Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Curse of Strahd - Session 5 and 6
In the previous session the group got tricked by Strahd into deposing the burgomaster of Vallaki, who was a bit crazy, but strongly anti-Strahd. So the group took Ireena, the woman that Strahd pursues because she is a reborn version of the love of his life, Tatyana, and they flee further west. They arrive at the village of Krezk, where the guards don't want to let anybody in except for the wine delivery they are expecting and that is late. Aelis, as member of the Martikov family that produces the wine, manages to persuade them to let the group in to discuss the next delivery.
In Krezk, Ireena feels a strong attraction to a pool at the north of the village. Approaching it, she is greeted by the spirit of Sergei, the younger brother of Strahd, which Strahd killed to take Tatyana for his own. Ireena disappears into the pool, and the souls of Tatyana and Sergei are reunited. That triggers the rage of Strahd, expressing itself in a lightning storm, with Gustav (standing in the pool to search for Ireena) getting hit.
After that, the group visits the Abbey of Saint Markovia, having heard of a powerful, eternally young abbot residing there, who can heal and raise the dead. The group finds out that this abbot is in fact an angel, but apparently he got corrupted by Strahd / Barovia, and is now fixing people by replacing their limbs with stronger animal limbs. He has the abbey full of mongrelfolk, made up of various animal parts. The abbot shows the group his project, a flesh golem in the shape of Tatyana, which he wants to offer to Strahd as a bride to calm him. The abbot asks the group to organize him a bridal gown. The group also meets Ezmeralda d'Avenir, a vistani and apprentice vampire hunter. Ezmeralda is looking for her mentor, the legendary vampire hunter Rudolph van Richten. From the description, the group realizes that they met him in Vallaki, disguised as a carnival ringmaster named Rictavio. Ezmeralda sets out for Vallaki, but the group has other plans.
The group is heading south towards the Wizard of Wines winery and vineyard. Aelis wants to meet her family, and everybody in Barovia, Strahd included, seems to waiting for missing wine deliveries from there. They meet the Martikov family (who, like Aelis, are wereravens), and find out that a group of druids and plant creatures has overrun the winery and kicked out the Martikovs. The heroes battle the druids and blights in a series of battles, and capture an evil Gulthias staff. From the holy symbols of the druids, they learn that the druids venerate Strahd as their god. The Martikov family explains that their wine production is powered by three magical gems. They need at least one of the gems to make cheap wine, and if they have two or three, they can make better and better vintages. But a witch from the village of Berez incited other evil creatures in the neighborhood to steal those gems. So one is now with the druids on Yester Hill, another in a cave full of werewolves near Lake Baratok, and the third in Berez. [Here ended session 5 and session 6 begins]
One druid escaped, and the group follows him to Yester Hill. There they find a large wicker statue of Strahd within a stone circle, and further on a Gulthias Tree, that is producing the blight creatures. They also see a mirage beyond the mists of Barovia, of Gustav's (and Strahd's) old homeland. Before they can set the wicker statue on fire, Strahd rides in through the air, on his nightmare mount Beucephalus. He expressed his disappointment with Gustav, for having led Ireena to the pool in Kresk, and destroying Strahd's hope of making her his bride. Strahd explains that he comes to Yester Hill sometimes to watch his old homeland, even if it is just a mirage, and that as he *is* the land of Barovia, the druids venerate him. Then he gives a signal to the druids (who were hidden in the stone circle) and rides off.
There are six druids in the stone circle, who are now chanting a ritual, protected by six berserkers. As the group doesn't manage to stop all of the druids from chanting after 7 turns, the wicker statue erupts as a tree blight. But the group realizes that the Gulthias staff they found has some power over blights, and by destroying the staff they instantly kill the tree blight, and the blights hiding in the grove around the Gulthias Tree. From the corpse of the tree blight they recover the first winery gem. And they hack down the Gulthias Tree, which is defenseless after his blights were destroyed, and take a magical axe from it.
Back at the winery, there is a visitor: Zuleika Toranescu, who is a werewolf and mate of the previous leader of the werewolf tribe, Emil Toranescu. She explains that another werewolf, Kiril Stoyanovich, gained power of the tribe with the help of Strahd. Now Strahd lets Kiril and the werewolves loyal to him pass the mist into the Forgotten Realms and kidnap children. The children are then made to fight each other in an arena, and the strongest one is turned into a werewolf, while the others are eaten. Emil, who opposed that practice, got hauled off to the dungeons of Castle Ravenloft. The werewolves venerate Shar, and stole the winery gem as an offering for their shrine to her.
So the group sets out to the werewolf cave to get the gem (the group is mostly evil and didn't care much about the children). Storming into the cave they surprise the werewolves and kill some, while the rest flees towards the back of the cave. Warryn with his squad of skeletons is foremost in following them, and a fight erupts on the staircase behind a curtain made out of human skin. [This is where I made a mistake: I didn't take into account that the skeletons don't have silver or magic weapons and can't actually hurt werewolves.] The group kills the werewolves and finds the shrine of Shar. Aelis, priestess of Shar, finds that a powerful curse threatens those who steal from the shrine, so they leave most of the offerings and exchange their magical battleaxe for the gem, thus escaping the curse.
From the cave the group sees a tower on a peninsula on Lake Baratok. But first they must take care of the children they freed, one of which they suspect of being a young werewolf. So they bring the young werewolf to the Abbey of Saint Markovia to live with the abbot and mongrelfolk, and the other children to the orphanage in Vallaki. There we ended the session.
Labels: Dungeons & Dragons