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Castle Ravenloft Session 1 / Part 2

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Castle Ravenloft Session 1 / Part 2

“Ah my guests…please join me for dinner…after that last encounter with some of the denizens of my castle you must be famished.”

My skeptical group walked into a dining room where strahd sat at the head of a table facing him (Honestly didn’t understand why the book originally sat it up for him to be RIGHT next to them as they entered the door with his back to them…that’s not the Strahd I’m roleplaying anyway). I tried to set this up as a skill challenge and even gave a disclaimer when they rolled initiative that it’s not a battle…nor does it have to be…but I think my group heard INITIATIVE…LET’S KILL SOMETHING. Lol So I didn’t run it as much of a skill challenge as I wanted to and set it up more as a roleplaying encounter with Strahd, for them to know a little about their main villain as well as for him to get a chance to know what THEY know of him. He offered succulent steak and a nice Cabernet Sauvignon Wine from a small wine vineyard that lied just outside Barovia prior to the Dark Powers swallowing up Barovia. Flaunting his wealth and arrogance he carried his conversations with the weight of his human actions, as well as told stories of the traitors of Leo Disilnya that assaulted him and how he eventually got his revenge upon him. At one point the group asked a question that, though I don’t remember the exact question, it was something to do with them intruding on his castle and that they are a threat to them in kind with, “I view you not as a threat I assure you… me I view you as little more a threat than the steak on your plates. To me you a footnote in history where as I am eternal.” It was a great line…showing his arrogance, but seconds later the sword mage lifted her glass in toast and said, “To Love…the Love that Tatyana and Sergei must of felt on their wedding night” Drinking the wine, her and the avenger had taken in a bit of Strahd’s vampiric blood making them more susceptible to Strahd’s Domination Powers….but that was only an after effect because by this point the party had gotten their wise cracks in and the angered ancient vampire unleashed his powers upon the group. Even as he turned party member against party member, he moved with lightning speed across the room and lifted the artificer off the ground by his throat choking the air from him. As the Artificer reached for a stake in his belt he instead turned to a salve of slipperiness and coated himself with it’s oily substance, sliding out from Strahd’s grasp as the vampire drew him closer to drain his life blood from his neck. But what the party didn’t know was this was only a test of their strength and seeing that the adventurers posed little threat to him he decided to lead them into a trap instead. Strahd attacked on last time casting a necrotic powered lighting bolt that hit 3 of the party members hard before he assumed his mist form and slipped through the cracks of a hidden passage way….a passage way that would hopefully lead to their dooms.

DM Notes: It’s important to note that my original intent was to run this as a skill challenge but as I said earlier I don’t think it was clear to the players that this was indeed what it was and not a combat encounter waiting to happen. So while a couple of the players tried to be diplomatic, it was said in the original and also part of my skill challenge that certain topics would anger or bore Strahd which would result in a small fight. I concluded that their end remarks failed the skill challenge (if you could call it that) and that prompted the battle. I believe it was really well done from a DM standpoint…I really got to play Strahd up, which is an encounter I’ve waited for since the start of this campaign. A summary of the battle thus in detail was that the pc’s entered the dining room where I had placed Strahd…after a bit of roleplaying…he attacked them relying on the wine a player drank to fully dominate that character turning it against the rest of the party while attacking the party’s “leader” class. (I can play this off because at this point he’s seen the party in battle several times and knows that if he could disable the party’s “healer” then they will quickly fall one by one.). After a couple of rounds he shot 3 closely positioned pcs with his “Necrotic Lightning Bolt Power” (Strahd is a spellcaster and necromancer in the older versions…and I wanted to keep a bit of that so I took the Wizard’s Lightning Bolt Power and added the Necrotic Keyword…even though it’s a power that Strahd uses in this encounter…it’s not something he’s going to rely on..which is why it’s not in his stat block I posted earlier…and also it’s something I wanted to keep to my chest to surprise the group…..SURPRISE!!!!! lol ANYWAY, following up this he escaped down a web covered passage way in his mist form…in the original module there was nothing there…but why would he escape down an empty web covered passage way when he could lead them into a trap where 3 phaseweb spiders awaited the weakened party members?....EXACTLY so with my party in pursuit they were ambushed by these beasts. The creatures were a standard encounter and really not much of a threat but the lack of their encounter and daily powers did give the pc’s a bit of a disadvantage. Finally, the spiders were defeated and the pc’s were left to think about their next course of actions…..follow the direction Strahd was leading them to…or go back the way they came and explore other rooms of Castle Ravenloft….I guess we shall soon see this week.

P.S. Did I mention how much I ENJOYED playing STRAHD???....It was so cool

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  1. Otakar's Avatar
    Very cool! When Strahd turns to mist do you call that "insubstantial" and let the character's attacks do half dammage? Just curious.
    Updated 05-28-2009 at 02:01 PM by Tamerath (No change...just meant to hit the reply button instead. Sorry about that.)
  2. Tamerath's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Otakar
    Very cool! When Strahd turns to mist do you call that "insubstantial" and let the character's attacks do half dammage? Just curious.
    Yes when Strahd assumes his mist form he does gain the insubstantial trait, which then causes all damage done to him to be halved. Good Question, I think he was hit once after he had assumed mist form but then made a swift exit after that.
    Updated 05-28-2009 at 02:02 PM by Tamerath
  3. Dimthar's Avatar
    Did the swordmage rolled "History" to be able to make his remarks in regards to "Sergei and Tatyana"?

    Is there a "reincarnation" of Tatyana in the Module?
  4. Tamerath's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dimthar
    Did the swordmage rolled "History" to be able to make his remarks in regards to "Sergei and Tatyana"?

    Is there a "reincarnation" of Tatyana in the Module?
    Yes on both accounts...but not during this encounter. Before this we have to rewind a bit. During their adventures outside the castle the PC's met with Ireena Kolyana (burgomaster's daughter which has been visited by Strahd already 2 times and if he meets up with her again then she will be completely under his the original module Expedition to Castle Ravenloft)...she went with some of the pc's to Lysaga Hill to assault the witches there that were trying to bring in a powerful demon to unseat Strahd. In play, the PC's got to the witches AS they were just finishing up the ritual and summoned the demon into the world. As the PC's faced one of the three hags, a couple of remaining witches and a guardian, as well as the Demon itself...they were outmatched...Ireena was hurt pretty badly and Strahd (who was spying on their progress the whole time) couldn't stand to lose her HE settled things himself, fighting the wounded demon along with the PC's....he was hurt himself in this encounter...he then turned on the PC's to drain them of some blood to replenish his own health...which freaked out the PC's...they ran...Strahd killed the demon, saved Ireena and flew away with her back to the castle.....whew *gasps for some air*

    lol The second part of your question (actually your first part)...The Swordmage didn't show for one game to make up the experience gap as well as some story gaps...she went on a solo adventure where she found out a little more about Strahd through Madame Eva, as well well as the werewolves of the Svalich Woods. She passed her History checks during this part, passed a couple of Skill Challenges as well to find out a little more about the history of the Land and Strahd, and increase her relationship to the Vistani and Madame Eva....and failed some other skill challenges that would have gained her a bit more information that will put the rest of the party at a disadvantage until just a little further in the story when pieces of some of this puzzle will be put together.

    At the point of the adventure where they were having dinner with Strahd...they started asking about Ireena, her whereabouts, etc....and Strahd was quickly losing his patience with them (because he's focused on HER and possessing her fully) and when they started hurling insults his way and mentioned Sergei and Tatyana then his fury overtook him and provoked the combat encounter

    Such a long winded reply, sorry about that. I just enjoy this campaign A LOT
  5. Dimthar's Avatar
    So are the players in a hurry to rescue Ireena?

    Technically she will escape Strahad somehow (suicide?) in case the PCs don't rescue here, I assume.

    I remember one tool for the DM is to introduce "Cut Scenes", where you show what is happening in a different room, just to give the PCs a sense of urgency.
    Updated 05-28-2009 at 06:25 PM by Dimthar
  6. Tamerath's Avatar
    Good advice, thank you
  7. Windstar's Avatar
    Well played, alot of players underestimate Strahd, I found even when players were playing it for the 2nd or even third time they still made mistakes due to not respecting Strahd's power. Keep the post coming.