DMing The Curse of Strahd

It’s Friday night and I have a AD&D fifth edition RPG group. We have just started to play The Curse of Strahd. This is a new take on an old adventure, for those of you who don’t know, the Curse of Strahd is a revamped version of Ravenloft. In this blog and future ones I will be talking about the aspect of DMing instead of playing. Fear not I will still blog about the adventures I play in, just figured this would give a different perspective.

As I said before it is Friday night and my players have turned up to play The Curse of Strahd. I have seven players in this group, six who have played together in a previous campaign and one new player. I’ll introduce them and the characters they will be playing, it took them all two hours to complete characters. Some of them knew what they wanted to play and then Luke and Alec who bounced a few ideas around to try to fit in with the others.

One of the things about telling your players what you are Dming before hand is they have a slight tendency to meta-game, use outside knowledge to influence play. Not all players do this, as some can easily separate the two worlds, so get to know your players. Anyhow introductions, you’ll notice I’m a bit liberal with character choices as I believe the more invested the players are in their characters the better they will play. First, Sam, he’s playing a half-Drow rogue, then there is Steve who’s playing a pure blood Yuan-Ti. Next is my newest player John, he’s playing a Kenku druid and then David playing a Asamir ranger. Rounding out the group is Luke with a Lizardman barbarian, Alec is playing a bard, but I can’t remember the race and Elliot playing a Human cleric.

Overall a well-balanced group, now they have to learn to work together in this new dynamic. As I said earlier most have played together previous but changing characters, changes perspectives. One thing you have to be aware of with large group is the cross-talk, as it sometimes takes away from the adventure, it’s your job to keep them on track.

As, they start their adventure at the Crossing Inn just outside the city of Phlan in Moonsea. Walking in to the tavern all the patrons are gathered around one table talking, the bartender peels himself away to greet the customers. After some forced conversation by myself to try to get them all the adventure hooks in, they get three of them and decide which one to go on. There were four overall, but as the DM you can’t just hand out everything to the players, they still have to work for somethings, it is a role-playing game after all.

They progress to the forest looking for a Gur ( Human from a nomadic background ) named Papa, as he’s supposedly put a curse on the assistant cook. The players are trying to find him to bring him back and lift the curse. One thing I noticed straight away was the group was not very observant to anything as no insight checks were made in the tavern and very few survival checks and no nature checks were made in the woods. They missed a lot of valuable information from this as will be obvious in a bit. As they were walking three Elves and four Cooshee (Mastiff). appear out of the fog and with bow’s drawn tell the players to drop their weapons. The players do just that, meta-gaming at its worst, and get fired upon straight away. The group scatters as the rogue runs into the underbrush and everyone else scrambles for their weapons. The combat was going to happen either way, but since no checks were done the players gave one free shot bt each Elf.

The players quickly dispatched all combatants and then only checked for treasure, again not paying attention to what they had killed, so much missed information. A few minutes later a elderly lady approached them from out of the fog, carrying a leash attached to man. After some conversation and Steve using his Divine presence to try to figure out what they lady was, the party agreed to kill a Golden Elk for her.

Approaching the clearing with the Elk they notice one is slightly wounded, the ranger ( David) tries to sneak up on them failing his stealth roll and startling them all. Elk like most animals have a great sense of smell, so they had advantage on their dice rolls and his check was a pretty awful roll as well. Being nice I gave each character one free shot at the Elk before it got  out of range and Sam with a disadvantage roll hit it with a thrown dagger and brought it down. The rogue’s sneak attack ability comes in really handy at times. Cutting out the heart and returning to the places they meet the elderly lady, she again just appears out of the persistent mist and they players trade the Heart for Papa.

She turns to leave and Luke hefts a javelin to throw when she says, with her backed turned to him, “I wouldn’t try that Deary” and he lowers his javelin. They then question Papa about the curse and other things gaining some knowledge. The curse wasn’t a curse he just drugged him, probably a bit too much. His grand-daughter has been having visions about an impending evil coming to the land. They escort him back to his camp and he gives them a potion of healing for their trouble, as the party them heads back to the Inn.

On their way back they are encircled by thick fog and transported to Barovia. There were more adventures they could have had outside of Barovia, but they took so long making characters I just sent them straight there. They seem to have a tendency to do the wrong thing at he wrong time, hence I said before they need to work out their dynamic in-game. Listen more to what’s being said by the DM, not goofing off with the other players. I know this is a social game and some goofing will always occur but this adventure especially, is very hard on players it is going to take all of their attention not to die repeatedly. We’ll see how next Friday goes.

 

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2 thoughts on “DMing The Curse of Strahd

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  1. I… ahhh… I think listening to the DM may be the least of the groups’ problems. At least half of the PCs should immediately be lynched in Barovia due to race. Lizardmen and Half-Drow? Even Dwarves and Elves are viewed as sub-human or worse throughout Ravenloft, you have actual ‘monsters’ in your player group… Good luck to them, thet’re going to need it.

    Liked by 1 person

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