SPOILERS BELOW for The Beast of Graenseskov
The party, a third session at Level 2. And no, they aren't levelling up until they complete some story milestones!
At the end of the last session, the party had travelled for two hours into the forest following a trail of wonderful sweets and biscuits, with only Roscoe stopping to partake. We ended the session with them at the edge of a clearing, peering out at a gingerbread cottage built in a large old and twisted maple tree; the home of a hag or witch who they had decided must die.
- Ser Alys de Rouge (a half-orc Fighter with a soldier background, currently the leader of the town militia of Daggerford), played by Tom (Guvnor). Lawful Neutral
- Kelwarin (Kel) (a half-elf Sorceror flush with the powers of wild magic, an outlander), played by Graham (First Age). Chaotic Good.
- Gaddock Teeg (a halfling wizard and former prizefighter), played by Alex (Doggetay), Neutral Good.
- Roscoe Tosscobble (a halfling Cleric of Life, a follower of Diancecht, god of medicine and healing, former hermit and companion of Ser Adon), played by Jag (Jagusti). Lawful Good.
- Ser Adon of House Starbright (a half-orc Paladin, from a knightly background, with two human retainers and a priest), played by Paul (dr_mitch). Lawful Good.
3rd November (?)
CUT SCENE - THE GREAT HALL, VOLCHYKROV MANOR -
The old man sat on his throne, head in hands as the sun started to set. What had he unleashed? Why had they done it? And how would the Devil Strahd respond?
The doors into the great hall burst open, and his son burst inside.
"What have you done, Old Man? Are you trying to kill us all? Wasn't Pyotr enough for your foolishness? You will bring the Devil himself down upon the whole manor."
The old man protested, saying he didn't ask them to do this, that it was a horrible mistake. Who would of thought they'd be so foolish as to kill a Vampire serving the Count?
His sone wasn't placated. Angry words exchanged. "It's time you stepped aside as Boyar, as you clearly can't protect our people, you Old Fool." Doors slam, and quiet returns but not peace.
Mid afternoon, the party look out at the Gingerbread Cottage. It is decorated with icing on the roof, sugared icicles and all manner of trinkets. They can't see steps up to the porch, a good 20 feet in the air. There is a wonderful smell of gingerbread cooking and glowing lights from the windows. Hedwig the Owl scouts, and they spot two Worgs, sleeping near the foot of the tree.
The party decide that discretion is the better part of valour, and Roscoe leads them into the woods, finding a natural hollow with good protection, where they camp to recover. Ser Adon had planted his javelin near the trail so it would alarm if anyone passed.
Around six o'clock, a gust of wind and the alarm going off warned them that the witch had returned. Hedwig didn't quite see her, but did see that there were three Worgs, not two. The hag threw them out a haunch of Elk to feed on.
Everyone had a good night's sleep except Ser Adon, who had a dark nightmare in a gothic castle that had seen better days. Cobwebs and dust filled the rooms. He saw a dark hair elf reporting to a figure looking out of a large window that Koslov had been killed. The figure wasn't surprised; he knew that Koslov had been murdered. He ordered the elf to assess the visitors and find out more. Adon's vision twisted and he saw a cruel, determined face, and sensed a focused evil overlaid with despair. For a moment, their eyes locked, and then Adon's perspective picked up the huge drop below and he woke, a shiver running through him. When he reached for his cloak, the other pointed out it was covered with dust and cobwebs like he had brushed against something. He told them of his dream.
The party decided that now was the time to deal with the hag. Kelwarin was sent ahead, playing a tune to try and gain entry, but he was stopped by the Worgs who surprised him with their command of common. They made it clear they were thralls of the witch, who they called Pretty Kolchya. They told him that she was out and bargained with him. Kel agreed to get them better food, and then break into the cottage and smash the statues that bind them to her, freeing them. Ser Alys lands the food, and Ser Adon insists that the Worgs agree not to kill children again if they are freed. A pact is struck, and the Worgs reveal the secret of the stairs and that the witch cannot refuse a riddle contest.
They explore the house, finding a young girl, Anya Stojanovic, who is in a fugue state and acting as a menial. They discover a recipe book full of spells, notes and scrolls. Ser Adon and Ser Alys somehow save a man who has been imprisoned in a force box in the oven to slow cook alive. The oven opens into hell (seriously). The man is still in the force box when they pull him out and they hope the priest can help back at the manor. Kel is viciously attacked by animated hands when the explores the broom closet which is full of children's shoes and gloves. He's saved by the quick wits of Gaddock, who magic missiles all three of the hands. The man from the oven is called Narsden; along with other mercenaries hired by Viktor Elrik, he had raided Castle Ravenloft and was the only survivor. He'd been trying to find a way through the mists and had decided to rob the hag's house, and she caught him.
In the hag's bedroom, they find and smash the statues. The Worgs thank them, and then howl horrifically and head down the path that the party had come, on the hunt.
The party continue to the top floor. A mandrake root and molasses homunculus spots them but is instantly vapourised with firebolts and radiant light. Ser Adon is a little late into the action and smashes some of the storage boxes, and giant rats rush out. Gaddock sends three of the giant rats to sleep, and the other is soon finished off. They skewer the remaining three for a meal later. Some magic items are found.
The enter a room with a wall made into a blackboard that said 'I promise to be nice' all over it. A lonely bed is there, along with a bucket of fingernails engraved with children's names (which Ser Adon duly notes down). A final room is found. Gaddock checks two chests to see if they are mimics. He finds an illusion with a nasty trap, and a chest full of treasures and a magic moonstone. This one spikes him with a poison needle as he opens it, making him very unwell. The third check is a Mimic, which doesn't really want to fight and our heroes wisely back off. Ser Adon smashes the final chest open and is swarmed by the centipedes trapped within it. They bite him repeatedly, and he passes out from their poison. The centipedes then swarm back to hide under the box they used to live in.
Roscoe heals Ser Adon, and they all decide that discretion is the better part of valour. They set fire to the cottage in multiple places, fleeing into the forest only just before the hag arrives, summoned by her homunculus before he died. She screams out, promising a terrible vengeance, on the trespassers. The party hide at the refuge from the night before and hunker down for a long night. They start to study the notes and other clues they've stolen.
GM Notes: I'd prepared the location in detail the night before and it was surprisingly fun. The cut scenes were planned and the idea was to give the feel of a world in motion where the party's actions have consequence. I'm starting to feel more confident in running 5e now. The freeing of the Worgs will have a terrible consequence, but they'll find that out soon enough. The other question is how the Boyar and his son will respond, will the Beast strike again and how the master of Barovia will chose to respond.
28th January 2020
Curse of Strahd will return on 11th February 2020.