Session XV fielded – Radical Larry (Joe), Tang Kard (Steve C), Girth Greatcraic (Archie) and Eliza Doolittle (Patrick).
The Story starts with a messenger, frostbitten and on death’s door, collapsing into Jarvik’s Tavern/Adventurer’s guild. Searching his body Girth revealed a letter to the village as a whole demanding it begin paying tax once more. Jarvik’s answers to Girth’s questions about how much tax had been evaded were vague at best but one thing was clear – now Kasdall was growing it was becoming more obvious to the taxman in Bastionberg.
The crew, however, had other worries. Darqvist estate – owned by Girth on a technicality – still needed clearing of the evil magic that had taken over it. The travellers, lead by Grandma Hookway, agreed to lead them safely to the edge of the estate and then from there they trudged uneventfully on foot to the Cathedral of Elrodel.
Sister Crysta was glad to see them and when they asked for her aid she cast a spell on them which prevented attacks which caused decay from damaging the team. Larry found the nearest small animal (which happened to be a Mole called Brad) and decided it would be his new pet, and the party began the ascent to the manor house.
It towered above them, appearing both ruined and whole, casting a feeling of dread over all that surrounded it, but the party shrugged and continued, entering its halls.
Some searching later, they found a talking skull which they quizzed for ideas about the house. At this moment a large roar came from above and the skull mentioned it was the master’s “ultimate experiment”. The team decided to move more quickly – Sister Crysta had mentioned something was in the basement and they decided this was the best place to look. Along the way however they stumbled across a small prayer-chapel which was filled with five or six small duck billed beaver like creatures. When Larry spoke to them, he found out they were seemingly normal platypuses and – for some inexplicable reason – all called variations on the name Geoff.
Exploration continued but hit a snag as two of the platypuses collided and multiplied into four platypuses. The resultant wave of platypuses was locked behind a door by Girth and the party continued into the cellar. Girth unlocked the huge bulkhead of the house’s vault and once everyone had dispatched the pig-zombie creature they pillaged the treasure within. However, then a platypus landed on the basement landing and the team realised that the door had not held for long.
Then the roar returned.
Tang climbed back up to the main floor and cleared some of the Jeff/Geoff/Jephs. Eliza followed and was horrified to see what looked like a shark appear around the corner of a door. Then another shark followed and then the bear body, a lump of glowing flashing lights and metal embedded in its head. The Sharkenbear. It had smelled them out via the blood running from Girth’s eyes (see Strahd session 1). Larry attempted to get its attention by throwing Brad the mole, but the poor creature was quickly snapped up by one of the sharkenbear’s jaws.
The party quickly concocted a scheme to lock it in the vault as it set about destroying Jephs. Girth would act as bait, then roll underneath it and escape while Tang slammed the bulkhead and closed it.
But the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley and Girth had not the opportunity to run from the creature before it mauled him, almost killing him. Larry, ever eager for glory, stabbed it with his rapier, dealing minimal damage. For a moment everyone held their breaths as the monster roared and lunged for Larry. Surely this was it, surely he couldn’t survive if it hit him? Tang readied himself – if the team ended up down to two he would lock the beast up and make a run for it; on his own he knew he’d never be able to take it down.
Thankfully this didn’t matter as the flailing beast completely missed, its shark arms slamming off the door frame. Eliza, aided by Larry, retrieved Girth’s unconscious form from the vault and Tang slammed it shut, locking the Sharkenbear in despite its efforts to force the door open.
Sleeping for the night rejuvinated the team, and although they continued to explore – fighting another pig monster – their adventure was cut short by another Jeff falling down a chimney into the boiler room – these creatures must be multiplying like mad. The party had to fight their way through the Geoffs and Larry made a desparate plea to them – if they continued to multiply they were not just a danger to the estate, they were a danger to the world. They must die. The Jeffs considered this and mostly agreed, terrified by the revelation of what they were. A fire was set in the mansion and most perished. One platypus, however, ran from the flames. He would live, no matter the consequences to the world – he did not deserve to die for what his creator had made him and he would remember those that judged him for this with a hatred burning like a thousand burning stars.
The team, mostly oblivious to this, decided to do a quick sweep of one of the upper floors before they left. Across the widow’s walk they found a cape of obviousness which was snapped up by Larry in his quest to become the most obvious gnome there ever was. Their expedition into the master bedroom, however, ended their search as the ghost of Lady Darqvist appeared and screamed an unearthly scream, sending Eliza into unconsciousness.
The team noped out of there and promised sister Crysta they would return to once again explore the mansion. Knowing the horrors that lay within, she nodded, they would need all their strength to break this curse…