So Garsome the Dwarf, Cedric the Priest, and Milo the Halfling made some last minute purchases at Bildrath's Mercantile to get some Anti-Ghost Oil and Vampire Repellant and started meandering their way westward along Old Svalich Road. While they didn't take a map, and didn't really ask directions, in their triumphantly over-confident heroic wisdom they figured that the gypsies must be somewhere to the west, due to the fact that they came from the east, and following the road and wandering around Barovia was a good a plan as any.
But the heroes were ambushed along the road by elves! Not just elves either, but werewolf elves! Welves! After a small bit of parlay where the elves tried to look innocent, Milo noticed the werewolves sneaking around to flank the party, and raised the alarm. Between Milo's masterwork silver dagger, and Garsome's non-silver but hard-hitting axe, the Welves were quickly put down without a single party member contracting Lycanthropy! :(
Continuing on their way the trio came to the crossroads, where folks are hanged from the gallows and found a sign pointing towards three different places 1) "East to the Village of Barovia", 2) "West to Castle Ravenloft," 3) "North to Tser Pool." Since they were pretty sure they just came from the village, and they were really sure they didn't want to go to Castle Ravenloft, the correct direction to find the gypsies looked fairly obvious.
But suddenly, nebulous ghostly beings made of utter darkness (or something sinister like that) rose up out of the nearby potter's field and attacked a passerby knight! The man clearly wouldn't last long against the incorporeal foes, so the party dove into the attack! Cedric challenged the ghosts to a preach-off and the spirits simply couldn't take the holy awesome of Crom (or whatever god supplement he's using), and Garsome coated his axe in anti-ghost oil and chopped through the rest of the suckers. The trio healed the unconscious man and Milo begrudgingly gave his possessions back to him, eventually. The young knight introduced himself as "Sir Ulrik Von Lichtenstein" and explained he was on his way to Castle Ravenloft to save his Lord, the great undead slayer known as "Lord Quinn Aplanc, Savior of the Seven Dales and Grand Master of Crawford Manor." Garsome matter-of-factly explained to Ulrik that if he couldn't handle the ghost-beasts he wouldn't stand a chance in Castle Ravenloft, so Ulrik agreed to join the party to learn from Garsome's undead-hunting tactics (hit 'em hard and keep a cleric about).
The now party of four tromped their way up to the Tser Pool encampment of gypsies, where they were invited in. The gypsies of course knew they were coming and that evening they sat down with Madam Eva to get some fortunes told. After the players waited a while to see if she would just start spouting off fortunes, they finally started asking questions, consisting of just ways to throw out key words like "So what's this I hear about a Sunsword?"
Madam Eva's fortune telling finished, the heroes learn that one of the items (magic sword) is hidden nearby, and so pay a Vistani gypsy boy to go find it for them. None of them really use swords so they stuck it in Garsome's pack and forgot about it.
Madam Eva told the players that the witches they seek meet at the ruins atop Lysaga Hill every night summoning their dark lord who will finally appear during the new moon, only two nights away! So team "kill 'em all" decide to head them off at the pass and sprint on up to Lysaga hill one night early so as not to have risk Garsome having to make a Will save to face Cthulhu. What they found on Lysaga Hill are your standard cultists mid-ritual, accompanied by an evil Hag leading the chant, and an avatar of the Daemon Chernovog standing nearby, no doubt the district manager.
So the party quietly surrounded the cultists while they mulled over what to do about the deamon-guy, but then Cedric tripped on his shoelaces and made a big ruckus, attracting the attention of the cultists and the battle was on! Milo and Ulrik backstabbed and frontstabbed (respectively) cultists as the cultists shot scorching rays at them, and Garsome turned on the afterburners and went after the Hag. Cedric ran around atop the wall casting protective spells and then jumped into the fray and healed folks as best he could. Garsome ran into some major trouble and lost not only his axe but also his backup dagger of venom to some crappy rolls, so ended up having no choice but to punch the Hag to death, which admittedly is pretty awesome in the end.
Then the big deamon guy who was shooting warlocky eldritch blasts and spells at the party decided to stomp into the melee action, and got knee-deep in some adventurer's faces. The party was taking a pretty big beating, and Cedric could barely keep up with the healing. Suddenly, on Ulric's smite-evil attack he actually rolled two crits, doing some major damage to the deamon and opening up the opportunity for Milo to snatch Garsome's axe and deliver it to the dwarf via the tumble-express. Once the axe was back in his dwarfy hands, Garsome made short work of the wounded Mr. Bigpants.
The party searched around and found a trap door leading down into the ruins. This is where we ended the game. Will the party find anything of value within the ruins, or only their doom? We'll find out in Part V of...
Shadows of the Black Feather: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft!