We continued on to Krusk. Loki got attacked by a Mimic, disguised as a puddle of mud in the middle of the road. He took some damage. Several players moved up but since Loki is usually scouting ahead, they were too far back to help. But when he went, he blasted it away in one round. (Dan: I think it was a grey ooze actually. It was dead before it got to my turn.) We took a long rest, later that day, with nothing happening. The next day, we pulled into Krusk. We went straight to the abbey on the hill in the center of town. The kids were handed over for cleaning, food and put down for the night. Lady P made a big Arcana check and came up with the right words and sequence to remove the werewolf curse with a Greater Restoration now that we were on holy ground. It turns out, the now cured enemy was from Krusk so she went home. Unfortunately, we were not so lucky with the kids. Most were from Valaki and none from Krusk. Plus, most were from somewhere that we could not return them to. E.g. the burned-down orphanage. In total, we thought we could return 3. The rest were left in the care of Irena. There were some bad persuasion rolls to complicate matters but we made it out of town and back on the road.
So, one belonged to the booksellers in the city, one to the servants of the now-deposed mayor of the city, and one was Vistani. Since only Lady P was unknown to Valaki, she went in alone with the first two. The guards gave her a bunch of hassles about the proper paperwork but her scribe skills were able to forge the right forms easily enough. The girl’s grandfather was happy to have her back however the other girl was not to be so simple. Evidently, when the new regime took over, they publicly executed the old regime including their entire household staff. (Worse severance package, ever.) So, she was now an orphan as well. Lady P took her to the church and discovered the 10-year-old altar boy we left in charge was still in charge, eagerly awaiting the return of Ezra and his friends with a new priest. She basically talked him into taking her on to help him. The next morning, she left a 10- and 12-year-old in charge. She stopped in the magic shop and spent all her money on material components for her new high-level spells. Meanwhile, the rest went to the Vistani camp. Kharn finally picked up his strong longbow. The girl was returned and we were hailed as heroes again. This time, no one betrayed us. The next morning, Lady P went back into the city to buy Ezra enough diamonds to cast Revivify. She also bought some magic inks and checked out the book seller’s books. Turns out, he was more of a bookmaker and the few books he had for sale were unremarkable. She managed to make it back out and we got back on the road.
On to Argonvast, keep of Kaladin’s long-dead grandfather silver dragon. The first thing to deal with was the dragon statue in the courtyard, guarding the front door. Lots of time and skills yielded the following. We were pretty sure it would turn to the front door and breathe cold if the door was opened incorrectly. Several avoided the door and headed to the collapsed tower to the right. Ironically, Baron Q triggered the trap anyway however the attack was just a cool breeze after all the years. We could see spider webs and man-sized cocoons inside. We decided to try to trigger the encounter while still outside, thus creating a choke point so that only one or two could come at us at a time. That did not work. They came out of the rubble, over the walls, etc., and surrounded us in waves. They just kept showing up on the combat tracker. (Dan: It was funny, it would almost be my turn and 3 spiders would pop up before I could go. This happened three times.) We blasted them pretty well and their attack bonus was poor. (Dan: In a way it was refreshing. We have gotten used to everything having a +12 to hit. It was nice to have an AC make a difference for once.) Lady P did a bunch of AOE damage but we suffered some friendly fire because of it. In the end, we figure she did more damage to us than the spiders. The funniest was when Kharn told her to go ahead with her fireball, being resistant to fire from his sword. But she subbed out fire for radiant which he was not resistant. The rounds were long but the fight only lasted 2-3 rounds. Some damage was taken and spells used but no short rest was needed. (Dan: There were so many spiders that we couldn't understand what they had been surviving on. We joked they had been hibernating until we arrived.) Next time, we’ll start searching.
People leveled up to 9th as they trickled in so it was a slow start. We questioned the rescued kid. Evidently, he and 7 others of varying ages were being kept in cages in the next room. They were being forced to fight one another to determine which was strong enough to withstand the “gift” of the werewolf curse. As we learned later, they are from various parts of the land which will make returning them much harder. I.e. some were from Valaki, some were from the orphanage that has since burned down, some from Barovia, and some had been sold to Granny Momo, etc. The surviving werewolf was also questioned and she seemed reasonably cooperative. The vampire huntress NPC in particular was eager to off her. Lady Patrina attempted to do a Remove Curse on the two that had been bitten and not saved. I think we thought it was Baron Q and Karn or the NPC. Regardless, it didn’t work. The evil magic in this land is too strong. A couple of rolls revealed that it probably needed to be done on holy ground. The closest was back to Krusk. It seemed like we had until the next full moon which was about a week. Once the werewolf heard that we might be able to cure her, she was on board.
We uncaged the kids and gave each a Good Berry to boost their strength for the journey back to the tower to get our wagon. We took a short rest. A bunch of searching found nothing of interest or value except a pile of treasure around an altar of the Druid Huntress god. The one we just rescued. Our captive said they avoided it so we decided to do so as well. This place has convinced us not to trust a “big pile of treasure”. We searched the bodies and burned them. We made it back to the tower and did a bit more searching. Nothing was found except a trap we avoided and that suit of armor. Kharn managed to carry it outside where it was detected as magic. Lady P Identified it as Animated Armor but did not get the command word. Eventually, Brian gave us INT rolls to remember the word on the door we messed with 3 months ago. Kazan? It seems to be a slightly more useful Unseen Servant but it’ll take some time to mess with.
We took a long rest and headed back on the road in the morning. The kids were in Kharn’s wagon and Esmeralda brought hers as well. We encountered a huge mist creature on the road. The fight started but in round two, the NPC put it into a Force Cage and we simply went around. After the fact, Brian admitted that that shouldn’t have worked. I doubt we’ll go back. So, we’re heading back to Krusk with a load of more problems for Irena. (Dan: This felt pretty pointless. I wasn't sure if we wouldn't have simply gone around it if we could have. Brian made a joke if we wanted to redo the encounter and naturally no one did. You could say all random encounters are pointless but this one felt more so.)
We started with a discussion about whether we could put Petrina, who doesn’t need to breathe, into her portable hole so that she can finally do the Identifies that we’ve been trying to do for several games while we tracked the werewolves. Eventually, thankful, Brian just cut that discussion short and allowed that to happen while we waited for more players to show up. The breastplate was +1 and enchanted so that it never gets dirty. It was given to Baron Q. (Fortunately, the Paladins were not in attendance to object to the morals of said action. If we find this vampire hunter alive or not evilly insane, we can just give it back to him.) The second scroll was something Cleric y but I can’t recall what. The moving scale mail, we left alone. There were also vials of antitoxin and bottles of holy water. Plus, various spikes and silver bolts. All was distributed as those in attendance thought best. We next started tracking. As feared, the legendary werewolf was much too difficult to track however he was traveling with a bunch of wolves and people and those were trackable. Loki managed a couple of rolls and we arrived at a cave. The entrance looked like the maw of a giant wolf. “This must be the place.” Loki cast Pass Without Trace and snuck into the cave. Ahead were two guards up on a slight rise, staring right at him. So much for stealth. Initiative. Loki started firing.
The werewolves were much too tough to one shot so they successfully raised the alarm. Frankly, we were better off fighting near the exit anyway. Paul and Dave arrived just in time to participate. The first couple rounds, we had the upper hand and they started falling back. But then several more came forward from the darkness behind them along with a bunch of wolves. Momentum quickly swung until the NPC went. She let loose a Fireball and wiped out all the wolves and a werewolf. By the end of that round, there were no bad guys in view. But then the head guy showed up along with more werewolves. He got 3 attacks, claw, claw, bite. The claws did 2d10+ and the bite more. Loki, luckily, was only hit once. Then Kharn grappled him and pulled him to the ground. However, this guy seemed to get a legendary action after every person had acted. (That’s what we get for attacking a legendary creature in his legendary lair. Not that we had a choice.) Kharn was taking a lot of damage. The NPC had said she had a Force Cage that might hold him but just before she went, the guy teleported (moved instantaneously without any opportunity attacks) right next to her. Petrina couldn’t seem to get a good shot and decided to take two opportunity attacks to get in range of Kharn. She took 20 hit points in order to give Kharn 40. Whether that was a fair trade is debatable. But Petrina didn’t last another round.
Baron Q was on the ropes, soon to be out and there were 4 mostly untouched werewolves on the board plus the boss. Then one came out with a dagger at the throat of one of the missing kids. “Leave or he dies.” Unfortunately, for Brian, his NPC was next and had to choose. She did that massive damage to all foes and end up wherever you want spell. She did damage to all but didn’t kill any. Before he went out, Baron Q hit him with a Blight spell for lots. The boss used a legendary action to leap to the entrance. We feared he was going to flee again. Petrina made a 20 death save and popped up. Kaladin had enough movement to at least engage him. He hit a bunch with a flurry. Then Loki, still hasted from the NPC, sped past and shot him 3 times with the Sharpshooter feat and dropped him. The werewolf with the dagger surrendered and the others were killed. The NPC was bit and missed a save and an inspiration reroll and Baron Q missed two inspiration rerolls. So, we need to deal with that. The last werewolf said the kids were in the next chamber in cages. But it was after midnight so we stopped there. We made 9th and some started working on that.
We started with searching the tower of the monster hunter. The first things of interest were some vials, flasks and bottles. Unfortunately, the anti-magic field in the tower meant that Baron Q’s detect magic sight didn’t work. So, he took them down the slow-moving elevator and out to Lady Petrina. She hadn’t got up the courage to go in, fearing the magic that keeps her alive might stop. (It didn’t.) The flasks were magical and she started an Identify ritual from within a Tiny Hut. Baron Q stayed with her as a guard. Meanwhile, Ambrus and Loki searched the tower for clues about this guy. (And not for loot, we swear.) With Esmerelda and Ezra standing by. Kaladin did not show. Under the bed, Ambrus found a very nice breastplate with a raven crest on it. It was well polished so obviously of some importance but not worn. There was also a suit of splint mail standing in the corner. When Loki examined that, he realized that it was free standing. I.e. no stand. When he tried to poke a paw into the face hole of the helmet to see if there was something in there, the armor swatted him away. And went back to its neutral position. They put a pin in that one and moved on. Ambrus searched the desk and found a scroll of Remove Curse and a scroll he could not decipher. The chest had a preserved head of a Vistani man in it. Esmerelda did not recognize him. Based on the back history we got from the note last time, this monster hunter had a big beef with the Vistani who sold his son to a vampire so we postulated maybe this was the head of the head guy. Other than that, just a bunch of gear you’d expect a monster hunter to have.
Meanwhile, back downstairs, Baron Q eventually noticed a bruised and bloodied man approaching. Evidently, he and his sister had fled the riots in Valaki. She could not go another step and he went head to this tower, hoping for help. Or so he claimed. The Baron started asking clarifying questions. Evidently an adventurer group had gone through the city and thrown everything out of balance. (That’s us.) About then, Paul logged in and Kharn popped into existence down there too. This guy looked vaguely familiar to him and his spidy sense was tingling. The questions quickly escalated into an enraged grapple. Meanwhile, those in the tower finally noticed the altercation. But the elevator was slow. Eventually, Ezra arrived to set this right. He ordered Kharn to let him go and prepared to do his detect evil thing. At this point, the guy started bounding off into the forest. Moving more quickly and jumping higher than a mere human could. We rolled initiative. Ezra went first and went after this named werewolf. However, he ran into several wolves, waiting the woods. He risked a couple of AOOs to get past them only to run into several werewolves plus another named one. And because he was dashing, he was well ahead of everyone else. At this point Kharn was pretty sure this is one of the werewolves that infected him.
Lady P needed two more rounds to finish her ritual. Kharn ran forward as well. Loki scampered onto the wagon and promptly rolled 4 rolls in a row and missed completely. Ambrus and Baron Q advanced. These werewolves did a ton of damage. Ezmerelda fired off a Disintegrate and took one out in one hit. Her next round, she fired off an Acid Sphere thing with Kharn and Ezra in the area. But Ezra was not worried since he had the Shield Mastery feat which allowed him to save for none on Dex saves. With advantage, he missed it. He then used all 3 of his inspirations and one of Baron Q’s and missed all those as well. (He needed a 12 on the die.) Kharn was hurt and Ezra was out soon enough. Ambrus managed to Mage Hand a Goodberry into him. One of the named werewolves tried to picked him up to carry him off but it was pointed out that he still had acid on him. He managed to stand up, do a maxed Healing Hands on himself and survive the residual acid damage. But then the NPC went next and unleashed a massive spell that let her teleport around an area, doing 6d10 sword damage to a bunch of them. One of which crit. The second werewolf was taken out and were most the rest. The main guy, however, used his Legendary Actions to get away as a wolf. Legendary Fleer. We took a short rest and a planning to pursue while the trail is fresh. Although the chances of tracking a legendary wolf through his own forest seems tough. The 3 potions were healing by the way. And the 3 vials were likely holy water.
We had all kinds of technical issues at the start. Even when we started, it was all jumbled up. The wayward fox was gone in the morning. We got our long rest and recovered our fatigue. We rolled into Kresk without issue. Loki made the following proposal. Rather than take the second Druid stone to Wizards of Wines, we could leave it here in Kresk. Spread the wealth so to speak since the folks in this tiny town were on the edge of starvation. A boost in crop yield would be a boon. That was met with general approval. Furthermore, he proposed putting it in the water supply at the abbey. It was a plant growth thing and might not help the patients there but it was relatively centrally located and perhaps safer on holy ground. Since Lady Patrina was in attendance, she could finally identify the items we picked up a few games ago. She and Loki set up in the Baron’s residence while Baron Q walked the town and the rest went up to the abbey. From memory. The pipes were Pipes of Haunting that did a 0 range 30-foot radius fear attack. It had 3 charges. It went to Kaladin, figuring he had the most maneuverability to get it in the middle of a big group. The stone was a Luck Stone. +1 to skills and saves. That went to Lady P to help with her concentration rolls. The amulet was a clockwork device that allow you to “take 10” on any 20-sided die roll once a day. That went to Ambrus, being the skill guy. The Oil of Sharpness went to Kharn since he only had a +1 weapon and it gave a +3 for an hour, once. He’ll probably save it for the end game. The gems went to Lord Q. I think that was it.
Meanwhile, the rest went up to the abbey. Irena seemed to have made some progress, cleaning up and organizing. We gave her the scroll of Greater Restoration with which she could recover the 20 years she lost from the attack games ago. She had picked up a level of Cleric since last we saw her. Kharn filled her in on our goings-on and introduced her to her niece. She agreed that the abbey was as good as place as any to keep her. Ambrus’s girlfriend, or so they tell him, was still there. She was still complaining about the books Lady P took last time. When we told her our next plan was to search for the missing boys from Valaki that Kharn thought were in the hands of werewolves, she was eager to join. Evidently, Esmeralda had a steel leg, the result of a werewolf attack. Kharn told Irena that the baby’s mother was Strahdanya in private and they headed down. Unfortunately, Loki had to go back up to place the stone, much to the annoyance to Esmeralda. He took Lady P and Ambrus with him. Ambrus cast Invisibility on Loki and lowered him into the well. Using some chicken wire and nails from town, Loki attached the stone to the well wall 10 feet below the waterline. That all worked out. Lady P then visited her old room and put some more books in her bag of holding. When all were reunited, we headed out of town at about 4.
We were heading to the tower of the best vampire hunter in the land who was also Esmeralda’s mentor. Kharn’s dream thought that was where to pick up the trail of the boys. I think a night passed on the road. As we approached, we passed a graveyard that had been very much disturbed. 10 Wights attacked. They didn’t do much damage but they did some sort of drain. Luckily, no one missed a save, thanks in no small part from being next to the Paladin. The fight only lasted two rounds, highlighted by a Chain Lightning from Esmeralda and a radiant Fireball from Lady P. After that softened them up, the rest of clean-up. The tower was on a spit of land in the middle of a small lake. Esmeralda’s wagon was next to it. We could see wolf tracks all around. Loki thought they were fresh. We also noticed that they seemed to avoid the wagon and the tower. The tower was in poor repair but the door looked formidable. Loki went up some scaffolding around back and looked into an empty 3rd level. Ambrus joined him and when he touched the tower to climb up a level, lightning stuck the whole thing. Those two plus Kaladin and Ezra were close enough to have to make a Dex save. All saved and 3 had evasion and took nothing. Loki took 15. Back to the front door.
The door was a puzzle with 6 different colored gems. Esmeralda was enough help to tell us what needed to be done (I’m not sure we would have figured it out without her) but not enough to tell us how to do it. Baron Q figured it out, being the only player still half awake. Inside was a bunch of junk plus what turned out the be an elevator. By the way, no magic functioned in the tower. Baron Q’s magic sight didn’t register any of our stuff. Quick enough, we all made it up to the top floor. This looked lived-in but probably empty for several days. There were miscellaneous items on the table that we didn’t mess with. We did note that there were many burned pages in the stove but two that were not yet burned. That was a two-page handout, a note from this vampire hunter. I can’t do it justice but here is the crux. This guy was a great monster hunter but all that killing had started to weigh on him. But he had his son. At some point, he needed help from the Vistani and they took his son as payment. And then sold him to a vampire. A different one than Strahdanya. He went after them and made some sort of deal with a Lich that allowed him to control undead. With that, he killed the Vistani. But unfortunately, his son was now a vampire and he had to kill him too. The last thing the Vistani leader did was curse him. He would continue to live but all those around him would die. So that crazy guy with the tragic backstory is running around out there. Perhaps linked to the missing boys? It sounds like another “good guy” gone “bad” that we’ll have to kill.
We awoke on the road north of Berez. This was the day of the dinner with Strahdanya. The token she gave us was vibrating slightly and warm to the touch. We encountered a large bear trap on the road but luckily Loki was able to spot it. It was too heavy for Ambrus to disarm with his Mage Hand but managed to do so manually. When examined, it had poison on it. We concluded it was a hunter’s trap, hoping for big game. That seemed an odd place to put such a trap, but it wasn’t much of a road at that point. Ambrus reset it, once we passed. About at the cross roads, we encountered the Martakovs from Valaki. The wife and two sons of the inn keeper. We told her what we needed. She wanted to know whose baby it was but we stayed quiet on that. She did seem to notice the similarities between it and Kharn. She had wanted posters from town. Most of us had prices on our heads although Lord Q and Zolton were hailed as heroes. Evidently the new government was a 180 turn around and those wanted before were heroes now. (Dan: It was at this point we realized that Jon had re-armed the trap while it was still in the middel of the road. The rest of us had thought he had moved it... but he hadn't. This will likely come back to bite us in the future.) She headed back to Valaki with the baby and two wagons. We washed up in a nearby stream. The token started to emit a gas and we summoned the carriage. It took us through Valaki at record speeds, arriving at the vampire’s castle as the sun set. Brian pulled up some maps of the castle but ultimately, we ended up in room. They had fancy clothes for all of us, expertly tailored for each. We all changed. They gave us 30 minutes to get ready in the suite or the suites one level up. Ambrus and Kharn looked round, looking for weaknesses or strengths in case we ever have to attack. They ended up on the roof of a tower. From there, they could see into the next tower. In there, there was a huge red gem, spinning and pulsating, suspended in midair. Arcane rolls yielded nothing. Ambrus was sorely tempted to mess with it but the promise of hospitality worked both ways.
Eventually we were led to dinner. The meal was a fine multicourse affair. Given how poor the rest of the land is, it was probably the best meal we’d had since arriving. The conversation was about as expected. Veiled threats followed by vague arguments about what constituted a real threat. And back around again. Basically, the same as every meeting with her. She attempted to talk/mess with each in turn. She commented on Ezra’s sword, not realizing that it had been handed down at least once since she remembered. More evidence that she doesn’t have a good grasp on the current time. She then implied that since no divine power can function here, that Ezra’s divine Morning Lord powers must be coming from her. (She had made the same claim about Lord Q’s Raven Queen.) Ezra refused to take the bait and remained steadfast in his beliefs. She then inquired about the other servants of the Morning Lord in the land. I.e. the corrupted ones we were forced to kill. (Dan: We just replied that they were resting peacefully.) Ambrus was not buying anything she said. He said it was hard to trust her since she had killed most of the Dusk Elves. Again, she claimed that if they had done what they were told, that wouldn’t have had to happen. When Ambrus refused that explanation, she had Ramadan (the one, according the to the books, that actually did the betraying) explain those events in horrible detail. (Dan: Wait. I thought she had just offered to have him tell Ambrus the details...) It was all Ambrus could do to keep from attacking.
She asked Kaladin if he was planning on settling down and raise some eggs. He pointed out that since he hadn’t seen another dragon here, that didn’t seem likely. Besides the constant bantering, the discussions with Lord Q centered on his tax responsibilities of his new Baron of Krusk status. Eventually she had a copy of the tax code brought to him. She asked Loki what sort of creature he was. And then where he has come from. (Dan: I helpfully pointed out he was a racoon. Despite the bandit mask around the eyes, its not like he hides it. Apparently the wolves must have eaten them all in Ravenloft if she can't even recognize a racoon.) He told her the Druids had brought him here from outside of here and given him intelligence. She then asked what he was doing here and he repeated he was brought here against his will. Kharn went last because Paul kept having to step away. Basically, he said he didn’t want to be turned into a vampire. Which she feigned no knowledge of. Near the end she asked if we had figured out who the traitor that was working for her, was. That was joked away but came back later. About then, just before dessert, Ambrus had had enough. He got up and left before he did something we’d all regret. Ezra and Kaladin stood in support but Loki, Lord Q and Kharn stayed for dessert much to Ezra’s consternation. Loki asked her what she wanted. He figured everyone we’ve met needed something and the likely reason we were still alive is that she wanted something too. She said she wanted to retire someday if a suitable replacement could be found. Kharn asked if Baron Q would fit the bill. She said he had possibilities. Loki said that if he was in charge, he’d let in the sun and open the boarders.
At that point, dessert was over and we all left. The insightful noticed she seemed a little distraught as Kharn left. We head back to our suite and changed back into our clothes. We grabbed Ambrus’s who was already in the courtyard. Loki suggested Ramadan stay out of the courtyard to avoid any potential escalating exchanges with the irate Ambrus. So, we piled in and sped back to the crossroad. We got back at dawn. Rather than camp without our stuff, we walked back to Valaki. We went to see Jenny Greenteeth but she and her shop were gone. It was her who asked us to free her sister in Berez. We then went to the Vastani camp. They did not realize Jenny was gone but that psychic girl said that she had gone home. (To Berez) Our business with her was to tell her we had succeeded with our mission but evidently she had figured it out. Loki used Speak with Animals and asked a raven to let the Martikovs know we were ready to have our wagon and package back. The ever alert (i.e. paranoid) Ambrus spotted a Vistani woman, sneaking towards town and we realized the bounties on our heads was too great to be able to stay here. So, we headed back east on foot. Ambrus stayed behind in the shadows and waited for our wagon. He took it and the baby and caught up to the rest without issue.
All throughout here, Ambrus kept bringing up what Stradhanya had said. Where was Ezra getting his powers from? Most dismissed it as another head game from her. But it was the “traitor among us” comment that would not die. Most were making jokes about it but clearly it was an issue. Eventually, Ezra offered to cast Zone of Truth so that we could all swear. It was pointed out that this depended on Ezra not being the traitor. Eventually, after much arguing, all avowed their innocence. Except for Lord Q who rejected the whole proceeding. Once exposed as the traitor, we had no choice other than proceed on as we had been. (Dan: which is why everyone except Ambrus had been ignoring the issue.) Regardless of the powers Stradhanya may or may not have and what each of us may or may not be doing, all we can do is proceed as best we can. Kharn was eager to start searching for those missing boys from Valaki which his vision said were north of Kresk. But we had to get to Kresk first and give the baby to Ireena. That night, while we ate our dinner around a fire, eyeing each other with suspicion, a small creature jumped into Ambrus’s lap to hide. It was a fox being pursued by around 15 Dire Wolves. The biggest of them seemed to be hesitating. Loki cast Speak with Animals again. He pointed out that this little fox wasn’t going to feed such a large pack. And taking us on was not going to do them any good either. The wolf then winked at him, whatever that meant and they withdrew. So, we avoided that fight. Assuming we live through the night, it’s another couple of days to Kresk.
We got a bit of a late start while we waited for enough players to sign in. We eventually started without Lady Petrina and expecting Kharn and Ambrus to arrive late. We backed up a bit in time, still at the tree hut of Baba Lasaga. Loki was inside the hut, gathering the treasure we found in the chest. Ezra and Lord Q have built a small fire on a high rock above the swamp in order to warm up the recovering archefey Laura Stoneheart. Kaladin was in a nearby tree, trying to figure out what to do with this baby that sort of looked like Ireena. Loki and Ezra (with an inspiration point) made a perception roll and detected the incoming enemies. In the hut, Loki was attacked by 4 severed claws. They had minimal hit points and he took them out soon enough. In the swap, 4 giant poisonous snakes approached. Due to the murky water, they were effectively invisible, gaining advantage and giving disadvantage. They weren’t too tough but Brian crit Lord Q a couple of times and the poison damage added up. And then the next round several scarecrows moved in. Evidently, we had missed them before in the village. They had poor AC but plenty of hit points. They did decent damage with their claws but got a free fear stare every round which caused paralysis. The save was low but the chances started adding up. Loki got feared and lost a turn. But with only 4 players, one lost turn was more significant. Kaladin used his fly-by tactics, kicking with his feet and holding the baby in his arms. Then more scarecrows showed up and we started to fall behind.
Then 4-5 witches showed up led by a “disturbance in the water”. I.e., an invisible foe that we could see because it was in the swamp. The witches did Chill Touch and Tashia’s Laughter. Again, the DC was low but the rolls started adding up. Especially those that weren’t next to the Paladin. Loki and Kaladin both got hit with that, the former losing a second turn in a row and Kaladin falling from the sky and landing in the water. Lord Q was on the ropes when the leader let loose with a Lightning Bolt. Ezra saved and took none due to his shield feat and Lord Q saved for half and was left with 1 hit point, surrounded by enemies. The NPC Druid also went out, seeing as she only had a couple of hit points to start but the green glowing stone seemed to be regenerating her. She popped up and start calling down lightning. We made Int rolls and Loki of all people made it. He recognized the powers being used and identified the invisible foe as that missing Hag from the windmill. (Not that some players hadn’t already figured that out.) Ezra spent an action to lay on hands with 25 on Lord Q to keep him swinging. The two raven swarms were still helping, but it was looking dicey.
Lord Q unleashed a Hunger of Hadar which was a darkness field that did damage to those in it. He got the hag and several witches. (Dan: I believe he also got the raven swarms, or at least some. I realized later he may have missed the session where they were revealed to be allies) Unfortunately, they didn’t have any trouble finding their way out of it because evidently, they had telepathy going among them. But it did do some damage. Around here, Kharn showed up followed by Ambrus. The minions started to fall and we started moving on the witches and the hag. She cursed Kaldin causing him to have to save to take any actions. They started to flee. The hag turned Kharn into a Khat, releasing the curse on Kaladin. But the rest followed. She tried to go ethereal but Laura did a Counterspell to stop her. Ambrus did a sneak attack on her. Then Kaladin used step of the wind to catch her and stun her. Dan forgot to move the baby token with him so Brian ruled he left the baby floating in the swamp. Dan cried foul but to no avail. Lord Q picked her up and tried to hand her over to Laura but she wanted no part of it. And then Loki hit her 3 times, the last being a crit (aided by the advantage from being stunned) and she fell.
We talked to Laura. She thanked us for saving her from her torment but warned us that she had wasted too much time in the world of mortals and should expect no help from her. (Dan: Dave is stating it politely. Brian made her sound so ungrateful I was briefly regretting rescuing her. That may have just been Brian, but he was reading from the module so...yeah, she's a bitch). She did appoint Loki as her new High Druid Priest. Loki looked behind himself and said, “Who Me?”. He would have to choose the path by looking into his own heart, etc. She then offered some advice. Across the river was one of the fey shrines. Because Baba had consumed so much archefey blood over the years, if her heart was removed, squeezed and the blood used, it could cleanse the standing stones. Or we could wait for her to revive and make a deal with her. Or we could consume the heart ourselves and get some magical vitality. (Or sell it to someone else.) But she warned that power gained in such a way always comes with a price. (Dan: The way Ravenloft is set to constantly screw the players, we'd have to be idiots to go with the obvious monkey paw option. Ravenloft is on rails.) We chose the first. She said that if Loki cleansed all 3 shrines and returned to Yester Hill, she’d grant him a boon. (The same quest he’s been working on.) When asked where the 3rd shrine was, she said to look into his heart. She then melted away into the swamp. We got across the river, Loki did the ritual and the land felt a little less foreboding. Plus, the biting insects that had plagued us all day weren’t over here. Brian offered that this was a good place for a long rest however we still had a baby problem.
We did not want to bring the baby to the dinner party but weren’t close enough to anywhere to take her. We agreed that giving her to Ireena was the best course but how to do it in time. Loki proposed a plan. The ravens were supposedly working for the Wizards of Wines. Using another Speak with Animals spell and the high sign, he asked if any of them were shape changers. None were but agreed to send a message. Loki asked that they fly to the winery and bring back a couple of shape changers by wing. They could take the wagon and the baby once we got as far as we could. That earned DG an inspiration for his clever idea once suggested by three other players. However, Brian didn’t think ravens could cover the distance the time needed, even flying. He suggested that the inn keep in Valaki was the brother of the winery family and likely could shape change as well. And he was closer. Since we had two swarms, we did both. Hopefully one will make it back to us in time. We took a short rest and got back on the road. We stopped when it got dark, the next day being our last day.
That night, we had more dreams/visions. As usual, I cannot do Brian’s words justice by memory. They were mostly “thing to do”. Loki saw a cave near the old windmill. There was something there he needed to do. 3rd stone? 3rd fey shrine? But we would have to face Stradhanya there or a version of Stradhayna there. Ambrus dreamed about that dagger again, I think. Kaladin’s dragon father or grandfather asked him to gather his bones, strewn about Barovia, and return them to the Silver Dragon Castle. That seems like a tall order but at least we’ve got a skull. Lord Q saw that the medallion the Raven Queen wants him to recover was in a castle at the top of a steep cliff. Stradhanya’s castle? I can’t remember Kharn’s or Ezra’s. And Lady Patrina was not there. And then we made 8th level. Brian said the milestones would be coming quicker now so the advancement level would speed up again. He thought we’d reach 12th by the end.
This is not for the archives but I thought you’d be curious as to what everyone took as their 8th level advancement. Dan took Nimble which gives the unarmored +1 Dex (giving him 20) and +1 AC. Andy, who just agonized over his quest boon feat (taking Toughness) was debating between 3. Mobility is he wants to avoid getting hit. Sentinel if he wanted to get hit. (There was some disagreement on how that should be played. He didn’t like Brian’s interpretation.) Or Mage Slayer. Jon hadn’t thought about it but we advised him to take a 20 Dex. I think Paul took a 20 strength. DG took Sharp Shooter since we keep facing low AC high hit point minions. Plus doubling his effective range from 30 to 60. DS, if he said anything, I cannot recall.
We started with a menacing floating plant thing with half a wolf sticking out of its pod, coming towards us on the road. High initiative Loki kicked off the action by opening fire on it. It got a couple of tentacle attacks and had an incapacitating stench aura around it but it only lasted 1 round. We briefly debated just getting the dinner with Stradhayna over with so that we could deal with Berez without a deadline hanging over us. It made some sense however Brian announced that he was prepared to Berez and not prepared to do the dinner. So on to Berez. The terrain became more and more swampy and the road worse and worse. Eventually, we had to leave the wagon behind and walk/swim/slog our way as best we could. We had heard the town had been destroyed 100’s of years ago and it appeared no one had been there since. Various ruined huts were seen but no sign of habitation. Several thought they saw someone watching us but when we got to the area, it was only a scarecrow. Although Lady Patrina swore, she saw something moving. Eventually, we headed away from the river, seeking drier land which we hoped would be more likely inhabited. We came across a treehouse sort of hut which was really a hut on top of a massive stump.
It was a small one room hut. Outside were two cages full of ravens. They were squawking up a storm. There was also an upside-down floating (as in air) dragon skull. Eventually, Loki cast Speak with Animals and with a good Nature roll was able to make out what the ravens were saying. Things like, run away or she’ll get you too, please free us, etc. But they couldn’t hear him so Loki snuck up as best he could along with the other sneakers. Once able to ask, he was told that she was in the hut but it wasn’t clear if they meant Baba or the Druid god Laura Stoneheart. Meanwhile, Ambrus tried to pick the lock on one of the cages but found that it was magical. He then used a Knock spell and one cage was free. To our surprise, they flew into the hut. Loki could hear them saying where is she? If she wasn’t there, he decided to risk a peak in. It was a rustic cabin but had two features of note. There was a bruised, battered, bloodied, unconscious woman hanging from manacles on the ceiling over a blood-stained bathtub. And a happy healthy baby girl in a crib in the center of the room with an eerie green glow coming from the floorboards under it. He went over to the woman, climbing on the furniture to avoid the floor. At this point, we went into initiative order to make sure everyone got a turn.
The manacles were again magical and it appeared it would take another Knock spell to open. Kharn and Baron Q looked under the stump in hopes of finding the source of the glow. (In addition to Laura Stoneheart, we were seeking another druid stone that Baba supposedly had.) They did not find anything. Ambrus came in and used another Knock spell to free two manacles. Loki managed to pry one loose from the wooden ceiling. When Kharn got in there, he thought the baby looked like his twin sister Irenna. But we had been assuming it was Baba? He was getting ready to muscle the last manacle when … Baron Q noticed a swarm of bugs coalescing in the dragon skull. It turned into Baba. And soon thereafter, the stump animated. She cast a Polymorph Other on the Baron but he saved. The stump grabbed and flung Ambrus out of the hut and into the swap. It did the same to Kharn but since he beat it on the Athletics check, he was able to use its strength to free Laura and bring her along. The next round, Loki blasted a hole in the floor with his pistols and could see a glowing green stone. But he needed another round to get it. Kaladin scooped up the baby and flew out, leaving Loki alone in the hut.
The next round, she cast Evard’s Grasping Tentacles and Kaladin and the baby failed their saves. The baby went unconscious but then Baba noticed it. She gave out a shriek and dropped the Tentacles. Evidently, she cared about it which proved to be helpful. Baba was flying in her dragon skull which made the night tough on melee Kharn and Ambrus. Lady Patrina cast Slow on the hut, Baba, and the skull. Only the hut failed its saved which proved to be critical. When it went, it only got 1 attack to expel Loki instead of 3. With partial cover from the hole in the floor, it missed. On Loki’s turn, he grabbed the stone and the hut stopped. Outside, Kaladin tried to fly off with the baby after giving it a Good Berry. She cast a Power Word Stun for which for those with less than 150 hit points, there was no save. (That’s an 8th level spell.) However, when Brian realized that would cause Kaladin to fall out of the sky (and probably injuring the baby), he retroactive played into a different course. She had high-level spells but few choices and with avoiding damaging the baby, her options were very limited. She cast Polymorph Other on the baby, turning it into grey mold or something. Since Kaladin was holding it, he took damage. Meanwhile, the rest were taking shots at her however the skull gave her good cover from those below. Loki spent a round, wrapping the stone in his Nature’s Mantle cloak which was magical, Druidy and concealed magic and managed to mask the glow.
Ambrus was hitting with Magic Missile but Kharn and Ambrus started targeting the skull, hoping to bring it (and her) down. In addition, the freed crow swarm were attacking her, doing small damage but since she was ignoring them, it added up. They had the advantage of flight. And Lady Patrina hit her with a Fireball or two. One of them managed to break the concentration on the Polymorph. At this point, Kaladin was off the map. And then she unleashed an illusion or teleport spell and we were all at the bottom of a volcano cauldron. Including Kaladin. And she continued to rise. People continued to take shots but Loki’s range was short and Ambrus ran out of Magic Missiles and Baron Q got out of range and it was looking dire. But Kharn’s strong bow had an extremely long range. He hit the dragon head, knocking it out. And she fell to the earth and took 13d6 of damage. And lived. But now she was ground level and someone finished her off pretty quick. The spell supposedly would last 10 days and it looked like we’d be late for our dinner. Maybe the magic carriage can get down here? But Brian gave us a break and said the illusion ended with her. (The break was “owed” us since the casting time was supposed to be 10 minutes on that spell.)
We searched her body and she had nothing. We went to the chest in her hut but Ambrus found that it had a Glyph of Warding on it. Brian checked Patrina’s character sheet and, after some confusion caused by Fantasy Grounds as to what spells she had memorized, and found she had a Dispel Magic. She had to up cast with a 4th level slot but did so. We did not cast Identify on her behalf, deferring until next time. There was a vial of oil, 2 scrolls, a stone and I think something else. Not a ring or weapon or armor or wand. Plus, some coins and gems. We tried a Good Berry for Laura Stoneheart but she was in too bad of shape. But seemed to be recovering slowly. Loki put the Druid stone next to her and that seemed to help. Once again, we “won” but are left with some tough problems. We certainly do not want to bring the stone, baby or injured Druid to Stradhanya’s dinner. But we had two days left on the clock and weren’t really two days from anywhere. But we deferred solving that problem until next time.
We started, facing what we assumed was Stradhanya’s encampment with the innocent Vistani girl staked to a chain like a dog as bait. This is the girl whom we rescued from being sacrificed to the Balrog but whose whole family had been killed before we arrived. Lord Q was in favor of avoiding the whole thing. Late arriving Kharn had already voted to avoid via email earlier. He already had 2 vampire bites and was not looking to ever meet Stradhanya again. Lady Petrina was not in attendance and Kaladin didn’t seem to have much to say. Ezra and Ambrus however could not leave an innocent girl to suffer because of us. Loki threw in with the Paladins, knowing that they would not be able to leave her. So he figured we might as well get it over with. The girl looked stoic enough but the Inciteful could tell she was terrified. It was obvious to all that she had lost weight in the week since her obduction. Ezra opened the tent and was greeted by the vampire, her lieutenant and a couple of servants. She did not detect as evil, by the way. We were invited in and eventually all came in. Ezra stood by the door and glowered at her with righteous fervor. Somewhere, in there, Paul logged in and returned to existence outside the tent. He tried to sneak away but she heard him. But didn’t stop him. He stayed within gun fire hearing distance. What followed was a long conversation with veiled threats and pretend courtesies.
Ambrus volunteered to do most of the talking, focused on freeing the girl. The first offer was for one of us to replace her. That was a nonstarter. Eventually, we got back around the dinner invitation. After some back-and-forth negotiations, Ambrus agreed to having that dinner in 1 week. She provided a crystal that when broken would summon her carriage to bring us there. There were promises of safety etc. Loki agreed as well although he was concerned about the time constraint. We get attacked every day in this place. Kaladin said, “yeah, whatever”. Ezra established that he would not give up his sword. Lord Q talked in circles, arguing semantics of everyone’s words and never really said yes or no. The lieutenant was sent out to free the girl and tried to Intimidate Ezra into stepping aside. He rolled a natural 20 on his Wisdom check and held his ground. Once freed, Loki exited and the rest followed. He gave her a Good Berry which helped. Once away, Ezra cast a Protection from Evil in hopes of dismissing any charms, curses, etc. We escorted her to town with a letter of introduction to get her up to Ireena at the abbey. Loki suggested she could leave with the next Vistani caravan that came by. We finally got onto the road.
We went on to the Wizards of Wines to ask about the ravens. We were quickly sent to the head of the Molativ family. This time, thanks to our efforts to save them, he came clean. They had received a blessing from one of the Archefey, the ability to transform into a raven. (Madam Eva if anyone cares.) Sort of like lycanthropy but voluntary. They could also speak to ordinary crows. This was their main method of gathering intelligence. (For example, he told us that the revolution that we were thinking of aiding had happened in Valaki. But that the new lady seemed to be more pro Stradhanya.) He gave us a secret handshake or something to identify us as friends of the family. In order to send messages back. Loki also pointed out he had the Speak with Animals spells which makes them more useful. We’ll take any allies we can get. When asked if Stradhanya was using the ravens as her spies, he dismissed that possibility with a wave. They also gave us some intel on Berez. It was destroyed thousands of years ago when they dared to rebel against Stradhanya. It is now home to a group of witches. Additionally, the Archfey that we’re supposed to rescue is being held by Baba Yaya, which sounds like another hag. According to a nursery rhyme, she lives in a hut the walks around the forest on chicken feat. Do the witches answer to her or are they unrelated? Ambrus suggested we try to find her first to split the problem but we didn’t get that far.
Back on the road, we ran into a Flesh Golem like the one fought at the abbey. It was killed in one round. A Tracking roll seemed to indicate it had come from the abbey. It looked like an early attempt at a Kharn clone. We decided to stick to the roads rather than try our luck overland. We resisted the temptation to divert to the tower of the slightly unhinged vampire hunter. We got delayed by a driving rain storm. We resisted the temptation to divert to the sliver dragon keep. The next random encounter was more substantial. It was a gargantuan fog elemental thing. It got 4 tendril attacks with 40+ reach. That did no damage but it grappled and restrained and then dragged to the “mouth” which did a ton of damage. And since you were restrained, it got advantage. Its AC was good, it had a ton of hit points and various resistances against weapons, magic or no. Since it wasn’t a regular attack, Kharn’s rage resistance did not help so he got rocked. It took a good roll to get free from the tendril but it cost your action unless you beat it by 10. We grinded through it and only Kharn went out right at the end. But it was defeated. The next day, we ran into a weird plant-based ball? We decided to stop before starting that fight. We only have a couple days left on our week and still some distance to go.
We explored the monastery. We found half-dead, disfigured insane people and decayed furniture. Finally, while exploring we encountered a large lumbering figure. An assemblage of human body parts. As we approached the area, we heard chanting screaming etc. The creature did 20-30 per hit. Worse it exploded after it died.
Afterward, we further explored and found room after room packed with mutant surgical experiments. One room had a guy holding a shiny sphere, another with a group singing around a statue. Another room with a brawl (fight club). Another room full of hungry mongrels. The last had rabbits and turnips. Ambrus almost fled in terror. We retreated to have a long rest before we decided what to do with them. The flesh golem was the guard and the guy to give the inmates food. We then spent time figuring out how to feed them without the flesh golem.
Irina had a guilt trip about the dream pastries incident and insisted on staying at the Abbey and becoming the Abbess. As a reminder, there was a riot because the people of the city couldn’t get their cookies made of murdered children, since we killed the child-killing hags. Because we didn’t think to warn her brother of the sudden lack of opiates, the town rioted and people died. Fortunately, few children died since their parents had already sold them to the hags to be made into cookies. For some odd reason, no one in the party cared about the deaths of the rioters. She was the only person that had healing and cooking so in her head it seemed to have made sense.
We left the Abbey and soon met with Serena Lousyrescue (or so it sounds). She was the NPC we rescued from the demon at the cost of Brian’s original character. Later she was kidnapped by Strahdania. She had a chain around her neck, that boded ill.
Notes from the GM:
We finished a short rest just inside the crypt. There were stairs down into a large room. On the two sides were 3 coffins each plus a larger one dead ahead. However, the most noteworthy feature was piles and piles of coins, gems and rare items. None of us believed it, of course. So, after a couple of rolls, looking for traps and illusions that revealed nothing, Ambrus stepped in. Using his Mage Hand, he touched a gold piece and the spirit we were chasing appeared in the doorway behind him. She said something about disturbing the whateverakov family crypt and prepared to attack. Initiative. Since Ambrus was forcing the action, he got an automatic 20 and went first. He did his sneak attack. Unfortunately, he could not log on and DG was rolling for him. He used the regular dagger instead of the new +3 dagger. Wade was unsympathetic. So, some of that damage bounced. Others attacked as they thought best. When she went, she let loose a howl. Anyone who missed the save, went directly to 0 hit points and started to make death saves. It was a CON save which is not a common save proficiency but a common stat at least. Thanks for coming, Kaladin, Ezra, Ambrus and Petrina. Those that made it, took 3d6? of physic damage. It then attacked with a fearful gaze. All that failed that were frightened, taking disadvantage on every roll plus could move no closer to it. As usual, after round one, we figured we were dead.
Several Skeletons also appeared as well as an actual ghost. The first was technically a Banshee. Both had loads of resistances like most everything we face these days. The program didn’t work right and Ezra didn’t get the advantage he should have on that first save so retroactively he was still in the game, wreaking havoc on the undead as usual. The ghost tried to possess Lord Q but he saved. Noble breeding wins out again. Next it tried to get Ezra but that didn’t work. It did age Ireena 20 years though. DG started pondering the life expectancy of a raccoon. Lady Patrina took out most of the skeletons with a radiant Fireball although it did put Ambrus one death save from death. People were revived and attacked. But the saving grace was that the Banshee seemed to be only able to do that first scream once. Once per round and we’d be dead. So, we kept swinging. Kaladin was revived but was still afraid so he couldn’t move into melee range. After a few rounds, it was all over. When she “died”, we felt a pulse of energy shoot through us.
At this point, we returned the body to its final resting spot to stop the curse of the time warp. Except that no one had brought the body. Doh! And there was no coffin with her name on it. What? So, we were confused and started to panic. Was this all for nothing? Do we have to get the body and do it again? Trying to track these plots over 3 months of real time is tough. Lady Patrina made a good religion roll and told us that she thought we had “done it”. That pulse of energy was her spirt moving on. Hopefully. We all agreed that the treasure was an illusion or trapped or cursed, i.e. too good to be true. Except Lord Q and Lady Petrina who insisted on messing with it. The book was Identified as a Manual of Iron Golems. The trident was +3 but anyone who took something was cursed. Disadvantage on all rolls. Lady Patrina’s Remove Curse spell did no good. Eventually, we were able to move on. I think we took a short rest during all that.
We emerged from the crypt and somehow it was morning. We could see a servant working in the garden. And the manor house looked to be in good repair i.e. as we first saw it and not run down like it was 20 years after the curse. We started to panic again. Do we have to get the body and do it again? All agreed to get out of the maze ASAP before the dog returned. Except Lord Q who was concerned that we might need the crests again to regain entry. As he and Ambrus debated it, they heard the howl again. Luckily, they both saved and eventually we all got out. The servant questioned us and headed to inform the mistress. We decided to go to the front door and ask for food like we had the day before. This time, she looked around 20 years older. There was no party being prepared. We showed her the note and again she recognized her handwriting but didn’t remember writing it. Then she recognized the cloak Lord Q got from the chest in her office. At this point, Ezra decided to “come clean” and told her the whole story. Skipping over the parts about us breaking into her office. She was confused but intrigued. We stayed for lunch. Our paladin rogue offered to return the +3 dagger but she still had the one in the chest. It was all very Back to the Future. I mean if all these people lived another 20 years, did they impact the timeline?
So, she remembered breaking off her engagement but that was 20 years ago. She seemed unaware of any problems in the village but was willing to provide some food. We stayed the night. In the morning, we headed out with a wagon of food. We didn’t get far before we ran into another old peddler lady wandering the road alone. This one was selling tools and such. Ambrus bought some spikes and door stops and overpaid. She gave him a doll that parents give children to protect them from night spirits. He gave it to Ireena. At the gate, Lord Q was welcomed. He triumphantly presented the food and asked who was in charge so that they can distribute it. We were informed that the mayor took his own life last night and that the town had elected Lord Q as the new mayor. He is a Lord after all. After consulting with the town guard, he assigned the lead farmer to be his steward and put him in charge of the food. We started talking about what we were going to say to the Abbot when the NPC noted that the doll was pointing out of town.
So, we voted to follow the doll, figuring it was Wade’s way of guiding us to an adventure. (The fools.) It led us out of town and back to the road. After two nights with no end in sight, we voted to return to Kyresk. Personally, I think it was Strahdanya again, forcing us back to her dinner party invitation. On the way back, we came across a body nailed to a post at a cross roads that wasn’t there the day before. A tracking roll told us they came from the other road. A history roll told us that down that road was the Keep of the Order of the Silver Dragon. A goodly knightly order that was founded by a silver dragon. He was killed and the order wiped out around the time Strahdanya took over. It tied into Kaladin’s back story and destiny but we just could not start another thread so we kept on our original path back. We buried the body and Loki could sense someone watching us. When we pulled back into Kyresk, we ended for the night, still gazing at the monastery at the top of the hill. The same goal as over 6 months and 13 games ago.
Another undefeatable monster
We started at the entrance to the hedge maze. We were armed with the two family crests, seeking two fountains to unlock the crypt. We moved on initiative order which slowed things down. Just inside, we could see the crypt but there was a gate with no lock. We surmised pretty quickly that it was just there to mock us. But we spent some time trying to figure out how to circumvent the maze and go directly in. We could not. We headed into the maze, coming upon twin fountains fairly quickly. Again, we figured that was too easy but spent time investigating them. When Ambrus finally put them in, nothing happened. Meanwhile, every round everybody heard a spirit rattling howl. It was a modest Will save or take a die of physic damage. And those that missed that had another save or be stunned for a round. Loki missed the first one and others missed throughout the night. Those that happened to end up near the Paladin with the round-based movement, got bonuses. We could sense a huge beast flowing through the maze. After a few rounds of bumbling around, it was upon us. By the way, the closer it got, the harder the saves. It went from DC10 to DC15 to DC20. It wasn’t much but it added up.
So, the huge 3 headed dog appeared. Patrina tried to cast Slow on it but was told not to bother to roll as it was immune to that. Loki fired away with his (relatively) new pistols, hitting 3 times and doing a point or two. The Monk hit it several times with various energy types and almost all of it bounced. He did manage to stun it with a couple of Ki points(Dan: it took five points to stun it twice). Then Ezra hit and smitted it with a 2nd level spell and did almost nothing. It broke down like this. It took 10 points off the top for any attack. It was resistant to all damage types tried including magic, all elements, physic, etc. It was immune to necrotic, radiant and crits. So, if you hit for 15, you did 2. It also had advantage on all saves. We quickly concluded we could not defeat it via hit point attrition. Now what? Stand, fight and keep trying things. Flee and try again with a new plan? The trick with that was getting everybody out alive. Right before the fight, Ezra found a statue of the family matriarch. It advised seeking guidance from statutes near fountains in the NW and SE corners. So, we decided to split up. The fastest Ambrus headed NW. Loki and the soon to overtake him Kaladin went SE. The rest, led by slow moving Ezra would try to keep it distracted. And we’d met at the crypt?
So, Ambrus blazed ahead, with NPC Ireena following. The beast ignored Ezra et al and caught up to Loki and Kaladin. It could move through the maze, ignoring walls and opportunity attacks. Kaladin attempt to lead it out of the maze but it didn’t follow. Between the stuns and movement, it final got a chance to attack, criting Loki for 20+ and missing Ezra twice in his new full plate. (3 heads) A round or two later Ambus found the statue and a fountain without water. He attempted to examine it but we were taking damage every round. People were throwing out ideas that Ambrus couldn’t hear. Eventually he just put it in the empty fountain at DG’s suggestion, figuring an empty fountain was still a fountain. The water started and the statue smiled approvingly. The next round Loki did the same in the SE and the crypt opened. So now it was a race back. Ireena got rocked and almost killed as she ran into the beast coming back. Patrina hit it with a Tashia’s and with the last inspiration in the party (Loki’s) made it save again(Dan: I don't remember this, I remember trying to stun it with my last ki point, failing and someone else used an inspiration to make it miss its save. Did Patrina hit it before or after this?). With it incapacitated for a round, she and the rest managed to get into the crypt. By the way, it would not cross the threshold into the inner court yard. The crypt had stairs going down and we stopped there. They either took a short rest or we’ll start with that next time.
Poof! The Racoon faded out and the berserker gypsy suddenly existed. Exploring the house we found a room full of mirrors. Inside one of the mirrors, Ambrus saw the placard hanging on the wall. He sent his mage hand into the mirror world, grabbed the placard, and pulled it out of the mirror. Meanwhile, his mirror image stepped through and attacked him. Kharn ran in to attack the image and then an image of him stepped out to fight us. Patrina cast darkness and Kharn vanished but her own was still there since she can see in her darkness... oops. Patrina’s image dispelled the darkness and mirror Kharn reappeared. Then Lord Q cast fog cloud. During this, the monk stayed out of the room and did a fog horn imitation allowing the people inside the fog to navigate without activating the mirrors. Someone got the idea to cover the mirrors and Kharn then covered the mirror with a billowing cloak. In the next few turns, the party scavenged moldy tablecloths, blankets, and curtains to block all the mirrors in order to negate the mirror images. Once most were covered the fog was disbursed and the remaining mirror had a second crest. Ambros cast invisibility and went in the mirror and grabbed it while everyone else stayed outside the room. So we seem to have two crests.
While exploring the rest of the house Lord Q came across a phantasm figure wearing armor. Meanwhile, Ambross and Kharn had a short rest to heal up from beating themselves up in the mirror room. Since Lord Q had no backup he closed the door. When everyone was ready we all went in but Ezera effectively soloed the phantasm with one 20 HP hit and another critical smite 82 HP. The ghost just wanted to end his life in glorious combat instead of by poison. Hopefully being one-shotted by the paladin counts. Although the monk wanted the armor as a wall trophy, it was finally decided it go to the paladin.
Continuing our exploration we found a magical haversack that finally went to the monk. Later explored the bedroom we originally stayed in during the groundhog cycle and found it full of zombies. One with a big glowing fist. We won after a short combat, partially due to the undead being limited to having to attack through a doorway. The zombie with the glowing fist had a bracer that gave +1 damage and hit to natural weapons and unarmed attacks. The monk got this. It was late but it was hinted that there was only one more room on this floor so we continued. The next room over we found the second half of the bracer set that gave an additional +1 hit and damage (total +2). Yay! At this point, it was after 1:00 AM so we called it a night.
We had this letter we found on the now dead sheep herder with an offer for him and his father to come shelter at a nearby estate and ride out the winter. With the devastated sheep stores, starvation for the town of Krusk was a real possibility so we took upon ourselves to look into it. We had some discussions on how to do that. Is there any authority figure left we could bring? Not really. We decided to have Lord Q do the talking, bringing the bad news about the deaths and go from there. With Lady Patrina making the announcement, the butler was impressed enough, at least with those two, to let us in and give us an audience. But we had to give up our weapons at the front door. All complied except for Ezra who chose to guard the front door rather than give up his Holy Avenger. Loki left his pistols with him.
She was hosting a big party for nobles across the land. We talked to her in her study but she had no idea what we were talking about. When shown the letter, she agreed that it was in her hand with her seal but had no recollection of writing it or sending it. She and her party seemed to be out of step with the current world conditions. Loki asked her what year she thought it was. What an odd question? Why do you ask? You seem out of touch. That did not go over well. Brian had Dave make a persuasion roll to see if he could have possibly said that without sounding insulting. With an 8 charisma, no proficiency and a roll of a two, it did not go well. Loki stopped talking. (Dan: This happens over and over. Not proficient with a charisma skill? Just shut up and let the charisma character talk, roleplaying isn't going to do it.) Despite this, we were given a tour of the house, given a couple rooms to freshen up and invited to join the party. A couple of words on the tour. We saw no weapons on the guests or all the walls. Being players, we were planning on trouble. Ambrus noted that the locks throughout were of the highest quality. Maybe 30+ guests?
We mingled. Everybody rolled terrible so anyone that tried something, failed and those that just wandered about, heard some random things. This family is known for their tech and architecture and had designed Ravenloft castle. Ambrus tried to break into a room but only rolled well enough to determine it was going to take a 35 roll to do it. Attempts to get some background on the guests and servant were dead ends. There was mention of a hedge maze out back that was known to be unsolvable. But the key items came from the host or about her. She had recently broken off her engagement with Dimitri, the leader in Krusk. However, the man we had met a wife and grown kids. She also thought the guy in charge was his long dead father. We again concluded that this place was outside of time somehow. Lord Q did manage to talk her into letting the Paladin of the Morning Lord come in with his sword and join dinner.
She excused herself from dinner and the next thing heard was a scream from the butler. She’s been poisoned! The players were ready to jump into action but held at bay while Brian described the grisly scene. Basically, all the guests died a horrible, bloody death but none of the players had any trouble. Once all dead, the mansion transformed into a run-down older version of itself and all the bodies were gone. Again, players were trying act but Brian skipped all that and just put us together in the main room with our weapons. We went to her salon and found her body. Before we could act, a vortex of time bending energy swirled. A spirit emerged from her body and said something about being betrayed and they should all rot in hell or some such. It then flew through the wall.
Ambrus watch it through a window and it went to the hedge maze. To no one’s surprised. Lady Patrina found two keys on her now decayed body. There was some discussion about what to do but Ambrus was so eager to reinvestigate the lock that had thwarted him, he must have mentioned it 5 times in 2 minutes. But it was as good a plan as any. The first room was some sort of study. It had high quality artwork including what we assumed was a portrait of the most famous family member. It was obvious something important had been removed from the wall. Beyond was a passageway leading down into the basement, crypt, ??? We deferred that. The next room was a private office with various books and ledgers. Among those was a journal which Lady Patrina was about to shove into her pack but Loki asked about the date of the last entry. It was 25 years ago, as we had expected. In addition, it told of her intention to break off her engagement prior to her upcoming party. She figured that would avoid a scene and allow her to start finding someone new. So, we concluded he, Dimitri whom we had just tried to save the night before, had poisoned them all. She did not want to give up her life and lands and titles. She also said something about him never finding her family vault as it was not in the basement but in the hedge maze and only someone with both family crests could possibly penetrate it. So, we need to find those, I guess. One has already been taken.
Also in that room was a locked chest. Ambrus could not open it by skill. Ezra could not open it by force. But Brian gave Amrus another try and that opened it. Inside was a throve of magical items.
Charlatan’s Die – rolls any number you want. I.e. cheat - Ambrus
Cloak of Billowing – dramatically billows on command - Lord Q
Portable Hole - Lady Patrina took to hold her books. At the bottom of which was …
Dagger +3 - Ambrus
Scroll of Arcane Lock – Lady Patrina
Scroll of Guards and Wands – Lady Patrina
Scroll of Knock – Lady Patrina
Wand of Conducting – makes symphony music, 3 charges – Kharn because he wasn’t there to say no.
That took up some time and it was almost 12 so we stopped. The offer of extra food seems like it’s 25 years old so we’re not going to succeed there. (Dan: As mentioned the lady didn't recognize the letter. Either its a ghost thing to not remember it or it was some wierd plot twist. If Demitri was sane I assume he would have remembered he killed everyone here and told us not to bother or it was a trap.) Loki did do a search of the grounds during the party in hopes of finding a storage building but rolled bad so maybe another search is in order. I suppose we will try to solve the hedge maze and try to put this spirit to rest. But we’ll want to search the rest of the house for those crests first. No one could recall seeing something like that at Dimitri’s house but if you poisoned 30+ people, would you keep a reminder of that around? We might look for plans of Castle Ravenloft as well in case we ever have to sneak into it.
The party woke up find the chickens gone. The house owners had made breakfast and left for the day. So in between the time we woke up and the people in the house cooked breakfast they were gone (eaten). We spent the day looking over the sheep, talking to Luca and then the villagers. No one knew anything. We even interrogated the sheep. Luca was mentally challenged due to a head injury, so was a bit frustrating to talk to. They knew nothing as well. We all knew it was Ilya, the resurrected boy with an unnatural appetite but there was no proof. Patrina even left her book/familiar with the sheep to spy on them. Then we left. After hours of getting the run around it came to a boil when all the sheep went missing at once after we left for a few hours. The familiars were gone and Luca had left the sheep alone after telling them to look after one another. During this discussion, he took out a letter stating that due to his father’s friend he could find shelter and food for himself and his companions. I must have blinked because this seemed a bit contrived. So perhaps the villagers won’t starve? (hint: yes they still will)
The villagers noticed soon after we did that the sheep were missing and formed two mobs. Kaladin tried to reason with the crowd but failed despite a decent roll (14 but no bonuses). As usual, the people without charisma skills shouldn't bother to try to roleplay. Lord Q tried afterward and failed too (with advantage he rolled two 1's. Maybe it was fated.). Just they were about to attack, Ilya ran up, looking obviously emaciated, and demanded food. We all attacked since this was the proof we had wasted two hours trying to get. However, he was a legendary creature. He swallowed random villagers (his mother specifically) to regain hit points, as an interrupt action spat poison area effects and basically two shotted most of the party. Patrina was fairly effective using darkness and chilling touch to reduce his hits and negate his healing some of the time. Naturally, we still mocked him for using an ability similar to his infamous Plant Growth fail. Luca got nailed the first attack and lay dying on the sheep field. It was difficult healing without the goodberries but we had some healing potions, a paladin, and Patrina who had some sacrificial healing abilities. Ilya seems to still have some life to him but after a final attack and health absorption, he ran his house near the sheep fields. Patrina did her sacrificial heal to Kaladin who had gone down earlier and he then flew after Ilya in his house. The heal was well-timed because he was 2 failed death saves down. We charged after him and once again kept going down. It was even worse in the confined space. (It wasn't helped that the map had the two floors stacked on top of each other and kept flashing each floor randomly. Very confusing and frustrating, especially with the wall obscurement of FG that never matched the floor you were on. I would strongly recommend that the GM spread out the maps so they aren't on top of each other even if it needs those annoying gates at the entrances) The warlock eventually claimed the final blow. Most of the others didn’t even get a hit in and were just hit point buffers.
Dimitri (Ilya’s father) was informed of the news rather brutally by Patrina (she was criticized by the rest of the party for being far too blunt, though it was amusing), then again by Ezera (who was just as blunt, he just worded it differently. It could be questioned who was nicer). His mind snapped, then he recovered and they did it again. I was actually wondering if they were trying to drive him mad. He ended up catatonic and disavowed by the village mayor. The paladin was disgusted by this attitude (nobody else was happy with it though they didn’t want to take responsibility for it either...even though it was pretty much Patrina and Ezera that drove him mad) and righteously washed his hands of the whole matter. Leaving the entire village to starve while we head off to explore the dead Luca’s inheritance and its stash of food. That’s Ravenloft. Even the paladins are evil.
We emerged in the middle of Yester Hill. Evidently, we had taken a short rest so eventually we just got going. Vasili was nowhere to be found but our wagon was still there waiting for us. The small window of sunlight was quickly left behind. During the first day, we came across a strange furry man, hanging upside down from a tree limb with a couple of other bats. He claimed to be Batman! and mostly spouted batman cliches about thwarting evil. Slightly amusing and mostly pointless. Eventually, we just left him behind and moved on. That night was uneventful and we got a long rest. The next day, scouting Kaladin spotted 3 shambling figures ahead on the road. Loki went first and hit the first one 4 times, dropping it. When they went, floating ghost-like jellyfish emerged from the bodies and attacked. They did psychic damage and one teleported to behind the wagon. A couple of us took some damage but it was over pretty quick. We got back on the road after burying the bodies. Two bodies looked like the druids we fought and one looked like he came from Kresk.
Moments after we started moving again, everyone on the wagon took significant psychic damage from screams in their head. Half on a wisdom save. Lord Q was then attacked but since he was the only one in the wagon, no one else saw it. He was almost out in one round. On his turn, he tried to jump through the window but first he had to take more screams damage and was out. The NPC went next, raised the alarm and pulled him out of the wagon. There was much confusion. Kharn and Loki managed to get to the back of the wagon and take a couple of shots at the assistant to Stradhanya we had fought before. He growled to the raging Kharn that “he was not the target” and then misty stepped away. Some healed Lord Q, fearing he’d be killed by the AOE or attacked again. Others searched for the attacker but he was never seen again. Evidently, he had made a monster Stealth roll and no one saw him get in the wagon during the first fight. (Dan: It was deduced that he had +14 to his stealth skill... and he rolled a 20. Basically even without a 20 roll we wouldn't have been able to see him). I suppose Lord Q was a target because he has access to a great power that could be a threat to Stradhanya? Certainly more than a raccoon with some pistols. There were some discussions and we rearranged the positions but ultimately, we just got going again.
Late that day, we pulled into the winery. They were busy, trying to save their crops. The druid stone was buried and a couple hours later, things were improved. By the way, that ended Lady Petrina’s personal quest and Brian received a bonus feat. Ironic since that character had just started. We stayed the night and nothing happened. We got a nice bottle of wine for the abbot in Kresk and Ezra got a new shield to replace the one he left behind in the Gone. The journey to Kresk was uneventful. Once we showed them the witches broomstick, I mean told them we had restored the winery, we were greeted as heroes. The BurgerMeister invited us into his home. And we got the run down. Life here is hard. It’s so cold, the chickens are kept in the houses so they wouldn’t freeze. The sheep had been disappearing and he asked us to look into it as they feared they wouldn’t survive the winter if it continued. Also, his only remaining son was recently brought back to life by the abbot. He had died from some disease. That was met with suspicion but the only thing noted was that he seemed to be eating a lot.
We also got some back history about the town. The town hero lead a rebellion against Stradhanya but her attack on the castle ended in death for all involved. They had sent someone to check on the wine whose description matched the body we fought the day before. The guy in charge of the sheep is simple mined but does a good job. The abbot seems to be working on a project to defeat Stradhanya or some such. (Dan: Ravenloft's typical means of fighting back is finding something even more evil than what they are fighting. I hear they cancel out that way.) Very busy but very great. At least according to these people. We slept through the night. Lady Patrina used her short sleep cycle and awaken mind to virtually patrol the area but saw nothing. We were treated to a fine breakfast and the nobles left for their day’s activities. The only thing noted was the chickens were all gone. Loki made a roll and was convinced that there were chickens here yesterday. There were no signs of attack or force entry. It seemed odd that our hosts either did not notice or did not mention anything. Andy, BTO and DG were dragging so we called it an early night.