AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 15

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.

This week’s discussion topic is the Half-Orc race.

Half-orc-5e

Half-Orcs are, naturally, the offspring of an orc and human.  They’re slightly larger than humans, and usually have grayish skin and dark hair.  They generally have large protruding teeth in their bottom jaw, and somewhat pig-like noses.  They can use their size and fearsome appearance to intimidate other characters more easily (ie, their proficient in the Intimidation skill).  Their orcish heritage gives them the ability to see in the dark, and makes them a bit harder to knock out in a fight. (When an attack would bring a half-orc to 0 HP, they can choose to only drop to 1 HP instead.)  In addition they get a bit of extra damage from a critical hit with melee attacks.  Half-Orcs get a +2 to Strength and +1 to Constitution, and combined with their other abilities, this means they’re almost tailor-made to be Barbarians.  The stat bonuses are also useful for Fighters, Paladins, and the odd STR-based Ranger.

How would you play a Half-Orc?  Would they try to deny their orcish nature, or embrace it?


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; deceased (torn to pieces by vampires) (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)
  • Carabelle Longstride, a Halfling Cleric of Lathander; a Southern-accented American on a personal mission of her own (Wafflicious)
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Spoilers for Curse of Strahd

Vallaki

After the Festival of the Blazing Sun fizzled out, our party regrouped and made our way back to the church to confer with Ireena.  She was still holed up in the back of the church.  We filled her in on the pile of Ireena-dolls we found in the burgomaster’s house and recommended that she leave town with us.  But before any decision could be made, we heard a commotion out front.  Wick peeked out and saw some guards questioning some townsfolk about the escaped prisoner (whose name was apparently Ugo) from the burgomaster’s house. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of having a large mechanical person in the party, not to mention one covered in streamers from having just acted as grand marshal of a parade with mandatory attendance, was that pretty much everyone had seen us come into the church.

We quickly decided that Ireena and her brother would be safest in the church, since it was hallowed ground and Strahd was still the biggest threat to them.  However, our little group needed to leave town in a hurry, since the guards were beginning to arrive at the church en masse.  We snuck out of the back entrance to the church and attempted to make our way out of town by the west gate (which was closest to the church), toward the dusk elf settlement we had visited previously. Unfortunately, Peter and Cara were spotted, and a group of five guards started chasing us into an alley. We tried to make a break for the gate, and ENGR-23 attempted to make an emergency Minor Illusion spell scroll to help us retreat, but its scroll mechanism backfired, knocking the Warforged down.

Wick, disguised as a Dwarf through a Disguise Self spell, tried to throw the guards off by telling them that he’d seen the party heading towards the north gate.  Three of the guards split off, but the other 2 in the immediate vicinity had caught up to 23 on the ground and were starting to tie her up. Wick tried to reason with them by saying that the Warforged had been part of the parade and couldn’t have had anything to do with freeing Ugo. The guards didn’t budge, but ENGR-23 was able to snap through the ropes and get free.  As the Warforged started to run away, Peter tried to intimidate the remaining guards, but they’d apparently read The Princess Bride and immediately recognized the “To the Pain” speech.

Just then, Izek, the guard captain who had been commissioning creepy Ireena-dolls, arrived on the scene.  One of Izek’s arms was different than the other–larger, purple, and covered with spines and long claw-like nails. Wick, still looking like a dwarf, tried to talk him into heading to the north gate, too, but Izek wasn’t buying it.  He drew an axe and announced we were all under arrest. We had run out of options to avoid fighting our way out of town.

isek

Izek swung his battleaxe at Kissi, but Kissi blocked the blow with her morningstar.  Wick hit the captain with an Ensnaring Strike, restraining him with magical vines, while Kragen Tempest emerged and went for another guard with his warhammer, caving in the poor guard’s chest with one blow. Kissi caught the restrained captain with a blow from her morningstar.  Cara cast a Shield of Faith spell on ENGR-23, but wasn’t sure what else to do.  At this point we had Izek restrained, one guard killed, and the last retreating at full speed.  23 pulled out another emergency scroll and hit Izek with a few Magic Missiles, and also managed to trip up the fleeing guard with her spear.  More guards were arriving in the road behind Izek, so Txan cast a Shatter spell, hoping to knock down the walls at the end of the alley and block our escape.  The spell knocked some of the guards around a bit, but wasn’t enough to bring down any walls. Izek tried to break free of the magic vines from Wick’s spell, but he wasn’t quite strong enough to break the magical vines.  Wick give him an arrow for his trouble, then Kragen swung his sledgehammer at the restrained captain, dealing a savage blow. Kissi followed up with another smack with her Morningstar, and Cara got in on the action with a crossbow bolt.

After that shot Izek yielded.  We debated for a minute what do with him. Kissi and Peter advocated just killing him outright, but Wick thought we should drag him out of town with us and interrogate him.  The rest of the guards backed down, and agreed to let us leave town without any trouble, so long as we didn’t hurt Izek.  One of the guards explained to use that Izek used to have only one arm, and literally grew this new monstrous one overnight. Since it seemed we weren’t about to be rushed by the guards, Wick asked Izek about the doll. He claimed to not know who Ireena was, and said that he had been seeing her in his dreams, but didn’t know she was a real woman.  He’d been dreaming of her since he was a child, and demanded to know where she was.  None of us cared to give up that information, however. While we were speaking with him, Cara determined that Izek’s arm was of fiendish origin, and recommended removing it.  The rest of us agreed, and Kissi did the honors, chopping off the appendage with her handaxe.  Cara was able to heal Izek just enough to keep him alive but unconscious, and we gathered up the demon arm for later study and/or disposal by fire.

While the guards carried their unconscious captain away, Wick snuck back to the church to let Ireena know what had happened, what we had learned, and to try to avoid Izek for the time being.  He was still obsessed with her, and we were not convinced that he wasn’t dangerous.  Wick met up with the rest of the group at the town gate, and we started to discuss our next move.  We knew we wanted to kill the witch in the windmill, and find the Vistani seer.  But we weren’t sure if we wanted to camp on the road (as it was rather late at night by this point), or see if the dusk elves can take us in for the night.

It was getting late in the real world too, though, so we called it a night there.  Next week, we leave Vallaki behind.

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