Inn Harm's Way

Strand Strikes Back - and Misses

The party defeated the werewolves menacing the Martikovs, and slew the pack leader Kiril Stoyanovich – but one of them they spared: the boy Streth Ondensky (a former pupil of Zul Simium’s at Winterhold Magic College) who’d been kidnapped from Daggerford four years ago by the werewolves. At the sight of his old teacher, all the fight left him and he surrendered. Jeros cast Remove Curse on the boy.

They informed Urwin of Davian’s family’s murder at the hands of the druids of Yester Hill, which he took in stride.

At Urwin’s urging, the party joined Urwin’s family (wife Danika, teenaged daughter Danya, and boys Brom and Bray) and sought refuge at the Church of St. Andral. Father Petrovich acommodated them all, still grateful to the party for recovering St. Andral’s relics. It was there that the former priest Donavich had fled with Ireena when the werewolves attacked the Blue Water Inn. Prior to taking a much-needed rest, the party agreed to escort the Martikovs to the Wizard of Wines Winery on its way back to Yester Hill, and the party acquiesced to Donavich’s demands that they take Ireena with them on the trip since Vallaki was no longer safe for her.
They also interrogated the former werewolf Streth (still only 17): he told of the horror of his abduction, and the werewolves’ practice of making raids into Faerun (usually around Daggerford) for children – who’d be imprisoned in the werewolf den and set against each other, gladiator-style. The strongest children would then be turned into werewolves, and then they’d eat the others. He told them where the werewolf den was located northeast of Lake Baratok, and also that internal discord had arisen because Emil Toranescu and his wife Zuleika (who now had children of their own) had developed misgivings about their kidnapping practices, and tried to lead a coup against Kiril. The discord had become so distracting that Strahd himself intervened, and Emil was subdued and sent to Ravenloft to face Strahd. Urwin was unwilling to take the boy into his care because of his role in the destruction of the Blue Water Inn, but Fr. Petrovich agreed to take the boy into his charge. He also agreed to have a dagger silvered for Zul (ready in a week).

The party ruminated over the discovery that the werewolves could pass between Faerun and Barovia, seemingly at will – but unfortunately Streth couldn’t share any specifics.

In the morning, Zul was stricken by a bout of gastroenteritis which culminated in him expelling Wintersplinter’s noxious sap (which he’d apparently ingested while inside Wintersplinter’s gullet) from every orifice – along with the lost Martikov “seed” gem that’d been stolen by the druids and used in the ritual that animated Wintersplinter – which they returned to Urwin.
In the morning, passing unlucky Vallakians stockaded in the town square by the burgomaster for “disrupting the peace of Vallaki” by mocking the most recent festival, Merrick publicly made disparaging remarks about the burgomaster – which resulted in the party being stopped at the gate by eight Vallakian guardsmen, as well as the burgomaster’s personal bodyguard and enforcer, Izak Strazni – an intimidating brute with a greataxe and a mismatched arm.
The party made short work of militia and Izak, much to the delight of the Vallakians (who seem not overfond of the burgomaster), and Merrick vented his spleen with some pointed vandalism on the gates of Vallaki (“Burgermeister est Daster, Best Fester, Lest Bluster”). The party relieved the guards of their valuables, and found a Blinsky doll on Izak’s body clearly made in Ireena’s image. Zul kept it because…well, he seems to be collecting the fucking things.

During the distraction, Ireena tried to run away under the influence of a spell. Jeros stopped her by casting sleep, and Kildrack spied the fleeing spellcaster as none other than Lady Fiona Wachter (Strahd’s most loyal devotee in Vallaki).

On the road to the Winery, Urwin reminded the party of their appointment with Rictavio (aka Rudolph van Richten) at the Wizard’s Tower on Lake Baratok. And later, Kasimir Velikov (the dusk elf from the Vistani encampment outside Vallaki) rode up hastily to inform the party that the Vistani were mobilizing in pursuit and were less than a day behind them.


The party decided to make a stand at the Wizard’s Tower, and arrived there mid-afternoon. Van Richten was there with his wagon, and had learned the location of the other two Martikov gems: one was in the possession of the witch Morgantha at the Old Bonegrinder just to the east of Lake Baratok, and the other was in the old ruin of Berez – which even he seemed afraid to speak of. He was astounded to hear of the discovery of Strahd’s diary at the tower, and spent the afternoon poring over it and making notes. He read aloud the passage in the journal that spoke of his embrace of the dark powers in an attempt to woo away his brother Sergei’s betrothed, Tatyana – whom Strahd coveted. He entered his accursed state when he murdered his own brother, and drank his blood.

Van Richten also gleaned that there seemed to be a link between Strahd’s curse and Strahd’s imprisonment in the Barovian demiplane. It was clear to him that, while some of Strahd’s servants could pass from Barovia to Faerun (notably the werewolves and the Vistani), Strahd himself could not – nor alas could Van Richten, though he used to be able to cross planes before himself becoming trapped in Barovia.

After a long rest – and preparing their patented alchemist’s fire pit for the approaching Vistani – the party were informed by Urwin Martikov that the werewolf den was indeed where Streth said it was (he’d scouted it in raven form during the night) and that there seemed to be a civil war going on there.

The Vistani arrived at mid-day, led by Arrigal and Luvash. The latter again thanked the party for rescuing his daugher Arribel, but regretfully explained that “that debt had been paid” and there was a higher allegiance to Lord Strahd.

The battle was short and the Vistani were eradicated – none even got close to the tower.
After the battle, Merrick’s curiosity almost got the better of him as he noticed van Richten’s wagon shaking – and nearly unleashed the plate-clad tiger within (“a little something I’ve been preparing for the Vistani”, he explained).

2520 XP
10 DT
+1 Rapier (Merrick)
4 Healing potions

Yester Hill
A Circle, A Tree, and a Tragedy


The quest to Yester Hill to recover the stolen Martikov jewel started well enough: and though the party seemed on the verge of total victory, slaying most of the druids at the beginning, Strahd himself was also there for the ceremony – and he turned the tide by turning the party on itself. Jeros, Mistral, and Zul found their previously useful lycanthropy to be a liability when Strahd dominated them and set them on their fellow party members. By determination, a lucky 20 when Doxos was down, and Zul momentarily breaking Strahd’s domination of his will the party was able to escape – but not before witnessing the culmination of the ceremony, when the twig effigy of Strahd in the center of the druid circle birthed Wintersplinter, the most monstrous tree blight anyone has ever seen.
Arriving at the Wizard of Wines Winery (where Davian Martikov and his family had just begun restorations after the druids’ depredations), they were able to raise the alarm and prepare for the onslaught coming from the south.
The defense was tenacious and the line held, and Wintersplinter was destroyed (freeing the swallowed Zul), but the cost was high: Davian and all of his family members were killed by druids who breached the north entrance.
Bearing the somber news back to the Blue Water Inn at Vallaki, the party was shocked to find it freshly razed, and Urwin Martikov and his family facing down a pack of werewolves apparently sent to extract the price required of those who defy the will of Strahd.

3358 XP per party member

The Wizard of Wines
It's either a spell, or a really deep buzz

Having successfully recovered the Tome of Strahd from the Wizard’s deserted tower on Lake Baratok, the party bugged out before Rictavio/Van Richten’s arrival (apparently with a pack of werewolves on their heels), and headed for the Wizard of Wines Winery. On the road, they encountered a mysterious band of people camped in the woods and narrowly avoided coming to blows with the prickly strangers – among them an imposing human named Merrick Valkyrie whose demeanor of “mutually assured destruction” defused the escalating conflict before it began.

Good thing too, because the strangers turned out to be Davian Martikov and his family (father of Irwin Martikov and patriarch of the wereraven wine makers). He told how they’d become dispossessed of the family estate after the culmination of years of raids by mysterious forces – most recently a band of druids from the south with strange nature powers. He also reluctantly divulged the secret of the family’s long horticultural success in otherwise barren Barovia – a trio of magic jewels which preserved the vineyard’s fertility – but which have been stolen one by one over the last five years. The last seems to have been taken during the raid that turned the Martikovs out.

Pledging to retake the Winery – and Merrick joining them for the purpose – the party made the short journey to the Wizard of Wines and found it in the possession of druids, who themselves commanded an army of twig blights.

But druids bleed and blights burn, and the party made easy work of the invaders. They also recovered a missive describing an upcoming ritual at a place called Yester Hill to the southwest: one which features the stolen Martikov jewel, and the mysterious words “Winter splinter”.

Dinner and a Vendetta
"Like a rock through wet tissue paper"

Ireena fell ill on the return to the Blue Water Inn, beginning to succumb to the effects of her third vampire bite. The Martikovs surrendered a room for use as a hospice, and Jeros was able to stabilize her for the time being – but also realized she’s doomed to rise as a vampire should she die or be killed.

Urwin Martikov revealed his family’s heritage as wereravens (which explained the mystery of why his son Brom wasn’t mortally injured when Zul, Jeros, Mistral, and Ismark attacked him during their depredations as werewolves.) and their leadership of the Order of the Feather (an alliance of wereraven folk united in resistance against Strahd).

After hearing of the Tarokka Card reading, Urwin advised the party to consult with the Vistani encamped southwest of Vallaki to discover more about the possible whereabouts of the Sunsword. He also advised them to steer clear of the windmill northeast of Vallaki (which the locals call “Old Bonegrinder” and is a place of dread). He also enlisted their aid in investigating the sudden loss of shipments from and communications with the Wizard of Wines Winery, which his family owns and runs.

Not long after Urwin promised them a cart and horse for the journey to the Winery, Strahd himself banged on the door of the Inn and demanded admittance. He knew Urwin was harboring Ireena, and he’d come for her. Urwin refused him admittance, but as their testy exchange continued, Ismark rushed outside to challenge the Devil himself. Within moments, Strahd threw Ismark’s bloodless corpse through the front window of the Inn, and followed it up with the bloodless corpse of Father Lucian (the Priest of St. Andral’s Church, whom the party had aided in the recovery of St. Andral’s relics mere hours before).

Stymied by his inability to enter the Inn without an invitation, Strahd left – but vowed vengeance on the Martikovs and the party for interfering with him.

Now that the Order of the Feather’s clandestine resistance of Strahd was about to become an open war, Urwin and the party pledged themselves to common purpose. Urwin advised the party to rapidly seek the relics Madam Eva spoke of: beginning with the nearby Vistani encampment, then traveling to the Wizard of Wines Winery to investigate the trouble there, then doubling back to meet Rictavio (aka Rudolph van Richten) at the ruined tower on Lake Baratok (which the cards tell holds historical secrets of great importance in defeating Strahd).

At the Vistani encampment, the party met the dusk elf Kasimir, who has lived long enough to remember the time before Strahd’s transformation. Kasimir mourns a sister lost centuries ago to Strahd – and who he believes is still entombed at Ravenloft. He told the party of the Amber Temple, a legendary wizard’s stronghold on a southern spur of Mount Ghakis to the far south of Barovia. The temple was a source of great power even before Barovia’s sundering from Faerun, and according to some lore may have played a role in Strahd’s vampiric transformation. Kasimir hopes it may also hold the secret to undoing Strahd’s power, and perhaps also impart the power to return his long-dead sister from the grave.

Kasimir echoed the advice to avoid the Old Bonegrinder, advised against buying potions of any sort from the Vistani, and also suggested that something more than agricultural acumen allowed the Martikovs to grow vineyards while most other farmers found Barovia’s soil barren.

At the Vistani camp, it became clear that the majority of the Vistani were out seeking a missing girl (Arrabelle, the seven-year-old daughter of Arrigal, the camp’s leader). In fact, the party interrupted Arrigal and his brother Luvash whipping the young Alexia, who’d been charged with watching over her when she disappeared.

Offering to help, the party discovered that the last person Alexia saw before Arabelle’s disappearance was Bluto, Vallaki’s drunk fisherman. Following this lead to Lake Zarovich, they discovered the drunkard had the girl tied in a sack on his boat, intending to offer her to Mother Night to improve the fishing. It was easy enough for them to recover the girl and apprehend Bluto – and upon returning to the camp, the Vistani employed all their artistic flair in the prolonged torture of Bluto.

Grateful at the return of his daughter, Arrigal offered each party member a choice of one item from his treasure wagon. Besides the excellent haul of gold (and less excellent fraudulent potions) obtained, the party found and took possession of the Sunsword – which was with the Vistani just as Madam Eva foretold.

Before bedding down for the night, Mistral took notice of one suspicious-looking Vistani man who seemed intent on warily studying the party, then was seen later leaving for Vallaki at a full gallop.

The next day, passing Lake Baratok on their way to the Winery, the party spied the ruined tower from the road and decided to investigate it even though Rictavio hadn’t yet arrived. But before even reaching the foot of the tower a band of Vistani bandits accosted the heroes, and demanded they leave the site immediately and stop “putting their noses in places they don’t belong”. The result was predictable, and the party made short work of the bandits – and on searching them, found they’d been hired by Lady Fiona Wachter (presumably of Vallaki) who’d evidently been spying on the party for Strahd for some time.

The initial approach to the tower was difficult: Jeros discovered the anti-magic aura surrounding it, recognized the inscription “Khazan” as the name of wizard who’d served as an advisor to Strahd, and Kildrack triggered the lightning barrier at the door.

Rather than trying to solve the puzzle on the door’s front plate, Mistral and Kildrack attempted the rickety scaffolding which led to a hole on the third level – and instantly discovered it wasn’t sturdy enough to support an armored dwarf. Kildrack fell through the platform like a rock through wet tissue paper, but wasn’t seriously injured in the fall.

Mistral was able to levitate Jeros to the scaffold’s remnant, and he secured ropes to the window. Jeros also spared the others the trouble of collapsing the rotten floor on level three by taking care of that personally (handy thing, that lycanthropic immunity to injury).

Mistral triggered the elevator system (powered by four clay golems) and rode safely to the fourth floor, then secured enough ropes for the other party members to join her. There they discovered Rictavio’s hideaway and recovered his journal, and Doxros noticed a rich-looking book hidden in a niche behind a suit of armor.

Remembering the Wizard Jeros had mentioned, she spoke the name “Khazan” aloud and the armor instantly marched towards her and presented itself for service. Now able to reach the book, they discovered it was none other than the Tome of Strahd – Strahd’s personal memoirs, again just where Madam Eva foretold it would be.

But the party’s satisfaction with the expedition faded as, upon leaving the tower, they heard the howling of numerous wolves closing on their position from all directions.

XP 1100
GP 360
Downtime 10
Renown 1

Permanent magic items: Sunsword (given to Mistral)
Relics obtained: The Tome of Strahd, The Journal of Rudolph van Richten
Story rewards: The favor of Arrigal the Vistani, for saving his daughter; the assistance of Kasimir if seeking the Amber Temple; Alliance with the Order of the Feather

A Series of Awkward Occurrences
Vallaki's Night Life is Bangin'

Ismark, Zul Simium, Mistral, and Jeros awoke on the outskirts of Vallaki to discover they’d attacked and injured a boy when they transformed into werewolves. Upon returning to the Blue Water Inn, they were shocked to discover that the boy they attacked was one of the Inn’s proprietor’s (Urwin Martikov) sons. Even more surprising, the boy seemed relatively unhurt and Urwin took the whole situation with an uncommonly level head. He explained that “I and my family have a unique understanding of these things” and then invited the party to meet his entire family for dinner that evening.

Meanwhile, Esmerelda d’Avenir arranged a meeting between Jeros and the elf circus master Rictavio – who turned out to be Rudolph van Richten incognito, a monster-hunter from Faerun who’s on a quest of vengeance against Strahd. Jeros was able to establish common purpose with Rictavio, and together they realized that Madam Eva’s prophecy of “the book of history is at the wizard’s tower on the lake, and the wizard and his companion will help you” referred to van Richten and Esmerelda. Van Richten offered to lead to party on an expedition to the “Wizard’s Tower” in three days.

Killing time before dinner with the Martikovs, the party ventured out to the Temple of St. Andal, seeking a priest who could cure them of their curse. Donavich introduced them to Fr. Lucian (a fellow cleric of the Morninglord) who lacked the skill to remove the party members’ curse but confided to them the recent theft of the bones of St. Andal, which rendered the temple open to attack from Strahd. The party quickly deduced that the temple’s sexton Vilijov was behind the theft – at the urging of the town’s coffin-maker Markov. Markov admitted his guilt, explaining he did so at the bidding of a mysterious nobleman (Strahd himself, as it turns out) and cooperated with the party’s investigation of his shop. Unexpectedly, the party awakened six vampire spawn which Markov had unwittingly safeguarded in his attic. The party exterminated these fiends, but not before Ireena sustained her third vampire bite. Ultimately, the party restored the bones of St. Andal to the temple, and returned to the Blue Water Inn to dine with the Martikovs.

XP 2160
GP 1.5
Downtime 10

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