AvocaD&D and Tabletop Gaming Thread: Curse of Strahd Campaign Journal, Week 42

Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread!  Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games 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.


I realized that I missed promoting International Tabletop Day this year (it was June 1).  So, let’s take the focus off D&D for a bit and talk about other tabletop games you’ve been playing.  Tabletop games come in all shapes and sizes. RPGs are tons of fun, but sometimes you just want to gather your friends around a table to play a classic board game like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit.  Or maybe you enjoy a good strategy game like Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne.  You can solve a murder mystery in Clue, re-create World War II battles in Axis & Allies, or drive in a thousand-mile race in Mille Bornes.  Some games are meant for two people to play head-to-head, like Chess or Battleship,  while others, like Balderdash, are designed larger groups.

What are your favorite non-RPG tabletop games?  Do you have a regular or semi-regular game night with your friends or family?  Do you have any new or lesser-known games that you want to recommend?  What childhood favorites do you still enjoy?

Of course, feel free to talk about your favorite RPGs too!  And discussions about any and all tabletop games are welcome every week!

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)
Curse of Strahd

We picked up this week having just been brought up an elevator shaft to a lounge room, where we met a vampiric-looking young gentleman.  escherHe told us his job was to keep Strahd entertained, and his name was Escher. ENGR asked him where prisoners might be kept, specifically werewolves–he responded by saying to check the catacombs.  He didn’t seem inclined to fight and told us no one ever came to see him.  So we left him alone and continued along into a guest room. Inside was a black canopy bed and a small closet. In the closet, we found a dusty back cloak, which Wick snagged. Escher requested that we send up some cheese and canapes from the kitchens if we went that way.

We made our way down a spiral staircase, going through a door halfway down.  The door led to a hallway heading towards a gleaming metal door, flanked by two darkened alcoves with shadowy figures inside.  Peter’s Hell Hounds sniffed and growled toward the alcoves and Cara tried a Detect Evil spell. She got no results from the immediate vicinity, but did pick up an elemental presence beyond the glowing door.  That piqued our interested and we decided to check it out.  Peter approached the door, and the two figures in the alcove dissolved into piles of rats that attacked!  Peter was able to shake them off easily, with the help from his Hounds.  The rest of squashed any rats that came our way.  The metal door was engraved with an image of a king with shooting stars around him.

The door opened into a dining hall with a large rotting feat laid out on the table, including a moldy wedding cake.  There was a big web-shrouded chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and a dust-covered standing harp in one corner of the room.  On top of the cake was just a single carved figure of a well-dressed woman.  Cara could still detect the elemental from inside the cake.  Peter grabbed the doll off the top of it.  Nothing happened, so Wick poked his silver rapier into it.  The there was a hissing scream and the cake exploded revealing some kind of invisible creature underneath.  stalker.pngKissi reacted fast, slashing at the elemental with her Sun Blade.  The exploding cake must have startled Peter into bringing out his alter-ego, Kragen Tempest. He stabbed with his Blood Spear, but slipped on the cake splatter and nearly fell over.  The monster, with some bits of cake and fondant stuck to it to show where it was, jumped toward Wick and hit him with a couple of invisible strikes.  Wick retreated and peppered the beast with arrows, using the bits of cake as a guide.  Cara attempted a Guiding Bolt to follow, but the elemental managed to avoid the spell.  ENGR tried to use a scroll of Inflict Wounds, but wasn’t able to get the spell off.  Txan swung his hammer and connected, and Kissi slashed it again.  Kragen stabbed the beast 3 times in a frenzy, and one of the Hell Hounds let loose its fire breath, melting the cake and whatever monster was inside of it.  ENGR thought the creature might have been an Invisible Stalker.

Cara let us know that one of the two doors leading out of this room had an undead presence behind it, so Peter opened the other one.  We went into a library with a blazing fireplace, with a large paining of Ireena1 hanging over the mantle.  Peter started pulling books of the shelf immediately, finding books on Ancient Egypt, heraldry, etc. Wick inspected the fireplace, and found that by pulling on a silver poker by the hearth, a secret door in the back of the fireplace opened!  But there was still a large fire in the way.  ENGR used another Emergency Scroll to cast Create Water to douse the flames, filling the library with steam.  Inside the secret room was a treasure chest and piles of coins.  We saw a skeleton on the floor, one hand around its throat, and holding a torch in the other.  The torch was apparently taken from a sconce in the wall, and there was a second sconce with another torch still inside.  Wick warned everyone not to light the torches, thinking that they would release some deadly gas into the room.  But the trap was actually in the chest–Peter opened the chest and released cloud of gas that paralyzed him.  The chest was otherwise, but Wick grabbed a couple handfuls of coins from the ground at least. Cara was able to cure Peter’s paralysis with Lesser Restoration.

ENGR decided to put the torch that the corpse was holding back on the wall, which caused another secret door to open.  This led to a hallway choked with spider webs, though a clear path in the middle led toward a pair of arched bronze doors.  Peter started clearing some of the webs, and surprisingly wasn’t attacked by spiders.  Wick went down the hall to inspect the bronze doors.  The bronze doors opened into the belfry, covered in webs.  A long rope dangled from the center of the room, and we could see that it was attached to large bell at the top.  We didn’t want to ring the bell and alert anyone in the castle to our presence, and while ENGR could climb up the walls using her Dark Gift from the Amber Temple, we figured all that was likely to be up there was some giant spiders.  With nowhere else to go, we started backtracking a bit.

ENGR went back to the dining hall to inspect the harp more closely.  Txan strummed a few notes on the harp and a ghost in a jester’s cap appeared!  pidlwickIt spoke only in rhyme, and told us its name was Piddlewick.  He let us know that there was some kind of treasure down in the crypt where his remains were buried.  Piddlewick was happy to answer our questions, and we didn’t learn much from him that we didn’t already know–mostly just that we should be heading down towards the catacombs.  Piddlewick disappeared as we went back to the spiral stair and made our way further down.

We peaked into another door on the next landing, to find a room that was filled with dusty scrolls and tomes, and four chests with heavy locks on them.  A figure stood at a desk writing on an endless scroll.  ENGR talked to him, and he told us his name was Leif Lipseige, Lief Lipsiegeand he was in charge of Strahd’s accounting.  We noticed that he was actually chained to the table, but he didn’t seem at all troubled by this.  We offered to free him, but he wasn’t interested–he even said if Strahd were to die, he’d just be here keeping the accounts for whoever took over the castle next.  We asked about the dragon skull, and he said we might find it in the Hall of Bones, all the way down the stairs and near the kitchens.  He directed us back toward where we entered the castle and met the mongrel-man, Cyrus Bellview.2  Leif also mentioned that his gruel was late, and since we were heading towards the kitchens, he asked if we could send his dinner along.

We left Leif to his accounting and continued down the stairs back to the wine cellar.  We let Cyrus out of the wine cellar.  He didn’t seem to mind having been attacked earlier.  We asked about the Hall of Bones, and he said it was just down the hall to the west. We headed that way after passing along the food orders from Escher and Leif.  The Hall of Bones was a room filled with bones, all of the furniture, chandelier, even the walls and doors are covered in bone.  Four large piles of bones were in the corners, and a large dragon skull was hanging directly above the door we came in.  ENGR called the Shield Guardian, who we had left guarding our cart, while we worked on getting the dragon skull down from the wall.

The Shield Guardian arrived without incident shortly, and with it carrying the skull, we made our way back towards our cart.  On our way out the portcullis by the draw bridge, the green slime that we’d noticed before dropped down onto the Guardian, and started to corrode it.  Wick remembered that green slime was vulnerable to sunlight, so Kissi used the Sun Blade to burn the slime away.   We returned the the cart and decided to rest for the night there before heading back into the castle to find the werewolf.

Next morning, we went back in and found Cyrus in the kitchen, cooking some foul-smelling soup in a large pot.  cyrusHe offered us a taste, and Peter politely accepted.  A zombie popped out of the pot and tried to grab him, but Cyrus hit it with his spoon and it sunk back down into the pot.  We asked him where the catacombs might be, and he directed us to go through the Hall of Bones and head north.  He warned us that Rahadin (the Chamberlin) might be in a bad mood.  We also asked for directions to the dungeons, and he said they were near the catacombs as well.  He said they were sure to be filled with prisoners, but whether living, dead, or undead he couldn’t tell.

We decided to call it a night before delving into the catacombs.