Curse of Strahd

Blood and Wine

Following the advice of the coffin-maker who's home the vampire spawn were holed up in, the party waited until the sun rose to enter the attic. Once they did, the sunlight vaporized the waiting creatures, allowing them to easily locate the bones of Saint Andral. Returning them to the church, the priest vowed to keep Ireena safe within its walls. Out of gratitude, Ismark promised his aid to the party on a further expedition of their choosing.

Setting out to investigate the Wizard of Wines for Urwin, and prove their worth to the Keepers of the Feather, they left town after buying provisions and horses. That night as they rested, the watch detected the approach of three figures from the mist-veiled forest. Strahd came strolling casually into the camp, two vampire spawn at his side. He explained, as the party scrambled for their gear, that by interrupting his plans at the Church of Saint Andral, and by hiding Ireena from him, they had broken the terms of the deal they had struck, and must be punished accordingly. He sent his vampire spawn in to the fray, charging the paladin, while he locked eyes with the bard. Unable to resist, the bard found himself swayed to Strahd's charms. The cleric was able to send one of the vampire spawn fleeing into the forest with the might of his faith but, moments later, Strahd descended upon him, tearing out his throat. Ordering the bard to tend to his fallen companion Strahd moved on to the rogue, as the paladin fought desperately with the remaining vampire spawn. Strahd struck her down as well, again ordering the bard to tend to her. Finally, he latched on to the paladin and drained the life from him with another bite. At this point, Strahd ordered his vampire spawn to retreat, directed to bard to see to it that his friends survived and to pass on the message that they should not have crossed him. With a final warning that the game had begun, he shifted into a bat and flew away into the night.

With a new respect for their foe, and a heightened sense of urgency, the party pressed forward with their mission, making it to the Wizard of Wines with only minor resistance from a couple of needle blights, horrid plant creatures in their own right, but simple foes compared to the prior evening's battle. Arriving at the winery, they found themselves beckoned towards a copse of trees by a figure in a robe. Introducing himself as the father of Urwin Martikov, the aging man informed them of a group of druids leading a small army of blights that had laid siege to the winery. The rogue scouted the building, and found a side entrance in a loading dock near the stables. Slipping inside unseen she was able to get a basic lay of the ground before summoning her companions. As they made for the winery, a horde of the needle blights arose from the vineyard and began to converge on the winery. The party fled inside, barricading the door behind them. Pushing into the building in search of a defensible position, they came across a druid poisoning the fermenting vats. A quick battle ensued, as she summoned forth two dozen tiny blights to her aid. Quickly fighting through, the party found another exit to the vineyards propped open, through which several needle blights had already entered the building. The paladin and bard dashed to close the door and keep the rest outside, while the cleric and rogue moved to take the creatures out. 

As they wrapped up the fight, the sounds of more approaching footsteps set the party into a defensive stance. Finding themselves under attack from another druid and his needle blights, they entered another melee. Before they could finish the fight, a second druid and his minions, two large viney blights came from another direction, spreading the party thin. Thanks to some timely arrows from the rogue, and the defensive skills of the paladin they were able to drop the two druids without much fuss, leaving them just the blights to deal with. A final druid came from the upper levels, bearing a foul staff of some blackened wood. As he entered the fray, one of the vine blights managed to envelop all of the party save the paladin. Thanks to the paladin and the cleric's magic, they were able to overcome this final wave of attack. Upon investigating the strange staff they discovered its foul nature, and burned it- immediately unleashing an unholy screamed that rocked the winery, and splintered the horde of needle blights outside, freeing the winery of its attackers.

Returning to the Martikov family outside, they were informed that the druids had come seeking three magical seeds that were used in the process of growing the three varieties of grape that the winery relied upon. The Keepers of the Feather had located two of them, one on the druid stronghold of Yester Hill, the other in the ruins of a place called Berez, fabled home of a powerful being of unknown origin. They pleaded with the party to recover these seeds, and allow the winery to get back to its business. Agreeing, the party slept on the grounds for the night, before setting out for Yester Hill.

Cookie Monsters

Led towards Vallaki by Ismark and Ireena, the party finds themselves tailed by a mysterious raven that keeps just out of contact. Dismissing it, they press forward, coming to a dilapidated windmill just as night begins to fall. They decide to enter and seek shelter, rather than camp alongside the road. As they approach, they find themselves warned away from the place by another raven, telling them through the paladin's magic that the women living within are foul hags. Deciding they cannot allow such evil to exist, the party enters anyway, quickly figuring out the purpose of the windmill. The lower level is packed with baking goods, as well as piles of bones and ichor. The old woman they encountered in Barovia was selling magical pastries made from the bones of children. Enraged, they charge upstairs, the paladin's righteousness managing to keep the hags at bay while they whittle them down one by one. The fight turns in the party's favor as another raven flits into the room, shifting into a humanoid form and battling on their side. After a ferocious melee that leaves the party badly battered, they finally bring the evil hags to their final justice and secure the windmill for the night so that they can rest. The raven informs them that they should seek a new friend at the Blue Water Inn once they reach Vallaki and flies away.

The next morning as they set out for the final leg of their trek to Vallaki, they set fire to the unholy place. Upon entering the walled city of Vallaki they find a strange mix of sights. Banners from some festival adorn the city, along with signs reading "All is Well", yet the citizens are just as forlorn as those of Barovia. The town is decorated with the heads and pelts of wolves that apparently plague the area. Seeking the Inn, they meet another were-raven named Urwin, who asks them to investigate the loss of his wine supply as proof of their good intentions. Before they set out, they take Ireena to the abbey where Ismark feels she will be safe, only to find that the magics that kept it from Strahd's influence are no more, due to the theft of the holy bones of a saint from the cellar. The party manages to track the thief down to a local man, who upon interrogation admits to having been visited by what he assumed at the time was a nobleman, but he now suspects was the vampire Strahd. He paid for the relic to be stolen and hidden in his attic, while Strahd plots his next move, leaving a half dozen vampire spawn guarding it.

Hands of Fate

After their ordeal in the Death House, the party seeks shelter in the local inn. Once they rest, they find themselves visited by the master of these lands, Strahd von Zarovich himself. He delivers them a warning, do not interfere with him and they will have one week before his hunt begins and offers them a gift in the form of knowledge of the coming of their death, an honor few mortals are granted. Uninspired by his "gift" the party sets out the next day to find a way to escape his grasp. They find an ally in a man named Ismark the Lesser, son of the Burgomaster of the village of Barovia. In exchange for promising to aid his sister in fleeing the vampire's grasp, he leads them to a vistani encampment where they find a fortune teller able to tell them how they may seek the creature's downfall, the only way to escape this cursed realm. Upon returning to the village, they witness the march of the dead, a nightly event in which hundreds the spirits of hundreds of fallen adventurers rise from Barovia's cemetery each night and relive their death at the hands of Count Strahd.  Passing the local church, they also hear pained screams coming from its cellar. Driven by righteousness, the paladin urges them to enter the cellar, where they find a pitiful young man screaming to be fed. In his desperation, he attacks the group, who manage to put him to rest for good.

The next morning they meet with Ismark, and as they head for the Burgomaster's mansion come across an old woman selling pastries. They purchase a handful and continue on, meeting Ismark's adopted sister Ireena and learning that she has been visited on multiple occasions by the foul Strahd, having been bitten twice. Their father, the Burgomaster, has been plagued by nightly visits from Strahd's minions, finally causing his heart to fail. Ireena agrees to Ismark's pleas to flee to the village of Vallaki, if the party will see her father properly buried. Returning to the church they find the priest who's son they had slain the night before, thanking them for ending his misery and agreeing to bury the Burgomaster. He also recounts the story of Ireena's appearance in the woods outside of Barovia, covered in blood. The funeral completed, the party sets forth to reach Vallaki. 

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Enter the Mists/ Death House

Our adventure begins, as so many do, in a tavern. Our valiant party, strangers to each other are rallied to the aid of an aging man, promising a sack of gold for help in rescuing his village from mysterious attackers. The group banded together for the journey into the forest. As night fell and they made camp, a dense mist settled over the land. When the sun rose they found themselves in a strange land, where there once had been trees in full summer growth, now the trees bore the colors of an early autumn day. The mist had blocked all paths except the direction they were headed, and the eerie feeling in gave off discouraged everyone from going back. As they pressed on, even the old man seemed confused by the changes that had taken place. Before long they came upon a massive wrought-iron gate blocking the road. As Catrista, the party rogue, stepped forward to examine it, the gate swung upon on its own accord ominously. The mist hugging their backs, the party pressed on reluctantly. As the last passed through the gate it swung shut again, the mist hovering on the other side of the gate, as if daring them to turn back. The pressed on resolutely, until the cleric Buliwyf caught a foul scent on the air. Investigating, he found a body ravaged by wolves, bearing a note warning anyone from entering the land of Barovia out of fear of some foul monster. Before they could investigate further the sound of wolves howling deep within the trees sent them scrambling back for the relative safety of the road.

After a short journey further down the road, the forest gave way to a wide swath of farmland and untended fields. Spotting a village ahead, the party pressed on, hopeful for shelter and answers. Instead they found the place deserted, save for two mysterious children standing in the mist shrouded streets, asking them if they could save their little brother from the monster living in their house. Struck with pity for the children, and driven by the mist, they agreed and entered the house. As soo as they crossed the threshold they found that the mist had engulfed the home entirely. At first inspection, the home seemed relatively normal and well decorated with rich mahogany carvings on all the walls, and fine furniture in every room. As they looked closer, however, they quickly realized the decor was much darker, with foul details hidden in every nook and cranny. Pressing slowly on through the house they began to piece together the foul history of the house and its inhabitants- a rich family torn apart by the father's infidelity with their nursemaid that resulted in a stillborn child. The murder of the nursemaid and finally the death of the two children they had seen outside by starvation at the hands of their own parents. In speaking with the ghosts of the children they were able to locate a secret entrance to the house's basement, where the supposed monster lived. They ventured into the crypts in the basement, finding it full of ghastly undead, including the risen corpses of the Durst family parents. Fighting their way through, they found the apparent source of the evil, a dark altar in a large chamber, where spirits demanded a sacrifice. When they refused to murder one of their own, the house summoned its guardian, a reeking mass of sentient filth named Lhorgoth the Decayer. The group's bard was able to keep the creature off balance long enough that the party was able to win through after a protracted and brutal battle. Thinking themselves safe and the curse lifted, they ventured upstairs only to find that the house itself had turned on them, outraged at their lack of sacrifice. The fireplaces spewed toxic fumes and the doors had been replaced with massive swinging blades. They managed to escape with their lives, running out into the streets as the house crumbled behind them. They suddenly found themselves in the middle of an active village, albeit one with a sparse population, very different from the one they had initially entered.


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