Saturday, March 20, 2021
Curse of Strahd - Session 3
In the previous session of Curse of Strahd, the group had suffered a serious defeat by a coven of three night hags. Now players are always more focused on whatever is happening to their characters, rather than what is happening in the story. So in order to put Strahd back into focus, I started the session by having Vasili von Holtz deliver a dinner invitation from Strahd. But to the credit of my players, between the hags and the vampire archvillain, they still remembered their initial mission to protect Ireena. And Ireena's safety was compromised by the bones of St. Andral having been stolen, rendering the church non-hallowed ground.
So the group goes to the coffin maker, who they had found out had paid for the bones. They barge into his house, and question him. He says that he was paid himself by envoys from Strahd to get the bones, and that the bones are upstairs in his coffin workshop. That isn't a lie, but the coffin maker conveniently forgets to mention that Strahd's envoys, 6 vampire spawn, are resting in the coffins in his workshop. When they spring out of those, Bilros kills the coffin maker with a crossbow bolt to the back, and combat ensues. Now the group is still level 4, and 6 vampire spawn of CR 5 are a very serious challenge. But with a turn undead divine channeling Aëlis makes half of them flee out the windows, and the group manages with some difficulty to kill the other three, and recover the bones.
Now of course this is happening in the town of Vallaki, and loud combat doesn't go unnoticed in a busy town. So when coming out of the house, the group is surrounded by town guards, and led to the burgomaster, Baron Vargas Vallakovich. Fortunately, the priest of St. Andral is the brother in law of the baron, and as the group recovered the holy relic, and the baron is a fierce enemy of Strahd, they are let go with a warning.
In the evening, the group accepts the invitation of Strahd, and enters his black carriage waiting outside of town. They are brought to Castle Ravenloft, meet the count's butler Rahadin, and have dinner with a very polite and charming count Strahd von Zarovich, and four other vampires, namely Escher and the three brides of Strahd. It seems that Strahd is more curious about the strangers, especially his relative Gustav von Zarovich, than he is threatened by them. The group asks Strahd whether the hags are under his protection, and find out that they are not. Strahd is asking the group that if they travel further west in his domain, that they please check out the Wizards of Wine vineyard, because it has stopped delivering wine. (The group had already had a similar request from Aëlis' relatives, the Martikov family running the Blue Water in in Vallaki. She learned that her mother had given her away to the Vistani to smuggle her out of Barovia, for a better life outside. But her father and sibblings are running the vineyard.) A bit against expectations, Strahd is true to his word and grants the group safe passage back to Vallaki.
Now knowing that Strahd won't protect the hags, and that they don't have access to their coven spells when alone, the group sets up an ambush on the day Morgantha is expected to visit Vallakit to sell her dream pastries. From Strahd the group has also learned that the meat in the dream pastries is in fact chicken, but that the windmill is named Old Bonegrinder, and the hags are using bone meal made from children in those pies. So, besides revenge, and the fortune telling saying that there is a helpful artifact hidden in the windmill, the group has a lot of good reasons to try to destroy the hags' operation. We finish the session with the group killing Morgantha on the road, and deciding to go after the other two hags in the windmill next.
Labels: Dungeons & Dragons