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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 10 - Curse of Strahd

Episode 10: It Tolls for Thee

You can watch this episode on youtube here.

The Secret Episode: If you missed it, you might want to check out my review of the Waffle Crew's session at Roll20CON. Chris was a player and once it got rolling, the game was very fun to watch.

Nate's Music: Nate aka Paultin has an album that just came out. I have to say that it sounds awesome and I'm kind of blown away. He is extremely talented.
The Party

The Waffle Crew

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard 
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer 
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue

Last Time: Diath was inhabiting the body of Paultin. The group was bringing Diath's corpse to the abbey. The Abbot has the ability to raise dead. The abbey was full of freaky mongrelfolk and when we stopped, the group was hiding from a horde of mongrelfolk. Diath hid in a well, unaware that something was lurking in it...

Alert: This is a really good session from start to finish. You might want to watch it first and then read this, because a lot of fun moments are about to be spoiled.

Diath's spirit is still in Paultin's body. Chris describes it as if they were two people in a car, both with one hand on the wheel. If they disagree, they roll opposed charisma checks. Paultin has a high charisma so Paultin's got the advantage there. A tie means no change.

A weird creature in the well is climbing up toward them. Paultin/Diath decide to cast sleep. It works. The creature falls 80 feet into the water way at the bottom of the well. It immediately wakes up due to the impact.

A mongrelfolk dragging a cauldron comes into the courtyard. It will spot Paultin if it looks in the well. Diath realizes he can leave Paultin's body and possess the creature with the cauldron!

He does it. Diath is now in the body of Clovin Belview:

He has a lobster claw and a second head. The other head is a baby head.

Diath tries to communicate with the creature he is possessing. Colvin starts mentally complaining about the other mongrelfolk. He wants to starve them. Diath pretends to be his conscience to get him to do what he's supposed to.

Clovin/Diath goes down a hall and spots a big creature. He offers it food.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group is in the courtyard. It's just them and the creepy creature chained to the post. The group gets together and Evelyn is finally convinced that Diath really is a disembodied spirit.

Evelyn immediately runs after Diath yelling "Yayyyy!"

Diath approaches the creature. It's a humanoid made from the body of many other creatures - a flesh golem. Diath tries to order it to feed the mongrelfolk. It picks up the cauldron and stands there. Hey, he should try to possess the golem!

I get confused without a map, so here it is.
Diath calls on the other mongrelfolk to come get the food, and he slips into a side room. In there, 4 mongrelfolk are brawling while a fifth one watches and cackles. He tells them to get food, but they think he's up to something. He tells them to "grow some balls" and he leaves.

He goes to a room across the hall. More mongrelfolk are in there. They hold empty bowls up at him. He grabs a ladle and start feeding soup to the mongrelfolk.

Evelyn comes upon this scene. She uses her winged boots to take flight. She hugs the flesh golem and yells, "Diath!" So awesome.

The golem thinks this is awkward. Diath sets her straight. Diath leaves the mongrelfolk body and is now an invisible ghost. The group gets together, grabs Diath's dead body and explores the place. 

They come to a room (S17 Loft and Belfry) that contains a table holding a humanoid shape covered by a black shroud. There's also a huge bell in here. This is the bell Clovin rang before dragging the cauldron out for feeding time.

Evelyn yells out for The Abbot. To the group's shock, The abbot answers. He's downstairs.
Vasilka and the Abbot
Evelyn meets the Abbot. The Abbot is very handsome, almost like an angel. Next to him is the bride, "The Lady Vasilka." She bows.

Upstairs, Strix uses mage hand to see what's under the shroud. It's a creature made of stitched together parts. Somehow it has Paultin's head and some of Strix's body parts!

Evelyn talks to the Abbot. The Abbot agrees to raise Diath if the group will get a wedding dress. Evelyn congratulates the couple - she thinks the Abbot is marrying Vasilka.

Evelyn tries to persuade the Abbot to raise Diath now.

Heyy... Chris says that Strix and Paultin look again, and now they just see a pile of women's body parts. Barovia is messing with their heads! I had my fingers crossed for the Super Skrull of D&D.

Wow, Diath possesses the body of Vasilka. He slowly realizes that this woman isn't alive. There are seams on her powdered skin. Yes, Vasilka is a flesh golem.

Diath is in control of Vasilka, and he tells the Abbot he doesn't need a dress to marry him. Evelyn offers to perform the wedding.

The Abbot points out that she is actually a gift for Strahd! He wants to try to calm Strahd down by giving him a bride.

Diath/Vasilka tells the Abbot that his heart belongs to him. The Abbot gets.. an erection. What an epic episode. The Abbot is happy and flummoxed - he's at a loss for words.

Paultin spots a violin and plays it to enhance the moment.

Diath talks in a lady voice as Vasilka and tries to convince the Abbot to resurrect.. him. Jared cracks me up by trotting out the phrase "light-touched folk" and finishes off this tour de force by saying that the Abbot should: "...return their excellent and underappreciated friend."

Chris gives Jared inspiration! Maybe James Introcaso's use of inspiration in the Roll20 game got Chris thinking about it in the past day or two. It's such an easy thing to forget.

The Abbot agrees to resurrect Diath right now.

Strix hates the Abbot. She breaks a candle and gets into an argument with the Abbot.

Evelyn unfurls the corpse burrito on the table. Diath's corpse is gray and white.

Strix threatens the Abbot. She says that if Diath comes back crazy, she's going to destroy him. She makes an intimidation check. She rolls a natural 20! Ha.. what an awesome episode.

The Abbot casts raise dead. Vasilka staggers as the spirit of Diath leaves her and enters his own body. Strix watches closely and is certain that the Abbot used necromancy.

Paultin puts a hand on his shoulder and says: "Diath. You were inside of me." They share a moment.

Strix demands to see his spellbook. The Abbot says he doesn't need a book.

Chris asks Jared to roll a d100 but doesn't say why. It's a secret. Jared rolls a 29.

I don't want to spoil it. If you're dying to know, check out the left column on page 260 of the DMG.

Chris decides to direct message Jared the information on twitter right now.

Evelyn decides to use her paladin power of divine sense. Awesome! Check this out:

How about that?
Evelyn realizes that the Abbot is a celestial. She bows to him. Strix tells Evelyn that even celestials can be bad. I love that she knows this. In Hellbound, one of the central figures in the three adventures is a celestial who is giving weapons to demons and devils.

Clearly Holly knows a heck of a lot about Planescape. She constantly uses the slang, which is really hard to keep straight. There's so much of it. She's got it down pat.

Evelyn decides to detect evil on the Abbot. She senses the presence of powerful evil coming from the Abbot and tells him so.

The Abbot gives a speech. He declares that there is no way he is evil. He tends to the mentally ill, he helps people, etc.

Evelyn says that sometimes good people inadvertently walk the wrong path.

To prove he's a good dude, he gives Diath a potion that can heal for a whopping 8d4+8.

There's a bunch of back and forth. Strix hates this guy. Things are getting tense. The group seems uneasy about attacking a guy who just raised their friend from the dead.

Paultin notices somebody watching them in the distance. She's got one wooden leg. She looks like this:

This is the woman that Madame Eva told Paultin about in the fateful Tarokka reading. That's where we stop!

The group hits level 5. Next week is Origins and E3. No game next week. Son of a dang.

Chris asks where the group will head next. They say the Wizard of Wines.

  • (42:02) Evelyn realizes Diath is alive and runs after him like a maniac
  • (50:42) Evelyn hugs a flesh golem 
  • (1:20:40) Diath wants to marry the Abbot 
  • (1:31:56) Strix threatens the Abbot

Let's Heap Some Praise: I'm not sure what else to say except that this was an awesome episode. Everything was good! The whole group was fantastic. These last few sessions have been Jared spotlight episodes and he took the ball and ran with it in a major way. Anna is completely unselfish (one of the traits I most admire in a player) and Holly is hilarious. All of them had their wits about them, too. They utilized their abilities in a clever way and every player had a classic line somewhere in there.

The Perkinsonian Institute of DMing: Chris was so smooth jumping between the characters. I think I would have gotten clumsy as a DM when Diath went off with the golem and Evelyn ran after him. You don't want players to be sitting there watching the others do stuff for too long. Chris has an awesome sense of pacing and a really light touch as far as giving clues and details.

The Absorbing Men and Women: On just about every single D&D stream or show, there comes a point where I have a hard time paying attention. Sometimes I have to leave it and come back the next day. This episode is one of the only ones on any show where I was completely sucked in and the time flew by. 


Pitfiend said...

I was looking forward to this episode and it sure delivered. I do have some observations though that bothered me while watching it.

First would be Paultin's unresponsiveness, he has been so passive this time around to the point his presence in this session was completely unnecessary. It is as if he's lacking any sort of initiative and is merely there for the ride, might as well been a spectator.

Second would be Chris's intriguing decision to reveal the Abbot's casting of the raise dead spell as the work of necromancy. Despite being corrupted by Strahd's malicious suggestions, the Deva's source of spell-like abilities should still draw on the divine, as it said itself "I need no book". Its hard for me to rationalize how a celestial Deva could channel necromantic arcane powers without becoming a fiend. Fallen angels are still angels, or they are devils - a necromantic deva? doesn't sit well with me, but hey, it's Chris's game.

Lastly, describing the Abbot's alignment as evil is a testament to the problematic nature of D&D's alignments system. While I'll certainly say the Abbot is mad and certainly misguided we can't say his intentions are malicious, he's certainly not sadistic, greedy or power hungry. He may have allowed himself to dabble in forbidden arts to attempt to do good, but as far as I call tell he hasn't crossed the line into hurting the innocent to achieve this goal. Sure he experimented on the Belviews and turned them into Mongrelfolk but he only wanted to give them what they wanted and cure them of leprosy. Sure he have them steal body parts for his flesh golems which is questionable but the dead could hardly need them anymore. Sure he tries to appease Strahd, but only so he can change his dark nature. While I'd be hard pressed to describe him as Chaotic good (questionable means to a righteous end)I'd probably put him in the neutral segment. Evil is reserved for the selfish and sadistic, not the misguided.

Sean said...

Pitfiend: It really was a great episode! I was confused about the necromancy, too. I looked at raise dead on page 270 of the PH - it is a necromancy spell! At least, that's the category. The deva has the power to raise once per day, but the spell is technically necromancy. A far as Nate, maybe he's just the "watcher" type. Almost every group I've ever been in has at least one. Watchers have been some of my most loyal, dependable players. Nate is definitely hard to read. Alignment is always tricky.. that's why I love the 4e Unaligned option. You could just opt out and do your thing. Thanks!

Pitfiend said...

How very odd, all resurrection spells were reclassified as necromancy spells in the 5th edition even though only clerics can cast them. In fact all spells were reclassified as part of one of the Arcane schools of magic. This could be a source of great confusion as evident by Strix's reaction in this last session. Chris should have mentioned this was a novel design for cleric spells instead of allowing his players to reach conclusions based on past assumptions regarding how D&D works.

Sean said...

Pitfiend: Yeah it is pretty crazy! It confused me during the session, too. Maybe he'll clue Strix in next session.

Patrick said...

Hi Sean,

I noticed you have a picture of the Abbot and Vasilka in your post. I wanted to show that picture to my players, so I combed my Curse of Strahd book front to back and couldn't find it anywhere. Is it from the book? If so can you tell me what page it's on? Thank You.