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Through the Looking-Arch
My head swims with all the various events shown to us by the portal, and I take the earliest opportunity to retire to some privacy. I begin conjuring illusions from my memory, and then comparing them against my journal to see which relate to events in our past. Hopefully I've gotten my mind into some sense of order now:

* A Red Woman is sorting through gems, and handing them over to Drow
* This reminds me of Vaniffer - a half-demon dancer\concubine from Greyhawk city.
* Before the timeskip, she led the Eternal Flame cult, one of the four factions serving the Elder Elemental Eye, AKA Tharizdun. The gems had to do with a ritual to free Tharizdun.
* She led the gnolls of the Hellfurnace Mountains (banished Longtooth, whose band wiped out Ganaway), and was involved in the kidnapping of Taggus' uncle.

* A meteor hits a dome (the World Shield), and drow are picking up pieces of meteorite.
* This also happened before the timeskip - we were assisted in gathering meteorite pieces by the sage Quizlat, who used a magic telescope to put together a map of where they had fallen.
* Back then, Vaniffer's gnolls were trying to gather the meteorite pieces, as part of the cult's plans for freeing Tharizdun.

* A sinister, hunched-over figure in dark robes, leaning on staff with tentacles, leaves the ruined dwarven city (Besilmer?) from a side room.
* This was the long-forgotten kingdom of the Blusterhelm clan - known for mining mithril. Their king, Torhild Flametongue, was known for a magical axe - Orcsplitter.
* Before the timeskip, the ruined city was being used as the current site of the Temple of Elemental Evil - dedicated to Tharizdun.
* We fought the various elemental cults, and disrupted their plans to harness the power supply of a trans-dimensionally stuck device (ie: Tardis) to break through the World Shield. The dark-robed figure is presumably a high-ranking cultist or one of their allies.
* This is where Oscar got his Iron Fang (aka Sonic Screwdriver)

* A Red Woman sits in a well-decorated throne room speaking to people in red-inscribed black robes and 'black thorn' necklaces.
* These cultists are a faction of the Scarlet Brotherhood called the Black Thorns - before the timeskip, they attacked Varis in Hokar.
* Apparently, during the timeskip, the Scarlet Brotherhood took over the Sea Princes region. It's unclear what happend to the previous leader - the Plar of Hool.

* A vampire follows us out of the portal from Barovia; Later, he is in a dungeon, speaking with Black Thorns cultists.
* It's unclear if he's allied with the cult, or simply sharing information (about us?)

* In regards to the Storm Giant King Hecaton - Oscar (during his time as a fire giant) is holding a key and is locking a big portal door. He takes a jeweled cask and sneaks away. As he leaves the Hellfurnace Mountains, a Drow watches him go.
* This is presumably from the time of Oscar's engagement to a Fire Giant princess, and the chaos he caused on his way out (pissing off Snurre).

* Wierd fire giant rods/flails have inscriptions of tentacles
* We encountered a group of Fire Giants with these rods in the Barrier Peaks - they are presumably now involved with Tharizdun as well.

* King Snurre stands over a huge metal figure in pieces with indentations for gems (something about the number 333). It is apparently an Ancient Suel construct. A wizard in ornate robes floats in the distance, surrounded by demon lackies, controlling the construct as it crushes armies.
* The only ancient Suel Wizard we're familiar with is the Plar of Hool (a Suel Lich), who hired us to clear out the Temple of Elemental Evil.
* We ended up in Sigil & then Barovia before we could get paid for our efforts (10,000gp each). We still have a fingerbone he gave us - if crushed and eaten, it takes us to his teleportation circle in Hokar (again, probably under the Scarlet Brotherhood's control now).

* Tharizdun (the Chained God, Elder Elemental Eye, etc.) - shown as a cloud contained within the World Shield. Down under the world; a circular chamber with chaotic faces (happy, crying, etc.) - slumbering, but waking.
* Tharizdun is an Elder Elemental God - The current Gods locked him within the World Shield by turning his own power against him (a partial trap he weaved around himself). He can influence the world, but can't break free without aid.
* We may have stopped the plots to free him pre-timeskip, but he's constantly recruiting new followers and making new plans, and it has been a long time.
* It's unclear if the circular chamber also refers to Tharizdun, or something else related to him.

* The Snow Queen's Iceberg fortress - The Snow Queen holds a black pearl, and a giant kraken rises up and grabs the iceberg.
* Possibly she's using it to move her fortress?

* Mordenkainen - in a study somewhere, head in hands; other wizards nearby & upset. We see a wizard walking into the wastes (of Suel)
* Presumably this was someone trying to retrieve Suel artifacts (which seem to factor heavily into Thazridun's plans).

* Blackened circle of stones in Valley of the Mage - Valley Elves kneeling in front of Thing in circle.
* This may explain why they are shunned both by light and dark elves alike - the first thing that comes to mind would be that they aided Tharizdun.
* However, Tharizdun may now have Drow working for him in addition to the Valley Elves? It's not clear yet.
* Battle of Em-radin Meadows? Original Temple of Elemental Evil?
* The door containing symbols of all the gods likely has something to do with all of the gods joining together to trap Thazridun.

* Petrified Tree\Tower in Valley of the Mage - was around & alive during the age of the Dinosaurs

* A villiage surrounding a tower is wiped out by a huge landslide. Cultists enter tower and leave with Black Orb (like the one downstairs?). A Black Orb hovers in a stone circle, with black-robed cultists around it.
* The Black Orbs may be a sort of power source for various Ancient Suel Artifacts (the mephit touching the one downstairs seems to have partially-activated the Arch).

* Zepheros - in his tower drinking tea.

* Storm Giant King Hecaton - in warded room, banded up & unconscious; This may be in the Hellfurnace Mountains - specifically in the mountain keep near Kusnir and Ganaway, which we defended from an army (Fire Giants leading Gnolls, Hobgoblins, etc.). Bands of fire giants are maurading in the Sea Princes region.
* Pre-timeskip, we saved Gerd, daughter of the Fire Giant Bloodfyre. She had apparently been kidnapped by an Ogrillion wielding an arifact called the Gauntlet - with the intention of starting a war.
* Gerd was trapped in 'The Prison', a magical book with 36 compartments controlled by black and white gems (located deep within the keep) - this could be where Hecaton is now?

* Suel Empire Dragon Sword - A Knight comes from the shadows and stabs a powerful wizard (the one controlling the construct from before?)

* Ancient White Dragon from the Snow Queen's Fortress - Female, and meeting with weird dragons; A war is starting? Dragons are no longer being controlled?
* This may be retaliation agains the giants, an attack on us to recover her eggs, or both. If we have some way to return the eggs unharmed, it might be a good idea.

* Someone is trying to poke a hole in a barrier to get in. A Fire Giant cleric tries to cast a ritual to break into Barovia, while King Snurre watches impatiently.
* This was from when Snurre was trying to reach Oscar, after his flight from the engagement, and the resulting chaos.
Session: Valley of the Mage! - Tuesday, Feb 13 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Aftermath of the fight
The fight is over. Everyone is alive but Bad Wolf and the sailors Oscar brought with. We notice two giant chests, and some white dragon eggs frozen in ice near the Ice Queen's throne.

Theron casts a Teleportation circle to take us back to his home in the Valley of the Mage. We manage to gather up the eggs and the contents of the chests before we leave (the eggs are melted out of the ice block, but later re-frozen and put into a cold room).

We retire to Theron’s reception room and inventory the loot:
  • Coins: 1000 sp,1200 gp, 110 pp - out of this we give 100gp to Theron, 600gp to Varis, and 300gp to Corin for spell components (teleport, revivify). The rest is divided up, and everyone gets 187gp
  • Carved Wooden Staff (25 gp), Feathered Talisman (25 gp), Rabbit Fur Ribbon (25 gp), Ceramic Orb (25 gp)
  • +1 Rod of the Pact Keeper (uncommon, dmg 197) (+1 to warlock attack spells and save DC’s; can regain one warlock spell slot as an action while holding the rod - usable once per long rest)
  • Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location (uncommon, dmg 150) (wearer is hidden from divination magic; can’t be targeted by divination magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors)
  • Gauntlets of Ogre Power (uncommon, dmg 171) (Strength of 19 while wearing - no effect on PC with Strength 19 or higher)
  • Scroll written in magical code
  • Orb of Dragonkind

The Orb was apparently created during a series of giant vs. dragon wars. Some wizards trapped evil dragon essences into the orbs during their creation. We discuss whether to destroy it, but decide to rest for the night first. In the morning, Theron casts Legend Lore finding out the following:

The orb contains a black dragon essence (Boivontenth). It requires attunement to use it - it will test your worthiness. It was custom created by a particular mage - each orb has individual properties the bearer can use.

Miri tries to attune with the orb (24 Cha Save) - finds out the properties:
  • The orb has 7 charges and regains 1d4 + 3 expended charges daily at dawn.

  • Spells - If you control the orb, you can use an action and expend 1 or more charges to cast one of the following spells (save DC 18) from it:

  • Cure Wounds (5th-level version, 3 charges)
  • Daylight (1 charge)
  • Death Ward (2 charges)
  • Scrying (3 charges).
  • Detect Magic (0 charges)

  • Call Dragons:

  • While you control the orb, you can use an action to cause the artifact to issue a telepathic call that extends in all directions for 40 miles.

    Evil dragons in range feel compelled to come to the orb as soon as possible by the most direct route. Dragon deities such as Tiamat are unaffected by this call.

    Dragons drawn to the orb might be hostile toward you for compelling them against their will. Once you have used this property, it can't be used again for 1 hour.

  • Destroying an Orb:

  • An Orb of Dragonkind appears fragile but is impervious to most damage, including the attacks and breath weapons of dragons. A disintegrate spell or one good hit from a +3 magic weapon is sufficient to destroy an orb, however.

  • Random properties - some were re-rolled, so still confirming that these are all correct

  • Sentinel - when within 120’ of dragon, the orb will glow

  • Can activate the orb as a beacon - it creates bright light within 10’, and dim light for another 10’ (unlimited duration)

  • While attuned to the orb, pc can use an action to cast a 5th level spell (from his\her spell list?) and then roll 1d6 - on 1-5, can’t cast it again until next dawn

  • While attuned to the artifact, non-magical flames are extinguished within 30’ of pc

  • The orb imprisions a death slaad - each time pc uses one of the orb’s properties as an action, it has a 10% chance of escaping, appearing within 15’ of pc, and attacking them

After we have rested and taken stock of our situation, we discuss what our goal is now. Peck seems to be the best one to use the Gauntlets of Ogre Power, and we decide to give Aramil the "Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location". This will hopefully prevent him from being tracked down again by the Frost Giants' magic, in their search for the Ring of Winter.

Ultimately, our goal is to find the Storm Giant King (Hekaton); Someone disrupted the Giant court, and he is now missing (causing the rift which led to each side running wild, trying to gain an advantage over the others. Some leads we have to look into include the mage Mordenkainen (assuming he has regained his sanity) and the Cloud Giant Zephyros (assuming he's willing to reconsider our worthiness after recent events). It may also be worthwhile to make a stop at Greyhawk City to do some further research in the library, or to pick up any needed supplies.
Session: Circle in Time? - Tuesday, Jan 23 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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How many giants does it take to defeat us? More than this, apparently.
I had a bad feeling about taking the invitation to the Ice Queen's lair. That said, the time for stealth had clearly passed - may as well confront her before spending any more of our strength. The bad feeling grew as we discovered how many of her followers were close to hand in her throne room.

It didn't appear that we had anything to negotiate about, so I led the fight off with a roar - two roars, specifically, as I turned Peck and Aramil into Tyrant Lizards. The Ice Queen didn't seem to appreciate the evening of the odds, because she followed up with a word of death. As I slipped from consciousness, I could feel the Polymorph spell dropping.

I found out later that the party had responded to that first with a Fire Wall by Varis, to begin softening up and hindering our foes. The rest of the group then targeted the Queen with a focused assault, followed by a Sleep spell by Miri - only just powerful enough to take hold after the beating she had taken. This gave Peck the opportunity to administer the Coup de Gras, finishing her off.

Rather than surrender, the remaining giants continued the attack. To keep it out of their hands, the Queen's Orb was picked up first by Oscar, who narrowly avoided domination by the device. Miri then took it off his hands, and was able to firmly resist it. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no time to Attune with the device and make use of it now (too bad - my impression is that the giants were only barely keeping their dragon 'pets' under control even with the Orb).

The rest of the party engaged the remaining giants, with mixed results. Anton and Theron each caught a group of them with Lightning spells, but the giants ganged up on Anton and Oscar... managing to bring both of them down. With the giants clear of his Fire Wall, Varis switched to a Blade Barrier just above our heads - weakening our foes further and giving us cover.

It was at this point that my journey on to the afterlife was interrupted by Varis' Revivify spell. Noticing that he had also saved Oscar with a Healing Word, I responded with another T-Rex Polymorph for both of us. We rejoined the fight with renewed vigor, and Oscar was able to take down one of the giants after a brief scrape with the Blade Barrier. Peck was able to save Anton with a healing spell.

Theron put up a Sphere of Force around himself - knocking the giants away and killing one by knocking it into the Blade Barrier. The giants retaliated, taking Anton out again, but Varis incinerated one with a Flame Strike and revived Anton with a Healing Word. Peck and Miri's wounds forced them to hide, while Oscar continued his prehistoric rampage - killing two giants.

Anton served up another helping of Lightning, and Theron traded his Force Sphere for an Air Elemental to distract one of the giants. Aramil protected himself with a Blink spell, and slew a giant which was harassing Anton. The remaining giants rallied again - knocking down Anton and nearly doing the same to me (I changed forms at the last moment, and protected myself with a Shield spell). Miri healed Anton, and the Air Elemental engulfed a giant.

Varis wounded several giants with a Radiant Dawn, and I bolstered the party with a Mass Cure Wounds - followed by a Spiritual Weapon to pressure one of the giants. Peck sniped giants from hiding, killing one, and Oscar continued his fight with two of them before being knocked down and out of Dino form. Anton was finally able to disengage and hide, and Theron tossed more Lightning.

At this point, the tide of the battle turned entirely in our favor. Miri continued healing the party, saving Oscar... while the Air Elemental finished off a giant. Varis used his last Radiant Dawn to blast the life out of another, while I cast another Mass Cure Wounds. The last three giants were slain by Oscar, Anton, and Theron. I think I missed a giant or two in all of that, but what a fight!

We all stopped to catch our breath - our thoughts turning immediately to escape. Theron informed us that he had kept back one teleportation circle - he just needs a minute uninterrupted to cast it. I suggested we quickly loot the bodies, and then pile them up in the doorways to buy us time. I'm temped to see what treasure we could find here, but I think we have little time to spare for it.
Session: Frost hall of death! - Tuesday, Jan 09 2018 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Out of the Dragon's maw... into another's !?!
So we can add 'Dragonsbane' to our list of honorifics - although, I got a strange sense of Deja-vu about that. The gargantuan white beast took out many of Draven Thornbolt's fine crew, though Varis and I were able to bring two of them back from the brink with a little Divine intercession. That eases my mind to some degree - this isn't their fight, though I noticed their cook acquitted himself quite heroically.

We continue on, and the lookout yells ‘sails’ - this turns out to be a a wrecked ship (the 'Wander', apparently - a whaling ship). We pass close enough to hail the ship, and get no response. We notice marks of a dragon attack, and no lifeboats left on it. As discuss whether there's anyone left to rescue, Blackwolf smells human & chickens on ship.

We grapple onto the ship, head to the front with ropes, and my blade quickly de-ices the doors. We open the passenger area, and find no one - it was looted (by giants, no doubt), but they left behind an emerald (worth 300gp), 20 silver pieces, and two pieces of scrimshaw (worth 10gp each).

Continuing on towards the back of the ship, in the hold, we find chickens, 4 goats, and the cook (Bor Medred). He is unconscious, and suffering from hypothermia. Varis is able to cure this, and we take him back to our ship. Apparently his vessel was having some difficulty with their hunt, due to giants in the area also taking whales. They must've ended up too far afield in their search, because they encountered a giant longship with a shackled dragon (sounds familiar) which wiped them out & looted them. Bor heard in bits and pieces that the dragon apparently didn't come back to the ship after the fight, much to the giants consternation.

We keep going, and were able to get in a long rest unhindered. On a sleety day, we again get a call of ‘Sails’ - a giant longship! They pass us by (possibly aided by some impromptu magic to hide us), and seem to be following a guiding device parallel with the shore to deeper waters (looking for another of Aramil's family?) Further out, we see a bigger iceberg, with a huge hole down to the water-line (with a giant black chain hanging out from it, and a giant frosted face above it). Our ship anchors at an iceberg and lets us off. Draven is only willing to stay for 24 hours - if we're not back by then, we'll have to find our own way home.

We come up with the following plan to surprise the giants: Anton casts water-walking, and we head straight there single-file (behind a minor illusion I keep up, of the area behind us) As we get closer, we see large arctic owls - might be dangerous if hostile. We get a better look of the giant face - a depiction of a giant ocean god. We get a bit of a scare about the possibility of giant sea creatures swimming below us (the area is known for them), but we make it safely to the iceberg (off to the side of the opening)

Around this time, a SECOND huge white dragon flies out of the cave in the direction we came from. We hear signs of battle, and then see it come back with Draven in its claw. I'm not optimistic about the rest of his crew, but it looks like we've got someone else to save. We use two upscaled Invisibility spells along with a Locate Object (targeting Aramil's signet ring), and then head into the cave (using ropes to stay together).

Peering around the edge, we see a large harbor inside with five giant longships and 1 normal ship (possibly of elvish make?). A giant staircase of ice seems to lead up to a huge ice castle, and below that is a wide, bloodstained beach (covered with whale bones). We cut across the bay inside the harbor, up the beach, along the edges and up the ramp towards the castle.

Peck squeezes under a door on the ramp, and finds three people frozen solid against the wall (no one we know). With a combination of Wildshape, Polymorph, and Dimension Door, we're all able to make it through the door quietly. We replace the invisibility spells and pass through another door, narrowly evading an axe-wielding Giant sentry. He seems to hear us, but we're able to sneak past him and then flatten up against the wall.

We make it to a 4-way intersection, leading to a kitchen and various shut doors. With our options seemingly limited, we continue straight (following the locate spell) to a locked door.
Peck picks the lock, which attracts the attention of the giants inside (note to self - good time for a Silence spell). We decide that the time for stealth is past, and engage the pair of giants in the room. The fight seems to be going well, but their yells of pain are attracting further attention. I square my shoulders and prepare for a long fight.
Session: Did that iceberg move? - Tuesday, Dec 12 2017 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Moving Forward
As I kneel on familiar ground and breathe the fresh air again, I'm overwhelmed by a rush of events demanding my attention:

  • First - my star-metal nugget no longer feels warm. It was once a conduit of power, but it is now cut off. I don't feel anger or betrayal - more of a sense of closure. If I had to guess, it seems that whatever purpose Ulban had set out for me is now complete, and our pact has been withdrawn. Perhaps he will have need of me again some day, or perhaps the Messenger will find a new vessel.
  • Second - I feel a greater connection than ever to Delleb. What was only the barest lifeline while trapped in Strahd's realm is now a floodgate. A torrent of knowledge floods in to replace what I've lost, and to provide me with a new purpose:
  • Rather than focus my energies on avenging the wrongs I witness, I'm being called to be as his favored sabre to strike down Tyranny and preserve the sanctity of life. I'm humbled by the honor. There are stories of those empowered this way in the past - mainly to oppose the works of Hextor during times of great conflict.
  • As a result, I retain most of my Paladin training (but have been released from my Oath of Vengeance). In place of my former arcane powers, I have been imbued with divine magics - some resembling those of a sorcerer (ranging from taking flight to tossing fireballs), and some focused on the domain of life (curing the sick and even raising the dead).
Session: Problem 1 - Tuesday, Sep 26 2017 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Tags: backstory , Summary
Waking from a Nightmare
As we pass through the mists and back into our homeland, the memories of our recent adventures start to seem foggy and unreal. At this point, the following still sticks in my mind:

Oscar, Anton, and I left the Vistani wagon heading out of Ravenloft, and turned back toward Valaki. We were met by Laucian - a Cleric survivor of Mordenkainen's peasant army, Randy - a Bard from another world, and Sergei - a Paladin who had a run-in with the Vistani. They agreed to join us, so we gathered up supplies & horses and headed towards Strahd's castle.

Rather than barge through the main gate - setting off traps and attracting guardians, we discovered a back door of sorts. We had just enough magic between us to levitate slowly up behind the castle to the attached outbuildings, then shatter a window and enter. We discovered coffins identified as King Barov and Queen Ravenovia. There seemed to be no threat, so we left them in peace.

We dispelled a blue magical field around the outbuilding, and entered the burial vault. We explored a group of numbered crypts, including one with Laucian's named on it (and containing his 'corpse') - more of Strahd's deceit, no doubt. Another crypt belonged to Gralmore Niblenobs - inside we found a white-bearded corpse clutching a staff of brass and marble. Ray put the staff into a shallow recess in a slab within the crypt, which opened a chamber containing a leather case containing a sword hilt.

We discovered that the hilt was magical - upon wielding it, a shimmering blade projected from the hilt. Somehow I got an empathic reading from the blade - it apparently belonged to Sergei (Strahd's brother). It was originally a thin crystal blade, before Strahd instructed a wizard to destroy it. Somehow, the wizard's apprentice (Niblenobs) snuck the hilt out and preserved the enchantment - deadly to undead creatures. I accepted the weapon to use against Strahd.

Further inside the vault, we discovered a room containing three coffins - these turned out to belong to three women in wedding dresses who rose out to attack us (along with swarms of bats from the vault). We were able to destroy one and drive off another, only to be confronted with Strahd himself.

Little remains in my mind of the fight with Strahd, except that it was long and grueling. He struck again and again with powerful spells, transported himself around the room to frustrate our tactics, and taxed the last reserves of our strength - but somehow we prevailed. We did everything we were aware of from Van Richten's notes to dispose of the beast for good, and left the castle behind.

Unfortunately, it seems that this evil realm abhors a vacuum - without a new Lord to take Strahd's place, he main return again regardless. I'm not sure how I know this - perhaps a final taunt from the vampire. All I know for sure is that my vengeance is spent - yet it feels empty.
Session: Stay Alive - Wednesday, Oct 12 2016 from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM
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The Grim Guzzlers
As as result of our 'changing of the guard', we now find ourselves in a position to change Valaki for the better. Based on some divine inspiration, and discussions with Van Richten and Irwin, I plan to found a new society in town: The Grim Guzzlers.

Step one is a simple concept: the townsfolk get together regularly to drink, commiserate over their hardships, and swap stories. It won't be about forced happiness - folk are free to sing sad songs, yell & squabble, or share dark humor. With the enchanted stone returned, Irwin should now be able to restore the town winery. I will assist with any funds needed to hire more laborers or what-not, to get the booze flowing again. That (and word-of-mouth) should provide incentive for folk to join the new group - rather than the old Burgomaster's plan of forced attendance.

Step two gets a bit more complicated - it draws from a tradition in the Church of Delleb back in Greyhawk. I use our allies to identify useful people attending the gatherings: stout-hearted toughs, greybeards with some sense, wise old grannies, etc. We ask these folk to pay special attention to any useful information shared by others: tales of dangerous beasts and what works against them; suspicious types stirring up strife; fellow townsfolk needing assistance; places to avoid; etc.

The information that checks out is then recorded, and fleshed out by Van Richten from his own experience (under his 'pen name', of course). It will be handed out to the townsfolk in the form of simple 'Grey Almanacs' - short scrolls with basic news and lore at first, but building from there (while not drawing too much unwanted attention). The general idea is to fight ignorance among the people, and give them some small measure of hope and pride.

Step three is the most critical: I will be personally meeting with as many folk in town as I can (primarily through the society), and request divine insight into likely candidates. Those that show interest and aptitude will be given simple ciphers that I memorized during my early training at the Temple of Delleb. These reveal additional lore coded in the Almanacs, as well as training regimens, mental exercises, and prayers. In effect, I'm creating a 'hidden in plain sight' temple based on the precepts of Delleb, and the beginnings of a local chapter of 'Knights of the Book'.

The new society is basically designed to be beneath Strahd's notice as much as possible (ie: it's just a bunch of drunk peasants), and not to be dependent on any one leader. I'll take under consideration any further advice from Van Richten and Irwin in setting things up, but at least it should provide a welcome change from Valaki's previous leader.

Finally, I'll be reaching out for assistance from the party as-follows: Varis could provide anti-undead lore for the Almanacs (that being a common theme among his faith), and Anton could provide woods-survival lore (based on both his favored terrain, and on our recent cross-country travels). Taggus could assist with the information gathering and processing (no one pays too much attention to one of his folk poking around the tavern). Aramil could provide authenticity to the society as the new lord, while Oscar could oversee the resumed alcohol production and encourage attendance (ie: being a drunk around town and spreading the word).
Session: My Town - Wednesday, Aug 31 2016 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Tags: Journal , Summary
Enough is enough!
While I've been here in Barovia, I've had to keep things on a slow boil. We're strangers in a strange land, and I prefer to understand the situation before starting a fight. True, we've slain some monsters, and helped some people, but we've been focused on following these bread-crumbs left by Madame Eva, and finding out more about the Lord of this place. As of today, I think my patience has worn out.

What brought this on? It started with a scroll we found in Baba Lysaga's hut – apparently her journal. It turns out she was not his mother, but rather one of his midwives. She disliked Ravenovia, and seems to have thought herself a better mother to Strahd – at least before she was banished and relocated to Berez.

More importantly, the journal mentioned a story of Berez before Strahd destroyed it – stop me if you've heard this one before: He was in pursuit in a beautiful woman named Marina who lived there, but she resisted. The townspeople found out, and took the logical step of killing her before she could be turned into one of Strahd's thralls. He found out, because he always does, and he wiped Berez off the map.

The tale got us thinking, and we began looking around the ruined town before we left. We found a pen of goats surrounded by skulls which screamed if anyone got close – I considered freeing them, but we had greater concerns. We then entered a ruined mansion, and encountered the spirit of Burgomeister Ulrich – who led Berez in its final days. The spirit confirmed what we had heard, and told us where Marina had been buried. He also mentioned a nearby mansion: Argynvosholt – once inhabited by Lord Argynvost – a Silver Dragon who opposed Strahd. His knightly order was wiped out by the dark one, and the dragon himself was slain and taken in pieces to Strahd's castle. We told Ulrich we'd do what we could to bring him peace, and moved on.

Upon arriving at Marina's grave, we found a life-sized statue of a beautiful kneeling peasant girl with a rose – the spitting image of Irena. The inscription read: Marina – taken by the mists. Using a detect magic ritual and my divine sense, I discovered something apparently under the base of the stratue. Everything got unnaturally quiet, but I threw caution to the wind and shifted the statue with a single mighty shove. Taggus snagged a holy symbol in an alcove underneath, and all hell broke loose – specifically, dessicated bodies popping out of the graves and spraying us with poisonous snakes. I was bitten and nearly petrified, but Anton was able to cure the poison.

We stopped back at the cave again on our way to town, and I examined the holy symbol we had found more closely – the Holy Symbol of Raven-kind. It consists of a platinum sun with a crystal in the center – seems to be an aspect of Pelor, as seen in other churches here. It seems it was delivered to a Paladin named Ladanna by an angel in t he form of a giant raven. She used it to root out nests of vampires until her death. Seeing that this is clearly what Eva was directing us to (rather than the stone we recovered for Irwin), and with Varis currently afflicted, I attuned with the symbol. I'm not a servant of Pelor, in any aspect, but he and Delleb are on friendly terms, and there is no disagreement on the topic of destroying undead.

We made it back to Valaki, and sent Taggus in to secure a stealthy entrance. The town seemed to be on high alert – with many masked guards in evidence. Taggus entered Varis' room and tried to calm down our badly shaken friend – the continued presence of the zombified Irena (or more likely, Marina) in the room didn't help matters. Taggus then took the stone to Irwin, and got a sack containing the Tome of Strahd – a journal written by the dark one himself. Irwin also provided vials of liquid that allowed us to turn into ravens and fly into town unopposed.

It was at this time that we discovered Rictavio the circus-master was staying at Irwin's inn. We secured a meeting with him as prospective performers, but quickly dropped the pretense and revealed our true intentions. He in turn revealed himself to be Rudolph Van Richten, the famed hunter of evil. We found out about his history: His son was stolen by a Vistani, sold to a vampire, and turned. Van Richten slew his son before things could progress, and the vampire in turn slew his wife. He has since devoted his life to the destruction of vampires and their ilk. He has had some encounters with Vistani since then, and been cursed by them - perhaps only Strahd's Vistani, but he seemed unconvinced.

We also discussed the failed peasant revolt, and he mentioned that the wizard is still around, but perhaps powerless. He suggested that anything useful in Argynvosholt was likely destroyed or taken by Strahd – but then again, we found this symbol left behind in Berez. He seems to have no current plans to directly assault Strahd – preferring to wait for events to be more favorable (an option due to his elven life-span). We thanked him for the information, and wished him well.

Finally, we met with Irwin again, and discussed events in town. He was fine with us shaking things up, particularly since we've already slain Isaac – removing much of the Burgomeister's hold over the town. He cautioned us that the Wachter family would attempt to fill any power vacuum, and are as bad or worse than the current ruling family.

At one point, I suspect I would have found an excuse to leave and make all of this someone else's problem, but as I mentioned earlier, my patience has worn out. It seems that the people here are damned either through action or inaction – simply based on the whims of an undying madman. I'm not confident in our ability to spearhead a faction change in town – but we can leave that to Irwin. What we are good at is causing trouble – and it seems to me if we cause enough trouble for enough bad people, we can at least leave a better situation for the good folk to build on.

Ultimately, though, I feel like that is just a warm-up. We've played as pawns in Strahd's and Eva's games, but now it's time to start taking control. We're soon off to confront the monster in his den, and then there will be glorious Vengeance for all of those he has harmed. As I meditate on this conclusion – focusing on both my piece of star metal and my new holy symbol, I feel a great surge of power in response. I swear an Oath to oppose the greater evil whenever possible, by any means necessary, and to do whatever possible to mend the havoc wreaked by my enemies. Vengeance will be ours! For the people of Berez, Valaki, Barovia, and for all of those unable to seek it!
Session: Death in the Wretched Swamp - Wednesday, Aug 17 2016 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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After further review - witches still burn
After going over recent events in my head, it seems like we were strangely lucky about how things turned out. After a short but brutal fight, we managed to defeat an ancient witch who tossed out absurdly powerful spells as easy as breathing: fireballs, nasty green rays of dark energy, and black tentacles.

I briefly attempted to talk to her (on the off-chance that she could be bargained with), and she mentioned that we would never defeat her son, Strahd. I named her as Ravenovia, but she only laughed - perhaps Strahd was a bastard literally as well as figuratively, or perhaps she spoke of a figurative sort of bond? I suspect Eva may be able to clear this up for us.

Besides this, the witch seemed to have some sort of impenetrable defense against detection. Clearly this was the being bedeviling us back at the ruined village (the owner of the animated hut and so forth), but we only confirmed that once she revealed herself to us. She clearly had no trouble following us to our resting place for a sneak attack, and there were no released crows to disturb her this time. That said, what if she had followed us to town instead? We may have a hard enough time with the local ruler as it is, without giving them further trouble from the witch.

The worst thing about the fight was our inability to tell if we were even picking our target correctly. Was she transformed into the swarm of flies, or invisible and using them as a distraction (as with the illusionary child)? As it turned out it was the former, as it only took a small number of arrows, Chromatic Orbs, and Eldritch Blasts to put her down once she reformed to pick up the stone. Who knew that giving her what she wanted would be our best move? Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Regarding the stone, before the attack we had the opportunity to examine it in more detail. It seems to have strong Abjuration magic, but the source doesn't appear to be Holy. When Aramil picked up the gem, time seemed to freeze and give us a strange vision. It was as if we were all floating outside Barovia, looking down. The land seemed shielded by a huge milky-white globe - outside the globe was a sort of fiery glow sending out tendrils periodically to probe at the shield. It seemed to want to reach in and grab Oscar specifically. Whomever this being was, it seemed familiar to Taggus, though this was still unclear.

After making a well-deserved bonfire out of our adversary, we headed back to the ruined town of Berez and searched her hut. I dispelled a ward on a chest, and upon opening it out poured a swarm of animated hands! They startled us a bit, but seemed harmless enough (and easily crushed) compared to what we've been through. We found plenty of treasure, including some interesting magic items.

We discussed our next move, and decided to take advantage of Varis' current condition. As he wasn't part of the group who killed Isaac Stranzee, and could get back to Irwin without walking openly through town, we gave him the stone and he stepped back to the 'knothole' in the wall of the hut. I ponder if this portal has anything to do with how the witch stole the stone to begin with, and I wonder if there's any magic remaining in the hut which we could benefit from?

Finally, I have this nagging suspicion that we're forgetting something, so I go over my notes of Eva's predictions. The following may be relevant:

The Rogue: This card tells of History; Knowledge of the Ancient; Master of Coins / Nest of Ravens (in Valaki) - there we'll find our prize.

The Enchanter - This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection; a holy symbol of great hope; a kneeling woman - a rose of great beauty plucked too soon; the Master of the Marsh knows of who I speak; A ravine east of Svalich Woods (between Luna River & Lake)

The Artifact - This card sheds light on one who will help us greatly in our battle against the darkness; Look for an entertaining man with a monkey - this man is more than he seems.

The Tax Collector - Aramil's card - I don't recall details about this one; need to follow up with him about it; I wonder if it has anything to do with what happened when he touched the stone?


The main thing I'm wondering about is this Master of the Marsh. Eva's prediction suggests he/she could give us some insight - presumably about the stone, or about this kneeling woman. Initially I thought the witch might be this Master of the Marsh, but now I have my doubts. I'll study the predictions further...
Session: House on Haunted Hill - Wednesday, Aug 03 2016 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Which witch this time?
Curse these mists. I swear something about this place is muddling my wits! I take careful note of the clues we are given, and yet I continue to recall them the hard way. Case in point - following an unnecessary fight, a death (or near-death) of one of these raven men, and Varis exhausting himself to rouse him - it only then comes to mind one of the 'fortunes' Madame Eva gave us:

The Rogue: This card tells of History; Knowledge of the Ancient; Master of Coins / Nest of Ravens - there we'll find our prize.

So yes, it would have been beneficial to realize this Irwin (Guildmaster of the 'Nest of Ravens') was someone we were supposed to meet with. Fortunately, we explained our encounter with Morgantha's coven, and we were able to convince him that we are here to help - we may even have been foretold to do so. Either way, he seems to be a foe of Strahd, and that's not nothing. His folk don't seem to be tripping my Divine Sense either, which is comforting.

At any rate, we avoided drawing the attention of the town guard, and were able to get some serious rest. Beforehand I applied a poison cure to Oscar and Anton - just in case there's some aftereffects of the Ravens' bites. There is likely a more precise cure if they are afflicted, but it's worth a shot while Varis is out.

In the morning, Irwin joined us for breakfast and a chat. He spoke of Baron Vargus Valakovich, who seems to be in charge of the town. He seems to have this crazy idea that he can force his people to be happy with a new festival every week, and thus break the curse of this land. I would prefer to avoid conflict with him if possible - he sounds demented, but it can't be easy to maintain a firm grip on sanity in this place. The Baron's right-hand man is Isaac Stranzee - an man with a large mutated (right?) hand which shoots fireballs, and an immunity to pain. It seems he was adopted by the Baron, and is fiercely loyal.

We made a deal with Irwin in order to prove our good intentions. There is a witch to the south of here - an ancient creature of unknown name, though apparently not one of Morgantha's group. She has stolen an enchanted gem which used to protect the town's winery. Irwin has sent some of his ravens, but so far none have returned. This brings to mind another of Madame Eva's fortunes:

The Enchanter - This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection; a holy symbol of great hope; a kneeling woman - a rose of great beauty plucked too soon; the Master of the Marsh knows of who I speak; A ravine east of Svalich Woods (between Luna River & Lake)

If the stolen gem is the holy symbol Madame Eva spoke of, we ought to recover it either way. I'm also curious about this 'Master of the Marsh' - and the kneeling woman he/she knows of. We discussed the simplest way to get out of town quietly, and headed off.

Along the way we passed Blinsky's toy shop, and decided on a whim to check it out. We learned that Isaac Stranzee commissions dolls in Irena's likeness, though Blinsky seems unaware of her identity. This brings to mind Madame Eva's revelation that Irena's real brother (not Ismark) has no soul - is Isaac possibly Irena's brother, or does he know of her in some other way?

A further clue came from Blinsky's monkey, which Blinsky acquired from Rictanio, the circus master. I reached into the monkey's mind and got an image of a man from Greyhawk, with a crossbow, silver sword, and wooden stakes. Again, another of Madame Eva's fortunes:

The Artifact - This card sheds light on one who will help us greatly in our battle against the darkness; Look for an entertaining man with a monkey - this man is more than he seems.

Clearly this Blinsky bears watching (either as an ally or a danger) - however it wasn't clear to me if we should risk revealing to him what we know. I'm sure I want to know more of this Rictanio, at any rate. He sounds like someone who knows a thing or two about fighting fell creatures.

As we left Blinsky's shop, we spotted Isaac headed straight for us, and were unable to evade him. My initial thought was to go with him and avoid trouble with the Baron, but I wasn't terribly upset when Oscar refused to play along. Despite his freakish strength and fiery blasts, we ended the threat and left quickly (taking with us his axe and a handful of coin). We took the west gate out of town with minimal interference from the guards. I suspect we'll have a chilly reception when we make it back, assuming the Baron finds some witnesses willing to talk.

We headed southwest toward the marsh where the witch is reputed to be. We stopped for the night in a cave without incident - Oscar and Anton are in their element here, thankfully. The next day, we arrived at a ruined village partially sunken into the marsh. Down the road we saw a curious hut built into a tree, a cluster of ruined cottages, and a ruined church.

Taggus and Anton scouted ahead quietly, and found cages of ravens hanging from the tree. Taggus checked the locks on them while staying hidden. In the meantime, the tree-hut pulled up its roots and began laying about with massive limbs. Anton tried to fight back, but was knocked out.

As Black Wolf began to pull his downed master back out of sight, the rest of us rushed to join the fight. Taggus quietly glanced inside the hut, and spotted a wooden crib with an angelic child inside, and a green glow from the floorboards. Taggus pried open one of the hanging cages, letting the ravens stream out to freedom (it's unclear if these are normal birds, or Irvin's men).

As the rest of us arrived, I dispelled the magic on the hut, and was able to bring it to a halt. I can only do this once more before a brief rest, and it's not clear how long it will last. Whatever we're going to do - we need to do it quickly! We need to find the gem, and hopefully this 'Master of the Marsh' (assume he or she could be persuaded to help us). I don't suppose the 'Master' and the witch are one and the same...?
Session: The Omen - Wednesday, Jul 06 2016 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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A long night, and a short trip
Turns out Strahd's minions weren't finished off by my spell, and regrouped to try their hand at a bonfire - with us inside. I floated up to the belltower with Oscar to chase off the arsonist, while the rest of the party braced against those charging in the front door.

Even Irena joined in the fight, and we were able to repel the attackers. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a feint - they were able to use the distraction to break into the basement and free Donovich's son. At least we were able to save the church, though it surely needs a good renovation at this point. The priest seemed less than impressed - such is life in this place.

We wasted no time in meeting up with Anton, and then heading off with Irena to Valaki. We encountered an apparition at the crossroads again - this time with a semblence of Varis hanging in the noose. Otherwise, we arrived at the Vistani camp with no trouble.

We spoke with Madame Eva, and I used my illusions to replay the events of the night. In exchange, she confirmed something I had my suspicions of - Irena is the reborn soul of Strahd's unrequited love Tatiana. As it turns out, she has already been bitten twice - with a third bite, she will be his. At least we now know what we're dealing with there.

I suspected there was more she wished to tell us, but she was on the fence. I poured on the charm, and was able to convince her. Her deep, dark secret is that she is actually Strahd's half sister, and has lived as long as he. Fortunately, he is unaware of this fact, and she demanded that we keep this secret at all costs. She also revealed something interesting about the Vistani: There are many other camps, but any Vistani not from her camp belongs to Strahd. That's something to keep in mind in our travels through this land.

Finally, we were able to secure Eva's help in making the trip to Valaki quickly - using a set of enchanted steeds. Aramil paid our debt via a night with Eva - he seemed ill-inclined to speak of the matter further. Our trip was interrupted only by a brief stop at the Old Bonegrinder. Oscar paid his respects to Morgantha's coven by taking a dump on the ashes - fortunately, the head witch herself seemed to be elsewhere.

Valaki turned out to be a much larger city than we have seen here so far. The fortifications seemed impressive - with a distint "we kill wolves on sight and stick their heads on a pike" vibe. Needless to say, it was necessary for Black Wolf to stay outside, but the rest of us were able to enter before dark. Unfortunately, our horses gave up the ghost immediately after - and unfortunate after-effect of Eva's spell.

As we passed the center of town, we say a posting about the Wolf's Head Jamboree - an event requiring attendance by all (or else). We arrived at the Blue Water inn to stay the night, only for Oscar and Anton to take issue with the ravens perched outside - seemingly the same as those we saw at Old Bonegrinder. They immediately moved to attack, and the rest of us entered the inn instead. We spoke with Irwin Martakov, the innkeeper, and negotiated for rooms & meals.

Why didn't I stay outside to help? Frankly, even if those ravens were creatures of Morgantha's coven, that called for a more subtle solution rather than starting a fight and immediately turning the town guard against us. I found out later that these were actually Were-ravens, and apparently were keeping an eye on the coven. Unfortunately, one of their number was slain before the confusion was sorted out, though Varis was able to bring him back. Unfortunately again, that sort of thing doesn't always work out for the best. Worse, it appears the innkeeper knows the downed raven - I have a bad feeling about this.
Session: Boy Eats Girl - Wednesday, Jun 29 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Didja hear the one about the corpse that stayed dead?
We made it back safely to Barovia with our young charges: Myrtle and Frik. Hoping to find Ismark and Irena - we headed to the Bürgermeister's mansion, which we found locked and boarded up. The building had clearly seen better days, but had clearly withstood several attacks recently. There was no response to our knocking, or to my mental probes (though there did seem to be someone at home). We thought better of breaking in - getting the impression that we might end up with a hot oil shower for our trouble.

Our next stop was the tavern. The barkeep was a man of few words - specifically: "Glass of wine, one copper; Pitcher of wine, one silver". Of more help were the Vistani women who apparently owned the place. At great risk to my virtue (though fortunately with Varis keeping an eye out for me), I drank and chatted with them and learned of the attacks on the mansion. They also pointed out Ismark to us - so we filled him in about the hags and the children.

As it turned out, the Bürgermeister (Ismark the Elder) had a heart attack and died in the last attack. Irena stayed behind in the mansion to watch over him, but she may not be safe there any longer. Ismark asked for assistance in burying his father in consecrated ground (ie: the local church). Following that, he would like us to take Irena to Valaki. We agreed, on the condition that he would watch over the children.

Around this time, Anton headed off to the mercantile shop, muttering about silver arrows. It turned out not to be the best time to split up, but he has Black Wolf with him at least - that is Black Wolf, right? Anyway, the rest of us went with Ismark to the mansion, and hurried to load up his father in a coffin for the trip to the church. Already we noticed signs of Strahd's influence in town (wolves and mist) - even with night not yet fallen.

Upon meeting Irena (clearly the mind I had sensed earlier), we noticed a telltale bite mark on her neck. Not an unexpected development, given her apparent resemblance to Strahd's lost love, and his relentless attacks. She seems to be of sound mind so far, but it's definitely something we'll need to keep an eye on during our travels with her.

With Aramil and I carrying the coffin, we made good time. At the church we heard prayers coming from inside, suddenly interrupted by an unholy scream (someone calling for 'Father' to feed him). The priest (Donovich) seemed to be in despair, so we hurried to the burial plot without him. Our own priest of Pelor was more than sufficient to provide the blessing - one less walking corpse to torment the town.

With night approaching, we made it back into the church building before being enveloped by the mist. Donovich spoke to us of Strahd's influence over his son, whose voice still screamed out for release. It had apparently been thus ever since he returned from the peasant crusade led by the wizard against Strahd. Worse, it appeared that his calls attracted (or even allowed entry to) some of Strahd's creatures, which we heard in the belltower.

Taggus put Donovich to sleep to avoid any unpleasantness if his son were to break free, and I floated up to see what we were up against (another gift of Ulban - levitation at-will). I was set upon by the vampire-spawn, but I was able to show them a few new tricks: A quick mist-step out of their clutches, and they were suddenly grabbed in turn by Evard's Black Tentacles. Whether they were beaten into dust or simply fled was not clear, but the thread seemed gone for the moment. Barring further trouble, it's off to Valaki for us and Irena.
Session: Gnaw - Wednesday, Jun 08 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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A shocking development
Everything seemed to be going well, so far. We had driven off the only witch left in Old Bonegrinder, rescued those children not already on the menu, and prepared one heck of a fireworks show to put an end to this place as we left.

All of that changed in a flash, literally, as several witches up floating up by the ceiling began raining down lightning bolts on us. They seemed to be inherent magic rather than real spells, as I was unable to counter them - that, and the first one hit me dead-on and knocked me out. Thus, much of the rest of this account comes from Taggus' description of events.

At any rate, the fight continued: with Oscar also being knocked out after getting the children outside safely, and Taggus making himself invisible. This proved handy when he noticed the rest of the party - trussed up and banging on the inside of a big oven. One handy Mage Hand later, and they began spilling out of the open oven door. Varis was able to wake up Oscar and myself with a healing prayer, and we all got down to business.

The fight remained close due to those of us still wounded, and those of us naked & completely without gear, but we all ganged up on one of the witches and brought the first of the creatures down. Unlike the one that had blinked away previously - this one dissipated into mist - that seemed important. As the tide turned, we managed to take down a second witch, along with some of their Dretch minions. Finally, the last one was forced to blink away, while dropping a burning ceiling on us in the process.

We pulled ourselves out of that mess without losing anyone, and rejoined the children outside as we watched Old Bonegrinder collapse into cinders. Varis used a Locate Object spell to find the missing gear - piled up between some ancient moss-covered stones, along with an uncomfortably large pile of human teeth.

The children requested to be brought to Ismark and Irena - children of the Bürgermeister in Barovia (rather than the parents who abandoned them), so we headed back there. Along the way, we spent the night with the Vistani again, and yet again spoke with Madame Eva. We got a new card-drawing, for Aramil - the Tax Collector, and a warning about the witch who got away - she'll be looking to rebuild her coven (in addition to getting revenge on us), and the children would be handy for this.

We also got some interesting tidbits of information: apparently, Lord Strahd covets Irena, but has so far been unable to acquire her for himself. That's something to consider, if we leave the kids in Barovia. Also, we learned about the March of the Dead - a regular event where hundreds of spirits rise from the graveyard and march to Strahd's castle in a fruitless attempt to slay him. It sounds like this may be related to the unsuccessful peasant uprising - one wonders if it's a curse on those spirits, or perhaps a dead wizard unhappy with how their last encounter turned out.

After pressing her further, Madame Eva was willing to give us more direct answers to our questions, but at a price (in blood, apparently - paid by Varis). We learned that the Nest of Ravens mentioned by the Rogue card refers to an area near Vallaki. We also learned that the Master of the March mentioned by the Enchanter card is located in a ravine east of Svalich Woods (between Luna River and Luna Lake). Finally we learned that the Crypt of the Wizard mentioned by the Evoker card exists in Castle Ravenloft. It sounds like we have some interesting leads to follow up.
Session: The Bleeding - Wednesday, May 25 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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No rest for the heroic
We were given a brief, tantalizing glimpse at a wondrous marketplace - I began tallying up the spoils of our recent efforts, and pondering the possibilities. I was caught off guard by Oscars hasty departure, and given only a split second to decide who to follow. Force of habit took over, and off I ran after Stoneslapper (he seemed more likely to need help). We eventually caught up with him, but found ourselves in another place - dark, foreboding, and eerie.

We started up a conversation with some local merchants, who seemed less disturbed by these developments that ourselves. I took advantage of a new trick inscribed in my Grimore, and began speaking to them in their native tongue - though I was more close-mouthed about how I came by this knowledge. I begin taking notes, in order to eventually learn their language more fully in what downtime we're able to find.

Among the things these Vistani told us was the history of Strahd, this place's ruler. This included the following:
  • Strahd's early life as a prince, soldier, and conqueror - waging long wars against his family's enemies, and wiping them out. He named the valley of his final victory Barovia.
  • Castle Ravenloft was named after his mother, Ravenovia.
  • Ravenovia feared Strahd and doted on her younger son, Sergei
  • Strahd began to study magic, and fell in with dark powers
  • He raised Ravenloft with the assistance of many hired mages, etc., and brought his family there. His mother died during the trip, but Sergei arrived safely.
  • Strahd fell in love with Tatiania, a young Barovian woman.
  • He doted on her, but she fell in love with Sergei & decided to get married.
  • Strahd killed Sergei and drank all of his blood – Tatiana hurled himself off the castle & died.
  • His guards tried to kill Strahd, but were unable to finish him off - in the end, he slew them all.

We followed the Vistani to their encampment, and heard more history of the land - including the story of a powerful wizard from Greyhawk who led an ill-fated peasant revolt against Strahd. He was thought slain, and cast down into the river winding away from the castle. Next, we met with Madame Eva, and had our fortunes told. She drew the following cards: The Rogue, the Enchanter, the Evoker, the Artifact, and the Darklord.

Deciding against staying the night - we pressed on towards the villiage of Barovia. As we entered town, we followed the sound of sobbing to a boarded-up house. Not wanting to barge in unwanted, I spoke into the mind of a sobbing woman, and tried to bring her some comfort. We entered to speak with her further, and found her rocking on the floor clutching a creepy doll (labeled 'is no fun, is no Blinsky' - apparently made by a toymaker named Gadov Blinsky). She mentioned that her teenage daughter Gertruda had broken out of the house and hasn't come back. I assured her that I would keep an eye out, and do what I can to bring her back safely.

Following that, we retired to the local inn, to collect our thoughts and plan our next move. When time allows, I will be testing out another new spell from my Grimore: This will allow me to summon a familiar - if possible, a Pseudodragon!

Session: A visit from an old friend... - Wednesday, Apr 27 2016 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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On the right track... slowly but surely
What a fight! We've slogged through everything the fire cult had to send at us: soldiers and spell-slingers, elementals and their smaller kin, bugbears and ogres, and now a corrupted golem of some sort.

The thing was an imposing ten feet of solid stone, bolstered with iron spikes and some new enchantment. It became quickly clear that none of our weapons (enchanted or no) would avail us. Fortunately, we're no novices - we've got a magical trick or two up our sleeves. I kept up a constant stream of arcane blasts, Varis pelted it with radiant energy, and even Anton knocked it around with peals of thunder. A quick glance at its' pedestal suggested there may have been a simpler way to get around the thing, but you can't argue with our results.

The only downside is that we're again in need of rest, so we crept halfway back down the long passageway to try and catch a break. We seem to have bypassed much of the previous complex, so perhaps we're off the guards' radar for now. At any rate, I'm more interested in the dwarven ruins we've found ourselves in. I would bet we're getting closer to the Temple proper, and better to cut the head(s) off the snake rather than wear ourselves down on all the fodder.

I absentmindedly concentrate on my meteorite and whisper a brief prayer for guidance to Delleb. There's more foes to slay and goodly folk to avenge.
Session: 2nd Shift - Wednesday, Dec 02 2015 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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