Cast of Characters:
Mordecai, a Cleric-5: Adam
Forlorn, an Elf-4: Bo
Mister Moore, Magic User-5: Mike
Soap the Wizard, Magic User-4: Nogal
Barzai, a Cleric-4: Ben
Shy, a Fighter-4: JR
Arden, an Elf-1: Z
Phat Kobra, a Dwarf-4
Zeke, a Fighter-4
Starkweather, a Thief-4
Grumble the Smug, Halfling-4
Serge, a Fighter-4
AD&D 1E, I6 Ravenloft
Our second episode of Ravenloft in Gothic Greyhawk began with the burning of the mayor. His corpse was reanimated by the vampire during the previous evening's attack, and all agreed it was best just to burn bodies from here on out. A pyre was built out behind the mayor's mansion.
The mayor's daughter, Ireena, attached herself to the group, which they didn't mind, seeing as she was, you know, quite beautiful - in an 80's feathered bangs kind of way. Except that she claimed to have been bitten by the vampire. Mister Moore began to wonder if there could be a Mrs Moore in his future and decided to take the comfort of Ireena as his secondary mission in life. Primary was staying alive, which involved not getting so close to Ireena that she could bite him, if she were a vampire-in-training. A dilemma.
They were off to see the gypsies outside of town - Madame Eva would know what to do with Ismark's magic sword and how it would help defeat Strahd. Compared to the dreary, deserted town, the camp was vibrant - a half dozen covered wagons, at least 20 men tending camp and a few standing guard. Madame Eva's wagon was the archetypical fortune teller's domicile - dark interior, velvet curtains, candles and a card table. Not big enough for 12 people to enter, so 5 of the main characters got the reading.
This is one of the nifty things in the old I6 Ravenloft module - a number of the important elements to the adventure are randomized through the card reading. I had a prepared deck and ran it straight up, but I can't really repeat the results here - one or two of the guys read the blog, and if they don't have good notes already, too bad. But they learned that the sword had a missing piece (some place in the castle) and that the strongest weapon against the vampire, a holy artifact, was likely in his crypt. I think the rest went over their heads or was promptly forgotten. "Clues, blah blah blah! Let's get to the killing."
Some gypsies had reported that Strahd's carriages had descended from the castle earlier that morning and were waiting by the bridge up the trail - it was the master's classic invitation to visitors. Willing to follow the script, the characters hopped in to the two horse drawn carriages and were taken on a hair-raising ride along twisting mountain paths, before crossing a drawbridge over a deep chasm, and finally ending in the courtyard of Castle Ravenloft. The main doors of the keep were open, warm light spilled out from within, and the sound of baroque organ music. (I had Bach's Toccata and Fugue playing in the background).
They followed the music and line of lit torches through some entry chambers and down a hall to a room with a sumptuous feast. Across the room, a caped figure pounded the organ keys before bringing the piece to a suitable close, standing, and addressing the party. "Velkome to my castle", spoken in a ridiculous vampire accent (more German than Romanian). "You have something that I vant. I vill see you this evening, and ask you for it, and you vill give it to me, or you vill die. Until then, gut eating, and auf wiedersehen…"
The figure disappeared in a puff of smoke, and all the lights went out. A wind roared through the castle, doors slammed, and a piercing scream echoed. It was on.
Mordecai cast a light spell and the group was face to face with a dozen twitching zombie villagers. Fun! "C'mon, this is easy, we totally got this one," said the fighters, and they waded into combat, forming a loose front line while the clerics 'turned'. That's odd, remarked the clerics - we can usually turn zombies. Mordecai banged his holy symbol on the side, is this thing on? Batteries dead? It got stranger when the hacked off limbs of the zombies kept moving, wriggling on the ground and grabbing ankles and legs in an iron grip. "Definitely not regular zombies".
That's right, bitches, welcome to Ravenloft! Where even the zombies are 4th and 5th level monsters… and they just keep coming. Muhahahaha hahahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahahaha hahahahaha hahahaha.
Maybe I didn't laugh that much - they beat down the souped-up zombies fairly quickly, and then scouted the nearby areas - including finding a secret door behind the pipe organ, and a floating vampire mannequin that was also totally ripped off from a Scooby Doo episode.
Our second night ended with some basic exploration, and a discussion about what Fred and Daphne would *really* be doing when the Scooby crew split up to explore a haunted house. (If the Mystery Machine is a rockin', don't come a knockin'). That inspired Moore to chime in, "If we split up to explore, I'm with Ireena".
See you next time.