ThePlanesAreThinning

Session #11: I swear, I'm telling the truth!
Oh look, it is proportional!!!

After a last minute rescue, the party is blindfolded and taken to an unknown location in Vallaki. They are left in the company of a Dragonborn who was also taken against his will. Their new companion was also singled out by Baron Vargas Vallakovich after making public his disdain the Burgomaster and the mantra he inflicts in the village residents, “all will be well”.

The group is taken to the dining room to meet their mysterious benefactor, Lady Fiona Wachter. She expresses her hate for the Burgomaster, Vargas Vallakovich, and his son Victor, who left her daughter waiting in the altar. During the course of the dinner, she explains her plans to remove Vargas from power and , to the shock of the group, made no excuses about her love for Strahd Von Zarovich. After detailing her plans, she casts a spell and asks the party if they are going to help her in these endeavors in exchange for an antidote to the poison she laced the food with.

With the exception of Elhof and their new Dragonborn companion, the party is able to skirt their way around the answer and leave the mansion in two groups, one to kill Izek and the other to kidnap Victor with the intention to betray Lady Fiona and rescue their companions. Meanwhile, Elhof and the Dragonborn are left in the basement, naked and without any weapons, to serve as part of an intricate ritual to summon a terrible creature to the aid of Lady Fiona.

All three groups are suddenly rescued by the Keepers of the Feather and taken to the Blue Water Inn, where they meet Rictavio once again. Rictavio and Urwin reveal their role in the resistance against Strahd and the meaning of Madam Eva’s reading.

What will the group do? Help fix the civil war they helped fuel in Vallaki? Rescue Ireena? Leave everything behind and go to the Amber temple? One thing is for sure, Elhof and the Kepeshmolik shaman will require some clothing…

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Session #10: On the run
Stop, murderhobos!

The party is now on the run from the Vallakian guards who chase after they broke into the house of Baron Vargas Vallakovich, searching for the source of an evil presence.

Thanks to the timely intervention of Kaladin and Kuric, the group is able to face a much smaller contingent and continue their escape not without some casualties, as the group ends killing five of the guards in their search for safety.

Ultimately however, the overwhelming numbers of the Vallaki guard surround the team who is suddenly rescued by a group of mysterious hooded figures…

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Session#9: Don't drink and cast
Frat parties have nothing on this party

Our courageous team finally makes it into Vallaki, looking for the Burgomaster’s help in protecting Ireena and fulfilling the deal they made with her adoptive brother Ismark. As they searched for directions in this village, they noticed that everyone in this town repeats somewhat nervously, “All will be well!”.

The Burgomaster, Baron Vargas Vallakovich, is a petulant leader convinced that he can keep the town safe and the source of the words repeated by the village. After talking with Little Wing and Ismark, he agrees to take Ireena into his protection. The Baron quickly dismisses the party and they are left with his wife, Lydia Petrovna who gives them a quick tour of the state.

During this tour, Little Wing senses something wrong and through her divine connection to Sune, notices traces of evil coming from the third story of the house.

The group decides to go to the Blue Water Inn to talk about how to investigate the source of this evil aura in the Burgomaster’s house. Urwin Martikov and his wife Danika Martikov, offer them lodging and food while giving them general information about the village.

In the inn, the party is harassed by a couple of trouble makers (Szoldar and Yevgeni) who challenge them to an arm wrestling match that Parriwimple wins with no trouble. This little demonstration, earns the group the attention of one of the guests at the inn, a bard and circus owner called Rictavio who invites Elhof, Granik, Little Wing and Janus to eat and drink at his expense. He asks the group to meet him later at night at his wagon in the Arasek Stockyard near the entrance of the town.

These drinks however, proved to be too strong for the team and they felt compelled to walk towards the Burgomaster’s mansion and dare Janus to turn invisible and create a ruckus that would give the party an opportunity to investigate the third floor.

In the middle of the confusion created when a drunk and invisible Janus pulled the tablecloth from the daily tea-and-sandwiches party organized by the baroness, Elhof was able to help the rest of the group talk their way past the guards and more importantly, Izek Strazni while they headed carefully towards the third floor where they found the bodies of two servants around the traces of an incomplete teleportation circle made by the Burgomaster’s son, Victor.

Victor, who seems to despise his father and wants nothing more than to escape the dreadful lands of Barovia, is surprised by the party and calls for help, forcing the team to break through the window and run away from the authorities.

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Session #8: Are we there yet?
Jiraiya would be proud of Janus...

After enlisting Parriwimple in their mission to defeat Strand, the party leaves Barovia to fulfill their deal with Ismark and deliver his sister Ireena Kolyana to Vallaki.On their way there, Little Wing takes the opportunity to learn more about Kuric while keeping watch over the camp.

As the team enjoyed a small break by Lake Zarovich – well, everyone but Janus who mysteriously disappeared as Little Wing and Ireena were taking a bath -, they were surprised by a group of bandits who kidnapped Ireena and took her to a cave. In the last minute, the party rescued Ismark’s sister who was being held on top of an altar and defeated the cultists that carried the mysterious ritual.

What was the purpose of this ritual? Why was Ireena kidnapped?

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Session #7: Mama, I'm coming home
Seriously, I totally meant for that to happen

After some heavy drinking in the aftermath of Madam Eva’s reading and the prophecy shared in a trance by her, Kaladin and his faithful Rabbit Skull, the party arrives to the decision to go back to Barovia and find this “Mama’s boy” that is supposed to help them in their struggle against Strahd Von Zarovich.

Their travels were briefly interrupted by a pair of bandits. One of them, “Captain Jack”, looked sick and as the battle ensued, fell on the floor convulsing shortly after the sky turned red and a crackle of lightning split the horizon for an instant. When he arose again, his eyes had changed and new monstrous eye like organs emerged from the palm of his hands, each looking in the direction of one of the party members. Thinking quickly on their feet, the party was able to subdue and ultimately destroy this fiend before the creature, with its new found powers, was able to deal any damage.

After returning to Barovia, the group found that this “Mama’s boy” was non other but Bildrath Cantemir’s nephew, Parriwimple. After some negotiations, Bildrath agreed in convincing his nephew to join the party.

While these negotiations were taking place, Ireena and Kuric discovered a letter that seemed to resonate on the Bard. What the mystery behind this ruined missive?

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Session #6: There is no party like a Zombie party
Lick me and I'll be yours...

As the party walked to the graveyard to lay to rest the last remains of Barovia’s Burgomaster, Kolyan Indirovich, Strahd and a small army of undead creatures and direwolves ambushed them. The vampire seemed almost jovial, playing with them while making a small display of his power.

Taking charge of the initial strategy, Little Wing organized the group’s response to this unprovoked attack. They came together as Elhof’s intense faith in Kord helped him turn several of the wretched undead creatures away from the party. Kaladin somehow multiplied himself providing a good source of distraction while Granik smashed several of the direwolves. On the opposite side of the graveyard, Kuric marked with fairie fire one of the Wights, giving Janus an opportunity to rain magical darts on the foul creature. Through all this, Strahd seemed amused, smiling to them before even moving a finger.

Sudden scratching noises came from somewhere underground and a severely bruised Urth Stormind together with Akame came back to the aid of the group. How did they escape?

Alas, not everything was meant to go well. Little Wing boldly charged against the source of all the horror that has befallen Barovia, and succumbed in a moment of weakness to Strahd’s charms, willingly letting him take a first taste of her blood before turning against the party.

Seeing this, Elhof went to her aid. Strahd’s interest in the follower of Kord rose and he offered the fierce priest an opportunity to become his consort. He however was able to resist his advances for the moment and turn the tide as Strahd turned one of the zombies into a gigantic dinosaur.

After a few minutes, the vampire lord decided to end this charade and retire back to his castle.

The party now shaken to their core after getting a peak into their opponent’s strength, finished setting the remains of Ireena’s adoptive father to rest before heading to Vallaki.

While on the road, they came across a small Vistani camp on the shore of the Ivlis river, where in a small red and gold tent they met the mysterious Madam Eva. The Rabbit Skull started to shake as they entered the tent. Glints of light flashed from her crystal ball as she hinted details about each of the heroes deeds or secrets. After cackling like an old hag, she grabbed five cards and proceeded to tell them some hints about their future:

This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy.

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Search for the crypt of a wizard ordinaries, His staff is the key.

This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of great hope.

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A man is not what he seems. He comes here in a carnival wagon. Therein lies what you seek.

This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of light.

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What you seek lies in a pile of treasure, beyond a set of amber doors.

This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness.

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I see a young man with a kind heart. A mother’s boy! He is strong in body but weak of mind. Seek him out of the village of Barovia.

Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him!

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Look to great heights. Find the beating heart of the castle. He waits nearby.

As the group prepared to discuss the significance of this new information, light shone from Kaladin, the rabbit skull and Madam Eva’s eyes as they entered some sort of trance and in unison spoke these words:

In the midst of darkness
The lord of horror rises

Pain and Misery in its wake
The forbidden union will bring

Thanks to the forgotten ebony child
An evil pact forged in despair

Knowledge and beauty
A relic lost in time
Sorrow and madness
Tragedy and death

Pushed to the edge
The one will come

By fate
The lost children came
All hope is not lost

This event awoke mystic runes on the skull who offered Kaladin his protection in exchange of his promise that he will not let him go, a kiss and a lick to his forehead. After the ceremony, the party decided to leave the Vistani group.

Where will they go now? Will they risk it back to Barovia or proceed to Vallaki as they promised Ismark? What are the implications of Madam Eva’s words? What is the meaning of the prophecy?

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Session #5: Barovia
No silvered weapons for you!

A tormented town awaits…

After bravely vanquishing the perils of Death House our heroes head to Barovia but it wasn’t to be an event free journey. They were ambushed by direwolves that savagely tried to decimate them. Once they killed the last direwolf and resumed their journey, they noticed a dead man on the road. After searching him they found in his bag a letter from the mayor asking the sherif from Valaki help to find his daughter who had been turned into a vampire.

The letter they found on the dead messenger gave them a glimpse of the desolation ahead. After a long journey without any more incidents they arrived to Barovia and headed to the Inn to refresh themselves and ask questions. While they were in the Inn, Kaladin’s shadow surprised him by trying to choke him. They were sure that this was Strat’s doing when they met him after Death House. They restored themselves with food, ale and wine and they met Ismark the Lesser, son of Barovia’s mayor. After listening to his story they agreed to help him take his sister, recently turned into a vampire, to Valaki to try to saver her.

Agreeing that in this new venture they might find the answer on how to defeat Strat, they prepared themselves by buying rations and potions at the mercantile. On the way to Ismark’s armory they passed Mad Mary’s house and when Little Wing heard the wailing of a woman behind closed doors she couldn’t help but to offer, even force, her help to the poor woman. Mad Mary told them the story of their 17 year old daughter, Gertruda, who had been turned into a vampire by Strat and how since then had been with him.

They headed to the mansion and found signs of zombies and wolves roaming the area. In the mansion they met Ireena, Ismark’s sister, grieving her father’s dead and ready to bury him in the church’s consecrated grounds. Our heroes offered their help to bury the old man knowing that if he was left outside the wholly ground he would turn into an undead.

At the church they met Barovia’s priest and heard the tormented screams of a young vampire, his son, imprisoned in the basement. They took the old man to the cemetery to bury him and then leave for Valaki. But they didn’t know that right there they would find the origin of all this evil: Strat.

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Session #4: The basement redux
It seemed like a good idea at the time...

The party entered the last level to once and for all solve the mystery behind the voices. As they descended, it became clear that they came from beyond the portcullis in front of them. Caution led the heroes to the adjacent cell area where a chained zombie surprised Little Wing and attacked the party. Shortly after defeating the undead creature, the team found a secret opening into the ceremony room.

As soon as they crossed the threshold, the source of the chanting became obvious as ghostly figures appeared. Elhof, guided by Clangeddin Silverbeard searched the domed sacrifice room for evil creatures and found in an adjacent alcove a rising pile of debris, skin, teeth and bone called Lorgoth the Decayer. The party fought brilliantly and thanks to the combined efforts of Kuric and Little Wing, reduced this monstrosity to pieces.

The party then turned their attention towards the ghosts and realized they were waiting for someone to be laid as sacrifice atop of the altar. Kaladin tried to trick these entities by placing an illusion on the stone table, infuriating these dark entities who channeled their energy into reviving Lorgoth.

As the group ran from these catacombs and the creature reforming behind them, the house itself started to collapse trying to take the heroes down with it. On the way up, Janus fell unconscious choking after the noxious gases coming from the stove and bleeding from the injuries caused by the doors turned into blades.

Little Wing and Elhof carried him to safety just as the house crumbled and folded itself into nothingness, leaving the party standing before the Gates of Barovia

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After a well deserved rest, Little Wing and Janus woke sweating from a nightmarish vision that shortly turned into reality when a carriage showed up in the night, driven by a hooded elf and transporting two passengers, a young woman accompanied by a striking, tall man who introduced himself as Strahd Von Zarovich.

Strahd Von Zarovich made a small but powerful demonstration of his abilities by consuming Kaladin’s shadow and replacing it with his own. Before leaving, he warned the team to stay away from his woman…

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Session #3: The basement
Leeroy Jenkins and Gollum walk into a bar...

The disappearances in this damned house are getting worse. Kaladin disappeared while Little Wing, Janus and Granik descended to the basement of the Durst Mansion.

The basement looked very different than the rest of the house. Halls of brick, stone and rotten wood were interconnected by a maze of tunnels that sprawled under the ground. A muffled, maddening chant could be heard everywhere. What’s going on?

Amidst a dining room, littered with human bones in what looked like the leftovers of some sort of ritualistic banquet, a portal opened bringing Kuric and a new fellow, a cleric of the storms, called Elhof back. They escaped from Mizael, a Cambion who held them together with Akame and Urth, as prisoners with the hope of negotiating a pact with the Lords of Dread that would allow her to escape the Barovian demi-plane and head back to the ninth layer of hell.

After fighting a Grick, the group decided to take a break. Elhof driven by the agonizing, monotonous chanting, couldn’t wait around and decided to get a better sense of the source of this ominous noise, accidentally awakening a group of robe wearing Ghouls and interrupting the team’s hard earned downtime.

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The Ghouls however, were promptly dispatched by the team and decided to continue exploring the dungeon after no further complaints in regards with resting. A large room festooned with skeletons shackled to the walls, housed a large statue of a gaunt, pale-faced man with a hand on the head of a wolf and the other holding a mysterious Orb. Janus couldn’t resist the temptation and ran to study this mysterious object and triggered the anger of five shadows!

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After barely surviving the encounter, the team fought a Mimic disguised as a door and arrived to the final room of the basement. A decayed mahogany bed dominated the scene with a unlocked chest at its feet. Full of useful artifacts, including a cloak of protection and a mysterious spell book which Janus found utterly irresistible, the book proved to be the last trap of the dungeon…

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Touching the spellbook made the Ghasts of two of the cultists attack and do near fatal damage to the party, however sometimes damage is more than skin deep. The ultimate victory of the team brought with it the first seeds of discord when Elhof took the cloak after a deadly game of stone, parchment, daggers.

The party now walks towards the lower basement of the dungeon and braces itself for the final confrontation with the source of the chanting. Are Akame, Urth and Kaladin alive? Where are they? Who are these cultists?

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Session #2: New Companions
Hey, what happened to my brother?

As the team ascended through the stairs to the second floor of the Durst mansion, the lights flickered and after a few almost silent gasps, three of the members of the party disappeared: Kuric, Akame and Urth were no longer with them.

What happened? Who took my brother? Janus was desperate, since they were little, him and Urth had never been far from from each other. Alas, there was no time to dwell on these thoughts as new voices boomed below: two new figures roamed the first floor, Granik a rough Mountain Dwarf from Fâerun and his friend, a Tiefling named Kaladin. After a few words and propelled by a sense of dread, the new unwilling party decided to press on and discover the whereabouts of the little Durst child still trapped in the mansion, and hopefully some clues that would reunite them with the missing heroes.

The search throughout the house revealed terrible new facts about the Durst family. A letter located in a hidden chest close to a corpse described human sacrifices – including a child – and carried a frightening threat from a seemingly terrible lord, Strahd von Zarovich.

Further inside the living quarters of this horrific mansion, the ghost of the nursemaid attacked the party. Thirsty for revenge after the death of her son, this supernatural entity appeared twice before our heroes until it was she was ultimately banished.

Finally, the party learned the hideous truth behind Rose and Thorne Durst, they have been dead for a long time. Their parents let them die of hunger after barricading their room. These spirits didn’t fight, but one of them took solace inside Little Wing.

The group now descends to the hidden basement of the mansion. What is going on here?
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