AvocaD&D and Tabletop RPG Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 36

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.

One of the most powerful and iconic monsters that a group of adventurers in D&D is likely to encounter is, of course, the Dragon.  (I mean, it’s right there in the name of the game!)  Dragons in D&D can be evil or good, and generally you can tell which is which by their color.  Evil dragons come in 5 varieties: red, blue, black, white, and green.  Each of these has a unique breath weapon that they can use to bring destruction and terror down on helpless would-be heroes.  Red dragons breathe fire, while greens exhale a cloud of poisonous gas.  Blue dragons release bolts of lightning, and blacks spit corrosive acid.  A white dragon’s breath is cold enough to freeze people solid.

dragons

Good dragons, on the other hand, have scales that shine like precious metals.  To match the evil side, there are 5 types of good dragons as well:  gold, silver, brass, bronze, and copper.  Each good dragon has 2 breath attacks, one that can deal massive elemental damage and one that confers a status effect instead. For instance, a gold dragon can breathe fire on par with a red, but can also exhale a gas that saps creatures’ strength.  Copper dragons breathe acid, or a gas that makes you move and act slower than normal.  Bronze dragons shoot lightning, or a beam of energy that simply pushes creatures and objects away.  Brass dragons can breathe either fire or a sleeping gas, and silvers can deliver an icy cold blast or just a paralyzing gas.

How often do you deploy dragons in a campaign, either as a side quest or the climactic boss fight?  Do players tend to have certain expectations of dragons, and do you like to find ways to subvert those expectations, or play into them?  Have you had any particularly memorable encounters with dragons, from either side of the DM’s screen?


Our AvocaD&D group is playing through 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)
  • 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 (The Wasp)
  • 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

We picked up this week exploring the Amber Temple with the dusk elf, Kassimir.  We’d just run into a wizard’s apprentice hiding in a lecture hall in the temple, afraid to leave because a jackal-headed stone golem that was blocking his path.  The apprentice told us his master had been killed by flameskulls in the west hall of the temple, and asked us to recover his spellbook from the body.  We decided to head to the west side of the Temple and deal with those flameskulls first, and Txan recalled hearing that flameskulls can sometimes come back to life after you think they’re destroyed.  We gathered outside the door, and Cara cast Bless on Txan, Wick, ENGR, and Kissi.  Txan also cast Magic Weapon on ENGR and Wick. We pulled open the door to find 3 flameskullsflameskull in the hallway, along with a burned corpse under a fur robe near the door.  ENGR used a Burning Hands scroll, only to find out that flameskulls are immune to fire.  Peter then rushed in and hit two skulls with his axe.  One of them shot Fire Rays at Peter from its eyes, but luckily the skull was still reeling from Peter’s axe blow and the Fire Rays went wide.  Wick then fired 3 arrows into one of the skulls, and the magic from Txan’s spell and Cara’s blessing gave the shots just enough damage to drop the skull to the ground.  Kissi’s Sun Blade cut through a second, destroying it easily. Cara called down Sacred Flame1 on the last one, but it managed to dodge out of the way.  The skull countered by launching a fireball, scorching all of us but Txan (Wick and Kissi both managed to dodge most of the damage).  Txan hit the remaining skull with some Magic Missiles, ENGR launched a Guiding Bolt, and Peter finished it off with a crit, cleaving the skull in two.  Once all the skulls were down, Wick remembered from his previous research into undead creatures that the skulls could be permanently destroyed by sprinkling the remains with holy water.  Luckily, Txan had a vial and we used some to set the skulls to rest.  We searched the dead corpse looking for the wizard’s spellbook, but unfortunately the book seemed to have been incinerated.  However, we did find a dark, evil-looking staff on the body.

There were several doors heading off this hallway, and we decided to investigate those first before returning to the apprentice.  The first led into a room lined with shelves of dusty bottles. Nothing seemed to be useful, but Cara grabbed a handful of empty bottles to fill with holy water later on. Next was a hall with stairs leading down, but we decided to continue exploring the upper floor before going down.  The next room held an old chest and a stone model of a castle that we recognized as Castle Ravenloft, the home of Count Strahd.

ravenloft

Wick recalled that one of the prophecies given to us from Madam Eva, the Vistani seer, had mentioned a holy symbol of great power, which would be found in “Castle Ravenloft… but NOT the castle,” buried in amber beneath a mountain.  ENGR spent some time studying and mapping the outside of the model, looking for any hidden entrances that we could use later.  She wanted to spend days, taking the model apart bit by bit to map out the entire floor plan, but we didn’t really feel like we had the time to do that.  Txan used his stone-shaping magic to cut a hole into the center of the model, and by a stroke of luck almost immediately found a holy symbol.  Unfortunately none of us recognized the specific deity it belonged to, but we thought that Kassimir might have some idea.

tome-of-understandingWhile Txan and ENGR were working on the model, Cara and Wick opened the chest.  Though the chest appeared empty, Wick noticed a false bottom and found an arcane tome hidden there.  It turned out to be a Tome of Understanding, which would improve the Wisdom score of whoever read it (as long as they spent 48 hours to read the book spread out over no more than 6 days). We decided that Cara should be the one to read the book, since, as a cleric, she’d benefit the most from the increase in Wisdom.

Having essentially found what we’d come for in the Amber Temple, we debated whether or not to finish exploring the rest of the building.  But it was getting pretty late by this point, so we decided to call it a night there and pick up again next week, when we’ll decide where to go next.

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