The 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.
The 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 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!”
Combat 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.