Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Curse of Strahd: Actual Play 4

This session was a shit show. We started about an hour late because of too much chit-chat and some people being 20 min late. the party headed back from Yester Hill to Vallaki, stopping at the Wizard of Wines and Krezk along the way.

First, at the winery, they had the audacity to ask for compensation for bringing the gem back. Even after Martikov reminded them that he found valuable information in his ledger about where a guildmember might be buried and didn't ask for anything (other than them leaving his house). So, Martikov knows they have the gem and sends his kin back to Vallaki ahead of them.

They go to Krezk to make sure Strahd hasn't burned it down. He hasn't, so they head back to Vallaki. Along the way I roll the skeletal rider random encounter. They pursue him and easily take him down, learning nothing.

Back in Vallaki, they learn Rictavio has hastily left town and meet Gadof Blinsky, to my delight. Everyone loved it, and they bought an Ireena doll and a Strahd doll. Ezmerelda showed up late because Vistani aren't welcome in Villaki, and they had heard from Ireena and Ismark there was a strange man staring at them for a while. Putting together clues from the toy shop and the Inn, they realize Izek has some shady interest in Ireena. Ezmerelda asks them what they'll do about Ireena since she's not safe, so they pursue the St. Andral's Bones hook a bit.

The party talks to the orphans in the town square where they were gathering before the parade. They get Yeska to come with them while the paladin has a biggest-dick competition with Izek when he comes to round up the children for the parade. It was a great scene, with Izek being much smarmier than they expected. Gaining info from Yeska, they confront Milivoj about the bones and he admits the Coffinmaker paid him. At this point, however, the festival is about to start.

The blood hunter sticks around the inn, hoping he can hide and not attend the parade while the others look for the coffin maker around the town square. For some ungodly reason, the blood hunter starts the Blue Water Inn on fire. I guess he rolled well on an insight check to know that for some reason the innkeeper didn't like them much, but I didn't think that was a reason to deprive someone of their livlihood.

As the parade progresses in the town square, the party is horrified at the lone laughter. The paladin steps in to light the wicker sun with his sunsword, and the sorcerer casts disguise self to appear as a guard and convinces the other guards that he's got the prisoner handled. The swashbuckler keeps the crows torn between what they should do, and Fiona Wachter makes her play and tries to convince people that they should oust the Burgomaster and serve Strahd. The party was totally thrown by the Burgomaster trying to keep people happy and deposed  him, leaving his son in charge after a brief stint of thinking that the Burgomaster's wife was in charge.

Meanwhile, through some very delayed cut scenes (I'm proud of leaving the bard in suspense by constantly cutting to him for 1 round of action before cutting away), the bard found the coffin maker and went to his shop, forcing the coffin maker to show him where the relic was. The coffin maker reluctantly went upstairs and was killed by the bard's shatter spell when the vampire spawn woke.

Unfortunately, this accelerated the St. Andral's bones plot, so when the whole party realized there were vampire spawn loose in town, they eventually wend to the church to find Strahd killing the priest and they send the spawn packing.

So, now the party has really alienated the Martikovs, who have reclaimed one of the gems from the party. They've deposed the burgomaster of Vallaki, leaving the son in charge (nominally). They still need to get back to Barovia to find their greatest ally, and make it to the castle, probably stopping at the windmill on the way.

Basically, I need to prep the whole castle asap, because we're going to do a 8-12 hour marathon on Saturday and then hopefully if they're still alive they'll go after Strahd at the end of that or next week because that's all the time we've got. And lesson learned, even going through Strahd quickly... 25 hours of play wasn't enough. 40 hours for a quick game is probably more like it (I hope), unless you really cut it down to the original module.


  1. It's good to know that Strahd might take 40 hours as I was trying to figure out if I could run it this autumn, but if I did 5 hour Friday or Saturday sessions that would require 8 or 9.... which would mean I'd need to get planning soon to get people to commit to a bunch of consecutive weeks of play or just accept that it wouldn't be done before All Hallow's Eve.

    Also, I can't quite figure out all the bad decisions your players decided to make... Are they good aligned? I'd be tempted to start having consequences if so.

    1. Well, I think the consequences will be alienating their allies. The two characters that have made the most trouble are chaoric neutral (surprise surprise, going to ban that alignment I think), but the lawful good noble was asking for the reward for returning the gem to the winery. They've made enemies of basically everyone so far, so we'll see if Ireena and Ismark stick with the players for defense or if they run off with Ezmerelda. They also need to convince their innocent greatest ally to come with them still.

      As far as time goes, I'll let you know how the castle goes. I'll probably reduce the number of random encounters to half, just to keep things moving. But I think you could easily do it as a condensed module focusing on the castle and Barovia, maybe including a few of the other sites that you find most interesting and do the game in a couple longer weekend sessions in Sept/Oct. Should have a better sense of timing in a week as we'll be done then.