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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 11 - Curse of Strahd

Episode 11: Devil's Bride

You can watch this episode on youtube here.

Last week I was googling Tony DiTerlizzi Lady of Pain art and look what I found:

That's Holly with one of the great D&D artists, Tony DiTerlizzi. Holly has a tattoo of the Lady of Pain! And she is holding the Planewalker's Handbook, which will cost you around $40 on ebay.

I'd like to hear about the Planescape campaigns she's been in. Was Strix her character in her home games or was Strix made specifically for this show?

Here's my dream: I want wizards to put out a Planescape adventure with every piece of art in it by Tony DiTerlizzi and maps by Mike Schley. I'd like it to be written by Chris Perkins and/or Monte Cook with Chris Avellone (I believe he did a lot of the writing in Planescape:Torment and defined a lot of great concepts like Ravel Puzzlewell and the Zerthimon stuff).

Holly is joining us from Australia today. She says it is winter there. It's 6 AM and it is raining.

Jared's not here this week. The group hit level 5 last week and they bust out some new spells in this session.

Mark Hulmes from High Rollers is here. I thought he was a great DM on the episode I saw, so this should be fun. Is Mark going to play Ezmerelda?

Chris partially lost his voice. I assume this is from his appearance at Origins over the last few days. He's got sort of a Barry White thing going on.

The Party

The Waffle Crew

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard 
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer 
(Mark) Ezmerelda - Vistani NPC

Last Time: The Abbot of the monastery here in Krezk raised Diath from the dead no strings attached. The group planned on heading to the Wizard of Wines to find out why they aren't making deliveries any more.

We're told that Diath is with the party, but he's so weak from being raised that he's useless. We talk about how the group sensed that the Abbot was using necromancy and the group was confused about how a celestial could be evil.

Paultin spots Ezmerelda on the stairs and immediately evaluates her appearance. He says out loud that she's an "8." Evelyn quickly scans her skeptically, thinking the score might be a little high.

Mark is playing Ezmerelda. Ezmerelda greets the group and she doesn't like the Abbot either. She decides to accompany them. She says she is a vistani, but doesn't associate with them any longer.

Ezmerelda looks Paultin over and says he isn't too bad. He's at least a 6 in her evaluation. Paultin is impressed with her banter.

The heroes go down into Kresk to collect their wolf hunters and their buddy Ireena. There is a wagon there, with villagers mustered around it demanding wine.

The deal here is that brigands "found" this wine cart and they are trying to get a lot of gold in exchange for the wine. Sounds like they ambushed the wine people and took their stuff.

One brigand has already been brought to the Burgomaster's wife. The heroes don't like the sound of that.

Suddenly, the group hears shouts. Brigands are dragging Ireena from the Burgomaster's house. Evelyn orders them to release her in the name of Lathander/The Morninglord.

There are a total of eight fur-clad brigands. Ezmerelda picks out the leader and tries to use the "evil eye" on him, to charm him.

The lead bad guy, Kiril Stoyanovich, tells the group they're here on behalf of Strahd. They're werewolves! Kiril transforms we have ourselves a combat.

One werewolf grabs poor, sickly Diath by the foot and starts dragging him away.

Ireena stabs a guy in the junk. Strix misty steps onto a rooftop. Ezmerelda tosses Ireena a silver sword and challenges the werewolves to come get her. She makes a charisma check for that and rolls a natural 20. For the rest of this encounter, almost all of the werewolves are focused on her.

Paultin uses dissonant whispers to get the werewolf off of Diath. Kiril battles Evelyn.

Kiril calls on Mother Night for aid, which offends Evelyn. Kiril bites her! Wow. Evelyn fails her save with a natural 1! Evelyn has contracted lycanthropy. Wow.

Strahd riding Beucephalus, his nightmare
Strix is up on a roof. She spots someone in the snow inside the village walls, casually heading toward them. It's Strahd riding on his nightmare, Beucephalus! The group freaks out. Strix yells out, "We have to leave!"

Evelyn starts uttering prayers. Ezmerelda says they need to run.

Strahd calls out to Ireena. He tells her to come to him - it's the only way to save her friends. Evelyn tells Ireena to ignore him because she should only marry for love.

Strahd tells Ezmerelda she is welcome to return to his dungeon rather than die here. Ezmerelda tells Strahd that once she find Van Richten, they'll destroy him. Strahd says that he, too, is looking for Dr. Van Richten.

Strahd beckons to Ireena again. It works. She's charmed! Ireena begins to approach him.

Strix casts one of her new spells. Fireball! She scorches six werewolves and destroys the wagon. Ezmerelda avoids the explosion. Ireena is knocked the ground by it, but is not hurt.

Evelyn beheads Kiril, leader of the werewolves. The other werewolves howl in sorrow. Evelyn howls in pleasure and gives an impromptu sermon about the Morninglord.

Mark points out that Evelyn's lycanthropy is starting to kick in.

The werewolves jump Evelyn and claw her She falls into negative hit points.

Symbol of Lathander, I think
When googling this image of Lathander, I came upon a huge page detailing Lathander's weird history. Apparently he is an aspect of an ancient god named Amaunator.

Paultin goes to get horses and come back playing a triumphant tune on his bagpipes.

Ireena gets on Strahd's horse. Strix cries and pees herself. Anna points out that now we know why Strix smells so bad.

A swarm of bats drops from the sky and attacks Strix on the roof! She clutches her cranium rat close to her, protecting little Stinky from the bats. Strix uses misty step to teleport onto one of Paultin's horses and yells for somebody to heal Evelyn.

Ezmerelda has a potion of superior healing. She uses it on Evelyn and heals her for 16. Evelyn wakes up and says that she met the Morninglord and he told her to continue her battle.

Paultin pulls Diath's weak body onto his horse.

The bad guys withdraw. Strahd tells Evelyn, "Your long nightmare is just beginning." His nightmare takes flight. Looks like Strahd is getting away with Ireena!

Strix casts hold person on Ireena, hoping that it will stiffen her body and cause her to fall off. Ha, what a crazy idea. She points out that horses are hard to stay on, especially when the horse is flying.

Strix casts the spell.. it works! Ireena falls 40 feet. Does anyone have feather fall? I guess not. Ireena plummets to the ground and lands with a sickening thud behind a building.

Strahd lets out a horrible scream.

That's where we stop. Awesome.

  • (50:40) The villagers have mustered 
  • (1:24:10) Strix spots someone in the distance.
  • (2:17:24) Ireena falls off the horse

This was a really great session. It flew by. I would say that Dice, Camera, Action is really on a roll. It's too bad there's so many gaps between weeks and sessions that players have to miss, but I'm happy to watch whenever they can get a session in. I think it might be harder for them to build a huge audience when they have so many missed sessions, though.

The Dangers of Barovia: I kind of like the idea of having the heroes acquire all sorts of afflictions over the course of the campaign. They could be thoroughly tainted by the evil of the realm by the time they have their final battle with Strahd.

Mark Hulmes: Mark is a great DM and he is a great player, too. He played Ezmerelda in a really fun way, came up with all sorts of neat little maneuvers and he knows the rules really well.

I think every guest on this show has been really good. I like it when they play an NPC in the book as a character. Maybe down the road someone will get to play one of the revenants like Sir Godfrey Gwilym for a session or two.

Handling a Two Hour Session: In my Planescape campaign, we play two hour sessions. I cram a whole bunch of stuff in and rocket through it, sometimes at the expense of detail and allowing things to soak in with the players. Chris seems to go the opposite way. Each session involves one sprawling, eventful encounter with lots of twists and turns. From reading his DM Experience articles, we know that this is how he ran his 4e games as well.

While I still like the way I run my game, I am interested to try running one of these massive, epic, twisty session-long combats to see how it goes.

The Werewolves: When I read through Curse of Strahd, I thought the werewolves were out of place and that they kind of muddied the tone of the whole thing. Chris has used them tonight as flunkies of Strahd. In my head, I thought that werewolves and vampires wouldn't work together, but Chris did it here and it worked just fine. In fact, the threat of lycanthropy actually made the whole session more interesting.

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