Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Deck of Awful Things: By-Session Draw Results with the Tarokka Deck


Turn back now! Last chance!

Okay, hi! On request, I'm going to post a few of the results from my by-session draws. I've been assured by my (actually rather respectful) players that they won't read this particular entry for spoiler purposes. And you know, if they do read it anyway it fills them with greater dread, that's kind of a win too. Actually, maybe only one of them has a link to this blog anyway. So I think I'm safe. SECRETS.

So as a preface, I ran a previous campaign for some members of this group that happened before Curse of Strahd was announced. As a "veteran" of the setting (St. Cuthbert help me that sounds pretentious, sorry) I already had kind of an idea where and when I wanted to set them in the greater Ravenloft timeline and canon, which doesn't quite neatly align with what they present in Curse of Strahd.

CoS is very much a badass new mansion built atop a very old and sturdy foundation. That foundation is I6 Ravenloft, and the latest adventure module reuses a lot of what's there (Ireena Kolyana is the big one for me). It also has a few aspects that don't really line up with my continuity, and thus needs to be slightly altered.

I will note my joy at noticing the inclusion of a young Bray Martikov in Curse of Strahd, who (even if he is not confirmed to be the younger version of the same character) is in my mind actually Bray Martikova, the innkeeper and owner of the Blood of the Vine in one of my favorite classics, Strahd's Possession. Go get it on, and get the patch that unblocks you at the Ivlis Caverns too. Go go go. Why are you still here?

Anyway, that sidebar matters because in my previous game, the campaign took place chronologically some time after that game. The owner of the Blood of the Vine now is a woman named Anezjka Martikova, and she has a few younger sisters who may or may not be super-ultra-mega important to part of the plot of this campaign, which relies extraordinarily heavily on the chassis given unto us by Curse of Strahd.

Okay. That's cleared up. Sort of. Now onto the card draws.

As I stated a couple entries back, I intend on having the players draw a card each session to determine something that happens in it. Some of the effects are beneficial, many are not. I'm not going to tip all of my hand (and largely because it's written in a marble notebook and it took time to transcribe it here already), I do want to present what I'm doing for a component of the Tarokka deck, the High Deck.

Pick a Card...

There are a couple of references below to tables I did not replicate here for space reasons; assume that item tables and prepared treasures contain a delicious selection of goods, none too powerful, but none too weak, for the party to happen upon. There are also some new monsters below.

It's worth noting many of the High Deck results can be pretty nasty. The other suits (swords, coins, stars, and glyphs) are generally peppered with more straight buffs; High Deck draws are rarer since there are fewer of them, naturally.

Artifact: Select one item from prepared treasures. This item is found in the next treasure dole the company receives, or is given out by a grateful citizen (if in Barovia) who remembers the company from their previous adventure (likely candidates: Aren Cordelaine, Anezjka Martikova, Prosla, Stislav).

Most names mean nothing to all of you, but they are NPCs from the previous campaign.

Beast: If in Barovia or other settled/safe area, a beast stalks the party at night, scratching at windows or doors. If in the wilderness, the beast shadows them and strikes at the first opportunity for surprise, unless challenged first. The beast is a Black Hound of Strahd.

Click to embiggen.

Broken One: During this session, if an ally falls in battle, or a friend of the company comes to great harm, a randomly determined member of the company is afflicted by crushing despair as the Mists attempt to break their spirit. They must immediately succeed on a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or suffer a level of exhaustion.

Darklord: Strahd himself or a powerful minion intervene during this session when the company is at its weakest. If Strahd is appropriate, he will appear and toy with the company, gauging its strength as needed, for 1d6 rounds before vanishing. If Strahd is inappropriate for the venue, utilize swarms, vampire spawn, or Black Hounds of Strahd as needed.

Donjon: The Mists amplify spells and effects that entrap or imprison. For this session, saving throws (or skill checks) for all characters and creatures against effects causing the following conditions are made at disadvantage: grappled, paralyzed, petrified, restrained.

Ghost: During this session, one of the company members is visited by a poltergeist. This individual will be someone the character has either slain in combat or was a one-time ally from their background (as appropriate). Even if that individual would not realistically be present in Ravenloft, they appear (this is a trick of the land to swamp the character in doubts). This is a roleplaying effect, and resolving it may award an Inspiration token for the pool.

Executioner: Critical hits are deadlier in this session, both for and against the company. Roll one extra set of damage dice on a critical hit (2d6 becomes 6d6, 1d10 becomes 3d10, etc.).

Horseman: One of the steeds of the company becomes restless when exposed to stress during this session. If it is not brought under control, it will attempt to bolt, taking with it anything that is on the saddle or in the saddlebags. It can be found after an hour of searching if not caught, but will likely be slain by wolves or other creatures. If the company succeeds in calming the beast, add one Inspiration token to the pool.

Innocent: If in Barovia, Anezjka’s sister Marika finds the company during this session and “tags along” until either brought back to the Anezjka or convinced to go home. She may be in danger from one of Strahd's minions or another enemy, as Marika has a poorly-functional sense of self-preservation. If elsewhere, this draw instead grants the party the effects of the bless spell for the remainder of the night if they manage to rescue any innocent during the course of the session.

Marionette: The company finds a Blinksy toy during the session. It is of some humanoid shape. If allowed to remain in their possession for more than three nights, it becomes a hostile carrionette at midnight the following night.
Click me! I grow!

Mists: The Mists unleash a mist elemental into the domain this session. This effect is cumulative; keep track of the current number of mist elementals active in the campaign, and add them to encounter tables in place of the top result. They can be present at any location and will be hostile to all creatures that are not Strahd himself or one of his servants.

Click to enlarge. Also, I'm an update of the 2e monster of the same name. LOVE ME!

Raven: The company is shadowed by a wereraven this session. Should they fall under attack, the wereraven will intervene on their behalf as is appropriate, vanishing if questioned for too long.

Seer: The company sets this card aside and draws two additional cards for the session. The effects of both are in play.

Tempter: A cursed treasure item appears in the session, given out either in the first treasure dole of the night or showing up as seemingly discarded in a conspicuous location. Select from the list of cursed items for the campaign.

Evil Awaits...

I am super-dee-duper looking forward to this game, which is due to start in two weeks. Expect more updates and items from the campaign making an appearance as the heroes step into the mists one more time.


  1. Cool,thanks for the post! Sly did a similar one those of saw last nigh . Good stuff for my 2nd run through.

  2. This is really great stuff, and far outside the scope of what I had been thinking. Need to up my game for the regular suites... :) I love the concept, I'd been wishing there was a way to incorporate the Tarokka cads beyond just that first reading. Thanks for posting! With your permission - yoink!

    1. If it's of use, then by all means! :D Let me know how it pans out for you!