Saturday, 11 November 2017

D&D - Curse of Strahd Campaign - Part One - Intro Session

Our DM has decided to gather a team of adventurers to attempt to rid the land of Barovia from an ancient curse...of course we thought we were merely rescuing the absent daughter of Lady Daggerford from a nearby village...

None of the players have done this adventure before and we've all been understandably banned from looking at the source book. Therefore how close our DM is following the actual book is a mystery to us...

Daniel aka Hans Velsing - Human Ranger, Monster Hunter
Louis aka Sven McHammer - Human Barbarian, Luskan Mercenary
Harry aka Alec Ivanovich - Human Evoker, Former Barovian Resident and Guide
Dave aka Kole Foresthelm - Human Fighter, Captain in Lady Daggerfords Guard
Garreth aka Elran Elarius - Half Elf Sorcerer, aide to Lady Daggerford
Tom Williams aka every person and creature we meet...
Editors Note - Much of this first session was taken up by the final stages of character generation and the usual "...and can I have..." that DM's are always plagued with so the actual role-playing aspect of it was relatively short...hence the briefness of this first write-up...

Part One - 'Missing'
The daughter of Lady Daggerford has been missing for some days after being sent to investigate several disappearances in a small village that supplies lumber to the town of Daggerford and after growing increasingly desperate for news of her daughter has decided to send a hand-picked group to locate her directly and return her home by any means necessary. Amongst this select group are a pair of mercenaries currently available due to the completion of a recent mission in a nearby town (A Ranger named Hans Velsing and his Barbarian acquaintance Sven McHammer) with a reputation for success in a number of similar cases (or at least that's what Hans has claimed). 

Additionally a guide from somewhere called Barovia has been recruited who is in possession of detailed knowledge of the area and the surrounding lands in which she was last seen and it is hoped that this local expertise will maximise the chances of success. Not willing to trust the missions success entirely to strangers Lady Daggerford has also decided to send both Captain Kole of her personal guard and her adviser Elran Elarius to ensure that her interests are kept paramount.

First Impressions
The three newcomers waited with varying degrees of patience while the Duchess Morwen of Daggerford explained her daughters predicament to them in broad terms, offered them any equipment they may need to accomplish their mission and a rich reward dependent of course upon their success in the endeavour. She was flanked by her adviser Elran whose keen insights and knack for routing out deception as well as knowledge of a wide variety of languages had come in useful when meeting newcomers and one of her most loyal guards Kole who was on the look-out for treachery of a more physical nature.

This would have taken considerably less time if Hans's barbarian companion Sven had spent more time actually listening and less time interrupting. Several of the crossbowmen in the audience chamber had to be discreetly signalled against filling him with bolts by the guard captain Kole when his rhetoric began to border on insulting. Fortunately Hans was familiar enough with the reputation of the local rulers to quieten his ally before he said something really stupid and got them both summarily executed.

Editors Note - Presumably our DM didn't want to kill some-ones character during the intro to the intro mission, lol.

The Barovian hired as their guide assured them that taking them to their chosen destination was a simple enough matter and that his local knowledge would prove invaluable.

Elran was less than happy about being required to accompany the party having been distinctly unimpressed by them during this less than cordial meeting and despite a few subtle hints to the Duchess it became clear that his inclusion on this adventure was in no way optional. Guard Captain Kole seemed indifferent either way seemingly thinking only of his duty to his ruler. With the party gathered and the mission laid out it was time to gather their equipment and begin their journey.

Editors Note - Our DM then generously gave us a last chance to request additional equipment (within reason of course) so those of us whose background packages didn't provide such things as rations, bedrolls, waterskins and the like quickly took the opportunity to acquire some. I seem to remember a few people grabbed some minor pieces of equipment and weapons as well. We were also given a horse each.

The Barovian guide Ivan led the way with the journey mainly filled with Sven's boasting. Hans relaying tales of their many victories and Elran attempting to discern whether his new associates were as skilled as they seemed to claim. Kole for his part kept a watchful eye over every-one. The journey was uneventful and they soon arrived at the village to which the ladies daughter had travelled though it was commented on by several of the party that the area seemed devoid of any activity. The village itself at first glance was also suspiciously devoid of populace.

Elran suggested scouting the surrounding area before entering the village but their guide assured them that he's stayed here recently and that they would be safe. This whole conversation became irrelevant however as the Barbarian Sven had already decided to enter the town while they were talking...

Editors Note - This is to become a trend...

Their guide Alec told them that the village and some of the surrounding area was previously under the protection of three wise women who had for unknown reasons now abandoned the place. Some locals believed these women to actually be a coven of hags but were to afraid to investigate the matter any further.

Editors Note - Some of this was relevant to a previous campaign that some of the players and our DM were involved in but as I had nothing to do with that one elaborating would be tricky...

As it was getting late in the day everyone decided it would be a good idea to commandeer one of the mysteriously empty homes and get some rest so they bought their equipment into the house and left the horses hitched nearby. Elran volunteered to take first watch and after a brief debate the others split the rest between them. An undisturbed night past but the morning revealed the disturbing news that all the horses had gone missing.

A number of tracks led from the now empty location to a path into the nearby forest that they were all willing to swear had not been there the previous day. Hanging on a ribbon from a nearby branch was something that had all the appearance of a sweet pastry. Elran who had some experience with disguising the taste of poisons got about two words into a warning about eating it before the Barbarian had taken a bite regardless.

As soon as it became obvious that Sven wasn't about to drop dead of terminal food poisoning and having little else in the way of clues it was decided to follow the few indistinct tracks along this new trail through the Misty Woods where several more of the strange tokens marked the route ahead. The light fog became much denser as they entered and seemed to fold in behind them as they advanced. Strange and menacing faces and shapes seemed to form in the mist anywhere except the way ahead. Several attempts to deviate from the path were rewarded with the creeping fog thickening around them to the point that breathing became impossible. It was obvious that the only option was to head in the direction provided for them.

The path through the wood soon became a gravel road that led up to a set of ornate sculpted gates that were evidently their only choice of direction. Once through the gates their guide Alec seemed to zone out temporarily is if he had become distracted by some past memory though he seemed unwilling to discuss the issue any further. Once beyond a small distance Hans stated that he could smell death nearby and was proved correct when they came across a dead body concealed in the underbrush some fifteen feet from the road. His clothes are torn and raked with claw marks and the body is surrounded by paw prints. The man who had obviously been dead for several days held a crumpled envelope in one hand.

The letter was a plea for help from a local Burgomaster whose daughter had seemingly been attacked by a Vampire who had plagued the land in which they now found themselves and had done so for hundreds of years. Unfortunately the warning to stay away from the land itself had not travelled far enough to save the adventurers who were now within this cursed place.

After briefly scanning the message within the envelope the group returned to the path which itself led into a village. The houses were tall and dark, several closed-up shops were in their midst and even the tavern was shut up tight. A pair of children are standing in the middle of the otherwise empty street. A young boy is weeping and clutching a stuffed doll while a older girl is attempting to comfort him.

As the group cautiously approached the pair the girl finally managed to quieten the boy before saying "There's a monster in our house!" before pointing at a tall brick row house that had seen better days...

Of course they had the interest of Hans as soon as they uttered the word 'Monster'.....

Continued in Session Two...'Death House'.....

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