Curse of Strahd

Passage to Barovia

The party followed the muddy, rarely—used Old Svalich Road as an unnaturally thick fog closed around them.  They found the rusted iron gates to the land of Barovia open, and entered.

The fetid reek of death led them to the claw-marked corpse at the side of the road.  A hand-written letter tucked in the dead man's threadbare clothes was from Kolyan Indirovich, titled "Burgomaster of Barovia". Addressed to "thee of might and valor," the letter cautioned that the land of Barovia was haunted by a powerful and unholy vampire, and that potential visitors should instead flee to save themselves, and leave the land to its cursed fate.

Soon after finding the letter, the howl of wolves filled the hilly, wooded lands surrounding the road, and the party hustled along the road to reach the village of Barovia.

Barovia, consisting of about 100 buildings in a clearing about 3 miles from the Gates of Barovia, is a dreary, silent village of age-worn wooden houses and muddy, cobblestone streets.  Many of the homes appear deserted. In the small square that marks the center of the town, Bildrath's Mercantile and the Blood of the Vine Tavern show some of the few signs of live and activity in the village. A church with a large cematary are on the northwest edge of town.

In the tavern, the party encounters Ismark Kolyana, son of the Burgomaster whose name was on the letter. Ismark, fearing for the safety of his sister Ireena who has for some reason attracted the keen interest of the vampire Strahd, convinces the party to visit the Burgomaster's home, where they discover the body of Burgomaster Kolyan Indirovich, who died a week earlier after the house came under repeated attacks at night by wolves.  The party agreed to Ireena's pleas to help her take the body to the church for a proper burial.

In a side-trek, Noel tracked down the source of loud crying and moaning heard from a nearby house.  She encountered a distraught woman raving about her lost daughter, Gertruda.  Noel said they would try to find her, and took a strange doll owned by Gertruda thinking it might help find her.  The doll had an odd tag, "No Blinsky, No Fun".

Meanwhile, once at the church, the party discovers that the priest, Donavich, is suffering from exhaustion and terrible anguish.  His teenage son, Doru, returned from a visit to Strahd's nearby castle a changed and horrific person.  Donavich, unsure what to do or how to cure his son, locked him in the church's cellar, even as the son claimed to be starving for human blood.  Over the half-hearted objections of Donavich, the party entered the church's undercroft, and was  attacked by the disheveled creature that was once called Doru.  He possessed strange powers, including resistance to many of the party's attacks, and he caused much damage before finally being defeated.

After a ceremony to bury the Burgomaster, Ismark asks the party to accompany him and Ireena to an abby in Krezyk, on the other side of the nearby town of Vallaki.  Ismark believes she will be safer there.  The party leaves early in the day, in the hopes of reaching the town, about 15 miles to the west via winding roads, during daylight hours.

On the way, they encounter an encampment of Vistani, a strange race of travelling humans not native to Barovia.  The Vistani appear welcoming, and after sharing stories with the party, invite it to visit the tent of their fortune telling elder, Madam Eva.  Madam Eva speaks words indicating she knows something about each character already, then she uses a Tarot-like deck of cards to read a strange fortune to the group.  Eva's fortune is described here.




Ask the Raven if he's carrying any souls

Before leaving the Vistani camp, the party asked a Vistani named Waltar if he offered any goods for sale.  Noelle traded some dwarf tobacco for a silk tunic. Xiao Wen purchased a necklace that offered protection from the undead, plus 4 potions to protect against the choking fog, for a half-dozen gold pieces.  When asked about weapons, especially weapons effective against undead, Waltar said flatly that the Vistani did not deal in weapons, and that the undead in Strahd's domain were best left alone.  Before they left, Waltar advised the party against going to the windmill that lay between the Vistani camp and Vallaki.

The party left the Vistani camp while it was still early in the morning, heading west toward Vallaki.  Ultimately, they hoped to take Ireena to safety in the fortified abbey/village of Krezyk, somewhere to the west of Vallaki.

Spotted and investigated an apparent blood stain on bridge.  Attacked by 4 Needle Blights.  Killed them; a copper ring dropped from their branchy corpses.

Spotted a decrepit windmill a little to the west of the main road.  Party debated about whether to heed the advice from the Vistani to avoid the windmill.  Carric cast a "Detect Good/Evil" spell while standing at the unlocked front door, and detected evil (type fiend) inside.  Party decided to explore around the outside of the windmill next; the discovered a desecrated ancient ring of stones. The stones had carvings of cities; after investigation, Xiao Wen realized it was the same city but appearing in different seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter).  Noelle got a feeling (premonition?) involving a dead dragon.  Found a pile of a dozen children's teeth next to one of the stones.  A raven on windmill seemed agitated; Carric believed it was a warning.  Party decided not to go into windmill.  At some point, received a warning about "Don't eat the cookies," but unclear what that meant.

Nearing Vallaki, heard moaning in woods alongside road.  Went into the woods a few hundred feet; found dead wolf, but no obvious source of the moaning, which disappeared.

Entered town after briefly being challenged by two guards who manned a closed gate. The town, slightly larger than the village of Barovia, appeared to be preparing for a celebration called "The Festival of the Blazing Sun."   Party went to Blue Water Inn, near the town square.  

Using a spell (special ability?), Xio Wen spoke to a raven, which seemed remarkably talkative. The raven said to seek out Urwin inside the Blue Water Inn; the raven offered vague favor if the party helped Urwin with a task.  The entered, and spoke with Urwin; he wanted them to fetch an overdue shipment of wine from Wizard of Wines winery to west of town.  The party arranged rooms for the night for themselves and the Indiroviches.  Urwin said other travellers from "outside" occasionally came, but most disappeared; but he added that there was such a traveller currently staying at the inn, a bard by the name of Rictavio.  Urwin spoke scathingly of the Vistani, saying they were "in league with the devil Strahd," and further suggested that the magic necklace purchased by Xiao Wen was a fake.

In the inn's main room, Xiao Wen was pproached by a noble-looking man who they saw when entering the Inn.  The man rudely accused Xiao Wen of being uncivilized, but he backed down and returned to his own table after the other party members stood beside Xiao Wen.

Rictavio didn't show up in the main room that evening, so the party went to find his caravan, allegedly parked in the Arasek Stockyard on the east side of town.  The brightly-painted caravan said "Rictavio's Carnival of Wonders" on the side.  The night was overcast, with no moon to be seen, and was dark enough that the party felt they weren't being watched by the town guards.

The group heard animal-like growling from inside the van.  Suspecting it might be Rictavio himself in some warewolf form, they first tried to pick, then later broke the lock. They were immediately attached by sabre toothed tiger that leapt from the van.  They killed tiger, with a freezing ray from Crinaria dealing the final below.  In a hidden compartment in the caravan, they found a large cache of treasure, including some silvered weapons.

Returned to Inn for night, where they had two rooms for the party, and a seperate room with Ismark and Ireena.

Memorable character quotes from this session:

"The best tasting maggots are those from the body of your dead enemies"

"Tonight, I'm vegetarian"

"You couldn't hit a blind tiger with four broken legs standing in front of you"


The Bones of St. Andral and the Coffin Maker
"What's your passive intimidation?"

Late that night, a boy named Yeska timidly knocked on the door to the room where  Xiao Wen and Carric slept.  Yeska said he heard that a cleric had arrived in Vallaki, and had been sent by the village priest, Lucian Petrovich, to inquire.  Yeska asked which god Carric served, and was pleased to hear that Carric followed a good-aligned deity.  Yeska then asked if Carric and Xiao Wen would accompany him back to St. Andral, the village church, and speak with Lucian.

On their way to the church, they observe lightning far off to the south in the mountains, and then a purple flash from somewhere on the north side of town. Yeska says there are sometimes purple lights coming from the Vallaki Burgomeister's house.  Yeska also reveals that he's afraid of Izek Strazni, who works for the Burgomeister; he said Izek can shoot fireballs from his deformed hand.

At the church, Lucian confides to Carric that that the relics of St Andral, which protected the church from maurauding wolves and other dark creatures, were  recently been stolen. Lucian is afraid the church will be attacked some night.  He refers to Strahd as "the devil."  He also mentions that Vallaki recently celebrated a festival in which wolf heads were placed on spikes around town, and that another festival centered around the sun is being prepared, but Lucian is dismissive that the festivals serve any use.

Carric questions Yeska, who admits to telling an older boy named Milivoj that St. Andral's bones were in a secret crypt under the church's altar. Intimidated by Xiao Wen, Milivoj acknowledges taking the bones and giving them to Henrick van der Voort, the village coffin-maker.  The coffin-maker is apparently not very popular around the town, at least in part because of his macabre profession.

They head to Henrick's shop.  On the way, some strange noises from a blacked-out house draw their attention.  They attempt to enter the house but are attacked by swarms of rats.  After killing the rats, they find only broken and decayed furniture inside, plus one framed painting with the subject's face mysteriously scratched out.

They visit Henrick's shop, near Vallaki's Morning Gate (on the east side of the village).  At first, Henrick doesn't want to talk, but later gives in, and acknowledges having the bones.  He indicates the bones are in hidden in his bedroom above his coffin shop, but Henrick himself flees after hinting that someone else in the shop made him do it.  Carric, upon casting a Detect spell, senses an undead creature in the upper story of the building.

They locate the bones hidden under a cabinet in Henrick's bedroom. Next to the bones is a bag with a small number of silver coins, which contain the portrait of an unknown person. Xiao Wen swaps one of the strange coins for one of his own silver pieces.  As they try to leave, they are attached by a vampire spawn, but Carric Turns Dead, and the pair escape and return to St. Andral.

The priest, upon hearing that the vampire spawn remains at large, shames the pair into returning to the coffin maker's shop to kill it.  He gives some advice on killing vampires, including providing the pair with some holy water.

After a battle, they impale  the vampire spawn with a wooden stake in its heart.

Outside, they spot a raven.  Xiao Wen communicates with the bird, who strangely encourages them to hide their weapons.  The pair buries some of their weapons in the ground, then returns to the church. 

 Yeska says that Izek Strazant, a henchmen of Vallaki's BUrgomaster (Baron Vargan Vallakovich), has arrested the rest of the party in the middle of the night.  The party have been accused of being involved with some sort of attack or robbery of a carnival caravan in Vallaki.  To avoid being captured, Xiao Wen and Carric spend the rest of the night hidden in the crypt under St Andral's altar.








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