Expedition to Castle Ravenloft

Session III
1/27/2012

The PCs depart from Ivlis Marsh, now in possession of the tooth of Saint Bogdan. Lannyk leads them into Svalich Woods, allowing no delay in their search for the Forest Fane. Early into the venture they come across an elven man, who draws his bow and asks what they are doing in his woods. The party draws closer to explain, but are ambushed by a pair of werewolves. The party lays low the lycanthropes, but not before Laanyk is bitten. It has yet to be seen whether or not his pendant of good health will quell the infection. The next full moon is in five days time.

As the party travels further into Svalich Woods they are set upon by more werewolves. Even though they manage to kill the beasts quickly, both Feralass and Tippy are bitten and infected. The party recovers several potions from the werewolves…but none of them will help with the infection.

Shortly afterward Laanyk leads the party to the Forest Fane, not far from Tser Pool. A hill giant and two ogre minions charge in as the PCs move toward the runic circle. The party takes a beating from the monsters, but triumphs and digs from underneath the runestone a lock of hair that once belonged to Saint Markovia. The runestone snaps at the top, leaving an Ioun stone of Charisma +2.

100537Injured and diseased, the party decides to return to Barovia and rest. When they arrive at the church a grim figure bars their way. Obviously waiting for them, Kavan the Grim draws his sword and attacks in a raging fury. Darmian steps forward and presents his holy symbol. Kavan tries to turn to mist and flee, but Lathander’s blessing of the sun vaporizes the vampire before he can escape, utterly destroying him.

The PCs enter the church and are greeted by Ashlyn and Gevyen Tallmer, both of which noting the party looks like they have been through hell. Gevyen is overjoyed when the party presents the Sunsword and the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, though the items have no holy power left in them. The PCs tell Gevyen that Madam Eva told them the relics must be, “awoken,” in particular locations within Castle Ravenloft.

The party then asks what kind of options they have for dealing with their lycanthropic affliction. Gevyen tells the PCs there is no cleric powerful enough in Barovia to break the curse, and that escape from the region of Barovia seems impossible because of an eerie mist that surrounds the area. After resting the PCs test the borders of the land in an attempt to break through the mist. To no avail.

Caller in darkness by wayne reynolds
With seemingly no other options the party heads north toward Lysaga Hill, likely the location of the Mountain Fane. They arrive to find a crumbled tower, obviously a husk of what it once was. In the center floats a mass of tortured souls, the Caller in Darkness. After draining the life essence of Tippy, Darmian restores his brother’s health and the PCs defeat the abomination. Lannyk discovers a trap door with a 50’ ladder leading down into the unforgiving dark.

At the bottom the party is greeted by a pair of babau demons. The abyssmal fiends fight ferociously to defend the Mountain Fane, but eventually fall to the PCs. Again the PCs dig underneath the runic circle to find a small reliquary box containing the powdered bones of Saint Ecaterina. The PCs step back as they see the tooth, hair and powered bone converge into a dark form…

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Session II
12/9/2011

Ashlyn grieves her comrades in the basement of the church. She tells the PCS they are welcome to Thendrick and Mathilda’s gear to be used for the greater good, but she requires help first in burying her friends. When the PCs help carry the bodies into the cemetary behind the church they find a 6’ diameter hole amongst a plot of graves that have been freshly dug up. A fetid stench comes from the hole.

Ashlyn and the PCs find a tunnel that has obviously been clawed that opens up into an underground chamber. Three coffins lie in the middle of the chamber. Ashlyn opens one and is set upon by an enhanced ghoul that springs from the coffin. Several other ghouls burst from the brittle walls and attack. Laanyk is bewitched by the song of an undead harpy that shares the chamber. The PCs quickly put and end to the undead threat, and find a wand of magic missile and a stash of gold pieces.

After a a good night’s sleep and some healing the PCs awaken having spent their first night in Barovia. Over their breakfast they write down a list of goals:

1. Speak to Madam Eva.
2. Investigate the witches of Lysaga Hill.
3. Find the Sunsword and the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind.
4. Look into the Tome of Strahd referenced in Danovich’s journal.

Gevyen Tallmer tells the PCs that he is going to try to gather more information about the Sunsword and the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind in Barvoia. He is also going to attempt to repair the church and restore some faith to Barovia now that Danovich is dead. He pays the PCs the gold he promised and wishes them luck outside of town.

100545Before departing the PCs to sell some equipment at Bildrath’s Mercantile. The store owner tells them he has nowhere near the amount of gold on hand he would need to purchase the armor and weapons the PCs want to sell. The only things of value Bildrath has to offer are maps of the village and of the surrounding area. The PCs buy the maps and head north toward the Tser Pool encampment, home of Madam Eva.

Halfway to the encampment the PCs come to a crossroads where a battle cry draws their attention. They find a dark-haired man in black armor fighting back several ghost-like shadow figures that seem to be arising from the small graveyard around the gallows of the crossroads. The PCs rush in to aid the man. After destroying the undead the man introduces himself as Sir Urik, a Knight of the Raven. He thanks the PCs for their help and heals them of their ability damage, saying perhaps they will meet again.

The PCs arrive at the Tser Pool, a gypsy encampment filled with human and halfling wanderers, tents, and a roaring fire. They enter the largest tent to find Madam Eva, who says she has been expecting them. The old woman offers to read their fortune, which the PCs accept. She chooses a focus card for the four subjects they select: the “Devil Strahd,” the Sunsword, the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, and the Tome of Strahd.

100546Madam Eva tells the PCs, “He who dwells in Castle Ravenloft is a powerful man whos enemy is light and whose powers are beyond mortality. You will seek him in the castle, and though he might find you many times, you will find him only once.” The PCs draw a card. “You will find him in the very heart of darkness,” she says, “his home, his source. This place is his center and his life, the one place to which he must return. You should seek the crypts in the deepest recesses of the castle.”

The PCs then draw a covering card for the Sunsword focus card. “What you seek is a blade of light, a weapon for vengeance. Seek it where the wilds reach close to the town, where chaos threatens order.”

Lannyk shows the party that the cemetary comes closest to the forest on the map. The PCs draw another card and Madam Eva continues.

“The sword’s light sleeps. To wake it, you must place the sword on the throne of an ancient king. Castle Ravenloft was once the seat of a kingdom.”

Madam Eva then requests they draw a covering card for the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind.

“This card tells me to seek it where the river flows into the land, but the holiness in this item waits for hands of holiness to touch it once more, but that is not enough to bring its power
back to life."

They draw the crossing card.

“You must bring the symbol to the place where the officers of the king upheld his word. Look beneath the main floor of rhe castle, in a place of shadow and despair.”

“The tome you seek holds knowledge of the ancient and knowledge of the land.”

Lastly Madam Eva tells the PCs to draw the cards for the Tome of Strahd. She tells them to seek the tome where the river flies.

“You must find the three defiled places described in the tome. At each fane, you must unearth the relic it contains. When you have all three relics, you must destroy what you have created.”

Madam Eva wishs the PCs as they depart the Tser Pool, heading north toward Tser Falls, “where the river flies.” As they approach the path to the falls becomes more and more narrow. With a 200’ cliff on their left the PCs come upon a handful of worgs. The PCs dispatch the beasts without serious injury and Laanyk finds several bear traps set up meant to block intruders.

100547They press on stealthily under the waterfall and into a very dark cave. Before the resident of the cave can react Darmian bull rushes his wolf companion, which falls to its death at the bottom of the cave’s chasm. The wicked dwarf says nothing as he attacks with his crossbow. It is in vain as the dwarf is cut down by Lannyk’s arrows and the spells of Feralass.

The PCs take the fine gear the dwarf was wearing and find the Tome of Strahd as well. They also find several stuffed humans. Apparently this dwarf’s hobby was taxidermy in the most twisted sense. A special segment of the Tome of Strahd stands out more than any other.

I have learned much, too, about this land of Barovia. Ancient are its ways, ancient beyond the knowledge of the simple folk of the valley. I have walked the ancient ways, secret roads linking three fanes of might, and thus I have become the Land.

Three ancient saints dwelt in this valley long before my coming, and three hidden fanes still give tribute to their memories. I visited the Swamp Fane, the Forest Fane, and the Mountain Fane, and claimed their power for my own. Thus I solidified my grasp on this grim shadow of life.

I made the fanes my own, and I have become the land. Also I made the fane-servants my own, and they now serve me as they once served the saints of the fanes.

The PCs begin traveling south back toward the village, taking a shortcut through a narrow section of the Svalich Woods. Laanyk finds a corpse in the undergrowth that had obviously been mauled over a week ago. The body has a letter the messenger was once carrying:

Hail to thee of might and valor:
I, the Burgomaster of Barovia, send you honor-with despair.
My adopted daugbter, the fair Ireena, has been these past nights bitten by a creature calling its race “vampyr.” Over four centuries and more, he has drained this land of the life-blood of its people. Now, my dear Ireena suffers from an unholy wound causedby this vile beast. Yet I fear, too, that the creature has some more cunning plan in mind. He has become too powerful to be fought any longer. So I say to you, give us up for dead and encircle this land with the warding symbols of holiness. Let the holy ones call up on their power that the Devil in our land may be contained within the wails of weeping Barovia. Leave our sorrows to our graves, and save the world from this evil fate of ours.
There is much wealth entrapped in tbis community. Return for your reward after we are all
departed for a better life.
Kolyan Indirovich,
Burgomaster of Barovia

When the PCs arrive in Barovia they search through the open graves of the cemetery to find the Sunsword, its blade separated from its hilt. They then seek out Ismark the Lesser, who confirms that this new note is indeed the work of his father, written before his murder. Ismark asks if the PCs have yet spoken to Ireena. When they tell him they have not, he escorts the PCs to the burgomaster’s home.

In a brief conversation with Ireena she explains that the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind was stolen. She claims a minion of Strahd snatched it in the middle of the night. She also tells the PCs of a dream she had been having where Strahd chases her down and embraces her. Ireena shows them two puncture wounds, fang marks, in her neck.

With new information in hand the party continues south toward Ivlis Marsh, “where the river flows into the land.” Upon arriving they see ruins in the distance of the swamp, but the water is deep and murky. Eventually they find a spot where the crossing is narrow and shallow. A cloud of foul insects, a swarm of undead vermin waits there to suck them dry. As they move in to engage it a shambling mound erupts from the swamp water, dragging Tippy from his feet. Darmian turns the undead swarm quickly as Feralass and Lannyk help Tippy escape the mound’s grasp.

The PCs press on through the swamp to the ruins. As they try to get to solid ground they are attacked by the Drowned Lady and her eel minions. The battle is hard-fought and bloody, but the PCs overcome the eels and slay the hag. Upon doing so they find the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind in the hag’s possession. After digging under the runic circle they disable the Swamp Fane empowering Strahd by recovering the relic underneath, the tooth of Saint Bogdan. A piece of the runestone snaps off the top off as well, leaving the PCs with an ioun stone of Wisdom +2.

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Session I
11/11/11

Images ca3 t8 i7 lThe adventure begins with the PCs being the leftover fighting force in Helmsdale, a small town in the northwestern section of Damara just a few days from the foot of the Galena Mountains. The PCs are each approached by Gevyen Tallmer, a priest of Lathander. Gevyen offers the PCs 300gp apiece to escort him to Barovia, a small village at the base of the mountains. He has acquired information that Barovia may be the resting site of two artifacts invaluable to the church of Lathander. One is the Sunsword, a powerful weapon against the undead, especially vampires. The other is the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, an amulet of immense power.

The PCs agree to Gevyen’s terms and begin their journey northwest toward Barovia. They decide to stay the night at the Weary Horse Inn before traveling another half day to the village. While enjoying the food and fire a Vistani man enters and gives the PCS a letter. It reads:

Hail to thee of might and valor:
I, a lowly servant of the township of Barovia, send honor to thee. We plead for thy so desperately needed assistance within our community.
The love of my life, Ireena Kolyana, has been cursed by the witches of Lysaga Hill, and even the good people of our town are powerless to free her from this enchantment. She wastes away under the witches’ curse and I would have her saved from this menace.
There is much wealth in this community. I offer all that might be had to thee and thy fellows if thou shalt but answer my desperate plea.
Come quickly, for her time is at hand! All that I have shall be thine!

Kolyan Indirovich, Burgomaster of Barovia

In the morning the PCs begin toward Barovia, coming across a murky and enclosed road called, “Old Svalich.” Forest surrounds the road on each side. At midday the PCs come to the town gate, which opens ominously by itself.

After moving only a short distance into town the PCs find a lone zombie and an overturned cart, along with two carcass eaters. As the PCs move to engage they find that several more zombies lurking in the abandoned buildings. Combat ensues and is joined by a deathlock that was lying in wait for the PCs to move further toward the cart.

Not much further forward the PCs find several more zombies, along with a pair of vargouilles. A couple dire maggots emerge from a body they were feeding on in the middle of the street to join the fray. Laanyk was paralyzed by the maggots’ saliva, but the PCs finish the creatures quickly. On the body of the victim in the street is a pendant of good health. It is given to Laanyk.

The PCs close in on the town square, now completely overrrun with zombies. The undead are led by an emtomber. A woman bearing the holy symbol of Lathander is fighting against them valiantly, but she is badly outnumbered. Tippy rips the entomber in a half with his axe as Lannyk cuts his way to the woman. In a short time all the zombies in town square lie truly dead.

100540The woman introduces herself as Ashlyn, paladin of Lathander. She claims she belongs to a sect of the church called the Lightbringers. Ashlyn says she traveled with two companions to Barvoia: Thendrick, cleric of Lathander, and Mathilda, a superb fighter. She and her companions were instructed to speak to Madam Eva at the Tser Pool. However, both Thendrick and Mathilda went to investigate the church several days ago and have not returned. She askes the PCs to help her investigate.

The PCs also find that Ashlyn is looking for the Sunsword. Gevyen speaks to her about it at length.

With town square temporarily stable the PCs enter the Blood of the Vine Tavern. There they find several families baracaded inside. They spot a well dressed man in the corner drinking by himself. The bartender directs all questions to the man.

After a bit of diplomcy the man indtroduces himself as Ismark the Lesser, son of the burgomaster. When the PCs tell Ismark that they received a letter from his father he is confused. He tells them that the witches meet on Lysaga Hill on the night of a full moon, but that was hardly his concern. When the PCs show Ismark the note he tells them that this is not his father’s handwriting.Ismark

Ismark tells the PCs that Kolyan Indirovich has been dead for ten days, far before the infection began. Ismark proclaims his father was killed by, " the devil Strahd." He says that Strahd came to their home several months ago. Kolyan drove Strahd away using the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind.

Gevyen is very pleased to hear this.

Ismark goes on to say that the symbol would not work for him or his sister, Ireena, who is holding a vigil at their home to make certain Kolyan does not rise to undeath. He notes that the plague began in the church, shorltly after the priest, Danovich, found his son murdered on Old Svalich Road.

After passing by an obviously invested building the PCs hear a woman crying from inside her home. Darmian hears the woman’s story of her lost daughter, Gertruda. She says her daughter was happy and would never run away. She fears the master of the castle has Gertruda now.

When the PCs arrive at the burgomaster’s home Ireena refuses to let them in or give them any information until the zombie plague has ended. At this time Ashlyn pleads with the PCs to investigate the church with her so she may find her lost companions.

The PCs accompany Ashlyn to Barovia’s church. When they enter the structure appears to be empty except for a giant hole the in the floor. When they move up to get a closer look Danovich leaps from behind alter screaming, “You will not take my son from me!”

84735Combat ensues as zombies ammerge from several rooms. The floor by the massive hole caves under Tippy’s weight and the barbarian falls into the basement, smashing a set of alchemical equipment. There in the basement with him is the blaspheme that was once Danovich’s son. Tippy becomes surrounded by undead and is badly wounded before Darmian falls ungracefully prone into the basement and is able to heal his brother.

When the blaspheme is cut down the other undead fall, presumably ending the necromantic infection. Ashlyn is horrified to discover that the two zombies in the basement with the blaspheme are Thendrick and Mathilda.

Atop the alter the PCs find a fragment of the Libre Blaspheme. They also find Danovich’s journal, which mentions notes kept by the master of the castle refered to as the Tome of Strahd. The book may have clues to Strahd’s weaknesses and mentions Danovich had asked Madam Eva about the tome, though she never gave a clear answer.

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