I began this session by killing one of the characters. As I mentioned back at the beginning of the campaign, this is an experienced party of players. I’ve had to give the bad guys maximum hit points and full damage just to make them a threat to this group. The session began with a random encounter during the night with a group of Berzerkers. I figured one Berserker per player would be a hard challenge, with an extra Bandit Leader thrown in. Unfortunately this was a bad move, as they completely overpowered the party. The problem was that I prepared the encounter for the larger group, but only four players made it to the game this week, one of them a new player who had not played with us before. That’s the nature of AL gaming every week, you never know who is going to show up. This week’s group consisted of Bonk the Furborg Cleric, Guunt the Viking Barbarian, Sir Saggamore the Paladin and a new player, Esmerelda, an old lady Bard. The old lady was lost in the midst and saw the windmill, which lead her to the party just as they discovered the stones where the hags had left all the teeth of the dead children.
The group did not want to sleep in the windmill, so they camped in the forest bend in the road toward Vallaki. The Berserkers managed to stealth their way close to the camp while Bonk was on watch. Without Ombra’s exceptional Perception skill, they were caught by surprise by the mud-covered barbarians. As they rushed the camp, two of them charged at Bonk. I am pretty sure I rolled a Critical, (that’s a natural 20 for new players) and did a lot of damage. As the rest of the party was awakened from their sleep to fight, Bonk was unable to withstand the wave of angry barbarians. I don’t think the rest of the party noticed that he was making death saves (and failing), as we had only just started the session and everyone was still distracted and getting settled in. By the time they noticed Bonk had failed his final save. I really did not want to take a guy out of the game in the first half hour. I looked up any AL rules I could find, but because he had just gone up to level 5, I could not use a faction res to bring him back. I also forgot I could have used Ismark or Ireena to stabilize him, although there were still berzerkers around so that probably would not have worked. The berserkers retreated after two of their own were slain, mainly because I felt bad for throwing such a tough group at a smaller party. The group themselves came up with a solution: They called Genny Greenteeth and paid her to raise dead. Poor Sir Saggamore spent the gold he had been saving for plate mail to resurrect his companion.
I was actually planning on running DDAL04-07 this week but the new guy Robin, playing Esmerelda the Bard, was only level 4 so the party went on with the mission to Vallaki. When they arrived, the guards were wearing very peculiar masks. They demanded the party smile, as everyone in Vallaki must be happy at all times. A sign on the gates read “A smile a day keeps the devil away.”
I made them roll Charisma checks with a DC 10 difficulty to give a false smile. Each time they encountered guards in the town they would have to make the same check. They all passed and were allowed into Vallaki, Sir Saggamore riding high on his spectral steed, Apparition. He wasn’t very pleased that his “Summon Steed” spell gave him a creepy, ghostly, horse but that is the way the world of Ravenloft works. Great choice of name, though!
The group rode passed the coffin maker and Sir Saggamore complimented him on his workmanship. “Thank you!” the coffin maker responded, “I hope you are not a customer of mine!” They reached the church and were told about the missing bones, that the church was no longer a safe place until the bones were returned. They questioned the altar boy, who led them to the older boy digging graves. They intimidated him into confessing he stole the bones for Henrik van der Voort, the coffin maker, and Sir Saggamore gave the boy 3 gold pieces. They headed off to the shop, Guunt kicked in the door (even though Sir Saggamore offered to use Shatterspike to open it) and scared poor Henrik into telling them everything. Henrik did not tell them what the creatures were that would kill him, but he told them the creatures were upstairs in the spare room. The party walked in and demanded the monsters show themselves, at which point six vampire spawn burst out of the crates of dirt around them. After the disastrous first encounter I did not beef up the monsters and I gave them a warning that they had a hard time with ONE vampire spawn just two weeks before. They felt confident they could do it and I must admit, Guunt the barbarian can take a shit ton of damage. The vampires could not get a hold of anyone to use their bites, so they really only had their claw attacks. Bonk kept an eye on everyone’s health and they actually managed to kill all six vampire spawn. Sir Saggamore was crucial to this battle, his sword’s radiant damage blew the vampires to pieces. A couple vampires fled out the window, crawling to the next adjacent building and Guunt went out after them. He slipped off the wall but managed to catch the window sill, and the vampires thought they could take him, so they dropped down to the ground to face him. They were wrong, and although he did not have a magic weapon he was able to destroy their physical form. With the vampire spawn gone, they found the bones of the saint and returned them to the church. They left Ismark and Ireena there and headed back to the inn they had passed earlier.
On the way back they ran into Izek and two more masked guards. Izek demands they tell him where the woman is they were seen with. No one in the party would tell him anything, so he left them with a warning. This was only supposed to be an introduction to Izek, but they decided to follow him. He lead them to Blinsky’s Toy Shop, and they followed him in. They see him with a doll that looks like Ireena and Bonk decides to grab it from his hands. Guunt gets in his face and a battle ensues. I really didn’t want Izek to die so soon, and he hit Guunt with a few good hits, but he only had two guards (I used Knight stats for the guards) and with the Cleric and Bard behind him, Guunt was buffed enough to take out Izek pretty easily. During the battle, thunderous smite was used by Sir Saggamore, blowing out the windows of the shop and destroying the more fragile toys. Blinsky howled in the corner as Izek missed with a flame attack, setting the curtains of the shop aflame. There was no way for Izek to escape and so he went down hard, as did one of the guards. The second guard they decided to take prisoner and they took off before more guards could arrive. The guards tracked them back to the church and demanded they turn over Guunt for the murder of Izek Strazni ( as well as the guard they took, who we forgot about). Guunt peeked outside and I had a guard with a readied action and I rolled a Crit, so Guunt got hit with an arrow and his HP were very low. I know he wasn’t happy about it, it was a bit cheap on my part, but a 20 is a 20. Guunt decided to surrender while the rest of the group was ordered to leave Vallaki by nightfall. The session ended with the guards taking Guunt to the town square and crucifying him on a wooden cross. They left him there to fetch the Burgomaster, who would decide the manner of his death. Before the Burgomaster arrived, a mysterious group in hooded robes took him off the cross and took Guunt to a safe place. The session ended with Guunt being taken to a mysterious place while the rest of the party was left to decided whether they would flee the town or stay and face the guards. They haven’t even set foot in the Inn yet. . .