?

    I think your best bet is to try to get a handle on how much Strahd knows about the PC's exact position, capabilities, etc.

    Also consider that not everything in the castle is going to be either slavishly loyal to our openly hostile to Strahd. Yeah, Esmerelda or the butler (Rahadin?) are pretty clearly cut one way or the other, but the witches, the Vistani, and various other sentient folk running around have their own agendas, and probably aren't going to go running to Strahd right away, if at all.

    As for his more mindless servants (say, bat swarms), remember they're limited in their ability to both perceive and understand what they're seeing. Worst case scenario, the bats have a bad case of "all humanoids look alike to me".

    Admittedly, I don't have the book in front of me, so I don't know what he has in terms of proper scrying (I know it's non-trivial, but I also know it's not "I can keep constant tabs on this person at all times").

    Heck, if you need a hand-wave for yourself (even if it's one the players never see), just because he's dealing with a pest problem doesn't mean he's not also continuing to deal with the Vistani, the villagers, the local witches, the wereravens, the werewolves, etc., etc., etc. So as much as he'd love to stalk the players' every step, he's a busy Dark Lord, he's got places to ruin, people to terrify!

  4. - Top - End - #34
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Aug 2015

    Default Re: CoS: Should players be allowed to take short rests in Castle Ravenloft?

    Something else to bear in mind, depending on when the party visits Castle Ravenloft: how angry is Strahd at the party? Have they given him explicit reason to be pissed at them? For example, have they thwarted beyond recovery one of his main goals that the book describes Strahd having?

    If they haven't, then he could easily still be in "playing" mode, where he's not actively moving against the party, just letting them struggle against his minions to test them. Which means, if they're clever and careful, the party could easily get a short rest in.

    On the other hand, if he's actively angry, then he's going to be sending minions after them as much as he can, and it's definitely unlikely that a short rest would be possible.

    On the bright side, he can't psychically control his minions, so he couldn't bring all of Barovia directly to bear on the party in an hour.

  5. - Top - End - #35
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: CoS: Should players be allowed to take short rests in Castle Ravenloft?

    Not everyone would do this, but I use Angelus (the evil version of Angel) for a template of how to use Strahd. Angelus is a mind breaker, first and formost, but he also loves torturing people to death and killing people in creative ways.

    So if you take a long rest in his castle, maybe he lets you. And maybe you wake up next to the corpse of one of your allies in the village. The brutally maimed and tortured graphically to death corpse... ;)

  6. - Top - End - #36
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Sporeegg's Avatar

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    Default Re: CoS: Should players be allowed to take short rests in Castle Ravenloft?

    Quote Originally Posted by willdaBEAST View Post
    Unlike most horror villains, Strahd is very present. He's not the monster you get fleeting glimpses of until the climax. He makes frequent appearances, so I think highlighting the psychological aspects of his personality and how he treats his prey is critical.
    Yes, but his responses to the party should vary upon the player's actions. Strahd can see them as a non-issue (at the start) and openly laugh at them. Or he can actually aid his minions in terrorizing them. This however does not happen if they pick the sufficiently "keep your heads down" approaches.

    Isn't he also infuriated if you make it harder for him to reach his reincarnated darling?
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  7. - Top - End - #37
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Specter's Avatar

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    Default Re: CoS: Should players be allowed to take short rests in Castle Ravenloft?

    Quote Originally Posted by Merudo View Post
    Strahd has 16AC and 144HP. To be a threat, the DM pretty much has to play him in a ruthless manner, which fully fits with Strahd's exceptional intelligence.

    Personaly, I believe this article describes the best way to play Strahd.
    And regeneration. And a heart that soaks up the first 50hp or so he takes. And allies in many fights. And the PCs won't reach him without wasting resources (when I DM'ed there were four fights beforehand, but there could easily be many more).

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