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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!!!