Curse of Strahd: The Cast and First Steps

As a precursor, my players might be reading this post, so no spoilers or character backstories will be told.

Back in October, I wanted to run a campaign for my wife, her brother, and two of our friends that would fit in with the themes of Halloween. Almost every campaign I’ve ever run for Dungeons & Dragons, homebrew or prewritten, has been high fantasy, heavily focused on mighty heroes and their weapons and skills. Every campaign is different and contains varying degrees of roleplay and material. Some campaigns focus heavily on combat and dungeon delving. Others might lean toward heavy political intrigue. Some might just be romantic. Regardless of your playstyle preference, Dungeons & Dragons contains a myriad of styles for your roleplay needs.

On that same note, the themes of campaigns can vary based on the type of story being told. One might be all about the political climate as two warring nations compete for supremacy in a tumultuous world. Another might focus on the typical hero’s journey as the characters rise through the ranks and become the most notable warriors in the land. Tabletop roleplaying games are incredible outlets for telling any kind of story in any kind of world. Star Wars? Yep. Harry Potter? Of course. Star Trek? Indubitably.

For our campaign, we wanted something horrifying. I wanted a campaign that focused less on the players’ ability to fight and more on their decision making process. Enter Curse of Strahd, a gothic horror adventure set in the terrifying and eerie world of Ravenloft.

For our adventure, four men and women of varying races and abilities have decided to come together after finding themselves stuck within a gaunt world with no escape.

First up is Varis von Everic.

Varis von Everic (I do not own this image)

Varis von Everic is a Human Fighter specializing as an Eldritch Knight. He constantly has a small owl named Koda that travels with him, and as we’ve come to learn, he can telepathically communicate with Koda, as well as see and hear through the owl. Varis is 38 years old, stands at 6’0″ tall, weighs around 160 pounds, and has long, silver hair often kept back in a small ponytail. As it has already been revealed in the campaign, Varis belongs to a Monster Hunter Guild and has trained for many years to refine and hone his knowledge of and ability to fight monsters.

Next up is Nedda Northtook.

Nedda Northtook (I do not own this image)

Nedda Northtook is a Halfling Wizard specializing in the School of Enchantment. She is rather intelligent but lacks the know-how and common sense of a wise person. She is often sitting around with her nose in a book, oblivious to the world around her. She becomes intrigued and interested in the silliest of things sometimes, and you’ll find she has a high love and proclivity of pets and small animals. She is the youngest of the group at 21 years old and stands at a height of only 2’7″. Don’t let her size fool you; her ferocity and determination to do good is fierce.

Up next is Cabel Aridian.

Cabel Aridian (I do not own this image)

Cabel Aridian is a Human Cleric specializing in the Knowledge Domain. He is a rather outgoing individual that easily makes friends of the most random of strangers. Standing at 6’1″, he is the tallest of the group. At 49, he is seemingly the oldest one in the group as well. He follows an unknown and unnamed God at this point, but the group has learned that it’s more of a cult than a God, and that something has happened in recent years that has caused some disparity within the religious groups following this God. We have also learned over time that Cabel has some questionable morality at times, making decisions that one wouldn’t normally associate with somebody of good nature. He is a master of getting information out of others and getting on somebody’s good side, even if it’s only to gather what he needs to perform some kind of deed.

Finally, we have Dollie.

Dollie (I do not own this image)

Dollie is a Half-Elf Bard studying in the College of Eloquence. She is a sensual being, using her sexuality and obvious good looks to make her way through the world. She is a fantastic singer, but her real charm and skill lies in her ability to use the spoken word to accomplish her needs. She has a mysterious background that gives her a high level of knowledge about vampires, but not much more is known about her. Her age is indistinguishable given her Elven heritage. Dollie tends to stand in the back and observe, only coming forward when necessary to accomplish her goals. When she does speak up, we’ve learned that she follows a morality of questionable nature as well, her words usually cutting through the others in an attempt to perform something dastardly.

It’s the beginning of the story, and our characters find themselves in the town of Daggerford, a small but consequential town located in the Delimbiyr Vale within the Greater Sword Coast. While it is primarily a farming community, and considered by some to be a stopover town, the town has great ambitions to grow and be seen as an alternative to their northern neighbor, the great town of Waterdeep.

While traveling separately a few weeks ago, our four adventurers found the village of Daggerford under attack from a nearby band of orc raiders. They all contributed to the defense of the village in different ways. Some of them fought. Some of them healed. Some of them…something less heroic. Either way, their contributions to the village as strangers attracted the attention of the Duchess of Daggerford, Lady Morwen. Rumors started, and the group soon learned that Lady Morwen was going to honor the four of them in some fashion in the near future.

The four adventurers found themselves resting, free of charge, at the Silver River Inn, the town’s most luxurious tavern. Granted, their definition of luxurious is far different than most, but it’s still a nice place.

Dollie was singing a song for the patrons of the tavern, Nedda was sitting quietly in a corner with her nose in a book, Cabel was speaking to one of the bartenders, and Varis was learning of possible jobs in the area from another bartender.

A few moments later, a man walked into the tavern wearing the sigil of the Duchess Morwen, a coat-of-arms containing a Silver Dagger covered in blood atop a field of dark blue. He was slightly gaunt, but his armor made him appear bulkier and more threatening than he actually was. He opened a scroll and read out the following:

“Cabel. Dollie. Nedda. Varis. Due to your contributions and defense of the beautiful village of Daggerford, the Duchess Morwen invites you to her estate at Ducal Castle for dinner and a ceremony of accolades. If you would like to join her for dinner, please follow me to her Keep.”

All four of them decided to follow the guard, and after a short stroll at night, found themselves in Daggerford Keep. They were all seated directly next to the Duchess at her table and enjoyed a meal of quail, potatoes, vegetables, and wine. After a while, the Duchess became somber and regaled the adventurers with a recent mishap plaguing her.

The Duchess had ordered several guards to scare away some nearby vagabonds that were harassing townsfolk, demanding wine and money, and threatening to put hexes on people. The guards were unable to scare them off, even coming back and speaking sympathetically about the visitors. As she served dessert to the group, she asked them all to travel out and scare away the visitors before she would order them slaughtered in the morning.

The group discussed it, and for a sordid fee, agreed to help her by scaring them off. So they traveled to the camp and found a bunch of merry individuals dancing and drinking around a large bonfire. The group of people were all dressed in random colors and patchwork materials. They played accordions and drank heavily as they danced around the fire.

The leader of the group, a man named Stanimir, immediately took to them, even offering to help dress Nedda like they did in the camp. She happily obliged and then Stanimir wanted to tell them a story. Dollie and Cabel were hesitant about listening to a story from this group of strange people, but Nedda was very interested in hearing a new story. Varis didn’t want to leave Nedda alone, so he ordered Koda to perch in a nearby tree and Varis looked and listened through Koda to hear the story as well.

Stanimir graced them with a story about their homeland whose name has disappeared from the Sword Coast. Enemies forced Stanimir and his people away from their homes and they became stuck wandering lost roads and forgotten places. A wounded soldier stumbled into their camp one night and collapsed from wounds. Stanimir and his people healed the soldier. The soldier wanted to return home, so they all went together. Eventually, they learned that the soldier was a prince, and his enemies kept trying to assassinate him. The prince fought with Stanimir and his people, killing all of the would be assassins. Eventually, they returned the prince home, and he repaid the kindness by saying they would always be welcome at the prince’s home and could come and go from the country as they pleased. But now a curse had befallen the prince and he turned into an overbearing tyrant. Stanimir and his people were the only ones with the power to leave the prince’s domain. They have traveled far and wide to find a group of people capable of ending the curse, and their leader, Madam Eva, foretold of these four adventurers and how they could be the cure.

Stanimir invited the group to his land to help rid their prince of his curse, but Nedda said she wanted to discuss it with her comrades before making a decision. As Nedda left the camp to go talk to the others, the bonfire and camp disappeared from existence, almost like it was never there.

The group went back to Lady Morwen and told her the visitors were gone. She paid them in kind for their services, and the group went back to the inn to get some sleep.

Little did they know that the night was far from over, and their lives were about to change forever…

Pictures of the characters above are current levels and stats, not the levels/stats at the beginning of the game.

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