Archive for ravenloft

D&D Encounters – Curse of Strahd – Vallaki in flames

Posted in Campaign, D & D 5e, D&D, Encounters with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2016 by vobeskhan

Curse of Strahd CoverAfter my companions concluded that we may be under equipped to tackle a whole den of werewolves we decided to return to Vallaki, and we begin the couple of days march that will get us there. The journey was mostly uneventful until the night before we reached our destination.

We had reached the stone bridge that crossed the Luna river and were preparing to make camp when we heard wolf howls not too distant. We couldn’t be too sure how far away they were and so kept a vigilant watch as we camped.

It was just before what passes for dawn in these grey dismal lands when the only one of us without a natural ability to see in the dark, Eldon, noticed the wolves creeping up out of the ravine beside the bridge, he nudged me awake just as more of the filthy beasts burst out of the nearby treeline.

Wolves rushed in at us, showing a cunning beyond normal animals they went after our sleeping companions and myself , but thankfully their attack did rouse the others from their slumber. Eldon’s bow sang as it sent arrow upon arrow into the wolves, and as dawn had not yet arrived I still had my summoned boar to assist me as my blades struck at the ones nearest me. Having been caught unarmoured Pertinax and Rorik were feeling the bites severely and it actually looked like the fight would go against us when a swarm of crows swept in and began haranguing the wolves from behind, turning the tide and then chasing the last of the wolves away. One of the birds remained and began to morph into a bird man. It spoke with a thick Barovian accent and told us that they (the were ravens) had been watching us since we visited the Winery and had decided that they shared our goal in defeating Strahd and his minions.

Since we were now all awake we began our preparations and broke camp, heading onwards to Vallaki. Expecting to find the gates closed and to have to barter our way back in we were surprised to find the gate open and unattended. A large column of smoke rising from within. Heading swiftly in we discovered that a fire had been started at the church and several guards were organising a bucket chain and moving civilians out of the way. We talked to one that despite recognising us was willing to accept our help. He said that most people were being directed to the Inn. We asked if the priest was still inside but he wasnt sure.

We rushed into the church to see the priest laying limply at the altar, a familiar robed figure standing beside him – the Abbott. Pertinax and Rorik stride up the central aisle while Eldon and I shadow up the outer sides.  Eldon takes a bowshot at the Abbot, striking true but the man seems barely injured by it. It does anger him however and he throws of his simple robe as a pair of large wings spread from his form – he’s some sort of angel, and carry him across the room to strike poor Eldon down into unconsciousness with a single blow.

Pertinax and Rorik rush intercept the Abbot and I head over to the priest, quickly administering a healing potion to the unconscious clergyman. Helping him to his unsteady feet I whisper “Where’s Ireena?” but the Abbott must have excellent hearing, and ignoring my companions wings his way back over to where I’m standing. I decide to take a risk and in Draconic I tell him “Leave here, I’m bringing the girl to the master” but he see’s through my deception and laughs at me. So I quickly stab my blade into the priest beside me, right into his gut, as my silver shortsword makes a stab toward the Abbot and I sprint back away from the altar towards the exit. I expected the Abbott to follow but he picks up the lifeless body of the priest and with a thrust of his wings flies up out of the ruined roof of the church with his prize.

A quick look confirms that Ireena isn’t in whats left of the church so we head back out and towards the Inn. As we approach we can hear signs of combat further towards the western gate. At the Inn we spot the altar boy we met previously, and discreetly question him. He tells us that Ireena left town with the man with the tiger in the caravan and the lady with the wooden leg. Pertinax wants to help with whatever is attacking the town from the east so we head that way, but as we move he suddenly runs off to the west saying he’s remembered something we might need.

As we approach the eastern gate we can see about a half-dozen guards with Izek, the burgomasters henchman, battling a pair of creatures we recognise as the Abbot’s handiwork – flesh golems! I whisper something to Eldon as we approach, he nods and takes up a position to the side, bow ready. Rorik stands ready to use his spells before closing into melee. I dash up beside Izek and shout “We’re here to help”.


While the guardsmen’s weapons are having minimal effect on the golems, Izek is using his strange arm to throw small balls of fire at them and causing more injury. I spot an opening and stab my blades forward – into Izek! “I told you this wasn’t over” I growl as I nimbly step away, just as Eldon’s arrow whirls past my head to strike Izek squarely.

He’s unwilling to turn his attention to us as the golems continue to attack, but with another pair of blade wounds from myself, an arrow from Eldon and Rorik’s conjured spiritual weapon he does turn to us and swipes at me with his battleaxe. His deformity certainly hasn’t diminished his strength and I stagger under his attack, but thankfully our combined attacks drop him. The guards are still trying to hold off the golems, I toss Eldon the coins I promised him for attacking Izek and I give Izek’s axe to Rorik and begin heading back to the Inn. Honestly I expected my companions to want to remain and help the guards but they both follow me. Before we reach the Inn we meet Pertinax, he’d run back to the church and recovered the saint’s bones. We tell him Izek is dead and that we intend to leave. He agrees and we go back to the Inn and ask the altar boy which way the tiger caravan went, apparently it headed out fo the west gate and so we set off that way.

I tell my companions that I wish to visit the Vistani camp that we helped nearby, and suggest we head there as they may have further news of our quarry. Lubash is surprised but happy to see us. He tells us that Rictavio, Ireena and Ezmarelda did indeed come to see him, leaving the tiger caravan with him as a decoy while they took another one off to the west. While my companions talk to his sons about this I have a quiet word with Lubash.

The Vistani graciously extend their hospitality overnight to us and we happily accept, next morning they are all preparing to move out. Pertinax and Rorik gather their gear and get ready to follow after Rictavio but before they notice I’m not doing the same. “Our roads part ways here my friends” I say, “my path lies not within this dreary land, Lubash has agreed to take me elsewhere and Eldon has agreed to accompany me. I have acquaintances that would value his skills. Farewell my brothers-in-arms, I hope you find those you seek.” with a clasp of arms we bade each other fair travels and I watched as they set off.

Eldon and myself found seats amongst the Vistani caravans and were soon rolling along at a sedate pace through the Svalich Woods. The ever-present mists began to enclose us and both myself and the halfling reached for weapons, but Lubash assured us we would not need them. Continuing to travel onwards the mists became so thick we could barely see the wagons in front and behind us, but after almost an hour of constant travelling the mists recede once again but we’re no longer in the woods. Indeed, we’re no longer in Barovia as I begin to recognise local landmarks, we’re on the road no more than a days march south of Waterdeep.

Lubash halts his caravans and tells us that he has to go back now, but thanks us once again on behalf of his daughter and wishes us safe journeys. Eldon and I gather our gear and begin walking northwards, when we turn to look back the caravans have again disappeared, only a wisp of misty fog drifting across the road where they should have been.

I don’t know if I shall ever see my other comrades again, honestly, I’m not sure it would be of benefit for either of us. The Black Network has nothing to gain in Barovia, whilst the Realms are much better suited to our goals. But first a warm bath and a hot meal are in order, then I’ll introduce Eldon to my “friends”. But that’s another story.

D&D Encounters – Curse of Strahd – Moonlight Shadows

Posted in D & D 5e, D&D, Encounters with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2016 by vobeskhan

Curse of Strahd CoverAfter checking the rest of the cells without getting attacked, our party decided to go looking for our missing battlerager so back to the other side of the courtyard we went.

While Rorik, Pertinax and Heimlich examined the large symbol above the fireplace, myself and Eldon descend into the basement. The halfling can’t see in the dark so I light a torch. As we move lower we can see a barrel towards the centre of the room with stands of wine racks towards the outer walls. There is a scrabbling noise coming from the barrel so I move a little closer and toss the torch in.

An angry little creature leaps out, its fur aflame and I skewer it on my shortsword. Once sure that  nothing further of interest is below we head back up and in the light I can tell it used to be squirrel. Most of its fur has been singed away, but I put it in my bag of holding for now.

We decide en mass to ascend to the upper floor. There is a bed and table which the others go to examine and I move to look up at the bell in the small tower above the centre of the room. I hear some commotion behind, turning to see Heimlich, our paladin, trying to gorge himself on what looks to be chopped up body parts while Pertinax attempts to restrain him. Not my problem. I try to climb the rope attached to the bell but it proves beyond my capability.

Judging the distance up to the beam holding the bell to be within my range I step slightly aside and loose my acid breath upward in a volatile stream. It covers the top of the bell and the beam where it was attached, theres is a fizzing, sizzling noise and then the whole bell drops – crashing not only to but through the wooden floor of the room we’re in and down to the stone floor of the room below. Thankfully we all manage to avoid being hit on its way down, and this seems to have brought the paladin back to his senses.

We head back down stairs and purely out of spite I take the clanger out of the bell and dunk it in the large pot of whatever the hells is cooking on the fireplace. Strange that no-one has come to investigate the crash, and we’ve still not located our battlerager.

We return to the “prison” side of the abbey and ascend to the upper floor, its grimy and looks like it’s not been used for some time. Opening the first door we found a young woman dressed in a style very similar to Vistani though when I mention this she seems to take great offence. She’s armed with several weapons (many of them silvered) and has a wooden leg carved to match her other boot. She says that the Abbot has been dealing with Strahd and his due to meet him at midnight, when she intends to strike at them. We offer our help which she grudgingly accepts.


Rather than go in blind Eldon and myself decide to scout ahead as the sky darkens and night falls, a pale moonlight filters through the windows and their ragged curtains. Not willing to risk a torch I decide to sneak ahead and pull open the curtains to allow more moonlight in to aid the halfling. The first area appears to be some form of reception area, maybe some sort of office. A door leads further on, neither of us can discern any trap upon it or noise coming from beyond it and so we cautiously open it.

The room beyond looks somewhat akin to a hospital ward or dormitory. More curtained windows along one wall to our left and a number of doors leading off to our right. Again I move forward to open the curtains but as I open the first set rather than get  lighter the darkness seems to flow around me and coalesce into five shadow creatures. Their strikes upon me not only drain my health but seem to sap the strength from my body too. I realise that I’m seriously outmatched and cut off from the doorway so take the only exit possible – and dive out of the window, luckily my agility allows me to land in a roll undamaged. I regain my feet just in time to hear Eldon shouting his little lungs out “Undead! Help!” and within moments I see the windows of the room burst with a radiance akin to sunlight and realise that Heimlich must have activated the amulets powers.

With the sounds of combat from above I make my way , albeit slowly, back to the courtyard and to my companions, arriving only moments after they had successfully dealt with the shadow creatures. Many of us are injured and we ask Rorik for healing. He’s reluctant as he still doesn’t trust that myself and Eldon had nothing to do with the amulet being in his backpack, so he asks us straight out if we did it. Both Eldon and myself tell him we didn’t and he believes us, calling upon the powers of his god to heal our wounds. The young woman has gone, whether she meant for us to fall into the trap or not remains unclear, but with our spirits and resources low we decide to barricade ourselves in the room and recuperate for the remainder of the night.

In the morning we search but find no sign of the Abbott nor his auburn haired “companion”, so after giving the keys to the more sociable of the prisoners and telling them they were free we descend back down to the village of Krezk.  While we sit once more beside the shrine pool we discuss our next move and destination, do we follow one of the other clues from the card reading (and head to the werewolf shrine) or do we head back towards Vallaki and the mysterious wizard by the lake? Vallaki seems to be a majority choice, not least because Pertinax still holds a grudge against their burgomeister and his fiery armed henchman. Rorik has dragged the golden sun symbol from the Abbey with us so maybe we can use that as a “gift” to regain access to the town.

D&D Encounters – Curse of Strahd – Abbey normal?

Posted in D & D 5e, D&D, Encounters with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2016 by vobeskhan

Curse of Strahd CoverHaving secured the wine shipment for the town of Krezk and escorted it back to them we are finally admitted and are pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of the town consists of woodland though much less oppressive than the Svalich woods we’d been travelling through.

After a brief look around we decide to camp out at a poolside shrine, albeit under the watchful glare of a handful of town guards. Next morning we decide to investigate the abbey above and travel up the long switchback pathway. As we approach we can see the low wall and gated entrance. With no-one about I push the gate open, deliberately making it squeal as much as possible. My efforts are rewarded as a strange pair of figures approach to bar our entrance.

The first is a squatting humanoid, though I look more human than this strange creature. “His” face is a mix of human, wolf and donkey and his legs look to be from a large cat. His companion is mostly covered in a hooded robe but we get glimpses of both furred and scaled flesh when it moves and it speaks with a feminine voice.

They tell us we’re not welcome the Abbott sees no-one. We tell them we have brought the wine shipment but will not release it until we see the Abbott. The squat one becomes very agitated and growls at us, I reply with a throaty growl of my own. Eventually it heads inside the nearby building and returns shortly with a middle-aged man in monk’s attire.

As he talks to my companions there’s something about him I just don’t like, can’t put my finger on it but he’s just too nice. Eventually my companions agree to bring the wine up and we begin heading back down the path. Once out of sight of the Abbey I slip away and make my way back up and over the wall and into the Abbey grounds, heading towards the building the Abbott had come from (and returned too). Looking through a window I see him stood in what looks like a church type room with what seems to be a young red-haired woman (her back was to the window but I assume she’s young by her height, figure and the elegant dress she’s wearing). They disappear up stairs and I begin heading back around towards the gate using the available cover of the few trees as I hear my companions dragging the barrels upwards.

As they near the gates I see the pair of figures are awaiting them and decide to sneak up behind, however the squat one has the senses of a wolf also and turns with a snarl and moves as if to charge at me. I’m quicker. I throw one of my furballs, it transforms into a bristling boar and I command it to attack.  The fight is brutal and brief, my boar manages to knock the squat figure prone as I rush up to engage, blades drawn. I split my attacks between the pair of them and before my companions even clear the gateway I am victorious and stand cleaning my blades.

The paladin isn’t happy with me, but I assure it was self-defence and this seems to placate him. I quickly tell them about the Abbott and the woman, emphasising the fact that he’d told us it was only himself and the poor creatures like these in his charge. We agree to explore further as we catch a glimpse of guards further down the building.

As we approach we realise that they are actually mannequins of a sort, made to look like guardsmen. We open the large gate into an open courtyard between the two building of the Abbey. There are some shed/stable buildings with locked doors, a well, doors leading into the buildings on either side and a strange bat-winged creature chained to a post.

I take my boar and approach the bat-thing as our cleric investigates the well. That’s when a spider-frog monstrosity jumped out of the well at the dwarf, I take the distraction to command the boar to charge the bat-thing but the creature manages to fly up out of the pigs reach.

While my companions attack the spider-frog, the bat-thing swoops and picks up my boar, hoisting it aloft before dropping it. The boar hits the ground hard and bursts with cloud of purple mist. As my companions gain the upper hand with spider-frog, I stand on the chain restraining the bat-thing as it struggles to get away, and begin walking along the chain, slowly pulling it further and further down to the ground. Before it can land its struggles cause it pass out and it flops to the ground. The paladin doesn’t want me to hurt it while it’s no threat, ok, for now.

The battlerager goes off to check out the side of the abbey where I’d seen the Abbott and woman, while the rest of the party goes to the opposite side and the door from behind which the jumbled howls and yowls. They enter the building and I quickly hear the shouts of combat, but before I join them I thrust my rapier through the skull of the unconscious bat-thing. It gives out a shriek which causes the paladin at the doorway to look back “It was faking it and attacked me” I say, “had to defend myself”.  He looks at me a moment as if trying to decide whether to belive me or not, but his attention is quickly drawn inside.

The noises are louder, and coming from what appear to be cells at the far end of this building filled with more of these strange mixed breed creatures. However a tall muscular figure has engaged my companions, its skin a patchwork of different tones, stitched together with a surgeons precision. Golem!

I try and assist but my weapons have no effect on the beast and I wisely decide to keep out of its reach while those able to damage it do so. Eventually  it drops lifeless and I pick up a set of keys from its body. Starting with the nearest cell I begin opening the door, telling those imprisoned they are free and to leave. Most of them seem reluctant to do so, but the fourth door I open I’ve barely begun to speak when the occupants (more wolf-dog men) rush hungrily at me, jaws snapping.

I manage to back across the corridor allowing my companions to engage them also but I still have to resort to taking one of my stash of healing potions before deciding to unlock what I hope is the back door and escape out. Thankfully it does lead back outside and with other foes to face the dog men don’t follow. Pertinax manages to cow the few survivors back into their cell and I return in time to relock it securely.

We still haven’t seen our battlerager, I genuinely hope he hasn’t come to harm, he’s a good scrapper and less worried about morality than most of the party.


D&D online campaign – Domains of Dread episode 1

Posted in Campaign, D & D 5e, D&D with tags , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by vobeskhan

RavenloftLogoWith the release of the current D&D hardback adventure “Curse of Strahd” conversations within our group turned inevitably towards the history of Ravenloft. With it being one of my favourites I was able to supply much information including the fact that there were so many more dark domains than just Barovia, each with its own Darklord, some of which were possibly even worse than Strahd!

I offered to run a campaign for several of my friends using the latest version of the rules (5e) but running converted versions of my collection of 2e Ravenloft materials. We knew if would be difficult to get everyone together at our local store (where we play Encounters and Expeditions) with our various schedules and I also wanted to make sure that the guys that usually have to man the shop had the opportunity to play too. So we decided to run it over the brilliant Roll20 virtual tabletop and then to live stream it from one of the players points of view.

It took me about a month of preparation due to other projects but once I had things in place we were able to sort a date out to run and we were set. Despite the preparations we still had a few teething problems getting to grips with the technology (one of the players being unable to access the tabletop and audio from his tablet, resulting in his character not really taking part in the first session). Hopefully we’ll be able to sort these out in time for the next session.

We also agreed that we would run an open game rather than the Adventurers League rules version that we play for Encounters and Expeditions, this meant that not only were all player options available, but players had the option to roll their stats (roll 4d6 drop the lowest, 6 times and assign as you wish, roll three sets and pick the one you need). The only restriction being exercising my DM option to deny multi-classing. All begin at 1st level but I’m reasonably certain they’ll reach a level up quickly.

So who do we have in our ragtag bunch of misfits and miscreants?

  • Aran Swiftshout, human Ranger – Liam
  • Goragal, half-orc Barbarian – Jon
  • Odin Ironbeard, mountain dwarf Tempest Cleric – Lee (once he gets his technology sorted)
  • Odion, human Monk – Alastair
  • Solun Ryka, aasimar Bard – Tim
  • Talios Eversong, high elf Mage – Jack
  • Sun ‘o’ War, half-orc Druid – Emily


I would pre-warn you that the video/live stream will contain adult language etc so may not be suitable for everyone or for viewing in public.


We have been discussing dates for the next installment and currently have it pencilled in for Saturday 13th August 7pm (UK time), when it will once again be streamed live at so feel free to watch our continuing shenanigans.

D&D Encounters – Curse of Strahd – Krezk w(h)ines

Posted in D & D 5e, D&D, Encounters with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by vobeskhan

Curse of Strahd CoverWith the guards watching warily from atop the wall we approached the gate to Krezk, they seemed even more isolationist than the previous villages we’d visited but they did bring their burgomeister to the gate to talk to us. His was Dmitri Krezkov and he was loath to let us in unless we could prove ourselves. We asked what proof he would need and were told that the town hadn’t received its usual delivery of wines from the local winery. After getting him to make its location on our map we agreed to go and investigate what had happened and if possible return with the towns wine. Despite this they still didn’t want to lt us in overnight so we set up a meagre camp beside their gate.

Pertinax spent some time examining his amulet before announcing that it was better suited to the abilities of either the paladin or priest and gave it to the paladin to use. Let us hope that we don’t have to test its effectiveness too soon.


Next day we set off for the trek to the winery, the journey wasnt overly taxing and we soon came upon a group of Vistani coming the other way leading wagons, one of which looked very familiar. While the rest of us waited in the nearby treeline one of the dwarfs stood in the road as they moved past. We could tell it was definitely the same group we had met beside the Luna river, but they made no threatening moves to the dwarf so we remained hidden while they passed.

Moving on we soon came across a bedraggled looking group, turns out they were the family that ran the winery. They told us that wild men (possibly druids) had taken over their place with an army of plant-men and had also stolen the magic gems that helped their vineyard flourish in this dismal land. We told them Krezk had sent us and said we would see what we could do.

We approached the winery, from the outside it looked deserted, so myself and Aris took point and investigated the loading bay where a wagon stood already loaded with casks of wine. As we reached the wagon our companions gave a call, a small force of twig-men had emerged from the vineyard and were closing in. The rest of the party fought a retreating action but I decided to climb the loading mechanism to the upper floor where I encountered a wild-looking human sitting atop the winch. Striking swiftly with my blades he darted off through a nearby door, rather than chase blindly I waited in readiness as my companions caught up and joined me (leaving the twig-men slowly closing in still).

Heading through the door we began investigating the winery, finding a kitchen/dining area and sleeping chambers. As we approached the farthest one we heard mumbling and rushed in to find the man I had previously encountered with a pair of the twig-men. With the dwarven berserker hot on my heels I charged in, smashing one of the twig men asunder before closing upon the man. The dwarf made short work (the best kind for dwarves I hear) of the other twig-man but the human tried to flee, diving from the window and dropping a strange-looking staff in the process. Not wanting to let him get away I dove after him, coming up in run with my blades ready. I later found out that my allies broke the staff he left behind, but I was glad of the effect it had on the twig-men outside – they all fell apart.


I caught up to the man as we reached the tree line and finally my blades brought him down. I quick search of his corpse revealed nothing of any use so i returned to the winery and my companions. We had another search around the premises and I found a lock box under a bed, it contained some coinage and ledgers and I was sure there was something hidden in the lid but couldn’t find a release for whatever it was. I put the box and its contents back, but later as we took a deserved rest I returned to try again and found the lid had a compartment containing a locket, a portrait and a number of gemstones. These were obviously of sentimental value so I replaced them as I had found them.

Several of my companions sampled the wines while we rested, then someone went to fetch the wine makers. They were very happy to have their home and business back and told us that the consignment on the cart was indeed for Krezk. They gave us a couple of small casks for ourselves and we agreed to accompany their delivery back to Krezk.

The journey was another uneventful one and we reached the town finally being allowed through the gates with the consignment of wines.

party map

D&D Encounters – Curse of Strahd – Luna passing

Posted in D & D 5e, D&D, Encounters with tags , , , , , , on July 15, 2016 by vobeskhan

Curse of Strahd CoverWe continue our adventures in Barovia.

The Vistani leader just happened to be the father of the young girl we rescued, earning us a comfortable nights rest in the safety of their camp. While they held a small revelry to celebrate the return of Arabel, I talked to a few of them to get some further information on the lands around us, specifically to match up any further clues from the card readings.

One of them was quite forthcoming about the “white tower in the mountains with golden knights”, suggesting that it may be the tower at Tsolenka Pass. Using the map we had they showed us its location and we could see two possible routes, a clear but winding road through the passes of Mount Ghakis or a rough trail along the Luna River. The Vistani were willing to let us have a cart and horses to aid us on the promise of setting them free to return (as they had been trained to do) when we had no further need of them. After a brief discussion we agreed to follow the river as it would allow us to keep fresh water supplies during the journey.

Another outlander was visiting with the Vistani and chose to accompany us onwards, a halfling by the name of Eldon, he seemed a capable fellow but time would tell. When dawn broke we prepared ourselves and departed.

We made good time with the horses and cart and as darkness approached we made a camp close by the river and took turns to keep watch during a thankfully uneventful night. As we prepared to break camp and continue, our ranger Luna (who had gone down to the river that shared her name to freshen up) let out a yell of alarm. Most of us rushed to her aid, Eldon clambered up a tree and began supplying covering bow-fire.

A sodden figure had arisen from the river and attacked the ranger, quickly knocking her off her feet. We couldn’t be sure of her condition until we had a chance to check  her but we were otherwise engaged. As I got there along side Pertinax the creature turned its baleful gaze upon me and I suddenly found myself unable to move a muscle, then it struck me with a fist as cold as the grave and the shock snapped me out of it. Thankfully my training allowed me to strike it and dance back out of reach before it could make further attacks at myself.

It took the combined efforts of the rest of the party to finally drive it off (it retreated into the deeper waters of the river where we couldn’t follow) and then we looked to our companion. Unfortunately it was too late for poor Luna, she had been mauled too viciously by whatever that creature was. Unsure of what her burial customs were we just rolled her remains into the river that bore her name and returned to our camp, packing our gear and moving on.

Despite the mornings loss the day was almost pleasant as we travelled along the riverside, as evening approached we spied a small vistani camp ahead and once we told them we were friendly with Lubash (Arabel’s father) they were happy to let us camp with them and as the path ahead would quickly become impassable for the cart, agreed to return the horses and cart to the larger camp. While we had some trust in these travellers we still felt it necessary to not divulge our destination, instead telling them we were heading up to Lake Luna. The night was cold but uneventful.

Next day the path did indeed become much steeper as we ascended the scree besides the river, it was slow going and late into the afternoon when we finally crested and rejoined the more well-travelled pass. Ahead we could see a pair of stone built gateways either end of an old stone bridge crossing over the river below. Atop the nearer of the gateways were what must have once been imposing statues of mounted knights but one had suffered much damage leaving it little more than a pile of rubble. Ever wary, myself and Eldon approached cautiously ahead of the main party but the guard posts were long abandoned and empty. The others caught up to us quickly and we began to cross the bridge.

As we did so we could see a black cloaked figure on horseback standing at the mid-point, it wasnt making any aggressive gestures but we weren’t going to risk anything. Having summoned a giant badger from my bag earlier in the morning I sent it scuttling  directly at the figure, it moved within reach and then passed straight through it! Some sort of illusion perhaps. Mostly satisfied that it posed no harm we walked past it, though weapons at the ready. Our caution was unnecessary though as it dissipated into smoke as we drew level with it. More than one of us let out a sigh of relief.

The gateway at the far end of the bridge was similar to the other one, though both statues were intact. Again, Eldon and myself checked ahead but all was abandoned. Beyond the gateway the pass continued to rise with a small tower of white stone beside it and a third gateway beyond. The gateway looked intact but the statues this time were of some demonic looking bird creatures facing out further up the pass and a strange green shimmer hung in the air between the gates.

We approached the tower, finding the door to be secured from inside. Neither Eldon nor myself had anything to open it with (aside from brute force) but there were others better suited to that task. Pertinax took a good run up and burst the door open. Inside was an empty hearth and a stone stairway leading up. We ascended to the upper floor to find another hearth (though this one had a dire wolf’s head mounted above it) and an iron ladder leading up to a trapdoor in the ceiling. Each wall of the octagonal tower had a window in it, affording a grand view but making the room very cold. While I examined the head and hearth for anything hidden Rorik began climbing the ladder, though it took several attempts as some of the rungs snapped under his weight before he managed to reach the top and open the trapdoor. The wind took it our of his hand and slammed it back against the roof, causing a few of us to jump in surprise.

The roof and its crenelations were decorated with statues of golden female warriors armed with lances facing outward, most of which were intact. A thin layer of snow-covered the roof but Rorik and the others cold just make out a pile of rags. When they checked them they found them to be the tattered remains of a skeleton in leather armour (beyond any practical use), Rorik poked the remains about with his weapon unable to find anything but Pertinax’s eagle eyes spotted a glint of something and just before the dwarf’s rough handling would have tossed it over the parapet, managed to grab the item.

It was an amulet on a chain, shaped to resemble the sun so rarely seen since we entered this cursed realm with a large red gem set in its centre. Both Eldon and I paid particular attention as the warrior put it about his neck and tucked it under his armour. The words “…a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope. Go to the mountains. Climb the white tower guarded by golden knights” hung in my ears, surely such an item should be of better use to either our cleric Rorik or even the paladin rather than Pertinax, no matter how pious his actions had proven him to be. Maybe someone should reallocate it at some point.

A brief search of the tower revealed nothing else of value so we discussed our next step forward, consulting the map. The only remaining clues we had were either linked to Strahd himself, which we assumed meant his castle, or the werewolf holy site we had been informed about by the hunters in Vallaki. We decided to begin heading that way but would make a stop at the small village of Krezk (the only other settlement we hadn’t caused to hate or fear us so far), but this time my companions wanted to follow the mountain pass.

The four-day journey was mostly quiet, aside from a night-time disturbance of bats swarming down the pass, I was mostly protected by the bulk of the dire wolf I had summoned though the creature was destroyed in the process. It was at this time that Pertinax discovered that someone had indeed taken the amulet from him but despite being offered to search people’s packs he simply stated he hoped whoever had taken it would return it.

The day after the amulet had still not been returned and the normally jovial warrior had become quite sullen, could this be an effect of the amulet? This time he did search packs that were offered, finding it hidden away in Rorik’s, the clerics, pack. “Perhaps the amulet seeks a wielder more to its liking, I have heard of some magic items having a sentience of their own” I offered, but Pertinax simply reclaimed the amulet and put it back around his neck.

We reached the small hamlet of Krezk as evening began to descend once more, it may be the smallest of the settlements we’ve encountered but certainly the most secure. Surrounded by a twenty-foot high stone wall reinforced with buttresses it looked like it could withstand a small siege as we approached the gatehouse…..


D&D Encounters – Curse of Strahd – and out of Vallaki

Posted in D & D 5e, D&D, Encounters with tags , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2016 by vobeskhan

Curse of Strahd CoverMy companions wanted to go and take another look at the remains of the coffin makers house and from there the caravan with the circus tiger in it. Arriving at the scene the guard were doing a reasonable job of holding back gawkers (including my companions) but they let a cloaked figure through. Bribing one of the guards I found out that it was the burgomasters right hand man, Izek. Another onlooker catches our attention, Lady Wachter, who appears to view the scene with disdain before leaving. My companions make comments to the guards which don’t go down well and so we make our way on to the caravan yard to see this circus beast.

I use my bag to call forth another animal, getting a giant Elk and choosing to ride it. As we approach the yard we can hear the growls and see the caravan lurch as whatever was inside throws its bulk at the walls, attempting to break out. There are two hired locals standing guard nervously I try to convince them it’s just the owners angry wife but they don’t buy it. The owners of the yard come out and talk to us, and my companions want to go and peruse their goods in the small shop they also run (though they buy nothing as the prices are once again extremely high).

We decide to pay the burgomeister a visit and see if there’s any further news on the pair of creatures that fled the coffin makers before it was brought under control. As we head there we come across a man carrying fishing gear stumbling along with a pair of guards that are pushing him and tripping him over. Pertinax wont hold with this intervenes, the guards eventually back off and we help the fisherman up. Turns out he goes out on the nearby lake daily but never catches anything, he blames it on a weird guy casting lightning in to the lake and scaring the fish away so he drown his sorrows  in the Inn.

Letting him stagger onwards to the Inn we get to the burgomasters mansion, the guards let us in and a serving girl goes to tell him we’re here. We get impatient at being made to wait, I begin flexing my clawed feet on the carpet, ripping up threads. A couple of my fellows begin opening doors inquisitively. Eventually the burgomeister appears, accompanied by  Izek and a pair of big mastiff hounds. We’re ushered into a meeting room, I take the seat directly opposite him but my companions remain standing. The talk does not go well and in short order we are asked to leave, but not before we find out that Izek has a demonic arm that can combust at will. Good to know, just in case.

We leave the mansion and head out-of-town to go and see the lake, hoping to find the lightning wielder. We find a handful of small rowboats, most are empty but one is drawn up on shore and has several empty bottles scattered around it with a large sack lying in it. As we approach the sack wiggles, Aris pokes it with his staff and it grunts. Opening the sack we find a bound and gagged girl, vistani by the look of her. Bluto, the drunk fisherman, had kidnapped her in the belief that she would bring him luck and was keeping her here until his fishing improved. Her family had a camp the other side of the town so we agreed to take her home. I reminded my companions of the fortune tellers words in our shared dream.

As she turned the fourth card she revealed the Tempter “This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness. I see a child-a Vistana. You must hurry, for her fate hangs in the balance. Find her at the lake!”.

This is gnawing at my soul as we trudge back to town, the girl riding on my elk. We don’t get far though before we hear the sound of wolf howls in the trees nearby and a thick fog seeps up around us. Pertinax puts some holy water on his blade and literally cuts through the fog  but we seem to be going in circles. Eventually it clears and we’re glad to see we’d actually made it further than we knew. However the guards are under orders not to let us back in to Vallaki. The girl tells us that its only a little longer to walk around to her camp so off we go, the guards seem to be following on the ramparts. I manage to slip away and hide until the guard has followed my allies, then discerning their patrol pattern I scale the wall and sneak into the town heading for the Inn.

The guards almost find me but I pull another furball, summoning a giant boar and command it to run amok down the street and distract the guards. I enter the Inn through the stables and wait in the cask room, the Innkeep soon comes in and doing my best to appear un-menacing I assure him i mean no harm but I’m looking for Bluto. The drunk has already left for his hut to sleep off his inebriation, the Innkeep tells me the hut just outside town (close to the Vistani camp), I give him a silver for his trouble and leave the same way I came.

Making my way back out-of-town wasn’t too difficult and once again scale the walls. I spy Bluto staggering along and my anger takes over, I charged down at the man who only seems to realise I’m real just before I barrel into him, tackling him to the ground. He hits hard and is knocked unconscious, a shame, I wanted him to feel this. Drawing my blades I take his head, wrap it in a rag and put it in my bag of holding, before heading in the direction of what I assume is the Vistani camp. My companions must have already arrived and forewarned the gypsy guards as they let me past and into the main tent. Sure enough my friends are there, as well as they young girl. She looks happier for being home. I take out Bluto’s head and toss it to her feet “He’ll not bother you any further little one”.


My companions look at me a little shocked, but for us Dragonborn children are the most precious thing. We dont breed often or well and several of my kin have even adopted abandoned children of other races out of our sense of protecting the young.  The Zhentarim taught me that power is important but its in my genes to place “family” first, even if their not my actual family.