Brad's 5th Edition D&D

Welcome to the Curse of Strahd campaign!
The on-going story...

Our first foray into the mists began this past weekend, and so far no TPKs!

The story so far is as follows:

While sitting quietly in an inn called the Vulgar Dagger, our soon to be heroes took in the local ambiance and were mildly entertained by a young lad of moderate talent. The lone dark stranger in the corner kept a baleful eye on everyone, especially a suspicious female dark elf (Ora) who seemed to be overly inquisitive. A woof elf monk named Adriana seemed to get visibly nervous when a bent-over old man with a large wooden walking stick started asking pointed questions to the half-orc barkeep, Orlen. Meanwhile a half-elf druid made friends with a loner Tiefling, talking about what the gods only know.

All Hades broke loose when the old man and the little entertainer had an altercation and a ball of fire fell from the old man’s palm to the wooden floor of the establishment, immediately starting the place ablaze.

The monk faced off with the old man, who began to transform into a large demonic form with red-tinged skin, bat like wings and glowing eyes. Orlen shouted instructions to get the locals out safely, and most people took to the rear exit out through the kitchen because by this time the front door was engulfed in flames.

The druid (Veralidaine) and fighter (Nithtish) grabbed a passed-out patron and lugged him out the back door, while the human rogue Dante and monk dared to face off against the demonic entity, only to think better of it and follow out after everyone else had left. In a huge explosion of fire, smoke, ash, and wood splinters, the demon took flight through the ceiling of the Dagger, destroying Orlen’s only means of livelihood. To escape the imminent threat, the party bolted into the woods under cover of trees and brush.

A strange mist began to envelop the newly formed group and while trying to find a way out of the gloom (after the boy Lark cut his own life line whilst searching for a wolf!) a huge bear literally tore into the group hoping to get a warm dinner. The druid soothed the bear just long enough for Lark to bop it over the head and totally piss it off again. Ora almost became bear food, but quick thinking by a flanking rogue and a super-timely critical slice from the fighter put a fast end to the melee.

The next morning after a spooky but uneventful rest, the comrades started out into the fog again. They happened upon a gravel road leading into a seemingly deserted village. A small boy and young girl appeared to them and begged them for help against a monster that was in their house.

Strange kids

Soon the group found themselves in a strange and foreboding old Victorian-style home. They explored the first two floors looking for the children, but have only found foot prints and trinkets of little to no value.

Creepy House

But then there was the books on necromancy… and the eerie family portraits with the baby… Oh, and the will and odd letter from a noble named “Strahd”…

Letter

What does all this mean? Tune in next time to see… if you survive!

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The story continues...
... or, what possessed them to do that?! ...

Having explored the first two stories of the creepy, haunted house the group continued up to the third floor in order to find the missing children. Upon entering the landing area of the top of the stairs, an animated suit of plate armor attacked the group. Nithtish ended up getting a spiffy set of new armor out of the encounter however, as the group made quick work of the magically animated object.

Ora was then attacked by a broom when she opened a closet door, and Nithtish and Daine found a bedroom with an eerie doll who watched every step they took. Dante, Lark, and Adriana found a winding staircase in what appeared to be an old chimney stack and followed it down to the first floor where it ended in a large wooden trap door in the floor. They pulled on the iron ring, to no avail at which time they gave up and headed back upstairs.

By this time, Ora was able to unlock a large padlocked door using a nifty frost ray spell to break the chains. Inside she found a disturbing scene: the remains of two young children, a small scale version of the house in dollhouse form, and a toy chest. As she approached the toy chest, two ghostlike forms appeared to her. She talked with them and learned that Walter was their still-born younger brother, and that their mother hated him. They were locked in this room where they died so they would be “protected from the monster in the basement.” The specter of the nursemaid had attacked the group earlier, and it now made sense that the baby was hers and the husband’s (since there was a small nursery off from the nursemaid’s room). The specter called out “Walter!” as she vanished.

The ghosts of the children entered into Ora and Dante, then began to not-so-subtly alter their personalities and force them to act in ways that were not normal. The group picked up on what was happening, but not before Dante / the little boy had a total meltdown and refused to listen to Lark (or pretty much anyone else for that matter.)

Once the ghosts had taken over part of the group, the trap door to the basement opened and they proceeded to explore under the house. It was a much bigger area than a normal basement would be. There were several burial chambers set up for the Durst family, some empty and some occupied. Two empty ones in particular stood out: ones for Rose and Thorn Durst. Through prodding by the possessed Dante and Ora, the poor children’s bones were laid to a proper rest in their tombs.

After the children had went on to their eternal rest, the comrades felt newly invigorated and filled with a new influx of power. Which was needed since Adriana ran headlong into 4 ghouls and was promptly given a dirt nap. The rest of the party slowly came to her aid and saved her from a more permanent sleep.

Through more exploration by the party, it was obvious that this area has recently been inhabited by someone or something. There were sleeping quarters that looked used and some foodstuffs that were not spoiled or rotten. They took a short breather and prepared to investigate further. Curious-er and curious-er….

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"One must die! One must die!"
... or, can we really make it out alive?

Our saga continues as the intrepid companions delve deeper into the underground dungeon sprawling out below the Death House. Dante roused a swarm of insects while investigating the tombs of Gustov and Elisabeth Durst. Upon opening the stone sarcophagi, everyone was shocked to find them both empty. But, where are the bodies?!

After some more investigation, signs of living things among the dead began to surface. The party had already discovered various foodstuffs, cots, clothing, and some kegs of ale and mead. Someone (or some*thing*) is living in the Death House basement.

Carefully creeping thru more of the underground labyrinth of a basement, several more barracks rooms and dining halls are discovered. In what looked like a bedroom, Daine and Ora happened upon two ghost-like forms that looked striking like Gustov and Elizabeth and were summarily attacked. The rest of the group quickly jumped into the fray, followed by Adriana, Nithtish, Dante , and Lark. After the undead creatures were put down, a few small valued possessions were found including a rare cloak that imparts additional protection to the wearer (which Dante was quick to snap up).

As the group explored deeper, they began to hear chanting coming from further on down the halls: “One must die! One must die!” Down a long hallway everyone almost fell for (literally) a pit trap in the floor – most made it over with no issues: Adriana and Lark in style, in fact, doing a mid-air flip. And then, there was Nithtish. Clad in full plate she attempted to make the jump several times in fact, each time finding herself too weighed down by her armor to clear the pit opening. With some rope and a helping hand from the rest of the party she was able to make her way across the pit without injury.

Inside the next room stood a large wooden statue of an imposing man with a wolf next to him on one side, and a swirling globe in the palm of his right hand. Lark (in his best Pippin impersonation) took the globe and attempted to use it. While he did feel as if he was being watched, there was nothing he could see or hear through the device.

Next, they walked into a room filled with waist-high pillars. On each one was what appeared to be some type of offering or relic ranging from a bag full of bat guano to a hag’s finger bone. The chanting here was quite loud, reciting “He is ancient – he is the land”. Two doors lead out of the room – one down a ramp into what appeared to be water. Thinking better of that, they pressed on through the other door.

Here, the sounds of the chanting grew louder and louder. The companions found a small area that looked like several prison cells, mostly empty with rusting chains hanging from the wall. A lone skeleton was chained to one wall. After relieving the corpse of it’s only possession (a ring), the group prepared to move on. Near one wall, Daine sensed a slight draft and upon further investigation the group opened a secret door directly into a large sacrificial chamber.

The chanting reached a fevered pitch, and changed to “One must die! One must die!” A large stone dias made of stone was raised up in the middle of the room, surrounded by a pool of water. A stone walkway went around the outside of the pool, and had several spots where a ramp descended from the path down into the murky water. On the central dias, a large pile of old rotten bones began to coelesce into a 7’ tall three-headed creature of animated bone! In rage, it began attacking the group. Dante took several swipes at it only to discover it seemed to be resistant to his attacks. Adriana was able to inflict solid bludgeoning damage, as the bones audibly cracked under her punches and kicks. Nithtish, scimitar blades whirling, pressed the attack to the undead abomination, making strike after strike count. Daine and Ora used flame and spell to damage the creature, while Lark shot crossbow bolts to little avail.

While the chanting reached almost deafening levels, Nithtish landed a critical blow that sent bone shards and splinters in all directions. Dark spectral forms appeared all around the outer walkway and told the group their sacrifice had been accepted. The cult seemed to be appeased, at least temporarily. Bruised, beaten, and out of spells the group made a hasty retreat back to a trap door they had found earlier leading back up through the room with many stuffed wolves.

Just as they left the old mansion, it began to quake and the room started caving in. Backing away quickly, the whole house seemed to implode and collapse into a large crater-sized hole full of debris.

And so the Death House died.

Once it had fully collapsed, a small pack of wolves surrounded our intrepid adventures, lead by the largest wolf they had ever seen. It had gleaming red eyes, and seemed to only watch from a distance, never openly attacking. The wolves were slain (much to Daine’s dismay). Finally having a moment to breathe, the party felt a new sense of accomplishment and power (aka, they leveled up!) and prepared to investigate the creepy, seemingly deserted village they have found themselves in.

But that is another story…

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What a lovely little town!
... or, is this place for *real*?

Having escaped the house of death, the group decided to further investigate their surroundings. The fog had not dispersed and a foreboding gloom settled in over the companions. They went to a house across the cobbled street and found it all boarded up. There was a small shed next to the house, and no back door so they went around front.

The front door had some type of barrier behind it, and wouldn’t open so the group muscle (Nithtish put a shoulder to it, and with a little help from Dante) was able to pry it open just enough to see in. Inside there were 3 children ranging in age from 6 to 12, two girls and a boy. After a bit of persuasion, the children allowed the party in. After such a harrowing experience in the haunted house they were looking for a place to take a much-earned rest.

The children explained that they hadn’t seen their father in years, and their mom had gone to get more food for several days. They felt safer about allowing the group to stay after some reassurance from Ora to reassure them after Nithtish’s not-so-reassuring assurance. During the night, the middle girl ( Inger) bolted awake screaming during a nightmare. Daine asked her what her dream was about (being suffocated and pain in her neck) and found 2 bite marks on her neck.

More and more of the strangeness of Barovia came to light as they spoke to the children. There is a March of the Dead every night at midnight (or Zombie Parade as the kids put it). Nithtish and Daine went investigating the shed near the house and to their shock and horror discovered the kids’ mother, dead with vampire bites in her neck. The devilish looking fighter took it upon herself to break the news to the children gently, but once again “Words HARD!” so Ora and Daine brought them down gently with the sobering news.

Next, Dante wanted to do a little shopping so the party found themselves in Bildrath’s Mercantile. His prices seemed on the high side, so they moved on to the village inn and tavern, the Blood of the Vine. Here they met three Vistani ladies named Alenka, Mirabel, and Sorvia who seemed to greatly dislike outsiders, especially Nithtish and Ora. There was a lone man at the bar, drinking named Ismark. Nithtish started up a conversation with him and he referred to himself as Ismark the Lesser. He also pleaded with the group to help Ireena Kolyana, the adopted daughter of the leader of the town who recently perished.

They agree to go and assist her with whatever she needed, and travelled to the burgomeister’s mansion only to find it burned and scratched by various claw marks. It was barred and locked up tight, so they shouted and got Ireena to let them in after some convincing. She related her father Kolyan Indirovich had recently fallen ill and died, and no one is willing to help her take his body to the ceremony for a proper burial. Dante, smitten by the beautiful young woman, pipes up and eagerly agrees to take her and her father to the cemetary where the priest can perform the ritual to keep his body from rising again.
ireena-kolyana.png
While taking the body to the church in a horse drawn cart, our heros are attacked by several strange zombies. Hoping to try out his newly aquired assassination abilities, Dante gets caught flat footed and is frustrated by going last in the initiative order. Lark, relatively quiet for a change, shoots one with a crossbow bolt. But it is Adriana and Nithtish who shine in this encounter, punching, kicking, and slashing their way through decapitated and de-limbed zombies.

Once at the church, Ireena seeks out the priest Donavich — he was in the process of hanging himself using the bell tower chain. As the companions approached the holy man, a loud scream emanated from under the wood floor, saying “Father! I am so hungry!” The priest performed basic last rites on the deceased burgomeister, only going through the motions. Dante, trying to impress “his lady” told the priest he would put down the vampire spawn that was his son if he correctly performed the last rites to keep the bodies from rising as undead. He reluctantly agreed.
donavich_doru.jpeg
Opinions on killing a 12 year old boy (vampire spawn or no) were decided split: half of the party deciding to end the evil creature, and the other half stepping back and taking no action against him. Dante redeemed himself from his low order in initiative against the zombies, and scored a dramatic critical against Doru, the young vampire. In the end, the boy monster was slain, and his body delivered to the Morning Lord priest. Sobbing, the Father properly performed last rites on both unfortunate souls, granting them their eternal rest.

Donavich emplored the party to take Ireena and leave Barovia for Vallaki as soon as possible. They agreed, but wanted to go back and grab Elsa, Inger, and Viktor first. Ireena went back to the mansion to quickly pack and prepare for the trip.

And that is where we will pick up…. NEXT TIME!

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