Barovia Goes to the Birds: Curse of Strahd Session #22
“Age and Wisdom”
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 #22: “Age and Wisdom”
PC Level: 9
Having escaped Castle Ravenloft, the birds assess their surroundings – a tower somewhere in the mountains – and sleep through the night to recover. The sisters worry about their newly-aged brothers.
Lhando attempts to unbar a door in the tower, but, not having rested, Aial opposes it. Aial ends up with Lhando in a headlock, dragging him back to the group.
Following the rest, Aial preps a spell that she believes will cure the brothers of their age curse. But she can only cast it once this day, and they suspect there’s a time limit before the aging process can be reversed. Both brothers initially like their new age, claiming it makes them the “older siblings” and that they have newfound wisdom. They don’t want to be healed by Aial. What follows is a somewhat intense (in-game) debate, where Aial claims that the rapid aging goes against the natural order, and Ahk-wa tells them not to let the scream of a fat ghost determine their fate, and that wisdom does not come with age alone. The argument convinces Lhando, who allows himself to be cured (and it works). The sisters want to go to Krezk to get the Abbot to cure Gwaihir, but he remains firm that the Abbot’s remaining spells in favor to us should be saved for resurrections, if needed, and that his age is not a curse but a sign from the Morning Lord, who had visited him in a dream the night before. The group fails to convince him, and he is presumably going to remain older indefinitely.
Vrocks & Rocs
Outside stands a gate which we can’t fly around due to mists. Green flame blocks the main gateway, so we attempt to fly over but are accosted by Vrocks who spring to life from statues. We retreat to the tower after a bad first round, and they return to their posts as statues.
Heading the opposite direction, Ahk-wa eventually realizes where we are, and that unless we want to head to the Amber Temple now, we need to get through the flame gate. We turn around.
On a bridge on our way back, a gigantic Roc spies us and attacks. A successful Phantasmal Force spell from Gwaihir allows us to run away while it is confused with the illusion. We flee from our second encounter in half a session, which is easily a first for us.
We manage to get through the gate this time without triggering the Vrocks (dispel magic works on the magic fire).
Lighting the Beacon
During this, Aial was an elk who had been carrying the giant dragon skull we stole from the castle. We return it to Argenvost [sic?] and the dragon’s tomb. At this, the revenants in the mansion appear and thank us before disappearing, their task completed. The mansion’s tower becomes a beacon of light and we get bonuses to AC and saving throws across Barovia (woo!).
Somewhere along the journey, Ahk-wa decides that she hasn’t had enough awkward one-on-ones with her siblings, and chats with Gwaihir. When she tried to convince him to de-age, she had mentioned that he was their leader and moral guide and didn’t need to be the oldest to assume that role. Gwaihir assumes this is an appeal to his ego. During this less heated talk, she assures him that she meant her words, and they weren’t just an appeal to his ego. She doesn’t agree with his decision, but supports it. He thanks her, before making a joking comment about being her elder. She bristles and flies off.
Along the Balusters
Meanwhile, back at the newly annexed mansion, we begin digging about for treasure to see if the mansion yields anything of interest. We encounter a hurt but friendly dark elf and some spiders that we avoid, but not much else, though we don’t make it entirely through the mansion before the session has to end.
The DM also mispronounces balusters (“ba-LOOS-ters”) and we poke fun for several minutes.
The beacon can be seen for miles, though, and seems a positive sign as we prepare our last steps.
The age debate was intense, and we actually ended up having contested rolls to see if the brothers were “convinced.” Even with advantage being given to Aial by Ahk-wa’s speech, Gwaihir won the roll and remained firm. Cool RP stuff. The sibling dynamics in the group make for great RP fodder. Definitely enjoyable.
Multi-class as RP
Gwaihir multi’d into Cleric 1 despite Bard 9 probably being better for him right now. It had the unexpected benefit of being able to attune to his new amulet, but had more to do with his ongoing Morning Lord dealings in Barovia.
Similarly, I went Ranger 8 / Fighter 1 instead of sticking with Ranger. Actual mechanical benefits will come at Fighter 2 (and 3, though I suspect we’re done at lvl 10 in Strahd). But it was done due to how Ahk-wa has progressed, not to optimize the character for combat.
I see plenty of optimization posts on the internet, which is cool and fun. Everyone wants to be powerful. But multi-classing as a progression of the character seems an excellent way to use it as well.
Apparently there’s a plot hook we’ve had for ages involving Gwaihir’s new Morning Lord amulet and something in Krezk. But Amber Temple and picking a fight with Strahd aren’t far off. I also think we have a handful more rooms in Argenvost, but that shouldn’t take long.