The Curse of Strahd

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As this game is coming up within the next 45 days, I thought that I’d get some of the info up here. Namely, these are the things that are ‘different’ about it, so that potential players can decide if they’d like to avoid them/skip the game.

Theme & Tone

The Curse of Strahd is the spiritual successor to Castle Ravenloft, one of the highest rated D&D Adventures of all times. This success was due in large part to the change in theme and tone from regular D&D., specifically it wasn’t a semi-comical dungeon stomp. By embracing a Gothic horror setting, Ravenloft was one of the earliest ‘serious’ adventures to feature something other than a generic medieval feel. It was a world of Undead, Werewolves, and mighty Vampire lords. The Curse of Strahd upholds this tone, and remains notably more somber than the Tyranny of Dragons storyline. CoS is a “gritty” take on D&D, where PC death is more likely, though not assured.

If you are having a hard time imagining this tone, check out Bram Stokers Dracula (1992) and imagine it as a D&D game.

The Character Setup

As Curse of Strahd will be starting when I finish off the Tyranny of Dragons, and both games occur in the same world (The Forgotten Realms), I’ve always intended on having one impact the other. Therefore, the Player characters in Curse of Strahd, come from a land where the armies of the Dragon Queen Tiamat have displaced countless villages and towns. Families, peasant and noble alike, have been driven from their homeland as Dragon cultists move through the Sword Coast. For my few crossover Players, imagine if you had not saved the village of Greenest. For the others, re-watch the opening raid of Conan the Barbarian [1982], something similar to this is what has happened to most settlements of goodly folk. The armies of the Dragon Queen have been quite happy to recruit anyone of questionable morals from these villages. Given the nature of the Campaign and the Setup I am asking that all of the PCs fit within the following alignments:

  • Lawful Good
  • Lawful Neutral
  • Neutral Good
  • If you feel a need for another alignment we can discuss it.

As of February 12th, 2017 the party makeup is mostly formed as:

  • Paladin of Lathander, Human
  • Cleric of the God of the Dead, Dwarf
  • Ranger (Archer), Human
  • Fighter (Greatweapon), Dwarf
  • Wizard, TBD
  • Rogue, Wood Elf

A Candid Statement

I want this game to be composed of people who want to play together, as a team, and I want to mix it up a little. I’ll be trying to include players who have shown that they can (and want to) bend their characters to readily participate with the rest of the group.

Frequency

I’ll be aiming for a weekly game, likely on Tuesday evenings between 8 PM and 11 PM Eastern over Roll20 and Google Hangouts, so headsets and microphones are required. If the players collectively want another evening that works for them all, we’ll talk about moving it.

Character Backgrounds

Due to the story setup, Characters can not start with a ‘Werewolf/Vampire Hunter’ theme or background. Such horrors are not common knowledge to the Player Characters.

DRAFT Rule Modifications

I’ll be using the following standard rulings from the PhB instead of the more lenient versions of these rules that I used in Tyranny of Dragons:

  • Healing/Rest Changes – I diverted from the standard rules in the PhB due to a perceived shortage of healing in my prior game (they only had a Paladin, and no other healer when I made the ruling). Now that we have seen how healing works in 5e, this is less of an issue, so I am rolling back to the standard.
    • Short Rest – “A short rest is a period of downtime, at least 1 hour long, during which a character does nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending to wounds. A character can spend one or more Hit Dice at the end of a short rest, up to the character’s maximum number of Hit Dice, which is equal to the character’s level. For each Hit Die spent in this way, the player rolls the die and adds the character’s Constitution modifier to it. The character regains hit points equal to the total. The player can decide to spend an additional Hit Die after each roll.
      A character regains some spent Hit Dice upon finishing a long rest, as explained below.” – PhB  pg 186
    • Long Rest – “A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps or performs light activity: reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for no more than 2 hours. If the rest is interrupted by a period of strenuous activity—at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.
      At the end of a long rest, a character regains all lost hit points. The character also regains spent Hit Dice, up to a number of dice equal to half of the character’s total number of them. For example, if a character has eight Hit Dice, he or she can regain four spent Hit Dice upon finishing a long rest.
      A character can’t benefit from more than one long rest in a 24-hour period, and a character must have at least 1 hit point at the start o f the rest to gain its benefits.”- PhB  pg 186
    • Bonus Actions – “Various class features, spells, and other abilities let you take an additional action on your turn called a bonus action. The Cunning Action feature, for example, allows a rogue to take a bonus action. You can take a bonus action only when a special ability, spell, or other feature of the game states that you can do something as a bonus
      action. You otherwise don’t have a bonus action to take. You can take only one bonus action on your turn, so you must choose which bonus action to use w hen you have more than one available.
      You choose when to take a bonus action during your turn, unless the bonus action’s timing is specified, and anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action.” – PhB pg 189

These are new/different house rules that I’ll be using:

  • Initiative – Initiative will be rolled using a 1d10 instead of a 1d20. I expect that some of you are thinking “Holy Shit!??!!” while the rest of you are saying “What’s the big deal?”. This is potentially a major change for combat situations, as it means that Fast/Dexterous characters will frequently go first as less of the ‘roll’ is to chance.
  • A Free Feat – Every character will be given a feat at first level. This is in addition/aside from anything that they would normally earn or be granted during character creation. You are playing Heroes, and this may be the largest single break that you catch in this game ;)
  • Unearthed Arcana – I’ll selectively be allowing some of the alternate material in the Wizards of the Coasts, Unearthed Arcana. If something interests you, speak to me.

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