Friday, August 10, 2012

Ravenloft session #1: Chatain

A new campaign is finally underway - we played our first session Wednesday night, using AD&D 2nd Edition as the rule set, with Ravenloft (probably my favorite all-time setting) as the backdrop. The game is rooted in the military-oppressed kingdom of Falkovnia, ruled by the reviled, mercenary king, Vlad Drakov (more commonly known as "Vlad the Impaler"). Falkovnia's rolling fields and valleys are blanketed by deep forests and spotted with towns and villages whose downtrodden citizenry live in fear of their rulers and the dangers that lurk outside their homes.

The adventurers number three: Alaric, an overly moral sod and would-be holy warrior; Aginot, an unconventional man of the cloth; and Leilana, a half-elven woman whose racial heritage is well-concealed for fear of the harsh prejudices within the kingdom. The PCs each bear the mark of the Talon on their foreheads, a brand brutally imparted by Drakov by way of his soldiers (called "Talons"), claiming the Falkovnian inhabitants as his property.

Our session began in the isolated farming village of Chatain, a northeastern hamlet surrounded by thick woodlands of vigila dimorta, towering black trees whose name in the old language means "sentries of death." For its part, Chatain is self-sustaining and not oft happened upon, its most frequent visitors wayward travelers and caravans, or (less commonly) small military units, scouring Falkovnia's towns and villages to viciously brand, capture, and occasionally even slaughter those who "rightfully" belong to their King.

On a crisp, cool evening in mid-autumn, Alaric, Aginot and Leilana were gathered inside the Winter Wolf tavern, a small taproom on the southeast corner of Chatain's modest village square, when in trod a rugged, dark-haired man brandishing sword and shield, weathered and weary from the road. He introduced himself as Alec Rapacion, a county militia captain from a cluster of small settlements in the foothills of the Balinok Mountains to the east, traveling the countryside on a peaceable mission of recruitment. Rapacion explained that he had warned the tavern's proprietor, a strong-armed middle-aged man named Karsten, that a band of Drakov's Talons was roaming the forested trails nearby.

As if on cue at that moment, screams sounded from the village square. Patrons flooded to the tavern's windows and entryway, and onlookers could see four mounted Talons outside, several yards away. In the center of the square, their apparent leader had impaled a villager on his glaive, letting the man slide grotesquely from his weapon and fall lifelessly to the ground.

The horsemen turned at Alaric's call, and when they did, a lithe form could be spotted to the northwest, escaping from the village square into the foreboding night. Alaric and Captain Rapacion blocked the doorway to the tavern when one of the Talons was directed their way by the leader. Alaric refused to engage the soldier, but Rapacion slashed the man's cheek before Alaric could restrain his new ally. Fearful for the patrons, Leilana began ushering taverngoers out the taproom's rear exit while Aginot played drunk in an attempt to create a distraction.

A melee ensued inside the tavern, with Rapacion, Leilana, and Karsten working together to slay the Talon.  An utterance of cause fear by Aginot sent a second mounted soldier fleeing into the darkness after he'd circled around back to block the villagers' escape. The companions outmatched and subsequently bound and captured the rider upon his return to the village square after Leilana deftly impersonated the boy that had been seen running from the shadows. Conversing briefly with a handful of townspeople who'd gathered 'round the impaled man after the Talons had dispersed, the PCs learned that the slain man had been protecting his teenage son from the soldiers when he was felled. Presumably, the son either was yet unbranded with Drakov's mark or had otherwise provoked the riders.

The PCs gathered what villagers they could safely in the tavern, and when the two remaining soldiers made their return, the frontrunner was laid low and the leader, having lost his contingent, rode swiftly off to the south, fleeing the village with all haste.

Thereafter, Chatain was in uproar over the night's events, the villagers prideful of the manner in which the Talons were defeated, yet gravely fearful for the possible repercussions from the Kingdom. Of foremost concern to the slain villager's family, however, was locating the dead man's son Elias who, by multiple accounts, had fled Chatain to the northwest, and toward the treacherous swamp that in the old language was known simply as Souragne.

XP

Player character XP totals are posted on the sidebar of this page. The experience awards for the first session are as follows:

  • Defeating four Talon soldiers (two slain, one captured, one driven off into the night) @ 50 XP each: 200 XP
  • Story award for successfully protecting further villagers from harm: 500 XP
  • 700 XP total
  • 233 XP per character (before any applicable XP bonuses)
The session ran well and got us off to an exciting start. Everyone's looking forward to learning what happens next...

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