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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2015

    Default Campaign Diary - Curse of Strahd (5e)

    Hello all,

    We started a Curse of Strahd campaign just over a year ago (Aug 2018), and it's getting close to being wrapped up. We're in the climax now and I'm excited to see how it all wraps up. I'm the DM, and I asked one of the ladies to keep a journal of each session. She wrote it really well narratively, to the point that I knew I would share it here eventually. So I plan to start posting each session, maybe one every few days or each week. We shall see.

    The campaign was run over Roll20. We started out with 5 players but one dropped out. The characters are thus:

    Pepper Zyph - Tiefling Warlock/Sorcerer, she used to be a teacher who later became an adventurer
    Samsam Leafeater - Halfling Moon Druid, he just loves food
    Redd Fyre - Dwarf Forge Cleric, her goddess is Martha Stewart and she has a bushy red beard (this detail will be important)
    Iroh - Tortle Samurai Fighter, he had anger problems until he learned the ways of bushido which helped him learn control. Now he's on a walkabout.
    Lynx Fairchild - Halfling Arcane Trickster Rogue, she lived the typical urchin life, stealing to survive and support her younger siblings.

    From here on there will be spoilers, but I intend to put all the actual recaps in those fancy little boxes.

    Spoiler: The Gang Gets Kidnapped Totally Nonchalantly
    Show
    (For a short setup - I chose the starter with the Duchess asking them to get rid of the Vistani. To set the scene, I've told all the players that they all have enough of a name for themselves that they would be invited to the Duchess' home for dinner)

    The five heroes dined on deliciously spiced food at the haughty Duchesses house. Samsam imbibed heavily. As the night slowed down and guests dwindled away, the Duchess looked to the five as her most reliable and trusted adventurers. "There's a problem," her nose, high in the air, betrayed the true problem she had - conceit, and she continued, "with those ruffians outside the towns gate. They harass people for - " she paused, drinking deeply from her wine glass, leaving two butterfly wings of red behind on her pale, wrinkled lips, "wine and-and, money. Threatening to hex anyone who doesn't comply!" The group listened,wondering when the true problem would reveal itself, when it would become serious enough to keep the five of them behind, and some picking gingerly at the chocolate mousse on the table. "I sent my men after them, and when they came back, they said the foul people were fine!! I am sure they were charmed or befuddled in some way!" The problem, it seemed was that the less than savory group she had beyond her walls turned out to be....savory? "Just get them away, please, get them to leave the gate, to stop hounding my people!" The group seemed hesitant until she spoke her final words, "If they don't leave, I'll burn their wagons to the ground."


    The five grouped together for the first time that night, and each set of eyes passed over strange bodies and weird textures before timid introductions were passed around. Pepper the Teifling, Iroh the Tortle, Samsam and Lynx the Halflings and Redd Fyre the Dwarf. 5 outsiders going to disperse a group of...outsiders? They trudged along until they reached the clearing, 3 wagons circled a bonfire and 12 brightly clothed bodies danced and jumped gleefully around the light. The flames licked out and painted beautiful warm streaks on the oranges, greens, reds and blues of their fabric and the group stood and watched the living painting for a few moments. As the moonlight and music washed over her, Pepper found herself taken in by the sounds of happy celebration and started to shimmy over to the dancers, a woman grabbed her and thanked her for celebrating with them, thanked her for seeing the need for celebration, informing her that they celebrated every night as a gift.


    The rest of the 5 slowly slunk their way over. Samsam snuck (sneaked??) some food from the table behind the partiers, happily popping the tasty treats into his mouth. Lynx kept her distance, still a bit wary of the loud, overzealous, indulgent group. Redd Fyre found herself admiring the craftsmanship of the jewelry and flowing dresses of the dancers. And Iroh simply enjoyed the happy aura from the people and the soft glow from the fire, observing and taking his surroundings in calmly. Stanomir, upon noticing the group joining his own, clapped loudly and spoke out, "Velcome! Gather round, have some drinks, and let me regale you with a tale!" He quickly motioned for the girls at his side to give the guests some wine - Iroh politely declined, Samsam and Redd happily chugged the sweet, red liquid down, Pepper took the glass and began tracing the rim of the glass with her fingers, not yet taking a sip and Lynx was too far, (still sulking in the shadows) to be offered a cup. The man looked dramatically around, catching everyone's eyes for long enough to draw them in, before drinking deeply from his cup and spitting into the fire. There were some gasps from the group and a beautiful, dark image of a rider on a horse being stabbed with a spear appeared before them all. The once bright, welcoming fire was now tainted with greens and blues that foreshadowed despair and death. "This is our Prince," the man spoke gently, a loving cadence to his voice that caused a hushed quiet to fall over the jovial crowd, "we found him one night, as he staggered into our camp, terribly wounded by a spear. We nursed him back to health and gave him food, water and wine. He refused to tell us who he was and would only say that he wanted to return home, but this was the land of his enemies and he was too deep to escape. We took him in as one of our own and refused to give him up even when assailed by assassins who told us he was a Prince. We fought together until we finally made it to his home, where he in turn welcomed us as his family and said we were welcome to stay as long as we wished." The man paused, and the seemingly happy story was contradicted by his deeply sorrowful face, he cleared his throat, looked at his daughter and continued, "Our Prince has been cursed!" His voice was loud and rang out against the silence of the crowd, the fire seemed to crackle with him, "He is like a tyrant now, and we have been looking for heroes, heroes like you to help us free him and give peace to his troubled soul. Will you help us?"


    The group was silent and didn't seem to be in agreement, Pepper spoke up immediately, "I would love to help you - it is my duty to save those who are lost from the darkness, but we have been sent on a task of our own. You must stop harassing the townspeople." There was a protest as they explained that all they’ve been doing is asking for food and wine, Lynx's ears perked up at the sound of this, "You have plenty! Why do you think you need more?", "well, there is always more to be had," an older woman replied wryly. The group continued to ask questions, trying to decide whether they could help or not when Stanomir spoke up, "I tried to do this the nice way," Samsam and Redd instantly slumped to the floor and fell into a deep sleep, Stanomir lifted his arms and whispered something beneath his breath and the rest of the group lost consciousness.


    When they awoke, they were surrounded by deep forest covered in an impossibly impenetrable mist. They could not see the sky and could not tell what time it was. Samsam used his Druid powers to see if there was any poison or disease around them and was able to determine that the fog behind them was unsuitable for human beings. Iroh tried to start his daily tai chi ritual but stopped when the group kinda questioned if they had time for that (:c ). The group decided to move forward, despite seeing many bright animal eyes in the woods around them. They approached a giant gate flanked by two equally large statues whose gates opened as they approached. Samsam, Lynx, Redd and Pepper began to discuss whether or not they should go through the gates, when they noticed that Iroh had already made his way through. Pepper noted she wished they had a way of propping open the huge gates just as the gates closed behind them. Nice.


    Iroh, who was sniffing the air intently and Redd, who was attuned to this kind of thing, smelled a deceased corpse somewhere to the North and the group decided to go and check it out. When they arrived to the scene, they saw a man's body, brutally ripped and clawed apart, surrounded by large paw prints. Samsam noted that they looked like wolf prints, but were larger than normal. Pepper joked that it was a good thing her Patron was also the Patron of Lycanthropes. In the bodies hand they found a note from Kolyan Indirovich, the Burgomaster of Barovia, lamenting the demise of his daughter, Ireena Kolyana who was bitten by a vampyr. He advised that everyone should abandon this place, surround it with symbols of good and leave. It is unclear whether this man was a messenger who failed to get the message out, or just some other unlucky traveler. They noticed that the wolves howled at them only when they were in the forest...strange. Lynx confirmed a hypothesis with the Scientific Method - she's a rel scientist now.


    They continued on and spent some time frolicking in the water and filling up their flasks before continuing on to the village ahead of them. As the dirty road turned to paved cobblestone, the group heard a loud mournful wailing that seemed to be the only noise in the ostensibly empty village. Pepper and Iroh immediately felt the need to find the source and offer help. Lynx was more doubtful, but begrudgingly followed the group. When they finally reached the house (and checked for traps, of course) the woman screamed for them to go away and, unable to take a hint, the group knocked again. She finally answered the door and sadly sniffed up at them. "We heard you crying, and your sadness made me feel sad" Iroh said plaintively, the woman sniffed again and wiped the snot from her nose (she was ugly crying - ok?) before finally saying, "My daughter is gone - I know she's been eaten by those damned wolves. I know she's dead!" The group was sad to hear this, "how old was your daughter, was her name Ireena?" Lynx asked, thinking back to the letter they found, "What - no, that's the Burgomasters daughter, no, my Gertrude is 18 and she's never left this house before!" The group was all taken aback by this, "Ma'am, are you sure she didn't just run away?" Pepper asked gently, the woman squeezed on the strange off-putting doll she held in her hand. "Of course not, she's my daughter, she would never run away." more crying, "I just - I just don't know what to do, my poor, sweet girl. She never left my side and now, I know she cannot survive alone! This is all because of that Devil, Strahd!" The group looked to each other, puzzled, “The devil?” Samsam asked slowly, “What do you mean?” the woman scoffed, her disbelief almost superseding her sadness, “The Count of Barovia! He’s the reason our lives are plagued with monsters. I know my daughter is out there suffering or dead,” the wailing began again, “she cannot survive without me!” Redd was having none of this narcissistic tale, "I think she might have been trying to get away from you!"


    A hush fell over the group and the woman began sobbing harder and slammed the door in their faces. Iroh was shocked at Redd's tactlessness, "how could you say something so cruel? I really hope you don't do that again." The group decided that Redd and Lynx, who wasn't really interested in this crying woman, would walk around and try to find clues and the remaining three would attempt to talk to Mary again. They knocked and heard nothing. After a few moments they realized that her crying was coming from upstairs and they probably had no hope of helping Mary any more. Meanwhile, Lynx successfully lock-picked the shed in the shared garden behind the house and found....well, a normal garden shed. Just some tools and buckets. She even made sure there were no secret doors or compartments. She also tried to look down the well, but it was too dark and she refused to waste any lamp oil this task.


    The group reunited and suddenly were aware of two (very cute!!) children staring up at them. Pepper, who loves children, greeted them and asked what they were doing on their own so early. "There's a monster in our house," the older girl said plainly, her brother squeezed onto her and hid behind her, poking his sweet little head out. Iroh and Pepper instantly decided to help these children and follow them to their house. Pepper did a quick check for any magic, and found nothing that really stood out to her. Iroh told her to stop being so paranoid, and that these children needed their help. The children stayed outside and pointed to the door, "that's our house! Please help us, the monster is scary!!" The smaller boy shyly looked up at (hawt) Pepper and said, "Fank you demon lady!" The group entered the house and Pepper attempted to stop the door from closing with her glove, but it fell lamely to the floor and the door closed behind them anyways. (She grabbed her glove).


    They stood in the foyer.............


    TLDR
    The duchess wants to disperse some undesirables - her guards got totally charmed by them
    Samsam and Redd like wine, Pepper likes dancing, Iroh likes happiness, Lynx likes distrusting people
    Learned the story of a cursed prince who we're asked to save
    Get totally roofied and knocked out
    Wake up in a strange forest, Iroh tries some tai chi (I think?) but can't finish
    Can't walk backwards y'all it's poisonous or something equally bad for us
    Go forward and find giant gate, go through without much thought
    Smell dead body, find corpse with wolf marks (but they're bigger than normal wolves) and find a letter
    The letter says that the Burgomasters daughter (Ireena) has been bitten by a Vampyr, all hope is lost, leave this land
    The gang continues forward after hearing v. scary wolf howls in the forest (that mysteriously stop once they leave the forest)
    Frolic some in the river, Iroh floats in his shell
    Go to a village and hear a really sad lady wailing throughout the town
    Try to help her, find out her 18 y/o daughter has never left the house.....Redd doesn't like that and snaps at the woman a bit
    Lynx and Redd explore the backyard, some successful lock-picking leads nowhere and the well is unexplored
    Two children tell the gang that there is a monster in their house and they need help
    Gang ends up in a foyer, the door closed tightly behind them.......
    Next week - The Gang Kills a Monster?? (Hopefully!)
    Last edited by Douche; 2019-09-19 at 08:18 PM.
    I'm working for the Empire. But don't worry… I'm not going to garrote you!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2015

    Default Re: Campaign Diary - Curse of Strahd (5e)

    So again I didn't write these, one of the players did (Pepper). I'm just saying this because she titled them all "The Gang..." like it's IASIP, haha. Well, I did write a few which I'll probably make note of. But that's not until later.

    Spoiler: The Gang Explores The Mahogany House of Horrors
    Show
    The gang is in the foyer of Rose and Thorns house. There are no windows and it’s very dark. Samsam lights a torch and they are able to get a good look at the room around them. There’s a mahogany double door in front of them and a shield on the south wall, emblazoned on it is a stylized golden windmill on a red field. Pepper, whose extensive training as a young girl was often focused on history, recognizes the sigil. It belongs to the Durst family, who, hundreds of years ago owned all the lands of Barovia before Count Strahd. They also own a lot of land outside of Barovia. They’re like, super rich. Old, old, filthy money. There are two portraits on either side of two stony faced aristocrats.


    The group decides to continue on, listening intently for signs or sounds of a monster. Iroh is anxious to find the monster as soon as possible, but the rest of the group is pretty interested in gathering as many clues as they can, you know snooping on the rich - it’s fun! In the next room, there is a black marble fireplace with a sweeping red marble staircase. Above the fireplace is a long sword with a windmill on the hilt. The gang discusses whether or not they should take the sword, I mean they wouldn’t want a monster to have access to any weapons right? But after further discussion, they decide to just leave it. The wood paneled walls are carved beautifully with vines and nymphs. There’s nothing very interesting in this room, so they continue to the next room.


    They enter an expansive dining room with a large mahogany table topped with silverware and crystal goblets surrounded by 8 (or six?) chairs. There is a gorgeously fancy crystal chandelier directly above them and mounted above the fireplace is a painting of an alpine vale. The walls are also wood paneled with intricate carving, but upon closer inspection, Pepper notices there are terrifying, strange faces in the wall. Lynx wonders if the silver has anything to do with the werewolves, hmmmm. The enter a small coat closet and find black cloaks and a fancy top hat. The gang wonders if someone should wear it, more specifically if Iroh should wear it. He finds it weird that they’re suggesting he should wear someone's hat from inside of their home. Pepper is sad that her horns make it so she cannot wear the top hat. They enter a kitchen (no, that’s not a toilet!) and Samsam gleefully looks around for food. There is bread cheese and...granola bars, well, that’s disappointing. There is also a dumbwaiter in the corner that either of the halflings could fit into.


    The last room on this floor looks to be a den of some sort - more specifically a hunters den. There is a stag mounted above the fireplace and three wolves around the room. There are comfy looking chairs that are draped with animal furs, and a table with some wine, two wooden goblets and a pipe. Pepper takes a sip of wine, Redd and Samsam stay far away from the wine after their last experience. Iroh glances at Pepper who smiles back sheepishly. There are two cabinets in the room, Lynx opens the first and finds a box with some playing cards and a lot of wine glasses. The second cabinet is locked, Lynx decides to lockpick it and Iroh wonders if this is really helping them find the monster. The cabinet pops open and inside there is a heavy
    crossbow, a light crossbow, a hand crossbow, and 20 bolts. Redd takes the bolts, but they leave the rest of the weapons. They’re getting the idea that dad is probably a hunter (or mom, ok, I don’t judge).

    The team decides to ascend the stairs - at last. On the landing the walls are lined with several unlit oil lamps. There is another fireplace with another portrait above it. This one is a family portrait and the group recognize the two sweet children and what must be their parents, the children are smiling and they look darling. The father is cradling a small bundle (a tiny wittle baaaaby) who the mother is looking down at scornfully. The group takes some times to wonder about the picture, wondering where the parents and baby are and why it seems like the children are alone here. Here the carving in the wood paneled walls depicts lovely dancing youths. Two suits of armor guard both doors on either side of them (four suits of armor in total) and Pepper, Iroh, Lynx and Redd each step up to one to examine them, Pepper admires their helms - shaped like wolves and Lynx wonders if these are more stylish than the top hat. Tough questions. As she leans in further to inspect, the suit of armor comes to life and reaches out to grab Pepper. Luckily she rolls out of the way and Lynx springs to action and stabs it. It falls to pieces on the ground revealing a strange wooden figure inside. The gang decides to knock over and disable the remaining suits of armor, in case anything funny happens later. Lynx decides, now that they’ve been attacked, that the group should be a bit more vigilant and searches the two doors for traps, she finds none, but does notice that what looked like dancing youths is actually young children fleeing from swarms of bats.


    Iroh slowly pushes open the top door and reveals a beautiful library with red velvet drapes covering the windows. There’s more mahogany in this room in the form of a desk and a matching chair. There’s more windmill imagery with a painting of a windmill. There are two comfy looking chairs and the south side of the library is covered with two rows of floor to ceiling bookshelves which hold hundreds of tomes and books covering a wide range of topics. There’s also a ladder for reaching the higher shelves with ease. Pepper - excited to see a rich persons library and assuming there must be a secret passage or door somewhere begins to look for a book that looks more used that the rest, or out of place somehow. In the end she finds only a first edition poetry book. Iroh, more perceptive, finds an red leather book with an empty spine. When he pulls on it to examine it further, the bookshelf swings open and reveals a secret room.


    There are more bookshelves in this small room. The first one Iroh notices is called "The Necromantic Rituals of a Cult called the Priests of Os(something)". Additionally at the end of the room is a wooden chest with a skeleton sticking out of it. It looks as though the person was reaching into the chest when he died, and the chest closed on his dead body. Iroh doesn’t feel comfortable in the presence of the necromancy books and leaves the room, also questioning whether this is really helping them with their goal of killing the monster. Redd affirms that this fact gathering will help them defeat the monster, and that the more background they have the more successful they will be. It’s in their best interest to know as much about it as they can. Iroh assents. Pepper starts to flick through the book (written in infernal), finds it to be a pretty straightforward necromancy book asking for the blood of the innocent with different sigils. She approaches the skeleton and notices there are three poison darts sticking out of his chest - if there was a trap it has been triggered and the chest is probably safe, but she still approaches cautiously. She pulls the skeleton out a bit and while his body comes out, his wrist stays in the chet and keeps it propped open, she reaches in and sees some paperworks, books and scrolls. She grabs them all and also grabs what looks like a letter in the hand of the skeleton and she makes her way out of the room back into the library to show what she found to the gang.



    The letter has a seal of a raven over a tall shield with the outline of a castle. It address the person as “My most pathetic servant” and basically says that they are worth nothing, and that he will not help him on his path to immortality. That it doesn’t matter how many people they torture in their dungeons or how many lost souls they provide, they are nothing more than a worm. They mention that the addressee sought comfort in the arms of another woman and because of that bore a stillborn. He is cursed by darkness and will not be helped or saved by the letter writer - Dread Lord Strahd!! DRAMA! The group wonders if the baby they saw in the portrait was the baby in this letter - it could explain the look of scorn in the wife's face. But why would someone have their portrait taken with a stillborn? Maybe that’s where the necromancy comes into play? IDK MAN.


    The scrolls are actually 3 spells scrolls - bless, protection from poison and spirit weapon - which the gang decides to give to Redd, as she’s the only one who can cast spells from scrolls. The rest of the papers include the deed to the house, a deed to a windmill and a signed will which bequeaths the house and the mill to the children. The books are blank leather books which Pepper puts in her bag in case they need it later. Lynx goes back to examine the desk and finds a lot of stuff including a letter kit, a lamp and a wooden seal with the Durst family insignia. Inside the drawer there is an iron key. Lynx grabs the key Iroh grabs the lamp and Pepper grabs the letter kit - including the family insignia, in case they need it in the future.


    The other room is a music hall of some kind, the walls are lined with comfortable looking chairs. There are carvings on the wall of people happily playing music and performing, there’s another chandelier in this room. There is a harpsichord on one side, a large standing harp near the fireplace and alabaster figures on the mantelpiece. Upon closer inspection, several of the figures are skeletons. Iroh strums the harp hauntingly. Lynx examines the inside of the harpsichord, and finds nothing.


    The other room is an undecorated bedroom, with straw mattresses and servants uniforms. There are footlockers with nothing important in them. The dumbwaiter comes through this room.


    The groups finally decides to ascend to the third floor. They're on a dusty balcony in front of a black suit of armor covered in cobwebs, there are more carvings of beautiful forests with leaves and critters scampering about. The group notices how strange it is that this area is so dirty, old and dusty when the rest of the house seemed to be fairly well-kept. Iroh goes immediately to the top door. As soon as Iroh walks past the suit of armor, it springs to life and swings its long sword. FIGHT TIME!!


    Iroh dodges expertly (A LOT!!). The team makes some really bad rolls - I mean the team can hardly penetrate the suits defenses and is having a hard time hitting him. Redd gets pushed over the edge of the staircase and falls down to the landing below! Pepper does literally one damage. Samsam smacks him with his magical club a few times, and Iroh dodges some more. Redd lands some strong guiding light attacks against him, but the rest of the group wastes the attack advantage.Lynx gets clobbered a bit, but also stabs him a few times. They finally best the beast after he’s almost killed them all. The group decides it needs a rest and since they’ve made a pact to only rest in comfortable places, they decide to go back down to the library. The rest of the team heals up and Pepper leafs through the book a bit more and finally realizes that the spells are fake...the book is bogus...what could it mean?


    They go back upstairs and open the door to the master bedroom. It is really fancy, but is also decrepit and dusty. There is a literal rotting tiger skin on the floor. The stain glass on the doors has windmills on it and there is another portrait of the two parents hanging on the wall. The curtains in this room are burgundy instead of red. Pepper begins asking why the house seems so abandoned and old - how were the children living here? Where are the parents? There’s a small sitting area that’s covered in cobwebs and the team sees that this looks like the highest point for the dumbwaiter. There’s a full-length mirror and Pepper checks herself out. Lynx finds a jewelry box with a platinum necklace with a topaz gem and three gold rings. Pepper asks if she can have the necklace since Topaz is her birthstone. They all agree, she also wonders if anyone would want the rings and after no response, she slips them on as well. Kinda RUDE. They find a balcony and reaffirm that there definitely looks like there’s room for an attic.


    They continue out, and Iroh mentions it’s bizarre that they haven't found some kind of basement or dungeons since the letter mentioned torturing people in the dungeon. This is probably important! They continue out and come upon a bathroom. Samsam lays down in the tub and starts to take a smallish nap. Pepper turns the faucet on the sink and sees that there’s no water, which further increases the suspicion that the house seems unlived in. They continue out and Pepper opens the door to what looks like a storage closet. There’s a broom leaning against the wall and when Pepper approaches, it springs to life and brutally snaps its handle against her head. She stumbles back a little and cries out in pain and the group jumps into action. It whacks her again and to be frank, she is quite close to death now....which is weird since it’s a broom. She disengages and allows the rest of the team to take care of it. Samsam steps up and decimates the broom with a single blow. Pepper heals herself a bit and is quite embarrassed at having almost died to a broom.


    Iroh leads the way, now concerned for his apparently delicate friends and opens the next door. They enter a large bedroom with a dresser, a large bed and a full length mirror. In the corner near the bed is a crying specter, in the form of a woman who does not resemble the woman in the pictures they’ve seen so far. Iroh is deeply saddened by her apparent pain and steps forward to talk to her. She is unresponsive until Lynx mentions the baby from the letter and the portrait. “My baby,” she wails, pain emanating from her, “they killed him, and the poor poor children.” Their ears perk up at this, “yes!” says Pepper, “the children, we’re here to help them!” The specter begins wailing some more, and still does not directly acknowledge them, “they locked them in the attic and left them all alone. They killed me and my baby. I was just the nanny” She dissolves into sobs once more and remained unresponsive. Iroh continues trying to speak to her, to figure out how he can help her or how he can make her less sad, but she’s just inconsolably crying at this point.


    The team continues to look around the room, opening one of the doors to reveal another balcony and the other to reveal and nursery with an empty crib covered in a black shroud. The team gets very solemn and decides against entering the room out of respect for the specter and the baby. Pepper notices that the mirror is a little tilted and it looks like there may be something behind it so she says, “I don’t think I’m.....strong enough to move that mirror, but it looks like there’s something there,” maybe she’s learned her lesson after almost dying to a broom. Redd steps forward and says she can easily move the mirror and in fact can. Once the area behind the mirror is revealed, they see a secret door and Redd opens it to expose a cobweb riddled staircase leading up to what is presumably the attic.


    Iroh and Redd lead the way and the rest of the group follows. Up in the attic there are four rooms. Two seem to be spare bedrooms, plain, consisting of only a bed, an iron stove, a rocking chair and a nightstand. In one room the gang finds what looks like human bones in one of the ovens, Pepper keeps them in case they can be buried or burned at some point. In the other room, there is a cute doll wearing a yellow lace dress on the windowsill. The group doesn’t take it and continues on to a large storage room. Everything is covered in tarp and it is extremely dusty. In here the team finds a bed sheet covered in dry blood. Lynx wonders if they should look around but decides it would be too time consuming to check under every sheet for something of consequence.


    They go over to the last room. The state of this room divulges a dismal tale, the window is bricked over and there are two skeletons laying next to each other on the floor. They group recognizes the clothes as what Rose and Thorn were wearing, and to further confirm that these are the children's remains, the smaller of the two is cradling the stuffed animal that Thorn was carrying. There are two child sized beds, a toy chest painted with windmills and a large dollhouse that seems to be an exact replica of this house. The team stands quietly for a moment, trying to piece together their situation and also get over the sad truth that these children seemed to have been locked in an attic room and left to die. “Wha-” Pepper starts, “how did they - are they ghosts?!” Only she and Redd walk into the room, Iroh and Lynx step a bit close to the door and observe. Samsam is just chilling. “This is so sad.” Iroh states softly. After a few more moments of silence, Pepper speaks up, “maybe we can glean some information from the dollhouse? Maybe find a way to the dungeon to find this monster?”


    Redd moves forward to get a better look at the dollhouse, and once she reaches out to touch it, the two children appear before them. “Hey!” Rose yells loudly, “Those are our toys! Can you not touch them?!” Redd tries not to let her surprise show on her face and turns around slowly, “don’t you share? We’re just trying to help you with the monster.” The little girl pouts and says, “do not touch our toys!” Pepper steps forward and in a bit of a tactless fashion asks, “do you know whose bodies these are?” The girl looks down sadly, “Mommy locked us in the attic to protect us from the monster, but,” she shuffled sadly and looked down at her brother before continuing, “she must have forgotten about us.” She shuffles her feet a bit before squeezing her brothers hand, “Thorn fell asleep first, and just never woke up. I got so hungry and tired, and I fell asleep after.” The words fall heavily into the air and the group exchange sad glances. “Well, we still want to kill this monster for you, how do we get to the dungeon?” The children look confused and glance at her, “dungeon?” she asks slowly, “ Ok, ok, I mean basement!” Rose shakes her head, “you’re not supposed to go down there. It’s dangerous.” Redd speaks up, “ we understand that, but we’re here to take care of that monster for you, so tell us how to get there.” Rose nods resolutely, “ok, the door is here.” She walks towards the doll house and points to a column along the side of the house, she indicates that the door is accessible from the storage room, “Can you bring our bones to the family crypt?” her voice was small and sad. The group agrees immediately.


    The team is resolute in the mission to kill this monster, even if it turns out to be the parents of the children. As they get ready to leave and Pepper gathers up their bones, little Thorn speaks up, “wait! Don’t go, stay and play with us!” Iroh speaks up, “Hey, maybe we should try to bring the nanny up here!” The group thinks it could be a good idea and Iroh tells them, “hey we’re gonna go and get your nanny, and also kill that monster for you!” As Redd and Pepper turn away, the children get really angry and jump forward. Redd is steadfast and resolutely strong willed and is able to fight off Rose, but Pepper becomes possessed by Thorn. She is now scared of everything, including her own shadow, and weeps with despair when things don’t go her way. Rose, frustrated jump forward and attempts to possess Iroh, and she succeeds. He now likes being in charge and gets angry when other people tell him what to do. “Well!” he says angrily, “I’m still going to get the nanny!” Pepper looks at him incredulously, “wait don’t go! I’m scared!!” Iroh takes no heed and hurries down the stairs to the nanny's room. He attempts to communicate with her but she just ignores him. He gets increasingly frustrated and finally decides to go back upstairs. Little Pepper and Redd are waiting for them and Pepper says, “are we really going down those scary stairs?” The team exchange glance, “Yes Pepper, now let’s go!”


    TLDR
    The windmills mean Durst family - old money
    The wood carvings are all hiding something nefarious
    The gang explores a lot but doesn't find much
    The bottom floors are really clean
    The library holds a secret room
    There's some shady necromancy stuff going on here
    Redd gets three scrolls!
    The husband cheated and had a stillborn
    Lynx picks a lot of locks and finds a mysterious iron key
    We meet a Specter who cries about her baby and the children
    The top floor is rotting and really dirty
    The team almost dies to an animated badass suit of armor expect for Pepper
    Pepper almost dies to a broom
    The necromancy book is bogus! FAKE NEWS
    Samsam sleeps in a tub
    Rose and Thorn are actually dead 😿
    They find a secret staircase to the dungeon
    Pepper and Iroh become possessed brats
    These guys love mahogany and chandeliers
    Next Week - The gang descends?

    Last edited by Douche; 2019-09-19 at 08:19 PM.
    I'm working for the Empire. But don't worry… I'm not going to garrote you!

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2015

    Default Re: Campaign Diary - Curse of Strahd (5e)

    P.S. Feel free to ask questions and whatnot. Would love to talk about my experience with other CoS DMs, or former players

    Spoiler: Session 3: The Gang and Pepper - for the Love of God Stop Touching Everything!
    Show
    The gang descends the narrow staircase, going from the attic all the way down the the basement. Pepper whimpers periodically, because she’s really scared of the cobwebs and the dark mustiness of the stairway. They enter a dark hallway with multiple branching paths. It seems like the dungeon is made of clay and rock and in the darkness of the room Pepper whines loudly. She casts Light and illuminates the gangs passage with a lovely lavender glow, declaring that she must stand in the middle - as she’s a scaredy cat and she knows the monster is around. (Let’s all recall that Iroh and Pepper are possessed by Rose and Thorny respectively). The spell emits enough light to give Redd (who is valiantly leading the group) visibility in front of her. As soon as they step out into the hallway, they hear an eerie, rhythmic, unintelligible chanting that seems to be coming both from all around them and nowhere at once. The group pauses to listen and cannot discern a source, glances are exchanged and they decide wordlessly to continue on.

    Redd trudges forward and they enter a room that contains a small table and some chairs, as they go deeper into the room they note four straw cots that are 17% moldy. Lynx, looking for anything that may be hidden or left behind, find some pistachio shells under the table; she and Samsam are excited despite the fact that they are just shells that are covered in dust. They walk forward and find another staircase leading down, but decide it would be a better idea to explore the entirety of the top floor before heading down. This is not a speedrun after all.

    They head back towards the corridor and find two forks that appear to lead to crypts, there are blank stones leaning against the walls. The group wonders if this is possibly the crypts where the children should be laid to rest, “No!” Thorny tells Pepper grumpily, “These are not our crypts, ours are by mommy and daddy!” They continue further down and find two more branching paths. On either side of them are four more crypts, these ones sealed. The two on the right side read Elizabeth and Gustav Durst while the ones on the left read Rosavalda and Thornboldt Durst. It’s obvious to the group that these are the children's crypts so Redd and Samsam work together to move the slabs aside. Inside are tiny, child-sized stone coffins. The group is quiet for a moment at the sobering sight and Pepper steps forward, Thorn internally asking to finally be put to rest - he misses his mommy and daddy. Pepper places the small set of bones clutching the doll into Thorns coffin and the other set into Roses. As Pepper places the bones in and gently closes the lids, whispering words of warmth and well-wishing to the two children, she and Iroh both feel a heavy, grave weight lifting from their shoulders and they are no longer possessed. They close the stone slabs behind them, and the children are put to rest. Pepper feels lonely and sad albeit a bit relieved now that Thorn no longer resides inside her head. Lynx suggests they should check the parents crypts to see what's up, see if there are bodies in there and just make sure everything is on the level. They decide to open Gustav's crypt first. There is a coffin inside, but as Redd walks into the chamber, she feels a deathly chill in her bones, radiating from her spine and trickling down her limbs slowly. She steps back and informs them that they should not open the coffin.

    They continue down the hallway and enter another room that has a large wooden table (about 9% moldy) surrounded by long benches. There are human bones all around the floor and two more openings leading to more hallways. This seems to be a dining hall. Along the south wall is a dark alcove, it looks like it’s a larder, and from a distant glance they can see that there are some shelves that once contained food. Perhaps emboldened by her lack of scaredy cat, Pepper decides to approach the area. She notices that there is a Grick, a snake-like creature with the face of a demogorgon and cries out, jumping back as a fight begins! Lynx, ever nimble quickly fires off a shot at the creature with her bow, but unfortunately in the cramped space of the dining hall misses him. The Grick slithers out and bites Pepper right in her thigh. She cries out but luckily his next tentacle-y hit misses. Samsam stands as tall and proud as he can and infuses his staff with magic, unfortunately he misses. Redd steps forward and exclaims, "Nobody pecks my friends!!" specifically in a non-accent, she is a goddamn american hero guys. She swings her war-hammer forward and also misses. Iroh swings out his halberd but also misses. The group just needs to warm up, ok? Pepper, feeling especially fiendishly vigorous casts false life on herself. She then casts an eldritch blast at the Gricky boi and finally hits the little guy, who, on impact, lets out a haunting robotic wail - like a subway. Lynx slots another bow and this time her arrow flies true and hits him bigly. The Grick is a bit confused and lashes out, this time deciding to attack Redd. He sends out a tentacle but due to her high quality chainmail, the Grick can't quite get a grip on her and doesn't do any damage. Iroh swings out his halberd again, but misses. Samsam contemplates casting some spells, but decides to go back to his handy dandy staff. Pepper sticks her tongue out and disengages, the effort is lost on the Grick who doesn't understand the meaning. Redd, ready to really make him feel it, decides to swing again and this time she hammers him good, but doesn't seem to do a lot of damage. Lynx lets loose another arrow, but this one misses. The Grick reaches his tentacles out and grasps Samsam, his tentacles tighten around the poor halfling and the Grick pulls him in, once the sweet cherubic face is close enough, the beak pecks forward and pierces Samsams jugular. Samsam falls limply to the floor, the breath slowly fading from him. Invigorated by Samsams apparent death, Iroh smacks the Grick with his halberd and hits. Samsam attempts to survive, but is still looking bad, convulsing slightly. Also feeling moved by Samsams injury, Pepper fires her finger guns at this Grick and he falls over dead to the floor in a smoldering heap of death.

    Pepper runs over and shines some healing light all over Samsams body. Samsam says that it was very comfortable being dead for those few moments and Lynx asks if he saw Rose and Thorn. He did not. Samsam heals himself up a bit more and the gang decides to continue on. Redd goes to the other side of the room and finds a staircase. Before descending they decide to continue down to the bottom of the room. This leads to a hallways which branches off into several other hallways. Because the hallways are so daunting, Lynx suggests they should just go down the staircase instead. The group follows Redd - Redd or Dead as they say. This short staircase leads to yet another hallway and Redd leads the way down this hallway and for no reason, the group hopes that she is feeling lucky. As they continue their way down the hallway they notice that the chanting has gotten noticeably louder. There are more stairs in front of them and they decide to go back upstairs and return to the original plan to explore the rest of the rooms before descending deeper. Redd Fyre turns towards a new hallway that seems to lead back to the dining hall they just came from and begins to walk down it. As if in slow motion, the gang hears a horrifying creak as Redd steps on some wooden planks that break suddenly beneath her; with a loud squishy thud, she falls 10 feet onto sharpened wooden spikes. She seems dead-ish. Iroh pulls her out, Pepper stabilizes her with her limited medical knowledge and Samsam steps forward to cures her wounds. They continue forward, vowing to check for traps more often. As they walk up and continue down the other hallway, they still hear the chanting and also notice that the walls are starting to crumble around them. From the crumbling walls burst out some Ghouls - good thing they just stabilized Redd....

    One Ghoul claws at Samsam but doesn't paralyze him. The next Ghoul bites Lynx and damages her greatly. Redd raises her holy symbol, "Oh Martha, please free these ghouls from their shackles - enlighten them," and Turns All Undead. One is able to bear through the call and stays facing her, but the other three flee. Pepper takes a few steps back and hexes the Ghoul that attacked Lynx and then blasts it. Iroh swings his halberd and misses. One Ghoul turns on his decaying heel and runs around the corner and continues fleeing, while the other comes forward and tries to attack Iroh. After the Ghoul misses, Iroh is able to git him with his halberd and damage him. Samsam swings his staff above his head and screams out “Shillelagh!” and grunts before slamming the staff against the Ghoul. The Ghoul dies! Looks like style points do count! Lynx jumps back with Pepper and shoots the same Ghoul Pepper is attacking with her bow. The Ghoul in the wall is unable to move so he doesn't do anything, too scared to move any closer to Redd, but with no other path to take. Redd throws out a Sacred Flame but the Ghoul avoids it. Pepper kills one Ghoul with her blast. Iroh continues to face off with his Ghoul. Samsam skips and hops forward and hits the Ghoul that Iroh is fighting with, still invoking the Shilelagh name to power his attacks. Lynx notches back an arrow but unfortunately in her excitement she misses. This fear resistant Ghoul is really hoping for a promotion and is unaffected by them, neither fleeing from the power of Martha nor scared of the adventurers. Redd throws out a Sacred Flame again, and lands it this time. Pepper, Iroh and the Ghoul all miss. The Ghoul dies. The group decides to go back upstairs and take a short rest before continuing. Remember - it’s only a rest if you’re comfortable!

    They continue to the hallway they were going down and make sure to take the path that the last Ghoul did not run down and enter a large room filled with skeletons shackled to the wall. In the middle of the room, against the south wall is a painted wooden statue, carved in the likeness of a gaunt pale faced man in a voluminous cloak. His left hand is resting on a wolf and in his right hand, he holds a grey cloudy orb. Samsam goes to the center of the room and arranges his special blend of 11 herbs and spices to ritually cast Detect Magic. Pepper contemplates the statue, trying to recall if she has any knowledge of this the guy and reaches the conclusion that this statute may be in the likeness of Strahd. Lynx determines that the skeletons are anywhere from 24-76% moldy. Pepper continues walking around the room and finds a hidden door! It leads to a staircase which leads to a ladder which leads to the hunting den above them - the team all deflates a bit realizing they could have found the dungeon much sooner. Samsam is finally done casting Detect Magic and perceives that the orb has an aura of necromancy magic. Lynx wonders if they should smash the orb with Samsam’s staff and the team agrees that that would be a great idea, and hopes that the orb is not too thick to be broken in such a way. Samsam approaches the orb and swings his staff like a baseball bat stating, "If I die, tell them I did it for science." He smacks it and it falls to the ground with a clatter but does not break.

    Pepper mentions that’s she's worried if any of them touches it, something may happen, like a possession or summoning of some kind. Despite her own foreshadowing, and apparently not having learned any lessons from the broomstick or the Grick, she picks the orb up.

    Instantly five Shadows appear and ominously say "One must die". They seem to be darker than they should be, absorbing the light around them and scintillating with shade. Samsam smacks one with his staff - despite the fact that it’s a Shadow is able to damage it a bit. Pepper, thinking that it may help, sheepishly places the orb back. When nothing happens she decides to call upon her celestial patron and cast sacred flame - hoping that the radiance of the spell will be strong against the dark beings. It's super effective and the Shadow dies. The remaining four Shadows swarm forward and converge around Pepper, each reaching out to grab her and drag her away. She is able to resist some of them, but two succeed and begin flying out of the room, dragging Pepper behind them. Iroh runs after her and attacks one of the Shadows. Redd calls to Martha again and says "Please Martha, help me against these Shadows. The have terrible taste in clothing. Black is not the new black, orange is!" Two of the Shadows start to flee. Lynx runs forward, feeling noble in spite of herself and stabs the Shadow that isn't feared, but her rapier falls between the light and darkness and she misses. Samsam runs forward and also misses. Meanwhile Pepper is pulled through some halls and she sees that the doors immediately open, straight down the middle - revealing some dripping fangs - IT'S A MOUTH!! The Shadows are trying to pull Pepper through the door and she attempts to break free but fails miserably, flailing about like a child having a temper tantrum. They pull her through and slip away, taking her further down the hallway towards the stairs. The mouth clamps shut behind them. Iroh attacks the Shadow again and hits, dealing some damage. Redd pulls out her symbol and Sacred Flames descend upon the Shadow, she then turns on her heel and runs towards the echoing cries of fear. Lynx calls the Shadow a Ghoul and it gets offended, she laughs and stabs it with a rapier, it dissolves, using its last breath to say, “Shadows are different than Ghouls!!” Lynx also moves towards the distressed yells. The group was faster than the Shadows expected and the team surrounds them and quickly defeats them.

    “There. Is. A. fricking. Door. That. Has. A. Mouth!” Pepper yells, breathlessly and as a pink-faced as her grey skin allows. The group wonders if it’s possible that the house is the monster - they hope they’re not heading towards the digestive system. Pepper quietly mentions that the Shadows were soft and gentle with her, kinda intimate and she liked it a bit, “I haven't been touched in a long time”. The group shuffles awkwardly. They head back through the room Pepper was dragged through and discover the door is just a mimic, so the house is probably not the monster and they kill the mimic from afar since it’s immobile. This room has a chandelier with some jugs, flagons and chairs. The other Ghoul who was feared before lumbers down the hall and the team kills him as he approaches. They continue on and find a bedroom with no mold and a rotting feather mattress, a wardrobe, a crate and a footlocker. Lynx notices that the top and left walls are made of clay that has been patched over. Before investigating that, the team checks out the crate, the footlocker and the wardrobe. Lynx peers into the crate and sees a bunch of torches and candles. The team now has 30 torches and Samsam puts the candles in the candlestick holders around the room, it really improves the ambiance. Lynx opens the wardrobe and finds several black robes (several is 4 btw), she passes them out, hoping for some kind of disguise opportunity. Meanwhile, Pepper opens up the foot locker. Inside is a folded cloak, a wooden coffer, and a book. Since she’s a NERD Pepper reaches out to see what the book is and as she does, the clay walls crumble away to reveal two Ghasts wearing black robes identical to the ones in the wardrobe. It’s at this point the group notices that one of the Ghasts is a woman - but this fact doesn’t mean anything to them yet.

    Samsam is feeling especially helpful and runs forward with his staff but at the last moment, he decides not to attack and instead gives Pepper resistance and runs back. Redd casts Sacred Flame against the one in front of her and injures it. The Ghasts step forward and burst out of the walls and both attack Pepper, one misses but the other successfully hits. Lynx is able to resist their terrible stench and slashes one with a rapier. Pepper also resists the stench and disengages quickly, as she runs away, she looks over her shoulder and throws a hex on the Ghast that Redd attacked. Iroh runs into the room and swings his halberd but misses. Samsam switches his concentration to Lynx upon seeing that Pepper is out of harm's way. Redd casts another Sacred Flame against the big boy but he is able to resist her light. The Ghast claws Iroh and he is paralyzed. Lynx pinches the bridge of her nose and slashes the Ghast again, she hits a soft spot and gets him real good. Pepper misses again. Iroh is able to break free from his paralysis. Samsam Shillelaghs again but is really Shillelacking (hehe). Redd misses a Sacred Flame again. The Ghast attacks Samsam this time and damages and paralyzes him. Lynx slashes a boy again and kills him. Pepper blasts the hexed boy. Iroh is able to resist the stench and smacks a boy in the head. Samsam reinvigorates and breaks free from his paralysis - the chill of death that was spreading through his body is quickly shaken off. More slashing from Lynx, more blasts and misses from Pepper. Samsam lets out a squeal of victory and bludgeons the Ghast to death. He smashed his twirled staff so hard that an imprint was left behind on the soft, decomposing forehead of the Ghast. As they examine his handiwork, the group notices that these Ghasts look just like Gustav and Elizabeth. There is a short silence as the mystery deepens, but Pepper quickly bounces back to the footlocker, determined to find out what the book is. Inside, the groups finds:
    Cloak of Protection - +1 to ac and +1 to saving throws, requires attunement
    Small wooden coffer containing 4 healing potions (2d4+2) - requires an action to drink
    Chain Shirt
    Mess Kit
    Flask of Alchemist Fire
    Bullseye Lantern
    Set of Thieves Tools
    Spellbook
    The team unanimously decides that their trouble-making, weakling Pepper should get the cloak. Iroh, Redd, Lynx and Samsam each get a healing potion. None of them can use the spellbook, so they decide to just keep it for now. Lynx takes the set of thieves tools and the flask of alchemist fire. The team decides to try to sell the mess kit and the chain shirt when they next can, and they will rotate the use of the bullseye lantern. It’s time for a rest and hopefully next time they can find the source of the chanting and can solve the mystery of the monster.


    TLDR
    The basement/dungeon is made of earth and clay
    There is a lot of mold
    Gricks like to hide in Larders - they're also kinda hard!
    Samsam dies
    The true bane of any adventurer is the curse of ever-splintering hallways
    The group should remember to check for traps!
    Redd dies
    Redd turns all undead - the Ghouls are super affected
    They ded (3 of the ghouls)
    Short rest!
    Pepper needs to stop touching things, the Necromancer Orb summons some shadows - Redd turns undead again
    They drag Pepper deeper into the hall (THROUGH A DOOR MOUTH!!)
    They die
    The mimic died
    The last Ghoul who ran away died
    They find a master bedroom and re-up on some torches
    Samsam appreciates mood lighting
    Pepper touches something else and two ghasts appear
    They die (and are really stinky!)
    They're Gustav and Elizabeth!!!!
    The team gets some GEAR YO
    Resting for the next adventure
    I'm working for the Empire. But don't worry… I'm not going to garrote you!

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Default Re: Campaign Diary - Curse of Strahd (5e)

    I'm a bit of a Ravenloft geek, but not at all familiar with the 5e version. This is an interesting read.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2015

    Default Re: Campaign Diary - Curse of Strahd (5e)

    Thanks Weckar... I did read some of the original "Expedition to Castle Ravenloft", I think that it's broadly a remake, but they definitely expanded on some things and added new stuff.

    Spoiler: Session 4: The Gang Meets a Geriatric Cannibal
    Show


    The gang rests in the bedroom, peering at the bodies of the deceased heads of house. A strange feeling has settled over them as they realize that they don’t really understand what’s going on in this house, and all the assumptions they made about the family seem to be getting disproved the deeper they venture; instead of answers, they're left with far more questions. They begin to wonder if perhaps the parents were more innocent than they seemed, and Pepper points out that the Necromancy book they found was full of gibberish and was fake. Samsam speaks up and suggests that they put the bodies of Gustav and Elizabeth back in their crypts so the family can be put to rest together. Thee group, finding that to be a lovely idea, retraces their steps, passing by the gore and blood of their adventure so far, feeling a heavy weight on their shoulders - after all they came in this house to save some children from a monster. Finding out the children had been long dead and the house was mostly abandoned had taken some of the wind out of their sails. They put the reeking bodies in their coffins and head back through the initial room they explored and descended the first set of stairs they decided not to go down. The stairs lead to a room with several smaller rooms surrounding a well. The group quickly scans the rooms and finds several bits of treasure. Pepper gets a pouch made of skin filled with 11 gold and 60 silver, Samsam gets a lovely ivory brush with silver bristles with which he can pick out his jewfro. Iroh get 3 moss agates wrapped in a black cloth (because he quite liked the colors). Redd claims a black eyepatch with a carnelian sewn into it and Lynx gets a silvered shortsword (good against the were-animals).

    They make their way back to the final unexplored staircase, noticing that the chanting is getting much more pronounced. As they descend deeper into the Murder House, the team can make out at least a dozen voices saying, “He is ancient, he is the land. He is ancient, he is the land” over and over again. The stairs lead to a room with several small cabinets along the walls, each containing a relic of some sort. There is a small mummified hand, a knife carved from human bone, a dagger with a rats skull, a varnished orb, an aspergillum, a bag of bat guano, a hags severed finger, a dessicated frog bound to a stick, a 6 inch tall wooden figurine with its arms crossed over its chest and the shriveled head of a halfling. Samsam decides that there is great potential that these relics are magical and begins to cast his ritual of Detect Magic, however after a few minutes of trying, he is too distracted by the loud chanting to concentrate enough to harness his magic. Pepper, ever fascinated by jewelry and touching things without thinking, reaches out and grabs a silver pendant with a devils face on it, Lynx shouts out, “Pepper don’t touch that!” Nothing happens and she places it in her pocket. Lynx really wants to burn the halfling head, but doesn’t have the materials to do so, she also looks at the varnished orb, and upon closer inspection she sees that it doesn’t really seem like a normal orb or a gemstone, it seems more like an eye. Irohs horrified gaze is fixated on the desiccated frog, after a bit, the spell breaks and he approaches a small wooden coffer; he finds a shriveled tongue inside and Samsam uses his nature knowledge to determine it belongs to an animal. Iroh slides the tongue into his pocket. Pepper looks more closely at the cloak and sees that it's made of stitched together grey skin. At this point the chanting is getting unbearably loud and the group can no longer hear each other over the din. Iroh takes this as a sign to continue down the hallway. They come upon what looks like a collection of cells and as they venture deeper into the prison, they see that the floor is littered with crumbling bones. At the end of the room, there is one intact skeleton wearing the same black robes they’ve been seeing around the dungeon. Of course, Pepper approaches it and as she reaches out to touch it, it lunges forward and lands on her. After a few moments of guilt-ridden irritation (“why do I have to touch everything?”) Pepper realizes that it’s not alive and attacking her, it just fell on her. Iroh jumps forward and wrestles the lifeless bones off of her, and she sees a golden ring on his pinky finger with a small windmill engraved on it. Pepper hands the ring to Redd since she’s already pretty decked out in jewelry and the group wonder who this could have been since he’s bearing the sigil of the house, but the parents and children are all accounted for. Lynx and Redd ruminate on the potential motives of the parents, they wonder if there was some good in the family after all. Redd speculates, “maybe they started getting into the cult stuff, but as is the nature of cults, they began to ask for more and more from them. Eventually the cult decided to move on to wanting to sacrifice the children and the parents drew the line and locked them away to keep them safe.” The plot thickens. The group thinks about this for a few seconds before getting distracted once again by the loud, deafening chanting.

    They continue back into the relic room and go towards what seems to be the final chamber. The chanting stops as soon as they peer into the room, stone pillars surround them and there is a hole in the wall in front of them that leads into a dark hole. About two feet of murky water covers the whole room and there are stairs that lead up to ledges that encircle them. In the middle of the room there is a large dais with an altar in the middle. Iroh, who happens to love water, wades in immediately, and since Lynx is almost as short as the water is high, he suggests she jump on his back. She happily obliges. Meanwhile, Pepper, who really should have rolled a tank or something, turns the wooden wheel that is next to the door they entered through. Unsurprisingly, obviously, a metal gate clunks down from the ceiling above the door area and locks them in the room. Pepper attempts to reach out and stop the door from closing, but she’s too weak and it crashes shut. Good news is, that they're all inside; bad news is, now they're all inside. Iroh and Lynx stomp over to the dark recess and inspect the hole. It seems to be pretty organic, possibly like the wall decayed over time or was eroded with acid. Iroh does not want to step into the hole because there is a deathly foul stench coming from inside. He grimaces and begins to back away and Lynx notes that it smells a bit similar to the Ghast...in that it smells like disgusting, rotten death. Pepper attempts to look for secret doors around the sides of the room and fails because she’s really not feeling super perceptive right now. Redd, Iroh and Lynx all step on the dais and notice that the altar has hideous carvings of grasping ghouls and is stained with dried blood. As soon as they step on the platform, the chanting begins rising once more and 13 dark apparitions appear on the ledges around the room. Each one resembles a black robe-wearing cultist holding a torch, but these torches are lit with black fire that seems to be absorbing the light from the room around them. They have no faces. Their chant has changed at this point and they are repeating, “One must die, one must die.” The group looks at each other and Pepper notes that that is the same thing the shadows were chanting when she disturbed the necromancy orb.

    Iroh places the severed tongue from the wooden coffer on the altar, but they continue to chant, seeming to place some emphasis (probably imagined) on the word one. The team discusses their options, musing that probably not sacrificing something will either lead to a big fight or simply being stuck in the room forever. Lynx lightly mentions that she has a pet mouse but doesn’t really want to kill it. The team discusses more, thinking that the shadows will probably notice if they use an illusion or some kind of magic.

    Lynx finally decides to test if blood is all they need and slices into the small, tiny, sweet arm of Mouse the mouse companion and drips some blood on the altar. The shadows continue to chant, seeming to place different emphasis (also probably imagined) on the word die. The mouse looks up at Lynx, his tiny eyes wide with betrayal. Iroh looks horrified as Lynx places Mouse lightly on the altar and kisses him gently on the head. The mouse squeaks in terror and writhes, desperately trying to escape her grasp and she swiftly beheads it - much to the horror and astonishment of the group around her. Shivering, Iroh lets out an incredulous, “who are you?” Mouse blood pours (drips?) on the altar and pools up and the figures start to fade into non-existence, once again chanting, “He is ancient, he is the land.” There is a more profound silence than there has been on this journey yet as the team contemplates what just happened. Pepper starts to cry because mice are really cute and Mouse in particular was a fat little sweetie. Lynx wipes away a tear, gently grabs the body, and places it tenderly in her pack. The chanting is now a low humming in the background and no longer thunders out. Lynx tells the group that that was really difficult to do, and that she sacrificed a lot to save them. The portcullis opens up to release them and as they enter the relic room, Lynx grabs the aspergillum. When they ascend the stairs to the upper floor of the house, the group feel a sense of deep peace fall over them and they feel as though they are no longer in danger. They end up in the hunting lounge again and decide to use the ovens in the house to burn all the bodies that are not in crypts. The team feels stronger somehow once they leave the house (level up!) but all the relics they grabbed from the house crumble as they leave.

    As they walk down the cobblestone street past the row of houses, they hear the sound of wooden wheels and see an old woman pushing a cart in front of her. Pepper yells out, “Hark...lady,” the old woman approaches them, “Hello my dearie! I’m selling pastries, delicious pastries that are guaranteed to give you euphoric dreams.” She is a withered old woman in rags, but her smile beams up at them as she presents her flaky looking pastries to them. Samsam, upon hearing the words euphoric and pastries jumps at the chance to buy three for one gold piece each. She smiles gleefully and bundles three up for him and hands them over, ready to be on her way, however Pepper is a bit concerned and asks her what the pastries are made of. The woman's smile halters a bit and she chuckles, “why sunshine and happiness of course.” The group has some more questions for her but she’s not really responsive, just repeating that same thing and eventually she walks away, pushing her cart down the cobbled street.

    They watch her continue down the road and approach a house, knocking pleasantly a few times. A mother and father open the door and seem to be pleading with her and exchanging harsh words with the hag before she snatches a crying young boy from their hands and stuffs him in a burlap sack. She throws some pastries on the floor in front of the parents and starts to walk off, the parents scramble on the floor picking up all the pieces they can and scooping up the crumbs from the floor. Iroh, enraged, chases after her as quickly as he can, lucky for him she’s old so he catches up. “Hey! Stop,” she stops, and says, “oh hello my dear, did you want to buy some pastries too?” He scoffs, “no! I want to know what you’re doing with that child!” He pokes the sack and sees it squirming and hears little muffled cries for help. For a few moments, she tries to play dumb, but finally realizes it’s not really gonna work and she reluctantly releases him; the boy scrambles to his feet, looks around and takes off running. The gang is really pissed off at her, wondering what she was going to do with the child, asking if she uses the children to make the pastries?!?! The old woman is not being very responsive and Redd steps forward turning her eyes a blazing shade of red (hey-o), puffing up intimidatingly, “You had better tell us what’s going on lady. Tell us now and we won’t hurt you!” The old woman, thoroughly intimidated puts her hands up and takes a half step back, “ok, ok, I’ll tell you the truth.” she sighs and looks down at her wrinkled hands before looking back up and glancing at each of them, continuing, “I’ve been taking children because, well, because I never had any of my own. And these children are living with parents who are terribly addicted to these dream pastries. The parents don’t even care about their children, and leave them cold, alone and hungry while they escape to a dream world. I took that boy to give them a better life.” Iroh shakes his head, “You. Stuffed. Him. In. A. Sack!” She sighs despondently, and gives a futile little shrug. Pepper points a finger at the woman and sends her a telepathic message, “Listen here woman, we know you’re lying to us. Tell us the truth now or we’ll be forced to hurt you.” nothing really happens, and the woman just looks at Pepper with a bit of a defiant look in her eyes, Pepper casts Charm Person and it does nothing. Finally Lynx speaks up and says, “why don’t you eat one of the pastries?” the woman seems to get agitated and starts to walk away, Iroh reaches out to grab the cart and stop her and she simply disappears in a burst of silver light. The group is astounded and all look at each other, before Samsam calls out, "ok, who wants to eat one of these bad boys?" Iroh looks disgusted and weirded out, the rest let out uneasy laughter. Wanting to know more about the pastries, Samsam casts detect poison and disease and also detect magic, but finds nothing, he then nods curtly and says, “I will use these pastries to control someone!”

    They head back to the house of the child and look in the window. The two parents are sleeping on the couch and they cannot see the boy anywhere near them. They continue around the house and see the child in his room, sitting on the floor with his knees drawn to his chest and his head resting on his knees. He looks depressed. Lynx taps on the window and waves happily to him, he smiles and jumps up, opening the window a bit and says, “thank you all! You saved me from that crazy old lady!” Lynx asks him what his name is and tells him that they’d be happy to buy him a meal from the tavern. Lucian excitedly agrees and tells them he knows a short cut, and leads the way through an alley to the tavern across the way. They approach a tavern that looks like it was once quite nice but has grown shoddy over the years. There is a skewed sign above the doorway the reads “Blood of the Vine Tavern” and upon closer inspection, they can see that it once read Blood on the Vine Tavern and someone etched an f over the n. They walk in and see a fireplace that scarcely gives enough warmth to the patrons of the bar - a barkeep, a handsome chad, and three Vistani sitting together in a corner of the bar. Lucian runs to the bar with surprising vigor and the barkeep looks indifferently at him, his dead glassy eyes hardly meeting the boys, “Oh Lucian, have you come for some more scraps?” “no!” he squeaks out with glee, “These guys are going to buy me dinner! A whole dinner!” The barkeep looks up at the team and says, “Is this true?” he seems to be looking through them rather than at them. They assent and all begin to take seats at the bar while he prepares some food for Lucian, but both Lynx and Pepper are drawn towards the handsome man sitting at the bar, drinking deeply from a chalice. Lynx says, “hey there handsome!” and the man looks towards her with a small grin on his lips, “hello newcomers! Welcome to Barovia!” Pepper smiles and leans against the bar, knocking some silverware to the floor in the process, “Thanks, wanna buy me some of what you're drinking?” wink, wink. He nods amicably and says, “yes! I am always happy to make new friends!” He signals to the barkeep who brings them each a glass of wine, except for Iroh who politely declines. He asks them what brings them to Barovia and Pepper holds up her hand, “wait a second big guy, why don’t you tell us some about yourself first, what’s your name?” He tells them that he's the Burgomasters son and that his father recently died, “my name is Ismark, Ismark the... (cough) Ismark Indirovich. I live in the family mansion with my sister Ireena,” Pepper perks up and opens her big fat mouth to say something when Samsam elbows her sharply in the ribs, “that’s interesting....we’ve heard of you but haven’t heard of the death of the Burgomaster.” He laughs nicely, “Of course you have heard of us, we’re nobles. But sadly, it’s true, my father is dead.” Samsam suggests a toast to his father and as he says this the three Vistani in the corner raise their cups and laugh raucously, “yes, let’s toast to Ismark the Lesser!”

    Lynx looks at the three and back to Ismark, “why are they calling you the lesser Ismark?” he sighs loudly and takes another deep gulp from his chalice, “I am well-known, a landowner, I am handsome and strong. They know and mean nothing to me or this village. They speak this way because they are jealous and because my father is- was a great man.” Lynx continues, “does this mean you are now the Burgomaster?” he nods, “I suppose, yes, I am.” Pepper leans forward and looks at him carefully, “Ismark, I hope this isn't too touchy, but how did your father die?” Ismark look at her conspiratorially, “It is better to show you, come to my manor!” Lynx is a bit taken aback by this, “we can’t we’ve got to get Lucian back to his parents, can we come by tomorrow?” He nods, “Of course, come tomorrow morning.” The group stands up and as they approach the door they take out the letter the found that mentioned Ireena to reread (for some reason doing it in from of him) and just ensure that they read it correctly, since Ismark is behaving as though his sister is alive and well.

    Ismark jumps forward and grabs the letter from them, “this is the seal of my father! Where - where did you find this? Did you find Igor?” Pepper steps back and tries to speak calmly, his energy really psyching her out, “Who is Igor and why would we have found him?” Ismark replies, his tone erratic, “ We sent him to get help, to escape this land, did you find this letter upon his dead body or did he send you here to help?” The gang exchanges glances, obviously acknowledging that Igor was the dead body they found this letter on, but unsure if they should tell Ismark this. Iroh diplomatically responds, “we are here to help.” Ismark sighs and slumps back in his seat, “I will tell you this. Strahd began coming to my house and taking a keen interest in my sister. He uses his charming magic on her to convince her to come with him and he feasts on her blood. Ireena was afraid and cannot remember these nights with him, our father was so worried that we boarded up the house and watched Ireena intently to make sure she did not leave the house, but because of this Strahd sent wolves and terrible beasts to attack our house all through the night. My fathers heart could not stand it and he died because of the constant barrage." Lynx is unsure if they can help Ireena at this point, “how is Ireena now?” Ismark shakes his head in relief, “she is fine, she did not drink of the monsters blood, so she did not transform. We cannot kill Strahd and we cannot break the curse, so we need to take her to one of the other villages. I have heard that Vallaki is well guarded.” Pepper sys, “we are here to help you with exactly that, we are here to break this curse!” Ismark looks down, gravely, “you are not strong enough, we must get her out of here.” The team asks if there is anything else he can tell them, and her suggests that maybe the local lore would help.

    LORE

    The Devil Strahd

    Count Strahd von Zerovich is a vampire who dwells in castle Ravenloft, no one is welcome. The devil Strahd is a curse placed on the land because of a forgotten sin of the Barovians’.

    Vampires sleep in a coffin during the day. They can transform into a bat, wolf or a cloud of mist. They can summon wolves and vermin to do their bidding. In their human form they can dominate with their gaze. Running water burns them, sunlight will cause a vampire to burst into flames and they can only enter a residence with permission.


    The Land of Barovia - not to be confused with the village

    Anyone who attempts to leave the land of Barovia will begin to choke on the fog, if they don’t turn back they die. Many strangers come but disappear or die. Wolves, direwolves and werewolves prowl through the forest and there are bats in the night sky.

    The village Barovia is in the east of the valley, Valaki is in the heart of the valley and the fortified Kresek is at the west. Wine is the life blood of barovia, the taverns get their wine from the Wizard of Wine winery. The mad wizard haunts the foothills - he is an outsider and is no friend of vampire’s.

    Beliefs and Superstitions

    There are two divine forces watching over them, The Morning Lord and Mother Night. Before the curse, the Morning Lord watched over them from sunrise to sundown. Now the sun has not shown unobscured for many years and he no longer answers their prayers

    Nighttime prayers to Mother Night have also gone unanswered, they believe mother night has forsaken them and sent the Devil Strahd to punish them.

    During this storytelling, Lucian leaves to go back home and the teams feels inspired.

    Pepper asks about Mary and Gertrude. Ismark says, “oh yes, that is Mad Mary, she is...quite loud. She's always been loose in the head, but losing her daughter made her go off the deep end. We do not know what happened to Gertrude, we have searched high and low and she is definitely not in this village any more.

    lynx: “Do you think she was a bad mom?”

    Ismark: “I do not want to talk ill of her. I have said all I know”

    Redd: “We encountered a lady selling pastries? do you know anything about that?”

    Ismark: “Oh that old hag, you do not want to get on her bad side.”

    Iroh: “We do though, do you know anything about her taking children?”

    Ismark: “It is most regrettable, we have tried to stop her to no avail. My father tried too, we could do nothing”

    Iroh: “Do you know where she lives?”

    Ismark: “In the old bone grinder, that's what we call the windmill”

    Pepper: “Is there anything more we can do here? We want to help”

    Ismark: “If you want there is a shop across the road, if you'd like to stock up.”

    Pepper: “What about the church and the graveyard?”

    Ismark: “Well, funny you should ask, my sister will only leave if we bury my father in the graveyard. I will need your help with that as none of the villagers dare come near us”

    Pepper: “Ok, that sounds good, we'll go to the store and stock up and we will come and visit you tomorrow, is there anywhere we can rest?”

    Ismark: “Literally any vacant house or, you can stay with me”

    Redd: “Awesome thanks!”

    The team goes to the shop. There is a human sitting in a chair who stands as they enter and walks behind the counter, “Greeting, welcome to my mercantile, this is the best place around. If you are seeking things, you have come to the right place.” This guy is terrible - everything is overpriced. Redd tries to sell the eyepatch and he only offers 30 gp, after she asks for a bit more, he says he will give her one flask of oil in addition. He gets angry when she tries to bargain more and finally says “psh, leave whenever you want.” Upon hearing that, Redd finally acquiesces and sells it to him. Upon exchanging his gold and the flask for the eyepatch, he puts it on immediately and asks how he looks. Pepper says he looks really great and the carnelian really brings out the color of his revealed eye! He agrees and says, “hey, sometimes you only want to use one eye.” The gang decides they don't really need anything from him and move on.

    Next time......... sleepover with Ismark.
    I'm working for the Empire. But don't worry… I'm not going to garrote you!

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Default Re: Campaign Diary - Curse of Strahd (5e)

    I mean, there's Expedition, but also the much much wider setting. Beyond the borders of Barovia, yaknow?

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2015

    Default Re: Campaign Diary - Curse of Strahd (5e)

    Spoiler: Session 5: The Gang Meets The Priest's Son
    Show
    This one was a tiny bit rushed - sorry in advance


    The group stands outside the mercantile after getting properly ripped off and turn to each other, discussing what their next course of action should be. It’s decided that they should make their way to Ismark’s house and get some rest, but they feel as though they have some unfinished business to attend to in the town. Pepper turns to the group, “Don’t you think we should investigate the Bonegrinder and see what those women are doing with the children?” Iroh agrees and asserts that that’s pretty much the main thing on his mind. They figure that on the way to Vallaki (where they’re probably planning on taking Ireena), they can make a slight detour and check it out.


    They walk down the cobbled street towards the Burgomasters house, noting again how desolate and empty the town seems. They approach a rusting iron fence, the gate of which is twisted, they enter through and Ismark walks them up to the front door. The grounds are littered with weeds and you can see a worn out path where beasts and humans have trampled back and forth. The mansion itself looks like it was once a grand building, but there are deep claw marks in the walls. All of the windows are boarded with planks, as Ismark had told them, and overall the mansion is a dismal sight. Upon noticing the awkward silence from his travel companions, Ismark lets out a deep sigh, “Yes, it is quite a scene of chaos do you not agree?” They all let out grunts or nods of agreement and Pepper asks if this is all the work of Strahd's monsters. Ismark nods slowly, motioning to the glass from the windows that litters the floor, “Yes, they crashed out all the windows and wouldn't stop their assault until we boarded up all the entrances.” Redd ***** her head, “what makes your sister so special? How did she even get involved with Strahd? No offense, but I’m sure there are plenty of other women who Strahd could suck with much less effort.” He nods emphatically, “you are right, there are many other women, and to be honest, this is a question we have asked many times. Perhaps he is enamored of her beauty, but whatever the reason, he is transfixed on her.” Iroh ponders this for a moment before lightly asking the question they were all probably thinking, “well, what does Ireena think of him, of her situation?” Ismark looks towards the door and begins approaching it, “Why don’t you ask her in the morning.”


    He leads the band inside and there is a staircase straight in front of them, to the right there are some normal sized cushioned benches and to the left is the dining hall. From their vantage point they can see a simple wooden coffin on the floor surrounded by wilting flowers - the Burgomasters dead body. He begins to lead the group to separate spare bedrooms when Iroh lifts a finger in question, “Is there any place I can practice my tai chi?” Ismark nods and says he can do it in the parlor. As they head over to the parlor, Pepper asks, “how long has your father been Burgomaster? And how long has Strahd been terrorizing the land?” He looks inquisitively at her and responds plainly after a few beats, “My father has been the Burgomaster for 30 or 40 years. Strahd has been the Dread Lord of this land for centuries, longer than living memory.” Iroh looks skeptically at Ismark, trying to ascertain whether or not he's being truthful, and notices that he is smiling like a normal man, and looking at everyone in their eyes like a normal human being. He seems to be being forthcoming and honest. Ismark notices his scrutiny and turns towards him, “why are you staring at me in such a way turtle man?” Iroh shrugs and smiles softly, “I like your face!” Ismark chuckles lightly, “I appreciate that, I do find that my face is one of my best qualities. Where do you hail from, I have not seen your kind before.” Iroh replies, “I am originally from Toral (sp?) but I spent a lot of my time in the west, living in the desert lands.” Ismark nods, “Ah, I hope you will be able to see your home land again.” Redd steps forward and places her hand on Iroh's shoulder, “Is that intolerance I sense Ismark?!” Ismark shakes his head, taken aback by the sudden accusation, “no, no of course not. He spoke so wistfully of his home, and we have been trapped here for so long. I just hope you are all the adventurers who will finally break us of this curse.” Iroh smiles widely, “Ismark, you are a good man. You have welcomed us into your home, provided us with drink and food. I am very glad we met you.” Ismark thanks him and excuses himself to bed, first giving the hungry Samsam some peanuts to snack on; Pepper stays behind to learn Tai Chi from Iroh by mimicking his movements.


    Soon after, the team slumbers soundly in the nicely built house. They wake up in the morning not feeling like P. Diddy, since the rooms are a bit damp and the day is very cloudy. Redd and Pepper lead the charge down the stairs and as they reach the landing they see a woman who they assume to be Ireena. She looks far more badass than any of the group was expecting; she is armoured and has long dark hair and a pretty, fair, pointed face. The reds and whites of her armour tell the clashing story of blood and innocence. She looks up severely at them and in her hard but soft voice, she speaks, “ You are the friends of Ismark?” It sounded more like an angry statement then a question, but Redd diplomatically steps down towards her, “Yes, we met your brother yesterday and agreed to help him out, to help bury your father.” She raises an eyebrow, an unfriendly, doubtful look sliding into place on her pretty features, her voice is cold and she is a stark contrast to her brother, “and how do I know you are not agents of Strahd?” The group exchanges wary glances and Redd smiles lightly, “Well, have you ever seen us around before?” Ireena scoffs and turns more fully to them, her hands on her hips as she stares Redd down, quite defiantly, “You may have been able to fool my brother, but I am not so trusting, how can we be sure you are who you say?” Pepper clears her throat, surprised that they’re being questioned so heavily, “Listen, Ireena, I don’t know how we can prove to you who we are. But I do know this, we are going to help your brother bury his father. A noble, great man rotting away in his dining room, surrounded by rotting flowers? It’s not honorable. In fact, it’s a disgrace.” Ireena nods curtly, seemingly appeased for now, “very well, Ismark is making breakfast in the kitchen.” As she is speaking, Iroh leans out of the front door and spits a large ball of phlegm on the ground outside, Ireena notices and is immediately disgusted. She and Iroh exchange some curt words and the blushing Torlte apologizes profusely.


    As they walk into the dining room, Ireena begins to pick at them again, “let us share some breakfast, I still do not trust you though. I am not sure you are not agents of Strahd.” Redd is pretty much tired of these accusations at this point and exasperatedly exclaims, “if we were agents of Strahd, we would have just kidnapped you last night, after Ismark went to sleep.” Ireena rolls her eyes as though Redd was being ridiculous, “I do not pretend to understand the machinations of Strahd.” Ismark suddenly appears at the door, wearing a sweet little apron and holding a pot of stew. “Hello my friends! I have made you this delicious breakfast,” his voice rings out quite happily, and he begins to spoon the stew into the bowls set around the table. Iroh beams up at him and thanks him profusely, after everyone is served and they are all munching away happily, he turns to Ireena, “Ireena, I am curious. What is your relationship with Strahd? Do you know why he is interested in you?” Her spoon clanks against her bowl as she turns to him with narrowed eyes, she looks affronted, “I have no clue why he has decided to terrorize my life. He attacked our home with undead and wolves for weeks, none of us could sleep. The torment continued nightly until my father died. I do not know why, “ she pauses and pushes her hair behind her ear, taking a deep breath and continuing in a calmer tone, “The only thing I know if that he has charmed me on two occasions, using his vampire magic to controls my mind. The memories are fuzzy and the only thing I can recall is the bloodlust in his eyes.” Her cheeks are flushed and she looks extremely uncomfortable to be talking about the incidents, Iroh reaches out a concerned hand, “and how are you recovering?” He face settles back into the harsh stoic face the group had grown used to and she shakes her head curtly, “I am fine. That was many weeks ago.” There are a few moments of silence as people continue to eat there stew and Pepper finally looks up, “Is there anything that can explain his fixation? Something in your past? Some family feud perhaps?” Ismark and Ireena exchange short glances and Ismark speaks slowly, “Ireena was adopted into our family. We found her when she was very small, I too was but a child.” Ireena nods slowly and adds, “I do not remember anything from my previous life. My only life has been with the burgomaster.” They continue eating the stew in silence, until Samsam has an allergy attack and asks for more stew and bread while coughing and sniffling all over the place. Lynx is still emotionally drained from the day before (with Mouse), Iroh eats carefully, Pepper eats eagerly (messily - slurp slurp). Once they are finished, Ireena wishes them a good trip and explains that due to her fear of Strahd and his minions, she will stay behind.


    Ismark leads them to the dining room and Iroh offers to help him carry the coffin. Lynx lets out a melancholy sigh and decides to bury Mouse the mouse while they’re in the graveyard. They head outside into the bright yet foggy and overcast day, everything around them is a well-lit grey color, leaving them feeling very dreary feeling. Every once in awhile, they encounter a stray dog or cat (each of which Pepper blows loud noisy kisses to), but they see very few people milling around. The people they do see scurry away into their houses and close the blinds tightly. Ismark is silent and lost in thought, the group lets him swim in his thoughts, not wanting to disturb the grieving son and they finally reach the cemetery. The church, like everything else in this village, was once beautiful but now is dilapidated and sagging sadly. As they make their approach, Pepper turns to Ismark, “Is there a town priest or someone? Someone to help give the last rights to your father?” Ismark nods, “Father Donavich, we will meet him first.” They enter an unlit hallway that leads straight to a well-lit chapel. There are doors on either side of them. There is a soft, somber voice reciting a prayer and as the group begins to walk forward, an inhuman, deafening scream rises out from the floor below them. They rush forward and enter the chapel, which is a complete wreck. The pews are all broken or overturned and pieces of wood litter the floor, the priest kneels on the floor in front of the altar. He looks up as they get closer and smiles weakly, “Come in, please disregard the screams, there’s nothing to worry about.” Samsam lets out an uncharacteristically dry laugh and says, “we’ve seen enough to know that’s not true.” Brother Donovich sighs heavily, “Please. That is my son....he’s been, he’s been turned. He is a vampire. But I have him locked in the cellar, there is nothing to worry about.” Lynx peers around curiously, “did he destroy the church?” The priest shakes his head, “no, this church was destroyed by the minions of Strahd.” “Did your son hurt anyone?” Iroh asks him with concern. The priest slowly gets to his feet and stares out of a window, “No, my son had been drained completely by Strahd. When I found his body, my sweet boy’s cold, dead body, I knew he would become a vampire. I locked his corpse up before he had even had a chance to change.” Redd is not entirely convinced, “How does he survive if you do not give him blood or food?” the tired looking man looks at her with pain swelling from his eyes, “The black magic keeps him alive,” seeming to be done with the conversation, whether out of futility or sadness, he turns to Ismark, “Ah Ismark, you’ve finally brought your father.” Ismark nods solemnly, “Yes, these brave adventurers agreed to help me, they will bury him with me.” They head out to the quiet cemetery and approach a plot that has already been dug out. They stand around waiting expectantly for Ismark to speak and eventually he says a few lovely words about his father, as he finished up he remarks, “I hope that was a good eulogy, I’ve never had to give one before.” Iroh speaks softly and offers to perform the rituals of his people and Ismark happily agrees. The Tortle begins pacing from the left side of the grave to the right, turning around the sides sharply, speaking each line slowly as he walks:


    “It is a willow when summer is over,

    a willow by the river

    from which no leaf has fallen nor

    bitten by the sun

    turned orange or crimson.

    The leaves cling and grow paler,

    swing and grow paler

    over the swirling waters of the river

    as if loath to let go,

    they are so cool, so drunk with

    the swirl of the wind and of the river—

    oblivious to winter,

    the last to let go and fall

    into the water and on the ground.”



    Everyone is at the very least teary eyed, both Redd and Lynx discreetly wiping away their tears to hide their emotions, Pepper hugs Ismark who has his hands clasped in front of him, head low. This completes the ceremony. Ismark and Donavich begin shoveling the dirt back into the grave and Donavich says one final prayer, in the meantime, the group follows Lynx to a small patch of grass where she intends to dig a small grave for Mouse. She carefully lays his little body into the hole with his head and body lined up as they would have been naturally, she pours the dirt over him and asks Samsam if she could plant a tree over his body. “I found Mouse in the streets of my hometown, in one of the only bushes we had. I gave him a little bit of the only food I had and he followed me home. I always saw a bit of myself in Mouse, and often thought about what life would be like if someone had helped me, my sisters, my mother or my father the way I helped him. I’m happy I saved us in the Murder House, and I really am all about the greater good but-” her voice cracks and reaches a crescendo as her eyes tear up and she steps back, motioning to Samsam to get on with it, “I’m not sad, but it is very sad (cry) anyways, can you please plant a tree?” Samsam steps forward and begins to shuffle through his assemblage of seeds, some small, some large, some circular, some oval, every now and then he mutters, “no, no, not this one,” and continues sorting through them until he finally decides upon a small seed that looks like a sunflower seed and places it snugly into the dirt of the grave, gently patting the dirt around it. He takes his staff and places it against the grave, muttering soft, magic words. Everyone can see the magic coming from the staff which itself seems to be blossoming with energy. After afew moments of this, a small sprout pops out of the grave. Samsam stands and turns to Lynx, “Soon, a beautiful white flower will sprout here, and it will be able to withstand anything. It will forever remain a testament to Mouse and his sacrifice.”


    The group meets up with Donovich and Ismark and start heading back to the church, Redd mentions that she wants to explore the rooms in the church that they haven’t gone into yet and Donovich protests, saying that he'd prefer it if they didn't go through his house. They agree that this is fair enough and Pepper asks him if he’s heard anything about the other two villages, and he has any insight into which of the villages Ireena would be safer in. He looks thoughtful and replies, “Vallaki has a good wall, but I would go to Krezk. The abbey there is a very holy place and it might be the last bastion of all of barovia.” She asks him if he knows how to kill Strahd, or has any ideas for weakening him, and he tells them he has been wondering the same for years, that the only reason he has not ended his sons suffering is because he hopes to find a cure and as long as his son has a semblance of life within him, he will not give up. They approach the church and as they get closer they hear a high pitched, crazed, raspy voice scream out, “FATHER! I’M STARVING!” Redd looks to Donovich and asks him if his son was always such a brat, and after Donovich gets offended she relents and says, “I’m sorry, I was only joshing.” When they go back to the chapel, they notice the bell tower and Iroh has the strongest urge to pull the rope, but uses his self-discipline to contain himself, Redd notices this and whispers, “DOOOOO IT!” Lynx does it. Brother Donovich looks bemusedly at the three and says, “I hope you had fun doing that. I can tell you all one thing, Kolyan found Ireena long ago at the edge of the woods, near the Pillarstone of Ravenloft, not too far away from here. I do not know if this is of any significance, but she was alone when they found her.” The group agrees that this would be a good location to visit. Iroh has one last question for the Brother, “By your count, should Ireena be transformed into a vampire by now?” He shakes his head, “A vampire is only created when Strahd drinks all of their blood, he must drain them completely.”


    The team begins to leave when Pepper has an idea, “Hey, let’s ask if we can question his son. He’s been close to Strahd and was turned for a reason, maybe he may know something!” The team is excited and all agree, Donovich says they can question him as long as they do not harm him. He leads them to a trapdoor and the descend some old stairs and enter a room made of damp earthen walls, the ceiling supported by pillars; they see a gaunt shape in the corner. As they approach, his voice screeches out, “GIVE ME YOUR BLOOD! I MUST DRINK, I’M SO HUNGRY.” Pepper approaches carefully, speaking in a soothing voice, “Doru, I’ll give you some blood, but first we have some questions for you.” HIs whole body shakes and his voice rings out, “I’LL TELL YOU WHATEVER YOU WANT, JUST GIVE IT!!” The team huddles by the stairs to talk about their game plan, Lyns suggests they find a cup or something and let him have some blood, Pepper says she’s fine with letting him feed from her arm. They team gapes at her and says no way are they’re letting that happen, Iroh says that he will physically stop her from doing it. She shrugs and Lynx brings out one of her empty flasks and Pepper immediately holds out her arm and cuts it with her dagger, letting some blood fall into it. Lynx approaches him and swings the vial in front of him, “tell us what you know about Strahd and we’ll give you the blood.” He tries to scramble forward, his voice becoming more desperate and raspy by the moment, “GIVE ME THE BLOOD. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?” She shakes her head, “we want information, give us the information and we’ll give you the blood.” “BLOOD FIRST!” “You’re in no position to bargain...” “FINE! STRAHD LIKES BLOOD!” Lynx sighs and looks back at the group. Doru continues, “ STRAHD TURNED ME INTO A VAMPIRE BECAUSE MY FATHER IS A PRIEST. HE TURNED ME INTO A VAMPIRE BECAUSE OF MY FATHER, WHO I HATE! I'VE BEEN STARVING FOR YEARS!” The team is horrified that he's been down here for years and Pepper begs them to just give him the blood, “He’s just a poor little boy!” They all decide to stand by the door and roll the flask to him, and because she's so dexterous, Lynx is able to roll it right to him. He runs forward, scoops it up and slurps hungrily; once he’ done he starts laughing and going crazy, Pepper has finally had enough and Charms him. A calm settles over him, “Ok, I will talk...but only to you. I hate your friends.” The group talks to each other and of course everyone is worried to leave Pepper alone in there, but she does remind them that he’s charmed and won't hurt her. The party slowly filters out. He looks at her and says, “come closer, I want to touch you, I haven’t felt another human in so long,” She shakes her head, “tell me first, give me some information and I’ll let you drink from me. How did Strahd kill you? Why?” He shakes his head in frustration and anger, licking his lips for what little blood remains stained on his pallid skin. “I should not have gone out that night, but I left my tools behind. I snuck out of the house to retrieve them, and Strahd was waiting for me. He moved as fast and lightening, and before I could react he had his teeth sunk deep into my throat and was draining my blood. The next thing I remember is waking up in this basement. I’ve been suffering ever since. My father refuses to feed me...he hopes I can be saved.” Pepper nods, saddened by his story, “And Strahd did all this just because your father is a priest?” The boy steps backwards and climbs up on to the wall, spider-climbing his way up until he is standing, head-down from the ceiling and nods vigorously, “Yes, he did it because my father is a disciple of the Morninglord, and the last bastion of hope for this village.” Pepper contemplates this, worried for the mental health of the priest and the soul of this boy, “Is there anything else you can tell us about Strah, anything that can help us defeat him? We hope it will free you from this curse.” He begins to bop around on the ceiling excitedly, “Killing him will free me?! Ok, I will tell you but first, I must drink some more blood from you...please.” Pepper looks hesitantly towards the door at the top of the stairs and nods, “Ok, but you mustn’t drink for longer than three seconds, ok?” He nods in agreeance, and she steps forward, tentatively rolling up her cloak sleeve and pushing her wrist towards the young vampire. He hops down from the ceiling, skillfully turning in midair and landing on his feet in front of her, he eagerly grabs for her wrist and instantly sinks his teeth into her flesh, slurping and groaning loudly. He continues on like a ravenous beast for far longer than 3 seconds and Pepper begins to protest, but upon seeing that he has been overtaken by bloodlust, she shadow steps backwards, “You’re a bad boy, Doru!” His eyes roll around in his head for a bit as he greedily licks his lips and fingers, “Thank you for that, and we had a deal. Vampires are highly regenerative, and can gain back health quite quickly, but if you harm them with radiant power or use holy water on them, this ability is hindered for a small amount of time.” [Out of Recap: (The vampire regains 10 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point and isn't in sunlight or running water. If the vampire takes radiant damage or damage from holy water, this trait doesn't function at the start of the vampire's next turn.)] Pepper nods, and tells him once more that they plan on figuring out how to save him, and heads back up the stairs.


    Once they enter the chapel again, ready to depart with Ismark, he rounds upon the group, “What were you doing down there? Did you, did you feed the beast?” Pepper, who can’t lie, nods sheepishly, “Yes, I just couldn’t help it...I felt so bad for him.” Ismark seems disappointed and worried, but does not press the issue any further. As they continue back towards the manor, Pepper asks Ismark if he’s is a warrior or if he has any powers, “Yes, I am a fighter. I have trained my whole life. I studied the blade while my friends were all losing their virginities. I hope one day to drive my blade through Strahd’s heart.” Lynx snorts, “that’s phallic.” The group tells Ismark that they had been planning to go to the bonegrinder and want to stop at it along their journey to the village with Ireena, he lets them know that it’s outside of their level range....


    When they arrive at the manor, Ireena rushes to greet them, “Have you managed to bury my father?” “Yes,” replies Iroh, “it was a beautiful ceremony.” her shoulders droop slowly and she begins to blink rapidly, “This brings me great joy, I am only saddened that I could not join you.” Pepper grasps her shoulder consolingly, “Once we destroy this curse Ireena, you will be able to return to his grave and say some words of your own. They look at each other for some time before Ireena smiles sadly and looks away, “I am sorry for how rude I have been behaving. I can see now that you all have noble hearts.” The group packs up some things and turns in for the night, needing all the sleep and strength they can get for their journey in the morning. The next day, Ismark brings out packed lunches he made for everyone of pigeon and cheese sandwiches, he starts to wave them away but Pepper interrupts him in bewilderment, “You’re not coming with us?” He seems surprised in return, “You truly want me to come?” She laughs, “You are brave, strong and handsome, why wouldn’t we want you to come?” He runs off to grab his sword and pack some underwear and hurry back down, Ireena is impatient, “enough bumbling brother, let us go. Let’s leave this dark and dreary place behind us. They venture out at about 7 am and after an hour, the smooth prairie like land of the area around the village becomes heavily wooded and densely packed with trees. After another 30 minutes, they find a fork in the road, on side going deeper into the woods and the other heading towards a hilled area. “Are these the hills the mad wizard lives in?” Ismark shakes his head, “no, that is to the north.” Lynx smiles, “are these the hills that are alive with the sound of music?” He shakes his head bitterly, “no, this is a sad land... and music is not really out thing. We’re too depressed.” Samsam pipes up, “maybe you’re depressed because you have no music?” Ismark looks questioningly at him, “Hmm, well, do you know any songs?” Ireena scoffs angrily, “stop engaging with them brother, they are making a fool of you.” Pepper bursts into song, “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed the fly, perhaps she’ll die.” Ismark looks at her with a shocked expression, “that’s almost as depressing as my life.” Lynx pipes up, “Doe, a deer, a female deer. Ray, a drop of golden sun. Me, a name I call myself. Far, a long, long way to run. Sew, a needle pulling thread. La, a note to follow Sew. Tea, a drink with jam and bread. That will bring us back to Do (oh-oh-oh)” Ismark claps and whoops loudly, “That was wonderful, my spirits are much lighter!” The continue along and Ismark explains that the right path is the more direct route to their destination. The road eventually disappears and in its place is a twisted, muddy path. There are deep ruts in the earth; the canopy of branches gives way to black clouds above. Next to a river there is a clearing - five colorful round tents are by four wagons. Eight unbridled horses mill around peacefully.The group walks up to several brightly clothed figures who are drinking deeply from a wine flask, they seem to be in high spirits. They call the approaching group over with glee. Pepper calls out, “hello! How are you today?” The one closest to them replies back in a jovial tone, “Great! We are so happy this blessed day, enjoying the lovely bounty of nature. Come, drink with us!” Redd nods excitedly, “hell yea! But let’s make sure there’s no poison first,” the vistani man chuckles soundly, “please friends, we drink from the same jug as you! There is no poison!” Pepper, Samsam and Redd all walk forward and accept drinks happily, Lynx thinks they’re all crazy as this is the same exact scenario that landed them here. The vistani tells them about their love of storytelling and asks them if they have any stories of their adventures, Pepper happily tells them the story of what brought them here. He smiles when she is done, “That story was a bit derivative, but well told. I give you a solid 7/10.” Pepper beams. The team starts talking to each other about about mushrooms and olives for some reason (probs keto), and the vistani gentleman is very excited to hear about olives. He tells Samsam that if he plants an olive tree for them, he can return whenever he wants to pick olives. Samsam asks him if he can sweeten the deal, the man thinks for a moment and says that he will agree to give him a random magical item. They make a deal and Samsam moves to plant the tree. In the meantime, the vistani turns back to the rest of the group and tells them that he has a story for them to hear, “About a year ago, a mighty wizard came to this land. He stood right where you're standing. He was very charismatic, and thought that he could rally the people against Strahd. They attacked the castle en masse. When the vampire appeared, the wizard's army fled in terror. A few stood their ground and were never seen again, probably killed or enthralled. The wizard and the vampire cast spells at each other, but eventually, came at him, his magic couldn't save him. I saw him thrown down to his death. I went to the river to search for his body, to see if, you know, he had anything of value, but the river had already taken him away." It’s about 9 am.



    Next Time....What else can the Vistani tell us?



    TLDR

    The manor used to be nice but is destroyed now
    Ireena is kinda rude...
    Iroh shouldn't spit
    Poor Father Donavich and Doru, sad story
    Iroh gives great ceremonies
    Radiant damage and Holy water stop a vampire from healing
    The vistani know the story of a crazy wizard
    Samsam might get a a cool magic item from the vistani
    I'm working for the Empire. But don't worry… I'm not going to garrote you!

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