Table of Contents - A handy way to check out my articles by topic
My most recent Guides:
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
You can reach me at:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 58 - Curse of Strahd
Episode 58: Bloodbath
Art: I've started getting DCA art for the blog. I'm going to get an image of each hero and then I'll probably start getting art of scenes from different episodes. The artist of the above image is right here. She's working on Evelyn right now.

If there are any scenes you'd like to see drawn, let me know. People on twitter gave me a real good list to start off from. Ultimately I'd like to have one piece for each episode.

Twitch Stuff: I decided to subscribe to the D&D channel just to see how subscribing works. Basically, you pay $5 and you get some emoji things. Here they are:

I assume some of the money goes to them. It's $5 a month. I would really like it if subscribers got something like a .pdf guide to the show or something. Maybe with some stats in it, summaries, character sheets, that kind of thing. They could take the best fan art and stick it in there, maybe.

They say that subscribing blocks ads, but I've never seen an ad on Twitch. Maybe firefox is beating them off with a stick or something.

If you want to be my buddy, my twitch name is PowerScoreRPG. We can be buddies... together? Maybe forever!

No Nate today. Chris will be running Paultin. I like it when it's these 3 playing.

The Party

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

Last time, Strahd was about to chase Sergei and Tatyana, who fled in a horse-drawn carriage when they realized Strahd wanted to kill Sergei. Diath stabbed Strahd in the back (literally).

So, here we go. Strix gets on her broom and flies 30 feet up. Strahd gets on his horse. Diath stabs him again. Strahd takes the hit and rides off, chasing his brother.

Soldiers emerge from the castle. 12 are running at them, 12 more up on the battlements with ranged weapons. They can take them. A few Strix fireballs will take care of this. The others should get under the battlements so the soldiers don't have line of sight.

I think Evelyn could summon Mourning Glory, Evelyn and Diath could hop on and they could chase Strahd. Sorry, I'll stop backseat driving.

Diath wants to surrender. Diath is suffering from decision fatigue again.

Paultin uses his mandolin to heal Evelyn. The chat is saying that Paultin wouldn't do that.

The ground soldiers attack Evelyn. She takes a total of 21 points of damage. The ranged soldiers fire crossbow bolts at Strix. She has an AC of 14. Eep. Only one hits! She takes 8 points.

A priest of the Morninglord shows up. He casts bless on three of the soldiers.

Strix decides to go after Strahd. Land and blow them up! She's 100 feet above him. She still has the flask, right?

Evelyn uses her winged boots and disengages. She is going to fly after Strahd.

The soldiers grab Waffles.. eep. The bad guys take Paultin's mandolin. It looks like Paultin was able to turn Murderbot invisible.

Strix's hat blows off. She chases it. Dex check to grab it. She rolls a one. The hat flutters down. Strix barely stays on her broom.

Evelyn is hit by 5 bolts. She takes 22 damage. She's down! She falls from the sky and takes 9 more damage, costing her one death save.

Holly thinks if they turn off their computers this can't get any worse. But Chris will be there, waiting...

The cleric stabilizes Evelyn. Waffles scampers over and tries to revive her.

Strahd's crossing a bridge. Strix decides to try to ram him off the side. Opposed strength check. Strix rolls a natural 20! Strahd tumbles onto the mossy bridge. His horse keeps going.

He gets up and gets back on his horse. She tries to talk sense into him. He scowls and rides off.
I know natural 20's aren't crits with ability checks, but it feels like Strahd should have been dangling on the side of the bridge or something. The dice told the story.

Strix flies up and casts poison spray on Strahd. Apparently, she casts this by squeezing her pet cranium rat and it comes out like a fart cloud. She utters the immortal line: "Take my rat farts."

Strahd gets on the carriage and Jesper engages him. Strahd knocks Jesper into Strix and they both fall to the ground. Strahd's horse tries to trample them.  

Strix hits Beucephalus with a fire bolt.. Wow! the Dark Powers reach out and use the flame, transforming Beucephalus into a nightmare.

Strahd riding Beucephalus

Strix is getting out of here but doesn't want to leave Jesper. He tells her to go. She gives him her drow spell book.

She slaps the horse around with mage hand to distract it while Jesper runs away. Then she takes flight.

Back at the castle, Rahadin hobbles outside. He took piles of damage last session. The priest heals him.

Rahadin summons a phantom steed to go help Strahd. Diath tells him about the tome of Strahd. He urges Rahadin to read it. Rahadin takes the book and heads inside.

It starts to rain. Diath and Paultin are being held by the bad guys... awkward.

Strahd pulls Sergei out of the carriage. Strix stats throwing stuff at him.. the driftglobe, a heart.

Strahd draws his sword and throws it at Strix. Strix has 1 hit point left. Strix tells Strahd he's going to regret killing his brother, and she flies away.

Strix decides to fly into the village of Barovia and look for a healer.

Strahd returns with the carriage an hour later. Sergei and Tatyana are still alive. Strahd orders Leo and his mother to be brought out. Strahd decapitates Leo in front of his mother. The Duchess is dragged to the dungeon.

Then Strahd calls for Paultin. He.. decapitates Paultin!

Diath's turn... He weeps, as he realizes he let everyone down. Diath is decapitated.

50 years pass.

Strix was in the village and learned that her friends were dead. She ends up living in a hut for years. Eventually, Waffles and Simon arrive. Scarecrows start popping up, spying on Strix.

There was an uprising in Castle Ravenloft, people died, the mists came. Strahd is a vampire again.

Over time, Strix makes friends with the vistani, the dusk elves, and the actual Kasimir (Rahadin pretended to be him for quite a while).

Eventually, the scarecrows lead Strix to another hut - the creeping hut of Baba Lysaga.

Holly says that Strix spent some of her childhood in a hut with chicken feet..! Baba Yaga's hut? Really? Was this ever said before? Did she mess with the tank?

In the hut is a bathtub full of blood. Someone sits up. It's an old woman, covered in blood.

They become friends. Lysaga takes goat's blood baths that stops the aging process. She teaches Strix how to do it.

Baba Lysaga was the midwife who brought Strahd into the world. Strix is not happy when she learns this and they are no longer friends.

She makes friends with the revenants of Argynvostholt and they eventually go to the Amber Temple on a quest to resurrect Strix's friends. It is soon revealed that they make dark pacts with the vestige of the corpse star. That pact gives them the power to bring the dead back to life.

Diath awakens in a coffin. He's a corpse.. living flesh forms, blood courses in his veins. Standing around him are vistani, dusk elves, and an undead knight. Strix is there.. so is a large, very old owlbear.

Paultin's resurrected.

Diath hugs Strix. He tells her he's sorry.

Is Evelyn going to be normal again? Is Chris going to roll on the resurrection chart? Nope! Light comes into her body. She's still a construct, fully restored and covered by grave dirt. She wakes up screaming.

They'd been trapped in the ethereal plane for 50 years.

So now they've all be raised, does that mean they all have the death curse? Does it count if they're raised somewhere other than Toril?

It turns out that the group was buried that place where Diath had a vision of himself being hung.

Evelyn opens the compartment where Juniper, her mouse, was. It's dead. Strix's cranium rat is dead, too. The revenants raise them, too. I find the idea of a mouse suffering from Acererak's death curse very amusing.

Kasimir says, "Thank you for everything you tried to do." The players are very shell-shocked.

A vistani gives the adventurers a wagon. Apparently it can be used to leave Barovia.

The group is missing all of their belongings. No.. the vistani stole it all back. They also give the group two big casks of wizard of wines wine.

Godfrey leads the group out. The heroes leave Barovia and return to Toril. That's where we stop!


Not sure how I feel about this episode! Interesting, at least. The players will have a week to think about what their characters did for those 50 years.
  • Evelyn: I hate the idea that she might lose faith in the Morninglord. I mean... she wandered the mists as a spirit, probably praying for aid, and the aid never came. Hopefully she remained positive. I am still wondering why Lathander was holding that baby when her spirit came before him and the saints.
  • Diath: When raised, his immediate response was to apologize. He felt like he failed. During those 50 years, he had time to mull over what mistakes he made and how he'd do it differently. Now he has a chance to make those changes. He also had a long time to think about the keys and the other Woodrows. Also, for those who think there's a Diath/Strix thing brewing, he'd have had 50 years to think about her and how he never got to get close to her.
  • Paultin: No alcohol for 50 years. Maybe he's sober? He had time to come up with some ridiculously epic songs. Maybe a dark power reached out to him or something.
  • Strix: Strix had 50 years to learn things. I'd guess that she knows a lot about things in general, having spent time with the vistani, the dusk elves, the knights and the hag. She could have learned cool magic tricks from Lysaga. I guess she'd also be very close to Waffles and Simon. Does Simon think of Strix as his mom now?
Time Travel: This session reminded me of a few things I tried as a DM a long time ago. None of them worked, so I had alarm bells going off as this episode progressed. Two things in particular stick out:

Glossing over the Passage of Years: The heroes needed repairs for their fleet of Spelljammer ships. How long did it take? 13 years, I declared. They did not like that at all. I just wanted to add some time to the campaign, because I don't like it when technically adventurers go from 1st level to 10th in 3 weeks time. It feels wrong. But yeah, the 13 years added nothing.

Actually Changing the Timeline: Near the end of my Al Qadim campaign, I thought it would be cool for the heroes to get a magic hourglass that would allow them to actually go back in time and change things that they regretted - mainly, one character had a twin sister who died. He wanted to save her.

So time travel happened, and the changes were made. I altered the campaign to reflect the changes. It actually made the campaign feel like it was no longer valid. All these things we'd done over the course of two years were erased. It felt cheap. Worse, I couldn't remember the changes! It got very confusing.

Skipping 50 Years: In this session we had Holly play through 50 years of life in 5 minutes. I'm definitely not saying that we should have sat there for months while they played through every event, but I think I would have liked it if Chris ran a special solo session with her over the week to allow for some consequential action.

Or..! Do an episode of their spirits wandering, flashing back to their past. We could see the characters play through significant events of their youth and learn some secret things. We could see Evelyn in paladin school, Diath on the streets of Sigil (!), Strix in Baba Yaga's hut and pre-drunkard Paultin.

Maybe that would be too weird. Lots of stuff to absorb this episode.

Still in the Past? Did the group return to present-day Toril? Are they in the past of the Forgotten Realms? It would be pretty cool to have them walk right into the Spellplague or something.


sciurus said...

This whole thing has been interesting to watch as someone in a time-travel heavy game. Time travel is maybe the most tricky thing you can bring into a campaign. It gets super complicated and can really emotionally exhausting if everyone is really into their character.
Felt it stay just on the razors edge of those pitfalls (Have fallen for those more than a few times in my own campaign) . we really need a light episode after that one, though:p

glados131 said...

Well when it comes to Baba Yaga, the party members (mostly Holly and Anna) have occasionally posted stuff relating to their characters' backstories on the subreddit. Holly revealed some of Strix's early life in Sigil and later travels there.

Jason R said...

The "levelling from 1-10 in three weeks" problem is a good case for not using the standard XP matrix. It's always seemed absurd to me. Especially for long running campaigns, levelling when appropriate to the campaign seems a much better fit. It won't kill players to adventure without levelling so often, provided there is enough content in the campaign to keep them engaged.

Unknown said...

I suspect when it comes to the 50 year gap, there will be quite a few things posted on the reddit, and others apparent in game. Which based on the fact they're in a blizzard and Chris has been heavily hinting at using the Frost Giants means they are most likely in Icewind Dale now in present day Toril.

This episode left me with a lot of interesting feelings and ideas. I love how things came full circle with Stanimir. Chris introducing Baba Lysaga and the revenants also was nice, as they were parts of the adventure I felt were sorely lacking. And how Count Strahd von Zarovich will always be the vampire lord we love to hate. Now the Wafflecrew hates Strahd more than ever. It's become personal. So when he does break free from that effigy we will finally have that final battle all of this keeps building up to!

Sean said...

Sciurus: I think that if your game is about time travel from the start it might work really well. When you run a long campaign and then introduce time travel, it can get real craptastic!

glados131: Thanks, I had missed some of that stuff!

Jason R: Sometimes you get this feeling where you can't wait for them to be higher level, but then once they are level 10 they look back wistfully on the lower levels.

Nykademos: I love Baba Lysaga! I'm glad she made a cameo. The final battle with Strahd should be epic.. no idea how that will play out!