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Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village 
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
So, obviously for the villain and the artefact, graves are out as Drigor is still alive (though not in the immediate area) and you can't kill a cup.

My first thought is that the "Darklord"'s associated card marks the location of Drigor's lair while he performed the experiments which led to the choking fog, but some of the locations seem unsuitable for such


Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:46 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
OK, Drigor's a fiend and they can do some pretty cool stuff, so now I'm thinking that him magicking up a subterranean lab with a secret door at ANY of these locations is easily within his abilities. So I'll whip up a small dungeon, not too heavily defended, as Drigor was probably not particularly worried about visitors (maybe he was worried that Strahd might tumble his disguise though so maybe anti-spying measures) and then wherever the cards indicate that's where the mini-dungeon will be

I'm struggling for a mechanism that allows the PC's to discover this story, maybe the ghost of the woman? is that at little clichéd?

One of the disadvantages of a randomized adventure such as this is that it is impossible to plan which order the encounters will happen in and therefore a challenge to build towards a climax. I'm thinking that either I need a non random subplot which I can use to build tension, or I have it that the NPCs indicated by the cards get progressively tougher as they are encountered. The problem with the second solution is that the NPCs encountered are not necessarily hostile (there's only a one in three chance of them being actually evil after all, though of course similar alignments guarantees nothing) the problem with the first is that I can't think of a suitable subplot.


Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:15 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
Also some locations are more dangerous than others, the goblin camp, the werewolf lair and the witch of lysaga hill leap out, does that seem unreasonable? If the other encounter locations are problem solving or role playing challenges it should balance out.

Also how do the randomly generated NPCs actually interact with the group and the other NPCs?


Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:32 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
Starting to play this tonight wish me luck!


Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:31 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
So this is how the reading turned out


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Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:25 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
They worked out the Raven pretty quickly (they are well acquainted with the church of Andral) but got distracted, and the Monk (the randomly generated NPC indicated by the reading) nearly got away with the cup, they've searched the church records and discovered the existence of the Madrigore family in Barovia, and are waiting in the church til nightfall in the hopes of examining the ghostly procession which they think will help them identify the "Darklord" card.

The local priest has told them of the "two curses" the first curse being Barovia's isolation from the "old lands" the second being the choking fog which surrounds the village, they have correctly surmised that that is the focus of their quest


Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:43 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
OK so the reading makes a few things clearer

The cup was hidden in the alter of the church and found by the monk (I'm being quite literal with the NPC card)

The fiends lab is hidden amongst the graves in the cemetery and is being sought by an enchanter

The body of the woman is in the cave behind Tser falls and is being sought by a berserker

The body of the innocent is at the gates of barovia and is being sought by a guildsman

The first thing that hits me is that the NPCs, with the possible exception of the berserker, are not incompatible with the group, indeed they have already sought to make up for the party's lack of healing magic by recruiting the monk, and I can certainly see them attempting to recruit the enchanter also.

The next thing is that none of the encounter locations drawn are combat based, the church was role playing, the lab is trap/puzzle based, and neither the cave nor the gates suggest combat in and of themselves.

So this is going to be too easy unless I beef up the encounters somewhat, so first thing, drop some combat into the mini-dungeon

next the obvious thing to do would be to make the other two ghost/undead encounters, maybe mist horrors would be more appropriate

I've made the Madrigore family tomb the entrance to the lab/mini dungeon, hopefully the group will realise that if the grave is empty then the bodies must be elsewhere

Maybe interring the bodies here in their proper place might play a part?


Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:51 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
It works quite well with the story actually

the enchanter seeking the lab works

The body of the woman being with the Mists makes some sense when we think of Strahds choking fog as a version of the Mists

Equally it makes sense that the body of the Madrigore founder be at the Gates of Barovia as that is the extent of the choking fog

I'm thinking that in the lab the group should find the first copy of the Madrigorian, which would detail the ritual Drigor used to create the fog, but my group has already obtained several later volumes of said work, and they refuse to read them for fear of transpossesion (they also have VRGtF) so I'm thinking that as well as that I should hide a secret journal of the Madrigore founder wherein he also details the ritual but also his attempts to thwart Drigor by hiding the cup in the alter, in the mistaken belief that the cup was the fiends phylactery


Sat Dec 12, 2015 5:08 am
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
It occurs to me that while this adventure is very specific to my campaign (what with it being set in the distant past, with Drigor being Strahd's "court wizard" before Azalin and Darklord powers being the results of Power Rituals) the basic setup is applicable to almost any adventure set in Barovia village and environs whilst avoiding the castle.

A good setup might be that the PCs have become stranded within the ring of choking fog without the coin to buy the potion from the vistani and the gypsies have sent them on a mission in exchange for enough potion to escape.

The basic reading is generic enough (Innocent/Victim, Darklord/Villain, Temptress/Lover, Artefact) that by changing the specifics it could be made to fit any timeline.

I've also tried to keep the encounter locations pretty canonical so they should fit pretty well

I've levelled it at around level 4-5 so as to make it clear to the players that the castle is beyond their capabilities.

If I were to write this up properly would any body be interested?

Maybe someone would like to add some later edition crunch?


Sun Dec 20, 2015 12:16 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
I've been thinking about this wrong, maybe

I've been thinking of the locations chosen by the reading as object locations (here's where the cup is at) where an encounter might occur (but first you have to defeat a werewolf/persuade a burgomeister) and be complicated by a random NPC (a monk also wants the cup)

Instead maybe I should be thinking of them as encounter locations (here is a mist horror/mini-dungeon) complicated by a possible further encounter (but first you have to defeat a werewolf/persuade a burgomeister) with a role-playing opportunity (a monk also wants the cup maybe he can be persuaded to join the quest)


Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:54 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
Hopefully be picking this back up in a week or two, so

Assuming that they discover the lab next (a fair assumption as they are in the church expressly preparing to search the graveyard where the lab is located, but honestly, with my group you never know) then the next section will be a pretty straightforward dungeon crawl.

From a design perspective, it might be useful if I try to fit most of the remaining exposition into this section in some form, and try and avoid the "ghost turns up at the end and explains the bits the players didn't figure out" bit that I tend to use.

They should by now suspect Drigor's involvement, because of the presence of the Madrigores, that should be confirmed by the Madrigorian and journal.

Up until this point I can't think of any thing that points to Strahd's involvement, this needs to be addressed, I don't think the Madrigorian would explicitly refer to Strahd simply due to it's obtuse style, so the journal would be a better source for that info.

The names of the first Madrigore (the innocent/victim) and his wife (the temptress/woman) will be evident in the empty tomb that makes up the front for the lab, but the name of their son, the next author of Drigor's continuing work, will only be found in the birth records for the church.

I'm wondering whether there needs to be any justification for the arrival of the random npcs, at the moment all I can think of is that Drigor, now safely outside the bounds of the village seeks to safeguard his work by removing those objects which may be used to craft an antidote, or maybe belatedly he has realised the potential value in controlling the antidote and so has sent adventurers to retrieve them, if so then even the "friendly" npcs could be expected to turn against the group before the end.


Wed Feb 10, 2016 11:53 pm
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
Well, this is pretty interesting. I haven't followed the whole discussion. Where do you stand now?

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Thu Feb 11, 2016 2:56 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
So to recap and clarify

The PCs souls have traveled through time a la FtS and Quantum Leap, into the bodies of several sons of Madame Eva, who realizing that they were not her sons used some form of ESP to read them and decide what to do (leaving them with the unnerving possibility that Madame Eva's famed ability to see the future was obtained from their minds).

She informs them that they have arrived at an ideal moment, she is about to meet with Strahd for the first time, and she wants an ace up her sleeve, the PCs will provide that ace.

She quickly performed a reading for the group (see photo) and having done so departed for the castle

The group did a brief tour of the village and then settled on investigating the church, as they knew of the association of that church with ravens from a previous adventure, unfortunately that previous adventure had take place in the crypts below the church (which will have collapsed by the time of I6) and the players investigated there before checking the enormous raven statue, allowing a monk to get to the hiding place and recover the cup, fortunately they were able to stop him before he got away and persuade him to relinquish the cup, and join the group.

Back at the church they asked the local priest of Andral (he shall be the last priest of Andral outside the Keepers of the Feather, he is aware that there are many secrets of the faith that his mentor failed to pass to him, which is why he feels unequipped to train a successor) for information about goings on, he tells them of the "first curse" the mists which followed the doomed wedding of Sergei, cutting the entire nation off from the world. Then he told them of the "second curse" a ring of choking fog which isolated the village of Barovia from the rest of the nation. Unlike the first curse the second had not been heralded by any great calamity, but had arrived suddenly, after several weeks of strange goings on at the castle. Now the villagers whisper that the devil Strahd II is sullying the memory of his father Sturm and his uncle Strahd I by making pacts with dark forces.

The nature and identity of those dark forces was discovered almost by accident, having dealt with the Artifact, Raven and Monk cards they turned their attention to the Darklord, Ghost and Enchanter cards. Correctly surmising that the Ghost card referred to the graveyard next to the church they asked the priest if they could see the burial records. Near the back in one of the more recent burials (around the time of the second curse) there was a name they recognized from their own time, Madrigore, in fact the PCs had recently been to Edrigan searching in vain for their friend Dr Van Richten, and are well aware of that families connection to the fiend Drigor. So believing it important that they investigate the graveyard after dark (when ghosts are about) they wait in the church til nightfall when they will attempt to discover the secret of the Darklord card in the Madrigore family tomb, which is where we left off.

Going forward, I intend for them to discover a secret mini-dungeon hidden within the empty tombs of the Madrigores. Hopefully the fact that their graves are empty will give some clue to the PCs that maybe they are the Innocent and Temptress that the reading referred to. They should be able to discover two sources of information on what has truly happened, firstly the first volume of the Madrigorian, which through it's obtuse style refers to the events of the formation of the demiplane to the creation of Strahds choking fog from Drigors perspective, and Madrigore's secret journal, hasty scribbles jotted down in moments of lucidity and control, detailing the preparations for the ritual which creates the fog, Madrigore's fears that Drigor was training his infant child to take over the duty of writing, and Madrigore's ultimately futile attempt to undermine Drigor's plan by hiding the cup in the church.

What should become clear is this, Drigor has been trapped in Barovia since the formation of the demiplane, and during this time he has been studying his prison. One discovery he has made is that it would be possible for him to gain new powers if he where to complete certain diabolic rituals, he immediately sensed a trap, and refused to perform those rituals. He was left with the possibility that maybe someone else could perform the ritual, which would allow him to observe, if the trap was sprung, he hoped to see some of it's workings. He had avoided Strahd up until this point, but knowing that the self taught spell caster had a habit of capturing spell casters to gain access to their tutelage, he disguised himself as a travelling wizard and allowed himself to be caught. He then spent several months tutoring Strahd in magic, becoming Strahd's court mage just as Azalin would become later. Once Strahd was suitably "prepped" Drigor offered to teach him the ritual, truthfully telling the count that it may require him to become more bonded to the land, you can probably guess Strahd's response "I am the Land".

The sacrifices for the ritual needn't have been first Madrigore's wife, her body dumped in the cave behind the Tser Falls so that her spirit would connect to the billowing mist, and then Madrigore himself strangled and buried in an unconsecrated grave by the gates of barovia to mark the extent of the choking fog, but Drigor had no further use for them having taught their son his letters and wished to travel light.

Once the ritual was complete Strahd gained control of the choking fog causing it to rise and fall as he willed. Pleased, he kept his side of their bargain and allowed Drigor to depart (Strahd thought of this as a head start, expecting to track and kill the human wizard after a few days, but Drigor was nowhere to be found) Drigor, for his part has recently realized that he could construct an antidote to the choking mist from the items used in the original ritual (the cup, his lab, and the bodies of the Madrigores) and not wanting to be discovered by Strahd has hired adventurers to retrieve these items (a monk an enchanter a berserker and a guildsman)

The PCs must retrieve these items first, in order that it is Madame Eva who is the one to create the antidote and not Drigor, they already have the cup and are hot on the tail of the lab.


Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:08 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
Drigor being a player is based on Ryan Naylors Illustrated History of the Core, where it is suggested that Drigor might have been following Inajira's trail in Barovia when he got trapped by the formation of the demiplane.

The idea that certain DL powers are the result of "power rituals" rather than perks of DL status is based on a chat with Steve Miller concerning Anton Misroi.

That Strahd was for the most part self taught was made clear in a chat with P N Elrod but she also insisted that the choking fog and the mists were the same phenomena (or at least that the choking fog also surrounded the nation), in that matter I assumed her to be an unwitting mouthpiece of the Barovian regime :azalin:

Ideas for encounters in Barovia village and environs have been taken from nearly every previously published version of said including but not limited to the Fair Barovia article from Dragon, EtCR, House of Strahd, I6 and Robinloft


Sat Feb 13, 2016 11:58 pm
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Post Re: Tarokka cards as locations in Barovia village
Played the next part tonight.

The PCs spent the night in the church observing the procession of ghosts that walk to the castle. For some reason they started formulating a plan to try and stop the procession, involving wrought iron chains, pulleys and snares (in my campaign wrought iron and salt are effective against ghosts but silver is not).

In the morning, plan put on hold they investigated the Madrigore tomb. Despite the fact that the entire group have thief levels we have not one open locks specialist (I try to get them to play as a team, I do) so progress was slow, noisy and involved lots of hitting things. They found a scriptorium with Vol 1 of the Madrigorian, which they still refuse to read, but used clues on it's cover to unlock the secret door to the lab proper.

Entering the lab they saw the lab equipment and started investigating a demonic altar when a vampiric mist started to billow forth and attack. They retreated back to the corridor and tried to fend the creature off, they didn't do particularly well at first with the vampire mist gaining substantiality from draining the blood multiple times from one PC who was quite close to dying by the time the PCs started being able to hit the mist. Once the mist became substantial however, they soon dispatched it and returned to the lab.

Something about the lab was different, it took them a little while to figure out that the lab equipment was missing and the door out ajar. It turned out that the enchanter who had become trapped in the tomb the previous night (when the PCs were supposed to be searching the graveyard but pussied out) had used the PCs fight with the vampire mist as cover to nab the lab equipment and try to slip passed them.

One of the PCs, realized there was somebody else in the dungeon and chased after him. A charm person caught him coming round a corner, and he helped the enchanter unlock the door (amazing how the dice work against you sometimes) and carried the trunk of lab equipment to the enchanter's hand cart for him before returning to the group.

The others soon realized what was up and chased after the enchanter who was heading into the Svalich Woods when they caught him. He told them a similar tale to the monk, he had been hired by a mysterious but obviously powerful stranger who had offered help to the outlander enchanter in returning home. The enchanter insisted that he was not a bad guy and offered that he had only cast a relatively harmless spell when in a pinch and had not attempted combat when caught. He informed them that his employer had instructed him to float the lab equipment passed the choking fog down river.

They took the lab equipment into their possession and after checking in with the gypsy camp returned with the enchanter to the church which they seem to be using as an unofficial base, which is where we left off


Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:32 am
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