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Curse of Strahd

Dice System
D&D 5e
OOC
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Characters
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WlfSamurai

Maelstrom Engineer
To a party of seasoned adventurers such as yourselves, what you see is but another dull tavern in another dull town in some nameless province. It is but another span of time between the challenges of true adventuring.

Outside the tavern, a fog lies over the town this evening. The damp, cobbled pavement glistens as the lights of street lanterns dance across the slick stones. The fog chills the bones and shivers the soul of anyone outside.

Yet inside these tavern walls the food is hearty, and the ale is warm and frothy. A fire blazes in the hearth, and the tavern is alive with the tumbling voices of country folk.

Suddenly, the tavern door swings open, and a hush falls over the room. Framed by the lamp-lit fog, a form strides through the doorway. His heavy, booted footfalls and the jingle of his coins shatter the silence. His brightly colored clothes are draped in loose folds about him, and his hat hangs askew, hiding his eyes in shadows. Without hesitation, he walks up to your table and stands proudly in a wide stance with folded arms.

In an accented voice he says, "I have been sent to you to deliver this message. If you be creatures of honor, you will come to my master's aid at first light. It is not advisable to travel the Svalich Woods at night!" He pulls from his tunic a sealed letter, addressed to all of you in beautiful flowing script. He drops the letter on the table. "Take the west road from here some five hours march down through the Svalich Woods. There you will find my master in Barovia."

The gypsy nods and turns to leave.

What do you do?

MechanicalSnake MechanicalSnake , Nihilego Nihilego , Vanira Vanira , DanGriin DanGriin , Wondertainment Wondertainment , dae mec dae mec
 
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dae mec

Birds are cool. 🐦
Arala taps a finger on the table, right next to where the letter was placed. "An invitation?" Her voice is deliberately soft, her words carefully pronounced. "That's quite a rarity. May I ask why we were invited?"

It certainly is unusual to her. Her mother raised her and her siblings in a moving house on chickenhawk feet; the village children never really asked her to festivals, half-orc appearance aside. And when Arala spent a short time with her father's tribe, his people weren't in the habit of issuing invitations either.

She picks up the letter, opens it, and begins to read... remembering at the last minute that members of her party are sitting around her. Arala glances at them with an apologetic smile. She's still not used to working with people long-term, which she considers to be more than a week. Thus she vacilitates between forgetting to take their opinions into consideration and being overly solicitous.

Arala likes most of them, and she likes to think that they make a good group. Riona is her siblings in thought, serving Death in her own way—staving off His embrace through the aspect of Sehanine Moonbow. The second is Bram the hunter, quite similar in actions, though his desire to protect extends further. Arala isn't quite sure what to think of Setesh; he's certainly interesting, and he's been cordial. And he has a companion like hers, though far more intimidating.

"Death approaches," sings Angel Bones in her ear, just loud enough to be heard by the party. But they should be used to the colorful bird's cheerful phrases by now.

She strokes the little lovebird absentmindedly and admits to herself that Angel might perhaps be intimidating in a different way. "Yes, well, I suppose we should see what's in the letter. Sorry. I should've asked first."
 
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MechanicalSnake

Like the Moon, part of him was always hidden away.
Arala's question and the tone of her voice makes it obvious she believes the letter to be an invitation to some kind of high society event, and Setesh has no clue why she would think that. He didn't hear anything of that sort in the gypsy's brief message. And he heard no mention of a reward either. What he did hear, however, was this not- so-well masked jab at the group's ethical code.

People, he thinks, use this trick way too often. If you are a good person, you will do this or that. As though there was some sort of brand you would have to carry for the rest of your life, should you fail to risk your life for a complete stranger for nothing but ideals. Personally, he doesn't care about this form of blackmail.

Setesh allows himself a smirk as the bird makes its cheerful announcement, flashing a quick glance in it's direction. If he were to be honest, he'd have to admit the bird is quite charming. If it were a raven or a vulture, its quotes would probaly sound ominous, but given its form, they are merely a source of amusement. "Let's rejoice," he replies with just a touch of well-meant sarcasm, before leaning over so that he could peek at the letter.

"This better say who that master is and what he intends to give us in return," he notes practically, making sure not only the party, but also the gypsy who appears to want to leave without even waiting for a respons hears him. "Honor is a nice thing, but it won't buy you anything in this world."

Money is always good, but there are other ways of payment he is willing to accept. Information. A favor to be done at a time of need. Valuables. Introduction to someone powerful. The world doesn't need to see him as honorable, but it needs to respect him.
 

WlfSamurai

Maelstrom Engineer
The gypsy stops and turns back toward you all.

“You will find out,” he says, nodding to the letter. Then, amid the silent stares of the patronage, the gypsy strides to the bar and says to the wary barkeep, "Fill the glasses, one and all. Their throats are obviously parched." He drops a purse heavy with gold on the bar. With that, he leaves.

The babble of tavern voices resumes, although somewhat subdued. The seal, now broken by Arala, is in the shape of a crest you don't recognize

Arala, you hold the letter. If you read it, this is what it says:
1584877441516.png
Hail to thee of might and valor!

I, a lowly servant of Barovia, send honor to thee. We plead for thy so desperately needed assistance.

The love of my life, Ireena Kolyana, has been afflicted by an evil so deadly that even the good people of our town cannot protect her. She languishes from her wound and I would have her saved from this menace.

There is much wealth in this community. I offer all that might be had to thee and thy fellows if thou shalt but answer my desperate plea.

Come quickly for her time is at hand! All that I have shall be thine!


Kolyan Indrirovich,
Burgomaster
1585240362229.png

What do you all do?

MechanicalSnake MechanicalSnake , Nihilego Nihilego , Vanira Vanira , DanGriin DanGriin , Wondertainment Wondertainment , dae mec dae mec
 
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dae mec

Birds are cool. 🐦
Arala raises her eyebrows at the stranger's cryptic remark, and she raises them further at his apparent generosity. She's never quite been one for drink; anything that alters inhibitions tends to annoy her or bring back bad memories. Often both. She knows that Riona and Bram would appreciate the gesture, though. From what she's seen so far, they enjoy alcohol.

Tilting her head in acknowledgement of Setesh's comment—and seeing no objections from the rest of the party—Arala quickly reads the letter out loud. Once finished, she hands the envelope and the letter to him. She knows nothing of politics, especially the local kind. Perhaps he or one of the other members would have a better understanding.

"Riona, this certainly seems like something you could help with," says Arala. The description of an 'great evil plaguing a wound' could refer to an infection, dramatic as it may be. Arala also has some knowledge of medicine, though her understanding of herbs and magic is focused on what harms rather than heals. "With the offer of much wealth, he sounds desperate. Could the evil be more than just sickness?"

Or perhaps it's one of those maladies that turns the victim into a danger not only to themselves, but to others. She hopes not. Arala knows that those afflictions generally have tragic outcomes. (Privately, Arala notes that she already wants to help the poor man.)

She tilts her head and addresses everyone. "I'm not sure what a burgomaster is. Are any of you familiar with either the term or this lord?"
 
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Vanira

The Void Prophetess
Riona glanced up from her empty cup and listened to the strange man address the group. Her eyes bounced from person to person as they begun talking. It felt odd to her that someone would seek them out but who was she to judge? Enough wealth to keep some of the treasure-focused members happy and sounded sad enough to perhaps win over the hearts of the do-gooders.

At least the stranger offered free drinks. Riona needed another cup of ale.

Grey eyes and a smile focus on Arala. "Well, seems a tad overdramatic for a illness. Perhaps a ghostly or demonic possession could be the cause." Either because of sickness, possession or something else entirely Riona wished to aid the... Burgomaster? She had never heard of that term before.
 

DanGriin

Kamen Rider Amino
"A Burgomaster is the leader of a town or a fort.....I think.....kind of like a Mayor and less like a Baron" said Bram as he sat at the table with his party. One could easily see a cut lip and bloodied fists, which Bram made no attempt to hide. Downing an entire pint, he ordered another on the strangers tab. He turned to Riona and shook his head. "Overdramatic? I've heard rumors about that Barovia place... nothing concrete but enough to make me take the hint.... this illness could be a curse.....it could even be lycanthropy or vampirism" said Bram before downing another round. His head still hurt from where that Elven prick had hit him with a rake. Seems the lot of them found out Bram was a Blood Hunter and thought it'd be a good idea to "Beat the Spook". Unfortunately for them, Bram was trained to fight creatures of the night. He broke their bones and beat them bloody. The bastards got a few good licks in though, resulting in Bram being hurt himself. Bram himself was fully against going to this Barovia place, yet he felt that he was probably gonna get dragged there anyway. He hadn't necessarily joined the party of his own volition, but found that working with them was most effective and kept him alive. Placing a hand on the Morningstar, he sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
 

WlfSamurai

Maelstrom Engineer
“Strange tellings of such a place, that Barovia,” says the barkeep, putting down large tankards of ale in front of all of you. He indicates the alcohol, “Courtesy of ye friend. A strange fellow to be sure. Ye best not be bringing trouble to my tavern. Are ye? Bringing trouble?”
 

MechanicalSnake

Like the Moon, part of him was always hidden away.
"Much wealth" sounds promising enough for Setesh to consider taking a trip to Barovia - after all, the flowery wording of the letter itself can be considered proof that it was written by an adequately rich person. And drinks are always a good start.

He decides to ignore the obnoxious barkeep's question, because there is no reason why they should explain themselves to such a lowly creature, especially not because unlike the yelling pair of drunkards in the corner of the room, they have been nothing but polite. "I would like a bottle of your best wine, please," he says in a neutral tone. It is a small test of his; if the messenger pays for that, too, it means that their chances at a handsome reward are decent, or that his master is desperate. If he chooses not to pay… well, then Setesh will drink it anyway, only his pockets will be a lot emptier.

"I think Bram is right," he notes then, leaning back in his chair comfortably, making sure to keep the barkeep in his peripheral vision. "No disrespect to anyone present, but if it were an illness or a necrotic wound plaguing this woman, they would have approached the best healers around and that is… not us. However, a wound was mentioned, which means it won't be a possession either. An attack by a creature sounds most reasonable. If it were lycantrophy, this Ireeina may yet have a chance… With vampirism, I would presume she is already dead and gone."

Having presented those options emotionlessly, Setesh casually sips his ale as he waits for the wine to arrive. "Unless vampires make blood-slaves they could repeatedly feed on", he suddenly realizes, "in which case she could just be poisoned or charmed, and not beyond saving."

In fact, he has no idea if vampires make blood slaves. It is a wild guess, because... His own people do. They force-feed human slaves with yuan-ti blood mixed with poison and a herbal concoction, which slowly takes hold and replaces the human's blood with something new, making them more obedient and in tune with the wishes of their owners. Sometimes he wonders what his "friends" would say if they knew.
 
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WlfSamurai

Maelstrom Engineer
The barkeep rolls his eyes and mutters a complaint to himself about less for him as he heads back to the bar for Setesh’s wine.

A few minutes later, he returns with a bottle of fine red and pours it into a clean glass. He sets the bottle down and nods.

“Will that be all, Masters?” he asks, keen to leave out the part that the gold given him could cover any matter of food or spirit in the establishment.
 
"Maidens trapped by great evil?" a nearby half-elf nods, "Vampires? Great wealth? Sounds a bit fairy tale."

He walks towards the party, whom he apparently was listening in on. He's lean-muscled, wearing what looks like a mix of a tunic and a robe. His hands are wrapped. "Count me in."
 

Vanira

The Void Prophetess
Riona sighed and filled her cup with the ale provided by the large tankard. She gave a nod of appreciation towards the rather cranky-looking Barkeep while she listened to Setesh. While the white-haired woman said nothing about it, she had expected some sort of foul play related to undead. Then again, she was trained to hunt down the undead, help wayward spirits and prepare people for death. Riona had much preferred the latter to the former, never being much of a fighter- not that she did not enjoy watching a good, bloody fight.

Taking a sip of the ale, grey eyes darted to the rest of the group. How did she get stuck with such a colourful group? Part of her wondered how long this would last. Usually, her companions never stayed around long, for one reason or another. 'At least I have Arros. They'll always be there for me.' Her eyes lingered on the shadows in the room. Darkness always brought her comfort.

"We can sit here and speculate all night if we so choose. However, it feels like a waste of time and effort. Tomorrow we can find out the facts of the matter and properly find a solution to this ordeal." The Half-elf lifted the cup to her lips once more, downing the rest of the cup. "If Barovia is as much of a shit hole as I am getting from what Bram says then I say we enjoy the rest of our evening with fun and laughter."
 
"Well, what'd you have in mind?" the new half-elf says, eyes twinkling. He reaches out with a hand. "The name's Karl Murdoch. It's lovely to meet you."
 

dae mec

Birds are cool. 🐦
Arala says nothing to the barkeep, surmising that reassurance from a tusked half-orc wouldn't actually be reassuring. She gives him a small smile, though, and watches as Setesh orders an expensive bottle that the man serves with no complaint.

Surely the wine doesn't cost the entire bag of coin. Arala considers ordering more food—she ate already, but she won't say no to some extra—when a robed half-elf inserts himself into the conversation.

Arala nods at Riona's statement. "Yes, the stranger did mention that traveling at night would be dangerous. If everyone agrees, we can visit this burgomaster and his wife in the morning, at least to learn more." She gives Bram a sideways look. "And it would allow any injuries to heal." The hangovers that some of them would have are different matter.

She turns her attention back to the newcomer. "Well, hello. I'm Arala Goresinger," she says warmly. Arala knows the hand and statement are for Riona, but she greets Karl anyway. "We know your name now, but little else. What interests you about this?"

"Death sings sweetly to him," says Angel Bones. "Smell, smell."

Ah, now that reaction is truly interesting. Angel Bones said something similar when she'd met Riona. Does Death touch him too?
 
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Vanira

The Void Prophetess
Riona looked the other Half-elf up and down before she set her cup down. "Karl, you say?" She leaned forward and took his hand firmly and gave it a quick shake. "My name is Riona, I am a simple Priestess of Sehanine. It's a pleasure to meet you."

Just as she finished talking she heard Angel Bones speak. The Cleric was still not used to that but found them interesting nonetheless. Death sings sweetly to him? How odd, but comforting she was not the only one to get those sorts of comments. Not that she minded them, but hated being considered the oddball. That's one of the reasons she liked this group so much. They made her look normal by comparison.
 

DanGriin

Kamen Rider Amino
Bram was at least happy that his companions valued his advice as much as they did. He may have been a third rate Blood Hunter, but his information was given to him by one of the best. He stared at his pint and wondered where Ixl'Van had gone. The Half-Elf was completely motivated by the thought of revenge against his twin brother Ahx'Elia for some incident in their past. While he had stayed to train Bram, the moment training ended; he left. Downing yet another pint, Bram put a hand on his cheek. The fact that drinks would be paid for by this stranger was a welcome sight in these trying times. Though Bram himself felt that going to Barovia was one of the worst ideas ever, fatal even. He ALSO understood that this mission was one of the only ways he was going to be able to get paid. Not a lot of people round these parts trusted Blood Hunters. So reluctantly holding his third pint in his hand, Bram looked his companions. First we drink, then ask around about Barovia. Then we drink and look into getting some silver. After which we drink before stocking up on supplies.....then we finish off by drinking....or at least thats what my drink is telling me" said Bram before downing the pint.
 
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MechanicalSnake

Like the Moon, part of him was always hidden away.
Setesh frowns innerly at the idea of a night full of fun and laughter, because his idea of a night well spent is more in line with discussing werewolves, vampires and their peculiar habits, even if nobody could contribute with more than pure speculations. However, he gives Riona a polite smile; he is aware that people generally enjoy a lighter form of chit chat and intends to blend in. Smiling is not difficult, because Riona is quite beautiful - for a lesser species, anyway. She looks nothing short of an elf, but lacks their annoying posh attitude.

Next, he turns is attention to the wine, swirling it in his cup for an amount of time that might seem too long to a regular drinker, then lifting it up to his nose to smell its rich aroma before finally testing a few drops. Enjoying these simple pleasures - a good meal, excellent beverage, a warm, aromatic bath - is something he had never known before coming to live among humans. At the beginning, he would beat himself up about it, but after all those years, he rarely even feels guilt anymore. Out of all their emotions and habits that could have rubbed off on him, this is a rather harmless one, right?

The wine is indeed quite delicious and he now feels mildly hopeful about what their reward would be. What he doesn't feel so positive about, thought is the intruder at their table. He's been ignoring him long enough, hoping someone else would tell him to piss off, so that he wouldn't have to be that guy again, alas, the others have moved to the introductions. Are they really so naive that they would just pick up a stranger as though he were a stray puppy?

Setesh leans over the table, the look in his snake-slit eyes intimidating enough to make a less persistant back off without even speaking, and taps the desk thoughtfully. "Karl," he addresses the half-elf, somehow making his name sound twice as long as it really is, "do you impose yourself upon a group of strangers often? I would assume not, otherwise someone would have already told you it is generally not a good idea. Some might even consider it highly impolite."
 
"And a pleasure to meet you, Priestess Riona. Your beauty shines through this-"

"Death swings sweetly to him," a half-orc's pet bird squawks at him.

Karl raises an eyebrow at the raven. Weirdo bird... Except, there was something more... sinister about it. Who was Karl kidding? Everything was a little more sinister around these parts.

The half-elf sneers at the... snake-man. "I'm sorry, I thought this was an open recruitment situation. Unless, for whatever reason, you DON'T want extra assistance going into the nightmare-scape that is Barovia? You know, the people who go in there..."

In a mocking, spooky voice, Karl finishes, "never come baaaaack."

Karl crosses his arms, and gives Setesh another mocking look. "Don't worry, I can handle myself just as much as it looks like you can, and I'm not in it for the money. Though, of course, I wouldn't say no."
 

dae mec

Birds are cool. 🐦
Arala appreciates Setesh's willingness to step forward during social situations; he seems to have a better head for this sort of thing. But Setesh tends to be more... confrontational, cynical, suspicious—whatever you want to call it. It's not her place to tell him how to treat strangers, and he sometimes has a point. Other times, though, it leads to violence, rightfully or not. Almost all her magic is for combat, and she knows she's good at it, but Arala takes little enjoyment in its necessity.

She sighs and turns to the bartender. "A large bowl of stew, please. And a roasted animal leg." She knows better than to assume what kind of meat is available at taverns like these.

As Arala waits for her order, she turns her mind to the flow of magic. (This power, pure and beautiful, she does enjoy.) Arala doesn't channel it, but she has been in enough taverns to know how this can go.

"Pain approaches," says Angel Bones.

Yes. That.

"Setesh, it seems like he's rather familiar with Barovia," Arala says lightly. "At least, he knows more than we do, which is none at all. We can at least hear him out." She inclines her head to Karl. "Would you mind sharing what information you have?"
 
"I know about the same as anyone else, I expect," Karl shrugs. "And all I've heard is that I don't hear anything about it - naught but ghost stories, warnings, and 'Missing' posters. I'm sure I've heard of people going in and out, but I'm also sure I've heard that it's a land cursed so that none who enter may leave. But then, I've also heard that it's a hole that the gods take their shits in. My point is, you'll want an extra set of eyes for whatever horrors await within. If there aren't any horrors, well, you didn't lose anything by me tagging along."

Karl gives Setesh a quick glare. "You're not always going to be traveling with people you like, not in this business. Get over it."

"By the way," Karl adds, taking another sip from his mug of ale, "That is one creepy bird. Is it your pet or something? Maybe a familiar?"
 

MechanicalSnake

Like the Moon, part of him was always hidden away.
Having waited in vain for the newcomer to present them with great knowledge of Barovia, Setesh remains completely uinmpressed. Maybe he failed to noticed that there are no children present at the table; no one is going to be spooked by his little ghost stories. If anger wasn't an emotion, Setesh would definitely be pissed off by the non-chalant way Karl is forcing himself in, assuming that -they- will need -him-. A single, largely uninteresting individual.

"Ah, but see, this is where your approach is completely wrong," he says calmly but resolutely, leaning on the table in a lazy manner. "Especially in this business, it is essential that you travel with people who will have your back should you ever need to. You don't go around picking up strays. However…" he shrugs his shoulders, having already stated his opinion, and takes in the others at the table in a long, encompassing glance. "We might have a use for an expendable party member who will go first and check those deep, dark, scary forest for dangers, and who nobody will feel sorry for if he doesn't return. If the others insist on your company, that is."
 

WlfSamurai

Maelstrom Engineer

The next morning, after some light breakfast in the common room, you all set out. Some of you in varying stages of wellness. Perhaps last night's drinks have taken their toll this morning. Perhaps it is the knowledge that you go to a place that none have returned from—or so they say. Or maybe it's just the uncertainty of it all.

Fog blankets the world outside painting the morning gray. It sticks to your throat and makes it hard to see too far down the road. What you can see of the sky is overcast, blocking the sun. It's as if the very weather knows your destination.

After some time, the woods along the road have grown thicker. The fog feels thicker, though visibility hasn't changed. The mountains ahead become outlines in the sky, their details hidden by mists.

Hours pass, the road continues on up toward the mountains that are now fully obscured. It seems like a fresh-cut path in a crowded forest. Black pools of water stand like dark mirrors in and around the muddy roadway. Giant trees loom on both sides of the road, their branches clawing at the mist.

You continue on into the afternoon. After five hours of travel, you see something looming in the road. The fog spills out of the forest to swallow up the road behind you. Ahead, jutting from the impenetrable woods on both sides of the road, are high stone buttresses looming gray in the fog. Huge iron gates hang on the stonework. Dew clings with cold tenacity to the rusted bars. Two headless statues of armed guardians flank the gate, their heads now lying among the weeds at their feet. They greet you only with silence.

1585244642357.png

As you draw closer, the massive gates screech open to let you in.

What do you do?

MechanicalSnake MechanicalSnake , Vanira Vanira , DanGriin DanGriin , Wondertainment Wondertainment , dae mec dae mec
 
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dae mec

Birds are cool. 🐦
Arala is impressed that they managed to survive the night without killing anyone, and even more impressed that they'd made the five hour journey without killing each other. Even with the new, perhaps temporary addition to their group, the journey was swift and relatively pleasant. Well, Arala found it pleasant, but she finds pretty much any conversation pleasant. She isn't entirely sure if the others share her opinion.

Regardless, they're at the gates. The stonework is beautiful and macabre—beautiful because it's macabre. She finds the probably unintentional tribute to Death to be reassuring; it reminds her of the headless dolls of her childhood. But she can't see much past the newly opened gates, and who knows what dangers lurk inside?

Angel Bones hops to her hand. Without a hint of effort, Arala pulls a drop from the flow of magic and changes her familiar's colors from the soft pink, yellow, and green to a dark mist-gray. He almost looks like a funny crow. All the better to blend in, of course.

He reads her intention and flies through the gates, and Arala remembers her companions. "Ah, it's probably a smart idea to scout ahead," she says, a tad sheepish. Arala closes her eyes and borrows the senses of Angel Bones as he flies.
 

WlfSamurai

Maelstrom Engineer
Arala, Angel Bones flits through the open gate, into the misty forest beyond. After a few moments, you enter its consciousness to see what it sees and hear what it hears.

You can see the muddy road. The trees of the forest on each side is more dense and ominous. The mist is thicker and seems to press in from all sides. Then, you catch a glimpse of a corpse in the brush off the road.

And then your sight ends. You’re back to your own senses outside the gate.
 

dae mec

Birds are cool. 🐦
Arala blinks, and Angel Bones flies back to her hand, his usual colorful shades again. He whistles. "Glory, glory!"

She ignores him and turns to the group. "There's a muddy road, dense forest and thick mist ahead. I couldn't see much, but I do know there's a dead body barely a step off the path. We should be careful; whatever killed the departed soul might still be around."
 

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