Fizban's Heroes

An Outing to Wine Country

Our heroes decide to kill some time before the Festival of the Blazing Sun and leave Vallaki for the Wizard of Wines winery. Urwin Martikov mentioned that he has not received his latest shipment from the winery and his barrels at the Blue Water Inn are running dry. Braap and Runga stays behind to keep an eye on Ireena and Ismark while the rest mount up and head east. The travel is uneventful as they go through the woods along the Old Svalich road. As they pass Lake Baratok, they see a partial wrecked tower on an island and decide to put it on the to do list for later exploration. Eventually the find the dirt road turn off to the south that takes them toward the winery.

The weather turns more foul and upon crossing into the winery lands proper, they see a couple people flagging them down from the tree line. The heroes approached cautiously to parley and learned that the men represent the family owners of the winery, lead by the patriarch Darin Martikov. He tells the group that a barbaric clan of druid wild men and their strange plant creature allies have assaulted the winery, taking it over. His family tried to fight them off but there are too many of them. He asks the heroes to help them clear out the invaders.

Fizban’s heroes quickly go to work combating the druids and there twig fiends. They fight their way into the winery proper, where Jal throws oil on the threshold and out of nowhere Holaf’s eyes blaze with a eerie flame and he throws a fireball into a mass of blights. The group then secures the door and begin a battle of room to room fights, putting down mad druids and twig light entities. In the basement Jal and Klept scout forward only to be surprised by the leader druid, who blasts Jal with a thunder-wave showering him in shattered glass and concussive energy. The leader druid is quickly smote by our paladin and Gromthar recovers the druids strange dark wood staff.

Within an hour the winery is freed and our heroes setup an ambush for the remaining druids outside. Gromthar, wreathed in defensive magics, holds one door against several entangling blights while the rest of the party flanks the druids, quickly putting them down through sword, magic and arrow. Post battle the group brings in the Martikov family and Darin thanks them for the assistance. He informs them that they produce the wine for free, for the good of all the oppressed of Barovia, but that is only possible with the help of some special gems that magically enrich the lands. Each gem is the size of a large pinecone and glows with a warm green light. Originally there were 3 gems but one was lost many years before. Another was taken by the minions of the witch who lives in the ruins of Berez to the east. The druids’ blights stole the last gem taking it to Yester Hill, their place of worship. Without the gems, the remaining vines will wither and die.

As thanks for freeing the winery, Darin agrees to send the last few barrels of wine in the cellar to Urwin in Vallaki. His sons with leave the next morning. Fizban’s Heroes tells them to wait as they will first go to Yester Hill to recover one of the gems and then return to protect the shipment. After a shared meal with the Martikov family and a solid nights sleep, the group heads out early towards Yester Hill.

Interruptions and Road Trip
Fizban's Heroes Visit Vallaki

After dealing with the hag coven, Fizban’s Heroes discuss their next move. Despite both Ireena and Ismark wanting to try and get to Vallaki before dark our heroes decide to stay in the windmill, making some small attempts to fortify the windows and building a bonfire out the front door with assorted furniture from inside. Runga, Gromthar and Holaf bury the children’s bodies and give them last rights and the rest of the group settles in to a night routine of shifting watches. After 2 am, Gromthar awakes to whispers and crying. Ismark is trying to console Ireena who seems to be thrashing in a nightmare. Meanwhile Runga is doing rounds of the windmill while Jal holds watch by the fire. Suddenly a voice sounded in everyone’s head telling them that their protection of Ireena was pointless and nothing will get in his way. Dire wolves lope out of the mists towards the windmill and on the back side, Runga’s dark vision makes out shapes moving through the mist up the cliff-side, a small horde of zombies. Soon the battle is in full swing with everyone fight wolves to try and protect the horses. Jal, now attuned to the Sunblade swings it with ferocity slaying wolf and zombie alike. Klept fights his way out of the windmill to one of the horses where he mounts up and begins charging the remaining wolves and zombies, trampling them under foot. Within minutes the skirmish is over.

The next morning is strained and everyone starts late, recovering from the evenings excitement. It is a thankfully uneventful trip to Vallaki. Through some fancy talking they convince the guards to let them into the fortified town and move towards the Blue Water Inn where they secure food and lodgings. Jal makes a minor detour to the church in town but quickly becomes bored and skips out. At the inn they meet Urwin Martikov and his wife Danika Dorakova, who run the inn. Klept buys a round for the locals which doesn’t get them much response but some gratitude from a couple of wolf hunters named Szoldar and Yevgeni. Urwin, seeing the group are capable asks the heroes to head to the Wizard of Wines winery and find out why the latest shipment has not been delivered.

Gromthar meets up with an odd half-elf who is the inns only other guest, learning that he is a bard with a circus but has lost his way in Barovia. His name is Rictavio, apart from some polite conversation little is learned.

The group then leave Ismark and Ireena to get settled and go about the town, looking to do some commerce. A trip to the market finds them with some poorly stocked shops selling goods for ten times the normal price. They also notice numerous notices about the Festival of the Blazing Sun which starts in three days. Apparently the previous week was the Wolf’s Head Jamboree…another in a long line of festivals that seem to occur in this town. A couple of guards, lead but a large man with a massive mutilated arm seemed to be moving through the town putting up posters and intimidating the locals. Deciding to head back to the inn the group stops in an toy shop and meet an eccentric fellow named Blinsky and his pet monkey Piccolo. A few very strange toys are bought and after finding a doll that looks exactly like Ireena, Gromthar invokes Oghma to perform a mind link with Blinsky and learns that the dolls are a special order by an intimidating man from town. He learns Blinsky is forced to make the dolls from drawings to avoid having his shopped burned down. They leave Blinksy to his work and head back to the inn to decide what to do next.

Creepy Windmill

Fizban’s heroes approached the dilapidated windmill cautiously, with Holaf doing a search around the area and investigating the cliff and ruined stone circle in the forest clearing below from a distance. Klept was the first to investigate, slipping in the front door more silent than death and performing a quick scout of the lower floor, which seemed to be a kitchen with a ugly old woman working at a counter. Upstairs he heard jumping and cackling laughter. Klept slipped out just as silently and informed the group, which inspired Braap to take the form of a mouse allowing him to go under the door and explore the rest of the building.

When Braap entered he found the kitchen empty and worked up the stairs, see the same old woman on the second floor. He then advanced up to the third floor to find another two equally ugly, through much younger, woman cackling and dancing. His scouting complete, he began returning to the lowest floor when the mouse is suddenly grabbed by one of the hags who comments on how juice he looks before attempting to bite his head off. Suddenly, Braap reverts to gnomish form to the surprise of the hags and seconds later he grows into a massive brown bear and starts swinging.

The group, hearing the yelling and ruckus jump to action. The paladins rush into the building and begin fighting with the lead hag, Morgantha while Gromthar moves into support. Jal holds back to help Ismark protect Ireena, keeping his crossbow ready to take shots where possible.

Klept downs a dragon breath potion and puts his thief training to work as he scales the outside of the mill. He bursts through the second floor window blowing gouts of flame while Braap furiously battles two of the hags.

The heroes are blasted with magic missiles and lighting wounding the dwarves heavily. Braaps beast form is eventually beaten back and he is forced to fall back on his druidic magic and blasts the hags with a Moonbeam forcing them back. Surrounded by dwarves, Morgantha falls to sword, axe and hammer. As the hag dies, the magical power of the coven weakens and the two younger looking hags fall back to the third floor. Braap rushes up the stairs in the form of a Dire Wolf, forcing the moonbeam ahead of him. At the top floor he finds the two hags, each with a small child in hand and holds position, not wishing to risk the lives of the children. Gromthar arrives as well while Klept attempts another daring climb outside of the mill, almost making to an ambush point on one of the hags before grabbing window sill riddled with dry rot and falling 30’ to the ground.

The remaining hags attempt to negotiate, their freedom for the lives of the children. Braap holds back but Gromthar makes his choice, blasting one of the hags with divine energy. The hags kill the children, causing Braap to leap forward in wolf form through his own moonbeam, both burning his flesh and reverting him to gnome form just in time to bite the other hag. The fight starts again with one hag leaping out the window only to be stabbed in the throat by the recovered Klept. The rest of the heroes make short work of the other hag.

With the evil cleansed from the windmill, Braap goes to the attic space and begins searching for the fated “sword of sunlight” which he locates behind some abandoned bird nests. The rest of the group licks their wounds and begins turning the place over.

Braap pulls the sword from the sheath finding a blade of bright light. Holaf handles the sword and feels a rush of hope before a wave of rejection. He attempts to hand it to Runga who reaches out for it before suddenly withdrawing his hand. Braap decides to hold onto it for now and look at it more later.

Fortunes Told

Jal, Braap and Klept continue along the road with the Vistani caravan towards their main camp, moving back into the forest and crossing the river. After an hour the forest opens up to the foothills of the valley and the road continues west, climbing steeply into the valley while to the right is a lesser path which the Vistani take. At the crossroads is a hanging tree in which Jal, and only Jal, sees a swinging corpse. He falls back to investigate seeing the corpse is a spitting image of himself, dressed in Barovian attire. he works to free the corpse but it melts away to nothing as soon as he gets close. Spooked, he quickly moves to catch up with caravan.

Another 30 minutes has the group arriving by a large pool at the mouth of a canyon. Here a more permanent camp is setup for the Vistani with several tents. The caravan is great warmly with drink and a bonfire, most of the Vistani at the camp are already drunk. Our heroes join in some refreshments and hear the tale of a great wizard who came to Barovia to defeat the devil Strahd a few years ago. He amassed a peasant army and faced the creature at his lair, Castle Ravenloft. The army was slaughtered and after a great magic battle, the mage was sent plummeting from the cliffs.

After the story, the heroes are invited to meet Madam Eva, the leader of this band of Vistani. She offers to read Jal’s fortune (see “The Reading” below) using her Tarokka deck and lays out a possible future that would allow Fizban’s Heroes to defeat Strahd and save the land of Barovia. She offers no additional information apart from a general lay of the land of Barovia and welcomes the heroes to stay with them for the night.

As night falls the dwarves arrive in the camp with Ismark and Ireena in two. The two Barovians are fearful of the Vistani and the heroes setup watches to secure their camp for the night. Some of the heroes hang out with the Vistani drinking wine and telling tales. Gromthar decides to eat one of his dream pies and immediately falls into a deep sleep

In the morning, after kicking Gromthar awake, they begin heading west towards Krezk and the Abbey of Saint Markovich to find a safe place for Ireena. Just after passing the hanging tree and ascending into the mountain pass, they are beset by a pack of wolves which are quickly defeated. They continue along, finally reaching a bridge over the Ivlis River and the canyon it has created. They continue through the steep foot hills and switchbacks, passing the road to Castle Ravenloft and eventually leaving through the east gate of Barovia, but only after navigating off the road around the gatehouse. By late afternoon they notice a strange windmill on a hill a 1/2 mile off the road and decide to investigate.

The Reading

Madam Eva shuffles two decks of ancient looking cards, drawing three from one pile and placing them face down in a triangular formation on the table. She then draws two more cards, one under the triangle and one in the center making a cross.

She breaths deep and looks at you while exhaling and begin the reading.

“This card tells of history. Knowledge of the ancient will help you better understand your enemy”

1 of Glyphs – The Monk – The treasure you seek is hidden behind the sun, in the house of a saint.

“This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of hope.”

Master of Glyphs – The Priest – You will find what you seek in the castle, amid the ruins of a place of supplication

“This is a card of power and strength. It tells of a weapon of vengeance: a sword of sunlight”

7 of Glyphs – The Charlatan – I see a lonely mill on a precipice. The treasure lies within.

“This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness”

The Ghost – I see a fallen paladin of a fallen order of knights. He lingers like a ghost in a dead dragons lair

She finally flips the center card.

“Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality. This card will lead you to him!”

The Tempter – I see a secret place – a vault of temptation hidden behind a woman of great beauty. The evil waits atop his tower of treasure.

Some time in the Village

The Vistani caravan works its way into the village of Barovia. Staminir warns the heroes that they will be leaving quickly and to not trust this cursed town. Jal and Holaf lead the group into the Blood of the Vine tavern to find a rundown establishment with surely bartender named Arik and unfriendly patrons. Everyone in the tavern eyes the group with suspicion and they get the feeling visitors are not common or welcome. Jal throws around some money and terrible wine is provided. Despite some clumsy attempts the heroes are unable to gather much information from anyone in the bar apart from a man named Ismark, son of the local burgomaster, who is looking for aid.

As the Vistani prepare to leave, the part splits along racial lines with the dwarves (Gromthar, Runga and Holaf) deciding to stay in the village and aid Ismark. Once they are done they will meet up the rest down the road. Jal leads Klept and Braap to the caravan and they continue down the road towards the main Vistani camp.

Meanwhile, in the village, Ismark takes the dwarves to the burgomaster’s mansion to meet his sister Ireena. They learn that the tyrant of Barovia and powerful vampire, Strahd von Zarovich, has taken a obsessive interest in Ireena. He has visited her twice and regularly sent his minions, zombies and wolves, to terrorize the town. On his next visit he will take Ireena away to his castle to make her is vampire thrall. Ismark wants to get Ireena out of the village to somewhere safe, either the walled town of Vallaki or the Abbey of Saint Markovia in Krezk far to the west. Unfortunatley, Ireena refuses to leave until the burgomaster, their father, is put to rest on hallow ground, in the village cemetery. The priest at the church refuses to perform the burial and no one in the town will help them get the body there.

Gromthar, Runga and Holaf head to the church to confront Father Donavich. The learn that the priest’s mind is fractured and that he has locked his cursed son in the basement. They find the trap door and are about to open it when Holaf attempts to detect evil, sensing a powerful undead presence under the floor boards. The group decides to leave it locked there for now. After some diplomacy they convince the Ismark and Ireena to allow Gromthar to perform the burial instead of Father Donavich, who is too far gone.

Task complete the three dwarves gather supplies. While exploring the meet an old crone with a pie cart going from door to door in the village. Gromthar makes idle conversation with the old woman and learns she sells some tasty confections called dream pies . The three dwarves buy some pies for the road and then meet up with Ireena and Ismark to begin the trip west to find the rest of Fizban’s Heroes.

Into Barovia

Five days into the journey with the Vistani, they break from the trade road and head north. That night they camp in a forest, with fog slowly filling in between the trees. The heroes are not schedule for watch that evening and all rest. The next morning they feel different and Holaf notices the trees seem different from the previous day but Braap, a druid, is sure nothing has changed. The caravan continues to the north through the woods before arriving at a large gate in the road which magically opens as the Vistani wagons roll forward, closing behind the train once the last wagon is through. A placard on the stone gate plinth reads “Barovia” in strange writing. The mists persist through the forest

Travel continues for a few hours before the rain begins and the trees thin to an expansive clearing. A small village lies at the west side of the clearing at the foot of a towering mountain who’s peak is obscured by clouds.

Return From Mt Illefarn

After chasing off Avrik Zaltos and recovering the Elemental Key of Fire from the strange altar in the chapel of Moradin, Fizban’s Heroes leave the cursed mountain to it’s doom. The upper levels of the halls now full of dwarven wights and the living quarters housing only a few sad folk with their mad king.

The newly anointed paladin of Helm, Holaf, has joined the group eager to put the Ironaxe Halls behind him and begin searching for a way to destroy the cursed tome that destroyed Bliny. Together, the heroes return their encampment a few miles from the mountain to gather their horses and the few prisoners they freed and begin the two day journey back to Daggerford. The trip is uneventful and they make good time, despite giving the elves of the Laughing Hollow and Misty Forest a wide birth.

Upon return to Daggerford they meet with Sir Isteval and report on the events of the last week. He consults with a few members of his retinue and decides the elemental key must be sent up to the archmages in Waterdeep who will figure out how to either destroy it or secure it from the Red Wizards. A heavily guarded carriage leaves the next day.

After further discussion Sir Isteval confirms that the real Avrik Zaltos was indeed dead and the being they encountered at Mount Illefarn was someone else. After hearing the details of the party’s battle with “Zaltos” and some consultation with the wizard Delfen, Sir Isteval comes to the conclusion that the wizard the heroes fought may have been some kind of demon or devil. This means that creature is likely not defeated and will soon be seeking revenge.

The heroes spend the next few days around town, recuperating from the trials and have a small service commemorating their lost ally, Bliny. Jal spends a lot of time carousing and spreading tales of the greatness of Fizban’s Heroes, making many new friends in the process. Holaf agrees to join up with Fizban’s Heroes, though for several days he is plagued by strange dreams.

Shortly after, a new care package arrives from their patron, Lord Fizban, with salaries, gifts and news of a potential job far to the east in the port town of Mulmaster. Rumours of a powerful dragon laying siege to the region have spread and several groups are heading out there to face it. Preparation is made to put the group on a trade caravan making the 6-week trip from the Sword Coast to that region of the Moon Sea.

Before the group is set to go, they are invited for one last meal by the leader of Daggerford, Duchess Morwen. She asks them to deal with a group of travelers camped near the town that have been causing trouble. That night part of the group goes to investigate, finding a colourful group of people, known as Vistani, who invite them to party. The group’s leader, Stanmir, tells a sorrowful tale of a brutal dictator in their homeland and how they were sent to find heroes that could help free the land from this tyrant. Stamnir informs them that the Vistani’s lands are only a weeks travel to the east, on the way of the caravan. The group decides to travel with the Vistani, dispose of this tyrant and then try to catch up with the slow moving trade caravan in a ten-day to continue on to Mulmaster.


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