2021.12.06 09:09 TheRedcrosseKnight The Storming of Ravenloft: Starting the Campaign with a Bang
As I prepare to run CoS again, I've been thinking of ways that I can change up the module. One thing that stands out is the Mad Mage storyline. It's kind of a loose thread that doesn't go anywhere. It's highly unlikely that players will go through all the trouble of tracking him down, capturing him, and curing his insanity. And even if they do manage all of that, unless he's their fated ally, all that effort is a waste. Mordenkainen "declines to join them if asked," refusing to fight Strahd until he finds his staff and spellbook (which he won't allow the party to help him find). Instead, "as a parting gift, the archmage imbues each character with a charm of heroism." Neat.
Mordenkainen is an easter egg for veterans, but his name won't mean all that much to newer players (at best they'll recognize him from Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes). His presence in Barovia also doesn't make much sense. Why is he even there? It's not like Strahd is threatening the balance of the multiverse from within the confines of his prison demiplane. I sincerely doubt True Natural Mordenkainen would personally risk himself to save a tiny valley full of soulless shells. Even if he wanted to deal Evil a blow, Mordenkainen has much bigger fish to fry. He's the most famous archmage in the game! He should be dealing with archdevils and demon lords, not vampires who rule over provincial backwaters. The whole thing is really inconsistent with his character, as his his strategy of "frontally assault the castle with a peasant army." Mordenkainen is a genius, renowned for his subtlety. He ought to have come up with something better than that.
On the other hand, storming the castle with a mob of peasants is exactly the sort of thing I'd expect from adventurers. So here's my proposal: have your players replace Mordenkainen. Start the campaign with a one-shot set in the past. Your players are all 10th-level characters leading a small army of peasants armed with torches and pitchforks. Strahd, of course, sees this motley crew approaching and has time to prepare. Chaos erupts as the Barovians fight zombies in the courtyard while skeletal archers stationed on the castle walls rain arrows on them from above. As the battle rages and turns to a rout, the party forces their way through the main doors, starting the session in K7 (the Entry). I'd have them accompanied by a small band of peasants, who might include one or more notable NPCs (like Doru). One of them might be Helga Ruvac's father, an old cobbler named Hans hellbent on rescuing his daughter (their reunion offers a great moment for some horror). Those peasants can be each killed off in gruesome ways, giving the party a sense of being whittled down. The ruckus they cause also attracts random encounters (see "Barovian Commoners" in Chapter 4).
Your goal here is to win, so make sure to play Strahd as ruthlessly as possible. RAW Strahd can mop the floor with a 10th level party, especially one without the Sunsword and Holy Symbol. The one-shot likely ends with the death of the PCs, at which point their souls become trapped in the Mist. The campaign then begins many years later, with the souls of the party having been reborn as native Barovians (your current PCs). The party awakes having suffered a shared dream of the events of that fateful night decades ago. I'd suggest starting them off in the Burgomaster's Manor, where the party has been helping the Kolyanovichs fend off hordes of the undead (you can run a siege encounter if you like). Having grown up with Ireena and Ismark, they should be more invested in their struggle. If a PC managed to escape the slaughter in the castle (or if Strahd let him flee), so much the better. He (or she) can serve the role of the Mad Mage: a paranoid old man living in the woods, nursing his old wounds. If the new party resembles their old selves, he might recognize them.
Alternatively, you might have the party be resurrected by the Dark Powers, bursting from the grave a year (or more) after the failed Peasant's Rebellion. In that case, start them off at the Ivlis River Crossroads or in the church graveyard of Barovia village, having just clawed their way out of the wormy earth. The party is afflicted with amnesia (explaining why they lost their original levels), but certain NPCs might recognize them. These NPCs might well react with horror, remembering their doomed crusade agains the castle. Wether the party is revived or reincarnated, they might have fun piecing together the events of their past lives.
If your players do manage to defeat Strahd in the one-shot, that's OK as well! The Mists part for a time, but Strahd inevitably comes back. Have one of the PCs linger in the valley, perhaps (like Ezmeralda) suspecting Strahd's return. I would drop lots of hints of the events of the rebellion. Perhaps Donavich sighs, remembering the day when the clouds parted and sunlight fell upon the church ("at last the Morninglord smiled upon us!"). Then he recounts how after a few months, the Mists crept back, the skies turned grey, and people barred their doors again. The wolves howled madly in the woods one night, as if to greet their master. The return of Strahd should be a mystery to your players ("didn't we kill this guy?"). They might wonder if he's really back at all. Hold off on introducing Strahd too early. He should be a menacing presence at first: a shadow in the Mist watching the burgomaster's funeral, or a great black wolf with burning red eyes. His eventual reveal should be a dramatic entrance, descending from the clouds on his flaming steed or showing up uninvited at a masquerade ball dressed as the Red Death (à la the Phantom of the Opera). When the PCs meet the original party member, he can explain exactly what took place, confirming that he saw Strahd die with his own eyes.
As a side note, the first time I ran CoS, I replaced Mordenkainen with Evard the Black (of Tentacles fame), who my players were familiar with from a past adventure (4e's Dark Legacy of Evard, a great module!). Unlike Mordenkainen, Evard is Neutral Evil, so I had him venture to Barovia in search of the Amber Temple, hoping to siphon power from the vestiges imprisoned there. Knowing that he'd need to kill Strahd to escape the valley, he used mass suggestion to conscript local Barovians, using them as canon fodder in his attack. Even if this prequel one-shot doesn't appeal to you, I'd still recommend replacing Mordenkainen with Evard. He's another old school archmage from Greyhawk (he's actually an enemy of Mordenkainen's), and I think he works better in this role.
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2021.12.06 09:09 ben81PRO What happens when you listen to LIHKG...
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2021.12.06 09:09 TheNewResistance 🎁FREE 1 of 1 KSI NFT 🎁 UPVOTE AND DROP YOUR WALLET ADDRESS! (link in the comments🔥🔥🔥)
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2021.12.06 09:09 Jacareadam Given the state of modern games (cash grabs and unfinished betas for full price) what are some games/devs that stand out as the "good guys"?
The lockdowns would be a prime time for devs to cash in on everyone yearning for a good gaming experience, and we are left in the dust even by the big old names.
2021.12.06 09:09 bloodshot-tequila420 Calling all INTJ's of Reddit!
2021.12.06 09:09 silvergollum Gold: Chomping at the Bit for a Surge, also Silver!!!
2021.12.06 09:09 Street-Ad8830 Where can I sell some of these cards?
2021.12.06 09:09 havens1515 Guess I'm not going outside today if it feels THAT hot
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2021.12.06 09:09 mbochar Trouble purchasing Battle Pass
So i re downloaded Fortnite because i wanted to play to get the Spider-Man skin. I bought my V-Bucks and it tells me that I can't purchase the BP and that i need to log in on the platform I subscribed to the Fortnite Crew on. I have 2 problems with that.
First, i dont have the platform anymore because i sold my xbox. (Im now on a Ps5 trying to get the Battle Pass)
Secondly, i cancelled my Crew membership like a year ago so i cant keep cancelling it after it already has been cancelled.
If anybody can help i would appreciate it
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2021.12.06 09:09 pleasedontfollowm3-5 Nastya Titorenko
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2021.12.06 09:09 grandpapa_lenin While your MD OC have WD skin as a disguise my OC have the superior form of disguise, TRASHCAN!!
2021.12.06 09:09 ZoobBot 190938
2021.12.06 09:09 lucy_white444 Be extra cautious about any crypto investment to avoid heart aches.
One of the major concern of government across the world is the massive amount of corruption that happens in the world of crypto. Many decided to go all out and place a ban on its activities while its been moderated in some part of the world. However, because many of us are future thinking individuals, we jump at every chance of having something invested for the future. While it is very logical to invest, it is highly important for us not to invest into wrong hands. Those unreal investment companies knows what you want to hear. Therefore, don't get carried away when you hear or see any returns that looked too good to be true by any firms. I've fell victim to their clever campaigns on multiple occasions before a recovery firm orbit recovery tech rescued me. Always remember, better to be on the safe side rather than to start looking for solutions.
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2021.12.06 09:09 Justmecozme Differin OTC in Switzerland?
I have read that recently in the USA Differin stopped being a prescription drug and is now OTC. I was wondering if this has also happened in the countries of the European Union.
I have seen in iHerb that they sell Differin without a prescription and they ship to Switzerland (I usually order here every 2 months). Would I get in trouble if customs opened the package and discovered Differin?
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2021.12.06 09:09 lois67500 Rencontre
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2021.12.06 09:09 TheSpeculator21 Aren’t a lot of nocturnal seabirds TBH, at least not many which specialised in it. So I have produced a nocturnal frigate Bird. The night silver.
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2021.12.06 09:09 mr_iloveass I ve realised being a simp was actually problematic and now want to get out of it.
Well i ve joined this prep classes this year where i saw this girl in my class and she was really very attractive. So , i thought i d ask her out but then my friend told me she had a boyfriend. Which wasn't as big of a problem as their relationship wasn't very strong cuz the guy was a dick to her. So, i thought maybe i d text her first and wait for my shot in case she breaks up with him. After a month they break up and i started hinting that i m into her. After a week of that my best friend pumped me up to ask her out so i did that to which she very politely denied. My friends calmed me down by saying she just got out of a toxic relationship and maybe it was too soon for her to even trust and other guy. But since i saw her i think my feelings developed into more than an attraction to something stronger. And i started texting her and things became actually smooth. We started doing all sorts of things together. And in this time period i simped on her a lot ( idk if that makes sense) . But i tried to be the nice guy for so long i think i ve started annoying her. She is not going to say it to me or maybe i m being too paranoid but things are looking too bad. She's not even responding to my texts and when she does its just a one word reply for 5 sentences. I really want to get out of this place. If i can't get her to date me that's fine but I certainly don't want to lose her as a friend but at this point i think she has this perception of me as some guy who is probably thinking of playing the nice guy untill he gets laid ( my best friends analysis). Which is not true and i want to have things back on good terms with her. Any advices would be appreciated.
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2021.12.06 09:09 Grumpyhank Best garage?
2021.12.06 09:09 Heartwalt [Canada][Selling] Jojo Bizarre Part 1 & 2, Fullmetal alchemist Vol. 1, Levius est., Vinland Saga Vol. 3 & 5.
I’m moving and I have no use for those books. I’m not looking to split any series. Shipping is included in prices, Canada Only.
All series were read once and then put on my shelf. Giving fullmetal alchemist 3 in 1 for free if you buy all the books together.
Price for all the books is $300
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2021.12.06 09:09 yasyasyaas667 Tacrolimus and no soap products?
2021.12.06 09:09 migo984 My Japanese Sunset Orange Eco has been joined by its Karashi Soell mustard yellow compatriot.
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2021.12.06 09:09 Jake76667 stupid conservative being dumb on the internet
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2021.12.06 09:09 WillOfTheLand Alberta firehall first in Canada to construct safe surrender box as alternative to baby abandonment
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2021.12.06 09:09 QualaagsFinger I planted evergleam sapling a little bit back and I think it’s just growing thru the old tree which never disappeared how could I fix this?
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2021.12.06 09:09 MonicaSukiSuki Looking for Darling Valentina Skirt !