Lowcountry Low Roller
I really appreciated [MENTION=9789]evilbob[/MENTION]'s Points of Light idea. Hoping he'll repost it here.
I'm pretty sure jayoungr caught it at some point in the thread (wow, is this thread 6 months old?) but here it is again if you'd like:I really appreciated [MENTION=9789]evilbob[/MENTION]'s Points of Light idea. Hoping he'll repost it here.
I had not seen that thread, but I like the sound of it.Quick question for those who keep track of these things - there used to be a thread here called (I think) "CoS Tome of Strahd Additional Excerpts". I had copied some stuff from there awhile back, but my link to the thread doesn't seem to work anymore. Forum search doesn't seem to find it either. Any ideas if that thread is still around? The OP had some good ideas going... Thx!
There was a huge server crash where something like 3 or 6 months or something's worth of threads got lost. It's possible that was in there.Quick question for those who keep track of these things - there used to be a thread here called (I think) "CoS Tome of Strahd Additional Excerpts". I had copied some stuff from there awhile back, but my link to the thread doesn't seem to work anymore. Forum search doesn't seem to find it either. Any ideas if that thread is still around? The OP had some good ideas going... Thx!
Sounds awesome! I love how if you have 100,000 groups running this game you're going to get 100,000 different endings. And grats on actually finishing! Our group is still just level 5... /sighFinished the campaign last night!! Huzzah! Such an accomplishment having a stable dedicated group, wow!
I improvised based upon what the groups decided to focus on. I knew what was available for quests but didn't isolate any of them until the groups made a strong indication of their path and intentions.So our group is just about to leave Barovia and head to Vallaki. Thanks to posts on this thread and its associated links I have managed to get the journey planned out.
My question is around Vallaki, with so much potentially to go at here, I am struggling what to fit in and what to drop. How did others manage this?
Thank you for this inspiration!Hello, new member here joining to discuss CoS. I've been enjoying this and other threads a great deal, and they helped me clarify the tweaks I'm going to make for running the campaign. Probably not as much as some people here:
1. I expect to use a hook based on ‘Plea for Help’ just so the party get both versions of the letter. I will probably ask all players to roll up two characters each, and make it very clear to them that this is because of the deadly nature of the campaign. I might even assume that all the PCs are in fact present at the start, with players able to swap between their two. ‘Inactive’ PCs are assumed to be waiting in the nearest inn, or if travelling then they are an hour behind on the road following with mules or a wagon, guarding NPCs etc.
2. I'm going to move Death House so that it sits just outside of Barovia Town to the East (which I might rename Barov Town because my players are easily confused) on the Old Svalich Road. This should mean that the party come to the house just before they enter Barov Town proper. With the appeal from the two children I very much doubt the party will just pass on by. I am concerned about lethality but not certain yet whether I will replace the shambling mound (maybe with a shadow demon or black pudding) or just introduce some hazard, weapon or scroll etc that the PCs can use to gain an advantage over it. If I do stick with the shambling mound (eww) then I will probably re-skin it as a mound of decomposing bodies. I also like the idea of giving more clues to the identity of the ghasts. Also I underlined the point in the adventure notes that the PCs can sacrifice any creature, not just another PC. They could kill a rat and it would still satisfy the ritual.
3. I will most likely replace the Night hags with green hags. Not only are the night hags ridiculous for supposedly level 4 area but I think green hags better fit the gothic theme better. Having said that I do think this area is designed to force the players into finding a non-combat solution (maybe trying to offer a trade for the children), so the hags will not go down easily. What they will do is try to forcefully eject and humiliate the PCs using hold person etc rather than kill them (at least until the PCs are higher level). The party try to kill them and don’t retreat they will most likely find themselves regaining movement in a ditch beside the Old Svalich road, the cruel laughter of the hags fading into the night…
4. I will probably downplay the Amber Temple, but keep it there if the party wants an “encore”. Personally I interpret the vestiges as being “middle men” for communicating with the Dark Powers, rather than being the Dark Powers themselves.
(Oh point here – to me the Amber temple seems to be heavily inspired by The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le’Guin – an incredibly atmospheric fantasy novel that I cannot recommend highly enough, and could be very useful for running the temple).
5. Encounters with Strahd will most likely be RP-based unless players are foolish enough to attack him. Eg Strahd turns out to be standing beside them at a shop, in the street, or sitting next to them at an inn. He proceeds to have a friendly chat with them with casual threats thrown in as non-sequiturs. As he leaves he says “oh and my friends want a chat with you too” – cue wolf attack.
6. Barovian souls are 1 in 4. The existence of the soulless is not a creation of Strahd but due to the spiritual amputation of Barovia – dead souls can’t get out, but neither can new souls get in. The existence of the soulless should be a major horrific revelation. I will be making the husks quite creepy, along the lines of the ‘Innsmouth Look’.
7. I like Baba Lysanga and will probably give her a lot more to do. Maybe correspondence with the hags and witches.
8. Mongrelfolk will be merely be deformed so that body parts resemble the animal parts, rather than actually having animal limbs (eg rather than having the foot of a duck, the foot is deformed so it is three toed and webbed). I find the “animal parts” to be a bit goofy and think the deformations are more horrific and believable.
As for the Abbott – Strahd is so damned that he is completely invisible to the Abbott. The Abbott knows that Strahd exists from talking to the Barovians but cannot perceive him in person (might be a great opportunity for Strahd to turn up while the party are talking to The Abbott.). This really scares the Abbott.
9. The werewolves will be stealing teenagers (youths of about 13 years old) rather than children. Two reasons for this:
a) too many dead and kidnapped children gets repetitive (I have no problem with the horror aspect, just pacing) and
b) the werewolf transformation is a really great metaphor for adolescence (see the excellent film The Company of Wolves, also Ginger Snaps and early versions of Red Riding Hood). Opportunity here for one of the youths wanting to stay a werewolf as part of discovering adulthood.
10. I don’t think any party is likely to ever discover Madam Eva’s backstory, but in any case I am making her a non-immortal, but very old and wise Vistani who is unhappy with the gradual corruption of her people and who genuinely wants to help the party destroy Strahd (but won’t take direct action for fear of his wrath). I am happy with the random nature of the card reading as written (I think it’s a pretty integral part of the feel of the module). I’ll probably use playing cards, although I’m tempted to get some blanks and design my own Tarokka in the style of the Aquarian Tarot.
11. Argynvostholdt – I will try to work I opportunities to avoid or at least delay battle with the revenants, continuing to support Ravenloft as an “R-P first, combat second” campaign.
12. The Heart of Sorrow seems like the best candidate for the champaign wine stone. Oh, and I will be changing the stupid names of the wines to something closer to real Romanian wines (there are wines that translate as “grandmother’s black” and “maiden’s black” for pete’s sake!)
13. I think Rahadin is far too similar to Strahd himself in lots of ways, so I think I will make him horribly scarred (actually even as I write this I’ve had the thought of making him bald and scarred by fire – the party may well mistake him for a Count Orlock style vampire!)
I will not be using any of the optional re-uniting of Sergei and Tatyana. Whilst I am happy with Ireena being a reincarnation, Sergei is lost forever – no cheesy happy endings here!
I will no doubt make other tweaks, as it will still take a few weeks before I can get the campaign started.
As my own contribution, I present a pdf of Magic Item Handouts. I went through the Curse of Strahd book, found all the magic items that the players could find, and then typed them up into a pdf. In my games, I print these out, cut each item onto its own individual piece of paper, and then physically give them to my players; I find that it really helps them to remember the rules (and existence!) of their magic items, and I'm not forced to dive into the DMG when the players find it. I did this for my own benefit, but I figure that some people might find it useful, so have a look if you think that is true for yourself.
Do note that it isn't in order - I went for ease of printing over keeping them in a particular order - so you'd need to sort them into chapter-specific folders or something for your own sanity.
Thoughts from @Rils:I have also - at the request of someone on Facebook - uploaded a version of my private notes for this module. It includes my Tarokka reading - but also a list of every monster and magic item that you'll find, along with where you'll find them, and my understanding of how all the different plots and locations fit together. It might be useful, I don't know.
+1 Guide of Clarity
And finally, @Sammael offered these updated stats for Rictavio:I'm also toying with the idea of the Fanes. There are three noted in the text - Yester Hill, Berez, and an un-named circle of menhirs at Old Bonegrinder. The quickest thing in my mind is to equate that last one to Lysaga Hill, tie in the hags, and voila. Specifically looking at the mention of the "leftovers" the hags leave in the circle, lots you can do there with connections to youth, vitality, longevity, etc.
As for the other two, just run the areas as-is, but maybe include some sort of cleansing ritual as a special encounter. I'd personally probably have an NPC like VR or Ezmerelda or one of the village priests do the actual ritual, with the PCs either guarding or assisting during the 10-minute cast time. You don't want to lock out one player by making them the caster stuck doing nothing while waves of twig blights/zombies/etc or strange necrotic/elemental/primal phenomena are going on.
Playing with Rictavio's stats - he really shouldn't be a cleric (as per all prior edition lore). Here's what I have so far (a bit of assassin, a bit of inquisitive):
Medium humanoid (human), LG
Armor Class 12 (leather armor)
Hit Points 77 (14d8+14)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 9 (-1)
DEX 12 (+1)
INT 16 (+3)
WIS 18 (+4)
CHA 16 (+3)
Skills Arcana +9, Insight +7, Medicine +7, Perception +7, Religion +6, Sleight of Hand +4
Ear for Deceit (cannot roll less than 15 for Insight), Infiltration Expertise (see rogue class)
Senses passive Perception 17
Languages Abyssal, Common, Elvish, Infernal
Challenge 5 (1800 XP) <- probably should be higher now
Special Equipment: sword cane, monster slayer’s kit, hat of disguise, ring of mind shielding, scroll of raise dead
Multiattack: Rictavio makes two sword cane attacks
Sword cane: Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) bludgeoning damage or piercing damage (silvered sword)
Sneak Attack: +3d6 damage once per turn if Rictavio has advantage, the enemy is distracted, or if Rictavio succeeds at Insightful Fighting (even if he has disadvantage)
Undead Slayer: +3d6 damage against undead
Bonus Action: Dash, Disengage, or Hide; spot hidden creature or object, discover clues
Insightful Fighting: As an action or as a bonus action, Rictavio can make a Wisdom (Insight) check against a creature he can see that isn’t incapacitated, opposed by the Target’s Charisma (Deception) check. If he succeeds, he can use Sneak Attack against that creature. This benefit lasts for 1 minute.
Reaction - Uncanny Dodge: Halve the damage from an attack if Rictavio can see the attacker
Hooray; I made sense.You have a lot of great ideas on how to make the story of your campaign your own, so continue working in that direction.
My thinking has been to put the Holy Symbol inside the castle (likely at K60 so that the heroes have to climb past what I think of as the single coolest creepy feature in the whole book), the Tome in either Vallaki or the Winery or maybe not until Kresk (haven't re-read those chapters yet to decide for certain), and then the Sunsword likely in either Berez or Tsolenka Pass (with the heroes being given a new reason to bother going there despite my decision to excise the Amber Temple). Unless I change my mind as I continue re-reading the book.The placement of the three artifacts-- stacking the deck is fine. ...
Wow. I had not considered that at all. Making the Winery into the first quest would probably necessitate raising the party's level at the start of the game; and it would mean drastically reduced focus for Ireena's storyline, unless I had her already smuggled out of the village and being sheltered by the wereravens until the heroes come along. And if I start the heroes on the opposite side of Barovia, it would make it more difficult to utilize my intended dichotomy between "Strahd the First And Only" as the master villain and "Strahd XI" as a quest-giver; but that notion might be a pipe-dream in the first place...With how you have things set up-- the four fanes at Yester Hill, Berez, Bonegrinder, and the Castle overlook... the focus on the werewolf hook to get the PCs into the campaign... the three gems possibly having an important part to play and being found at Yester Hill, Berez, and the Abbey... I might have your game start by coming in along the western road outside of Kresk and just avoid the eastern part of the valley and the Village of Barovia entirely. That way you can go straight into the Winery plot once the party can't get into Kresk, and they are on their way. Then either Ezmerelda can give them a reading when they find her (perhaps at Van Richten's wizard tower), or you can move Madam Eva and the Tser Pool Encampment site away from the Tser Pools itself to perhaps the lake that the werewolf caves and the tower is on. Then you have the Tome of Strahd at the Abbey or the Winery or the Tower, the second artifact in Lysaga's possession, Argynvostholt, or somewhere in Vallaki... and then the third in the Castle itself. So that the party slowly makes their way east accomplishing all that you want them to.
Thank you very much. I'll check that out once I've finished re-reading the module.Welcome to the board, @OGIHR! Have some XP. It sounds like you've put lots of thought into what you want to do with the adventure and the setting; thanks for sharing that with us! The main suggestion I have is to check out some of the DM's Guild resources linked above to help you put your ideas on the table.