Undecided Curse of Strahd

Forbidden Hunger Under the Death House

After laying the children to rest, the party returned to the feast chamber, ready to continue exploring the basement. A nagging worry started to grate on Bjornica, though. She had conducted or assisted with hundreds of funerals in her service to Pharasma, and she had always sensed that the souls of the deceased had reached her goddess’s Boneyard. While she was sure that she had done everything correctly in the ritual this time, though, and while the children’s ghosts had disappeared, she didn’t know where they went. She was fairly certain that they were not in the Boneyard, though. She even went back and checked the tombs, but could not find anything amiss.

She was distracted from her musing by Willfalcon rousing four ghouls. It was a bitter fight, with several of the party falling prey to the paralysis-inducing claws and fangs of the fiends. Eventually, Icarius managed to turn the tide and the beasts were defeated.

The party then found a shrine containing a statue of a tall man in a black cloak, with a crystal orb in one hand and the other on the head of a wolf. Bjornica took the orb, discovering that it was a tourmaline ioun stone, but that seemed to cause several shadows to attack the party. After defeating them, Roe found a concealed door with a stairway leading back up to the house’s ground floor.

Leaving the shrine, Icarius was attacked by the door into the next room, which turned out to be a mimic in disguise. He bull-rushed the mimic into the room, allowing the entire party to attack it, though again the party was left brutally wounded.

In the final room they investigated, they found the children’s parents, Gustav and Elisabeth, who had been cursed to return as ghasts. Another bloody fight resulted, and while the party was victorious, the repeated battles with the ravenous undead started to take its toll: most of the party had been bitten at least once by the beasts, and Majica seemed to be succumbing to the foul disease they spread.

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Dark Discoveries in the Death House

The party continues exploring the house, and on the third floor, the well-lit and cared-for house becomes dark and neglected, with cobwebs and dust everywhere. The party finds clues that suggest that the baby was stillborn, and eventually fight the ghost of the children’s nursemaid, who was impregnated by their father. That fight exposes a staircase to the attack and they find the children again.

Unfortunately, it is too late to save them, for they are only bones on the floor of their locked nursery. Their ghosts rise and deny meeting the party before. They explain that their parents locked them in the room, supposedly to protect them from the monster in the basement, and eventually apparently forgot about them. The two children starved to death in each others’ arms. Rose is able to point out a secret stairway leading to the basement on her dollhouse, a perfect model of the house. Bjornica gathers up the bones of the two children and packs them away, intending to inter them in hallowed ground and hopefully let them find peace.

The party finds the body of the nursemaid in a storage room full of sheet-draped furniture. She had been killed by multiple stab wounds and her body dumped in a trunk.

They find the secret staircase and head down to face the monster. Upon leaving the stairwell, they can hear a weird chanting. The direction is difficult to determine and the actual words are to muddled to understand. Icarius leads the way, finding a series of family tombs. The tomb of the children’s mother, Elisabeth, contains a coffin. When it is opened, a swarm of spiders pour out. They are eventually defeated by Majica burning her perfume like alchemist’s fire. At the same time, Willfalcon discovers a feast hall filled with humanoid bones and is attacked by a grick, an aberrant snake-like nightmare.

After defeating both threats, Bjornica finds the tombs of the two children. She lays their bones to rest in the small coffins, and the ghosts of first Thorn and then Rose fade from view. A warm sense of accomplishment fills the party, and everyone is certain that the children have finally found the peace they never knew in life.

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Mysterious Visitors

The small Varisian town of Sandpoint is in turmoil. First, the opening ceremony for their new cathedral was disrupted by attacking goblins and then an ancient evil was exposed under the very streets of the town. Now, rumors of armies of giants on the move and streams of refugees from the north fuel the rising disquiet and paranoia.

The party members have been adventuring around Sandpoint, striking out at goblins or bandits and performing other simple tasks to aid the town. Tonight, they eat and drink in the Rusty Dragon, a tavern catering heavily to adventurers and run by retired adventurer Ameiko Kaijitsu. Their table is approached by Sandpoint mayor Kendra Deverin and Sheriff Belor Hemlock, who explain that some travelers, likely Sczarzi, have camped outside the east gate of Sandpoint and are harassing passersby, extorting money or wine with threats of curses.

Sheriff Hemlock sent a contingent of the Guard to evict them, but the guardsmen came back speaking sympathetically of the visitors, almost as though they had been magically charmed. Mayor Deverin is willing to try once more to rid Sandpoint of these pests without bloodshed, and now, she wants to hire some adventures to deliver a message to the camp: be on their way by dawn or she will personally burn their wagons to the ground.

The party approaches the campsite, and they find about a dozen men and women gathered around a crackling bonfire, drinking, singing, dancing, and telling stories. They are greeted by an old man who introduces himself as Stanimir and claims that his group has been waiting for the party to arrive, having been sent to fetch them to lift a curse on his people’s Lord. While he does not have all of the answers, he asks the party to accompany him back to speak to Madame Eva, a wise old seer who he says can explain the situation. When asked where they are going, he names the land Barovia; no one in the party has even heard of this land, much less has visited it.

The party agrees, and they set out before dawn. After several days travel, a deep fog surrounds the caravan, though this does not seem to bother the travelers at all. When the fog lifts, they seem to be somewhere else, where the trees are tall and dark and the sunlight seems somewhat muted. The road is puddled and muddy, and a subtle dread seems to permeate the very air. The caravan approaches a massive gate, flanked by two towering headless statues. The iron gates open for the lead wagon, then screech closed again after the last wagon passes.

The caravan continues along the muddy road, but before long, Bjornica recognizes the familiar odor of death. She follows it about fifteen feet into the woods and finds the mauled body of a man half-buried in the brush. He appears to have been dead for several days, and his commoner’s clothes are ripped and shredded by claws. Paw prints, seemingly of giant wolves surround the body, but only crows have eaten from the corpse. The body clutches a crumpled envelope in his hand.

As Bjornica examines the body, she suddenly hears the howls of wolves in the woods. Hesitating for a moment, she can hear them moving closer. She grabs the envelope and runs back to the wagons, which have not made much progress during the time she was gone. She opens the envelope and finds a letter.

The mists reveal a village ahead, the road leading through the middle of town. As the caravan passes through, the party can see people peeking out of windows, but no one approaches the caravan. Leaving the village behind them, the caravan turns to the southwest, crossing over a river and reentering the woods.

A few more miles end in a crossroads, with a road to the northwest labeled “Tser Pool”, a road to the east labeled “Barovia Village”, and a road to the southwest labeled “Ravenloft/Vallaki”. There is also a gallows and a small graveyard. While the gallows was empty as they approach it, the party hears a creaking noise from behind them once they pass it. Looking back, Bjornica sees herself hanging from the noose while everyone else sees a stranger’s body; the corpse turns slowly in the breeze, fixing its dead eyes on the caravan. When it is touched, it melts away to nothing.

The caravan doesn’t stop, continuing on to the northwest. The road gradually turns into a twisted, muddy, path between the trees, deeply rutted by wagon wheels. Eventually, even that ends along with the daylight at the banks of a river which widens to form a lake. There is a campsite here, with several wagons and tents. The party’s traveling companions gladly join the other Vistani at the campfire, while Stanimir points out the largest of the tents and tells the party that Madame Eva awaits them there.

Upon entering her tent, Madame Eva greets the party by name, describing each member. She then offers to perform a Tarokka reading for the party to tell their fortune. Her cards tell describe three items that will be useful in the fight against Lord Strahd, along with an ally that can help them. They also identify where Strahd will be awaiting them, but all of the answers are maddeningly vague. When asked for clarification, the old fortuneteller just cackles and tells the party that while the cards do not lie, figuring out the answers is the party’s job. The group leaves the tent and returns to the fire.

There they here the story of a powerful wizard who came to fight Strahd over a year earlier. He raised an army of peasants and marched up to the gates of Castle Ravenloft. His army fled in terror before the castle’s master, but the wizard and vampire fought back and forth, first with spells and then with weapons. The wizard was defeated, and his body was cast down a thousand feet to the river below, where not even his corpse was found.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully, and the party leave the encampment safely the next morning, walking back to the village of Barovia to investigate the writer of the letter Bjornica found the previous day. When they reach the gallows, Icarius sees himself hanging there, but again the body melts away when touched. The party decides to burn the gallows down, which proves to be tricky with the damp wood. Eventually it does burn, though, and they manage to destroy it.

Taking the road back toward Barovia Village, they meet a skeletal rider on an equally skeletal steed. It warns them of vandals on the road, burning Lord Strahd’s property. Icarius claims responsibility and the skeleton dismounts to attack. It and its mount are defeated, but the decapitated skull returns to life as a new voice speaks through its bony jaws. Strahd himself taunts the party, inviting them to visit his castle. Icarius refuses the invitation by smashing the skull, and the remainder of the walk to the village goes quietly.

As they approach the village, the mists seem to press in closer, to the point that they can scarcely see the houses on either side of the road. They hear a plaintive cry for help, and find two children standing in the road. They introduce themselves as Rose and Thorn, and say that there is a monster living in their basement, and asking the party to find their parents and baby brother. Icarius immediately agrees to help the children, and the party enters their house, leaving the children on the front porch.

Inside, the house is silent as the party searches for a way into the basement. Room after room, the house looks well-furnished, but closer examination reveals demented details and motifs.

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Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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