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Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:21 pm

I'm making the executive decision to post recaps here and keep the other thread for scheduling. 

I really am having trouble remembering what happened in the last session. I only remember...
  • We left the Wizard of Wine vineyard and traveled Southeastward??
  • Came to a place where there was a giant wicker person in a clearing surrounded big large rocks at the top of a big hill. Lightning was striking all around. There was a group of cultists?? chanting - performing a ritual. We fought them, defeated them all, burned down the wicker person, and retrieved a stone/gem??
  • We then went down the hill (on the opposite side from which we came up the hill) towards the evil looking tree. We fought a bunch of the druid constructs - the tree bled blood and there was a magical axe buried in the trunk.
Some of the info came back as I wrote this, but I'm missing a lot of the plot/story details and I know I did something really cool (I earned an inspiration point) but can't remember what it was.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Character Bios

Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:13 am

Davian Markoff, proprietor of the Wizard of Wines tells you that there were three magic gems buried in the vinyard by a wizard.  These gems allow them to grow grapes in the bleak, rocky soil.  All three have been stolen:
  • The first was stolen 10 years ago, when his son Urwin (proprietor of the Blue Water Inn) was on watch
  • The second stolen 3 weeks ago by a powerful witch named Baba Lysaga
  • The third 5 days ago, but the druids of Yester Hill
You travel to the southeast to Yester Hill, where you face the druids and mad berserkers.  The druids are performing a ritual (which you successfully stopped, Brian, thus the inspiration) to summon a large blight using the gem they stole.  This ritual seems to have been supported by Strahd, who left shortly before the ritual started.  You face the blights and retrieve a magic axe that was left there by an adventurer who died there (he is now a skeleton at the base of the tree).
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Re: Curse of Strahd Character Bios

Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:44 pm

After returning from the cursed tree, our "heroes" collected their reward of wine kegs from Davian by returning the gem retrieved from the blight pyre.   Borrowing a horse (Susan) and a wagon (no name given), the wine was brought back to the inn to be sold.  On the way back into town, Katja checked on Ireena who assured the party that everything was okay.  We sold the wine to the innkeeper who, as you may remember, is the Wizard of Wines' son and also a wereraven, but whose name is impossible to commit to memory.  He introduced us to his three wereraven comrades - Petrov (who Katja shot), Sven and Danya.  They call themselves The Keepers of the Feather, which seems a bit on the beak.

Mateo, being a proper Draid proselyte, got some frat boys drunk and told them stories about Dra.  The boys in turn told stories about their mom being a bit crazy and power hungry for the dank hamlet of Vallaki.  They specifically mentioned two things: one, that they wanted to release a tiger on the crowds during the festival and two, that their mom was good friends with Strahd.  Even if that seemed exaggerated, it did fit the Vistani prophecy, so it was decided that Lady Watcher needed to be checked out... or maybe murdered.  That part was kind of up in the air.  While discussing this, the Circus Pimp fed his horse an apple, and it was suggested that he "not" put extra guards on the "not" tiger that was "not" in the city.  He passed his Sense Motive check and took the hint.

But first, the party had to go to the festival.  The only one having a good time was the drunk, who got arrested for torching the wicker sun without permission.  While Davin was acting as a lawyer, and Hernwyn was being bad at being inconspicuous, Katja changed her face and broke into Watcher House.  After missing some obvious clues, she nearly got murdered by skeletons... the one thing she is supposed to be good at killing.  So she gathered her buddies, but not the priest because he was more interested in wine, and they killed the skeletons again.  After that they found a room with a lame suburban cult in it and no one got rightfully murdered.  The dwarf caught an imp, which was used to get information.  Previous to this, Mateo had bribed his way out of punishment, because that's what the good guys do.

Upstairs, in the room with the Lord Watcher's corpse, Katja collected a strongbox that poisoned her when she tried to open it after speaking with some cats.  Davin found a secret room behind a bookshelf, which contained Lady Watcher's manifesto and a grimoire written by someone named Devostas. The poisoned box contained the actual Tome of Strahd, one of the four McGuffins needed to get back home.  One of the rooms also contained a young girl who believed she was a cat.  She was mostly just left alone.

Because Mateo and Killer Croc (Isaak Stronsky) didn't get along after the incident with the burning sun burning, everyone had to sneak out of town.  They all met on the west road, and exchanged some information with the Keepers of the Feather.  They talked about going to Krezk, because Rictavio the Circus Pimp said it might be interesting and they are obviously no longer wanted in Vallaki.

There were a few dangling plot threads from this session.  The Circus Pimp's circus was "not" in town and definitely "wasn't" doing anything the Burgomaster would be "maliciously unhappy" about.  Further, someone named Oodo got arrested, and his dad makes shoes; our "heroes" weren't swayed by that sob story.  Lady Watcher didn't get murdered.  The town is still pretty likely to burn someone as a sacrifice to appease the bees or something.

Baba Lysaga still has one of the magic gems, and Urwin won't cough up what he knows about the one stolen on his watch a decade ago.  The hag sisters also still go unmurdered.  There are still no wounded elves or amber giants, so there are still McGuffins to find.  And Davin's ears ooze goodberry grubs, which is slightly unsettling.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Character Bios

Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:05 pm

Our somewhat self-deluded "heroes" snuck out of Vallaki and, once meeting up at the rendezvous copse, each ran into a mysterious woman.  Thankfully Katja decided to hide rather than murder, and Ireena managed to survive the encounter.    She stated that she wanted to leave St Andrel's Church and adventure with us because that was somehow safer.  Seemed a bit like the logic of Hobbits, but we went with it.  She's pretty and had a large sword.  Rather quickly, we were called upon to use those swords and slew a pack of dire wolves.  Several of us gave Mateo a hard time for wanting to butcher and eat them; I think he had drunk too much of the Kool-Aid in Vallaki.

The road to Krezk was otherwise not very eventful.  No one was visited by pale riders and no one got murdered while we slept nor did Davin start spewing grubs from any new orifices (at least, none that he bothered mentioning).  The arrival at Krezk, however, was slightly more eventful.  The guards wouldn't let us in because, I mean, can you blame them?  We failed our best at convincing them to let us in, and it took Ireena invoking her right as Burgomistress to enter the city.

Once inside, we were no longer terrifying outsiders, but welcomed insiders.  It may have helped that Mateo holied their wines, but one can't be too sure.  After a small tour of Dmitri Krezkov's house and meeting his wife Anna, it was decided that the group needed to go do two things. First, we needed to go figure out who the mysterious Abbot who lived in the Abbey of Ste. Markovia.  But before doing the first thing, we needed to go see this weird magical pool that the Abbot supposedly visits intermittently.  The town itself is mostly devoid of all life except trees, but seemed pleasant enough.  We even discussed opening up Sellswords & Sell Swords there.

Things at the pool changed our tune.  Once there, Ireena became entranced, responding to a mirage in the water claiming to be Sergei, the dead brother of Strahd and lover of Tatiana.  Ireena genuinely believed herself to be Tatiana and tried to reach to Sergei.  Katja wasn't having any of that.  As she does, she did something rash that got everyone hurt: she grappled Ireena and tried to (physically) break her free of the enchantment.  This resulted in a pissed off mirage and everyone got struck by lightning, so everyone hid for a bit.

After we stopped being afraid of lightning, we invited ourselves up to the Abbey on top of the mountain.  This place was weird and we tend to follow the weird.  The weirdness just got weirder.  Once through the open gate, the group was verbally accosted by some hideous abominations of life: mongrelfolk, chimeric humanoids stitched together from the discarded bits of wild animals.  They agreed to take us to the Abbot, but asked us to wait in a courtyard where we were totally ambushed by another freak that was hiding in the well.  We all saw it.  There was no question that violence was totally justified. (There was, in fact, lots of questions about whether violence was justified.)

The Abbot came out and invited us in like none of this was weird at all.  Once inside, he explained that he was a Deva, a celestial being sent hundreds of years ago by our gods (though he was suspiciously unsure which ones in particular) to face down Strahd.  In those several hundred years he seems to have done two things.  The first was to take a family with clear mental health issues and go all Doctor Moreau on them (ostensibly at their request).  He then chained one to a post in his courtyard, and kept the others on more metaphorical leashes.  Second, he crafted either a flesh golem or a homunculus in the form of a woman to marry to Strahd.  Our group has only been in Barovia for like two weeks and we already knew that this plan wasn't going to work.  Vasilka doesn't look like Tatiana nor has any inclination that she is supposed to be Tatiana (Strahd's one true obsession), but this is the best plan he could apparently come up with.

While the Abbot was confessing his vivisections and other terrible plans, Katja snuck around the abbey.  In the attic, one of the Bellvue Clan seemed to have been keeping guard over another fleshmunculus, but this time it appeared to be made of the stitched together bits of Mateo, Davin, Hernwyn and Katja.  Whether the abomination was male or female wasn't discovered, but it gave Katja the heebie-jeebies and she went to go sneak around elsewhere.  While this was happening, everyone else was slowly edging towards the door.  The Abbot needed simply to get a wedding dress for Vasilka - which the party crossed their fingers and totally agreed to do.

The session ended with Katja about to stumble face first into trouble in some sort of bunkroom.

In addition to the story of a Deva falling into madness, the party learned (or was reminded) that Strahd would occasionally go by the pseudonym of Vasili von Holtz.  It was Vasili who taught the Abbot how to make flesh golems and mongrelfolk.  This was knowledge that came from the Amber Temple, which seemed pretty relevant to the Amber Giants McGuffin.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:56 pm

I split the topic so we could keep the recaps separate from the character bios.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:44 pm

The session began with Katja about to stumble face first into trouble in some sort of bunkroom.  The trouble turned out to be a cadre of shadows which seemed to be bounded into the bunkroom.  After slaying one, Katja was promptly sapped of nearly all her strength and had to choose between fight and flight.  She opted to hide, which determining if she could feasibly figure out how to kill 5 more shadows, weakened and unaided.  While she hid and pondered, a Vistani stumbled upon her, and seemed just as confused as Katja that someone else was there.  After a short discussion about each others' purposes, they decided to send some shadows back to hell.  Thanks to Esmerelda's Protection from Evil, they were able to fight back the hordes of literal darkness.

Esmerelda says that she is going to continue hiding in a bedroom she had commandeered, because she thought the Abbott "might be useful".  Katja thanked her for her aid by promptly ignoring her and trying to get back to her friends as surreptitiously as possible.  Failing that, she landed on her face in the courtyard and was able to dust herself off before everyone else left the meeting with the Abbott.  As he wished them off, it was decided that our wayward wanders needed to find someone much less creepy to roam.

At the bottom of the abbey mount, the part split momentarily to handle some individual tasks.  Hernwynn went back to the Shrine of the White Sun, where lightning had zapped everyone and Ireena was ensorcelled by a mirage. His efforts lead to finding a small cache of silver and an ornate dagger in the base of the idol to the Morning Lord.  The dagger was clearly magical, imbuing the elf with undue confidence and draconic eloquence.  He felt the need to show off this dagger to each party member one at a time, in secret, so the boldness only went so far.

While Hernwynn was looting the town, Katja lay on a couch in the Burgomeister's house trying to recover from her bruises (both to body and ego).  In the next room, a woman gave birth to a son.  Well, "woman" and "son" might be too generous of terms.  Each were what the Burgomistress called "shells" - humans born without souls.  It seems that in Barovia, there is only a limited number of souls to go around and, when they all get used up, children can still be born - but they are true tabulae rasae.  The mistress explained that many of these husks are essentially cattle for Strahd to feed upon, while others are simply emotionless people carrying out mundane lives.  The revelation that souls in Barovia are recycled led some (read: all) to speculate that Ireena may not justlook like Tatiana but may actuallybe Tatiana reincarnate.  Of course, we all thought it best to not mention this, just as Katja thought it best to not mention the Vistani in the abbey.  

Deciding to ignore the sidequest, the party decided to head south.  On the second night, while on watch, some glowing eyes appears and unsettled Hernwynn.  Those same glowing eyes unsettled Katja on her watch, so she went to investigate.  Of course, this resulted in her being ambushed by animate evil scarecrows with rusty shears for hands.  Damage was done, scarecrows were beheaded and torched and no one got any sleep.  The scarecrows were stuffed full of actual crows, which was a bit weird.  This lead the party to head over to The Not-Wizard of Wines.

Daveon welcomed us, but was concerned about his missing son and... some other relative whose familial position is less consequential.  Knowing that everyone in Clan Marketoff is a wereraven, we took Papa Rook to where the scarecrows had attacked, assuming there was some sort of connection.  There was.  Some of the dead crows were just crows, but others were the bodies of the two missing Marketoffs.  A short burial ceremony was performed by Mateo, where a cold one was poured out for each of the homies.  Upon returning to the vineyard, we inquired about the Symbol of Ravenkind.  We were recounted a tale of the Paladin Lugdana, who was visited by a giant angelic raven.  She used this powerful holy symbol to vanquish vampires and destroy their nests.  Up until this point, we didn't realize vampires built "nests", but this country is weirdly obsessed with birds.

With no other leads (besides the ones we decided to not follow), the party agreed that it was time to scope out the fabled Baba Lysaga.  It seems she was the one who sent the scarecrows after us, and we knew she had one of the mystical gems needed to make better wine.  Since we might get stuck here forever, it was decided that we should at least have good alcohol.  Baba Lysaga is said to dwell near the Ruins of Berez, south of Valaki.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:44 am

Our "heroes" began by explaining their "plan" to an incredulous, but ultimately supportive, Daveon.  With no clear path towards defeating Strahd, freeing Ireena from her curse and getting everyone back to their appropriate dimensional homes, it was agreed that we might as well find another magic wine gem.  Since Urwin still won't spill the beans on where he's hiding the second missing gem, our only other lead was the witch Baba Lysaga.  Having never mentioned her before, Daveon noted that there just so happened to be a Keeper of the Feather who watched nearby the Ruins of Berez.  Her name is Muriel, and she would meet us by the standing stones.  Not really knowing what that meant, we headed off to find her anyway.

After some trudging, Mateo remembered that he had a boat in his pocket (and wasn't just happy to see Ireena).  After realizing that none of us knew how to sail, we managed to float up-river towards an ever creepier swamp.  Fog crept in closer and closer until we were completely shrouded in white mist.  In the vapor, a lantern swung ominously.  Fearing nothing bad, our intrepid adventurers beached their magic craft on the shore and approached the figure holding the lantern.  Muriel quickly introduced herself and began to recount the tale of Berez.

it seems that Ireena isn't the first woman that Strahd has been obsessed with being Tatiana.  A citizen of Berez known as Marina also took his fancy for a time.  It seems that Strahd had wanted to turn Marina into vampire-kin, forever keeping her as his, but chose to not turn her all at once.  To spare her this fate, the town's burgomaster and its priest staked her heart, destroying her and infuriating Strahd.  Strahd slew both the priest and the burgomaster and flooded the city, driving out all its residents.  Baba Lysaga had since taken over the ruins with her roving cottage.

After fulfilling her expositional purpose, Muriel pointed the group to the west and wished them the best of luck in the fog.  After wading through the fog for some time, stumbling past ruins of huts and low stone walls, some more scarecrows found us and attempted (unsuccessfully) to murder us.  A bit further on and we found a palisade dotted with human skulls.  This seems like just the clue we were looking for, so we started poking about.  Aside from the goats inside the palisade, nothing seemed to point in an obvious direction.  Until, of course, Katja decided to hop the fence and started the skulls ascreaming.  Clearly intending to do that in order to set up an ambush, everyone strategically retreated towards some low stone walls to spring their trap and not at all change their trousers.

Not long after, more scarecrows came sniffing about.  Katja held everyone back for a moment in order that a larger trap might be sprung.  Soon, more sacks of animate straw staggered out of the woods.  Katja vaulted the stone wall they were hiding behind and battle was once again initiated.  Davin, Mateo, Ireena and Hernwyn stayed cautiously near cover and picked off the nearby scarecrows with clever tactics.  Katja screamed a lot and managed to not die.  Once the final construct had been vanquished, the ground began to shake with heavy footfalls.  Everyone went for better ground as a giant cypress trunk crashed through the undergrowth carrying a small hut.

Unsure how to best fight a walking house, most of the group stayed back and lobbed ranged attacks or moved to get in decent position.  Katja opted, once again, for a more direct route.  Fire bolts and arrows zipped into the structure while Katja leaped onto a root-leg, trying to scramble up into the hut itself.  it would take her four attempts and all but 1 hit point to eventually succeed at this tactic.  Meanwhile, Davin had charged in with his axes, hacking away at Howl's Moving Castle.  All this time, the root-legs were hurling boulders at those behind the wall.  The wall was destroyed and, at one point in the battle, Hernwyn would have been too, had the ground been any more firm.

After failed attempt after failed attempt, Katja managed to get to the roof of the hut and drop inside.  A green glow emanated from beneath the creepiest baby on the planet.  Serenely sleeping inside a walking house where everything has to be bolted to the floor and glowing green, something was clearly amiss.  Had anyone else been the one to reach the cabin, there might have been more of an issue, but luckily for the group the rather amoral Katja had no qualms about stabbing a terrifying baby.  As she did so, the illusion dissipated and a magic gem that was buried under the floorboards appeared.  Without much thought (even for her), she reached in and snatched the gem as the floorboards attempted to close on her hand.  Pulling the gem free deactivated the mobile home and there was much rejoicing.  True to her idiom, however, Katja opened a nearby chest and was immediately knocked unconscious by a trap on the chest.  The wandering hands that were locked inside it for some reason were quickly dispatched by Davin's multitude of weapons.

Having claimed the Winerald, and some decent loot, Mateo and Ireena went to check the nearby ruined manor while the rest worked on regaining hit points and consciousness.  Mateo was approached by the ghost of a giant, a giant who turned out to be Burgomaster Ulrich.  Deeply distraught for having murdered Marina, even as it was his only choice, he wandered the old manor seeking release.  Ireena released Ulrich of his responsibility under her authority of probably being the same incarnate soul as occupied Marina's body for a time.  Relieved, Ulrich directed Mateo to a fallen statue of Marina/Ireena/Tatiana, where he found a valuable amulet, a Periapt of Wound Closure.

The two returned to the rest of the party, who were gearing up to find Baba Lysaga and stab some exposition out of her.
Last edited by nbrs6121 on Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:06 pm

As she did so, the illusion dissipated and a magic gem was buried under the floorboards.
You accidentally a word.

True to her idiom, however, Katja opened a nearby chest and was immediately knocked unconscious by the wandering hands that were locked inside it for some reason.
It wasn't the hands that knocked you unconscious, it was the magical trap (either thunder or flame -- I don't remember which).  The wandering hands were just camping out in the chest.

Mateo was approached by the ghost of a giant, a giant who turned out to be Burgomaster Ulrich.
'Giant of a man', not a literal giant.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:49 pm

I writes it hows I remembers it.  It's more fun to think he's the giant from which Baba Lysaga got her skullmobile from.

I'll correct the thing about the hands, though.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:13 pm

With the house slain, and the maybe-giant released from his self-imposed undead curse, our intrepid adventurers soldiered off into the fog.  They knew that Baba Lysaga still remained, but was hiding like a coward.

After wandering in a haze for practically days, Katja sensed a few undead in a nearby ruin.  In her least reckless move to-date, she walked into what ended up being a collapsed church and was immediately killed by three bodaks.  Mateo, Hernwyn, Davin and Ireena were even more cautious than normal, but were still almost laid low by these screaming corpses from Hell.  Spellls were slung.  Axes were hurled.  Arrows were fired.  Screams were... screamed.  In the end four creatures lay dead, but soon it was just three.  Thanks to Mateo's alcoholism, Katja was revived.  The worst thing was that the bodaks didn't even point in the direction of the witch.

So, the haze wandering began again.  Wander. Wander. Wander. Wander.  Mud and trees and scrubby grass and ruins as far as the eyes could see (which, granted, was only about 100 yards, but still).  Finally, someone had the brilliant idea that maybe the murder-hut came from Baba and that following its rootprints could lead us to her.  Thinking that some direction was better than no direction, the group navigated back to the battle location and followed the path of destruction to a clearing.  In this clearing was a giant floating skull with a cackling witch inside.  Okay, maybe she wasn't cackling out loud, but she was definitely cackling in her heart.

Immediately the group set to action.  Not learning from the last battle with Baba Lysaga's stuff, Katja tried to jump into the floating skull.  With a much better plan, Mateo managed to successfully dispel the magic that made the skull fly.  Without her Egg Mobile, Baba was little match for the combined melee might of Davin, Katja and Ireena.  In just a few seconds after seeing her, she was on the ground and bleeding out all her blood.  Mateo kill stole this battle too, however, finishing her off with a bolt of magic.  Compared to her hut, the witch was rather a simple task for the party to dispatch.  Even the demonic cadavers were more of a challenge.  The party takes this as a sure sign of their baddassitude, conveniently ignoring all of their previous failures.

Armed with the Winerald, and having cleared the ruins of Krezk of its witch, the party lets Muriel know that ding dong, the witch is dead.  The party then decided that they probably ought to get back to the plot.  Strahd is still unmurdered.  Ireena is still in danger.  Katja's sisters (which everyone has sort of forgot about for the last three weeks) is still somewhere in this alternate world.  And, most importantly, everyone is still stuck in this foggy hell.  So, obviously, they stop at the first castle that catches their attention.  Granted, what grabbed their attention was a bunch of illusory warriors fight a dragon in an open field and then have Hernwyn become somewhat possessed by a dragon spirit for a split second.

The troupe parks their boat and trudges up the hill towards the castle.  Like everything here, half of it is collapsed, and the other half looks like it wants to.  The only thing with any structural integrity left is a statue of a dragon that Hernwyn assures everyone is called Argynvost.  The group wandered around the building and decided to enter the building through the gaping hole in the wall, rather than the front door.  Getting to the edge of the rubble, the party saw the better part of a dozen horse-sized spiders.  Figuring that any entrance was just going to end up with spiders, they decide to head over the wall and squash some bugs.

Things, of course, didn't go to plan and the spiders were doing a very good job of squashing the party.  Well, everyone except Davin.  Apparently Davin doesn't have a dwarven hatred for orcs or goblins or even elves; his bloodlust is for arachnid hemolyth.  While everyone else struggled with webs, poison, and just hitting the cursed bugs, Davin hacked legs and fangs and thoraxes apart until nothing was left standing (including half the party).  Formerly Davin Blackore, then Davin the Black and now... Davin Spiderbane!  With everyone else nearly dead, it was decided that exploring the castle would have to wait.

The party is convinced that this castle is one of the gypsy's prophesied McGuffins.  More specifically, they think it's the underground castle guarded by amber giants - despite the castle being clearly above ground and there being no giants in sight.  But since when has rationality being a driving force for this party?
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:20 am

The group decided that rest was probably a good plan, so they holed up in the less destroyed tower and set to watches.  Davin complained most of his watch about his hammer getting too pointy.  With the only other exception of the chitinous twitching of spider legs, the evening passed uneventfully.  The party sought to change that when day (or what counts as day in this slightly more emo Seattle) broke.  With three door options to choose from, our intrepid adventurers chose the nearest one and entered the castle-mansion prepared for more spiders.  Of course, there were none, so they started exploring and promptly separated themselves into the party and Katja.

The party (less Hernwyn, who needed to use the little elves' room) moved into what appeared to be a study of sorts, dominated by a large fireplace.  Upon entering the room, the ash in the pit sprung to draconic life and roared.  True to everyone's form, Davin drew his weapons and turned to face the threat.  Katja catapulted herself off a balcony and only took a small amount of damage.  Hernwyn backed up and nocked an arrow.  Mateo bumped into the wall in the back and leaked some... magic.  The dragonflame burst before it could really be a threat and it bade the party to find its missing knights who have become lost in the dark.

Mateo in his attempts to valiantly run away found a secret door into a room full of wine barrels.  Some of us find magic weapons, some find danger; Mateo finds alcohol.  Also, in this case, a wounded elf (McGuffin!).  The elf turned out to be something called a "dusk elf" and called himself "Savin".  He claimed to not be caught in some sort of temporal loop, but that's just what someone in a temporal loop would say.  Also, he was looking for a Vistani girl.  For reasons he believed this girl was the better part of 50 miles away from the camp she was lost from, north of Vallaki.  Mateo cast some spells and healed Savin up.

Meanwhile, Katja and Ireena went exploring.  They found a dining room, which didn't have much interesting in it, with the exception of some leaded glass door which lead into a chapel. Inside this chapel, Katja sensed undead. Her hackles raised, she rushed in to smite them just as the rest of the party moseyed in.  Argynvost had told the party about the Order of the Silver Dragon, the knights that followed the dragon.  This order had fought against Strahd and lost (as seen in the holographic scene in the last chapter).  Well, Katja had found them, and they seemed as if they were going to fare a lot better against her than they did against a super powerful vampire.

The rest of the party rushed in to save Katja again, and a very drawn out fight ensued.  Turns out the undead in the chapel were knights of the Order that had become revenants, and revenants are very hard to kill.  It took all six (Savin joined in) to just hold the three of them back and the fight only ended because Hernwyn thought it best to state that we were enemies of Strahd while the rest of the party tactically retreated.  Not killing the undead, even undead who wanted to kill other undead, left a bad taste in Katja's mouth - like orange juice and toothpaste - but she bit her tongue and moved on with the rest of the party.

More decrepit rooms were explored, to little avail, until Katja and Hernwyn thought that it might be a good idea to crawl into the graveyard and look in the mausoleum out there.  Argynvost was clearly dead and maybe his tomb would give some clues as to what was going on and/or how to kill Strahd and/or where to find the McGuffin this wounded elf promised.  Unsurprisingly none of those things happened.  Instead, it was revealed that the mausoleum was completely empty with a clear absence of a skull, a skull that was just asking to be returned.  Quite literally.  When they headed back into the castmansion, they spotted a man with whispy grey hair in an upper window.  A clue!

The party re-gathered and started searching for stairs.  On the second floor, it became apparent just how much of the building had collapsed.  Nearly half of the space was just open over the spider graveyard.  This made searching the place simpler by half, at least.  Searching down the halls, staying together like a good unified party, Hernwyn triggered a trap which separated the party. It also nearly separated Ireena, but she was able to dodge the wall of stone appearing in her space.  Mateo and Savin poked around their side of the wall and Mateo got scared by another fireplace dragon.  Simultaneously, the rest of the party had to fight off some ghosts.

Katja and Hernwyn rushed into a room with three of them, while Davin and Ireena held down the hallway as two more approached.  Katja did as Katja does and got pummeled, but dished out some damage in return; just not enough damage.  Every few seconds she was brought low by the ghosts' swords and, a few seconds later, she was grunt and stand back up to strike back. After Hernwyn was brought down and yanked back to his feet, he had the smart idea of trying to disarm one of the ghosts.  Implausibly, it worked, and he had one of the ghost's force swords.  After dropping his attacker, he passed it off to Katja who was able to down the two ghosts that Davin was holding his own against.  Ireena too was holding off a ghost which was slain by Katja.  The final ghost saw that it was no match for the mighty party and phased through a wall, scaring the magic out of Mateo.  A few leaks of magic later, it was defeated.  Katja refused to let go of her new sword, fearing that if she did, it would dissipate like the ghosts had.

When he magic wall disappeared, the party kept exploring on.  Up another level, there was nothing left to kill, but there were many things to learn.  As had been revealed earlier, the human occupant(s) of Argynvostholt were mostly just the dragon Argynvost shapeshifted into a human.  Much of this was solidified when his bedchambers were found.  A magic parchment told a story of Argynvost's defeat, and how Strahd had laid claim to the dragon's skull.  The message further bid the party to find the skull and return it, and that doing so would restore the manor to its "shining glory".  Further, it encouraged us to find Vladmir, the captain of the Order of the Silver Dragon; he could be helpful in this quest.  After some internal discussion, it was agreed that Vladmir probably wasn't one of the three revenants downstairs, because quests are never that easy.

Moving onward and upward, more rooms were explored, mostly just containing broken furniture, tattered paintings, or puddles. Arriving on the roof, one final expositional architectural feature presented itself, this time in the form of a dragon-gargoyle magic mouth.  It spoke a small rhyme, "When the dragon dreams its dream in its rightful tomb / The light of Argynvost will gleam and rid the world of gloom".  This expanded the scope of what bringing back the skull would do.  Since side quests are the soup du jour, it was agreed that we should probably go do that.  Just after wounding an elf... or rather, helping a wounded elf fulfill his dark dream.  Which seems to be finding a lost girl?  This is a very weird place.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:54 pm

Side quests in hand, our intrepid adventurers decided to poke around in the last few rooms of the dragonhome.  While finding clues and the plot don't seem to be something we can find, trouble certainly is.  Kicking open a door, six revenants rose from a conference room table.  Seeing that we didn't bring donuts, three of them promptly decided to not be revenants anymore.  The other three, however, were angry about the rude, pastry-less interruption and fighting ensued.  Yada yada yada.  Two minutes (which felt like two hours) later, Katja had died six times but all three revenants were re-deaded (un-undeaded?).  Since Hernwyn was again a minute or so behind everyone, no one seemed to remember that brandishing the dagger of dragons and shouting about being enemies of Strahd would stop them.  It seems enough pummeling stops them too.  We did remember to ask if any of them were Vladmir, but none of them seemed to be, so we felt a little less bad about killing them.  We are heroes and they are monsters, right?  That's how this works... right?

Skirting around the soggy spot in the floor, Mateo wanted to prove that he was, in fact, a brave adventurer and wasn't going to hide behind walls anymore.  So, roped to Katja, he stepped into the final room that was left to explore.  The stark room contained a single throne staring forlornly out of a dingy window. In this sad chair sat an even more morose creature, clutching a greatsword like a child clutches its doll for comfort.  After some cautious greetings, Mateo was able to get the man to engage.  It turns out this was the Vladmir we were supposed to look for.  It was this time that we decided that words can be more powerful than swords.  The amount of blood currently spilling from most of us had absolutely nothing to do with this move to diplomacy.

The conversation with Vlad was... circular.  It seems Vlad is all about making Strahd suffer, wherein we are kindred spirits.  However, it seems that his opinion is that the ultimate suffering for Strahd is getting to live in a powerful castle, with tons of minions and everyone within hundreds of miles either revering or fearing him.  He is literally a Machiavellian prince and this clown calls that "suffering" because... he wasn't married to Tatiana?  I mean, basically everyone in the party has lost more than that and you don't see us also getting kingdoms and cool minions.  Due to the combined charm and tact of the team being on par with a bag of wet rats, Vlad seemed unconvinced that whole kingdoms suffering was reason enough to murder this (literally) heartless bastard.  Also, he wouldn't give us his cool sword.

Packing up and dusting our feet of the dirt of these so-called knights, we headed back towards Vallaki.  En route, there was discussion as to whether we would be imprisoned on-sight, but it was agreed that was a not likely scenario (at least less than 50% chance).  Plus, Whats-his-Name, Son of Daveon, could take back the Winerald that we had captured from Baba Lysaga and save us a few days wandering back over to the Wizard of Wines.   Also, he wasn't awful to us, and it seemed like he could use a win with his dad.

We arrived in town and it looked like we had missed quite a bit in the week or two since we left.  Most of the city was on fire and the bits that weren't on fire were either hiding refugees or were abandoned. The Church to St Andrel was still standing, so it was determined that we should go to the Blue Water Inn.  It seems that everyone else also had that idea, as the place was packed.  Ulwin was serving drinks and seemed surprised to see us (pleasantly surprised, we hope).  We foisted the gem on him, telling him he could take credit for it, if he wanted on the promise that he would spill the beans on what the hell was happening in this town.

It seems that not murdering Lady Watcher had big ramifications - which just pissed Katja off even more.  Lady Watcher was right at the top of her list, just under that hag turning children into delicious, hallucinogenic pies. It seems that not long after leaving (and destroying her cult and stealing her book), Lady Watcher staged a coup over the burgomaster.  While he was kind of a nutjob, he wasn't her.  Also, he was just holding weird festivals and not burning down a city and trying to summon demons.  Immediately picking sides in this war, Katja and Davin were ready to go north out of the city (towards that elven commune we had totally decided we needed to go to last session), but Ireena said she really wanted to go check on the nice priest who she had spent time with at St Andrels.

She's pretty and nice and stabs people pretty well, so we agreed to go check on him first, before hunting down Lady Watcher on the way north out of town.  It seems Ireena's inclination was a good one; it seems someone had stolen the bones of St Andrel, the sacred artifact that kept the church protected against the undead (and werewolves, maybe?).  The priest was convinced that his gravedigger was put up to it by Lady Watcher.  This absolutely confirmed it.  If she was home when we walked by, Lady Watcher was going to get a sword through her spleen (or axe, or arrow, or firebolt).

So we finally headed north past the Watcher House.  We pushed through the front door expecting some sort of resistance.  Nothing.  We poked around the ground floor for a few minutes.  Still nothing.  The suburban cult clubhouse!  Finding the stairs, we went to the basement and remembered about the skeleton trap trigger.  Setting up and preparing for battle, the trap was triggered.

Ignoring the skeletons and reason, Katja rushed into the pentagram and found that she was about to scratch three names off her list.  The three hags who were murdering children into pies were cackling around a cauldron and that was not okay.  Hack, slash, stab.  The skeleton trap was quickly dispatched and the rest of the party joined in the fun.  Hack, slash, stab, stab, blast, twang, scratch, zap.  Hags and hit points steadily dropped until there was just Morgantha left and she tried to flee.  Luckily, Mateo was guarding the door and was able to pin it shut, locking the invisible hag inside.

Cornered and without many options, she decided to take the dramatic way out and spouted a sooth, "Strahd will seal your fates!"  Then she slit her own throat, because even in death she had to pull the dick move of a kill steal.  Unfortunately, Lady Watcher (unless she was secretly one of these hags) wasn't able to be checked off the list.

Now with even more side quests in hand, the party decided that they probably ought to find that McGuffin the wounded elf would lead to, and agreed to head up to the dusk elf camp and murder Lady Watcher later.  Murdering the burgomaster and putting up a Sellswords and Sell Swords was also discussed, but quickly abandoned because this world really sucks...
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:20 am

Having remembered that Savin was still with us, and that we had agreed to go with him to see the Vistani and Dusk Elf conclave on the lake, we exited the burning city.  Lady Watcher's death would have to wait at least one more night. We arrived just outside of the encampment after dusk (which is poetic timing on our part) and found a ring of houses embedded into a hill, atop which stood a ring of caravans and a large tent.  Up the road towards the peak tent, the stench of drunks and horses filled the air.  Mateo was less excited when he realized we had said "horses" and not "whoreses".  We all got doubly less excited when we reached the door of the tent and saw a young boy being whipped by a man in leather.  Again, we had to explain to Mateo that this wasn't an Alyssa thing... more of a Vuul or Brandt thing.

Turns out that the boy was the one who let the girl, Aribel, get taken.  The man whipping him was her father, Luvash, and his brother Arigol stood by and watched.  These two men were the leaders of this Vistani clan.  Quite a bit more Barovian than the first group of Vistani we had met.  A short, leery conversation informed us that the Dusk Elves had taken up with this tribe of Vistani for protection and mutual support.  It seems that the Dusk Elves have been reduced entirely to the group of males that were camped here; Strahd had killed all their women.  The Vistani let them in, but these Vistani were pretty close with Strahd as well, which made the arrangement all the weirder.

When it became clear that we weren't on Team Strahd, Luvash and Arigol made is apparent that we ought to leave.  Obviously, Katja wanted to murder them, but we thought it best to go talk to the Dusk Elf elder first.  Then maybe murder.  We were still short several McGuffins and none of us knew Speak with Dead.  So we backed out of the tent and down the hill, until we entered the house of Kasmir, the Dusk Elf leader.  He was a sad man, which he can't really be blamed for.  As mentioned many times before, this place sucks, and having now women would make it suck even more.  It seems that one particular missing woman is what haunts Kasmir the most: a woman named Petrina.  We all settled in, hands on hilts, for storytime.

Kasmir seemed to be the wounded elf we were told to meet, and wounded two-fold.  First, his ears had been sliced off by Strahd, because he just wants to chew all the scenery.  He had been double van Goghed because of the second wound.  Petrina, Kasmir's sister, had been taken by Strahd and turned.  Intent to make her his concubine, Strahd seemed to have found an acceptable replacement for Tatiana, but Kasmir wouldn't have it.  He and his men went to steal Petrina back but, seeing she was beyond their skill to heal, they chose to stone her to death. (Again, we had to explain to Mateo that it was the other kind of stoned.)  It seems the elves believed that death was better than undeath, which put them in like minds with most of the party.  Since that day, Kasmir had been haunted by dark dreams of her, dreams where she needed to be further released.

We explained to Kasmir our situation, that we were stuck here, that killing Strahd seemed our only way out, and that we believed he had something that could help us do so.  He said he would take us to the Sword of Pure Sunlight if we freed Petrina from her prison in the Amber Temple.  We tried to negotiate that having the Sun Sword could make the rescue much easier, but again, charisma of a bag of wet rats.  So we agreed to actually do some of the main quest.  Since he had mentioned the Amber Temple as well (which we figured had to be guarded by Amber Giants), we thought we would try to get the final McGuffin sorted too, and asked him about a broken wizard.  Conveniently, he knew someone who just might fit the bill: The Mad Mage of Mount Baratok.  Hot damn.  We had only been in this squalid camp for like an hour and we already knew where everything we needed to get was located.  And knowing is half the battle.  Unfortunately, the other half of the battle is the battle.

We set off in the dark and hid in the woods like valiant heroes until morning.  We knew we needed to run back through Vallaki to find the bones of St Andrel before heading south to Mount Ghakis, where the Amber Temple resided.  We thought shaking down an idiot and his accomplice would be pretty easy, so we headed towards Henrick's house.  It seems Henrick was Milov's only friend (Milov being the simpleton who stole the reliquary), and Henrick had been seen recently with the hags we had just killed.  Someone had put Henrick up to putting Milov up to stealing the bones and whoever that was likely didn't have good intentions.  After more wet rat charisma, and even some failed strong arm tactics, Henrick let is spill that some sort of "spawn" was sleeping upstairs, guarding the bones and him.

Well, hellbeasts can't be that bad.  The last set the hags had summoned were just stinky little blobs of demonflesh.  Turns out these spawn weren't just dretches but were Vampire Spawn and were quite nasty.  After being offered the reliquary, the group high-tailed it towards the church.  Bringing the bones back would hallow the grounds again and make it safe from most of Strahd's minions.  But damn the vampire spawn are fast.  Katja and Davin held the street while Mateo, Ireena and Henrick ran towards the church with the bones.  Ireena and Henrick rushed inside and Mateo moved towards the back of the church to fend off the vampirelets that had peeled away from the tornadoes of destruction that were Katja and Davin.  Dividing the party is fun!

The bones made it to Father Lucian, who began his ritual to hallow them.  Mateo guarded a glass window.  Davin and Katja ran.  Eventually everyone made it into the church, vampires included.  It seems Strahd had summoned some really potent bats and a cloud of fog to help his side while our side... tried to cover a chanting priest for 48 seconds.  We managed only 36 seconds of cover before a vampire sunk its fangs into Father Lucian.  This left a split second for Mateo to step in and take his place while Ireena, Davin and Katja tried to swat bats and stab vampires.  To make matters worse, there were townsfolk hiding in the church who also needed protecting.

To make matters less worse, it seems Rictavio the Circus Pimp wasn't just a Circus Pimp.  He was also some sort of wizard or bard or something, and was able to shield several villagers with a Magic Circle.  To make matters more worse, Strahd joined the party directly and tried to whisk Ireena away.  However, it seems that traveling with us had bolstered her resolve somewhat, and she didn't fall prey to his vampire wiles.  Oh, and she got to stab Strahd at least once.  But the victory was short lived.  Though the bones were returned, and the shrine re-sanctified, it wasn't in time to save Ireena.  She failed to resist a command from Strahd and he grabbed her and left with little trace.

In the aftermath, Rictavio re-introduced himself.  It seems that he too was not a native of Barovia, but was a monster hunter in Aligindel before being brought to Barovia.  Before conversation could progress much further, Katja resigned to not being able to track Strahd down and the agreed that finding the McGuffins would be the best way to get Ireena back and to get out of this godsforsaken hell hole.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:26 pm

Rictavio, also known as Rudolph  van Richten, turned out to also be from the Kingdoms.  However, unlike us, he seemed to be in Barovia intentionally. As a renowned monster hunter, he had been tracking down Strahd.  It seems Strahd had cursed or murdered his son, or something.  Long story short, we had an ally who wanted Strahd as re-dead as we did.  Which is good.  Unlike half the bastards in this damnable country, it seems Rudolph the Red Nosed Ranger isn't a laminated bag of dicks.  In addition to being an accomplished monster hunter, Rictavio is also the mentor of Esmerelda.  He apparently didn't know that she was also in Barovia, so Katja pointed him towards Krezk... but only after he refused to join up and head down to the Amber Temple with us.

As we were preparing to leave town, Kasmir mentioned that the Amber Temple was in a pretty cold place.  He was going to be fine with his magic ring, but the rest of us probably ought to go buy a coat or something.  Of course this meant that we all went to the general store and bought better armor.  Everyone (except Hernwyn) improved our defense a bit.  Then, with our leftover cash, we picked up some jackets.  It was a good thing we bought more than wolf pelts, too.  As soon as we went to leave the city, Isaak Stronsky decided that we shouldn't leave.  This jerk has been trying to kick us out of the city for week and now he wants us to stay?  This place really sucks.

Gatorarm was pissed at us for getting Ireena captured.  I have no idea how he found out that it happened in the fifteen minutes between Strahd swooping in and us getting to the gate, but word travels fast in small towns.  To further complicate things, Waylon Jones claimed that Ireena was his sister... but he has no idea what her name is.   But, damn it, he cares enough to try and murder us in the street with some town guards.  Unlike our usual modus operandi, we tried to not murder him (though we didn't try that hard).  His flunkies started in and all of them were very quickly dispatched.  Isaak took a moment or two longer, but he was outnumber and outclassed and we just couldn't be assed to take it easy on him.  He was, after all, on Mateo's list of people to murder; and when a priest of Dra wants someone murdered, you know it's bad.

After wiping blood off our weapons, we shook the dust of Vallaki off our boots and we started heading south.  After a few minutes of discussion, we decided that taking the river past Baba Lysaga's swamp was probably our best route. The river was uneventful, as was the minor hill climb up to an imposing bridge.  The bridge, however, was less uneventful.  At the head of the bridge was a gatehouse of sorts.  Unlike a normal gatehouse, with drawbridges and portcullises, this one guarded its archway opening with magic green fire.  Knowing that "fire hot", we opted to climb the short wall instead of jumping through the gate.  As one would expect, climbing the wall unpetrified a pair of winged demons.  Battle ensued.  Dead demons followed shortly thereafter.

Unlike the stone demons, the statues of the heroes on the tower did not activate when we approached them. However, they appeared to be wearing Skosian armor, which was curious.  The dead bodies buried under the snow were just in normal armor, though.

As we crossed the bridge, which was flanked by more statues of Skosian knights.  It seems this bridge is probably a couple thousand years old.  Crossing it was more or less uneventful, except that it was stupid cold and we were certainly walking towards our actual doom.  But what's new in Barovia?
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:09 pm

Trudging through the snow is even less fun than it sounds.  Sleeping in it without a camp fire is even worse.  We had made it to the entrance to the temple at dusk and knew we were too beat from pummeling demons to face whatever fresh hell this place had in store for us.  So we set a cold camp and froze our asses off all night, as we took turns staring at the giant amber elves.  Luckily one of us caught a wildling taking a piss in the dark.  When morning and camp were struck, we agreed that most living things in this place are better dead (and dead things are better extra dead).  Having learned that tactics isn't a dirty word (not that we are opposed to dirty words...), we sneaked to the side entrance these barbarians were using and set an ambush.  Lucky for us, the leader stabbed his own wolf instead of one of us, so we were able to get some good strikes in before they could fight back.  The six of them and their canine fell quickly and none of us died.  Not even once.  We are getting much better at murdering unsuspecting people.  Heroes!

After looting the corpses and finding squat, we opened the next door and promptly got flameskull'd.  Thanks to a magic sword and an undying hatred for the undying, Katja swatted the three of them down in record time.  We definitely checked the hallway thoroughly and found nothing on the charred corpse near the door.  Nothing at all.  We did, however, find some vaguely interesting rooms on the left, and some arrow loops on the right.  The first attached room seemed to be an old potion cellar (is that even a thing?), but all the potions had mostly evaporated.  The cleric and the archer decided that mixing them was a brilliant plan and cobbled together 6 new potions.  It seems fortune favors the elf, and the potion he immediately drank didn't blow him or or turn him into a newt.  He gained some positive magical effects that aided in us exploring the next room.

This room contained a model castle.  We slowly took it apart, while Katja took notes on the inside layout.  In a chest nearby, there were plans, but they had mostly rotted away.  After prodding about on the thing, sure that it was somehow a fulfillment of the old gypsy's prophecy, a false bottom to the castle was found.  A book!  And not just any book, nor even a beautiful book of elven poetry, but a magical book of wisdom.  We gave it to the priest because all the rest of us are already plenty clever and apparently the gods like you more when you are less dense.  You'd think the god of drunken debauchery would like his followers to be less wise and more foolish, but you can never tell with gods.   Also there was a sunburst shaped amulet that, after a bit of fiddling, we figured out did fulfill one of the prophecies.  It was the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind.  We gave this to the priest too, since he's technically still good.

Getting bored, Katja wandered down the hall to a brightly lit room filled with a dinner party.  Once everyone had made it into the room, and some were prepping to move into the next, decided that a ghost party needed crashing.  And crash she did.  She grabbed the magic ewer in the center of the table and most of the room disappeared, except for a half dozen angry phantasms.  Swish, slash, stab.  Six ghosts were re-deaded.  The room quiet and dark again, we peeked out of the doors over a crumbling balcony to see a large statue.  Deciding that falling and breaking a leg isn't very heroic, we went back to the other end of the hallway to see if we could get to the giant statue from there.

Sure enough, we could.  The room was pitch dark and weirdly quiet.  That was when Davin recognized the statue.  Apparently, when he died like 3 chapters ago, this is where he went while we hauled his body around looking for a way to raise him.  The giant statue was of a faceless man in hooded robes, holding a kris dagger.  Clearly evil.  Nothing not evil uses kris daggers.  It's right up there with goatees and facial scars on the hallmarks of evil.  Before we could vanquish this new hell, we realized that all of our magic gear had stopped working.  Crap.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:11 pm

Between the moment our gear blinked out and the moment we charged headlong into danger, Hernwyn exposited that the temple was clearly built by Elysian elves who had brought back evil artifacts from Murmanityed.  Armed with this super helpful knowledge, the sightless Mateo charged down the stairs at the 40-foot statue.  The rest of us... tried for more tactical positions.  Kasmir and Hernwyn angled back for the party hall, to get out of the anti-magic zone, while Katja charged across the balcony to the opposing set of doors.  Mateo spent the next two or three minutes trying to figure out how to use magic in an antimagic field, while Katja spent them trying to kill some more flameskulls she triggered.  Kasmir and Hernwyn, however, combined to use cover, tactics and intelligence to attack the clearly malevolent statue.

Turns out, not just a statue.  Have you ever wondered what it's like to see a beholder be born?  Well, if it's anything like the floating eyeball squidging its way out of the back of the statue's head, I can promise that it's not something you'd want to see twice.  Arrows, magic and curse words flew at the beholder, while it flung magic, anti-magic and teeth back at our intrepid heroes. Walls were semi-exploded, balconies were collapsed, artifacts were used as flashlights.  Real heroic stuff. After what seemed like an elf's age, the abomination was dead. Mateo kicked it a few times, for good measure.  At roughly the same time, Katja finally got to the key point of her daring plan: to use the other side balcony to attack the statue from behind.  Unfortunately, she was like two minutes too late for that.  However, more flameskulls were double-dead, which is never a bad thing.

What is a bad thing, however, is activating a guardian golem when you are on your last leg.  Luckily, Katja seems to have a lot of last legs. Slash, slash, crush, stand up, repeat.  Katja fought an amber golem through about ten lifecycles when Mateo decided that he'd waited long enough and flicked a flaming booger at it, which just so happened to take it down.  I'm beginning to think that Dra is the god of kill steals, as well as drunken debauchery.  But it is still one less thing trying to kill us, which is better than one more thing, at least.  We poked around some of the adjacent rooms, to find nothing of imminent interest.  Well, except a profane statue that we undescrated.  ("Consecrated" might be a stretch for holy piss.)

One of the rooms, however, was well lit and decidedly uncrumbled.  It also had a couple of ridiculously thick chalkboards hanging behind a lectern.  Also behind that podium was a coward.  This coward claimed to have been hiding in here for weeks, after his master, some schmuck called "Jocarion", had been killed by the very flameskulls we had dispatched in the course of about eighteen seconds.  He wanted us to give him stuff, and to tag along, but it was everything in some of us to not stab him and dump him in the snow.  Have I mentioned that Barovia sucks?  It's even making us suck somewhat more than we would otherwise.  The little pissant did, however, point us to a magic staff that was probably on his master's corpse.  We wandered back over to the corpse we definitely thoroughly checked before and thoroughly checked it again.  Seems we had needed to be double thorough, because under the body was a magic staff of ice magic.  Kasmir held onto it, as he seemed to be the only one who could really do much with it.

After letting the coward flee, and poking through some other rooms with basically nothing in them, we went down a side set of stairs.  More doors.  A few were barred shut, so we decided to skip them for now.  One that was open, however, seemed to be haunted.  A whirlwind of wood chunks started attacking us.  After lots of weapon attacks, it was killed by none other than Mateo and his flame burst.  At this point we should just let him attack first.  Maybe everything we fight is just immune to everything but sorcerer spells cast by a cleric.  There are things in the place which make less sense...

A bit more exploring later, another set of profane statues were found.  One was dedicated to "Delbin, the Star of Ice and Hate", which is definitely a being that could use a public relations makeover.  However, that didn't seem to matter to Kasmir.  Before we even knew what the hell was going on, he had made a pact with this being, and gained a little magical prowess in return for a suspicious sum of... nothing. They say to not look a gift horse in the mouth, but I think most of us became equine dentists that day because this is suspicious as hell.  Mateo, not wanting to be left out, poked the other statue, the one dedicated to "Kyurad, the Star of Secrets".  Apparently it gave a crappy welcoming gift, because he refused the "free" offer.  One or both of these beings were some sort of ally of Murmanityed - but it's even less clear what that even means in a place like this.

Hopefully we can get out of this hellhole soon.  Not just the temple, but this whole damnable country... plane... place.  Whatever.  Barovia sucks.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:33 am

It seems there was more to do in the hellhole before leaving. First on the agenda seems to be communing with more dark gods and accepting their profane gifts.  When in Perdaith, do as the Perdaithians do, I guess.  Immediately after Kasmir accepted his gift, we went looking for more.  Twenty steps away, there were three amber blobs giving out gifts. However, a death slaad was inexplicably hanging out with them.  Just waiting for someone to come inside, I guess?  This place is drokking insane.  Slaad suck, but anything that bleeds can be killed.  Well... mostly.  Sometimes you can kill things that don't bleed, and some things that bleed can be immortal.  But that doesn't matter.  Slaad can be killed, and we killed it.  I swear this place is making me dumber...

With the frog corpse still warm, Davin agreed to take the gift of "Tarhaak, the Five-Headed Destroyer" and now he can punch through walls.  Also, he's a bit of a dick.  Barovia seems to screw with each of us differently. Not wanting to be left out of this insanity, Hernwyn decided that he needed to introduce himself to all of these gorram gods.  He met with "Yerga, the Eye of Shadows", and refused a gift of sight; "Norganas, the Finger of Oblivion", and I swore I'd murder him if he took the gift of turning life into undeath; "Vaund the Evasive" tempted Hernwyn and Mateo, but ultimately both refused; "Sirach, the Hell-Hound Whisperer" would give us, shocker, hell hounds.  It took us several rooms to meet all these abominations, but it seems that everything that wants to kill us would wait considerately in their rooms until we disturbed them.

And disturb them we did.  While looking for some treasure, we angered not one, not two, but three poltergeists.  These are one of many things that don't bleed but can be killed.  It seems that these ghosts were guarding some sort of ancient armory.  Sadly, it seems that another adventuring group had already looted anything useful and left behind some of their own corpses. (The corpses also had no loot on them.)  In better news, the adjacent room was full of treasure.  More than we could ever consider carrying out.  But first we had to collect it.  Since it had been more than eight minutes since we had been attacked by something, of course there was a guardian golem in the treasure room.  I hate golems, even inactive ones. Before anyone could stop it, slash!  Golem activated. Golem killed.  And no one died!  We are really getting a lot better at this.

Most of the piles of treasure were either useless mounds of coins, or useless stacks of (non-poetry) art.  One even was a wooden hobby horse.  But not all of it was useless.  Hernwyn found himself a pretty pink rapier.  Mateo picked up an obsidian scepter.  There was also a good deal of silver, which are being turned into arrow heads.

Behind the golem was a crack in the wall.  Concerned that something sinister would be behind it, Katja (I forgot I was supposed to be writing this memoir in third person...) slipped through to find a full room and a creepy set of stairs.  Soon the others joined and... nothing immediately tried to kill us. This is always suspicious.  Quickly Hernwyn solved that problem by opening one of the crates that were weirdly embedded in the floor.  Popping open one crate seemed to activate them all.  In a flash, six vampire spawn burst forth and tried to steal all of our blood.  We communicated, we organized ourselves, we employed sound tactics.  They are still frelling hard to kill.  Mateo borrowed the terrifying presence of Dra to keep the grekkers where we could stab them or, for Kasmir, grab them with a giant hand made of dirt.  Again, no one died.  Katja didn't even drop unconscious.  This hellhole is turning us into great killers.

In the room, after beheading and staking the spawn, we noticed three giant amber blocks.  Knowing the drill at this point, it was time for Hernwyn to commune with some Great Old Ones.  The first one was "Zaduin, the Corpse Star".  It seems that this one is what Kasmir was looking for (and not Delbin), since it granted him the power to raise the dead.  Seem like a good call, and will likely help him bring back his sister.  Of course, something awful is definitely going to come from it.  The next was "Tenebrious, the Gift of Lichdom", which was soundly (and thankfully) rejected by all.  The final Elder God didn't seem to have a name, but was clearly the being Strahd communed with, as it promised the dark gift of the Vampyre.  Frak.

Elder Gods dismissed and accepted and then dismissed again, we went up the creepy marble stairs into... the least creepy room we've been in since we got here.  It was a library with self-lighting candles, comfy chairs, and lots of books.  As we sat down and relaxed we looked up and then unrelaxed.  Nowhere can just be nice.  This place is clearly Strahd's study.  The ceiling of this library contained a masturbatory portrait of Strahd himself.  Standing in dark, foreboding grandeur, Strahd was flanked by two sinister hyenas.  Behind him, the Dannenbrock hovered, dripping with blood, as a mound of corpses littered the foreground.  Among these were all of the gods, with Vuul being placed most prominently.  Strahd was accompanied by a robed figure which, after a moment's glance, was clearly Nyssis, the Lost God.

Then things began to click.  The golems weren't jackal headed - they were hyena headed.  The bodaks we fought before Baba Lysaga were robed in black and yellow, Nyssis's colors.  Every dick and their undead dogs were carrying kris daggers.  It seems that Barovia is the "outer realms" where Nyssis was banished.  He and Strahd seemed to have made a pact, and now Nyssis is worshiped in Barovia as "Father Night".

Obviously, this is where we decided to sleep for the night.

Knowing that the resurrection power has been claimed, and the vampire power was too, it made sense that the lich power had been taken too.  Shocker of shockers, that bastard was nearby.  Liches need stitches.  A few secret doors later, he was found.  Unfortunately, Davin and Hernwyn got in first and closed the door.  To "talk" to the undead abomination deserving nothing but the painful release of redeath.  A piton sealed those two traitors in with their new "friend".

The recap of their conversation was basically that is name is Xanthier.  He was familiar with the history of Strahd but nothing new.  Also, he still exists.  After Strahd, and finding Senuni or Grada, this skinjob is priority number one.

On the way out, Hernwyn introduced himself to the rest of the profane deities.  He met "Drizlash, the Nine-Eyed Spider", "Dalvernar, He of Many Teeth", "Xanthas, the Kingmaker", "Saunok, the Inscrutable", "Tarchemedes, the Grave Wyrm", "Sharmiomore, Lady of Delights", "Fecre, Queen of Poxes", "Zrinhalia, the Howling Storm" and "Psycane, the Soul Hungerer".  All of them seemed like delightful beings, but we politely declined their generous gifts.

Finally, we were out of one hellhole, but sadly we were headed to another.  After we get the Sun Sword from Kasmir, and pick up a crazy wizard, we have to go storm a castle.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Fri May 04, 2018 3:41 pm

Apparently climbing a mountain takes a long time.  Who'd have thought?  It took us several days to wind our way back down the mountain, over the river and through the wood.  But we made it surprisingly unscathed.  Part of this may have come down to the decision to not use the folding boat as a sled to accelerate our downhill trip.  We did have to decide, once again, whether the river or the road would be faster.  We opted on the road this time, because rowing upstream for two or three days just sounded awful.  So we started trudging.

About three days in to our trek back towards Vallaki, things started to feel.... pushy.  It's kind of hard to describe.  We had passed through a mountain pass and were headed down into a valley when I just sort of felt pushed to turn east off the road and into the woods. Usually I'm pretty determined to go get the things we need to kill Strahd and get out of here, but something else just felt so much more important. (Also, screw this third person stuff. It's hard and my brain is getting fuzzy.)  That's when it just sort of clicked.  I don't know why I knew it to be true, but it was as plain as the nose on Davin's face.  Grada.  She was here. And I had to go save her.

Now, this journal is sort of where I keep all my personal thoughts and poorly written poetry, but even here I haven't really mentioned that I've sort of known since day one that Grada and Senuni are both here too.  I guess part of me didn't want to believe it at first, but I guess part of me also didn't want to have to put down that I'd lost them again if I failed.   But Grada was here and I was going.  I explained this briefly and probably cryptically to the guys and, for whatever reasons, they decided to help me out.  Well, except Davin.  He was being gruff, dour and dickish, and he decided to just wait on the road.

A couple miles east of the road, there was a clearing in the woods and that clearing was full of voices.  I was very much in a "stab first, ask questions later" kind of mood, so I prepared for some stabbing. Unfortunately (but not unpredictably) we didn't get to start stabbing until something else attacked.  Dire wolves!  Also, werewolves!  And... a couple bigger werewolves!  There were a lot of each of them, and they just kept coming.  I'm pretty sure we could have fed all the survivors in Vallaki with the wolf meat we killed in those woods.  Kasmir, Mateo and Hernwyn stayed back and coordinated shots and magic to bring down the (were)wolves, while I charged straight at the one holding Grada captive.

He was trying hard to use her as a shield, or keep her, or something.  Usually brutes like these give up their hostages pretty quick to save their own hides, but not this plucky bastard.  His claws were sharp, but ultimately, by sword of pure energy was sharper.  As he tried to flee with Grada, I sliced off his foot and he tumbled to his death.  Grada was saved! ...or not.  While I was stabbing Captain Wolfface, it appears that some of the dead dire wolves were coming back to life, but even spookier.  Frek.  It appears that one of Strahd's many powers is to remotely possess dead animals. That seems an oddly specific ability, but this place does suck, so I guess it makes sense.

Turns out this son of a whore wants to parley. After we re-killed another wolf, he appeared as a cloud of vampire mist and stole Grada.  He claimed that he would let us enter his castle unharmed to talk, and that I could get my sister back.  Before I could put my sword through his face, he had whisked away with her.  I will not parley with that bastard.  And knowing that he wants to parley, just proves to me that he's scared.  Until now, I thought we could kill him.  Now I know we can.

But first, we need to get a sword and a different wizard.  In anger, I burned down the werewolves' yurt, which made everyone else inexplicably annoyed.  I set up my tent and cot while they magicked a cave into the nearby rock face.  Turns out that this was a poor idea.  It seems that exactly twenty eight days ago, when we had been attacked in Mercan, Hernwyn had contracted lycanthropy. And tonight was the first full moon since then.  And Mateo and Kasmir had just locked themselves inside a tiny cave with him.  We all woke up with a start at midnight, and it took me a few seconds to hear the commotion in the cave.  By the time I got there, Hernwolf had already killed Kasmir, and was about to flay Mateo.  Mateo was fumbling with some sort of spell, and clearly had no intention of defending himself against this raving creature, so I intervened.  I got one good stab into him before Mateo reversed the curse.

Unfortunately, Mateo wasn't fast enough to heal Kasmir before he bled out.  For a split second, I sort of forgot that dying was a big deal, but that's when I remembered that not everyone's curse is so useful as mine.  Frek.  Double frek. I mean, I liked the guy and all, but we hadn't got the Sword of Pure Sunlight from him yet.  Suddenly killing Strahd was much less certain.  We knew we had to bring him back, and for that we needed a big, expensive diamond.  Sadly, the jewel-encrusted skull I took from the temple didn't have one big enough, nor the bag of gems Mateo was carrying around.  A little gentle repose later and we decided that we had to go see Daveon.  He may have a lead on how to bring Kasmir back, or an idea of where to find diamonds.

So we headed towards the vineyard.  He was rather surprised to see us, but welcomed us gladly.  He didn't know of any diamonds, but would get his little birds on the look out.  Also, I enlisted him to see if he could find anything out about Grada or Senuni.  Surely there can't have been many other half-orcs in this place.  In repayment for his assistance, Mateo offered the bless the wine currently in the vats, and I offered the magic ewer I took from the temple.  Turns out the magic turns any liquid in it into wine, which is probably a useful thing to have at a winery.

We knew we had to stay the night before heading towards Vallaki.  Lady Watcher or the Burgomaster probably have something with a big enough diamond in it, and I'm sure we could persuade them to part with it.  Also, it seems that Hernwyn enjoyed his time as an animorph, and asked Daveon to turn him into a wereraven.  At least if he goes feral again, ravens are much easier to fight than wolves.

As always, Barovia sucks, and I hate it here.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:47 pm

I will begin by saying that, at times, I have been known to make tactical errors.  I'm not saying that I made such an error, just that it's possible.  From time to time.

With our dead MacGuffin Dispenser in tow, we made it back to Vallaki.  This time, nothing was on fire that wasn't supposed to be on fire.  Things weren't better, but they also weren't worse.  Upon entering the Blue Water, Ulwin greeted us in the traditional Barovian fashion: "Welcome back.  I didn't expect to see you again."  After a quick conversation, and permission to prop up a corpse in the corner of the bar, the group decided that we should go shake down the Burgomaster.  Lady Watcher was either dead or had fled the city, and we had already burned down her house, so getting a diamond from her was going to be a real long shot.

Like good people, Mateo, Davin and Hernwyn walked up to the front door of the Mayoral Mansion and knocked on the door.  Mind you, the last time these three had seen the Burgomaster, he was arresting one of them for "malicious unfestivalness" or something.  This is exactly the foot you want to start off when negotiating for something you desperately need.  It did, however, provide for the perfect distraction.  While they weaseled their way inside, I decided that a more direct route would work better.  So I went around back and threw a grappling hook through a second story window.

I want to take a moment here and clarify that murdering children is almost never right.  Almost.  I just want to clarify that naticide is usually bad.  But, from time to time, it's... grey.  Anyway, necromancers and undead are bad, and Barovia sucks and, like, half the time humanoids here don't really have souls, so it can be a muddy issue.  All that said, the second floor of the mansion was boring, and good stuff in a house is usually either in the basement or in the attic, so I went upstairs.  In the first room at the top of the stairs was a creepy wizard in a summoning circle, and about forty undead cats.  Last time there were undead cats, it was in the upstairs at the Watcher House, and there were also hags, demon cults and a creepy bedroom mausoleum.   Needless to say, I was not going to let this wizard finish whatever the hell he was planning to do.  Stab, stab, no more wizard.  There was yelling and thudding coming up the stairs, though, and you are rarely thanked for dispatching evil in people's houses unbidden.  A quick exit (and a broken leg) later, I went back to the Blue Water to see if the guys had better luck extracting a diamond from Mayor McCheese.

Turns out, they did get a diamond.  And they also used it to raise the wizard from the dead.  Just not the wizard we wanted to raise from the dead.  See, the wizard was the Lord and Lady's son and precious little necromancer couldn't have been evil, and definitely deserved to be brought back into this world. (I mean, I guess this place is hell, so it might be punishment to bring him back.)  However, it meant that we still didn't have our diamond and this world had one less than what we could use.  And these guys are somehow mad at me for making them waste the jewel.  I didn't make them cast the spell on the kid.  I engineered a situation in which the gem was given to them freely.  And I got rid of something evil, which I would have thought the goody two-shoes cleric and not-paladin would have liked.  Whatever.  It's done, and we have to find another way to get Kasmir back.

We decided that our best bet would be to go back to the Abbott and see if he could help.  He's creepy as frek, but he is an angel, so he might be able to do something.  Plus, we confirmed that Kasmir would want to come back, so it was worth trekking over to Krezk to try.  On the way, Davin and I remembered that we did have another option.  You know the expression, "Better the devil you know"?  Well, turns out we do know a devil, and they like making deals.  So Davin and I split from Hernwyn and Mateo at the crossroads, and we headed down to the vineyard. They would go on to Krezk to deliver a wedding dress to the vivisecting angel, while we would go south and try to find a golden fiddle.  Or something.  We were a bit hazy on how deals with the devil work in this world.

Davin and I were greeted in the traditional "Welcome back, I didn't expect to see you again" from Daveon and he pointed the way to Majesto the Imp, whom they had locked in the cellar with some killer mold.  Luckily for us, the imp was still there, and was up to deal.  Unfortunately, he wanted a soul, and inexplicably, he didn't want mine.  Which just seems racist.  Or sexist.  I'm not sure what his problem with my soul was, but it was surely some form of prejudice.  Davin didn't want to part with his soul, so we had to try to convince him otherwise.  Luckily, we could point the little bugger to the Amber Temple, and to great wealth and power.  Double luckily, Majesto was owed a favor by a more powerful devil.  We gave Majesto directions to unlimited power, and he gave us the truename of Bezophast.  A quick summoning and contract signed in blood later, and we had gained ourselves a big honking diamond and a fancy new longbow that shooting lightning.  When has dealing with infernals ever gone wrong?  Never, I tell you.  Everything is coming up Katja!

We headed towards Krezk and found that Mateo and Hernwyn's plan also worked.  Sort of.  Our deal with the devil had cost us virtually nothing, while their open contract with the angel had cost them a very powerful magic staff. But, they did resurrect a wizard, and even the wizard we wanted raised.  Kasmir was not happy about losing the staff, but was pretty okay was regaining his life.  He agreed that we had fulfilled our first part of the bargain, and that he would bring us the Sun Sword.  He would collect it and meet back up with us to venture into Castle Ravenloft.  He wouldn't go kill Strahd with us, but he would go with us and try to bring back his sister.

Rictavio, it seems, was also successful in his efforts.  He had found the Mad Mage, and would take us to him.  Unfortunately, it seems Esmerelda may have already gone to the Castle on her own, and will very likely also need saving.  This brings us to a total of four damsels in distress: Ireena, Grada, Kasmir's sister and Esmerelda.  For once, couldn't we get a bachelor in a bind?  I know this place sucks, but does it also have to be so cliche?
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:20 pm

I am Valkyrie.  I am Fury.  I am beautiful and terrible as the dawn.  All is well.  My vengeance will be sated.
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Re: Curse of Strahd Game Recaps

Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:39 pm

So, it turns out that our final McGuffin is, in fact, a missing epic hero of days past.  However, if this place could break someone as powerful as Caig bel-Shanya, how in the Nine Hells are we going to make it out of here?  But no matter, we have to try.

Rictavio directed us to the shores of Lake Zarovich, to the mouth of one of the rivers that feeds the large lake.  Knowing that the woods are always full of stuff that wants to kill us, and also knowing that vampires aren't usually allied with aquatic creatures, we decided to pop out the folding boat and camp on the water.  This would have been a good idea, had anything beside our deranged future ally tried to attack us.  However, sometime in the night, the Mad Mage saw our ship on the lake and fired some magic at us.  Thankfully we didn't sink because I'm pretty sure that dwarves sink like stones, and I really didn't want to have to dredge his corpse up from the mud.

When light hit, we beached the boat and searched for our quarry.  Thanks to my wonderful tracking skills... one of the others saw the mage standing in the woods.  No matter.  We found him and, of course, he tried to kill us again.  I mean, I can't really blame him.  This place sucks, and pretty much everyone that has sought us out has done so with ill intent.  Thankfully he was open to some level of negotiation.  I missed most of what they talked about, as I was trying to not get murdered by a crazy wizard, but it seems things went well.  Mateo cast some spell on him and the mage was suddenly clear as a bell.  This is when we learned that he was the renowned archwizard Caig bel-Shanya - former head of the Wizard's College in Perdaith.  I knew of him by vague reputation only, but it seemed to be a big deal to some of the others.

After clearing his head and talking with us for a few minutes about what we intended and us explaining that we needed his power, he agreed to join us to vanquish Strahd.  It seems that he was still a bit frazzled from his first attempt. To aid us in our quest, he pulled out a token that opened a Leonardo's Annex.  I had thought these only a myth, and am still only mostly sure that it's real.  It seems Caig wanted a new staff, and offered to bring us along to stock up on gear.  Let me tell you what - magic portals still ask for money.  Don't they have magic?  Can't they just sort of wizard up whatever they need?  Why take my measly gold coins?  Wizards make no damn sense to me.

However, after parting with basically all of our money and several non-money valuables, we all had new gear.  I picked up a new Shield of Vigilance and a set of Wings of Flying.  I am a godsdammed Valkyrie.  Skylae's minions ain't got nothing on me.  Hernwyn got some magic arrows to go with the shiny new bow we got from the demon.  He also got a sparkly ring.  Mateo got a fancy cape a bag of holding.  Davin added another magic axe to his arsenal and we all picked up some potions.  If this doesn't make us ready for Strahd, nothing will.  We are armed to the tusks and have a frelling archwizard on our side.

After spending every coin we could, Caig ushered us out of the pocked plane and we started our journey towards Castle Ravenloft.  On the way, we passed by the old standing stones, the ones about Perdaith.  With the new information we had about Nyssis and the connections with Galhadria, we looked at them with new eyes.  Seems the Perdaithian's killed Strahd's father, so Strahd retaliated by sacking and enslaving the city. He set his new fortress in the mountains around what is now Ellton, which is where he made his pact with the lost god Nyssis.  That pact put the fortress in this sub-plane.

Not long after the standing stones, we met Kasmir on the road.  It seems he had planned to meet us at the castle gate with the Sword of Pure Sunlight.  Not sure about that plan but who am I to judge?  After passing over the sword (and me giving my force sword to Davin), Kasmir mentioned a dark elf named Raden.  It seems this elf is something of a seneschal to Strahd and was also the one who got Patrina killed.  Or at least that's how Kasmir sees it.  Raden was the one who captured Petrina, which resulted in her death.  That's a bit like me blaming the Oni for Senuni and Grada being here (which I totally do).

Arriving at the gates of the castle, an automated carriage awaited us.  It seems Strahd was serious about this parlay business.  Wary, I rode on top along with Davin.  The other two hopped inside and we were ferried to the front door.  About a half minute later, we were met my a smarmy bastard who introduced himself as Raden.  If I didn't think it'd have ruined my chances to get to my sisters with them unharmed, I'd have stabbed that sack of crap on the stairwell when we met him.  In any event, he ushered us to a dining room with a table laid out with a pretty fine spread.  At an organ was Strahd, being stereotypical and melodramatic.  Again, every effort to not run him through.

Strahd, it seems, doesn't want to rule over an entire people like a tyrant.  What he really wants is to retire to the countryside with his "beloved" Tatiana.  Further, he would let Davin, Mateo and Hernwyn return home, while he gave me and my sisters rule of the Castle and the countryside.  The catch was that I would have to stay here... for some reason.  I'm really not clear why he needed us to take over his castle, why he couldn't have just retired on his own once he stole Ireena, or why he was even parlaying at all.  Something was rotten in the state of Barovia.  It was a no deal for me.  Before I could solve my problems with violence, however, Strahd disappeared and we were left alone in the castle.

Seems like I will get to murder my way out of this hellhole after all.  Good.
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