Ravenloft Campaign: Woven Fates

Tonight, I relate the story of a group of strangers that met here in the Land of Mists and, forced by destiny, wandered its roads in formidable adventure. Join us as I lead you from their first meeting along through their travels, their misfortunes and their shining moments. Grace them with your compassion in their losses; bless them with your support when the sky is dark and bleak. Do not forget to bestow your praise upon them as they vanquish terror and hold back the minions of darkness. Raise your arm to cheer for their victories!
And above all, share your glass with us for them, both in sorrow and elation, as you accompany them in the thorny road from lost adventurers to heroes of the mists.

Come, huddle with us by the fire here in the dark. The night is cold, but within the ring of Vardos, its evils cannot touch us. Tonight, you are a guest of the Vistani and nothing will harm you. Come, the Prastonata is over and now is time for the Doroq. Let the tales now unfold, let the revelations begin...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Log Entry 22

The day was cold, heralding the young autumn. The persistent clouds of that morning warned everybody that the sunny days of summer were now not more than a memory. Although it was not raining when the caravan departed, no traveller doubted that it would before long. Usually, the departure of a caravan from Ingelberg towards the south was noisy and busy, but this was the last one of the year and, besides, it wouldn't return before spring. "One-way only", had the caravan master told Yuri when he inquired for places, and he now mused, as they pressed on, if that could have a second, ghastlier meaning. He shrugged off his depressing thoughts and turned his attention to his travel mates. With some surprise, he read in their faces the very apprehension that he was feeling, but eventually he attributed it to the weather, for it helped greatly for a depressing mood: a grey light filled the day, and a light fog clouded the view after fifty metres. Either because the mist itself also shrouded the sounds, or because every living being muffled its own voices or noises, the air around seemed strangely quiet. There were not the usual cries prompting the animals forward, or towards a companion looking for some lost piece of equipment; nor the lively conversations about the happy farewells of the eve, round a friendly table playing and drinking; nor the loud bragging about the latest conquest and the merits of the last town's wenches. No, this was different. But still, not in the least suspect.

The morning aged slowly as time passed, but the fog remained low and uncomfortable, leaving everybody sagged and downtrodden, and things only became worst when, near noon, the sky let down the first rains. The rain was not steady, but rather in short episodes of ten or twenty minutes. The road, muddier and wet, however, did not seem to slow the horses, and the band continued on at seemingly the same speed, until about three hours after the midday, the rain stopped completely. It was not until half an hour later, though, that the sky opened at last and let a glorious sun shine through the haze of the day. With the warm rays, at last the fog began to lighten and dissolve.

The group gave a cheer of contentment, but it was so short and cut so abruptly that the four friends, that followed all together, looked around to the caravan and received the greatest shock of their lives, as they stopped dead: if indeed the rest of the caravan had cheered the sun as they had, they now could not do it, because they seemed not to be there. As the fog became hazier, lighter and more transparent, so did the people dissolve equally as fast within the mist, aging as they did: children became adults, adults became old, shrivelled, and then bone clean of flesh, steadily decaying as they became vague diaphanous images dancing in the light, light fog. It was only this diffusion that spared them the full shock of seeing the persons that had accompanied them all morning turned into skeletons, suddenly. The last images of people, horses or wagons disappeared in one, perhaps two minutes, just like the mist and they remained stranded on a road, with no one around. The sun was falling in the sky, and it promised no more than two hours of light. The shock was so sudden and the horror so great, that they lost their mind for some time: Eva broke on a desperate run eastwards, while Gheata and Yuri sped to the south. Gregor remained in a catatonic, trance-like state, frozen in place without knowing what to do.

Gregor was the first to recover. When he finally became aware of his senses again, he saw three mounted figures running away from him: identifying Eva as one of them, he deduced the other two should be Yuri and Gheata and went after them. But these two only came to their senses one or two minutes later. They stopped and tried to reason about it all.

"Wow.... what was that, Yuri? Did you see them disappearing?"

"I did. I don't know, but I don't like this place. I want to leave here."

"Yeah... what about the other two? Should we go looking for them, or move on?

"We could do either, Gheata. But to tell the truth, it was not even us that wanted to go to Barovia. I think we should return to Ingelberg... Funny, the sun is on our right. We've come south, Gheata, but I swear I had turned north."

"Hmmm. So did I. I don't understand."

"Perhaps we were confused. Let's turn back now, then, and see about the others..."

They continued north and met Gregor in no time

"Gregor, good to see you're well. Where's Eva?"

"Eva? I don't know, but I think I saw her running east. Let's go catch her."

Eva, meanwhile, had found herself alone, when at last she recovered. Judging her orientation, and recalling that further east lay a river, she turned back, heading northwest and decided to return to Ingelberg as fast as she could manage. She'd speed through the muddy plains so she could profit of the light, but she couldn't help notice that, while the soft wet ground seemed not to have disturbed the horses and carts when going south, it now seemed more adverse that its looks suggested, as she tried to go north. Worried about the ground, not to injure her horse, she began to pick her way carefully and thus slowed considerably. Then, she heard a familiar cry, someone calling her name.


It was Gregor. She looked up and saw her three friends in front of her. She looked up to the sun and, bewildered, concluded she had been moving south-westwards instead.

"Gheata, Gregor, Yuri! What happened to us? Why am I going south?"

"You too?" asked Yuri, incredulous. They came to the conclusion that somehow the land had reversed their directions without their noticing. When he perceived this, the knowledge about folk lore that Yuri had acquired at the School of High Studies of Ingelberg, in the previous two years, came to his aid:

"It makes sense! It all makes sense now!", he exclaimed with a determinate interjection, while clenching his fists.

"It's the Mists! The famed mists! This land is alive, hear me, or very near it. It has sentience, it has a Will! It wants us to go south... See, when we were at the Horseless Knight, they told us it would take us three days to reach Ingelberg, but we took two. And do you remember, as we rode, that what seemed rugged hills from afar were, after all, gentle slopes when we reached them? Do you remember that, unlike our previous travels, there were no broken branches on the road, no depressions that could harm a horse, no treacherous pools of unknown length? Nothing, there was nothing to prevent our movement. We came as fast as we could, and perhaps even more, even without trying. And then, we decide to leave Ingelberg exactly on the moment that the last caravan is leaving, as if it had been waited for us... Or, better even, as if it had been put there precisely for us, so that we would not be discouraged from travelling south! That's why we had fog all day, the caravan was an illusion, a manifestation of the mists, and it dissolved when the sun cleared the fog and it could no longer support the scam. And now, if we turn north, we end up running south."

Yuri shook his head and continued

"I think we should go North, but I fell we're impotent to do so. The land wants us to go south. Grand Scheme or Greater Powers, I know not what is directing us, but they want us South of Irvanika."

"Bah, we have to go south and that's that. We don't have time to reach any place back north before night, so let's see what is ahead."

Yuri looked up at Gheata and shrugged

"I'd rather go North, if I could."

"Much that I want to go to Barovia, I'm for going North too", suggested Gregor, immediately supported by Eva. Only Gheata insisted on their going south, but since the rest of the company went North, Gheata followed, reasoning to himself that this was no time to be alone. Yuri led them North with a faint hope that he might have been wrong, but he said not one minute later

"Just what I feared. That is precisely the last thing that was missing."

The others looked to were Yuri pointed, and saw a grey, bleak, menacing bank of fog, moving rapidly in their direction. It enveloped them in a scant few seconds but it was not normal fog. They were dazed for a few seconds and knocked to the ground. When they got up, they felt their feet soaked into a muddy, slimy surface, not unlike a shallow bog. The air clung to their clothes and skin and it felt viscous and nauseating. It vibrated with the intensity of a palpitating heart, and even the sound of their own's beatings echoed amplified. And then the screams began. Horrifying screams of men, or beasts, of things they had never seen or imagined. Hurrying shadows of black horned creatures sped in front of them, just a few metres away; furry legs tripped them and tentatively climbed to their knees; heavier clouds of grey mist blocked their view and they lost contact of each other; a fetid, putrid smell filled their nostrils as sounds of scythe cut the air and a skeletal black caped figure, heaved under its weight, wielded the utensil with harvesting motions.

They cried, they cried, as never before and blackness filled them. They never knew how much time the voyage through the mists lasted, but when it lifted and they returned to conscience, they had been deposited in a dark, oppressing, watchful forest road. It was night, the sun well below the horizon. The moon was faint, almost completely dark. However, their eyes grew used to the dark, and with the feeble starlight and moon, they soon could perceive their surroundings. It was not, however, enough to grasp any details, so Yuri lit his lantern.

They found they were in a cramped road bordered by massive forest on both sides, with the trees hugging so densely that in some cases there was not space for a person to step between two trunks. In front of them, a plaque, nailed onto a tree, read:

Old Svalich Road

<~~ Vallaki (1 day) / Barovia (1/2 hour) ~~>

To their right, a massive gate towered above them. Two stone statues, depicting crude, strong armed guardians, held the old and rusted ironwork of the gates. The heads of the statues had fallen to the ground and their bearded faces now looked powerless at the four adventurers. When closed, the gates barred the road, but they were open towards them, beckoning their steps onto the road on the other side.

They turned to Barovia, through the gates. The road coiled through the woods like a snake, never following in a straight line for more than a few meters, until they reached a junction. The dense trees became slightly sparse at that single spot, which allowed them a view into the dark horizon. They could see the stars and the small moon, and into the distance, to their left, and above, a dark ominous outline of blackness, tall and imposing, covering the beautiful skyline. Countless smaller shades, like small birds, waved around it in the distance.

Yuri said

"I reckon that should be Castle Ravenloft, from what I have seen in the library at Ingelberg. Hard to miss such a landmark, once we know it is near the village of Barovia."

"And those little shapes that fly around it? Night creatures?" asked Gregor.

"Bats more likely. I recognise those shrieks easily" answered Eva. "We had some in the forest around the Horseless Knight, when I was small."

"Then, let's go there. Better a castle than the night outside."

"No, Gheata, I'm definitely against it.", said Yuri, adamant. But Gheata was not convinced

"Look, there's a castle over there, why shouldn't we go there? They'll give us shelter and point our way."

"I doubt it, really. Do you see any light? I guess at least some little guard lamp should be lit, but it's as good as dead. For me, it's abandoned."

"Yuri, it's late. They're asleep, that's no reason."

"Well, then check the path" said Gregor, suddenly noticing it. "That road is well more unkempt than the right one. It's as if no one had passed there for ages..."

The others followed Gregor's gaze, and this definitely made them decide. They turned right, on the well trodden path, and away from the ominous silhouette.

They continued as silent as they could be, menaced by the dark solemn majesty of the old decrepit trees. This forest seemed more primeval and more threatening than any they had been through, more alert and unforgiving. Only the road, somehow, offered them some safety and confidence. They went on, following Yuri's determined step when Eva broke a warning

"Did you see that?"

"What?!" they exclaimed, startled.

"I... I don't know, I though I had seen a figure over there, in the corner of my eye... something white, as Yuri turned the lamp."

Yuri illuminated the woods for a while, but they could see nothing.

"I don't like these woods", he said, "let's move on and see if we can reach some safe place to rest".

They went on and a few minutes later, Eva and Gregor, almost at the same time, nearly cried again

"There... there she is!"

Yuri looked around, dumbfounded. Gheata, too, had had some impression of whiteness but he hadn't seen anything, All he could grasp were some shades ahead of them, about three metres tall and almost one wide. He didn't understand what they were, but they were not moving.

"What did you see, Eva?"

"It's a woman... a woman dressed in white."

"Can you see it yet?" he asked, while walking and nudging the others to follow him quickly.

"No.... erm, yes. It's right behind us, I saw her again."

"Then follow me, quick."

He moved to the shades, hoping that they would provide some kind of shelter. He frequently waved the lamp to their rear, and then it became clear that they were indeed being stalked or pursued by the fragile figure of a lovely girl, barely twenty years old, if at all, dressed in strange attire: all she wore was a white slender night gown that let them hint at her flesh scarcely hidden below. She moved barefoot, but still was faster than them.

"Wait, wait please. Help me!" she said.

"Move on, move on" countered Yuri. "Do not listen to her?"

"Why do you flee? I'm lost and I need your help".

The girl was nearer, but so were the shades. They could now clearly see that it was a stone circle, a construction of ancient times. It was formed by some ten or twelve standing stones, and a large slab lay in its middle. The vegetation seemed well-tended inside, and the slab kept meticulously clean. Gregor touched one of the stones, closed his eyes and murmured

"I like this place, I feel well here." but Eva brought him out of his reverie

"Then, should we move inside? I don't trust that woman and she's right on our heels".

He was right. She was barely ten paces away and kept calling for them. Yuri ordered

"Get inside the circle, I feel it won't harm us."

They had no time to think. Gregor's feelings and Yuri's urgency brought them all inside the circle, just when the girl closed on them. She, however, remained outside.

With all their attention, Eva and Gheata understood she made no sound.

They now could see her clearly. She was red-haired, with full lips and a heavy bosom. Her hips were generously round and she gave forth an air of lusciousness and abundance. Gregor asked her

"What's your name, and why are you here?"

She looked clearly disorientated and replied simply

"I'm Josefa, and I'm lost."

"Where do you come from?"

"From the village, from Barovia! I was here with my friends, but I don't know why, they left me alone and now I can't seem to find the way back. Can you help me?"

Yuri murmured to himself, just loud enough for the others to hear

"I don't trust her. What is she doing outside, in the night, dressed like this, without fear of strangers?"

Josefa stretched her arms towards them once again, but still remaining completely outside the circle.

"Help me, please!"

Yuri chanted lowly, asking his goddess for guidance, and an image formed in his head.

"She's not alive... I already expected."

A sudden change overcame her, as Yuri recognized what was in front of them. She had felt his inspection, his violation of her nature. She hissed violently, and her looks became feral and uncontrolled. She looked at them quickly in succession, and Gheata fell some foreign will fighting against his own, trying to displace his own conscience. A mental onslaught, something Gheata had never felt before, but this was too present, too strong to ignore. Gheata fought back and remained in control. He knew not what that foreign will wanted but he never yielded and remained in place. Meanwhile, Gregor and Yuri held their holy symbols and chanted their prayers. Eva huddled behind them.

They remained well inside the circle, and as they expected, Josefa couldn't move in. Gregor finished his chant, but crestfallen understood that the gods had left him without answer once again. Yuri, on the other hand, let a small cry of triumph escape his lips, as a blue glowing sword formed in the air between him and the creature. Issuing his thanks to the Goddess, he watched as the sword cut the air and waved at the woman, but she was too fast and avoided it easily. She hissed in furious frustration as she acknowledged the protection the circle gave them. She couldn't bring herself to step in. She tried, once more, to focus her will on one of them, but Yuri's sword kept attacking her and she lost concentration trying to evade it. Gregor, then holding his holy symbol with less than good confidence, cried with all his power

"Go, beast! Leave us!"

Josefa turned to him and looked at his symbol, in spiteful scorn, but forgetting for a split second about Yuri's mystical sword, she felt the divine blade bite into her flesh. The agony was new for her, and she turned away, vanishing into the night. The whole scene was so fast that Yuri greeted Gregor:

"You were impressive, friend. Congratulations!"

"It was fluke, Yuri. I had no power over her. She laughed at my feeble attempts... Oh, I really do hope the answer for this emptiness is in this land. I begin to despair of myself. Will I be priest yet?"

Yuri patted him, but said nothing. He knew full well Gregor's internal anguish, but he couldn't understand what was going on. Instead, he addressed the others:

"This circle has given us protection against a mighty creature of the night. No less than a Vampyr. This is as good a place as we can find, and we should spend the night here."

Everybody else felt the same way, and they finally granted themselves some rest in a long and very difficult day. At last, they were in Barovia.


Blogger Nikola said...

Só queria acrescentar duas coisas:

1. ERRATA: Quando a Vampyr diz: "I'm Josefa, and I'm lost", o Gregor deveria ter-se virado para a party e ter traduzido "Chama-se Amélia e quer-nos dar sexo". :P

2. Agora mais a sério, estes logs supostamente servem para descrever o que se passou na sessão. No entanto, há muita informação nova que acrescentas e que não se passou de todo mas que serve (creio eu) para compreender melhor certas coisas que aconteceram, mas que passaram despercebidas aos jogadores. Talvez por falta de tempo para explicar, e para o bem de manter o ritmo da sessão. No entanto, toma cuidado pois pode haver alturas em que os jogadores sintam que estás a colocar palavras na sua boca que eles nunca diríam. Acho que os jogadores deveriam rever os logs e apontar aquilo que acham bem ou mal. É certo que nunca sais do enredo, mas cuidado com os acrescentos, pois podem ir contra o que os jogadores tem em mente para os seus personagens.

12:07 pm  
Blogger Caramir said...

O Yuri nunca chutaria o calhau. É um sinal de frustração e ele não o faria visto ter uma ideia do que se estava a passar. E ele conheceu um indivíduo que partiu alguns dedos do pé por chutar um capacete metálico. Chamava-se... hmmm... Vigo acho, e era muito estranho... Dizia a todos que se chamava Aragorn.

8:27 pm  
Blogger The Weaver said...

Zé, já tirei o kicking e pus lá outra coisa. A minha ideia era sugerir aquele movimento em que um punho bate na palma da outra mão, quando há uma ideia repentina. Mas se é difícil explicá-lo em português, pior ainda em português, pelo que foi mais fácil mudar a acção. De qualquer modo, não era frustração, era um libertar instantâneo de uma tensão acumulada. Era uma manifestação física de uma ideia luminosa.

12:57 pm  
Blogger The Weaver said...

Nuno, sobre o teu comentário, posso pôr online a conversa que tivemos depois disso no MSN, onde explico as coisas?

12:59 pm  
Blogger Gheata said...

Bom, eu só queria dizer que


já tinhamos percorrido mais de metade do caminho nesse dia e para ele tinha mais lógica seguir em frente, avançar no caminho e eventualmente encontrar algum sitio do que voltar para trás, quando sabia que nunca chegariam à cidade antes do anoitecer e no percurso já feito não tinha visto nenhuma casa, ou povoação onde pudessem passar a noite!

e seguimos mesmo para norte, (porque o resto da party decidiu isso e o Gheata foi com eles, contrariado. porque depois de carruagens desaparecerem, por muito que ele tenha a mania de fazer sempre o que quer, sempre era melhor estar acompanhado) as mists é que nos mandaram para sul.

2. A razão do Gheata de querer ir na direcção do castelo era porque junto de um castelo sempre há uma povoação (ninguém cria um castelo para reinar sobre os pássaros e animais da floresta) portanto, na bifurcação teria mais lógica (já que não existiam tabuletas) que a cidade de Barovia estivesse para o lado do castelo do que no meio da mata onde só se viam árvores!

8:44 pm  
Blogger Caramir said...

Acerca do teu 2:

Nem todas as localidades ficam junto ao castelo. Por vezes uma povoação fica junto ao rio e o castelo é colocado a dezenas de metros (ou centenas), para tirar partido da elevação dominante mais próxima.

6:38 pm  

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