Curse of Strahd

Funeral Procession

Flashback:

My name is Krl Sgon

The multiverse is made up of Billions and Billions of…….parallel universes……..uh……like pages in a BOOK. Universes populated by spies, or soldiers, or starship captains. I come from a mundane universe on a planet called Earf. What you call magic, I call science. I was performing a science experiment on black hole quantum physics when my arch nemesis Indie Tysen came in and adjusted all the parameters. A door opened between the universes. Indie Tysen screamed that he will rule all the universes, then he laughed maniacally and jumped through the portal with a laptop and a bunch of rolled blueprints. I realized that he is mad, and that I must act so I jumped in after him. He’s here…..somewhere…….doing who knows what. I’m the only one that can stop him. I only hope that I can use my knowledge of science and gain a team of comrades to confront him before all is lost.

What’s this? A ring of keys seems to have fallen out of his pocket. What are they to?!

Leaving the tavern, the group heads towards the Burgomaster’s mansion. Along the way they pass the house with the sounds of sobbing inside. A woman stands at the window clutching what appears to be a swaddled baby.

A moaning sob floats through the still, gray streets, coloring your thoughts with sadness. The sounds flow from a dark, two-story townhouse.

Ismark confirms the daughter of “Mad Mary” has been missing for at least a week now.

A weary-looking mansion squats behind a rusting iron fence. The iron gates are twisted and torn. The right gate lies cast aside, while the left swings lazily in the wind. The stuttering squeal and clang of the gate repeats with mindless precision. Weeds choke the grounds and press with menace upon the house itself. Yet, against the walls, the growth has been tramped down to create a path all about the domain. Heavy claw markings have stripped the once-beautiful finish of the walls. Great black marks tell of the fires that have assailed the mansion. Not a pane nor a shard of glass stands in any window. All the windows are barred with planks, each one marked with stains of evil omen.

Examining the trampled weeds, the group is able to discern scores of wolf paw prints and human footprints. Ismark approaches the door and knocks, calling out to Ireena that he has returned. Ireena furtively peeks out before opening the door to let everyone in.

The interior of the mansion is well furnished, yet the fixtures show signs of great wear. Noticeable oddities are the boarded-up windows and the presence of holy symbols in every room. The burgomaster is in a side drawing room on the floor—lying in a simple wooden coffin surrounded by wilting flowers and a faint odor of decay.

Ireena is relieved to here the travelers are willing to escort them to Vallaki, but insists that they must bury their father in the consecrated ground at the church before they can leave. She drifts over and stands protectively by the coffin as the party begins to mutter about burning the body and leaving straight-away. Finally it’s agreed that they’ll take the coffin to the church, then leave from there.

The dragonborn grab the coffin and the siblings lead the way to the church.

Atop a slight rise, against the roots of the pillar stone that supports Castle Ravenloft, stands a gray, sagging edifice of stone and wood. This church has obviously weathered the assaults of evil for centuries on end and is worn and weary. A bell tower rises toward the back, and flickering light shines through holes in the shingled roof. The rafters strain feebly against their load.

The heavy wooden doors of the church are covered with claw marks and scarred by fire.

Hall (a)

The doors open to reveal a ten-foot-wide, twenty-foot-long hall leading to a brightly lit chapel. The hall is unlit and reeks of mildew. Four doors, two on each side of the hall, lead to adjacent chambers.

You can see that the chapel is strewn with debris, and you hear a soft voice from within reciting a prayer. Suddenly, the prayer is blotted out by an inhuman scream that rises up from beneath the wooden floor.

Doru’s Bedroom (b)

This dirty, lightless room contains a wooden bed with a straw-filled mattress. Mounted above the bed’s headboard is a wooden holy symbol.

Donavich’s Bedroom (c)

This dirty room contains a wooden bed with a straw-filled mattress, next to which rests a small table with an oil lamp burning brightly on it. Mounted above the bed’s headboard is a wooden sun-shaped holy symbol.

Trapdoor (d)

Time and neglect have punched holes in the ceiling of this moldy room, which contains a few broken roof shingles amid puddles of water. In one corner, set into the floor, is a heavy wooden trapdoor held shut with a chain and a padlock. A young man’s screams of anguish can be heard through the door.

Office (e)

An old desk and chair stand against the south wall, a wooden holy symbol mounted above them—a sunburst. A ten-foot-long iron rod attached to the north wall stands bare, suggesting a tapestry once hung there. Against the far wall stands a wooden cabinet with four tall doors.

For its size, the wooden cabinet contains very little. Inside are a tinderbox, a few wooden boxes full of candles, and two well-used books: Hymns to the Dawn, a volume of chants to the Morninglord, and The Blade of Truth: The Uses of Logic in the War Against Diabolist Heresies, as Fought by the Ulmist Inquisition, a strange book that mixes logic exercises with lurid descriptions of fiend-worshiping cults.

Chapel (f)

The chapel is a shambles, with overturned and broken pews littering the dusty floor. Dozens of candles mounted in candlesticks and candelabras light every dusty corner in a fervent attempt to rid the chapel of shadows. At the far end of the church sits a claw-scarred altar, behind which kneels a priest in soiled vestments. Next to him hangs a long, thick rope that stretches up into the bell tower.

From beneath the chapel floor, you hear a young man’s voice cry out, “Father! I’m starving!”

Talking with the priest he seems caught in a loop, insane from grief and indecision: “He’s no longer my son, he must be destroyed. But he’s my son, what can I do?” Ireena talks with him and it’s revealed that a little more than a year ago, his twenty-year-old son Doru and several other villagers stormed Castle Ravenloft in revolt, having been lured there by a wizard in black robes who came to Barovia from a faraway land. By all accounts, the wizard died by Strahd’s hand, and so too did Doru, who returned to his father as a vampire spawn. Donavich was able to trap his son in the church’s undercroft, where he remains to this day.

Doru hasn’t fed since he was imprisoned, and he cries out to his father at all hours. Meanwhile, Donavich prays day and night, hoping that the gods will tell him how to save Doru without destroying him.

Sensing evil under the chapel floor and good from the priest in front of them, the group decides to put the kid out his and his father’s misery.

Donavich has lost the key to the chains holding the trapdoor closed. Thulrum breaks the chain and wrenches the door open (the wood has swollen and stuck in its frame).

Undercroft (g)

The church’s undercroft has rough-hewn walls and a floor made of damp clay and earth. Rotting wooden pillars strain under the weight of the wooden ceiling. Candlelight from the chapel above slips though the cracks, allowing you to glimpse a gaunt shape in the far corner.

As the characters begin to approach, Doru begins to hiss and says “I can smell your blood!”. He attacks, trying to grapple and bite the Thulrum. Failing to land a bite on him, Doru then makes a break for it climbing on walls and ceilings to leave the church. Many grapples, opportunity attacks, and near hits follow as he makes his way out.

As he leaves Thulrum begins to sense an enormous evil presence outside. Looking through the door, a thick fog has appeared, Doru runs into it screaming “Father!”.

The fog parts enough to detect a figure inside, surrounded by wolves:

The figure smirks at the group as Doru runs to him and collapses at his feet. He looks skyward as a flock of ravens pass overhead to land on the roof of the church. He returns his attention to the church, smiles, then steps backward into the fog disappearing from view. Lingering for a moment, the wolves continue to stare at the church, then turn and follow their master into the fog.

After a bit of time has passed the fog is gone and things seem normal again outside.

A fence of wrought iron with a rusty gate encloses a rectangular plot of land behind the dilapidated church. Tightly packed gravestones shrouded by fog bear the names of souls long passed. All seems quiet.

The Dragonborn quickly dig a grave as the others keep watching, getting ready for the burial to happen first thing in the morning. A lone raven observes their movements.

The group spends the night in the church, taking turns standing watch. At midnight:

An eerie green light suffuses the graveyard. From this light emerges a ghostly procession. Wavering images of doughty women toting greatswords, woodwise men with slender bows, dwarves with glittering axes, and archaically dressed mages with beards and strange, pointed hats—all these and more march forth from the graveyard, their numbers growing by the second.

These aren’t the spirits of the people buried here, but of previous adventurers who died trying to destroy Strahd. Every night, the ghostly adventurers attempt to complete their quest, and each night they fail. They have no interest in the living and can’t be hit, damaged, or turned. They will not communicate with the characters.

Once they reach the castle, the spirits march straight to the chapel and up the high tower stair to the top of the tower. There, they throw themselves down the shaft toward the crypts, where they disappear.

The burial takes place without incident at morning’s first light. The group heads West to leave town and head towards Vallaki.

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