Disclaimer: This includes spoilers for Curse of Strahd so don’t read if you don’t want to know.
We arrived in Valaki. As we made our way up to the city gates we noticed a camp outside the city walls. They were Vistani, the Romani-like characters that have free passage through the lands of Barovia because they saved Strahd’s life long ago. Some stared at us as we made our way through. We were let into the city and made our way to the Baron of Valaki’s home. Upon arriving we were met with broad smiles and cheer. We met the family and noticed that the eldest kid was very somber and quiet. He left as soon as the introductions were over and was the only one not smiling. Then we found out that he was BETROTHED to Irina! Apparently, as payment for keeping Irina safe within the walls of the city she had to marry their eldest and continue the family line. Irina did not know this and was about to refuse when she was whisked away by her brother to their rooms in the Baron’s home to talk about it. We didn’t know what to do so we headed out to see the rest of the city.
We made our way to the nearest tavern. My Bard wanted to perform and the others wanted to drink. On our way we noticed that there were quite a few ravens hanging around the tavern and some of them appeared to be looking at us. Milo the Rogue threw a rock at one in typical Milo fashion. It hit, but the bird just flew away and kept right on looking at him from afar. We went in and found out it was run by a couple and their sons. They were big dudes and got all our belongings and the cart plus horses taken care of. Inside the tavern, my Bard asked after rooms and whether she could perform at the bar. The owner just told me I had to ask the bard already performing and Aleera went to go find him. Drumming and doing slam poetry he told a story of van Richten, a hero of Barovia apparently. This bard called himself Ricatavio. He agreed to have a performance duo for the night and he accompanied my Bard as she gave a dancing performance successfully.
While we were in the city we heard about a few things. First, there was to always be cheer and smiles. No one could be anything but cheerful in the city to maintain the facade of happiness and safety. We were invited to the Watcher estate to meet the lady Fiona, we heard about a mad mage in the forest to the northeast terrorizing the area, and we heard that the thigh bone of a saint, which is purported to keep the city safe, had been stolen. We kind of ignored the invitation to see Fiona and were not planning to leave soon so we set about trying to find the stolen thigh bone. During our investigation we learned that the city’s coffin maker had stolen the bone. We didn’t know why just that he did. We headed to his home to interrogate him. We made him tell us why he did it and he said he was told to by a known associate of Strahd. He recounted being threatened by Vasily von Holtz to steal the bone and leave the city unprotected.
We tried to knock him unconscious so we could search his home but instead made some noise and woke up the vampires packed into some boxes that Vasily had made the coffin maker store for him. We fought them off and then had to deal with the noise we had caused. While most of the party made it out with no problem, a certain rogue did not. Instead of doing roguey things to disappear he had the bright idea to use his cap of disguise to make himself look like a short version of Strahd. He made a ruckus yelling about coming to the city and destroying it. The guards came running after him but he managed to get away by using minor illusion to make himself look like a bush. One of the guards took a pee on him since he was a bush so he came back to the party smelling of pee and dirt.
We headed back to the tavern only to be told that booze was double the price as there was a shortage. When we asked what was wrong, the barkeep told us they had not received their latest shipment and were having to water down the ale to make it last. We offered to retrieve the missing shipment and they offered one of the casks as payment for the safe delivery of the goods. We agreed and set off to find the shipment. Overall this was a very role play heavy session. We had to navigate city politics while maintaining our safety. There were so many things to do and chose from that we missed out on some awesome opportunities. That’s one of the frustrations for me in the game. I want to be able to do everything so I can get the most of the experience but that’s just not feasible. It ended up playing out well in the story but I’m always left wondering, what if we had done something different?