The Village Of Barovia30 Dec 2018
Approaching the Village
Supposed we just started our adventure there’s still a long way to go before arriving at the village. Independently from the Adventure Hook chosen your players will now be likely in front of the massive barovian gates. They might be suspicious but wait a second, what are those? Oh, those are wagon trails! People come and go from this place.
This is the moment where you as a DM have to slowly build trust and hope in your players, just to destroy them when the gates close behind the group and they find the real burgomaster’s letter.
This is an important moment because they’ll feel hopeless and oppressed, just as they should feel.
If you’re planning to run Death House don’t run any combat encounter. Let the player with the highest perception (the DC doesn’t matter) find the hidden trail and let the party safely arrive to the Village of Barovia.
Areas of the Village
I never used the random house occupants table and I advice you not to use them either. Most of the people won’t even check the houses and fighting against some random rats isn’t fun.
Remember that if played as written players can’t buy weapons in Barovia. This of course should change if you decided to strip your group of all the gear before entering the demiplane. For some flavor remember that Parriwimple is very muscular and big but “simple-minded”
Blood of the Vine Tavern
This is the hub of the Village Of Barovia. Here the players will find Ismark. He gave up on life and if you played Dark Souls he’s really similar to the Crestfallen Warrior. Some Vistani are also present in the tavern and they offer a good moment of visual contrast.
Mad Mary’s Townhouse
The players just escaped from a house that tried to lure them in with crying children, and even so, in a place like this almost no one would trust a mad and crying woman. Her quest isn’t that interesting either and most players will probably forget it (especially since it’s given so soon and can be completed only late game)
Here the players will meet Ireena. Be ready to talk to yourself while roleplaying Ireena and Ismark. Strahd wants to marry Ireena because she is a reincarnation of Tatyana (but she doesn’t know that). Her house has been under siege for days and her father died because of a hearth attack caused by the attacks. Ismark wants that the players help Ireena and find her a safe place to stay but she won’t go anywhere before giving a burial to her father.
Remember that Ireena is adopted but she doesn’t know that. She is also the sister of Izek, a man living in Vallaki and obsessed by her. This plot line is a good way of making someone involved in the story. One of your players might be Ireena’s and Izek’s brother as well.
The church is destroyed and as soon as the group enters they hear screams coming from the basement. If properly roleplayed this is a really spooky scene. Doru is locked under the church. He is Donavich’s son that has fallen by the hand of Strahd and turned into a vampire spawn. Donavich is too weak to kill his son and he keeps praying hoping that he will turn back human. He will perform the burial if asked and he will show his son to the party as well if questioned, but he won’t allow anyone to hurt him. If his son gets killed he probably will commit suicide. If the party (or Ireena) asks him about a safe place he will recommend first the church of Vallaki and then the Abbey of Krezk.
This is probably one of the best special events in the whole book. Don’t show the players the photo of Morgantha and don’t let the players see that she is kidnapping children. Let her come close to the party, talk like an old granny to them and try to sell them a pastry. If they ask why they cost so much let her answer that “it’s because they cure bad nightmares”. Try to hint at the fact that the people are happy to buy the pastries and don’t seem forced to do so. The Windmill’s Hags are some good recurrent NPCs for the party since they travel a lot selling pastries.
March of the Dead
This is one of those events that are cool on paper but really hard to convey by words. Most groups will follow the dead until the castle and not more than that so they’ll miss the end of the march. Also this event implies that a lot of adventurers came by in the past. Personally I don’t like this idea, in my Barovia people who dare to defy Strahd are sparse and few in numbers.
The typical Barovia session will go like this
- Players arrive in Barovia
- Enter and exit the Death House alive (optional)
- They see Morgantha and inquire about the pastries
- They’re in some way directed to the inn where they get to know Ismark that invites the player to his home
- There they become acquainted with Ireena and they help her bury her father
- Once the deed is done they leave Barovia and head to Vallaki