Expedition to Castle Ravenloft: Welcome to Barovia

  • Klaus (level 1 human fighter)
  • Kyr (level 1 fallen star)
  • Mim (level 1 witch w/ familiar)
  • Rook (level 1 halfling thief)

As before I skipped the part where some random guy walks up to the characters in a bar and just tosses them a letter, as if a group of strangers is going to go to a dangerous place to rescue them from an ambiguous threat, in exchange for an ambiguous reward.

Frankly as adventure hooks go, it goes so far beyond lazy that you would never have guessed that it was written by the actual D&D cr—

You know what, nevermind. (Also this, because har har.)

I decided to just have the players tell me why they were riding into Barovia, the dominion of an infamous vampire lord. Here is what I got:

  • Klaus is looking for a legendary sword, so that he can restore his own shattered blade to it's former glory (the player's plan is to use the Blacksmith move to do this).
  • Kyr seeks to destroy Strahd, as his malevolent presence is blotting out the sun and stars.
  • Mim wants some of Strahd's blood for probably nefarious reasons.
  • Rook knows that Strahd lives in an expansive castle, filled with the riches he has amassed over centuries. 

Much better than some guy dismissively kind-of sort-of wanting you to go help out some people that you don't know, and honestly have no reason to give a fuck about.

Session Summary
They rode down a dirt track flanked by tall, imposing trees that seemed to loom overhead. Eventually they came across an iron gate attached to some stonework depicting armored soldiers. Both had obviously been neglected for some time: they were covered in vines, and one was even missing it's head. As they lingered, deciding whether they should actually proceed, a thick mist began slithering forth from the trees, obscuring their vision.

Ominous, as was the rapidly dwindling sunlight and too-close wolf howl that soon followed. Rightfully assuming that it was dangerous to linger, they cautiously advanced through the gate. Mim had taken up the rear, and once she crossed the gate's threshold it loudly slammed shut. Mist, howls, encroaching nightfall, and independently moving gates; all part of the Horror Pyramid.

For some reason they decided to make camp.

As they began dismounting and finding places to tie their mounts off, a man riding atop a horse strode out of the mist. He drew his horse to a halt some distance from them, grinned, and told them with just a hint of derision that the road was not safe at night. Mim asked Sir Obvious if there was a town nearby, and he cheerfully told them to simply follow the road. Though he warned them not to stray from the path, Mim almost felt as if he was at the same time daring them to try.

They did as instructed, eventually leaving the confines of the forest. From there it was a relatively shorter trek across an open field until they arrived at the village.

The streets were dark and shrouded in a thick fog. They were also quiet. Too quiet. Dead quiet. Rook took the lead, while everyone else hung back twenty or so feet, giving her just the edge of their torchlight so she could see. They soon came across an intersection, and with no signs of life—or at the moment unlife—in any direction decided to continue straight across. It was not until the rest of the party walked by a house, that they heard a thumping noise coming from within.

Everyone froze, and while the sound continued nothing else seemed to happen: whatever was making the noise seemed to be fortunately trapped within.

For some reason they decided to investigate.

Klaus, Rook, and Kyr took positions by the front door, while Mim snuck around back, because everyone has to learn the hard way why you shouldn't split the party at some point. Klaus gave the door a kick, but it didn't give at all: it was apparently well-fortified from inside. Rook tried the windows, but found that they were also boarded up.

The back door on the other hand opened easily enough, and a few boards came tumbling out at Mim. This startled her, but not nearly as much as the trio of zombies that shambled out soon after. They didn't look like they had been dead for long, but were covered in open sores that oozed a black, viscous fluid, and whatever wounds they had weren't bleeding.

Mim turned to flee, but only after hesitating for a precious few moments as her mind took everything in, giving the zombies a chance to grab her. She managed to wrestle herself free, but lost some of her clothing and bag of rune stones in the process.

Kyr heard Mim's scream and rushed around the house towards the back. Klaus gave himself some distance before ramming the door with his entire body; this time he easily smashed his way through, just in time to see the last zombie filing out the back after Mim. He grabbed the closest thing he could find--a chair--and flung it, striking the zombie square in the head and knocking it to the ground.

Rook scampered past Klaus, rounding the corner and leaping at the nearest zombie. She drove her rapier through it's skull, and as it fell saw Kyr and Mim, well, "finishing" off the last one: Kyr had driven his blazing fist through its mouth and out the back of it's throat, and while it was chowing down on his arm Mim was furiously stabbing it with one of her pins.

Once they were sure that the zombies would stay down, Kyr asked Mim if his wound looked infected: apparently his knuckle sandwich wasn't more than it could chew, and it was able to get in a few deep bites before they destroyed it. The wound was still bleeding, and the edges were puckered and red. She wasn't sure what, if anything, would happen, so had her bat fly off in search of information.

Is anyone in the village still alive? Will Kyr turn into a zombie? Will David make a Walking Dead compendium class? Tune in next week—after David writes the play report—to find out the answers to maybe some of these questions!

Behind the Scenes
We had three players new to Dungeon World, in real-time anyway: Adam has apparently been playing via play-by-post, and has also read up on a lot of it beforehand. The other two were completely new, so the start was a bit rocky, namely with creating bonds and cooking up reasons to go into a vampire's dominion.

Once we got past that, it was pretty easy to explain the flow of the game and how moves worked (though I really need to make a GM screen for the game). All in all I'd say it was way more successful than back when I ran it the first time.

The Witch is a class that Melissa largely designed on her own (I mostly helped polish it near the end). If you're interested you can check it out here, along with a preview. The Living Star is her next release, which Adam was more than happy to take for a spin to see if it's radiance mechanic is too potent.

One last thing that I thought was pretty funny: before we started I told everyone that they could start with a horse. Melissa suggested a mule at some point, and I told her she could have one, but she had to tell me who it used to be before she transformed it. She decided on the cruel Baron Joffery, who dared to turn her away from his door some time ago.

I'm compiling my notes as we play this, and once we're done am going to be releasing a free pdf for running Expedition to Castle Ravenloft using Dungeon World. It'll be similar to my Keep on the Shadowfell conversion (fronts, steadings, dungeons, monsters, etc), just larger, cleaner, and better organized.

Fiiinally, you might have seen that we're running a Trick-or-Treat sale throughout the month of October. Basically, it's a random playbook, on sale for a random discount, for a random number of days. It was previously The Skeleton, but has since shifted to The Mummy (which is now a Best Copper Seller to boot!). We're marking them off as they come up, so the same playbook won't be available twice.

The gang, because yeah we used minis at some point.


  1. Wow! I just loved Expedition to Castle Ravenloft and now I love Dungeon World. I’ve never started to make my own conversion because it seemed a work too big to be done. ;-)

    1. I would just play it and take notes as you go along, or are you gonna wait until I'm done? :-P

  2. I'll be watching your progress, and maybe Expedition to Castle Ravenloft will be my first DW adventure.

  3. @Oleg: Do you own the adventure? Is there anything specific in the conversion you're curious about? Wanna take a look at what I have?

    1. @David:
      No, I don't have it, because we don't play 3E, but I know where to get it if need be.
      I'm interested to run horror-style adventure in our current campaign, and Castle Ravenloft seams like a good choice.

  4. It's been an interesting run so far. I wouldn't say that it immediately lends itself towards horror--especially in 3rd Edition where the encounters are assumed that you'll win--but if you know how to work horror it's a good foundation of ideas to build on.


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