AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 22

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.

Shine up your armor and swear your oaths, because this week is all about the Paladin.

valkyrie

The Platonic ideal of the Paladin is the holy knight, with shining armor, a pure white steed, sword and shield at the ready to smite evil-doers.  The Paladin functions best as a front-line melee fighter, able to deal massive amounts of damage by infusing their strikes with divine energy.  They also have access to divine magic, similar in nature to the Cleric’s, though more limited in scope.  Like the Cleric, they must spend time in prayer and meditation to prepare a number of spells each day.  Unlike the Cleric, the Paladin’s power isn’t granted to them by a deity, but rather it comes from their own conviction and belief in their own righteousness.  The Paladin can also be a backup healer, as their touch can restore their allies, healing wounds and neutralizing poisons.  At higher levels, the Paladin is able to bolster their comrades through their sheer presence, giving off an aura that makes those nearby stronger and braver.

paladin

Once a Paladin reaches the 3rd level, they swear a sacred oath that binds them to their cause.  The oath comes with a set of tenets for the Paladin’s behavior that must be adhered to, and grants some extra spells and the ability to channel divine energy for various effects, among other bonuses.  The oaths a Paladin can choose from are as follows:

  • Oath of Devotion–bound to the ideals of justice, virtue, and order; the quintessential white knight
  • Oath of the Ancients–bound to preserve the beauty and light of the natural world
  • Oath of Vengeance–committed to punishing the guilty above all else
  • Oath of Conquest–sworn to impose order on chaos through overwhelming force
  • Oath of Redemption–sworn to turn evil-doers back to the light, using violence only when necessary
  • Oath of the Crown–sworn to defend the bastions of law and civilization

Paladin Build

Olyvar Swinebrass, Human (Variant) Paladin (Oath of Devotion), Level 3

paladin

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

Skill/tool proficiencies: Athletics, Intimidation, Persuasion, Religion, Animal Handling

Weapons: Flail, longsword

Armor: Chain mail and shield, AC = 18

Spells1: Protection from Evil and Good, Sanctuary

Alignment: Lawful Good

Background: Soldier
Olyvar Swinebrass was born into a large family who owned a pig farm, a vassal to a pious noble family.  When Olyvar was old enough, he joined the lord’s army for 3 meals a day and some coin to send home to his parents.  All was fine until the land was invaded by an army of undead creatures, controlled by a powerful necromancer.  Olyvar found himself riding out to meet this army in the company of the noble lady herself, one of a handful of assigned body guards.  It turned out that the lady needed no such protection.  She fought with a righteous fury, and Olyvar watched as her mere presence inspired and strengthened those around her.  The lady struck down the necromancer with one blow, as her flail glowed with divine light.  After the battle, Olyvar knelt before the lady and swore an oath to her and her god, to take up the Paladin’s mantle himself.  For some time after, Olyvar trained and prayed with the lady.  When it became clear that Olyvar’s feelings for the lady were beginning to turn from admiration to something more romantic, the lady decided it was time to sent him away from the castle to prove his worth to her god by giving aid to those in need.

As a Level 3 Paladin, Olyvar can sense the presence of powerful evil or good creatures.  Olyvar’s main focus is combat, and he belongs on the front lines.  By choosing the Protection fighting style, he can use his shield to defend his nearby allies, imposing disadvantage on an attack roll against them.  Using the Variant Human race means that Olyvar can choose a Feat at Level 12–he’d choose “Alert” to get a +5 bonus to initiative rolls and to prevent him from ever being surprised by an enemy.  Olyvar has 3 spell slots that he can use to cast the spells he prepares each day. Alternatively, he can use a spell slot when he makes a melee attack to increase the damage, especially if he’s attacking an undead or fiendish creature.  He can restore up to 15 hit points to wounded ally with his Lay on Hands ability, and Olyvar himself is immune to disease.  In addition to granting him the spells listed above, Olyvar’s Oath of Devotion allows him to channel the divine energy of his god to cause undead and fiends to flee from him in fear, or to infuse his weapon with divine light, granting him a bonus to his attack rolls.  Olyvar’s first ASI would probably go towards increasing his STR score, followed by CHA.

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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

duskelfcamp

We picked up this week having just finished dining with Lady Wachter of Vallaki, who we found out was a strident Strahd supporter.  She also had someone locked in an upstairs room, but Wick was too afraid to try to open the door, so we don’t know what the story is there.  Before leaving town to visit our friends the dusk elves, we spent a bit time gathering supplies.  ENGR-23 needed to find a pearl in order to cast the Identify spell and figure out what all of the potions and other loot we found did.  Unfortunately, the only pearl to be had in town belonged to the wife of the recently-supplanted burgomaster, and was rumored to have been found in the lake north of the town.

We discussed our options for a while.  We could attempt to acquire the burgomaster’s wife’s ring through any one of various means, some less above-board than others.  We could try to find our own pearl by harvesting oysters at the lake, which may or may not be infested with merfolk.  We could try to find someone in town or in the nearby camp who could help us identify our stuff.  The last option seemed like the safest bet, though after considering the people we knew in town, we decided to visit the dusk elves first after all.

We entered the dusk elves village outside of town an hour or so later, and knocked on the door of their leader, Kasimir.  We talked to Kasimir about the fortune-telling we’d received from the Vistani seer, to see if he could help us shed any light on those prophesies.  He told us the ‘drowned village’ was probably Berez, a ruin near the village where Wick grew up.  The ‘holy symbol of great hope’ may be a reference to the symbol of Ravenkind, supposedly once wielded by a paladin against a nest of vampires, but its whereabouts were unknown.  We also remembered meeting a friendly undead knight as we left Barovia the first time, who told us to visit Argynvostholt.  Kasimir pointed that ruin out on our map, and it was actually somewhat nearby.  We decided that Argynvostholt made a good next destination.

We also asked Kasimir for help identifying our potions.  He did happen to have a pearl, and was able to cast the spell himself, though only for one item.  Txan tried to persuade him into allowing us to borrow the pearl for a short time, so that ENGR-23 could use it to identify all of our stuff, but Kasimir was not keen on parting with the gem–until ENGR-23 offered up the spellbook we’d picked up way back in the Death House when we first arrived in Barovia.  Kasimir was willing to trade the pearl for the book, at least temporarily.

agynvostholt

Having acquired the pearl, we set out for Argynvostholt.  As we entered the forest, the bushes that lined the path were covered in blackberries.  We all started eating them, and Wick found a bundle of clothes hidden in the bushes, a dark-colored peasant’s dress and shoes.  There were no signs of anyone around who they might belong to.  Wick decided to leave the bundle behind, since it had nothing of interest for him.  But Peter picked it up, thinking we could at least sell it later, and we continued on up the mountain.  It began to snow as we climbed.  At last we reached the top and found the ruin of Argynvostholt.  A large statue of a dragon stood in the center of the courtyard leading up to the main door, and there was a small path leading to the south.  Txan inspected the statue up close, and noticed a flagstone near the base that moved a bit when he touched it.  Wick used his thieves’ tools to try to disarm the trap, though it appeared to be so old and rusty that the trap wouldn’t have worked anyway. We couldn’t tell what it was meant to do, but definitely had something to do with the statue.  Kissi supposed the statue would have breathed fire on us, and Wick tended to agree.

Wick, Txan, and Peter followed the path to the south, which wound around to a smaller, collapsed building, that appeared to have once been a stable.  From this side, we could see the main building was also in pretty bad shape, and we even had a view into all 3 floors.  The bottom floor looked like a ballroom, the others like bedchambers, but nothing seemed to be moving inside. Meanwhile, Cara tried the main door, which opened up to the main hall.  The entry hall had a large stairway leading up to a second-floor balcony and hanging tapestry showing a silver-armored nobleman.

As we entered a winged shadow seemed to move across a wall, and we heard something briefly hissing.  Kissi lit up her Sun Blade, and ENGR-23 threw up a driftglobe to shed some light in the room.  There as no sign of whatever made the noise.  Peter moved over to the wall to inspect some marble busts that were displayed there, but didn’t recognize any of them. There were 6 doors and 6 of us, so we each when to check a different one.  Kissi’s door opened into a dining hall, with chairs carved in the shape of dragons, and a softly glowing chandelier hanging from the ceiling.  Two knight statues with dragon-winged helmets stood in alcoves along the wall.  Across the room, she could see a pair of stained-glass doors, depicting dragons in flight, leading to what looked like a chapel.

Next up, Wick opened one of the other doors off the main hall into what looked like a den, with a large fireplace on one side and a sarcophagus standing against another wall. The sarcophagus was made of dark wood and carved with the likeness of a queen. Peter was very excited about the sarcophagus, and Wick carefully checked the room for traps, and found a secret door in the east wall.  The secret door opened into a wine storage area, but judging from the smell, the wine had long spoiled.  This room also opened back up to the main hall.  Peter opened the sarcophagus, but it appeared to have been converted into a wine cabinet.  There was no wine, just some broken glasses.  Peter managed to find a couple unbroken decanters, decorated with dragons.

Next, Txan tried one of the south doors off the main hall.  Though it wasn’t locked, the door was harder to move than the others had been.  The door opened onto the ballroom we saw from outside, but from this side we could see large spider webs that were covering one end of the hall–at least one of which was also achored to the door Txan had opened.  We could something moving along the ceiling, and Txan closed the door quickly, but could hear something scrape against the other side.

And that’s where we called the session.  Tune in next time to see if we can successfully avoid getting eaten by giant spiders!

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There’s a good chance next time will be 2 weeks away, since some of the group are doing some holiday traveling.  I’ll still put up a discussion thread, even if we don’t play.