Carnival of the Apocalypse - Mists of Ravenloft

1/21/17 Session Recap - Part 4
A meeting with the Baron

The chained man in the makeshift cell next to Creed turned out to be a villager who had dared to speak out against the Baron’s endless “festivals.” As a repeat offender, he had been dragged into the cell and starved rather than endure the usual punishment of being locked in the stocks on the village square. The party got the feeling that they had probably saved the man’s life.

Unfortunately all of the commotion soon drew the footsteps of the absent guard. The party elected to hide in the cell, waiting in ambush for the guard to arrive. Upon angrily opening the door, the man did not even have a chance to cry out before Onika clubbed him into an unconscious heap.

This additional noise proved to be too much for the Baron’s dogs, who broke into a cacophony of deep throated barks and howls. The party then stepped out into the hall to confront the baron as he and his dogs burst from the room nearby. Acting swiftly, Francisco was able to utilize another sleep spell which rendered the two mastiffs incapacitated before they had covered five paces. The Baron himself advanced uneasily with his rapier drawn, but upon seeing Onika and her massive great axe, he quickly lost his will to fight and surrendered to the mercy of the party, seeing just how outmatched he was… To be concluded!

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1/21/17 Session Recap - Part 3

The party elected to wait until darkness fell to approach the Baron’s manor. The streets were eerily quiet as they made their way through the village and eventually to the mansion without being seen. Rather than take the front entrance, they discovered a small door at the back of the house. Leaning in to listen at the door, Francisco was able to detect off-key singing as well as the unmistakable smell of food cooking from beyond the door. This presumably was the entrance to the kitchen.

Luck continued to favor the group and they were able to enter the room unimpeded, where Onika Zordal quickly incapacitated the surprised cook with a sleeper hold. Tying him up in the storeroom, they left Ismark and Ireena behind to ensure that the man stayed unconscious while the rest of them searched for Creed.

A’Nonce and Francisco proceeded to quickly explore the ground floor of the manor, avoiding those areas where human voices could be heard. For the most part, the first level was unremarkable, though the foyer was filled with bundled twigs and sticks of varying sizes stacked haphazardly against the otherwise well appointed walls. The party deduced that these bundles were to be used at the upcoming “Festival of the Blazing Sun” they had seen advertised in the town square.

Choosing the servants staircase in the rear of the house adjoining the kitchen, the party made their way up to the second level. They were again able to remain silent and avoid detection, though there were a couple of tense moments; the sound of an armored guard tromping through the hallway towards the main stairwell, and the growling and snuffling of what sounded like one or more large dogs.

The first few rooms they explored were fairly unremarkable, however an odd, full-length mirror in what must have been the lady of the house’s dressing room gave the party an uneasy feeling they could not explain. Ever curious, A’Nonce pressed a hand against the glass and found it unnaturally cold to the touch. Time was of the essence however so rather than investigating further, the group continued their search for Creed.

The master bedroom held a perfectly preserved wedding dress on a manikin and also a trapdoor in the ceiling leading to the attic. A’nonce opened the trapdoor and quickly peaked in, revealing a dusty but otherwise empty room devoid of any signs of life. Closing the trapdoor, the group resolved to first finish exploring the 2nd floor.

The hallway where they had earlier heard the sounds of a patrolling guard held several more doors. Ever cautious, the group methodically investigated each of these. The first revealed a bedroom filled with dolls; all of which bore the likeness of Ireena Kolyana. Onika Zordal recognized the handiwork of Gadov Blinsky the toymaker immediately and explained in whispered tones what had occurred earlier at the toymaker’s shop.

Across the hall, the faint smell of pipe smoke wafted under an oaken door and a man could be heard speaking in soothing tones to one or more dogs, which as of yet had not smelled the intruders (probably thanks to the aforementioned smoke). Leaving this door closed, the party made their way to the end of the hall where they heard a moan of pain, the rattling of iron chains, and Creed’s unmistakable voice saying “You still haven’t bothered dying yet?” in a sarcastic tone.

The door was locked but proved easy to pick, and sure enough, Creed and an unknown man were shackled to the far wall of what must have originally been a closet but now served as a prison…

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1/21/17 Session Recap - Part 2

A’Nonce returned to the room where the party was staying to discover Ismark hovering over an increasingly ill-looking Ireena. The young woman’s condition was becoming more pronounced and she complained of extreme fatigue as evidenced by her sunken eyes and haunted appearance. A concerned A’Nonce had her drink some holy water to see how she reacted, and was relieved to see that while she found it bitter, there were no ill effects.

Due to Ireena’s deteriorating condition, Ismark decided to consult the priest at the local Church to the Morninglord. Returning around an hour later, Ismark informed A’Nonce that the priest had told him that they might seek a cure for Ireena at the Abbey of Saint Markovia, located in the mountains near the village of Kresk. The Abbot there was rumored to be a powerful servant of the Morninglord and a cleric of considerable ability.

Meanwhile Onika left D’aim behind at the stockyard and returned with her new found pet monkey to the inn by a circuitous route due to the presence of some town guardsmen who seemed to be looking intently for something or someone. This brought the barbarian to the town square, where she witnessed several prisoners including children languishing in stocks at the center of the square. As she Onika struggled with her conscience in regards to the prisoners, Izek Strazni and a pair of guards arrived and began posting notices advertising the coming “Festival of the Blazing Sun” (while simultaneously removing the “Wolf’s Head Festival” decor). Wanting to avoid trouble and report her findings to the rest of the party, Onika reluctantly made her way back to the Blue Water Inn with no further incident. Izek Strazni had piqued her attention however due to the fine quality battle axe strapped to his back and the deformed and twisted arm (covered in scales and spines) that he made no effort to hide. Upon informing A’Nonce of this strange site, the cleric voiced his suspicions that Izek might be a tiefling like the still-missing Creed.

Francisco Ilozaren also made his way back to the inn after parting company temporarily with Secomber and Fluffy. Strumming his lute as he strolled through the streets of Vallaki, the bard soon had a handful of local admirers shadowing his steps, including a elderly man who warned Francisco to avoid the Vistani. Unfortunately this attention also attracted a pair of town guardsmen who were apparently searching for the party. They intended to arrest the bard, but Francisco was not having it and cast a sleep spell on the two before they could apprehend him. With the guards dealt with, Francisco quickly returned to the inn.

Soon after Francisco made his way to the party’s room, Danika Martikov landed on the window sill in raven form, tapping frantically on the glass. The party let her into the room where she reverted to a raven-human hybrid form (similar to that of an arakocra) and informed the party that Creed had been captured and had been escorted to the Baron’s manor.

The (now fragmented) Feldspar’s Fables along with Ismark and Ireena, who had improved somewhat after getting a little rest, decided that they could delay the meeting with Baron Vallakovich no longer, and so made their way to confront him and rescue Creed….

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1/21/17 Session Recap - MIA

OOC Note – 4 characters/players were absent for this session – Brandon if you are reading this can you please let me know if you intend to continue with the campaign?

Breeze had not been seen since before the party arrived in Vallaki. The aracokra had departed on a scouting and recon mission and has yet to return…

Secomber Jon (“Sec”) Richhome has become increasingly concerned with the welfare of “Fluffy” who has shown heightened agitation since entering Barovia and chose to take the beast on a nature-walk of sorts out in the woods surrounding Vallaki.

Da’im discovered some unusual mushrooms growing in a manure pile at the Vallaki Stockyard and mumbled something about procuring samples before returning to the Blue Water Inn.

Creed was captured by the Baron’s guards and led away into the manor house where he was locked in a closet/cell with another unfortunate prisoner.

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The Nameless Knight

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The ever present Mist filled the empty sockets where his eyes had once been, filled his nasal cavity and seeped through the bones of his rib cage. He should not have been able to feel the cold, clinging dampness of the Mist as his nerve endings had rotted along with his flesh centuries ago, and yet the sensation was there as always, a reminder of his unending quest.

He must find a way out of the damnable Mist if he was to warn the others. He would not, could not, fail in his purpose else all was lost. There had been an attack, that much he clearly remembered. Brigands had beset him as he traveled over the nameless pass. Attacked with such ferocity, unhorsing him and shattering bone… and yet the Nameless Knight rose once more, as he had so many times in the past. He would know no rest until his quest was done, of this he was sure.

Through dark sockets that somehow perceived the world around him, the Knight spied his warhorse standing soundlessly nearby. Like himself, the beast was a fleshless skeleton somehow animated, bound to the Mists and the quest as surely as the Knight himself was. The brigands had stripped the steed of its chainmail barding, and for the first time in many years, the Knight had a new purpose. He could not let the insult stand.

The skeletal figure paused in sudden contemplation, as this new purpose filled his consciousness. The Mists would have to wait. Vengeance must first be served. It was somehow invigorating, these unbidden thoughts. The Knight had forgotten his previous life, his name, his homeland, everything… had thought of nothing but escaping the Mist these many years past, but now he suddenly had a new purpose.

Suddenly, the revenant could sense his quarry. The had traveled west, out of the mountain pass and to the valley beyond. Retrieving his broken sword from the cold ground, the Nameless Knight soundlessly mounted his skeletal steed and set off at a brisk trot, the Mist forgotten for the moment.

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Lost

Rath Feldspar pulled the hood of his threadbare cloak lower over his brow in an effort to mitigate the effects of the stinging wind and the sub-zero temperatures of the forsaken mountain pass he found himself in. At least the wolves no longer trailed him as he ascended higher and higher into the nameless mountains.

Feldspar was no longer a young or even middle-aged dwarf however, and this was beginning to have a telling effect on his progress along the trail. His memory hadn’t been as sharp as it once was either, and he cursed himself for a fool for allowing himself to become so hopelessly lost. He had to get back to the carnival. He had matters to attend to and a show to put on for the villagers of Red March… no, that wasn’t it. What was the name of that pleasant little town again?

His legs creaked and ached with every step now, and he could feel the first signs of frostbite numbing his fingers and toes as icicles formed on his bushy beard. Feldspar was not dressed for the winter, but it had been spring, he could have sworn… when he left the encampment. Why had he left and to what purpose? Feldspar could not remember no matter how hard he concentrated, a feat which was becoming increasingly difficult as he trudged forward and the snow began to fall in earnest.

The old dwarf knew he had to find shelter, and soon, or succumb to the elements. Just as things seemed hopeless in that regard, he spied what looked like carvings in the face of the mountainside ahead, fifty feet tall at least and set into alcoves. Hooded figures, cloaked and cowled, hands clasped before them in prayer, and carved of solid amber if Feldspar’s old eyes did not deceive him.

More importantly however was the yawning archway between the two innermost statues… a doorway into the mountain and out of the fearsome storm. Thoughts of what might wait within bothered Feldspar briefly, and he longed for the days when he could wield a battle axe like an extension of his hands. Feldspar was unarmed though save for a dagger, and if he stayed outside he would surely perish. With grim determination, his mind made up, he entered the amber archway and descended into darkness…

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A Hag's Vengeance

Morgantha the Night Hag stood on the precipice overlooking the valley and the flickering lights of distant Vallaki. If the steady drizzle bothered her, the ancient crone showed no sign of discomfort as her burning gaze surveyed the valley below, fixed on the walled village.

“Doubtless they think themselves safe” she muttered to herself. “Soon they will learn that Strahd is not the only power worthy of fear in this cursed land.” She hocked a gobbet of phlegm on the ground as she spoke the vampire’s name, as if daring him to hear and respond.

Morgantha was an ancient being, a denizen of the Shadowfell, and one of the few creatures in the land of Barovia who did not fear “The Devil” Strahd von Zarovich. She respected him and his power certainly, but the night hag feared no being living or dead.

Turning away from the overlook, she hobbled back towards the decrepit windmill the locals aptly referred to as “Old Bonegrinder” and made her way inside where her two younger sisters were grudgingly cleaning up the mess that the rude interlopers had left behind. She took it particularly personally that they had upended the barrel which held the viscous and vile fluid needed in what was to be her latest summoning ritual. How dare they! The audacity… well soon they would pay the price for their interference. Morgantha swore it on The Raven Queen and Mother Night. By the dark gods they would pay…

“Sisters” she cackled, “Put your backs into it… we’ve a ritual to prepare!”

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Bird Thoughts
Breeze journal entry

I awoke this morning craving a flight. My knees and shoulders have been sore every morning since that damnable haunted house, and I can’t seem to stretch them out. This land has restricted my flight freedom for a time, and I find that has entered my dreams as thoughts of home and mountain flights.

My adventures have been exciting – but I fear I am failing my people. I have not met the kings of this world, nor the influencers of the future. Am I actually failing, or are these adventures the stepping stones to leadership attention? Is all of this a reflection of this land and the incessant mist and attitudes of its inhabitants? And dammit, why are my knees creaking?

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Supplemental: Fortunes of Ravenloft
Madame Eva's Tarokka reading

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Madam Eva lays the worn Tarokka cards out on the silk covered table before her in a cruciform pattern, her motions trance-like, her piercing eyes closed. Those eyes suddenly flicker open, revealing glazed, milky orbs suddenly devoid of pupils. She draws the first card and holds it aloft so that all can see…

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“This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient evil will help you better understand your enemy. Look for a den of wolves in the hills overlooking a mountain lake. The treasure belongs to Mother Night.”

The old seer draws a second card and continues…

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“This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope. Find the mother – she who gave birth to evil.”

Setting The Shepherd aside, Madame Eva reveals a third card…

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“This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight. Look for a wizard’s tower on a lake. Let the wizard’s name and servant guide you to that which you seek.”

Flipping over the fourth card reveals…

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“This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness. I hear a wedding bell, or perhaps a death knell. It calls thee to a mountainside abbey, wherein you will find a woman who is more than the sum of her parts.”

Pausing for effect, the Vistana reveals the final card…

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“Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him! He waits for you in a place of wisdom, warmth, and despair. Great secrets are there.”

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March 2016 through September 2016 Recap Part 3
Death House - Part 3

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As the party ascended to the upper levels of the house, the atmosphere took a turn for the worse. Now the manse showed signs of neglect; Dust and cobwebs covered the floor and walls and the rooms and hallways were unlit.

Without warning, a decorative suit of armor animated and attacked the party… a taste of things to come. Reaching the top floor, the group discovered the boarded up bedroom of the children, and once again encountered their apparitions.

At the direction of the spirits, the party discovered a secret door leading to a spiral staircase which descended into the basement and dungeon level that lay below the house. Here the party found themselves in ancient catacombs which stretched out seemingly in no discernible pattern in all directions.

To add to the growing sense of dread, a mysterious, eerie chanting filled the dungeon corridors. The undead occupants of the house began to attack the party in earnest as they made their way through the haunted hallways, eventually discovering a partially submerged chamber and the source of the chanting….

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