Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, June 08, 2021
Curse of Strahd - Session 7

The group ended the previous session by bringing a group of children that were kidnapped by werewolves to the orphanage in Vallaki. The next morning they discover that the citizens of Vallaki are unusually reverential, even fearful of them. The reason for that is quickly discovered: Posters with their picture announce that "the von Zarovich family" is now the ruling family of Vallaki, by the grace of Strahd. [There is a running gag in this campaign, with the group having a human-sized man and woman, and two gnomes, so the Barovians who don't know non-human races confuse them with a family. The paladin is a "von Zarovich", from the family Strahd left behind 400 years ago. And the group did overthrow the old baron / burgomaster of Vallaki, being tricked by Strahd into that. This is pure sandbox, none of it is in the adventure module.]

While away from Vallaki, the group had discovered that the circus ringmaster Rictavio staying at the inn was in fact the famous vampire hunter Rudolph van Richten, and the ally against Strahd that the fortune teller told them about. But when they tried to find him, they learned that he had left westwards in his circus wagon, with a tower having been mentioned. The group had seen that tower from afar, on a peninsula in a lake, when they were at the werewolf den. So they decided to go there.

However, on the way to van Richten's Tower, the group encountered a patrol of undead knights from Argynvostholt, from the Order of the Silver Dragon. These were ancient enemies of Strahd, defeated when Strahd conquered Barovia, and turned into revenants bent on vengeance when Barovia became a Domain of Dread. [DM's note: There are actually some story elements of Hamlet that I am using here. Like Hamlet, the group was given a choice of "to be, or not to be", in their case of either working for Strahd or rising up against Strahd. Like Hamlet, they decided to try a middle way instead. And like in the play that ends up satisfying nobody and leads to a worse outcome than if they had made a clear choice. Here potential allies against Strahd now consider the group as enemies and attack. This also serves to alert the group of the location Argynvostholt, and the Order of the Silver Dragon.]

After that encounter, the group continues toward van Richten's Tower, where an anti-magic field around the tower makes things difficult. Bilros climbs a rickety scaffolding and enters the second floor of the tower; nothing much in that room, but there is an elevator operated by 4 golems downstairs, leading up to a room above. AĆ«lis solves the puzzle on the puzzle door below, and simply asks the golems to operate the elevator, which was exactly the right solution here. So the group goes up the elevator to van Richten's room, who thinks they are the allies of Strahd come to kill him. They manage to persuade him that they aren't evil, only stupid/misguided, and they really want to fight Strahd. So, reluctantly, van Richten gives them some advice on how to proceed, gathering the artifacts needed to battle Strahd, and tells them he will come with them once they go to Castle Ravenloft.

The players now have information about the following locations they haven't explored yet:
- Argynvostholt, a fortified mansion and home of the now undead Order of the Silver Dragon.
- Berez, a destroyed village, now a swamp, where the witch lives who stole the third gem of the vineyard. Madame Eva's fortune telling also told you that one of the artifacts is there.
- The Amber Temple, a place of great evil and dark powers. Location of the last artifact, the sunsword.
We ended the session with the group on the way to Berez.


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