Friday, 14 August 2015

[Actual Play] AD&D 2nd - Ravenloft, House of Strahd Session 1

Campaign Notes and Character Creation

Mike here, I am excited to present to you my group’s adventure through I6 Ravenloft which will surely be a dramatic tale of courage, horror, and the demihuman dignity that unites us all. Just to give everyone a little background, I was running Exalted 2nd Edition for this group before I got so frustrated with the rules that I suggested we try a less convoluted game system, like AD&D 2nd Edition.

Reading through the core AD&D rules after a 15 year hiatus has been a great experience. The core rules are actually very simple and balanced - the game merely suffers from having a unique resolution mechanic for every individual ability or check. To help simplify gameplay, we agreed as a group to only use the Critical Hits and Material Components optional rules. Encumbrance is subject to DM fiat.

The following books are being used for the game:
  • AD&D Players Handbook (1989), with Material Components optional rule.
  • AD&D Dungeon Master Guide (1989), with Critical Hit optional rule give an extra damage die on a roll of 20.
  • AD&D Monstrous Compendium (1990)
  • I6 Ravenloft (1983)
  • RM4 House of Strahd (1993), for additional reference material and AD&D 2nd Edition translation.
  • Domains of Dread (1997), for modified Priest and Wizard spells, Fear, Terror, and Madness Check, and Dark Power Checks.
For character creation, we opted to play this game hardcore. Character generation was done with Ability Score roll Method I, 3d6 in order. Players were allowed to kill off a character that they didn’t like, but no more than twice. If they didn’t like the third character they rolled up… tough luck. Characters were then given 40,000 experience, making all characters level 6.

Additionally, characters rolled 3d6 and consulted the following table to see why they were petitioning Count Strahd:
3. You are a Kargat agent sent by King Azalin of Darkon to steal the Sunsword hilt from Strahd's castle. To prevent you from blowing your cover, Azalin has given you false memories of your identity and purpose for coming to Barovia. Re-roll on the table for your false memories, ignoring results of 3 and 18. You will remember your true purpose at an opportune time.
4. Suspect Count Strahd murdered spouse and want compensation.
5. Taxed double because someone has the same name as me.
6. Begging for alms.
7. Want garlic tariffs lifted.
8. Cattle reimbursement issue.
9. Local bandits attacking merchant caravans.
10. Dispute with barber over surgery.
11. Family inheritance dispute.
12. Vistani stole your fish.
13. Suspect your neighbor is a werewolf.
14. A witch turned you into a newt.
15. Your neighbor definitely is a werewolf.
16. Need scheming subterranean ratmen exterminated.
17. Want Morninglord faith officially recognized.
18. You are a vengeful spirit inhabiting the body of a Barovian subject. You seek to murder the devil Strahd. Re-roll on the table for your peasant body’s identity, ignoring results of 3 and 18.

The party was also given six random magical item rolls. As it turned out, these were necessary to even survive the first encounter. The starting items included:
  • Scroll of Detect Invisbility (wizard)
  • Scroll of Invisibility (wizard)
  • Scroll of Aid (priest)
  • Knife +2
  • Mace +1
  • Ring of Mammal Control
  • Flail +2
  • Plate Mail +2
The game is set in my modified version of Demiplane’s Core Domains, shown below. This world map will have little affect on gameplay in the I6 module, but will be critically important if we decide to keep playing after I6 is complete.

I6 Ravenloft Session 1

Count Strahd von Zarovich is having a dinner party, and the player characters are invited. Once every ten years the enigmatic Lord of Barovia invites his countrymen to Castle Ravenloft for legal petitions and de jure issues that have not been resolved by the local boyars and burgomeisters. On the Old Svalich Road, four concerned Barovian citizens approach the castle…

Quidiana Wolfswift - Level 6 Half-Elf Cleric Devotee of the Morninglord
Str 6, Dex 12, Con 11, Int 11, Wis 16, Chr 13
HP 44, AC 9 (Buckler), Mace +1
Quidiana wishes to petition Count Strahd in a dispute over barbery malpractice. Additionally, she claims to have not stolen Graven’s cows.
Quidiana is attended by the hirelings Jester (archer) and Harold (foot soldier).

Grayven - Level 6 Half-Elf Wizard
Str 15, Dex 12, Con 8, Int 14, Wis 13, Chr 10
HP 13, AC 10, Knife +2, Darts
Grayven wishes to petition Count Strahd to be compensated for Quidiana stealing his cows.

Kolbo - Level 6 Dwarf Fighter
Str 14, Dex 8, Con 13, Int 9, Wis 5, Chr 5
HP 27, AC -2 (Plate +2, Shield), Flail +2, Short Bow
A witch turned Kolbo into a newt. He got better, but he’s petitioning Strahd to have witches outlawed.
Kolbo is attended by the hirelings Boris and Galfonz (foot soldiers).

Lady Ioana Gundar - Level 6 Human Fighter (Non-player stand in)
Str 15, Dex 11, Con 9, Int 9, Wis 13, Chr 12
HP 37, AC 4 (Brigandine +2), Longsword +1, Short Bow

The party approaches a two horse carriage on the road. The coachman atop the carriage informs the party that they are late and he will take them to the Castle where the Count awaits with food and lodging. Kolbo excitedly hops in the carriage and tells his hirelings to hang onto the back because there’s no room for them inside.

The carriage spurs off at an insane pace, eager to make it back to the Castle before the approaching evening storm. The party arrives at dusk without incident, the sun has set behind the Balinoks, and by the time they exit the carriage the coachman is already gone. Neither hireling saw him leave. The petitioners gather up and knock on the front door, which gentle opens with the force of the knocker. They step in, admiring the gargoyles in the foyar and proceed into the main entrance, following the soft, sad sounds of an organ playing. The group peers through the dining room door to find it filled with flavor, light, and the organ’s sound. Fully entering, they find their host tickling the ivory.

Strahd bids the petitioners enter, sit, and eat. He asks each what the issues is, concurring that Barovia does indeed have a witch problem and laughing pitifully at Grayven and Quidiana’s plights. Strahd tells them to enjoy their meal and suggests they don’t peek under the table. With that, he stops playing and slumps over the keys. Kolbo gets up to investigate with his 10 ft pole.

The door crashes shut with a gust of wind that blows out the torches and chandeliers. Outside the adventurers can hear the portcullis slam down and the rattle of the drawbridge chains as the only known entrance is cut off. The party hears crunching and rustling in the dark room but their infravision reveals nothing. As they struggle to light their torches, the stone gargoyles descend.

Boris is the first to fall, struck by the lashing stone armored tail of a gargoyle. Jester falls next in the initial flurry, never seeing the enemy descending behind her. Harold is stuck by a mightly headbutt, but manages to stay standing, for a time. The ensuing melee is a stalemate until Grayvan turns the tide with a powerful strength enchantment on Kolbo. The first gargoyle crumbles and another soon follows. The final gargoyle withdraws, fumbling with the door and narrowly escaping.

The party thoroughly scathed by their first encounter, Kolbo smashes the cloaked wooden mannequin he finds where Strahd had been playing the organ, damaging said organ in the process. Checking under the table, Grayvan finds the mutilated bodies of other petitioners, including the burgomeister of the Village of Barovia only a few miles away.

Searching for loot, the party finds 150 gp tucked away in the rafters, a collection of purses and bags probably taken from the fellow petitioners. Quidiana also suggests eating some food, but Kolbo thoroughly rejects the idea, smashing the dining room table in the process.

So here the party stands, trapped and alone. A storm approaches, as does the unknown…

Session Loot: 150 gp
Session Exp: 1300

1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic way to open the adventure. I'm really looking forward to future posts. Absolutely amazing.