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I-10: Ravenloft II - The House on Gryphon Hill

Authors: Outline by Tracy & Laura Hickman; with those people credited for design team: David Cook, Jeff Grubb, Tracy & Laura Hickman, Harold Johnson and Douglas Niles
Type: Adventure
Format
: 48 pages booklet, and cut out maps and players hand out
Release date: 1986
Other notes: Level: 8-10
This downloadable adventure has been provided by WotC in PDF version, with insiders notes on the 'making of' this I-6 sequel: Click Here
Errata:

  • On page 29, the notes at the top of the right-hand column ("Beneath third hearth stone" and so forth) belong under the entry for 43a.
  • The vampire in entry 43J was once a handsome young seaman (not "handome").
  • If youre the read-boxed-text-aloud type, beware entry 46G: only the first paragraph should actually be boxed, while the next two paragraphs are meant for the DM alone.
  • On page 44, the final line under Count Strahd the Alchemist should read "for the life of him cannot remember why, save that it fills him with dread."
  • And finally, Mistress Ardent, one of the most interesting characters, was "found as a baby on the steps of Heather House, abandoned by individuals unknown" and has a Charisma of 18, not "8" (shes described as "a stunning young lady, second in beauty only to her close friend Virginia," who has Charisma 17 herself.

Reviews:

Jol Paquin

I got it when it came out (end of 1986) and DMed it during the Xmas vacations. I hated it.

Probably our expectations were too high, I don't know, but it seemed very ordinary and full of nonsensical parts, and without real links between them.

The random part of the scenario, the transpossession (with the Aparatus) and the 'read aloud' boxes were great ideas, but the end ('Awakening' with flash #1 to #4) was so railroading, and my players felt like they could not change a thing in it and that is frustrating: they felt I was reading them a story where they couldn't change a iota.

It made no sense to have all those monsters in Heather House's basement, while the happy family lived upstair! Nonsense also of the Strahd / alchemist duality. And what are Strahd and Azalin doing in Mordent, anyway ? This adventure should have been declared non canon!

However, many details on Mordent are found in it (cool maps of Heather House and its Mausoleum, the House on Gryphon Hills in 3d like for I-6, a very detailed map of Mordentshire, and interesting magical items) and one should get the free PDF version just for it.

2 on 5.

 

Charles Phips

Summary: The Pcs are hypnotized by a Mesmerist and find themselves in Ravenloft's distant past where the Alchemist Strahd is struggling against the Creature Strahd while Azalin the Lich watches on. The Weathermay family is caught in the middle.

The House on Gryphon Hill really needed an update to celebrate it's anniversary since the game really is more responsible for Ravenloft's development than the classic module in many ways. The problem is that the adventure doesn't really make any sense sadly yet is absolutely ooozing with Ravenloft history truly. It also probably is what's responsible for an unfortunate trend that haunts RL in the fact that you can just do whatever the hell you like and brush it off with plot fiat.

Don't understand how it can be that bad? Let me explain the adventure...

Strahd Van Zharovich is a LG Alchemist who has created the Apparatus that he uses to cast aside the Beast from his personality while having memories and flashbacks of murdering everyone in the Castle, Tatyana, and so on and no real knowledge of who he was to begin with. This somehow is tied to Strahd himself (the Vampire) arriving, who is accompanied by a Lich and quickly enslaves a local werewolf tribe plus has a horrible collection of undead that they put underneath the House on Gryphon Hill that Strahd Alchemist just happens to be living in. The PCs enter the picture by being hypnotized and thus arriving there.

*checks the author* No, it was done by the Hickman's rather than David Lynch.

This is a seminal piece of Ravenloft history and it's a tragedy no ones bothered to figure out what the Hell is going on here. The irony is that the adventure is easily enough cleaned up if you just make some general assumptions about things that are explained away in the context of the story by removing the 'This is weird, let's inserted' and giving it a coherent narrative.

My simple changes were:

  1. Strahd Von Zharovich and Azalin have 'escaped' the Demiplane of Dread and found themselves on another world entirely through one of their spells. Strahd tells Azalin to "sit tight" while he visits and discovered another Tatyana while passing himself off as an Alchemist. During his time at Gryphon Hill, he found himself finding a copy of the Apparatus Manual and built himself one....hoping to cast away his vampire Curse. It's from I, Strahd: The War Against Azalin but adds a wonderful twist. The PCs are dealing with the REAL Strahd the entire time.
  2. The Creature Strahd is an oddly simple Crimson Death Mist that also possesses the ability to possess people. This is CLASSIC Strahd except he's completely without his usual nobility and basically possesses people left and right while ranting I, Strahd and Tome of Strahd moments that PCs should recognize instantly. The story will end with it repossessing Alchemist Strahd and the two struggling for control.
  3. The PCs just arrive in old Mordent, no fever dream, no craziness like that.
  4. Azalin is the person responsible for the transposession of individuals as largely he's found his own copy of the Apparatus Manual and is largely disgusted with Strahd letting himself be distracted from his goal but is interested in seeing whether the Undead can be transplanted into the minds of the living (it's a potential cure for Irek). As part of his activities, he'll take the Alchemist's bride rather than the creature. He also has enslaved the Timothys. He may switch bodies himself to fool the PCs if he's faced them before. The great irony is Azalin is completely uniterested in what's going on and largely just amusing himself until he feels he just have to causally drag Strahd back if he has to (which he could easily do but he's being needlessly complex because well...he's Azalin)
  5. Heather House has either NO Zombies or they've tunneled under it from Gryphon Hill.
  6. The final confrontation with the Creature Strahd will ironically have Tatyana (Weathermay's daughter) possessed and Good Strahd forced to draw it into himself. The PCs' actions from there will effect things or the Mists will just sweep them up.
  7.  Little George Weathermay will be there and inspired by the PCs (I know it's impossible timeline wise!)

Almost the entire adventure is there but its coherent narrative is fixed.

The normal adventure I give 1 drop out of 5 while I ran the above for 5 out of 5.

 

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