Tonight's game was a little shorter than usual as I'd had to be in Peterborough for work and it was a two hour drive back.
Our dramatis personae:
Ser Alys de Rouge (a half-orc Fighter with a soldier background, currently the leader of the town militia of Daggerford), played by Tom (Guvnor). Lawful Neutral
Kelwarin (Kel) (a half-elf Sorceror flush with the powers of wild magic, an outlander), played by Graham (First Age). Chaotic Good.
Gaddock Teeg (a halfling wizard and former prizefighter), played by Alex (Doggetay), Neutral Good
Ser Adon of House Starbright (a half-orc Paladin, from a knightly background, with two human retainers and a priest), played by Paul (dr_mitch). Lawful Good.
November 7th (afternoon, maybe)
We rejoin the party soon after they discovered the corpse with a letter supposedly from the Burgomaster of the village of Barovia, telling people to seal off the lands and abandon them, leaving the villagers to their fate, and then to come back later and take the many treasures in the land.
[Naturally, the players all looked at each other when this happened and said 'So that's the Murderhobo hook."]
Our brave heroes headed further west, with the River Ivlis to the south and the Svalich woods all around. The sun was starting to go down and a cold pervaded the air, with fog starting to rise from the fields and woods. Reaching Barovia, Gaddock sent his familiar out to scout the lie of the village. The crudely cobbled streets were mostly empty of people, although he soon identified the significant buildings in the town. Ser Adon overhead the sounds of wailing and crying coming from somewhere in the village and strode off in advance of the group, startling a raven, which flew further down the street. Adon reached on old town house from which the crying came, and found the door ajar. He called out and entered, finding a woman crying and wailing. Gently questioning her, he established that her sixteen year-old daughter Gertruda had escaped from the house and had been missing for a week. She was convinced that Gertruda had been taken by the Devil Strahd. Ser Adon committed to trying to find her, and was given a description, plus a misshapen china and rag doll, Molly, which had been the child's, in case he needed it to track her down. The doll had a label, 'Is No Fun. Is No Blinsky.", which appeared to be a toymaker's branding.
Exiting the house, he met the rest of the party. A crowd had gathered. Most of the people were dressed in blacks, greys and browns and just stared at the party. One fellow, dressed in a blue jacket chatted to them and they quickly learned much about the town. Ser Alys had noticed that the windows, doors and walls of the houses were damaged; Falkon, the villager in blue, told them that sometimes the creatures of the night sent by the Devil Strahd tried to break into homes to attack the people in them. He also told them that the Burgomaster was dead, and that his son was in the tavern. As it was around half past five in the afternoon, he advised them to be indoors before darkness fell as it was dangerous to be outside.
As the party started off towards the pub, the raven was back and fluttered ahead of them, landing on the sign for the 'Blood on the Vine' pub, previously the 'Blood of the Vine'. This was an establishment which had seen better days. Gaddock attempted to talk to the raven and decided that it may be intelligent and spying on them. It flew off and his owl followed it to the woods; it didn't fly towards Castle Ravenloft above, so he called his familiar back.
They entered the tavern, which had a roaring fire but somehow wasn't cheery at all. Inside, a listless Barkeep cleaned glasses and there were three different groups. Three Vistani women sat at one table, a blonde haired man at another, and a Vistani man in the far corner. Gaddock had offered to buy drinks, but as he did, the blonde haired man introduced himself as Ismark Kolyanovich and said he'd buy them a drink if they joined him. Recognising him as the man whom they had to inform of his fiancee's Cvetlana's death, they decided to break the sad news to him directly. Ser Adon did this but said it well and Ismark was upset, but not devastated. They realised that this was an arranged marriage and Ismark was mourning her as a friend rather than the love of his life. The party raised concerns about where to stay that night, and Ismark offered them lodgings if they could help him with a task. They agreed.
Talk moved towards Count Strahd and the perils of Barovia. Ismark wanted them to escort his sister Ireena to Vallaki further west into the valley. He talked about his hopes to slay Strahd and how he had been training for years. He also talked about the Wizard who had come from outside Barovia to try and kill Strahd, who'd raised an army from the people of the village but had died fighting the dark lord on the mountains to the north. At this point, Sorja [name corrected from what I gave in the game], one of the Vistani women, advised them not to listen is Ismark, but to instead seek out Madame Eva at the Tser Pool and she could advise them of their futures and best actions to take with a card reading. Gaddock decided to pick up the bill, nearly being charged two gold for the wine until he saw the correct price of two silver.
Gathering a lantern, they swiftly walked to the Burgomaster's mansion, arriving unhindered. There were signs of wolves and barefooted humans around the house. Every window was barred and the glass smashed. Ismark called out to his sister and unbarred the door and let them in. The rooms were protected with holy symbols, and the Burgomaster lay in state in a home made coffin in one of the rooms. Ireena was introduced, auburn haired, in armour with a sword but with a scarf around the neck which she was absent mindedly playing with. Ser Alys noticed what appeared to be bitemarks on her neck. When she touched them, her eyes looked distracted, and she didn't seem to know she was doing it. The vampire had been driven off her twice by her father and brother, and Strahd had then sent his creatures to attack the house each night. The Burgomaster's heart had failed him and he died three nights earlier.
Ireena had no real knowledge of the attacks; it was a blur except for the piercing eyes. The party discovered that she was adopted, and no-one knew who her mother and father were. As they prepared a meal of bread, cheese and meats, there was a banging on the door, and a voice called out "Tatyana, come out". Repeatedly calling, the party realised that this was Strahd. They quickly protected Ireena by magically making her blind and death for a short period. Strahd tried each door; Kelwarin used a message cantrip to tell him to go away, and then only narrowly escaped his will being crushed by the vampire lord (used inspiration to get advantage on his save, narrowly escaping charming). Strahd tried every door, and then called at the windows above, leading to Gaddock yelling out and telling him were to go. Strahd threatened the party, offered to allow Ismark to live if Ireena came out, and then eventually left with the sound of a swarm of bats. The party laid plans to bury the Burgomaster and head from Barovia with Ireena and Ismark to get his sister to the safety of Vallaki. They learned much about the land from discussions over the meal.
And that's where we left it.
GM Notes: We stopped early as there are potential scenes coming up that needed much more time than we had. I need to work on my Vampire Lord accent. I couldn't believe Kelwarin was foolish enough to establish a mental connection to Strahd, but there you go. Oh and Gaddock telling the Vampire to F-off? Priceless.
23rd September 2020
We return on 7th October 2020