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.
+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
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.
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.