Posted by : David Guyll December 10, 2014

Cast
  • Felicia (level 4 human thief)
  • Gamamyr (level 4 elf wizard)
  • Kyr (level 4 living star)
  • Locum (level 4 slayer)
  • Mim (level 4 witch w/ familiar)

Summary
One fane down, two to go.

Since they were close to a forest they decided to tackle that one next. Mind you they weren't sure just how much forest covered Barovia (a lot), but they did pass by a bunch of trees on their way to the village, so they figured that they'd just head east and have Mim consult her bones until they gradually narrowed down it's location.

They slogged their way out of the swamp and into the forest, and after about an hour of meandering between the trees and hacking through through dense foliage they found something, or rather someone: it looked at least humanoid in shape, though it's features were concealed by a heavy fur cloak and wooden mask. It didn't speak or move, but when Gamamyr tried to cast a spell an arrow flew from somewhere within the woods and struck his arm, causing the magic to dissipate.

Kyr shifted his sight, and when he looked around saw that they were surrounded by about a dozen others. He couldn't tell what they were exactly, but they radiated heat so he at least knew they were alive, which thankfully ruled out zombies, ghouls, and vampires. When he relayed this information to everyone else Locum stepped forward. He explained their business, that they meant no one any harm, and asked them to stand aside.

The cloaked figure's only response was to draw a pair of swords.

Locum shook his head, shrugged, and rushed forward, dodging a hail of arrows as he went. He swiped at the masked warrior with his silver kukri, and to his surprise rather than parry his strike the warrior instead stumbled back several steps to avoid it. This told Locum that whatever he was, he was very much afraid of the kukri.

So, probably a werewolf.

Moments later wolves sprang out from the trees from every direction. Kyr began glowing, drawing most of them towards him and giving Gamamyr a convenient target for a fireball: he finished his spell as Kyr was pulled to the ground by them, and in the ensuring explosion of fire blackened, humanoid bones soared past him and clattered against the trees.

So, definitely werewolves.

Apparently they weren't expected this kind of resistance; the warrior froze long enough for Locum to lodge the kukri deep in his chest, killing him, and Gamamyr destroyed the rest of the werewolves as they tried to flee. While Mim helped Gamamyr patch up his arm, Locum claimed the stranger's fur cloak and handed them a black, velvet pouch filled with small rubies: maybe they'd be able to use their magic to make something out of them.

They continued on, and shortly afterwards exited the forest onto the road. Mim took a few minutes to confirm that they were heading in the right direction, and after several more hours of walking and Gamamyr listening for magical energies they came across a clearing. The mist prevented them from determining just how wide it was, but as the sun began to set they could see the silhouette of a great tree growing from a mound.

Felicia decided to scout ahead, but she only made it about halfway across when she spotted two packs of wolves: one was heading directly for the rest of the party, and the other was circling around, presumably to catch them in a pincer attack. Unable to see the party she wouldn't be able to signal them, so she followed the second pack in the hopes that she could get the drop on them, or at least prevent them from getting the drop on everyone else.

The first pack stopped before the party, and the wolf leading the rest told them to leave. Gamamyr explained that they sought an item of power, which they intended to destroy and free them. Alpha Wolf replied that there was no such item, that Strahd drew his power from the land itself. He said that they had felt their work in the swamp, but that their actions had accomplished nothing aside from making Strahd aware of their presence.

Kyr interjected that Strahd was aware of them before that, having sent someone named Urik to try and claim a book they had found in the village. At his mention Alpha Wolf spat on the ground, before grimly stating that they were wasting their time. Locum sarcastically declared that maybe they should just give up to the darkness, but Alpha Wolf cut him off and clarified that they were wasting their time wandering about the wilderness, dabbling in things that they did not understand.

Gamamyr asked them what they should be doing, and if they could help. Alpha Wolf's head hung a bit lower, and after a short pause replied that they could not. Mim explained that it was possible the wolves were magically prevented from even speaking about certain things. She considered hexing them so that they could only speak the truth, but decided against it, as it was also possible that Strahd's curse was much more powerful, and that it would simply kill them.

It was then that they recalled Madam Eva's words: Strahd's book would instruct them not only how to deny him the land's strength, but possibly how to claim it for themselves.

Gamamyr thanked them for what help they were able to provide, and as they turned to leave dozens of wolves came rushing out of the trees and raced towards the mound. Alpha Wolf nodded to them, and watched them as they left.

Night fell well before they reached the edge of the forest. Despite ominous noises, strange sightings, and a lack of suitable ground they were considering making camp when they heard an all too familiar voice. It seemed to echo all about them, and chided them for not leaving back when they had the chance.

Urik.

Kyr looked about and saw that they were surrounded by what Urik quickly clarified were werewolves, werewolves ready to strike at his command. Confused, Mim said that the werewolves had allowed them to leave unharmed, to which Urik replied that he had taken care of "that one", and punctuated his statement by dropping the head of a grey-haired man into their midst. Presumably it was the head of the one they had spoken to.

Urik then offered them a deal: the book that Gamamyr was carrying in exchange for their lives. This sparked a heated debate as to whether they should give it to him, destroy it, or flee with it. Kyr, Mim, and Gamamyr didn't want any more harm to befall anyone else, and Mim reasoned that they could always retrieve the book later. Locum and Felicia didn't trust him to keep his word, and figured that Strahd would just unleash another undead horde anyway.

Eventually Kyr angrily launched himself into the sky, glowing brightly as he went. He assumed Urik was above them, and intended to fight him while providing illumination for the rest of the party so that they would have a better chance of defending themselves. But, while everyone else watched him take off, Felicia took the opportunity to snatch up the book and flee, using Kyr's light to navigate as best she could between the trees, with the wolves close behind.

Locum pulled out a specially prepared "silver grenade", but as he threw it Gamamyr tackled him, not wanting to cause any undue harm to the werewolves. They both tumbled down a small hill until they collided with a large rock, unsure just how much damage the grenade caused, if any. Mim transformed into a bear and lumbered after the werewolves, but they were both much faster and used to their animal forms, and she was unable to even impede any of them.

Kyr searched the sky for Urik, challenging him to show himself and fight. Urik did appear, albeit behind him, and the force of his strike knocked Kyr back below the treeline. As he recovered he saw Felicia fleeing, but not nearly fast enough to escape the werewolves. Weaving between the trees he flew after her, picking her up and carrying her above the trees away from the werewolves and hopefully putting some distance between them and Urik.

They didn't.

Felicia climbed up and perched on his back, and as she looked about came eye-to-eye with Urik, who was effortlessly matching Kyr's speed while upside down. With some effort she managed to resist his mental commands to hand him the book and tear her gaze away. She shouted a warning to Kyr, but when she tried to pass the book to him Urik lunged at her, throwing her from Kyr's back into the forest far below.

Book in hand, Kyr was igniting his hands to burn it when Urik stopped him. He told him that if he did not relinquish the book, that he would not merely slaughter every man, woman, and child in the region. Instead he would grant them immortality and torture them for all eternity. But, if he did hand it over then no one aside from the party would be harmed.

Kyr contemplated tearing the pages out and scattering them about, if for no other reason than to spite him, but as soon as he started with the first page the book began to scream and bleed. Exhausted and more than a bit shaken he handed it to Urik, who thanked him earnestly and flew away.

The werewolves loped away wordlessly, and the party eventually regrouped. Nothing attacked them as they left the forest and began following the road back to the village, uncertain as to what, if anything, would await them there.

Behind the Scenes
I fucked up where the forest fane is. I was checking the map and saw a location in the woods, and figured that, whelp, that must be the forest fane. Apparently in the original adventure it's the lair of, and I'm not kidding, a "tainted raver nymph". I'm pretty sure tainted and raver are templates from Book of Vile Darkness, but it's been years since I played 3rd Edition so I have no idea anymore.

Side note: fuck 3rd Edition.

Anywho, it's now the spot of the forest fane, as opposed to right next to the vistani camp. Eh, makes more sense since it's out of the way, but I'll keep it in the "usual" spot in the Dungeon World conversion doc.

The Wolf-Mound scene was great: the players really didn't want to fight the werewolves (or even try magically forcing them to help). Luckily they kept talking and—once they realized that they needed Strahd's book in order to properly unchain the land from him—decided to leave and come back later.

It was also fucking awesome to see the very much party divided on what they wanted to do with the book they picked up at the start of the campaign: Locum and Felicia wanted to destroy it (or at least leave with it), while Kyr, Gamamyr, and Mim wanted to hand it over so that Urik would spare Barovia's inhabitants. I'm pretty sure it sparked a few new bonds.

Oh, and it bleeds now. And screams. I dunno why I thought of it, probably something to do with being made from human flesh and all that, but there ya go. I'm hoping to have it play a bigger part in this campaign than it does in the original adventure (which aside from the zombies is nothing, from what I recall).

In the end they did hand it over, but the question remains as to whether Urik will remain true to his word. This is why I called the session where I did, so they wouldn't know if Urik wiped out the village for an entire week. Muwahahahaha...

We're thinking of adding a bit of errata to the living star by reducing it's Radiance pool to 10 (it's normally equal to your Constitution). I'm not sure if Adam has just been playing it safe or they've been making camp too often, but tonight was the first time he actually ran out of Radiance, and he had to spend 6 points for that to happen. So, he wants to run it with a smaller amount to see if he actually has to cannibalize his body for more energy.

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