Session 4 Blood Moon


When we last left our heroes they had just finished successfully pulling baby Walter from the Flesh Mound, in effect killing the flesh mound itself, as well as freeing the baby. Rose appeared and she held out her arms where Walter faded from view and floated over to Rose. Then the manor itself seemed to tremble with rage. Stone and brick began to drop down from the ceiling, shattering on the dais or sending up plumes of fetid water. Rose looked at the heroes and said,


“Without the curse to hold the house aloft, it will soon crumble! Run for your lives”

This is where we picked up for our session. It turned out that this was the start of a new type of game play taken from 4th edition called a skill challenge. Basically a skill challenge is where the players were presented a series of obstacles that can’t be solved just by combat. It instead relies on utilizing the skills of the characters and requires teamwork in order to make it all work together.

The goal was to make it out of the house alive. An overview of the skill challenge rules was then given. Basically a skill can be used only once per character. a cantrip can be used only once per character. Spells can be used if they are explained how they are used. Each obstacle would be presented and then the heroes would have 3 minutes to discuss as a group, a warning given and if no decision it would be recorded as 2 failures. The players needed to get X amount of successful checks before gaining X failures (not knowing what X was).



For our first challenge, the heroes were presented with the portcullis having slammed shut, trapping them inside. Aydin used his athletics to use his strength to lift it and the party was able to move out of the ritual chamber, go out through the reliquary and up the stairs to the upper catacombs.

They went barreling up the stairs. The walls were alive with roaches, centipedes which fell onto their heads, getting twisted in their hair. Then it was time to make a choice, do they go straight and try to cross the 10×10 pit trap that Aydin had fallen into previously or do they go right?

They went right and were where they had fought the ghouls earlier. To no one’s surprise they smelled the stench of rot and then bypassed the ghouls continuing to run past them. After they passed the ghouls, they continued to the north where they came to the dining hall.

There they heard screams for mercy, for help, for a quick end. A man was chained to the wooden table, thrashing and screaming. He had a gash running the length of his belly, blood pouring from it. The cultists were chanting in the distance. It was here that Term used his thieves tools to free the man. Thaldir then picked the man up and carried him.

The heroes then made their way past the crypts where they had laid the durst family to rest and then up through the stairway that lead up through the house and into the attic.


At the top of the stairs the walls pulsated with hordes of spiderlings all fleeing downward towards mother. Out from the abyss climbed a spider the size of a boar, all its mandibles gnashing. It then unleaded a glob of web towards the heroes. Jaylyn used a firebolt on the webbing and spider and they were able to slip by them.

Once in the attic, they noticed that where once there were windows were now bricks (a hint of things to come that our heroes will miss). They then descend the attic stairway and have the choice of either going into the nursemaids room and balcony area (a hint was the word balcony) or they notice that the door at the bottom leads out into the hallway where they had found the animated suit of armor. They chose to go out into the hallway, rationalizing that it would waste time getting out and they had no intention of seeing evil spirits that may inhabit that room now.

Once in the hallway, the door to the bathroom bulges, buckling in its frame. There was a crack – the wood splintering. A flood of filth came crashing out, threatening to throw the heroes over the railing and crashing far below. Tilly used her acrobatics to push the party forward trying to beat the flood that was coming at them and doing so.

They continue down the stairway and next found that the four suits of armor on the second floor now had a life of their own. They joined together, shield with shield, forming a two-rank deep phalanx to block the staircase, and in one chorus took up the chant, “One must die, one must die…” They pulled back just before being impaled on ghostly spears. Thaldir attempted to intimidate them as they ran past and went down the stairs and to the ground floor.


Once on the ground floor they tried to go out through the entry hall. As they passed the doors just past the fireplace, the doors slammed shut behind them. Looking about the room, they notice that where there were once doors that lead out, they were replaced by brick. A cloud of filth rolled in, stinging the heroes eyes and drawing tears. Jaylyn takes the opportunity to cast Thunderwave, trying to knock down the bricks before them but it appears to not do anything and instead the doors behind them are forced open throwing them back into the manor (which could have been avoided had they not missed the clue about the bricked windows in the attic. ha!).

Now out in the main room again, they wonder if the windows in the Den where the stuffed wolves were located could be gone out (again missing the clue that doors had been bricked over). Inside they found the room smothered by smoke, and in the darkness heard the sound of the wolves… Tilly used her animal handling check to try and sooth the beasts and they were able to notice the windows were sealed shut and were able to backtrack out into the main room again. This time, after a little discussion they decided to head back up the stairs and remembering the balcony in the maids room, made a beeline to it.

Back up on the 3rd floor they began to rush towards the nursemaids door. They heard a woman shouting, “tell me to push more one more time!” and once they opened the door found women crowded around a young girl laying in the bed, her feet up, her face twisted with pain, while a midwife saying the baby was crowning, but it was coming out feet first! It was as if the house were reliving the past…. they also noticed that the balcony, the only way out of the accursed manor, that the doors had been replaced with bloodied scythe-blades that spun even quicker whenever the girls contractions raged. It was here Straldir used his medicine skill check to help deliver the child (with a natural 20 I might add). This stopped the blades from spinning and enabled the party to get out onto the balcony.

Now outside on the balcony, a sharp wind was blowing and the man that Thaldir was carrying disappears into the mists… an illusion of the house (and a hint that was missed). Looking over the balcony, it seemed the world itself was falling to the misty depths a thousand feet below.

With the wails of the damned behind them and the cliff dropping into the void below our heroes needed to figure out what to do. Term decided he needed to look more at the situation and used his perception skill to notice that it appeared to be an illusion of some sort (a hint that was missed again..) and Thaldir now tried to use a light to see below to determine how far down it went. Term once again stepped in to use an investigation check and found that it was just a short 30 feet to the real ground below. That the house was trying to trick them with an illusion.

Our heroes now climbed down the rope and dashed through the mist the shrieks and demands of the dead thundering across the gloom. With one final push they hurled themselves through the gates, landing on the gravel streets outside. Bleeding, aching, and their hearts feeling as if they were about to burst, tasting bile in the back of their throats, but they were alive. Looking back at the house of utter death they shivered. wanting to be done with the house… through sleepless nights ahead they will come to find that no amount of distance will ever rid them of this nightmare of a house.



Now outside, our heroes begin trying to make sense of what happened. Straldir takes the bones of Walter and buries them under the foundation of the house. As he does so the house finally collapses into a pile of dust and debris and our heroes now see a coffin sitting in the road.

Hesitantly, Term uses mage hand on the coffin to open it up. As he is a bit far away the only thing he sees is that there is a body inside. As he begins to close it back up Straldir asks if anyone is going to look inside.

Thaldir decides he will do it and as he gets closer to the coffin and sees the body inside, he sees that the body is Straldir’s. As everyone is looking on in confusion as the situation unfolds, Straldir comes forward and speaks.


“It is so hard to trust those close to you, and here, the dead are always closer than they appear. Welcome to Barovia.”

With that said, the party realizes that this isn’t whom they thought it was, for at that moment, Straldir turns into a cloud of mist and bats and vanishes into the night sky. It seems that Strahd had been with them for a while.


After the shock of what just happened the heroes find a small basket next to the coffin. It appears to hold a bottle of wine and a note (it may of contained other things but our heroes were afraid to touch it at this point). Term decides to use mage hand to see what the note might say and he learns it was from Strahd. We will never know what else that basket may of contained as our heroes left it there, too freaked out by the events.

Poor Thaldir was in distress at this point and he started to rummage through his brothers things on his body finding a strange note in the process.


A few minutes after this the ghost of Rose appeared, appearing to be angry with the heroes, saying she was betrayed. In confusion Term asked how and Rose held up a single finger pointing to Aydin.


“Betrayed! You told me you would put my diary with me in my crypt but you lied. You read my diary! For your betrayal I curse you!”


After that, Rose disappeared leaving the rest of the party confused as to what happened. Then they figured it out that Aydin had not thrown the diary into the crypt. Having instead thrown some other book into the crypt. No one has asked Aydin what was in the diary, but instead feel betrayed and were still in shock over Straldir’s death. Time will tell what exactly Rose’s curse means….


Next our heroes decide to move on. Thaldir takes up the task of carrying the coffin with his brother in it to give him a proper burial. They begin their journey on the road. The fog spills out of the forest swallowing the road behind them. Ahead, jutting from the impenetrable woods on both sides of the road, were high stone buttresses looming gray in the fog. Huge iron gates hung on the stonework. Dew clinging to the rusty bars. Two headless statues of armed guardians flank the gate, their heads lying among the weeds at their feet. As Thaldir approached the gates, they swung open on their own….

Gates of Barovia

Not long after passing the gates, our party noticed that the woods around them was eerily silent and caught the scent of death on the air… going further down the path the scent lead them to a human corpse about fifteen feet from the road. The young man appeared to be a commoner and his muddy clothing was torn and raked with claw marks. Crows had been at the body, and the party noticed paw prints on the ground. It appeared the man had been dead for several days. He held a crumpled up envelope in one hand.

After reading the letter they continue on the road and after a while they see tall shapes looming out of the fog that surrounded everything. The muddy ground underfoot gave way to slick, wet cobblestones and just on the outskirts of town they came across a wooden cart on rickety wheels sitting on the road. From it, the smell of fresh bread with hearty seasoning and delicious smelling pies filled their noses.


A sweet old woman was standing there. When they approached she could sense something was not right and called them “outsiders”. She saw the coffin and frowned saying she so hated to see such things. She told the heroes that all she wanted to do was to bring cheer and warmth to this otherwise destitute village. She was given the gift of cooking, and wanted to share that joy with those around her. She only wishes she could do more to alleviate their suffering and offers them each a free pie, no strings attached. She promises that it will help them sleep should they eat them. Each of the heroes thank the old woman who says to just call her “Granny”. She then points them to the tavern down the road after Thaldir asks her where they could find rest.

The heroes pack their pies in their bags and proceed down the road towards the tavern. As they travel down the street, they notice that the streets of the village appear to be mostly empty and if it wasn’t for the occasional flicker of lamplight shinning behind closed curtains in the surrounding houses, they might of thought it was a ghost town.

Village of Barovia


As they travel down the street, they notice that the streets of the village appear to be mostly empty and if it wasn’t for the occasional flicker of lamplight shinning behind closed curtains in the surrounding houses, they might of thought it was a ghost town.

Thaldir looks up to see a a raven with blue-tipped wings perched atop one of the houses flanking the street. It seems to be watching them as they see their destination. A single shaft of light thrusts illumination into the main square, its brightness looking like a solid pillar in the heavy fog. Above the gaping doorway, a sign hangs precariously askew, proclaiming this to be the Blood on the Vine tavern. Upon closer inspection the heroes notice that the sign has been changed. The n has been scratched over with an f (The old name being Blood on the Vine).

Blood on the Vine Sign

Upon entering, they see a blazing fire going in a hearth, 3 women sitting and talking at a table, a man behind a bar methodically cleaning some glasses, and a man on the other side of the room sitting at a corner table alone.

Arik Loresnk – Bartender

Thaldir approaches the bar and asks the man for some ale. The man replies in a monotone voice that there is no ale. Then says “you can buy a cup of wine, a pitcher of wine, a bowl of potato pottage, a loaf of potato bread or a plate of pork meatloaf.” He says it rather dull. Like he just could care less, almost robotic. When Thaldir then asks him if they have rooms available the man looks at him and says “No rooms here. No room at all this is just a tavern outsiders”. Thaldir asks him where they could stay for the night to which the man replies back in the same monotone voice that there are no rooms here…and repeats the same thing again.

As Thaldir looks like he is becoming a little frustrated with this strange man, the man on the other side of the room comes over and greets them very warmly. He tells our heroes that this might be a good omen. He hasn’t seen an outsider come to the village in over a decade. He introduces himself as Ismark Kolyanovich and the heroes show him the letter they found on the road.

Ismark Kolyanovich

Ismark takes the letter and reads it. Then his face takes on a sad look. That was my fathers letter. I recognize his handwriting. Unfortunately my father recently passed away. He then goes on to say that he would rather not continue talking about such things in the tavern. He offers to buy them all drinks and then notices little Lancelot that is traveling with them.

He looks down at the dog and says “hey Lancelot! Where have you been boy?” He then asks the heroes where they found the dog as it belongs to a girl named Gertruda who went missing weeks ago. He is surprised to see the dog as it was always with Gertruda. He asks where they found him and he sighs as they tell their tale.

He mentions that Gertruda’s mother, Mary or rather “Mad Mary” as the town calls her, has been distraught over the disappearance of her daughter and maybe taking the dog to her may bring her some comfort.

The heroes learn more about the land of Barovia and eventually, Thaldir asks Ismark if he knows a place where they can rest.

Ismark beams when asked and says, “why not stay with me at my place?” Which the characters agree to. He then reveals that, “since they are outsiders he feels like perhaps the gods have answered his prayers for he had been praying for help. He then asks if they would be willing to escort his sister, Ireena, to Vallaki. He goes on to explain that the devil Strahd had been attacking their home and he feels like Strahd was trying to get his sister. He just wants her to be safe. The group agrees that they will gladly do this and his faces beams with joy, relief evident in his eyes.


They get up and leave the tavern heading towards his home. As they approach the house, they notice it is not just a small house at all but a huge mansion.

Burgomaster’s Mansion

He looks at them and says, yeah my father was the Burgomaster of the village, or as you might call them, a mayor? The heroes nod and he escorts them into the mansion.

Ireena Kolyanovich

Once inside, they see a woman coming down the hall asking if it was Ismark. He beams and says, “yes sister! please come and meet our guests!”. The heroes observe a human woman of great beauty walking towards them. She carried herself with the grace of a princess and the ferocity of a dragon. She had jet black hair which looks too black as if it had been dyed, a heart-shaped mouth, and soft hazel eyes. This is none other than Ireena Kolyanovich.

Upon entering she notices the coffin that Thaldir has and asks what happened. They greet each other and they tell her the tale. She shakes her head deeply saddened by the news and offers that they might be able to bury Straldir next to their father. Then says that they need to bury their father but haven’t been able to due to the fear of Strahd, but now that they are here, she feels like they can do it now.


The heroes go to bed and have a dreamless but uneventful night. Thaldir wakes up early and heads down to the parlor where his brother’s coffin rested. Upon entry he notices that his brothers coffin is much more ornate and well-made than that of the coffin next to it containing the siblings father. That coffin looked more handmade and not as good as craftmanship. Thaldir then rests a mug of ale on his brothers coffin and has a few moments of silence. A little while later the rest of the party awaken and head down to the parlor.

Ireena enters and begs their forgiveness that she did not mean to interrupt their grieving. That she only meant to see her father. She states that she can leave but the heroes say it is ok and she can stay. She asks if they need anything to which Thaldir suggests they should try finding a shop. She tells them about Bildrath’s Mercantile and as she does so, Ismark enters. He offers to take them to the shop since he has other business to attend to now that he is assuming his father’s role as Burgomaster of the town.


They go into town and enter Bildrath’s Mercantile shop. There they meet a shrewd looking man who slides them a list of what he has for sale. Somewhat taken aback by the prices Thaldir asks if he has any weapons, which Bildrath says he doesn’t carry those.

They make a few purchases and a huge well built, very muscular young man enters the room carrying their goods. He flexes his pec muscles doing the little “pec dance” and smiles as he enters the room. He introduces himself as Parriwimple.

Upon hearing Jaylyn complain about the high prices of things like rations, Bildrath asks the party to retrieve a large, leather-bound bundle that he believes to be downstream of the Ivlis River Bridge, south of the village. If the bundle is returned to him, undamaged and still tied in its original string, he offers a 20 gold discount off any purchase.

It is here that we leave our session to be continued next time!

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