Barovia Goes to the Birds: Curse of Strahd Session #23
“Legends of the Hidden Temple”
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 #23: “Legends of the Hidden Temple”
PC Level: 9
Having lit the beacon in Argenvhost [sic], the party explores the mansion, now with its Revenant inhabitants gone.
Oops, it’s Not Entirely Empty
We explore the mansion, finding a handful of clues that would have helped us in getting the dragon’s skull back to its mausoleum. Alas, we’ve already done this, so the hints are redundant.
But we stumble into a room with some lingering undead and a fight ensues. It doesn’t seem too deadly, so Ahk-wa wades into melee to test out some of her new tanking-style abilities. It goes reasonably well, and she beasts on a few of the semi-corporeal creatures with the help of a Haste spell and a few Natural 20’s.
Leaving, we head to Krezk to tie up a plot thread involving an amulet we just got.
Rings & Spells & Things
We stop in at the Burgemeister’s place and speak to the children (whom we gave a spell tome to?! Fortunately, they can’t read yet.) and the wife, who’s been reading the spell tome and practicing. Cool beans. We spread word that we lit the beacons.
We then got to the Abbey there and locate a grave that ties to the plot hook (which I seriously don’t remember at all, or I’d give more detail here). The amulet cracks the gravestone and sunlight breaks through the clouds for the first time since we’ve been in Barovia. The light reveals a Ring of Regeneration, which after some discussion ends up with Ahk-wa.
Ages ago (like 10 days, probably) we spoke with a dusk elf (Kasimir) who wanted to accompany us to the Amber Temple. Realizing we may be “wanted” now, we sneak into the Vistani camp, and Kasimir confirms that we were right to sneak in. He’s happy to accompany us, and warns us against the cold (which we previously experienced briefly) in the mountains. To ward it off, there are furs at the other end of the Vistani camp. Gwaihir puts a Haste spell on Ahk-wa and she speeds off stealthily. Once in the appointed tent, I cast Silence on the area and open a number of crates until I find the furs. I also take a box of potions (which we realize later are fakes), and a handful of gold for Gwaihir (I left thousands more since Ahk-wa doesn’t care about wealth).
On our return trip, run into Ezmerelda and we test out the gun we got, and manage to figure it out. With Ezmerelda’s help, Lhandroval successfully fires it, but we have to speed away when it makes a bunch of noise and the nearby Vistani investigate.
Aial also talks to the crystal skull we got in the castle. It has a Speak With Dead spell on it. Lhando and Aial waste about 4/5 of their questions before asking anything of merit. It yields very little. We later learn that the spell renews each day, so we may get some info from it at a later date.
We return to the winery to rest, where we meet up with Adrian (who chats with Aial) and Ezmerelda speaks with Gwaihir about his more aged form (she accepts him). Ezmerelda ends up with the gun, and we make plans to leave the following morning.
Into the Temple
Navigating the green flame wall successfully (again) and not encountering the Roc again, we have an unhindered journey to the temple, which is high in the mountains. We investigate the entrance, and hear voices in a crack we could enter. But we decide against this, and go in the front door for a change. Lots of description text (the word of the day was “sepulchral”). Nothing awful for a bit at least, and Lhando finds a Wand of Secrets, which should prove useful. We wend our way over a hole in the floor into a chapel where a dude (Vilneous?) is hiding. He and his (dead) master came here in search of knowledge, and he tells us about a few things to avoid, like a patrolling golem and skulls that shoot fire through arrow slits. We tell him to stay put, but don’t put his advice to great use as we stumble into the golem in the next room, starting a fight. At least there are six of us…
Our DM seems tense regarding the temple. I hope we have some ridiculous challenges. Frankly, we’ve been smart enough to avoid the “TPK-bait” until we’re high enough level. Between that and our flight (which, in fairness, has saved our skins at least once, and likely more), I haven’t felt seriously endangered the entire time. I may end up eating my words, but I guess we’ll see.
Our DM is very much trying to run this as-written, from what I can tell. There have been a few liberties to account for the group (as is common and encouraged for any table), and we’ve all been pleased with Strahd as a cool sandbox adventure. But among our (and our DM’s) few complaints is that there are a lot of bland, empty rooms in the locations and dungeons. The Amber Temple may be dangerous, but still has its share of rooms with nothing more than generic description and/or atmospheric ephemera. I’ve seen some good articles and supplements on making “empty” rooms interesting, and I can’t help but think that Wizards could have benefited from using some of the ideas in them. Still, it’s a small nit to pick in an otherwise excellent adventure.
We did some math involving my flight speed, Dash, Hasted action, and bonus speed for a round as a result of the Zephyr Strike spell. I can hit 480ft. per round, or 54.5 mph (87.7 kph). Hilarious. I talked earlier about “ridiculous” being a goal even when it’s not the best use of my ability selections, and this certainly counts. I’m a goddamned blur, and I love it.
I’m assuming the Temple is at least one more full session, and likely more. We’re probably here for a while.