Wednesday, June 8, 2016

RamaD&Dan: Curse of Strahd

So when Curse of Strahd came out, it inspired me a bit. I had never really looked at the original Ravenloft module (or its 2e revision, 2e reprint, 3e reimagining...) despite it being a classic. Ravenloft, the setting, likewise didn't really inspire me too much. I can kinda dig the horror and I'm apparently way too keen on undead enemies, but I never got into it as a campaign. Despite this, Strahd inspired me a bit, so I stole one idea during the Viking Bachelor Party D&D marathon, and convinced myself I could run Strahd in 5 weeks during Ramadan.

Game starts tonight.

What I've found really inspiring is a few of the villains, and the fact the module has lots of room for reactions from the NPCs. Basically, each chapter has a few options of what might happen in the location which you can use the first time the characters enter a location or wait till a later time. Oh. And Strahd himself will start actively hunting the party eventually. Yeah.

So obviously I stole that for the White Whale portion of Viking D&D, in which the party saw clear signs of what could have been a dragon, fought it in its lair twice before chasing it as it fled. The dragon was powerful, took a few PCs down but didn't quite kill any. But the players thankfully retreated when they were being licked, and so did the dragon. I can't wait to do this with Strahd and some hags.

I have a big concern though, which leads me to want to run this twice. I have about 25 hours of game play for Curse. That's maybe ok for the original module, but might not quite be enough if I want them to do much of the adventure. They need to do something levelworthy the first four sessions and then go fight Strahd on the 5th (I'm starting them at level 4, so they'll be level 8 by the end hopefully). Because running a module like this is so much prep, I want to run it a second time to get the most out of it. So maybe I'll run it again Sept-Nov, it'll be less prep the second time I'm sure.

The real hard part is figuring out what to cut. I'm working on a list of all the "heroic deeds" that players might do, which is giving me some ideas of what to chop out. There's some suggestions I've found online and at the DMs Guild to suggest how to shorten things (one interesting one is move Argynvostholt to Krezk and replace the Abbey of St. Markovia), but I think I've decided to simply remove 13 cards from the deck to begin with. This way the players won't be required to go to one of the places I'm less keen on (Argynvostholt, Abbey of St. Markovia, Tower of the Mad Mage, Van Richten's Tower, Tsolenka Pass, or the Amber Temple). I've left some in that I do really like (I apparently like hags and witches as well as undead), so those might still feature in the game.

I'm opting not to physically remove or change any places or NPCs, I just think some're just not quite as exciting to me and won't let the cards force the players to go there. I did a pre-draw and all the treasures ended up at the castle anyway, but the winery may be a red herring if they don't do a new draw in-game.

So I'm excited for this. I found a number of interesting ideas online to add in, and I'll probably put up a post soon with some of them.

Of course, anyone considering running Curse of Strahd should also check out this guide.

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