Barovia Goes to the Birds: Curse of Strahd Session #21
“Tomb of the Advent Calendar”
By MARK WILSON
DM: A Friend
(Me) Ahk-wa – Female Aarakocra Ranger
Aial – Female Aarakocra Druid
Lhandroval – Male Aarakocra Sorcerer
Gwaihir – Male Aarakocra Bard
System, Setting, Adventure: D&D 5e, Barovia/Ravenloft, Curse of Strahd
Session #21: “Tomb of the Advent Calendar”
PC Level: 8
We entered the mist-filled crypt in search of a “Wizard Ordinare.”
What we find is a large crypt with dozens of individual tombs. The DM numbers them on our battle map to make play easier, and remarks that it looks like an Advent calendar (it absolutely does). The majority of the session is us making our way slowly through it.
Trick or Treat
The DM nefariously sets up a Pavlovian system whereby we get real-life candy treats for “touching things” inside the tombs. Death seems certain to Ahk-wa, but at least we’ll go to our deaths in a sugary bliss.
Among the things we encounter or find:
- A thigh bone of St. Markovia, which Aial wields effectively as a Mace of Disruption.
- A poison dart trap that Ahk-wa stumbles into, taking considerable damage.
- Fake wings, that a large fellow tried to fly with. He failed, and died.
- The ghost of the large fellow, who attacks, possesses Aial, and causes us more trouble than we’d like.
- Included in this trouble is that the brothers AGE 10 YEARS! As aarakocra, this makes them well into middle age or old age. Their feather go grey. The sisters worry about them. And Lhando worries about the state of his glorious legs.
- A Staff of Power for Lhandroval, and a magical symbol of the Morninglord for Gwaihir that he can’t quite attune to for some reason.
- We send one of our summoned animals into a portal in one, and find that it leads to an adjacent tomb.
- Aial falls through the floor in bear form and has to revert back to aarakocra to fly out of a wight-trap.
- Plenty of gold/jewelry.
- A tomb dedicated to Lhando, which is an illusion.
- ALL of the puns. The WotC intern who got to write the goofy tomb inscriptions must have had a grand old time.
And finally, our wizard ordinare, Gralmore Nimbleknobs [sic?] wherein we get…some spell scrolls and the staff of power, I think? Lhando – per his usual – takes some lightning damage in the process.
Sibling Sleeping Quarters
Adjacent to the advent calendar, we find rooms with two prominent tombs. First, we recognize Sergei, Strahd’s brother, and some awesome armor none of us can wear. Opposite this, Strahd’s tomb (presumably), which we realize the portal goes to (which the animal had previously gone through). We trigger a fight with Strahd’s “brides” – three vampire spawn that are vanquished before our combined might – and while we’re victorious, we now realize that we have what we came for, and that we’re low on spells, HP, resources, etc.
We lay the dresses of the slain brides on Strahd’s coffin to taunt him.
Teleport to Somewhere
We obtain the dragon skull (Argenvost) to return to his resting place, and Aial becomes an elk to carry it. We bring it to the teleportation crystals and pick the likeliest to send us near his tomb. But we send Gwaihir through first, who realizes it’s still in Strahd’s castle. He Dimension Door’s back, and we pick a different portal. This time, we’re in a tower next to a mountain we don’t recognize. Realizing we should rest, we stop there.
This was a good example of several smaller encounters depleting resources. None were deadly, but the next may have been. And we undoubtedly avoided several possible others, as our DM was happy to confirm for us afterward. It’s sometimes hard to have multiple encounters without the possibility of rest, but I think it’s easier in a dungeon setting.
So the new loot is VERY useful against undead and vampires. And our fight with the brides confirmed that Gwaihir’s sword is also ridiculous against them. I’m actually not worried about a Strahd encounter. Maybe I should be. But since we are likely headed to the Amber Temple, I’m hoping nothing worse is there that we’re less equipped to handle.
Delivering the skull to its tomb, trying to cure the brothers of their age curse, then gathering allies for the march on Amber Temple and a potential final encounter with Strahd.