Curse of Strahd, Session X, The Crypts Under Castle Ravenloft

Curse of Strahd, Session X, The Crypts Under Castle Ravenloft

Curse of Strahd

In which Jusko leads a team of strangers whose lives have been brutally damaged by Strahd into the crypts under Ravenloft in order to rescue Aldjo’s wife.

Session X, The Crypts Under Castle Ravenloft

Who is Jusko?

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  • 2 players were missing, which is rare for this group, so we had Jusko run into a group of level 3 strangers. Gotta say, D&D Beyond made it easy to make up characters to hand out.

    Lady Baleron, self-made Paladin, is Tatyanna Re-born, vaguely remembering her many lives in this prison.

    Istebin, Monk, last of the Ulmist Inquisitors, who has died trying to kill Strahd countless times and can barely remember his homeland.

    Gadaar, Druid, branded and tongueless for betraying his evil Druidic Order, realizing that this world is not right and needs fixing.

  • Had a bit of a warm-up fight with some thugs from the castle. Jusko and Aldjo were there to find Aldjo’s wife but the thugs in Castle Ravenloft livery were putting up a notice that she had been arrested for sedition. I was going to make this first fight against Vampire Spawn but I didn’t want it to run that long and didn’t want to kill the entire party by accident. I was second-guessing myself a bunch tonight.

    The player characters decimated them and got to be cool and feel out these new characters. I stand by the decision.

  • I used to hand NPC roles to players whose characters weren’t involved in the scene when I played Ars Magica in college. I forgot what a delight it could be. The way the players unveiled their secrets and their presentation was amazing and they made very different choices than I did. It was a nice change of pace.

  • Jusko asked the group to a nearby hill to get out of the village and discuss their options. Lady Baleron remembered a secret entrance into the crypts, leading to Strahd’s parents’ tomb. In they went…

  • Tense dungeon-crawling and marking traps with chalk. They made their way through a secret tunnel, Jusko saved Aldjo from falling into a chute trap. They made their way into a room with an arcane teleportation device. Lady Baleron rolled so well on her Wisdom check that I said she had helped install this device. They knew how it worked and stole all of the stones.

    From the Observation Deck, down into the torture chamber and through the hall. Finally…the dungeon…

  • They could hear Strahd talking to Aldjo’s wife, Barushka. “Do you think they will come and try to save you?”

    “No, they are an Outlands Expedition Team; they’re professionals. They are gathering allies to come here and put you down.”

    “I hope so. Saving you would be so boring and predictable. I am flattered to have Sigil’s attention. We’ll see…”

    Some chatter with Emil about werewolf stuff and he turned to mist. They couldn’t see any other way for him to leave the room. I asked them what they were going to do in case he left down the hallway they were standing in.

  • Lady Baleron used Divine Sense to make sure they were clear. Usually, this would be no big deal, just a small detail but it ended up changing the adventure entirely.

    I was considering having Barushka betray the group. I knew that she and Aldjo had bonded over both having children who were lost somewhere in the Demi-Plane of Dread’s Domains. Perhaps Strahd offered to find her lost child. But if she had decided to do that, wouldn’t the Paladin notice the evil? I didn’t mention that Barushka was evil.

    Or is Barushka not evil until she actually DOES it?

    I decided that it wasn’t cool to penalize Lady Baleron for playing smart and looking around for undead and evil. Barushak considered it but at the last instant, she decided not to do it.

    Maybe it is more interesting that she was tempted and didn’t do it. We’ll see.

    Despite the lack of a final twist, it was a fun, tense night.

  • Having freed the imprisoned werewolf, Emil, they made their way out of the crypts. Lady Baleron, Aldjo and Barushka used the teleportation device to get to the Amber Temple and would meet up with the rest of the team later.

    Brother Estabin used Shadow Arts and they got out quietly.

  • Running big dungeons is not, nor has it ever been, my strong suit. I need to break the rest of Castle Ravenloft into bite-sized pieces so I can DM navigating it better. Still. it was a fun, tense night with lots of great rolls and players spending everything they had to keep from failing a roll that could get them found.

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More?

Prelude in Sigil

Questions Before Curse of Strahd

Episode I Welcome to Barovia

Episode II Battle of Ravenwatch

Episode III Wolves and Souls

Episode IV Ghosts & Bones

Episode V – I fucked up numbering; there is no Episode V. 

Episode VI Enter the Amber Temple

Episode VII Dark Gifts

Episode VIII New Wolves & Old Friends

Episode IX The Execution of Kiril Stoyanovich

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THE END
Curse of Strahd, Session I: Welcome to Barovia

Curse of Strahd, Session I: Welcome to Barovia

Curse of Strahd I Welcome to Barovia

In which the team arrives in Ravenloft and the Siege of Ravenwatch begins…

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Who are Jusko, Bugwump, Trundle, Kuru, Helewynn and Failed Soldier?

  • 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.

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