Fate Calls to New Heroes
Six years have passed since the events which took place in Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle and the impacts made by the famous Dragonslayers are still being felt. Lady Morwen Daggerford has become a famous patron of adventuring parties, funding expeditions across the Delimbiyr Vale and beyond.
Although the PCs have all come to the Delimbiyr Vale and Daggerford for different reasons they were all invited to dine with Lady Morwen.
PC Roll Call
Despair – Tiefling Warlock. Despair is a serious lad who sees the world through a darker lens than most.
Lupa – Human Blood Hunter. Lupa has proven herself quite capable in battle but she is haunted by something which still eludes the party.
Onyx Nightshade – Onyx is a wall of muscle wielding a battleaxe but he has already proven his worth. The damage he has survived would have killed most members of the party.
Radiant Servant Elodin – Servant of Amaunator and a valuable addition to the party. Will the light he shines be enough to save them?
Samial Fabra – An enigma to the party wielding power over the natural world. He is resourceful and multi-talented.
Willy Grinn – His foes just wish he would shut up. Willy’s silver tongue is a powerful weapon in and out of combat.
The Adventure Unfolds
While Lady Morwen entertained her guests with the finest food and drink she could afford she regaled them with tales from her younger days as an adventurer. She has traveled far, seen much of this amazing world, and it is obvious she is playfully envious of those who can still continue to do so. Her reputation as a patron is well known to the PCs and when she presented them with quest there was no surprise among them.
For over a hundred years, the town of Daggerford has been haunted by a blemish and a tale of horror known as the Death House. The house is almost as old as the town itself and was built by the Durst family who hailed from Waterdeep to the north. Over time, the Dursts of Daggerford became more reclusive not only from their family but from the rest of Daggerford as well. Pub talk said the family was dabbling in the dark arts but for years and generations that kind of talk was shouted down. While reclusive, the Dursts were upstanding members of Daggerford and few wanted to think the worst of them.
That is, until the children Rosavalda and Thornbolt Durst disappeared. The children had few friends and when those friends began saying they could not find “Rose” and “Thorn” few thought much of it. A few weeks later passersby began to report they swore they could hear the children yelling from somewhere in the house. Only the Durst’s station kept the town guard from investigating properly. When those voices turned to screams of terror the town guard had no choice but to force the matter. What they found inside the home drove some of them mad.
As it turns out, the rumors surrounding the Durst family were mostly true. The family had begun practicing dark arts and communing with evil spirits the Durst called the “Dark Powers.” They had built a cult around their new masters and had begun recruiting members from the local lords and ladies. This discovery was the beginning of a dark time in Daggerford as the Duke of Daggerford (himself untouched by the cult) began routing the evil doers from his midst. Inside the home, the guard found the remains of numerous human sacrifices and dark entities who assaulted their very senses. The Duke recruited a holy paladin to lead his men and the evil forces were routed from the home, the Durst family executed for their crimes, and the home was abandoned.
Rose and Thorn were never seen again, at least, not as members of the living.
The Durst home came to be known as the Death House and its vile reputation has only grown. Ghostly screams, eery lights, and the occasional disappearance around the house have kept the locals at bay. A few attempts have been made to cleanse or destroy the house but all such attempts have met with disaster. At least two adventuring parties have disappeared inside, never to return, and a third emerged ranting and ravings about the dark things they saw.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Lady Morwen has decided it is finally time to do something about the Death House. She explains that she gathered this particular group of adventurers because she believed they possessed the skills needed to at least uncover the deepest mysteries of the house and destroy them if possible. The PCs, being the blossoming heroes they are, accept Lady Morwen’s task.
As Lady Morwen began to retire for the night, Samial politely pulled her aside to ask about his twin sister, Anarra. His quest to find his sister is what brought him to Daggerford where she had come to lead an expedition for a patron. Lady Morwen admitted she did not know Anarra but added that Delfen Yellowknife was also known to play patron and the quest Samial told her about seemed more like something the old wizard would undertake. Samial thanked her and returned to the party.
At Samial’s request, the party ventured forth to Delfen Yellowknife’s tower near the center of Daggerford but found it empty. An old woman pushing a cart of onions stopped and told them Delfen had not been seen in several months which is not all that odd for him. Unfortunately, she could not tell them anything more about the wizard’s whereabouts and she went on her way. Without knowing when the old magic user would return the party decided to head to the Death House to accomplish their quest.
They found the house easily enough and standing before the home were two small children looking up at the windows. The children were whispering to each other and pointing as the party approached and they didn’t notice the adventurers until they were upon them. Although somewhat timid, the older child introduced themselves as Rose and Thorn. The party recognized the name and readied themselves but the children did not react. They spoke a bit about the home (and one of them opened the door to the home with their prestidigitation magic) until one of the party members reached out for them. Rose’s face grew into a demonic visage, her mouth extending far beyond natural and filled with teeth, and her roar stunned the party. Then the children disappeared.
Not ones to be deterred, they pulled the rusted, screeching iron gate open and moved inside. They stopped in the foyer when they noticed lit oil lamps hung around the room lighting portraits of several generations of the Durst family, including the last to inhabit the home (in the living). The room was strangely free of any kind of debris or decay one might expect in a home which had been abandoned for nearly a hundred years. No cobwebs to be found.
Beyond the foyer, they found the main hall, as clean as the foyer outside, with several doors to the east and west (north is to the left on the map above) and a spiral staircase leading to the upper levels of the home. The kitchen and pantry were fully stocked and in the dining room, they found a hot meal waiting for them. Only Onyx and Willy were brave enough to try the food but it was flavorless and provided no satisfaction (but they ate it, mwuhahahaha). The door on the west wall led to a hunter’s den (in which they found some crossbows and bolts in a locked cabinet). Samial insisted on a thorough check of the first floor while Lupa began to sneak up to the second level. Although the druid did not find anything significant, he did notice that if he looked closer at the woodwork in the home he could find sinister images hidden within the carvings.
Lupa pressed ahead to the second level of the home and was joined shortly after by Samial and the rest of the party. This floor was also pristine and well list like the one below. On the west side of the home, they found a conservatory with a harpsichord and harp. The room was decorated with fine, crystal chandeliers and stain glassed windows depicting children playing. On the east side of the second floor, they found servants quarters and a library filled with shelves of books and a finely crafted desk covered with interesting baubles. However, what drew Lupa’s attention was a painting above the fireplace depicting a lighthouse on a cliff with a forest behind it. Although she could not place the memory, she swore she had been to that location and had seen that lighthouse before. She and Samial mulled over the subject for a bit before pressing on. Among the books, they found tomes on history, warfare, alchemy, and several first editions of poetry and fiction. Samial also stumbled upon a release for a secret door in he southeast corner of the room.
Behind the secret door was a 5’ by 15’ chamber containing additional bookshelves and a heavy wooden chest with the corpse of an adventurer hanging out of it. The books on the shelves detailed fiend-summoning rituals and the necromantic rituals of a cult called the Priests of Osybus. Examing the corpse, they found four darts sticking out of his body, a trap which served its purpose long ago. Nonetheless, Samial was careful to open the chest the rest of the way with his staff while everyone was clear. As the corpse fell away from the chest a letter fell from its hand but no one retrieved it.
Inside the chest, they found three blank books with black leather covers which looked like they would be worth a good bit of coin (25 gp each). They also found three spell scrolls (bless, protection from poison, and spiritual weapon), the deed to the house, the deed to the windmill depicted in the painting outside, and a signed will. The deed to the windmill indicated it was situated in the mountains east of a place called Vallaki but no one knew where that was. The will left both deeds and all Durst property to Rosavalda and Thornboldt Durst.
A haunting scream ripped through the house drawing the party’s attention, and Despair continued up the spiral stairs to the third floor to investigate.
The spiral staircase ended on the third floor and Despair found a smaller landed decorated with a single suit of black platemail armor. Unlike the lower two floors, no lamps were lit here and the landing was covered in cobwebs and debris. Whatever was keeping the lower levels clean had shown no such care for the third level of the home. As Despair moved to explore further, the helmet of the armor looked up at him and it dropped from its perch!
Roll for initiative!
Despair called out for help and steeled himself for the assault of the animated armor. Onyx quickly joined him but not before the armor smashed its gauntlet into Despair’s face knocking him to 1 hp with a single blow. From the stairs, Elodin cast a healing spell on Despair while the rest of the party tried to distract the armor. They quickly surrounded it and the armor tried several times to grab Onyx while suffering blow after blow (except by Samial, whose dice were not fond of him).
Throughout the fight, Willy continued to make the most of his Vicious Mockery cantrip and kept the animated armor at a disadvantage. The animated object had little hope of beating his DC and spent much of the battle attacking with Disadvantage.
Finally, the armor turned its attention back to a softer target and grabbed Despair by the collar and bull rushed him off the balcony. The pair fell 10’ to the stairs below and Despair was knocked unconscious. Then the armor rolled off the warlock and fell an additional 10’ to the first floor, taking significant damage along the way.
Onyx did not want to waste time reaching the armor before it recovered and he launched himself off the stairs, but his foot caught part of the broken banister. The barbarian fell 20’ and landed on the armor below (causing damage to both of them). Had that fall happened to anyone else in the party they would have died but the Onyx is a stalwart fellow. Lupa followed him with a bit more grace and managed to successfully drop to the first floor to attack the armor.
Samial rushed to cast a healing spell on Onyx which enabled him to get back in the fight and assist Lupa with the armor while Elodin rushed to Despair to stabilize him. After several massive blows, Onyx and Lupa managed to destroy what was left of the armor and its crumbled into pieces on the ground.
Although bruised and battered, the party decided not to rest. The idea of resting inside a haunted home was not an appealing one so they pressed on.
On the east side of the house, they found a bathroom and master suite. Although the master suite provided them no additional clues about the mysteries of Death House they did find an ornate, silver jewelry box (75 gp) with three gold rings (25 gp each), and a platinum necklace with a topaz pendant (750 gp).
On the west side of the house, they found what appeared to be a nursemaid’s suite but they did not have much time to explore before the specter of the nursemaid made her presence known. When Onyx opened one of the doors in the suite the specter launched herself through him. While she did cause him harm, the barbarian was able to resist her Life Drain ability. Did I mention how stalwart that fellow is? Although the specter landed several attacks on the barbarian which nearly killed him, she was not able to drain his life from him.
The party tried to surround the specter but she was ephemeral and continued to pass through them as she pleased. Elodin, Samial, and Despair unleashed their magic on the spirit (Sacred Flames, Thorn Whip, and Eldritch Blast respectively) while Lupa and Onyx maneuvered around it. Willy let his silver tongue (Vicious Mockery again) let him do his work for him. Onyx called upon his rage and revealed his shifter nature to the party to provide him the strength to finish off the specter, but he dropped unconscious just after the specter was destroyed. Before anyone could stabilize him, the barbarian woke himself up (rolled a 20 on his second death saving throw).
Bloody, exhausted, and drained of much of their resources the party decided to finally take a moment to rest before they continued. Thus ended the first session of Curse of Strahd.
DM Wrap Up
Although the party has not reached its first milestone yet they have definitely overcome some significant challenges and collected from treasure for their troubles. They have already learned much about the Durst family but more remains to be seen.