Sunday, 4 October 2015

[Actual Play] AD&D 2nd - Ravenloft, House of Strahd Session 6

Ravenloft Session 6

As the sun sets behind the Balinoks, the party approach Tser Falls and the vistani camp in the nearby clearing. The camp is filled with the colored vardo wagons and even more colorfully garbed vistani. Some sit playing somber instruments, while others roll dice by the fire. Trayven approaches a burly, swarthy man and asks him about the Elixir of Passage. The vistani says he knows nothing but offers to play dice with the half-elf. The vistani appears to cheat Trayven out of a gold piece and his nice hat. Belzon suggests that perhaps they should speak with the vistani leader. The men point them towards a large, immaculate vardo not far from the fire.

Entering the vardo, the party finds Madame Eva sitting behind a table just large enough for everyone to sit at - crystal ball to her left and a deck of tarokka cards to her right. She introduces herself to each adventurer and indicates that she knows something about each of their pasts - openly revealing the less secretive knowledge. Before they begin negotiation about the Elixir, Eva insists that the adventurers have their fortune told with the tarokka deck to “reveal the future.”

Lady Ioana Gundar Receives:
High Priestess - A symbol of great power, it tells you of a powerful force for good and protection against darkness.
The Moon - I see a place of tranquility, a harbor for the mighty and powerful. It is in a place of wisdom, warmth, and despair… Great secrets are there.
VIII Pentacles - Good will aid you in this place. The ancient symbols keep evil at bay.

Kolbo the Cautious Receives:
Judgement - A card of power and strength - the victor’s card. It tells of a weapon of light, a weapon with a vengeance.
II Swords - But judgement is two fold, and only purity of heart will lead to revelation.
V Pentacles - Go to the fallen prince of old. The brother of dark is light, and he rests in this place.

Trayven Receives:
The Magician - This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient may help you understand a foe.
The Emperor - See the crown and not the strings of his advisors. Seek the King’s throne.
IX Cups - But be wary, evil has taken hold in this place.

Belzon Receives:
The Hanged Man - Ah, this is the object of your search. I see darkness and evil behind this card. It is a powerful man whose enemy is light and whose powers are beyond mortality!
The Tower - This is the highest card and points to a place of dizzying heights. The road winds ever upward...
III of Swords - Three is the sign of magic, and with swords comes death. A dark shadow of evil is cast over that place. You fight under its influence here.

Thenn Receives:
The Devil - And here is the root card. Out of darkness and chaos, this card will find reason and foundation for darkness and chaos. This card shows the dread possibility we all face. It is the key to life, death, and all time beyond.
The Lovers - The darkness loves a light and desires it. Great but subtle plans are in motion about you - plans that the dead may find warmth from the living.
The Fool - In the chaos, one hero alone cannot prevail.

The party takes some time to discuss the readings and what they might mean. Kolbo seems convinced that his cards mean that Strahd’s brother’s sword resides in his tomb. Meanwhile, Thenn believes that Lady Ioana’s reading refers to the silver raven statue they found in the castle’s chapel. Finally, Trayven ponders as to whether or not his cards refer to the Tome of Strahd itself.

After their brief discussion, the party begins negotiating with Madame Eva for vials of the Elixir of Passage. She indicates that the vistani are neutral and do not want to take sides in this conflict, particularly when the Count has treated them so well - a core Barovian law is that to forfeit a vistani’s life is to forfeit one’s own. Trayven offers Madame Eva Castle Ravenloft.

The aged woman ponders for a time. She is intrigued but considers such an agreement dangerous - the Barovian natives won’t stand for vistani rulers, nor will any von Zarovich pretenders. She will only accept such an offer if she has the support and protection of the adventurers, as well as Sheriff Ireena Kolyana. All they need to do is bring Ireena to the camp to sign a document with a blood pact. She lends the party a wagon and two horses to take them back to town.

Standing by the wagon, the party finds…

Beetlebottom - Level 6 Gnome Cleric of Hala
Beetlebottom came to Barovia to learn the recipe for the Elixir of Passage.

The party tells Beetlebottom that they’re totally going to get the elixir recipe from the vistani, so he joins them.

The wagon trots along the night shrouded path, lanterns in front and back, when the party hears the sharp howling of wolves. Beetlebottom spurs the horses on just in time as wargs come racing behind the coach. Kolbo brandishes his Ring of Mammal Control and tells the wargs to go away. They listen.

A few minutes later another pack of wargs return. Kolbo grins and concentrates with his ring again, but this time the wargs seem to resist. They charge ahead and leap up, biting at Thenn and Belzon. The adventurers handily dispatch the vicious beasts with swords and arrows when another group flanks their fast moving wagon, tearing off the leg of a horse. Finishing off those wolves, the party slows the wagon as they approach a sharp bend in the road, where three fierce shambling undead lay in wait. Ambushing the party, they run forward, killing the wounded horse and eviscerating the other. The melee is brief but fierce with Belzon dispatching the final zombie with a deadly shortbow shot. Looting the zombie bodies, the characters find a handful of silver buttons.

The party heals their wounded horse and continues onto town without incident. They immediately approach the burgomeister’s mansion and seek a late night audience with Sheriff Ireena.

As Grayven and Kolbo explain the promises they made to Madame Eva, Ireena won’t have it. The young sheriff explains that she has neither the de jure authority, nor the political power to grant the vistani Castle Ravenloft - the villagers won’t accept it. Besides, what about the succession crisis that removing Strahd VII from power will cause? There are other von Zaroviches in the county and the small village of Barovia couldn’t stand against them.

Negotiations having broken down, Kolbo suggests that the party stay at Brother Donovon’s temple that night, after the party discovers that Beetlebottom’s own sanctuary spell is significantly less effective. The party sets up cots in the temple’s side rooms, giving Lady Ioana Gundar her own private quarters.

Late that night, Lady Gundar hears a tapping at the window. Stirring from slumber, she calls out, but no one in the other room replies. Approaching the window, she finds Count Strahd von Zarovich outside, standing still as a statue. He says he has an offer for her, and asks that she open the window so that can discuss it. Lady Gundar offers to hear the offer, but flatly refuses to open the window. Unperturbed, Strahd offers to honor her de jure claim on the city of Teufeldorf and make her Baroness Ioana Gundar. All she needs to do is convince Ireena Kolyana to marry him - the Count desires the woman but thinks that Ireena must desire him as well before they wed. Lady Ioana says she’ll consider the proposition.

The next day, a war council convenes with Ireena and Master Engineer Kobin. Most of their levy is arriving this morning so the council discusses some specifics of their attack. Kobin has taken his organ cannon out of storage and says that he could supervise construction of some wooden siege machines prior to attacking. The council discusses their options and opts for a bailey bridge to cross the chasm to Ravenloft, as opposed to ballistae with harpoons and tow cables. Trayven also offers to cast the enlarge spell on Kobin’s cannon. A test on the outskirts of town shows that the enlarged cannon will have significantly more destructive force, but needs larger ammunition that the smithy will need to cast hastily.

During the downtime of the weapons test, Ioana asks to speak with Sheriff Ireena privately. Lady Ioana suggests that there may be a way to prevent the bloodshed of the villagers - Ireena could marry Count Strahd to end the conflict. Ireena fumes - this monster killed her father and threatened so many of her compatriots. Lady Ioana, taken aback, offers that Ireena’s love of her countrymen meant that she may have to make sacrifices to save them. Ireena says she’ll consider what Lady Ioana said.

With only one day left, Sheriff Ireena Kolyana gathers her levy of troops and adventurer friends to begin the army’s march towards Castle Ravenloft...

Session XP: 1770
Session Loot: 15 silver buttons (worth 15 sp total)

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