AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 21

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 tabletop 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.

Limber up and center your ki, because we’re about to dive into the Monk.

brucelee

If any pop culture icon can represent the D&D Monk, it’s Bruce Lee.  Monks are masters of martial arts, training their bodies and minds to become as deadly with their bare hands as a Fighter or Barbarian is with a sword or axe.  They generally forego wearing armor, preferring to simply dodge out of the way of their enemies’ strikes, or deflect their missiles back at them.  Monks learn to channel a magical energy called ki to empower their attacks and even cause some magical effects.  Monks aren’t true spell casters, and they’re generally not built to be the kind of melee tank that a heavy-armored Fighter can be.  Instead, Monks are agile combatants, striking quickly and then dodging out of harm’s way, or bypassing the front-lines to engage the enemies ranged attackers and spellcasters before they can act.

femalemonk

All Monks learn to use their ki to strike with their fists and feet, to move more quickly (eventually even going fast enough to run up walls or over water), to avoid or redirect attacks, and even to catch arrows in mid-flight.  Monks also follow one of a variety of monastic traditions, which grant additional features:

  • Way of the Open Hand–use ki to empower their martial arts, to push or trip their enemies and heal themselves
  • Way of Shadow–use ki to become invisible in darkness, and act as spies or assassins
  • Way of the Four Elements–use ki to harness the elements and augment their strikes with magical energies
  • Way of the Drunken Master–move erratically to confuse and confound their opponents
  • Way of the Kensei–train extensively with certain weapons, in order to use them for both offense and defense
  • Way of the Long Death–study the meanings and mechanics of death and uses this to empower their martial arts
  • Way of the Sun Soul–channel ki into magical radiance that can be hurled at enemies from a distance

Monk Build

Zildjian, Lightfoot Halfling Monk (Way of Shadow), Level 3

zildjian

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

Skill/tool proficiencies: Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Acrobatics, Insight

Weapons: Sai (dagger), unarmed strike

Armor: None, AC = 15

Spells:1 Cantrips: Minor Illusion; Level 2: Darkness, Darkvision, Pass Without Trace, Silence

Alignment: Lawful Neutral

Background: Urchin
Zildjian grew up an orphan in a large sprawling city.  On the streets, he stole what he could to survive, and he learned to use his small size to his advantage in escaping the notice of the city guards.  Bigger folk also often underestimated him when it came to a fight, and he was able to rely on their preconceptions when forced to defend himself.  One day, he tried picking the pocket of an old man passing through town.  The man caught hold of Zildjian’s arm, without even turning his head.  Zildjian tried to fight, but the old man easily avoided the Halfling’s blows, then countered with a single jab to the chest that knocked the air of him.  Zildjian, embarrassed and intrigued, began to follow the man, until he was led to a monastery.  The monks there took him in and began training him, refining his fighting techniques and teaching him to harness his ki. Before long, Zildjian’s natural talent for remaining unseen had earned him an assignment gathering intelligence for the leaders of the monastery and their mysterious benefactors.

As a level 3 Monk, Zildjian has a small pool of ki that is regained after a short rest and some time spend meditating.  He can expend his ki to strike twice instead of once with his fists after making a normal attack, to dodge his enemies’ attacks even after attacking himself, or to increase his movement speed.  He can deflect and sometimes even catch projectiles aimed in his direction.  Finally, he can also use his ki to cast the spells listed above.  Being a Halfling means that he can dodge through spaces occupied by larger creatures and hide behind larger creatures as well.  He’s both brave (advantage against being frightened) and lucky (can re-roll natural 1s on a d20).  Zildjian’s first ASIs would go towards increasing his DEX and CON scores for better attacks and more hit points.

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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

wachterhaus

After a restful night in the Blue Water Inn in Vallaki, we woke up in the morning and decided to pay a visit to Lady Wachter, a noblewoman in town who has taken over most of the running of the town from the Burgomaster after the last festival.  We made out way to the Wachterhaus, toward the northern end of Vallaki, close to Lake Zarovich. After a doorman confirmed our credentials (which luckily, Txan and ENGR-23 had as representative of the railroad), we were allowed into the house.  We were brought upstairs to meet with Lady Wachter in a family room, surrounded by portraits of her and her husband and children.

Lady Wachter seemed pleased that we had disarmed (literally) Izek, the old guard captain, and asked us about how we had killed Morgantha. She seemed especially interested in the gems and bags we had taken off the witches.  We gave the Lady an ivory hairbrush with silver bristles (which we’d found in the Death House way back when we first arrived in Barovia) as a gift. She accepted the gift gracefully and invited us to stay for lunch.  We chatted a bit about t scarcity of game in the woods, and then her servant came in and whispered something to Lady Wachter.  She excused herself and hurried out.

Wick used this opportunity to do a quick search of the parlor and dining room.  The only thing interesting he noticed was that there was another room behind the fireplace (which opened on both sides).  He could make out someone’s legs sitting by the fire, but that’s all.  From above came the sound of big cat yowling, then a thump and hissing.  Lady Wachter and her servant, Bixby, returned to the room, but Bixby had an injury to his face.  The lady deflected our questions by asking what we’d come to Barovia for.  ENGR started explaining the railway plan to her, and she offered to pass on our message to the Count.  She called us the ‘liberators of Vallaki’–it seemed she did not agree with the Burgomaster’s open defiance of Strahd, and she bragged that the Count himself had personally visited her in the past.

Lunch was served.  Bixby discreetly took a poker from the fireplace and a sack of something and went back upstairs.  While Peter and the others distracted the Lady with conversation, Wick excused himself to use the privy and snuck upstairs after the servant. Upstairs, Wick saw Bixby sliding something underneath one of the door in the hall.  Wick managed to hide behind some curtains as Bixby went back down, then approached the door and listened.  He could someone breathing from the other side, and noticed that the door was locked.  Wick didn’t notice anything that sounded like an animal, and recalling that the last time he’d tried sneaking away and opening a locked door he’d been nearly killed by a vampire, he decided to head back to dinner.

The rest of the meal finished uneventfully.  Lady Wachter ushered us out the door, promising to relay our railway proposal before the Count the next time she spoke with him.  On their way back to town, Wick told the others what he’d seen upstairs.  Wick theorized that Strahd had turned Lady Wachter’s daughter into a vampire, and that it was her that was locked in the room.  We discussed the possibility of sneaking back in again later to confirm or disprove this theory, but Wick was reluctant to go in alone.  We decided it would be better to steer clear of Lady Wachter for a while, and go visit the dusk elves.

We ended the session there, even though it was still sort of early, because a couple of players had dropped out by that point.  Next week, we’ll see what the dusk elves have to say and maybe start off on a mission to an ancient castle buried under a mountain in the west.

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