Curse of Strahd

Burn the land and boil the sea

The time had come to plane shift back to Barovia, a godforsaken land where Lord (fuckboi) Strahd ruled the land. The warmaster at Waterdeep helped us get there, and before we knew it we were back in front of the gates of Vallaki. 

It seemed that something horrible had happened to Vallaki. At first glance it seemed completely abandoned, but we found the old Burgonmaster and the Blacksmith stoned to death in the square. The inn-keepers family was also dead, their heads hung on spikes in front of his establishement.  Sevrin's shop was still missing, and through necromancy we found out that Lady Fiona Watcher had staged a coup. 

We didn't stay in Vallaki for long, and decided to head towards Castle Ravenloft in hopes that we could surprise Strahd, and do soemthing unexpected. As we neared our ruined windmill, we found out that it wasn't ruined at all, but still intact. We decided to spend the night there, but I decided to scout out Castle Ravenloft before tomorrows battle. I flew to the castle and entered a high tower where I dicovered a large, beating heart embedded into the wall itself. It was fucking gross, so I decided to lit it on fire. As I did so, the whole castle shook. I think it was the heart of the castle. I flew back before I got caught, and on my way back I saw emo Strahd riding a flaming horse next to a creepy ass bone dragon. 

I told the group what I had discovered, and we were unsure of what to do. Some time later we saw the bone dragon searching for us, and we decided to bring the fight to it. However, it wasn't much of a fight, as the dragon was hella strong! Pina was dying, and someone else was probably dying, and we had to get the fuck out of there! Thorin gathered us all and with his staff of teleportation, we teleported back to the Church in Krezk. 

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Where do we go from here?
Main session 8

Most of us woke up at the inn today, exept for Pina who stayed with Irina at the church. From the looks of her when she walked into the inn this morning, she didn't get much sleep. Breakfast was spent questioning Davian about towers in the area, werewolves and the ravens following us, as well as making a poster about Rictavio, before leaving to find our werewolf friend who was abducted during the battle last night. Didn't get far though, because of the mob in front of the Burgomasters house, pitchforks and all. Mordekai tried to diffuse the situation by playing a tune, but it didn't seem to help. Pina was unhelpfull and started yelling at the Burgomasters wife about the possibility of getting her wedding dress, and then, when everyone got confused, blasted the Burgomaster with a truthtelling spell! Must have failed, though, but it could have been disasterous.

After some hit and miss kind of tracking, we arrived at the cave we blasted shut. Someone had cleared a small entrance, and guess who we found! Damian himself! He was mostly naked and looked like he needed some sleep, but he seemed happy enough, though slightly confused by our appearance. We left him and his lady friend after the appropriate amount of awkwardness.

While en route to Argynvostholt we noticed smoke rising from the middle of Vallaki. Don't know what happened, but can't be good. We'll investigate later, no good can come from going back right now.

Argynvostholt was huge! Part of the building had collapsed, and turned out to house a bunch of giant spiders. The first floor alone housed a bunch of ghosts and rage roid zombies. We barely survived, and had to camp out in Thorin's tiny magical hut. The next day we started clearing the rest of the house, and met more ghosts! There's at least two more floors to this house, and we know there's a smoke dragon on the third floor. We're surely in for a ride!

On the bright side, we might claim this mansion and turn it in to our new brewery! Argynvostholt Ales, it surely has a nice ring to it.

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Bless my soul
Main session 7

So, there was this big fight.

Strahd had brought all his vampire spawn along, and they attacked us in the main square, right after we arrived with Irina. For a while, it looked like we could hold our own, but then the bats showed up. And the werewolves. And in the end, the zombies.

Luckily, the townspeople and the guards came to our aid. Derwin, Damian and Davian too! Those three went to town! Oh, and turns out, Davian is a wereraven, and probably one of the ravens who has followed us for a while.

Anyway, the fight was insane, with so many people and spells flying everywhere. Thorin kept some of the spawn hypnotised for most of the time, Pina was dealing damage trough her spiritual guardians, and Mordekai sent Strahd running by means of dissonant whispers! Merla was brilliant, conjuring up a bunch of boars as a distraction, and Aromá slayed everything.

I don't know if we won, but I'm sure we made our mark on Strahd and his buddies. Irina, on the other hand.. She is pretty upset, and no wonder. She has lost everything in a matter of days, her father, her home, and now her brother. Pina asked if she wanted to stay in Vallaki, or go somewhere else, like the Abbey in Krezk. Irina seemed open to the idea, but come to think of it, leaving her with the guy who is intent on marrying off some poor girl to Strahd may not be the best idea.. 

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Howl, baby, howl.
Main session 6

We tracked down the wolves that survived the battle by the tower. With Merla in wolfshape, it wasn't very difficult, but it probably wasn't the best idea we've had, because as we were trying to stealth out of the cave the wolves slept in, Strahd appeared, and we were trapped. We were stressed OUT! Luckily, we are decent combatants, and didn't die, despite Strahd's bites and fireballs, and got out alive, only to run like hell.

We spent the night by Lake Baratok, and the next morning we went back to the cave with the intention of finishing off the remaining wolves. The cave was abandoned, so we decided to blow it up, using warding runes and spectacular smarts. Afterwards, we returned to Vallaki, but not before finding out that the ravens we've had following us seems to be of the supernatural kind.

Also on the way back, there was a pillar of smoke on a hilltop. This turned out to be our beloved windmill, that was reformed into a brewery. This was later discovered to be Strahd doing. Now we have even more of a reason to hunt Strahd down. Stupid Strahd, buring our brewery like that.. 

In Vallaki, part of the group paid a visit to the alchemist to pick up some black power, while the rest went to the smithy to fetch weapons and bullets before rendezvousing at the inn. We got druuuunk! 

At night, Strahd paid Aromá and Merla a visit, leaving them a silvered dagger and telling them to get a better weapon and to be better prepared. After he left, Merla discovered that the blood was Ismarks. They woke the rest of the group, and we ran through town, only to find him hanging in the town square. Fearing that Irina was taken, we dashed to the church. 

Upon hearing of her brothers demise, Irina demanded to be taken to his body. We obliged, realizing this very well might be a trap. It was.

 

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Friends on the other side
Main session 5

We made our way to Krezk with Davian and the wine, where we were warmly welcomed, I mean, who wouldn't greet us with open arms when we have the wine? We also learned that the Abbey we were recommended taking Irina to by the Priest in Barovia, was abandoned and closed off by a guy named the Abbot due to ghosts or something. Nobody had gone there for fifty years!  We decided to check it out.

Turns out, the Abbot was still there! He, along with his freaky stichmonster friends stayed up there along with a woman, whom they trained to be Strahd's bride. He seemed friendly enough, just slightly weird. At one point, he seemed to have wings. He asked us to bring him a wedding dress fit for a noblewoman, so I guess we'll have to try and do that at some point. Back in the village, they set up a feast to celebrate the return of wine. It was fun.

We left the next day and decided to check out the building at Lake Baratok. Thank the gods we are as clever as we are, because that tower was practically a tower of terror. The door was locked with a magical dance lock, the floors were rotted through, and at the top floor, we found a Vistani head! We also found a Vistani cart outside, and the trap it was set up with would have killed us if it hadn't been for a bout of insane luck. 

The luck soon turned, though, as we were attaced by a mixed pack of wolves and werewolves. We fled into the tower, and were able to use the tower's defences to our advantage for a while, as well as the batch of alchemists fire we found in the cart. It was intense, but we chased them off, I think.

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The Journal of Rudolph van Richten
The burnt pages

For more than tree decades now, I have undertaken to investigate and expose creatures of darkness to the purifying light of truth and knowledge. "Hero" I am named in some circles; "sage" and "master hunter" I am called in others. That I have survived countless supernatural assaults is seen as a marvel among my peers; my name is spoken with fear and loathing among my foes.

In truth, this "virtuous" calling began as an obsessive effort to destroy a vampire that murdered my child, and it has become for me a tedious and bleak career. Even as my life of hunting monsters began, I felt the weight of time on my weary shoulders. Today I am a man who has simply lived too long. Like a regretful lich, I find myself inexorably bound to an existence I sought out of madness and, seemingly, must now endure for all eternity. Of course I shall die, but whether I shall ever rest in my grave haunts my idle thought, and torments me in my dreams.

I expect that those who think me a hero will change their minds when they know the whole truth about my life as a hunter of the unnatural. Nevertheless, I must reveal here and now, that I have been the indirect yet certain cause of many deaths, and the loss of many good friends, Mistake me not! I do not merely feel sorry for myself. Rather, I come to grips with a devastating realization: I now see that I am the object of a baleful Vistani curse. Mor tragically, the nature of this hex is such that I have not borne the brunt of it; instead, far worse, those who surround me have fallen victim to it!

I have related the tragic story of how my only child Erasmus was taken by Vistani and sold to a vampire. I explained how Erasmus was made a minion of the night stalker, and how it was my miserable part to free him from that fate at the point of a stake. What I have neglected to illuminate before is how I tracked Erasmus's kidnappers across the land, or how I "extracted" Erasmus's whereabouts from them.

In fact, the Vistani took Erasmus with my own, unwitting permission. They had brought an extremely ill member of their tribe to me one evening and insisted that I treat him, but I was unable to save the young man's life. In fear of their retribution, I begged the Vistani to take anything of mine if only they would withhold their terrifying powers, of which I knew nothing. To my lasting astonishment, they chose to surreptitiously take my son in exchange  for their loss! By the time I realized what had occurred, they were already an hour gone.

Incensed beyond reason, I strapped the body of the dead young man to my horse and doggedly followed the Vistani caravan through the woods, naively allowing the sun to set before me without seeking shelter from the night. Shortly after darkness fell, I was beset by undead that would have slain me, had not their master – a lich – intervened and spared my life, for reasons that I do not completely understand. He somehow detected me and, with his powerful magic, took control of a pack of zombies that wandered in the forest. He spoke to me through the mouths of the dead things and placed a magic ward against undead on me, then animated the dead Vistana and bade it tell me where I could find its people. Unfortunately (I say in hindsight), the plan worked. I found the child-stealers, and my unwelcome entourage included a growing horde of voracious undead that could not touch me, thanks to the lich's ward.

When I found the caravan, I threatened to set the zombies on the Vistani unless they returned my dear boy. They replied that he had been sold to the vampire, Baron Metus. Something inside me snapped. I released the zombies, and the entire tribe was eaten alive.

Yet the story has not ended. Before she died, the leader cursed me, saying, "Live you always amon monsters, and see everyone you love die beneath their claws!" Even now, so many years later, I can hear her words withe painful clarity. A short time later, I found my dear Erasmus made into a vampire. He begged me to end his curse, which I did with a heavy heart. The darkness had torn min from my loving arms forever, and I foolishly believed that the curse had exacted its deadly toll. I wept until an insatiate desire for vengeance filled the bottomless rift in my heart.

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Those silver bullets. A last blood benediction
Main session 4

Left the Mill to check out the winery, and stopped by Valaki on the way to see if any of the silver bullets were ready. Aromá had some trouble figuring out her rifle, but it worked out. Iarel and Octavian appeared to have gone out on their own or something.

Got to the winery, and met Davian, the owner. He said that they had been attacked about a month ago by plants and shrubbery. His family had gone into hiding, and the people in Krezk refused to help, claiming they were Strahds allies. We decided to do some gardening.

Closed in on the main house, when planty people showed up and flung needles at us. We broke into the house, planning to bottleneck them, but somehow that plan went to shit. Sooo many plantypeople and twiggy people. Also, two druids showed up. One of them had a staff, which seemed to controll the plantpeople, they died when the staff was broken. Druids went down, and so did Mordekai! Well, allmost. Mordekai lives to be magnificent another day, thanks to a last minute casting of spare the dying.

Spent the night at the winery, Merla checked out the druid lair nearby in the morning. It does not look good, but we can't go in before we're prepaired. Decided to help out with getting the first delivery of wine to Krezk. We need to check out the monastery there, see if Irina and Ismark would be more comfortable and safe there, further away from Strahds grasp.

Also, we're being followed by ravens. I don't like it.

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In the dark of the night
Main session 3

The group investigated the case of the missing bones and discovered that they probably laid in the coffin maker's house. They went to the house and broke in, while Mordekai stood guard outside. Inside the house they are attacked by five ravenous vampires. They fought them off and killed them all, except for one, who ran away with Merla's new Staff of the Python. She cried. A lot. As the group went outside again, their fight had caught the attention of the guards, who once again escorted them. They were escorted to the church, where the Father had to admit to having the bones stolen and letting the group retrieve them on his behalf. Reluctantly the creepy guards let them off the hook. 

After this the group decided to investigate the case of the missing wine shipments. They talked to the inn-keeper, and decided to visit the local alchemist. Severin, the alchemist was quite the colorful character, and perhaps a bit crazy. Mordekai asked him to produce some more gun powder, and the group also asked about the brewing tools. They decided to get the brewing supplies and start their own brewery. Since the brewing would probably be illagal, and they couldn't find room on the city, the group snuck the brewing tools out of the city and back to the Old Bonegrinder Windmill, where Thorin had the deed to. They named their brew: Hags Head Brewery. 

A stranger came knocking on the door, introducing himself as Damien and made their acquaintance. Once he left the group became suspicious that he might be a werewolf.

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Hungry like the wolf
Side quest

Merla Tealeaf, Piña Colada and Mordekai the Glorious all had a dream, and when they awoke they found themselves back in Waterdeep. They met a strange folk hero named  Arild Frostbeard, and found out that Waterdeep had been taken by a strong military force. They fought some guards, but got away. They met with King M, the lord of the underground resistance, and ended up going on a mission to steal some guns. They ended up blowing up several warehouses and some ships before sleeping and being transported back to Barovia, waking up with some of the guns that they stole. 

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Madame Eva's tarot reading
The prophecy

The tarot reading from Madame Eva. 

Solider: This card tells of history, knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy. "Go to the mountains, climb the white tower guarded by golden knights."

Necromancer: This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope. "A woman hangs above a roaring fire. Find her, and you will find the treasure."

Enchanter: This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance. "A sword of sunlight. I see a kneeling woman – a rose of great beauty plucked too soon. The master of the marsh knows of whom I speak." 

Artifact: This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness. "Look for an entertaining man with a monkey. This man is more than he seems."

Horseman: Your enemy is a creature of darkness, who's powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you too him. "He lurks in the one place he must return – a place of deaaaaaaaaaath." 

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