Session 14: New beginnings
Last night’s session in our ‘D&D Curse of Strahd’ campaign saw a new dawn in Barovia and two new members join the party. We must be getting pretty confident with this Skype thing to allow someone new to travel with us – let’s just hope the Paladin’s internet connection is up to the extra pressure!
Also, my son Billy is now seven months old and has started going to sleep a little later, so rather than pushing back our sessions to compensate, he has started to join me for the first ten minutes or so. I think he’s enjoying it. At least he likes the sight and sound of dice rolling on the table. I have high hopes for him as a DM of the future. In fact, it was his Baptism recently and one of the gifts he received was this money-box.
Death in Vallaki
Last week’s session ended with my character, Kevon the Tiefling Sorcerer, slain at the hand of vampire lord Strahd Von Zarovich. His heart was punched clean out of his body.
Whilst this was a very traumatic experience for us all, it allowed me to create a new character, Kosef the mysterious assassin, and it taught me not to get too attached to my PCs.
In addition we also had a new player join us, his avatar was a gnome druid call Brunde Swash. We had spent some time over the last week coming up with a back story for both our characters, and working with the DM on how they would integrate into the campaign.
Last night’s session began with the two new characters approaching a church in Vallaki. It was clearly overrun with vampires and there were bodies strewn everywhere.
Our new and improved party consists of:
Gimble Timbers – Gnome Fighter, inquisitive, wearing a top hat and eye-patch, fighting outside the church;
Engong –Half-Orc Monk, taciturn, really fast, not a ‘people person’, fighting inside the church;
Baräsh –Dragonborn Paladin, Oath of Devotion, pious and self-righteous, very stupid, fighting inside the church;
Brundle Swash – Gnome Druid, disheveled, enigmatic, turns into a bear;
Kosef – Human Rogue, mysterious, sarcastic, acrobatic assassin, played by me.
Kevon – Tiefling Wild Magic Sorcerer, DECEASED
The Battle Continues
They had only been in Vallaki for mere moments when Brundle and Kosef spotted a large group of villagers running towards them. They were screaming and panicked. “Vampires!” one of them shouted. “Vampires attacking the church”
As the stampede passed them by, the duo saw the church in question, smoke rising from the roof and the unmistakable sounds of battle emanating from within. There was a clearly a struggle going on by the entrance to the building and amidst the confusion Brundle spotted the familiar fighting stance and fierce battle cry of his old traveling companion Gimble Timbers.
Realizing his friend was in trouble, and without a second thought for his own safety, Brundle dashed forward towards Gimble and cast Frostbite against his attacker. At this point Kosef knew that he too was probably going to be involved in this fight whether he liked it or not, and so he drew his rapier and followed his companion carefully staying in the shadows to mask his approach.
Diving Straight In
So that was it. Our characters had their short introductions and before you knew it: ROLL INITIATIVE! Both Kosef and Brundle rolled higher than the rest so they got to act first and the first thing the rest of the party knew about it was when they dived in to help Gimble Timbers.
Engong and Baräsh were oblivious to the new arrivals. They were still inside the church trying to come to terms with Kevon’s death and simultaneously fighting Strahd and six vampire spawns. The dice were not rolling in their favor and so they were not doing well.
In the first couple of rounds Engong had managed to drag Ireena out to the church’s entrance, even though she was still in shock from seeing her brother and protector Ismark destroyed by Strahd.
Meanwhile Baräsh stood over the remains of Kevon’s body, valiantly fending off the vampire’s advances, but it wasn’t long before he was surrounded with little hope for escape.
Outside the church’s entrance Gimble Timbers, Brundle Swash, and Kosef were enjoying a quick reunion as they fought off two vampire spawns. Gimble was using his silver short sword, Kosef his rapier and hand crossbow, and Brundle had turned into a bear. The three of them caught sight of Engong dragging Ireena towards them and all ran to help.
From the entrance of the church the four party members (Engong, Gimble Timbers, Brundle Swash and Kosef) could see directly down the nave and saw that Baräsh was horrendously outnumbered and pinned to the ground by six vampire spawns. But before the party could act, Strahd stepped forward his eyes glowing red with malice and intent.
Another One Bites the Dust
“Hmmm, you could be fun.” He said to Baräsh. “I want you in my dungeon. Vampires, don’t let him leave.” Strahd slashed across the dragonborn’s face with his claw-like talons, ripping apart his reptilian features. “Yes, I think I’ll make you one of mine.” He hit him again. “Oh what fun we’re going to have!” A third strike hit, this time lifting the paladin’s body clean off the ground. An almighty crack reverberated around the church as Baräsh smashed against the altar 15 feet away. The rest of the party looked on aghast.
Baräsh’s eyes rolled to the back of his head as he slumped against the wood. They flickered open, then closed, and he saw through the blood running down his face the six vampire spawn laughing around Strahd. “Oh dear, it seems I don’t know my own strength,” he said.
With his last moments Baräsh looked down at his body, and the true horror of his situation was revealed, and the reason the vampires were laughing so wildly. It seems that while his body was thrown across the room, his legs were not. Strahd had ripped the pious paladin clean in two. Baräsh took his final breath and his eyes closed for the last time.
Gimble Timbers yelled out in desperation. Brundle Swash and Kosef looked at each other in disbelief, not quite sure exactly what they had just witnessed. Engong stared, silent.
“Oh dear,” said Strahd. “Doesn’t that just annoy you so much? When you get a nice new toy and it breaks after hardly any use.” He chuckled to himself and turned to the rest of the party.
As he did, Gimble Timbers and Engong noticed something strange. They both had on their persons two bone fragments belonging to local saint Andell. As Strahd began to approach them, the fragments of bone began to vibrate and glow. They shot into the air, now emitting a bright radiance which clearly hurt Strahd and caused the other vampire spawns to turn and flee.
The fragments hung in the air, with Strahd cowering behind his arm. Then two more bone fragments shot up from Baräsh’s dead body and hovered above it.
Baräsh awoke, dazed and confused. Opening his eyes he looked down to his torso. His body was whole again. He rubbed his face and the scars from Strahd’s claws had disappeared. He was on a plane of pure brilliant white. Bright nothingness stretched across the horizon. He heard a calm but stern voice break the deep silence.
“Get up Baräsh. Go back my son.” He looked up and saw the dazzling silhouette of a glowing man standing before him, and he was not afraid.
“St. Andell?” he asked.
“Yes child. Now you must return to face Him. Become my agent of vengeance in Barovia. Renounce your old god and join me against Strahd.”
“Yes.” Baräsh nodded.
In the Church Gimble Timbers and Engong stood transfixed by the shimmering, floating bones. Strahd still cowered by the altar.
Suddenly, the dragonborn’s corpse began to tremble and his lower half began to knit itself back together. Baräsh’s eyes shot open wide; his body was made whole again. The dragonborn paladin jumped to his feet and ran towards Strahd. But not before the vampire, now screaming at the holy light turned, became a bat and fled.
“STRAAAHD!” yelled the paladin and he turned to embrace his companions. END
So, this really was a session where everything would change for us. And it was clear that the DM had been busy preparing lots for this week’s game. Baräsh’s character has now seen a pretty major overhaul, but I think it’s for the better. In mechanical terms, he’s changed from the Oath of Devotion to the Oath of Vengeance, which seems in keeping with the way the campaign is going. The player didn’t seem to mind too much either, although there might have been some earlier collusion, but he certainly didn’t know he had to die for it to happen.
A couple more things did occur after the battle. Primarily we went with Earnest Lanark to meet Lady Fiona Wachter and agreed to help her take out the Burgomaster for being so incompetent. Although we’re not sure if we’ll complete this mission, but it was useful to find out a bit more information about Vallaki.
Secondly, after assuring Engong that the druid was a vegetarian even in bear form, we more formally introduced our characters to each other. Sharing a bit of the back story for Brundle and Kosef. They were bounty hunters that traveled together and had in the past worked with Gimble Timbers. More recently they had been sent to find a man with a claw, but instead found themselves transported through the mists to Barovia and then ended up here in Vallaki. The rest of the party recognized the description of the “man with a claw”, their ‘mark’, as being Izek Strazny, head guard and scary protector of the Burgomaster.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the party was finally given a name. This happened when Gimble Timbers introduced Brudle Swash and Kosef to the others, he referred to the party as “Engong and her Associates”, and for some reason we all found this hilarious and it stuck.
Although it was a short one, this was one of my favorite sessions so far. Each week we seem to be getting deeper and deeper into the campaign and are all really enjoying finding out new things about Barovia and the party.
Finally, while I am sad to wave goodbye to Kevon, I was pleased that he did get a good send-off from the group. In Lady Fiona’s mansion, before we rested, each party member said some words about him. None of them were exactly kind words, but in truth he wasn’t that good a party member. Hopefully Kosef and Brundle will soon make themselves far more indispensable to Engong and Her Associates than Kevon ever did. I guess we’ll find out next week when the party sets about its plan to topple the Burgomaster and kill Izek Strazny.