Chapter 31: Barovia
The game continued from Chapter 30: Atlantis.
Let's Kill Dracula
game session #178
played on December 7, 2015
The group solved Theresa's puzzle ("Eagle museum opening, Stockholm"). On the way to Sweden, Van Helsing got them to discuss tactics against Dracula at length; Nannuraluk focused on slowing Dracula down, while Gao considered draining him of his abilities, and they discussed who would be the ideal person to wield the Sunsword. In Stockholm, they dressed up in fancy clothes and attended the opening of a museum dedicated to a North Pole expedition in a balloon called the Eagle. There, they found the gypsy Bronwyn Cutitari. She wanted nothing to do with Elise LeBlanc after Elise had sold her broken magical equipment in Arles, but Deke persuaded her to take the group to her caravan nearby to negotiate passage to Ravenloft.
Caleb for staying incognito as Kamlesh Patel
Deke for convincing Bronwyn Cutitari without mental manipulation
Elise for sparing the life of old Mrs. Pfeiffer
game session #179
played on December 14, 2015
The group negotiated a price for Bronwyn to make them a potion to send them to Dracula's realm. While she concocted it, a fellow gypsy gave a tarot reading to each person, revealing that Sagesse would take a trip through the air, Deke would receive a messenger, Caleb would be the center of a conflict, and Gao would find clarity and resolution. They drank Bronwyn's potion and found themselves in a colorless carnival, unable to escape, while Bronwyn told them it was punishment for Elise trading in bad faith months earlier. They explored the carnival and found a funhouse, mermaid tank, fakir on a bed of nails, pie-eating contest, American Indian sideshow, and Chinese acrobats. Performing certain actions led some of them to regain color, but there were many attractions yet ahead of them.
Caleb for going along with the Vistani carnival quickly
Nann for protesting the injustice of the Vistani carnival trap
game session #180
played on December 28, 2015
The group's exploration of the carnival continued, leading them to a contortionist, a snake oil salesman, a bear trainer, a stage magician, a whip artist, a carousel ride, a fortune teller, a big cat trainer, a shooting gallery, a mentalist, a juggler, and Harry Houdini. They also re-encountered dream traveler Randolph Carter, who confirmed their suspicions that they were dreaming, and helped them begin mapping out the carnival whose signage made it difficult to navigate. One by one, the group performed tasks as if they were performing in the carnival, gaining color back in their bodies but sometimes suffering injuries in the process. They remained determined to escape from the dream and face Dracula.
Deke for realizing that the signs don't lead to real places
Elise for navigating via left and right directions
Nann for mapping and viewing the carnival overhead as a bird
Blood on the Vine
game session #181
played on January 11, 2016
The group performed several more stunts in the carnival. Elise deduced the true shape of the carnival and drew the symbol on the ground to break the spell. They awoke in a road through a forest on a dark, foggy night. Bronwyn met them and indicated that she was not responsible for the content of their dreams, saying that the subconscious can project strange things. She welcomed them to Barovia, the realm that Dracula ruled under the name Strahd von Zarovich, and encouraged them to stop in the village for information from locals. Exra the faerie was relieved to be home in Ravenloft and thanked Elise for returning him. They walked through the fog into the decrepit village, trading supplies for medieval outfits at a market. Caleb befriended the burgomaster's son, who complained of Dracula's torment of his family and apparent interest in his sister Ireena. They met her at the family home, where she mentioned that a religious relic had been stolen recently after her father recently died. She wanted revenge on Dracula and was prepared to hire the group to attack him, though many had tried and all had perished.
Caleb for talking to Ismark Kolyana
Elise for drawing the Vistani symbol
game session #182
played on February 1, 2016
The group agreed to take Ireena along with them, especially after learning that Dracula had preyed on her as he had on Sagesse. In town, they met a woman driven mad by her daughter running away to be with Dracula. They also encountered Dr. Caligari, who was interrogated against a wall into naming Dracula's other conspirators and giving them a wedge that, when combined with the other pieces, would unlock Dracula's treasure room. Deke's haphazard actions resulted in Caligari's sudden death, and on his body they found a journal of his research in which he claimed to have learned that Earth was part of Ravenloft. The group tried to make a door to Dracula's castle, but found themselves incapable of breathing in the Manor despite their resistance to toxins. They headed to the local temple, where a priest offered to help them.
Gao for suggesting caution regarding Dr. Caligari's altered memories
All That We Can Rightly Depend On
game session #183
played on February 8, 2015
The group observed ghosts of Dracula's slain enemies rising from graves and approaching the castle. They accepted an invitation from Dracula's private wagon to take them to the castle courtyard, where a storm broke in the sky. Inside the castle, they followed the sound of organ music to a lavish dining room where Gao feasted and Deke exposed an organ-playing mannequin of Dracula to be a fake, but in turn set off a mechanism that sealed the castle shut. They followed a secret passageway out onto a rooftop and fended off a man-sized bat creature. Inside a luxurious bedroom, they found the mad woman's teenaged daughter staying as Dracula's guest.
Nann for praying for the souls of Dracula's slain enemies
Dead and Buried
game session #184
played on February 22, 2016
The group found Dracula's study and the stolen Oracle statue, which Nannuraluk asked how he could do the most good in the world. "Find the Lost Kingdom," it replied. A centuries-old painting of Ireena on the wall left them mystified. They found a hidden passageway behind a fireplace and defeated Frankenstein twice in a belfry to reach a treasure room with enchanted weapons and scrolls. They ignored a private dining room and Elise dispelled two ghosts to make a passageway safe. In a corridor of talking marble busts, they learned the general direction (up or down) of each of their enemies, and that Dracula was "dead and buried."
Gao for suggesting caution with Frankenstein's remains
Sagesse for clearing the hallway and belfry
Up the Down Staircase
game session #185
played on February 29, 2016
The group tried climbing a shaky stairwell and tumbled hard to the ground below, needing time to heal each other with spells. Finding dead ends in the twisty passages of Dracula's castle, they fought off electrifying spirits and animated gargoyles. In a large chapel, Gao found a raven icon that seemed blessed, while the group survived another round with the revived Frankenstein, this time leaving his body chopped into tiny pieces. Deke climbed up to a balcony and fended off a pair of zombies. The group wandered into the basement, where they found old villain Fantômas rigging an explosive trap. Elise killed him while Caleb defused the bomb.
Caleb for focusing on Fantômas's bomb
game session #186
played on March 7, 2016
In a basement room, the group was trapped in a battle with huge bronze skeletons and a fire pit that unlocked certain doors. They escaped and explored further, avoiding more traps thanks to Gao's high perception. In catacombs full of crypts, they encountered ghosts and vampires, including two women who they fought on a ship in San Francisco. Gilbert's intended crypt was here, unused. They also found a portal leading back to the village of Barovia, which Dracula may have used. Nannuraluk opened a tomb of Dracula's beloved pets and was attacked by hellhounds.
Caleb for flipping the hourglass to reset the trap
Gao for pointing out inadequacies in the group's grave robbing without involving Gao
game session #187
played on April 25, 2016
The hellhounds spit lava and put up a mean fight, but the group defeated them. Passing down a short stairwell toward an elaborate crypt, they found a curtain of light that permitted only Gao, Nannuraluk, Rose, Shesh, and Van Helsing to pass through, and it took time for the group to figure out that only people of purest virtue could enter the crypt beyond, which contained the remains of Dracula's parents, with a window overlooking the valley. After more exploring, the group caught invisible thief Pao Tcheou stealing Gao's suitcase, and cornered him in the crypt, having Shesh sit on him. They fed him truth serum intending to interrogate him.
Gao for trying to use the raven icon in the tomb
game session #188
played on May 2, 2016
The group questioned Pao Tcheou to learn the whereabouts of other members of Dracula's qabal within the castle. They debated at length whether to execute him or let him live, and eventually set him free. In a tomb, they found the ghost of Dracula's son, who helped them acquire the phylactery that was key to destroying Dracula forever. They found a secret elevator between floors, and Elise narrowly escaped a mechanical portcullis trap. They met two residents of the building: An elderly servant who didn't seem fully sane, and a villager trapped in the flooded dungeon. Deke set off a trap that got him locked in a cell underwater, but the group sprung him free.
Nann for convincing the group to spare Pao Tcheou's life
game session #189
played on May 16, 2016
Evading more traps, the group emerged in a large torture room, where skeletons and zombies came to life to attack them. Serilia the mummy was waiting here, attacking Elise with icicles but finding herself overwhelmed with Elise's boulders. Deke got stuck in the next room and had to evade Frankenstein alone, finally shooting him dead. Dracula appeared briefly during the fight and commanded Sagesse via their vampiric connection to attack the group; she was subdued by Nannuraluk and persuaded to stop fighting. When the battle was over, Sagesse agreed to go back to the village, knowing now that she was a liability to the group as long as Dracula lived. Gao made his way into the next room and found a new door that the group hadn't opened yet.
Deke for soloing Frankenstein
Elise for defeating Serilia
game session #190
played on May 23, 2016
After exploring more rooms and fending off skeletons, the group found themselves exploring spaces that they had already entered. They sat down for a long break while Nannuraluk took it upon himself to map the parts of the castle that they had already explored and identified new doors. They found the elderly butler in his treasure hoard (spoils from past adventurers dead at Dracula's hand), who Deke scared to death with a threat. In the kitchen, they found zombies cooking in a stew. A wine cellar proved barren, the contents long since spilled.
Nann for mapping the castle
game session #191
played on June 6, 2016
Using Nannuraluk's map, the group ascended a staircase that they were sure was new to them. At the top, they found Dr. Caligari's laboratory, hieroglyphics carved into the walls. He believed that Earth was an in fact a demi-plane of Ravenloft, and that every evil action made the Red Death stronger. The group decided to pursue this in Egypt after dealing with Dracula. Heading up more stairs, they encountered an enormous beating heart that Elise took as a sign that the castle was alive, which explained why she couldn't manipulate its stone walls. In the room above, they were attacked by a half werewolf with bat wings, half enormous spider. This was the laboratory of scientist Dr. Moreau, who they knocked out after killing his pet. They questioned him and debated the ethics of allowing him to continue his research, perhaps giving them a safe space in the Manor, but decided for the moment to leave him and continue exploring.
Deke for suggesting slowing down the castle heart
Elise for deciphering the meaning of the hieroglyphics and castle heart
Life and Mettle in Their Heels
game session #192
played on June 13, 2016
After carefully navigating a narrow bridge between towers in a rainstorm, the group entered the other tower and found the laboratory where Dr. Herbert West had been reanimating Frankenstein, killing him and ending the cycle. After making their way through several hidden doors, they came upon a coven of witches and their leader Bastinda, who attacked them with elemental powers and surprising transformations, making Caleb blind and Deke elderly and Nannuraluk tiny. Slowly but surely, the group fought off the attackers, eventually slaying their leader, Bastinda. Only one piece of the puzzle remained before they could enter Dracula's tomb.
Caleb for leading the group forward when it stalled
game session #193
played on June 20, 2016
The group explored the floor of Dracula's castle that they had missed earlier, meeting a dedicated accountant and the property master, vampire Lord Ruthven, who put up a fight as a swarm of bats but was soon defeated. With the last wedge piece in hand, the group returned to the underground crypt and combined the pieces to unlock the gate to Dracula's crypt. The master vampire attacked from the mist inside, swiftly beheading Theresa O'Neill, mauling Shesh and Rose MacAvoy, and making Van Helsing burst from within. The group kept attacking him and slowly wore him down, especially with Caleb wielding the powerful Sunsword, gaining a large advantage when Gao temporarily drained Dracula of his powers and made him a stationary target. When the last shot rang out from Deke's rifle, Dracula collapsed into a pile of ash. Wasting no time, Gao smashed the copper amulet that contained part of the vampire's soul, preventing him from reincarnating. After much effort and sacrifice, at last the group's greatest enemy was dead.
Caleb for slaying Dracula
Deke for slaying Dracula
Elise for slaying Dracula
Gao for slaying Dracula
Nann for slaying Dracula
The game continued in Chapter 32: Cairo.