Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Week 13

Hi all,

Over the last few weeks I’ve been posting some warts-and-all email summaries of the Curse of Strahd campaign I ran in 2017. This is the first campaign I started sending summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that).

Some of the summaries may be dull, some may be amusing; some are written in present tense, some in past tense – these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar.

If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them, but I warn you: I’m not Mathew Mercer and this is not Twitch.

Game on!

Steve ūüôā

Week 13

Sunny Barovia just keeps getting foggier, if that’s at all possible…

This week, the party (reduced in number with a few away) were about to be attacked by werewolves and wolves, so they retreated into Van Richten’s tower and let the tower defenses take care of the wolves. Unfortunately, Isaac’s Tiefling Warlock was on the roof, and got electrocuted as the defenses kicked in. After jumping through the ceiling to save herself, the Tiefling joined the others who watched as the wolves all ran away. Exiting the building to get on the road, they were very lucky as once they got out the entire tower collapsed, destroying Ezmerelda’s caravan in the process (“…but that caravan was a gift from my dearly departed grandmother” – okay, she didn’t say that, but she wasn’t happy).

William’s Dragonborn Paladin persuaded the party to try a location they didn’t know anything about, in preference to one they did, to save themselves from certain slaughter. So, off to the mansion of Argynvoshtolt they went.

In the courtyard they discovered a huge silver dragon statue that failed to freeze them at the front door (a bit old, you see), a grand reception, a nifty dining room with carved dragon chairs and a bunch of revenants hanging out in the chapel, who attacked them. The fight that followed was one of the hardest and most exciting the party has experienced yet, as the revenants proved harder to beat than expected. During the fight, Natasha’s Gnome Druid used Moonbeam to great effect, Dan’s annoying Halfling monk had her wings clipped a bit (seems he was using too many bonus actions in the past for his character’s additional attacks), and Ezmerelda bit the big one as Isaac’s Tiefling decided to assassinate her in the midst of the battle.

The party was surprisingly nice about the death of the major NPC that the Taroka cards had predicted they would need to defeat Strahd. “If you do it again,” said Natasha. “We’ll have to leave you behind.”¬†Suitably admonished, Isaac promised to be a good Tiefling.

No he didn’t, I just put that bit in for effect.

William changed into a wereraven (remember, he picked that little curse up last session) and flew around outside the building, scouting out the premises, spotting an old dude on a throne and lots more revenants. Natasha changed into a spider and crawled under several doors and scouted internal rooms. In the store room next to the kitchen, she spotted a wounded elf (and here we thought there were no elves in Barovia, racist nation that it is…)

Next week: Who is the wounded elf? Who is the old dude on the throne? Will those revenants make mincemeat out of the party? Why is the Tiefling being so nice? Where does the druid store all her gear when she transforms? How many more questions will Steve ask before he finishes typing?

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The Last Word. A poem.

The last word
Is a flail across my back
Stripping flesh bare to bone
A blood eagle worthy of Vikings
Exposing heart and soul
And ready for the killing thrust

Your pain mingles with my own
As you strike again, again
And I’m drawn and quartered
On the yoke
Hung out to dry
A pendulum in the wind

Blithely embracing my only friend
His scythe scratching my cheek
He who lingers, unblinking and unmoving
And always waiting in the wings

The black dog growls and snaps
In the background
And I’m underground
My coffin little comfort in this repose

Today I die a little more
Today I take one more step
Towards the door
Where Death beckons to me greedily
‚ÄúPerhaps today,‚ÄĚ I say
‚ÄúWhy not?‚ÄĚ He replies

He offers the silvered razor
So many have admired and aspired to
His gift in memoriam
An everlasting metaphor
Of our misbegotten friendship

And I reach with greedy, outstretched fingers
And lonely, fettered veins

For more Poetry, click here.

So Many Ghosts. A poem.

So many ghosts
Pleading from the past
Negotiating with the future
Throwing off chains
And screaming from rooftops
For attention in a sea
Of ignorance

Don’t shut your eyes and ears
For these many ghosts
Are deserving of respect
And hope and love

Or do you prefer
Not to learn at all
Like so many before you


For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

March. A poem.

Your clubs and fists
Your horses and mace
Cannot quell or diminish
Voices united as one

To drown out despots
And desperate hypocrites
Who would hold us down
With guile and inequity

We march and pray
We cry for justice
And will not be overcome



For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Laidback DM: Curse of Strahd 2017 – Weeks 6-12

Hi all,

Over the next few weeks (months, years, who knows) I’ll be posting some warts-and-all summaries of several campaigns I’ve run in the past. This is one from 2017 – The Curse of Strahd. Some of it will be dull, some of it may be amusing; some of it is written in present tense, some of it in past tense. These are the unedited email summaries I sent the players each week, so you’ll have to forgive their somewhat chaotic nature.

If you’re a D&D fan you might enjoy them, but I warn you: I’m not Mathew Mercer and this is not Twitch.

Game on!

Steve ūüôā

Week 6-7:

After returning from the Old Bonegrinder windmill, fighting scarecrows and dire wolves on the road and facing Strahd for the first time in battle in the Vallaki Town Square last week, this week saw the party headed to the village of Krezk (“To the left,” said direction-accurate Steve), where they were told they couldn’t come in unless they could bring them some wine…how convenient.

Off to the Wizard of Vines vineyard this week, where the party met old Davian Martikov and his family. Davian has been making wines for the valley of Barovia for many years, providing his services for free to keep up the spirits (see what I did there?) of all Barovians. Unfortunately, his evil druid neighbours and their blight servants had taken over the vineyard (as they do).

After a huge battle, in which the John and Dan’s Monks proved they were better than any fighters, Nigel’s Barbarian took more damage from friendly fire than he did from blights, Mark’s Bard¬†was the damager via multiple thunderwave spells, Isaac’s Warlock enjoyed blasting blights back 10 feet, William’s Paladin rushed in where fools fear to tread (“I run toward death, not away from it”, should be his catchphrase)¬†and Courtney’s Dwarf saved the day several times with mass Healing Word (without it the party would have been creamed, to put it bluntly).

Weeks 8-12:

Yep, we’ve been campaigning in sunny, effervescent Barovia for 12 weeks now. And don’t the kids just love it! Sunshine every day, mountain fresh air, gallons of ice cream, and such friendly, helpful people! Who would want to leave?

¬†But seriously, I’ve been a bit lax the last few weeks and have forgotten to send out summary emails…

In week 8, you all (mostly) fought a giant tree blight called Wintersplinter, that had been sent by the evil next door neighbours of the vineyard to destroy it! Being the heroes you are, without any need for financial recompense, you promptly slaughtered the poor tree, took its green crystal and then made Davian Martikov pay you all 250 gp each to have it back. You were told that the third crystal may have been taken by a witch who operates out of the ruins of Berez, just across the valley there. Because you are all caring, sharing souls, you promptly decided to take the remaining wine and head off to Krezk, so you can gain entry and drop Ireena off at the Abbey of St Markovia, on the hill overlooking the town. 

Escorting three big casks of wine to Krezk,¬†you came dangerously close to being slaughtered by masses of dire wolves…

In week 9, arriving back in Krezk, delivering the wine and visiting a lovely sacred pond on the far side of the town, you prevented Ireena from merging with the spirit of her long lost lover from the past, and then everyone was zapped by a lightning bolt from the clouds above. Unfortunately, Ireena was barbequed. Ismark had heard that the Abbot could perform miracles, so the party traipsed up the hill and entered the abbey. After encountering lots of Mongrelmen, all locked up by the Abbott as they are all a bit crazy, you spoke to the man himself who revealed he¬†made a flesh golem woman for Strahd to marry, but needed a wedding dress. Obviously the mongrelmen weren’t the only crazy ones.

Mark’s Halfling bard got into a feud with a spidery mongrelman down a well, who ended up eating Mark’s beloved toad. Exploring one of the other abbey buildings, the party fought another flesh golem, battled loads of shadows (where Dan’s annoying, I mean, heroic monk was KILLED (gasp!)), and located Ezmerelda D’Avenir, who was foretold in the card reading of Madame Eva as being a person of note who could help the party defeat Strahd. She joined the party, but not before Mark tortured a poor raven…The Abbott promised to grant the party three raise dead’s if they get the dress. The Monk was raised (doh!), and the party decided to head back to Vallaki to see if they could get a wedding¬†dress from the Baron’s wife, who, conveniently, had one lying around.¬†

Arriving in¬†Vallaki, the party found that Rudolf van Richten, famous vampire hunter,¬†had left town with his wagon and sabre tooth tiger and nobody knew where he was. Everyone’s favourite (read: annoying) Halfling monk decided he wanted to burn down the Baron’s house. He was attacked by vampire spawn, who had started ransacking the town.¬†The rest of the party¬†were at the inn when the major vampire spawn assault started…

In week 10, Natasha’s gnome Druid and Isaac’s Tiefling Warlock went undercover via an invisibility spell, to find the wedding dress in the baron’s mansion. Luckily the town was in turmoil, so after a tension filled search of the upper levels, they found the dress and headed out the back window to the inn.

The wereravens running the inn persuaded the party to escape from the vampire spawn attack through an escape tunnel under the fireplace. The party sent a number of villlagers through the tunnel, who then ran off into the woods and were promptly killed by nasty night creatures.   

Meanwhile, Dan’s annoying Halfling Monk made his way upstairs and started searching for the dress himself, as he didn’t know that the others had found it already. Ending up in the Baron’s bedroom, resting at the window and surveying the chaos, he saw William’s Holy Symbol of Ravenkind casting light from outside the north wall, and decided to head through town over the wall to join the rest of the party.

The party hid in a cave, and then headed back to the abbey, giving the Abbott his dress. He raised Ireena from the dead. Ismark and Ireena decided to head back to the church at Vallaki where they couldn’t get blown up.

In week 11, the party headed to Yester Hill to deal with the nosy druidic neighbours. They discovered a huge wicker statue of Strahd, which didn’t burn. They fought lots of druids and berserkers. They then went to a huge Gulthias tree on the property, fought loads of twig, vine and needle blights.

Week 12, and William’s Dragonborn Paladin got the magic axe from the tree, and he and¬†Isaac toppled the tree. Twiggy blights continued to grow from the roots, but by that time the party couldn’t be bothered doing anything more and headed back to the vineyard for shelter before night.

At the vineyard, the party found out¬†Davian and his family were wereravens and related to the Martikovs who own the inn in Vallaki (small world…er, valley).¬†William promptly got them to bight him, so he could fulfil his life time dream to fly. Naked. Without any equipment. Oh well, nothing’s perfect.

The next morning the PCs had to battle a large number of scarecrows sent from the witch in Berez (no one seems to like this vineyard, despite the fact they give their wine away for free).¬†Steven’s elvish wizard (back after a long stint away) used his fireballs to perfection, but still managed to get knocked unconscious. The party decided to head to Van Richten’s tower to see if they could find him. On the way, they fought more dire wolves, and Steven’s wizard was knocked out again! A lesson learned – remember to protect the spell caster…

At the tower, both Mark and Steven touched the door and got electrocuted. Dan’s annoying Halfling did the fancy dance¬†to bypass the trap and then they all got in. After spending the night on the roof, because she didn’t want to offend Van Richten (who wasn’t there and couldn’t have known), Isaac’s Tiefling got pneumonia and had to suffer a level of exhaustion for a day…

¬†Exiting the tower to head to Berez, the party is about to be attacked by werewolves and…yes, you guessed it, more dire wolves…

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Protest. A poem.

Why march, you say. Why raise their fists in protest?

If you have to ask, you haven’t been paying attention.

Look outside and see the injustice. Look outside and see the fear, and the loss, and the indescribable pain so many have felt that you have not.

No one is saying they are more important than you. No one is denying your issues.

They are saying justice, equality and fairness do not exist in a system that is so hopelessly shaped by class, privilege and the color of a person’s skin. ¬†

Why march, you say? Why raise their fists in protest?

Because if they don’t, who will?



For more Poetry, click here.

poetry books - stevestillstanding

For more of my poetry, check out Poetry for the Sad, Lonely and Hopelessly Endangered and The All or the Nothing, available in print.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.


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