Chapter 1: The Death House of Barovia
Our adventure starts in an unassuming inn in the country side of eastern Sword Coast. Three seasoned adventurers sit at a table enjoying libations after a long travel from Waterdeep. The front door of the inn slams open as the strong cold winds tear into the room, scrambling hanging cloths and flowers. A vibrantly dressed man struts through the door, stops and surveys the room; resting his eyes upon the group of adventurers. He walks over to their table and drops a bag what seems like coins on their table. He proclaims that he had been sent to deliver a message. He tells the adventurers, if they choose to take the challenge, have been called to help his master; the Burgomaster of Barovia – Kolyan Indrovich. He gives them directions and takes his leave.
The adventurers around the table look at each other and back to the bag of coins…
Around the table are a large Half-Orc Priest of Tempus: Crüm, an Aasmir Paladin of Pelor: Pieron the Annointed, and a Gnome Wizard of Lore: Professor Lorenzo Von Matterhorn. They’ve had many adventures together over the last couple years and are nearly friends at this point. Crüm, though not very bright, carries a wisdom with him that brings them through tough situations. Pieron’s resolve and absolute devotion to Pelor keeps them honest, and the Professor’s knowledge of lore prepares them for every challenge.
The group marches five hours east and into the Svalich Woods. As midnight approaches, the group decides to camp and sleep until morning. They make camp, set the fire, and start their watches as the rest of the group sleeps. Sometime during the night, a mist starts creeping onto the group until they completely enshrouded. The party awakes as the fog clears and they realize that the trees and road around them are the not the same as they were the night before. The smell of rotting flesh and mildew starts to fill their noses as they pack off and march forward away from the mists and into this new land they’ve awaken to.
They approach a large rusted metal gate attached to high stone walls. Two large statues, about 20 to 25 feet tall, flank the gate. The heads of the statues rest at their feet reaching halfway up their waste. The smell of death intensifies as they try to smash their way through the gate. Eventually, the gate gives way to a long winding road that crests over a large hill in the distance.
They reach the pinnacle of the hill and find themselves looking over a gloomy dark village. The buildings seem to pull from the ground into points at the top. Ravens are everywhere. The Professor notices a single raven staring at them on top of the closest building. He discerns that this raven is purposely following them. They travel down the road and into the town. As they approach the first intersection, they hear nothing but the sound of what seems like a woman crying in the distance. They walk forward a bit more and hear children crying to their right. They look and see two children standing in the street; a girl and a boy.
As they approach, the children, Rose and Thorn, cry out to them to help save their parents and their brother from the monster in side the house. Behind the children is a looming house with dark, almost empty, windows. There’s a large porch and beautiful stained-glass door leading into a foyer. Unlike the outside of the home, the interior is immaculate. The walls and doors are made of stunning mahogany with intricate carvings in every room. The house is spotless and dust-free.
The adventurers search the first floor of the home and find a kitchen, a study, a large spiral staircase leading upstairs, and an office. Inside the office they find a large iron key inside a desk. They venture upstairs and find the same immaculate state and beautiful rooms. On the second floor, they find a large hunter’s den with a scene of small children frolicking through evergreen trees carved into the wooden paneling. Crüm looks closer at this scene and realizes it’s not children dancing through trees; it’s rotting skeletons and hungry wolves are hiding in the brush around the trees.
They follow the stairs again to the third floor. As they climb the stairs and enter the foyer of the 3rd floor, it’s like a different home completely. The walls are rotten, windows are blown out, and dust covers every surface. There’s a silent suit of armor at the top of the stairs. As the group approaches, it attacks! The group makes quick work of the suit of armor and conclude it was animated by some sort of magic. They stumble upon a nursery with a rocking crib shrouded in a black silk cloth. As the group looks inside, there’s the form of a baby wrapped in linen. They quickly pick up the cloth and unravel it to find…Nothing. From behind them they hear a ghostly scream as a banshee attacks them. They battle the banshee around the room and end up defeating it as it fades into nothing.
The professor ends up finding a secret door by the stairwell that opens to a staircase completely entrenched in spider webs and dust leading up to the attic. In the attic they find the skeleton of the nursemaid they slew downstairs and learn of the story of Gustav Durst, their affair, and the stillborn baby. They also find the ghosts of Rose and Thorn; they assure the adventurers that they did not beckon them into the house. Rose shows the group a dollhouse. It’s an exact replica of the house in which they stand and it shows every door and hidden door in the house. The group sees a hidden door in the attic leading to a staircase that goes under the house. They try to leave, but in grief, Thorn possesses the Professor. Crüm, not having time for this shit, scares the bejesus out of the child’s ghost and he immediately leaves the Professor’s body. The group descends the stairs to a subterranean level.
The group finds a sprawling underground complex with tight 5 foot wide corridors and various large chambers. They find some tombs, most of which are empty, but they find two that are making noise. After some failed attempts, they smash open the tombs and find two living creatures. These creatures turn out to be a human Bard: Branthaniel and a Half-Elf Rogue: Antonio Montoyas. They follow the group and help in order to escape the house they’ve been trapped in.
The group continues to traverse the complex. They find a statue of a man with a crystal orb in his hands. Branthaniel takes it immediately and is surrounded by five shadows. At the same time, the rest of the group walked into an intersection in the corridors and were surrounded by 4 ghouls. The group fights their way through the monsters and succeeds; many are hurt, but they survived. They decide to camp for the night in the large barracks room. Antonio stays up while Crüm takes the first watch. Antonio sneaks off and finds a large bedroom down the hallway. He finds a chest full of loot including a peculiar looking cloak. As he stands up, 2 ghasts burst through the dirt walls and begin attacking him. Crüm rushes down the hallway to assist. The professor wakes up and then actively goes back to sleep. Branthaniel and Pelor wake up and come to help as well. The group, mins the Professor, take down the dangerous ghasts and sort through the loot. They then finish their sleep…