This post contains minor spoilers for the Fifth Edition Adventure “Curse of Strahd.”
This is a story from the same Curse campaign I posted about earlier, but it happened in our very first session. You could consider this a prequel, or maybe a warning of the utter madness that would soon follow. Either way, I hope you enjoy.
The party had just fled from the Vistani camp housing Madame Eva, having had the luck to find the Sunsword in the camp but not realizing that taking the various valuable loot from the other Vistani wagons might upset the owners. The theft this time was not intentional, nor was it committed by Nito the aasimar or his partner in crime Ajax. No, this first act of grand theft was committed on accident by the party’s long-range DPS and the central character of this story, Scrom the dragonborn hexblade warlock.
I tell you this because it’s important to understand why in the world the party would set up camp on a random roadside in Barovia at night after hearing the Vistani’s tale of their dread lord and cursed prince. It wasn’t their choice, and I honestly don’t think Scrom had bad intentions. He was just operating on the “If I searched it and the DM announced the loot, then it must be mine,” logic, not realizing the party had only been given permission to take the Sunsword. Still, the deed was done, the Vistani were pissed, and the party was stuck just outside of the village of Barovia and unable to see it due to the thickening fog and pitch-black darkness. The fog, combined with a generally creepy vibe and a few not-so-subtle hints from me after they spent far too long arguing over what to do, the party made camp. A few members – I think Nito, Eliyra, and Galen – took the opportunity to do some roleplaying. After that started to peter out, I realized the party hadn’t done much besides have exposition dumped on them, roleplayed, or enraged the local nomad populations all session and a few members were growing bored. As a quick fix, I rolled on the random encounter table in the hopes of giving them something a little more interesting but not too difficult to do.
And then I rolled a fifteen. With a public roll. Then I rolled a five on the d6. And then the party got mugged by five werewolves.
Most of the party knew at once that it was time to bail. They were a group of five level ones, and these were five werewolves. Scrom had the misfortune of being closest to the pack and was knocked to one HP with a single hit. On his turn, he cast Expeditious Retreat on himself as a bonus action, disengaged, and bailed. Most of the other party members – the fighter, the noble genie warlock, and the celestial warlock – all bailed. And then there was Nito.
“I mace the werewolf.”
There was a moment of stunned silence. Then, the rest of the table, who were using voice chat (Nito’s player doesn’t like using voice chat because his house tends to be loud) exploded.
I asked him the most important question a DM in an unwinnable combat scenario can ask, “Are you sure about that?” in an incredulous tone.
Yes. Yes, Nito’s player was sure about that. We warned him he’d get wrecked. We warned him that he was a level 1 and that these were 5 werewolves. He held firm in his decision. And so, I told him to roll. He hit for three damage, which was nothing but an annoyance to the monster. Then the werewolf rolled its first attack and missed, then rolled the second attack and hit, dealing 10 damage. Nito, who had exactly 10 hit points, went down instantly.
At this point, everyone else was laughing at the sheer absurdity of it all, but we all knew Nito was in deep trouble. The rest of the party had all fled to relative safety. Eliyra planned to use Expeditious Retreat to get him out herself, but there were werewolves who would activate before her. There seemed to be no one left who could get their brave aasimar companion out of danger without taking a bad hit themselves. There was a fierce discussion about what to do, and then Scrom’s turn came up.
Scrom still had Expeditious Retreat active, meaning he could Dash as a bonus action at the end of his turn. He activated before any of the other werewolves, and so he made the most selfless decision I think I’ve ever seen at a table: he ran back into the fray with nothing but his one hit point, his spell, and a dream, grabbed Nito’s unconscious body, and booked it back the way he’d come in one turn. Miraculously, he dodged the snapping fangs and slashing claws of all three werewolves and their opportunity attacks. Even from a player who I’d seen have his characters survive some insane risks, it was epic.Scrom delivered Nito safely to Galen, the team’s backup healer who’d took Healer as his variant human feat. Galen soon had Nito back in the waking world with a nasty cut to his face and an even nastier headache. Healing magics were cast on both Nito and Scrom, jokes were made at Nito’s expense, the crew made it to the village, and all was well. Well, all except Nito’s ego.
That got pretty thoroughly trashed.