Expedition to Castle Ravenloft: The First Fane

  • 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)

Gamamyr was bound to the alter by thick vines, and to make matters worse the hag that had abducted him was also holding a knife to his throat. Though she hadn't explicitly said so, it was a safe bet that if they approached she would surely kill him.

Kyr was considering whether his flight would be able close the distance before she could slit his throat, when Locum started muttering something under his breath. He'd only gotten a few words out when the hag's mouth opened, revealing a glowing, crimson eye at the back of her throat.

Locum coughed, fell to the ground, and began painfully retching up brackish water, rotted fish, and other filth. Satisfied that he was incapacitated, the hag motioned about her and asked what had brought them to her "illustrious home".

Mim started to explain that they'd come to destroy Strahd's sources of power, but the hag cut her off mid-sentence, stating that such places could not be destroyed, only...freed. Before Mim could ask her to elaborate Locum fired a crossbow bolt at her, striking the knife from her hand: he'd been aiming for her hand, but that also worked. She idly watched the knife as it went, landing several yards away, and when she turned back Kyr was already flying towards her.

He was almost at the altar when she suddenly leaped over it, at him, stone teeth bared. Her speed was...unexpected for someone that looked so old and frail, but he managed to twist about mid-flight and narrowly evade her. Though his burning hands made short work of the vines, once Gamamyr was freed the bones surrounding the altar clattered and rolled about, stacking upon themselves into a group of five skeletons.

Gamamyr tried rolling off of the altar, but was quickly overwhelmed by the skeletons. They tore at his clothing and flesh until Kyr, heedless of his own safety, managed to pull him free and fling him to safety. The skeletons didn't pursue him, instead focusing on tearing apart Kyr. The hag had stripped him of his possessions—which in all reality probably wouldn't have availed him much—but he still had his magic.

Including fireball.

With the hag's back turned Locum charged towards her, intending to quickly take her out while she was focused on Kyr. As he brought his sword down she whirled about to face him, and instead of moving to avoid the attack simply blocked it with her arm. It cut through her flesh but not the bone, and as the blade slid down the length of her arm there was a loud scratching noise. It sounded like metal and stone, and as the meaty flap of her forearm fell away he realized what it was.

Her bones were made of stone.

Both unconcerned and unhindered by her wound, the hag advanced menacingly towards Locum who, understandably more than a bit fearful of her capabilities at this point, backed away to keep his distance. For all the good it was doing him, at any rate. Mim uttered a curse that sewed her mouth shut; after all if she couldn't open her mouth, then she couldn't use her evil eye, which would give Locum a fighting chance.

The hag tore her lips off.

Mim gasped, Locum hesitated, and then she opened her mouth.

Pain raced through Locum's hand as branches and vines began to sprout from it, forcing it open so that he could no longer hold his sword. Biting back the pain he tried using his other hand to weave a spell, but it washed over her with no effect aside from a faint cloud of steam. Mim looked at him, eyes filled with fright, and fled.

And that was it. He had nothing left. Mim was gone, his sword was gone, not that he could even hold it, and Gamamyr and Kyr had their hands full. The hag loomed over him, mouth still gaping open, hellish eye still staring, and she told him that he would suffer greatly before she permitted him to die.

Then her chest exploded.

At first Locum thought that this might be intentional. After all she didn't seem to mind losing chunks of muscle or tearing her own face off, but then he looked through the hole and saw Mim holding his sword. The blade was still stained with the hag's black blood, he supposed, and one of her poppets was dangling near the tip.

When the hag looked down to inspect the wound, Locum drew his silver kukri and desperately drove it towards her head; she tilted it quickly, caught the blade with her teeth, swallowed it, and enraged turned towards Mim. Mim was in the process of yanking the poppet off so that she could stab it again when she fell to the ground, screaming and writhing in agony as black marks and veins covered her skin.

There were a pair of bright, blinding flashes near the altar, and smoking bones clattered about the hag. When she turned to see what had happened Kyr slammed into her and drove his fist into her mouth. The heat instantly vaporized the eye, and as both her clothes and—mercifully—flesh quickly blackened into ashes the silver kurki tumbled out. When Kyr was done, the only thing that remained was her skeleton.

After Gamamyr and Locum helped rid Mim of the hag's curse, they checked what was left of her remains and discovered that her canine teeth were magical: whoever, well, "wore" them could smile while gazing into reflections to try and glean information. The only problem was that you had to replace your own teeth with them in order to get them to work.

Mim happily volunteered, and after some impromptu surgery they settled in for the night, which aside from a few strange noises and ominous lights thankfully passed by uneventfully.

The following day Gamamyr attuned his sense of hearing to magical energies, again hoping that they were close enough to the Sunblade that he would be able to sense it. Initially there was nothing, but when he approached the ziggurat could hear a faint, sinister tone echoing from within. It sent a chill up his spine; though he wanted nothing more than to get away from it, they had yet to find the Sunblade and were not exactly sure what to do about the whole "place of power".

So, in they went.

The first thing they found didn't do much for their resolve: a pile of bones that had obviously been gnawed on. The heap was so great that they weren't sure if the passage beyond had collapsed, and the bones had just been piled onto the rubble, or if the hag had in fact consumed enough victims to fill up an entire hallway. They decided that the chances of possibly confirming the latter weren't worth it and continued on, but further in wasn't much better.

The chamber was circular and low, with much of the walls covered in roots and vines. A channel of water flowed into a pool that contained several blood-red orbs. They looked like fish eggs, but were the size of a man and inside they could clearly see tremor-worm larva wriggling about. Suspended from the ceiling were several bodies. Their throats had been slit so that their blood could be collected in a wide stone bowl.

Kyr incinerated the eggs, and at Gamamyr's suggestion Locum hacked apart some of the vines and roots that were covering a section of the wall, revealing a passage. They followed the passage, which quickly terminated at a round door made of concentric stone circles. It was covered in glyphs similar to those they had seen on the pillars outside, and there were pegs that allowed the different rings to be rotated.

Assuming it to be some kind of combination lock they tried numerous combinations, but after a lengthy period without success Mim returned to the previous room and gazed into a bowl of blood. She was aware of a presence gazing at her through the reflection as the solution was revealed to her: there was no combination, but a hidden latch in the center of the door.

She returned while everyone else was still busily rotating the door, grabbed part of the snake in the center, and pulled the latch. There was a loud grinding noise, and the door rolled aside to reveal a flight of stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs was another room. Along the edges stood three stone sarcophagi with lids that were carved into abstract representations of alligator, and the center of the room was dominated by a statue. The head was that of an alligator, but the rest looked more or less humanoid. The eyes were large rubies, and it appeared to be sitting on some kind of throne. There were more hanging bodies, but this time their blood was flowing through grooves in the floor that led towards the statue.

The moment Locum stepped into the room the sarcophagi cracked open, and a mummified humanoid stepped of each. Like the statue they had alligator heads—also mummified—but in addition to effortlessly bearing their sarcophagi lids before them as they walked, also wielded flat wooden clubs lined with obsidian blades.

They charged towards Locum, but before they could attack Kyr landed in front of them. The force of the winds that carried him bowled them over, and while they were recovering Gamamyr hurled a fireball at them. The fire incinerated them, but not before they were able to regain their feet and get in a few strikes on Kyr.

Figuring that the blood was somehow "feeding" the statue, and that this was ultimately a bad thing, Locum poured some oil into the grooves and lit it on fire. Once the fire consumed the blood, the statue's eyes flared brightly, it stood up, and the floor shook violently as it lumbered towards them.

Locum and Kyr tried to keep it away from Gamamyr and Mim, but it's sheer size made it difficult to get close, and the fact that it was made of stone allowed it to shrug off most of their attacks. It was also incredibly strong, able to effortlessly swat Locum across the room and pick up Kyr with one of it's hands.

Unable to escape from it's crushing grip, the statue brought Kyr close to it's face. The lower jaw slid open, and he could see that obsidian blades were embedded along the walls of its "throat". He heard the sound of stone grinding, and the blades began to spin. Gamamyr hurled the silver mace into it's mouth, figuring that it might jam up its inner workings. There was a cacophony of clanging metal and shattering glass before it shot back out, shattering against the wall.

Not only was the mace ruined, but the blades were still spinning.

He then tried a fireball, but if it did any damage there was no sign of it, and the statue bit down. Kyr pushed against the statue's mouth while Locum, who was now on top of it's head, pulled. Their combined strength enabled them to pry the jaw open enough for Kyr to escape. He tumbled out of it's mouth and hit the ground hard, but as the statue prepared to crush him underfoot the top part of it's head exploded, revealing a black orb.

Still lying on the ground, Kyr looked up to see Mim angrily stomping on the head of her last poppet, a fragment of stone wedged into its body.

Fortunately it seemed to need its "eyes" head to see, and Locum was able to easily scramble up one of its arms and onto its pulverized head. Up close he could see ghostly faces swirling about within the orb, and figured that it was powering the statue. When he grabbed it he felt agonizing, icy tendrils course through his body, but was able to maintain his grip long enough to wrench it free and throw it to the ground.

Sure enough the statue immediately stopped moving, and when nothing else appeared or animated they examined the room. The "throne" that the statue was sitting on was actually a rune stone that was focusing the energies of the swamp: one of the places of power. Unsure what they were supposed to do they destroyed it: there was no explosion or flash of light, but the glowing runes on it faded, which was hopefully a good sign.

They found some square, golden coins in the sarcophagi, and one of the statue's ruby eyes was still intact. While Locum pried it free, Gamamyr realized that his hearing was still attuned to magic; he could hear what sounded like an out of tune harp faintly strumming from within the statue. Given that no one wanted to crawl into its mouth Mim pulled the poppet in half, and the statue likewise broke apart.

Something glimmered amid the congealed blood, putrified flesh, and shattered bones that poured out: a sword hilt, and only the hilt. The cross-guard was stylized after a raven with it's wings spread, the grip looked to have been wrapped in golden leather, and the pommel was a disk that looked like a sunburst, with a diamond set in the middle.

It was safe to assume that this was the Sunblade, or rather part of it. They wondered where the rest was, if there was more to it, and recalled Eva's words: the sword slept, and it could only be awoken within the bowels of Strahd's castle.

Behind the Scenes
Real quick: The Living Star, the class that Adam has been play(test)ing for the past month or so, is available over on Drivethrurpg now! There are also a few new bundles, including one that contains every single playbook we've ever written.

I'm very proud to say that everything in this session was created on the fly—except for the witch's teeth: I dreamt of them the night before—but it was also very, very tense: on more than one occasion the players didn't think they were going to make it. This was entertaining for me because I could see the monster's hit points, and knew full well that they only needed another hit or two to succeed.

I feel bad for Melissa because she has a history of missing out on cool parts when she leaves the table, usually because I take over for her character. Case in point, the part where she stabs the poppet with Locum's sword: I had her defy danger to avoid the hag (thankfully she rolled a 10+), grab the sword, wipe the poppet across the blade, and then stab it.

(In case you don't have The Witch, poppets are an item that they can use to deal automatic damage. The drawback is that it's a one-use thing and you have to have something belonging to the target. This ended up being so useful that Melissa took Poppet Master as her new move: now when she deals damage with one, she deals more!)

Gamamyr created a bond to learn magic from Mim: once he's resolved it I'm going to just let him take moves from The Witch freely, because the multiclass moves from Dungeon World are stupid. I figure if the players can justify it, just let them take moves from whatever. I let Kyr pick up the fighter's Armored move so that he could wear scale armor, and things are still going juuust fine.

Here's the stats for the fane guardians and the big-ass statue:

Fane Guardians Group, Terrifying
Alligator club (d8 + 2 damage, 1 piercing) 10 HP 3 Armor
Close, Forceful, Messy
Special Qualities: Vulnerable to fire, cursed touch

Bloody Relic Solitary, Large, Construct
Crushing fists (b[2d10] + 3 damage) 20 HP 3 Armor
Reach, Forceful
Special Qualities: Made of stone

  • Shrug off on attack
  • Grab a creature 
  • Devour a grabbed creature
  • Restore itself by drinking blood

Just gotta work on a description, instinct, and moves.

Similarly, here's the start of the hag's teeth:

The Hag's Teeth hand, precise, 2 piercing, implanted, 0 weight

I didn't bother thinking of a move, because honestly I knew they were going to give them to Mim, and since she has a divination move I made it so that if she uses them in a reflecting surface she takes +1 to use Divination. The normal move would probably do something similar to the cleric's Divine Guidance move.

Earlier in the campaign Shane wanted to make a bag that would let Gamamyr hold more stuff. An obvious go-to for this is the bag of holding (Dungeon World, page 333), but I figured that if he wants to make one it should involve some extra-dimensional mojo. Now that they're at a font of power and he has a nifty soul gem, I let him go for something with a similar effect (but different drawbacks):

Ghost Bag haunted, 0 weight
The bag is less of a bag, and more an opening into the land of the dead. Objects placed inside appear within a random crypt or grave somewhere. When you reach across the threshold to find something you stored, roll+WIS. *On a 10+, you find it. *On a 7-9, you retrieve the item but choose 1:
  • A brush with a ghostly spirit drains you: you take -1 forward.
  • Something bit you! Take 1d6 damage.

Melissa wants to make something with the witch's skeleton, namely armor and perhaps a weapon so that she's better at hitting things. We're thinking of having the ribcage be armor that gives her 1 Armor, and something extra against magic, and turning her skull and leg bones into a weapon (the Witch Hammer?) that lets her auto-hex when she hack and slashes with it and gets a 10+.

Image Dump


  1. Excellent write-up. I especially like the hag's curses. Thanks for the shout-out on your last post, I tried commenting but just realized it didn't take.

    1. Yeah, sometimes Blogger eats them, or you make it too long and it just drops it (which is why I've taken to typing them in Notepad or Sublime Text -.-).

      Are you going to do any more play reports for other DW games?

    2. I'm planning on it, I just haven't had the time. I want to write-up more "behind the scenes" notes on the Ravenloft session and I have a draft started on another session we did last week for a different campaign. DW is slowly catching on with my gamer friends.

    3. Another session for Ravenloft, or something else entirely.

      Also, good to hear! I'm always looking to hear how other groups handle DW. Any issues you've had with it?


Powered by Blogger.