My party finished the Curse of Strahd introductory adventure ‘Death House’ on Monday. Here’s what happened.
This isn’t a single session report, I think it was actually about four 2-3 hour slots. However I thought I’d gather it all into one longer, but hopefully more coherent post.
If you’re planning on playing Death House and/or Curse of Strahd, be wary about reading further. Spoilers abound!
The party met each other in a tavern (chiche? Never!), on a lonely road in a wood between two towns. The weather outside was colder than it should have been for the time of year, and a thick fog was closing in. Rising the next morning our party found that the inn was deserted, and the forest that surrounded them was not the forest they knew…
Following the road (in a random direction picked by the Ranger) they came across a quiet (almost deserted) town. It was not a place any of them recognised, and it seems either it or they had been dropped here without warning. The only inhabitants they came across were a young girl and her little brother who pleaded with the party to enter their house, and save their parents from the “monster in the basement”. With the mist closing in again, and no better plan, the group entered the house.
At first the house seemed ordinary: a pleasant family home, left in good condition as if they might be back at any point. But on closer investigation there was a hint of something macabre, and many things seemed wrong, as if the house was frozen in time, or perhaps preserved. There also no entrance to the basement.
Eventually the party made their way to the upper floors where the dark soul of the house was revealed. At least one murder had been committed here, and the family were clearly taking part in strange rituals and had formed some sort of cult. The children the party had met were long dead, their spirits haunting their former bedroom. Fighting through vengeful spirits, animated objects and even ghostly possession, the group found the entrance to basement: a staircase in the attic.
The group was amazingly successful at exploring the house, and went over it meticulously, finding every piece of evidence (and treasure) there was. Ok, they missed the secret door to the attic, but was easily solved with a bit of climbing, breaking and entering.
The staircase spiralled down from the attic, deep into the earth below the house. The distant sound of chanting permeated through the halls and rooms of this large underground complex, and it wasn’t long before the group came across more evidence of the cult’s behaviour.
From what the group could gather the parents of the family had formed a cult that worshipped someone called Strahd Von Zarovich, who clearly held them in contempt. The cult had been somewhat successful however, and had managed to transform themselves into undead creatures, through which the party fought.
Following the sound of the chanting, they found another set of stairs, down deeper into the dungeon.
I was amazed (and a little disappointed) nobody died in this dungeon! There were some seriously hard encounters hidden throughout the place, which the group (well, one crazy dwarf) had a knack for finding. However they avoided all the traps (I’m really sad they skipped the mimic), and looted everything worth having.
The bottom floor of the underground lair housed a dungeon and some kind of ritual room, with a dais and altar in the centre. This was clearly the site of many sacrifices/murders, the altar stained with centuries-old blood, and manacles suspended above it.
Upon standing on the dais, ghostly appararitions appeared around the room, chanting “one must die!” The cult may be gone, but the room still wanted blood, and demanded a sacrifice of those present. The dwarven warlock, seduced by dark powers, attacked his companions and was at the point of sacrificing the rogue before his patron of light made him stop.
Its sacrifice denied, the house awoke the cult’s guardian – a shambling mound of bones, dirt and litter. Realising (eventually) this was not a fight they could win, the party made a run for it, and made for the stairs back up to the house. However it seemed the house wasn’t finished with them: the windows were now bricked up, the fireplaces belched poisonous fumes, and the door were replaced with bladed traps!
After a desperate race for survival, the party spilled out of the house and into the town again. It seemed they’d passed whatever test this place had set them, as the town was no longer deserted, and the sight of them sprawled across the street attracted quite a crowd. Looking back, the house now looked like nothing more than a ruined old town house, unoccupied for decades.
As the group of townsfolk dispersed, a young man with a kindly, but worry-lined and tired face stepped forward.
“Welcome to Barovia.”