AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 17

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.

It’s time to tune up your favorite lute, because this week we’re talking about the Bard.

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A Bard is a wandering musician, storyteller, or performer of any type.  They’ve managed to hone their skills with the tools of their trade to such a degree that then can actually use them to create magic.  A Bard is primarily a spellcaster, and they tend to focus on spells that beguile and charm their enemies or provide buffs to their allies, as opposed to those that cause direct damage.  Bards know a set number of spells (which increases as they level up), and they can’t easily be switched out–you need to choose which spells you learn wisely.  Bards are a great addition to any party because they have a high level of versatility–they get at least a small bonus to just about every skill, and expertise in a few.  They can also use their music to inspire their allies, giving them a boost to any skill checks, attack rolls, or saving throws.

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There are many different types of Bards.  Most are musicians, but they can also be orators, storytellers, jugglers, or many other kinds of performers.  Bards form loose associations, called Colleges, which allow them to seek each other out to trade tales and techniques in their various fields.  At 3rd level, a Bard chooses one of these Colleges to join and follow:

  • College of Lore–gather knowledge of all kinds, and gain more skills and more magic than most others
  • College of Valor–spread tales of heroic deeds, and learn to take part in combat themselves
  • College of Glamour–trained in the Feywild to be able to charm and enthrall their audience
  • College of Swords–trained in sword swallowing, knife juggling, and other types of swordplay, and use these skills in performance as well as in battle
  • College of Whispers–work to uncover secrets, and use them to sow fear and distrust

Bard Build

Sandoval Strongarm, Mountain Dwarf Bard (College of Valor), Level 3SandovalMini

Stats:  STR 13(+2), DEX 10, CON 12(+2), INT 8, WIS 14, CHA 15

Skill/tool proficiencies: Insight, Persuasion, Athletics, Perception, Performance; Musical instruments (horn, drum, lute), Brewer’s tools

Weapons: Battleaxe

Armor: Studded leather, AC = 12

Spells:  Cantrips: Vicious Mockery, Friends ; Level 1: Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Healing Word, Dissonant Whispers, Charm Person; Level 2: Hold Person, Suggestion

Alignment: Lawful Neutral

Background: Guild Artisan
As a boy, Sandoval Strongarm loved two things: tales of adventure, and his family’s ale.  The Strongarm clan were the finest brewers in the land, and had been for generations.  Though he dutifully learned the family trade, Sandoval always yearned to travel the world and have adventures of his own, just like in his favorite stories. When he came of age, he was able to convince his father to allow him to act as a traveling salesman for the brewery, visiting inns and taverns throughout the land to promote the family label.

As a level 3 Bard, Sandoval can add half his proficiency bonus to any skill checks he makes that don’t already benefit from proficiency.  In addition, he gets Expertise (double proficiency) in two skills, Insight and Persuasion. Because he’s a member of the College of Valor, any allies he gives his Bardic Inspiration to can choose to use that inspiration to augment a damage roll or their AC instead of just attack rolls, ability checks, or saving throws.  Sandoval’s first ASI would add +1 to both his CHA and STR scores, and after that he’d focus on bringing his CHA to maximum.  Eventually, he’d want to upgrade his armor and possibly pick up a shield as well.

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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

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We got off to a slow start after taking the week off last weekend.  Peter woke up with a pretty bad hangover from all the Vistani wine Kragen had consumed.  We decided to chat with some of the other Vistani leaders in the camp.  By the Vistani campfire, we met a girl who was whittling a likeness of ENGR-23, and struck up a conversation with her.  She made some sort of potion for Peter to help him get over his hangover.  Meanwhile, Txan began talking to one of the Vistani elders, asking for help understanding some of  Eva’s predictions.  She told us that werewolves had been causing trouble in near a village called Krezk, which was far to the west, but couldn’t help much with any of the other things Eva had mentioned.  Txan asked if there were any particularly old graveyards around (where a sword of light might be buried), and the Vistani woman mentioned an old gallows to the south.  We decided it’d be worth checking that out before returning to the west.

We set out for the old gallows, which we found at a crossroads a little ways from the camp.  Eva’s reading had mentioned “A sword that shines like the sun itself” that “lies at the cross roads of life and death, among the buried dead.” So we had a pretty good idea that this was the place.  The gallows was ancient and clearly hadn’t been used for a long time, and there was a small potter’s field nearby, all overgrown.  None of the few stones had any recognizable markings anymore.  We couldn’t find any evidence of a hidden passage, or any freshly disturbed earth.  Carabelle cast a Detect Good and Evil spell and found that there was a undead creature of some kind buried under one of the old stones.  Txan used his own magic to open up the grave, revealing an extremely rusted set of armor.  A ghostly knight rose up from the mound.  He called himself Sir Pelham, and said that a local lord tried to hang him for traveling without paying a toll, but really wanted to steal his sword.  He thought he was on his way to fight in the crusades, but when he tried to leave, he found he was stuck to the grave somehow.  Txan and 23 tried to explain to the knight that he was deceased, but Sir Pelham was having none of it.

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Eventually, 23 decided enough was enough and cast Heat Metal on the ghost knight’s armor, but the spell had no effect. Wick tossed a rock at the knight, only to have it pass through him.  Sir Pelham still didn’t seem to understand that he was dead, though he did seem to think that Wick was some sort of specter he called the ‘legendary ghost halfling of the glen.’  ENGR-23 turned on Wick and told the ghost that he would destroy the ‘ghost halfling’, in the hopes that the knight would then kneel to pray and leave his sword unguarded.  Wick eventually caught on to 23’s ruse and played along, but unfortunately they couldn’t fool Sir Pelham. Pelham tried to slash at 23 with his sword, but the blade passed right through the Warforged.  Evidently we couldn’t hurt him, and he couldn’t hurt us–at least until he stumbled into Kissi and possessed her body.

Now the fight was on.  Wick quickly used his Ensnaring Strike to restrain the possessed Kissi.  Kragen Tempest, angry that another being was encroaching on his body-snatching racket, took control of Peter once again and hit Pelham-Kissi with his hammer a couple times. ENGR-23 hemmed and hawed a bit, before trying to just punch the ghost out of Kissi’s body, but he unfortunately wasn’t strong enough to deal any damage to her.  Kissi was already pretty beat up by this point, so Txan was able to knock her unconscious with a blow from his own hammer.1  The ghost knight left Kissi’s body as she went down, and since he was defeated in honorable combat, whatever enchantment that had kept him from leaving was dispelled.  The ghost vanished, leaving his sword behind in Kissi’s hand.

We ended at that point, with Kissi still out cold and the rest of us feeling really guilty for having beaten up our friend.  Hopefully she’ll understand when she comes to, and at least she gets to keep the (probably) magic sword! 

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