AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 23

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.

Nock your arrows and call your animal companions, because this week’s discussion topic is the Ranger.

ygritte

Ygritte, like most of the Wildings in Game of Thrones, is a great example of the Ranger class.  At home in the forests and away from cities and towns, the Ranger’s charge is the protection of the outskirts and frontiers of civilization from beasts, monsters, and other threats of the untamed wilderness.  Equally adept with ranged and melee weapons, Rangers also learn to cast spells using the essence of nature itself.  They are natural explorers, and have certain advantages to movement, tracking, and foraging, particularly when in terrain they know well.  Rangers are also expert hunters, and each will have a certain type of beast or monster that they specialize in bringing down.

maleranger

At third level, the Ranger chooses one of five archetypes:

  • Hunter–uses special techniques to fight against hordes of enemies or a single, large target
  • Beast Master-gains an animal companion
  • Gloom Stalker–use darkness to their advantage, specializing in stealth and ambush
  • Horizon Walker–channel energy from the Outer Planes to guard against extraplanar threats
  • Monster Slayer–dedicated to hunting down vampires, fiends, dragons, and other mystical foes

Ranger Build

Gronk, Half-Orc Ranger (Hunter), Level 3

Gronk

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

Skill/tool proficiencies: Athletics, Survival, Perception, Animal Handling, Nature, Intimidation

Weapons: Dual shortswords, crossbow

Armor: Scale mail, AC = 16

Spells: Cure Wounds, Zephyr Strike, Absorb Elements

Alignment: Chaotic Neutral

Background: Outlander
From a young age, Gronk knew he would never be accepted in the human village.  His mother was the only person who cared for him at all, and when she died, Gronk set out to find an orc clan that he hoped would take him in.  He even went so far as to cut out his own eye, as some Orcish warriors do.  However, the Orcs only called him a half-breed, beat him, and left him for dead.  Now knowing he’d never be accepted among Orcs or humans, Gronk learned to fend for himself in the mountains.  He soon learned how to avoid the ogres, trolls, and giants, and how to defend himself against them when necessary.  Now he rarely leaves his home in the wilderness, only entering the nearest town once a month or so for supplies.  On his most recent visit, he saw a notice posted in the tavern asking for help dealing with some giants that were encroaching on the village’s farmlands.  A group of young adventurers were boasting about how they were going to slay the giants, but Gronk knew they’d be eaten alive without his help.  Against his better judgement, he offered his assistance, and to his surprise the adventurers accepted.

Gronk’s favored enemy is giantkin, so he has an easier time tracking and recalling information about such creatures as giants, trolls, and ogres.  His favored terrain is the mountains, so his party will be able to travel faster through difficult mountainous terrain, and he’ll be able to find more food by foraging.  He’s practiced fighting with a sword in each hand, and as a Half-Orc, his critical strikes do even more damage than normal.  He’s learned to use his magic to restore some hit points, resist and redirect damage from certain elements, and move like the wind itself.  The Hunter archetype allows him to deal extra damage to creatures that are not at full health.  Depending on whether he acquires any new weapons, his first ASI could go towards increasing his STR or DEX scores, or he could take the Dual Wielder feat to be able to attack with more powerful weapons in each hand.

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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

giant_spider

When we left off last week in the ruined castle of Argynvostholt, we had just disturbed some giant spiders in the main ballroom of the castle, and Txan had managed to close a door before being attacked.  We picked up this time with Wick opening another door to the ballroom and looking inside.  He could see at least 5 spiders hanging in their webs, one of which was directly over the door Txan had opened.

ENGR and Wick had the same idea–try to set the webs on fire.  ENGR tossed a vial of alchemist’s fire into the room, igniting the webs.  The spiders immediately started retreating towards the wall away from the doors, which was open to the outside of the building.  Some made it out into the snow, some moved towards the upper floors of the castle, and at least one dropped into the fire and died.

We moved on into the dining room we’d discovered east of the main hall.  The dining hall contained a long table, with chairs carved to resemble dragons, a couple of suits of armor also made to resemble dragons, and a stained-glass door (with more dragons) on the far side.  As we entered, ENGR heard something groaning in pain from behind another door on the north side of the room.  The door opened onto the kitchen–and we saw someone’s legs poking out from behind some crates.  We approached and discovered a young dusk elf, injured but alive.  Cara healed his wounds, and we asked him what happened.  The elf told us he’d been attacked by a pack of needle blights, and had taken refuge in the castle, and that he’d been there for days.  While he was talking, Kissi was poking around in the kitchen, and released a bat from an old iron pot.  The elf, Savid, told us he’d been out searching for a lost child, the Vistani girl who we had recovered previously.  He also told us that the castle was said to be cursed, haunted by the ghost of a silver dragon called Argynvost, who’d led a group of knights against Strahd long ago but had been killed by Strahd in turn.

There was a curtain leading off the north side of the kitchen, that opened into a servant’s quarters in one of the castle towers.  From there we followed a hallway to the other tower, which only contained a dusty old parlor.  There was a locked gate that led outside from the hallway as well.  After exploring the towers on the northside of the castle, we went back toward the ballroom, where the fire had burned out.  The room was blackened, but the webs were gone and there was one charred spider corpse in the middle of the floor.

All that was left to do was check out the upper floors and go through the fancy stained-glass dragon doors in the dining hall.  But we decided to call it a night there.  It was a short game this week, because we had a couple players missing with the holidays and all.

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