AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 9

Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop RPG thread!  Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other nerdy table-top RPGs that you might be into.  Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.

Since we talked about Dwarves last week, it only makes sense for this week to focus on the Elves.

elves

The Elves of D&D once again harken back to those created by JRR Tolkien. They are tall, slender, and beautiful beyond compare, and have a natural lifespan far longer than that of humans (well over 700 years).  Like Dwarves, Elves come in a few distinct flavors, with a handful of common traits between them.  These subraces are High Elves, Wood Elves, and Drow.

All Elves have the ability to see in the dark, much like Dwarves.  They have keen senses, which makes it easier for them to notice small details while adventuring.  Being descended from creatures of the Fey, Elves are naturally resistant to magic that would charm them, and are immune to any magically induced sleep.  In fact, Elves don’t actually sleep at all–instead they naturally enter a trance state for about 4 hours a day.  All Elves get a +2 bonus to their Dexterity scores.

In addition to all of that, High Elves get a +1 to Intelligence, natural proficiency with swords and bows, and a free low-level spell of the player’s choice.  This makes High Elves a good choice to play Wizards, though the DEX bonus makes them a decent choice for many other classes as well.  In fact, the only class I really can’t see a High Elf in is the Barbarian.  On the other hand, Wood Elves get a +1 to Wisdom, a slightly increased walking speed, and the ability to hide even when only lightly obscured.  Wood Elves make good Rangers, Monks, and Clerics, and they get similar weapon proficiencies to the High Elves.

The Drow, or Dark Elves, are a bit different.  Drow live underground and are often evil.  They get a +1 to Charisma instead of INT or WIS, and automatically learn a few specific spells at certain levels.1 They’re naturally good with rapiers, shortswords, and hand crossbows, and they can see even better in the dark than other Elves.  However, they are sensitive to sunlight, which makes it harder to see or attack their enemies during the day.  Drow are good for playing Rogues, Bards, and Warlocks.

In my mind, most Elves are very haughty–Elves are absolutely certain that they’re superior to most everyone else.  Picture the Vulcan captain who challenged Sisko and the DS9 crew to a baseball game that one time–that’s sort of how I view Elves in D&D.  Whereas most other races can be boisterous and fun, Elves are always serious, like a strict librarian.  I’m not really sure where I get this impression from–I’m sure there are plenty of examples of Elves in fantasy literature that would contradict me.  And of course, in an RPG, every character behaves however the player chooses.  What sort of Elves have you played?


Our AvocaD&D group is currently running the Curse of Strahd adventure module.  Our version takes place in a pseudo-historical 19th century Earth, and the group is playing as representatives of a railroad company sent to the tiny Eastern European nation of Barovia (ruled by Count Strahd von Zarovich) to negotiate the expansion of the railway through the country.

Dramatis Personae

Our Dungeon Master is The Hayes Code, and the 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 Professor of Antiquities 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
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Spoilers for Curse of Strahd

map_of_barovia

We picked up this week having escaped from an army of undead and hidden in the woods outside of town for the night.  Our next mission was to escort Ireena to the town of Vallaki, to the northwest.  Before setting out, however, we decided to return to the village of Barovia to seek out the pie lady we had promised to talk to. The somewhat shady owner of the local general store, Bildrath, wanted us to convince the woman to stop selling her pies outside of his store, as it was bad for his business. We found the old crone strolling down the street, and Txan managed to convince her to try selling her wares door-to-door rather than set up her cart by the general store, to maintain her customer’s anonymity.  We also purchased one of her pies, despite her overall creepiness. We thought the pie might be poisoned or cursed, and sure enough ENGR-23 did detect a magical aura of enchantment.  Wick followed after the crone for a bit, and witnessed her kidnap a child right from under his parents’ noses, as “payment” for a pie.

morgantha

Wick told the others what he saw, and ENGR-23 decided it needed to know how to purchase a child and chased after the witch.  23 started haggling over the price of the child, much to the dismay of Wick, but it was only a ruse to get close enough to the witch to grab her.  23 grappled the witch and yelled at the others to tie her up.  Wick, hearing this, cast his Ensnaring Strike spell and shot her twice.  Unfortunately, she shook off the vines attempting to tie her down. She laughed, then vanished from 23’s grasp, leaving her cart and the kidnapped child behind.  We released the child from the bag he was kept in, and though he at first thought 23 was a demon of some kind, we calmed him down enough to tell us that Morgantha’s pies make people fall asleep and then do anything to get more.  The boy, named Lucien, decided to come with us as we left town, figuring the witch would just come back for him later.  Txan smashed and buried the witch’s cart, and we stopped by the general store to collect our reward from Bildrath, a vial of holy water.  Then we made our way out of town.  Wick scouted ahead, while Ireena and Ismark rode horses and the rest of the group (now also including the boy Lucien) rode in a cart.

We made out way down the road uneventfully for a while, crossing over a couple of bridges and eventually leaving the thick forest behind.  After some time, Wick saw an armored figure walking down the road toward us in the distance, and signaled the cart to stop while he quietly went to have a look.  The figure was evidently undead, but it seemed intelligent and purposeful, and was carrying what looked like trophies from dire wolves and other zombies.  It also had a silver dragon emblazoned on its armor, the mark of an ancient order of knights from around the time Strahd first came to Barovia.  Thinking that this creature may actually turn out to be an ally, we decided to try and talk to it.

revenant

Once the revenant determined we were not “allies of Strahd,” it seemed friendly enough.  Txan asked about the witch, Morgantha, and we discovered that she seemed to live in an old windmill farther up the road.  The undead knight also told us to make our way to Argynvostholt where we could find the head of his order, Vladimir Horngaard, who would give us some kind of aid in killing Strahd. Wick recognized the name Argynvostholt as belonging to an old ruin in the west. We continued down the road, and eventually passed through the western gate out of the capital region of Barovia.  The witch’s windmill was looming ahead, and we had to decide whether to sneak by along the road, cut over land, or just assault the windmill and attempt to take the witch down.  After some debate, we decided to send Ada (the porter we brought from London) with the cart along the road while the rest of the party cut over land.  That way, the cart wouldn’t slow us down and we could keep Lucien safe from the witch.

We made it over the mountains without too much trouble, and found the main road again.  Unfortunately, there was no sign of the cart.  With the sun beginning to dip, we had to move on in order to get Ireena and her brother to the safety of Vallaki before nightfall.  We made it to the town without incident, and arrived at the gate just before the sunset.  As we entered the town, the guards handed us a letter in a black parchment envelope that had apparently arrived just before us.  We headed to the Blue Water Inn to secure lodging and opened the letter, which said: “Since you were kind enough to send me a bigger cart and a bigger child, we’ll consider your debts paid on those accounts.  But you still owe me for those pies!”

RIP Ada Rudge, Freelance Urchin/Porter.  Your sacrifice allowed us to get Ireena safely to Vallaki, which means we all went up to Level 4.  You will be avenged!

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