Curse of Strahd: Session 10

Hello everyone! It has finally happened, after this session recap you will have caught up with my Curse of Strahd Campaign, I hope you have had as much fund reading these as I had writing them.

If we remember, at the end of the last session the party had narrowly defeated the demented druids of Yester Hill, preventing an evil ritual that was meant to summon Strahd and perhaps more…

Having rested in the haven of the Wizards of Wines Winery the group returned a magical gem to the extremely grateful Davian Martikov. As their reward, Davian dramatically transformed into a wereraven and then back in front of the party.

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Davian then informed the party that he was a leader of a secret band of wereravens known as the Keepers of the Feather. They are a group sworn to fighting against Strahd, Davian son in Vallaki was as part of the band, and his inn served as a safe house to group members.

Several party members immediately began to ask about the possibility of themselves being turned into wereravens. While hesitant to reveal more of the secret society’s rules, Davian informed the party that only those that have been sworn into the society will be gifted the raven’s blessing. The party had to continue to help the Keepers, and if they proved to be valuable and true, then they would get offered to join the group, being given the blessing of the raven.

DM’s Note: Tordek had some great moments roleplaying his bitch face, with the player screwing his face up tight while asking pleasant and reasonable questions.

In the meantime, Davian told the party that the society’s agents and members would be on the look out to help the band of adventurers, as they had proven themselves friends to the Keepers of the Feather.

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The group then began to plan their next step. Initially, they had planned to return the second gem from Baba Lysaga, the ancient witch. Asking Davian about her they found out that Lysaga was as old as Strahd, and was a witch of formidable power. She had sent scarecrow minions to hunt and slay ravens where ever they were found, and it was them that stole the gem. Little was known about Lysaga’s true powers, as the witch rarely intervened directly in battle, instead sending her minions to fight.

 

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Intimidated by this information, the group decided to try for the seeming safer choice, and instead continue onto the town of Krezk, which contained the Abbey of Saint Markovia. The party, analyzing their fortune hypothesized that this abbey must be the resting place of one of the artifacts they sought. (Their fortune is found here)

DM’s Note: I honestly expected my group to charge widely towards Baba Lysaga’s lair, and was more then a little surprised that they one asked for information on her, and two reacted to that information with caution. I was pleased, as this showed that some of the lessons of the dangers of Barovia (and D&D in general) had sunk into the party.

Concerned about the eventual conflict against these scarecrows, Occulus, in a moment of sound decision making, asked Davian if he had any potions that dealt fire damage. The plucky Rogue (who passed a high Persuasion check) was rewarded with a Potion of Firebreath.

Leaving the safety of the Wizard of Wines the party moved down the winding and overgrown roadway heading North to Krezk. Along the road, the party ran into a band of three worn Vistani, who claimed to have recently been attacked by some beast of the woods. They had narrowly escaped, and were making their way to the safety of Vallaki, but since they had fled their wagon in such haste they had no weapons or gear. They begged the party for gear that could be spared.

Butkiss gave the beaten trio a dagger and two day’s trail rations, Haita gave a dagger, a light crossbow with 20 bolts, Occulus gave a waterskin. Tordek, who was suspicious of the band gave the group nothing, while Eogan and Mikhail were unconcerned with the trio’s problems.

Wishing the trio the best of luck the party continued on their journey. After about 30 minutes of travel, they began to hear the flapping of many wings in the distance. Worried, the majority of the party moved off the road, hiding beneath the trees, Buttkiss; however, stubbornly (and sort of foolishly) refused to move off the path, and instead continued his horses pace down the road.

Soon, a large swarm of thousands of bats was rushing overhead, which was especially odd, since it was the middle of the day. Releasing some energy from the Amulet of Raven’s Kind, Buttkiss had the medallion shed the bright light of the Sun, shining out in a circle around him. He hoped this would keep the bats fended off, if they decided to attack.

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The bats, avoiding the bubble of bright light, continued to flap and glide above the party, seeming to follow them for 15 or so minutes. The party found this very suspicious and began to believe that these bats were spies of Strahd.

Picking up the pace, the party pushed their horses to a near gallop. After another period of travel, they came upon a mist shrouded bridge. Occulus and Mikhail heard the clip clop of hooves, and the jingle of mail on the bridge. Worried, the party moved at the ready, waiting to see what moved out of the thick fog.

After several tense moments, a skeletal rider, carrying a lantern rode out of the mists slowly. The being raised its lantern, peering left and right, seeming to be searching for something. The tense party split, allowing the rider to pass, hoping that the creature wasn’t searching for them. The undead rider soon passed out of sight, leaving the party untouched. Several of the party members were amazed that Buttkiss could restrain himself from attacking the being;however, the Paladin stated, “Well that guy was looking for something, and since it didn’t seem to be us I figured lets just let it keep going.”

With the tension having broken, the party continued their hurried ride towards Krezk. They estimated the hopeful haven of the town was only about a half hour away; however, an odd mist began to creep onto the road, from either side. Trying to stay alert, the group continued to move along the road; however, Occulus soon became aware that several large creatures were moving alongside the road in the mist. The rogue was able to give warning to the group only a few moments before the trap was sprung…

4 Dire Wolves the size of grizzly bears strode into sight of the party, two on either side, and alongside them was the horrifyingly familiar well dressed form of Strahd Von Zarovich.

The amused vampire stated, “I like what you did with the Bonegrinder Mill, that place was always an eyesore. Though I dare say that Bella Sunbane is not pleased with what you did to her sister and mother.” Strahd then smiled widely gesturing for the fun to begin.

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Springing into action the party and the wolves began a close and brutal fight, with multiple of the party members wondering who would be the first to run.

Strahd, reacting lightning fast, burst towards Buttkiss, placing the Paladin in a iron choke hold. The Paladin, stubborn, urged his mount to move; however, Strahd used another legendary action to slam the paladin to the ground. Occulus, suddenly the main rider, was caught off balance and also fell off the horse only a dozen or so feet from Buttkiss.

Buttkiss, terrified, called the last of his amulet’s power, and a circle of bight sunlight formed around the Paladin. Strahd’s face scorched and burned under the brightlight; however, the ghastly wound healed nearly instantaneously. The vampire smiled at the horror in Buttkiss’s eyes. The vampire rained a series of blows down onto the Paladin; however, his thick armor, shield, and bright sunlight fended off the vampire’s blows.

In the meantime, the Dire Wolves darted among the players, biting and trying to pull some of them from their mounts. Tordek quickly slew his wolf, while Occulus, already on the ground rolled and dodged another of the beasts, striking when he could with his gleaming red shortsword. Eogan, annoyed that the wolf might threaten Steven, clobbered his foe. Mikhail, one hand wielding a crossbow, the other a scimitar, cut and fired a flurry of blows at his foe, wounding it, but not slaying it. In return, the giant wolves bit and hurt several of the party.

Haita, somehow escaping the notice of the wolves, darted out of the melee, and tried to draw a bead on Strahd. The vampire, not wishing for anyone to leave the party early, used more of his legendary action to let go of Buttkiss and rush to the side of Haita.

Horrified that his escape had been seen, the plucky Warlock unleashed a Hunger of Hadar at his feet, and then urged his mule onward, away from the savage vampire. The party, meanwhile, slew the remaining Dire Wolves fighting them.

The dark whispering of Hadar had minimal effect on Strahd, who strode out of darkness and gestured towards the closely packed party, releasing a powerful fireball. The massive blast caught Buttkiss, Occulus, Eogan, and Mikhail. The firey destruction dealt a great deal of damage to the group, but perhaps worse of all cooked Steven and Mikhail’s new mount alive.

Mikhail, who was about 10 feet away from the closest party member turned towards Strahd, annoyed at the death of the mount he just purchased. Unfortunately for the Ranger, Strahd had also taken notice of him, and used his legendary actions to deliver a crushing blow directly to his chest. The Ranger then collapsed unconscious into Strahd’s arms, and the vampire used his final legendary action to begin to sprint away from the party, ranger in hand.

The party gave chase; however, before they could catch the vampire he had drank the blood of Mikhail, slaying him instantaneously (this happened because Mikhail was already at 0 HP when the vampire bite was delivered).

At this point, the party entered a state of horrified shock, one of their number had just been slain. Amazingly, as the party caught up to Strahd, they rolled a series of really lucky attacks dealing a great deal of damage to the vampire. They also all immediately snapped together to work as a team, rather then each worried that the next person would run.  The group began to draw comparison of this moment to when Gandalf falls in Moria.

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In a moment of hilarious roleplaying, while the rest of the group was screaming in rage about Mikhail’s death, Eogan ran into combat yelling, “For Steven!!!!”

The vampire, though not yet showing damage, decided it was time to leave and shape changed into a bat, and began to try to fly away. Haita, unwilling to allow the vampire such an easy escape, blasted the bat from the sky with a well placed Eldritch Blast. Removed from his bat form, the “human” form of Strahd tumbled from the sky, crumpling to the ground. The vampire dusted himself off, only to be greeted by a raging Eogan and pissed off Buttkiss who together dealt a series of blows to the vampire.

Again using his legendary action, Strahd fled from combat, and then took his turn, turning into a thin mist. While Haita continued to blast at the fleeing vapor, the rest of the party returned to Mikhail, to tend to their fallen comrade.

Buttkiss gave the Ranger his last rites and wrapped up the body. Worn, and emotionally exhausted, the party continued on the short journey to Krezk. Once arriving at the town; however, the party were greeted by the gruff and uninterested town Burgomaster, who did not want to allow the party to enter. The only way he would allow it, was if the party brought back some much needed wine from the Wizards of Wine. After a great deal of arguing and attempts to cajole the burgomaster, the party agreed to leave and return with wine.

The group arrived without encounter back at the winery. Here they decided to take a long rest, rather then risk traveling damaged close to night. Haita, especially annoyed at Krezk’s leader, found a bottle of finer vintage in the winery, and pissed in the bottle, setting it aside, along with some other bottles, specifically for the burgomaster.

Going to sleep, the party hoped that the remaining day would be uneventful; however, they would be disappointed. They were jolted out of their sleep by the screaming of Davian’s wife. Rushing to the distillery, they saw that Mikhail had risen from his resting place, his skin pale, and his eyes glowing with hatred… he was a vampire

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The party prepared to capture and slay their friend, in return the Ranger fired a bolt, striking Buttkis for 15 damage. The vampire spawn then moved behind Davian’s wife, hoping to use her as a shield. Buttkiss, rushed forward and used Turn Undead, allowing Mikhail to Spider Climb up the distillery wall and jump out a window.

Shocked, the furious group asked Buttkiss what had happen, they thought he had given Mikahil his last rites to prevent him from turning. Buttkiss shouted back that he thought he had, but apparently it didn’t take… The group asked what kind of a paladin would make that mistake, and the Buttkiss replied back that he was a Street Urchin, formal religious training wasn’t his strong suit!

DM’S Note: I had secretly rolled a Religion check for Buttkiss to know that performing last rites wouldn’t be enough to keep Mikhail from rising; however, without a decent score in the skill, and a roll of 5, I determined Buttkiss wasn’t aware, which led to this amusing situation!

The party was annoyed that Mikhail had escaped, as they felt that was yet another person out to get them, however, there was nothing that could be done about it now…

The next day, the party took the wine and entered Krezk. Still angry over being denied entry to first time the group rushed past the town and headed straight for the Abbey.

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Two extremely odd being greeted the party as they entered the Abbey ground, they looked like horrific mixes of human and animal; however, they said they would take the party to the courtyard to speak to their master. The party agreed, while Buttkiss muttered, “Are we just going to ignore how weird these things are!” It is here we ended the session, I hope you enjoyed it!!!

 

Curse of Strahd: Session 9

Hello everyone! Time to try to get all of you even closer to caught up with my Curse of Strahd campaign. If we remember, when last we left off, the party had just arrived at the Wizard of Wines Winery. On the road, to the winery, they met Davian Martikov and his family, who were huddled and hidden from sight along the side of the road.

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Davian informed the party that an band of crazed druids and their minions had attacked the winery and driven the family out. He asked the group if they would be willing to drive the druids out of the winery. The party agreed and began to approach the lonely Wizard of Wines.

DM’s Note: Two of my six players were not at this session, so both Eogan and Mikhail were missing from the action. This left Buttkiss, Occulus, Haita, and Tordek to deal with whatever the session threw at them.

As the band moved towards the multistory building, they saw many shapes moving towards them from the woods. As the forms drew closer the party saw that they were weird humanoid like creatures, made out of clusters of vines! Seeing dozens of the creatures approaching from woods, the party fled into the Wizard of Wines, barricading the door behind them.

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Glancing around the building, Haita saw a crazed, feral looking human, pouring some liquid into one of the giant fermentation vats in the main room of the winery. A combat quickly ensued, with Haita attempting to blast the evil druid. Much to the party’s worry, about 15 small Twig Blights rushed out of the nearest vat, attempting to swarm the party.

The diminutive creatures had little success damaging the heavily armored Tordek and Buttkiss; however, Occulus took several cuts and scratches from the creatures. Haita, fed up sprinted to the right of the melee and cast a spell, flinging a series of grasping and smashing tentacles into the mass of enemies, slaying about 8. At the same time, Tordek wielding Only Friend sliced left and right, hewing a Twig Blight apart with each strike.

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The melee appeared to be going well, until Buttkiss and Haita heard the vine-like humanoids breaking into the vat room. Buttkiss, heroically moved to intercept, hoping to hold the swarm of enemies at the door; however, the Half-Orc reacted just a little too slowly, and the Vine Blights began to pour into the large room.

The combat turned from nearly over, to a desperate fight, as a dozen or so Vine Blights began to bog down and attack the party. Haita, blasted the Vine Blights with Hunger of Hadar, hoping to disorient and damage the mass of foes.

Occulus, damaged and hurt, began a furious battle for his life, as his darting rapier attempted to slay the several foes he was in combat with.

Tordek, feeling Only Friend vibrating in a dark joy, charged into the mass of Vine Blights, with the dark energy of the axe helping the dwarf slay foe, after foe. With each foe slain, Only Friend began to tremble and throb with an energy of its own!

Buttkiss, at the center of several Vine Blights, used his trusty Protection Versus Good and Evil spell, to allow himself to survive a flurry of blows struck at him, as he attempt to slowing fight back away from the group of enemies.

Haita, began to hunt down the evil Druid, blasting Eldritch Blasts his way, eventually felling his foe.

Occulus, failing in his frenzied battles, was knocked unconscious falling to the ground. His foe, wrapped a vine around the Rogue, and began to try to drag him away. Tordek, barely containing the rage Only Friend was feeding him, rushed further into the combat, attempting to cut a path to Occulus.

By this point only a handful of foes remained; however, Tordek was tied up in combat with two Vine Blights, and Buttkiss had fought his way to the other side of the room to protect Haita. The Vine Blight dragging the unconscious Occulus had nearly left the large room, and it was up to Haita to fire off a final few Eldritch Blasts, in hopes of saving his friend.

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Luckily for Occulus, the Warlock’s shots remained true, slaying the Vine Blight. Attention then turned to the few remaining Vine Blights fighting Tordek. The dour dwarf quickly slew his foes and gained control of himself and attempted to reach Occulus, to drag him to safety.

However, the noise of the sprawling battle had gained the attention of the remaining evil druids in the winery. A trio of them, along with several Needle Blights, that began to fire their needles at the party.

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The druids, shape changed into bears, rushed Tordek, hoping to quickly slay the dwarf. An intense confrontation began, with Tordek smashing left and right at his foes, while Buttkiss sprinted forward to help his friend.

Haita, feeling confident after his series of successes, shot into the melee, hoping to help the dwarf. However, a poorly timed natural one meant that his shots instead slammed into his friend, who was already battered from his extended combat. The plucky dwarf fell to the ground unconscious. Shortly later Buttkiss and Haita slew the remaining enemies, and amazingly Occulus passed his saves versus death to stabilize!

Searching the druid’s remains, they found a Gulthias Staff, which could have been used to control the blights, with the risk of madness.

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Buttkiss, seeing it for the evil artifact it was, destroyed the staff. They also discovered that the wine had been poisoned by the druids.

Returning to the Martikovs, the party told them their home was now druid free. Thankful, the family returned to their home. The party, hurt and exhausted, took a long rest in the safety of the winery. The next morning, Davian, now having a reason to trust the party, told the group the secret of the Wizard of Wines. The founder of the vineyard had enchanted three gems, burying them in the ground allowing wine grapes to grow in this desolate land.

Several years ago, one of the gems went missing. At the time Davian’s son was supposed to be watching the vineyard, and Davian blamed his son’s a lax watch for the gem going missing, causing a rift to develop in the family. A few weeks ago, another of the gems went missing, Davian believed at the hands of Baba Lysaga, the ancient witch. Finally, a few days ago the druids came and stole the final gem, bringing it to their lair on Yester Hill.

Davian explained to the party that without these gems, the grape plants would shrivel up and die, and there would be no more wine coming from the vineyard, the only source of alcohol in Barovia. Wine was one of the few joys left to the Barovian people, and Davian begged the party to help him. The gem that went missing years ago was as good as gone, but they could still retrieve the other two. In return, Davian would supply the party with information essential to defeating Strahd.

Buttkiss, already feeling sympathetic to the family agreed to help them, and the party made plans to head to Yester Hill.

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Arriving at the hill, the party saw that it was a rather large hill, with a small circle of stranding stones in the center, and a small copse of trees on the other side. The hill was surrounded by mists, and the group swore they could see the hints of a wonderful looking city within the mists, they made note that this made no sense, as Castle Ravenloft, the only place that could closely resembled this faced in the other direction…

Cautiously advancing forward, the group got to the top of the hill. Occulus noticed that the hill was covered in small graves, and warned the party to proceed cautiously. Creeping forward, Haita saw that within the circle of stones was a large crudely made statue, made of sticks, twigs, and mud, which looked a little bit like Strahd. A gleaming gem rested in one of the statues eyes. Sneaking back to the party Haita told them what he had seen.

Buttkiss, feeling confident, strode into the circle of stones and began to climb up the statue. Tordek, Occulus, and Haita watched cautiously from outside the stone circle.

Once Buttkiss began climbing, five fur-clad humans, in pale face paint rose out of some of the graves outside the stone circle. The humans began frothing at the mouth and charged the party. At the same time a feral druid rose up from a grave within the stone circle, with four more moving up alongside the human berzerkers.

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Scrambling to react the party watched as the five berzerkers charged them, striking a series of blows. At the same time, the evil Druid at the center of the stones began a weird chant, which was causing a flow of dark energy from him to the odd statue.

The party quickly found out that the berzerkers were extremely tough, with all but Tordek quickly being driven back. Haita, seeing the dark energies flowing from the druid, began to fire blast after blast at the ritual caster, hoping to stop it. At the same time, Buttkiss, having jumped down the statue, rushed alongside Tordek to help him.

The evil druids for the time being seemed content to let the berzerkers fight for them, and they watched. However, after 2 berzerkers were slain, they changed form into bears and charged the party. Occulus, feeling overwhelmed and battered, fled the melee, but was ran down by three of the druids.

At this point things were looking desperate, with the party battered and outnumbered. Haita, continued to blast the ritual druid, ignoring a charging bear to strike the final blow of the ritual caster, before being smacked unconscious himself.

Falling closer to death, Occulus heard a voice in his head…

DM’s Note: While I would love to share what took place in Occulus’s head, I don’t want to spoil things for Occulus’s player, who has kept this secret.

The nearly dead Rogue muttered, “I agree,” and suddenly burst upwards, rippling with muscles that he had not had moments ago. His horrific wound closed, and he wielded a blood red shortsword, hewing left and right slaying his druid foes, while shouting “For the Whispering Well.”

This sudden change turned the combat in the party’s favor, and they quickly slew their remaining foes. Occulus, passing out, reverted back to his regular form, and only Tordek had seen a hint of what happened.

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After being revived by Buttkiss, Haita realized the druid he had killed was attempting to call to Strahd, and had nearly succeeded…

Exploring the hillside, the party found a foul, mutated Gulthias Tree, with a silver axe near it, just out of reach of a long dead adventurer. Picking up the silver axe, Tordek chopped the evil tree down ending the blight threat on Barovia.

For good measure, Buttkiss, pushed over the crudely made Strahd statue, after taking the gem from it.

Battered, worn, and worried about what had happened to Occulus, the party limped back to the safety of the Wizard of Wines to rest and heal. Buttkiss muttered to Haita,
“Between Occulus and Tordek I am worried we are going to have to start taking peoples’ toys away, shit is getting real…”

 

Curse of Strahd: Session 8.5

Hello readers! My party informed me that in my Session 8 recap, I actually missed a segment of our session. So lets rewind just a little bit, to right before our band of adventurers left Vallaki.

Realizing that they would be traveling for sometime, the party concluded they did not want to be outside at night for more time then necessary. Preferably, they would like to dart from one safe haven to the next, in hopes of avoiding Strahd and his minions.

In order to facilitate this quicker travel, the party decided that they would need horses. Now Eogan already had Steven, and Buttkiss had Bastion, so this left Tordek, Occulus, Mikhail, and Haita to find mounts.

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Unfortunately for the party, Vallaki, a rather isolated and impoverished town, had a lack of anyone selling horses. The party was pointed to a Vistani camp, which was right outside the town, alongside a small settlement of Dusk Elves. Figuring this was their only chance for steeds, the group moved outside the safety of Vallaki’s walls, and headed towards the camp.

They saw several small wooden houses, built surrounding a hill, at the top of which was a circle of bight and colorful Vistani covered wagons. A Large tent sat at the center of this circle.

Walking into large tent, the group saw a young Vistani man, tied to the center tent pole, being beaten. They were torn on whether or not to intercede, but Tordek, ever the pragmatic man, argued that they do not know what the man did, and to allow the group to use discipline as they saw fit. Agreeing the band waited, until the beating was done. They then approached the two adult males Vistani to inquire about some horses.

Haita, asked about a mule, and promptly bought one for 20 some gold pieces, and left the tent happy. Occulus, taking the lead for horses, fumbled quite a bit with the bartering process. The Vistani, offered to sell two horses to the group, each for 200 gold. Outraged at the astonishingly high price, Tordek stomped out of the tent, muttering how dwarves didn’t need horses anyway.

Occulus, not to be dissuaded, continued to try to negotiate a better price. The Vistani, in an act of “kindness” offered the Rogue a horse for 75 gold; however, when he walked out of the tent to see the horse he saw it was a worn, old, illkept nag that most likely couldn’t survive a single hard gallop, much less fleeing from enemies in the wilds. Annoyed, Occulus left.

Mikhail; however, continued to ask, and the Vistani man, with a glimmer in his eye, offered the Ranger a steed, for 75 gold, in return for a small favor. He wanted Mikhail to pour a small vial of potion into Occulus’s food. This would, he claimed, make the Rogue go bald, humbling him. Mikhail smirked, and agreed pocketing the vial.

Leaving the hill, the party saw a Dusk Elf man, sadly sitting in a chair. Interested, Occulus and Mikhail walked over to the elf, while Tordek grumbled about pointless side tracking.

The melancholy Dusk Elf introduced himself as Kasimir Velikov, and invited the pair into his home for tea. Occulus intrigued agreed, while Mikhail decided to rejoin Tordek. After a brief conversation Occulus learned that the Dusk Elves were a dying race, as Strahd had killed all the females of their race hundreds of years ago.

Lately, Kasimir had been haunted by dreams, he believed to be sent by his dead sister. Kasimir told Occulus that the key to breaking Barovia from Strahd’s curse, and ending the beast’s life, rests in the Amber Temple to the South. He wished to accompany the group if they head there, as he believed the temple holds the key to bringing his sister back to life. Occulus thanked the elf for the food and information, and told him he would consider the offer, leaving.

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During dinner that night, Mikhail passed a Sleight of Hand check, pouring the vial of liquid into Occulus’s drink. The party then went to sleep. The next morning, the party was greeted by an irate Occulus, who has lost most of his hair, as well as grown several patches of gross scaly skin over night. Laughing hysterically, Mikhail’s player stated, “It was only supposed to make you lose your hair!” Outraged at his appearance Occulus refused to leave town until he was cured, which the party concluded would take a further day. Annoyed, but finally agreeing to wait for the Rogue the party spent another day in Vallaki uneventfully until finally leaving the next day…

Hope you enjoyed that quick recap, I am going to try to get the final recap done before my next session this Sunday!