Curse of Strahd

Session 7: The Streets of Barovia
A house on fire, undead in the chimney, and a mournful mother

The Party

  • Alvyn, forest gnome monk, level two (John)
  • Arden, human rogue, level three (Alice)
  • Ewok, hill dwarf warlock, level two (Igor)
  • Godzilla, elven cleric, level two (Chad)
  • Gravrot, tiefling warlock, level two (Matt)
  • Hesk, half-orc fighter, level two (Caitlin)
  • Lister, human fighter, level two (Milo)
  • Mehen, dragonborn paladin, level two (Liam)

Ewok joins the rest of the party on the balcony outside the third floor as his fellow party members climb the rope to ground level. Hesk lowers Lister to the ground gently, and Godzilla heals Arden so he’s able to climb down himself.

Once on the street, the mists cleared, by starlight and moonlight, the adventurers can see themselves on a short street, a corner at each end, and an intersection to the left. Somewhere in the distance, they can hear sobbing and sounds of mourning, but no people are visible on the street or in neighboring homes.

Having started a fire in the bed upstairs, the party tosses a torch in the front door as well, to burn the place down. Then they go next door, to see if anyone is home, and if not, to sleep.

During Lister’s watch shift, an undead creature climbs down out of a fireplace to attack the sleeping brave. The party is awakened, another zombie emerges from the chimney, and combat ensues. Vicious blows slice off arms and legs of the undead; they fall to the floor and take on a life of their own, flailing and clawing.

Once the zombies are defeated, the party rests — to wake refreshed. In daylight, they see that the Death House has been unharmed by fire. Its doors and windows have returned. The group heads toward the source of the moaning and sobbing, which continues. Somewhere in the distance, a dog barks. Cutting down a narrow alley between two homes, they approach a two-story house with boarded up windows.

Hesk climbs to the second story to pry off some boards over a window, to attempt to gain entrance. Inside, the sounds of sobbing are louder. Exploring an empty bedroom, the adjacent hallway, and a second bedroom, the group comes across a crying woman sitting in the center of the floor. Gravrot speaks gently to her, and she engages with the group — her name is Mary, and she is despondent because her daughter, Gertruda, an innocent, recently ran away. She fears for the worst, that Gertruda has absconded to the baron’s castle.

Mary also tells the party the name of the misty village: Barovia.

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Session 6: Escaping Death House
Back up to the attic, and a hard-fought route outside

The Party

  • Alvyn, forest gnome monk, level two (John)
  • Arden, human rogue, level two (Alice)
  • Ewok, hill dwarf warlock, level two (Igor)
  • Gravrot, tiefling warlock, level two (Matt)
  • Hesk, half-orc fighter, level two (Caitlin)
  • Lister, human fighter, level two (Milo)
  • Rune, deep gnome rogue, level one (Adin)

After a long rest, the party decides to head back upstairs to leave the house. Lister suggests trying to burn it down.

They climb the 50-foot-high Secret Stairs to the Storage Room. There, they notice a few differences from their previous visit: The windows have been bricked up, the stove is emitting a caustic thick smoke, and the doors have been removed. The group determines that the doorways are now trapped with several swirling blades. A couple party members brave a tumble through the doorway into the Attic Hall, while others — seeing that the walls are somehow more brittle and termite-ridden than before — smash through the wall, discovering a swarm of rats.

The group makes its way into the Attic Hall, finding another window bricked up. They go downstairs to the third floor, emerging from the secret door into the Nursemaid’s Suite. There, more windows bricked up, and the fireplace emitting acrid poisonous smoke, which takes its toll. The party smashes through a wall into the Nursery, discovering more rats. And a few make it onto the Balcony outside, three stories above ground.

At the end of the session, Ewok is in the nursery; Alvyn has climbed down a rope secured to the balcony railing to ground level; and Lister, Gravrot, Arden, Rune, and Hesk are crowded on the balcony. Lister will be unconscious for two hours, Arden for four, and Rune for three.

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Session 5: The Cult is Denied
Lorghoth the Decayer, and a treasure trove

The Party

  • Alvyn, forest gnome monk, level two (John)
  • Arden, human rogue, level two (Alice)
  • Damakos, tiefling paladin/sorceror, level 1/1 (Jonah)
  • Ewok, hill dwarf warlock, level two (Igor)
  • Godzilla, elf cleric, level two (Chad)
  • Hesk, half-orc fighter, level two (Caitlin)
  • Lister, human fighter, level two (Milo)
  • Mehen, dragonborn paladin, level two (Liam)

Having determined that the cultists expect a sacrifice, the party tries to trick them by Lister lying on the altar, and a party member cutting her hand to drop some blood on the altar. The chanting demand doesn’t change.

When Arden, queen of the mice, left the altar and dias, the cultists’ chant changes to “Lorghoth the Decayer, we awaken thee!” Hesk is attacked by a shambling mound of vegetative matter and muck in the western alcove. The party defeats the creature, and the chanting stops, the cultists shadowy remains disappearing.

The party returns to the Prison and explores the single remaining prisoner’s body and possessions, finding a ring claimed by Lister. Returning upstairs, the group explores the Cult Leaders’ Quarters, fighting two undead and finding a wealth of items, including but not limited to a spell book, a cloak (claimed by Arden), and several potions.

The group then returned to the Well and Cultist Quarters to take another long rest, exhausted after their combat.

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Session 4: Past the Portcullis
The darklord's shrine, and down to the reliquary and ritual chambed

The Party

  • Alvyn, forest gnome monk, level two (John)
  • Erlich, high elf paladin, level two (Kelanu)
  • Ewok, hill dwarf warlock, level two (Igor)
  • Godzilla, elf cleric, level two (Chad)
  • Gravrot, tiefling warlock, level two (Matt)
  • Hesk, half-orc fighter, level two (Caitlin)
  • Lister, human fighter, level two (Milo)
  • Mehen, dragonborn paladin, level two (Liam)

After taking a long rest in the cultist quarters by the well, the party continues exploring the dungeon level, trying to find the source of the just-audible chanting. In the darklord’s shrine, Erlich claims a crystal orb from the hand of a statue, waking five shadowy figures, which attack the group. After defeating the shadows, the party continues toward the cult leaders’ den, where Lister is surprised by a fleshy monstrosity masquerading as a door. The group surrounds the would-be door, and kills it.

Continuing toward the sound of the chanting, the adventurers find another passage downward. It leads to a reliquary featuring an assortment of items set in niches in the wall. Here, the chant is understandable: “He is the Ancient. He is the Land.” The party explores the reliquary, claiming several items as their own: a knife carved from bone, a dagger with a rat’s skull set into the pommel, a severed finger, and an iron pendant adorned with a devil’s face.

Heading toward what seems to be the source of the chanting, the group encounters a lowered rusty portcullis. As the group tries to raise it, Alvyn checks out another passage, finding an old prison. After looking into the cells, he returns to the group. They — having opened the portcullis — enter the ritual chamber, half-flooded with murky water.

Erlich approaches the top of the octagonal dais, causing 13 shadowy figures to appear along the ledge around the room. The chanting, which had stopped, begins again, changing: “One must die! One must die!”

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Session 3: Beneath the Death House
Sleeping quarters, dining halls, and darkness

The Party

  • Alvyn, forest gnome monk, level two (John)
  • Ewok, hill dwarf warlock, level two (Igor)
  • Godzilla, elf cleric, level two (Chad)
  • Gravrot, tiefling warlock, level two (Matt)
  • Hesk, half-orc fighter, level two (Caitlin)
  • Lister, human fighter, level two (Milo)
  • Mehen, dragonborn paladin, level two (Liam)

After throughly examining the well and cultist quarters, emptying the contents of each chest — and tasting the water — the party continues toward the low sound of chanting. Going up two small sets of steps, bypassing a side passage, the group enters what seems to be a dining hall. The floor is littered with humanoid bones, some broken and marked with the chewing of teeth.

Looking into a larder on the southern side of the room, Ewok is attacked by a large worm-like creature with tentacles and a beak. The party kills it.

Heading to the east, the group finds itself back among the family crypts seen when they first descended beneath Death House. One set of two features the names Rosavalda and Thornboldt Durst. Several members of the party return to the children’s room in the attic to collect their bones. They return their remains to their respective crypts.

Across the hall, the party finds crypts for Gustav and Elisabeth Durst. Their coffins are empty, but when Ewok tries to open Elisabeth’s, a swarm of insects emerges from cracks in the wall. The group kills the insects.

Back west through the dining hall, at a four-way intersection following a short pinchpoint passage, Lister encounters a quartet of undead creatures. That pinchpoint makes approaching the creatures challenging, and Lister falls in combat, to be revived later. Gravrot tries to sneak around the back side of the passage, falling into a pit trap. Hesk helps Gravrot out of the pit, and eventually, the undead are defeated.

The party decides to return to the well and cultist quarters to take a long rest and recuperate before continuing toward the chanting.

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Session 2: Up to the Attic
Dead nursemaids and children, and a deeper mystery

The Party

Guest DM: Gorby

  • Alvyn, forest gnome monk, level one (John)
  • Ewok, hill dwarf warlock, level one (Igor)
  • Frau Holga, goliath fighter, level one (Alice) — Queen, the rogue?
  • Godzilla, elf cleric, level one (Chad)
  • Hesk, half-orc ranger, level one (Caitlin)
  • Lister, human fighter, level one (Milo)
  • Mehen, dragonborn paladin, level one (Liam)

The heroes finished exploring the first, second, and third floor, as well as the attic before they headed to the basement. Lister was killed by the Specter of the Nursemaid, but he accepted a Dark Gift to crawl back to life. (He rolled Dark Gift #4.) He’s become a ghoulish being with yellow flaky skin.

Mehen, the paladin of Tyr, with his axe caked in blood, and Queen (the rogue), attacked the ghost children in the attic. The Queen was one-shotted by Thorn, but she rolled a 20 to get up. The Cleric managed to calm the children and the entire party apologized so the children stopped fighting. The heroes dashed into the basement after the ghost kids let them off. “You big mean adults. Bullies!”

In the basement, they explored the stairs down, two family crypts, the cult initiates’ quarters, and the well and cultist quarters. The party stopped in the cultist quarters after dividing up the treasure in the cultist chests.

Rewards: Special experience awarded, level two for reaching a milestone (entering the lower level). And a share of the treasure. Mehen the paladin kept the silvered short sword, and Queen the rogue kept the carnelian eye patch (They took the gold piece value out of their shares). Ewok the druid took eight sets of silverware.

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Session 1: Into the Mists
Creeping fog, a ghostly pair, and a mysterious house

The Party

  • Alvyn, forest gnome monk, level one (John)
  • Ewok, hill dwarf warlock, level one (Igor)
  • Frau Holga, goliath fighter, level one (Alice)
  • Godzilla, elf cleric, level one (Chad)
  • Gravrot, tiefling warlock, level one (Matt)
  • Hesk, half-orc ranger, level one (Caitlin)
  • Lister, human fighter, level one (Milo)
  • Mehen, dragonborn paladin, level one (Liam)

After saving a human village near Neverwinter from destruction by orcs, the party — realizing that the killing of the orcs has left many orc children orphans — the group helps establish an orphanage and repatriation effort for displaced orc children. Then, hearing news of a village to the north harried by a white dragon wyrmling, the party leaves Neverwinter.

Traveling to the village six days north of Neverwinter, the party’s travel is uninterrupted and uninteresting until the third evening, when a thick fog develops. The evening passes uneventfully, but travel the next day along the road is slow going given the fog — which lingers. The party realizes that the road has narrowed somewhat, not that uncommon as roads lead further out of populated areas. But the group also notices that the trees lining the road, the forest alongside the narrowing thoroughfare, have also changed. The trees aren’t the same trees they’d seen since leaving Neverwinter.

The gravel road leads to a village, its streets empty. Hearing a whimpering sound, the party meets a pair of children. The girl, older than the boy, says, “There’s a monster in our house!” and points to a tall brick row house. The group talks to the two briefly — learning that the children haven’t seen the monster but have heard its howls, and that their parents keep the monster locked in the basement — before Mehen detects something odd about the two: that they’re undead.

Mehen attacks them, and they disappear. Holga kicks open the gate to the property and approaches the house, accompanied by others. Alvyn, Hesk, and Lister check out the alleyway to the east of the house, eventually rejoining the party at the entrance to the house. Holga takes down a windmill-emblazoned shield from the wall before entering, while Mehen clumsily mangles one of the portraits trying to remove it from its frame; Lister cuts the other from its frame, rolling it to put it in his backpack.

In the main hall, Holga takes a long sword mounted on the wall. Several of the party head into the room to the west, while Holga and Mehen head upstairs, Mehen hurrying past her. In the den, Lister tries a drink from a cask of wine, finding the wine sour. Using a crowbar, the group opens a locked cabinet, finding several crossbows and bolts. Alvyn takes a hand crossbow, and Alvyn, Igor, and Gravrot each take 20 quarrels. Alvyn also takes a deck of playing cards from the other cabinet.

Upstairs, the party finds another portrait, of a family: mother, father, brother, sister, and an infant. To the east, there is a library. The party finds a writing set, an iron key, and multiple books on the shelves, including titles such as The Volume of Maleficarum, The Hidden Formulae of Resplendent Hexes, The Seven Vale Medium of the White, and The Touch of Eyes. Examining the bookshelves, the adventurers find a secret lever, which opens a secret door.

Behind the door is a smaller, secret library, comprising older, more exotic texts. There is a chest, into which a skeleton — the remains of a man — leans, pierced by three darts and clutching a letter. The letter is signed Strahd von Zarovich. Inside the chest, the party finds several blank journals, scroll cases, two deeds — to the house and a windmill in Vallaki — and a will leaving both to two children: Rosavalda and Thornboldt.

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