Curse of Strahd

The Amber Sarcophagi
Destroying the dark powers

Marpenoth 15, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Saturday

After discovering a sizable treasure trove the party continues their exploration of the Amber Temple. They arrive at a room with six wooden crates and three amber sarcophagi along the rooms corner alcoves.

The crates contain hidden vampire spawn, but those are quickly disposed of. Once the room settles, Kasimir (the dusk elf leader) walks towards one of the amber structures and places his hand on it. He closes his eyes and stands there for some seconds. He then removes his hand from the sarcophagi, turns to the group, and says “I have found what I was looking for. My search here is done.”

Naturally, the party now has a lot of questions concerning what just happened. What are these amber structures and what did Kasimir gain?

Kasimir explains that within each amber sarcophagi are trapped spirits of power. These will attempt to enter into some sort of pact with the being who engages them. Each sarcophagi spirit will offer a different deal, but Kasimir warns that these deals come at a great price. He himself knew what to look for, so he faced no fear of threat.

Arannis moves closer to one of the sarcophagi and he sees within it a small black sliver in the center of the structure. Great evil emanates from it.

Makaelis and Master Do find the possibility of hidden knowledge tempting. They argue with the group that by touching these sarcophagi they may learn what power Strahd has gained without entering into a pact themselves, as the pact must be entered into freely and conscientiously.

Dale, however, will not tolerate the sarcophagi remain one moment longer. He immediately moves to destroy the structures while the group looks on. As he destroys each vessel of amber the spirits within rise and dissipate into the air.

When the last of the sarcophagi in the room is destroyed a man enters and gives a shriek of horror.

“What have you DONE?! You have destroyed all hope for my Master!”

This man shares a similar appearance to Kasimir, although richly dressed. Kasimir’s face twists in repulse as he turns toward the man and unsheathes his weapon.

“Who are you?” Dale asks.

The man looks around the room and considers the odd. He quickly chants under his breath and teleports towards the room’s exit. The group takes this as a sign of an enemy and pursues the stranger. The man doesn't get very far before he falls to party’s blows.

Kasimir walks slowly towards the dead man. He spits on the body and kicks it several times before withdrawing calmly towards the group. He informs the party that there are 18 more sarcophagi within the temple. After searching the dead stranger’s body the group moves to finish destroying the remaining sarcophagi.

After the last sarcophagi is taken down the air around the temple changes. Darkness moves within the halls and the party hears a deep laughter echo against the stone walls. As they turn around to find the source of the laughter they see a tall, elegant, richly dressed man standing at the other end of the hallway. They recognize him from the art and coins they have seen in their travels. It is Strahd.

Strahd send a blast of energy towards the party but their hearty nature withstands the force. Strahd looks amused and surprised. He gives them a slow smile and then is gone before their eyes. They are now quite alone in the cold and dark mountain temple. It is also now night…

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The Treasure Room
Exploring the Amber Temple

Marpenoth 15, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Saturday

After a short rest the group continues to investigate the 2nd floor and enter a room containing torches in sconces illuminate a dining table at the center. Covering the table is a magnificent feast that fills the hall with the rich smells of cooked meat, sweet vegetables, piping hot gravy, and wine.

They consider what they see and decide it best to leave the table alone. The exit the room and pass through a half-fallen platform into the northwest section of the temple.

They find themselves in a bare stone room with a foyer to the east and a shrine to the west. Candlesticks draped in cobwebs stand in the four corners of the foyer. In the shrine, a faceless obsidian statue stands in a raised alcove at the western end of the chamber. Slumped before the statue are two desiccated corpses in tattered garments. The statue draws the heroes, but they manage to mentally resist it's pull.

They open a secret alcove and hundreds of skulls fall out from behind the door. Attached to the ceiling of this room is an upside-down iron chest with a barrel-shaped lid. While the party investigates the new revealed door in this small room, Master door attempts to open the ceiling chest. Thankfully, when he succeeds, the rest of the group is in a different room, ad the floor to the alcove disappears upon the chest's opening. Master Do manages to land on his feet where the other party members waited for him.

The room they have now entered is fifteen-foot-high and contains the trappings of royalty: ornate furniture, exquisite rugs and tapestries, and decorative statuary. Everywhere you look are lit candelabras atop small tables. The beauty of the decor is undone by thick dust and cobwebs. Standing in the center of the room is a decrepit skeleton clad in tattered robes. Red pinpoints of light burn in the skeleton's eye sockets. "Do I know you?" it asks.

The party speaks with what they presume is a lich, and discover that within the temple there are sarcophagi that hold great power. How to obtain or release this power, remains a mystery. The lich appears to be suffering from some type of amnesia, as it cannot recall much from himself other than he is there to protect the knowledge in the temple. With the little information they get they leave the room without disturbing its contents.

They walk towards the statue in the main hall of the temple where Dale sensed a presence before. Within it they find an old wizard named Heinrich Stolt. He apologizes for not having declared himself earlier, but his duty is to protect the temple first and he felt unsure of the new visitors he spied. He confirms the information given by the lich, there are in fact sarcophagi within the temple, but they should be careful to disturb them, for strong forces lie within them.

The party thanks Heinrich for his assistance and they move to investigate a nearby door made of solid amber. Our heroes manage to push the doors open and take in their breath when they discover 6 piles of treasure heaped against the west and east walls of the stone room. A ten-foot-tall statue carved from amber in the likeness of a hawk-headed humanoid stands ina wide alcove to the north. Behind it, a crack has formed in the wall.

Makaelis approaches one of the treasure piles and picks up a handful of gold to inspect it. As he marvels at the golden coins the group hear a groan and a loud THUD. The statue has come to life and is ready to attack all in sight. The party manages to defeat this golem-like being, but not without a few scrapes.

They look around them and realize that taking the room’s content out with them may prove to be a challenge they’ll have to deal with later. For now, much of the temple remains unexplored their task is not yet done.

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Reaching The Amber Temple

Marpenoth 13, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Thursday

After crossing the bridge, they begin to see the road ahead is cut out of the mountainside, rising steeply to one side and falling away on the other. Mist and snow greatly reduce visibility, and the howling wind cuts through like a knife.

They sense something is watching them. As they look around them they spot a nine-foot-tall goat standing atop a crag above them, its gray fur blending perfectly with the rock of the mountain side. It lowers its head, and malice glimmers in its eyes. Kasimir whispers "Sangzor…"

The party takes up a defensive position and ready their weapons, the monster goat charges. The groups send volley after volley as the charging beast approaches them. It tries to ram them off the cliff but they miraculously manage to avoid its horns. It is a hardy beast, and yet still mortal in the end. The group breathes a sigh of relief as the final arrow pierces the deranged animal.

Under advisement from Kasimir, the group takes Sangzor's pelt, which is considered a great prize among the beserkers of the land. It might lend them some good will in their encounters to come.

They travel for the next 2 days.

Marpenoth 15, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Saturday

The road fades away under a covering of snow, but it takes them far enough to see the facade of some kind of temple carved into the sheer mountainside ahead.

The front of the structure is fifty feet high and has six alcoves containing twenty-foot-tall statues. Each statue is carved from a single block of amber and depicts a faceless, hooded figure, its hands pressed together in a gesture of prayer. Between the two innermost statues is a twenty foot-tall archway with a staircase leading down. This must be the Amber Temple.

As they investigate the entrance they notice a natural fissure has opened in the mountainside west of the temple's facade, creating a gap two feet wide, ten feet tall, and fifteen feet deep. They see light coming from a room beyond , and hear human voices there as well.

Carefully, they squeeze into the gap, Dale at the lead, and head towards the voices. Dale sees a group of female mountain folk dressed in furs and armor. There is also a dire wolf curled up by a makeshift campfire.

Dale slowly enters the room through the gap with his hands outstretched and announces himself. The warriors quickly draw their weapons and for some moments stare in silence at the ready. Finally, what seems to be the leader of the group steps forward.

"Is that… the hide of the fell-beast Sangzor?" The muscular and intimidating woman, Helwa, approaches Dale and touches the furs he's wearing. "Amazing! Did you slay this beast?"

Dale answers, "Aye, as we were coming up the mountain the beast attacked us."

"Then you are a mighty warrior indeed!"

A murmur of excitement and agreement spreads throughout the room and the warriors lower their weapons, in awe and respect for this strange and great warrior, Dale. The others from the party emerge from the gap and Dale introduces them as his companions.

The group learns that these mountain folk became trapped in the temple while hunting for food and savaging the area when they were attacked by flaming skulls just outside the room. Unable to defeat the skulls on their own they retreated to this room. They ask for the party's help in defeating the skulls and aiding their escape.

The group agrees and they join together heading towards the temple's hallway. Our heroes easily defeat the skulls and warriors thank them in earnest. They declare the heroes welcome among their people and leave the temple to return home.

The party examines the hallway after defeating the skulls and find the body of a dead wizard lying next to a staff. Makaelis, against better judgement, looks at the staff for a moment and grabs it. He feels power travelling through his arm and something inside him is changed. "I crave power above all else, and will do anything to obtain more of it."

As they linger in the hallway Dale senses a malevolent presence coming from the floor below. It seems to be coming from the large statue at the temple center.

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Wizard of Wines Winery
Saving a vineyard and travelling towards the Temple

After receiving Strahd’s invitation the group quickly returns to Van Richten’s tower. They tell Ezmerelda and Van Richten of the letter and decide to discuss their next move in the morning.

Marpenoth 8, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Saturday

7am

The general consensus is that Strahd’s invitation may be some sort of ploy or trap. The party decides to ignore it for the time being and instead head over toward the Wizard of Wines vineyard in the south, since Astor was adamant about checking out the place after promising the innkeeper of Vallaki to look into their troubles.

The party reaches the vineyard and discover that the owner, Davian Martikov, and his family have been driven out of their home by evil druids and their blight creatures two days ago. The constant attacks on the vineyard have been going on for at least two weeks. Desperate and with nothing left to lose they ask the party to help them fend off the druids and their minions.

The party succeeds in driving out the invaders who poisoned most of the wine barrels. Davian gracefully thanks them and provides them with some untainted wine for their troubles. The family will try to resume their wine production but the future looks grim…

At this point Davian confides in the party that he suspects the druids came to steal a family heirloom, an item that allows the family to produce the best wine in the land. Without it he fears his crops will die off. He hopes the party would be willing to help him once more. He accuses a witch who resides somewhere south of Argynvosholt. He shows the group the location on the map and wishes them farewell on their travels.

After helping the Martikov’s Astor seems content and decides to return to Van Richten’s tower to aid the old man as best he can, having grown fond of the strange vampire hunter. The rest of the party follow as now they believe it is time to travel towards the Amber Temple the Dusk Elf Kasimir Velikov suggested they visit in a previous encounter.

Marpenoth 9, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Sunday

With Kasimir in tow, the party minus Ezmerelda, Van Richten, and Astor head south towards the Amber Temple.

Marpenoth 12, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Wednesday

On their third day of travel the party comes across some sort of mountain gatehouse. They are blocked by a curtain of green flame, which the party discovers would probably kill them if they tried to cross it. They rest for the night and will attempt to dispel the magic wall in the morning.

Marpenoth 13, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Thursday

The magic wall is dispelled and the party moves through the gate. They investigate a nearby stone guard tower. They find it long abandoned but not entirely empty. Ghosts of long dead warriors appear and attack the group. They defeat the spirits and prepare to cross the bridge to the other side of the pass….

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A dinner Invitation...
Argynvostholt and a Werewolf den

Marpenoth 7, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Friday

The next morning the party ascends the stairs to investigate the third floor. On this level they find more signs of ruin. They pass some ruined bedchambers, collapsed bathrooms, but also an audience hall.

The west wall of this fifty-foot-long, thirty-foot-wide audience hall has crumbled, leaving a gaping hole and a pile of rubble. Weapons and shields that once hung from the walls have fallen to the floor and succumbed to rust. A large, wooden throne carved to resemble a dragon with unfolding wings faces three tall windows to the west. Slumped in the throne is a gaunt, armored figure with one gauntlet wrapped around the hilt of a great-sword.

Master Do stands right at the entrance of the room and calls out “Hello? Who are you?”

The figure at the end of the hall simply replies, “Go. Away.” Master Do stands his ground and insists, “This place is a mess…”

The creature's grip on the greatsword tightens. "If you have come to destroy me, know this: I perished defending this land from evil over four centuries ago, and because of my failure, I am forever doomed. If you destroy this body, my spirit will find a new corpse to inhabit, and I will hunt you down. You cannot free me from my damnation, nor would I wish it.

"If you have come to free this land from the creature that feasts on the blood of the innocent, know this: There is no monster I hate more than Strahd von Zarovich . He slew Argynvost, broke the life of the knight I loved, and destroyed the valiant order to which I devoted my life, but Strahd has already died once. He can't be allowed to die again. Instead, he must suffer eternally in a hell of his own creation, from which he can never escape. Whatever can be done to bring him misery and unrest, I will do, but I will destroy anyone who tries to end his torment."

Not wishing to disturb the figure any further the group slowly backs away and moves on to the rest of the building.

They investigate to the northwest of the fortress and come upon some sort of gathering hall. Through the dust and cobwebs, they see faded war banners adorning the walls of a spacious chamber, in the center of which stands a heavy wooden table. An iron chandelier hangs above the table, which is surrounded by six high-backed chairs with wood-carved dragons perched atop them . Slumped in five of the chairs are skeletal humans in tattered chainmail.

The corpses tilt their heads in their direction . One of them growls, "Why do you the living disturb the dead?"

Through some skilled diplomacy the group is able to speak with one of the spirits, Sir Godfrey Gwilym. He confides that the knights are trapped within Argynvostholt as revenants because their leader, Vladimir Horngaard, wishes to remain as a revenant to ensure Strahd lives in torment in eternity. Sir Godfrey also reveals that this curse may be lifted once the skull of the dragon Argynvost has been returned to the mausoleum, this would also help to weaken Strahd’s power on the land. However, during the battle of Argynvostholt Strahd took the dragon’s skull as a prize and placed it within his castle. The exact location of the skull within Ravenloft is unknown.

With this new information the group goes to the building’s roof to finish their exploration. They find ballistas and turrets, some of them destroyed, and plenty of signs of battle. They also pass by a Dragon Gargoyle which magically activates in their presence and whispers:

When the dragon dreams its dream Within its rightful tomb, The light of Argynvost will beam And rid this land of gloom.

The verse makes a reference to the dragon’s skull being laid to rest.

They climb the roof’s tower and reach the top. From there they get a good view of the land surrounding the structure: To the north and east lies a mist-shrouded valley with dark woods, a small town, and a lonely windmill on a precipice. To the south, a river flows through a foggy marsh. To the west, between rocky hills, they glimpse an abbey perched on a snowy mountainside beyond a long stretch of fog-smothered pines. The abbey was probably the place Father Lucian recommended they visit for more information and aid against Strahd. He said it was led by a group of Morninglord priests, which we know Strahd clearly dislikes.

Having explored the entire building they decide to return back to Van Richten, accompanying the wounded Savid as far as they could so he could return back to the Dusk Elf encampment now that the Vistani have been driven away.

Ezemrelda leaves ahead of the group and they find her already at the tower in a heated exchange with Van Richten. It seems both of them have known each other for a long time. From the argument the group guesses that Ezmerelda was a sort of assistance, or protege, to Van Richten. At some point during their travels they separated, but the cause for their rift remains unclear to the party. For the moment, however, they decide to set aside their quarrel and unite in fighting Strahd and his minions.

After taking a short rest the group decides to investigate the Werewolf den Bladehelm and Makaelis had found previously.

Lacking stealth they are stopped by two guards at the cave’s entrance. Intimidated by the group’s initial presence the guards hesitate to sound the alarm, but the group decides it is probably best to leave the place immediately, as the number of werewolves within remains unknown and it is nighttime.

The party retreats from the den, but are met with a messenger outside the cave’s mouth. They are given a letter invitation for dinner…

My friends,

Know that it is I who have brought you to this land, my home, and know that I alone can release you from it. I bid you dine at my castle so that we can meet in civilized surroundings. Your passage here will be a safe one. I await your arrival.

Your host,

Strahd von Zarovich

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Exploring Argynvostholt

Marpenoth 6, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Thursday

4pm

After defeating the revenants in the chapel the party exits the room through the northern door. Tucked behind the mansion is a fog-shrouded cemetery enclosed by a seven-foot-tall fence of wrought iron. In the northeast corner stands a mausoleum.

They suddenly feel like someone or something is watching them. Looking up, they spot a well-dressed man with a thick mane of thistledown hair observing from a high tower window. He draws the curtain and disappears from view.

They continue forward and notice that the corpses from the gravestones appear to have crawled out of the earth. Of the missing corpses there is no sign, but the surrounding fence is intact, which suggests that no one got into the cemetery from outside.

They reach the mausoleum. Tarnished, silver-plated gargoyles shaped like dragon wyrmlings cling to the stone-tiled roof of this mausoleum. An eight-foot-tall, four-foot-wide white marble door set into the southwest wall is engraved with a name: ARGYNVOST.

The interior of the mausoleum is dark and dusty. They spot four empty alcoves with raised floors. Etched into the far wall is a verse written in Draconic. Unfortunately, no on in the party can read Draconic, so they copy down the etching hoping they might run into someone who may be able to translate the text.

They exit the mausoleum, pass by the cemetery and re-enter the mansion to continue their investigation. As they search through the kitchen and wine cellar they find a wounded elf named Savid. He had been tasked with finding the young Arabelle, the Vistana child kidnapped and rescued earlier, and report back to the Vistani camp.

Savid was attacked on the road by needle blights, and once wounded sought refuse in the old mansion. The party offers to take him back to the camp once their investigation is complete. He in turn offers some history on the old fort:

  • Argynvost was a silver dragon that liked to assume human forms. Argynvostholt was the dragon's home. In human guise, the noble dragon led a group of knights called the Order of the Silver Dragon. They gave shelter to refugees who had come to the valley to escape Strahd's army.
  • Strahd's soldiers slew the dragon, destroyed the order, and sacked the mansion.
  • Vistani and dusk elves avoid the mansion, believing that the dragon's ghost haunts it.

The wine in this cellar has long turned to vinegar, but they bear the name of a winemaker that keeps popping up: Wizard of Wines. Next they enter what appears to be a parlor. From the hearth springs forth a fiery dragon. It flies about the room and speaks to the group:

“My knights have fallen into darkness. Save them if you can. Show them the light they have lost!"

With that, the fire burns out.

Confused and a little wary the party moves to check the second floor. They find more ruin and signs of the devastation that took place centuries ago. While investigating the northern rooms the party is attacked by a group of phantom warriors.

At this point, Bladehelm also makes his entrance downstairs. He had been investigating the werewolf den with Makaelis but soon got tired of “that insufferable warlock!” And so he decided to ditch the caster and catch up with the rest of the group. He happens to walk in at the right moment and is able to help the party in the battle.

After defeating the foes, the group witnesses a smoky dragon apparition fly past them and to the main hallway up through another set of stairs. Where did it go? Before looking further, they all settle down for a long rest.

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Dusk Elves freed from Vistani!

Marpenoth 5, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Thursday

After leaving the Vistani encampment near Vallaki, the group heads back to Van Richten’s tower where Kasimir and the rest of their group awaits. It is decided that the group will help Van Richten attack the Vistani encampment and help free the few Dusk Elves that remain.

Kasimir also reveals to Arannis that he is, in fact, a Dusk Elf. His parents were fortunate to survive the initial slaughter of their people, but were soon discovered after Arannis’ birth. An elder Vistana offered to help take the child to safety. Arannis’ parent died trying to help them escape notice.

The group waits until dark, hoping for most of the Vistani to be too drunk and tired to expect an attack. They take with them the Vistani prisoner they captured earlier and tell him to help get the women and children out of Barovia safely in exchange for his own life. He agrees and leads the party unseen to the encampment.

1am

Luvash and Arrigal, the Vistani leaders, are defeated and the camp secured. Kasimir decides to stay with his people for now to help them settle, but he will join our adventurers once they decide to travel towards the Amber Temple, a place he says holds great power to help them defeat Strahd.

After the successful attack they all head back to the tower and as promised Van Richten reveals the location of the werewolf den. It found east of his tower. He will not, however, give them the sunsword, but will join the group with sword in tow once they decide to conduct an assault on Castle Ravenloft. For now, he will keep the sword safe until it is needed.

They retire for the night.

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The "Bards" Request
Party visits Rictavio's tower and Vistani camp near vallaki

Marpenoth 4, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Wednesday

5:30pm

While investigating the second floor of Wachterhouse the group makes two gruesome discoveries.

Lying under a Gentle Repose spell, within the locked master bedroom, is a presumably dead Lord Wachter. The spell upon him makes it seem as if he is merely asleep, probably placed on his body shortly after his death, and unknown to everyone except Lady Wachter.

Also found within the master bedroom is a locked, and trapped, chest containing an ancient set of bones. Father Lucian later tells the group they probably belonged to an old enemy of House Wachter. His bones kept in order to keep anyone from raising them from the dead.

Locked inside another nearby room is Lady Wachter’s daughter, Stella, in her late teens to early twenties. It becomes painfully obvious that the young woman suffers from severe mental instability; she repeatedly tells the group she is a cat. Unable to help the poor girl the group closes the door behind them and leave Wachterhouse to rest for the night, having been unable to find further evidence of Lady Wachter’s doings or whereabouts – although the party is pretty sure she has gone to visit Castle Ravenloft.

Marpenoth 5, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Thursday

6am

Before setting off to their meeting with Rictavio, the party goes to fetch Astor at the Blue Water Inn. An early riser, and early drinker, Astor is making warm conversation with the inn owner Urwin Martikov. Astor has agreed to look into Urwin’s wine problems. Urwin claims the wine shipments have stopped for weeks now, and his stock is running dangerously low. It seems the Wizard of Wines winery will have to be investigated at some point…

12pm

The party arrives at Rictavio’s tower residence. “Rictavio” reveals himself to be Rudolph van Richten. He is a famous vampire hunter back in Faerun – Dale has heard many tales of his exploits, and his thoroughness.

Van Richten also wants to destroy Strahd, but he firmly believes that the Vistani are his servants and must be eliminated. In exchange for assistance defeating Strahd, and information on the Barovia werewolf den, van Richten wants the party to help him attack and destroy the men of the Vistani encampment. He will not harm women or children.

The group decides they will not agree to help the old hunter unless they’ve looked into this camp themselves.

Before setting off for the encampment they are attacked by rogue Vistani. They manage to capture one and bring him back to the tower for questioning. There seems to be some truth to van Richten’s theory; Vistani appear to be working “for the master.”

When the captured Vistani hears of the group’s plans to investigate and attack the nearby camp, he offers information on a missing young girl, daughter to one of the Vistani leaders. He suggests that finding the girl may provide a less violent resolution to the problem. The group considers this and make their way to the camp.

2pm

Before reaching the camp the party passes by Lake Zarovich. They spot a lone boat on the lake with a fisherman and a squirming sack. Suspicious, the party grabs some boats and goes to investigate the scene.

As they approach the small vessel they see the man throw the moving sack overboard. It is the size of a small person. After quick action Dale and Master Do manage to pull the sack from the water. A young girl, Arabelle, is found bound within. This is probably the daughter of the Vistani leader the captured man mentioned before.

The fisherman is in a sort of trance. He does not acknowledge the others and continues to speak to himself about “offerings for the fish.” They seize him and take him back to the Vistani camp, along with the rescued young girl.

Once at the Vistani camp, Luvash, the young girl’s father and Vistani leader takes her up in her arms and begins to weep. He promises to offer safe passage through the camp and guest rights to the group. He orders a celebration feast and invites the group to stay.

Walking around the camp the party notices that aside from the usual Vistani wagons, are elven homes. Outside the homes are elven male guards. When questioned they all direct them to the home of their leader, Kasimir. (Arannis bears a strong resemblance to these elves)

Kasimir tells the group that his people are being held prisoner by the Vistani. He would like nothing more than to defeat Strahd and free his fellow elves, but he has been unable to escape or fight back due to lack of numbers.

There seems to be a lot left unsaid, but the party manages to smuggle Kasimir out of the camp. They will take him back to van Richten’s tower and discuss their next potential move. There are many angles to this story.

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Revisiting Wachterhouse
Spies, cellars, and cultists

Marpenoth 4, 1489DR – Leafall (October), Wednesday

12pm

After speaking to the burgonmaster the group decides to investigate the mysterious bard, Rictavio. They ask some of the townspeople where they can find a carnival wagon, and they are directed towards the local stockyard, where most travel vehicles are stationed once they enter Vallaki.

The stockyard has several locked sheds along its periphery and lies adjacent to a roomy warehouse. A wooden sign above the front gate reads "Arasek Stockyard." The stockyard is a general store and a facility where storage sheds can be rented. It is owned by a middleaged married couple, Gunther and Yelena Arasek.

Parked at the south end of the stockyard is a sturdy carnival wagon, its colorful paint peeling off. Faded lettering on its sides spells out the words "Rictavio's Carnival of Wonders." A heavy padlock secures the back door. While the group checks out the wagon, Dale enters the store to speak with someone in charge.

As the rest of the party investigates the back of the wagon it suddenly lurches, as though something big has thrown itself against the inside wall. You hear the cracking of wood, the scraping of metal, and the snarl of something inhuman. Upon closer inspection, you see that the sides of the wagon are spattered with dry blood . You also see an inscription on the wagon's door frame that reads, "I bring you from Shadow into Light! "

Arannis is pretty sure the sound resembled that of a “big cat.” It was best to leave that part of the wagon alone.

The group then heads towards the front of the wagon and finds another door, locked. Asher easily unlocks it and enters to further investigate. Although he doesn’t find much of interest Master Do is able to find a hidden compartment with treasure inside, including the “Sunsword,” or “sword of sunlight” from Madam Eva’s fortune. They take the treasure and exit the wagon.

Meanwhile Dale is informed by the stockyard owner’s that Rictavio has paid a generous sum of money to keep his wagon safe. Rictavio pays them and they in turn don’t ask any questions. They also know that the bard has been staying at the local inn for about a month, but they don’t know much else. Dale bids them farewell and returns to the group, unaware they have entered the wagon and retrieved treasure.

As they discuss where to go next Rictavio appears in the stockyard and bursts into angry screaming when he notices the party has broken into his wagon and stolen property. Dale is surprised and also angry at the group, as he never agreed to steal, only to investigate.

After a heated exchange, Rictavio is handed back his property, but allows the party to keep the weapons. He has agreed to tell them the location of a werewolf den in Barovia if they help him defeat Strahd and fight the Vistani. They could discuss the matter further the next day at noon, at a specific location decided by the bard. He marks the party’s map and leaves to attend to his unfinished business.

2pm

Our adventurer’s take some time to shop in the village and complete other small tasks, before they revisit Lady Wachter’s house now that they have been given access by the burgonmaster.

4pm

When they reach the mansion’s entrance they see two young men arguing with one of the guards, they demand access to the home, and appear to be a little intoxicated. Our adventurers discover the two young men are Lady Wachter’s sons, Nikolai and Karl, who wish to enter their home but find themselves locked out by the guards. The party is able to diffuse the situation and hand them some gold so they may return to the tavern and resume their drinking. After some moments of consideration the pair agrees to leave without further incident.

The group investigates the first floor without finding much worthy of note. They run into Lady Wachter’s spy, Ernst Larnak, who had previously tried to hire the group in service of the Lady in the parlor area. He is unhelpful and unconcerned with the group.

A secret staircase is found to the home’s cellar and the party descends. Below they encounter a group of skeletons and another secret door through the cellar’s door opening into what appears to be some sort of ritual chamber. Four cultists are waiting within, but they are defeated, albeit, with some difficulties at the end. (Arannis almost dies DIES!)

Although all foes are defeated, Dale feels some sort of presence move past him and out of the room. The party still needs to investigate the 2nd floor.

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Vampires in Vallaki?
Vallaki vampire investigation

Marpenoth 3, 1489DR – Leafall (October)

7am

The following morning the group headed towards the home they saw the vampires enter the previous night. After clearing the surrounding area there entered the home through the back door.

The home was dark and musky, some furniture items seemed out of place, as if there might have been a struggle. The party heads towards the basement and they encounter an ungodly sight: Kneeling over an altar, holding a very dead body, are three robed figures. A battle ensues and soon a Vampire Spawn joins from the shadows.

The party triumphs and they investigate the rest of the basement. They take a closer look at the body and find it to be a older man, scarred with unholy symbols, and missing several organs. They also find a letter in the robes of one of robed men:

My faithful servants, I hope you have all needed resources for our shared endeavor. I look forward to hearing of your progress.

LLTN,

W

The party moves their search to the second floor of the house. The last bedroom down the hallway contains signs of violence and struggle. The window has been broken in, with shattered glass littering the floor. There are drops of blood on the wood, and the bed sheets appeared to have been dragged towards the broken window. There is a lone pink slipper on the floor. The room appears to have been occupied by a young woman, who is now missing, presumably kidnapped.

Assuming the mysterious “W” is probably Lady Wachter, the party heads towards her estate.

They find guards surrounding the mansion, access closed off to all citizens. When they question one of the guards he tells the group that Lady Wachter is wanted for murder, but no one can find her.

The burgonmaster has ordered the search of her home in hopes of finding her whereabouts. No one is granted access inside except for Makaelis, who was able to bluff his way into being an “investigator.”

Makaelis enters the home and investigates the basement, where he find an assortment of bones, ritual books, incantations, glyphs, and other treasures. He also finds an ornate letter addressed to Lady Wachter:

My dear Lady Wachter,

 

How pleased I have become with your work. Your reward is soon to come. I bid you dine at my castle to further discuss matters. It will be a grand event.

 

Your Lord,

Strahd von Zarovich

Due to his sticky hands, Makaelis briefly suffers the appearance of an unseemly Third Eye on his forehead, but it would disappear after his next rest.

10am

The group now returns to the burgonmaster’s mansion hoping to capitalize on the present chaos. He is beside himself with anger. With the festival so close at hand, Lady Wachter on the loose, and his right hand man dead, Baron Vallakovich will need all the help he can get. He agrees to deputize the party and sends them on their way. He wants his festival to succeed and the murderess caught!

The group returns to St. Andral to check up on Ireena and to speak to Father Lucian in case he can offer further assistance.

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