Friday, 6 November 2015

[Actual Play] AD&D 2nd - Ravenloft, House of Strahd Session 8

Ravenloft Session 8

One week remains until the adventurers return to Castle Ravenloft, this time by invitation to Strahd and Ireena’s wedding. The party gathers supplies and equipment, lengths of silk rope and rations funded by Kolbo and Thenn. They also try to find armor and magic weapons in the village, but neither the general store nor the blacksmith could provide anything. With the poisonous ring of mist gone from the village perimeter, the adventurers ponder leaving for another village, but realize they would not have enough time to return for the wedding.

As the sun begins to lower, the party is confronted by Ismark the Lesser, Ireena’s brother, outside the general store. He approaches fuming, demanding to know where his sister is. Upon learning of her deal with the devil Strahd, he becomes pensive. “When is the wedding? Perhaps I can turn this to my advantage…” he asks the adventuring party. Kolbo and Trayven are flabbergasted, “How could you side with the Count, he’s a monster!” Ismark back petals and explains that the party are rebels and he’s just a law abiding citizen who should be made burgomeister. Trayven raises his quarterstaff and knocks Ismark in the head. And keeps going. Bloods splatters on the street as Ismark coughs. The villagers close their shutters. Trayven looks down at his rage fueled handy work and sees glaring red eyes staring back at him from the blood. No one else in the party sees a thing.

The party stops Trayven and Beetlebottom, concerned about Ismark’s injuries, sprints to the village temple in search of Brother Donovon. The doors open with a crash and the Witch of Hala finds the Priest of the Morninglord lounging in the pews, sipping his ritual wine. Grabbing the priest, Beetlebottom drags the human back to heal Ismark. He does and the young man glares at the adventurers before storming off. Kolbo ponders how many enemies they’re probably making in the village and suggests the party skip town until the wedding. Instead, Brother Donovon invites the party to stay in his temple. There he confides that he has been ordered by Count Strahd to conduct the wedding ceremony.

The adventurers dedicate the next six days to planning their attack. Kolbo suggests that they have three options: Attend the wedding as Strahd intends for them to, head straight to the heart of darkness beating in the tower and destroy it, or find Strahd’s brother’s tomb and with it the magic sword. While at first Baroness Ioana argues that the party should attend the ceremony, the party unanimously agrees to search for the Sunsword.

The march up the mountain to Castle Ravenloft takes hours, but the party arrives a half hour before the ceremony begins. They notice significant repairs to the drawbridge and even Marvin’s blood was (mostly) cleaned up from the front entrance. As they step inside the grand entrance, the party finds a few guests at a table checking their weapons. Strahd’s bumbling servant, the same one that offered them terms before the Battle of Castle Ravenloft, stands at the table writing tickets for each weapon. We he asks the party to hand over their weapons, Kolbo simply laughs in his face. The servant gives them a confounded look, “But ya can’t go in there armed like that, it’ll make the other guests nervous.” Lady Ioana tries to sweet talk him, but doesn’t have much basis for argument. Kolbo suggests that the party step outside to discuss the situation.

The party begins going over their magical options when Belzon offers to take care of Strahd’s servant. He doesn’t give any further details before walking back inside. Approaching the servant, who introduces himself as Cyrus, Belzon asks for directions to the restroom. “Ah, it’s tough to get there, I’ll need to show you the way,” the old man says. Cyrus takes Belzon upstairs and through a number of secret passageways before the come to a large spiral staircase. Before Cyrus can take him further, Belzon shoves the servant of the edge and a wet crunch echos from below. A shiver runs up Belzon’s spine and he walks away without looking down at the body.

The party gathers again at the grand entrance and begins their trek downwards. They descend for a time until they come to a landing with a short hallway. The party steps forward in marching order and Thenn feels a slight, sudden depression in the floor. With lightning speed, gilded portculli descend on either side of Thenn and Kolbo, and they notice from a tall shaft above them that the sound of winding gears and pulleys emanates. The elevator must be descending on them. Kolbo struggles to bends the bars but to no avail, the Baroness searches frantically for any levers or triggers. Finally, with the elevator barreling down, Kolbo, Ioana, Thenn, and Grayven combine their strength to thrust up the portculli and evade the crushing force of the descending stone. When the elevator finally reaches the floor, the other portculli opens. The party steps forward to the door at the end of the hall, but when they hear bubbling on the other side and see mist creep in when they open the door, they firmly shut it and head back to the stairs.

Descending again, the party reaches the bottom of the spiral staircase and finds a water filled hallway. A soft cry for help comes from the the right door in the hallway. Kolbo takes out his 10 foot pole and carefully moves forward, looking for any pressure plate traps like they found above. He does, finding a loose plate ahead of him. Thenn moves ahead to disable the trap and trips another pressure plate. He vanishes in an explosion of water. The party scrambles to figure out what happened. They cry out Thenn’s name.

Thenn opens his eyes and is in complete darkness, standing upright in chest deep water. His darkvision reveals a small confined cell, with it’s only exit the silhouette of a rusted iron gate. It appears locked and impossible to pick from the inside. After getting his bearings, Thenn hears the distant voice of Beetlebottom calling his name. He responds in kind.

The rest of the party hears Thenn’s reply from a doorway down the hall to the left. Even more carefully than before, the adventurers slowly approach the door, evading pressure plates with careful use of the 10-foot pole. They find an iron door down a few steps, half submerged underwater. Entering, the party walks a gauntlet of waterlogged prison cells - some with corpses and others with sparkling gold. In the last on the left they find a waterlogged Thenn.

The party unlocks one of the cells and grabs a handful of platinum coins each, leaving the other treasure locked up. Kolbo also notices a strange amulet in one of the piles of coins - one shaped like a hand with an eye in its palm. He grabs it with his 10-foot pole.

The party then crosses the hall to investigate the cry for help. Walking through the other door, the adventurers find a similar filled dungeon. In the last cell on the left, the party discovers a shivering peasant, mold growing in his beard. The party instantly grills the peasant - “who are you?” “Why are you here?” “Why aren’t you dead like all the villagers.” The peasant, Ivan, reveals that he was kidnapped a few weeks ago by Count Strahd but hasn’t seen his liege lord since. Only a lone porter comes to visit him occasionally with food. The adventurers set Ivan free and, while they don’t say he can’t stay with them, suggest that he make his own exit up the spiral staircase to the east. Ivan scampers off.

The party goes back to the main hallway and advanced forward, dodging two more pressure plates. Their rings enchanted with continuous light illuminate a large room up ahead - a large den of unspeakable evil. Within they see a blood stained rack, a black vice with the skeleton still inside and to the right a balcony, where two figures in thrones sit and watch.

The skeleton on the black vice is the first to reveal its unlife, clattering to the watery floor and stumbling towards Kolbo. Beetlebottom steps forward first and brandishes his holy symbol of Hala, sending the three approaching skeletons cower in the corners or behind torture devices but Strahd’s zombies  jumping down from the balcony seem unperturbed. The initial melee is fierce, with two zombies tearing loose Kolbo’s breastplate and and sinking their nauseating claws into his flesh. Lady Ioana moves to support, while both Belzon and Thenn drive back another zombie on the left. Grayven stays behind in the hallway when he hears a howl from the stairway behind him. The melee continues, but Grayven pushes through the impromptu shield wall, turning around just in time to see an upright wolf charging through the water at him and his friends. Drawing a silken web from his spellpouch, Grayven crushes it into a ball and throws it into the long hallway, producing a 40-foot thick web and constricting the man-wolf in the furthest reach of it. The giant wolf creature howls, breaking free and retreating back to the stairs.

The last undead falls to Lady Ioana’s blade and the heroes take a moment’s respite. Elsewhere in the castle, the Count’s gives out a booming cry of anguish, echoing down to even the deepest dungeon...

Session Loot: 600 gp and an amulet taken from the dungeon
Session XP: 1200

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