The adventurers convinced the gray orcs of the Stone Tooth to attack the dark dwarves beneath in the dark caves below. Before finding out the result, the group followed Drogda’s lead down the foothills into the wild lands of Loyolla. For over a week the group traveled through wild country and occasional farmland. The group finally arrived at the Oak Inn on the border of the Great Woods of Loyolla. The tavern is lively and Hedrak proceeded to get quite drunk. Drogda avoided a conversation about the gnolls in the area, as the others learned much of the constant warfare between thee men of Loyolla and the gnolls of Gogrin. It seems raiders have destroyed much of the western villages, leaving the Oak Inn as one of the last stops for those heading westward. In the morning, the group headed out to the north into the dark thick woods for a week long journey. After three days of travel along the forest trails, the group came across a small campsite that had been burned by gnoll raiders. Davor discovered a pendant nearby that had the symbol of the Rangers of Loyolla etched upon it, matching Drogda’s pin. Suddenly gnolls attacked the group from the woods. The group quickly dispatched the gnolls, not without taking some wounds. However, these gnolls do not seem to be the same ones that attacked the campsite hour ago, indicating that many gnolls may be about in the woods.
The adventurers followed the trail of gnolls looking for the band that dispatched the Rangers of Loyolla. On their journey they are attacked by enormous dire wolves, which they quickly scare off. Much time passes and they now must follow along the winding logging river where it appears the gnolls have attempted to disguise their tracks. The adventurers follow the river before they are greeted by another band of Rangers. These rangers bring the adventurers to a safe camp where they share tales of their travels. The adventurers learn that a demonic leader may be responsible for the increased gnoll activity in the area. The Oak Inn has recently come under attack and the rangers are heading that way, however, they ask that the adventurers investigate the old logging mill down the road. In the morning, the adventurers depart from the rangers and make their way to the old lumbermill. Here they find that gnolls have indeed taken over the building, led by a fiendish leader wielding a deadly ruby-studded axe. The heroes begin fighting the gnolls. Many are injured in the course of the battle…
The adventurers finish off the demonic gnoll. The demon manages to slay Hedrak with a fellish swoop of his ruby-studded axe, then he attempts to flee into the forest. The group manages to find the fleeing demonic gnoll and slay him. After burying their companion, the adventurers continue to Brindinford. After over a week of travel, they meet with some traders on the road. The traders tell them that Brindinford will be bustling with the 5-year fair. They wish the adventurers luck as they continue towards the Oak Inn. The adventurers reach Brindinford to find a long line of patrons waiting to enter. Guards peacebond their weapons as Zarlota manages to talk down a rowdy patron. The group explores the fair, having Two-Socks and Nightstrider boarded at a stable. They convert much of their new-found wealth into more valuable platinum and gems. They also manage to find a few random buyers of their magical trinkets and even someone who sells them coveting magical potions. Davor gets lost from the group as he looks into a stall selling exotic animals. The female heroes find themselves deep in the crowd of the fair when a scream erupts and the crowd tries to rush past them. They find on the other end of the commotion are many wererats and their dire rat pets, wrecking havoc and destroying many trade stalls. The heroes dispatch most of the enemies, although most of the wererats escape into the alleys. Sia recalls that they can only really be hurt by silver weapons, something the group does not possess. Davor joins the battle near the end throwing balls of fire and magical blasts, causing the remaining wererats to flee. One wererat is killed, but turns into a normal-looking man upon death. The sound of many armored footsteps can be heard coming down the street…
The town guard arrive, and thankfully through collaboration from locals and the presence of dead dire rats, they believe the dead men are indeed wererats. They thank the adventurers for their effort and allow them to leave their weapons free from peacebonds for the duration of their stay in Brindinford. The group continues towards the bell-tower that towers over the city. The old man in charge of the tower seems uninterested in giving the adventurers a tour and dismisses them. The adventurers find themselves in the noble-quarter within the walls of the keep. They find that the people here are quite rude due to their crude appearance and they make their way to the Naughty Nymph to clean themselves and refresh their minds after a long day of travel, shopping, and battle in the streets of Brindinford. They meet an older man at the inn who tells them of his brother’s recent disappearance and presumed death while pursuing elicit substances in the run-down portion of the city, called Southspur.
The next morning, feeling clean and refreshed, the adventurers head out to explore Southspur and look for the man’s missing brother. Drogda, however, stays at the inn, overcome with a bad case of filth fever. The adventurers reach Southspur, noticing the poorer quality of the fair in this part of town. A man at an ale-cart offers little information about recent disappearances of folks in Southspur and mentions that a local midwife named Foora might have information. The adventurers locate Foora’s home, but find little information. Foora mentions that two others have recently asked for information regarding the missing Southspur folk. They return to the main street and the fair to find two mysterious figures talking to the man at the ale-cart, these two travelers too are gathering information on the recent disappearances. They reveal themselves as a half-elf crusader named Trutheye and an aged human scholar named Greycloak. Together they claim to fight the forces of evil. They decide to join forces to investigate the disappearances.
The adventurer’s and their new companions search around the area where most of the disappearances occurred with the hope that something will be observable. They find an odd boarded-up warehouse where only a single window is open and unbarred. They investigate the building to find it full of grimlocks (eye-less humanoids with a penchant for destruction). They dispatch some of the grimlocks in the dark warehouse, noticing many blood spots and the smell of rot, concluding that the disappearing folk were likely eaten by the grimlocks. During the battle, it was noted that Trutheye is quite skilled with the greatsword he carries and Greycloak is a secret practitioner of magic, much like Davor.
The adventurers then return to the street to find grimlocks slaughtering actors on a stage. They quickly intervene and slay the creatures, but not until a few townsfolk are killed. The town guards arrive to help and thank the adventurers for their effort. The adventurers head to the barracks to get more information from the Lieutenant, named Shella. She claims that the Captain of the Guard Merdick Ferren has gone missing for over a week and was last seen in Chatterstreet Market investigating claims of extortion. She points the adventurers towards the renown dwarven smith Shooma in the area. On the way to Shooma’s smithy, Sia notices that the group is being followed, and that Trutheye and Greycloak have disappeared in the crowd. Davor cleverly tails the followers as Zarlota and Sia enter the smithy. The followers attack, revealing themselves as wererat thugs. The group dispatches the wererats and brings one of the wererats to the backroom of the smithy for questioning. Shooma, the age dwarf, reveals that she is a decendent of Durgeddin and has passed down the knowledge of excellent weaponsmithing. She also says that thugs have been trying to extort the merchants of the market for weeks. The captive wererat reveals that he and his thugs are hiding out in the old bell-tower. The adventurers hand the wererat over to the town guard. The guards give the adventurers their blessing to investigate the bell-tower, explaining that they would have too many legal-hurdles to do so themselves. The vigilante adventurers, however, are too exhausted from the long day and make their way to the Stony Gaze Tavern in Eastgate district for a restful night’s sleep.
The next morning, the adventurer’s meetup in the Stony Gaze Tavern’s common room for a little breakfast. They find that Trutheye and Greycloak are in the room and rejoin them. They explain that they too were accosted by wererat thugs the previous evening, and began to suspect their new companions. However, they see now that only together can the wererats be brought to justice. The adventurers share their backgrounds with their new companions who do the same.
Trutheye explains he is a crusader fighting against evil in the name of Solarus, the sun goddess. This particularly makes him an enemy of the undead. He hails from the land of Eshlien near the elven border, from a small town.
Greycloak, however, claims to come from Amongar, the capital of the Kingdom of Astonia. His background still remains largely shrouded in mystery, particular when it comes to were he learned his mystical craft.
Together, the adventurers investigate the city’s bell tower. Using a bit of deception, Zarlota manages to gain entry into the tower. The adventurer’s then encounter many wererats and their dire-rat pets as they ascend the tower, conquering their foes. They manage to defeat the leader of the wererats, Squim, and capture him. On his person they find a strange arcane scroll with alien glyphs. Davor is convinced it summons an alien entity, but many of the symbols are unknown to him. The adventurers also confront two gargoyles atop the tower. They now prepare to descend the tower and turn over their captive.
The adventurers extensively search the wererat’s lair, but discover nothing new. They turn over the captive wererat leader, Squim, to the guards, who agree to keep the wererat unconscious. The adventurer’s make their way into West Hill to look for a library or bookstore where some sense can be made of the strange scroll carried by Squim. As they walk through the streets, reality seems to fold and distort as two giant tentacled monsters appear in the street. The adventurers dispatch the creatures with many wounds. They decide to return to the Stony Gaze Tavern to rest for the night. Greycloak and Trutheye decide to split from the group to conduct their own investigation. The next day the adventurers return to the West Hill neighborhood and enter a bookshop. The proprietor informs the adventurers that the Reality Wrinkly, a bookshop down the road, specializes in the strange and arcane and may have information regarding the symbols. The party heads to the Reality Wrinkle, but is attacked again by a tentacle monstrosity. The guards come after the battle, ensuring that peace is maintained, but one of the guards seems concerned that Alein, a paladin and keeper of the shrine of Korrond, did not come to help. He rushes to the shrine to investigate as the adventurers prepare to continue to the bookstore. Screams are heard down the street as if the guard had befallen a cruel fate and the adventurers rush to investigate the shrine of Korrond. Mist surrounds the building and they cautiously approach. A woman’s scream is heard this time and the party rushes in, battling two mysterious sorcerers in the mists. They rescue the paladin-in-training, Torea. They learn from one of the crazied cultists that the were trying to capture and sacrifice Torea at the Reality Wrinkle for some strange and alien reasons. They adventurers devise a plan to assault the Reality Wrinkle. Davor and Drogda don the cultists robes and pretend to hold Torea captive while Zarlota and Sia embrace invisibility. They enter the bookstore which seems unusually large on the inside, with strange angles and symbols throughout the interior. The cultist at the counter motions them to the back where another cultist instructs them to bring Torea to the basement. Unfortunately, the adventurers choose the wrong door, releasing a gibbering mouther and causing shouts of “Imposters!” by the enraged cultists.
Davor quickly responds that he was simply checking to see if the mouther was still present. The cultist seems weary, but appears to buy into the explanation. The adventurers then choose the other door into the basement and bring their “captive” below. Here the spatial disturbance is greatest and they have trouble discerning the distance of objects and locations within the room. They enter the backroom of the basement to find two cultists finalizing a ritual to sacrifice a woman in a red dress, presumably Alein. She appears to be affected by the magical disturbance and can barely move, her face giving the impression that she is lost in a living nightmare.The cultist now are confident that these intruders are impostors and summon mist to fill the rooms.
The adventurers battle with the cultists, throwing spells back and forth, as a gibbering mouther tries to tear apart the party. Eventually more cultists join in the fray from upstairs and battle fills the house as the party attempts to fight their way out with Torea and Alein in the rear.
The adventurers bring the battle to the main floor of the bookshop, with Davor spraying fire over his enemies and many of the cultists bouncing balls of flames around on the adventurers. Just when escape seems possible for Torea, Alein, and the adventurers, a giant wyste is appears out of nowhere, blocking the front door. Greycloak then appears outside the front door with a summoned fire elemental. Together, the adventurers manage to vanquish the wyste and Greycloak rushes in to protect the party with protective wards. Davor and Zarlota take the battle with the cultists upstairs as Torea and Alein again attempt to rush out the front door. This time a dark, purple-robed wizard in a mask stands boldly at the front of the building in the street. He throws a pea-sized ball of flame into the house, which then explodes into a fiery burst, setting the house aflame and destroying nearly everything in its path. While Torea and Alein were fortunate enough to avoid the fireball, and Sia and Drogda skillfully dodge the worst of the explosion, Greycloak, however, took the fireball unaware and was blasted into piles of bone and ash. The house begins to roar into flames as Drogda and Sia burst out the back door with Torea and Alein. Zarlota and Davor look down at the dark sorcerer in the street as the flames begin to engulf the building.
Sia quickly changes into the form of an eagle and flies out the window of the burning building. Davor, noticing that the fire has yet to reach dangerous levels for his dragon-blood skin, calmly walks out the back door. Sia flies around looking for the wizard from above, but finds no one. A drunken noradrie named Brogar exits the house as well, apparently looking for someone in need of rescue, but passes out in the alley shortly afterwards. Many townspeople come to watch the burning building and the town guards block off the crowd. After the building crumbles to the ground, the townspeople cheer and the guards declare the adventurers as heroes for their efforts against the evil cult. No one, however, seems to know where the head wizard ran off to. After some rest, the party receives an invitation to a grand party in their honor at the Stony Gaze Tavern, the following night. They also speak with the tavern’s bouncer, a noradrie named Hargg, who tells them he met Brogar recently and that head had been tricked by an Astonian merchant named Miger Alventis. Poor Brogar has been cheated out of his contract with no work or weapon to acquire another job. The party meets with Brogar and offer him a provisional position in the group and allow him to borrow the bastard sword from the party’s cache. The party leaves the tavern with Brogar to ask around town to learn of the head wizard’s whereabouts, but to no avail. They talk to Squim, but learn little of the cultists other than that they paid off the wererats to stage their initial attack, possible as a distraction. They head to the Temple of Solarus, the sun goddess, to learn that Trutheye has not checked in for awhile and Sun’s Champion Marith is concerned. She tells the party of a group of druids who live across the bridge in the nearby woods who have complained about the cultists gathering nearby in sadistic rituals. The adventurers head to the woods, and thanks to Sia, easily find the druid’s secret grove. Sia converses with the druid and they learn of the spot where the cultists would gather. The adventurers head into a great clearing with the remnants of a huge bonfire. Upon searching the area, the evil wizard strikes by through a fireball into the group’s area. Battle rages as the wizard disappears and summons a giant wyste. Spells and blows are exchanged before the wizard is finally brought down by a bold strike from Sia’s lightning storm. The party tie up the offender and bring him to the temple of Solarus. Marith is unable to identify the man, so they bring him to the barracks, where he also alludes identification. However, the guards agree to bind him and keep him unconscious.
The adventurers head to Shooma’s smithy and trade a few items with her. They also are shown here secret stash of Durgeddin’s ancient stock of weapons. She shares that her family has been living off the fortunes of Durgeddin’s treasure. Also that the ancient dwarven fort that once stood at the baron’s keep has all but been built over. The adventurers explore the baron’s keep area, looking for old dwarven architecture. The only part of such architecture they find is the old well. Zarlota employs her Slippers of Spider Climbing to climb down the well, drinking a Potion of Water Breathing to swim into its depths. By using the well’s rope and bucket, Zarlota sends up a few ancient artifacts from the depths. Brogar happily wields the untarnished magic greatsword found below. The party speaks with Shooma again, sharing their tale of the exploration of the Stone Tooth. The adventurers then asks around, interested in the Far Realm and the Speaker in Dreams that seems to have been involved in the cults activities. However, they learn little in their efforts. Eventually, the adventurers head to the Stony Gaze Tavern for the party in their honor. A great feast is held with a giant roasting boar on a spit, with plenty of food and ale. Erianna Euphemes, the baron’s sister, a charming and pious woman, bestows silver brooches with great shimmering amethysts to each hero for their efforts against the evil cult. The adventurers then mingle with the guests, meeting High Priest Forgim of the Solarus church. Eventually, the party dies down and the group is left with a few greedy drunks. Brogar lies unconscious upon the bar’s floor. One drunk seems suspicious to the party’s eyes, and they decide to follow him outside. However, when they get outside they hear a call from a nearby alley, “Hey, adventurer’s!” When they go to investigate they are attacked by a burst of freezing energies. They rush into the alley to find the culprit, but only find that they are surrounded by many assassins and surviving cultists along with clerics of Bail. They are vastly outnumbered and now escape is the only concern.
The battle gets more desperate as the assassins close in. Drogda manages to pummel the ogre mage with her warhammer as Sia blasts him with her lightning bolts. The ogre mage flees into the air and disappears, leaving an opening from the dark alleys to the main road. The adventurers flee down this opening, running straight into the Stony Gaze Tavern. They tell the barkeep, Gell what has befallen, who sends a messenger to the guards. The party then decides to rest for the night, keeping weary of attacks. That night, their dreams of the assassins’ attempt slowly shifts into the image of an alien landscape where strange voices and images shift and contort. A feeling of impending doom fills their mind before a voice utters, “The bell has tolled, the gate’s swing wide!”
The next morning, the party discovers that everyone had the same terrifying dream. They hear the trumpets of the baron’s keep blast out, indicating that the baron wishes to speak to the people. Gell informs them that they can squeeze into the crowd at the keep, or wait for the criers to repeat the speech. The party opts to brave the crowds and wade in with the people into the keep. The baron speaks from a high tower on his keep. The speech mentions the recent attack on the adventurers and the lawlessness that has overcome Brindinford. He declares a number of edicts: the street fair is over and all merchant stalls must be removed or be destroyed, the gates of the city are closed and no one may leave or enter, no one may wield a weapon in the streets, the militia must report to duty for regular patrols, the Temple of Solarus is off-limits and the clergy are declared heretics, and the city is under martial law and everyone must stay indoors at night. The crowd seems stunned by these edicts. As the baron ends the speech, speaking about how he intends to maintain order, a bony devil is seen high above the tower, grinning evilly. Many townsfolk cry out and flee to their homes.
The party is also stunned by the new laws and heads to the barracks to see if they are exempt to the “no weapon” policy. However, the barracks is too busy as the militia members line up for gear and orders. They then visit Fooma who has little interest in meeting with them, but does mention that the local thieves guild (disguised as the Gold Tabard Merchant Company) is displeased with the new laws as well, and might help. The party returns to the Stony Gaze Tavern to discuss the new laws and what they can do. They hear the trumpets again, and see the criers going about town to repeat the Baron’s speech. The crier is flanked by two monstrous goblinoids, Zarlota identifies them as Barghests, a goblin-like creature from the evil outer planes. The presence of these evil outsiders to maintain law and order indicates to the party that something is amiss. The party talks to Gell, the innkeeper, who informs them that a great hellfire appeared in the Temple of Solarus last night, the great golden glass dome at the top has been breached and the fires still shoot out the top from inside. He also relays that some mysterious figure has been making deals with local merchants to send wagons to nearby towns, though he doesn’t know why.
The party then meets with the Gold Tabard Merchant Company’s leader. He conveys that his group is willing to help by scouting, they intend to investigate the Temple of Solarus, the Baron’s keep, and talk to merchants in the area to see what the mysterious figure wants. The party then returns to the inn, where they learn from the waitress, Ahal, that a merchant is having a meeting at the East Gate that night. The party attempts to sneak in on the meeting, but learn little, except that Ahal was arranging the meetings between the merchants and the unknown figure, even she didn’t know who the figure was.
They notice that the streets are near empty and the inns are crammed with out-of-town merchants with no where to go. Everyone is in a state of fear as militia patrols (some with devils) roam the streets and the hellfire burns in the Temple of Solarus. The next day the party meets with the merchant company (thieves guild) to learn about what the scouts found. The thieves relay that nothing too strange is happening at the Baron’s keep, only the Baron’s usual guards seem absent and a strange hooded figure is his constant companion. At the Temple of Solarus, however, a great hellfire burns inside as a planar gate to the Nine Hells, and many dark clerics and devils control the place. They also relay that the local merchants are being offered to bring wagons to other towns to spread this dark cult into Loyolla.
The party decides to look for more allies, they head to near the north gate and slip over the wall (thanks to Zarlota’s magic slippers). They talk to the halflings at the floating encampment who are scared by a fiendish creature that has been grabbing and eating halflings at random moments. The party promises to remove the beast from the waters. The party then visits the druids who say they can offer advice on closing the hell-gate but first want some hellhounds that roam outside the city walls killed. The party complies and returns with hellhound teeth as proof. The druids tell them that a powerful flow of positive energy into the planar gate will likely close it. The party then accepts a stag carcass from the druids in their attempt to fish for the fiendish beast beneath the river. They throw the carcass in with an attached rope, after much time something large and smoldering tears the rope and eats the carcass. The beast then rises from the water to attack….
The party fights off the fiendish elasmosaurus until they finally fell the beast. They return to the halflings with some teeth as proof. Dentheira (the halfling’s priestly leader) agrees to help the party in any way they can. The agree to scout around the area and local farmlands to find the clergy of the Temple of Solarus. Meanwhile, the adventurers climb back over the wall and return to the Stony Gaze Tavern. Gell (the halfling barkeep) informs them that Ahal is not due in to work until later this evening. The adventurers decide to visit Thos with the thieves’ guild, who has no new information to report. The adventurers then decide to visit the Shrine of Korrond, leaving Drogda and Brogar waiting at the tavern for Ahal. Davor, Zarlota, and Sia find the small shrine burned and scorched. They then head to the market area to Shooma’s smithy. On the way, they are attacked by an invisible hellcat. The party is nearly killed and they attempt to run from the invisible hunter and its pouncing. Davor downs an invisibility potion and disappears into a nearby alleyway, while Sia at first attempts to carry Zarlota down the street. The lion-sized cat pounces on her and nearly slashes her throat out. Zarlota then downs a potion of reduction shrinking her already small body even smaller, standing just over a foot tall. Sia simultaneously transforms into a great eagle and flies into the air with the tiny Zarlota on her back.
The adventurers regroup at Shooma’s smithy, apparently leaving the hellcat behind. They talk with Shooma about the events in the city, however, she is also unaware of the location of the Solarus clergy. She patches up Davor with a healing potion and promises the party a few trinkets from her treasury if they manage to defeat the evil cult and their devilish allies. The party then returns to the tavern. Ahal eventually arrives for work and mentions to the adventurers that she will try to get a meeting arranged with the mysterious figure that has been recruiting merchants. She returns later to say that a meeting is scheduled for midnight near the east gate. The party then return to Thos who provides them with merchant finery for their upcoming meeting. The adventurers then return to the tavern to drink and eat as they wait for the midnight hour.
When the time arrives, they head to the east gate alleyways awaiting the mysterious figure. Eventually a cloak figure comes out of the alley and whispers in a hissing voice for the leader to join them in the alley. Zarlota volunteers and steps into the alleyway to talk with the stranger. However, the stranger soon throws off her cloak’s hood revealing Ahal, except her true form is that of a medusa. Zarlota stares into those snakelike eyes in confusion as her body takes on the rigid form of stone; she is permanently petrified. Meanwhile, the rest of the party springs into action, averting their eyes from the medusa’s gaze. Then the clouds break up a bit in the sky, bathing the alleyway in the light of the full moon. Drogda is suddenly overcome by an uncontrollable transformation as her body warps and contorts into the shape of a dire rat. Her armor and weapons fall to the ground as she scurries away in search of food; all sentient awareness is lost. Sia, Davor, and Brogar manage to take out the medusa. They first cut out one of her eyes, put a patch over the other, and then cut off each of her snakes upon her head. They take Ahal with them to the tavern, along with Drogda’s equipment, and a statue that perfectly resembles Zarlota.
They try to interrogate the medusa, but do not learn much, only that something far more powerful will revenge her death. They lock her away in the tavern’s storage closet. They rest the night, Brogar and Davor keep watch. The next morning, Sia heads to Fooma’s apothecary to see if she has any rare stone salve, the only cure for petrification. Sia flies there in eagle form and eventually gains entry to the angry half-orc’s home. Fooma admits to having the rare salve, an heirloom from her grandmother. Sia trades a few of the party’s magic weapons to pay the 3000 gold cost for the rare salve. Additionally, she takes some wolfsbane, a toxin that can help remove lycanthropy. Fooma also provides five healing potions to the party’s cause against the evil cultists. Sia thanks Fooma and returns to the tavern. She then rubs the salve on Zarlota, returning her stony body to flesh.
A moment later, Drogda walks through the door with torn clothes, many bruises, and no recollection of the night’s events….
Confused by her transformation, and why she awoke in the nearby alleyway, Drogda donned her gear. Sia administered wolfsbane to Drogda to fight off the lycanthropy with success. However, Drogda suffers from a weakened immune system for a few days as a result. The group is confronted by Gell who insists that they remove the medusa from his storage room. They agree to rent a room for the medusa and keep her in there. However, after they bring the evil medusa to the room, they learn that the mysterious figure contacts her through her dreams. They decide to kill her off in order to avoid letting the figure find out what happened to the medusa and learning more about their motives. They nonchalantly dump the corpse into the alley nearby.
The adventurers then rest for the coming assault of the Temple of Solarus to close the dark portal to the Nine Hells. They first head to visit Shooma to retrieve Brogar’s and Zarlota’s armors. On the way they are beset by a pair of barghests in their wolf forms. The devilish beasts injure the party before falling. The party reaches Shooma’s smithy. Zarlota dons her new shining breastplate, perfectly fitted to her little gnome body. Brogar admires his new shiny chain shirt. The group then sneaks over to the Temple of Solarus. Zarlota is sent to investigate the place first. She prays to Tulsin for a bit of deception and she disappears from view. She sneaks into the unlocked doors of the giant domed room. The golden dome has been broken at the top where a giant hellfire shoots up from a gaping hole in the floor. Zarlota then sneaks into a nearby room that appears to be a kitchen. Inside, an imp is tearing the room apart simply for the joy of destruction. The imp suddenly seems aware of Zarlota’s presence and attempts to sting her with its poisonous stinger. Zarlota flees into the streets to her friends.
The party then assaults the temple en masse. However, as they enter into the golden dome a wall of ice suddenly conforms to the wall behind them, blocking the entry doors. The osyluth, or bone devil, appears out of the air, flying above them, reveling in the heat of the hellfire. The party springs into action as the bone devil attempts to separate them with many walls of freezing ice that appears impervious to the nearby flames. Sia summons the stormclouds outside to hover around the broken dome, sending strikes of lightning at the bone devil. Meanwhile, Davor attempts to fire various bolts of energy at the devil, who avoids many of them due to its natural magical resistance. Zarlota concentrates on closing the portal while the devil is distracted, while Brogar guards over her after felling the imp. Zarlota manages to close the portal and the hellfires dissipate, leaving a gaping hole in the floor. The bone devil then tears into her with its claws, nearly felling the gnome. Drogda and Brogar hold the devil off while Davor and Sia heal the gnome. The devil then tears into Brogar ripping his burly body in two and cleaving his head. The giant noradrie’s body lumps to floor like a rag doll. Drogda holds the devil back as it slowly succumbs to the magic thrown by Davor, Sia, and Zarlota. Then as the devil attempts to fly away from the strong half-orc, Drogda takes an opportunistic punch into the back of the devil’s head, crushing its spine at the neck. The devil breaks and dissipates in a burst of flame.
After the arduous battle with the bone devil the group decides to search around the temple. They head into one of the side chambers discovering the kitchen where Zarlota had found the imp. While searching about the area, an infernal priest of the cult of Bail walks in. They attempt to fight the cleric, but he steps back and opens a door in the hallway, releasing two hell hounds. Battle rages for a moment in the small hallway. Eventually the priest and the remaining hell hound flee to the upper level. Drogda pursues but finds herself in a globe of impenetrable darkness when she reaches the upper landing. The sound of many monstrous entities surrounds her as she bears her shield and strikes her hammer at the unseen foes. Then the lights pop back on as the darkness retreats. The infernal cleric is seen, surrounded by a recently summoned lemure devil, two ferocious barghests in their wolf forms, and the wounded hell hound. The cleric chants a dark prayer and points at Drogda, who falls helpless to the ground, crumpling down the stairs. Davor steps into her place, bolstered by his powerful shielding conjurations, and brandishes his mighty greataxe. Meanwhile, Sia and Zarlota patch up Drogda, even though she is still paralyzed by the dark enchantment.
Davor is greatly weakened by the barghests frequent attacks, as they test every hole in his magical protections. The party withdraws into the lower hallway and Davor carries the paralyzed Drogda into the nearby meeting room. Battle continues as they hold off the enemy at the bottom of the stairs. Then one of the hallway doors burst open revealing the streets outdoors and an angry barghest who confronts Zarlota. The group slowly flees into the great domed chamber fighting the enemy off. The barghests appear to have fled the battle into the streets. Just when things seem to be doing well for the adventurers, the other side chamber door opens and a host of infernal priests and their hell hound pets step out led by their devil-touched leader, Daros Hellseeker. The clerics swing their dark, spiky flails as they step menacingly towards the weakened party. Sia then calls upon the earthly forces to pull the broken ceiling of the dome upon the approaching clerics. The heavy chunks of stone injury them and the rubble and debris slow down their march. The party takes the opportunity to flee from the chamber in a full sprint out the front door. They flee into the alleyways trying to avoid pursuit.
While the goal of closing the portal has been accomplished, the adventurers must contend with the mighty evil force that plagues Brindenford. They flee to Shooma’s smithy who reluctantly lets them rest in her secret vault.
The party awakens and prepares themselves for the battle ahead. They learn from Shooma’s nephew that the Stony Gaze Tavern has been burned to the ground by the evil priests, looking for the adventurers. The group then explores the ruins of the tavern, and thankfully find no sign of bodies. They then return to the temple to find the priests. They look around the place, finding little activity as they enter the side door, stealthily. They encounter a pair of sleeping barghests and a couple clerics on patrol. They fight off the clerics in the small hallways and the large domed chamber. Then they look around the seemingly deserted temple. They find a journal belonging to a Daros Hellseeker, the apparent leader of the group. He details how the Speaker in Dreams has helped the Bail clerics enter the city. The Speaker even staged the wererats attack and orchestrated the Reality Wrinkles’ cult activity. It seems the Speaker has been the organizer for almost all the nefarious activities in the city since the adventurers arrived. The Speaker even coordinated the assassination attempt on the adventurers. Daros seems to have only communicated with the Speaker through dreams as well, but does mention that the Speaker has recruited the Baron to their cause and is likely the related to the Baron’s sudden proclamation. It is still a mystery exactly what the Speaker’s motives are, even Daros seemed weary of his intentions. Daros also captured Trutheye, who helped the Solarus clerics escape. Trutheye convinced Daros that he and Greycloak were the only ones in the clerics’ way. Daros then tortured and cut out Trutheye’s eyes. Daros also details how the clerics opened the gate to the Nine Hells with something called a Hellstone and that the pact with the devils involved the exchange of the injured Trutheye, who is now lost into the realm of devils. The journal indicates that only a single Hellstone remains to re-open the portal.
Just as the party was preparing to leave the temple, Daros the tiefling enters the temple with his subordinates, they brandish their spinning flails menacingly…
Battle ensues and the adventurers fight hard against the forces of evil. One of the barghests returns behind the heroes closing in. They manage to fell Farji, the cleric’s military leader, as Daros releases waves of negative energy upon the group. The heroes are weakened. Davor takes the opportunity to unleash a powerful burst of lightning into the cleric. Daros takes to the air to stand upon the balcony healing his own wounds. Sia quickly transforms into a massive dire ape and climbs her way up the balcony swiping her massive limbs at the evil cleric. Daros flies out over the gaping hole in the center of the dome, releasing another burst of negative energy, draining the life force from each adventurer. Drogda and Zarlota fire arrows and bolts at the floating priest as Sia reaches out to grab him, with he other arm holding the balcony railing. Zarlota sends the shimmering dagger of Tulsin at the cleric, wounding him. Davor takes the opportunity to conjure a bouncing, flaming sphere and sending it at the priest. The sphere burns through the cleric, and his body drops lifelessly into the bottom of the pit. The forces of Bail have been vanquished.
The adventurers take their new loot to Shooma and sell off some of their bounty for platinum and gems. The adventurers then rest before heading to the keep’s front gate to the noble quarter. On the way, they are attacked by a fierce fiendish megaraptor who tears into Davor and Drogda. They decide to flee into the alleys, as the megaraptor tries to pursue, but they manage to escape through corridors too narrow for the large beast.
They reach the keep gate and the barracks and peer from the alleyway. Zarlota leaves her weapons with her friends as she approaches Lieutenant Shella. Zarlota admits to felling the priests of the temple, and as such, Shella regrets to tell her that she is arrested. Shella brings Zarlota into the dungeon of the barracks, but then shows her a small secret door at the back. She asks Zarlota and her friends to free the baron and stop whomever is behind this, and instructs Zarlota and later to her friends of a secret way into the keep’s courtyard. Zarlota sneaks down a long tunnel into a noble house, which she quickly escapes into the main courtyard. Zarlota follows Shella’s instructions and eventually the adventurers are rejoined in the noble quarter through a secret door in the northwest watch tower.
The adventurers then sneak into the Baron’s keep by having Zarlota use her magic slippers to climb to the top of the tower and throw a rope down for her friends to use, thankfully the cover of darkness hides their activities. They explore the keep, frantically searching for the other Hellstone mentioned by Daros in his journal while avoiding the servant staff. They have no luck finding the stone, but do find themselves sneaking on the balcony over the Baron’s dining room, watching them eat. Baron Euphemes II and his sister Eriana are joined by a cloaked figure and a huge brutish man. Poor Eriana seems worried as she tries to make small talk with her brother, who only nods occasionally and eats slowly and mechanically. The cloaked figure only sits, still as a statue, and the hulking man shovels large amounts of food into his mouth.
Suddenly, the baron looks up from his plate and say, “We are not alone.” The baron and the large man get up and look about as Eriana fears assassins. Then the cloaked figure turns around and floats into the air looking directly at the Drogda and Sia hiding on the balcony. He throws back his cloak revealing his alien features…
The alien mind releases powerful thoughts of death and anger into the adventurers minds and blasts Sia and Drogda with its sheer willpower. The Baron grabs his sword as he tries to head up the stairs to fight, but Davor and Zarlota lock both doors. The large man changes shape into that of an ogre mage and his walking stick becomes a deadly greatsword that he swings at Drogda as he flies into the air.
The heroes battle valiantly against the powerful mind flayer and ogre mage. The baron continuously tries to open the door into the bedroom as the heroes throw spells at the monstrous enemies. Eriana’s scream echo throughout the hall as the servant staff flee out the door. Drogda and Sia are blasted by a powerful mental wave from Ghaereth Axom the mind flayer, stunning them. The ogre mage then strikes down Drogda. Sia flees into the bedroom striking lightning down on her enemies. Davor throws spells from the bedroom as well. Zarlota does her best to aid her comrades, bringing Drogda back to her feet, while the Baron continuously hammers on the door. Eventually the ogre mage sneaks into the bedroom and appears suddenly striking down Zarlota and Sia. Drogda fights hard against the mind flayer nearly felling the vile creature. Then Ghaereth Axom tears a rip into the fabric of the cosmos, and flees through the portal, vowing eternal revenge against the heroes who foiled his dark plans. The baron finally bursts through the door and steps over the fallen Zarlota. He seems to come to his senses and attacks the ogre mage yelling, “Back you fell beast!”. Drogda pelts the mage with arrows before the ogre mage disappears into invisibility. The baron guesses the creature’s location and lands a felling blow. The mage reappears, dead on the floor.
Baron Euphemes II expresses extreme gratitude towards the adventurers offering them free lodging in any inn in town. As the adventurers leave the keep, the peak of the sun rising up on the horizon, many townsfolk begin following them. Eventually the crowd gathers thick and the people are cheering and trying to touch the heroes who freed them from the devil’s control. Davor commissions a bard to write a song to commemorate the event. The baron declares the week a week of celebration to honor the heroes who risked their lives for the city. The heroes rest a couple days before heading out to kill off the fiendish megaraptor that has gotten loose in the forests. The druids direct the adventurers to the creature, who quickly fell the beast.
The heroes then return to the city to enjoy the fair, which has returned for the rest of the week. They sell off their old goods and buy some powerful items from Shooma’s secret vault. They spend the next few weeks working hard on brewing potions, scribing scrolls, and crafting intricate wands of great magic.
The adventurers spend their days feasting, dancing, singing, and enjoying some much deserved rest and entertainment. The Baron has made each of them an honored citizen of the city declaring them heroes in a great public ceremony, much more extravagant than the first. Everyone in town seems to know their names and their deeds, giving food and drink bountifully without thought of payment.
In the meantime, Davor takes a moment to continue the search for the Hellstone, finding it in the bottom of the pit of the Temple of Solarus. The small stone is perfectly round, about the width of a large coin. It is a deep ebony with no hint of light, as if no light could reflect off its perfectly smooth surface. Magical analysis reveals a powerful conjuration aura with evil emanations. Davaor and Zarlota decide to do some research in the libraries of Brindenford to see if they can identify its powers and learn how it might be destroyed. Also, the heroes learn that the priests of Solarus fled to a secluded shrine deep in the woods in the north in Kalrua, however, a messenger was sent to let them know it was safe to return, but the messenger has not returned, nor the priests…
Zarlota and Davor cannot find any reference to the Hellstone they now hold in any of Brindenford’s library. Meanwhile, Sia discusses greatly with the druids, finding the loss in her heart to be a source of power, the natural powers of ice. After hearing about the clerics’ disappearance decide to seek the missing priests of Solarus in their deep woods temple to the north. The adventurers leave the comforts of the city and travel along the roads searching for the shrine. They end up going far past the shrine’s location, spending days on the road. When they finally decide to return to a fork in the path they past a few days back, they run into a group of wild elves led by one known as Falisai. They tell the group that they have been following the adventurers since they entered the forest and that the shrine they seek was indeed at the fork they passed. They also predict the dangers ahead in the adventurers’ future with cryptic phrases. The adventurers then return the fork and find the small temple to Solarus hidden in the forest. The temple appears a bit dilapidated and empty from the outside. The heroes open the door to find three infernal clerics of Bail inside. They quickly dispatch two of the clerics, the final one drops his weapon to parley. He agrees to tell the heroes where Sun’s champion Merith is in exchange for his freedom. They adventurers agree and he slowly passes them to outside and tells them that they can find her in the cemetery, buried. He then rushes into the woods. Not content with the evil man escaping, Sia launches an arrow to maim the cleric, but a slight mistake sends the arrow sailing into the man’s throat, killing him.
The heroes then rush to the cemetery to unearth Merith. They find a single grave piled with fresh dirt. After over an hour of furious shoveling, they unearth a simple wooden coffin. Inside is well-aged skeleton, and the sun’s champion, naked and dirty, screaming for her life in the small wooden box. Sia quickly surrounds her with her cloak to protect the paladin from the cool autumn air. Merith explains that the infernal clerics broke into the temple, slaughtered the high priest and the acolytes, then tortured and raped her before burying her alive. The heroes return to the city where the Sun’s champion courageously takes over the temple as High Priest.
While resting, the adventurers are approached by a stranger, and clearly a Kalruian with his black hair, thick bushy moustache, and equally thick accent. He drops off a letter from the Burgomaster of Barovia. Barovia is a nearby barony of Kalrua, and one that is usually forgotten about since the baron and his family never attend the royal court. The Burgomaster requests that the adventurers quickly rush to the village of Barovia to help his beloved daughter, Ireena Kolyana. The heroes comply, buying horses and riding off into the northern forests towards the Weary Horse Inn.
Upon reaching the inn, the heroes taste the wine of Barovia and meet with the local Kalruians. They learn that Barovia is a dangerous place in the wild parts of the country. A deep valley often filled with thick fog hidden among the cold pine and spruce forests of western Kalrua, the small baronry of Barovia is controlled by the elusive von Zarovich family. The village itself is the only major population center, the center of fine exported wines. The only contact they have with the rest of Kalrua is some infrequent trading by the wine merchants. The heroes wait until morning and brave into the deep valley, reaching it in the evening. Fog surrounds them as they reach the gate into the valley. The gate magically opens as they pass through. The darkness closes in as they reach the village, tying their horses off as they enter the quiet town. They find the villagers of the town turned to zombies, shuffling around the town in search of the living. They fight their way through the dark town of boarded homes. They seek a place to rest from their battle with the zombies, searching the buildings of the dark, misty street.
The adventurers find the nearby buildings unforgiving, as most are boarded up or empty. However, the sounds of combat are heard down the street in the thick mists and they quickly rush in. They find that some zombie villagers seem to have burst their way through a barricade in the town’s square. A single female knight battles against them valiantly. The adventurers engage the zombies fighting their way towards the knight, who is helplessly outnumbered. Then a nearby door breaks open and a dwarf dressed in simple garments, wielding a steel-banded staff jumps into the fray, swinging his staff with multiple quick blows against the zombies. With the newcomer’s help, the heroes fight their way to the town square. Drogda is buried in a shallow grave by a devious entomber. But the heroes eventually finish off the zombies and dig out the suffocating half-orc.
Before the next wave can attack, the heroes and some uninfected villagers restore the barricades. The dwarf introduces himself as Garrak, a wandering mystic who came looking for the finest wine in Kalrua. He has just arrived a few hours before the adventurers. The knight introduces herself as Ashlyn of the Lightbringers, a knightly order intent on ridding the world of undead. She had coincidentally arrived in the village a few days ago with her two companions searching for an ancient weapon known as the Sunsword, the ultimate weapon against the undead. Then the zombies appeared and began devastating the village, the more they killed, the more their numbers grew. While Ashlyn fought to protect the villagers and secured the town square, her companions fought towards the church, the suspected source of the evil infecting the villagers. She has not heard from them in 2 days. She fears they are dead and infected themselves and begs the heroes to assist her in bringing their souls to rest and ending the zombie invasion.
The heroes, greatly wounded, convince the innkeeper at the Blood of the Vine, to let them rest in a storage room, as all the rooms are occupied by desperate families. Garrak keeps an eye on the barricades while the others rest. The morning does not bring much light to the village, as the sky is overcast and the mists seem reluctant to depart. The heroes and their new companions then march their way down the street of Barovia towards the church. They fight off a pack of ghouls on the way before reaching the dilapidated church of Solarus. They enter the church cautiously. It seems empty at first, with a large gaping hole in the floorboards in the center and the pews scattered throughout, broken. Suddenly, a crazed man pops out from behind the altar, screaming, “I will not let you take my son from me!” With those words he unleashes a power magic from a torn, dusty page in his hand. The powers of death fill the area sapping the life force and releasing the soul’s of the adventurers and their new companions. With great constitution, the heroes maintain their souls in the face of eminent death. Ashlyn, however, in a moment of weakness, falls prey to the powerful necromancy, her soul leaving her body forever.
Doors on the sides burst open as zombies and a deathlock attack the heroes, while the mad priest hurls dark magics at them. They fight hard against the undead forces and the cleric that seemingly created them. Garrak is paralyzed by the priest who then animates Ashlyn’s corpse to attack her former allies. They eventually slay the corrupted priest of Solarus, but more zombies and a skeleton come up from below, dressed in adventurer’s garb, Ashlyn’s former companions. Another undead beast crawls from the pit in the center of the church, a large zombie composed of various body parts, all tied and bound together. This blaspheme has a particularly giant mouth and jaw which it quickly uses to tear into its living foes. Davor takes the brunt of the blaspheme’s attacks, dropping to the ground bleeding to death as the blaspheme prepares to crush him…
Zarlota channels positive energy repeatedly, saving Davor’s life. Garrak, Drogda, and Zarlota each help to distract the blaspheme away from Davor, while Sia battles solo with a zombie. Eventually the blaspheme is put to rest. The heroes find a makeshift laboratory in the cellar of the church, where Danovich presumably created the blaspheme. On the altar of the church, they find pages of a tomb called the Liber Blaspheme that detail the creature of the foul abomination. They also learn from Danovich’s journal that Ireena Kolyana is not the burgomaster’s natural daughter, and that she was found as a child near the bluffs below Castle Ravenloft. With the dangers in the church put to rest, the heroes retire to the inn to rest.
They speak with with Ismark, the burgomaster’s son, who tells them that his sister, Ireena is watching over the body of their father alone in the manor on the end of town. They also learn that the letter that they received that brought them here was not in the handwriting of the burgomaster, in fact the burgomaster was likely dead when the letter was sent to them. They then head to the burgomaster’s manor house to check on Ireena. They find her barricaded in the manor house, with her father’s body laid to rest in the entry hall. She relates that her father was likely poisoned by an agent of Strahd after he stood up to the Baron’s demands. She doesn’t know what Strahd requested of him, only that her father refused and used the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind to sendStrahd off. However, the symbol would not work after her father died, and now it has been stolen, it’s location unknown.
Zarlota notices Ireena is holding something back, in which she eventually tells the party that Strahd is after her. That he has visited her twice in what she thought were dreams, professing his love, calling her “Tatyana” and kissing her. She then awakes to find two bite marks on her neck. This evidence, combined with the fact that Strahd von Zarovich has been ruling Barovia for centuries suggests he is composed of a vampiric nature. The heroes agree to bury the burgomaster in the cemetery, bringing the body to rest. They then decide to head to Madam Eva, a local fortune teller, to seek information. Ireena dons her armor and sword and insists on accompanying them on their quest to defeat Strahd.
On the way to the Vistani camp, where Madam Eva is located, they come across a brave knight fighting some undead foes. They quickly dispatch the murks and the knight introduces himself as Sir Urik of the lost Knights of the Raven. He has come to Barovia to find the ancient hall of the knights, only to find it destroyed and the last of the knights buried. He wishes to dispel the evil on this land and view the hall of heroes in Castle Ravenloft. He joins the adventurers since their quests are the same.
They reach the vistani camp and meet Madam Eva. She is an elderly human of giant proportions with an old crackling voice. She distinctly seems to know each of the party, somewhat demonstrating her divining capabilities. She begins to lay out the quest for the heroes, laying out seven cards corresponding to seven tasks.
Archmage (Strahd) –“He who dwells in Castle Ravenloft is a powerful man whose enemy is light and whose powers are beyond mortality. You will seek him in the castle, and though he might ﬁnd you many times, you will ﬁnd him only once.”
“You will ﬁnd him in the very heart of darkness, his home, his source. This place is his center and his life, the one place to which he must return.”
The five crossing cards indicate that Strahd has many devious plans in action:
1. “The darkness desires a light; death seeks warmth from the living.”
2. “Yet the darkness fears a greater dark, and it strikes out against those who would replace it.”
3. “To win the light, the darkness seeks to be illuminated, to face the rays of the sun without fear.”
4. “The darkness seeks to consume all light, and death to devour all warmth from the living.”
5. “The darkness seeks allies among both the light and the dark.”
Queen (Tome of Strahd) – “The tome you seek holds knowledge of the ancient and knowledge of the land.”
“The tome lies on the throne of an ancient king.”
“If you ﬁnd the tome and delve into its secrets, you will discover the source of the lord’s strength. If you read it carefully, you may also discover how to rob him of that strength.” She says to return once they have the tome and she can tell them what can be done.
Death (Zombie Incursion) – “Death walks the streets of Barovia. Death leads to death, all stemming from a ﬁrst death.”
“You must put an end to the blasphemy of the death that refused to die, but that will not stop the plague. The lord of the castle is the source of all.”
“To end the plague of death, you must end its source.”
“The village church is desecrated by the ﬁrst blasphemy. The castle is ruled by the greater one.”
Dragonslayer (Sunsword) – “What you seek is a blade of light, a weapon for vengeance.”
“Seek it in the place of blasphemy, where humans plumb their darkest nature.”
“The sword’s light sleeps.”
“To wake it, bring it to where the light lies dead, slain by the darkness that shrouds the castle.”
Priest (Holy Symbol of Ravenkind) – “This symbol is a powerful force for good and protection against the forces of darkness.”
“Seek it in the place of death, among the dead.”
“The holiness in this item waits for hands of holiness to touch it once more, but that is not enough to bring its power back to life.”
“You must bring the symbol home, to the last remaining shred of sacred ground in the deﬁled castle.”
Druid (Druid’s Staff) – “The one of the woods left nature’s gift for those that are attune with its song.”
“Seek it in the heart of the wilds, far from human hands.”
“The power in this item waits for the one of wind and water to nurture its growth, but that is not enough to awaken its powers.”
“To wake it, bring it to the dizzying height that all loathe to climb.”
Sorcerer (Arcane Staff) – “The greatest of wizards need a font of their power to awe those without the gift.”
“Seek it where the river flies.”
“This power sleeps until it is called again.”
“You must bring the staff to join the ancient lore of the castle.”
The adventurer’s then return to the village of Barovia, looking in the cemetery for the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind. As the hour grows late, a ghostly procession begins to rise from the graves, slowly lining up and marching their way towards Castle Ravenloft via the road. Ireena relates that this happens every night, that each ghost is a soul of someone who attempted to kill Strahd and his minions. Each night they attempt to defeat Strahd, and each night they fail. Zarlota manages to speak with one of the ghosts, asking for help to find the Holy Symbol, the ghost points to a lone grave, closest to the castle’s bluffs. The grave reads only “Shem”. They heroes dig into the earth, eventually uncovering a seemingly empty coffin. Inside, they find the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind. It’s powers though, as Madam Eva predicted, are dormant, awaiting a holy patron to reawaken it within the castle.
The heroes, feeling bolstered by finding the holy symbol, prepare to return to the inn. Then a swarm of giant bats attack, which the adventurers quickly dispatch, sending back to the skies. They then walk towards the town from the church’s cemetery, hearing a scream off a side-street. They rush to a building with a door broken open. Zombie men and rats fill the place with some giant maggots while screams are heard from the second floor. They fight off the undead monstrosities and reach the second floor, which is barricaded shut. Inside they meet an elderly halfling couple who request to be escorted the the safety of the town’s square. The party agree and take them there. They then try to gain a room at the inn at this late hour, but the innkeep informs them the halfling couple has claimed the storage room they had slept in before. Ireena then tells the party that they can rest in her father’s manor house. Zarlota takes a moment at the midnight hour to pray to Tulsin as the party sip some fine Barovian wine. They then head towards the manor house.
On the way they hear the sobbing of a woman on the second floor of a nearby house. Zarlota activates her magical slippers and climbs to the top of the building, seeing an open third-story window in the roof. She sneaks in, alarming an old sobbing woman. The pink bedroom she sits in is a little girl’s dream filled with castle’s lords and ladies, presenting a perfect princess fantasy. The old woman, Mad Mary, relates that her daughter, Gertruda has run away and likely taken by Strahd. She knows nothing of the real world and has spent her entire life in this fantasy room. Mary begs Zarlota to rescue her before breaking down into a fit of madness and shooing the gnome out the window with a broom.
The party continues to the manor house and rests for the night. In the morning, they travel to the Vistani camp and speak to Madam Eva. She repeats many of her cryptic warnings and puzzles, but relays little new information. The party decides to head towards the Tser Falls to search for the wizard’s staff. They reach the top of the falls after a long hike up the winding, climbing trail. The stand on the bridge that expands over the falls looking around for any sign of secrets. A loud roar is heard as a crazed man rushes towards them, wielding a deadly bastard sword. Wild-eyed the man claws and stabs and seems immune to many of the party’s weapons. Just as Sir Urik and Davor manage to weaken the assailant, the crazed man reaches out at Drogda and rips out a chunk of her hair before leaping over the bridge, plummeting the 500 ft down into the mists below, out of sight. Unsure of what to make of the assailant, they continue their search. Zarlota users her slippers to climb down the side of the cliff looking for caves, but finds none near the top.
The party then decides to go around back near the Vistani camp to the base of the waterfall. As they approach the waterfall on a narrow ledge, the bay of wolves greets them as many worgs step out of the nearby trees. The party fight them off, and Sia ensures many of the die as they flee by beckoned nature to create spikes in their path. The party then continues on the narrow ledge towards the waterfall. Behind the falls, they find a dark, misty cave, and inside they only see a large brown bear, standing on its hind legs, ready to attack…
The party charges into the cavern to fight the brown bear, soon realizing it is a stuffed creature of expert taxidermy. The adventurers then cautiously enter the cavern in search of the fabled sorcerer’s staff. They find another taxidermy creature of a werewolf shape standing before a large chasm, a rope bridge connects the two sides. Suddenly, a wolf comes down another corridor and attacks the party. During the battle, Garrak succumbs to a cleverly placed chute-trap and disappears into its depths. A raging dwarf, wearing a necklace of human teeth, crosses the rope bridge, cutting its ends after he reaches the other side. The heroes battle against the dwarf and his wolf, felling both after a short time. Garrak returns from his unintentional dip in the river.
The adventurers explore the cave, searching frantically for the sorcerer’s staff. After many hours, they still find nothing. Drogda and Garrak then head down into the chasm where they find a long box containing the staff. Davor analyzes the magical item, but finds, much like the holy symbol of Ravenkind, its powers are diminished. The heroes leave the cave, deciding to rest at Ireena’s manor house. Upon reaching the house to rest, they are confronted by Strahd who wishes to speak to the heroes. He asks the party to continue their intentions to search Lysaga Hill on the night of the new moon, but doesn’t relate as to why. He also asks that they leave the woods be, as they are far too dangerous for them. He insists that he only has the best intentions for Barovia, despite what the villagers may think. He then disappears just after saying that Ireena will be his in a matter of time.
The adventurers decide that it would be best to take advantage of this temporary “alliance” with Strahd to sneak into the castle and find the Tome of Strahd that details his weaknesses. Sir Urik and Ireena leave the group to find a safe hiding place, so that Strahd cannot steal Ireena. The adventurers head towards the hill to appear that they intend to climb its bluffs, then Zarlota casts a powerful non-detection dweomer upon Drogda (the likely source of any scrying). They then sneak up the high road towards Castle Ravenloft.
The castle appears deserted and in ruin, however, a warm light escapes from the open entranceway. The party sneaks around the castle searching for any alternative ways inside. However, they eventually decide to use the main entrance. After they look about the main entryway, despite being covered in cobwebs shows great architecture and hidden beauty, Strahd greets them and asks them to join him for brunch. The party reluctantly agrees and sits down with Strahd in a grand dining room. He asks questions concerning the party’s history and how they came to Barovia, but otherwise avoids giving any real information. The adventurers refrain from eating or drinking. Strahd eventually bids his farewell, and asks that they show themselves out.
The adventurers, however, decide to sneak about the castle, making their way up to the second floor. They open a door into the steward’s office. The room is filled with bookcases and desk, all piled with dusty tomes, scrolls, and parchments. The steward, Lief Lipsiege, turns in a mad rage grabbing his greatsword and rushing at the party with three deathlocks behind him. The adventurers fight hard against the crazed man, with Zarlota taking a near fatal blow. However, the party is successful at felling the enemies and bringing the gnome back to her feet. They then proceed into the next door to find the throne room. Sitting untouched upon the throne, is an old tome, perhaps the Tome of Strahd, “…on the throne of an ancient king”, just as Madam Eva predicted.
The party closes in on the tome, Davor uses his magic to float it towards them, dropping it on the floor in front of them. Mist then gathers behind the throne, corporealizing into Strahd in a feral form. He claws at the adventurers demanding the book. Drogda grabs the book quickly and rushes back through the steward’s office, the party follows. Garrak tries to hold off Strahd in the entryway of the castle while the rest of the party flees into the wild courtyard. Sia turns into a great dire bat and picks up her little gnome friend. Strahd uses his magic to close the great portcullis and pull back the drawbridge of the castle, cutting the party off and locking them within the castle’s grounds.
Sia quickly flies Zarlota to the other side of the chasm, coming back for each member of the party, one by one. Strahd also takes a dire bat form and tries to attack the party on the battlements of the castle. Sia manages to get everyone to safety before being pulled into combat into the dark clouds of an approaching storm. The rest of the party flees at a full run down the road towards the bridge of Tser Falls. They run into Kavan the Grim on the bridge, but quickly dispatch the vampire back into mist. They visit the Vistani camp, but see that they have packed up to bear the storm, they are instructed to return another time. They return to Ireena’s manor house as a storm overtakes the valley. Sia rejoins the party, claiming to have lost Strahd in the storm before being tangled and torn by the fierce winds herself, barely making it back to the village. The party rests and decides to read the Tome of Strahd. Only parts of the great black tome is legible:
I am the Ancient, I am the Land. My beginnings are lost in the darkness of the past. I was the warrior, I was good and just. I thundered across the land like the wrath of a just god, but the war years and the killing years wore down my soul as the wind wears stone into sand.
All goodness slipped from my life; I found my youth and strength gone, and all I had left was death. My army settled in the valley of Barovia and took power over the people in the name of a just god, but with none of a god’s grace or justice.
I called for my family, long unseated from their ancient thrones, and brought them here to settle in the castle Ravenloft . They came with a younger brother of mine, Sergei. He was handsome and youthful. I hated him for both.
From the families of the valley, one spirit shone above all others. A rare beauty, who was called “perfection,” “joy ,” and “treasure.” Her name was Tatyana, and I longed for her to be mine.
I loved her with all my heart. I loved her for her youth. I loved her for her joy . But she spurned me! “Old One” was my name to her — “elder” and “brother” also. Her heart went to Sergei. They were betrothed. The date was set .
With words she called me “brother,” but when I looked into her eyes they reflected another name—“death.” It was the death of the aged that she saw in me. She loved her youth and enjoyed it. But I had squandered mine.
The death she saw in me turned her from me. And so I came to hate death, my death. My hate is very strong; I would not be called “death” so soon.
I made a pact with death, a pact of blood. On the day of the wedding, I killed Sergei, my brother. My pact was sealed with his blood.
I found Tatyana weeping in the garden east of the chapel. She fled from me. She would not let me explain, and a great anger swelled within me. She had to understand the pact I made for her. I pursued her. Finally, in despair, she flung herself from the walls of Ravenloft , and I watched everything I ever wanted fall from my grasp forever.
It was a thousand feet through the mists. No trace of her was ever found. Not even I know her final fate.
Arrows from assassins then pierced me to my soul, but I did not die. Nor did I live. I became undead, forever.
I have studied much since then. “Vampyr” is my new name. I still lust for life and youth, and I curse the living that took them from me. Even the sun is against me. It is the sun and light I fear the most. But little else can harm me now. Even a stake through my heart doeses not kill me, though it holds me from movement. But the sword, that cursed sword that Sergei brought! I must dispose of that awful tool! I fear and hate it as much as the sun.
I have learned much, too, about this land of Barovia. Ancient are its ways, ancient beyond the knowledge of the simple folk of the valley. I have walked the ancient ways, secret roads linking three fanes of might, and thus I have become the Land.
Three ancient saints dwelt in this valley long before my coming, and three hidden fanes still give tribute to their memories . I visited the Swamp Fane, the Forest Fane, and the Mountain Fane, and claimed their power for my own. Thus I solidified my grasp on this dim shadow of life.
I made the fanes my own, and I have become the Land. Also I made the fane-servants my own, and they now serve me as once they served the saints of the fanes.
I have often hunted for Tatyana. I have even felt her within my grasp, but she escapes. She taunts me! She taunts me! What will it take to bend her love to me?
I now reside far below Ravenloft. I live among the dead and sleep beneath the very stones of this hollow castle of despair. I shall seal shut the walls of the stairs that none may disturb me.
The next morning, the party heads to Madam Eva to learn what they can about the three fanes connected to Strahd. She lays down three cards in succession, explaining each one.
“You must first find the three holy relics hidden deep beneath the castle. Then bring the relics to the three defiled places described in the tome. You must consecrate each fane anew with the relic of its proper saint.”
“At each fane, you must unearth the unholy relic it contains. When you have all three unholy relics, you must destroy what you have created.”
“To then strip away his strength. At each one, keep a vigil through the night and release the power to the wild.”
She then draws one more card, she chuckles crookedly, “Before the vigils at each fane, you must kill its associated dread guardian and place the guardian’s body inside with the holy relic. At this you will never succeed. Your quest is doomed.”
She then sends the party out of her tent, seemingly blustered by the fortunes. The adventurers begin to search the woods in the gloom of the stormy morning. The are ambushed by an elf who stalls them as his werewolf friends charge in. A wraith joins in as well. The party dispatches these evils, although Drogda and Zarlota suffer a great weakness from the wraith’s touch. They capture one of the werewolf elves and learn that their leader, some fey creature called Valicia, has recently allied with Strahd in exchange for the freedom to feast on the people of Barovia. The party reluctantly release the werewolf in the hopes that they will accept their offer of alliance against Strahd.
The party continue their search in the woods in the late afternoon, though the clouds keep the gloomy forest dark and haunting. Soon another wolf ambushes them!
The party is overwhelmed by the pack of werewolves with two vampire spawn as allies, the adventurers flee towards the village and only the two wolves pursue to the edge of town before backing off. The adventurers head to the Burgomaster’s manor house and find Sir Urik and Ireena there. The two are worn from battle, explaining that the zombies have attacked in full force while werewolves prowled the outskirts of the town. The villagers are quite frightened at what is to come.
The heroes rest, reflecting on the things they have learned, before heading to the top of Lysaga Hill at the midnight hour to see what event Madam Eva predicted would occur.
They sneak their way up to the top of the hill, where flashes of green light can be seen in an old tower ruin at the peak. Drogda and Zarlota sneak up to the tower and peer inside the ring of the ruined structure. Seven witches in dark cloaks are performing a ritual around a giant green bonfire. Magical energies pass between them and they summon a great column of flame from the sky.
The heroes rush in to fight the witches and attempt to stop their dark ritual. Nearby, on a strange mystical circle, stands a powerful demon-lord slowly gaining corporeal form as the ritual finishes. The ritual ends and the witches fight back against their attackers. Battle rages on as the heroes confront the abyssally-tainted witches, who throw spells of flame. The aspect of the demon-lord seems reluctant to leave the circle beneath it, as it throws powerful energies at anyone within sight. A powerful hag, the seeming leader of the witches, also joins the fray, draining the strength of those she touches. With great effort the heroes manage to fell most of the witches, but the demon-lord and the hag seem resistant to most magic. The demon flies high above the tower throwing its dark energies. Sia takes the form of an air elemental, commanding the elements of lightning, cold, and fire to assault the demon in the sky. Davor joins her in the air throwing his own magics while Garrak, Zarlota, and Drogda desperately try to slay the powerful hag, but are unable to penetrate her resilient defenses.
Just as the heroes manage to weaken the demon somewhat, Strahd appears throwing his own magic at the demon. Upon seeing Strahd enter the battle, the hag disappears and escapes. The demon is felled and Strahd thanks the party for their appearance at the tower and asks them to reconsider his friendship before disappearing himself, leaving the heroes standing amid the ruins of the tower in the darkness of the stormy gloom.
The heroes heal up after the great battle with the help of Zarlota’s priestly magic. Afterwards, they search around the ruins of the ancient tower. They discover a trap door that leads down into caverns within the tall hill. They carefully descend into the darkness. While peering about the natural cavern, they are accosted by two babau demons, slashing their impossibly long claws. Baba Zelenna appears as well and the party tries to defend against the onslaught. Eventually, the party is forced to flee, however, Drogda is touched many times by the strength-sapping hands of the evil hag. She falls helpless to the ground, unable to move a single muscle. Garrak heroically picks up the half-orc and manages to scramble her out of the cavern while the others help hold the enemies back with magic. Davor and Garrak then carry Drogda with them as they run into the nearby woods. Zarlota restores Drogda’s strength and vitality with a powerful restorative spell. Davor then summons an extra-dimensional space and the party climbs up the rope inside to rest for the night.
When morning comes, the party returns to the ruined tower and down into the caverns below. Down a side cliff, they find a huge runic circle with a heavy runestone in the center. Davor detects overwhelming magical auras emanating from the runestone. The party believes they have found the Mountain Fane that is linked to Strahd. Remembering Madam Eva’s prophecies about how to end Strahd’s connection to the mountain, the party searches for the unholy relic that is expected to be nearby. Zarlota finds a small reliquary box that glows with an evil aura. Inside, they find some powdered bone, with an inscription that indicates it is part of Saint Ecaterina. Zarlota stows away the unholy relic and the party searches frantically in the caverns for the Sunsword, also believed to be hidden here.
Having no luck in the caverns, the party conducts a thorough search of the upper ruins of the tower. It is here that the party finds a few items left behind by the Lysaga witches. One of which is a long box containing the Sunsword. The sword is a shimmering blue crystal-steel sword with a platinum hilt, believed to glow with a great light when undead are nearby. Like the other legacy weapons, the sword’s greatest powers are dormant. Drogda wields the unusually-light weapon happily as the party prepares to descend back to the village.
Upon reaching the village, the party returns to the small village library in one of the larger abandoned houses. Zarlota searches for references to Saint Ecaterina. She not only finds a great deal of information on the saint, but learns of two other saints that were important to the Solarus church here in Barovia: Saint Bogdan and Saint Markovia. It is believed that the holy relics of these saints are likely in the prison and crypts beneath Castle Ravenloft.
With three of the four legacy weapons found, the party decides to continue their search for the druid’s staff rumored to be hidden in the Svalich Woods. After many hours of wandering the forest, searching for some structure or cavern, the adventurers come across a small rocky outcropping that appears to have a cavern. They sneakily approach the outcropping and cavern. However, they are discovered by two werewolf hunters in their hybrid forms. Battle ensues as the party fights their way towards the cavern. When they reach the entrance to the cave, a fey of unearthly beauty, a nymph, appears behind a corner. Garrak and Davor, their minds unable to overcome the beauty they have seen, are permanently blinded by the sight of the fey. The female adventurers, however, fight-off the effects of the first glance and see the raging nymph throw a powerful bolt of lightning at the group. Drogda charges at the nymph, averting her eyes, but is greatly injured by the nymph’s magic, and is forced to flee. Meanwhile, the others fight the remaining werewolf. Sia summons her own storm clouds and the two druids square off in a battle of nature magic.
The heroes battle against the mystical nymph and her werewolf-elf servants. Lightning is thrown back and forth between the druids while Davor blindly throws fireballs where he hears enemies moving. Drogda eventually fails to avert her eyes and is struck by blindness as well, retreating with Garrek behind the lines. Soon a well-aimed fireball fells the raging nymph and silence overtakes the hidden cave.
The party searches throughout the cavern, finding only a pool of ice-cold water with a knotty oak limb standing from the center, a few leaves search for light from the limb. Davor attempts to pull the thin oak tree, finding its roots only grab harder to the ground. However, as Sia touches the tree, its roots release completely and the tree shapes itself into a gnarled oak staff. The heroes take the final legacy item with them into the village to rest. Through Zarlota’s and Sir Urik’s prayers, Drogda, Davor, and Garrek’s sight are returned. They then explore the small library in the village, trying to understand more about the items they possess. The staff is learned to be called Treebrother, and may be the offspring of a treant and a dryad. Davor learns a bit more about Loden Lutherius, the creator of the staff of power he possesses.
Armed and ready, the party decides to search for the other Fane’s described in the Tome of Strahd. They decide to search for the Swamp Fane and follow the river towards the Ivlis Marshes. A ruined structure can be seen in the distance of the gloomy swamps and they work their way towards them. On the way, they are attacked by a cloud of undead insects and a wild shambling mound. They finish off these creatures and eventually reach the ruins, wading towards them in the deep waters.
Suddenly, many giant leeches rise from the water’s depths, and a mad raging hag, perhaps the Drowned Lady, appears. The party fights for their life in the shallow waters of the swamps. The hag is quickly dispatched and her body disappears under the waters. The party then fights against the leeches, trying to avoid losing their precious blood. However, Zarlota is grabbed by one of the leeches and her body is sucked dry in one quick motion. The gnome’s lifeless form falls into the murky water. Davor quickly grabs the mystical wand given by Sun’s Champion Merith, but finds it refuses to work for him. Zarlota passes away before his eyes.
Meanwhile, the evil hag rises again out of the water and gives her evil eye to Garrek. He immediately loses all focus in this world and stands dazed and unmoving as danger sweep in around him.
With Zarlota’s death, Drogda, Davor, and Sia fight hard against the remaining leeches and the drowned lady. Soon they all lay dead in the water. The party pulls Zarlota’s corpse onto the boggy earth of the swamp, scavaging what few of her belongings survived the digestive juices of the leech. They each say a small prayer to the gnome’s deity before Davor torches her body with his magical flames. He then gathers her ashes into an old potion vial and takes one of her finest teeth for his collection. They also stand Garrek up nearby, as he still stares off into space and only mildly reacts to things around him.
The adventurers then approach the great Swamp Fane and the runestone in its center. Davor detects the same magical energies elevating from the runestone. Without Zarlota’s ability to detect auras of evil, they find it difficult to locate the unholy relic buried nearby. They, however, do recall Madam Eva saying that each fane had a dread guardian that needed to be thrown dead upon each runestone. With that in mind, Davor searched for the corpse of the Drowned Lady and dragged her lifeless body towards the runestone. At that moment, two heavily armored dwarves atop larger armored boars came rushing in from the other side of the swampy island. They both wield large greatswords.
The dwarves relate that they came all the way from Kalavar to find Garrek. Kalek Ta-Krazkan the cleric, is Garrek’s elder brother. He wants to being him home to face justice in the courts before their family is dishonored. Garrek has apparently been wanted for murder in Kalavar for over three years. He doesn’t elaborate more on the issue. The other dwarf is a family friend of the Ta-Krazkan’s, named Erde. She is a paladin for Bodain, the dwarven god of justice and law. She and Kalek both belong to the church of Bodain, which is quite strong in the dwarven stronghold-city of Kalgorret. Kalek is a member of the Justice Wardens, essentially the police force for the city. Erde, however, is one of the elite Judicar of the church of Bodain, tasked with searching the world for evils and eradicating them. Because of this, it is evident that she wishes to see the evil in Barovia put to an end, while Kalek is more interested in getting Garrek back to Kalavar. The adventurers gain these dwarves as allies in their fight against Strahd.
Davor finishes what he started, and throws the Drowned Lady’s body on the runestone. A powerful hum of energy dissipates and the magical energies from the runestone seem altered. With Erde ability to sense evil auras, they also find the unholy relic nearby, Saint Bogdan’s tooth. The group returns to the village, where Garrek is put to rest in the manor house and Drogda decides to watch over him in case Strahd tries to visit. The rest of the group heads to the tavern, but quickly find that the wine has run short. The barkeep says that they cannot get to the warehouse on the other side of town due to the zombies roaming the streets. In the name of wine, the adventurers head the the warehouse, dispatching zombies on the way, and restock the inn. Over a few drinks, the adventurers learn more about their new dwarven companions. Erde is greatly interested in what has been happening at Barovia, and Davor weaves the long tale. In additon, Erde visits the small library in town to learn more about the saints and carefully reads over the Tome of Strahd. Later that night the group tries to head to Lysaga Hill to confront Baba Zelenna, believing she is the dread guardian of the Mountain Fane. However, they are waylayed by evil wights and a wraith. After felling these undead beasts, they return to town to rest until morning.
The next morning, the group sets back out to Lysaga Hill and finds Baba Zelenna at the Mountain Fane. Her babau demon allies come to her aid and battle ensues. Eventually, the enemies are felled and her corpse is layed upon the runestone, altering its magic.
Then the party begins to search more of the forest, looking for the Forest Fane. However, evening draws near and they return to the village.
The heroes rest until morning before heading out towards the castle to search the nearby woods for the Forest Fane. When they reach the crossroads, however, Count Strahd von Zarovich stands there. He says that he can no longer tolerate their existence and they must die. He alludes to how they could have joined him in is glorious undead empire, but now they are in his way. He summons a deadly cloud of noxious gases that greatly weakens the party. The power and fear that Strahd exudes causes the party to flee towards the village. Strahd does not pursue them, knowing his warning has been received.
After healing their wounds, the party sets out again being more stealthily about their travel. They are not confronted by any enemies and they continue to thoroughly search the woods around the castle for most of the day. Frustrated, Sia transforms into a wispy air elemental and takes to the skies peering around the countryside for some clue as to the location of the Forest Fane. After some searching, she discovers some hidden ruins in the woods near the Vistani camp that they have not visited. The party travels along the path to the camp, trying to sneak past the Vistani. However, their effort to be sneaky seems to fail as the Visanti confront them. Drogda pulls back hiding in the thick underbrush as her friends agree to meet with Madam Eva.
Madam Eva seems quite upset at the party and their killing of the other two dread guardians. She tells a tale of long ago before the arrival of Strahd where three priestesses once looked over three powerful nature shrines in Barovia. With the arrival of Strahd, and his corruption of the land, these priestesses became evil hags, their hearts matching the twisted heart of Strahd, now forced to serve their new master. These magical places were later protected by the three great saints of Barovia (Ecaterina, Markovia, Bogdan) in their attempt to destroy Strahd’s connection to defeat Strahd himself. The three guardians are those nature priestesses, the drowned lady of the Swamp Fane, Baba Zelenna of the Mountain Fane, and Madam Eva of the Forest Fane. With this revelation, Madam Eva transforms from the giant old woman she appeared to be and becomes the monstrous hag she really is. Just before this happens, Erde notices Madam Eva sign outside to her Vistani servants, realizing that they are about to attack.
Sia is the first to react to the ambush, thanks to Erde’s warning. She transforms herself in a ferocious dire tiger of great proportions, causing the giant tent to fall down around the hag and the adventurers, creating great confusion. Meanwhile, the others fight their way out of the tent, while Drogda tries to snipe the vistani from the bushes with her bow. Battle ensues, leaving the dwarves, Kalek and Erde, trapped under the tent with Madam Eva. Sia embraces her animal instincts and goes on a ferocious rampage on the frightened vistani while Davor fights beside her. Eventually Erde makes a couragous strike to a foe from under the tent, while simultaneously leaping out. Shortly after, Madam Eva escapes and attempts to trample the dwarf. Erde easily dodges the rushing hag, who escapes into the nearby woods. The party fights against the vistani bandits while the women and children flee down the road away from the carnage.
Eventually the Vistani thieves are dead and the party searches the area for anything of interest. They then decide to follow Madam Eva towards the ruins that Sia saw earlier. Upon reaching the ruins, containing the Forest Fane, they are ambushed by Madam Eva with two giant ogres and a hill giant brandishing a tree-sized club. Erde, who had summoned Albrect, her loyal boar steed, charges into battle with Sia (still in her tiger form). Madam Eva cleverly disables Davor by silencing him, making the sorcerer little more than a meat-shield while the giants rush in, beating the adventurers with their over-sized clubs. A hard battle is fought against the giants and the hag, with Albrect taking a near fatal blow and Sia taking a fatal one. Thankfully, Kalek uses the diamond wand on Sia, returning her to life a moment later. The wand then crumbles to dust. Eventually the party is facing off against just Madam Eva, who’s strength and magical defenses prove to be quite formidable.
But with great effort, she is defeated and her body thrown on the runestone of the Forest Fane. With the three dread guardians defeated, Strahd is closer to defeat. Erde finds the unholy relic nearby. With all three unholy relics in hand, they just need to be joined together to face the unholy monstrosity that represents Strahd’s taint on the land. Then the heroes only have to find the holy relics in the castle and return them to each fane to perform the consecrating ritual which wil disconnect Strahd’s connection to the land for good.
The heroes return to town after their long battle with Madam Eva, seeking rest in the burgomaster’s manor house. However, upon reaching the rusted gate surrounding the manor, a scream is heard towards the town square. The adventurers rush towards the square, fighting their way through zombies in the fog-filled streets. Eventually, they reach the square where a horde of zombies have Ireena and Sir Urik nearly defeated while the townspeople watch in horror from cracks in the boarded windows of the surrounding buildings. The adventurers tear through the zombie scourge saving Sir Urik and Ireena from certain death. Davor blunders by throwing a fireball into the zombie scourge, but manages only to injure his friends. Despite this, the party remains strong and reduces the zombies to lifeless corpses. However, just as the battle seems won, a giant bat, presumably Strahd, swoops down and attempts to grab Ireena in the confusion. Sia immediately transforms herself into a giant bat and wrestles with Strahd for the second time, trying to pry Ireena from his greedy clutches. She is at first successful and brings Ireena away from the bat as Davor blasts Strahd with spells and Sir Urik swings his mighty sword. However, Ireena seems to lose control of herself and walks willingly into Strahd’s clutches, he then flies off into the stormy sky before Sia can give chase.
Sir Urik desperately requests the adventurers to accompany him to the castle, however, they eventually convince him that they must rest first, and that Strahd would not harm her. So the party returns to the manor house and rests. Garrak still remains dazed in the manor house as the party leaves that morning towards the gloom of the castle. When they reach the castle’s boundary, they find the drawbridge and gate are open, however, their is no welcoming light nor open door at the front entrance. The party sneaks around (as best they can with two hulking dwarves in heavy plate) to the rear servant’s entrance. Inside they find only cobwebs and dust, but manage to locate a secret door from the wooden servant’s structure into the castle proper.
The heroes follow the secret ladder in the servant’s quarters up into the castle’s masonry structure. A large columnar room is before them with a wide spiral stairs heading down and above. A bluish liquid drips slowly from above near the landing. The heroes head upward to the next level, finding a doorway heading outside to the castle’s ramparts and surrounding walls. Another doorway heads into a hallway where the roof has collapsed leaving rotting support beams glistening in the stormy sky. A ghost suddenly appears from one of the statues and address the party as Lady vey Rallen, a Knight of the Raven. She warns the party of the darkness coming, and the adventurers face off against a group of wraiths. Once the undead are dispatched, the heroes talk with Lady vey Rallen to learn a little about the castle’s layout. They learn that the door next to them leads into the study. The party heads into the study, saying farewell to the ghostly Knight. Inside the find a beautifully well-kept library with a massive fireplace roaring to life with a bonfire. The heroes decide to try to activate Davor’s Staff of Power. He meditates while the party guards the entrances to the room. They hear only giggles from a nearby room, and someone’s failed attempts to open one of the doors. But near the end of the 8-hour meditation, Strahd himself appears in the room in a devilish visage. The party fights against the monster with all they have, while Davor remains oblivious in a meditative stupor. Drogda and Sir Urik manage to wrap Strahd in a rug and throw him in the fireplace. With a bit more effort and help from Sia transformed to a giant deer, they manage to hold Strahd in the fireplace, watching his undead body burn slowly. However, he seems to accept his temporary defeat and dissapears into mist. Davor then awakes from his meditation, now able to read the writings of Loden Lutherius. He finds that the staff does indeed hold great power. The others have learned much as well, reading books in the library, while waiting for the meditation to end.
The party then explores the room where they heard the giggling. In here they find a wonderful, well-kept bedroom where a young woman sleeps in a fancy nightrobe. She awakens and is startled by the adventurers. However, they manage to convince her they mean no harm and are “friends” of the Count she seems to adore. They learn that she is Gertruda, Mad Mary’s missing daughter, and the Count Strahd had kidnapped her a few weeks ago. She has been living in this bedroom since then, enjoy meals brought to her by the count and graciously accepting his romantic gestures. However, Davor manages to convince her to explore Barovia as a ruse to help her escape the castle. She agrees to come with them, after packing a light bag of fanciful clothing from a nearby closet.
In the next room, the adventurers encounter a very moldy, run-down dusty dining room. The room is inhabited by a singing ghostly form with some other haunting spirits. The party overcomes these evils and decides to use the doorway out on teh ramparts to escape the castle through the guardhouse at the front of the courtyard. Soon the party is escaping through the countryside in the stormy weather with Davor’s staff humming with renewed power.
The party rests in the manor house after their small victory against Strahd. The next morning, they find that Garrak is awake and quite curious what happened while he was indisposed. Garrak and Kalek have a private discussion, deciding that they would help to defeat Strahd before returning to Kalavar to face justice. The party convince Gertruda to join them in the tavern, while really bringing her home. However, the adventurers find that Mad Mary has died, likely due to stress. They show Gertruda that her mother is dead before bringing her to the tavern for some wine. Arik the bartender agrees to watch over her for a tidy sum of coin as the party decides to return to the castle.
The adventurers climb through the gatehouse back to the third floor of the castle, returning to the study and main bedchambers to search around. They find a secret compartment behind the fireplace with a single chest. Finding it trapped, they trigger it safely, before opening, only to discover that the chest is empty. More careful observation leads to another secret door behind the chest into a long, narrow hallway. A secret door leads to a long shaft that runs up and down the length of the castle, they leave this shaft unexplored. The end of the hallway contains a small bell-tower with a rope dangling from a great bell above, covered in webs. The party finds one more secret door that opens into a great treasury with a vast array of coins and art objects. However, giant evil spiders attack the party before they can gather the goods. During the battle, Strahd himself appears to defend his treasures. The battle is desperate and many come close to doom, but they manage to defeat Strahd who flees in a gaseous form.
The party gathers the ill-gotten goods, Erde summons Albrecht to carry many of the valuable art objects. The party then heads down a stairwell past the Hall of the Knights of the Raven to discover only a maid’s room containing the perfectly preserved corpses of seven young ladies. The eighth bed is empty. As they touch one of the bodies, it crumbles to dust instantly, leaving only a blackened skeleton behind.
The party ignores the dead maids and continue searching around, finding a great hallway towards the back of the castle. They leave this be and head into the audience hall where Strahd’s throne sits alone on a dais in the gloomy chamber. The adventurers then head down the main stairway into the great entry of the castle. The four gargoyle statues suddenly come to life and attack, bringing two stone dragons from the front door. The party fights hard in the main entry, slowly gaining the advantage. Then two great suits of evil-animated armor march down the stairs, maces in hand. The battle gets more desperate as the heroes face foes from all sides. Erde and Sir Urik hold the dread guardians back while Drogda, Kalek, Garrak, and Sia (as a dire lion) hold off the gargoyles. Davor throws spells from the corner. Eventually the enemies are defeated and the halls grow quiet again.
The heroes, eager to activate another legendary weapon before Strahd revives, rush down a hall filled with statues into the chapel. Inside is a great mess of broken pews and a crumbling column. A corpse lies on the altar reaching for a silver raven icon. The corpse appears to be that of some evil cleric that died long ago. The raven icon is the ancient Icon of Ravenloft, a holy item from long before Strahd’s arrival in Barovia. Erde holds the icon and draws forth the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind and begins to pray at the altar while her friends barricade the entry into the chamber. Eight long hours pass without disturbance and the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind glows with renewed power, eager to destroy the undead. The heroes then quickly flee out the front door back to Barovia village and the manor house.
The next day, the heroes return to the castle as early as the can, heading through the gatehouse back to the third floor. This time they take the large circular stairs upwards towards whereever the blueish substance drips from. After traversing a few floors, they reach a landing. In the middle of the circular stairshaft, floating in midair, hangs a massive pulsing crystalline heart. The bluish liquid seems to flow down a catwalk from another tower. As it drips over the edge, mystical energies float from the liquid towards the heart-shaped crystal as it pulses like a heartbeat. Soon dark shapes climb down the nearby stairs, crawling towards the heroes. Vampires!
The heroes begin to fight them off as their leader, a crimson-caped vampire, swings a mighty blood-red sword.
The vampire leader leaps off the edge of the landing turning into mist after the heroes fell the others. The party then decides to follow the trail of bluish goo across the catwalk to the other tower. They find themselves in a horrid garden of devilish delights. Pools of the blue substance are everywhere with “trees” of humanoid shape made of bulbous growths creating the “foliage”. White slugs bathe in the ooze as they move about the garden. A hauntingly beautiful barbed devil climbs out of one of the pools of ooze. She looks menacingly at the heroes and begins a summoning as the slugs hungrily slither towards the party.
Battle ensues and the heroes struggle to keep the slugs from climbing on them, attempting to climb into their throats, to eat them from the inside. Davor is briefly accosted with a slug down his throat, before Kalek saves him with a scroll. Later, Sir Urik has the same fate, but thanks to Davor’s clever spellcasting, the slug cannot harm the knight. The heroes face off against the barbed devil and her warlock cohort. However, the warlock disappears midway leaving the devil happily facing the entire party herself, slashing and clawing with her claws and barbs. Drogda and Sir Urik, their enchanted swords glistening with holy energy, seem to be the only ones capable of harming the powerful devil. The party struggles, but eventually she is slain, returning to her home plane in the pit of hell. Sia then quickly prepares a collection of herbs to force Sir Urik to release the slug from his stomach.
The heroes find a strange heart-shaped locket on the barbed devil, unsure of how its magic works, Davor hangs on to it. The party then heals up with Kalek’s magic and returns to the first tower, climbing upwards towards the vampire’s lair. They find many coffins sitting about as they wind their way up the stairs. Suddenly, a trap goes off and powerful death magics swirl around the heroes. In an instant, the souls of Garrak, Drogda, and Sia are flushed from their bodies. Their lifeless forms drop to the ground, leaving their friends shook with horror.
With their friends fallen, Davor, Erde, Kalek, and Sir Urik gather the dead, and with Albrecht’s help, return to the manor house in Barovia village. The dead are laid upon the tables of the manor house, where Ireena’s father’s body had been resting days before. The next morning the heroes discuss what to do with the dead, when they are interrupted by a knock at the door. Outside are two wild elves and a half-elf, who seem to have a similar lineage to the werewolf-elves the party had fought previously, however, these elves do not have the same characteristic bestial quality of lycanthropes.
The elves introduce themselves as Dahlia, Kelian, and Helfie. They are part of the elven resistance movement against the Kalruan expansion into the forests. They were out hunting some rogue wild elves who had become werewolves, the very same ones the party had vanquished. The elves explain that they have tried to leave the valley, but the mists keep turning them around, showing them nightmares that are not real. The adventurers invite the elves inside where they explain in great detail whats has befallen the valley of Barovia and the evil plans of Strahd von Zarovich. The wild elves agree to help them to defeat Strahd and gratefully don the gear of the fallen Sia and Drogda. Kalek insists that Garrak have a proper funeral pyre to send his brother off to the next life. The wild elves assist in performing the proper elven rituals for Sia, including Drogda as well.
With the dead laid to rest, the heroes and their new companions talk some more. Helfie relays the news she recently acquired spying for the wild elves in Dracea, the headquarters of the Bail cult. She learned that the cult is suffering from a recent setback in Brindonford, where a party of heroes vanquished their plans to establish there. They are now desperately looking for some sort of stone that was stolen from them there. Davor explains that he has this magical Hellstone he found when he and his former companions defeated the cult. The party and the wild elves agree that after Strahd is defeated, their next quest is to see that this stone is kept out of the cult’s hands, or if possible, destroyed.
The heroes then embark, ready to face the dangers of Ravenloft Castle. They return to the tower with the death trap, finding it quiet. However, soon they are attacked by the vampire spawn with their leader, Rafail. They eventually defeat the vampires, except for Rafail who escapes as mist. The heroes then pry open each coffin, driving a wooden stake into each vampire’s heart, with Davor cleaving their heads with his axe, and Erde anointing them with holy water, destroying the vampires for good. The heroes then throw Rafail’s coffin down a trap chute, crashing it into the lower tower below.
The heroes then cross the catwalk to the devil’s garden, and take the stairs into the tower below. A magical trap makes a few of them confused for a moment, but with help, they return to normal. They then open a door into a small lounge room with three white cats. Then a small redcap and a shocker lizard attack, with the cats helping them. In the course of the battle, it is clear that the cats are really devil’s of some kind, likely imps. Soon three warlocks join the battle, throwing magical energies at the party as they fight their way towards them. Eventually two of the warlocks are killed, with the third escaping.
They find themselves in an alchemy lab, filled with many various esoteric substances used in malicious concoctions. They find a leather bound tome, that seems to be an ancient codex written in Infernal, likely filled with evil warlock invocations. Just as the party is looking about for items in the chaotic lab, they notice that the giant cauldron in the center of the room has a glint of silver resting at the bottom within the clear liquid inside.
The heroes cautiously approach the cauldron, when a gelatinous tentacle reaches out to grab them. They quickly dispatch the gelatinous ooze inside the cauldron and claim the silver item. It appears to be half of a silver key with a powerful enchantment on it. The word “portal” is etched in the side. The heroes grab a few alchemical items in the lab before exploring the nearby bedroom. They find only a hidden journal of one of the warlocks named Afina.
The journal discusses how Afina came to be in the service of a powerful devil named Khryristrix, who granted her great powers. The devil was originally opposed to Strahd, but eventually came into an agreement with the devil for freedom of space to work her experiments, while the devil provided Strahd with care for something called the Dayheart.
The heroes then find a hidden trapdoor in the laboratory that leads down into a lower level of the tower. They find a small closet with black robes. Dahlia and Helfie don the robes, while Davor uses his Hat of Disguise to create a similar outfit. The three of them explore ahead of the group. They find a guest bedroom that seems in good condition. Under the bed they find a few powerful arcane scrolls, a magical ring called “Moonfriend”, and a journal written by a man who stayed in this room nearly ten years ago. The journal briefly describes how the nobleman Strahd requested the presence of this man to purchase land outside of Barovia. The clerk came here to find many ghastly evils, however, Strahd ensured that the man would be safe if he stayed in this room. He did so until he was convinced by a beautiful woman named Khryristrix to leave the chamber to the top of this tower, no entries followed after he was convinced to follow her.
The three scouts then find a small lounge past the bedroom, with nothing notable inside. They then enter into a landing where the spiral stairs head both above and below. In the landing a chain golem, a gargoyle, and a strange malignant portrait that looks like Ireena attacks them. The three are eventually held by the portraits magic as the chain golem and gargoyle tears them up. Their friends rush in to their aid and a great battle is fought against these enemies. The heroes eventually defeat them, but not without taking many wounds.
The heroes then descend to the castle’s third floor, finding familiar areas, they wrap around the castle to a staircase they have not descended before and explore many hidden areas where the guards of the castle once defended the keep. However, these areas are filled with only dust and cobwebs. They then return to the castle’s chapel, finding an unexplored spiral staircase that heads both above and below… perhaps the high tower is above?
The heroes climb the dizzying height of the chapel staircase. The steps seem to never cease as they rise many levels upward. They eventually reach the top into a tower look-out room. A hollow shaft stretches down in the center of the tower to some unknown darkness below where the smell of moldering graves emanates from. The roof is shattered, but many long windows allow a good view all around the Barovian countryside. The heroes see only storms, however, and decide to prepare a defensive position while Dahlia begins her meditation holding Treebrother carefully in her hands.
The long hours pass by with little change other than the darkening of the sky as the deep night takes full effect. Treebrother hums with renewed energy as the meditation is finished. New sprouts of green growth and buds appear in many areas along the knotted staff’s length, and whenever a bit of sunlight touches the staff, the small flower buds immediately blossom and contract with the changes in light level.
The heroes decide to rest, as the hour is quite late, using Davor’s magical extradimensional space. When the heroes climb out of the space in the morning light, they can see the valley much clearer than they have in quite a while. The sky is still overcast, but the rain has ceased for the moment. In the heart of the Barovian valley, however, a great light can be seen over Barovia village. The village appears to be covered in flames. Fearing that Strahd is punishing the villagers, Sir Urik and Kelian volunteer to try and help the villagers escape the carnage while the others plan to take advantage of these events to try and activate the sunsword.
The heroes head back down to the church level, circling around the castle, to find stairs heading into the castle’s basement. Upon entering the basement in a short hallway, a trap separates Kalek and Ais the panther from the rest of the group. The others (Davor, Helfie, Erde, and Dahlia) find themselves shot up by an elevator, then shot out to be sprawled on the floor of the small hallway with the malignant portrait, thankfully the enemies there had already been dispatched. The heroes rush down the stairs to try and rejoin their comrades, finding Kalek and Ais in battle with some large, invisible monster on the first level. The heroes fight hard against the unseen assailant eventually knocking the creature down, but they each take a fair share of deadly claw attacks. The creature reveals itself to be a troll stalker named Nicoramus bound to serve one of Strahd’s servants named Lucian. Lucian possesses the troll stalker’s oathstone that binds him to Lucian’s service. If the heroes can destroy or possess the oathstone, Nicoramus would not be forced to hunt them anymore. The heroes leave the stalker to recover in the hall out of its sight before it is forced to attack again.
Back in the basement hallway, the heroes fight against a few giant ants that have a tunnel dug into this part of the castle. They also meet a wiry old man named Cyrus who claims to be the butler of Ravenloft castle. The deranged old man begins to give the heroes a disjointed tour of the castle’s basement, giggling to himself most of the way. The heroes see the castle’s kitchen, fighting off against a few undead monstrousities, and Cyrus’ room. He then leads them into the guard’s hall, then into the web-covered guard’s barracks. It is here the heroes are accosted by a giant web golem and two enormous spiders looking for a fresh meal.
The heroes fight bravely against the spidery foes. The web golem covers the dark room with a sticky web substance that slows the heroes down. Eventually they are able to defeat the giant spiders and the hidden ettercaps in the halls. However, the web golem seems impervious to magic and underneath its sticky outer coating must be a layer of enchanted adamantine, as the heroes’ weapons seem unable to penetrate and slow the construct. Dahlia’s panther companion is torn apart by the invulnerable golem. The heroes flee back into the larger guardsman’s dining hall, and the web golem chooses not to follow. They are then accosted by a group of demons hungry for mortal flesh. The battle is difficult and a clawing demon manages to slice Dahlia’s throat, leaving her lifeless body to drop to the floor in a pool of blood. The heroes manage to kill off the remaining demons and stand horror-stricken as they see another of their companions felled by the dark machinations of Strahd and his minions.
The heroes, horrified with the loss of another companion, prepare to continue. Cyrus wants to use Dhalia’s body in his stew, but Davor quickly cremates the remains with a fire-spell. Cyrus seems slightly annoyed by this and leaves the party to “attend to his work”. The heroes then open the door into the next room to find an angelic form standing there with two great feathery wings. He introduces himself as the half-angel paladin, Fandromar. He is seeking the allies of Strahd to put an end to the evil here. However, Erde is not convinced as something does not seem quite right. He tells them to ignore a drawer in the desk as it contains a great evil. The heroes do not fall for his farce, and are forced to face him in combat. A few undead minions join the battle from secret compartments, as well as a halfling who seems to have been stuffed in a cubby. The halfling joins the battle against the undead and the heroes manage to defeat them. However, when Fandromar finally falls a shadow demon appears and swipes something from around the dead paladin’s neck and disappears, slicing Davor with its deadly claws along the way. The heroes find a small onyx stone with some strange writing on it. The eventually learn that the stone is the oathstone bound to Nicoramus the invisible troll-stalker. The heroes shatter the stone, freeing the tortured soul. He agrees to watch over the heroes when they perform the ritual for the sunsword, promising to reappear at that time.
The new halfling introduces herself as Poppy, a magic-user from the region. She recognizes Davor and knows that he possesses the Hellstone. She cannot say where she got this information, but says it is her quest to safeguard that stone and ensure it does not reach evil hands. She agrees to help fight against Strahd.
The party, needing to rest, and curious about what happened down at the village, sneak their way out of the castle and head to the village. Upon arrival, they find only a ruined waste of burned out buildings. Sir Urik finds the party, tears streaming his eyes, and much blood caked on his armor. He tells them that Kelian has been killed and the villagers were slaughtered one by one by a horde of zombies and vampires, led by Strahd himself. He barely escaped with his life. The heroes then retreat to the hidden cave under the waterfall for some rest.
The heroes rest well in the cave and decide to head back to the castle to make Strahd pay for what he has done to Barovia village. They return to the castle to find the drawbridge has been raised, preventing access. The towering cliffs drop hundreds of feet on both sides. Poppy and Davor use some clever magic to release the drawbridge and help their friends across. The immediately head to the basement, and then down into the deeper catacombs. They find the dungeon of the castle with flooded chambers, a dark murky water filling the areas. A teleport trap sends Kalek, Poppy, and Sir Urik into dungeon cells while simultaneously some boneclaws, zombies, and a wraith fight the heroes. The heroes manage to dispatch the monsters while Helfie unlocks each of her friends free, including what looks like a farmer that has been caught down here. After the battle, the farmer introduces himself as Erik and leaves, but Poppy manages to catch a few surface thoughts with her magic, something about telling Strahd that the necromancer can’t be trusted.
The heroes regroup and head down the next passage to find a great torture chamber. Before they can do anything, two figures sitting on thrones watching over the torture room get up and send undead minions against the party.
One of the figures gets up and heads behind the curtain, while the other appears to be some ghostly apparition and flies towards the heroes. Many zombies hiding under the murky water rise up and attack. There heroes face off against the undead valiantly while Helfie releases the elf that is locked in the stocks in the flooded torture chamber. After the undead are vanquished, the elf introduces himself as Enialis a wandering cleric of Arawna (elven goddess of death, fate, and time, and scrouge of the undead). He claims to have come here to remove Strahd’s taint from the land, but was quickly captured weeks ago by the Necromancer’s zombie minions and Strah’d vampire spawn. The heroes welcome the newcomer and give him some equipment to help them in their joint quest. Behind the curtain they find an iron-bound door, and Helfie is unable to pick the lock.
The heroes then circle back up trying to find a way down into the other chamber. They decide to try the ant tunnel they found in the basement near Cyrus’s hall. Down the tunnel they find, deep under Castle Ravenloft, a huge stone edifice, some ancient altar created by primitive man. It emanates powerful necromatic magics. They have to fight off the nearby ants and a strange eidolon construct that guards the shrine. After which they study the magics up close. They believe that the primordial evil this altar represents must be what converted Strahd to a vampire when he killed his brother centuries ago, which would explain why he thought himself the first vampire.
Weary of the dark magics of the shrine, the heroes climb out of the tunnel looking for another way down. They find Cyrus in his kitchen and ask him for the keys to the wine cellar nearby. He agrees, handing the group a key from a huge collection. The heroes then approach the iron bars that block off the wine cellar from the rest of the basement, only to find that there is no key hole. A trap opens up beneath the party and everyone (except Helfie) falls into the pit. A couple wraiths and a golem made of swirling broken shards of wine bottles attacks the party.
The heroes manage to defeat the glass golem and the wraiths, but take many wounds. They explore the cellars to find a few special bottles of wine. They then rest in Davor’s magical dimensional hole. With help from Cyrus, they learn that there might be a secret door in Lucian’s office, and soon find it. They head down the stairs into the Necromancer’s lair. The Necromancer is a middle-aged woman in some gruesome (human-like) dark leathers. She decides to make a deal with the party. In exchange for a tongue from a townsperson, the Necromancer promises to give the heroes a magic ring and the location of one of the holy relics. They party reluctantly agrees, planning to break the offer despite the Necromancer’s proclamation that one of them will awake without a tongue in a week if she does not receive one. She also shows them the tunnel that leads deep into the crypts.
In the crypts the heroes carefully search for the location of the holy relic. As they pass one of the rooms, they hear a man sobbing, but quickly pass it by. They are then attacked by some undead as they find the holy relic’s crypt.
The heroes fight bravely against the awakened denizens of the deep crypts. Just as the enemies seem defeated, however, a cloaked figure walks towards them. It appears to be the same figure who was crying over the sarcophagus in the nearby tomb. As the man approaches, it becomes clear it is Strahd. He ridicules the party and says they have gone to far into hell. The next moment the party finds themselves surrounded by a magical wall of energy, blocking them in the crypt with no escape. Lucian the shadow demon appears, seemingly eager to feast on party. Strahd dissipates into mist and disappears as Lucian summons a deep darkness that causes great pain to those inside as if the shadows themselves are clawing at the skin. Also a darkweaver, a dark spider-like beast, suddenly appears in the shadows, drawing everyone into some mystical shadow web towards its gaping maw. Fearing certain death for himself and his friends, Davor steps into a dimensional portal with Poppy, Erde, and Enialis to appear on the other side of the crypts, safely out of the darkness. Poppy manages to dispel Lucian’s damning darkness.
Strahd then reappears, angry at Davor for circumventing his trap. He summons a cloud of noxious gases that sweeps through the party, while Kalek, Sir Urik, and Helfie fight off Lucian and the darkweaver. Poppy summons shadowy tentacles to try and grab Strahd while Davor throws a fireball at the vampire lord. Enialis’s soul is torn by Strahd’s evil touch while he throws rays of searing lights at Strahd. Meanwhile, Kalek manages to drive Lucian away. Sir Urik, however, seems to have been dominated by Strahd as he attacks Kalek. The two of them wrestle with each other as they are slowly pulled towards the darkweaver. Helfie, the closest to the darkweaver, frantically fights against the beast as she gets dangerously close to its maw. Suddenly, Nicoramus appears (although the heroes only hear his voice and see claw marks appear on the darkweaver) and saves Helfie, felling the darkweaver. Enialis manages to blast Strahd with a painful searing light, causing him to flee and the wall of force to disappear. Sir Urik also seems to return to normal. With Strahd gone, the crypts are free for exploration.
Nicoramus says his farewell, saying he has done his duty to protect the heroes in the crypts from Strahd and his allies. He begs the party to come find him in the Elemental Plane of Air before disappearing. The heroes search the nearby crypt, finding Saint Markovia’s thighbone, one of the holy relics. They then enter Sergei’s tomb, the same tomb they saw Strahd crying in earlier. They fight off the stone giant guardian, dispatching it quickly. Erde takes Sergei’s magical armor, a golden plate perfectly made for a paladin. Taking advantage of Strahd’s absence, Helfie performs the ritual for the Sunsword, praying for eight hours to Solarus to bless the sword with her power. The sword activates to the calling and regains its magical power. It also glows blue when undead are nearby. The heroes then rest inside Davor’s magical dimensional space.
After resting, the heroes begin to search the many crypts that fill the catacombs of Castle Ravenloft. They avoid a few traps, and find a few magical trinkets. They also find the Stifling Skull, the skull that Cyrus was looking for. Poppy takes it, finding its silencing abilities quite useful. They fight off against one of Strahd’s former wives, Sasha and her vampire spawn minions. She manages to dominate Davor, forcing him to blast his friends with a lightning bolt. But he returns to normal when Sasha is defeated. The heroes then permanently destroy the vampire spawn minions. They also find two mechanical doors that seem to require some key, the heroes think that the key-half they carry now is one half of that key.
The heroes continue exploring the many crypts of Castle Ravenloft. They find a mystical barrier that only lets the paladins through into a great tomb with stained-glass windows that look out over the cliffs under the castle to the valley below. Here is Strahd’s parents tomb, and inside the heroes find the Burial Shroud of Saint Ecaterina, one of the holy relics. Later, the heroes find a strange teleport trap into Strahd’s tomb. However, they manage to trigger the trap which suddenly replaces Helfie, Poppy, and Sir Urik with wights who now don their armor and items. Davor, Erde, Enialis, and Kalek dispatch the wights, but are quite confused as to where their friends have gone.
Davor checks a tall shaft near a stairwell, flying upwards he finds it leads to the topmost tower. The stairwell he finds ends in a pile of rubble shortly up. They then head down into a hole in one of the crypts. Inside they find many coffins eerily all facing north. They suddenly burst open with wights who attack immediately. The heroes manage to defeat the undead creatures, finding only three coffins that had not burst open. Inside, they find their friends unconscious and naked in the coffins. After awakening and donning their gear, the decide to rest again in Davor’s dimensional space.
The heroes then head back to Strahd’s tomb, looking around, but finding it mostly empty. The find a shriveled dragon heart on a chain, but that is all. Enialis then consecrates an area using holy water and heals the vile wounds left by Lucian that would not heal. The wounds finally heal under the holy aura. The party decides to head back into the guard’s quarters to try and defeat the web golem in search of the missing key half. Davor and Helfie sneak into the chamber invisible, searching the ancient chests. The web golem then fights against the others as Davor continues to search. The heroes manage to defeat the web golem with much effort. Davor finds the other half of the key.
The heroes return to the crypts to use the key they found. They find a crypt with a huge circular portal inside, immediately a yugoloth, a being of pure evil, steps out and attacks with an imp ally. After defeating the enemies the heroes search a secret chamber nearby. Inside they find a large mirror made of fingerbones, one of which is magical. It is Saint Bogdan’s fingerbone, the final holy relic. During this time some unseen force master’s Kalek’s mind, making him rush through the portal while thinking of the high sky above Castle Ravenloft. The heroes search for the culprit, finding an erinyes devil. She manages to slam into Davor knocking him into the portal. Luckily he was able to think of the crypts and was slowly teleporting a few yards away. The heroes fight off the erinyes, but she manages to escape through the portal. Sir Urik and Erde, who also were mentally attacked by the erinyes headed outside near the spot that was forced into their minds, looking for Kalek. Poppy joined them preparing her flight abilities. Davor appears an hour later with soiled robes, describing a horrific experience traveling through the Far Realm dodging tentacles and nasty things.
The heroes join together outside in the valley below Castle Ravenloft, waiting to see if Kalek will reappear while they reflect on what they have learned.
The party waits patiently as dawn passes in the ruined camp beneath Castle Ravenloft. Enialis is granted greater power by his deity and he believes he has the power to draw forth recently slain souls back to their bodies. This comes as good news, because Kalek does appear above Castle Ravenloft a few hours later, however, he is not where the party predicted. The dwarf plummets to his death not far from the party’s camp. The heroes rush to the dwarf’s side, and Enialis restores life to the dwarf. He is eager to rest and join the group. The heroes decide to use this time to put an end to Strahd’s connection with the land. They first head to the ruins of Barovia village and gather their gear that was stored there, also to allow Enialis to have his pick of the gear. They then stash the remains in the cavern under the waterfall, where they decide to summon the unholy entity that binds the unholy relics and the fanes of power to Strahd. When the three unholy relics are joined as one, a draconic undead beast appears cloaked in a great evil. The heroes battle hard against the beast, finally felling it. Sir Urik, however, is killed in battle by its unholy breath. The heroes decide to lay his body down and try to revive him later with holy magic.
The heroes then head to the Forest Fane to remove Strahd’s connection on the land. Kalek performs a consecration of the fane while holding a long prayer vigil, while his friends intern the body of Madam Eva and the holy relic under the fane. After the vigil is complete, the fane’s energy dies out. However, a small orb on the top of the fane begins to glow. Davor identifies it as a magical stone granting strength of personality. The heroes perform the same rituals at the other two fanes, releasing Strahd’s hold over the land for good, and finding two more magical stones. They then return to the cavern and raise Sir Urik back from the dead, who is eager to defeat Strahd and save Ireena.
As the heroes head out towards the crossroads, they see a large group of dark shapes moving along the road. Poppy sends a magical sensor to view the creatures, reporting that a huge army of zombies are marching southward, while a magical cloud of darkness follows them to keep the sun away. The heroes sneak past the army by crossing the river and climbing over the cliffs near the castle. They enter the castle through the secret crypt entrance heading straight to the Necromancer’s lair. They notice the castle is unusually quiet, and the Necromancer’s chamber is empty. They decide to leave a note:
We had your tongue, but since you’re not here we had to get rid of it. Where did you go? Please respond…
Destroyed Manor House,
Barovian Village, Barovia, Kalrua
They then head to the high towers to destroy the dayheart crystal, but find that it too has vanished. They then head to the basement kitchens, finding Cyrus there, cooking his usual rotted stew. Cyrus reports that almost everyone left, but the master of the castle was with “that girl” in the crypts. The heroes, led by Sir Urik, rush down the halls towards Strahd’s crypt. They enter through the secret teleport trap into the southern alcoves of the chamber. Here they find Count Strahd von Zarovich crouched over an unconscious Ireena, who lays on his coffin. His teeth are bared showing his long fangs just as they are about to strike down into Ireena’s exposed neck.
The heroes strike against Strahd and spend many minutes battling the powerful vampire lord. Fire and death is thrown in many directions. A giant golem comes to Strahd’s aid causing great pain to those caught within its reach. In the blaze of battle, Ireena is killed by Strahd himself, sending Sir Urik into a mad rage, and Strahd seems to go mad. Eventually Sir Urik and Helfie slay the vampire lord while Erde and Kalek slay his final minions. Barovia is now finally free of the scourge of the von Zarovich lord.
The heroes say goodbye to Barovia, leaving Sir Urik and Ireena to gather the people of the village. Poppy stays as well, promising to restore the ancient magic of the land to protect the people. Kalek, Erde, Enialis, Davor, and Helfie march southward with a blue sky overhead, the first of which they have seen in Barovia for the three weeks they fought there. In two days time, the heroes reach a small village on the outskirts of the valley where the main road is joined. The heroes find the town boarded up and silent. They find the tavern and have to convince the innkeepers that they are not zombies to gain entry. Eventually they earn the support of the villagers gaining free lodging and some horses for their ride at dawn to chase the zombie army.
After one long day of tireless riding, the heroes prepare to make camp, but see a firelight in the distance. Kalek is convinced it is an army’s camp. Helfie and Davor decide to investigate on foot, while Kalek, Erde, and Enialis secretly agree to follow behind them on horseback slowly. The heroes see two human guards clad in the blood-red plate mail off the Kalruan Elite Guard standing near a campfire. Davor disguises himself as a similarly dressed guard and approaches the men while Helfie sneaks around through the forest behind them. While Davor distracts the guards, Helfie gulps down an invisibility potion and stalks one of the men, stabbing him with her sunsword. It is this moment when the two realize their follow, as the sunsword is unable to deeply penetrate the armor of the guardsman, though is injured. Also, the sunsword glows with a soft blue light. Soon a large gathering of zombies charge into the camp from the nearby forest. It is at this time that Erde leads the others down the road charging into battle. Since Kalek and Enialis ride only simple horses, they both fall to the ground trying to leap into the battle. Davor throws some of his deadly fire at the zombies trying to stay alive, while Helfie slashes desperately at the guardsmen. Eventually the soldiers and zombies are defeated, leaving one of the soldiers as a captive.
Kalek and Davor interrogate the man, learning a few things about the army. They learn that the army is marching on Brindonford in two days with the zombie army from Barovia and human and devil soldiers from Dracea for a first attack in the war to come. They also learn the army is led by the possible Baron of Barovia, a woman dressed in human skins, the Necromancer!
Then a large silver dragon drops down and greets herself as Arelien. She seems to know everyone in the party and their quest, and also knows Davor’s heritage, calling him the “Son of Drulaxus”. She tells them they must defeat the Necromancer to stop the zombie army which will give Brindonford time to hold a defense against the army. She says she will warn the city, while they must defeat the Necromancer. She promises to meet with them again and tell them more of what she knows.
Helfie does some recognizance on the Kalruan army, trying to find the Necromancer. She finds two large wagons, one of which she verifies contains the Necromancer, the other has an eerie red glow. She rejoins the others and they decide to launch a sneak attack from the forest. Just prior to the attack, Davor flies high in the sky and launches fireballs at the Kalruan tents, causing chaos and distracting the soldiers. He quickly returns to the others and they charge into the Necromancer’s camp to attack. The Necromancer flies out a window of the wagon after Helfie throws an alchemist’s fire inside, igniting the interior. Davor and the Necromancer have a spell duel in the sky, while Erde, Kalek, and Helfie charge into melee against the soldiers and the Necromancer’s blood-giant bodyguards, while Enialis provides ample healing. Eventually the Necromancer is slain by a well-placed lightning bolt from Davor, and the giants and soldiers are cut down by the furious chopping of dwarven greatswords, and the swift slices of Helfie’s sunsword.
The heroes then find the Dayheart crystal in the other wagon, giving off an ominous red glow. They decide they must destroy it to take away the undead’s ability to ignore the sunlight. Davor smashes the dayheart necklace, which creates weakening cracks to form in the crystal. This also summons a bearded devil that Davor sends to slow the Kalruan soldiers who were rushing to investigate the Necromancer’s camp. The heroes then pound and burn the crystal until it shatters and rush into the forest before the soldiers arrive.
They circle around for many hours, eventually reaching the Brindonford bridge near dawn, just as the Kalruan army can be seen marching towards the city. The heroes rush into the city just before the siege begins. They find Shooma the smith who is glad to see Davor still alive, but has her usual sass. She beckons they head to the town guard to tell them what they know of the army, and send her nephew with them. The reach the barracks and have a meeting with the commander of the guards, relaying all they know about the coming army. The commanders are grateful for their help, and wish them well. The heroes then head to the Naughty Nymph Inn for a drink, where they are approached by a silver-haired elf with silver eyes. She is Arelien in disguise, who sits with them to tell them all she knows:
Eight years ago, Davor’s father Dahgon, the half-dragon, and grandfather, the evil red dragon Drulaxuskabrakar (Drulaxus), set out on a quest given to them by Talax himself, the great red wyrm who rules over Hashan, far in the north. They wanted to revive the power of the dohkan sorcerers that have intermixed with their orcish heritage after the Last War. In the ruins of Goldwall, is a hidden tomb of one of the dohkan sorcerers who was sealed inside by the archmages after the defeat at Hopekeep that ended the Last War. Dahgon and Drulaxus wanted to open this tomb and free this dohkan sorceress, to have a powerful ally in their war against the eastern coasts.
When they left Hashan eight years ago, Dahgon and his two sons, Davor and Davil, rode on dragonback on their grandfather southward. Dahgon was dropped off at Goldwall to find the tomb and prepare the rituals that would break the archmages’ seal. But one final piece would be needed to open the seal, a piece of the shard of Nembral that was used to destroy the city. So Drulaxus and his grandchildren flew farther southward to the Dragon Swamps in search of the ancient black dragon, Gulongrabakarulen, who was alive during the Last War. However, on the way, they met me. I fought against Drulaxus in the sky, inadvertently sending his grandchildren falling below. After our skirmish, the heartless Drulaxus left his grandchildren for dead and continued to meet with Gulon.
What Drulaxus learned from Gulon was that most of the shards of Nembral have been lost, but one of the largest chunks was taken by a group of dohkan that fled southward into the western Kalruan forests. It was there, that they were killed by a small cabal of devil-worshiping cultists, who took possession of the shard, in the small village of Dracea. After nearly a century of studying the object, the cultists learned that it was a true Nembral shard. A piece of the dark god himself, broken off during the first battle between Nembral and Solarus at the creation of the world. This shard had the power to break through the protective barrier around Enelis that protects our world from the outer planes. Of course, very powerful spells can do this as well, but with the shards, these connections can be made permanent. The cultists used the shards to make contact with their patron, Bail, a minor devil-lord in the Nine Hells. Bail communicated with the cultists for another century, teaching them how to gain power and entangling themselves into Kalruan culture and politics, gaining power and prestige. As you know, the cultists have taken over Kalrua, and the cult of Bail is strong, and the great city of Dracea is wealthy and powerful. Fifty years ago, they used a large chunk of the shard to make a permanent portal to Bail’s realm in the Nine Hells at their grand temple in Dracea. And it was here that the cult of the Living God came to be as Bail stepped forth into our world to claim leadership over Kalrua. Since then, the cultists have used smaller pieces of the shard to make a permanent portal at nearly every temple they have, bringing in their devil minions from Bail’s realm.
The stone possessed by you, the hellstone, that is one of these pieces. But in particular, it is one that was carried and used by Dalghraka, the dohkan sorceress. With that particular stone, Dahgon and Drulaxus can break the seal and free the ancient dohkan sorceress. You must head into the ruins of Goldwall, find the tomb, and defeat Dahgon and Drulaxus to put an end to this evil once and for all. You will be pursued by the cultists, who certainly want their stone back. Be wary!
Arelien the silver dragon, then teleports the party to Hopesdawn, giving them a crude map of Goldwall so that they can easily find the tomb and defeat Davor’s father and grandfather.
The heroes enter the ancient ruins of the city of Goldwall. They search in the crumbling ruins and find the ancient catacombs to an old cathedral of Solarus, where the dohkan sorceress is imprisoned. They work their way through the labyrinthine tunnels, eventually finding the sealed chamber. Many orcs are about, as if they have been camped there for quite some time. Dahgon greets the heroes and his son, a scaly half-dragon clad in some dark armor bearing the evil symbol of Talax. Next to him stands a huge dragon wreathed in flames, Drulaxus. They try to convince Davor to hand over the hellstone, but the heroes refuse. Combat ensues as Drulaxus breathes deadly fire upon the group. The heroes charge in and an epic battle rages for many minutes as spells and weapons clang against dragonhide. In the end, Dahgon and Drulaxus lay dead and the terror of the dohkan sorceress is ended.
The heroes work their way out of the ruins and return to Hopesdawn. They all feel accomplished, but feel somewhat unsatisfied that no one would know of their deeds, despite Davor’s attempt of making it well known. The heroes decide to part ways each leaving a legacy for the next generation.
Kalek and Erde return to Kalavar. After two years in the dwarven courts, Erde convinces the council that there was not enough proof to convict Garrak of the murder, and the dishonor on Kalek’s family is removed. Kalek returns as a Justicar providing swift justice to wrong-doers throughout the dwarven realm. Erde decides that the evil she must vanquish was in her very homeland, and over the next couple of decades she works to eradicate the corruption and decadence in the dwarven court system, establishing a fairer system for the underprivileged.
Helfie decided to return to her home area near Barovia. With Strahd dead, the area has become much more peaceful. Sir Urik and Ireena were betrothed and declared the new Barons of the Barovian barony. Helfie helps re-establish the Knights of the Raven with Sir Urik, becoming the new head of the order. With her help, Sir Urik is able to negotiate with many of the other Kalruan barons to end the hostilities against Loyolla and Verland. After fifteen long years of open war, peace finally descended on the eastern coasts. However, many believe the war has just been hidden under the surface. Poppy stayed in Barovia as well, establishing a circle of goodly witches to watch over the ancient magics of the land, bringing good fortune to all who live in the mystical valley.
Davor returned to Brindonford and used his powers to help defend the city against the Kalruan armies. When the hostilities lessened, he settled down with a barmaid from the Naughty Nymph Inn and tried to establish a small magic shop, selling hand-crafted potions and wands to the war effort, the local churches, and the occasional adventurer. He worked hard to establish Davor Day in Brindonford, but it just didn’t seem to catch on. He befriended an older Astonian wizard named Albrith Burstbearer who agreed to help teach Davor’s son the ways of magic.
* * * * * * *
Twenty-five years have now passed since the defeat of Drulaxus, and a new evil is silently growing in the southern jungles of the Dragon Swamps…