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New players welcome. Don't worry if you have no idea what's happening - directly below this post will be a summary recounting all the major events so far. If you wish to read the first thread anyway, there is a link to the archive below. Everybody is welcome to participate and vote.

In Barovian Legends #2, Aranuel will learn her role in the fate of Barovia, and come face-to-face with the blight that keeps Ravenloft adrift, separated from the realm of the living: the Curse of Strahd.

Archive of Previous Thread
https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2022/5195343/

Character/Quest Info
Info / FAQ: https://pastebin.com/sTurBdHZ
Stats, Spells, Inventory, Character (updated in real time): https://pastebin.com/chuTtwgW
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Recap (1/5)

You are Aranuel Caniella; 18-year-old human girl, Cleric of Kossuth, and novice swordsman. Ever since the moment you were old enough to carry a weapon and a backpack, you have been traveling alone, foregoing your doomed house to pursue the one person your heart longs for: your elder sister Joannus, who was kidnapped by a mysterious group of traveling merchants when you were very young.

Your travels brought you to the land of Barovia: an ancient valley that does not appear on any map, that innkeepers, adventurers, and bards across the realm have only spoken about in cautionary tales and warnings. Some had said the valley didn't even exist. You sadly weren't able to mark its location on your map (you got lost when searching for it, and emerged from the mists of the Svalich Woods at its gates) but you did find it... yet its magical borders seemed to trap you, preventing you from leaving the valley through the impassible fog. That's fine though; you have a mission. You can deal with that once you've found your sister.

You came to an old village (known only as "the village") underneath the shadow of a great castle - a castle you soon learned to be Castle Ravenloft, the home of Strahd von Zarovich, a reclusive lord who rules Barovia. The locals of the village call him the Devil, because he usually only comes out at night and harasses the village to collect taxes. But the village's Burgomaster - a young man named Ismark Kolyanovich - revealed an open secret: that Strahd is actually powerful vampire. To make matters worse, Strahd has, for reasons beyond his understanding, taken a personal interest in Ismark's sister, Ireena. He appears at night and seduces her with a strange magic, then drinks her blood. When you found her, she was sickly looking, with bite marks on her neck from a recent encounter with him.

Ismark, seeing your arrival as a stroke of fortune, begged you for a favor - to bring his sister Ireena west with you and ensure her safety, lest she be bitten again and transformed into a vampire spawn. You agreed to bring her with you and see her safe in the next settlement, a town called Vallaki. But you did not lose sight of your greater goal: finding out what happened to your sister, and bringing her home.

In the tavern, you met a group of strange women in colorful clothing of the same kind as the merchants who your sister was hanging out with all those years ago before she vanished. You discovered that these women are part of the Vistani - a group of nomadic merchants who make themselves at home in Barovia before travelling across the realms to peddle their wares. After talking to them and explaining your mission, you were pointed to a Vistani encampment on the road a little ways west... this was your best hope of finding Joannus. So you disembarked with Ireena on the Svalich Road.
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Recap (2/5)

The road proved very unsafe. You were attacked by undead on the way, and found its darkness oppressive and ghastly... but you eventually made it to the Tser Pool where the Vistani were camped. There, you met a Vistani man named Antonio, who gave you your next lead: another Vistani camp outside Vallaki. You also participated in some merrymaking, bonded with Ireena, who reminded you a lot of your sister, and and had your first real rest since arriving in Barovia.

In the encampment, you also had your fortune read by a mystic named Madame Eva. She gave you five predictions; three detailing hidden objects that will be of great importance to your journey, the fourth foretelling the way you are destined to meet a great ally, and the fifth predicting a battle between you and a great foe, a creature of darkness beyond mortal comprehension. None of those predictions have yet come true, and you don't really care about any of them - all you care about is finding sister and fulfilling your promise to Ismark, then finding a way to leave Barovia
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Recap (3/5)

Upon arriving in Vallaki, you were stopped at the gates. The night was falling, you had just survived an encounter with a spirit of the forest, and were worried about being stuck outside again at night. Yet the guards would not let you in - they said the town was closed at night, citing fear of Strahd's minions. You and Ireena, deciding camping outside wasn't worth the risk, decided to sneak into the city through its northern gate. But you were caught, arrested, and thrown in the town jail. Seeing no other option, you agreed.

In jail, you were freed by a noblewoman named Lady Fiona Wachter, who struck a deal with you. She expressed disdain in the town's current policies under its leader, Baron Vargas Vallakovich, and claimed that two adventurers wandering into town was just the wildcard she needed. But she would not explain why. She simply told you to wander the city, keep a low profile, and meet with her in two days time with her findings; there she would give you her proposal.

However, this deal did not last long. At first, you wandered the town and got a feel for it - they seemed to be very fond of celebrations here, as the decorations for the previous one had not even been torn down yet and they were already putting up notices about a new one. You decided you wanted to meet this Baron that Lady Wachter spoke so low about personally... and you did. You went to his mansion (without Ireena) and asked one of his servants to arrange an audience. While you were waiting for him in the guest lounge, however, you decided to sneak up to the second floor. There you found something suspicious: a man chained in a closet, gagged and beaten purple. But as you did this, the Baron himself emerged from a room with his two dogs, and fell into a blind rage.

He and his two mastiffs attacked you, leaving you no choice but to smite him with the wrath of Kossuth. He was engulfed in flames. He and his dogs died, leaving you stunned.

Quickly, you questioned the prisoner, asking him why he was chained up in the Baron's closet; he claimed he was put there for "malicious unhappiness" after criticizing the town's constant celebrations and strict authoritarian policies. You did not have much time to act, however, as the mansion's staff quickly ascended the stairs along with the town guard, and you were arrested *again*... this time, with no hope of being freed. But not before you had the chance to cast a preservation spell on the Baron's corpse, prolonging the window of time where resurrection is possible, in hope that a more learned caster may yet revive him.
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Recap (4/5)

In prison, you were stuck wondering what happened of Ireena. But you received no news... of anything. The guards that were meant to protect you soon vanished and didn't return to their post. So, using your magic, you devised a crafty escape. You found a strange absence of guards, and strange hooded figures observed your escape but did not intervene. You caught glimpses of a battle happening on the other side of the town, by the church. Unsure of what was going on, you made your way to the inn you had a room in. The inn was boarded up, and its owner, Urwin Markitov, pulled you in and explained that Vallaki's leadership was under attack by unknown forces, including undead.

You met up again with Ireena, but found she was with somebody new - a handsome nobleman who went by Vasili Von Holtz, who claimed to be a patron of Lady Wachter's whose family lived outside the village of Barovia. You didn't trust him, and tried to compel the truth from him with magic, but his will was alarmingly strong. He wanted to take Ireena back east, closer to the village you had just escorted her from, claiming he knew of a safe place there she could stay. She was on board with this plan too, and ultimately, after a long and gruling debate, you agreed to let her go, on the condition that you have a way to contact each other should something go wrong. Vasili gave you a means of contact: three pieces of enchanted parchment that can fold themselves into paper birds and fly to their intended recipient, and he left with Ireena.

You now had a few options: to embark on your own and continue to the Vistani camp outside Vallaki in search of your sister, to stalk Ireena and Vasili and protect her from afar in case her trust in Vasili was misplaced, or to stay in Vallaki and honor your promise to meet with Lady Fiona Wachter. You chose the latter.
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Recap (5/5)

Your meeting with Lady Wachter made sense of all of the events in Vallaki. She said that the people were fed up with the Baron's false narrative of happiness, which believed was the only way to lift the land's curse, and that she was using this unrest to lead a takeover from the shadows. She also revealed, not-so-subtly, that she was on the side of Strahd; she sees him not as a tyrannical ruler, but more like a neglectful landlord, a man who needs to be appeased in order for things to continue running smoothly... and thus, she had Strahd's support. She said that your stunt killing the Baron was the best surprise she could have hoped for, and that it single-handedly justified her decision to free you from prison. She said that she could clear your name, but only if you agreed to be on call for favors in the future. You agreed, but only on the condition that she help you fulfill your goal: finding your sister, the reason you came to Barovia in the first place.

Like some kind of divine joke, she recommended the last person you would have expected to help you find your sister: The Lord of Barovia himself, the Devil Strahd von Zarovich. She claimed that he kept tabs on the whereabouts of every adventurer from beyond the fog who arrived in Barovia, and that if she was alive, he would know where she is. Fiona claimed her connections could grant you an audience with him as soon as tomorrow if you accept. There were many reasons she cited for why Strahd may want to help you, and some of them seemed plausible enough, but you were still stunned at the offer.

Questioning everything you have heard about the feared ruler of Barovia since arriving at the gates, you pondered her suggestion, wondering whether you were walking directly into the jaws of hell. But your sister came first in your mind. You accepted to help Fiona, and accepted the meeting with Strahd. That brings us to the present... whether or not you made the right choice will be revealed now.

--

Should you wish to read the first thread (although this is not necessary) it is archived here: https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2022/5195343/

Some of the events not featured in the recap include: the purchase of a mysterious pastry that turned out to be more than meets the eye, a brief confrontation with an undead knight who recounted the fall of his ancient Order and explained why he still serves it after death, and the full series of unfortunate lapses in player reasoning that lead to Aranuel murdering the burgomaster of Vallaki on day two of visiting.
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Barovian Legends #2: The Curse of Strahd

...

The carriage had arrived early in the morning. Fionia insisted you venture outside of Vallaki alone to receive it, and it was there as she said it would be: a large black vehicle drawn by two black horses. The side door of the carriage swung open silently as you approached. The carriage did not appear to be driven by anybody, and and the fog seemed to follow it, growing thick and dense as you stepped into the passenger seat.

But the carriage was fast. Compared to the days it had taken you and Ireena to travel from the Tser Pool to the eastern gate of Vallaki, this magical carriage took mere hours. Already you are past that crossroads where the road atop the mountain split west and east - one way to Vallaki, another to Castle Ravenloft.

You're not sure what you will say when you meet with the Lord of Barovia. You don't have much of an impression of him aside from his reputation, which, until speaking to Fiona, was overwhelmingly negative. Will he really help you find your sister? Fiona had said Strahd leads a dull life, and that he has a great deal of curiosity about outsiders. Therefore, she claimed, she could think of no better incentive for him to help you than the promise of friendship. But what if he declines? Are you merely wasting his time?

And what about what he did to Ireena? You won't forget that. Lord, you hope she is safe with Vasili.

...

After winding through the forest and craggy mountain peaks, the road takes a sudden turn, and the startling, awesome presence of Castle Ravenloft towers before you. The carriage comes to a dead stop before twin turrets of stone, broken from years of exposure. Beyond these guard towers is the precipice of a fifty-foot-wide, fog-filled chasm that disappears into unknown depths.

A lowered drawbridge of old, shored-up wooden beams stretches across the chasm, between you and the archway to the courtyard. The chains of the drawbridge creak in the wind, their rust-eaten iron straining under the weight. From atop the high walls, stone gargoyles stare at you out of their hollow eye sockets and grin hideously. A rotting wooden portcullis, green with growth, hangs above the entry tunnel. Beyond this location, the main doors of Ravenloft stand open. A rich, warm light spills from within, flooding the courtyard. Torches flutter sadly in sconces on both sides of the open doors.

(cont.)
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Thick, cold fog swirls in the courtyard. Sporadic flashes of lightning lance the weeping clouds overhead as thunder shakes the ground. Through the drizzle, you see torch flames fluttering on each side of the keep's main doors. High above the entrance is a round window with shards of broken glass lodged in its iron frame. The ornate outer doors of the castle hang open, flanked by fluttering torches in iron sconces, and flooding the courtyard with warm light from inside. Twenty feet inside the castle is a second set of doors. Overhead, in the vaulted entry foyer, four statues of dragons glare down, their eyes flickering in the torchlight.

You keep your hand near your longsword as you carefully step through the courtyard, reaching main doors of the castle. Nobody is here to guide you, but the sound of organ music is coming from inside the castle's main hall, drawing you forward. You can't help but notice how dead and decrepit the castle looks, even from here - it's in great disrepair, yet, somehow, it loses none of its magnificence. It seems majestic and terrifying all at the same time. It feels like a haunted place. You find yourself doubting how anybody could live here, but you must remind yourself that the Lord of Barovia is supposedly a vampire, so it's possible that nobody, in fact, is. Does he know you know he's a vampire? Will that come up during the conversation?

You push through the second set of doors, which groan with the pain of their great age as they open, and enter the main hall. Cobwebs stretch between the columns that support the vaulted ceiling of a great, dusty chamber dimly lit by sputtering torches in iron sconces. The torches cast odd shadows across the faces of eight stone gargoyles squatting motionlessly on the rim of the domed ceiling. Cracked and faded ceiling frescoes are covered by decay. Double doors of bronze stand closed to the east. To the north, a wide staircase climbs into darkness. A lit hallway to the south contains another set of bronze doors, through which you hear the sad and majestic organ tones that you heard from outside. Obviously that is where you are supposed to go. On the other side of that door, however, is an arched hallway which stretches for twenty feet, ending at a spiral staircase that goes up and down. Next to the hallway, a suit of armor, oiled and glistening, stands at attention in a shallow alcove.

A thought occurs to you. You are flooded with flashbacks of sitting in the lobby in the Baron's mansion in Vallaki. The rest of the castle lies before you - there are not one, not two, but three separate directions you could go, other than inside the organ room where you believe Strahd is waiting for you. It's not your fault you aren't with a chaperone. This may be the castle of the Lord himself, but... do you dare..?

>Stick to the plan. Meet Strahd.
>Cast a spell or use an item (list: https://pastebin.com/chuTtwgW)
>Other (specify)
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Thick, cold fog swirls in the courtyard. Sporadic flashes of lightning lance the weeping clouds overhead as thunder shakes the ground. Through the drizzle, you see torch flames fluttering on each side of the keep's main doors. High above the entrance is a round window with shards of broken glass lodged in its iron frame. The ornate outer doors of the castle hang open, flanked by fluttering torches in iron sconces, and flooding the courtyard with warm light from inside. Twenty feet inside the castle is a second set of doors. Overhead, in the vaulted entry foyer, four statues of dragons glare down, their eyes flickering in the torchlight.

You keep your hand near your longsword as you carefully step through the courtyard, reaching main doors of the castle. Nobody is here to guide you, but the sound of organ music is coming from inside the castle's main hall, drawing you forward. You can't help but notice how dead and decrepit the castle looks, even from here - it's in great disrepair, yet, somehow, it loses none of its magnificence. It seems majestic and terrifying all at the same time. It feels like a haunted place. You find yourself doubting how anybody could live here, but you must remind yourself that the Lord of Barovia is supposedly a vampire, so it's possible that nobody, in fact, is. Does he know you know he's a vampire? Will that come up during the conversation?

You push through the second set of doors, which groan with the pain of their great age as they open, and enter the main hall. Cobwebs stretch between the columns that support the vaulted ceiling of a great, dusty chamber dimly lit by sputtering torches in iron sconces. The torches cast odd shadows across the faces of eight stone gargoyles squatting motionlessly on the rim of the domed ceiling. Cracked and faded ceiling frescoes are covered by decay. Double doors of bronze stand closed to the east. To the north, a wide staircase climbs into darkness. A lit hallway to the south contains another set of bronze doors, through which you hear the sad and majestic organ tones that you heard from outside. Obviously that is where you are supposed to go. On the other side of that door, however, is an arched hallway which stretches for twenty feet, ending at a spiral staircase that goes up and down. Next to the hallway, a suit of armor, oiled and glistening, stands at attention in a shallow alcove.

A thought occurs to you. You are flooded with flashbacks of sitting in the lobby in the Baron's mansion in Vallaki. The rest of the castle lies before you - there are not one, not two, but three separate directions you could go, other than inside the organ room where you believe Strahd is waiting for you. It's not your fault you aren't with a chaperone. This may be the castle of the Lord himself, but... do you dare..?

>Stick to the plan. Meet Strahd.
>Cast a spell or use an item (list: https://pastebin.com/chuTtwgW)
>Other (specify)
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>>5242676
>>Stick to the plan. Meet Strahd.
>>
>>5242676
nice to see this up
>Stick to the plan. Meet Strahd.
don’t fuck with vampires
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>>5242759
>Other (specify)
Strahd likes interesting foreigners, right? Well, we wouldn't be very interesting if we didn't at least
>get a closer look-see at that glimmering suit of armor
then
>venture up the wide staircase to the north and check out the rooms up there

>>5242769
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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>>5242789
Meant to link the post not the anon responding, woops
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>>5242789
>get a closer look-see at that glimmering suit of armor
(The vote is still open, this is simply a description of the armor.)
The armor appears to be a very well-cared-for suit of plate armor - it's in much better repair than the castle itself. The chest bears an insignia depicting a raven in front of an intricate vertical pattern that resembles a castle spire.
This type of armor is too heavy for you to wear effectively in battle. However, you recognize that this is a very valuable original piece. If it was in the general market, it would easily sell for 1,500 gold pieces, maybe even higher to the right connoisseur. It doesn't appear to be locked or secured to its stand in any way.
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>>5242804
>resist urge to clunk around in another man's castle in his own suit of armor (Wisdom - Saving Throw)
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I don't want to get in trouble again, so lets stay put and just meet Strahd.
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Alright I'll change from wandering off to
>Stick to the plan
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I just caught up, and holy shit you guys are full on murderhobos. Respect to the QM allowing that, despite fucking up his notes
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>>5242889
No way bro, we didn't do anything wrong we just got unlucky.
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>>5242889
>Implying Baron Vallakovich wasn't asking for it
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>>5242889
It wasn't us, it was Kossuth. Surely you aren't doubting fire god anon....
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>>5242889
>>5242935
BURN HIM!
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>>5242759
>>5242769
>>5242869
>>5242877
You enter the room where the haunting sound of the organ is coming from. You would prefer to avoid a repeat of the incident in the manor.

Three enormous crystal chandeliers brilliantly illuminate this magnificent chamber. Pillars of stone stand against dull white marble walls, supporting the ceiling. In the center of the room, a long, heavy table is covered with a fine white satin cloth. A seat is available at the end of the table facing you. In front of the seat is a crystal goblet filled with an amber liquid with a delicate, tantalizing fragrance.

At the center of the far wall, between floor-to-ceiling mirrors, stands a massive organ. Its pipes blare out a thunderous melody that speaks in its tone of greatness and despair. Seated at the organ, facing away from you, is a single caped figure who pounds the keys in raptured ecstasy.

The figure suddenly stops as you enter. A deep silence falls over the dining hall. He slowly turns toward you.

(cont.)