Tales of Caledonia

The Walker Appears!

The runes around the fane are broken and the connection to Strahd.

This fane wards things. We see something below the ruins of the runes and begin to move the rubble away. Hurrn circles above to search for an entrance or pattern. He says that this area is similar to the real Barovia, but the castle and the ever-present fog are non-existent. He determines that we are in the gray: the area between Caledonia and the Realm of the Dead.

The excavation reveals another stone circle and another iron circle-both with runes of warding. In the center is a box that appears to be carved of basalt (2’ square). Matt sees a seem on the box. He feels it’s a well-made lid. We detect magic and it gives off the sense of more warding type magic-to keep things in the box, not from something to get in. It is an imperfect ward and energy is leaking out of the box. Both the skull and the femur bone pulse with power.

Lawrence opens the box and inside is an ancient small cloth bag. An appraisal lets us know that the bag is about four centuries old. There are warding runes inside the box, and the lid contains a ward against scrying. We copy the four non-detection spells (good, evil, chaos, law) and also the ward from scrying. Lawrence copies the warding of escape which is located on the bottom of the box. Inside the bag are: coins, jems and three medallions which are penance pieces. Some believe that penance pieces are used to pay the passages to the after-life. One has the symbol of the raven (copper), one the symbol of the sun of zirconum (low quality gold) and another the symbol of the mother (stone).

The wooden jewelry box is old, but not decayed, and has wards against fire, rot, and age. Lawrence opens it and there’s a mummified hand that is holding an object wrapped in a handkerchief. The skull and femur pulse even more. Lawrence removes the object and opens it. Inside is a finger bone and it begins to levitate and floats away. Lawrence cannot recapture it. Augury states that we should let the finger bone continue on its path. At the same time, the skull and femur bone begin floating as well, and all move toward the central fire pit. Upon assuming position, black smoke appears and takes the shape of a shadowy human figure which we recognize as the walker’s blighted relic: he who walks behind. With glowing green eyes the walker looks at Lawrence and says “Now I get another chance at you!”. The walker breaths deeply and exhales a 30’ cone of blighted breath. It misses Jeremy and myself. We begin our battle.

In the battle, green flames appear in the fire pit. The Chain Lord rises from the flames and captures the walker in his cage. He then says, “The Mother thanks you,” and steps into the flames and disappears. We heal and rest.

Around 10:30 the next day, when the light hits the runestone, things begin crumbling. I divine that all connections from the fane to the primal plane are severed, and we run down the path leading back to Barovia. Around 100’ from the entrance, the tunnel begins to collapse, we see a blinding light, and we begin to fall. Lawrence and I wildshape while Matt uses his ring of featherfall and the remaining party members take damage upon exiting the plane. We exit the quarry and return to our horses at the abandoned guard house. While at the guard house, I see the dire bat-though he is staying farther away than he had previously. On the second watch the ghostly wagon is heard traveling by again.

While at the guard house we figure out that Damian’s ring is part of a larger crystal that absorbs positive/radiant energy and can negate the effects of sunlight. The full size crystal was in the tree that we had previously found. Also, Matt’s coins are from ancient civilizations and are called pieces, bits, and talents. There is a total of 150 gp worth.

We head to the guard house on the way to the castle. We we arrive we see two slots for two bits. We pay the toll and the drawbridge begins to lower. As we cross the bridge we swirling mists and about 1/2 across we notice the weather begins to change. The sky darkens, the wind begins to blow, it begins raining and lightning flashes across the sky. The wind seems to be howling the name “Ireena.”

We enter the courtyard of the castle, and begin to look for the drawbridge controls. We find them, but cannot operate them physically—they appear to be controlled by a command word. After 3-4 minutes, the drawbridge rises.

The courtyard is a standard one and the walls are roughly 100’ tall, 200’ wide, and 400’ long. The front of the castle is about 75’ from the gate. The castle predates Barovia, and no one has lived here for a long time. On the left side of the castle is a garden. There are many statues, and the one that is most well-kept is of a beautiful woman that looks somewhat like Ireena. The name carved at the base says “Tatiana.” One statue is missing its head and the name at the base is “Sergei”-Strahd’s brother. Another statue is of a couple, and this one is of Strahd and Sergei’s parents—the ones who built the castle.

On the right side are the remnants of an old stable and a path that leads to an overlook. This is where Tatiana jumped. There are planters with overgrown fruit trees that reach up to the first level of the castle. From the overlook we have a clear path to view Ireena’s house—specifically the corner where her bedroom is.

There are gargoyles around the castle and the top two corners of the main entryway have carved stone ravens. Hurrn says that they were once worshiped and that the watchful gaze of the raven means protection. The door beneath them is carved and unlocked.

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When the fire burns blue

The figures are chanting the evil lord’s name: Morthal. The blue flames are associated with him.
The witches are Lesaiga witches. The staked out goat changes into a human in dark robes. We battle. We kill some of the witches but not enough to disrupt the summoning. The goat-were sacrifices himself to open a doorway through which a demon emerges. Then the chanting stops as the summoning is completed, and the demon they were summoning emerges as well, as the ground glows blue. After this, all of the witches disappear as do the doorways in which they were standing.
Each demon on their action produces vrocks. G1 produces 2, while G2 produces 3. We commence attacking.
We defeat the enemies. Circle with runes is now cracked.
Hawk communes with deity.
—has Strahd’s power been weakened because of this defeat? Yes
—is there someone in Barovia who has 40,000 gp of valuables? No

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The Blighted Citadel

We see three buildings that are manmade and still standing. The fort is circular and the buildings are small. The two small ones are cleared out, and the small one has a small herd of goats. There is a nine-pointed chalk star and a summoning circle south of the building with the goats. There’s a lot of ambient magic around the summoning circle. The nine-pointed star is associated with big evil giant, Morthal the Silent.
We explore the first building on the left. It appears to have been a prison at one point in time, it’s well-kept, and has a herd of goats that are locked up.
The second building is the largest that is still standing. It has pallet tables that have about 12 bowls on it with seasonings and leaves for its contents. There’s a liquid that smells really bad also. We search and find vials of poison and other miscellaneous stuff. I take them all.
The third building has been cleared out, but has stores of wood for a fire.
Og takes a goat to the summoning circle, but it doesn’t react.
The circle of runes is similar to some of the other fanes. It’s harder to read the runes as the sun is going down. They appear to be runes for connection.
Hawk-Strahd has taken the tower, there are no side quests required to fix this fane. There are extra runes to hide evil things from seeing the circle. Each point in the star has a small doorway. Words are written inside the star. We begin to hear chanting. Fake doors fall way and blue fire appears with a figure in each doorway. They are each holding an object.

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The Thrice Locked Chest

We find the King’s Road. We go left up toward the mountains. Two days on the road and then we start to climb upward. We come to a 3-way fork in the road and there’s a sign.

Left: to the falls Straight: Ravenloft Right: the Quarry

We go straight. After a half day’s travel the trees become sparse. After a day, we are on a bare mountain path. After three days of travel we can see the quarry. We can see that there are people working. It’s about 1-1 ½ miles away. Hurrn sees a guardhouse that is another day out. It’s abandoned, or appears to be at least.
We reach the guardhouse and confirm that it is abandoned. It looks like it’s been blasted in an attack. There were magical wards here, but they are weakened now. The wards would have sent an alert to somewhere when the place was attacked. We rest here.
As we rise and prepare for the day…. (the giant bat is still keeping tabs on us)….we hear a cart roll by. It appears loaded down. We can tell it’s coming from the north and heading south-down the mountain. We can hear it, but we can’t see it. Damian stands in front of the cart and it passes through him and continues on. We continue north up the mountain. Hurrn says he sees a bridge-300’ long.
Gordaz tests the bridge. It appears to be fine. We all cross and continue up the path. We look back and we see the remains of a wagon at the base of the cliff. Gordaz checks it out while we continue on, where we reach a dead end. We can see a gap in between the mountain where there’s the outline of a castle. The road goes through an arch stoneway.
Gordaz finds a chest in the wagon and it has three locks made of silver, copper, and iron.
Hawk communes with a deity-fane is more than two days travel and is east of where we are. WE head toward the quarry. We stay overnight in the guard house again. Gordaz speaks with the dead (head of the driver of the cart we found). The eye’s glow green like when the chain lord came (green light signifies a gateway to the dead being opened).
—does he know what’s in the chest: it’s heavy, valuable, and get it out of Bavaria
—who has keys: priest in the castle that loaded it
—where was he taking the chest: jewel cities by the ocean
—what caused the fall: storm, horse spooked and bridge gave out
—how to cross the drawbridge to get to the castle: pay 2 silver to the guard
We go down the trail. Three days travel toward the area Hurrn felt. First night: wide area to camp-previous campsite. Second day: washed out area, more hazardous to cross. Third day: we arrive at the area near the quarry-it has an archway, an odd entrance and exit. There are runes around the archway.
I divine. We should go through the archway without altering it. We enter the tunnel, near the end the air becomes heavy, and the passage spirals upward. The feel of magic is everywhere. The feeling increases as we continue on. We go up 300’ above the quarry, on top of the mountain. We find the remains of a keep. It’s dilapidated. We cannot see certain features from the mountaintop, like the Castle of Ravenloft—even though we know it’s there.

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The Forest Fane

When the chain lord explodes, what is left behind starts to dissipate. We express our condolences to Madame Eva regarding the loss of the trolls and hill giant. We offer to resurrect them, but she says that it’s not a good idea to steal them back from the mother of the dead after killing her minion.
Madame Eva brings a box out of her wagon and places the floating box near the runes. She begins calling us over one by one to the chest. She gives gifts to those who protected her when uncalled for (is what she says). To release the power one must enter the fane. Madame Eva continues to dispense gifts to each member of the party. Afterwards, she disappears. Hawk identifies items. Ireena hears a voice: Hello, you must be Straud’s newest target. Ring of mindshielding—attunes to specific people only. We all rest for the night.
We wake, and the only evidence from yesterday is the campfire and the out of place boulder (and the furrow it created when thrown).
We find two holes the size of a finger, about 1’ apart. Og puts his fingers in the holes and suddenly disappears. Hawk does the same thing and disappears also. The lord of this fane was associated with the arcane.
We find ourselves in a 30’ x 30’ room. There is light, but no obvious light source. There is a table in the middle of the room and a shelf along one wall (is darker than the rest of the room). There is stuff on the shelf and a skeleton on the table. One bone has a carving of runes and sigils (the femur). The runes are similar to before, but in a different order. These are filled with gold and silver. Read magic: magic makes it a rod of absorption.
The shelf contains a small armory.
—lightweight crossbow with white runes carved toward the top. The runes say “white.”
—length of iron chain, 15” long, magic unknown
—shield with runes around the edge-similar to arcane runes in the circle of protection
—sword with a leather scabbard, started to rot. Sword feels cool to the touch
—The chain goes stiff when touched and looks like a wand, the sword creates ice when drawn and the shield has a spellguard.
—the crossbow is an oathbow (+1 all attack damage). When words are spoken the crossbow emits light. Can make an oath sworn aloud: swift death to you who have wronged me. Named becomes sworn enemy until 0 hit points or seven days and can’t make new oath until next morning. Get an additional 3 d 6 on hit. Ignore cover except total cover, suffer no disadvantage to long range and have advantage on rolls. Downside: while having sworn enemy I have disadvantage on every enemy but him.
We search the room and find a 3’ wide ring of iron with a baseball sized sapphire not touching the ground. Stones like this are often used to center a spell. Takes a spell’s power and flings it to somewhere else.
A spell’s center can be destroyed if it is removed from this plane. We put it in the bag of holding. The light goes out, there’s a loud noise and light comes back. The ring appears to have instantly aged and decayed.
On the wall, there’s an outline in chalk of a human with two holes in the torso. We transport back above ground and begin to head toward the mountains.

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Rattling the Chains

The chain lord bursts into the clearing. Nedreama is 50’ up the tree. The ogres stop cooking and grab their spears. The hill giant is 25’ tall, the chain lord is 30’ tall and the ogres are 12’ tall. The rest of our party is just behind the chain lord.
Initiative.
Chain lord is immune to charms.
We fight, and we win! Chain lord explodes, and the hill giant and ogres die.

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Tracking the Chain Lord

We get six warg pelts and one extra dire wolf pelt (Falkner and Gordaz get one each in addition). One magical battleaxe-has warding and defensive properties. Same bonus as using a shield, +1 attack. Gordaz takes it. Two small handaxes, leather armor, 60’ length of chain, iron, weighs 75 pounds (Falkner takes it). Also, 20 gold pieces, and I harvest enough wood from the tree for arrows and staffs. It’s midafternoon.
We find 19 traps and Og carries them.
We continue up the mountain, and the day begins getting darker, and it starts raining just before nightfall. We send Nedreama (by land) and Gordaz (by air) to spy. We see the creature is heading toward heavier growth of the forest.
It’s humanoid, wearing leather armor and has gray skin. They hear muttering, but in three different voices through heads on each soldier. There is a chain wrapped around his torso, big enough to secure a ship and a Farcash sized chain around his hand with a cage attached. The cage is empty, and one that he can use as a trap. He also has an iron maiden on his back (has the face of the mother of death). The creature is saying “must find it and must return it.”
Hurrn sees an unusually tall pine tree in the forest. Under it is a perfect ring of no trees. He feels the place is sacred. Lawrence goes ahead to the circle. Hurrn is on lookout. They will see: a hill giant equipped for a fight and two ogres equipped with hunting stuff. The two ogres are cooking. The hill giant is as large as what’s coming. There are sacred symbols on the tree. It’s carved all of the way up to the canopy in a celtic style-runes of warding and protection. The tree is fireproof.
Clearing is 100’ across with tree in center. Hill giant is to rear, right of tree; rune circle is to right of tree, Madame Eva’s wagon and horses are directly in front of tree, and ogres cooking are to left of tree.
Lawrence and I go to talk to Madame Eva. She says that what is coming will not find what he seeks with her. She has seen his rise and fall and she will survive. We ask if we survive. She says that we will find out soon, but says that your paths diverge here. The other creatures here owe allegiance to her. We all go in the same direction, but take different paths. For our quest to be a success the creature must be dealt with. The things the mother used to hold dear hurt her avatars. What is sought used to reside in the top of the tree, but now it resides in a higher place. A man came by many years ago and now it remains active. The fanes are wellsprings of power, now directed toward protection-if the direction is reset, it can be magic or mundane. She cannot assist in our task as it is not on her path. The protections on the tree are against flame, rot and age.
The creature arrives. Madame Eva says “flee fools” and we go hide.
Nedreama finds a space in the tree roughly his height, where something is ripped out. Shards of red crystals in opening—are the color of blood.

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The Sky is Falling!

Two days after resting there is a clear, sunny day—which is unusual. It may be a result of our actions. People are celebrating.
Around midday, at the Blood of the Vine tavern, we have lunch. The sky goes instantly black, as if the sun has been blotted out. We can still see the outlining glow of the sun. From the darkness comes a green comet—the glow withdraws into an object. It is still glowing but is not radiant any longer. The object is 10’ tall and 4’ wide. It impacts just outside of town. After impact, the eclipse ends and it returns to being a beautiful day. We see a column of smoke coming from the area of the church.
We go to the church where we find it destroyed. Only the front door is still intact. What remains is a smoldering crater that is not glowing. The object turns out to be a pod and it is laying there, ripped open. There are large humanoid tracks heading from the pod and leading west. The pod is made of fine steel and the base has a symbol on it-the symbol of the mother of the dead.
In the beginning there were four deities: forest, bravery, evil (shadows and darkness), and the seas.
The mother of the dead hates things being kept from her. The priest of the church had brought is son back from the dead—stolen him from her. This pod has destroyed the church. One of the mother of the dead’s prized champions is the chain lord.
There is a 4’ diameter circle with the symbol on it.
The back side has two things:
—pieces of the monster we killed before (he had not begun to decompose)
—also Jonathan’s original character, Lancairn—was a walker, may have been reforming.
As skull gets closer to remains, black smoke begins to appear from the remains. Smoke goes into the backpack—enters eye sockets and sockets glow briefly and then flicker out. Power of skull never changes. Something causes a reaction. Augury says that this is a good/positive thing.
The footsteps head westward—raven reports that he sees trees falling over. Some trees look broken off and some chopped. Damage goes in a straight line for the most part.
On way to Vistani camp we see Halfling tracks running away from the direction of the Vistani camp. The Vistani camp is much smaller than normal. The large ornate tent is gone. They are beginning to move out. They are heading east. Madame Eva moved in the evening of the previous night. Next camp is five days travel to the east, near what they call the Jewel Cities. We wish them well and head back to the path. We run into a rocky area where the path is hard to follow. When we do find it, it’s starting to curve to the north.
One tree has been left alone, he went around it. It’s an oak—sacred to the forest god, lover of the mother of the dead before she became such. Creatures of the mother of the dead treat the objects of the mother’s prior deity status, and that of her lover’s, as poison. I climb the tree, thank it for its sacrifice of branches and nuts, and collect a few and toss them down. I also look around. We hear rustling in the bushes heading toward us.
We get attacked. We hear a chain rattling from where we came from. Damage and energy drain (disadvantage on future rolls). Largest dire wolf has a collar and chain on it and is being held in check by a dwarf. Creatures are killed and wolf/bat flew away. We gain one dire wolf skin-Farcash. Group skins and take meat for food.

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The Swamp Fane

We try to figure out how to deactivate the fane.
—overgrowth is unnatural and overcharged because of magic
—ancient power—once home to several sites, it would it would live here part of the year (1 of 4 sites)
—there are two holes in the center of the table, the size of two fingers-perhaps to lift it. It turns when adjusted with fingers inserted
—sense of magic. We see the image of a skull. It is a concentration of power the size of a softball.
We remove the stone and there is nothing but darkness below. We drop a lit stone and it hits stone—another stone table. This one has a shroud covered body laying on it. There is an aura of holy magic. We find a functional trap—one that was recently used and recently reset. Rudimentary. We deactivate it.
The shroud is covered in normal cloth and there is a holy symbol similar to the Ravenkind symbol. The skull on the body is not the one that belongs to the body. It is cleaner and appears to have been bleached. It is covered in carved runes that are also divine in nature. They provide a protection from arrows. The skull shows more recent preparation, the rest of the skeleton is covered with dirt and normal decay. There is a sense of necromancy about the skull. After performing a divination, we see a skull in a bag, a forest, a mountain, a hand, and a mummified finger bone.
—four poisonous arrows were found in a trap
—we remove the skull successfully—the skull has layers of runes that are old, the newest runes are the ones of arrow protection I> Rougly made—looks very old, maybe the sharp point of a dagger made it. Is older than Nedreama.
Leaving has more to do with fixing. We head northward to King’s road and toward the forest. The farther away the skull is from the fane, the weaker the fane’s magic gets. The skull is still the same power.
We travel one week and get back to the city. We stop at Ireena’s home and restock our supplies and rest.

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Slogging through the swamp

Recap: We won the battle and examine the enemy-all were lycanthropes (elvish). The leader has nice armor.
Elenya gains a masterwork longsword and 30 arrows (10 of which are masterwork also).
We move into a thicker part of the forest-transitioning to marsh and found the attacker’s campsite and equipment. We take an extended rest so that we’re at full health.
We begin to move into the swamp proper. The trail begins to deteriorate: brackish water is more often what we’re seeing now. I wildshape so I won’t sink into the deep mud. I spot a 6’ wide fissure that is 30’ long filled with brackish water—I warn the party to jump over the narrow end. I also send Hurrn to scout ahead. He spots a sort of village: straw roofs and very large occupants. The village is straight ahead and slightly left of our current trajectory. There are about 12 huts. Hurrn stays near the village to watch it.
We continue on—water is up to our knees, mud up to our ankles. We see a wall of vines, some of which are moving. They are bog creepers. We hear a plop plop plop bubbling up type of noise. There are gas vents that are slowly exploding from below. We move on and hear something near us sloshing through the swamp—similar to how an alligator moves. It’s a kobold with an unusually long snout. We get past the kobolds without being detected. We reach the village near dusk. As we get closer to the village the ground begins to become more solid ground instead of swamp.
Hurrn approaches and says that he saw bog trolls. Some built a fire, and some took spears and went to the swamp to hunt. There are 12 huts, with 100 sq ft between the huts. The huts are about 10 × 10.
We find suitable camping in the trees. The late night watch will see the giant bat out patrolling. It seems to know where we are. Otherwise, everything is calm during the night. Hurrn says that everyone is back in the village for the night, the fire is burnt out and they are sleeping. We make it through the village and move quickly through the terrain using spells to assist us. By the time the spells end we’ve made it to firmer, but still muddy ground.
Ireena remembers vaguely that the fane is about 200 yards to the north. Hurrn finds the clearing—a circular area where there are no trees. The ruins are overgrown by the swamp. There’s a large, round table with runes on it.
We make it to the place Hurrn sees and find the fane. Here the water is clear. The strongest source of magic is from below the stone table. It’s a form of consecration magic, approximately the size of a softball. There’s also the feeling of abjuration, necromancy, conjuration (water), and purification (keeping the water clear). The runes translate into a binding spell. Whoever’s blood is spilled here can command the fane of the marsh.
Kirk and Damian try swimming to the table. Blood red worms start swimming toward them. The worms are about 20’ long and 5’ wide. We begin our fight. The table itself is 20’ wide and has places to tie off. There is 50’ between where the main part of the party is to the table.
!(Sea Hag)
X (Hawk) (Nedreama) (Table)
-———-20’ water——————--—————30’ land——————————{———table is 20’ wide————-}
A sea hag enters the clearing (swamp hag). She’s 12’ tall. We kill all! :D
We attain level 8 and wait for the next session.

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