D&D 5E Curse of Strahd milestones (spoilers!)

JoshR

First Post
I'm running Curse of Strahd and I like the book's suggestion to use milestones instead of tracking XP. It provides a list of example milestones, but it doesn't seem to include everything. Has anyone seen any official or (more-likely) unofficial lists of suggested milestones that are more exhaustive? Or, do you have any suggestions or plans for what you'll use yourself? I've played a lot but I don't normally DM so I'm a bit concerned with levelling the players too quickly or slowly.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
The "areas by level" chart seems like it could help here. If I ever run CoS I'll probably look through each area for 1 or 2 significant achievements that might be milestone-worthy. Then I'd compare the party's level to the area's level. If they're over the area's level, it might take 2-3 achievements before they gain a milestone.
 

evilbob

Explorer
I was thinking about this as well. Technically, if you followed the advice in the book, the characters could be WELL over-leveled by the time they met Strahd. The book gives three (non-exclusive) examples of where you could gain levels: when the party finds one of the three artifacts (like the Sunsword), when they defeat a major villain (like the hags at the windmill), or when they accomplish major story goals (examples given are: lighting the beacon, stopping the druid ceremony, and getting Ezmerelda to join the party). Here's how I could see those playing out:

- discovering the way to the basement in Death House (part of intro)
- ending Death House (part of intro)
- find Tome of Strahd
- find Sunsword
- find Holy Symbol of Ravenloft
- saving the church at Vallaki
- defeating the hags at the windmill
- lighting the beacon at the silver dragon place
- dealing with the Abbot
- defeating Baba Lysaga
- dealing with Van Richten's tower
- teaming up with Ezmerelda
- saving the winery
- stopping the druids
- stopping the werewolves
- dealing with the Amber Temple

And those are JUST the ones that make sense according to the book advice! In fact, that's a pretty strict list. Sure you could cross off one or two, but that's still well over level 10 by the time you even get to the castle. This list gets the party to level 17, and that's leaving out a lot of other places that could also easily qualify:

- getting fortunes read by Madame Eva
- rescuing Mad Mary's daughter
- dealing with Doru
- getting Ireena to come with you
- getting the "special" NPC foretold by the cards to come with you
- saving the girl on the lake
- curing the mad wizard
- freeing Vallaki from the current burgomaster
- also stopping the Watchers
- killing the head of the werewolves (could be separate from stopping the werewolves / saving the children)
- solving the puzzle of Van Richten / reuniting him with Ezmerelda / helping him with the tiger plot
- restoring the winery (as in, return the gems - separate from saving it)
- helping the lich in the Amber Temple, or saving the guy from the Amber Temple
- raising the boy from Krezk that died
- clearing out the monastery (separate from dealing with the Abbot)
- defeating the Roc at Tsolenka Pass
- defeating the giant goat at Tsolenka Pass
- stopping the witches in the castle
- finding the Icon of Ravenloft (it's a legendary item, too!)
- clearing the crypts in the castle (seriously this is worth something) and/or destroying all of Strahd's vampire spawn
- fighting Strahd in the place foretold by the cards

And of course:

- killing Strahd - at that point the game is over but it's still worth a level

Frankly, ALL of those things deserve some kind of reward in my mind. And there are more places in the castle that could qualify as well; that place could easily level the group a few times in my mind.

So the book advice could have you at level 20 - which, maybe that's a feature not a bug for some groups - but it will certainly require effort on the DM's part to upscale the challenges to keep them relevant. Or you could be much more stingy with the levels, but my point above is that even giving one level for nearly every area still gets you way over level 10.

The other option is to use the "milestone" rewards as defined in the DMG - where each "milestone" is only equal to XP worth a "hard" encounter for that level. For example: if the party is level 6, each character gets 900 XP per milestone. But 900 XP at level 6 is only 1/10th of the XP required to get to level 7! (Actually, a "hard" encounter is pretty much always worth 1/10th of a level, apparently.) That seems to go back the other way and get way too slow to me. You'd also have to include XP from monster kills this way as well, but strictly going by "it's worth a hard encounter" seems like you'd be conversely under-leveled. The best solution is probably somewhere in between, but it's hard to know what's too much and what's not enough.

In the end, I think 77IM's advice is probably the best: just use the "areas by level" chart as a guide to where the characters should be, and they'll level up at about the right pace.
 

evilbob

Explorer
Thinking about it more, having nearly 40 milestones might work out as just "hard" encounter XP. You could make them encounter XP for the level they are intended, but since characters can go in any order I suppose that doesn't really matter much. Effectively, the plan is: make them level 3 by the end of Death House, pick out a few more milestones so you have at least 40, and then give normal XP for monster encounters and such. The milestone awards by themselves are 4 levels' worth, plus the combat XP should get you to around level 9 or 10 - maybe even more, depending on how strictly you follow the random encounter rules. The castle and the Amber Temple in particular have a good amount of monster-related XP possible. So yeah, that probably works out just about right.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
[MENTION=9789]evilbob[/MENTION] I did something similar through Death House - I award XP when the PC's accomplish certain things, see certain areas, etc. Basically, a bit of XP for each mapped location, and in Death House, XP for discovering the attic, the secret room, and the dollhouse, XP for moving to the second level of the dungeon, and XP for escaping the house.

Fiytan XP will be on top of that, but I've got a mechanism in place to only award levels when they take a rest in a place where they can get training (in Death House, the Library will serve that function).
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
If you have "nearly 40 milestones," just make each one worth 1/5 of a level, and the PCs will get from level 3 to level 10 (and since there are "nearly 40" but they only need 35 they can actually miss a few and still get to 10).
 

evilbob

Explorer
If you have "nearly 40 milestones," just make each one worth 1/5 of a level, and the PCs will get from level 3 to level 10 (and since there are "nearly 40" but they only need 35 they can actually miss a few and still get to 10).
I meant to say that this is a great idea, and I am going to use it!
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I was thinking about this as well. Technically, if you followed the advice in the book, the characters could be WELL over-leveled by the time they met Strahd.
Technically, the book's advice never says you should award a level for ALL of these. It only offers examples of when to level up the party.

Offering more examples than any specific campaign needs is better than offering just, say, ten levelling points. The module is much too open-ended for all parties to deserve levelups at the exact time and place!

So if you follow the advice in the book like a good DM, you will CHOOSE ten appropriate spots to level your party, and the characters will only be as overleveled or underleveled as you want them to be.
 

Patrick McGill

First Post
I've always prefered handing out experience. Using the DMG's suggestions for non-combat encounters plus the experience for combat itself, my CoS group seems to be on track to where they need to be without needing to use milestones.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I've always prefered handing out experience. Using the DMG's suggestions for non-combat encounters plus the experience for combat itself, my CoS group seems to be on track to where they need to be without needing to use milestones.
Good it works for you, Patrick.

But you are aware that by adding in "suggestions for non-combat encounters" you are adding in DM skill into the equation.

I'm getting the notion that people here would want Curse of Strahd XP to work like clockwork, merely by awarding monster xp as instructed, with no DM arbitration or intervention.

After all, that's the way it used to work before.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top