Curse of Strahd: Talia

A Brief Recap

Our adventurers met traveling the roads to the north of Ostodeu, and after a quick battle, sat down for drinks at a local tavern. They were come upon by a garishly dressed man with an air of danger around him. Buying drinks for the whole tavern, he passed off a letter onto the party, a letter beseeching their aid in the then unknown land of Barovia.

Deciding to help, they set off, finding a thick fog blocking every direction except the one they needed to take. Walking for hours, they soon found themselves in a strange land, surrounded by mist.

Passing through the massive gates of Barovia, the players came across the eponymous village. Drawn by the mists to a tall gothic row house (SPOILERS: haunted), the group agreed to help a couple of children (SPOILERS: ghosts) find their parents (SPOILERS: dead) who were seemingly somewhere in the house. Clearing the way through the haunted house owned by creepy cultists, they stopped the monster down below and escaped, watching the house crumble behind them.

Some of the party went to explore, following the sounds of weeping to a home. Inside, they met “Mad Mary”, distraught over the loss of her daughter Gertruda. The rest went to the local bar where a group of local Vistani hang out, also meeting the son of the town’s late Burgomaster, Ismark Kolyanovich.

Ismark’s adopted sister, Ireena Kolyana, had recently become the principal interest of the ruler of these lands, a known vampire by the name of Strahd von Zarovich. Concerned for her safety, Ismark asked the adventurers to escort them to Vallaki, a town beyond the gates of Barovia, where Ireena would hopefully be safe.

Before departing, the adventurers sought out Madame Eva, a Vistani Seer not far from town. She read their cards, informing them of the locations of the different tools and allies that would help them slay the man who trapped them here, the Devil Strahd.

Setting off with Ismark and Ireena, the band stopped by at a mill to acquire some “dream pastries”. Learning the mill was run by a coven of hags who ground children’s bones for their tasty treats, the hags were slaughtered and their windmill burnt to the ground, rescuing two children from cages inside.

In Vallaki, Ismark, Ireena, and the children went to the church, while some of the players became fascinated with the local toy maker, Blinsky. The others checked in at the local inn, The Blue Water Inn.

Heading to the church the next day, Father Lucian Petrovich informed Ajani that the bones of St Andral that once lay under the altar had been stolen. Learning they had been stolen for Henrick, the coffin maker, the players reclaimed them, but not before soundly destroying a number of vampire spawn in the attic.

Woodrow had set off to follow a mysterious figure, and it paid off. Revealing herself to be Sasha, one of Strahd’s brides, she informed Woody that she was looking to kill her husband so she could again be free. The two arranged a meeting outside the city following the Festival of the Blazing Sun.

Rictavio made his appearance next. At first presenting himself as a bard hear to tell stories, the group quickly learned his was secretly a vampire hunter by the name of Rudolph van Richten. Giving them aid as best as he could, he also agreed to join them for their forthcoming meeting with Sasha.

Our group next ventured to the town of Krezk in search of one of the relics foretold by the cards. However, their entrance to the town was barred, but promised if they returned with wine. So the group went to the Wizard of the Wines Winery, where they learned the wereravens that operate the establishment had been forced out by a group of nasty druids.

The druid problem was very efficiently exterminated, and the ravens once again were owners of the winery. Davian, the patriarch was impressed and grateful. He also agreed, if the characters could return just one of the missing magical plant growing gems that had been stolen, the ravens would be by their side when they inevitably went to fight Strahd.

With the plan to bring the wine to Krezk at a later date, the players returned to Vallaki for the Festival of the Blazing Sun.

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On the Festival, and fleeing Vallaki
Some prefer death

Waking on their return to the Blue Water Inn, the party was greeted with an invitation to break fast with the Burgomaster of Vallakovich, Baron Vargas Vallakovich.

After waiting a long time for the Burgomaster, impatience set in, and the group set off exploring his house. The family of great wealth has many secrets, which the party uncovered when they found a man, chained, beaten and bloody, locked in a closet in the house. Izek, the Burgomaster’s henchman, has hundreds of dolls in his bedroom, all in the likeness of Ireena. And of course, what political family wouldn’t be complete without a shunned child, Victor, working on magic in the attic full of skeletal cats and dolls of children.

The party chose to leave and attend the festival. Under threatening skies, the parade went forward. When it came time for the Baron to light the wicker sun, his torch went out. A guard laughed and suffered the wrath of a prideful man.

Then shit hit the fan. A tiger escaped from Rictavio’s carnival wagon, and chaos ensued. Izek and his guards got in a fight with Rictavio, but Izek was quickly slain by the adventurers.

Rictavio grabbed his wagon, and fled Vallaki accompanied by the party. It was too much though, and Rictavio succumbed to the wounds he received during the fight with Izek.

With Rictavio dead and refusing to return, the group went for their meeting with Sasha. Agreeing to work with her, the party, now accompanied again by Ismark, Ireena, Sasha, and the children, set off to continue their adventure.

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The Road to Rictavio's
Or How I Learned To Stop Fearing Magical Lightning and Dance

After their meeting with Sasha, our four intrepid adventurer’s set off to Wizard of the Wines Vineyard to find a safe haven for Ireena, Ismark, and two children who have proven no significance yet.

On the road they encountered a hoard of spooky zombies, which spooked Sasha as she fled the scene. After Ajani cleared half of them with his godly powers, Bowlek showed off powers unbeknownst to his compatriots, as he opened a gate to hell with the Hunger of Hadar, clearing the remaining zombies. Was spookier than the zombies.

After they dealt with the zombies, they continued down the road and encountered a ghost which, against his most valiant efforts, was able to possess Woodrow and cause him to go….rogue. After the group was able to restrain him and take a short rest, Ajani was able to expel the ghost from Woodrow and cause it to flee. Also Bowlek totally picked up Woodrow’s rapier that he dropped when he was possesed. Definitely. Cuz he’s a bro. This is canon.

While the ghost was on the run, Bowlek received a message from Rictavio from the beyond. He was told that the tower was just around the corner. Bowlek, using quick wit, and with a little help from the fact that the ghost that wasted their time was still an imminent threat, convinced the group to go up the path to Rictavio’s tower.

As they traveled up the road they came across a tower, and being the intelligent group they are, they deduced it was Rictavio’s. As they approached the tower they noticed a peculiar sign on the door atop a knocker. Ignoring the sign and going straight to manners, Ajani knocked on the door as Mumnugget attempted to kick it down. The band of adventurer’s were swiftly greeted by a barrage of lightning and pain.

While they recovered and waited for the lightning to pass, Mumnugget decided to jump into the purple wagon outside, which she soon learned was a risky decision because the wagon was booby trapped with the most alchemist’s fire. After finding loot and reading a letter about Rictavio’s past, she worked her way out of the wagon and instructed Woodrow to go disarm the trap, allowing them to unload the wagon in the future if they wish.

After the storm had passed, Bowlek used his ring to ask Rictavio how to enter the tower and learned to dance. After completing the dance, the doors opened, the gang funneled in and Mumnugget and Woodrow ascended into the decrepit tower. At the top they explored and Woodrow found a Vistani head in a chest. Also there was a singular suit of armor that is probably definitely not haunted. Perfect conditions for a long rest.

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The Defeat of the Devil Strahd
by MumNugget Limpnottin Bumblepuck Aara Kokra Chomsky

We last left our “heroes” basking in the glory of yet another victory, having once again bested the so-called “Devil,” Strahd von Zarfovichislichiaislja.

Having been rudely awakened in the night by a redeemably ravishing rider, The Four Brawnswords (though they know not yet that that is their moniker) raced out of the Tower Kurdistan to find the woman passed out on the step of the Explodey Wagon. As they dragged MumNugget’s next conquest inside, a foreboding and familiar fog encroached along the bridge to the island, from which foreboding and familiar growling shapes began to emerge.

Barely stayed by the hand of their master (who else, but Strahd!!), the dire-fog-wolves gnashed and drooled at the prospect of making an appetizer and three entrees out of our intrepid adventurers. Strahd, then, began to talk; something about this woman being a beautiful criminal who daringly infiltrated his castle and stole something or other or tried to kill him. Vampire stuff.

Realizing the fruitlessness of his efforts, the Devil Strahd unleashed his hounds on the party, now joined by His Royal Uselessness, Izmarck of Barovia. In the midst of battle, the good (looking) vampire Sasha (who was present this whole time but whom I previously forgot to mention), sensed and beholden to her master, turned on Izmarck and began to feed, ultimately felling the hapless Burgermaster. None were seriously concerned. She was hungry, after all.

The battle drew to its inevitable conclusion, with Strahd slinking away with his reluctant wife in tow, having taken a harsh tongue-lashing from MumNugget if not much else. Esmerelda – the mesmerizing, mysterious rider – revealed herself to be not only the owner of the Explodey Wagon (from which the Brawnswords had liberated a few useful items), but the partner/apprentice/surrogate Vistani daughter of Ricktavio, and a capable vampire slayer. A lone wolf herself, Esmerelda informed the party of her intention to venture to the Something Something Temple, southward in the mountains and suspected to be the source of Strahd’s power in the land.

Gathering their belongings, our heroes prepared to head to the Wizard of the Wines (Vines?) winery, where Ireena and the children would be safe. Ish.

Oh, and they resurrected Ismarck.

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A Tree, an Angel, and the Four Brawnswords walk into a bar...

Chapter 1 – Return to the WWW

Upon coming into view of the Wizzy Wines Winarium, a gaggle of worried Were-ravens stopped the Four Brawnswords. They explained that a situation was brewing at Yesterhill, and believed a band of Druids was preparing an assault on their home. With assurances that the Ravens would assist, the Brawnswords set out on a scouting mission.

Chapter 2 – A Tree to Remember

Staying out of sight, our heroes found a gaggle of druids at Yesterhill, at the tail end of a spooky ritual. As they watched, the giant tree abomination known as Winter-Splinter emerged. WS and his gaggle and druids and berserkers then started down the path towards the WWW. The Brawnswords quickly got off the path and Into The Woods. As the big mean tree and its twelve comrades walked into range… WHAM! Surprise round!! In the Brawnsword’s first ever sneak attack, they hacked into Master Splinter as the Ravens took to distracting the underlings. Woodrow’s new Shocking Dagger proved its worth as he proceeded to paralyze a giant fucking tree two rounds in a row. Wintre Splintre as no pushover however, as it knocked out Woodrow with the one round of attacks it got to make. However Ajani came in clutch and healed up ol’ Woody, letting him get the final blow on Treebeard.

Chapter 3 – An Unlikely Discovery

After defeating El Splintré, our heroes found the life gem thing in its remains. Back to the Winarium! Or it would be, if Mumnugget hadn’t started hearing things. Things being voices in her head, directing her back up the Hill. Eventually, and with the help of Ajani because Mums is too small and frail to move a rock, she found a magic spear, the Blood Spear of Kavan. The Spear seemed to defy all logic and shrunk to pratically toothpick-size in order for Mums to wield it. With that wrapped up, the Brawnswords finally made their way back to Wizzy Wines. A short stay later, and they were off with a delivery of wine to Krezk.

Chapter 4 – Good Night

Finally, our heroes were admitted into the walled town of Krezk. They were hailed warmly, having brought the oh-so-important wine to this conclave of alcoholics. Upon entering the town, Irena wandered over a pond and fell in. Also Strahd got mad and cursed the land into permanent night. Oh and Izmark finally died. Like, he got totally zapped. So did the gazebo, which is a good thing because it was probably a Legendary Mimic. Anyway.

Chapter 5 – Ajani Almost Gets The Gang TPK’d

The Four Brawnswords decide it’s high (noon) time to make their way up to the Abbey of Saint Markovia, where they hope they will find a powerful holy symbol. They heard strange things from the Burgomaster about the Abbey – strange, inhuman sounds come from it, and the bell rings seemingly without purpose. When they walked through the gate, they were indeed met with a strange sight – two humanoid figures came out to greet them, but exactly human they were not. They were medleys of animal body parts stitched onto a human frame. Nonetheless, they were not hostile, and led the group into the Abbey, to meet the current Abbot. The group did meet with the Abbot, minus one Woodrow who stealthed off to explore by himself. Woodrow opened doors on the second floor in order to get rid of black spots on the map, while the Three Brawnswords got a tour of the first floor from the Abbot. The Abbey was filled with the once-human animalistic creatures, who the Abbot explained had once been a family of in-breeders, and actually wished for their current fate. Woodrow met a drunk musician who seemed to be the most sane of the creatures, while the rest of our heroes had a meal with the Abbot and his mute companion. Woodrow, in typical wildcard fashion, rang the bell abbey bell, and all hell broke loose. This gave Ajani a chance to inspect and open the sun thing on the wall, where he discovered a sweet-ass holy symbol, some fly-ass Jordans, and a fancy-ass potion. In very un-cleric-like fashion he swiped them and the group made their excuses to hightail it out of there. Ajani, with one last spurt of brilliance, clued the Abbot in on the fact that he had pilfered some stuff. The group started double-timing down the steep path as the Abbot revealed his Final Form – a Celestial Deva, currently filled with rage. Luckily for the group, the Deva didn’t seem keen on chasing them away from the Abbey, and they got away without a TPK.

Epilogue

The Brawnswords leave the children in the care of the Burgomaster and his wife. Ajani now knows that he has the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, but was not yet able to figure out the fancy boots. Our heroes grew two levels that day. They plan to head next to Argynvostholt. What hijinks await them at this dragon fortress? Find out on next episode of Curse of Strahd!

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Argynvosthold The Phone!
Two Gay Boyz in a Castle, Mac

Our intrepid heroes journeyed towards Argynvostholt, and after shrugging off some twig blights, they came upon the castle. The dragon statue at the entrance sent a chill down their spines, but they bravely entered and explored Argynvostholt. Avoiding a metric fuckton of oversized arachnids, they came across a wounded dusk elf named Savid. Ajani, ever the altruist, healed him, and learned he was looking for Arabelle, the daughter of the Vistani leader Kasimir. Savid peaced, and our heroes continued through the castle.

Along the way, they killed three revenant, and found a magical severed head of Bowlek. While on the second floor, however, Ajani and Mumnugget cruelly separated from the other two for no telegraphed reason. Bowlek and Woodrow found themselves trapped in a narrow hallway, and ambushed by ghostly creatures coming from the walls. With Bowlek’s magic and Woodrow’s rope, the two turned invisible and escaped out a window. They eventually looped back through the castle, searching for their heartless compatriots. At a point, a deep voice rang throughout the castle, saying something of importance, probably.

Meanwhile, the callous Ajani and Mumnugget came across a room full of more revenant, led by Godfried. He relayed to the heroes how Agynvostholt fell, and how it drove their leader, Vladimir, over the edge of sanity. They fuckin. While Ajani insisted that they planned to simply talk Vladimir down, Godfried seemed pessimistic in their chances. Still invisible, Woodrow tried to explore the room past this meeting room, while Bowlek pulled off an ill-timed gag and threw his severed head on the table. With a stick so far up his ass it rubbed his cerebellum, Godfried angrily demanded the heroes to leave.

Across the hall, the heroes encountered Vladimir, who swore to keep Strahd alive and suffering in the hell of his own creation. Not much for conversation, Vladimir quickly drew and engaged in combat. The heroes deftly took him and his minions down without much of a hassle, Ajani’s brief collapse notwithstanding. They recovered a magical greatsword, a magical ring intended for his (former?) lover, and a diary, explaining Strahd’s fall to vampirism. Hey, he made a choice.

After LEVELING UP from this encounter (aer aer aeeeeeer), the heroes decided to return to the Wizards of the Coast official Winery, to recuperate and decide their next course of action. On stepping out from the castle, however, a dark carriage with a note in it stood ominously outside the castle. The note indicated that the carriage was indeed from Strahd, wanting very strongly to see them. A horde of zombies flanked the castle entrance, but Ajani’s holy magic quickly made dust of them.

They safely made their way to the winery, despite the ghostly carriage following them. Destroying the wheels to the carriage may have had a hand in that.In talking with Davian, they learned of the existence of an old wine guild, many many years ago. The guild’s leader was buddy-buddy with Strahd, however, and the group came to the conclusion that his tomb would likely be in Castle Ravenloft. Ajani prayed to his deity, and after deciphering an impressively poetic response, decided that they shouldn’t hesitate long before meeting up with Strahd. After reviewing the map, discussing the places they had not visited, the group came to the uneasy conclusion that they may as well meet with the devil, and voluntarily entered his carriage. The carriage slowly took them to the gates of Ravenloft.

What happens next? Tune in next time to find out!

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