AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 27

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.

This week will be the last class discussion, and it’s all about the Wizard, so let’s study our spellbooks and get ready to use some magic!

merlin

I think it goes without saying that Merlin is one of the most famous wizards in pop culture, with Gandalf a close second.  What they have in common is what most people think of when they hear “wizard”–long robes, long beards, pointy hats.  In D&D, Wizards are the ultimate magic-users, and they’ll learn more spells than any other class.  Wizards learn to use magic through years of intense study and memorization.  They aren’t born with power like a Sorcerer, and they aren’t granted power from an outside source like a Cleric or Warlock.  They have to work for it, usually to the detriment of all else.  Wizards tend to be very intelligent, but weak and somewhat frail.  All Wizards carry a spellbook, which is a repository for all of their arcane knowledge. It contains all the spells that they’ve learned over the course of their studies, and losing it would be like a warrior losing their dominant arm.  A Wizard adds spells to their book automatically when they increase in level, and they can also copy spells from scrolls or another wizard’s spellbook into their own (though it’s a somewhat costly endeavor).  In this way, the Wizard’s spellbook can and will contain more spells than their mind can hold.  Each day, the Wizard has to choose a set number of spells from their book to study and memorize for use.

femalewizard

What sets one Wizard apart from another is the area of magic that they focus on.  A Wizard can choose from one of 10 schools of magic, each using magic in a different way.  A Wizard can still learn spells from any school, but it’s easier and less costly to copy a spell from the chosen school into their spellbook.  The options are:

  • Abjuration–focus on magic that protects, blocks, and banishes
  • Conjuration–focus on creating objects and creatures from thin air
  • Divination–focus on scrying and foreknowledge spells
  • Evocation–focus on creating powerful elemental effects
  • Enchantment–focus on charming or entrancing others to bend them to your will
  • Illusion–focus on crafting illusions to trick, frighten, or fool others
  • Necromancy–focus on magics that manipulate forces of life, death, and undeath
  • Transmutation–focus on spells that modify energy and matter, changing one thing into another
  • War Magic–combination of Abjuration and Evocation for use during combat
  • Bladesinging1–Combine magic with special sword-fighting techniques

Wizard Build

Bastian Sparkflame, Rock Gnome Wizard (Transmutation), Level 3

sparkflame

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

Skill/tool proficiencies: Arcana, History, Insight, Investigation; Tinker’s tools

Weapons: Staff

Armor: None, AC = 11

Spells: Cantrips: Fire Bolt, Control Flames, Mending; Level 1: Magic Missile, Feather Fall, Longstrider, Identify, Catapult, Chromatic Orb, Mage Armor, Find Familiar; Level 2: Enlarge/Reduce, Melf’s Acid Arrow

Alignment: Chaotic Good

Background: Sage
Bastian Sparkflame came from a long line of Gnomish Evokers.  So it was a surprise to everyone when he entered the Magic Academy with the intention to study Transmutation magics instead.  Bastian spent many years attempting to turn ordinary rocks into precious gems (or vice versa), or finding a way to submerge a fire in water without extinguishing the flame, or various other alchemical pursuits.  Wherever he went, he was never far from his book, which contained all of his research and spells.  Each page was covered in letters written so small and so closely spaced that it was nearly impossible for anyone to read, even if they could speak Gnomish. After decades of research and experimentation, the headmaster of the Transmutation school of the Magic Academy strongly suggested that it was time for Bastian to test his theories outside of the school.

As a 3rd level Wizard, Bastian’s spellbook contains 10 spells, but he can only prepare 6 of them to cast each day.  He can also cast 6 spells before he’ll need to sleep to recover his ability, though he can study his spellbook for a short time to recover a portion of this ability.  His alchemical research has led to his ability to temporarily transform a small object from one substance to another; he could change a copper coin into a silver coin, for instance, but the effect only lasts an hour.  As a Rock Gnome, he has darkvision and he’s naturally resistant to any magic that attempts to alter his mind.  He’s proficient in the use of tinker’s tools and can use them to create a small clockwork toy, a mechanical fire starter, or a music box.  As Bastian levels up, he’ll want to focus on increasing his INT score as much as possible, which will allow him to prepare more spells each day, as well as increase the power of spells he uses.

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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/Rogue; 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

Last week, we’d left off at the top of the highest tower in Argynvostholt, having avoided a fight with Captain Horngaard and with a new goal of recovering the head of the silver dragon Argynvost from Strahd’s castle.  We’d explored most of the ruin, but decided to check out the graveyard before leaving.  We climbed down from the tower and made our way back to the chapel on the first floor.  From there, we unbarred the door leading out to the graveyard.  The ground was shrouded in fog outside, but in one corner stood a mausoleum, probably the dragon’s crypt.  As we walked through the graveyard, Txan noticed that the ground was uneven, but the fog blocked our view of the ground.  We figured out what the problem was when Peter suddenly fell into an open grave.  He was alright, and we made it over to the mausoleum without further incident.

web landscapes

The crypt door was a large, heavy marble slab.  Txan managed to pry it open with a crowbar. Inside were four empty alcoves, and a carved inscription written in Draconic.  Txan, who could speak Draconic apparently, read: “Here lie the bones and treasures of Argynvost, lord of Argynvostholt and founder of the Order of the Silver Dragon.” However, no bones or treasures were to be found. As we had learned from Horngaard, the dragon was never buried here.  Since there was nothing to find, we decided to head back, picking up the wounded elf Savid, who we’d left in the kitchen, on the way out. With no major threats on the horizon, Cara used a Remove Curse spell on Kissi, undoing the loss of max HP that Kissi had suffered after a night of horrible nightmares and no sleep. We asked Savid if he happened to recognize the dress we had found in the woods on our way to Argynvostholt, but he didn’t–he told us that Strahd had killed all of the women in his village some time ago.

We brought Savid back down to the main road, and then had to decide whether to go north back to Vallaki with Savid, or continue south to the drowned village that Madam Eva, the Vistani seer, had told us about.  Wick had grown up hearing legends about the marshlands–they were said to be cursed, especially the ruins buried inside.  But, since Eva’s prophecy had told us to seek out the drowned village, we headed south into the cursed swamp.

standingstones

We traveled through a thick fog, following the course of a river.  On the far side, the fog seemed thinner, and we eventually noticed a circle of standing stones and a flashing light from across the water.  The river was about 250 feet across, and moving fairly slowly, but we couldn’t easily tell how deep it might be.  Txan cut a large branch, and ENGR waded across using the branch to feel her way.  The Warforged made it across, so the Halflings were picked up by the other big folk to make the crossing.  The stones we had seen from the far side turned out to be circle of about a dozen standing stones, about 15 feet high.  An old peasant woman appeared from behind one of the stones, with a rusty lantern in one hand and a dagger in the other, and a raven perched on top of another stone.

The woman told us to come out of the water, and for Peter, Kissi, and Txan to take off their boots, so she could remove the leeches they’d picked up in the water.  As the woman helped us remove the leeches, the raven squawked.  The woman seemed to understand and said that the raven, Danika, said we had taken something of hers. Peter produced the bag of clothes we had found and handed it over, and the raven flew off with the bag in its beak.  The old woman told us she had called us over to warn us that were about to enter Baba Lysaga’s territory.  Baba Lysaga was a powerful witch, who had stolen something from the old woman, who’s name was Muriel.  Muriel pointed out an old hut on top of a broken tree stump among some half-sunken huts, along with a handful of scarecrows she called Lysaga’s spies.  The witch had stolen a magical gem, which appeared to allow her to move her hut around (perhaps among other things). Muriel asked us to recover this gem, but warned us the Lysaga was very powerful and we’d need a good plan.

Muriel told us that the witch did leave her hut often at night, so it seemed like our best bet was to wait until nightfall and sneak into the hut while she was away.  We decided to make camp in the circle of stones and wait ’til nightfall to see if the witch departed.  If she did leave, we’d sneak into her hut and search for the gem, and then possibly lie in wait to ambush her when she returned.

We decided to call the session there, so we’ll have to see how our plan works out next week.

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