On most Sunday nights, a group of friends and I gather to play Dungeons & Dragons. This is the chronicle of their tale. (This post contains spoilers to “Curse of Strahd”)

The heavy rain makes the path muddy and thick. The grapes on the vine in the vineyard wobble and drip as the precipitation pummels them from above. The adventurers face a group of over thirty needle blights standing in the road. Thunder rolls overhead. The battle begins!

The party is outnumbered, but they are more powerful than ever. The adventurers are now skilled enough to know their own strengths and how to work together.

Khurz the cleric calls sacred fire down from the sky to burn and char the wooden creatures. 

Cairie the rogue stealths into the vineyard for cover, and uses her bow to deal devastating attacks from her nearly invisible vantage point.

Malis the warlock and Y’shaarj the wizard both shoot beams of concentrated flame to burn holes straight through the blights, and shear off whole chunks of them at a time.

Raif and Krossa – the two fighters – charge into the fray and swing their massive weapons with abandon, mowing down whole groups of blights at a time.

Rolen the sorcerer uses a mix of magic and his crossbow to pick off the weak and wounded.

Ismark and Ireena join the battle as well, using their swords to attack the creatures. Ireena proves herself a steadfast defender, while Ismark whiffs attack after attack in a mostly pathetic manner.

Ezmerelda proves to be the most valuable in the fight, however, as – right at the top of the battle – she fires a lightning bolt spell that instantly disintegrates almost half of the total number of enemies on the field. Malis takes note.

After the battle is won, the group heads back to Urwin and Davian, where Khurz administers some healing to the group, and Malis crafts a rose as a gift of admiration to Ezmerelda. She accepts the gift, and places it in her hair.

Raif boasts of their victory, and says it’s time to charge the winery, believing the danger to be over. Nearly everyone else wishes to rest and recover some of their spent spell slots.

Davian notices the Martikov family cloak that Raif wears – which Urwin had lent to Raif when he initially requested the adventurer go to the winery back in Vallaki. Not liking Raif’s attitude toward his comrades, Davian asks for the cloak back. Raif says, in a rather defiant way, that he’s not finished the quest yet, and immediately starts marching up the road toward the winery with the cloak still fastened to him.

This forces the entire party to follow after him without their wanted rest. Ezmerelda instructs Ismark and Ireena to stay with Urwin and Davian at the wagon, and to block the road with it so that any enemies fleeing from the winery or arriving as reinforcements from elsewhere cannot get through. Ezmerelda then follows the party toward the winery.

Upon arriving at the Wizard of Wines Winery, the group splits into two. Cairie, knowing where she had found the unlocked door, heads to the loading dock with Khurz, Rolen, and Y’shaarj. Raif, Krossa, and Ezmerelda head for the front porch, where they find three grape-mashing barrels and a locked door that they cannot get through.

Ezmerelda gains them entrance with the use of a knock spell, and they three go inside to find a large room with four huge fermentation vats. Above one of the vats is a filthy human druid dumping a liquid from a pouch into the vat. They immediately go on the attack to stop her. Cairie’s group runs in through the other door leading to the loading dock, and Malis deals the killing blow on the druid from afar with a scorching ray spell.

There’s a moment of calm in the room as everyone starts filing inside, but the quiet is disturbed by a strange scratching sound. Suddenly, a ton of small, bush-like twig blights come pouring out of a crack in one of the fermentation vats, which was empty all along. These things absolutely fill the room with their massive number, and are crawling all over each other to try and get to the completely surrounded adventurers.

Alright, so I actually thought the large number of needle blights was going to prove somewhat challenging for our heroes, but they instead surprised me with their incredible teamwork, and used only each others’ strengths to bowl the creatures down. I was really impressed.

So, to make up for it, I threw a hundred twig blights at them inside the winery. Yes, 100.

I really like how things are playing out between the group and the Martikov family. Raif’s curtness and inability to work with others is making him out to be an interesting character to play off of the others, especially the NPCs – who merely want some help. I’m hoping, in my poking and prodding of his character, that I can inspire some kind of growth – but so far Raif does what Raif wants. He seems to be very slowly coming around to an “alright, I won’t do this and put everyone else’s lives in danger,” way of thinking, but it’s slow going still.

I have a big surprise for my players for next session – some big ol’ consequences that they’re going to have to face, even if it wasn’t totally their fault it happened. It’s just fun to throw terrible things at them and watch them react. Barovia is, in fact, supposed to be a place that sucks the hope and light right out of you. So I’m trying to convey that through the events that take place around them.

Next time – “Bad Wine and Grave Portents.”

Until then – Well Met!