"Welcome to Lekar, the last bastion of humanity in Falkovia. It is a battered city on the edge of Lake Kestral, and your home for the last three months. But in three days, the blood moon will arise once again, and so shall Falkovnia's dead, and the assault on the city will begin once again, as it has for the past three five years. Each of you has risen above the common ranks of survivors in the city to become overseers of the fetid masses. Yet, today each of you has been pulled from your duties - whether it is sifting through the rubble of fallen buildings to repair the city's outer wall; dredging the mud from the nearby lake to make mortar to hold together the cobbled wall; or to throw together the wilted cabbage, stunted carrots and moldy potatos that make today's soup, or to patrol the walls of the city on half a ration of soup to watch for the wretched dead to gather at dusk and wonder at the blooming moon.
Today, the queen of Falkovnia, the illustrious General Vladeska Drakov, has given you a task - to take your work teams to Morfenzi to gather the last harvest before the dead come. Without this precious cargo, an uprising of the worst sort may occur - as the starving succumb to the call of the dead and join the ranks of the unliving within the heart of the city itself.
This is a journey of three days - one day to travel the Watcher's Road to Three Points and then southward along Hunting Way to Morfenzi itself. One day for your workers to harvest the last crops, and a final day to return before dark and the city gates close to you until the blood moon passes."
Party is to escort a wagaon and their work crew to the settlement ____ . There they will collect the last of the harvest and return to the city for the oncoming seige in 3 days on the new moon. It will take 1 day to get to the settlement, 1 day of collecting harvest and 1 day to return.
Granted the following:
"Zanhed" - +1 short sword (Truth); unlocks normal locks with a touch. Faintly mutters when someone nearby is holding back information, granting advantage on Insight checks.
An Amulet that grants a +3 bonus to AC when attuned
Potion of Invisibility
Scroll of Dispel Evil and Good w/ instructions so anyone can use it
a charm that as a bonus action, turns 10 pieces of ammunition into +3 weapons for 1 day.
Group of 6 soldiers standing around 3 criminals who have been recently impaled. One of the criminals has become a zombie, and the soldier's crossbows cannot kill it. They are arguing about pulling the pole down and beheading the criminal. Three soldiers do not want to risk the zombie injuring them, two of the soldiers argue about leaving the body as is, only one is calling for the pole to be taken down but is getting no help - asks PCs to aid him. Up to them if they wish to do so or how they proceed.
ENCOUNTER 1 - Raiders
"You have just traveled beyond the burned out ruins of the city's last watchtower and turned onto the overgrown trail known as the Watcher's Road. Years of disuse has seen it almost reclaimed by the ancient Vigilia forest, whose black woods climb into the sky to each side. There is a screech as a hawk lifts off from one of the creaking nearby tree, and not a moment later the deep bellow of a hunting horn sounds from the thick underbrush. In a flash, the way ahead is blocked by six riders - their features hidden behind the animal pelts they wear. Each rides a lean, yet powerful wolf. Ahead of them steps a tall, thick man nearly seven feet tall and dressed like the others, but wearing a helm adorned with antlers - whose bloody felt still drips from its tines. To his right and left stand emanciated and hairy men, their faces impossibly scrunched into savage, animalistic snarls. They raise their weapons, and with a low growl from the tall man, the whole company moves towards you. 'Kill the guards,' he commands, 'take the others alive!'
6 Bandits riding trained wolves, led by a bandit captain and his two shifters. They attempt to draw the PCs away from their charges so they can kidnap the workers and take them back to their lair. There are 10 slaves at the bandit's lair, under the watchful eye of an ex-captain of the guard.
ENCOUNTER 2 - Abandoned Wagon
"The muddy road opens into a rocky glade. The trees themselves seem to pull back to reveal a colorful, covered wooden wagon to one side of the road - easily identified as a Visanti's vardo. One of it's wheels has been visibly hacked to pieces and the colorful banners that adorned it now hang tattered and fluttering in the wind. A silent mare still stands tied to the front of the wagon, but its driver is nowhere to be seen. As the rear door clatters against the wagon in the stiff wind, the startled horse shivers a moment, but does not otherwise move."
An abandoned vardo on the side of the road. One dead horse lies nearby, half-gnawed to bone. The other horse is still tethered to the wagon and is a zombie. A body lies face down nearby, its face is missing (not torn off or mutilated, simply blank). The vardo has been ransacked; if the inside is investigated, there is a locked chest inside with a potion of healing, a bandana of luck and the knight card from a tarokka deck (turns into a knight if thrown down on the ground). Struck into the center of the vardo is a blood-stained silver long sword. The vardo is covered and provides better protection from attack, but is much heavier - it must either be drawn by the zombie horse or a team of 5 men of STR 12 or better.
If the party investigates the area, each PC makes a Perception check. The PC that rolls lowest (and below 15) is ambushed by a Strahd Zombie - the corpse of one of the Visanti that owned the wagon. The rest of the group is attacked by 3 boneless and a Deathlock. One round later, a line of zombies appears at the forest's edge, and 6 Strahd Zombies stride forward to join the fray; the rest not venture out into the light. After three rounds, a hunting horn sounds and the remainder turn and shamble back into the woods.
ENCOUNTER 3 - The Homestead
"Ahead in the distance, you can just make out the Tripoint, where the Watcher's Road bisects the Hunter's Way. But just ahead the woods have been cut back, the jagged stumps testimony to their sad fate. Amid the clump of hewn trees stands the half-collapsed, half-burned ruin of a homestead. Only the chimney and a few charred upright timbers remains amid the swept dirt-packed foundation, and a faint wisp of smoke escaping the stacked stones. Somewhere nearby, you hear the faint cry of a baby and the enticing aroma of bacon wafts into your nostrils."
The party nears a burned out homestead. Only a few wooden beams and the stone chimney remains. There is a strong smell of bacon in the air, and a thin wisp of smoke comes from the chimney. As the party nears, they hear faint, muffled cries of a baby or child. Hidden behind the chimney is the wife. In the nearby woods is the father, a survivor armed with a wood axe. Hidden under the floorboards is the cellar, where the family stays and the couple's young child stays. There are also hand-crafted crates stored here to gather the harvest hidden nearby.
A passive Perception DC 15 (or searching) reveals an odd blue shade to the nearby green underbrush. Examination reveals it is a bean farm (String beans, lima beans, peas) with enough that it would take a work force of 20 pickers 4 hours to gather.
Characters have to decide to leave the family behind, take them with them as workers, and whether or not to take the child (an extra mouth too young to work).
After the party deals with the family, a pack of 3 starving dire wolves , led by a dire wolf attack.
If the party decides to pick the harvest, 2 skeletons, 2 zombies covertly attempt to attack the pickers, while a swarm of zombie limbs and a Zombie plague spreader attack the PCs. On the 3rd round, a diseased Hill Giant enters the fray, attempting to make a meal of anyone that gets too close.
ENCOUNTER 4 - The Crossing
"Your travels along the Hunting Way have brought you to the Dragon's Bridge, the stone bridge that is the only way over the dark, swift current of the Drogach River. To your dismay, the stone bridge has fallen, its powerful arch collapsed by what looks to have been an action rearguard action to deny the enemy its use. But hope remains, for a rough trail leads down beside the huge flagstones to the river's edge. Across the thirty-foot span the trail picks up and rejoins the road. But slightly to the south, along the line of the river's current lay the teeth of the bridge's fallen rocks and a mire where broken wagons and bones alike like silent and staring on the far shore."
The party arrives at the bridge an hour away from the settlement. The stone bridge is out, with the supports still in place, and a littering of large rocks nearby (looks like the bridge was deliberately collapses by a rear-guard action). Well-worn wagon tracks lead down the slope to the right of the bridge, and a muddy expanse on the far side, littered with broken wagon parts shows evidence that crossing attempts (not all of which were successful) occur here. The river is 30 feet wide, swift and about 10 feet deep (though wine-dark)
The party must secure the wagon to float it across, deciding who will be aboard and who will swim/wade across. It takes three successful DC 15 Strength checks to get the wagon across. Three failures means the wagon is swept against the rocks and crushed. Each individual failure means the wagon drifts downstream, off-course and closer to the rocks.
Swimmers must make two DC 12 Athletics check to swim/wade across. One failure indicates the swimmer is swept toward the ghoul's pit. Two failures indicate that the swimmer is swept to the ghoul pit and dashed against rocks, taking 3d6 damage.
Hidden amid the wreckage on the far side is a pack of 4 ghouls and their pet Catoblepas (arrives to the fight a round after the zombies), waiting to ambush those who make it across. There are also 4 Strahd zombies on the near side if the party arrives at night, who attack as the party investigates the area or as they start their crossing.
Pit Treasure: [200 cp, 9,000 sp, 2,100 gp, 120 pp, 13 50 gp gems] in a bag of holding, 10 arrows +1 scattered about, and one of the ghouls wears a robe of useful items.
ENCOUNTER 5 - The Arrival
"At the back of the Stonespine Mountains lays the farm known as Morfenzi. Set upon a hill, on one side the Drogach river protects it, and the Mountains fall like a protective arm around the rest. A great two-story hall stands at the back of the hill upon which the farm rests. A fence of woven, gray and ancient timbers stretches towards you, enclosing the crops behind its protection. Smaller, simple wooden houses have been erected against the fence walls at both sides, and the faint wisps of chimney smoke slowly spiral upwards from each. You can already see workers retiring from the fields as a pair of scale mail dressed guardsmen approach you, their heads shaved bald, their beards trimmed neatly and a single different rune etched into each of their foreheads."
The party arrives at the settlement. The workers are tired, hungry and have been worked to exhaustion by the Sergeant-at-arms and his liuetenants, who appear well-fed. In truth, the Sergeant is a werewolf and his lieutenants are shifters under his thrall. He invites the characters to dinner, attempting to turn them to his cause. He intends to use the workers to load the harvest, then abandon them for the return back to the capital. He has been keeping two (ghoul) horses in the barn to pull the wagon, and tells the party he intends to use them to return with the crops back to the capital city as a hero.
ENCOUNTER 6 - The Dream
"You awaken to the sound of a women's scream - perhaps Beth's! Grabbing your equipment and hastily making your way outside into dawn's light, you witness a terrifying sight. The palisade of the farm is surrounded by the dead, standing in thick waves that stretch all the way from the river to the mountains. The other workers, who were already working in the fields, stand agasp, struck in terror. That is until Benjimin rushes forth, a bloody scream on his lips and his tilling hoe held high - which he plants into unlucky Zanna's forehead. As Zanna slowly slips to the ground, the zombie horde snaps to attention, champing their teeth as they take a thunderous step forward and begin to chant. Instinctively, automatically as each of you gazes at your comrades you know - only one of you can survive. The other workers draw tools up as weapons as Benjimin had, and the fight begins in earnest..."
The party awakes the next morning to a scream. Running outside, they see the workers standing around, staring into the distance. A purplish-black wall surrounds the edge of the settlement, and as the morning fog clears it is apparent that the wall is shoulder-to-shoulder zombies, their hellish eyes glowing yellow as they stare at the living within the settlement. With a battlecry, one of the workers rushes forward, hoe in hand and plants it directly into the head of one of his coworkers. As the stunned worker falls, the entire wall of zombies takes a single step inward. A sudden, supernatural realization washes over all within - only a lone survivor will escape and their only chance is to slay everyone else. Full PVP engages, with the zombies taking one step closer each round. Slain PCs rise as zombies the next round (HP restored to full, can't use abilities that require concentration, when reduced to 0 hp again make a Constitution save DC 11/damage taken or destroyed).
When one PC is left alive or the first zombie PC is destroyed, the characters awaken to find it was a dream.
ENCOUNTER 7 - The Others
Switch to the Survivors. The foreman of the workers has put together a plan to escape the work camp and flee to the Valley of the Queen, also known as Paradise Valley, a place devoid of zombies and with laden orchards and gardens. The PC survivors are enlisted to aid implementing (or interfering) with the plan to escape. The workers attempt to dissuade involving the PCs as "The Queen's Beloved", and them being in league with Vladeska sending them here to be abandoned once the work is done - or worse, to be slain.
Part I - the Map
Group one must sneak into the Sergeant's office and steal an old map of Falkovia, which shows the location of Paradise Valley. However, the Sergeant keeps his "favorite" Strahd zombie in the library, his sister, who will attack if disturbed, and who the Sergeant will severly punish if she is harmed. Interestingly, the book the "sister" is reading discusses the truth behind Vladeska's rise to power, and her betrayal of her brother and the army of Falkovia to Strahd von Zoravich.
Part II - the Keys
Group two must steal the keys to the main gate from the main lieutenant, make copies of them and forge a spare set in the blacksmith's camp. The keys must then be returned without being noticed.
Part III - the distraction
Group three must set fire to the fields in three different areas. They must 1) get brandy from the Sergeant's store, steal matches from one of the guards (who smokes) and avoid the patrols to set up the fire bombs and set them to go off simultaneously via signal.
ENCOUNTER 8 - A brush with the horde
As the Survivors get outside the settlement, they find themselves amid the incoming zombie horde. The survivors must sneak, combat or otherwise get past three waves of zombies, and a subcommander who is a former Falkovian legionaire.
ENCOUNTER 9 - Against Authority
The survivors reconvene only to face the Sergeant Vjorn Horstman and his lieutenants, who reveal themselves as werewolves (x3 Werewolves and the Sergeant is a reskinned Werebear). Just as the slaughter is about to begin, the party's PCs arrive to engage the sergeant.
ENCOUNTER 10 - The Horde
The remaining survivors find the tunnel that leads to Paradise Valley, however, zombies surge from the underground entrance. The survivors are ambushed by ghouls and driven towards the horde. As they get near, they discover a disguised side tunnel across the river-like horde. They must battle their way through the zombie horde to the far side, scale the cliffs (with undead on their heels) and make it to the tunnel, where they find an ancient welcome carved in the doorway that welcomes to the passage to Paradise Valley - and to "please close the door behind you". Once inside, they must seal it shut.
ENCOUNTER 11 - The Passage to Paradise Valley
The survivors must navigate the dark passages (unlit, but the proper path is laced with candles to indicate the path). Eventually, they come to a vast chasm with a single rickety bridge across. They must cross the wind-swept chasm to reach the far side, which consists of a huge carved stone archway and stone doors. The doors are enscribed with a cacophany of names, but no other exit is visible. However, there is a pool to one side, lit by a strange light from within. If characters swim to the underwater source, they find it is a long tunnel that leads to sunlight, but within its flooded depths are several drowned bodies. Characters must make five successful Athletic/Constitution checks to swim to the far side. The bodies are drowned ones, but they have been tied to the walls, and only attack to grab a character if they fail at one of the Athletic checks.
ENCOUNTER 12 - Paradise Valley
The characters reach Paradise Valley, where they find a green land with fruit-laden orchards and well-tended gardens. There are houses, but they are abandoned. No one seems to be here, but there are no zombies - the characters have made it!