AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 19

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 table-top RPGs that you nerds 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, we’ll tackle the protectors of the natural world, the Druids.

maui

Maui may not look like the quintessential Druid character, but he’s actually a really good example of one of the Druid’s defining capabilities–Wild Shape, which allows the Druid to transform into animals at will.  A Druid is a spell caster, channeling their magic not from a divine being as the Cleric does, but from the essence of nature itself.  They prepare spells through meditation each day and can use their magic to control the elements around them, to provide healing for their friends, or to summon the aid of beasts or fey creatures.  They revere all life, placing no more or less importance on the lives of plants and animals than they do other sentient beings, and work to preserve the balance between the four elements.  A Druid’s weapons and armor are made of wood, leathers, hide, or bone–most will not use equipment made of metal of any kind.

femaledruid

Druids are all members of a world-spanning society, although an individual may be so isolated as to never actually meet another.  Still, all Druids learn a secret language called Druidic, which can be used to leave hidden message to other Druids.  In addition, all Druids are organized into various circles, similar to the Bard’s colleges–each circle shares certain perspectives on nature and the balance that Druids work to protect.  At Level 2, a Druid chooses which circle they belong to from the following options:

  • Circle of the Land–focus on using nature magic to safeguard the balance, and gain spells depending on their land of origin
  • Circle of the Moon–focus on Wild Shape, gaining access to stronger beast forms that can be used more often
  • Circle of Dreams–closely tied to the Feywild, using their magic to heal and protect their allies
  • Circle of the Shepherd–commune with nature spirits to summon helpful totem animals, as well as more powerful beasts to aid in combat
  • Circle of Spores–linked to fungi, mold, and other agents of decay, and can use their magic to poison enemies and even animate corpses

Druid Build

Zorn Gropplar, Forest Gnome Druid (Circle of the Moon), Level 3

ZornGropplar

Stats:  STR 8, DEX 13(+1), CON 14, INT 12(+2), WIS 15, CHA 10

Skill/tool proficiencies: Arcana, History, Nature, Perception; Herbalism kit

Weapons: Staff

Armor: Leather armor, AC = 13

Spells: Cantrips: Minor Illusion,1 Druidcraft, Frostbite

Alignment: Neutral Good

Background: Sage
Born under a certain, complex alignment of the moon and stars, Zorn Gropplar was destined to join the Druid’s Circle.  Among the Forest Gnomes, Druids are revered but isolated, living apart from the rest of gnomish society.  They are soothsayers, healers, and protectors of the Gnome’s forest villages.  Like his fellow Druids, Zorn was raised by the Circle and spent his days learning the movements of the stars, the patterns of the weather, and the speech of the animals in the forest.  When the Elder Druids began reading signs of an impending doom coming to their people, it was decided that Zorn and a handful of others would be sent out into the world to learn what they could and prevent this doom from happening if possible.  Each of them would go a different direction, and would report back if and when they found anything important.  

As a member of the Circle of the Moon, Zorn’s Wild Shape gets a significant boost compared to other Druids, and he’ll spend the majority of combat time in animal form.  When Wild Shaped, Zorn takes on the physical stats and hit points of the beast he becomes–if his hit points drop to zero, he’ll revert back to a Gnome with the amount of HP he had before he transformed.  At level 3, he can choose a total of 5 first- or second-level spells to prepare each day.  While transformed, he won’t be able to cast any spells, but he can maintain concentration to keep a spell active.  He can also use his spell slots to heal himself while transformed, which will keep him in the fight longer.  Zorn’s first ASI will go towards increasing his WIS score, which will allow him to prepare more spells each day.

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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

windmill

We left off last weekend having snuck up on the witch Morgantha in her windmill home.  This week, we started off with a bang by rushing in to attack, the element of surprise on our side. Kissi charged ahead first, with her Sun Blade lit, and scored a critical hit on the witch right off the bat.  Carabelle called down a Sacred Flame on Morgantha, and Txan followed up with a Firebolt, which unfortunately went wide.  Wick then ducked into the room, keeping behind the millstone for cover, and fired 3 arrows into the witch, but didn’t seem to do as much harm as expected.  Peter joined the fray with a couple of reckless attacks, smashing the frail-looking witch with hammer, but feeling like he was hitting solid rock.  ENGR-23, noticing that our attacks weren’t doing as well as they should, cast Magic Weapon on Wick’s bow, imbuing his shots with magical energy.

Kissi moved to block the stairway leading up, and then sliced at Morgantha twice more with the Sun Blade, scoring another critical hit on one of her strikes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to bring the witch down.  Morgantha yelled for her daughters, Bella and Offalia, and then seemed to expand.  Her arms lengthened, and her nails turned to claws as she grew in size.  Before Morgantha could do anything more, Cara called down another gout of Sacred Flame, while Txan jumped onto the millstone and hit the witch with a Thunderclap (catching Kissi in the blast as well).  Wick then cast his Hunter’s Mark on Morgantha and shot her twice more with his newly enchanted bow.  Now that our presence was definitely known, Peter let Kragen Tempest take over again and bashed the hag’s skull in with his hammer, dropping her to the floor.  Looking up, Kragen noticed two more hags at the top of the stairs, Morgantha’s daughters.

Bella, the shorter of the two, leaped down the stairs and slashed at Kragen with her claws, but Kragen was able to shrug off most of the pain in his rage. ENGR-23 tried to toss a tanglefoot bag at the hag, but missed, covering the wall behind in a sticky tar-like substance.  Kissi used the distraction to strike at Bella, leaving two burning slashes with the Sun Blade.  Cara hit Offalia with a Hold Person spell, freezing her at the top of the stairs.  Txan backed away from Bella, and hit her with a quick Firebolt on the way.  With Morgantha out of the way, Wick moved his Hunter’s Mark to Bella and plugged her with two more enchanted arrows. While Offalia tried to shake off the effects of Cara’s spell, Kragen swung his hammer at her sister, smacking her once.  Bella tried to retaliate by casting some kind of spell, but luckily Txan recognized it in time to Counterspell.  ENGR took a shot at the hag with his crossbow, and Kissi came back around with another massive hit from the Sun Blade.  Cara, Txan, and Wick concentrated their fire on Bella, trying to take her down before Offalia could join the battle.  Cara’s Sacred Flame struck true, but Txan’s Firebolt went wide, narrowly missing Kissi and Kragen.  Wick’s enchanted arrow found home in Bella’s head, though, and the hag crumpled.

Offalia, seeing her mother and sister dead, decided to bug out, disappearing into the ethereal plane. Wick and Peter searched the bodies of the two dead hags, finding a black gem stone and a black leather sack on each.  Kissi, ENGR, and Txan headed up the stairs.  The room contained a single large bed, a wardrobe, and a ladder up to a trap door in the ceiling.  Kissi opened the wardrobe to find a young boy and our porter Ada locked up in cages inside, both alive!  Ada told us that the witches had said she and the boy, called Freek, were too skinny to eat, and were trying to fatten them up by feeding them gingerbread. ENGR found some more jewelry tucked into the mattress of the bed, a few rings, a necklace, and a pair of earrings, all fairly tarnished.  Up the ladder was just a cramped attic containing the machinery for the windmill, nothing interesting, though ENGR did manage to scavenge some gears and other parts.

nighthag

Txan did some thinking and recalled campfire stories he’d heard about beings called night hags that seemed to describe Morgantha and her daughters.  We considered taking the windmill as our base of operations, but with Offalia having escaped, it seemed smarter to move on. We spent some time looking at the gems and sacks we’d taken off the hags, as well as the potion vials we’d found downstairs.  ENGR-23 determined that the gems and sacks had some magical properties, as well as the vial marked “Youth.”  Around the back of the mill, we found our old cart, thought the horses and food were gone.  We also saw a circle of standing stones a little ways away, and went to check it out.  There were four stones, each with a carving of a city in different season of the year–Wick recognized them as ancient time-keeping devices, but couldn’t recall much more.

We decided to call it a night there and take the week to decide where we’d head next and work on leveling up our characters, because killing Morgantha had bumped us all to Level 6!

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