btstrahd

Beneath the House

Basti inspects the corpse in the chest and determines the victim to be a hapless adventurer killed by a poison dart trap. As he is about to inspect the chest Egon decides to make sure the chest is really a chest – yeah – and hurls a javelin into the narrow chamber and deep into Basti. So I guess the chamber was still dangerous, but not for the obvious reasons.

Inspecting the chest and corpse nets a number of items, including:
- a battered message on the corpse containing a plea for help from the the Burgomaster of Barvovia, Kolyan Indirovich.. A great evil has befallen someone close to him and he is offering a reward for assistance in ridding them of their woes.
- the deed to the house and a windmill, and the last will of the Durst family.
- A handful of magic scrolls.
- a letter from Strahd von Zarovich to Gustav Durst. The elder Dursts seem to worship Strahd as a messianic figure and perform rituals and sacrifices in his honour. Strahd thinks nothing of them at all. Additionally, it would seem there is a dungeon and alter to be found.

The party completely explore the rest of the house, finding a few valuables and an assortment of crossbows, before finally playing the harpsichord. Something in the house grinds to life. The party return to the attic to find a newly exposed, narrow spiral staircase descending deep into the house.

Following the stairs down they find themselves in a series of narrow, man made tunnels. An undecipherable, persistent chanting echoing through the halls. They discover the family crypts and lay to rest the corpses of Rose or Thorn- or maybe not, they kind of mixed the bones all up. They discover the empty crypts of Gustav and Elisabeth as well. Badger opens the matriarchs resting place and is assaulted by a massive swarm of colourless, silent wasps. Mostly in the mouth.

After they deal with the wasps, Basti scouts ahead to find a dining room littered with human bones. The room contains a number of exists and a small larder. Egon opens the larder and is violently attacked by a Grick. The monster is able to knock Basti out and attempts to leave with its new meal, but Egon grapples the creature to the ground. Wren delivers an elbow drop from the top of the table to finish the beast off.

They press on, finding accommodations for both the leaders and the members of what is clearly a cult. One hall contains a descending staircase, from which the chants emanate. As they explore a particularly tight corridor they are ambushed by ghouls erupting from the walls. The battle goes really well; Wren, Badger and Mira do their part and butcher the ghouls. Egon is about to have a highlight of the night moment when he grapples a ghoul Zangief-style. Before he can unleash the ’gief Basti fucks it all up and almost stabs Egon in the eye, causing him to drop the monster. Arveen turns the creature, sending it running, but Basti is pretty sure he can fuck that up too and tackles the fleeing creature in a hallway far from the rest of the party. The ghoul thanks him then quickly knocks the rogue out. Badger rushes to save his friend(?), only to be caught in a spiked pit trap, felling him too. Arveen finally ends the pain by kill the last ghoul and stabilizing her friends(?).

It started off so cool, too.

Battered and bloody the party lick their wounds and consider their options: two more paths remain, one to the west, and one that leads deeper into the dungeon and to the source of the strange, persistent chanting…

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Doom and Broom

The party agree to help the children. They enter the townhouse to find it immaculate; the floors are waxed, the doors oiled, the rugs beaten. The first two floors contain great halls with a number closed doors. A portrait of the family on the second floor identifies the owners as Gustav and Elisabeth Durst and their children as Rose and Thorn. Gustav proudly holds a swaddled infant, Walter; the artist captures Elisabeths disdain for the baby. A number of artifacts identify the family crest as a golden windmill on a red field. A painting clearly illustrates the source: an old windmill atop a rocky crag. Things appear to be perfectly normal, other than evil symbols Basti finds hidden in the ornate panels of the walls.

The house undergoes a dark change on the third floor: the temperature plummets, the furniture lies rotted and tossed about, the floors and walls cracked and splintered. Everything is draped and cobwebs and dust. The party are suddenly assaulted by suits of animated armour. Badger and Egon are nearly killed before they’re stopped. An upside to the attack is that Egon was bashed deep enough into a wall hard to reveal a secret stair leading upwards. Trying to be positive here.

The stairs lead to an attic where Egon bashes open a locked door revealing a childrens bedroom. The window is bricked over and two familiarly dressed skeletons are heaped on the floor. Next to the corpses is a dollhouse that is a perfect replica of the house. Arveen examines the toy and uncovers the floor plan, including a hidden spiral staircase and a secret room behind the library. As they examine the room the ghosts of Rose and Thorn appear and demand to know who the party are. They learn that the children are long dead, having died of starvation when their parents locked them in the attic to protect them from the monster in the basement. The evil in the house manifests the ‘children’ outside to lure victims in. They beg the party to bring their remains to their resting place so they might finally rest. Arveen asks how to access the hidden stairs; the children point at a harpsichord in the music room and tell them to play the tune on the music sheet.

Heading downstairs in search of Walter the party find the nursemaids room. Egon explores the silent bundle in the crib which turns out to be empty, but also provokes the fury of the nursemaid as a specter. Somehow they make easy work of it. Fed up with surprises, they head back to the attic find a way to the hidden stair, but the house prevents them from entering. They do manage to find the murdered remains of the nursemaid. A cameo around her neck with a picture of Gustav suggests a secret relationship.

Te party open a broom closet and are attacked by an animated broom that must be the Steven Seagal of animated brooms. It somehow takes out both paladins before being stopped. Battered but not beaten a few of them don suits of display armour. Suitably protected, they seek out and discover the hidden room in the library. A fresh corpse riddled with poison darts lies face down in an open chest, it’s secrets waiting to be uncovered….

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New World, Old World

Six strangers awake on a strange forest road engulfed in a dense, impenetrable fog. None of them recognize their surroundings, nor have any notion how they may have arrived. The forest around them is ancient and dark and the world seems drained of colour. They spend a few moments awkwardly introducing themselves. [Egon] throws a javelin into the mist; it never makes a sound. That seems like a good reason to start moving. 

They hear the sound of a horse ahead. The animal sounds wounded, it's footfalls uneven and arythmic. They catch up to the horse and rider to discover both long, long dead. The rider does not follow the curves of the road and instead silently vanishes into the fog. 

They continue, following the road to a huge stone wall and a rusted iron gate. Each side of the gate is flanked by an enormous stone statue of a warrior. A raven roosted on a statue watches them approach with great curiosity and unusual intelligence. One of the group finds a nearby feather and shows it to the bird. Upon approaching the gate it wearily creaks open for them to pass. Wren explores the wall for any signs of machinery or magic, but instead finds a long dead corpse bearing a small black leather book. Leafing through the pages he watches the words simply vanish, eventually leaving the entire volume blank. He pockets the book. 

As the last of the group passes through the gate it shuts behind them. They find themselves in a wide clearing on the edge of a dreary town. They approach the silent village cautiously, eventually discovering two children weeping in front of a townhouse. The children explain there is a monster in the basement of their house. Their parents are inside, and so is their baby brother. They beg the party for help… 
 

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