The Curse of Strahd: Session #1

Talis card

The six of stones represents reciprocity, generosity, and support.

Quotes with no context

  • “Children, do you know any life hacks for dealing with the monster?”

  • “A harpsichord’s strings are plucked, while a piano’s are struck.”

  • “It’s like we’re playing Clue.”

My Character

Gwenllian, female half-elf monk, 31. Gwenllian trained as a sage and spent many years producing an original work of research; upon publication her hefty tome was quickly discredited by peer review and reputable academia turned their back on her. She will prove those fools wrong any day now, but in the meantime she got heavily into CrossFit and is pursuing a strict program of physical self-improvement and martial arts.

Gwenllian is in some ways the Abeir-Toril equivalent of Court de Gébelin, and her quest to regain academic relevancy is doomed as long as she clings to her counterfactual belief that Talis playing cards were created by Azuth in antiquity to preserve arcane, esoteric wisdom in coded form.

Session Notes

My search for proof of the arcane power hidden in Talis cards has led me towards Waterdeep. The caravan I’ve been travelling with contains several other half-elves, which is a rare coincidence and we’ve struck up something of a friendship. Myself, Tobias, Ja’real, Taren, and Dana (an out-of-place halfling in our otherwise half-elven set) awoke this morning to find our surroundings strangely different and the rest of the caravan (along with many of our possessions) missing. Thankfully we all retained our clothes, but my grandfather’s hand axe and my favourite bottle of ink have gone missing.

The trees looked eerie, and an eldritch mist quickly overtook us, bringing with it a bone-deep weariness despite our recent rest. We stumbled through the mist until we found a road that the mist was seemingly avoiding. Tobias claimed he could see the mist blocking the road in one direction, so we headed down it in the other direction.

A short while later we encountered some depressed, xenophobic humans named Marius and Grygori. They claim that we are in the valley of Barovia and went on about some vampire lord named Strahd; I’ve read many books about vampires, valleys, and Waterdeep and I’m quite sure I would know if there was a vampire lord who owned a valley anywhere in Faerûn, but we are slightly lost so it seems wisest to humour the poor dears. They claim that the locals are all xenophobic asshole humans (but I repeat myself…) The more depressed (and possibly drunk? It’s so hard to tell with humans) one has a sister who needs help, so in the spirit of reciprocity and generosity we chose to accompany the people who have a better grasp of local geography than we do…

…or at least should have had a better grasp. We reached a pair of abandoned gates which they claimed to recognize but nevertheless threw them into deep confusion for several minutes. We pressed on toward what I’m sure will be a delightfully quaint village if it actually exists. (Which I’m beginning to doubt, since these humans claim never to have heard of the great city of Waterdeep and are seeming more and more like recent escapees from a sanatorium.)

After several hours we reached a rundown house and were accosted by a pair of children who were distressed about an imaginary monster screaming in the basement. The ever-zealous (and misogynist) Tobias told me to watch the children and charged straight into the house, followed by about half the party. They did not immediately come running back out chased by pitchfork-wielding xenophobes, so we left Dana and Taren on the porch with the children and the rest of the party explored the house.

The first floor yielded no sign of a basement entrance, despite the children’s claims that the basement A) existed and B) contained a monster. Grygori did find a very nice deck of playing cards that seems to follow some system I’ve never seen before; I put the deck in my bag for safe keeping (it would be terrible if someone accidentally spilled wine on it.)

On the second floor we encountered a starved dog named Lancelot, which one of the humans said belonged to a villager and definitely should not have been in this house.

The third floor contained a suit of armor which immediately started moving in a threatening manner. Several palm strikes later it either lost the ability to move or decided that further motion would only provoke more pain (Marius’s daggers were a great help in convincing it to stop moving.) Tobias moved into another room to explore further, then I heard the sound of breaking glass and shrieking. Once Tobias stopped shrieking whatever situation they had going on in there was quickly dealt with, and a brief survey of the rest of the floor revealed nothing interesting.

Next Session

  • Have Dana and Taren been eaten by a grue?

  • Does this house have a basement?

  • Will my session notes be much lazier?

  • Exactly how evil are these “human children”?

six of earth