On most Sunday nights, a group of friends and I gather to play Dungeons & Dragons. This is the chronicle of their tale. (This post contains spoilers to “Curse of Strahd”)

The rest of the group awakens to find their latest tag-along, Savid, the male dusk elf. The party questions him, and he restates that he was on the road when he was attacked and wounded, and made his way here for safety. However, he is anxious to leave, as this place is well-known to be haunted.

Urwin and Ezmerelda agree…they do not wish to linger here. Ismark simply wants to get Ireena to a place that is safe from Strahd, and he does not believe this crumbling manor is the one. He’d rather get to Krezk. The party is somewhat split about what to do. Rolen and Krossa follow the scent of a delicious, cooking breakfast outside to find Y’shaarj the shardmind wizard had conjured the smells to lure them out of the manor, stating he does not wish to stay any longer. That’s when Rolen makes a discovery – Vash’s body is gone, the wagon is empty.

Raif wanders around the manor, and ends up following a great, winged shadow across the walls and up the stairs. The shadow leads him to a bedroom with a fireplace, out of which erupts a tiny dragon made of smoke and ash. It flies past Raif and leads him up further stairs. Khurz sees this and gives chase, with the others – Cairie, Ireena, and Ismark – following. Y’shaarj uses his telepathic and wizard powers to detect an angry, vengeful spirit within the manor.

Upstairs, the group encounters Vladimir Horngaard, the last leader of the Order of the Silver Dragon. Through tense conversation, the group learns a few things – the Order hates Strahd, but they will not allow for Strahd’s demise. Just as they are eternally locked to this place, so must Strahd live forever in this personal hell of his own creation. It is the most fitting punishment, and killing him would free him of it. Vladimir also warns the group that if they kill him, he will simply return the next day and slay his killer out of revenge.

This does not sway Raif, who has his eyes set on Vladimir’s giant greatsword. A fight ensues, and Vladimir calls in several spirits to aid him in battle. It’s a tough fight, from which Cairie initially flees. Outside of the manor, Krossa, Rolen, Savid, and Urwin are joined by a female tiefling. They all see and hear the struggle happening on the other side of a huge window upstairs.

Dawn Marie now plays tiefling warlock Malis.

Malis convinces Krossa and Rolen to aid their comrades, and follows them upstairs, where they all join the fight. Malis tries to reason with Vladimir upon entering the room, but Raif ruins all hope of negotiation when he continues to cast spells on the spirit. Khurz summons his own, divine spirit guardians that begin to tear through the enemies like paper. Soon, the battle is won. Raif claims Vladimir’s +1 greatsword and a necklace with a holy symbol in the shape of a sun.

Finding nothing else of interest, the entire party heads back downstairs and outside. Raif wants to continue exploring the manor, saying the danger is gone now that they’ve defeated Vladimir, but the others aren’t convinced. Urwin is anxious to get to the winery, and Ismark wants to get Ireena to safety. The group decides to leave and come back when they’re ready.

A carriage suddenly appears, driving up the road. A Vistana man drives it, cackling wildly the whole way. He stops the wagon, jumps down, and pulls a coffin out of the back and lets it fall to the ground. Then, still laughing like a madman, he climbs into the drivers’ seat and steers the wagon back down the road.

Unsettled, the group approaches the coffin. Carved into the lid is a name: KHURZ WHITESCAR.

No one wants to open it. Rolling her eyes, Ezmerelda walks up to the coffin, uses her sword as a lever, and kicks off the lid. A group of bats suddenly flies out and off into the night. Ezmerelda then, impatiently, asks if they’re leaving yet.

And there you go! The players survived their first night’s stay at Argynvostholt. Will they return? Will they discover any other secrets the building may be hiding? Who knows! But I do know that the players are planning on heading to the winery in the next session, so I start preparing for that. I have some really cool things in mind for this part of the campaign, stuff that’s not written in the book, and stuff that’s slightly different than what happens in the book, so I’m excited to see how they handle it all!

Dawn Marie has come back to the game, playing Malis now! Her previous character, Gilrean, was kidnapped by Strahd and carried off into the night when Dawn Marie told me she had to back out of the game for personal reasons for a while. Now that she’s back, and playing a character who used to have personal ties to Gilrean, I’m excited to see what happens going forward. I believe it’s going to be fun.

In my next post, some history is explained, and we get our first glimpse of the winery – “The Mystery of the Missing Wine.” Don’t miss it!

Until next time – Well Met!