Ravenloft: Curse of Strahd

Session 1
A Letter from Ivor

Dearest child,

Forgive your da for not knowing your name yet, child, but I am still in wonder that you exist. Your grandma told me in a dream that you were alive, but showed me no face, gave me no name. I hope your ma gave you a nice name, a strong one.

There are things you must know, child. Things I fear I may not live to tell you, though I hope with all my heart that I will be able to. I have found myself on a strange adventure with companions I’d have never imagined of meeting. Cain is the closest of them, but even reading that back to myself gave me a laugh! He’s one of those magic types, a wild fire in his belly. I keep it burning with strong drink, but you wouldn’t know too much about that yet, child. Or at least I hope. You have Elmyra and Rosaria as well, they are both strange creatures, but have proven reliable companions. Well, Rosaria, at least. Rosaria is a great markswoman, but Elmyra…well, we’ll just say she’s unseasoned. Then there’s Aramis, a strong lad, but dangerous. I don’t know what it is about him that worries me, but I suppose I’ll find out one day.

Cain and I were on the road when we heard the werewolf. Well, more accurately, we heard Elmyra screaming. By the time we got there, Rosaria and Aramis were already in the fight. Cain and I joined in, and the five of us were able to down the beast. Well, four of us. It was not a good fight for me, but we cannot win them all, no? When the beast was down, Cain made a fire and we all rested. Elmyra tended to our wounds. I’ll hand it to the girl, she knows her way around a suture, and I am grateful for that. Aramis was more grateful than I, at least that night. After a while, we saw lights shining through the dark night mists, so we followed. We came to an inn, and I had to convince the barkeep to tolerate our elfish friend. He did not take kindly to my persuasion, but we were able to eat and drink our fill, and had beds for the evening. That night at the tavern, though, a strange wanderer approached us with gold and a job. Something about coming to help a lord’s sick daughter, I do not remember perfectly. With nowhere else to go, nothing else to do, my companions and I headed for the estate. As we passed the towering gates into town, we met two frightened children, scared to return to their haunted home. I had to help, and luckily my companions agreed, for the most part. This house frightens me, child. There is something dark here. I pray for the lives of my friends, and please, wherever you are, child, pray for me.

Love,
Da

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Session 2
A Letter

My dear Sir,

Your inquiries of the Outlanders came to my hand yesterday, and merits my warmest acknowledgements to the powers that be and our lord protector, Strahd. To reply to the questions at hand, I should tell they entered THAT house, and after much waiting I never saw them return from within its depths. However the ideas you entertained of their force was, unhappily, but too well founded; and I now wish I had followed them more closely as written in your proposal. I sent a man in about ten minutes late, but alas I fear he was consumed by the house or murdered by their heathen hands. For the Vistana I have at hand, thanks to your generousity, tells me, albeit reluctantly, My Man’s soul convenes with hers.

His recollections are vague at best, and I wonder how much the dead can be trusted to lead the living. However I feel I must at least pass the information along as has been requested of me. It is my duty as a lowly servant to give all that I am towards the Will of my sir. If it please you, the Dead Man would have us believe the following:

The Outlanders entered the house, and made a business of lighting it up within every fireplace and candlestick within eyesight. Despite the darkness they staved off upon entering every room, they assumed a party was afoot, though none, my man included, could see where it might be. Laughter was heard occasionally, the cloak room full, and the dining areas were all set to receive a multitude of guests. The fellows decided to investigate the bottom floor of the house, and found very little of interest. He thinks perhaps they were bored of this exquisite home, for they searched the high and low of every little thing. He believes them all to be quite dull, and even compared them to a party of village idiots. “It was only a house!” he claimed. But then, he was never the brightest in life himself. This is the Durst home! And also If he weren’t an invisible spirit to me, I would tell him he’s a moron, and YOUR interest would never be sparked by imbeciles.

Forgive me… I digress, Sir. The dead man tells that the ugly one with pointed ears discovered a finger bone in the stove, and the Outlanders all found themselves in a hissy over it. I think none of them have had yet to spend a night in the Barovian wilderness. Outsiders will forever be a foreign concept to me, sir. But I understand your need for them to the best of my dimwitted abilities. But again to the point, they found the bone and some of them seemed to be quite frightened. They also explored the dumbwaiter of all things, and seemed to be offended by it for whatever reason. My man believes there was something at the bottom of it, but could not get close enough to see exactly. Then the fellows left the kitchen and headed toward the study, where they decided to escape the house then. Again he attests to their stupidity, but m’lord, not all that dwell amongst these lands know of the power of the mists, right? He claims they broke a window with a chair and all of them went quite mad. There was screaming, and the ugly one began to chew on everything like the dog she is. The silent one with the uncaring face of death, yelped and fled the room, and the large one that smashes things like in the tales of orcs of old… he fell unconscious there in the middle of the room. Strangely, the woman who doesn’t seem altogether ghastly, seemed quite unperturbed by the mists billowing in through the smashed window. But she apparently has some sort of fondness for the other heathens because she called out to some unknown person called “Akadi” and asked for help. And the window… unbroke. He can’t explain it quite rightly. He’s difficult to understand, and I assume he isn’t remembering properly. I urged him to move on with his story.

The slayer… he became enraged at the respectable lady, and decided to kill her while crying “Cultist! Cultist!” She revived the Brute with smelling salts, tugged the Elf along with her, and the three ran back into the entrance hall with the Dead Faced one. His eyes were wild with fear, but his face remained empty, as always. He seems to be apathy incarnate. A fight broke out, but in the end… my man was robbed the vision of a death. The Outlanders all tied the rabid slayer down and killed him by suffocation, it seemed. And yet it did not stick. He awoke shortly later, and his head was unfortunately cleared. So then the party took turns knocking out their mates and it seemed to return them all to themselves.

They went to the second floor, and explored. Nothing of much consequence happened there, besides discovering that the home in which they’d intruded in was owned by the Family Durst, head of whom is Gustav (father to Rosavalda and Thornboldt, husband to Elisabeth). They all continued to talk about hearing the ringing of a bell, but my Dead Man never heard even the faintest sound as he crept along behind them, and frequently he was close enough to hear their breathing quicken with fear. But he never witness with his own senses what there was to be afraid of. The fellows did seem to find some sort of a secret room. My Dead Man says that they debated over the validity of some certain letters after finding a very old letter the grip of a long dead skeleton. It seems they settled on the idea that one of the letters they apparently brought with them is falsified. What information exactly is held within the folds of parchment, he was never able to determine.

Upon leaving the second floor, the slayer, the brute, the acceptable lady, the dead-faced man, and the elf found themselves assaulted by an animated suit of armor. It appeared to be quite the foe, as the dead face man fused the creature to his sword and severely limited its movement… only to be thrown to the gods of death moment later by the very same creature. However the other Outlanders came to the rescue, and ended with throwing the armor to the bottom floor before chasing it down, and destroying the now crippled metal. Their friend was revived, the group searched the remaining of the third floor, and they decided to take a short break in the Conservatory on the second floor. There was another bit about a bell, but it was uneventful. The fellows headed back upstairs to finish searching the third floor, and found much of nothing much. However they did see a third child out in the mists beyond the windows. They debated going out to it, but decided risking the madness was far worse… and the child did not seem to be suffering in the mists anyway.

They acted like the Gustav’s affair with the nursemaid was an atrocity and seemed repulsed by the stillborn son she bore him. Though.. he did mention something about a family portrait when explaining their repulsion. Dead baby and an angry wife glaring at the bastard child who didn’t belong. He rambled a bit. I’m sure it’s altogether unimportant. The heathens ended up fighting the specter of Gustav’s whore, and then found a black bundle within the empty crib in the nursery. The brute approached it and gingerly lifted what they all, including my Dead Man, thought would the corpse of an infant. It was however a haunted doll that latched on to the man who’d lifted it. The brute seemed to struggle, but he was able to pull off the doll. The Dead-Faced man tried to burn it, but nothing appeared to happen. When not being touched by the living, the doll seemed quite benign and doll like. However the brute wanted to put the doll back in the crib, and attempted to swaddle it without placing a hand on the doll. Apparently he slipped, and the doll once again sprang to life. The fellows were perturbed and several tried to attack the doll more, but ultimately the brute was again able to seize the doll and throw it to the ground. They left it where it lay, and went back to a hidden staircase they’d found behind a mirror.

The staircase led to an attic. When they climbed the stairs, they found a room locked from the outside to be particularly interesting to them. They melted the locks and broke, only to discover the skeletons of two small children clutched together in the middle of the floor. The room seemed to be a children’s room, and as the Ugly One touched the doll house (which happened to be a perfect replica of the house they’d explored thus far) the two children they’d seen as apparitions who summoned them into the house appeared before them again then as ghosts. The Outlanders seemed very concerned over the fact that the Durst parents had locked the children in their bedroom and promised to be back each night. The children would hear the sounds of the monster in the basement, but their parents always returned. ….until they didn’t. And the children starved to death, alone, and frightened. They begged the heathen then not to leave, but the heathens had noticed a staircase in the dollhouse that descended all three floors and into the basement. They promised the children they would vanquish the monster and return, and went to leave, but the children, terrified that the fellows would not return either, possessed the Brute and the Slayer. The womenfolk begged the children to let their friends go and promised to return, and the ghosts reluctantly did.

The Dead-Faced one… he left with little regard to what was happening within the room. As the others struggled with the children, he simply began to place vats of oil around the wall pointed out by the ghost welps. When he determined he’d found enough, he blasted the oil, and brought down a wall. Behind it… there was indeed a stairwell.

The Outlanders began to descend the stairwell, and this is unfortunately where the story begins to draw to a close. The vile creature Elf hung back, because apparently she noticed thin tendrils of the mist seeping in from between the ancient boards of the house. She seemed to nonchalantly examine the source, before whipping around and wrenching my man from his hiding spot. Silently putting a dagger through the eye. He doesn’t remember the darkness of death taking him at that moment, but as he tried to cry out she pressed her repulsive hands against his mouth and shushed him quietly. The mists swirled around the elf as she held her hands against him to keep him silent, and her eyes burned harshly as though she knew what was happening and bid him to go with her into the encroaching mystery. Her visage became blurry as mists filled the whole room, and as she seemed to disappear before his very Eye, he managed to glance at his own hands….. and they too seemed to be almost absent from this world. He tells of his pain then. And the agony that awaited him… but he does not know if it came from the mists or the gods of death. His last vision before he was consumed by The Other, was of the Acceptable Lady, who the Ugly One had protected so profusely, turning around. She glanced up the stairs she’d already transcended and cast one slightly confused look across the “doorway”. But then a certain light left her eyes, she shrugged, and turned back to the rest of the party as though she no longer remembered the friend on whom she’d turned to wait. None of them seemed to remember her at all. And then he faded entirely, and was lost until your Vistana found him.

I hope this report has been thorough enough, m’lord. I regret that we will not be able to find out what happens as they descend the stairs. We shall wait until they reemerge or the children yet again appear on the porch for the next travelers….

Your Forever Loyal Servant,

V.

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