Curse of Strahd, Session VI, Enter the Amber Temple

Curse of Strahd, Session VI, Enter the Amber Temple

Curse of Strahd / Session VI / Enter the Amber Temple

In which the Amber Temple is entered, two members of the lost team are saved from Flameskulls and a bedraggled wizard is found running from an Amber Golem…

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  • The vaulted chamber of the temple had a statue of a wizard whose face was shrouded in darkness and (inspired by DragnaCarta’s Curse of Strahd Reloaded) it asked those who entered to leave a secret or something holy at the feet of the statue. That prompted cool shit from the players.

    Jusko whispered, “I belong here,” while pressing his family signet ring into some wax on the statue. EEK.

    Failed Soldier wrote a sealed note about the sailor he killed in a previous adventure in a shrine to a storm goddess.

    Kuru tried to get by leaving a cheap coin and pretending it was holy to him but the statue was on to his bullshit.

    Trundle left one of his carvings of the world they saw born in a previous adventure.

    Helewynn left her holy symbol since the moon here seemed to be godless.

    Bugwump left a mask of himself from back when he was an arch-mage that he wore during a 1000 Faces Festival in Sigil.

  • They found the two lost members of the other team surrounded by 3 Flameskulls…

    One of the Flameskulls unleashed its fireball, doing some healthy damage but all in all, the 3 were dispatched without too much trouble. The other team missed in a terrible first round of to-hit rolls, prompting Jusko to fuck with them later…

  • Trundle engaged Crum, a Dwarven cleric of Portals, who wears a key holy symbol. I rolled to see how informed he was on getting in and out of Ravenloft and rolled a 20. He knows shit.

  • Bugwump’s Arcana checks are off the chain since he has a magic staff from Tomb of Annihilation. They know all about Sergei’s Sunsword, the other team believes the sword is here somewhere.

  • There was some talk about just heading back to Ravenwatch and getting to the portal. I reminded folks that Kuru had cut up the portal with his magic-cutting knife and it wasn’t a sure thing that it was working.

  • Helewynn hasn’t seen moonlight since being bitten by the werewolf. When she does, we’ll make some rolls and see what happens.

    Chekov’s werewolf bite…

  • Failed Soldier gave Lem the Nine Gods Orchid he picked for her from the previous adventure. I said that it felt like a lifetime ago that she asked him for that but thing is, it actually does kinda feel like a lifetime ago. It was cool that we got to see that completed.

    What does Nine Gods Orchid do? I’m thinking some kind of cool tea that inspires prophetic dreams.

  • After a short rest, the team heard someone screaming for help and found a wizard with a quazit familiar running from an Amber Golem. Kuru and Trundle stealthed over and engaged; we’ll start there with everyone else rolling initiative next week.

    “Thank Vecna you folks showed up to save me,” the burned, half-starved wizard said.

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Making Magic Items Inspired by Apocalypse World

D&D Ideas
https://githyankidiaspora.wordpress.com/dd-ideas/

When I read Apocalypse World I can see that (like me) Meguey and Vincent spent their college years playing Ars Magica. I can feel seasonal arcane lab work in the ole Savvyhead. Inspired by their Tinkering move in their Burned Over ruleset and a question on an RPG slack I frequent, here’s a move for making magic items in D&D:

So you want to make a magic item?
When you want to improve upon an item, enchant a mundane item or repair an item, tell your friends at the table what you want it to do. Is there something else that does it already? Let’s keep an eye on that for inspiration.
Is making this going to change the world forever? Let’s keep on eye on that and discuss it as a group because that’s cool but let’s make sure we’re not changing the world in a way that won’t make it fun to play or making a character useless.
Someone will take up the role as the DM for this process. They’ll say, “sure, no problem but…” and suggest 1 to 4 of the following.
• It is going to take time.
• First you are going to have to X
• You are going to need X to make this happen.
• It is going to cost a dragon’s hoard of gold.
• It is going to mean exposing yourself to dangerous arcane forces that could change the character forever.
• The best you’ll be able to do will be less than optimal, it’ll have limited charges or slow or weak or unreliable.
• You are going to need a wizard’s sanctum with X.
• It is going to take many attempts to get it just right.
• You are going to have to do an arcange ritual with X to get it done.
X should be attainable through a dangerous adventure or series of adventures.

I’ve been inspired by the Bakers many times. More recently, when I made a checklist to make a space station inspired by the Lawmaker playbook.

Forgive me as I imitate AW’s examples of play, my favorite examples from any RPG:

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Bugwump the Frog-kin Wizard wants to add charges to Kuru’s Wand of Lightning. Poor Kuru, the Hobbit Thief, has been moping ever since the wand lost its oomph. “Clearly you need to go to a mountaintop and get this thing hit by lightning,” I say.

“Oooh, it should be a special mountain, holy to the Storm Giants,” Kuru’s player says.

Bugwump’s player says, “You aren’t making this easy.”

“It’ll be fun! What is the worst that could happen?”

“Lightning from a Storm Giant’s holy mountaintop. Sounds awesome. There is one you’ve heard about not too far away, the Sky’s Anvil…”

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Jusko’s player wants to keep his ancestral blade but it isn’t magical.

“Maybe you could unlock its secret powers by vanquishing an ancestor who is making a nuisance of themselves as an undead menace…” Helewynn’s player says.

“That is amazing. Do you want to run that adventure?” I ask.

“Nah, I have some ideas about it that’ll email you, though,” Helewynn’s player says.

I nod, keeping an eye out for opportunities for new DM’s to take the reigns.

“My friends, could you help me vanquish my wraith great-uncle who is causing problems for the countryside?” Jusko asks his comrades.

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After another lightning wand goes dead in the middle of Strahd’s family tombs, Kuru throws the dead stick to the ground. “Bugwump! This is nonsense!”

Bugwump says, “I’m not just adding more charges to the wand this time.”

“That Storm Giant jarl nearly killed me!” Kuru says.

“I’m making a lightning pistol,” Bugwump says.

Kuru’s player becomes the living embodiment of the heart-eyes emoji.

“We have been rocking a western vibe. Are we okay with pistols that spit lightning in-game?” I say.

A long discussion about fantasy fiction and westerns and blending genres ensues. We agree that it is okay but don’t want pistols to become ubiquitous. I’ve got ideas on how to make certain that doesn’t happen.

“First, you are going to have to get a smith to make a pistol that can hold lightning,” I say.

“My sister is a smith. I could write her a letter,” Trundle’s player says.

“She might want a favor or a huge pile of gold to make a weapon like this – even for family, ” I say.

“Once it is completed you’ll have to get it hit by six different arcane lightning bolts from six different sources,” I say.

“I can throw a lightning bolt,” Bugwump says.

The group starts brainstorming where to get the other five lightning bolts – the local blue dragon who hit that merchant caravan last year, that monk who has a lightning fist, the Storm Giant who seemed ready to rebel against her father’s rule during a previous adventure…

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Leomund’s Tiny Hut in Barovia

Leomund’s Tiny hut in Barovia

In my head-canon, Leomund is a brilliant apprentice to Mordenkainen, saw his magnificent mansion spell and said, “What if we scaled it down and gave young, up-and-coming adventurers the safety they need?” and Leomund’s Tiny Hut was born.

The description of the spell:

A 10-foot-radius immobile dome of force springs into existence around and above you and remains stationary for the duration. The spell ends if you leave its area.

Nine creatures of Medium size or smaller can fit inside the dome with you. The spell fails if its area includes a larger creature or more than nine creatures. Creatures and objects within the dome when you cast this spell can move through it freely. All other creatures and objects are barred from passing through it. Spells and other magical effects can’t extend through the dome or be cast through it. The atmosphere inside the space is comfortable and dry, regardless of the weather outside.

Until the spell ends, you can command the interior to become dimly lit or dark. The dome is opaque from the outside, of any color you choose, but it is transparent from the inside.

PHB, page 255
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The Thursday night crew needed a rest after a dramatic entrance into Ravenloft from a portal in Sigil. Bugwump magicked up the tiny hut. There was a thread in the DM’s of Curse of Strahd and Ravenloft FB group about it.

First a group of wolves came and sniffed around the edges of the spell’s bubble. Of course the packs of wolves in Barovia are commanded by Strahd. The First Vampire has to be curious about these newcomers but even with curiosity is some boredom. He’s seen this shit before. Strahd has lost count of the number of scrappy adventurers. He’s an accomplished wizard; he knows what this spell is. Shit, he’s probably met Leomund.

More about this session here if you’d like to see the full write-up.

Kuru, the Halfling Rogue on watch woke everyone up to let them know about the wolves but then the wolves left. They returned with a villager, who the largest wolf pinned to the ground by his throat. The villager began reciting, “Strahd is the Land and the Land is Strahd!” over and over. Strahd was curious as to what they’d do. The characters jumped out of their bubble of safety and saved the villager. It was a fun fight.

Strahd got the measure of the heroes. He saw the fighter’s vorpal sword in action. He saw how they worked as a team and got the measure of their morality. They will leave safety to save a villager…somewhere Strahd smiles a feral grin.

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Strahd is circling the party like a shark. What is the scariest part of a shark movie? Let the players sit in their tiny hut. Yes, it infuriates Strahd that there is a bubble on his land that he can’t Scry. Yes, they are safe but the hut doesn’t last forever. Having that kind of safety for a little while is good for horror.

Ask the players questions about their characters while they sit and wait.

Was there a time when your character felt trapped?

What was a safe place the character can remember?

Tell me about a time when your character’s home was broken into and what happened. Was anything stolen? How did it make the character feel?

Jaws, comparing scars

Send the players an email before the game asking them to daydream about a short campfire story about what their character’s homeland says about vampires. It isn’t the DM’s job to single-handedly set a scary tone without any help from anyone else; tone (especially horror) has to be done together as a table.

Sit in Leomund’s finite bubble. Compare scars. Tell stories. Moments of safety with doom all around is great horror content.

Strahd is patient. He’ll be waiting in the Mists.

Curse of Strahd, Session V, Grappling Werewolves

Curse of Strahd, Session V, Grappling Werewolves
Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

In which the werewolf pack is defeated, the pack alpha is grappled to death and the first living member of the lost Outlands Expedition Team is recovered…

  • The team found a pack of 6 werewolves surrounding Adjo, a Human Ranger, who was on a clifftop, shooting silver arrows down on them.

  • Bugwump spit lava at them. Jusko and Helewyn engaged the pack alpha and their second. Jusko and Trundle dealt with the rest at the cliff. In the end, the were wolves did very little damage.

  • Helewyn, wearing silver armor, wrestled the alpha to the ground and the rest of the pack fled (2 other members of the pack were already slain). Those engaged in melee took their opportunity attacks. Kuru sheathed his blade and said, “Make better life choices,” as the werewolves fled.

  • Helewyn had a bunch invested in this fight. Where she’s from, serving a moon goddess on a lunar temple, werewolves are special operations teams. Seeing a pack dedicated to Strahd was unnerving. Her wrestling the alpha to the ground was the turning point of the fight and was SO bad-ass.

    She was bitten. “Is she cursed now?”

    “Maybe there’s a save?”

    “We’ll roll the save when the moon next rises…”

  • Trundle noticed that the dead leader had a tattoo of a black moon, upon which a night goddess of some kind was offering a crown to Strahd.

  • “Drew, Jusko can see something on Adjo that lets him know that he has no intention of leaving Ravenloft with the rest of his team. What is it he sees?”

    “He has a traditional Barovian wedding ring on, with a black piece of marble with a sliver of white on it, representing hope in darkness.”

    DUDE.

  • Kuru levelled up, Jusko is the only member of the team still at 4th level.

  • They tracked the two remaining members of the lost Expedition Team. Teo rolled a 10 on Trundle’s Nature roll (with advantage for Adjo’s help), so they caught up to them in time to see them enter the Amber Temple…

    That is where we’ll start next week.

Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Divider

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Fictional Torture and Real Life Frustration at the Table

Has it ever happened to you ? You write an RP encounter with an NPC you think will be cool. Like he knows important informations or has something the party wants and they’re gonna have to convince/bribe/persuade/lie to him to get it. But then all of a sudden you realise the PCs will just torture him or kill him because it’s way easier to do.
This happened a lot. I’m all for player’s agency but this shit gets repetitive and exhausting after a while. They’re supposed to be the good guys.

REPLY:
Talk to your players and ask why they do that.
They might be coming from tables where that is the ONLY way to get information out of people.
I’ve definitely had conversations with my friends about gaming and how torture does not reveal reliable intel in reality and that I don’t want to see it at the gaming table. In my experience, characters torturing NPC’s is a sign of frustration.

From this thread…

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I’ve seen friendly hobbit parties cut off goblin’s fingers and local heroes done good threaten worse than that. In my experience, it is a sign of frustration at withheld information. Step out of game and talk it over, my friends.

I talked about this in Episode 22 of Daydreaming about Dragons…

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Curse of Strahd, Session IV, Ghosts and Bones

Curse of Strahd, Session IV, Ghosts and Bones

Curse of Strahd, Session IV, Ghosts & Bones

In which the dead are spoken to, a father is left to decide his son’s fate and hunted comrades are tracked across Mount Ghackis.

Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Marker
  • Kuru talked up the three Vistani ladies who owned the Blood of the Vine Tavern.

    “Judd, what is the name of the tavern?”

    “Blood of the Vine…”

    “Of course it is…”

    They learned that the previous team had been driven from town for assaulting an old lady who is a witch – the bad kind, that the Vistani saved Strahd when he was mortal and some serve him as penance for helping create such a devil.

  • Trundle, when he entered the inn, offered a prayer against fiends (his chosen enemy) in Infernal. Just a nice bit of color that I loved.

    Also, we learned that Jusko’s family, the Hajeks, rule a city in the west, Vallicki.

    These details didn’t mean anything today but I adore them and sometimes they end up being THE thing that changes the campaign. Ya never know.

  • The team witnessed the March of the Dead, in which the ghosts of adventurers who have fought Strahd and died rise and march to re-live their deaths as they walk to Castle Ravenloft.

  • They dug up the body of one of their former comrades from another team, Dylan was a warlock. Strahd ripped out his heart with his bare hands. When they asked Dylan how he suggested they proceed he said, “Don’t. This mission is folly. Pay the Vistani whatever they ask and make your way to Gloomwrought. From there you should be able to make your way home eventually through the Shadowfell…”

    They learned that the previous team had headed west to find something called the Amber Temple on the western slopes of Mt. Ghakis.

  • They found Father Donavich holding his son, Boru, in the undercroft while sobbing. The boy, inspired by strangers recently in town. After some discussions about morality and such, they decided to chalk this up as a local conflict and leave it be. They vampire-bitten young man had gone berserk right about when Bugwump cast Leomund’s Tiny Hut (scrying doesn’t penetrate the hut).

    As they left, the priest to the Morninglord was sitting atop the undercroft door, sobbing quietly.

    Ah, Ravenloft…

  • They tracked the previous team as they went off the road and headed west. They team left glyphs to let any other Outlands Expedition Teams know that they were headed to the western slope of the mountain and that they were being hunted by something following them.

    One of the awesome players at our table suggested that these glyphs teams leave for one another are an off-shoot of thieves’ cant; so rogues can often tease out more details or leave more nuanced messages.

  • The pack of werewolves hunting the team (7 in total, Trundle the Dwarven Ranger could tell) suddenly headed westward, up the mountain. It didn’t make much sense. They found a barrow adorned with goat and deer skulls where one of the werewolves was interred, having been killed by silver arrows and a pit trap and some more silver arrows. Helewyn wisely dug out the silver arrows.

  • Next week we begin with the pack trying to flank a lone archer on an old goat path known as the Blood Moon Path.

  • This game being a mission, where they want to get their comrades out and get back home to Sigil has changed the tenor of the game. Destroying Strahd is a tertiary goal. The team is very willing to leave situations be and not get embroiled in what they see as endless local nonsense. They are invested but they have their eye on the prize – getting their friends out. Very interesting…

Human/Bat Skeleton Subject Marker

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Curse of Strahd, Session III, Wolves and Souls

Curse of Strahd, Session III, Wolves and Souls

In which the Outlands Expedition Team heads to the village of Barovia and is tested by a pack of wolves.

  • Bugwump throws up a Leomund’s Tiny Hut and everyone tries to get some rest after the battle of Ravenwatch. Kuru was on watch when the wolves came the first time, digging around the magical bubble put up by Bugwump. Then they returned in greater numbers with a villager. When the biggest wolf put his jaws on the villager’s throat, the villager says, “Strahd is the Land and the Land is Strahd!” over and over.

  • Bugwump wanted everyone to just let him sleep but that wasn’t the team consensus. They jumped out and handled the wolves. Helewyn misty-stepped and saved the villager. Kuru threw a lightning bolt and zapped 6 wolves in a shot. In a round of combat the wolves were about wiped.

  • The last wolf vomited out an envelope but the group just shoved it into a fire before retreating into the forest.

  • The villager they saved is named Kobal. Gem of True Seeing showed that Kobal didn’t seem to have a soul. After some discussion and some History and Arcana rolls, they realized that there aren’t enough souls in the demi-plane, some are without. What does this mean?

    Welcome to Ravenloft: Enter the Mists for
    the Gothic Fantasy.

    Stay for the philosophical debates concerning souls.

    Failed Soldier is eyeing Kobal’s body; his current body, the corpse of the thief-god, is starting to decompose.

  • They visited Bildrath’s Mercantile and saw Outlands Expedition Team code (y’know, like the old hobo glyphs). It said that the prices were inflated. And now that is a cool thing in the setting to look for when another team has been somewhere.

  • One of the members of the previous team was a vampire in the initial attack but they’re thinking about the rest of the team. A while ago I asked friends to make up members of an expedition team, so I have fun descriptions of the other team.

    Crum

    An inquisitive bespectacled dwarf knowledge cleric who has spent a century cataloging various Outland portals. Membership in the OET feeds his need for discovery. Send this fool to Ravenloft.

    Lem

    An herbalist who rustles when they walk from all the dry leaf-filled pouches they have with them. Their sense of organization is terrible, though. Lot of digging, fair amount of tasting & chewing to verify. Which sometimes leads to minor incapacitation, sure.

    Adjo, a veteran of three wars, a skilled tracker of a dozen terrains, cursed with a soft heart. Also: He could give a shit about the O.E.T., only agreeing to it to use the deputization in his secret quest to find his fugitive daughter.

    Dylan

    A one-eyed Tiefling Warlock pledged to Vecna.  They wield a wickedly sharp sword made of bone and sinew.  They are tasked by Vecna to find strongholds of Kas and destroy them.  The OET is a cover for their real mission. How does the Lady of Pain feel about this?

  • After seeing Helewyn misty-step, Jusko told her about his magic sword, a vorpal blade with a long and ancient history of beheading. “When the time comes, you misty-step to Strahd and you will have this sword. He saw it on me but won’t know that it is on you now…”

human/bat skeleton divder

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The Between: The St. James’s Street Ghost

The Between: The St. James’s Street Ghost

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/360858/The-Between

“But if one is to engage with the primordial forces of darkness, one must expect a bit of social awkwardness.”

Penny Dreadful, S1E2, Séance

The Thursday night posse six players, only two could make it. So, I invited a dear friend who I knew was game-hungry (after checking in with the two other players) and read over The Between by Jason Cardova. There are only so many nights for gaming during the Halloween season and the slight chill in the air means tonight is one of them. Felt wrong to cancel; let’s play.

Pumpkin headed ghost things riding black cats on a Hallowe’en card from NYPL’s Digital Collection: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/5b060c20-5234-0132-c398-58d385a7bbd0

I don’t like one-shots. I can do them but just don’t really enjoy them. At cons, even after a great con session, I’m always left feeling, “That was fun but the next session would’ve been even better.” The Between‘s mechanics agree with me. The game’s structure has different phases (Dawn, Day, Dusk and Night). We get through Day and into Dusk in two hours (including chargen). The first session guidelines are very clear. After two hours the mechanics were just starting to get warmed up and we had details generated through play that were good fun.

Bar-armed skeleton

Clues

Below are the clues gathered by the intrepid supernatural hunters of the Hargrave House:

Harold’s ledger contains entries for strange household expenses he can’t explain, like “thought-casting” and “dream whisperer” and “pig gifts.”

A porcelain vase filled with fresh, warm blood.

The sound of someone falling down stairs; there’s no one there when you investigate.

A stack of love letters from another time.

Those are right off of the pre-made Threat, The St. James’s Street Ghost out of the book, suggested as the Threat to start with. But it isn’t a monster of the week, where each threat will be tidied up. During the next Day phase I’d probably introduce a new threat. I like the idea of them piling up a bit – not EVERY Day phase but enough that things get a little hectic and busy.

Bar-armed skeleton

Residents of the Hargrave House

Our characters were (with pics of Queen Victoria’s blood-spattered head as bullet-points):

Eoin Clay, the American, the Duchess’ resident American, don’t you know.

Winfree Humes, the Duchess’ servant

Duchess Josephine Thornwood, Duchess of Abercald

Bar-armed skeleton

Mechanics

During the Dusk phase, we set a scene in a room in Hargrave House, the characters’ headquarters, and flesh it out a bit. The question for the Trophy Room asked the table what the hunters of the supernatural who had previously lived in the house had left. We’ve got a box full of vampire teeth, a fire-scorched unicorn’s horn and a jar filled with vinegar with an organ floating in it labelled, Siren’s Voice-Box. The Questions put in place to ask players for these kinds of scenes (painting the scene, Jason calls it) are well wrought, written by someone who has used this technique for years.

I need to talk more about Unscenes but barely got to touch this new toy, only kind of hinted at their existence as we finished the Dusk phase and ended the first session. They come to life in the Night phase. More on Unscenes later.

When I read that the GM didn’t have an idea of what the mystery actually was and would find out through dice rolls along with the rest of the table, I was skeptical. Shit works. The way the Answer a Question move is fed from clues found in the Information Move is really slick.

The Dawn Questions are clearly Blades in the Dark XP tech but choosing 2 of the 5 XP prompts from a list is a classy touch.

Masks are kind of like Resistance Rolls, only instead of rolling the player narrates something about their past or evolves and changes and it nudges the results up a tier. From a miss to a 7-9, from 7-9 to 10-11 and 10-11 to a 12+. You can nudge the dice but doing so either unveils a piece of the character’s history or activates something from their past and brings it into the game as a concrete Threat.

I’m smitten and not because Jason is a friend and co-conspirator. Believe me when I tell you that I’ve played friends’ games before and not written about them. It is $15. Go grab a copy and walk the streets of Victorian London with your friends this Halloween. Let me know how it goes.

Bar-armed skeleton

Epilogue

As the game ended, Mr. Humes handing the Beale baby off to the Duchess’ maid, the Duchess was reading up on London ghosts and Eoin Clay was standing under a neighbor’s eaves in the rain, smoking a cigar, watching the haunted house they were investigating, waiting for something to happen.

Night was about to fall; something was about to occur.

Looking forward to finding out what and how this trio will deal with it, what we’ll learn about them in the process.

Bar-armed skeleton

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Curse of Strahd, Session II, Battle of Ravenwatch

Curse of Strahd / Session II / Battle of Ravenatch with bats fluttering in the light of a huge moon
human/bat skeleton
  • Kuru, being followed by Strahd, throws a fake amulet in another direction so he can get to Jusko and turn invisible. Deception with Dex bonus; Strahd falls for the sleight of hand.

  • Battle on the stairway continues with Failed Soldier, Corpseflea Grave Cleric, Helewynn, Moon Elf Barbarian and Bugwump, Frog-kin Wizard. Interesting judgment call when the cleric cast Daylight. Does it count as sunlight against vampires? Third level cleric spell, I said it does (to great effect). It doesn’t say so in the spell description but…seems clear to me.

    Thoughts?

  • Failed Soldier opened a portal door near a shrine to Ulmed to what usually leads to a Godroad but it was only a closet with old scrolls with desperate unanswered prayers. No Godroads in Ravenloft, it seems.

    There was a prayer from a young lady who has dreams about being chased and killed by Strahd…

  • Jusko tried to intimidate Strahd but they tied. Would it have damaged Strahd’s mystique if he had pulled back his forces after an intimidation check? Maybe.

    It was a cool-ass speech.

  • Trundle tried to save the Cardinal Inquisitor’s life after his chest was ripped open by Strahd but they died for good when Strahd threw a fireball at Kuru, the Halfling Rogue, Jusko, Human Fighter and Trundle, Dwarven Ranger. He damaged them badly, some folks were in single digits at that point.

    Jusko talked shit to him about throwing a spell.

  • Then Jusko and Trundle joined the battle on the stairwell, leaving Kuru alone and invisible in the room with the portal to Sigil. Strahd polymorphed into Jusko and begged the City Agent to take away the telekinetic block on their side of the portal. The block came down and Kuru attempted to destroy the portal with his knife that can cut spells. He did 18 of 20 points of damage but didn’t quite bring it down. Next round, Strahd would walk through the portal into Sigil.

  • Helewynn traded blows with a Moon Elf sworn to Strahd. Helewynn expressed disdain for one of her own kind serving a monster; the Moon Elf sister answered, “You should learn more about the Lady of Pain before judging me for serving Strahd.”

    For those following at home, Rahadin is now a Moon Elf maiden.

    In the end, Rahadin misty-stepped away as Strahd departed.

  • Jusko tackled Strahd and Trundle cut him with a flame-brand short sword, leaving a scar. Strahd turned to mist and withdrew as Bugwup took position in front of the portal, rocking a, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

    Strahd could’ve made it through the portal but he would’ve been damaged during daylight (it was day in Sigil) in a strange new place. He had seen a Githyanki mage and a Drider on the other side. Nah, he’ll withdraw and come at it another way.

  • They grabbed what they could from the monastery and headed out into the forest.

    Stuff: magic sword from Cardinal Inquisitor, map of Barovia, Book of Strahd, Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, Books on Monster Hunting, Books on Demi-Planar Theory, cloaks, foodstuffs, etc.

    One of the dead vampires was a member of the former Outlands Expedition Team

  • No levels this session via the Bingo Board XP:

human/bat skeleton

This design and more in the Tabletop Role-Playing Game Collection…

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    Curse of Strahd, Session I: Welcome to Barovia

    Curse of Strahd, Session I: Welcome to Barovia

    Curse of Strahd I Welcome to Barovia
    Skeleton with bat-skeleton wings, section divider
    • The Outlands Expedition Team goes through a portal in an abandoned side-street of Sigil into Ravenwatch, a monastery in Ravenloft, the Demi-Plane of Dread, being used as a chapterhouse by the Ulmist Inquisitors. The Outlands Expedition Team’s mission is to retrieve any living members of the last team to attempt this mission and stop Strahd from breaking free of Ravenloft.

    • The Godroads have been their ace in the hole and their research to find out if the Godroads reach into the Demi-Plane of Dread was inconclusive. They found a vague mention of it in Jusko’s great-great aunt’s diary: “No prayers seem to reach this fell place.”

    • Speaking of Jusko, his family abandoned his ancestral home. Turns out someone (psst, it is Jusko who did it) wrote the family name on a young world and the family has left to live there, as it is their birthright. I’ve been sitting on that detail for months; it was nice to finally have a good reason to share it.

    • Another bit of lore they dug up, talking to Jusko’s dead great-grandfather, is that Strahd had a wizard counselor who became a lich and left Barovia to rule a domain of his own in the Demi-Plane of Dread. If anyone might know a way out of Ravenloft, it’d be Azalin Rex…

    • The portal is locked on the Sigil-side by a Githyanki psionicist who blocks it with a telekinetic wall. As they enter into Ravenwatch’s cellar, Strahd’s attack begins. Swarms of bats and rats cover the floor and ceiling.

    • Bugwump thunderwaves the swarms back, clearing the path for Failed Soldier and Hellewyn to take the fight to the stairs, where heavily armored vampire spawn are attacking with zombies on chains like hounds. They feel Strahd’s fell presence move by them at great speed but do not see him.

    • In a moment of the battle in which Bugwump thunderwaves the vampire spawn and their zombies, Hellewyn sees a moon-elf, of similar lineage to her own, fighting on Strahd’s side at the top of the steps.

    • Jusko stayed in the room with the portal, seeing himself as the link between the split party. As Strahd passes, he welcomes his cousin, Jusko Hajek, to Barovia. Jusko, vorpal sword in hand, beckons Strahd to come closer. Strahd recognizes the ancient blade and declines. “We will talk under more hospitable circumstances. Welcome to Barovia.” Jusko feels Strahd move away.

    • Kuru and Trundle use oil and fire to clear the swarms, trying to get to a secret armory. The inquisitor is killed by Strahd, who plunges his hands into his chest cavity and opens him up like a can of beans. Kuru’s failed Perception check tells him that the Inquisitor is dead; there is no saving him.

    • I forgot to look at the map I keyed weeks ago and the notes I made for that map. *sigh*

      Still, it was a fun start. We ended in the midst of the battle and will begin there next week.

    Return of the Skeleton with bat-skeleton wings, section divider

    If you want to read more about the Ulmist Inquisitors, I wrote up 13 fell pages in a pdf.