[DnD] Curse of Strahd 10 – An Old Friend on the way to the Castle

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I’m currently DM’ing a Curse of Strahd campaign for some friends. These posts will act as a journal of their progression, challenges, and victories.

Read the whole series of posts here.

The party awoke to the smell of smoke. The abbey was on fire. They dashed inside hoping to save the mongrelfolk, but found them with their throats slashed. They were forced to retreat from the smoke. They believed that the Abbot had killed them, and set the whole place aflame. Saddened, they decided it was time to head back East. First to Bonegrinder, to see if that’s where Rolen had made his lair.

As they left Krezk, a werewaven appeared before them. He told them the sad news that the Abbot had related – Van Richten had died. They had tried to disguise Ireena and see if Ezmerelda (as a Vistani) could escort her out of Barovia. It did not work, and Strahd learned where they were. Van Richten was beset by a dozen Vampire Spawn, and sealed himself inside Ezmerelda’s wagon. As they encircled it, he intentionally ignited the alchemist’s fire killing himself and all of them. Ireena had been taken back to Castle Ravenloft. Ezmerelda, in her grief, took off immediately to Ravenloft to take on Strahd herself.

They traveled East past Vallaki, and took the south road to Old Bonegrinder. It appeared much the same, as a decrepit windmill. But a dark fog emanated from the ground surrounding it.

Inside they initially encountered three hags, who said the “new master” would take care of them before they disappeared. They found Rolen on an upper level. He tried to reason his madness to the party, that if he rivaled Strahd that he could replace him, the dark powers would entrap him instead, and he could make Barovia better – all he had to do was be it’s lord. They attacked with the Sunsword, but Rolen’s mastery of magic had increased significantly. He countered it with a darkness spell, and managed to charm Diesa into not attacking him. Anton fought him in the darkness, and eventually he was slain. His body turned to mist and floated upstairs, to a coffin. They noticed his body starting to reform and heal at an alarming rate, so they decapitated him and buried his head separate to the body.

They found on his body a letter from Strahd. It told him that his becoming a Vampire was never Strahd’s design, that he lost himself in the temple and there was no-one else to blame. He also said that his “friends” would be along to finish him soon, and to send them his regards. And sadly that he had also “disposed” of the Holy Symbol.

They spent the night in their new home, awoken by a door knock. It was Rahadin, in a black carriage, with a note from Strahd. Strahd promised them passage out of Barovia, all it would cost is handing over the Sun Sword. He already had Ireena, he had no further interest in them. Tired and weary (and since they were headed there anyway) they accepted the invitation, and rode in the carriage to Castle Ravenloft – Rahadin walked a separate path.

The carriage stopped at the drawbridge. They crossed on foot, with Rend almost falling through rotted timbers. They briefly explored the courtyard of Ravenloft, finding it much the same as the model. They entered the front door, and Rahadin motioned them towards a dining room. Inside was a great feast on the table. Strahd was playing a giant organ, and paused to speak with the party. He said it was good that they could finally meet and be civilised about things. He asked to see the Sun Sword, and Diesa drew it. He pleaded to see it lit up, and hesitantly Diesa did. To the shock of the party, it’s sunlight did no damage to Strahd. He looked almost sad to see it, but it did him no harm. He asked again for it to be handed over, and they’d be free to go. Diesa sheathed it instead, and the figure of Strahd vanished. Among the sound of booming laughter, doors and windows throughout the castle slammed shut, and the breeze extinguished all light.