Thursday, 19 November 2015

[Actual Play] AD&D 2nd - Ravenloft, House of Strahd Session 9

Ravenloft Session 9

The party mills around in the water, confounded by the Count’s anguish elsewhere in the castle above, annoyed at the undead’s lack of treasure, and the generally lamenting the awful fortnight they’ve been having. Beetlebottom hands out some heals to the injured party, specifically Kolbo and Belzon. The party climbs up the balcony to the thrones overlooking, Thenn giving Kolbo a boost. The black curtain behind the thrones oscillates back and forth ominously and Kolbo pokes the curtain with his 10-foot pole, eventually extending it the full 10 feet only to find something hard behind the curtain. Finally peering through the corner of the curtain, the party finds an empty alcove and a sturdy iron door. The party checks for traps and Thenn listens behind the door, hearing snap, crackle, and pop.

Opening the door, the party finds a chamber with a large, bright brazier in the center, an hourglass overhead and a golden chest to the left, two alcoves on each side with a giant four armed bronze skeleton in each. Gargoyles line the ceiling and the wall opposite the party has three closed iron doors. Belzon steps into the room while the others wait outside, silently moving to inspect the hourglass. He reads to the others, “In the palm of my hand, is the time left to thee, when it is consumed, will the flame set you free.” Belzon inspects the skeletons statues, which almost seem to be watching him, and the gargoyles. Nothing seems threatening. The rest of the party joins him in the room, and that’s when the door behind them slams shut and the sand in the hourglass begins to fall.

The party frantically searches the room for anything that might have triggered or changed. Kolbo approaches the center door on the other sides of the room and tries to force it open - it won’t budge. Thenn listens behind the doors for any sound, but hears nothing, only the blazing fire in the center of the room. Meanwhile, the sand continues to fall. “That brazier probably explodes when time runs out, just like a fireball, if the fire sets us free,” Kolbo ponders aloud, straining to open a door. Grayven looks closer at the skeletons and finds that they have gems in each outstretched hand - a ruby, sapphire, opal, and emerald amongst them. All the while, the sand falls. Belzon offers that maybe the party needs to destroy the gems to be set free. He carefully grabs the sapphire gem from one skeleton’s palm… and nothing happens. He throws the gem into the fire and the hourglass stops as the northeastern most door grinds open. The sapphire reappears in the skeleton’s hand.

Before moving on, Thenn decides to investigate the chest further. He begins to open it and notices a small lever by the inside hinge. Pressing down on it with his dagger, the half-elf thief opens the chest without triggering the trap, only to find an empty wooden bottom. Realizing this is a false bottom, Thenn knocks around on the chest and finds a panel in the back, discovering a deck of tarokka cards, two health potions, and a number of spell scrolls.

The party walks through the northeast door to find a staircase leading up. They walk up for about a hundred feet before Kolbo declares that they’re probably getting too far from their objective. He suggests that they return to the brazier chamber.

The party returns and tried each gem, realizing that the different colors correspond to a different door, the party checks all the doors and proceeds through up the stairwell that appears to take them up only 20 feet. They find a rough cut tunnel, the stonework sickens Kolbo, heading to the east. The party narrowly dodges a false floor trap and then enters the catacombs themselves. Waist deep mist shifts and swirls as the party walks through and the ceiling itself seems to move - the demihumans infravision indicating hundreds of bats. The makes out a few names in the crypt, Countess Dilisnya and Isolde Yunk, and Kolbo wisely suggests to Trayven that they not open any crypts.

The party finds a cold iron portcullis on the northern wall and working together, they lift it and enter a misty tomb. Inside they find they find three alcoves, all with what looks like a woman-raven hybrid standing watch in the far back. Two of the alcoves have a marble coffin, while the third looks as though the coffin was dragged out some time ago. There is a tapestry on the west wall with a young man playing the lute and surrounded by fairies and a unicorn. An inscription on the east wall notes that this is the tomb of Sergei von Zarovich.

Kolbo steps over to the middle coffin and thrusts the cover off with his mighty dwarven strength. It tumbles to the ground revealing it to be empty. Kolbo steps over to the side coffin and begins to push, but the cover won’t budge. Kolbo pants and whispers audibly, “Gosh, what do you want from us!?”

An ethereal voices emanates throughout the chamber, the voice of a young, pained man. “It has been centuries since any have summoned me. Be warned! My brother’s tomb is guarded by powerful magic. Take up yourselves the Bright Blade in my tomb and with pure heart undo the kinslayer.”

Kolbo recalls that tarokka reading from a week ago, and how the reading spoke of Strahd’s brother and the purity he would require. “Only the pure of heart can open this tomb, but I’m not strong enough on my own.”

Belzon steps forward to help Kolbo, and as the elf grabs the coffin cover, an arc of crackling lightning jumps from the tomb, searing his arms. He runs backwards, patting his smoking sleeves - the burns are bad enough that he quaffs the party’s final healing potion.

Thenn and Beetlebottom help Kolbo move the cover, revealing a dusty skeleton in gleaming, perfectly clean plate mail. Resting across it’s chest is a broken lute and a golden sword hilt, with no blade. Kolbo curses aloud as he picks up the hilt - all this effort and exploration for nothing. He sets the hilt down on the side of the coffin and begins to remove the plate mail for Ioana.

The hilt begins to oscillate, and shake. It springs off the coffin and flies towards Thenn, replacing the hilt of his own sheathed sword. The half-elf draws the blade - the once dull steel now revealing the pale blue glow of glasteel. Thenn had the sunsword blade the whole time…

Fully equipped, the party decides to achieve their second objective before confronting Strahd - destroying the black heart beating in one of Ravenloft’s tall spires. The party back tracks and takes a winding spiral staircase up for over a hundred feet. They walk through a door to find a study filled with books, couches, and a blazing hearth. In the corner is a rotting corpse just barely standing. Belzon sneaks over and backstabs the zombie - but it keeps standing. The elf notices a gold chain around its neck and removes the amulet. The corpse collapses to the ground, relieved of its burden, and Belzon inspects the amulet, finding a red gem, symbols of truth and light, and a sun blazing motif. The party decides that Thenn should wear the amulet.

Rifling through the stacks of paper, the heroes find a few documents of note - a balok translation of the Great War’s history by someone known only as “S,” as well as a genealogic tree of those descended from a Sturm von Zarovich.

The party continues through the southern door and finds a cobweb filled dining room. In the center of the table is a lopsided, rotten wedding cake with only a bride atop it. The party heads east and finds another spiral staircase to ascend.

The party walks onto a landing a finds a portrait of a portly bearded man staring back at them. The portrait’s jowls roll as he says, “You aren’t supposed to be here.” A rainbow spray of color shoots out from his mouth, incapacitating everyone but Trayven. The half-elf looks around shocked and starts throwing his darts at the portrait. The portly man yelps with pain and then calls out, “Strahd, you have intruders.” The portrait makes another gesture and Trayven is held in place.

The portrait just stairs at the heroes for a few minutes and tries to make idle conversation, “How many portraits does it take to screw in a light bulb.”

Thenn and Belzon awaken before the portrait can finish the incantation of another color spray and quickly eviscerate the painting. Kolbo soon awakens and the hold on Trayven is broken. The party hears the soft tap of footsteps walking up the staircase behind them.

The party flings open the door to their left to throw off their pursuer, seeing a bedroom before they dash up the stairs. The sound of footsteps follows.

On the next landing, Belzon throws open the door to see what’s inside, finding a room with shattered furniture and claw marks all over. Trayven says, “Noooooope,” and the party runs up the next flight of stairs. The sound of footsteps follows.

The party ascends to the top of a watersoaked tower, thunder roaring and sheets of rain pelting the heroes. Thenn and Kolbo recognize the towertop from their last expedition to Castle Ravenloft - the heart of darkness is just ahead, across the bridge in the other tower. The sound to footsteps draws closer.

The party scrambles into the dry safety of the next tower, the patter of rain replaced by the sound of a beating heart. The party’s rings of continuous light dim significantly as they enter. Before the heart can do anything treacherous, Belzon dashes up the stairs and quaffs his entire potion of fire breath. As he exhales, a stream of searing fire shoots forth, shriveling the squealing heart.
On the top of the other tower, Kolbo, Thenn, and Trayven watch as Count Strahd ascends the final step. Lightning reveal his grimacing face, “What are you doing?”

Session Loot: The Sunsword!, Sergei’s Armor, a tarokka deck with alchemical and magick glyphs on the box, 2 healing potions, scrolls of protection from magic, raise dead, restoration, flame strike, and dispel evil.
Session XP: 28,000

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