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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

"Curse of Strahd", Episode 1

Finally ran Episode 1 of "Curse of Strahd" last night. After resolving remaining character questions and ability choices, here is what we have:
  • Folk hero barbarian, a smith's apprentice; comically misuses words trying to seem smart. 
  • Storm-pact Sorcerer, a charlatan, sarcastic, inappropriate; engaged to the folk hero's sister. 
  • Kelemvorite Cleric of the Grave, bookishformer Chauntean cleric drawn to the veil between life and death, and his owl familiar Astrid. 
  • Arcane Trickster with criminal ties and issues with authority. 
Each of them were residents of the town of Greenest, and proved themselves when the Cult of the Dragon attacked their town.

Still reeling from the Cult attack, the town is rebuilding, having lost almost all of its wealth to the cultists, and then the predatory bandits that fell on the town when it was vulnerable. Though a band of five heroes stood up for the town and destroyed the remaining vestiges of the Cult's infrastructure in the area, they had failed to return Greenest's stolen wealth, and after reporting back in, they disappeared completely. Some of the more cynical townsfolk wonder if the adventurers kept the riches looted from Greenest to retire somewhere.

The governor's seneschal finds that several children have gone missing in the past few days, and rounds up his irregulars to investigate. The Trickster is approached by his contact, who notes that this string of disappearances matches something that happened five years ago in Daggerford, and gives a description of the suspect in case they find him.

The four manage to talk a wagon out of the seneschal, citing the possibility of having to carry multiple children home; they were awarded a wagon that had been seized in a recent criminal investigation, but was currently befouled by a load of onions that had gone bad in the interim. They did their best to mitigate the smell, and rode off into the west following the tracks they hoped were correct.

Following the trail of children's footprints, adult footprints, and castoff waxy papers from an unusual taffy candy, the four draw got closer to the Wood of Sharp Teeth (coincidental name). Eventually a few of the trails become wolf tracks, and howling can be heard from the nearby forest. They leave the wagon behind and run/ride to the edge of the forest, where the barest echo of a child's scream draws them in. As they follow the tracks, howling coming from all sides, the fog drifted in, more and more dense, until they could barely see each other and their lights. The folk hero is quick to notice that the trees, fungus, moss, and the ground cover are all different somehow.

As the wolf howls echo in the distance, a lone raven call echoes from a new direction; the storm-pact sorcerer feels the slightest draw in that direction, so the group follows, ending up on a dank, soggy road flanked by dense, misty treelines. They follow the road, as the mist draws in behind them, closing off retreat. Soon, they come upon four disheveled people in dirty, torn livery, and before they get a chance to ask for directions, the Kelemvorite opens his eyes to the Veil, and though he is immediately choked by something inexplicable (it will eventually be revealed that even souls are trapped here in Ravenloft), he is instantly able to tell that the four liveried people are the walking dead.

As the group defends itself, an ornate black carriage drawn by two black horses comes upon them, piloted by a haughty elf coachman. As the last of the zombies fall, the coach parks across the road, its door disgorging an extremely wealthy and finely dressed man, pale of skin, with long raven hair.

"I am Count Strahd von Zarovich... welcome to Barovia."


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