Thursday, 17 September 2015

[Actual Play] AD&D 2nd - Ravenloft, House of Strahd Session 4

Ravenloft Session 4

The adventurers - Grayven, Quidiana, Thenn, and Kolbo - stand shocked as they see Marvin beaten to a pulp only 70 feet away. They hear some shuffling to the left and a few zombies come into view, shambling towards the melee they just heard. Quidiana and Kolbo shut the doors, and Kolbo’s slams shut a little too loudly. Bracing the door as Strahd’s zombies bash against it, Grayven ties the double door handles together with straps of his fishing net. The doors hold and the party flees back in the chapel.

Reviewing their means of escape, the party decides to climb the spiral stairs connected to the southern part of the chapel. The party ascends the dizzying spiral, climbing tens and then hundreds of feet. Finally, they turn a radius and see the top of the stairs bathed in dull light. Ascending, the party finds a belfry with a knockerless bell in the dark rafters. The high tower gives them a great vantage point to view the castle grounds. As the party figures out where to travel next, Quidiana moves to guard the staircase… and finds that a shear stone wall has appeared, blocking the stairs. Kolbo tries to disbelieve the wall and walk through it. He smacks his head on the cold stone. Realizing something is wrong with this room itself, Quidiana informs the party that they are in a place of great evil, the antithesis of her patron, the Morninglord. Kolbo responds, “So what, it’s a night peasant?”

Searching the room for traps, Quidiana feels a powerful shove as she’s near the rampart. She grabs the stone parapet before falling out. The party, fearful, gathers in a circle, backs to each other and weapons ready. Quidiana tries to turn any unseen undead. As she lowers her holy symbol, that’s when Strahd descends on them.

The elder vampire drops in the middle of the party’s circle from the rafters. He grasps at Kolbo with his left hand, but his energy draining attack is deflected by the dwarf’s sturdy helm. Kolbo counters with his own blow and the flail strikes Strahd in the shoulder - the first pain he’s felt in a century. Grayven casts the light spell on Strahd’s face, effectively blinding the vampire. Quidiana casts Protection Against Evil on Kolbo. Thenn moves to attack with his longsword, but misses.

Strahd withdraws to the parapet, stepping dangerously close to direct sunlight and begins to cast a spell. Thenn and Kolbo follow him. Kolbo’s flail swing should have crippled the vampire’s spellcasting, but some evil in this room made the attack harmless. Thenn tries to push the vampire over the edge, but fails. The vampire’s spell conjures and an arc of lightning emerges from his fingertips. Kolbo dodges out of the way, but his armor is still brilliantly electrified with static charge, searing even his hardened dwarf body. Quidiana and Grayven are less lucky - their corpses collapse, cooked by the overwhelming current. Blind but content with himself, Strahd transmutes into a green mist and glides back down the stairs, past the stone wall. 

Kolbo and Thenn are stranded. They loot their comrade’s corpses for anything useful. They search the stone wall and the floors for any trap doors, but find nothing. Surveying outside the tower, the closest place they could climb to is another tower 60 feet below. They only have 40 feet of rope.

The thief and fighter climb down the rope and find nooks in the stone wall to descend without incident. They find themselves on top of another tower with a large spiral staircase. They go down and stop suddenly when Thenn hears the dull beating of a heart. He moves forward silently until the stairway opens up. He finds to his left a large, black beating heart, 10 feet in diameter, with arteries connecting to the ceiling. To his right is a bridge leading to another tower. After considerable debate, Kolbo and Thenn decide to leave the heart alone and keep descending these spiral stairs. Kolbo really wants to escape Castle Ravenloft.

As the two go down the stairs, a series of halberds slash out from the walls, wounding Thenn and bounding harmlessly off Kolbo. Eventually Thenn and Kolbo come to a landing with a few doors and a threshold out to the battlements. Thenn and Kolbo head west on the battlements towards a guard tower, hoping to find some clue as to how they can open the gate.

Finding nothing in the guard tower, the remaining adventurers head to the turrets by the front gate. Stepping through a third story door, they find a winch and brake for a large rusted chain. Releasing the break, the chain budges but doesn’t unwind. Heading to the other tower, Kolbo and Thenn find a second winch, which finally lowers the drawbridge. Heading to the portal, Kolbo bashes through the old wooden gate and flees the castle with Thenn.

Coming the crossroads on the Old Svalich Road where their adventure started, dusk fast approaching, Kolbo and Thenn are faced with a choice. Do they turn right and flee through the county gates or turn left towards the village of Barovia? They decide to play it safe and find shelter in the village.

Barovia is a small town with clay roofed wood hovels mostly for shelter and cottage industries. Only a few buildings stand out - the general store and Blood on the Vine tavern. The adventurers immediately go to the tavern. It is a dingy place, sparsely attended, but the barkeep is still spit shining his pint glasses. He greets Kolbo who is still in shock over his brief time in Castle Ravenloft. Arik shows some empathy and offers Kolbo the King’s Room for a mere 5 silver that night. Thenn takes the room above the stable for just 5 coppers.

As night falls the survivors seek what comfort they can in their warm beds. In the distance, thunder rumbles - a second storm approaches…

Session XP: 25,000 divided amongst Kolbo and Thenn for escaping Castle Ravenloft.
Session Loot: nil
RIP: Grayven, Quidiana Wolfswift

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