Curse of Strahd: Session 8

Greetings everyone, it is time for another session break down. We have almost caught up to my group, as this was our second to most recent session!

Having established a good ruler in Vallaki, the party decided to rest and then investigate the mysterious mill, inside which they hoped to discover the first part of the prophecy from Madam Eva. Taking the winding Old Svalich Road thru the Svalich Woods the party arrived at a crossroad and could see the imposing peaks of Castle Ravenloft in the distance…

Veering away from that path, they traveled southward, back to the Old Bonegrinder Mill. They were hounded by the howling of wolves, however, the beasts did not catch up to the group (or they were merely herding them towards a darker evil).

Arriving in front of a dilapidated and ruined mill, the party stopped unsure how to proceed. Buttkiss, always eager to proceed forwards, knocked on the door. A haggard old woman, named Morgantha, opened the door and greeted the party, asking if they wished to buy any Dream Pastries. (The party recognized her as the old woman with the cart in the town of Barovia)

DMs Note: I had a lot of fun roleplaying Morganth, hunching over slightly cackling a lot and generally channeling every evil witch I had seen in movies. 

Buttkiss began to decline purchasing them, but Occulus, ever curious inquired as to what they were. Morgantha cackled responding they were a specialty of the mill, a pastry of delightful flavor, that would remind the consumer of better times.

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Haita’s eyes perked up at this, and Occulus, intrigued purchased two of the pastries. pocketing them for later inspection. Haita also purchased one of the pies, consuming it greedily.

At this point my memory is less clear of the exact progression of events. Haita, having consumed the magical pie fell into a dream like state, falling to the ground, rocking back and forth and grinning stupidly. The rest of the party initially unaware of what Haita had done entered the building behind Morgantha, stepping on the layer of bones animal and human coating the floor.

Morgantha began to ascend the spiral stairs of the mill, with Buttkiss, Eogan, and Tordek following, Mikhail, having noticed Haita on the ground slapped the Half-Elf out of his stupor. Occulus began to poke around the bottom floor. Hatia, greatly desiring another trance, attempted to pickpocket Occulus; however, the canny Rogue noticed, knocking the pie out of the Warlock’s hands shouting, “Stop that!” Unfortunately, the Warlock had noticed a whole tray full of the pastries and gobbled one up, collapsing to the ground, before Mikhail could stop him. Annoyed, the Ranger yet again slapped the Warlock out of his stupor.

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At roughly this same time, those following Morgantha heard the crying of a child, and the cackling glee of two more women coming from upstairs. Eogan, had some how gotten in front of Morgantha, and so was higher up the stairs (I can’t remember how or why). The Barbarian, enraged at the children in trouble, shoved the old hag down the steps towards Buttkiss and the rest of the forward group (I believe he also yelled something like, “Take that you old witch”). Eogan then begin to run up the second flight of stairs to help the children.

Buttkiss, unsure how to proceed, but also hearing the cries of the children swung his sword at Morgantha, dealing minimal damage. The hag, rising to her feet, let forth a tremendously powerful burst of lighting dealing massive damage to Buttkiss and Tordek, since they were both clustered on the stairs.

Hearing their fellow hag in trouble the cackling upstairs ceased, and two more hags rushed down the steps. Eogan, directly in their path entered into a rage and began a desperate fight against the hags.

This fight was extremely tense, with the party worried that Morgantha would fell them with another burst of lighting. The back row scattered, trying to spread out on the cramped stairs, while Eogan fought desperately for his life. Tordek reluctantly drew Only Friend and swung the powerful axe against Morgantha, assisting Buttkiss, bidning himself to the weapon.

With a little luck, the party was able to slay Morgantha, causing the 2 remaining hags to shriek in rage, but flee further upstairs. Chasing after them the party cornered the pair of hags in the attic.

The two hags cornered vindictively slew the two children in cages. Seeing this, Haita lost it, casting Hunger of Hadar over where the hags and the bleeding out children were. The hags, instead of shrieking in pain, oddly moaned in pleasure, seeming to enjoy the brush with the King in Yellow’s power.

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The hags then fled to the back of the windmill and began to try to claw their way out of the windmill, making some progress. Releasing his magic, Hiata let loose some Eldritch Blasts, while the remaining party members standing charged the hags. They managed to slay one of the pair; however, the final one slipped thru the hole it had created and glided out into the night.

Searching the windmill, the party found the stash of Dream Pastries which they quickly destroyed, except for a few which Occulus and Haita pocketed. They also found a chest filled with hundreds of toads, which Tordek quickly claimed, reasoning that killing a toad a day would count as the life needed to feed Only Friend (Creative I like it!).

The party also found the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, a powerful artifact capable of creating sunlight, and turning undead; however, only a Paladin, Druid, or Cleric could wield it, so Buttkiss claimed it.

Searching the kitchen, Occulus found three vials in the hag’s cupboard, which he took, hoping to identify later. Buttkiss and the group then set the awful mill on fire, with the group joking that they seemed to have a habit of setting places aflame.

Quickly returning back to Vallaki the exhausted party was glad to have a safe place to rest. Haita, excitedly ate a dream pastry falling into a deep stupor, while Occulus attempted to identify the vials. One he recognized as poison, the other two he did not know. Investigating an orange vial, he began to cackle wildly, soon several other of the party members also did so, with Mikhail and Eogan being the only two to resist the clutches of the dreaded disease Cackle Fever. Rushing to Saint Andral’s church, they persuaded the busy priest to cure the party, with the agreement to destroy any of the vials found in the hag’s home.

The party, having talked with the Innkeeper of the Blue Water Inn, agreed to investigate why the shipments of wine has ceased to arrive from the Wizard of Wines. Resting for a day, the party then left the town heading towards the Wizard of Wines.

Traveling uneventfully for several hours the party came to a bridge, in front of which two dirty humans lounged, demanding a toll from the party to pass.

Enraged, the party began to loudly refuse; however, Occulus, in a spark of genius, approached the pair of bandits, using soothing tones and suggested they discuss this over some pies. He then handed each man a pie (rolling a very high deception check). The two men, hungry, ate the pies, and quickly passed into a helpless stupor. The party, grabbing chains and rope bound the men, questioning one. They found out the pair were werewolves, and that they were part of a larger warren. After several more minutes of questioning the group realized they could care less what the prisoners had to say, chopped their heads off and tossed them in the river. That is one way to handle bandits!

Traveling another hour the party finally found the stretch of road leading to the Wizards of Wine. Moving down the winding pathway, the group came upon a huddled family of humans, who claimed to be the owners of the Wizard of Wines, recently driven out by a band of evil druids and their plant-like minions.

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The family’s leader, Davian Martikov asked if the party would be willing to help them, which the party agreed to. It is here we decided to stop the session. Next session will catch us up to where my campaign has currently progressed to!!

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Curse of Strahd: Session 7

With the party having narrowly avoided death at the hands of their undead nemesis, they took a deep breath and realized that they needed to regroup. The majority of the town guard had been slain, and after a brief scouting mission the party discovered that that the Baron of the town was ruthless and could probably be replaced.

Having taken one cultist prisoner, the party questioned the captive and learned that there was someone in the town interested in replacing the baron. Lady Watcher, the head of a family that had long lived in Vallaki. My party immediately began calling her THE Lady Watcher, and asking what sort of ladies she preferred to watch.

While the party was hesitant to approach her, due to her clearly being the head of a cult, they didn’t want to get embroiled in a long term political struggle in the town and thought she might be a way to avoid this.

Approaching the Watcher mansion the party was struck by the impression that it once must have been grandiose, but was now aged and slumped. Fast forward thru some amusing interactions with the mansion’s butler, and Buttkiss purposefully spilling wine on the carpet, the party was led into the building’s basement, where they were confronted by a number of robed individuals, including Fiona Watcher, THE lady watcher herself (now they have me saying it).

Talking with her, the party quickly realized she was a big fan of Strahd, and not a person they wanted in control of the town. A combat quickly ensued, and expecting a tough fight the party fired on all barrels; however, the cult was actually rather pitiful and quickly wiped out.

DM side note, during this encounter I went against my judgement, and kept the stats as written in the module. I figured a easier encounter might let the party feel like they had made some growth. Instead, it ended up being a rather lack luster combat after the build up. In hindsight I should have followed my instincts and buffed up the Watcher cult to make them a bigger challenge. Even my party commented, “Wow, well that was a lot easier then expected,” not exactly a stellar impression. If I were to do this again I would boost Watcher’s stats and give her a cooler more powerful demon friend. 

Having vanquished the Watcher cult, and party then decided to confront the Baron, determined that he also was ill-equipped to lead the town. On the way to the baron’s house, they came upon Izek and the few remaining town guards beating an elderly woman in a alleyway (what a bunch of jerks!).

Incensed, Buttkiss, Occulus, Eogan, and Haita jumped to attack the gang (I suspect Eogan just wanted revenge), while Tordek grumbled if this really was in line with their goals, but acknowledging the beating was pretty messed up.

The party pretty quickly dealt with the guardsmen, while Izek wielding a wickedly curved dark blade sliced left and right dealing quite a bit of damage. Eventually, the vindictive captain of the guard went down under the combined effort of the party, with Eogan spitting on his corpse as a parting gift.

Looting the corpses the party found their first two pieces of magical gear, which Haita was able to identify.

Only Friend

+1 Battle Axe which does an additional 2D10 Necrotic Damage.

Additional Effects: After someone has wielded only friend in battle that person officially becomes it’s bearer. If, Only Friend doesn’t take at least 1 life before nightfall then the “bearer” takes 8D10 necrotic damage, as only friend drains their life force, whether or not the axe is on that person.

Additional Effect: Only Friend causes it’s bearer to have disadvantage on all Persuasion checks due to a constant grumpy/sour expression (resting bitch face according to my players) BUT they get advantage on all Intimidation checks

Life’s Essence 

A gleaming golden medallion

Effects: By shouting “Master Save Me” the wearer is able to cast Cure Wounds as a 2nd level spell 2/day, or a 3rd level spell 1/day with +3 to the roll.

The wearer also gains advantage on checks vs. poisons and diseases

These items were additions to the adventure by me. I wanted Izek to feel like a true accomplishment to have defeated, since he had cause quite a bit of trouble for the players. I like to try to give magical items personality and character, so expect more of this in the future. I was particularly happy with “Only Friend,” as it is quite powerful but won’t effect several Undead types AND has some pretty apparent drawbacks. Plus it allows for some really fun roleplaying.  

Tordek took Only Friend, while Eogan took Life’s Essence. After defeating the Baron’s most powerful follower the party had little trouble breaking into his home and demanding he turn himself over to the judgement of the town. Unfortunately for the Baron, the town wasn’t feeling particularly forgiving, hanging him and his family.

The party then pushed forward Father Lucian Petrovich as the new town leader, reasoning he was the only person truly qualified for the job. The priest reluctantly accepted. The party, also realizing that there was next to no one to protect the town, asked Ismark to remain in the town as the new guards captain, and to protect his sister Ireena. Ismark agreed, disappointed to miss out on further adventures, but content with the potential to help the town.

Satisfied they had untangled the knot of issues in Vallaki, the party decided to investigate the Bone Grinder Mill next session, as they suspected it contained one of the artifacts of power they sought.

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It is here our session ended, next write up will cover the very exciting session of Bone Grinder Mill!

Any questions or comments? I would love to hear feedback.

Curse of Strahd: Sessions 5 and 6

Welcome back to another catch up post of my Curse of Strahd campaign. Word of warning, for some reason these sessions are not as clear in my memory as the past ones I detailed, because of this some events won’t be as well described as I would like.

Session 5:

Right, so the party had just gained entry to the walled town of Vallaki.  Waking up after a mostly fitful sleep, the group decided to head to the church of St. Andrals. Their theory was this could be a safe haven for Ireena. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the church the kindly priest confided in Buttkiss that the holy protection for the haven was gone. Someone had taken the saint’s bones, which had protected the church for years.

After some investigation, and a little intimidation on Eogan’s part, the party discovered that the local coffin maker had bought the bones off of a grave digger, who had stolen them. Angered, the party rushed to the coffin maker’s house, they had 30 ish minutes of sunlight left, so they reason it would be enough time.

Outside of the house Buttkiss used sense evil, and sensed a great deal of evil radiating from the home. The party knocked on the door; however, they were ignored. Growing impatient, Eogan kicked down the door, and they were greeted by the cowering coffin maker, who pleaded with the party to leave. The party shoved past him, beginning to search the two story house.

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At this point, Buttkiss and Eogan began to head to the second story, and seeing his chance, the coffin maker attempted to sprint out of the house. Mikhail, reacting with lightning reflexes shot the man thru the ankle, pinning him long enough for the party to tie him up.

This is where things started to get hairy, Occulus, convinced the coffin maker was hiding something (he would be right) began to question the man. While Buttkiss followed his divine sense, finding the center of the house’s evil aura radiating out of a specific room. Being the impetuous paladin he is, Buttkiss kicked in the door charging in to vanquish the evil, while Tordek loudly protested behind him. Unfortunately for him, the room contained 4 Vampire Spawn, who began to rise out of their coffins.

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Eogan, ripped the door off its hinges and rushed into the room, attempting to pin one of the vampires in its coffin. Buttkiss cast Protection versus Evil on himself and strode into the dusty room, swiping at a vampire. Haita, began to shoot blasts of energy at the foes, while Tordek moved to support Buttkiss. Hearing the melee upstairs Mikhail rushed up to help his friends; however, Occulus remained downstairs, questioning the prisoner.

The vampire Eogan was pinning punched thru the door, and began to try to claw the Barbarian. Buttkiss, glowing with holy energy used a divine smite on a vampire, causing a great deal of damage, unfortunately, the rest of the party lacking magical weapons was dealing half damage to their undead foes. Fast forward several rounds, with a little luck the party had vanquished one vampire, while Buttkiss desperately fended off two, one in his front the other on his back, the Protection versus Evil combined with a high AC was saving him, though he continued to take damage here and there. Occulus had finally joined the battle, but he was struggling to make a meaningful strike.

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One of the party had fallen unconscious to severe damage, I can’t remember which. At this point Haita missed narrowly with a Eldritch Blast and blew a hole in the poorly thatched roof, letting a line of fading sunlight stream into the room, striking an enraged vampire. This gave the party the idea to destroy even more of the roof, allowing a great flow of light. Eogan, enraged, gappled a vampire, pushing and pinning it into the sunlight. After several more tense rounds of combat, the party was victorious, but only narrowly. The group found and took the saint’s bones, and then walked downstairs to question their prisoner.

The party then questioned the coffin maker, who had been working for Strahd. The coffin maker had been housing the vampire spawn, who were going to attack the church, now that its protections had been removed. Viewing the man with disgust, the group agreed to bring him alive to be tried by the town, but first, with night quickly approaching, and the party very weak, the group would rush to the church and rest there.

Session 6:

After returning the bones to the grateful priest, the party took a much needed rest. The priest agreed to give Ireena shelter. Ismark, eager to continue to pursue vengeance on Strahd volunteered to join the party, they agreed. Disrupting the party’s planning, they heard a loud clanging of a hammer in the town proper. The group walked to see what was happening, Ireena, not one to stay clueless in the church, also joined.

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Entering the town square, the party saw Izek Strazni, the vindictive henchmen of the baron of the town, along with a squad of town guards nailing in a sign, proclaiming an upcoming festival. The party immediately was put on edge by Strazni, as he had a mutated demon claw for a left arm.

Izek, glancing at the party became hyper focused on Ireena, demanding that she come with him to his room in the Baron’s home. Ismark and the party drew protectively around Ireena, keeping her from being taken. A scuffle broke out between Eogan and Izek, with Izek insulting the barbarian and striking him. Unfortunately for Izek, Eogan’s short temper wouldn’t allow such insult and he attacked the Izek. Calling for the guards to slay the party Izek and the party clashed.

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Buttkiss yelled to his recently summoned Paladin steed, Bastion, to take Ireena to the safety of the church. Ismark, enraged at his sister yet again coming under attack slew two town guards, while Eogansliced left and right, trying to cut his way to Izek, who was drawing behind a line of guardsmen. Tordek and Mikhail, torn between helping their friend and slaying the guards attempted to fight dealing non-lethal damage.

Slaying many guards, but unable to catch Izek, the party withdrew to the church. Unfortunately, soon a group of 20 guards came to arrest the party. Haita, seeking to come peacefully, left the refuge of the church, alongside some hesitant party members, while Mikhail hid in the church, Buttkiss disguised himself as a member of the town congregation, and Tordek smashed out a window to flee with Eogan.

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The guards, enraged at the party, slapped Haita to the ground and began to shake him. Unfortunately, the Warlock loss control, unleashing a vortex of unholy energy, slaying the majority of the guards, and causing the rest to flee. The party, horrified at having slain 90% of the town’s guards fled the church, hiding in a nearby town house. While attempting to hide out the night roving mobs of townsfolk searched for the party; however, they remained hidden.

As the night progressed it was Occulus’s turn on watch. The Rogue heard some movement outside the home, and peaked out the window to investigate. He saw a horrifyingly familiar, well dressed nobleman standing by the window, Strahd! I secretly rolled a save versus Strahd’s Charm; however, the inquisitive Rogue was not known for his high Wisdom (in fact none of the party had a great Wisdom). Strahd kindly asked Occulus to open the door and invite him inside, to which the Half-Elf was more then happy to oblige.

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Passing a Perception check, one of the party (I can’t remember who) woke up and saw Occulus heading for the door. Failing to beat the quick Rogue’s initiative they watched in horror as Occulus opened the door and invited Strahd in. The vampire strode into the haven, nodding his head in a slight bow of thanks.

At this point the Charm spell wore off and Occulus was horrified at what he had done. The one party member awake yelled a word of warning to the group, while comically scrambling for the back door (In real life total chaos ensued at every party member began to quickly yell out variations of “Cheese it,” “I get the fuck out of there,” or “oh shit, oh shit”). While the party scurried for the back door,  Strahd used one of his legendary actions to deal a deadly blow to Occulus, knocking the Rogue out.

As the rest of the party fled, Buttkiss, seeing his friend in danger cast Protection versus Evil and uttered a prayer to his god, then charged into combat, unwilling to abandon his friend. Striking a mighty Divine Smite (I think he crit), the Paladin cut a deep burning hole in the vampire’s side.  Despite the horrific damage, Strahd smiled, and the majority of the wound closed up. Strahd then began a flurry of strikes, one of which landed denting Buttkiss’s armor and dealing a great deal of damage.

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Meanwhile the rest of the party fled into the alleyway behind the abandoned house they had sought refuge in. Most of the party used a large hole in another house, fleeing into the building, while repeatedly telling each other “Don’t look out the windows no matter what, if he can’t see you he can’t charm you!” As random chance would have it, this house had a trio of cultists attempting to sacrifice a child, which the group quickly put a stop to.

Haita; however, feeling bad at abandoning Buttkiss and Occulus began to look for a way to circle back behind Strahd. During this time, Buttkiss had used all his Lay on Hands and was on his last leg, with Strahd still going strong. Things were looking grim for the Paladin, though Occulus had managed to stabilize himself. Buttkiss managed to survive yet another round of combat, literally only thanks to the Half-Orc toughness ability, staying up with 1 hitpoint! At this point, the gallant Paladin apologized to Occulus, making a break for the street, leaping on the back of his plucky mount Bastion, galloping off into the distance. Strahd, amused drew back to suck the life from Occulus; however, at this point Haita shot two well aimed Eldritch Blasts which struck the fiend of Barovia, distracting him from feasting on the Rogue.

Haita yelling out, “Oh shit,” quickly turned tail and ran from the advancing vampire, ducking into a nearby house. Scanning his new surroundings Haita saw a family having been suddenly awakened by the intruder. The frightened Warlock put his finger to his mouth to shush the family; however, outside they could hear Strahd approaching, taunting. The vampire began to chant an arcane spell, and Haita started sprinting for the front door trying to get the family to flee too. Suddenly the side of the building was blasted apart by a fireball, consuming a side of the house in a fiery orgy of destruction. Terrified the majority of the family survived fleeing for the alleyway, leaving behind several family members, including a small child. Haita, looked back guiltily; however, he saw a second fireball streak forward and dove into the alley way, just as the second ball of fire consumed the rest of the house, collapsing it.

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Shaken, the Warlock ran back into the original hideout, dragged Occulus’s unconscious body back into the building for the rest of the party, and rocked back and forth terrified, as he heard Strahd walking thru the alleyway taunting. Soon the vampire grew bored and left, flying away on his nightmare.

Relived but shaken, the party regrouped in their new hideout, and were soon joined by Buttkiss. And this is how I ended my 6th session of Curse of Strahd and seems like a good stopping point for this recap, I hope you enjoyed it.

Curse of Strahd: Sessions 3-4 Recaps

Alright, so continuing on the Curse of Strahd recaps… when we last left off, Strahd had just attacked the party, with a combination of terrified running, deception, and playing dead saving the party.

Session 3:

Resting well into the day to heal, the party eventually healed and set out for the town church, ran by Donavich the priest. There goal was to give the burgomiester’s remains a proper burial. While Ismark and Ireena both wanted to accompany the group, the party convinced Ireena to remain in the mansion, while the party ventured out into the town. Many of the buildings in town appeared to be abandoned and desolate.

As fate would have it, the path to the church yet again crossed the path of the house with loud crying echoing out from it. When the party asked about the house, Ismark told them that was Mad Mary’s house. Buttkiss , intrigued by the pitiful wails approached the building, while the rest of the party, specifically Mikhael and Tordek loudly opposed such unnecessary and dangerous investigation.

Buttkiss, ignoring his team’s words of caution, knocked on the door, which squeaked open on its own, with no one at the door, and the cries of sorrow echoing around the house. Leaving Buttkiss to their explorations, the rest of the party continued onto the church, arriving their safely.

As Buttkiss  entered the dark home, sitting on a chair in the hallway was a creepy toy doll. Buttkiss picked up the doll, examining it, and saw that it had a lable “Is no Blinsky, Is no Fun!”  Seeing nothing of interest Buttkiss put the doll back on the chair.

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The cries were coming from further inside the house, and Buttkiss found the distraught Mad Mary, who informed him that her daughter had gone missing. Mary had kept her daughter shut inside her entire life, for protection, but now the girl was gone and she didn’t know where. Unable to solve the mystery immediately, Buttkiss promised the woman he would try to find her daughter and left the house. Oddly, the strange doll was on the ground, rather then the chair where he thought he had placed it….

Catching up with the party Buttkiss also arrived at the church. The church was odd, and rundown, with shrieks coming from the basement. Talking to Donavich the party realized they would be able to bury the burgomeister’s body, but after that it would be dusk, so they wanted to stay in the church for safety. The priest avoided mentioning the shrieking coming from the basement, and initially the party ignored it as well. As it continued; however, Buttkiss and Occulus’s interest was piqued so they asked about it. After some persuading Donavich admitted it was his son, who had gone off years ago with a wizard to confront Strahd; however, the group he went with was slain. Days later his son returned, but he was changed, since then he has had his son imprisoned in the basement.

Wanting to see if he could help, Buttkiss and Occulus entered the basement, with Haita and Mikhael reluctantly following behind. Tordek and Eogan, seeing no point in the exercise lounged in the church.

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It quickly became apparent that Doru was a vampire spawn. The frantic starved creature fought ferociously, feeding on poor Occulus; however, the combined effort of the party managed to use nonlethal damage and restrain the boy, thanks to Buttkiss carrying a set of chains and manacles. After being restrained, the rest of the party quickly loss interest; however, Buttkiss chose to interrogate the creature for several hours, not finding anything of too much interest. They then left the basement, leaving the creature “alive,” while they rested in the church.

During Occulus’s watch, he noticed something odd, Buttkiss was cradling an odd doll in his arms while sleeping. Shrugging his shoulders Occulus continued his watch, and turned to see the doll had disappeared…

When asked about it, Buttkiss reacted quite fearfully stating they had to stop by Mad Mary’s on the way to the manor. (I believe his exact words were, “Oh fuck no…. shit… guys… um we need to stop by that house again. I can’t have this…)

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The party stopped by Mad Mary’s house again, this time Occulus also accompanied Buttkiss. The doll was yet again in the chair; however, the crying was mysteriously gone. While peering around Buttkiss heard movement coming from upstairs. Moving the investigate, Occulus stayed to examine the doll. The rest of the party stood at the entrance to the house, annoyed at what they viewed as a time waster.

Once upstairs, Buttkiss found Mad Mary’s daughters room, which had a form appearing to sleep in the bed. Creeping forward Buttkiss realized it was Mary’s body, covered in blood! The door behind him slammed shut, while at the same time the creepy doll burst into life clawing at Occulus.

Turning towards the door Buttkiss saw a ghostly visage in a aged mirror. Occulus freaking out threw the doll to the ground, Eogan, already bored, strode forward and smashed the doll to pieces, after which the door Buttkiss saw also opened up.

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Figuring better to be safe then sorry, Buttkiss and Occulus set the building on fire, cleansing it of any evil. Annoyed at the distraction, Tordek and Mikhael were glad to continue onto the manor; however, while traveling there, they saw a haggard old woman pushing a sweet cart door to door.

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While the majority of the group wanted to ignore the woman and continue on, Buttkiss, again intrigued, moved towards the woman, asking what she was selling. She told them she was selling dream pastries, and asked if he wanted any. When Buttkiss said no, she shrugged and continued moving door to door. As he was walking back to the party, they saw the old woman stop at a door, walk in, and come out dragging a child, which she stuffed in her cart. After which, she handed several dream pastries over to the adults in the home.

Enraged, Buttkiss began to stride forward; however, Tordek, refusing to allow another distraction, pushed the paladin onwards to the manor. Arriving, the party gathered some materials and left the town of Barovia, planning to follow the road to the walled town of Vallaki.

Session 4:

Traveling on the road, the party had several minor encounters including Occulus seeing a ghostly figured hung from a tree, and a fight with 8 demonic scarecrows.

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After several hours on the road, the party again heard the howling of wolves. Soon they saw a trio of large dire wolves rushing to attack them. As they drew closer, it became apparent that one of the wolves had a long freshly healed cut on its side, yup it was the same trio from a few nights before. This time; however, after a brief combat, the party was victorious, slaying all three of the canine foes.

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Continuing onward, the party saw a large dilapidated wind mill on a large hill. Assuming this was one of the locations from their fortune, the party wished to investigate; however, Tordek argued it made more sense to get Ireena somewhere safe, and then come back.

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Agreeing, the party continued onto the walled town of Vallaki, arriving just before dark, only to find the gates shut and barred. Grabbing one of the guardsmen who strayed too close to the portcullis, Buttkiss used an amazing intimidation check to convince the guards to open up.

The party quickly sought refuge in the Blue Water Inn, and figured they were safe enough for a rest. While in the Inn, they found out the store of wine from the Wizards of Wine had ceased, and the party agreed to investigate, in return for free room and board.

This is where we stopped our 4th session, and is where I will stop my recap. Whew!

Curse of Strahd: Sessions 1-2 Recaps

We are back! My goal here is to give a few highlight reels of my party’s playthrough of Curse of Strahd catching us up to where my group is currently, that way I can dive into full session breakdowns!

Without further adieu here we go!

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Session 1:

Sitting in a quaint Inn, the party were approached by a robed rider, who carried a plea for help from Barovia’s town burgomeister (hint this wasn’t actually sent by someone looking for help). Buttkiss, feeling it his duty to help got the group organized and they set out immediately, traveling into the woods, the party is soon engulfed by a mysterious fog. After walking for several hours in this dense fog they realize the woods look slightly different, and they begin to hear the howling of wolves.

As they travel at increasing speeds, they begin to catch sight of a pack of massive dire wolves pursuing them, terrified the party flees, coming upon the gates of Barovia, which swing open in welcome to the party, not ominous at all…

Sprinting thru the gates their wolf pursuers are blocked on the other side. Nearby they saw the colorful tents of the Vistani, celebrating around a bonfire. Joining the celebrations the party soon had their fortunes read by Madam Eva, with a fortune telling deck I made!

For those of you familiar with the Curse of Strahd adventure you know I jumped the gun a bit on the party meeting Eva, but I really wanted to do the fortune telling the first session to give the party some momentum and direction. 

The fortune reading:

Card 1: “This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy.”

The Monk– The treasure you seek is hidden behind the sun, in the house of a saint.

Card 2: “This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope.”

The Charlatan– I see a lonely mill on a precipice. The treasure lies within

Card 3: “This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight.”

The Bishop – What you seek lies in a pile of treasure, beyond a set of amber doors.

Card 4: “This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness.”

The Seer – Look for a dusk elf living among the Vistani. He has suffered a great loss and is haunted by dark dreams, Help him, and he will help you in return.

Card 5: “Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him!”

The Darklord – He lurks in the depths of darkness, in the one place to which he must return

Pretty cool. After this the party rested and then the next day headed into the run down town of Barovia.

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Once in Barovia, the party found Ismark, son of the burgomiester who supposedly sent the letter for help. Unfortunately, Ismark claimed his father sent no such letter, and had been dead for several days. Taking the party home to his manor, there the party met Ireena, Ismark’s sister, who has been being hounded and pursued by the devil of Barovia himself  Count Strahd von Zarovich. The manor showed signs of  frequent attacks by Strahd’s servants.

On the trip to the manor, the party passed a house with a woman loudly crying inside, while Buttkiss wanted to investigate the rest of the party was adamant to not bother whatever was making the noises.

Resting in Ireena’s and Ismark’s manor, the party felt very uncomfortable with the knowledge that the corpse of their dead father rested in the living room. The next day the party had agreed to help bury the father, and then wished to help find Ireena some true shelter.

Session 2: 

Unfortunately for the party, their night’s rest would not go undisturbed. Eogan, visited with nightmares of the burgomiester rising from the dead, decided to investigate the body. Not trusting to the corpse to remain a corpse, the savage barbarian smashed the body repeatedly with his double handed maul, smashing the head and chest.

Roughly at this same time, a group of Strahd’s Zombies began to assault the mansion, tearing down the boarded up windows and attempting to batter their way in. While the zombies were slow, there were a lot, and their numbers began to push the party back. Buttkiss, using his Protection versus Evil spell, was nearly impossible for the zombies to hit, and stood at the center of the swarm, slashing and slaying where he could. The rest of the party was being pushed back by the waves of monsters.

Right when it began to look like the party may push back the monsters, Buttkiss saw a finely dressed nobleman standing outside the window, smiling, and asking if he could come inside. Failing his charm save (at this point we hadn’t realized that Protection versus Evil protects versus this) Buttkiss invited the kindly gentlemen inside. This was of course, the Count Strahd himself.

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Thanking the Paladin for his politeness (the niceties must be observed) Strahd casually strode into the mansion, which was met by the terrified groans of the already greatly weakened party. Three massive dire wolves also leaped into the mansion. Shaking off his charm, Buttkiss met the furry beasts’ charge with one of his own, giving the lead she-wolf a tremendous cut.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party began to fire shots into the melee attempting to hit the wolves or Strahd.

Not wishing to see his pets further injured, Strahd used one of his legendary actions to charge forward and open palm hit Buttkiss in the chest, dealing half the paladin’s health with one strike. The paladin, terrified, slumped to the ground, feigning being stunned, realizing this foe was far beyond him.

At this point the rest of the party realized they were greatly over-matched; however,  unfortunately this revelation came right when it was Strahd’s turn. Smiling wickedly, the vampire raised his hand and shot a fireball into the crowded room, destroying the remaining zombies but also knocking out Mikhail and greatly damaging Eogan.

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Terrified, Occulus, deciding that it was time to “Cheese it” closed the door in the face of the bleeding out Mikhail, as Eogan also fled the room, sprinting to the up stairs of the mansion. Occulus, fled into the room housing the dead burgomiester, hiding under the corpse, which he noticed had been oddly smashed.

Haita, realizing that Strahd was after Ireena commanded Ismark and her to follow him and sprinted upstairs, barricading the three of them in a library. Eogan, in the meantime hid underneath a bed.

During this chaos, Strahd calmly strode past the incapacitated ranger and began to stride up the steps to follow Ireena and the remnants of the party.

Buttkiss, faced with three massive wolves, and already half dead, decided to continue to play dead. The wolves watched him, but seeing him not moving left the house thru the window.

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As Strahd climbed the stairs, the panicking Haita began to push furniture and anything he could in-front of the door, preparing to make a heroic final stand. Eogan remained shaking under his bed.

Occulus, getting a spark of inspiration, yelled out, “Ireena, quick, while he is upstairs lets run outside,” passing his Deception check, convinced Strahd that they had run outside. (I think he rolled a Nat 20 for Deception!) With a flurry of movement Strahd burst down the steps leaving the mansion, but saw there was no one outside. Amused, Strahd realized he would need to regain an invitation to the mansion, since he had just left it. Turning into a bat, the vampire flew off, planning to return at a later date.

Having heard Strahd left, Buttkiss rushed to his dying companion and stabilized the ranger, one turn before the man bled out. Whew!

Right well that gives some great insight into my first two sessions! I remembered far more details then I thought I would, so it looks like I will need to break these into a few recaps. I hope you have enjoyed this overview so far. The battle with the zombies and Strahd, as you can probably tell, was a great deal of fun and really helped set the tone for the adventure.

For those of you playing CoS how and when did you first meet the beast? Did anyone end up dying?

 

Curse of Strahd: The Horror Begins

Hi everyone! I am back, after a very long hiatus! Despite not writing, I have continued to play D&D, and am excited to getting back on the horse.

Some quick upkeeping things, I do not plan to write many side articles, instead I plan to focus on writing two series, one breaking down how the Curse of Strahd sessions I have been running as a DM go, and another describing my play sessions (that’s right I have begun to play as a character!!!!) in The Red Hand of Doom.

Right, so onto the meatier bits, since quite a bit has happened in my Curse of Strahd campaign, I plan to first give introductions to the party, and in a future article or get everyone caught up on how this campaign has been going. I will follow a similar formula for The Red Hand of Doom.

Since I wanted to jump right into the full story for Curse my party started at level 4, the suggested level for the campaign, if forgoing the “Death House” intro adventure.

The Party

Maximillian Buttkiss the Third

A Half-Orc Devotion Paladin, with a street urchin background. Buttkiss (I cannot believe that name has stuck) is an at time reckless combatant, that has a habit of jumping into tough situations.

His Protection from Evil spell has been invaluable in helping him survive numerous encounters far above his own skill. Often taking the roll as a leader of the group, Buttkiss leads with his heart, striking at Evil when he sees it.

 

 

Haita

A Half-Elf Warlock, following the path of the Old One. Originally a painter, Haita constantly struggled to push himself to new levels of expertise, until finally swearing himself to the King in Yellow, an otherworldly patron, that at times helped spur the Haita’s art to new levels, but now the poor soul finds himself haunted by what that pact truly means.

Extremely mentally fragile, Haita often succumbs to fits in which his patron takes partial control, lashing out with dark magic against what ever is threatening him. Not necessarily a adventurer by choice, Haita is often quietly and obsessively drawing the visions his patron gives him, while the party discusses the best paths to take.

Tordek

A dwarven Fighter, Tordek is a dour companion, often heard grumbling about the poor choices of his party. Wielding an axe and shield to deadly effect Tordek regularly finds himself standing side by side with Buttkiss, despite his dubious trust in the Half-Orc’s leadership. Often Tordek reluctantly enters combat, while attempting to caution a more careful approach to interactions. He is constantly trying to keep the group focused on their goals and quests, rather then having them rove all over the place.

Occulus

A Half-Elf Rogue, serving as an agent unknown masters, Occulus views his time in Ravenloft as a chance to investigate this strange place and report back to his leader. This curiosity causes him to often follow Buttkiss into danger, if not for any other reason then to satisfy his own  inquisitiveness. A kind explorer, Occulus will often put himself in danger to help others.

Mikhael

A human ranger, Mikhael has made a living hunting down and eradicating Undead. He wields a blend of dual hand crossbows, as well as swords to deadly effect. Cautious and stealthy, Mikhael often uses his Ranger abilities to navigate the wilds of Barovia.

 

Eogan (Owen)

A brutal and strong Human Barbarian, Eogan does not bring brains to the party, but he aims to make up for that with brawn and a quick temper. Often unconcerned with issues of right and wrong, this path or that, Eogan will lounge in the background, while the party makes decisions. His closest friend in the party is his horse Steven, who he often dotes on, and is regularly petting and talking to.

 

And that is my intrepid band of 6 adventurers, who have been pulled into the mysterious lands of Barovia. A few interesting things to note, in our past campaign we had several spell casters, while in this campaign half the party are brutal front line fighters, two are stealthy and sneaky side fighters, and only one really casts spells!

Tell me what you think of the party, do you think they have all survived 7 sessions into the Curse of Strahd ?(we just had our 7th session)