Ravenloft Campaing - old leads to new



Oct 06, 2006 14:47:39
The Future:
Years ago I ran a Ravenloft campaign located in Barovia of the material plane, a place of dark stories and in depth heroes and villains. The land was called Tarn Solvaney and ruled by King Barov and Queen Kristiana. When the campaign first started I was using the Second Edition rules which we later shifted over into Third Edition when it came out.

The beginning of the campaign and the decision to have it located in the material plane was sparked by a number of things:

First, the adventures From the Shadows and Roots of Evil where the players learn how Strahd came to be and even get to witness parts of his past played the biggest part in setting up the first series of adventures.

Second, an adventure called A Light in the Belfry became the first chapter in a gathering of unlikely heroes to save the sister of the Queen of Tarn Solvaney.

The main goal of the campaign was to be sure there is a mix of characters that normally wouldn’t work together who would find that they needed each other to achieve a common goal.

The main characters:
Sir Stewart Whiteheart, a warrior and King’s champion who was well known in Tarn Solvaney for being the one called upon for certain duties that the King would have to assign an army of people for. Sort of like the “one riot one ranger” saying, or something like that.

Blaise, a business woman of small city few days travel West of Barovia. She was in the smuggling business and had trouble with the law on occasion, but her luck was usually that she didn’t know what was being transported and she really didn’t keep direct contact with the actual clients so she generally stayed out of trouble.

Lord Blackhawk, wasn’t really a lord of any kind, but in his own mind he thought of himself as one. With his evil ways he really wouldn’t be caught dead with the two characters above, but circumstances had made him become tolerable. The player of Blackhawk helped design the character so that he would first and foremost want to be the boogey man of the area and didn’t like people stepping on his toes in that respect. The other thing Blackhawk always did was keep his word and generally knew when his spoken agreements became broken… tortured dreams and sleepless nights, so on and so forth.

Adventure Begins:
A retiring Sir Stewart is called to the castle for a matter of extreme urgency, he is informed that the Queen’s brother and sister, Ferran and Aurora, are missing and that his job is to find her and make sure she’s safe.

Blaise is visited and threatened by some cultists because they didn’t receive a package sent to them from a nearby local and they know that Blaise is in charge of the operation that was supposed to pick up and deliver the items. So she sets out to personally take care of the mix up.

Lord Blackhawk has been struggling with dreams focused on a woman that he let live many years ago. Business at his isolated estate has kept him from any knowledge of outside news that the woman in his dreams has recently gone missing.

Sir Stewart’s investigation leads him to an empty area where a large manor was said to exist only days earlier and that rumors say that the mage that lived there is the one responsible for Aurora’s vanishing.

Blaise soon arrives at the same empty lot because her research leads her to the simple fact that this is where her people were supposed to pick-up the missing delivery from.

Stewart and Blaise head back to town where they question people and discover that there is a rumor of the Lord Darkwing to the west that seems to match the description of a dark and mysterious mage.

Lord Blackhawk has no idea that the two visitors that are about to come to his home are going to accuse him of kidnapping Aurora. Blackhawk does however recognize the name as the girl from many years ago he once promised that nothing would ever harm her. It was a badly worded promise at the time and he knows that he must help these two people find her so that his nightly dreams will go away.

The three become quickly intertwined in a series of events that require them to aid each other for a long time to come. Aurora is returned and the queen is assassinated. A distraught king has his own thoughts and issues at hand while a mysterious cult is gaining power and secretively planning a war to take over the kingdom.

It was an easy campaign with lots of intrigue, mysterious character pasts, and magical artifacts that made legendary stories out of the player characters. At the end the players miraculously created an army and defended the castle against the evil cult. Blackhawk wanted to be the one that people would fearfully whisper about at night and this cult was going to take that away from him, so he took extreme measures to counter the cult and it didn’t matter what the cost was. If he had to slaughter a whole town to feed and create and army of monstrous creatures to fight a war then it was done. Sir Stewart knew he couldn’t do these things on his own and slowly fell into evil along with Blackhawk because it was for the good of the kingdom.

The prequel:
The same group of players and myself want to step back in time and run a campaign in Tarn Solvaney where it’s a few hundred years before the previous campaign, but it’s also a few hundred years after Count Strahd disappeared into Ravenloft leaving this barely recovering countryside without a leader.

I’m still deciding on whether or not there’s a king or some king of leadership figure. What I do know is that I’m going to focus on Lady Kateri and the Circle since it is the faction that Ferran and Aurora, the queen’s brother and sister, belonged to in the future.

At some point the plots will lead these new PC’s into Ravenloft to encounter Count Strahd. The players will do most of the work in coming up with their characters background based on the setting information I give them so I’ll be able to use that to figure out why Ravenloft might bring them in to fight Strahd. Or I might have some kind of conjunction occur that will bring Strahd and the Ravenloft Barovia to the players.

So with a fairly new founding of a group of paladins and holy fighters known as the Circle who promise the people of Tarn Solvaney that there is someone to call upon when there’s no other light that surrounds them in a dark and foreboding world. Plus due to knowing the future I have tons of NPC’s who will eventually come forth and be related to people the old characters interacted with, but could be directly related to the old player characters as well.

My goal is that when the players finally begin Excursion to Castle Ravenloft they find that the Barovia they know looks the same, but the people and the fear that resides there is different from that in the Barovia in which they know.

I’m looking for shared ideas and brainstorms from readers here to help me in brining this era to life. Care to join in? Just post it or any comments or question you might have as well. Thoughts about what surviving Tergs might be doing or other things that I might not have considered or even forgot about… whatever’s comes to your mind while reading the above information.