AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 5

It came to my attention last week that some folks thought this thread was exclusive to   our game.  So I’m changing up the thread title a bit, to hopefully make it more clear that this thread is open to any discussion about RPGs in general.

General discussion topic for the week: Replaying adventures/avoiding spoilers.  Part of the reason I’ve taken to hiding my recaps behind spoiler tags here is that I personally like to go into a campaign knowing as little as possible about it.  That wasn’t too hard to accomplish at first, not having played before.  But as I’m getting more and more into D&D, and looking for advice and discussion online, it’s getting a bit harder.  I accidentally spoiled a relatively minor plot point from the Lost Mines adventure for myself about a week before our group actually discovered it, and while it wasn’t a huge issue, I was a little disappointed that I already knew that twist was coming.  It made it a little harder to role-play. So I’m wondering, especially for those of you who have been playing a long time, do you ever play the same content more than once, and if so, do you find it difficult to pretend you don’t know what’s going to happen?  Or does so much depend on group dynamics that it’s just as satisfying every time?


HauntedHouse

Our AvocaD&D group is currently running the Curse of Strahd adventure module, DM’d by The Hayes Code. As a reminder, our party consists of:

  • Txan Einreique, a Half-Elf Stone Sorcerer; the Company Representative and nominal party leader (Josephus Brown).
  • Kissi Farwood, a Human Fighter; a former solider hired as a bodyguard by Txan (forget_it_jake).
  • Edwin Potts, a Human Cleric of Torm; a government agent sent to oversee the deal and make sure the company isn’t doing anything shady (Nope).
  • ENGR-23, a Warforged Artificer; a living machine employed as a railway engineer (our only non-Avocado party member).
  • Peter Peregrine, a Human Barbarian; a researcher with a rage-filled alter ego called Kragen Tempest (Doctor Nick).
  • Wickerwelt Tanglewood, a Halfling Ranger; a Barovian native brought along as a guide (TheCleverGuy).

Spoilers for Curse of Strahd

We picked up having just survived a couple of harrowing fights and deciding to camp for a while up in the main house.  Well-rested and having distributed our loot, the party proceeded back down to the crypt and made our way to the lower level.  The omnipresent chanting grew louder, and we could now make out the words, “He is the Ancient. He is the Land.”  We found a room with 13 niches, each containing some macabre trinket.  There was a murky pool of water off one corridor, blocked off by a heavy iron portcullis. Kissi and Peter tried to lift the gate, but it wouldn’t budge. So we headed down another open corridor, to find a dungeon.  Edwin found a hidden door in one of the empty cells, leading into a large chamber with what was clearly a sacrificial altar in the center. The rest of the floor was covered in murky water and a large pile of rotting vegetation took up one corner.  The room was empty but the eerie chanting suddenly stopped as we entered.  ENGR-23 found the mechanism to open the portcullis that blocked our path before and raised it.  Edwin went to inspect the altar, but as he approached, 13 ghostly figures in black robes appeared around the room, chanting “One must die!”–apparently a demand for a ritual sacrifice.

bloody_altar

Looking around for something to appease the spirits with (aside from us), Edwin noticed that the rotting mass in the corner was actually a living creature, a hibernating Shambling Mound (basically, a Swamp Thing).  Provoking a fight with this creature seemed like a bad idea, but as we hadn’t encountered any other living being since entering the house, it was looking like our only option.  Luckily, Kissi had a fishing rod, and managed to catch a small fish from the brackish water that covered most of the room.  Praying it would be enough, Edwin killed the fish over the altar–and the ghosts faded away.  The original steady chant resumed, much more quiet than before, and we could also hear someone sobbing from above us.

shambling_mound

As we walked back upstairs, we were confronted by the ghosts of the Lord and Lady Durst (who’s undead forms we had disposed of previously), and they told us their story, how they had worshipped and sacrificed for Strahd but were only repaid with their own destruction and undeath.  They asked us to give their children a proper burial.  We gathered the remains we had found throughout the house, and brought them down into the crypts, placing each into the proper coffin. The ghosts of the children and their parents vanished, and we were finally free to escape the haunted house, the unnatural fog that forced us inside having also lifted.1

Upon leaving the house, we finally had a chance to explore some of the town of Barovia.  The first place we went was, naturally, the tavern.  At the “Blood of the Vine” we encountered a man called Ismark. After a brief conversation, Ismark invited us to the burgomaster’s mansion, where he claims he’ll have a proposition that may put us in contact with Strahd.  We agreed to meet with him in the morning, and decided to call it a night there.

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Just for fun, I’m going to be including a different character’s backstory here every week.  So let’s learn a bit more about Peter Peregrin and his alter-ego Kragen Tempest.  Credit for this write-up goes to Doctor Nick.  I tried to do a Hero Forge mini for Peter/Kragen, but I couldn’t find a design I liked, and it was hard to translate the Jekyll/Hyde nature into a single figure.

jekyllhyde
Professor Peter Peregrine was no stranger to adventure. Afterall as the head of The Antiquities Department at King’s College in London he’s spent a lot of time exploring deep dark places looking for artifacts and treasures of years and people long past. But, when a mysterious benefactor bequeathed a sizable collection of Barovian Antiques to the college Peter was unprepared for the adventure he was about to embark on. It was an odd statue, barely over six inches with a rather angry face on it. By far the most interesting thing about the statue was the effect it had on the Professor. The statue cursed Peter awakening in him his dark side, all the worst aspects of his personality made manifest in their own personality that decided to go by the name Kragen Tempest. At first Peter wasn’t aware anything was wrong, he figured strange, violent nightmares and chunks of missing time in his memories were all the result of stress due to his job. But it was when he got into a fight with the Dean where Kragen violently emerged after Peter lost his temper when Peter connected the dots (and some students finished detecting magic) that he realised the strange Barovian statue had cursed him. Wishing to know more about his curse and whether or not he could get his temperamental alter ego under control Peter sought out his old friend Txan Einrique and arranged his own spot on Txan’s expedition to the mysterious country of Barovia…