Session Reports Curse of Strahd - S3E3 - The Ring of Five


Staff member

The party has murdered the Baron, his necromancy practising son, the head of the guard, and one of the town guards. Vallaki stands at a crossroads with anarchy beckoning; can the party complete their coup d'etat and leave a stable refuge, or will the lights go out?

Our dramatis personae:

Ser Alys de Adon-Rouge of House Starbright (a half-orc Fighter with a soldier background, currently the leader of the town militia of Daggerford), played by Tom (Guvnor). Lawful Neutral. Imagine a slightly greener take on Grace Jones... Married to Ser Adon.

Ser Adon de Rouge of House Starbright (a half-orc Paladin, from a knightly background, with two human retainers and a priest), played by Paul (dr_mitch). Lawful Good. Married to Ser Alys.

Kelwarin (Kel) (a half-elf Sorceror flush with the powers of wild magic, an outlander), played by Graham (First Age). Chaotic Good.

Gaddock Teeg (a halfling wizard and former prizefighter), played by Alex (Doggetay), Neutral Good

Night of 19th November 2021 until 21st November

The consolidation of power began overnight. Kel suggested that the town guards may look favourably on the new regime if they had some form of transition bonus for their loyalty. Checking the funds out, the party soon had the cold hard cash available and called the guards together. Very quickly, using Ser Alys' acrobatic flexing and Kelwarin's silver-tongued words, the guards fell into line. A message was sent to Lady Wachter:

Dear Lady Wachter

I write as a dear friend. Those that brought pain and confusion to your beloved daughter are no more.

The incompetent Baron and his deviant offspring are no more. I slew the spawn myself after it almost slew my most revered husband with necromancy. The child had already killed two family retainers with it's occult dabbling.

This knowledge may aid you in searching for a therapy for your daughter, but at least you can sleep at night knowing that the slur on your family honour has been erased.

My husband and I remember our agreement with you that we would deal with the Baron and you would support us in the transition to a new stable order. As such we invite you to join us at the former Baronial mansion for the announcement of the new government.

We hope to see you in the morning.

Your Friend and Captain of the Militia,

Ser Alys Adon-Rouge
Morning arrived, and Gaddock slipped out early, using his prestidigitation magic to draw a crowd for an important announcement to the people of Vallaki about the Baron and the succession of power. Very quickly he garnered attention and a large number of people started to gather.

Meanwhile, Lady Wachter arrived, ready to be announced as the new town Burgomaster. Ser Adon disabused her of the ambition, whilst Kelwarin dropped sly comments that it was really important to watch the words you use in pacts. There was a passing comment that the Baron died in his sleep of a condition related to too much iron being present in his blood, and the atmosphere could have been cut with a knife, just like the one that Ser Alys was deliberately sharpening in front of Lady Fiona. Adon explained the Council of Five plan, and Lady Wachter begrudgingly accepted it, compliant for now, willing - as ever - to bide her time despite this affront to her nobility and tradition. She agreed to stand by Ser Adon when he announced the change of regime.

The Ring of Five plan was that a council of five (quorate of three) would be established. Each member represents a Right
  • The Right of Birth, the hereditary right of the Wachter family
  • The Right of Might, Ser Adon, who took the Chain of Office when All Was Not Right
  • The Right of Divinity, the town priest
  • The Right to Work, the Town businesses may vote (with a property and turnover eligibility of course)
  • The Right to Law, the Head of the City Guard - now Ser Alys.
Ser Alys swiftly proposed Danika Dorakova, their innkeeper, as the Right to Work representative, something quickly accepted by those present.

Ser Adon began his announcement; it initially went well as he stated that 'all had not been well', but he started to run into difficulty when Old Mother Steiner started to accuse him of murdering her son in cold blood 'when he was only doing his job' and then leaving him in the street. She started to gain traction with the crowd which started to become restless, until Ser Alys intervened by promising him a hero's burial for doing his duty and that she would receive his bonus and be looked after. She then dispatched Reisen Munin, her newly appointed second-in-command to take care of the old lady in her grief. The crowd were swayed, and initial threats of unrest addressed.

Soon after this, Father Lucian arrived with his sister at the Baronial Mansion, Lady Lydia, the Baron's wife. He wanted the party to explain why they'd killed his nephew in cold blood, and to demand that his sister be let back into her house. Having decided that the mansion would make a great base of operations, Kelwarin pulled no punches and described the foul and evil necromancy that her son had been doing, sorcery which contaminated the building even now. Battering down the priest's arguments, the Lady was allowed to collect some personal effects and then taken back to the Church to stay with the priest. It was made clear to Father Lucian that he was expected to cleanse the mansion.

Traders arrived, asking for details on any changes to tax and duty; they were told to talk to their representative, but then the party realised that they hadn't asked Danika, they'd just assumed.

Danika refused to take the Council seat when Gaddock asked; she said she was too busy and it would make her family targets. Disappointed, Gaddock headed back with sandwiches for second breakfast rather than his usual fry up at the Inn.

Jenny Greengrass came to see Kelwarin, lobbying for the Mountain folk and Forest folk to be allowed into town to trade. She then offered to talk to Danika, if Kel would deliver. Kel thought that the irascible old lady wanted him to sleep with her, only later realising that she wanted him to ensure the restrictions were released. Sure enough, she delivered on her side of the bargain. Would Kel deliver on his.

Formal funerals were held for those killed, but they didn't improve the atmosphere much. Ser Adon's heart didn't seem in it; he misspoke some of his delivery (using the wrong phrases) and didn't seem to believe the message that he was delivering.

By the night of 21st November, Vallaki was quiet, and the party planned to revisit the hags, confident in their abilities and that they had a secure base.

22nd November

Heading out early, the party set off towards the Old Bonegrinder. The journey took as long as last time. Along the way, they realised they were being tracked by a pack of wolves, which backed off when they started up into the hills.

Gaddock noticed a newly tilled field and two scarecrows; he went to check them out, and was surprised to be attacked by them. He firebolted one, Kel hit the other and a quick and one-sided fight occurred. The creatures were soon slain.

Approaching the Mill, Gaddock established that there was no obvious magic present (except maybe something in the roof), and Adon established that there were two fiends (the Hags) present.

The party carried on and set an ambush for the Hag Mother Morgantha. They saw her coming up the slope in the distance. Thinking they'd surprise her. they soon realised she'd seen them all. Plans to cast a fireball were abandoned, as they saw a sack under her trolley which Kel realised may have a child in (spoiler, it did). Before they could act, the Morgantha cast a lightning bolt at Ser Adon, which staggered him and narrowly missed Kel. Ser Adon then Abjured the fiend, freezing her in place right until Kel hit her with a witch bolt. Gaddock cast a haste spell on Ser Adon. Ser Alys used her crossbow and closed distance.

Morgantha used a more powerful lightning bolt on Ser Adon, dropping him to the floor. Fortunately, his half-orcish nature meant he struggled up to his feet after taking hit that would have dropped a human. He laid into her, managing to hit her with his longsword, smiting her mightily. Kel cast another witch bolt, but missed, smashing into the scree alongside. Gaddock launched magic missiles at her, as they desperately tried to kill her before she killed someone. Ser Alys launched a flurry of blows and then managed to get her husband to work with her, decapitating Morgantha just as she started to phase out into the ethereal plane. He died, and silence was all around aside from the sobbing of the child from the sack and the groans of Ser Adon. The two warriors destroyed the body of the Hag in anger and perhaps a little fear.

The party plan to return to Vallaki to recover before moving on the windmill itself, but the night is close to falling and it's at least a four-hour walk back.

GM Notes: I committed heresy today, using a 4e skill challenge style approach, which worked well. The party were looking for 6 successes to ensure that Vallaki was secure. Three failures along the way would have left the town unstable in the short term. In the end, they succeeded 6:2 which was narrower than I expected. Some good team work. Guidance on using skill challenges is here and is definitely worth a look.

The party levelled up once they secured Vallaki, and the jump to fifth level is a key power jump; this really showed in the encounter with Morgantha. She would have phased next time, then used her two level 4 spell slots with lighting bolt at range once she had some distance, returning to the rest of the coven. These would probably have dropped a character each round, starting with Adon and then Kel. They just avoided this outcome. This season will most likely end when they drive the coven off.

21 April 2021

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The Guvnor
Staff member
It went well.

I have to say I am tired of the 'half' tag in games, so I think my character (at least) is no more "half-orc" than she is "half-human", so given that people always seem to see 'orc' when they see her, then that's how she sees herself.


Staff member
I can see that. Alys leans hard into her orcish heritage.

By people, do you mean “humans”?