Curse of Strahd

Abbey of Saint Markovia

tldr version: The group approached the Abbey in a friendly manner and encountered the mongrelfolk. They took you in to meet the Abbot, who then gave you a tour of the very creepy place. He has constructed a bride for Strahd in the hopes that making him happy will convince him to let go of his hold over this realm. The group met Ezmerelda, a Vistani that has agreed to join the group and their mission to defeat Strahd. They then spent the night in town with the 2 paladins chained up to prevent them from causing damage if/when they transformed in the night.

The Abbot is actually a deva in disguise. Asha, my cleric I played for a decade was a deva. 😁

Full version

The mongrelfolk that infest the abbey are all descendants of one family—the Belviews—and all suffer from some form of madness.

MAP 8.2: ABBEY OF SAINT MARKOVIA – GROUND FLOOR

Most of the mongrelfolk in the abbey are locked up because they can’t be trusted to wander about unsupervised. The only mongrelfolk who are free to move about are the Abbot’s gravediggers, Otto and Zygfrek, and his faithful, two-headed manservant, Clovin.

Clovin Belview rings the abbey’s bell when the Abbot decides it’s time for dinner. The toll of the bell causes all the other mongrelfolk in the abbey to hoot and holler with excitement as they wait to be fed.

The windows of the north wing are made of leaded glass that is translucent—good for letting in light but not good for seeing through. The windows of the east wing are broken outward and have damaged shutters.

S6. North Gate

The road from the village climbs above the mist to the wide ledge on which the abbey is perched. A light dusting of snow covers the trees and the rocky earth.

The gravel road passes between two small, stone outbuildings, to either side of which stretches a five-foot-high, three-foot-thick wall of jumbled stones held together with mortar. Blocking the road are iron gates attached to the outbuildings by rusty hinges. They appear to be unlocked. Viewed through the gates, the stone abbey stands quiet. Its two wings are joined by a fifteen-foot-high curtain wall. A belfry protrudes from the rooftop of the closer north wing, which also sports a chimney billowing gray smoke.

The iron gates are unlocked but squeal loudly when someone opens them.

OTTO BELVIEW

The gate guards are Otto and Zygfrek Belview. They sleep under piles of musty animal furs. Both are loyal servants of the Abbot, yet not so good at guarding. If the characters seem friendly, the mongrelfolk escort them to the courtyard and ask the characters to wait there while they fetch the Abbot. If the characters seem hostile, the mongrelfolk let them enter but don’t accompany them willingly.

Hanging on the inside wall of each guard post is a net woven from twigs and pine needles, as well as a shovel. Otto and Zygfrek cover themselves with the nets when they skulk through the village at night in search of fresh graves to dig up.

ZYGFREK BELVIEW

Otto Belview. Otto is 4 feet, 9 inches tall and squats instead of standing upright. He looks like a beardless dwarf with patches of donkey flesh covering his face and body. He has one human ear and one wolf’s ear, and a protruding wolf’s snout and fangs. His arms and hands are human, but his legs and feet are leonine, and he has a donkey’s tail. He can barely speak Common, and his laugh sounds like a donkey’s bray. He wears a plain wool cloak. His madness is embodied in the following statement: “I am the smartest, wisest, strongest, fastest, and most beautiful person I know.”

Zygfrek Belview. Zygfrek stands 4 feet, 7 inches tall. The left side of her face and body is covered with lizard scales, the right with tufts of gray wolf fur. Between these tufts is pale human skin. One of her eyes is that of a feline, and her fingers and hands resemble cat’s paws with opposable thumbs. She has a gruff voice and wears a gray cloak with black fur trim. Her madness is embodied in the following statement: “I don’t like the way people judge me all the time.”

S7. Graveyard

Stunted pine trees grow out of the rocky earth in the graveyard near the foundation of the abbey’s north wing. The windows of the structure are cracked panes of leaded glass. Ancient gravestones burst from a thin crust of snow in the yard. Beyond the low wall that surrounds the graveyard, the ground falls away. The village lies four hundred feet below, and the view is breathtaking.

Carved into each gravestone is the name of a long-dead priest or nun. Some of the names include Brother Martek, Brother Valen, Sister Constance, and Sister Lenora.

S8. Garden Gatehouse

A gatehouse stands at the entrance to the abbey gardens.

The gatehouse is empty.

S9. Gardens

Nestled between rising and plunging cliffs are four rectangular garden plots enclosed by a five-foot-high wall of mortared stones. White rabbits nibble on turnips uprooted by the cold. Two lifeless scarecrows with stuffed gullets and sackcloth heads hang from wooden crosses pounded into the cold, hard earth.

The abbey’s east wing looms over the garden, its shattered windows dark and disturbing. A door leads into this forlorn edifice, which apparently isn’t as abandoned as one might have hoped. From within come the laughter and the wailing of things that should not be.

The rabbits and the scarecrows are harmless. The gardens contain a meager assortment of root vegetables and squash. The door leading to area S15 isn’t locked.

S10. Abbey Entrance

A fifteen-foot-high curtain wall joins the abbey’s two wings. Behind its battlements, two guards stand at attention, their features obscured by fog. Below them, set into the wall, is a pair of ten-foot-tall, wooden doors reinforced with bands of steel. To the right of these doors, mounted on the wall, is a tarnished copper plaque.

The plaque bears the abbey’s name, under which appear these words: “May her light cure all illness.”

The “guards” on the wall are propped-up scarecrows that wear corroded chain shirts and clutch rusted spears..

The double doors are heavy but unlocked. They can be pushed open to reveal a foggy courtyard.

MAP 8.3: ABBEY OF SAINT MARKOVIA – UPPER FLOOR & CELLAR

S11. Inner Gatehouses

These two empty buildings help support the curtain wall that encloses the courtyard. The wooden doors that lead to them are unlocked.

S12. Courtyard

The thick fog that fills this courtyard swirls, as if eager to escape. The courtyard is surrounded by a fifteen-foot-high curtain wall on which stand several guards with their backs to you—or so it seemed at first. It’s clear now that these guards are merely scarecrows.

Wooden doors to the north and east lead to the abbey’s two wings. In the center of the courtyard is a stone well fitted with an iron winch, to which a rope and bucket are attached. Along the perimeter, tucked under the overhanging wall, are several stone sheds with padlocked wooden doors, as well as three shallow alcoves that contain wooden troughs. Two wooden posts pounded into the rocky earth have iron rings bolted to them, and chained to one of them is a short humanoid with bat wings and spider mandibles.

The quiet is shattered by horrible screams coming from the sheds.

If the characters are escorted here by Otto and Zygfrek Belview, they are asked to wait in the courtyard while the mongrelfolk fetch the Abbot from area S13.

S12. Old Troughs

These three horse troughs are badly rotted and fall apart if handled or jostled.

S12. Chicken Sheds

Each of these sheds is fitted with an iron padlock. Clovin Belview carries the keys to these locks.

If the characters open a shed, read:This shed holds the shattered remains of several chicken coops. Shackled to the back wall is a wretched humanoid with bestial deformities.

There are nine of these sheds, each one containing a howling or mewling mongrelfolk.

S12. Tethering Posts

Iron rings bolted to these wooden posts were once used to secure horses. Chained to one post is a chaotic neutral named Marzena Belview, the older sister of Mishka Belview.

If the characters approach Marzena, read:The creature chained to the post flaps its leathery wings and takes to the air, but doesn’t get far before its chains go taut. She flutters about madly, screaming nonsense.

Marzena Belview is skittish and afraid of everyone and everything except for Clovin Belview, whom she allows to come close enough to feed her.

Marzena Belview. Marzena stands 4 feet, 5 inches tall and has a hunched posture. Long, stringy black hair hides much of her face, but clearly visible are the spider mandibles and teeth that replace her human mouth. She has the arms and wings of a bat, as well as a cloven hoof in place of her right foot. She doesn’t allow anyone to get close enough to undo her shackles. Her madness is embodied in the following statement: “I am convinced that powerful enemies are hunting me, and their agents are everywhere I go. I am sure they’re watching me all the time.”

Areas of the Abbey (S13-S18)

S13. Main Hall

Gentle-sounding music trickles down from above, played on a single stringed instrument by some unseen master.

The ground floor is one large, fifty-foot-square room with arched, leaded glass windows. A cauldron sits on an iron rack above a fire in a hearth, while above the fireplace mantel hangs a golden disk engraved with the symbol of the sun. In one corner, a wooden staircase climbs to the upper level, while in another corner a stone staircase descends into darkness.

Several chairs surround a wooden table that stretches nearly the length of the room. Wooden dishware and gold candelabras are neatly arranged on the table, standing behind which is a young woman with alabaster skin dressed in a torn and soiled red gown. Her auburn hair is neatly bundled so as not to touch her soft shoulders. She seems lost in her own thoughts.

A handsome young man in a brown monk’s robe gently takes the woman by her hand. A painted wooden holy symbol that depicts the sun hangs from a chain around his neck. He moves with the grace of a saint.

The Abbot is a deva in disguise. He wears a holy symbol of the Morninglord around his neck. The woman in the tattered red gown is Vasilka, a flesh golem that has been exquisitely put together to serve as Strahd’s bride. Characters within 5 feet of Vasilka can see the seams in her powdered skin where disparate body parts stolen from Krezkite graves have been carefully stitched together.

The Abbot is teaching Vasilka the finer points of etiquette. He also intends to teach her how to dance. Vasilka obeys his every command. She can’t speak but lets loose an unholy scream if harmed. If driven berserk, she fights until the Abbot reasserts control or until she is destroyed. She has the supernatural strength of a typical flesh golem despite her smaller size.

The Abbot has no desire to harm the characters. He knows that Strahd has brought them to Barovia for a reason and doesn’t want to thwart Strahd’s plans for them. His calm, pleasant demeanor changes if they become hostile or if they threaten Vasilka. He sheds his disguise and assumes his true angelic form, hoping that sight is enough to make them back down.

The music comes from upstairs. The stone staircase leads down to the wine cellar. The wooden stairs climb to the loft and belfry (area S17).

The stew pot in the fireplace contains several gallons of hot turnip and rabbit soup, intended for the mongrelfolk imprisoned in S15.

The Abbot believes he is righteous. He regrets transforming the Belviews into horrid mongrelfolk, and he considers their imprisonment to be necessary, to contain their madness. With regard to Strahd’s bride, he believes that she is the key to freeing the land from its curse. The insane Abbot can’t be convinced otherwise.

The Abbot shares his beliefs openly, claiming that his decisions are based on the Morninglord’s guidance. He will give visitors a tour of the abbey if they seem friendly, but he turns hostile if they threaten him or his charges.

S14. Foyer

This room used to be an office, as evidenced by the remains of a desk and a chair, both of which have been smashed to pieces. A hallway to the south leads to a staircase going up. A dark passage to the east is full of unnatural whispers, mad laughter, and bestial odors.

The stairs lead up to area S20.

If the characters enter this area making noise or carrying light sources, the golem in area S15 is drawn to them.

S15. Madhouse

This lightless corridor has multiple doors behind which lie creatures that shatter the quiet with their mad cackles and whispered curses. The stench is overpowering.

Before he set out to create a bride for Strahd, the Abbot tried his hand at creating a more rudimentary golem. This creature paces the hall, tirelessly guarding the abbey’s madhouse and making sure no mongrelfolk escape. When the characters first see the golem, read: Even in the gloom, you can make out a monstrous shape lumbering down the hall. When the darkness can no longer hide its true nature, your eyes are treated to a terrifying, 7-foot-tall assemblage of human body parts.

This flesh golem attacks anyone who isn’t in the company of the Abbot or Clovin Belview.

None of the doors leading from the hall are locked. If the characters open any and look inside, they see that the rooms on each side of the hall are dimly lit by natural light that filters through dirty, shuttered windows. The door at the east end of the hall leads outside and can be pulled open to reveal the gardens (area S9).

The sixty mogrelfolk confined here are fed at irregular intervals by Clovin Belview. Dinner is foretold by the ringing of the abbey bell. These mongrelfolk aren’t restrained, but they refuse to leave their rooms for fear of being killed by the golem or cast out of the abbey and forced to fend for themselves. In addition to a dagger, each mongrelfolk has its own wooden soup bowl.

S15a. Fearful Mongrelfolk

This room was once a shared bedchamber, but its furnishings have been destroyed. Three shrieking mongrels cower in the shadowy northwest corner. One of them cradles something shiny.

Three mogrelfolk are confined here. One of them cradles a polished brass candlestick as if it was a doll. Any attempt to take it causes the mongrelfolk to attack.

S15b. Quarreling Mongrelfolk

Four mongrel creatures brawl amid the wreckage of this bedchamber while a fifth watches and cackles behind a life-sized, painted wooden statue of a saintly woman in robes.

Five mogrelfolk are confined here. The four that are fighting aren’t trying to kill each other, but they are trying to assert dominance. They stop fighting if a character separates them.

The statue is a little over 5 feet tall and carved from a single piece of wood. It depicts Saint Markovia. Close inspection reveals that it is covered with bite marks.

S15c. Incanting Mongrelfolk

Seven mongrels are seated in the middle of this room, forming a ring. They appear to be chanting a spell.

These seven mogrelfolk are trying to cast a spell that will cause the abbey’s bell to ring, so that dinner will be served. They are speaking nonmagical gibberish.

S15d. Hungry Mongrelfolk

Nine mongrel creatures stand in the middle of this room, starting at the doorway in silence with hungry looks in their eyes.

These nine mogrelfolk haven’t been fed in days because Clovin doesn’t like them. They try to kill and devour any character who sets foot in the room.

S15e. Mongrelfolk Horde

This room is packed wall to wall with mongrels wallowing in their own filth. The floor is strewn with gnawed bones.

Sixteen screaming mogrelfolk are confined here. The bones are all that remain of mongrelfolk who perished and were eaten. The survivors beg for food.

S15f. Singing and Dancing Mongrelfolk

Eight mongrels caper about the wreckage of this bedchamber while singing a rhyme. One of them holds up a glittering gold statuette as it leads this mad parade.

The eight mogrelfolk sing the following rhyme:

The devil dwells in his dark house,

Upon the misty pillar.

First he’ll taste her sweet, sweet blood,

And then he’ll have to kill her.

They weep if their treasure is taken from them.

S15g. Mongrelfolk Babies

Filthy mongrels cradle screaming young in the debris-strewn corners of this room while several more hoot, holler, roll on the floor, and whack each other with sticks.

This room contains ten mogrelfolk, three of which are tending to noncombatant mongrelfolk babies.

S15h. Mongrelfolk Fort

This room contains a fort made out of piled bits of shattered furniture and torn draperies. From within the fort, you hear a mischievous cackle.

Two mogrelfolk live in the “fort” but refuse to come out unless baited with food. While hidden under the wreckage, they have three-quarters cover.

S16. Wine Cellar

The stone steps descend twenty feet to a cellar that contains ten barrels of wine and an L-shaped wooden rack packed with wine bottles.

The barrels in the center of the room are empty. The wine names are emblazoned on the barrels, as is the winery’s name: the Wizard of Wines. The barrels against the east wall contain Purple Grapemash No. 3, a cheap wine. The four barrels against the south wall contain Red Dragon Crush, a fine wine.

The wine racks contain thirty-three bottles of Purple Grapemash No. 3 and twenty-four bottles of Red Dragon Crush.

Treasure

Among the wine bottles on the rack is one with no stopper and a label that reads “Champagne du le Stomp.” It contains a rolled-up of heroes’ feast.

S17. Loft and Belfry

Anyone on the curtain wall who listens at this room’s door hear the soft tones of a stringed instrument. The wooden stairs climb twenty feet to a loft with a pitched roof and a door in the center of the south wall. Unlit lanterns hang from the rafters, and a rope dangles from a bronze bell lodged in the belfry thirty feet overhead. The room is filled with the sound of beautiful music—a melody so enchanting that it adds a bit of much-needed warmth to the otherwise freezing room.

A black shroud covers a humanoid shape lying on a wooden table. The music does nothing to stir it.

A cot heaped with furs rests in the northeast corner, surrounded by empty wine bottles. An oil lamp burns atop a table nearby, silhouetting a squat creature that has two heads. It sits on the edge of the cot with a viol between its legs. With a crustacean, clawlike appendage, it grasps the neck of the instrument while running a bow gently across its strings with its human hand.

This loft is where the Abbot creates his flesh golems. Needles, thread, saws, and other tools lie on a small table in the northwest corner.

If anyone rings the bell, a cacophony erupts from the courtyard and the east wing as the mongrelfolk cry out, “Food!” The cries last until the creatures are fed.

CLOVIN BELVIEW

Clovin Belview, the Abbot’s manservant, a two-headed neutral evil mogrelfolk, resides here. He plays the viol beautifully when he is drunk, and the music help puts his half-formed head to sleep. Hidden under the furs of his cot are three bottles of Purple Grapemash No. 3. Several empty wine bottles are strewn about the floor around the cot.

Clovin stands 4 feet, 7 inches tall and has a barrel-like shape. His right head is fully formed and combines the features of a patchy-haired man with those of a goat, complete with stubby horns. His left head is about half normal size and has a soft, cherubic face partly covered with crocodilian hide. Clovin has a crab’s pincer in place of his left hand and a bear’s paw where his right foot should be. He wears an ill-fitting monk’s robe with a belt made of hempen rope.

Clovin is the Abbot’s faithful martinet, but he is despised by the other mongrelfolk, who accuse him of hoarding food and slowly starving them to death. He would let them starve, but the Abbot has forbidden it. His madness is embodied in the following statement: “Being drunk keeps me sane.” He is drunk most of the time, but not to the extent that it impedes his combat ability, and his musical performance improves when he is inebriated.

The larger head does all the talking. The smaller head has a forked snake’s tongue and can’t do anything except hiss and make other horrible sounds.

Thing on the Table

If the characters lift the black shroud covering the larger table, read: Beneath the shroud lies a creature made of stitched-together body parts. You recognize some of these parts as your own!

The creature on the table appears to be made from the body parts of the characters, which, of course, cannot be. Strahd’s will is playing a trick on them. If a character touches the horrid creature, its true appearance is revealed:Your eyes play tricks, for what truly lies atop the table are chopped-up body parts, all of them taken from cold, gray, lifeless women, all of them waiting to be stitched together into something horrid.

The body parts were plundered from graves in Krezk. They are leftovers—pieces the Abbot didn’t use in the creation of Strahd’s bride.

S18. Curtain Wall

Scarecrows line the abbey walls, looking outward. They wear tattered chain shirts and carry spears with rusty heads. The courtyard below is blanketed with fog.

The scarecrows are lashed to wooden stands. Though fearsome from a distance, they have no life to them.

It’s a 15-foot drop from the top of the wall to the courtyard. Any creature that falls over the southwest wall tumbles 400 feet down the cliffside.

Areas of the Abbey (S19-S24)

S19. Barracks

Bunk beds that have disintegrated with age lie in heaps along the walls of this moldy, thirty-foot-square room.

Long ago, the abbey employed guards to defend its walls, and they were quartered here.

Ezmerelda d’Avenir

The vampire hunter Ezmerelsa d’Avenir is here, plotting her next move.

Ezmerelda crept into Krezk unseen under cover of darkness and made her way to the abbey, in the hope of gaining knowledge about Strahd and his domain from the residents there. Having met the Abbot and Strahd’s “bride”, Ezmerelda realizes the Abbot is insane. The Abbot told her that he is expecting Strahd to visit his bride-to-be. Ezmerelda has decided to wait for the vampire to come, so that she can destroy him away from Castle Ravenloft, far from his resting place. She is planning to create a magic circle in this room as an added precaution.

As the Abbot’s guest, Ezmerelda is free to come and go as she pleases. If the characters seem committed to fighting Strahd, she abandons her plan and offers to join forces with them.

S20. Upstairs Office

A wooden counter shaped like an L stands at the front of this spacious office. All the other furniture has rotted away, leaving heaps of moldy wood and faded cloth.

The wood of the counter is old, soft, and easily broken. Nothing of value remains here. If the characters haven’t already cleared out the madhouse, they can hear the whoops, laughter, and screams of the mongrelfolk below. The clamor continues as they explore areas S21–S24 to the east.

S21. Haunted Hospital

This spacious chamber contains bed frames of wrought iron arranged in two neat rows. Cobwebs and bits of rotten mattress cling to each frame.

Three doors are spaced along the south wall, each with a plaque mounted on it. From west to east, the plaques read Operating Room, Nursery, and Morgue.

Six shadows haunt this room. They are the remnants of dark souls that perished here long ago. The creatures wait until one or more characters are at least 10 feet inside the room before moving out from within the normal shadows to attack. The shadows can’t leave this room.

S22. Operating Room

A bloodstained table stands in the middle of this otherwise empty room.

The first time a character touches the table, read:A scream fills the room—a scream that echoes through time. It is followed by other, fainter screams of those who died under the knife. The screams fade until they are nothing more than haunting memories.

There is nothing of value here.

S23. Nursery

This room contains the wreckage of old wooden cribs.

If the characters search the room, one of them (determined randomly) sees a figure reflected in the window glass: a nun in white robes, standing in the doorway. A look back toward the door reveals nothing there, and the reflection can’t be seen again.

S24. Morgue

A raven perches on the windowsill of this otherwise empty room.

If the characters approach the raven, it flies to the shoulder of the nearest scarecrow in the garden area S9.

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